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All posts tagged "hardware"

Monday, March 5, 2012

I am a Cat; Destroyer of Tech!

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 03:00 PM

Understanding cats' crazy minds as best we can—especially that they don't like sudden, loud noises and sticky stuff on their paws—can help develop a plan of action. Of the several suggested approaches, including setting up motion-detection alarms and setting traps that startle cats when they get near your gear (like the DIY blender defender or simpler tin cans with coins), the two-sided tape strategy method looks easiest

Tech is vulnerable to all manner of things. Water, power surges, gravity and blunt force trauma can all have an adverse affect on your precious toys. Cats, too, can prove to be a deadly force of nature, from chewing cables to furring up your fans to sitting on your keyboard and looking at you with eyes that tell you that the cat is NOT to be disturbed. Fortunately, not all is lost, as there are ways of making sure that your cats do not end up spend more time with your tech than you do.

Tags: hardware, , computers, cats

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Canon Announces EOS 5D Mark III; Canon Users Rejoice

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 05:30 AM

This is under the better-late-than never category, but here goes. Canon has announced the 5DIII, and it is quite an impressive piece of kit. While the camera may not be quite the breakthrough its predecessors were (the 5DI was the first affordable 35mm DSLR, the 5DII was the first Canon video DSLR), it is the first 5D that is not compromised in the AF department. In addition to me not liking the Canon SLR UI, the AF on the 5D reminded me of how Canon cut corners in the AF system in the EOS D30 (and D60): Slow and underperforming compared to the rest of the camera. Thankfully, the 5DIII now gains the 1DX's 61 point AF module with 41 cross points and what Canon says are 5 dual cross points. These are not very sensitive for slower lenses, so make sure you have f/4 or faster lenses to make full use of the AF features.

The camera now uses a new 22 megapixel sensor, which personally I feel is more than enough for many purposes, and the accompanying electronics (what Canon markets as Digic 5+) is finally capable of removing lateral chromatic aberrations in-camera. That took long enough for Canon to implement a very handy feature. The sensor claims an ISO range of 100 to 25k, expandable to 100k. The new electronics also promises a fast readout that can support the maximum burst rate of 6 FPS for up to 18 RAW images and more than enough JPEGs (Canon claims 16,000).

The video section has been upgraded too, with the codec now supporting either intraframe or interframe compression, in resolutions of up to 1080p. There is also SMTPE timecode support, which is aimed at professionals using mutiple-cameras (or even audio recorders). There is an audio jack for monitoring audio, a microphone jack (not the XLR variety though) and very nicely, the rear-wheel is now touch sensitive, so settings can be changed without jerking the camera during recording.

There are a number of other upgrades, like the new 100% optical viewfinder, a new 3.2" 720x480 LCD screen, in-camera HDR, a few nice tweaks to the UI (still will not make me use a Canon SLR without tearing my hair out however), and a lot more. Check out the read link which goes to DPReview. The Canon 5D Mark III will be available for US$3500 in end of March.

Canon Announces Speedlite 600EX-RT and Other EOS System Accessories

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 05:29 AM

To go along with the EOS 5D Mk III, Canon has announced a number of accessories. The first is something that anyone with a Canon EOS camera can use: The 600EX-RT flash. It is the new top of the line flash, and the new trick it packs is a radio transceiver that allows it to communicate with 15 other 600EX-RTs at up to 30 metres (about 100 feet). The advantage of radio over the current existing IR implementation is greater reliability in outdoors during the day, and also not needing line-of-sight between the flashes. I think Canon has just killed a chunk of Pocketwizards's customer base. In case you just need the trigger, there is also the ST-E3-RT, which is like the ST-E2, but radio instead of IR-based. The listed guide number is a pumped up figure of 60m at 200m; I have not been able to get a truer figure at a more common focal length (eg 35mm) to make comparisons with. The 600EX-RT and ST-E3-RT will be available in end of March for US$630 and US$470 respectively. Read on for the other accessories!


Monday, February 27, 2012

What Do You Do With Old Faithful

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 03:00 PM

Despite everyone's assumptions, we geeks are not always privy to the latest and greatest technology. If you're stuck with an old, slow, crappy computer, there are a few things you can do to make the best of a bad situation.

