Pentax launches orange version of WG-1

Pentax has announced an addition of a new shiny orange version of the PENTAX Optio WG-1 GPS waterproof digital compact camera range.

Pentax-WG1GPS_Orange The Optio WG-1 has unique GPS functions such as the recording and storage of positioning log data during travelling and is waterproof, shockproof, coldproof, dustproof and crushproof.

The new Shiny Orange version was designed in response to demand from outdoor enthusiasts. Featuring a high-quality finish in brilliant-orange with an aluminium-alloy front panel, a gunmetal-grey rubber coating has also been applied to the edge of the camera body.

Along with its rugged characteristics, the WG-1 GPS has a 14 megapixel sensor, 5x wide-angle optical zoom lens, a 3 inch LCD screen, HD movie recording, macro shooting from 1cm and AF tracking.

The Shiny Orange Pentax Optio WG1-GPS will be available from the beginning of August 2011, with an RRP of £299.99. To find more information, visit the Pentax website.


Sony Cybershot DSC-H70 Digital Camera

Sony’s new Cybershot DSC-H70 digital camera is a pocket-sized, metallic super zoom with 10x zoom and 25mm wide angle lens through to 250mm telephoto zoom. Allowing you to go as wide as you like or really bring your subject in close. Features include 3.0” (230K dots) Clear Photo™ LCD display features sharp, natural color that makes it easy to compose shots, read menus, and view photos, even in bright sunlight. Capture expansive landscapes with one touch Sweep Panorama or take stunning 720p HD videos. Also, get clear shots with Optical SteadyShot image stabilization that uses a built-in gyro sensor to detect camera shake and automatically shifts the lens to help prevent blur without sacrificing image quality.

Sony-Cyber-Shot-DSC-H70 The H70’s Active mode stabilizes hand-held movie recording. Advanced features, such as the anti-blink, skin soft, face detection and Smile Shutter technology to easily create stunning images of people. Self-Portrait timer functions along with an In-camera Guide assist users getting better shots from everyday photography. The Sony H70?s lens carries the same Sony G branding as the company’s digital SLR lenses, an indication of its confidence in the lens optical performance. The Sony H70 stores images on Secure Digital, SDHC or the latest SDXC types. The H70 is also compatible with Sony’s own proprietary Memory Stick PRO Duo cards.

Overall, the 16-megapixel Cyber-shot DSC-H70 is the best value at the entry level of Sony’s 2011 compact megazooms and has some very strong features for a camera in its price range.

The Sony H70 camera will be available in black, silver, blue, or red versions.


Sony Launches NEX-C3 and a35, Puts Big Sensors in Small Cameras

The Sony Alpha NEX-3 remains one of the best cameras PCMag has reviewed, packing a D-SLR-sized sensor and interchangeable lens capability into a body that's more manageable, all for a price that won't hurt nearly as bad as most D-SLRs. On Wednesday, Sony announced the next-generation Sony NEX-C3, which keeps the NEX-3's high-end hardware, but slims down even more and adds a few welcome features.

sony-nex-c3.2 The NEX-C3's body has been made even smaller, and the camera now weighs just 8 ounces. The NEX-3 won't exactly tip the scales, weighing in at 11 ounces, but it's an improvement nonetheless. Battery life is improved too, Sony says, up to 400 still shots between charges. The NEX-C3's APS-C sensor was boosted to 16.2 megapixels, and can shoot NEX-3-like 720p HD video (the NEX-3's cousin, the Alpha NEX-5, offered 1080i shooting for $100 more than the NEX-3).

There's also a new "Photo Creativity" mode on the NEX-C3, which is essentially a jargon-free way of manually controlling the camera. Users can control "background defocus" instead of aperture, and "color" instead of white balance, and the effect of any changed settings can be seen immediately on the LCD. (There is still a true manual mode, with the terms that will be more familiar to experience photographers.) There are plenty of in-camera effects as well, letting you digitally apply filters and effects to your photos—the effects are also available to NEX-3 and NEX-5 owners via a firmware update.

One drawback of the NEX-3 was the relative lack of available lenses, and Sony announced one more alongside the NEX-C3. The SEL30M35 is a 30mm f/3.5 macro lens with a minimum working distance of 0.95 inches, which makes it ideal for super-close shots. The lens will be available in October, for "about $250," said Sony.

sony-alpha-35-dslr-camera The Sony NEX-C3 itself will be available in August in silver, black, and pink, for $650 with a kit lens. We've wondered for months why no other camera manufacturer has come out with a competitor to the NEX-3: A small(er) camera, with a D-SLR sensor inside, and a few compromises (like no optical viewfinder) that most casual users won't mind, for a reasonable price. It appears that Sony wants to build its lead before other manufacturers catch on.

