Review posted for Panasonic DMC-FZ15!
Panasonic has been making a name for themselves in the long-zoom digicam category, in part thanks to their optical image stabilization technology. After much delay, we've finally gotten our hands on an eval sample of a Panasonic camera, in this case the 12x zoom 4 megapixel DMC-FZ15. On the whole, I was very favorably impressed with the FZ15. It has an attractive case, a nice "feel" in the hand, an excellent image-stabilized lens, great versatility, and very good image quality. It has good to average shutter response, as long as you avoid its dog-slow 9-area AF mode, and is very fast from shot to shot when manually focused, or in its continuous-shooting modes. Image-wise, about my only quibble is that it tends to render skin tones a bit more pink-looking than in real life, something that some users may actually prefer. Rather than repeat all my personal observations again here, I'll just refer interested readers to the review itself. Bottom line, the DMC-FZ15 is a very capable camera that brings a touch of pro quality to a high-end consumer digicam, with an excellent 12x zoom lens, and optical image stabilization to boot. With a full range of exposure control modes, including a full manual setting and no less than nine preset "Scene" modes, the DMC-FZ15 is an approachable camera for both novices and more experienced users alike. Recommended, and a "Dave's Pick" for the long-zoom category. Check it out!
Review posted for Fujifilm E500
The 4 megapixel, 3.2x zoom Fuji FinePix E500 offers a good assortment of features and generally good color in a compact stylish package, all at an attractive price. It's a very workmanlike digicam, and would make a good choice for many situations where novices and slightly more advanced users have to share a camera between them. While a decent enough camera though, the E500's overly high contrast and limited low-light capability made it hard for me to get too excited over it. Bottom line: A good enough camera if you can get it for a low price, and certainly nothing to be disappointed in if you receive one as a gift, but you can do better at the same price with some other models on the market, or get much more camera for a relatively modest increase in price with Fuji's own E550 model. Read the review for all the details...
Review posted for Kodak EasyShare DX7590
Kodak's EasyShare digital cameras are consistently among the easiest to use of any I test, and the DX7590 certainly holds true to form. Its fully automatic exposure control performs very well under a variety of conditions, and the range of manual exposure controls extend the camera's capabilities nicely. A wide range of preset scene modes help with special shooting conditions, while the Custom mode is handy for saving a set of frequently-used exposure settings. The 5.0-megapixel CCD captures high resolution images, with plenty of detail to make sharp 11x14 inch prints. The DX7590 is a good choice for novices who want to learn a little as they go, while more experienced users will appreciate the more advanced features it has to offer. I'd have been happier with the DX7590 if its images were a little less contrasty. Balancing this though, it should be noted that the camera exposed high-key subjects more accurately than most cameras (subjects that are very bright overall, which most cameras tend to underexpose pretty significantly) and, like most other Kodak cameras I've tested, its white balance system handles a very wide range of lighting conditions automatically, producing images that look like the original scene. (I think that a versatile white balance system is one of the most important, and most often overlooked features for point & shoot digital cameras.) Overall, a good choice for a long-zoom digicam, particularly for families with a range of photographic skills among their members. Read the Kodak DX7590 review for all the details!
Review posted for Konica Minolta DiMAGE Z3!
The original DiMAGE Z1 was clearly one of the best long-zoom digicam bargains on the market, a fact that no doubt contributed to its being one of the most popular cameras on the entire IR site during its release year. When the Z2 came along, it extended the Z1's already marvelous capabilities with a higher-resolution CCD chip, expanded continuous shooting and movie mode options, and a few other more minor enhancements, while still selling at about the same price as the Z1 did. Now, the Z3 model ups the ante again, further enhancing the same core capabilities with an impressive 12x optical zoom lens and new Anti-Shake feature that reduces blurring from minor camera movement. Anti-shake technology is something consumers have been largely unaware of, or tended to discount in the past, but its importance is hard to overstate on a long-zoom camera like the Z3. If your budget can handle the $50-100 premium that image stabilization typically adds to a long-zoom digicam, you'll almost certainly not regret the investment: The difference it makes in practical usability of a long-zoom digicam like the Z3 is quite amazing. Once again, I'm impressed with the way the Z3 combines a novice-friendly design with a surprising array of advanced features to satisfy more expert users. While I'd like to see just a bit higher color saturation, the DiMAGE is a really enjoyable camera to use, absolutely recommended for those in the long-zoom market, and definitely a "Dave's Pick." Check it out!
Software Review: Qurio Reinvents Photosharing
Online photosharing is free -- in theory. The big problem is that you have to upload those high resolution images to your preferred provider's server, someplace like Ofoto, that is. And that can take a while. So (dirty little secret), you often just don't bother. But what if you could just email your friends and family to let them know you've just copied some new pictures to your hard drive? To enjoy them, they'd just have to click on some link in your email. Their browser would launch and in a second or two they'd be watching a nice slide show of your images. Qurio turns that imaginary scenario into reality. And to its credit, it does it in a safe, secure way. Read the review for the whole story
Review posted for Canon PowerShot A95!
