Review posted for Olympus D-390
Olympus is clearly one of the leading digicam manufacturers, with many excellent models across a wide range of price points. (In my mind, led by their outstanding C-5050, introduced at the very end of last year.) Given its exceptional pedigree then, my testing of their D-390 model was a significant disappointment. In a marked departure from the rest of their line, I found its color disappointing and garish and overall image quality a solid notch below what I've come to expect from Olympus. While this *is* a very inexpensive camera with features well-suited to entry-level users, I think there are more worthy models on the market in its price bracket. Alternatively, since I always recommend that people pay the extra money to get cameras with zoom lenses anyway, I'd suggest saving your pennies until you could afford Olympus' own much more capable D-560 Zoom. See my review for all the details...
Review posted for Minolta DiMAGE F300!
Minolta has updated last year's innovative F100 with a five megapixel sensor, calling the new model the DiMAGE F300. Like the F100 before it, the Minolta DiMAGE F300 is an excellent performer in almost every category, delivering excellent color with good white balance under a wide range of lighting. Its five megapixels of resolution combine with the excellent "GT" optics in its lens to deliver images that are sharp from corner to corner. The unusually sophisticated Autofocus (AF) modes for the most part worked well (if not infallibly), providing more consistent focusing with off-center subjects than you'd normally experience with the typical single-point digicam AF system. Exposure control is also very versatile, with controls that let you tweak color saturation, brightness, contrast, and sharpness. I thought Minolta hit the size/comfort balance just about right: The F300 is small enough that it could be called "pocket sized," but is big enough that even hamfisted Westerners like myself can hold it and manipulate the controls easily. The very high eyepoint on the viewfinder is a boon to eyeglass wearers too. No product is perfect though, and the F300's Achilles' heel is its shutter response: It's noticeably slower than most competing models, with about a 1.3 second shutter lag in full autofocus mode. (Its prefocused shutter performance is quite good though.) - If your primary interest is sports photography, look elsewhere, but if your applications don't require blazing shutter response, the F300 is one of the best compact five-megapixel models out there, delivering really excellent photos, at an attractive price point. Check it out!
Review posted for Canon PowerShot A300!
Like the PowerShot A100 and A200, the A300 model combines Canon's great user interface and a nice sampling of exposure controls with a low price. As a very user-friendly point-and-shoot style digicam, the A300 is simple to operate and takes good quality pictures. The 3.2-megapixel CCD is suitable for printing full-resolution images as large as 8x10 inches, with great detail. While small, light, and inexpensive, Canon didn't skimp on the A300's feature set, as it incorporates many (!) features not normally associated with an entry-level camera, including a sophisticated autofocus system, manual white balance, expanded metering options, ISO, color, and sharpness adjustments. The combination of ease of use and a rich feature set make the A300 a great "starter" camera for those just getting started in digital photography. It's plenty easy for rank beginners to use, yet offers a lot of options that they can grow into as their skills develop. If you can afford the extra cost, your money would be well-spent stepping up to the Powershot A60 or A70, with their 3x optical zoom lenses. If you can't afford the extra expense though, the A300 is one of the very best non-zoom cameras currently on the market. Check it out!
Review posted for Pentax Optio S!!
This is definitely one of the most interesting cameras to hit the market this year. The eye-grabbing part of it is that it's small enough to fit into an empty Altoids tin. The bigger news though, is the surprisingly good image quality and exceptional range of features the Pentax engineers managed to cram into such a tiny case. I have to admit that I had rather negative expectations when I first approached the camera. I've become accustomed to seeing significant compromises in image quality and feature sets, in order to cram cameras into ever-smaller packages. To my great surprise though, the Optio S seems to have avoided almost all such compromise, delivering very good color and image quality, along with a really surprising level of features and special functions. Some compromise is evident in the lens design in that it isn't as sharp when shooting at close distances (say, out to 10 feet or so) as it is when shooting at a distance, but the amount of softening isn't too severe, and overall optical performance is very good for a ultra-compact digicam. The one really significant tradeoff in performance is in cycle time - There's no buffer memory, and the shot to shot cycle time averages fully 8.3 seconds at maximum resolution and image quality. So, if you're looking for a camera to handle fast-paced action, the Optio S wouldn't be your first (or probably even second) choice. (If you aren't worried about multiple shots in rapid succession though, the Optio S' shutter response is much faster than average, another surprise for a subcompact digicam.) Apart from the sluggish cycle time, the Optio S is an amazingly full-featured camera, delivering very good image quality, in an incredibly tiny package. If you're looking for the ultimate in a "take anywhere" camera, the Optio S could be just what you've been waiting for. While I generally avoid rating cameras, this one's definitely deserving of a "highly recommended" accolade. Big kudos to the engineers at Pentax!
Review posted for Sony DSC-P72!
I've consistently been a fan of Sony's Cyber-shot line of digicams, and regarded the previous DSC-P71 a good midrange" option for point-and-shoot digital photography. The DSC-P72 proves just as capable, if not more so with its extended preset Scene options. The camera's light weight and portable size are perfect for travel, and the range of automatic exposure modes should handle most shooting situations well. I'd really like to see a more accurate optical viewfinder, and its Caucasian skin tones are a little on the pink side, but the overall color, tone, and functionality of the DSC-P72 are all excellent. If you're looking for a good "all around" camera in the three megapixel range, the P72 deserves a good look. Check it out!
Review posted for Olympus D-560 Zoom!
I've lost count of how many generations there have been now of Olympus' midrange "clamshell" design cameras, but it's been quite a few, and they only keep getting better. The latest in this line is the D-560 Zoom, a 3.2 megapixel model with a 3x optical zoom lens and healthy assortment of features. This is very much a middle of the road digicam design, neither overly stripped down nor bursting with features & functions. As such, it's well suited to the broad middle of the market, composed of people wanting good functionality, ease of use, and good picture quality, but at an affordable price, and in a pocketable package. That's a long list of criteria, but the D-560 meets them well. If you're looking for a good "all around" or "family" camera, the D-560 deserves your attention. Check it out!
Short form review posted for Sony DSC-P8!
Sony's made something of a specialty of crafting full-featured cameras aimed at the solid "middle ground" of the consumer market. Scoring high on image quality, ease of use, and features/flexibility, their Cyber-Shot line has something for everyone. Their "Compact P-series" of cameras have done particularly well in the compact-camera segment, offering much the same features as the larger models, packed into a compact body. The Compact P-Series bodies are also a little unique, in that they combine a very thin profile with a slightly elongated shape. The net result is that they fit very easily into even modest-sized pockets, yet provide plenty of space for a firm grip and easy operation of the controls. The latest model in the Compact P-Series line is the P8, a 3.2 megapixel model with a 3x optical zoom lens and full complement of Sony 2003-model-year features. Very slick, compact, and nice photos to boot. Check it out!
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