It happens to all of us eventually. That wonderful buddy that has been serving your Internet for years is finally starting to struggle with your modern demands. There is nothing wrong with old faithful, but it just cannot keep up. So what do you do with your old toys when you have found new love? While there are ways to revive that aging machine, keep in mind that while you can breathe new life into it, it could be a power sink. As computers have gotten newer, and faster, they also have tended to become more energy efficient. Just like how your old refrigerator in your garage could be sucking up more power than a Google datacenter, so to, can that old PC.

One thing I think of that is not emphasized enough is recycling. This doesn't mean that you put your old box into the blue bin, but there are numerous recycling programs, or if the computer is still functioning, some programs that can take your PC and give it to someone who could use it.

Nokia Announces 808 Pureview with 41 Megapixel Sensor, Attempts to Take On Nikon's D800

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 09:30 AM

"The headline feature is the 41 megapixel oversampling system implemented on a huge 1/1.2" sensor, enabling standard resolution photos to be produced yet with dramatic zooming (24-74mm) available without loss of detail, and with lower digital noise."

Normally I do not post phone news, but I found this to be hilarious. Nokia has implemented a 41 megapixel sensor in their latest phone, with a f/2.4 lens that just covers slightly less than the sensor area to allow recording in 4:3 to 16:9 aspect ratios without losing megapixels. The final maximum file sizes appear to contain about 36 megapixels of information.

What Nokia has done is to make a sensor that is 75% the size of Nikon's CX format as used in the Nikon 1 system (the official literature pegs the size at 1/1.2") and pack it with photosites as dense as a normal phone's camera. Result? Lots of pixels. It is also quite clever in a way, because that means at normal file sizes with five to eight megapixels, the camera can perform a crop to mimic a zoom without loss of detail. This avoids a bulky optical zoom mechanism in this day of sub-10mm phones. However I do suspect Nokia knows the quality might not stand up to close scrutiny, as the samples so far minimise the camera's weaknesses. The EXIF data has the camera as low as ISO 50 in some of the samples! More details of this crazy camera phone at the link, with links to full-sized samples in the linked article's comments section.

Friday, February 17, 2012

PC Gaming Will Never Die! Introducing the Alienware X51

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 03:00 PM

"The X51 is basically the size of an Xbox 360, but the insides are pure PC: Alienware employs a Mini-ITX motherboard, desktop-level Sandy Bridge Intel processors, and a full-sized double-slot graphics card (rotated ninety degrees and connected via a riser card to the PCIe 2.1 x16 slot)."

The gaming industry has seen a lot of changes over the past few years. While gaming consoles have traditionally dominated the market, the rise of casual games on the iPhone and Android have gained a lot of attention lately. PC gaming, though, is like that that kid you see at the school dance, standing in a corner, all alone, trying to look inconspicuous. He may have a lot to offer, and really is a great person, but no one wants to even talk to him because he does not quite fit in with the rest of the crowd. Despite all the love that other gaming platforms get, there is still a great market for PC gaming and the success of Steam suggests that it is not going to die anytime soon. The Alienware X51 looks like a good stab at helping to create more interest in the platform.

The biggest problem I see with the PC platform is its complexity. Performance varies widely, depending on what hardware you have, and with most games being 3D, a lot of computers that use integrated graphics find the experience less than stellar. Distribution services like Steam go a long way to simplifying the distribution chain, but until games can offer a much more stable platform like that which you see with a console, or a mobile device, I am certain that many people will remain put off by the whole thing.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Kodak to Cease Making Digital Cameras

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home News" @ 09:16 AM

"Kodak has announced that it is ceasing production of digital cameras, pocket video cameras and digital picture frames."

Kodak has been a real mess for the past 20 years, with management trying to keep a hold on a lucrative but dwindling core business. As Kodak exits a market it never really could compete in against the Japanese, I wonder what the post-bankruptcy future it has? Paper? More film? Licensing the name is only going to go so far without some innovations from the parent company. In the end, I think this pretty much confirms Kodak as a has-been.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Logitech M600 is a Touchy Mouse

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 03:00 PM

"With the Logitech Touch Mouse M600, things are set to improve, making mousing feel like second nature. You are able to scroll, swipe and surf regardless of where your fingertips rest on the mouse, and it does not matter whether you are a southpaw or not."

