From the monthly archives: "August 2009"

Sony A900We’ve just published sample photos from the new 24.6 megapixel full frame Digital SLR the Sony Alpha A900 and Sony f2.8 24/70 Carl Zeiss lens. The A900 has an optical viewfinder with 100% coverage, SteadyShot INSIDE™, dual BIONZ™ image processor, 3.0-inch Xtra Fine LCD, and 5fps continuous shooting at full resolution. The Sony A900 is available for £1614 body only.

View our Sony Alpha A900 DSLR Sample Photo Gallery

Read more Sony Alpha A900 Reviews: Photography BLOG, Luminous Landscape (2nd opinion), Luminous Landscape, DPExpert, The Online Photographer, DPReview, Cameralabs.com, Sony Alpha A900 at Photokina.

Casio Z280

Casio has announced the new Casio Exilim EX-Z280 and Z33. The Z280 appears to be the most interesting of the two featuring a 26mm wide angle 4x optical zoom lens (26 to 104mm), 12mp sensor, CCD-shift image stabilisation, 720p video, ISO3200, 2.7″ screen, and thin body (0.8″ thick). The Z33 features a more common 3x optical zoom lens (35.5 to 106.5mm), 10mp sensor, 16:9 video, ISO1600, 2.5″ screen, and thin body (0.7″ thick).The EX-Z280, available this September, will have an MSRP of $179.99 and will be offered in a silver body color. The EX-Z33, available September, MSRP $119, will boast stylish new colors, including black, light pink, vivid pink, silver and blue.

“The EXILIM Zoom EX-Z280 is a 12.1 effective megapixel digital camera boasting a wide-angle 26 mm 4X optical zoom lens in a stylish and slim compact body. It comes complete with Casio’s standard high-performance features, such as CCD-shift image stabilization mechanism and Face Detection function. The Easy Mode function helps new comers grasp camera settings by offering a simplified menu screen for seamless navigation.”

Click for more details and pictures of the Z33.

Casio Z33

“The EXILIM EX-Z33 is a 10.1 megapixel digital camera with a 3X optical zoom lens. The EX-Z33 features a quick access dedicated movie button that allows users to record widescreen movies with a 16:9 aspect ratio. Additionally, the EX-Z33 is compatible with commercially available SD memory cards. This camera combines a stylish, slim body with high-powered features that allow on-the-go photographers the ability to capture a memorable moment where ever they are.”

Olympus E-600 DSLR

Olympus has announced the new Olympus E-600, it sits underneath the Olympus E-620 as their new entry level Digital SLR. It features the same ultra small DSLR body with anti-shake sensor, a 12 megapixel live view sensor, 2.7″ swivel screen, 7 point AF, 4fps shooting, dust reduction, ISO3200, and art filters, but does not feature backlit buttons, looses 3 of the art filters, multiple exposures, and aspect ratios. The camera will be available in November priced at $599 with 14-42mm kit lens.

“The E-600’s 100 percent accurate 270 degree swivel 2.7-inch Live View HyperCrystal III LCD can be rotated freely so photographers can compose at any angle, including overhead and down low, without getting bent out of shape. This makes it easier to photograph young children on their own level or shoot high above a crowd. E-600 photographers can compose a subject right on the Live View LCD and see the results of the various creative features – live as they’re happening, before the shot is taken.”

More Olympus E-600 Links: Imaging Resource Preview

Fujifilm FinePix A150This week Amazon UK are selling the new Fujifilm FinePix A150 (in Black, or Silver) on special offer for only £69 (previously £89) – the budget camera has a 10 megapixel sensor, 3x optical zoom lens, ISO1600 at full resolution, and a large 3.0″ screen, which is quite large for a budget camera. Here’s some of the other best sellers on Amazon UK this week:

1 – Canon IXUS 100 IS – 12mp, 3x opt zoom, 2.5″ screen, black, £155
2 – Samsung ES15 – 10mp, 3x optical zoom, 2.5″ screen, £59
3 – Panasonic Lumix TZ7 – Pocket Zoom, 10mp, 12x zoom, £252
4 – Panasonic Lumix TZ6 – Pocket Zoom, 10mp, 12x zoom, review, £190
5 – Panasonic Lumix FX15 – 12mp, 5x zoom, 2.7″ screen, £133

Panasonic TZ6

TracyandMatt.co.uk have reviewed the new Panasonic Lumix TZ6 (aka ZS1) – it features a 25mm Ultra Wide-angle 12x Optical Zoom lens, optical image stabilisation, 2.7″ screen, 10 megapixel sensor, WVGA: 848 x 480 pixels, 30 fps video, and intelligent auto mode. The TZ6 is available for £193.

