Review posted for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ4!
Following on the popularity of the FZ3 digital camera, Panasonic has introduced the FZ4 and FZ5, the latter we've already reviewed and given a Dave's Pick. While the FZ4 looks the same, I found it to be a mixed bag when compared to the FZ5. I was very pleased with the FZ4's speed. It has some of the fastest full-autofocus shutter lag numbers I've yet seen in a consumer digital camera, actually better than it's higher-megapixel brother, the FZ5. Unlike the FZ5, however, the image quality of the FZ4 is disappointing. Image noise was higher than I'd like, resolution was a bit on the low side relative to other four-megapixel digital cameras we've tested, and I didn't feel that its color rendition was quite as good as that of the FZ5. Its lack of audio to accompany video recordings makes it less complete than most long zoom digital cameras on the market, with the heavy emphasis going to that big OIS lens at the cost of all else. That said though, if you want a really fast digital camera for shooting sports or other distant action, the FZ4 is a good choice: It combines a very long zoom lens with optical image stabilization, and some of the fastest shutter response and shot to shot times of any (non-SLR) camera I've tested. The bottom line is that for the $50 or so difference in "street" prices, I think the Panasonic FZ5 is a much better deal than the FZ4.
Software Review: Adobe Creative Suite 2: Bridge!
Adobe Bridge is a new application in the Creative Suite, which we will be reviewing in several articles, that borrows features from your operating system, Web browser organizer and image editor to make your workflow more efficient. This first incarnation, included with the CS2 versions of Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator or GoLive, proves its mettle and promises even more. It far surpasses the old File Browser, offering some interesting editing options. In addition to extensive metadata editing, Bridge can also hand off a selection of images to its Camera Raw plug-in for simultaneous tone and color correction (in which the edits are saved as metadata). We highlight the new interface and features before discussing a sample workflow using Bridge. Read our review of Adobe Bridge for the details.
Review posted for the Casio Exilim EX-P505!
With its tiny size, generous range of preset exposure modes, and 5.0-megapixel CCD, the Casio Exilim EX-P505 is a good option for people looking for a camera with a reasonably long-ratio zoom lens (5x) in a compact package. The plentiful preset shooting modes make it easy for novices to capture good-looking images in just about any situation, while the ability to capture high-resolution images and adjust attributes such as color saturation and contrast will likely attract more experienced photographers interested in a fun digital camera for snapshots. A great "take anywhere" camera, the Casio EX-P505 is small enough that you can just slip it in a pocket and go, a nice ability for a camera with a 5x zoom lens. Some consumers will find the color resulting from the technically accurate saturation levels of the P505 a bit on the dull side, but people frustrated with overly-vibrant color in some cameras may find welcome relief in the P505's color handling. All in all, the Casio EX-P505 is a surprisingly capable camera in a surprisingly small, if unusual, package.
Review posted for the Sony DSC-S60!
The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-S60 is an easy-to-use but capable offering, with a 4.1-megapixel CCD, 32 megabytes of internal memory, and a nice range of exposure options. The Sony S60 provides slightly more manual exposure control than most compact entry-level models permit, yet is easy to use in full-auto mode, and its seven preprogrammed scene modes help with tricky subjects. The large 2-inch color LCD monitor is excellent for framing and reviewing shots, and the overall design and layout of the Sony S60 is user-friendly and hassle-free. It's biggest strength though, is its very fast shutter response and good shot to shot speed: The DSC-S60 would be a good choice for shots of active children or sports action. While the Sony S60 is very similar to its more expensive cousin the S90, there are several important differences. Most noticeable is its 2-inch LCD vs the 2.5-inch screen on the S90. On a more practical note, the S90 comes equipped with a NiMH battery charger and a pair of high-capacity Sony NiMH batteries, while the S60 comes with just a set of alkaline cells. Finally, although I thought that the two cameras had identical sensors and electronics, the sample unit of the S60 I tested showed higher noise levels than the S90 we looked at, and I also felt that the S90's handling of incandescent lighting was better. Given that you'd need to purchase a charger and batteries along with the S60 anyway, the two models end up quite close in price, despite the roughly $70 difference in their list prices. Given that, my recommendation would be to jump up a step and purchase the S90, if your budget can handle the difference. (And it would have to handle at least a fair chunk of that spread anyway, given the need for NiMH batteries and a charger.) Not a bad little camera, but not a Dave's Pick, as was the case with the S90. Read our Sony S60 review for all the details!
Review posted for Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T33!
