Introduced only months after the S1, the Nikon Coolpix S2 is the continuation of a line of digital cameras that Nikon has deemed its “Style” line. The sleek aesthetic and slim profile is something we haven’t seen from Nikon until now. This 5 megapixel model includes flashy features such as a 3x optical zoom lens, a 2.5-inch LCD screen, 15 scene modes, and Nikon’s in-camera palette of technology: red-eye fix, face priority AF, and D-lighting compensation. The flashy features come with automatically oriented modes and controls. All of this comes in a splash-proof camera body that fits squarely in the palm of your hand. The sleek S2 comes with a COOLSTATION camera dock that has port connections for easy printing, uploading, and battery recharging.
The Nikon Coolpix S2 is built with style in mind, as well as ease of use for the fashion-conscious point-and-shooter. The 5 megapixel 1/2.5-inch CCD comes packed in a splash-proof metal body with a 3x optical zoom lens that remains flush with the camera body at all times. The stylish design includes a sliding lens door that protects the lens and flash while providing a nice mirror for your own fashion purposes.
The Nikon S2 has 15 scene modes as well as its generic automatic mode. There is no manual mode and there are hardly any manual controls, although there is a manual white balance setting. The S2 isn’t supposed to have manual controls though; this camera is built for people who don’t want to bother adjusting the aperture – they just want to take great pictures. Unfortunately, even that may be hard with the Nikon Coolpix S2. Many of the photographs I took turned out blurry, even in bright daylight. The image quality obviously isn’t emphasized on this model, as it boasts a lot of features that digital camera manufacturers are flaunting this year. The camera has a large 2.5-inch LCD screen, but its resolution is substandard. It has 12MB of internal memory, but that’s only enough for about ten pictures. It has fancy Nikon technology that claims to recognize faces, fix red-eye, and compensate for poor lighting; however, I found these features a little lacking. The Coolpix S2 does come with a unique time lapse mode for still and video, as well as a nice help guide to aid those point-and-shooters. Retailing for a pricey $449.95, Nikon hopes consumers will be enamored with the S2’s design, because internally, it is just another expensive digital camera with a shortage of manual options and substandard picture quality.
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Canon’s latest D-SLR, The Canon EOS 5D is, according to Canon, set to create a new D-SLR category aimed squarely at the photojournalist, on to wedding and reportage photographers. Looking briefly over the specification and having an introductory play at its recent launch, it looks as though Canon is indeed building a new niche for itself. The camera sports a full frame sensor and enough resolution to create very high resolution images and balance the speed of the camera and the sped of capture with a burst rate up to a claimed 60fps for its JPEG Large capture setting.
Startup takes around 0.2-seconds and the fact the camera can use all of the company’s EF auto focus lenses without any magnification factor being needed as focal lengths remain the same due to the sensor being the same size as a frame of 35mm film.
What we have here is a very highly specified machine indeed, but given its professional bent, there are a couple of surprising omissions. There’s no water or dust resistance and there’s no sound memo feature. While the latter is a minor omission, the former may be off putting, particularly for any professional that regularly shoots outdoors. However, given the projected pricing of the new camera of around £2540 it is still very temping, we’ll just have to wait until the review sample arrives to see just how well it performs in earnest rather than the hands on look we got while at the launch.
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The latest addition to Canon’s Digital Elph/IXUS line is the SD500 (IXUS 700 in Europe) which offers a 7.1 megapixel resolution. This new camera retains the family’s good looks, offering a 3X zoom and a 2-inch LCD monitor.
Barely bigger than previous models, the SD500 is a touch more rounded but still entirely metal-clad with a satin finish. The lens trim and the wrist strap post are both thickly chromed, their gloss combining with the satin surfaces to give this very compact camera a luxurious appearance.
Although the SD500 is a very compact camera with a 2-inch LCD screen composed of 118 000 pixels, Canon has also given it an optical viewfinder. The viewfinder is quite plain, providing only a cross at its centre and no parallax indication and when the zoom is set to the wide angle end, the lens can be seen through the viewfinder. Nevertheless, it is commendable that it is available, and it comes in handy when the monitor is difficult to see because of direct sunlight, or when power needs to be economized.