For fans of the more traditional D-SLR, Wednesday brought Sony news as well. The Sony Alpha a35 (SLT-A35) is the newest in the line of Sony's D-SLRs, and uses some of Sony's technology, like the Translucent Mirror Technology, to deliver extremely fast performance—the a35 can shoot up to seven frames per second—and excellent low-light shooting, all the way up to ISO 12800. Whether you're shooting in Live View or with the viewfinder, video or stills, the a35 promises plenty of speed upgrades across the board. The battery life has been upgraded here too, up to 440 still shots per charge, and the in-camera effects are present as well. The a35 will be out in August, for about $700 with a kit lens.


Digital Photography 101: How to photograph fireworks

It's happened — somehow it got to be summer already. Summer means Fourth of July celebrations are coming up, and fireworks offer wonderful opportunities for photography. Despite occurring in somewhat challenging circumstances (at night, with bright, moving light), it's actually pretty easy to photograph fireworks, as long as you follow some simple guidelines. You'll find that many of these suggestions are a lot like those we discussed in our column on how to photograph lightning, because many of the principals are the same.

fireworks photo :

Find your vantage point

Where you decide to shoot from will depend on the location of the fireworks, and what sort of shots you're going for. Ask around or look online to determine where the fireworks will be launched from, so you can figure out ahead of time the best place to be to photograph them. The ideal position would be from some distance away, at a vantage point above ground level. This could be a balcony, a hillside, or even just standing on a picnic table or other raised object. The elevation and distance result in nice wide-open shots of the fireworks themselves, as well as the scene around and under them. Just try to avoid external light sources like street lamps, if possible. They won't necessarily ruin your photos, but they will detract from the fireworks themselves. It's also a good idea to check the speed and direction of the wind, so that, ideally, the wind blows the smoke from the fireworks away from you and your camera.

Include scenery

While the colorful explosions are beautiful to watch, and provide lovely photos, pictures of only the bursts aren't terribly exciting in and of themselves. Consider including scenery in your pictures, both to offer a sense of scale and keep your compositions interesting. If you're lucky enough to be somewhere the fireworks will reflect in a body of water like a lake, bay, or pond, that can result in some stunning photographs. Obviously, you want an unobstructed view of the sky, but trees and other objects can provide interesting framing for your compositions.

Another thing to consider is whether you want people in your photographs. Including the spectators can be a great way to capture the excitement of a fireworks display, and gives you the opportunity to play around with techniques such as silhouetting. You could also consider including buildings, monuments, and similar structures as an addition to your shots of the fireworks themselves.

Use a tripod

As with most low-light photography, you'll get the best results if you use a tripod. This is especially important when photographing fireworks, as the long exposure times needed to capture the spectacle will also capture any movement of your camera. In a pinch, you can always try setting your camera on something like the hood of your car, or a bench, but a tripod is definitely the best way to go. You'll also probably want to use a remote release of some sort — either a remote control or a wired shutter release — for the same reason. You could just use the self-timer function, but since it's sometimes hard to predict when the most beautiful fireworks will be lighting up the sky, timing your shots right will be difficult.

Flash and focus

In almost all fireworks photography, you should keep the flash turned off. There are situations where you might want to use it, though, such as to briefly illuminate a subject in the foreground, while still allowing the fireworks themselves to light up the background. This can be tricky, though, and works best with an external flash.

The other thing you'll want to turn off is your camera's auto-focus function. A bright, moving object in a dark sky will utterly confuse your camera, and it will spend so long whirring and stuttering to try to find something to focus on that you'll miss your shot! Turn it to manual, and set the focus to infinity (or focus on an object in the foreground, if that suits your composition).

Slow shutter speeds

The beauty of fireworks isn't just in the explosion itself, but in the trails of light that blossom out and slowly fade away as they fall. So you'll have to use relatively slow shutter speeds to capture the whole show. Luckily you'll probably have a bit of warning, as most fireworks make some sound as they shoot into the sky, but it will require practice and a bit of luck to get the timing right. If you have a bulb setting on your camera, where the shutter will stay open exactly as long as you hold the button down, that might be the most useful. If not, try using the shutter priority mode and setting the exposure time for 1-3 seconds.

