Posts Tagged ‘LCD’

Canon PowerShot G11 Review

Text and Photos by Allison Gibson

Canon’s latest G-series flagship compact—the PowerShot G11—features some marked improvements from its predecessor, the G10. Image quality is sharper, thanks to the cutback in megapixels to better suit the 1/1.7-inch image sensor, and low-light performance is improved, with less noise at higher ISO ranges. The lure of the G11, and its predecessors, is that it looks and feels more professional than a standard point-and-shoot (and of course, offers full manual shooting control), while at the same time offering a much more compact alternative to an interchangeable lens D-SLR or Micro Four-Thirds standard camera. This place in the market—often referred to as “prosumer”—attracts both professional photographers who want a compact second camera, and advanced amateurs looking to move into more serious gear but who aren’t yet ready for the heft, price and responsibility of a D-SLR.

What’s Different from the G10

The MSRP for the G11 is $499.99, and it remains the same also for the G10. With this new generation G series camera, Canon recognized the need to cut back on the megapixel count—going from the G10’s 14.7 down to 10MP with the G11— despite the industry’s penchant for using these ever-increasing numbers as a selling point. Though comparing the number of effective pixels may be an easy spec for consumers to swallow, jamming more and more megapixels into a sensor the size of the G10’s wasn’t doing image quality and noise control any favors.

The G11’s CCD sensor is the same as its predecessor’s, as is Canon’s DIGIC 4 Image Processor, but the G11 features a newly developed High Sensitivity System for improvements in low-light shooting. The improvements are noticeable—even in conventional settings—with higher ISOs. I tested the G10 last year at ISO 800 in a dark jazz club in Boston, only to find the captured image (unsurprisingly) teeming with noise. The G11 does much better at ISO 800, and even ISO 1600, yielding usable results with greater detail preserved. The G11 has essentially the same wide-angle 28-140mm f/2.8-4.5 lens as the G10, bumping it up slightly to offer 5x optical zoom.

Let’s Get This Out of the Way—the Viewfinder is Awful

An optical (or electronic, even) viewfinder is expected by most photographers on a camera of this level, and it’s nice that the G11 includes one. However, it’s virtually useless for framing shots because the lens is in the way and the coverage is a paltry 77%. The good news is that the 2.8-inch, wide Vari-angle LCD is diverse in all of the various angles you can position it in. It’s extremely bright, making it functional even in direct sunlight, though it’s smaller than the G10’s 3-inch fixed screen. Having been basically forced to use the G11’s Vari-angle LCD exclusively, because of how bad the coverage of the viewfinder was, I found myself contorting it all kinds of ways—even holding it at 90 degrees to block people nearby from seeing exactly what I was shooting. (Which is admittedly neurotic, but comes in handy when you’re trying different settings and don’t need nosey folks next to you looking on.)

Handling the Camera

The G11, as I’ve said, feels more professional than other compact cameras. It’s heavier, larger and much sturdier with its magnesium alloy shell. You feel confident hanging it from a strap around your neck or shoulder—like you know what you’re doing. The controls on the body include: a shooting modes dial on top, which sits atop a very convenient dedicated ISO control dial; an on/off button; a zoom control; and the shutter release. To the left of those on top are the hotshoe mount for an external flash and a dial control for exposure compensation. On the back of the camera, to the right of the LCD, are: a four-way control pad for MF on/off, flash, self-timer and Macro, with a set button in the middle and a scrolling ring around the outside.

Shooting Modes

The G11 has the ability to shoot in RAW (CR2) and JPEG, and offers full Manual shooting, Aperture and Shutter Priorities and Auto mode. There are also 17 Scene modes, including: Portrait, Landscape, Night Scene and Stitch Assist. It also shoots video (640×480 at 30fps). Capture is to SD/SDHC Memory Card, MultiMediaCard, MMCplus card or HC MMCplus card. It offers no internal memory.

