The Nikon D50 steps into the fray and comes hard on the heels of the D70s, the company’s update of the D70, itself a camera that broke new ground in terms of ‘budget’ D-SLRs. The new model looks very similar to the D70s utilising a similar 3000×2008-pixel, (6.1MP effective) resolution CCD and 12-bit A/D conversion.
Image quality is very good indeed with noise well controlled in low lighting, better even than on the D70 and D70s in my view. Punchier images are the name of the game and this is no surprise given the target market as it allows more colourful and better looking images straight out of the camera.
The D50 represents an ideal D-SLR for those first time D-SLR buyers on a more modest budget. Image quality, handling, responsiveness and key features strike an excellent balance, and while the D50 lacks some of the more advanced bits of the D70s, it is no slouch and so should be at the top of – or at the very least – near the very the top of your list if your in the market for such a camera.
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Announced in May, the Digimax i5 is Samsung’s smallest digital camera and is housed in a stylish, stainless steel body that will be available in silver, black, and red. The camera is about the same width (3.53″) and height (2.35″) as a credit card and only .68″ thick - or should I say thin. Samsung has definitely designed the camera to be simple to operate by reducing buttons and confusion on the camera body itself. The clean, simple design will make it very comfortable for almost anyone to pick up and use. The Digimax i5 features a internal 3x optical zoom, which means that the lens doesn’t extend out like it does on many small cameras. This keeps the camera thin and compact even during use. Other features include a whopping 50MB of internal memory, full screen video (640×480, 30fps) mode with sound and zoom capability, and a bright, large 2.5″ TFT color display.
There is a lot to like about the Samsung i5 and a few things not to like. The camera performed satisfactory under most lighting conditions, but performance was only average. Start-up time was fairly quick at 2 seconds, but shot-to-shot times were very slow. Even in continuous shooting mode the best I could achieve was 1.5 seconds between shots and in this mode the screen goes completely dark while the camera captures frame after frame. Since you can’t see exactly what the camera is capturing after you press the shutter release, the continuous shooting mode is more pot-luck than anything else. In single-shot mode, it took the camera about 2.5 seconds before it was ready to capture another image. Shutter lag was almost a full second, a pretty slow time when compared to other newer cameras in this class. Shutter lag times can be decreased by pressing the shutter-release halfway in order to pre-focus the camera. Pressing the shutter from this half-way position reduced shutter lag to about 0.5 second.
The stainless steal body, sleek compact design, internal 3x optical zoom lens, layout and overall feel, docking station, rechargeable battery, 50MB of internal memory, integrated lens/flash cover, large 2.5″ TFT color LCD display, easy-to-navigate menu system, and 30 fps MPEG-4 video mode with audio and zoom are reasons to consider the Samsung i5. The camera also features a superb super macro mode which should be considered if you often take pictures of small objects (think ebay auctions). Long exposures (night mode) seem to be one of the high points of the Samsung i5. A 12-second exposure taken in a dimly lit room yielded bright, sharp, clean results. This was very unexpected especially considering the camera lacks a tripod mount - a necessity when shooting with long exposures. To get around the lack of a tripod mount, use a bean bag or table along with the self-timer to keep the camera steady when shooting.
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Although the PowerShot S2 IS comes close to being a hybrid camera, we don’t classify it as one, because it doesn’t capture video clips in MPEG-4 format. Even so, it does offer fairly good stills along with decent video clips. We had problems, however, with certain features. For example, there is the rather poor combination of a small LCD (a paltry 1.8 inches, while we’re now living in a world of LCDs of 2.5 inches or-larger), which isn’t viewable at all in bright sunlight, and a bad electronic viewfinder which is grainy and hard to see. The poor LCD/EVF also presents problems when you need to use the menus. This does not bode well unless you’re okay with shooting blind.
It is good to see a 5-megapixel camera with 12X optical zoom (the longest zoom now for sale in a digital camera, until the Samsung 815 hits the market with 15X in September) and image stabilization. TheS2 IS’s predecessor, the 3.2MP Canon PowerShot S1 IS has 10X optical zoom. The zoom runs from 6.0 to 72.0 mm (a 35-mm equivalent of 36 to 432 mm) with a wide aperture setting from f/2.7 to f/3.5 over the zoom range. With such a long zoom, it would have been nice to see a bit more on the wide-angle side.
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Beginning of 2005, Pentax introduced a camera that is capable of shooting pictures under water, besides of course the normal way of shooting. This is a unique feature of the Pentax Optio WP. No more wasting your time with underwater bags or what’s so ever. The Pentax lets you shoot on a depth of 1.5 meters and the digital camera will keep up for 30 minutes (the so-called JIS class 8 ). Diving however still requires special housings, but the underwater function is great for the average snap shooter that wants to take pictures in and around the swimming pool. Also for those who want to keep on photographing in rainy weather. The Pentax WP is not the first digital camera to be water resistant, in the past, Casio also offered a similar model. It even floated on the water, where as the Pentax Optio doesn’t, it would sink if you let it go. But the Pentax WP camera is capable of handling a larger depth.
The five Megapixels of resolution are sufficient to enable the Pentax Optio WP delivering fine enlarged prints. The lens offers a 3x optical zoom ranging from 38mm to 114mm, actually a universal range. The fact that the Optio WP is waterproof makes the lens stay inside the camera, in stead of extending. If it did extend, water might enter through the seams. The construction of the lens is very special; it features eleven lens elements in nine groups. With great admiration we look at it and wonder how on earth Pentax did it…
The size of the Pentax Optio WP is pleasantly compact; it fits perfectly in the pocket of your trousers or shirt. The Pentax WP digital camera is easily carried around, to the swimming pool for example. Just hide it inside a rolled up towel and no one will notice. The large 2.0-inch monitor on the back of the camera makes shooting in or on the water easy. Of course on land the large screen is also appreciated. The Lithium Ion battery should guarantee many photos that get stored on a Secure Digital memory card.
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This very compact, sleek 7-megapixel digicam is amazing. Smaller than the proverbial deck of cards but about as thick, the SD500 (around $450) is truly a go anywhere point-and-shoot digicam. It slips so easily into a pocket you’ll take it with you everywhere and that’s a good thing since you’ll grab great spontaneous photographs all of the time. And it’s light years ahead of any cameraphone, today’s chic casual photography solution.
The all-metal SD500 has a 3x optical zoom with a 37mm-111mm range (35mm equivalent) that mirrors the classic film point-and-shoot zoom. Unlike 20th Century film cameras, this one has a large LCD screen to frame and review your images (2 inches rated a decent 118K pixels). This camera does not have all the bells-and-whistles found on higher-priced Canons but it’s clearly not designed for the frustrated Lee Friedlanders out there. It’s for the person who wants style, convenience, simple operation and good quality… meaning about 99 percent of the people on the planet!
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