Aperture and ISO

Finding the right balance between capturing enough of the explosion's beauty and not ending up with a washed out blur or a grainy mess can be tricky. Play with your camera's settings and experiment with different shutter speed and aperture settings, and see what works best. Since you're using a tripod, you should be able to select a relatively low ISO setting of 100-400 — remember that you're not exposing for the dark sky, but for the bright flashes of color.

While you could use a higher ISO, you don't need to. The fireworks are bright enough to be captured by your camera sensor, and using a lower ISO will reduce the digital noise you'd see in the dark sky at higher settings. Bear in mind as well, though, that a higher ISO will let you use a smaller aperture, which will give you a larger depth of field. That gives you a bit more wiggle room in terms of focusing, which is incredibly helpful for a moving subject like fireworks. So aim for the 200-400 range, but experiment and see what works best for your camera.

Light up your own back yard

In addition to the fireworks displays put on by municipalities, most states allow the sale and use of some forms of smaller fireworks for individuals to use on their own property. While not as spectacular as the huge commercial displays, these smaller explosives can provide some beautiful photographs. What can be even more fun is that with your own personal fireworks display, you can control exactly when, where, and how everything happens. This is a great time to try out light painting techniques with sparklers!

Whatever your plans are for this Fourth of July, don't forget to bring your camera! From a huge national fireworks extravaganza to your own back yard barbeque, a little planning and a little luck will reward you with beautiful photographs. Just remember to follow your local laws and be safe! The American Pyrotechnics Association has an excellent online resource for fireworks safety information, as well as listings of local regulations.

by Katherine Gray

Casio Exilim EX-ZR100

If you've ever tried to photograph a sporting event, a concert, or anywhere else people aren't standing perfectly still for hours at a time, you've seen how frustratingly slow digital cameras can be—a few seconds to start up, a few seconds between shots, and a half-second or more of shutter lag add up to a lot of missed moments. If you feel the need for speed, then the 12.1-megapixel Casio Exilim EX-ZR100 ($299.99 direct) is for you. It's lightning-fast and akes great photos and video, but its quirks, including a less-than-stellar user interface, keep this camera from the top of its $300 class.


Casio-Exilim-EX-ZR100The Exilim EX-ZR100 is one of the classier, sleeker cameras I've tested. It has a smooth, metallic feel to it, and the dark-gray color (the only color available) makes it even sleeker. The 2.3-by-4.1-by-1.1-inch body has rounded corners, a slightly raised look around the lens, and a small bump on the right side that acts as a grip. At 7.2 ounces it's not particularly light, but it's still pocket-friendly. The front of the camera, with too many logos and numbers (there's a Casio logo, a 12.5x symbol, and an HS logo), is annoyingly busy, but I'll overlook that in favor of the otherwise well-designed form.

On the front of the camera, other than the plethora of signage, is the wide-angle, 12.5x optical zoom lens. The lens extends from 24mm all the way to 300mm, which means whether you want a wide landscape shot or an extreme close-up, you'll get your shot. The ZR100's ability to go so wide and so tight is rare: Casio's Exilim EX-H20G ($349.99, 3.5 stars) starts at the same 24mm, but can only extend to 240mm. The Canon PowerShot SX210 IS ($349.99, 3.5 stars), on the other hand, starts at 28mm but extends all the way to 392mm.

The controls on the ZR100 aren't radically different from any other camera, with a few exceptions. There are dedicated buttons for switching between video and still recording mode, and a button solely for switching between single-shot and High Speed CS mode (more on that below). The LCD on the back of the camera is very sharp, a 3-inch screen packed with 460,000 dots (twice as sharp as most pocket cameras, which fill their screens with 230K dots), but about average for a $300 shooter.

The screen makes the otherwise drab interface a little more appealing, but not by much. The ZR100's menus are mostly gray text on gray backgrounds, and don't exactly pop. It's easy to navigate, though. If you press the center button on the camera's directional pad, it pops up a menu with the most-used options, which is a nice touch.


Turning the Exilim EX-ZR100 and shooting a picture takes 2.6 seconds: a fine score, but nothing spectacular. What is spectacular is the camera's recycle time, the time between shots. By default, Review mode (which briefly shows you the image you just shot before reverting to the viewfinder) is disabled by default, and with that off you can fire a shot every 0.7 seconds, crazy fast for a compact camera. With Review mode on (like most digital cameras), it still flies, needing only 1.6 seconds between shots. Add that to the camera's 0.3 seconds of shutter lag, and the ZR100 is absolutely screaming fast for its size and price.

