Pentax currently has a slew of 5-megapixel cameras on the shelves. Among them is the Pentax Optio S55, an ultracompact model with a 3X zoom, tailored slightly more toward the novice than the company’s S5z. Though remarkably similar to that model, the Pentax Optio S55 is a smidge larger and touts a help function to better explain its various modes and buttons without sending you to the operating manual.
The ultracompact Pentax Optio S55 is a handsome, solidly built, stylized rectangle with an aluminum exterior and a molded metallic grip. With two AA batteries installed, it weighs 6.3 ounces, a bit more than its lithium-rechargeable-using sibling, the Optio S5z. Due in part to its reliance on AA (or CRV3) batteries, the S55 has slightly larger dimensions, but even with the added thickness, it’s still easily pocketable.
The Pentax Optio S55 is no speed demon. After disabling the start-up screen, we clocked the camera’s start-up time at 4.41 seconds; shutter lag isn’t usually an issue, though it can be noticeable depending on what you’re shooting. It came in at 0.55 second in our tests. Shot-to-shot times are worse: 4.5 seconds without flash, 6.74 seconds with flash. Continuous shooting is remarkably slow and, on this camera, more about endurance than speed: you can keep shooting until your card fills up but at the less-than-blistering pace of 0.5fps and 0.67fps. This is no action cam.
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The ultra-compact Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T7 offers a 5.1 megapixel resolution, a completely internal 3X Carl Zeiss zoom and a large 2.5-inch monitor.
While the DSC-T7 has the same technical characteristics as the DSC-T5, with this model Sony engineers have miniaturized the camera even more.
The thinness and compactness of the design come at a price, however: places to hold the camera are few, and fingers with no resting place easily gravitate towards the lens, getting in the way of the image. The T7 is a camera that requires a bit of time to get used to.
With a body size that is so thin that it could almost be fitted into a credit card holder, the T7 still provides a Carl Zeiss zoom with a useful range and is able to produce high resolution images. In addition it offers a variety of scene modes and a program mode that gives the user a fair bit of creative control, surprizing for such a compact camera.
Sony’s DSC-T7 should please those that appreciate the miniaturization afforded by digital cameras, and it deserves to find a home in purses and briefcases, making it possible for owners to capture images at a moment’s notice.
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The Kodak EasyShare Z7590 looks great on paper: it has a 10X optical zoom, a 5-megapixel resolution, an SLR-like electronic viewfinder, and manual exposure controls. Unfortunately, its photos tell a different story. A variety of artifacts, including purple fringing around highlights and noise at higher ISO settings, drop this camera’s desirability a few notches. Still, niceties such as an action-ready burst mode and a standard PC (Prontor-Compur, not personal computer) connection for an external flash will appeal to photographers who love to play with a full set of features.
Photo quality is acceptable if you don’t plan on making enlargements. Colors were bright and saturated and exposures generally good, although we noticed a bluish cast in many daylight photos and a bit of a warm tone in photos shot under incandescent light, even when using a white-balance preset; there is no custom white-balance capability. The dynamic range is squeezed toward the middle–photos lack detail in dark areas and tend to wash out highlights. But the worst defect was pronounced purple fringing, most noticeably around backlit objects. JPEG artifacts also appeared that tended to reduce the detail of the image somewhat. Noise was a problem at higher ISO settings; ISO 800 is available at only the lowest-quality 1.8-megapixel setting, so you probably won’t be using that option except as a last resort.
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The Nikon Coolpix S3 digital camera has a beautiful exterior and the compact size makes the S3 camera extremely suitable to be carried around with you wherever you go. The high resolution of 6 Megapixels, packed in a housing of 19mm thick and an internal optical Nikkor lens with a range of 35-105mm and of course last but not least, the beautiful 2.5-inch format monitor, make the Nikon Coolpix S3 a surprisingly versatile digital camera.
We have had the Nikon Coolpix S3 in our possession for a short time but this was enough to give us a first impression. The beautiful design of the camera is striking and eye-catching. Nikon has paid more and more attention to the software inside the camera lately. Especially this item is offered to play a bigger role at the present time. Functions like auto red eye correction inside the camera and also Face priority AF function, offer a lot of user-friendliness and they do their job pleasantly. It makes you wonder to what extend editing software can be automated and above all how intelligent can software inside the camera become. In a nutshell: it’s a beautiful piece of designer software technique that is placed in an even more beautiful designer piece!
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Fujifilm’s FinePix S9000 shows just how close digital SLR wannabes are getting to the real thing. This is one EVF-equipped camera that can compete in both the SLR and non-SLR arenas. Just a hair smaller and priced within $50 of compact dSLRs such as the Pentax *ist DL, the FinePix S9000 looks and handles very much like its interchangeable-lens competitors and in some ways outfeatures them. It boasts a 28mm-to-300mm (35mm equivalent) 10.7X zoom lens, where most low-end dSLRs come with a skimpy normal zoom; and its 1/1.6-inch Fuji Super CCD HR sensor packs in 9 million pixels, compared to 6 megapixels for most budget digital SLRs. It has external flash connections, ISO-sensitivity settings up to 1,600, minimal shutter lag, and manual focus and zoom rings around the lens, just like the genuine dSLR article. Plus, it offers decidedly non-dSLR-like features, such as 640×480, 30fps movie capabilities.
The Fujifilm FinePix S9000 scored decent to high marks on every performance test, and you can tweak it to do even better. Shutter lag is pretty good at 0.5 second under contrasty illumination, and average at 0.9 second under more challenging low-contrast lighting. The green focus-assist lamp helps by casting a contrast-enhancing pattern on the subject when the lights are low. However, switching to the optional High Speed Shooting mode sets an all-purpose focus distance, and taking the autofocus system out of the equation cuts shutter lag to 0.4 second or less.
Waking the camera up from a deep slumber took only 1.6 seconds, and we were able to snap shots every 1.7 seconds thereafter. With flash, however, per-shot intervals stretched to more than 5 seconds. When shooting in raw format, be prepared to wait 18 seconds between shots. The S9000 squeezed out only four shots in burst mode but captured a hair over two shots per second when shooting at full resolution or in 640×480 VGA mode.
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