There are Touch people, Touchpad people and there are Mice people. Okay, there are probably some TrackBall people around, and TrackPoint/AccuPoint people too. Having grown up in front of desktops, I find mice the most efficient way of navigating my computing. For tablets and phones, sure, touch is great, but it is the mouse I crave when I want to deal with lots of information. But with Logitech's latest creation, why not get the best of both worlds? Touch mice have been around for a few years in several incarnations. I remember one of Logitech's earliest attempts 8 years ago with the v500, though that did not support multi-touch. The only problem is that I do not know if I will feel comfortable looking like I'm fondling my mouse while I whisk through all that data.

Olympus Announces OM-D E-M5 Micro Four Thirds Camera

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 10:46 AM

The big news of the past 24 hours is Olympus's E-M5 camera, which is part of the OM-D line. For the uninitiated, Olympus used to make small and very well-made film SLRs back in the day, under the OM moniker. I myself started photography using dad's OM-1 almost two decades ago. Ah, the memories!

Well, while Olympus is trying to stir feelings of nostalgia, I can say that the OM-1 and this E-M5 are quite different beasts once you get past the superficial. The E-M5 is a digital camera through and through, with the controls pretty much geared towards an electronically-controlled lens mount, unlike say, the Fuji X100. Still, it does look good, and the accessory battery grip is really retro; I have not seen something like that since the old motor winders back in the days of manual focus SLRs.

The camera itself is made from the best Micro Four Thirds has to offer. Highlights include a sensor that is the 16 megapixel Live MOS affair that goes from ISO 200 to 25,600 (presumably from Panasonic; about time Olympus ditched that old 12 megapixel sensor), a contrast-detect system that Olympus promises to be world's fastest (challenging cameras like the mighty Nikon D3S and Canon EOS 1DIV), an improved sensor-shift stabilisation system that promises to keep track and correct movement in five different axis, 1080i video at up to 60 FPS, continuous shooting at 9 FPS with single AF, 4.2 with continuous AF, 3" tilting VGA (presumably using a Pentile arrangement) OLED screen, a great SVGA EVF and a weather-proofed body that offers complete weather-proof capabilities when used with the right lenses. Despite that faux pentaprism hump (it is its successor, the EVF hump), there is no built-in flash, just like the old OM cameras.

Other niceties include things like a Live Bulb mode, so you can keep track of the exposure when it is progress. Ever shot in bulb and have no idea how long to open the shutter for, especially in conditions where the light level is rapidly changing? This is the crutch. There is also a tone curve overlay for finer control over how the camera handles shadows and highlights, though I suspect that is more for JPEG shooters.

All that nice stuff does not come cheap. The camera will ship in April for US$1000 for just the body, $1100 with a 14-42mm kit lens, and $1300 with the new 12-50 powerzoom lens (which is weather-proof). Along with the camera, Olympus also announced a 75mm f/1.8 lens, a 60mm f/2.8 macro, and a new flash with an LED for video work, the FL-600R. The FL-600R will ship in April for US$300, while pricing information for the lenses are not available.

More details and photos at the link, along with a preview! Be sure to see the grip, it just so old school!

Olympus Announces SZ-31MR Superzoom Camera and TG-820 Rugged Camera

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 10:45 AM

Olympus has two compact cameras for show today as well. First is the SZ-31MR, which Olympus calls a compact superzoom. I am not sure what the difference between a compact superzoom and a travelzoom is now any more, since everyone is going crazy with the zoom ranges, but I digress. The camera has a 16 megapixel backlit CMOS sensor, a 24x 25-600mm equivalent f/3.0-6.9 (!) zoom lens, sensor shift stabilisation, a 3" VGA touchscreen LCD, 1080p video in h.264, 10 FPS continuous shooting mode, and of course, what Olympus camera would be without the Art Filters. Ships in late April for US$400.

