Accessories Review: The Nikon Creative Lighting System
This piece was actually buried back in our review of the original Nikon D70 SLR, but we felt that it really deserved to stand on its own: Nikon's Creative Lighting System is an incredibly capable and flexible system for flash photography. Nikon D200 shooters can use it to balance and control the lighting from the on-camera strobe as well as two separate groups of remote units, with any number of individual strobes assigned to each remote group. The total system is so deep, our review really only scratches the surface of what it's capable of, but does nonetheless give a fair idea of what the system can accomplish. We also included a video showing how we used a Nikon CLS setup to capture studio-quality product shots right from the show floor at PMA 2005. Check out our Nikon Creative Lighting System review, but as we caution, don't play with one of these setups until you're ready to buy one, they're that addicting!
Full review posted for Nikon Coolpix L2
For an entry-level camera, the Nikon Coolpix L2 has a lot going for it, including a generous 6-megapixel CCD sensor, a sharp 3x Nikkor optical zoom and improved overall ergonomics, making it the slimmest and best looking digital camera I've seen that takes AA batteries. For the novice shooter, the Nikon L2 has a very robust feature set which along with Nikon's D-Lighting, In-Camera Red-Eye Fix, Face Priority AF and Best Shot Selector, has 15 scene modes including four with Scene Assist. As a basic snapshooter, the Nikon L2 performed well, capturing sharp images with a good dynamic range and punchy color. The camera is a bit on the slow side, however, lagging behind some of its competitors in shot to shot speed and overall shutter response. The Nikon L2's lens is also slow and noisy when zooming out to the full 3x. While automatic controls were impressive, there's very little manual override on the Nikon Coolpix L2, particularly relating to ISO light sensitivity adjustment. Anyone who likes killing the flash and cranking up the ISO so they can take pictures in low light will be disappointed with the Nikon L2 which has its default ISO set to 50. In poor lighting when flash is turned off, the camera will auto gain up -- there is no manual adjustment -- to a maximum of ISO 200, which is less than adequate for shooting in most low light situations. Overall the Nikon Coolpix L2 is a mixed bag, but with enough good qualities that we think it's still a good choice for the price. See the full review for more on the Nikon Coolpix L2.
Full review posted for Fujifilm FinePix A500
To see how fast the digital camera market is changing, just look at what less than $200 will buy you these days. In the case of Fujifilm's cameras, the bargain basement brings the 5.1-megapixel, 3x optical FinePix A500, which retails for a suggested list price of $179, and can be found for less online. The Fuji A500 takes standard AA batteries, has a 1.8-inch LCD screen, four scene modes, and 12MB of internal memory. Housed in a relatively attractive body, the Fuji A500's overall performance is on the sluggish side, and its limited feature set won't likely impress more advanced users, but first time buyers wanting to dabble in digital will find the Fuji A500's price attractive. Read on for our complete comprehensive review of the Fuji A500.
Software Review: DxO Optics Pro Version 4
DxO has announced the latest major revision to their unique photo-enhancing tool, Optics Pro, and it's a major update indeed. They've improved speed and workflow, added some unique color management and manipulation tools, and broken new ground in distortion correction for ultra-wide angle lenses. All in all, one of the more exciting software announcements so far this year: Check out the photos demonstrating their amazing "volume anamorphosis!"
Full review posted for Fujifilm FinePix F470
If you're looking for a reliable slim camera that won't cost you an arm and a leg, the 6 megapixel Fuji F470 might be just what you're looking for. Though it doesn't come with a lot of bells and whistles, the five-ounce F470 is a great "take anywhere" camera. In full Auto mode in daylight shooting situations, the Fujifilm F470 is a beginning photographer's dream with a responsive image processor for good shot-to-shot performance. Though it doesn't use one of Fujifilm's Super CCD HR sensors, the Fuji F470 employs a more than adequate 6 megapixel CCD image sensor that can capture the sort of rich, dramatic color Fuji has been known for since its roll film days. If you like manual control other than the most rudimentary exposure and white balance control, the Fuji F470 will leave you wanting. But if you like a small camera you can easily slip into a bag while driving around town or travelling and forget about until it's time to shoot, the F470 is designed for you. A simple, lightweight camera with a decent sensor and a big 2.5 inch LCD, the Fuji F470 can take some dynamite pictures in the right lighting. See the full review for more.
Full review posted for Kodak EasyShare V610
Like the rest of Kodak's EasyShare line, the V610 has a simple-to-understand user interface that keeps point-and-shoot digital photography fun. The Kodak V610's tasteful design is fashionable, and its tiny size is perfect for anyone on the go. The V610 has no competitors with its 10x zoom, dual-lens design, and Bluetooth 2.0 transfer technology. Featuring a full complement of preset exposure modes, an Auto setting, and the flexibility of a long-exposure mode, the V610 is perfect for point-and-shoot enthusiasts who don't want to worry over exposure decisions. Image quality isn't as good as a straight 6-megapixel camera, but it's not bad for such a small 10x zoom. With the range of preset shooting modes (including in-camera panoramas), the Kodak V610 produces good exposure in almost any situation. Like Kodak's other EasyShare cameras, when perched on a camera dock or printer, the V610 ranks among the easiest to use digital cameras.