Comparing Options

The G11 is fun to use, with impressive image quality, as was the case with the G10 before it. The major improvements are the better quality results at higher ISOs and the Vari-angle LCD, which provides a lot of freedom for getting creative angles. The most exciting thing, though, about shooting with the G11 is actually fantasizing about what the next generation of the G series will hold. Better viewfinder? Please! Full HD video? The lens control ring found in the Canon S90? Thank you! Of course, at $500, it has been argued that one might as well jump into the entry-level D-SLR market and reap the benefits of that level of image quality, lens options and overall control. One generation back, there are several such D-SLRs at a comparable price—lens kit included—such as the Nikon D40 or Canon EOS Rebel Xs. However, as I previously mentioned, an advantage of the G11 is its stealth size, and that’s something you won’t find with interchangeable lens cameras.

Canon PowerShot G11

  • MSRP:
  • $499.99
  • Size/Weight:
  • 4.41”W x 3.00”H x 1.90”D; 12.5 oz.
  • Image Sensor:
  • 10-megapixels, CCD
  • Still Recording Format:
  • RAW, JPG
  • Memory:
  • SD/SDHC Memory Card, MultiMediaCard, MMCplus card, HC MMCplus card
  • Display:
  • 2.8-inch LCD (461,000 pixels); Real-image optical zoom viewfinder
  • Video Recording Mode:
  • 640×480 (30fps)
  • Exposure Metering:
  • Evaluative, Center Weighted, Spot
  • ISO Equivalent:
  • Auto/80/100/200/400/800/1600/3200
  • Power Source:
  • Rechargeable Lithium-ion Battery NB-7L; AC Adapter Kit ACK-DC50
  • Contact:
  • www.usa.canon.com/us
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Samsung DualView TL225 Review

SamsungTL225_sm

Text and Photos by Allison Gibson

I’ve been known to cut my husband’s head off. In pictures, that is. He’s several inches taller than me, and when we travel we tend to forgo asking strangers to take our photo for us, opting instead to go for the stretched-out-arm-double-self-portrait. Inevitably, he only makes it into the shot from the neck down, or in other cases, our faces crowd the frame so much that the picture might as well have been taken in our front yard rather than in front of the Eiffel Tower. Sure, there’s the Quick Pod, Arm Extending Self Portrait Device, which would allow for further extension beyond my limited arm’s length, but then I still couldn’t see a preview of the shot to frame it. And, let’s face it; I probably wouldn’t go through the trouble of hooking it up. I’ve seen hacks online where people have glued small mirrors to the front of their cameras to resolve this issue, but it hasn’t been until recently that a camera has existed to remedy this problem professionally. It’s been a long time coming.

The Samsung DualView TL225 boasts two LCD screens—a 3.5-inch touch screen on the back and a 1.5-inch front LCD, which allows you to see a live view of what the lens sees, in order to get a perfect shot. Ingenious, really. Though I don’t know what took so long for this feature to make its way to consumers, I give major credit to Samsung for being the first.

Specs

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The TL225 has a 12.2-megapixel CCD image sensor and 4.6x optical zoom. The 4.9-22.5mm (35mm film equivalent: 27-124.2mm) f/3.5-5.9 wide angle Schneider-KREUZNACH lens allows for shooting wide landscape vistas and large groups of people. There is an expanded list of flash modes, beyond what is often seen in pocket cams, including: Auto, Auto & Red-eye reduction, Fill-in flash, Slow sync, Flash off and Red eye fix. The TL225 records High Definition video (1280x720p at 30fps) in H.264 format, and has a mini HDMI connector.

Interface

If you’re a fan of the touch screen interface, you’ll be a fan of the TL225. The camera body is virtually void of any protruding buttons, save for a small power button, an almost flat shutter release, a zoom toggle and a slim and flat playback button—all on top. The wide 3.5-inch LCD screen fills up the entire back of the camera, and its touch menu is about as good as I’ve seen before for navigating the menu layers and scrolling through shots in playback. A simple tap of obviously marked tabs and symbols takes you where you need to be, and the circular shooting mode menu scrolls smoothly. The touch screen uses “haptic” technology, which causes a little buzz to occur when you tap so that you get the reassuring sensation of having pressed a button and made a selection. Also, the Gesture UI allows for the camera to respond to your hand gesture in order to access certain features.

