Hands-on with Samsung NX200, MV800, and WB750 Cameras
Text and Images by Lynne Eodice
Last week we reported on the newly announced Samsung NX200 mirrorless interchangeable lens compact camera. I was able to get a hands-on look at the camera on the show floor at IFA Berlin, as well as take it for a test spin around the historic German city. I also got to check out the other brand new Samsung cameras: the multiview MV800 with a Flip-Out touch screen LCD display, and the WB750 ultra compact camera with the longest zoom lens that Samsung offers.
Olympus has announced the compact new SP-810UZ digital camera, which they’re billing as a perfect travel camera because of its compact size and powerful zoom range. With a wide 42-864mm (35mm equivalent) zoom lens and a 36x optical zoom, the SP-810UZ has “the best zoom performance Olympus has ever delivered,” according to the company’s product manager. It is also “one of the smallest compact cameras currently on the market with a zoom of 36x.” The SP-810UZ will be available in September for an estimated $329.99. See the press release below for more details.
Nikon COOLPIX P100
Text and Images by Allison Gibson
The Nikon COOLPIX P100 may just be exactly what you’re looking for if you’re in the market for a fun, high-end, compact superzoom with impressive image quality, the ability to shoot high-speed full resolution stills at 10 frames per second (fps) and full High Definition (1080p) movie recording. The 10-Megapixel P100 has a back-illuminated CMOS sensor and a 26x optical wide-angle zoom lens—and its sturdy body feels professional in-hand yet much lighter than any entry-level D-SLR. With a host of specialty shooting modes as well as full manual control, the P100 is aimed at the amateur enthusiast crowd, and could be a good option even as a back-up camera for a pro.
Nikon COOLPIX P100
click the thumbnails to see full-size images
UI & Design
The COOLPIX P100 has a solid, professional-looking body, which like most cameras in its class imitates the design and feel of a small D-SLR. The handgrip is deep and coated with a rubberized texture for maximum comfort and one-handed shooting control. Your finger naturally hits the shutter release up front and the thumb rests on another small textured pad in the back, within reach of surrounding controls. The electronic viewfinder juts out far enough from the back of the camera that you’re not forced to smash your cheek against the display screen below it, and is encased in smooth plastic for comfort.
The 3-inch high resolution (460,000-dot) vari-angle LCD pulls out from the back of the camera and tilts up and down, allowing you to more easily get shots in unique shooting situations. This comes in handy at a place like a concert, when you would normally just hold the camera up above the crowd and blindly snap away, hoping you were aimed at the stage rather than the ceiling or the tops of the audience’s heads. It worked great for me when shooting ornate cathedral ceilings in Italy, and also for capturing the carpet of pigeons that lined the ground in Venice’s Saint Mark’s Square. Although the vari-angle LCD offered me this extra freedom when shooting, I would have preferred if it hinged sideways as well—like, say, the Canon G11’s LCD—because that allows for so many more options, such as taking self portraits and shooting around corners.
The P100 was an ideal travel camera because of its superzoom capabilities and compact size. With the wide-angle (26mm) lens I was able to capture sweeping views of ancient cities, and with the telephoto range (678mm) I could close in on far-away objects from the same location. F/4.6 is not that wide an aperture, but I was able to capture vivid, selective focus photos of exotic foods and wares in markets.
Nikon COOLPIX P100: wide-angle, telephoto, Auto WB, Active D-Lighting
click the thumbnails to see full-size images
Under normal daylight conditions, the P100 did pretty well. I could capture sharp and accurately-colored (in Auto White Balance mode) images that make for crisp prints at modest sizes—which typical travelers would probably choose to print at. In high contrast conditions, there was a loss of initial detail, however. This is where Nikon’s Active D-Lighting function came in handy, darkening blown-out highlights and lightening up dark shadowed areas a bit.
Under indoor incandescent lighting, the Auto and Incandescent WB settings tended toward the warm side , so it was best to kick into Manual there. At ISO 160-400 detail held up impressively, but then noise began to sneak in going past that range, and definitely past 800. This isn’t all that shocking—or frustrating—for a compact of this class though.
The COOLPIX P100 was a fun travel companion and satisfied the needs of a traveler who was constantly moving from place to place, and who did not want to be weighed down by heavy equipment, nor the need to constantly swap out lenses. With this compact superzoom, I was able to capture a much wider diversity of shots than those of my travel companions who used smaller point-and-shoots. And yet, just like them, I could also slip the P100 into my small shoulder bag and keep it concealed in crowded subway cars or in sparsely populated neighborhoods at night. The handling of the camera was really nice and intuitive and the overall image quality was good for the scale of printing output that most enthusiast photographers would probably need. The standout feature of the P100, for my travel purposes, was its ultrazoom capability and the creative freedom that it offered. It is a diverse and portable compact camera that has more than a few impressive tricks up its sleeve.
Nikon COOLPIX P100
4.5”W x 3.3”H x 3.9”D; 12.5 oz.
