Sony DSC-W30 review posted
Featuring a 6.0-megapixel CCD, 3x optical zoom lens, and well-designed user interface, the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W30 updates the popular Cyber-shot line with a thin, compact body style perfectly suited for travel. Exposure remains under automatic control, something novices will appreciate, and its seven preprogrammed scene modes help with more tricky subjects. The Sony W30 is a very responsive camera, with low shutter lag in daylight conditions, and excellent shot to shot speeds. It also sports very good battery life, a very capable movie mode, and excellent download speed. Finally, Sony makes a line of accessory lenses, filters, a slave flash, and even an underwater case for it as well, greatly expanding your options beyond what you'd normal expect from a compact digicam model. The bright 2.0-inch color LCD monitor is excellent for framing and reviewing shots, and the overall design and layout of the Sony W30 is user-friendly and hassle-free. If you're looking for a good "take anywhere" camera with great versatility and good color and tonality, the Sony DSC-W30 deserves a close look. (And if you'd like a the same camera with a larger 2.5-inch LCD, the Sony DSC-W50 is only about $30 more at retail.) We suggest that you ignore the ISO 800 and 1000 settings on the camera, as the image quality there is really marginal even for snapshot-size prints, but if you look at the Sony W30 as an ISO 400 camera, it competes very strongly, making it a Dave's Pick in its category. Read our full review of the Sony DSC-W30 for all the details!
Review posted for Sony Cyber-shot DSC-M2!
The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-M2 is about as unique a digital camera as could be imagined. It packs a 3x zoom lens and high-resolution five megapixel sensor into a reasonably compact body, and offers generally good image quality as well as movies that are much better than average. The interface has been improved from the original DSC-M1, but still has quirks that could be ironed out. Just as important as the interface of any digital camera is its image quality. Here, while the M2 was sometimes a bit of a mixed bag (with occasionally inconsistent white balance and exposure metering), the Sony M2 takes photos that consumers will likely find appealing. Images were snappy, with buckets of saturation and contrast and mostly accurate color, coupled with good resolution. We found significant evidence of heavy noise reduction blurring in hair at ISO 64 on the Sony M2, so be aware. Movies were better than average for a still camera, thanks both to the MPEG4 compression (which helps save space without drowning the clip in artifacts), and to the inclusion of a stereo microphone; something that's very rare on still cameras. Sony's improved slideshow mode will make sharing images with family and friends more enjoyable, and the album mode is an excellent idea, ensuring you always have copies of your favorite images on hand to share on the camera's lovely LCD panel. The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-M2 shows clear potential; come read the review to see what we found after our full battery of tests.
Review posted for Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX1!
The Panasonic LX1 is a pretty unique digital camera. It packs a 4x zoom lens into a surprisingly compact body and mates it to a 16:9 sensor with options for 4:3 or 3:2 aspect ratios, too. Panasonic throws in their excellent Mega OIS Optical Image Stabilization technology for good measure. Image stabilization is becoming more of a factor in the market these days, and with good reason, as it really makes long-ratio zoom lenses a lot more useful than they would be otherwise. Along with the 16:9 sensor and optical image stabilization, the Panasonic LX1 also offers 8 megapixel resolution, very bright color without oversaturating skin tones, good macro focusing, and very good battery life. Not to mention optional full manual control, programmed auto, and both aperture and shutter priority modes in addition to a simple auto mode and plenty of Scene modes. The downsides are that its images get a bit soft in the corners at the telephoto end of its range, shots captured at ISO 400 are quite noisy, and its flash is somewhat underpowered. None of these are by any means fatal flaws though. The Panasonic LX1 is an excellent little camera, and clearly one of the best bargains on the market in light of its resolution, color, and rich feature set. Its wide angle lens and 16:9 aspect ratio will make it an excellent landscape and vacation camera, making your photos feel like stills from a movie. Hikers should take note. With a Leica lens and a solid built, it is a strong value, and a "Dave's Pick" to be sure. There's really nothing else quite like it.
Review posted for Canon PowerShot SD430!
