Posts Tagged ‘point-and-shoot’

Olympus FE-5020 Review

fe5020_WineRed_Front

Text and Photos by Allison Gibson

A Super Wide-Angle Point-and-Shoot

When shopping for a compact point-and-shoot camera, there are a slew of features to consider, and they vary based on what is most important to you as a photographer. If you have kids who play sports, you probably want to look for a camera that has a fast shutter speed or maybe a scene mode meant for precisely that type of shooting. If you like to have a camera handy for parties, you want to make sure the image quality is good in low-light. Other things to look for are: zoom, flash, shooting modes, video, battery life, display and ergonomics. The slim, 12-megapixel CCD image sensor Olympus FE-5020 is a slick and stylish point-and-shoot that, for only $159.99 (MSRP), boasts high marks in many of the above categories.

Super Wide-Angle

The 4.3-21.5mm f/3.3-5.8 Olympus lens lives up to the hype of the FE-5020 being a “super wide-angle” camera, as it’s being billed by the manufacturer. To get closer to specific parts of the action, the FE-5020 offers 5x optical zoom, controlled by a quickly responsive thumb toggle to the right of the LCD. It is an unpleasant but not surprising detail to many photographers who prefer to compose shots with a viewfinder that this low-priced point-and-shoot lacks one. However, the large, bright 2.7-inch LCD offers expansive coverage of the wide shots.

Shooting Modes

Magic Filters: The FE-5020's Fisheye filter
The FE-5020 offers Intelligent Auto (iAuto) shooting mode, Program Auto mode and Digital Image Stabilization Plus mode, as well as a large assortment of specialty Scene Modes, including: Portrait, Landscape, Night Scene, Night + Portrait, Sport, Indoor, Candle, Self Portrait, Sunset, Fireworks, Cuisine, Documents, Beach + Snow and Pet. Additionally, there are “Magic Filters,” which include: Pop Art, Pinhole and Fisheye—if you can get to them in the LCD menu, that is. You can only access the Magic Filters option from the Menu button if you are in the Program Auto shooting mode, and once you get to them in the digital menu, they are untitled and offer only a dark thumbnail shot of what the filter will look like when applied. But however difficult Olympus makes it to get to the Magic Filters, they do deliver good results once they are in use. The Fisheye filter offers a much truer rendition of the effect that a real Fisheye lens gives, as compared to the Fisheye Art Filter in the recently reviewed Pentax K-x D-SLR.

The FE-5020 also shoots video (640×480, 30/15fps)—though not High Definition—with sound, which does well to capture sharp footage if the available light is sufficient.

Highs & Lows

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With its sophisticated looks, compact size, super wide-angle lens and 5x optical zoom, the Olympus FE-5020 is a well-priced point-and-shoot camera, however not without a few issues. The shutter release button has a wobbly, unstable feel to it, making it difficult to focus and take quick, precise shots instantly. The shot-to-shot lag time also leaves much to be desired. The built-in flash is much too bright, washing out shots with its overly harsh light in most ambient lighting situations.

The image quality is good, however, in low-light if you punch up the ISO. From ISO 64-400 it does great, and at 800 only a little noise starts to show up. At ISO 1600 you begin to see heavy noise.

The FE-5020’s AF (auto focus) Tracking, which Olympus bills as “automatically tracking moving subjects and continuously adjusting the focus and brightness to capture them sharply with ease,” didn’t always meet that standard for me in capturing a busy, low-lit Los Angeles outdoor night scene.

A great thing about this camera, though, is the outstanding battery life. It uses a Li-ion Rechargeable Battery (LI-42B), which lasts 150 shots according to the manufacturer, and seemed to last even longer than that for me—which was impressive considering that the LCD is always on due to the lack of a viewfinder.

The FE-5020 has 48MB of internal memory, and is xD-Picture Card and microSD (with optional adapter) compatible, which was admittedly inconvenient for me, as my card reader didn’t read the Olympus xD-Picture Card that I tested the camera with. A more accessible SD or SDHC would be a better choice for Olympus to go with. Of course, the camera comes bundled with a USB cable to retrieve images.

Overall, the thin and lightweight Olympus FE-5020—which comes in an assortment of jewel-toned finishes, including wine red, royal blue and dark gray—is a well-priced point-and-shoot with many of the features you may be looking for, plus more. It has a large, bright LCD, a large assortment of auto shooting modes and filters, advanced Face Detection (up to 16 faces), and the TruPic III Image Processor delivers sharp results that you can blow up to poster sized prints.