“The Panasonic Lumix TZ6 is a brilliant Zoom camera. The picture quality is brilliant and it takes pretty good video footage too. Being able to use the zoom when recording video is a definite plus.”

Read our Panasonic Lumix TZ6 Review
View our Panasonic Lumix TZ6 Sample Photos

Read more Panasonic Lumix TZ6 (ZS1) Reviews: Photography BLOG, TestFreaks

Sony Ericsson Cybershot C905

The Sony Ericsson Cybershot C905 Mobile Phone has an 8.1 megapixel digital camera – the camera phone features a real “Xenon” flash, autofocus lens, face detection, a 2.4″ QVGA screen, GPS (with geo photo tagging) and WiFi. This review looks at how the phone performs when used solely as a digital camera. The Sony Ericsson C905 is available from Amazon UK.

The biggest appeal of this camera has to be the built in 8 megapixel Sony “Cybershot” camera with “Xenon” flash. The flash definitely helps with photos of people. But one area where camera phones have always been behind in image quality is noise – the basic facts are that the more pixels you cram into a small image sensor, the more noise you’re going to get, and mobile phone cameras have the smallest sensors you can get. There are no manual ISO settings on this camera, so it’s pot luck as to how much noise will show up in the photos. All the photos I’ve taken with flash have used ISO100 or ISO200.

Read our Sony Ericsson Cybershot C905 Review.
View our Sony Ericsson C905 Sample Photo Gallery

Sony Ericsson Cybershot C905

Specifications / Features:

* Sensor: 8.1 megapixel CMOS sensor (3264 x 2448 pixels)
* Lens: f2.8 Auto Focus Lens 5.9mm, equivalent to 38mm on a 35mm camera
* Focusing: Auto, Macro, Infinity (for Landscape), Face Detection
* Screen: 2.4″ QVGA 240 x 320 scratch-resistant mineral glass display
* Face detection: Detects 3 faces
* Colour modes / Effects: Off, Black & white, Negative, Sepia, Solarize
* Video Recording: 320×240, 30fps Video
* HD Output: No
* Red-Eye Reduction: Yes (flash)
* Macro: 15cm
* ISO : Auto / 64 / 100/ 200 / 400
* IS (Image Stabilisation): Digital
* Scenes: Auto, Twilight landscape, Twilight portrait, Landscape, Portrait, Beach / snow, Sports, Document
* Picture size: 8MP, 5MP, 3MP, VGA, Normal, Fine
* Histogram available: No
* Exposure bracketing: No
* Optical viewfinder: No
* Manual WB: No (Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Fluorescent, Incandescent)
* Other features: Focus assist LED, Smart contrast (a bit like increased dynamic range), Smile shutter (added with firmware update), Photo geo-tagging, Auto-rotate

Sony Ericsson Cybershot C905

Box contents: C905 phone, 2gb Sandisk M2 memory card (160mb built into the phone), an M2 to USB convertor, leather wrist strap, USB cable, wall charger, hands-free stereo earphones (needed for the radio to work), CD rom, manual, 930mAh 3.6v Lithium Ion battery, C905 camera guide. Memory cards: The C905 takes Sony M2 memory cards, and comes with a 2gb card which should store around 1000 photos, if you want to upgrade, have a look at our guide to digital camera memory cards.

Sony Ericsson Cybershot C905

Menu: The menu system and options can be brought up quite quickly by pressing the buttons closest to the screen, and the menus are quite similar to the quick menus you get on normal digital cameras. There is very little need to go into advanced options / settings as nearly all photographic options are available through the quick menus.

Sony Ericsson Cybershot C905

Battery Life: Not very impressive, the phone tends to last around 2 days with very little use, and I tend to plug it in to charge every other day. Compared to a normal camera that lasts for weeks with very little use, battery life is poor.

Speed: Put simply, it’s not quick. Switch on time for the phone to switch on is painfully slow (we’re talking around 12 seconds – however the phone is probably always on), switching to camera mode is a couple of seconds, focusing is not fast, and shutter response is around 0.3 – 0.4 seconds when pre-focused (compared to 0.1 seconds or less for more compact cameras). The menus are a little bit slow, but workable, and as long as you’re patient with focusing, by pre-focusing and then pressing the shutter when you want the photo, you can capture moments fairly well.

Ease of Use: The camera design and layout with numerous photo buttons, such as the macro, flash, self-timer and exposure buttons on the D-pad make this phone really feel like it’s been designed to be used as camera. The photo mode can be easily accessed, and the clear labelling of buttons make it easy to switch modes, and access features.

