Review posted for Canon PowerShot S1IS!
Long-zoom digicams have become increasingly popular, thanks to the undeniable attraction of being able to reach waaay out to zoom in on distant subjects. What a lot of users don't realize about really long telephoto shots though, is just how hard it is to hold the camera steady enough to get a sharp shot. (Even in what you might think is fairly bright lighting.) The obvious solution is optical image stabilization (IS), whereby an active optical element in the lens counteracts the blur-inducing camera shake. The only problem is that image stabilization technology is tricky to get right, and expensive to boot. Now though, Canon (a leader in IS technology) has brought their IS prowess to bear on the consumer market. The result is the remarkable Canon PowerShot S1 IS, a 3.2 megapixel camera with a 10x optical zoom lens and a remarkably effective image-stabilization system, all for a very affordable price. If you're looking for a really usable long-zoom camera, the PowerShot S1 IS should be at the top of your list. While "only" a three-megapixel model, the S1 IS has plenty of resolution for sharp 8x10 prints, and its other picture-taking characteristics are top-notch. It's not perfect by any means(what is?), but on the whole is one of the better cameras on the market. - An easy "Dave's Pick." Check it out!
posted for Kyocera SL300R
The SL300R is one of Kyocera's more recent digicam models, with a very slick, thin, swivel-body design and chic all-metal case. It has good color and take generally pleasing photos under unchallenging conditions, but I had a hard time getting past its sluggish shutter response and cycle time, overly high image contrast, and very short battery life. (Note that more recent Kyocera models use Kyocera's "RTune" processor technology, which could speed performance quite a bit.) I confess that it's hard for me to fairly evaluate a camera like the SL300R, with a proper view toward its intended audience. In the form-vs-function argument, I tend to come down pretty squarely on the side of function: If a gadget does what it should, I don't care too much what it looks like, but if it doesn't do what I want, it doesn't matter a bit how cool it looks. There are plenty of folks who hold the other view though, and for them, the SL300R could be a fine camera. Its images are a bit on the contrasty side, but its color and resolution are both good, and for the casual snapshooter, the short battery life may not be that big an issue. If you're looking for a cool-looking camera, and don't need long battery life to support extended picture-taking excursions, the SL300R could be just what you're looking for. Not my cup of tea, but it could well be yours. Check it out!
Review posted for Nikon Coolpix 3200!
While Nikon is best known for their "high end" cameras and lenses, they've done a good job of meeting the needs of novice shooters too. They pioneered the concept of extensive "scene modes" to let inexperienced users bring back good-looking photos from what would otherwise be challenging situations, and at the low end of their line have made cameras that are consistently easy to use. The Coolpix 3200 is this year's update of 2003's very popular Coolpix 3100. In my testing, the 3200 generally acquitted itself well, delivering excellent color under a wide variety of conditions. My one objection to it was that its photos tended to be rather contrasty. This makes for snappy-looking images under subdued lighting, but leads it to lose highlight detail under harsh daylight conditions. This may or may not be an issue for you, depending on your personal tastes: Some people really like snappy, high-contrast images, not caring so much about highlight detail, while others like more subdued-looking photos. Check out the 3200's test images that are linked from the review, and decide for yourself how you like them. If the 3200's tonal character suits you, it's a nice, very easy to use little digicam, great for families or non-technophiles looking for a simple camera with good color. Check it out!
Software Review: Envision
Our on-going Slide Show Project has been reporting different ways of creating a slide show of still images for several years. It's a bit like a recurring dream in which we find ourselves in a familiar predicament, try a new approach but, in the end, still wake up screaming. This week, however, we ran across Envision from Open Door Networks, a unique approach that, while still in beta (and thus fitting our budget), runs like a dream. At least for Mac OS X users. Envision caught our eye for several reasons. It can, like Beholder from Mesa Dynamics (http://www.mesadynamics.com), scour a Web site (or any local folder) for image files. Unlike Beholder's thumbnail view, though, Envision can present the images it finds as a slide show, even with dissolve transitions. But unlike other saved slide shows, these shows are based on a location rather than a fixed list of images. So they can be different every time you run them. Check it out!
Full Review posted for Canon PowerShot SD110!
Good image quality and user-friendly design has become synonymous with the ELPH name, and are the reasons why the line is so popular with a wide range of consumers. Extending the brand name's excellent reputation in the film world, members of the digital ELPH series have always impressed me with their quality and versatility. Looking at the latest addition to the line, the SD110's tiny size is a definite plus, and the range of features gives the camera an edge over many other subcompact point-and-shoot digicams in the marketplace. Although actual exposure control remains automatic, the ability to adjust ISO, White Balance, and access longer shutter times significantly increases the camera's shooting range. The high-resolution, 3.2-megapixel CCD produces great image quality and good color, and the SD memory card format helps keep the camera compact. Given the popularity of previous ELPH models, I think the SD110 will find many a happy home. Definitely recommended, and a Dave's Pick as well. Check it out!
Full Review posted for Canon PowerShot A75!