The Canon PowerShot SD430 is an impressive little camera, with good image quality, and the flexibility to bring back good-looking pictures from a wide range of shooting situations. You can wirelessly transfer its images to a Windows PC directly or through a router and print to any PictBridge printer wirelessly with the included print adapter. Its tiny case is sleek and sophisticated, and travels easily. When it comes to picture taking, while actual exposure control remains automatic, the ability to adjust ISO, White Balance, and access longer shutter times significantly extend the camera's shooting ability. Thanks to its high-speed DIGIC-II processing chip, the Canon SD430 is also quite responsive for a subcompact digital camera, and its movie capability goes quite a bit beyond what I'm accustomed to seeing from subcompact digital camera models. I was very impressed with how easily WiFi worked on the SD430, so all considered, an good little camera at an attractive price, and an easy choice as a Dave's Pick.
Review posted for Olympus SP-310!
The 7.1-megapixel, 3x-zoom Olympus SP-310 is an excellent performer where it counts: printed image quality. It has a wealth of features in a surprisingly compact body; and though it's not the most attractive design (in our eyes, anyway) you'll start to like it right away when you shoot with it. Featuring a full range of exposure control, in addition to 24 preset Scene modes, the SP-310 caters to a large audience. Novices will appreciate the availability of pure point-and-shoot operation, while more experienced users will enjoy the option of full manual exposure control. A large 2.5-inch LCD monitor provides accurate framing, and a great place to view pictures, with a real-image optical viewfinder available to save battery power, a feature disappearing from most digicams with a large LCD. Though the camera's Auto white balance setting tends toward a warmer color cast, overall color is generally pretty good, and exposure is usually about right. (It does tend to produce contrasty images under harsh lighting though.) Though the slow shutter lag numbers could have been better, the printed image quality of the Olympus SP-310 really surprised us, and it's an excellent bargain at the roughly $250 street price it's selling for as of this review date in mid-April, 2006. Even at high ISO, its images were usable at larger print sizes than most competing models. For the traveler or hobbyist photographer looking for a small capable camera that has impressive output, the Olympus SP-310 is a clear Dave's Pick. If you want a very similar camera but with even better high-ISO print quality and a hot-shoe flash mount (a real rarity in consumer digital cameras these days), check out the Olympus SP-350, the SP-310's "big brother." Read our Olympus SP-310 review for all the details!
Review posted for Panasonic FZ7!
The Panasonic FZ7 is the latest in what's become a long line of long-zoom, optically-stabilized digital cameras from Panasonic. Like other recent members of the line, the FZ7 combines good image quality, responsive handling, and very effective optical image stabilization in a very attractively-priced digital camera. Its range of exposure control and image adjustments will be appealing to experienced users, while its ease of use in Program and its various Scene modes make it approachable for even rank beginners. The FZ series of Panasonic long-zoom digital cameras have been very popular, witth good reason, as they've offered great value and image quality for the money. With the FZ7, Panasonic made a number of improvements over previous models, including better viewfinder visibility in dim lighting, greater flash range, a larger LCD display, and a much-improved movie mode. The biggest weaknesses we found were high noise levels at ISO 400 and high chromatic aberration in the corners of the frame at telephoto focal lengths. (While noise is high though, it's worth noting that ISO 400 shots from the FZ7 look just fine at print sizes as large as 5x7.) All things considered, while we'd like to see lower levels of image noise, the Panasonic FZ7 delivers a lot of performance and image quality for the money, clearly deserving of recognition as a Dave's Pick. If you're looking for a good deal on a long-zoom camera with image stabilization, the Panasonic FZ7 deserves your serious consideration. (Read our Panasonic FZ7 review for full details.)
Full review posted for Olympus FE-110!
The 5.0-megapixel Olympus FE-110 is a bare-bones, entry-level digital camera well-suited for travel snapshots. Its body design is relatively compact, with very few external controls. Offering automatic exposure control and only a couple of exposure options, the FE-110 handles average bright shooting conditions well, though its Night Scene mode should be fine for standard nighttime photography in urban environments. If you're looking for a very inexpensive digital camera to throw in a backpack and record a trip, the FE-110 may right for you. Its price point is low enough that you won't lose too much sleep if it falls over the side of a boat or your two-year-old covers it in peanut butter. Read the review for more.