In the PCMag Labs, we use the Imatest suite to objectively measure image quality, and we care especially about two tests: lines per picture height, a measure of an image's sharpness; and the percentage of noise in an image. The Casio Exilim EX-ZR100 scored well in the sharpness department, with a center-weighted average of 1,881 lines per picture height. Any score over 1,800 is very sharp, and the EX-ZR100's 1,881 is in line with or slightly better than other $300-range cameras, like the Editors' Choice Nikon Coolpix S9100 ($329.95, 4 stars), which scored 1,767.

A few technological tweaks by Casio make the ZR100 an excellent low-light camera, which hasn't always been true of Casio cameras. The sensor is backside-illuminated, which means the sensor is re-wired to bring photodiodes closer to the lens, which means more light can be absorbed more quickly. All that leads to a stellar low-light performance: The ZR100 can shoot photos up to ISO 1600 before Imatest measures 1.5 percent noise in an image, the threshold at which photos can become visibly noisy. That means, when you're at a party or shooting at night, the ZR100 is a good friend to have. The S9100 can go even further, though, all the way up to ISO 3200.

There were a couple of odd things that I encountered while shooting with the ZR100. First, and most annoying, the camera's image stabilization when zoomed in is terrible—anything beyond about 5x zoom created near-universally blurry photos. Second, the autofocus was often slow, taking a second to find a subject, the lens bouncing in and out as it tried to focus. Neither is a deal-breaker (though the image stabilization problem is close), but both are frustrating to encounter on a $300 camera.

Video recording options abound, from the high-speed to the high-quality. You can shoot in 1080p HD at 30 frames per second, and videos are recorded as .MOV files which can be uploaded directly to Facebook or YouTube. If you're feeling adventurous, though, you can shoot at 240, 480, or even 1,000 frames per second, though resolution gets ridiculously low, fast. The 1,000fps effect is cool, but there's not much practical use for any 224-by-64 video. HD video looked good, with crisp and clear colors.

Another of the best features on the ZR100 is its HDR (High Dynamic Range) technology. The camera takes three pictures simultaneously: one over-exposed, one under-exposed, and one normally exposed. Those three images are combined into one image, which typically has exceptional dynamic range and impressive colors that can show details in both shadows and highlights. If realistic isn't what you're after, though, try the HDR-Art feature, which takes HDR to an extreme to create a photo that looks more like an original piece of art. The HDR-Art feature is incredibly fun to shoot with, especially shooting still or slow-moving subjects.

The camera records to SDXC, SDHC, and SD cards. There's 52.2MB of built-in memory, enough for a couple of pictures if you forget your card, but you'll want a big card if you're doing serious shooting—and you'll want a Class 6 card or higher for the higher-speed work. There's a proprietary USB port for connecting the camera to your computer, and a mini-HDMI port for connecting it to your HDTV to play back photos and videos.

There's really not a lot wrong with the Casio Exilim EX-ZR100, but its subpar interface and the occasional quirk when zooming and focusing hold it back from topping our list of compact cameras—as does its $300 price tag. If you're looking for plenty of speed, and solid images even in low light, it'll serve you nicely. If the zoom and autofocus issues turn you off, my recommendation would be to either spend an extra $30 and get the Editors' Choice Nikon S9100, which offers a better user experience and huge zoom to go along with it, or spend the same $300 and get the Canon PowerShot SX230 HS ($299, 4 stars), which offers better still image capture (but not-as-good video), and packs a GPS for geotagging your photos.


Sony NEX-3 review

It’s easy to be sceptical about the Sony NEX-3. Wearing its trendy Sony logo, and a svelte 30mm deep without a lens, it looks too pretty to be any great shakes as a camera.

As we turned to our image tests, though, any hesitations faded away. Where other mirrorless cameras such as the Olympus E-PL1 have smaller sensors, the Sony’s APS-C sensor is roughly the same size as those in “proper” DSLRs, theoretically giving it a chance to provide the same image quality.

Our greatest concern – ISO performance – was quickly laid to rest. The NEX-3 can be pushed to ISO 12800, and while the final two stops are best avoided, ISO 3200 produced excellent images. Our image tests rank the NEX-3 and NEX-5 together behind the table-topping Canon, Nikon and Pentax DSLRs, but only by a fraction.