Next up is the rugged TG-820. The camera packs a 12 megapixel backlit CMOS sensor, a 5x 28-140mm equivalent f/3.9-5.9 zoom lens, sensor shift stabilisation, a 3" 720x480 LCD screen, 1080p video, a rugged body rated to be waterproof to 33 feet (10 metres), shockproof to 6.6 feet (2 metres), freezeproof to 14F (-10C), and dustproof. Ships in March for US$300. More photos and details of the two cameras at the links below.

DPReview: Olympus SZ-31MR

DPReview: Olympus TG-820

Pentax Announces WG-2 Rugged Compact Camera

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 10:30 AM

Pentax has updated their line of rugged compacts again with the WG-2. Strangely the press release makes a claim that this is the 13th generation. I thought superstitions would mean people tend to not talk about such things. Oh well! The camera itself has some updates, with a new 16 megapixel sensor (backlit CMOS, so hopefully it is not too terrible), a 3" HVGA LCD, and 1080p videos at 30 FPS in h.264. The lens seems to be the same unit as the WG-1, a 5x 28-140mm equivalent f/3.5-5.5 lens which does not appear to be stabilised. Also carried forward are the six LED lights surrounding the lens to act as lighting for close-up shots. Pretty neat. The camera is rated to be waterproof to 40 feet (12 metres), shockproof from 5 feet (1.5 metres), freezeproof to 14F (-10C) and dustproof. Ships in March for US$400 for the GPS version, and US$350 for the one without. More photos and details at the read link.

Canon Announces Ten New Compacts

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 10:00 AM

So the parade of compacts continues. Canon yesterday announced a bunch, and I will start with the more interesting ones. The Powershot ELPH 320 HS and ELPH 530 HS (IXUS 240 HS and IXUS 510 HS respectively outside of North America) are the latest additions to the ELPH/IXUS line up. The 320 HS features a 16 megapixel sensor with a 5x optically stabilised 24-120mm equivalent f/2.7-5.9 zoom lens, while the 530 HS features a 10 megapixel sensor with a 12x optically stabilised 28-336mm equivalent f/3.4-5.6 zoom lens. This uses folded optics to get fit into the small body. The two ELPHs share a lot of features otherwise, with a 3.2" HVGA touchscreen LCD and very little physical controls, 1080p video at 24 FPS, still shooting at up to 5.2 FPS, and new here, built-in wifi that in addition to uploading to various services, also allows transferring files to a smartphone, with an app coming for iOS and Android. The 530 HS also uses microSD cards instead of the usual SD cards for storing its photos. I sense many cameras will switch to the smaller form factor as time goes by; this is the third camera announced in 2012 utilising the smaller format. The two cameras will ship in late March, with the 530 HS going for US$350, and the 320 HS going for US$280. More cameras after the break!

DCResource: Powershot ELPH 320 HS / ELPH 530 HS


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Canon Announces Three New Lenses for EF-mount

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 01:00 AM

"Canon has released three EF lenses, including an updated 24-70mm F2.8 II USM. The latest version features what is promised to be a more durable body, despite being a little smaller. In addition to this high-end full-frame standard zoom, there are completely redesigned semi-fast 24mm and 28mm F2.8 primes, both of which feature USM focus motors and image stabilization."

Canon has updated three lenses, including a highly popular one, and leaves me slightly confused. For some strange reason Canon has seen it fit to add IS to light wide angle primes, but thinks the heavier 24-70 with a telephoto end needs it less (which in my opinion, does not). Sometimes you wonder what the camera companies are thinking. In any case, the 24-70/2.8 L II is a new lens, and not just minor update to the previous 24-70/2.8 L. It promises better image quality, and better physical durability. The 24/2.8 and 28/2.8 have small wideangle primes, but now come with IS (which I still find utterly weird), and newly designed optics. No word on pricing or availability.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Nikon Announces D800 and D800E FX DSLR Cameras

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 10:27 PM

Alright, here we go! Nikon has just announced not one, but two cameras. The D800 and its sibling, the D800E. Both D800s feature a number of changes from the D700, the main difference being that 36 megapixel FX sensor. I am not sure if that many people need all those megapixels, but I guess Nikon is trying to woo the affluent amateur in addition to the thrifty professional with this camera. The sensor has a base ISO range of 100-6400, and an extended range of 50-25,600. No super high numbers like the D4 here. Still, a number of changes do carry over from the D4, including the new 91,000 RGB matrix sensor for determining exposures, the improved CAM-3500 AF module, and the 3.2" VGA LCD screen. There is an ambient light sensor for the LCD screen to boost its brightness levels, just like a smartphone, which is a nice touch.