Full review posted for Canon EOS-30D!
The length of the "Pro" list next to the (very few) "Cons" at the conclusion of our review will give you some idea of the quality and capability of the Canon EOS-30D. The exceptional nature of the Canon 30D should come as no surprise though, given that it's a refinement of an already superb digital SLR, brought up to date with a few features the market's been wanting. The camera performs well in every respect. Color is accurate, image noise very low, resolution excellent, and the camera is very responsive, both to the shutter button, and from shot to shot. The interface is well designed and straightforward; and for current EOS owners it couldn't be more familiar. Because the Canon 30D uses the same sensor as the 20D, it manages to maintain low image noise at high-ISO, on par with its predecessor. Digital Rebel and Rebel XT owners wanting a little more control will also want to give the 30D a look. Anyone looking for the benchmark of quality in a relatively affordable D-SLR with a lens should consider the bundle, which for only $100 more than the body alone includes a versatile and decent quality 18-55mm EF-S lens. Those wanting a little more might want to look at buying the body by itself and purchasing the EF-S 17-85mm f/4-5.6 IS USM, an image-stabilized lens that is versatile enough that most users will never need to change it. Just in case you didn't already guess, the Canon EOS 30D is *highly* recommended! Read our full Canon 30D review for all the details!
Review Update: Kodak EasyShare V570!
The Kodak V570 presents an interesting problem for us. It's a camera with a lot in the plus column and a lot in the minus column; yet it still nets out as a positive experience. We really like the camera for its unique dual lens arrangement that includes a surprisingly useful 23mm wide angle lens, but its image quality really isn't as good as it could be for a 5 megapixel camera. Its fully automatic exposure control performs very well in a wide variety of conditions, requiring less exposure adjustment or tweaking than do most competing models. Auto white balance wasn't quite as good as it could be, however, and shot-to-shot speed didn't break any records. But for more difficult shooting conditions, a wide range of preset "Scene" modes extends the camera's capabilities nicely, perfect for the target market. While sophisticates may prefer more subdued color, we suspect that most consumers will love the bright, vibrant photos the V570 produces. But there's still that quandary. The V570 has a 5x zoom that's really a 3x plus a fixed 23mm; and it has two 5 megapixel sensors that produce images that really look more like they came from a 4 megapixel sensor. But we still really like the camera, so if you know these "exceptions" and still like the camera as we do, you'll be very happy with the performance and quality you get from the Kodak EasyShare V570. All things considered, the Kodak V570 earns a Dave's Pick.
Full review posted for Canon EOS-5D!
In the "it's about time" category, we're happy to announce that we've finally posted our full-length review for the Canon EOS-5D full-frame d-SLR. Having knocked upwards of $4,000 off the cost of entry to full-frame 35mm digital shooting, the Canon 5D is currently a hot model, or at least one that many people are seriously evaluating. We found it to be a very capable camera, with excellent resolution straight from the camera, good color, and excellent noise characteristics. (It also does exceptionally well at very long, multi-minute exposures, with its optional noise reduction enabled.) Whether it fits your needs or not will depend a lot on what you do, where you're coming from, and what your budget is like. While its full-frame sensor permits true wide angle shooting with 35mm lenses, the availability of Canon's own 10-22mm EF-S ultrawide zoom lets cameras like the EOS-30D shoot just as wide, and at a considerably lower cost. The Canon 5D's full-frame sensor also imposes severe quality requirements on the lenses you shoot with, and the least softness in the corners with anything other than real premium L-glass will be quickly shown off in all its glory. So, while an EOS-5D body will save you quite a bit relative to the cost of a Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II, you still need to plan on spending the big bucks for premium glass. - Meaning that the cost of lenses will quickly eclipse that of the body. All this isn't by any means to say that there's anything wrong with the Canon 5D itself: If you want and need the full-frame capability, it's a phenomenal camera that delivers amazing photos. It's just that we suspect that a sub-frame camera like the EOS-30D or Nikon D200 will better match the needs of more shooters. Read our full Canon EOS-5D review for all the details!
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