Sony-NEX-3 Zoomed out, the 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 lens produced good results outdoors. Chromatic aberration was present but not at all obvious, and we had no problem with sharpness at either f/5.6 or f/16. Twisting the zoom ring did produce some problems, though. At its maximum zoom of 55mm, the NEX-3’s image corners suffered at f/5.6. Blurry and indistinct, crucial details were lost in the haze. Closing down the aperture to f/16 largely solved the problem.

Where the NEX-5 shoots in Full HD, the NEX-3 can only muster 720p recording, but otherwise the two cameras offer few differences. Except the NEX-3 is a little less stylish and almost £100 cheaper.

Still, compared to traditional DSLRs the Sony NEX-3 is expensive. It’s only £55 cheaper than the superb Nikon D5000, and if you want a camera that will grow with you, the latter is a more sensible option. You can attach the £100 Alpha mount adapter, which allows you to use lenses from Sony’s DSLRs, but the range of available glass doesn’t compare. Nevertheless, if you’re after a slim, stylish camera that doesn’t offer many quality compromises, the Sony NEX-3 is the best we’ve seen.

Author: Dave Stevenson

Sony Alpha SLT-A55 review

The Sony Alpha SLT-A55 may look like just another addition to the Alpha SLR range, but inside there are big changes afoot. Instead of using a flip-up mirror to direct light either to the optical viewfinder or the sensor, it uses a fixed, translucent mirror to split incoming light to both the CMOS sensor and a 15-point autofocus array.

The basic premise isn’t new – it’s the same principle that allows an SLR’s viewfinder and autofocus system to operate simultaneously. However, sending light to both the sensor and the autofocus has numerous repercussions. Together they make the A55 – along with its more affordable sibling, the A33 – quite unlike any other camera currently available.


Sony-Alpha-SLT-A55 Simultaneously active autofocus and imaging sensors give a big boost to continuous performance. Sony capitalises on this with a dedicated speed-priority burst mode on the mode dial, which uses fast shutter speeds to achieve 10fps shooting with autofocus – a feat previously unimaginable this side of £3,000. Exposure control is limited in this mode, but a 5.8fps continuous drive mode is available in other shooting modes.

The large buffer kept the 10fps speed going for 24 JPEGs or 20 RAW images in our tests. However, even when using a fast SDHC card, performance took nosedive once the buffer was full, slowing to 1.7fps for JPEGs and 0.5fps for RAW images. At ISO 1600, it slowed to just 0.8fps for JPEGs, presumably because the noise-reduction processing had to work harder. It also took around 40 seconds to flush the buffer, ready for another burst of shooting. It’s clear that the camera’s processor is the bottleneck here, rather than the memory card – it’s a shame Sony didn’t see fit to use a faster one.

The A55 differs from true SLR cameras in its use of an electronic rather than optical viewfinder. We’ve seen this before in Panasonic’s G-series cameras as well as on countless ultra-zoom models. As with the Panasonic G2, this one’s 1,440k resolution matches consumer SLRs’ optical viewfinders for detail.

Sadly, it doesn’t perform so well in practice. When Image Review is enabled to examine shots just after they’ve been taken, the screen goes blank for about a second after capture until the shot appears. That slow processor is to blame once again, and it isn’t much fun for anyone who’s used to an optical viewfinder. Image Review also makes the camera less responsive – we measured 1.3 seconds from shot to shot in the Single drive mode. Disabling Image Review reduced this to 0.5 seconds, but we never got over the frustration of having to reach for the playback button each time we wanted to review a shot.


A crucial advantage of the A55’s translucent mirror is the ability to use SLR-style phase detect autofocus during video capture – a new feature for the Alpha range. Various other SLRs can record video but so far only the pricey Panasonic GH1 has delivered continuous autofocus that’s responsive enough for discerning use. The Sony Alpha SLT-A55 is just as quick at focusing while recording video as it is when composing photos, and with its 15-point autofocus sensor, it’s very quick indeed.


Fujifilm FinePix Z900EXR review

With its slide open and shoot faceplate, mainly metal build, internally stacked lens and glossy good looks, the svelte and pocket friendly Fujifilm FinePix Z900EXR logically follows on from last year’s very similar Z800EXR, a previous Hot Product here on Pocket-lint.


Fujifilm-FinePix-Z900EXR This new flat fronted model, on which at no time does the 28mm wide angle 5x optical zoom lens actually protrude from the body, is also being offered at the same suggested £199 asking price. A further incentive is that it’s now just 15.2mm in depth at its thinnest point, compared to its forebear’s comparatively “chunky” 16.9mm. So if you’re looking for a camera to slip into a trouser or jacket pocket and almost forget it’s there, the Fuji Z900EXR is a hot contender.