Canon's PowerShot A70 topped the charts in Canon's sales last year, and was easily the most popular model on the entire IR website. - And for good reason: The A70 offered a rich set of features and excellent image quality at an attractive price. This year, the PowerShot A75 appears poised to follow in the A70's footsteps. Relative to last year's model, the A75 offers a better, nine-point autofocus system, a bigger monitor, a slightly more accurate optical viewfinder, and faster overall performance. Image sharpness on the A75 was a bit of a puzzle: Some of the its studio images weren't as sharp as those from last year's A75, but more-distant subjects outdoors were as sharp or sharper. A little hard to call, but on the whole, I'd say the A75 performs about the same as last year's excellent A70. Overall, Canon has taken an almost perfect combination of features, image quality and price, added a bunch of key features from its S-series digicams and cut the price by $50 to make a premier camera for the mid-level consumer market that's also a bargain. If you're looking for a great "all around" digicam, the A75 certainly deserves your serious consideration.
Full Review posted for Canon PowerShot Pro1!
My latest review of an 8-megapixel uber-camera is of the Canon PowerShot Pro1. (I have only the Minolta DiMAGE A2 yet to go, to complete my coverage of the 8-megapixel market.) The more I delve into the 8-megapixel models on the market, the more apparent it is that each has its own unique set of strengths and weaknesses. For the Pro1, I'd have to say that there are happily more of the former than the latter, but it's clear that no one camera is a slam-dunk on all fronts. The Pro1's strongest points seem to be its typically excellent "Canon color," unmatched speed when shooting in RAW mode, great battery life, great super-macro capability, and an EVF that does much better than most under low light conditions. On the downside, I was surprised to find as much chromatic aberration as I did in an L-series lens, and the camera has an annoying habit of freezing the viewfinder image when you half-press the shutter button and trigger the autofocus system. Bottom line though, a powerful picture-taking machine, and the only really practical alternative for photographers interested in RAW-mode shooting: IMHO, the 8-megapixel models from other manufacturers are just too slow when capturing RAW files to be usable in that mode. Check it out!
Konica Minolta DiMAGE G500 review posted!
With the DiMAGE G500, Minolta took a clever Konica digicam, the KD-510Z, and repackaged it under the popular DiMAGE name. The camera's innovative design is flexible in its acceptance of both SD/MMC cards and Sony Memory Sticks for image storage, and the rugged, stainless steel body can withstand heavy usage. The 5.0-megapixel CCD and true, 3x optical zoom lens ensure high quality images with great color and detail, and the simple user interface should appeal to a wide audience, from novice to experienced pro. All controls are smooth, from the slick sliding door to the onscreen performance, with fast zoom and easy menu navigation. The LCD is unusually bright, with excellent contrast and daylight viewability. All in all, a nice little digicam, bit its rather sluggish shutter response kept it from being chosen as a Dave's Pick. Still, a camera well worth looking at if you're in the market for a compact 5-megapixel design. Check it out!
First Look posted for Canon PowerShot S60!
Canon's mid-sized PowerShots have been popular ever since the original S30 and S40 were introduced nearly two years ago, as they've consistently offered great image quality, a rich feature set, compact size, and great build quality. This year, Canon's leading off with a new model that uses advanced lens technology to pack a sharp 28-100mm zoom lens into the compact body. Until now, it's been very hard to make a high-quality, wide-angle zoom lens in a compact form factor because the thin optical elements required call for high-index optical glass, which has been next to impossible to mold into the aspheric profiles required to reduce distortion. Canon has apparently mastered the trick though, calling the result "UA" lens technology. With the S60, they've also revamped the camera's user interface, making for considerably easier operation than with earlier models. (Despite the model name though, the camera's resolution remains at the same 5 megapixels of the previous S50.) I've had hands-on with a prototype of the new S60, and prepared a "First Look" of it. As usual, since the First Look is based on a prototype model, there aren't any sample images or detailed performance measurements yet. (Although I can say, without actually showing the images, that the results from the prototype seemed encouraging.) If you're looking for a camera with 90+% of the functionality of a camera like Canon's PowerShot G5, but in a much more sleek, compact case, the S60 could be worth waiting for. Meanwhile, check out my First Look!
Olympus C-8080 Wide Zoom review updated to full production status!
The C-8080 Wide Zoom is Olympus' entry in the 8-megapixel derby, and what an entry it is. I did a "First Look" at this camera back in February, but at that time the unit I had for review was an early prototype and thus not suitable for shooting test images. I've now gone back and picked apart a full production model, and written up what I found. The bottom line? This is one fine camera, Olympus really got most everything right with it. Certainly look over all its competitors as well, but if you're in the 8-megapixel market, the C-8080 Wide Zoom is a really strong contender. Check it out!
Two reviews posted, for Canon PowerShot S410, S500!!
These are two of the latest digicams in Canon's perennially popular Digital ELPH line. The Digital ELPHs are a great line of cameras, with sleek, rugged, all-metal bodies, super-compact sizes, great features, and good picture quality. These latest models are no exception, as both are worthy cameras. The text for the two reviews is essentially identical, because they're pretty much the same camera, just with different-sized sensors. Their picture quality is pretty similar too, but there are noticeable differences in a few areas, particularly in their indoor flash performance. Bottom line, having taken time to actually test both cameras side by side, my conclusion is that, while the S500 does indeed have a slightly larger imager, the S410 really reprents the best deal. Giving up only a very small difference in actual, measured resolution, you get slightly better noise performance, and a flash response that seems to balance much better with ordinary household lighting, while simultaneously saving about $100. Put the extra money into a larger memory card, and you'll be a happy camper. Read my S410 review or S500 review for all the details, both are great "go anywhere" cameras.
Top 3 photos this month win:
1 Canon PIXMA PRO-100
2 Canon PIXMA MG6320
3 Canon PIXMA MG5420