The D800 also inherits the D4's video capabilities. That means the D800 does 1080p videos at 30, 25 and 24 FPS, with B frame compression in h.264 codec, HDMI pass through with uncompressed video data, a microphone jack, fine control of audio levels with visual indicators, a headphone jack to monitor said audio levels, and built-in time lapse recording. Each video clip is limited to 29m 59s (in other words, a second shy of 30 minutes, presumably for tax reasons in certain countries).

Back to the stills side, the camera has a maximum frame rate for 4 FPS at FX, and 5 FPS in crop mode. With the MB-D12 battery pack using other batteries than the default EN-EL15 (which replaced the EN-EL3e), the camera can do 6 FPS in crop mode. Shifting all those megapixels has made the D800 slower than the D700 in that aspect. Improved over the D700 however, is the viewfinder. It is now a 100% affair, unlike the D700 slighty cropped 95% coverage. Other improvements include faster contrast detect autofocus for live view, faster shutter response times, the addition of a SD card slot alongside the CF card slot, dual-axis virtual horizon (great for eliminating converging vertical lines), built-in two shot HDR, and overall changes to the UI. I particularly like the new frame advance setting dial on the left side of the camera. Finally one no longer has to peer at the top of the camera to confirm that self-timer mode has not been engaged. A dedicated bracketing button also means that the right function button next to the lens mount is no longer the only way to access bracketing. I hate it when camera manufacturers make features only accessible to custom function buttons, forcing you to pretty much set the custom function button to that feature anyway. It really doesn't leave much choice in setting the custom function!

Now, on to the D800E. It is essentially the D800, but with the anti-aliasing filter removed. Sounds pretty tasty. To compensate for potential moire, Nikon has added a moire removal feature in an upcoming version of Capture NX2.

The Nikon D800 will go on sale in late March for US$3000. The D800E will go on sale in mid-April for US$3300. That is right. Take away a part, promise higher image quality, charge US$300 more. More coverage at the link. Coverage of the D800 seems a bit sparse this time; DPReview even got the battery information wrong!

Update: DPReview has a preview up! Loads more information, especially on the new features.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Pentax Announces K-01 Mirrorless Camera and Confirms They Cannot Do Mirrorless Right

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 07:30 AM

Continuing with this weeks camera announcements is Pentax with their second attempt at a mirrorless camera. I am not sure if Pentax really knows what it is doing here. After the too-small-in-everything Pentax Q, Pentax has revealed the K-01. The specifications read pretty much like a Pentax DSLR, with a 16 megapixel APS-sized sensor, sensor-shift stabilisation, a 6 FPS continuous shooting mode, a 3" VGA LCD display, top ISO of 12,800, 1080p video mode at 24, 25 or 30 FPS with manual controls, even more manual controls for still photography, and being Pentax, also includes native Adobe DNG support for its RAW files. The problem with this camera is that is basically uses the venerable K-mount, which is a SLR lens mount. This means that there is a large gaping space between the sensor and the lens meant for the non-existent mirror, and just makes the camera big, which DPReview kindly shows at the read link below. Maybe that is why Pentax debuted a 40mm f/2.8 lens that is really thin. Mount a standard 50mm f/1.4 lens and this is just about as big as any modern SLR. There is also the issue that contrast-detection autofocus is just not good with lenses originally designed for phase-detection autofocus systems. Oh, and did I mention the camera this big is missing a viewfinder of any kind? The Pentax K-01 ships in March for US$750 for the body alone and US$900 with the 40mm f/2.8. The lens itself will cost US$250. More details and photos (including a comparison in size with Pentax's flagship DSLR, the K-5) at the read link.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Nikon Announces New Coolpix P-series Cameras; 42x Zoom Lens for Maximum Compensation

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 09:56 AM

"For those whom 24X, 30X, and even 36X zooms aren't enough, the Coolpix P510 has a whopping *42X* optical zoom lens. And no, it doesn't come with its own tripod."