SD/SDHC Memory Card, 43MB internal
3-inch (460,000 pixels) Vari-angle TFT-LCD with anti-reflection coating
Video Recording Mode:
Full HD: 1920 x 1080p / 30fps; HD: 1280 x 720p / 30fps; Standard TV: 640 x 480 / 30fps; Small Size: 320 x 240 / 30fps; HS movie: (slow motion) 320 x 240 / 240 fps, 640 x 480 / 120fps, 1280 x 720 / 60 fps ; HS movie: (fast motion) 1920 x 1080 / 15fps; in MPEG-4 AVC H.264
Casio EX-FH100 Review
Text and Photos by Allison Gibson
The Casio EX-FH100 has been making waves since its announcement at CES due to its inclusion of a back-illuminated CMOS sensor, 10x optical zoom and—most notably—high-speed video and still recording. Priced at $349.99, the FH100 offers a lot of features, including full manual shooting and the ever-alluring possibility to capture slow-motion video, all in a sleek and compact body. The fact that the FH100 can shoot high-speed movies at 1,000 frames per second (fps) and burst mode stills at 40fps tops the list of reasons that it’s an exciting piece of equipment, and the superb quality of its still image capture makes it a nice overall camera, albeit with a few frustrating UI kinks.
High Speed Still Images
High-speed shooting is accessed at any time by pressing the HS button on top of the camera, or by turning the shooting mode dial to the red Continuous Shooting option. With the HS button you can toggle between continuous shooting and single shot, regardless of whether you are in CS mode, Manual, Aperture Priority or Shutter Priority. Continuous shooting is not available when shooting in Best Shot mode. In continuous shooting mode, you have the option of capturing up to 30 images at rates of up to 40fps. These choices are accessed by pressing the SET button. For capturing action such as sports or fast-moving subjects such as pets, the EX-FH100 is almost unparalleled among compact cameras.
Super Slow Motion Video
As I mentioned, the show-stopping feature of this camera is its ability to shoot high-speed movies at up to 1,000 frames per second—which allows for a super slow-motion effect (33 times slower than true life). With video becoming not only popular but expected in compact cameras these days, the Casio EX-FH100 goes above and beyond in delivering exciting possibilities for creating slow-motion movies with pocket-size equipment. The drawback, however, to recording these impressive slow-motion movies at 1,000fps is that the resolution is substantially decreased, bringing videos all the way down to 224 x 64 pixels in size (640 x 480 at 120fps, 448 x 336 at 240fps, 224 x 168 at 420fps).
What Needs Work
This camera is a serious piece of equipment—both the features and the price reflect that—and yet the thing handles quite inelegantly. The screeching electronic noise that the lens motor makes when you zoom and focus is truly painful. It sounds as if the camera is frying on the inside. Frankly, it sounds cheap. And then there’s the auto focus lag, which is a problem in several of the shooting modes from the Best Shot menu—even when you press the shutter release half way down. The worst of it happens when shooting in “Multi-motion image” mode from the BS menu. Once the image is finally captured, the screen goes black and then says “Busy…Please wait…” for 15 seconds. Obviously in the interim you are bound to miss any other photo-ops. It’s hard, however, to complain too much about this when the high-speed camera offers continuous shooting mode to make sure you capture a whole sequence instead of worrying about shot-to-shot lag time. But sometimes you just want to take one picture, not 30, not 10, not even 5.
The layout of the camera’s buttons also leaves much to be desired. Where one’s thumb would naturally sit when gripping the camera, the video record button also sits. There is also the chance that a thumb will inadvertently press the HS button when pressing the shutter release because of where it sits, making it easy to accidentally switch to or from high-speed mode. The camera’s large 3-inch LCD is nice and bright, but is probably the culprit as to why buttons seem awkwardly placed in the meager space beside it.
The battery life of the EX-FH100 is remarkable, and its compact size makes it easily portable, though it is noticeably heavier than many point-and-shoot cameras on the market right now. Because it uses a backlit CMOS sensor, it does incredibly well in low-light, capturing sharp images even in the dimly lit temperate rain forests of northern Washington State. With a whole host of Best Shot scene modes, as well as Manual, Aperture Priority and Shutter Priority modes, the EX-FH100 does stand alone as a feature-rich compact digicam, but if you are looking into purchasing this camera it’s most likely for its specific high-speed capabilities.
Pentax has just announced the new X90—a compact camera with a D-SLR-like body and a 26X megazoom, super-telephoto lens (26-676mm equivalent). It also boasts a 12MP image sensor and triple shake reduction technology, as well as Eye-Fi wireless SD memory card connectivity. The X90 will be available in April for $399.95.
GOLDEN, CO. (February 24, 2010)…PENTAX Imaging Company announced the latest model in the manufacturer’s megazoom digital camera line: the PENTAX X90. Featuring an extra-wide zoom, longer battery life than its predecessor and an electronic viewfinder, the X90 delivers effortless picture-taking in a wide variety of situations to photographers of all levels. The key feature of the PENTAX X90 is the 26X megazoom, super-telephoto lens (26-676mm equivalent) also designed with a Macro mode that focuses to less than one inch away to capture images of subjects that are near or far.
Other important features of the PENTAX X90 include:
12.1 megapixel sensor, ideal for large prints or cropping flexibility
2.7 inch LCD with anti-reflection coating or electronic viewfinder with new diopter adjustment for composing and playback of images and video
Eye-Fi wireless SD memory card connectivity for built-in Wi-Fi capability to transfer photos and videos from the camera to a computer or an online sharing site such as Picasaweb, Flickr, Facebook and YouTube. (Eye-fi cards sold separately.)
HDMI port plays back beautiful high resolution images and video on HDTVs
A perfect blend of digital compact and SLR technology including powerful automatic operation or creative manual and priority modes
Triple Shake Reduction technology includes a high quality mechanical sensor-shift SR mechanism, Digital Pixel Track and high ISO SR, and Movie SR
High speed continuous shooting up to 11 frames per second
Fast Face Detection technology quickly finds up to 32 faces
Powerful, lightweight Lithium Ion battery and improved power efficiency.