Posts Tagged ‘point-and-shoot’

Pentax Optio I-10 Review

Pentax Optio I-10 Review
Text and Photos by Allison Gibson

Retro Cool Compact

Similar to the white Pentax K-x D-SLR, the white Pentax Optio I-10 compact camera is eye-catching and envy-inducing—a beautiful object in the hand of the photographer. Weighing only 5.4-ounces, and measuring 1.1-inches thick, this ultra compact point-and-shoot is light and slim. And with the charming retro look of its pearl white body, the I-10 (which also comes in black) has style.

What’s Old is New

Because so many point-and-shoot cameras share similar specs and price points, manufacturers sometimes try to attract consumers by setting their cameras apart with style. Most camera makers opt to go the route of sleek and futuristic for these compacts, but Pentax has taken a look back for their style cues—back to the once beloved Pentax Auto 110 film camera. The new Optio I-10 (notice the homage to the past even with the name?) is styled after its elder—with a digital face-lift of course. At PMA in February, I had the chance to check out the old and new side by side, and the similarity is staggering. Both fit right in the palm of your hand. With the popularity of all things vintage in photography right now, such as the Hipstamatic iPhone app and resurgence of Pinhole photography, the I-10’s retro cool looks are right on trend. But how does it fare as a contemporary camera?

Beyond the Beauty

With a 12.1-megapizel CCD sensor and offering 5x optical zoom, the I-10 features much of what consumers want in a slim and stylish point-and-shoot. The 5-25mm (28-140mm equivalent) f/3.5-5.9 PENTAX zoom lens does offer a less than desirable aperture range, however. The camera’s 2.7-inch LCD screen—with a 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio—is quite bright, even in direct sunlight. Though a 3-inch screen is ultimately more desirable for framing, it would have caused the camera body to be larger, and one of the I-10’s most celebrated features is its petite size.

Shooting Modes and Special Features

The I-10 features a host of subject and setting-specific shooting modes, which are accessed at the touch of the “Mode” button on a four-way D-pad to the right of the camera’s LCD. It is convenient that Pentax has chosen to not bury this menu deep in a digital folder somewhere because most users of this point-and-shoot will opt to swap modes fairly often, as the shooting environment changes from, say, Surf and Snow to Night Scene. Also included among the 24 shooting modes are: Auto Picture, Program (which allows slight tweaks to Auto such as white balance and exposure compensation), Portrait and Digital Shake Reduction (SR). There is also a mode called Digital Wide, which stitches together two pictures to create a wider image. This is not to be confused with Digital Panorama mode, which stitches together more than two images taken with the camera to create a panoramic photograph.

In addition to the point-and-shoot friendly shooting modes, there are a few features that are meant to assist in quality image capture. Another of the four-way D-pad choices takes you directly to a Focus Mode menu, where you can choose from among: Standard, Macro, Super Macro, Pan Focus, Infinity and Manual. To help the photographer avoid taking blurry pictures in challenging lighting conditions, the I-10 features a mechanical sensor shift Shake Reduction system. The Optio I-10 also features High Definition video (720p at 30fps) in .AVI format.

Interface

As I touched on above, there is a four-way control on the back of the camera, located to the right of the LCD, and owing to its petite size, there is room for few other manual controls on the body. A playback button and a button for Smile Capture and Face Detection are found above the four-way D-pad. Pentax’s “Green Button,” which is also found on the Pentax Kx, allows for a customizable quick-jump to a specific menu feature—I set it to EV Compensation. The button also doubles as the trash option when reviewing images in playback mode. To the left is the Menu button, where a fairly straight-forward set of options is presented in lists. At the top of the camera, we find the on/off button, shutter release and zoom toggle.

Beyond the D-SLR-like looks of the I-10, it carries over the feel of one in a small but important way with the raised hand grip on the front of the camera and the “leatherette” texture in the same place. I find that too many ultra compact digicams are hard to get a comfortable handle on, with their sleek body designs and slick plastic cases. The I-10 feels a lot more secure in-hand than most due to the small details of the grip and texture.