Shooting Modes

The Harbor shot in Auto Mode
Harbor shot in Auto Mode

The Harbor shot in "Sunset" Scene Mode
Harbor shot in “Sunset” Scene Mode

There is an assortment of shooting modes in the TL225, including: Auto, Program, Smart Auto (which automatically recognizes the scene and adjusts settings), and thirteen dedicated Scene Modes (including: Beauty Shot, Frame Guide, Night, Portrait, Children, Dawn, Sunset, Text, Close up, Landscape, Backlight, Fireworks and Beach & Snow). There is also Dual Image Stabilization (IS) mode, which uses both Optical (OIS)—for combating hand-shake—and Digital (DIS)—as a backup—to help you capture sharp, blur-free shots. In Program Mode you can select from an ISO range of 80-3200, or ISO Auto. You can also choose to shoot in Auto Focus Mode, Macro (for a focusing distance closer than 80cm) or Super Macro (for less than 3-8cm) in order to control depth of field as specifically as the point-and-shoot will allow.

DualView

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The nice thing about the 1.5-inch front LCD on the TL225 is that it turns off and basically disappears if it’s not in use, so that you don’t go around promoting your shots to the world if you use the rear LCD to frame. Also, it lies underneath the glossy, black semiopaque casing of the camera, so it’s much more scratch resistant than the rear screen.

There are additional uses for the front LCD beyond giving you a live view of what the lens sees for self portrait taking. In Child Mode, built-in animations, such as a winking clown, keep the attention of squirming toddlers and crying babies. The Samsung website offers additional Child Mode Animations for free download as well. The Countdown Timer animation is another option to be viewed through the front LCD, so that you know when to smile and when not to blink as you wait for the self timer to release the shutter.

Inconveniences

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My biggest complaint about the TL225 would be the memory issue. Samsung insists on using a Micro SD/SDHC to keep the camera slim and compact, but it ends up being a hassle for most of us whose card readers and arsenal of memory cards are of the SD/SDHC variation. At most, however, this is no more than an inconvenience; not really a flaw. The camera does come with about 55MB of internal memory as well.

Conclusion

All said, I’m a fan. Yes, mostly because of the DualView aspect, but also because I found the overall design and functionality of what could be a “gimmicky” camera to be very good. The $349.99 (MSRP) price tag is a response to the Schneider-KREUZNACH optics, the near flawless UI and the dual LCDs—not the comparable specs and image quality of point-and-shoots that can be found for well under $300. So, those are your options to weigh. Some people assume that the DualView TL225 is marketed only to those interested in vanity, but I think it’s worth considering how often you take self portrait shots, especially if you travel a lot. This is an innovation that goes far beyond vanity or gimmick in my opinion.

Samsung DualView TL225

  • MSRP:
  • $349.99
  • Size/Weight:
  • 3.93”W x 2.35”H x 0.73”D; .365 lbs.
  • Image Sensor:
  • 12.2-megapixels, CCD
  • Still Recording Format:
  • JPG
  • Memory:
  • Mini SD/SDHC, 55MB internal
  • Display:
  • 3.5-inch touch rear LCD; 1.5-inch front LCD
  • Video Recording Mode:
  • 1280×720 (30/15fps) High Quality; 1280×720 (30/15fps) Standard Quality;
    640×480 (30/15fps); 320×240 (60/30/15 fps) in H.264 format
  • Exposure Metering:
  • Multi, Spot, Center Weighted, Face Detection AE
  • ISO Equivalent:
  • Auto, 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200
  • Power Source:
  • SLB-07ARechargeable Battery
  • Contact:
  • www.samsung.com/us
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