First Look review posted for Nikon Coolpix 4300!
While their traditional strength and renown has been in the high end and professional realms of photography, Nikon has actually developed a strong line of digicams aimed at more novice users. These cameras still include many advanced Nikon features (like my personal favorite, the "Best Shot Selector"), but provide ample "scene modes" that make picture-taking simple in what otherwise might be challenging situations. (Night shots, indoor scenes, fireworks, etc.) Last year, the Coolpix 885 was one of the more popular models on the market as it offered upscale consumers excellent picture quality and ease of use, while providing great versatility. Now, Nikon's updated the 885 by adding a 4 megapixel CCD, calling the result the Coolpix 4300. I've had a preproduction model of the 4300 for a few days now to play with, and must say I've been impressed by the image quality it displayed. - Nikon says the version I have isn't final yet, so asked me not to show any photos snapped with it, but I have to say that it's already looking pretty doggone good. I'll have a more complete report whenever Nikon gets me a production unit to test, but meanwhile, have posted a first look review that includes all my usual power and timing tests, as well as a brief analysis of what I've seen so far in the prototype. Check it out!
new external battery pack: Digipower's DPS-9000!
With all the detailed testing involved in my digicam reviews, accessories have generally gotten short shrift around here. I do occasionally manage to break a little time loose for them, and the latest product that caught my eye was a new external battery pack from Digipower. What makes this unit unusual is its packaging (it screws onto the tripod mount of your camera), and also the *wide* range of cameras it can power. - Digipower lists nearly 200 models on the compatibility chart, including no fewer than five different adapter cables to fit them all. The DPS-9000 is no slouch when it comes to power capacity either. I don't have a formal test for external power packs, but it managed to power a Nikon Coolpix 5700 in its worst-case power drain mode (capture mode with the rear panel LCD lit) for nearly four hours. (!) All in all, one of the nicest external power packs I've seen, and already available from our affiliate Ritzcamera.com. Check it out!
Production update for Olympus D-520 Zoom posted!
This one is certainly long overdue. - I confess that I kept getting sidetracked by more "exciting" cameras (like Olympus' own C-4000 Zoom, which I just completed an exhaustive review of.) Apologies to all the readers who've been waiting for my update on the D-520 Zoom! - It's worth the wait, I think: I was quite impressed with the D-520's image quality. It tended to have a slightly warm white balance, but its color rendering was very natural-looking, with accurate hues and appropriate saturation. Resolution was good too, at least for a two megapixel, scoring better than some recent models from other "name brand" players. It's main limitations are that it doesn't do too well under low light conditions, and its macro performance is a bit below average. It's biggest strong point is amazing battery life, particularly for a two-cell AA-based camera. Check the updated review for all the info, or see the sample pictures page for the photo examples, or the check the "picky details" page for the power and timing information.
Review posted for Olympus C-4000 Zoom!
This was probably the most time I've ever spent on the review of a sub-$500 digicam, but I felt that the camera itself more than justified it: IMHO, Olympus' new four-megapixel C-4000 Zoom delivers more features and value for the price than pretty much anything else on the market, at least at this particular point in time. While you can find cameras that equal or exceed its performance at higher prices, I don't think there's anything out there right now that can touch it at its $499 MSRP. It delivers excellent color and resolution, has a broad range of "enthusiast" features (including the external flash sync socket that was missing from Oly's recent C-3020 model), and does very well in low light and macro shooting. Bestof all, it has what I refer to as "tweak" adjustments for contrast, saturation, color cast and sharpness that cover a useful range in very fine steps. The result is that you can customize the camera's response to match your personal preferences to an extent found in few other cameras on the market. (Offhand, I'd say the Minolta Dimage 7i is the only other model that offers a similar range of control, and that's a considerably more expensive model.) I'd like to see less chromatic aberration from the lens, and a more accurate optical viewfinder, but the overall package is really an exceptional value I'm pretty confident in predicting that this model is going to be a big success for Olympus. Check it out!
MASSIVE Comparometer Update!
One of the key features of this site is the Comparometer(tm), a unique tool for comparing standardized test photos shot with any of the literally hundreds of cameras I've tested over the years. Back in May, we undertook a massive project that made thumbnails of all our test images and rearranged the carrier pages so visitors can get a quick look at large (300 pixel) thumbnail of a camera's image before diving into the often enormous original camera file itself. I've also been planning a total overhaul of the Comparometer, that will make it more interactive and easier to use. This is finally underway again, after being put on hold for a couple of months while we worked on other things. While we expect/hope to have the new, improved Comparometer up on the site in the next several weeks, the backlog of cameras that hadn't been added to the current incarnation of the Comparometer was huge and growing. I've received so many reader emails asking for this or that camera to be added to the Comparometer that I just didn't want to hold off any longer waiting for the new/improved version. Thanks to some yoeman duty by my son Arthur, we now have virtually every camera I've reviewed up there, in one of the largest updates we've done to date. (There are still a couple of cameras missing, notably the Nikon D1x and Olympus E20 - We'll try to get those up in the next day or two. Also, you may find a few cameras that immediately appear as full-sized images, rather than the 300 pixel thumbnails. - We should have those fixed later this week as well.) If you've been waiting for your favorite camera to appear there, now's the time to go check it out!