Olympus FE-5020

  • MSRP:
  • $159.99
  • Size/Weight:
  • 3.65”W x 2.2”H x 0.97”D; 3.8 oz., without battery
  • Image Sensor:
  • 12-megapixels
  • Still Recording Format:
  • JPG
  • Memory:
  • xD-Picture Card (1GB, 2GB); microSD (MASD-1 is required)
  • Display:
  • 2.7-inch LCD (230,000 pixels)
  • Exposure Metering:
  • Digital ESP Metering, Face Detection AE (when Face Detection AF is selected)
  • Special Features:
  • Magic Filters, 14 Scene Modes, Panorama (Up to 10 frames automatically stitchable with OLYMPUS Master software), Perfect Shot Preview, Frame Assist, Voice Recording, Playback Edit Effects (Still Image: Red-Eye Fix, Shadow Adjustment Edit, Beauty Fix, Resize, Cropping)
  • Video Recording Mode:
  • 640×480 (30/15fps) in .AVI format
  • Power Source:
  • Li-ion Rechargeable Battery (LI-42B)
  • Contact:
  • www.olympusamerica.com
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Panasonic Announces Lumix DMC-F3

Panasonic_CES 2010 - LUMIX F3 - Silver - front

At CES, Panasonic has announced the new Lumix DMC-F3 12.1MP “entry-level” compact camera, which boasts 4x optical zoom and HD video (1280 x 720p/30fps).

From Panasonic:

Panasonic today introduces a new entry-level digital camera, the LUMIX DMC-F3, which has been designed with simplicity in mind, without overlooking the importance of style and performance. The 12.1-Megapixel LUMIX DMC-F3 has an impressive 4x optical zoom, considering its small size, as well as Panasonic’s shooting-assistant, Auto Scene Mode. The LUMIX F3 also records dynamic High Definition video in 1280 x 720p, at a smooth 30 fps, in addition to WVGA (848 x 480) and normal VGA (640 x 480).  The LUMIX F3 is equipped with a 28mm wide-angle lens, a high-sensitivity CCD, and an Extra Optical Zoom function which extends zoom power to 7.8x, plus a 2.7” 230,000-dot resolution LCD designed so the user can clearly see it while shooting still photos and videos.

“The Panasonic LUMIX F3 was designed for the casual and frequent user who wants a digital camera that is not only small and stylish in design, but that has sophisticated features to help enrich the photo-taking experience,” said David Briganti, Senior Product Manager, Imaging, Panasonic Consumer Electronic Company. “With extended zoom and Auto Scene Mode, the Panasonic LUMIX F3 can take high-quality photos and videos, while still being easy-to-use and small enough to fit in your pocket.”

Other features include, Auto Scene Mode, which when activated, includes the following three shooting-assist functions:

·   Intelligent ISO Control prevents the blurring of a moving subject by optimizing shutter speed and ISO settings to render sharp, clear images. On the LUMIX F3, unwanted red-eyes are digitally corrected and backlight compensation automatically activates.

·   Face Detection helps to clearly capture registered faces and focus on faces with the appropriate exposure.  This is helpful when trying to focus on one person within a group.

·   Intelligent Scene Selector automatically selects one of six scene modes that best suits the shooting situation – Macro, Portrait, Scenery, Night Portrait, Night Scenery.

Additionally, the Panasonic LUMIX F3 also has a Digital Image Stabilizer which helps suppress hand-shake and prevent blurry photos.  The Panasonic LUMIX F3 has an auto power LCD function which detects light conditions and automatically boosts the LCD backlighting by a maximum of 40% when shooting outdoors to secure clarity and visibility of the screen. In addition to supporting conventional SD/SDHC Memory Cards, the LUMIX F3 is compatible with SDXC Memory Cards, including Panasonic’s newly announced 48 GB* and 64 GB SDXC Memory Cards – to enable high capacity content storage and fast data transfer speeds. The LUMIX F3 is compatible with Windows 7**.

Pricing and availability for the Panasonic LUMIX DMC-F3 will be announced 30 days prior to shipping date.  The Panasonic LUMIX F3 will come in silver and black models.  For more information on these LUMIX models, please visit: www.panasonic.com/ces2010.

*GB = 1,073,741,824 bytes.  Usable capacity will be less.
** Windows and the Windows logo are trademarks of the Microsoft group of companies.

Design and specifications are subject to change without notice.

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Check out the New Issue of DP!

DPFall09Cover

The new issue of Digital Photographer features profiles on top photographers, including renowned night/low-light photographer, Jill Waterman, and fine art photographer, David Julian. The issue also features hands-on reviews of new D-SLRs, compact cameras and camcorders,  including: The Canon Rebel T1i, the Sony A330, the Olympus Stylus Tough-8000, the Sigma DP-2 and the Sony HDR-XR520V. Also, check out reviews of the latest optic swap system from Lensbaby and Nik’s Dfine 2.0 noise-reducing software. Brush up on your understanding of focal length with a Back to Basics article and learn about special effects in video production.

Of course, there are always the columns you love: Digital Insider, Exposure and Inside the Image, which features the work of a DP reader. Learn how your photograph could be featured in the next issue here. We look forward to your feedback on the new issue, and as always, you can catch us on Twitter for up to the minute photo world news and Facebook for photo community discussions.

