(Gulp!) "Ask Dave" is online!
Boy, am I nervous about this one! - I'm really not sure I have the human bandwidth (hours in the day) available to keep up with a flood of questions, but let's give it a try: I announced this on the News page at the end of last week, and now have brought it live in our Forums: An "Ask Dave" forum, where I'll try to answer reader questions about the merits of camera A vs camera B, etc. I actually put the forum folder up yesterday but didn't publicize it, just to get a feel for what people would be asking, and how the flow of requests would go. I got about a dozen really well-posed questions, and answered them in detail. I don't know if I'll be able to keep up that level of extreme detail if an onslaught hits, but one advantage of doing this in a forum is that all my past answers will be there for everyone to see. I'm still swamped with a pile of catch-up review work for the site, but will make a herculean effort to get by the Ask Dave forum at least once a day to answer questions posted there. I'm going to give this a try through the end of next week, to see how it goes.
One important note: This is not a freebie. - If you use the "Ask
Dave" forum (whether by posting or just reading), you're on your honor
to either purchase through one of the IR advertisers, or make a small donation
to support the site. This level of response takes a huge chunk out of my already-overbooked
life, which means other things on the site will take a back seat for the duration.
If the Ask Dave forum isn't supported by your purchases & contributions,
I'll have to regretfully stop doing it and apply my time to other aspects of
the site. That said, go on over & check
Full Review posted for Olympus E-20N!
I've just (finally) posted my full review of the Olympus E-20N digital SLR. I had hands on a prototype about a month ago, but wanted to wait until I could post a full review complete with photos from a full-production sample of the camera. That time is now, the whole magilla can be found here. Overall, the E-20N was a nice camera, a worthy successor to the E-10 we first saw last year. Resolution is top notch, color is very good, although a little understated, which led me to theorize that it might be using a non-sRGB color space to get a wider gamut. All in all, a very solid camera, with nice feel and operation. I'd like to see it have a bit less contrast, and faster write times to the memory card(s), but it's really a fine piece of photo equipment. - Read the review for all the details!
Short-form review posted on Fuji A101!
Fuji seems to have done a better-than-average job of developing digicams that are true "value leaders." In many cases, inexpensive digital cameras mean indifferent color and crippled feature sets. Fuji though has managed to deliver excellent picture quality at rock-bottom prices. (Their FinePix 2600 Zoom is a clear value leader in the 2 megapixel-with-zoom category, and is actually the most popular camera on the entire IR site at the moment.) The new FinePix A101 is Fuji's lowest-priced entry-level camera, but delivers great color and very good image quality for a 1.3 megapixel digicam. If you're looking for an inexpensive digital camera, but don't want to suffer through ugly color and fuzzy pictures, the A101 could be the camera for you. Check it out!
Full review posted of production-level Nikon D1H!
Choose your cliche: "Broke new ground," "Raised the Bar," take your pick. However you describe it, Nikon really wowed the camera world earlier this year when they introduced their D1X professional SLR. People tended to focus on its nearly 6 megapixel resolution as being the biggest news about it, but Nikon's advances in color rendition and noise reduction were arguably more significant in terms of real impact on workflow and the immediate usability of its image files. The one limitation relative to the original D1 model was that the higher resolution dictated slower shot to shot cycle times. Announced at the same time as the D1X, the D1H represents the other fork of the resolution/speed tradeoff, with the same 2.7 megapixel resolution as the original D1, but an improved maximum frame rate of 5 frames per second. While not quite up to the 8 frames per second achieved by Canon's EOS-1D speed demon, many argue that the D1H is actually more useful for sports and photojournalism shooting, thanks to its huge 40 frame buffer memory.(That's fully 8 seconds of maximum-speed, 5 fps shooting.) While the speed boost relative to the original D1 is relatively modest, I expect that a not inconsiderable number of D1 owners will upgrade to the D1H, because Nikon's improvements in color and noise levels have been so dramatic. Certainly, in terms of color and image noise, the D1H is at the top of its class, in every way on par with the superlative D1X. Read the review for all the details! (A quiet day tomorrow, for Thanksgiving, perhaps one more review on Friday, then a whole 'passle of them next week. Stay tuned, don't eat too much turkey!)
Sony DSC-F707 update!
(Dave here) Well, I'm finally getting dug out after the major schedule monkeywrench of the annual Comdex show. First up is an update to my review of the Sony F707. (Currently the hottest camera on the entire IR site, drawing more clicks than any other.) I was very impressed with the F707 when I first saw the prototype, and the re-test of a production unit has done little to abate my enthusiasm. Relative to the prototype, color is overall a bit truer, greens aren't so overblown, white balance is much better, with no green tinge, but intense reds are still a bit oversaturated, and exposure seems a bit more accurate. Noise seemed just slightly higher on this unit than on the first one I tested, but is still excellent, at the top of the field. White balance in extreme low light has also been improved markedly, with the 707 now at the top of the field in that respect as well. Check out the review for all the details, see the conclusions page for my updated conclusions (is that redundant?) and check the picture index page for a detailed analysis of what I found. A very impressive camera, clearly worthy of the attention it's drawing. (Stay tuned, I'm going to try to push out another review or two tomorrow, before the Thanksgiving holiday.)