24-1000mm equivalent zoom lens. That's right. 1000mm equivalent. That is what the P510 packs. The lens is not too slow at a f/3.0-5.6 maximum aperture, and it comes with Nikon's VR optical stabilisation to help stabilise that really long focal length. I still recommend a tripod, and a bright sunny day to make use of that range! The rest of the camera is pretty much a current superzoom (or should it be ultra-mega-superzoom now?). It is equipped with a 16 megapixel backlit sensor, a tilting (as opposed to fully articulated) 3" VGA LCD, 1080p videos at 30 FPS, and includes a GPS sensor. The camera's UI means serious business: Two command dials grace the camera to accommodate the camera's manual controls, along with two zoom controllers to handle that monster zoom range. Ships in February for US$430.

Next up is the P310, an update of the P300. Like the P300, it is not quite a Canon Powershot S100 (or similar) challenger. While it offers a bright (at the wide end at least) 4x 24-100mm f/1.8-4.9 zoom lens, the 16 megapixel backlit sensor is the same 1/2.3" affair as the P510, which is almost half the area of the S100's 1/1.7" sensor. It also lacks the S100's RAW file recording capability. The rest of the camera is almost tantalising, which makes me wonder what Nikon is trying to do here. Like the P510, there is Nikon's VR optical image stabilisation, a 1080p video mode at 30 FPS, a 3" VGA LCD (but fixed here), and a number of nice touches to the UI (like a full rear command dial and a customisable function button on the front, like Nikon's DSLRs). Ships in February for US$330, which is cheaper than the Canon S100, but I really would rather have the bigger sensor and RAW capability for US$100 more. More details and photos at the read link.

Nikon Introduces Four S-series Coolpixes

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 09:55 AM

After the excitement (or disappointment) of the P-series cameras, here are the more standard releases. Let us start with the S9300 travelzoom camera. It has an 18x optically stabilised 25-450mm equivalent f/3.5-5.9 zoom lens, a 16 megapixel backlit sensor, 1080p video at 30 FPS, a 3" VGA LCD, and built-in GPS. Ships in March for US$350.

Next up is the S9300's little brother, the S6300. It has the same 16 megapixel backlit sensor, but a shorter 10x optically stabilised 25-250mm equivalent f/3.2-5.8 zoom lens. The LCD is a smaller one, at 2.7" with just QVGA resolution. GPS is also not present, but at least the same 1080p 30 FPS video is still present. Ships in March for US$200.

After that are a pair of budget compacts, the S4300 and S3300. Both use a standard 16 megapixel CCD, a 6x optically stabilised 26-156mm equivalent f/3.5-6.5(!) zoom lens and 720p video. The main difference between the two is that the S4300 uses a 3" HVGA touchscreen, while the S3300 uses a 2.7" QVGA screen. The S4300 will ship in March for US$170, while the S3300 will go for US$140. More details and images at the read link.

Nikon Announces Three Budget Coolpix Cameras; One is Actually Interesting

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 09:53 AM

It is not every day a US$120 camera is interesting, but I think Nikon has done it. The S30 is a camera with unremarkable, even mediocre, specifications: A tiny 1/3" 10 megapixel CCD with a 3x 29-87mm equivalent f/3.3-5.9 zoom lens, a 2.7" QVGA LCD screen, and 720p video mode. What makes it interesting is that the camera has been given a slightly rugged shell that is waterproof to 9.8 feet (3 metres), shockproof to 2.6 feet (0.8 metres) and dustproof. It also takes common AA batteries. Together with the price, I think this might be a great camera for the children, or for slightly more adventurous activities where a cheaper camera is good enough for to capture the fun. Ships in February for, as mentioned, US$120.

Next up are the L budget cameras. The L810 is a budget superzoom, packing a 26x optically stabilised 22.5-585mm equivalent f/3.1-5.9 zoom lens, a 16 megapixel CCD, 3" VGA LCD and 720p video mode. The camera uses four AA batteries to power it. The specs are pretty decent for a budget zoom. One can hope the photos match the specs. Ships in February for US$280.