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Continuing the Discussion: The Future of Point-and-Shoot Cameras

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photo © Stefan Baudy (Flickr creative commons)

UPDATE: In order to get several perspectives on our discussion about the future of point-and-shoot cameras (see original post about the topic below),  I approached Ed Lee, Director of Consumer Imaging Services Group for InfoTrends to get his “insider’s” take on the issue. He had a lot of great insight, and some very explicit views about the digicam VS camera phone questions we raised, which would be interesting to both people in the camera manufacturing business and camera consumers. Here’s what Ed had to say:

“Point and shoots will continue to hold a strong position in the digital camera market. Camera phones will co-exist. While some people will decide to forego a digital camera and just use the one on their phone, others will be inspired by their camera phone photography to go out and buy a digital still camera. As for sophistication, digital still cameras will continue to offer better features than camera phones because they are dedicated devices and do not have to make compromises because of other product constraints. They also continue to work hard at staying one step ahead of camera phones, for instance, digital still cameras offer 14 MP resolution today and camera phones are just getting into the 5 MP range. Digital cameras have a good flash, which when used drains the battery, something that phones cannot afford to happen, if people want to still use the phone function and have a long idle time between charges. Decent 10 MP digital cameras can be purchased for well under $100 now, so in many instances, the up charge to buy a more fully-featured camera phone will far exceed what an entry-level digital camera will cost. So besides the integration feature, some will not see the benefit of paying the extra money. 5 years from now, it may not matter what device you use to capture the image. The key will be what can you do with the image after capture. That is where the real value begins.”

Now we want to hear what you have to say about this topic. Do you think Ed Lee’s predictions are correct? Do you see yourself continuing to use digital point-and-shoot cameras down the road even as your cell phone’s camera advances it’s technology? Comment below or join the discussion at the DP Facebook Page.

Original Post:

FutureOfP&S_6

As fans of both the art of photography and the complex tools that help us to capture images–namely cameras–we at Digital Photographer would like to pose a question:

What do you think the future holds for point-and-shoot cameras, when it’s possible that in, say, five years time the cameras built into cell phones will meet the level of shooting sophistication of most consumer level digicams? Will point-and-shoot digital cameras as we know them today become irrelevant or, perhaps, extinct?

So called “instant cameras” have been around on the consumer level since 1948, when the Polaroid Model 95 went on sale (ref. The Impossible Project); and beginning in 1963, the Kodak Instamatic began to make photography accessible to the masses.

iphone3gs

As it stands today, there are over 130 new compact digital cameras on the market, offered by Nikon, Canon, Sony, Olympus, Pentax, Samsung, Fujifilm and Kodak, and each of these manufacturers seems to be in a never-ending race to crank out more. Meanwhile, most anyone who owns an Apple iPhone (like myself) would agree that the image quality of the camera feature in the phone is inferior to even the lowest level point-and-shoot digital camera on the market. Sure, the 3MP camera boasts a built-in auto focus (iPhone 3GS) and a tap-induced digital zoom, but most digital cameras being produced by the above named companies come standard with, at the very least, an 8MP image sensor and 3x optical zoom. Oh, and there’s also always a little helpful feature called flash, which the iPhone still lacks. But the iPhone does record video as well as stills–something that a large number of the current point-and-shoot cameras on the market cannot also claim.

Join the discussion by posting a comment with your thoughts here, or at the DP page on Facebook.

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The Future of Point-and-Shoot Cameras

FutureOfP&S_6

As fans of both the art of photography and the complex tools that help us to capture images–namely cameras–we at Digital Photographer would like to pose a question:

What do you think the future holds for point-and-shoot cameras, when it’s possible that in, say, five years time the cameras built into cell phones will meet the level of shooting sophistication of most consumer level digicams? Will point-and-shoot digital cameras as we know them today become irrelevant or, perhaps, extinct?

So called “instant cameras” have been around on the consumer level since 1948, when the Polaroid Model 95 went on sale (ref. The Impossible Project); and beginning in 1963, the Kodak Instamatic began to make photography accessible to the masses.

iphone3gs

As it stands today, there are over 130 new compact digital cameras on the market, offered by Nikon, Canon, Sony, Olympus, Pentax, Samsung, Fujifilm and Kodak, and each of these manufacturers seems to be in a never-ending race to crank out more. Meanwhile, most anyone who owns an Apple iPhone (like myself) would agree that the image quality of the camera feature in the phone is inferior to even the lowest level point-and-shoot digital camera on the market. Sure, the 3MP camera boasts a built-in auto focus (iPhone 3GS) and a tap-induced digital zoom, but most digital cameras being produced by the above named companies come standard with, at the very least, an 8MP image sensor and 3x optical zoom. Oh, and there’s also always a little helpful feature called flash, which the iPhone still lacks. But the iPhone does record video as well as stills–something that a large number of the current point-and-shoot cameras on the market cannot also claim.

Join the discussion by posting a comment with your thoughts here, or at the DP page on Facebook.

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