Every now and then, a digicam comes along that just seems to get everything right, and the Canon PowerShot A95 is one of these. In virtually all respects (color, resolution, image noise), its images are good to excellent, and its range of features and capabilities is hard to beat for the price. Its 5-megapixel CCD and good-quality lens deliver sharp images with good color and little distortion. At the same time, it manages to make just the right tradeoff between image noise and sharpness, delivering plenty of the latter, with very little of the former. (A difficult balance for any camera, and one that many models get wrong.) Its combination of automatic and manual features make it very approachable for novices, but interesting for experienced users, the net result being a camera that will satisfy a broad range of interests and provide a good path for novice users to expand their photographic horizons as their experience grows. Other features like its excellent battery life and nifty tilt/swivel LCD are added bonuses. Bottom line, if you're looking for a great "all around" digicam for either individual or family, the Canon PowerShot A95 deserves serious consideration. Easily a "Dave's Pick!" Check it out!
Review posted for Fuji FinePix E550!
With their 6.3 megapixel, 4x-zoom FinePix E550, Fujifilm has created what's to my mind one of their best digicams to date. Its color is very good, its resolution excellent, and noise levels at low ISOs are very low as well. (Kudos to Fuji for finally providing a low ISO setting on a SuperCCD camera.) The FinePix E550 is also fast, something to be admired in a digicam. Its lens comes out quickly, AF points are picked quickly, it switches between modes and menus with snap, and both shutter response and shot to shot speeds are quite fast. In addition to its other sterling qualities, the E550 is stingy with battery power, with a worst-case run time of just over three hours with the provided rechargeable NiMH batteries. From a usability standpoint, the E550 spans a range from rank beginner (in full Auto mode) to sophisticated photographer (in full manual exposure mode). This makes it a great choice for dual- or multiple-user households, and also a good choice for someone looking for a camera that's easy to use to get started but that has additional features to offer as you become more experienced. About the only complaints I have with the camera are limited low-light capability (its autofocus system doesn't handle after-dark conditions very well), and a little more distortion in the lens than I'd like to see. When you consider the aggressive price that Fuji's brought it to market though, the FinePix E550 is a nearly unbeatable bargain: There's nothing anywhere near its combination of resolution, features, and image quality for anywhere near its price. If you're looking for a good-performing, high-resolution all-around digicam, the E550 would make a great choice. - And it was an easy choice for me, to make it a "Dave's Pick." Check it out!
Review posted for Sony Cyber-shot DSC-P150!
Taken as a package, the Sony DSC-P150 is hard to beat in the subcompact point-and-shoot digicam market. Housed in a very small package is a 7.2-megapixel CCD, a sharp, high-quality 3x optical zoom lens, nine preset Scene modes and a host of other creative options. Its pictures are colorful and sharp, it has an excellent macro mode, and it truly excels at low light shooting. I was also impressed by how clean its images were, with very little associated tradeoff in subject detail. Add to this truly excellent battery life and a surprisingly fast shutter response, and you've got a real winner of a compact digicam, one with amazingly few tradeoffs associated with its diminutive body size. If you're looking for a great "take anywhere" camera with exceptional resolution and sharpness, great versatility, and excellent color and tonality, the Sony DSC-P150 should be an easy choice. An easy "Dave's Pick," this is clearly one of the best subcompact cameras I've seen this year (as of early October, 2004). Check it out!
Review posted for Hewlett Packard PhotoSmart R707!
We've just finished reviewing the HP PhotoSmart R707, and I'm finding myself having distinctly mixed feelings. On the one hand, it captured good-looking photos with accurate color, even if its images lacked the "punch" delivered by the deliberate over-saturation of most consumer digicams currently on the market. I also really liked HP's "Adaptive Lighting" technology, even if it can result in slightly noisy-looking shadows. - I think most consumers would benefit a great deal from the "digital fill flash" effect that this technology offers. And for novice users, the R707's built-in help, tips, and image advice features are absolutely unparalleled. On the down side though, the R707 seems to suffer in the lens department, as I found fairly severe optical artifacts in many of our photos. Also, while its image noise is generally within an acceptable range, close inspection of its images reveals that the camera trades away significant amounts of subject detail in areas of subtle contrast. (Hair and foliage or grass are places where it's easy to see this.) At the end of the day, how you'll feel about the R707 will probably come down to how you intend to use your photos. If you mostly print your photos at 4x6 inches for photo albums and sharing with friends or family, it's quite possible that you'll never notice any of the issue I just mentioned. In that usage, the PhotoSmart R707 would make an excellent consumer camera, and you're likely to be very happy with it. On the other hand, if your photo plans involve lots of large prints, you'll probably be better served with a different model. Check it out!
Review posted for Kodak DX7630!
Kodak's EasyShare digital cameras are consistently among the easiest to use of any I test, and the DX7630 is no exception. Its fully automatic exposure control performs surprisingly well under a variety of conditions, and the range of manual exposure controls extend the camera's capabilities nicely. A wide range of preset scene modes help with special shooting conditions, while the Custom mode is handy for saving a set of frequently-used exposure settings. The 6.1-megapixel CCD captures high resolution images, with plenty of detail to make sharp 11x14 inch prints, even with some cropping. The DX7630 is a perfect choice for novices who want to learn a little as they go, and more experienced users will appreciate the more advanced features it has to offer. I'd have been happier with the DX7630 if its images were a little less contrasty. Balancing this though, it should be noted that the camera exposed high-key subjects fairly well (subjects that are very bright overall, which most cameras tend to underexpose pretty significantly) and, like most other Kodak cameras I've tested, its white balance system handles a very wide range of lighting conditions automatically, producing images that look like the original scene. Overall, a very near miss for a "Dave's Pick," but still a fine digicam, particularly for families with a range of photographic skills among their members. Check it out!