Full short form review completed for Nikon Coolpix 2000!
I did a "first look" review of this camera a while back, but have now been able to fully test a production model of the camera. I've thus updated the review with a complete set of test photos, and my usual analysis of them. Bottom line? The Coolpix 2000 snaps nice pictures, with good tonality and excellent color. Its images are a bit softer than some competing two megapixel models, but should make sharp 5x7 prints and very usable 8x10s. The camera is easy enough for beginners to use, yet has a full complement of features, including (my personal favorite) Nikon's amazing Best Shot Selector function for sharp handheld shots in low light conditions. With the camera widely available at under $249, it's proof positive of just how far the consumer digicam market has come in the last few years: I remember just a couple of years back, a good-quality digicam costing less than $300 was the holy grail of the industry, the point at which everyone agreed we'd see the true mass market develop. Well, here we are in 2002, with a really excellent little two megapixel camera with a 3x optical zoom lens and a 'passel of features, for $249 and under! Pretty amazing. Check it out!
Review posted for Sony DSC-P7!
Sony seems to have found a nice formula for subcompact digicams: A bit larger than some, with a very thin profile, but a slightly longer case. The thin profile lets them slip easily into pockets, but the longer case gives American-sized fingers plenty to hold onto. I reviewed the four megapixel DSC-P9 earlier this year, and recently updated the review with a full set of test photos and analysis based on a full production model. Now, I've just completed my review of the P9's "little" brother, the three megapixel DSC-P7. The P7 is virtually identical to the P9, apart from the smaller sensor, right down to its lens performance and color/tonal rendition. I liked the P9 a great deal, and felt the same way about the P7. This is a great little camera for people looking for small size with great image quality and a good assortment of features. (My only quibble is that I'd like to see either a variable ISO option coupled with the camera's "Twilight Mode" or longer exposure times enabled in normal exposure mode.) All in all, a very nice little camera, and a great addition to Sony's line of stylish subcompacts. Check it out!
Final update to full review of Nikon Coolpix 4500 complete!
I finally shot and posted the test images from a production-model 4500 about a week and a half ago, before I took off on a brief business trip, but didn't have time to collect new performance timing data. I've now done so, fully completing this review. The good news is that the production 4500 showed significantly better shutter lag performance than the prototype I'd tested earlier. The bad news is that shutter lag is still slower than average, albeit not nearly as much as as I'd thought based on the prototype's behavior. Read the full review, or the results of my timing tests. Check it out!
Review posted for Canon CP-100 "Card Printer"!
I have to admit I've not been a particular fan of little dye-sub printers for printing photos, but Canon's CP-100 has done a lot to turn me around on the genre. It's a compact little package that connects to most recent Canon digicams (see the review for a list of compatible cameras) and lets you print directly from the camera. No computer needed. One of the reasons I've been less than enthusiastic about direct-connect printers is that I've felt that the tiny buttons & LCD on the cameras made the user interface more limited and awkward than it should be. In the case of the CP100 though, I found the user interface of compatible Canon cameras very functional when connected to the printer. While you don't get to do any cropping or image adjustment, the CP-100 does an excellent job of cranking out 4x6 prints. Its prints show great color, excellent resolution, and are remarkably resistant to water damage and scratching. Print cost isn't too bad either, at about $0.55 per 4x6, based on current "street" pricing for the media. Overall, a really excellent little printer, as long as you have a Canon camera to connect it to. (It only works with Canon cameras, and has no provision to connect it directly to a computer.) If you have (or are planning to buy) a Canon digicam, the CP-100 deserves strong consideration as a printing solution. Check it out!
Full review updated for Sony DSC-P9!
I did a "first look" at this camera a while back, when it was first announced, and I've now gone back and completed it with a full set of test images from a production model and updated conclusions. This is a very nice subcompact camera, with a full four megapixel CCD and 3x zoom lens. While not quite up to the level of sharpness and detail I've found in the best full-sized four megapixel digicams, the P9's image quality was quite a bit better than I'm accustomed to seeing in compact cameras. This digicam really has a lot going for it, with good color, excellent tonality, surprising sharpness for a subcompact, and plenty of features. - If you're looking for a tiny but full-featured camera, you should definitely check out the DSC-P9!
Nikon Coolpix 5700 review final update completed!
I posted the production-model test images from this camera a bit over a week ago, just before heading out of town on a business trip. I've now completed a full update of the review, with final test conclusions, and updated timing figures based on the production unit. Readers considering buying this unit will be pleased to learn that the production camera showed much better shutter lag times than did the prototype I initially tested. (This is the first camera I've tested where shutter performance differed substantially from prototype to production.) The 5700's full autofocus shutter lag was about average among the cameras it competes with, but it's prefocus lag time was indeed faster than most. - Not as fast as Nikon's published specs would indicate, but still pretty good. (I measured an average "best time" of 0.094 seconds, vs Nikon's published figure of 0.070. Times were highly variable though - ranging as high as nearly 0.2 seconds, and reaching a low (one shot only) of 0.79 seconds.) Overall, a very impressive camera, and one I think Nikon will sell a lot of. Check it out!
1 $300 Adorama Gift Certificate
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