The DSC-T33 continues a Sony tradition of high quality in the subcompact category, but with a new spin: Affordability! Most impressive is how few tradeoffs Sony was forced to make to achieve this. The DSC-T33 shows good image quality, with good color, and high resolution. Its image sharpness and noise levels aren't quite up to the level of the best full-sized 5-megapixel cameras out there, but they're impressive for a subcompact model. Relative to competing full-sized digicams the T3 does have limited low-light capability and limited flash power, but that's expected in a camera of this size. While offering the ease of use of a fully point & shoot model in "auto" mode, the T33 provides enough flexibility and image control to satisfy even relatively sophisticated users. The noticable blur down the right side at certain zoom settings was significant enough to keep the T33 from earning a "Dave's Pick," but if you're in the market for a really compact digicam, the DSC-T33 is slim enough to always be along to get the shots. To better show what we mean, we're trying a new approach to showing test results, so come see how the Sony DSC-T33 digital camera stands up to the challenge.
Review posted for Olympus C-5500 Sport Zoom!
My first take on the Olympus C-5500 Sport Zoom was "nice enough camera, but nothing special." As I learned its capabilities and studied its photos however, I found myself warming to it quite a bit. When I finally got around to checking its "street" prices though, I was very pleasantly surprised : Widely available online for well under $250 (under $215 from some merchants), the Olympus 5500 is a real bargain for a 5x zoom, 5-megapixel digital camera. In terms of image quality, it produced very nice-looking color in all our test shots. - A bit less saturated than a lot of the current crop of digital cameras, and thus perhaps more appealing to those who prefer more accurate color to the over-bright look that many consumers seem drawn to. Image noise levels were lower than I'm accustomed to seeing from 5-megapixel consumer cameras these days, and it did a great job shooting in low light. It focuses and exposes well to very low light levels, and its LCD viewfinder "gains up" nicely when the lights go down, letting you see what you're shooting at, even in quite dim surroundings. It also has an unusually rich set of features and controls, including auto, program, aperture-priority, shutter-priority, and full manual exposure modes. My biggest hangup with it was its rather sluggish performance, with both shutter lag and cycle time numbers on the slow side of average. (Despite the reference to "Sport" in its name.) Bottom line though, if your subjects are either largely static, or amenable to "prefocusing" (by half-pressing and holding down the shutter button before the shot itself), the Olympus 5500 is a really fine little camera at a real bargain price. I do wish it were faster, but its combination of features, image quality, and low price were enough for me to award it a "Dave's Pick." Read our Olympus C-5500 review for all the details!
Review posted for Sony DSC-T7!
The new Sony DSC-T7 takes "thin" to a whole new level for a sophisticated digital camera design. By far the thinnest Cyber-shot to date, the Sony T7 is noteworthy not only for its amazingly thin profile, but for the range of features and image quality that the Sony engineers managed to pack into its tiny frame. While there are always compromises when making a super-tiny digicam, the Sony T7 does better than most. I was particularly impressed by its lens, not so much for its absolute quality as for the extent to which it avoids some of the severe problems with soft corners and high chromatic aberration we've seen in so many subcompact cameras in the past. Other image quality parameters are good too, with great color, solid resolution, and good dynamic range. Despite its tiny size, the Sony T7 offers a strong feature set, great shooting speed (shutter response times among the best on the market, regardless of size), and excellent video capabilities. About its only significant limitations are a somewhat limited low light capability, and the short battery life and weak flash output that's typical of subcompact camera models. Bottom line, a fine little camera, good enough to be made a "Dave's Pick." If you're in the market for a really compact digital camera, but don't want to give up lots of features or accept poor-quality images to get there, you owe it to yourself to check out the Sony T7. One word of warning though: Don't pick one up and hold it unless you plan to buy one: They're that addicting. Read our Sony DSC-T7 review for all the details (but don't say we didn't warn you).
Software Review: nik Sharpener Pro 2.0 added.
In the five years since we first reviewed nik Sharpener, the world of digital imaging has evolved significantly. And Sharpener's latest release catches up by providing a Raw Presharpening filter and 16-bit mode. It goes a good bit further, however, by incorporating Sharpener Selective, which lets you apply its sharpening filters to your image by (drum roll) brushing them on with your image editing application's brushes. There's a lot to this impressive product. As we said nearly five years ago, it doesn't just make it easy to do unsharp masking, it makes it easy to optimize it. And there are few tasks that will improve your images more than sharpening them correctly. Read the review for the whole story.
1 $300 Adorama Gift Certificate
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3 $100 Adorama Gift Certificate