Performance

I did the bulk of my test shooting outside on a sunny day at a farmer’s market, and found that this was the ideal shooting condition for the I-10. It does well handling detail in bright spots and shadows, and focuses quite quickly on still objects in good lighting. In Auto Picture mode, with the Standard Focus option, I was able to get close-up shots with shallow depth-of-field, as it “took the guesswork out of photography” for me, as they say, reverting automatically to f/3.5 and ISO 80 to capture food displayed at a seller’s stand. When I shot the food that was inside of my farmer’s market tote, it punched up to ISO 800 in Auto mode and still maintained low noise. The results of photographing moving subjects in difficult lighting conditions were less consistent, however. At a fashion show in Malibu (a prime environment for showing off the stylish little digicam, by the way), the I-10 had some trouble tracking the fast-moving runway models under the inconsistent catwalk lighting.

The Price of Beauty

The I-10’s price that has been raising a few eyebrows since its January announcement, though I have to note that at $299.99 $249.99 (updated price) (MSRP) it’s not outrageous. People seem to expect to get everything they ever dreamed of in a camera these days for less and less money. All said, it is in the same ballpark as—or even less expensive than—some digicams with comparable specs. But I don’t like to play the spec-by-spec comparison game. It’s best to get your hands on a camera, get your eye to the viewfinder (or fixed on the LCD in this case), to judge whether it’s worth your money. You’ll need to weigh the limited aperture range against the stylish looks and ultra compact portability; the less consistent capture of moving subjects in difficult lighting against the impressively low-noise capture at higher ISOs when shooting still objects. In my estimation, the Pentax Optio I-10 packs an intuitive UI, HD video and a good zoom into its ultra compact and portable little body. Your major decision might come down to whether or not you want to commit to the camera’s unique retro look.

Pentax Optio I-10

  • MSRP:
  • $299.99 $249.99 (updated price)
  • Size/Weight:
  • 4.0”W x 2.6”H x 1.1”D; 4.7 oz. loaded
  • Image Sensor:
  • 12.1-megapixels, CCD
  • Still Recording Format:
  • JPG
  • Memory:
  • SD/SDHC, 26.7MB internal
  • Display:
  • 2.7-inch LCD (230,000 pixels)
  • Video Recording Mode:
  • 1280×720 (30/15fps); 640×480 (30/15fps);
    320×240 30/15fps in .AVI (Motion JPG) format
  • Image Stabilization:
  • Still: Sensor-Shift SR, Pixel Track SR, Digital SR (ISO 3200-6400 5M or 3.8M) Movie: Movie SR
  • ISO Equivalent:
  • Auto: 80-800, Digital SR 80-6400 (ISO 3200-6400 at 5M or 3.8M) Manual: 80-6400 (ISO 3200-6400 at 5M or 3.8M)
  • Power Source:
  • Rechargeable Li-Ion Battery D-LI92
  • Contact:
  • www.pentaximaging.com
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Canon Announces PowerShot SD4000 IS

Canon has announced the latest in their Digital ELPH lineup of compact cameras, the PowerShot SD4000 IS. According to Canon, “This new powerhouse point-and-shoot camera is the first of the Digital ELPH series to offer a high-sensitivity system, known as Canon’s HS SYSTEM, with a CMOS sensor and bright f/2.0 lens.” The SD4000 IS will be available at the end of May for an estimated MSRP of $349.99. See the full release from Canon below.

From Canon:

Placing top-level Canon features in a modern, stylish frame, Canon U.S.A., Inc., a leader in digital imaging, today announced the newest addition to the PowerShot Digital ELPH camera series- the Canon PowerShot SD4000 IS Digital ELPH camera. This new powerhouse point-and-shoot camera is the first of the Digital ELPH series to offer a high-sensitivity system, known as Canon’s HS SYSTEM, with a CMOS sensor and bright f/2.0 lens. Offering consumers the most enhanced image quality available in an ELPH series camera, these features help to capture those wonderful moments in low-light conditions. The PowerShot SD4000 IS Digital ELPH camera also has high definition (HD) movie-shooting capabilities, providing an additional option for cataloging memorable events. Primarily, the new PowerShot SD4000 IS is great for any user with an attention for up-to-date functionality and style.

Whether attending a relative’s sunset wedding or meeting friends in a dimly lit restaurant, these are times where the new PowerShot SD4000 IS showcases its best attributes. The new 10-megapixel back-illuminated CMOS sensor, in conjunction with the DIGIC 4 image processor creates Canon’s HS SYSTEM to enhance image quality in low-light situations and helps reduce noise at high ISO speeds. Along with Canon’s HS SYSTEM, the f/2.0 lens allows more light to enter, permitting higher shutter speeds, for further reducing the effect of camera shake and increasing image sharpness and quality. In addition, the combination of Canon’s HS SYSTEM and the f/2.0 lens enables users to take photos without a flash, resulting in a more natural look while providing greater depth of field, making it an exemplary tool for portrait photography. In addition, the PowerShot SD4000 IS has the fastest high-speed burst rate to date* in a Canon PowerShot Digital ELPH camera with 8.4 frames per second (fps). New to the ELPH cameras, the PowerShot SD4000 IS has aperture and shutter controls allowing for enhanced flexibility and creative control, making this camera great for shooters who are interested in getting even more out of their photography.