Finally there is the L26. This budget shooter has 5x 26-130mm equivalent f/3.2-6.5 lens, 720p video mode, and a 3" QVGA LCD screen. The camera will ship in February for US$120. More details and photos at the link.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Panasonic Introduces Four Lumix Compact Cameras

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 12:00 PM

Panasonic today announced four Lumix cameras: Two travelzooms, and two rugged compacts. First up are the DMC-ZS20 (TZ30) and the DMC-ZS15 (TZ25). The ZS15 comes with a 14 megapixel sensor, a 16x optically stabilised 24-384mm equivalent f/3.3-5.9 lens, a 3" HVGA LCD, 1080i videos in 60 FPS in AVCHD. The ZS20 gets a 14 megapixel sensor, a 20x optically stabilised 24-480mm equivalent f/3.3-6.4 zoom lens, a 3" HVGA touchscreen LCD, 1080p videos at 60 FPS with a high speed 220FPS option at reduced resolution, and a GPS with a database of landmarks and maps that can be loaded from the included DVD. Both cameras bunch of special effects and in-camera software features (including a take on Sony's Sweep Panorama), burst mode of 10 frames a second, and full manual controls. The ZS20 will be priced at US$350, while the ZS15 will be priced at US$280. Both will ship in March. More photos and details at the link.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS20 and DMC-ZS15

Next up are the rugged cameras, the DMC-TS4 (FT4) and the DMC-TS20 (FT20). The TS4 replaces the TS3, and now has a 12 megapixel sensor, an optically stabilised 4.6x 28-128mm equivalent f/3.3-5.9 zoom lens, a 2.7" QVGA LCD, 1080i video at 60 FPS, and a rugged shell that is waterproof to 40 feet (12m), shockproof to 6.6 feet (2m) and freezeproof to 14F (-10C). There is also a GPS sensor, and has the same landmarks and maps capability as the ZS20 above. The lower-end TS20 has a 16 megapixel sensor, a slow optically stabilised 4x 25-100mm equivalent f/3.9-5.7 zoom lens, a 2.7" QVGA LCD, 720p video at 30 FPS, and a less-rugged shell that is waterproof to 16 feet (4.8m), shockproof to 5 feet (1.5m) and freezeproof to 14F (-10C). The TS4 will ship in March for US$400, while the TS20 will ship in February for US$180 (quite the price difference there). Photos and details at the link.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS4 and DMC-TS20

Sony Launches a Trio of Cameras; Thinks We Need 18 Megapixels

Posted by Lee Yuan Sheng in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 10:30 AM

This always happens. A company produces a minor design innovation that might allow for compacts to be less awful to the point where I might consider getting one again, then same company ruins it by increasing the megapixel count, thus negating (and maybe even worsening) any advantages said innovation might have brought otherwise. Sony's latest, the DSC-TX200V, is clearly intended to be Sony's flagship compact camera, but 18 megapixels? It packs the otherwise promising Exmor R CMOS sensor, which Sony touts it will be great in low-light situations (and I have a bridge to sell you folks), a slow-ish 5x optically stabilised folded optics zoom lens at 26-130mm equivalent with maximum apertures of f/3.5-4.8, a tasty 3.3" WVGA OLED touchscreen (which unfortunately also means most physical controls have been obliterated), 1080p video in AVCHD, crammed with a ton of software features, like Sony's famous Sweep Panorama mode, all in a slightly waterproof, freezeproof and dustproof body that is also pretty stylish. It is the second compact that will make use of micro SD cards, and will sell for a princely sum of US$500 in March. More photos and full details at the link below.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX200V

The other two cameras, The DSC-WX70 and DSC-WX50, are more conventional affairs. They are still slim cameras, but pack a more standard retracting lens. Both offer 16 megapixel Exmor R sensors, 5x optically stabilised 25-125mm equivalent f/2.6-6.3 zoom lens, 1080p video in AVCHD, and similar inter software to the TX200V. The difference between the two cameras are in their screens. The WX50 offers a 2.7" HVGA LCD, while the WX70 offers a 3" VGA touchscreen LCD. Both cameras will ship in March, with the WX70 going for US$230, and the WX50 going for US$200. More photos and full details at the link below.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX70/WX50

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