Sony Ericsson Cybershot C905

Ergonomics and Buttons: The shutter release works in the usual way, half a press focuses the camera, pressing fully then takes the photo. The only problem is that whilst the half press is fairly noticable, the full press doesn’t feel like a proper shutter on other cameras – this is a bit disappointing. The lens cover switches the camera on when opened, and the buttons on the top give easy and fairly quick access to playback, photo and video modes. The C905 is quite small – smaller than most digital cameras and measures 104.0 x 49.0 x 18.0 mm, and weighs 136g, meaning it will fit easily into any pocket and can be taken everywhere with you.

Image Quality: Here are some real world sample photos taken in various settings, such as Inside, Outside, Macro, etc to demonstrate the quality of pictures taken and also show different features of the camera. Larger versions of these photos, plus more photos are available in the Sony Ericsson Cybershot C905 Sample Photo Gallery.

Flash - Sony C905

Inside: The flash works quite well, and is certainly much better than the LED flashes found on other camera phones, but does not appear to be as powerful as even budget digital cameras. Colours can be quite good, however, flash fall off is quite noticable and subject can often end up looking overly yellow. Noise is quite high, and detail is quite low, and the ISO tends to stay around ISO100 or ISO200.

Noise - Sony C905

Noise: Indoors, or in low light, when not using the flash, noise levels are high and detail is quite low as the camera has strong noise reduction. Noise is also visible on bright sunny days even when using ISO64, and this camera is definitely not recommended for pixel peepers. When images have been resized noise is much less noticable. Noise is much worse in the C905 and camera phones in general even when compared to high megapixel compact digital cameras.

Blue Slide - Sony C905

Outside: The camera tends to use low ISO settings, down to ISO64, and colour was generally quite highly saturated. There was some highlight clipping, and noise was visible even in ISO64 photos. Noise reduction also removed quite a lot of detail. (Picture above cropped)

Digital Zoom - Sony C905

Zoom: The camera has digital zoom only. An example of digital zoom can be seen above, digital zoom basically takes a crop of the centre of the frame and enlarges the image, degrading image quality, and is therefore best avoided.

Macro - Sony C905

Macro: Whilst not as good as a dedicated digital camera, the Sony C905 was generally good, allowing close up photos, and allowed the use of flash which often produced some good results.

Video mode: Awful. Really really poor: 320×240 MP4, 30fps, 2 channels, 32khz. Go back to 2004 and even budget digital cameras feature VGA (640×480) video recording. To compete in todays market the camera phone should have at least VGA and preferably HD video recording. However, one nice feature is the video light which can be switched on and off when needed.

Conclusion. They say that the best camera is the camera you have with you, and in this regard the C905 is a very good camera simply because as a mobile phone it’s likely to be with you at all times. This means you can capture the photo that you perhaps would have otherwise missed. However, the C905 still doesn’t compete with even budget digital cameras, which beat the C905 on image quality, noise, speed, screen size, optical zoom, video quality, price etc. It does a decent job, and with a screen that works outdoors, and a real xenon flash it’s better than the majority of other mobile phones as a camera. If you want to be able to have a decent camera in your mobile phone this would be the best choice simply because of the flash, which definitely outperforms LED based flashes. If all you intend to do is publish photos on the web, on sites like facebook, then it’s possible this could be all the camera you ever need… but then why would you need an 8 megapixel camera, when facebook‘s maximum image size is 0.3 megapixels? 😉 For better results it would be worth taking a cheap budget digital camera everywhere you go, but if your pockets are already full, then this will do the job, and it’s possible you might like the photos. It’s available from Amazon UK

Pros.

+ Real Xenon Flash
+ Screen works outdoors
+ Dedicated Photo buttons on camera (Macro, Flash etc)
+ Provided 2gb M2 card and USB reader makes it easy to transfer photos
+ Decent macro mode, allows the use of flash with good results
+ Bright colourful images with best results outdoors on sunny days
+ Camera always with you
+ Blue glowing buttons

Cons.

– Slow
– Awful video mode (320×240)
– Numerous reports of the phone screen / ear speaker breaking (including mine, which was repaired under warranty after 6 months)
– Small lens means it’s important to make sure the lens is always clean
– Doesn’t perform very well in low light outdoors (without flash)
– Lots of noise
– Poor battery life

For more information on the Sony C905 have a look at: First impressions of the Sony C905, View our Sony Ericsson C905 Sample Photo Gallery, Buy online at Amazon UK

Sony Alpha A850

Sony has announced the new Sony Alpha A850 – which sits below the A900 – it features the same 24.6 Megapixel EXMOR CMOS Full Frame (35mm) Sensor, BIONZ processor, Super SteadyShot Inside, ISO 100-3200 (boost to 6,400), 98% coverage optical viewfinder (instead of 100%), 3.0″ 921k pixel sreen, 3fps shooting (vs 5fps on the A900). The camera will be available on the 10th of September and is available for pre-order from Amazon UK for £1947, or alternatively $2000 US / €1999!