“With the introduction of the new PowerShot SD4000 IS, Canon is putting the power of high-quality photography in an ultra-compact size to amplify the experience and quality customers see when shooting with a Canon camera,” said Yuichi Ishizuka, executive vice president and general manager, Consumer Imaging Group, Canon U.S.A. “The two functions in the HS SYSTEM allow our customers to capture the clearest pictures in any setting, resulting in more of a professional look.”

For the Design-Centric
A treat for the eyes, the PowerShot SD4000 IS has beautifully crafted curves, texture and a modern look that appeals to a design-savvy user. With all of its new features, the Canon PowerShot SD4000 IS elevates the current ELPH series, offering advanced settings in a polished, sculpted, compact frame, making it an essential item to tote anywhere.

Get Creative with HD Movie
The addition of the HD Movie feature in the new PowerShot SD4000 IS is one of the most distinguished characteristics that makes this camera a must-have for anyone. This dual-purpose camera allows users to creatively compose video, helping to capture unforgettable moments from a child’s first baseball game to a son or daughter walking up to the podium on Graduation Day. Users can also have more fun with HD movie footage by using the My Color function, composed of Color Swap and Color Accent options. In addition, video content is easily downloaded from the camera via USB connection and can be easily played back on your HDTV via an HDMI output connector.

Timing is Everything
As an added bonus, the new Canon PowerShot SD4000 IS has a new Super Slow Motion movie function that allows users to record video at a very high frame rate, possessing the appearance of slow motion when played back at regular speed. The Super Slow Motion movie function captures a subject at 240 frames-per-second (fps), and later plays back the footage at 30 fps, allowing each moment of footage to be appreciated in super slow motion while maintaining great image quality.

Additional Features
# A 3.0-inch wide angle (28mm equivalent) wide screen LCD allows for easy on-camera previewing and reviewing of menus and images.
# A 3.8X optical zoom with optical image stabilization helps to ensure images will be clear and how they were meant to be captured.
# Support of the high-spec SDXC memory cards with the maximum storage of two terabytes (TB) in SDA standard.
# Eye-Fi memory card connectivity, where wireless data can directly transfer to PCs.
# New scene modes, such as miniature and fish-eye effects help to increase overall creativity.
# Smart Shutter technology, which automatically takes pictures when a person smiles or winks; resulting in less re-takes.

The new Canon PowerShot SD4000 IS is available in three different color variations: red, black and silver. In addition, while supplies last, there will be an exclusive, limited edition white PowerShot SD4000 IS model available direct from Canon (www.shop.usa.canon.com). Scheduled to be available at the end of May, the Canon PowerShot SD4000 IS Digital ELPH camera retails for an estimated price of $349.99.

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Leica Announces V-LUX 20

Leica has announced the 12.1MP V-LUX 20 compact camera with GPS tagging, the LEICA DC-VARIO-ELMAR 4.1–49.2 mm f/3.3–4.9 ASPH  zoom lens, and 720p video capabilities. The V-LUX 20 will be available at the end of April for $699.00**. Check out the full press release below.

From Leica:

Solms, Germany (April 20, 2010) – Leica Camera AG presents a new, 12.1 megapixel digital compact camera: the LEICA V-LUX 20. Equipped with a high performance DC-VARIO ELMAR lens, innovative GPS tagging, optional HD movie recording and various automated functions, the V-LUX 20 is a truly universal camera, capable of capturing all moments of life.

The V-LUX 20’s LEICA DC-VARIO-ELMAR 4.1–49.2 mm f/3.3–4.9 ASPH. zoom lens offers a range of focal lengths of 25–300 mm in 35-mm format, making it the ideal camera for almost any photographic environment. Whether shooting expansive landscapes, finely detailed macro studies at short distances or shots of distant objects with a super-telephoto setting, its 12x zoom captures them all in images of breathtaking quality. Integrated image stabilization helps photographers in every shooting situation and also prevents fuzzy pictures caused by camera shake or difficult lighting conditions.