Dave's Wishbook gets *another* feature!
People always ask me what the "best" camera is. You know, the one with the highest Universal Goodness Score. ;-) And I always answer with the question "Best for who or what?" The fact is, there is no one "best" camera that'd fit everyone and every application. Some people want a camera with every bell and whistle known to man on it, while others want a box with one button and a lens. Big or small? Fancy or simple? Bulletproof for the kids, or ultra-flexible and tuned like a fine watch for Mom and Dad?
While far from comprehensive, I've come up with my take on cameras that fit a variety of needs and users. I've organized a number of the Wishbook cameras into categories of "Cameras For:" - Travel, Small Spaces, Long Shots, Moms, Families, Grandparents, Photo Students, Tight Budgets, and Enthusiasts. Do any of those descriptions fit you? Then check it out, your camera's waiting for you!
Look review posted for Ricoh Caplio RR-1!
It looks like I actually got out there first with this one! This camera was announced in Europe two months ago, but is only just about to be announced in the US. (The formal announcement will apparently happen Monday at Comdex.) Stephanie and I took a quick look at it, and it's really a very decent camera. - In fact, I think it's Ricoh's best camera to date. Color is pretty bright and accurate, resolution is good (it's a 4 megapixel model), and image quality is overall pretty good. (A little contrasty, slight tendency to overexpose, but not too bad.) Given that it comes with a total of 72 MB of memory (8 internal, plus 64 MB SmartMedia card), and has a LiIon battery with charger included, it's a pretty good deal for a 4 megapixel camera, at its introductory price of $699. Check it out!
Full review posted for Fuji FinePix 2600 Zoom!
Really Nice 2 megapixel digcams with zoom lenses and full features are finally hitting the $299 "sweet spot" for the consumer market, evidenced most recently by Fuji's new FinePix 2600 Zoom. An update of last year's best-seller from Fuji, the 2400 Zoom, the 2600 has a fast USB connection, a 3x zoom lens, and all the standard features. (Exposure compensation, multi-mode flash, multiple white balance options, etc.) It takes great pictures, slips into a largish pocket easily, and (get this) includes a set of NiMH rechargeable batteries and charger. (This is the first time we've seen a camera this cheap come packed with batteries & charger like this.) Overall, one of the best deals for an entry-level, but fully functional camera I've yet seen. (Dave speaking.) - I've had it in my Holiday Wishbook for a good week already, and now have finally finished my review of it. A very nice little camera, at a good price. Read the review or just pop over to the Wishbook to order one!
I've been getting lots of positive feedback on my Holiday Wishbook, and really appreciate(!) those of you who are using it to order your digicams - Your orders there directly support this site, which is much needed in these days of reduced ad revenue and increased hosting costs. I've just added an extensive "gifts under $100" page to it, to help you find gifts for your digicam-toting friends & family members. - These items also include a lot of accessories that are in the "must have" category for new digicam owners too. (Good things to buy to go along with a digicam given as a gift.) Digicam shopping has never been this easy, check it out!
Short form review posted for Kodak DX3600 camera!
While Kodak's DX3500 (see below) is one of the absolute simplest cameras I've reviewed to date, I felt that it had a few limitations, including its lack of a zoom lens. The near-twin DX3600 fixes that problem, and also seems to do a little better than the 3500 at dealing with difficult lighting conditions. Overall, the DX3600 is the camera I'm most often recommending to friends and family who aren't photo or technology buffs, wanting a *simple* camera that takes great photos. Read the review for the details, or check it's listing in my Wishbook to get one of your own!
Short form review posted for Kodak DX3500 camera!
When I first saw Kodak's DX3500 camera, I have to admit that my expectations were pretty low. It has *no* controls, for white balance or exposure compensation, so I expected it to fail miserably under anything other than sunny daylight shooting conditions. Very much to my surprise, it actually snapped excellent photos under all kind of lighting: Daylight, cloudy, incandescent, fluorescent, even strange mixes of different light sources come out looking great. I *really* like cameras to have zoom lenses, so much prefer the DX3500's close sibling, the DX3600 for that reason. For the ultimate in a simple-to-operate camera that takes very good pictures, it's hard to go wrong with the DX3500 though. (Take my advice though, and spend the extra $40-50 or so on the 3600: A zoom lens really adds a lot to your picture taking!) Check out the review for all the details, or read it's listing in my Wishbook to get one of your own!
Top 3 photos this month win:
1 Canon PIXMA PRO-100
2 Canon PIXMA MG6320
3 Canon PIXMA MG5420