“The new DSLR-α850 from Sony offers serious photo enthusiasts a compelling step up to the creative possibilities of full-frame imaging. Ruggedly built for unflinching pro-style handling and performance, the α850 shares the same 24.6 megapixel sensor and virtually all features of the flagship DSLR-α900, introduced last year. Like its full-frame sibling, the α850 fully exploits the creative possibilities of the α family of lenses that includes premium full-frame optics from Carl Zeiss, plus five high-performance G Lens models.”

Read Sony Alpha A850 DSLR Reviews: Imaging Resource, Luminous Landscape

Sony A550

Sony has announced the new Sony Alpha A500 and A550. The A500 features a 12.3 megapixel CMOS sensor, the A550 features a 14.2 megapixel sensor, and both cameras feature a 3″ tilting screen (921k pixels on the A550, 230k on the A500), and 5fps shooting (upto 7fps on the A550), live view, steadyshot inside (anti-shake sensor), Auto HDR, HDMI out, and will be available from the end of October:

“At the heart of both cameras is a new, unique to Sony, Exmor™ CMOS sensor that ensures crisp low-noise images, packed with fine detail and vibrant colours. Sharing powerful on-chip noise reduction techniques with the full-frame DSLR- α900, this advanced sensor works with processing algorithms handled by the newly developed high-speed BIONZ™ engine to deliver premium images plus razor-sharp shooting responses. Dramatically reduced picture noise now allows super-sensitive shooting at up to ISO12800, achieving great results when shooting handheld in challenging situations like candlelit interiors”

More Sony A550, A500 Information: DPReview Preview, More pictures.

Sony A500

Blue Slide - Sony C905

We’ve just uploaded several new sample photos from the Sony Ericsson Cybershot C905 Mobile Phone. I’ve been using it for 10 months, and have posted some of the best shots. The C905 has an 8.1 megapixel digital camera – the camera phone features a real “Xenon” flash, autofocus lens, face detection, a 2.4″ VGA screen, GPS (with photo tagging) and WiFi. We will be publishing a review of the phones ability as a camera shortly, but in the meantime, feel free to have a look at my first impressions of the Sony C905. The Sony Ericsson C905 is available from Amazon UK.

View our Sony Ericsson C905 Sample Photo Gallery

Olympus Mju Mini Digital

The Olympus Mju Mini Digital. Perhaps the best designed, and best looking digital camera of all time? With a small, stylish, smooth metal body, awesome sliding lens cover, and gorgeous gunmetal mode dial, it certainly looked awesome, especially when available in striking colours. Announced in September 2004, previewed and reviewed by us, it featured a 4 megapixel sensor, a 2x optical zoom lens, and a 1.8″ screen. It was followed up by the Olympus Mju Mini Digital S – in 2005 – which had a 5 megapixel upgrade and more subtle colours, we wonder why the camera was killed off so soon? Especially when it could have evolved into this wooden digital camera!

Sony Cybershot L1

The Sony Cybershot L1 from 2005, reviewed here, was quite advanced for it’s time featuring a VGA 30fps video mode, a 4mp sensor, and 3x optical zoom lens. This camera went with me everywhere, for a very long time, it was a “True pocket camera”, shaped like a mars bar, it had a reassuringly thick metal outer shell that survived many scratches and knocks (until it sadly died). Even though it only had a tiny 1.5″ screen, it could take great colourful photos, and I especially liked the 3:2 aspect ratio mode, and lens flare. I waited patiently for it’s replacement, but the closest I came to finding it was the Canon Digital IXUS i7 Zoom which is no longer available.

The Casio Exilim S100, also from 2005, reviewed here, with only 3 megapixels, and a 2.8x optical zoom, it may not seem very exciting, but it was the world’s first (and only?) digital camera with a “ceramic lens”, this camera was not only exciting because it was slim (at 16.7mm thin), but also because it had a great metal body. It was fun too with face joining best shot mode (coupling shot, which is now missing from Casio cameras), it survived many trips around Europe, and had an impressively tough case available for it as an optional extra. Photos were quite colourful too.

What digital cameras do you miss? Or what do you want from a digital camera that doesn’t seem to exist in todays market? Leave a comment below!