“High-performance optics, compact size and simple, intuitive handling: these are the trademarks of the V-LUX 20. It is the ideal tool for effortless photography and can be utilized by the whole family – for everyday shooting, special occasions or when traveling,” says Peter Kruschewski, Product Manager Digital Compact Cameras at Leica Camera AG. “At the same time, the manual setting options of the V-LUX 20 offer more ambitious photographers absolute creative control over their pictures.”

The LEICA V-LUX 20 is characterized by clear lines, ergonomic design and evidently positioned controls. Its straightforward handling is further enhanced by a whole range of automatic functions. For the more knowledgeable photographer, manual setting options for shutter speed and aperture provide all the creative freedom necessary for image control. A selector dial on the top deck of the camera allows fast and simple selection of a wide range of settings.

The generously dimensioned, three-inch monitor of the V-LUX 20 has a large 3 inch TFT display with a resolution of 460,000 pixels, offering an extremely bright and sharp view. It is a reliable and precise tool for the assessment of image composition and framing before shooting, as well as for quality control of captured shots.

As the first Leica digital camera to feature GPS tagging, the Leica V-LUX 20 allows photographers to record not only the geographical coordinates of the location in the Exif data of the image files, but also the local time for every shot. An extremely useful aid for archiving pictures, the GPS tagging function prevents all travelers from ever forgetting where their pictures were taken. All images posted on social networks, image portals and map sites such as Google Maps or Google Earth reveal exactly when and where they were shot.* When abroad, the V-LUX 20 can also display local sights and interesting places. This feature offers a total of 500,000 so-called ‘points of interest’ in 73 different countries.

In addition to featuring GPS tagging, the V-LUX 20 is equipped with a movie function that enables the recording of moving pictures in HD quality. Together with the camera’s zoom function, smart automatic features such as face recognition, automatic scene modes and smart exposure are all available in movie mode, making the V-LUX 20 a superior movie-maker in a compact format.

The LEICA V-LUX 20 will be available at specialized Leica dealers from the end of April 2010. Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 is one of the standard features provided with V-LUX 20. A matching brown calfskin case for the camera is available as an optional accessory.

For additional information, please visit us.leica-camera.com. For media inquiries, high resolution images and loan out requests, please contact Evins Communications.

* It is possible that GPS tagging may not function in the People’s Republic of China and neighbouring regions. Satellite signal reception may be impossible, depending on the location. In such cases, the positioning data may be recorded inaccurately or not at all.

**Pricing taken from UK press release, not US (seen above).

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PMA ’10 Sneak Peek

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A day before the PMA show officially opens here in Anaheim, the press gets a “sneak peek” at an eponymously named event. Today, at that event, I got to see a lot of the cameras that have been recently announced by Pentax, Nikon, Samsung and Olympus, and several new PMA announcements from the likes of HP and GE. This is also the venue where I get the time to check out gear like bags and innovative new ideas from smaller companies, such as PhotoFramed.com.

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I got to get my hands on newly announced Pentax cameras, including the teeny tiny, adorably retro-looking Optio I-10; the brand new Samsung TL350, which was just announced this morning; and the Nikon COOLPIX S8000, with its ultra bright 3-inch LCD screen that’s similar to that of the pro level D3s D-SLR—which I also got to check out.

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New from GE (General Imaging) is a line of super automatic point-and-shoot digicams—meaning they leave almost nothing to the photographer other than to press the shutter release. The memory is all built-in, as well as the battery, but General Imaging says that’s what consumers asked for. Point. And. Shoot. The most important feature of these cameras, for the fashionistas they’re geared toward, anyway, is that they were co-designed by Jason Wu, an exciting young New York fashion designer, and feature an assortment of color choices and leather finishes.

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New from HP is a lineup of affordable point-and-shoots, including the 12.2MP PW550 with 5x optical zoom and the 12MP CW450 with a 2.7-inch touch LDC.

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The just announced Lowepro SlingShot AW series was the most exciting bag selection I saw today. Lowepro’s SlingShots have been wildly popular with photographers since they first came out five years ago because of the way they allow for rapid access to cameras and gear. For this new generation, they’ve made a few upgrades based on consumer feedback from the field to further enhance that experience, including the ability to carry a smaller tripod on the outside, and interior space for personal items besides camera gear.

Check back for more in-depth, hands-on looks at new cameras and gear over the next couple of days, as we traverse the crowded landscape of the PMA show floor.

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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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