All in all, the SD500 delivers great images without much effort on the part of the user. Photos have bright colours but the colours are not over-saturated and therefore remain faithful to reality.
In our opinion, the SD500 only has very minor drawbacks: for one, it does not have a fully manual mode that gives control over the aperture, a useful feature as it provides some control over the depth of field of an image; and for another the monitor omits to indicate the shutter speed and aperture the camera has selected
Overall though, the PowerShot SD500 is an good mix of some of the best features of current Canon digital cameras, including ease of use, great image quality, and high resolution.
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Pentax’s Pentax *ist DL is the company’s second entry into the consumer DSLR market. With a 6.1 megapixel APS-format sensor, a maximum ISO of 3200, a 2.5-inch, 210,000 pixel display, RAW file capability, and a street price of about $750 with lens included, it’s very competitive. The camera’s autofocus system may fall short of the competition, and the kit lens is nothing to brag about, but in this price range, it remains a viable option.
The *ist DL is a reasonable entry in the entry level DSLR market. The camera’s most unique features in that market, the 2.5-inch LCD and the ISO 3200 setting, are real strengths. For some shoppers, they should be enough to decide the issue. The *ist DL’s other good qualities – very solid construction, relatively small size and clean design – are not unique in the market, but they are still very attractive.
The *ist DL is notably inferior to other sub-$1000 DSLRs in only two areas: its autofocus mechanism is less advanced than the Nikon and Canon offerings, and its handgrip is less comfortable than others. The autofocus issue is likely to be a substantial one to many users, but some people’s hands will be better suited to the handgrip than mine.
It’s worth noting that sub-$1000 DSLRs are all slow, compared to professional cameras. Users who hope to analyze a golf swing or catch that slide into home plate are going to be disappointed with the *ist DL and its ilk. These cameras are cheaper than the top of the line models for a reason, and most of the corners that manufacturers cut affect speed.
All that said, the *ist DL is a useful tool that could serve as a good first DSLR. Its automatic modes are easy to use, and its manual controls are complete.
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To me, the The HP PhotoSmart R817, like its 6.2-megapixel sibling Photosmart R717, features HP Real Life technologies with HP Instant Share, a technology that makes sharing, printing, and saving digital photos easy. In addition, the PhotoSmart R817 offers 5.1-megapixels of resolution, a Pentax 5x optical zoom, 32 megabytes of internal memory and PictBridge capabilities, all wrapped up in a very compact, stylish and durable stainless-steel / high-impact plastic body.
The R817 also includes features like HP’s exclusive Real Life technologies, which includes Adaptive Lighting and HP Image advice. The in-camera red-eye removal system, automatically eliminates red-eye in your images, to ensure the best possible photos and memories. At the push of a button you can select the fully automatic mode, one of 13 useful scene modes, aperture priority, shutter priority or full manual. If you feel even more creative you can select the metering mode, the color mode, and make adjustments to the sharpness, contrast and saturation. When the action requires it, just press the convenient movie shutter button and capture high-quality VGA resolution motion video with sound.
Shooting performance was very robust for a camera in this class. From power up to first image captured measured just under 3 seconds. Shutter lag (time from pressing the shutter release to actually capturing the image) was less than 1/10 of a second when pre-focused and only 2/10 of a second including autofocus. Using single exposure mode, the shot to shot delay averaged about 1.2 seconds between frames without the use of the flash and 2.0 seconds with the flash. When shooting in Burst mode, I was able to capture 4 frames in 1.2 seconds. When using Burst mode the display goes blank until you are finished recording; times like this are when an optical viewfinder would come in handy. All of our tests were done using a Sandisk Ultra II 512MB SD card, using 5MP*** size/quality, flash off, and all other settings at default (unless noted.) Times may vary depending on lighting conditions, camera settings, media, etc.
Bottom line - we feel the HP PhotoSmart R817 is a worthy competitor in the 5-megapixel category, offering great image, speedy performance, “cool” Real Life Technologies as well as various useful exposure modes. It will make a great choice for anyone who wants an easy to use digicam that captures awesome photos without breaking the bank. With an MSRP of about $349, it offers a good value and is sure to be popular this holiday season.
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