Printer Review: Canon PIXMA MP950
Canon's MP950 is not just a printer. It's a copier and scanner, too. But it doesn't just scan reflective copy -- it can scan color negs and slides. With its $399.99 MP950, Canon has rethought the printer game, producing a rather large box that includes not just a printer but a copier and a scanner, too. Also included is a card reader and PictBridge port. And a generous 3.6-inch color LCD panel lets you run the whole thing without turning on your computer. Built-in intelligence automatically corrects red eye, sharpness and brightness values (or you can fine tune them yourself). Canon has built a photo lab into this box. It took a while to appreciate just how versatile this box is. You can put a cherished print on its platen and a few minutes later have a duplicate every bit as detailed as the original. Or you can dig through your old color negative (and even older slides), pop them in the MP950's easy-to-use holders and get prints without ever turning your computer on. Read our Canon PIXMA MP950 review for the full story.
Printer Review: Canon SELPHY CP510 & CP710
These two compact -- and inexpensive -- Canon dye subs deliver 4x6 prints for 28 cents each. But they can also print 4x8 panoramas and run off a battery. The compact 4x6 dye sub printer is famous for both their continuous tone quality and trouble-free prints. Canon offers two inexpensive models: the $100 CP510 (with PictBridge and Direct Print or USB) and the $150 CP710 (adding a 2.5-inch LCD and card reader) . Both print 4x8s and run off battery power, too. Read our Canon SELPHY CP510 & CP710 review for the details.
Full review posted for Sony H5!
Like the preceding Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H1, the Sony DSC-H5 offers optical image stabilization with a very long zoom lens. The Sony H5 provides more manual exposure control than many other long zoom digital cameras, yet is easy to use in full-auto mode, and its seven pre-programmed scene modes help with tricky subjects. The design and layout of the H5 is very user-friendly, and the camera boasts accurate EVF and LCD displays. Occasionally modes can get confusing to those more familiar with Sony's other point-and-shoot models, but a brief look at the manual will quickly make it all clear. The Sony DSC-H5 is fairly fast on the draw, with faster than average shutter response, a smooth and responsive zoom, and very good shot-to-shot cycle times. Optical quality is very good, but we were disappointed with the high chromatic aberration and softness in the corners at telephoto; that's part of the tradeoff found in a very long zoom that we think most will find acceptable. That the Sony H5 does all its tricks with two AA batteries is impressive. Overall, given the low price and good performance, the Sony H5 is a bargain in a 7.2-megapixel 12X zoom, and a clear Dave's Pick.
Full review posted for Sony W70!
Featuring a 7.2-megapixel CCD, 3x optical zoom lens, and well-designed user interface, the Sony DSC-W70 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. It's 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 2.5-inch color LCD monitor is excellent for framing and reviewing shots, and the overall design and layout of the W70 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 W70 deserves a close look. (And if you feel you can get by with a 2.0-inch LCD instead of the 2.5-inch one the W70 sports, and a 6.0 megapixel sensor the Sony W30 will save you $60-70 at retail.) One advantage that the W70 does offer over its lesser siblings though, is that its ISO 800 and 1000 settings produce images good enough to make 5x7 inch prints that we think most consumers would be happy with. All in all, a nice little package at an attractive price, making the Sony W70 another Dave's Pick in its category. Read our full Sony W70 review for all the details!
Review posted for Olympus Stylus 720 SW!
Olympus takes photography to more locations in more conditions than ever before with the Stylus 720 SW, a portable camera that is both Shock and Water resistant. While we're crazy about this capability and the external design and build of the Olympus 720 SW, image quality is unfortunately lacking when compared to other 7 megapixel cameras on the market, with muted color and a noisy texture to solid colors. The good side is that few shooters actually use resolution this high, even printing up to 8x10 size, and few of these defects are strongly visible at those resolutions. So long as potential buyers are aware of these limitations, they can enjoy the truly excellent aspects of the Olympus Stylus 720 SW, and tweak the color somewhat before printing. The 720 SW's point-and-shoot simplicity and twenty four preset Scene modes will help even novice users bring home great-looking photos, and that twenty-fifth mode allows capture of movies from below or above the water. While its image quality is not stellar, the Olympus Stylus 720 SW's resolution makes up for its shortcomings, making it currently the best underwater offering on the market, and the only shock resistant model, period.
Review posted for Canon PowerShot S3 IS!
Offering a complete range of auto and manual exposure controls, the Canon PowerShot S3 IS is equally suited for novice users and experienced amateurs alike, with a big image-stabilized zoom for getting the shot no matter the situation. The Canon S3 IS's Auto mode keeps things simple for novices, while the manual settings offer the opportunity to take more control when you need it. Its 6.0-megapixel CCD captures high quality images, quite suitable for printing as large as 8x10-inches with good detail, and the increased sensitivity to ISO 800 with image stabilization is a better attack on red-eye than using the flash in red-eye reduction mode. The design is reasonably compact given the increased magnifying power of the 12x optical zoom lens, and the camera should fit in a larger coat pocket or be comfortable when using the neckstrap. The Canon S3 IS reaches beyond the normal limits by offering not only a long-ratio zoom lens, but a very effective image-stabilization system as well, that makes the long lens much more usable than it would be otherwise. Even at wide angle, image stabilization can help capture available light images without blur as low as 1/4 second shutter speeds. The Canon S3 IS also offers a movie mode capable of nonstop recording to the limits of the memory card's capacity, even at 640x480 resolution and a 30 frame/second frame rate. The PowerShot S3 IS is priced competitively, but its features and capabilities set it apart from the myriad camera choices in its price range, so the price will drop only slowly. If you're looking for a long-zoom camera with image stabilization that captures excellent photos and videos, the PowerShot S3 IS looks like a great choce. Read our full Canon PowerShot S3 IS review to see why.
Top 3 photos this month win:
1 Canon PIXMA PRO-100
2 Canon PIXMA MG6320
3 Canon PIXMA MG5420