Overall dimensions are 100.8 x 59 x 18.2mm with protrusions and it weighs 135g without its battery good for 220 shots from a full charge or removable SD memory card, so is marginally lighter than the Z800EXR too.

In spite of this the 16 megapixel snapshot feels substantial and well built when gripped in the palm being mostly lightweight metal rather than plastic, although apart from some raised nodules at the back that fall under the thumb of the right hand, there’s no traditional grip offered. A gentle wave-like curve on the front of the Z900EXR provides a purchase point for the fingertips: simply slide open the faceplate to activate the camera, or shut it to turn it off. The Fuji takes around 3 seconds to blink into life from cold, not the fastest ever but adequate for a £200 snapper.


Size and price aside, another impressive feature carried over from the Z800EXR is the larger than average 3.5-inch, 460k dot resolution widescreen aspect ratio screen at the rear. This takes up almost the whole of the Z900EXR’s backplate, with only room for one physical (and in fact largely superfluous) “home” button at the right-hand edge, so it’s logical that this LCD is also a touchscreen.

Happily it’s also one of the best implementations we’ve come across too, with icons large, clearly laid out and beginner friendly. This is a point and shoot model after all, and available in the usual range of colours, including the can’t-miss-it electric blue of our review sample.

As the Z900 is an “EXR” sensor model, from which it takes its suffix, the camera is further of note in that its 1/2-inch CMOS sensor can be deployed in three ways. Users can either opt to shoot in High Resolution mode, at full 16 megapixels, which is the default option, or with expanded dynamic range, whereby the camera takes two shots and combine them so as to attempt to retain both highlight and shadow detail. The third option, Signal to Noise mode, is for shooting in low light, where the purported improved light gathering abilities of the backside illuminated (no sniggering) sensor comes into its own.

Maximum lens aperture is F/3.9 though, so not especially bright. If you can’t decide which is the best fit, and to be honest we found the difference at times quite subtle, then leave the camera on scene-detecting EXR Automatic Mode and let it choose.


On this model you’re pretty much able to power up and start shooting straight away, though there are the usual smattering of program mode, scene modes and 360° panorama option for those who want to get creative. Without the need to re-learn how to use a camera because of the touchscreen however, we were still able to intuitively determine focus and exposure with a half squeeze of the shutter release button, and toggle back and forth through the focal range via the raised lever for operating the zoom that surrounds it. Taking a shot is still a full press of the same button - though there’s also a Panasonic Lumix-alike “Touch EXR Auto” option that fires a shot upon tapping your intended subject on screen - and likewise video capture gets its own top plate button, denoted with a movie camera icon rather than a more familiar camcorder-like red dot.

Press down on this and recording immediately begins, the camera losing the black bands that otherwise crop the left and right hand sides of screen in stills capture mode. The video image therefore fills the screen to better ape how footage will appear when replayed on your flat panel telly. An improvement over the Z800EXR is that on the Fujifilm FinePix Z900EXR the 28-140mm (35mm equivalent) optical zoom can now be utilised when filming; framing doesn’t just stay put at the point it was before you hit record.

We also get Full HD 1080p recording this time, rather than 720p, and at 30fps plus with stereo sound too courtesy of top mounted microphones. Furthermore HDMI output is included, whereas it wasn’t on its predecessor, so the Z900EXR has the now requisite boxes ticked.

Within the shooting menu - again presented as at-a-glance square icons rather than a long list of options - we also get Fuji’s familiar film simulation modes, though here just the standard default of Provia alongside Velvia for more vivid results - which are a nod of recognition back to its film past and another unique selling point. Natural light and natural light with flash option also makes a re-appearance on a Fuji camera, giving users who can’t decide for themselves the chance to compare a subject taken with flash against one without.

All of this is pretty straightforward. So, like its predecessor, the only real Achilles heel of the Z900EXR is image quality occasionally being afflicted by the same issues your average £200 point and shoot has when left to its own devices, by which we mean purple fringing being visible between areas of high contrast on close inspection and occasional blown highlights, but neither are deal breakers.

Thankfully sharpness is maintained throughout the frame, even at extreme 28mm equivalent wide angle. For the most part colours are also warm yet naturalistic, with the Velvia option included to give a welcome boost to the saturation of landscape pictures. Despite its gimmicks and gizmos this is a snapshot camera after all, one to slip into your back pocket, and so as long as you’re not expecting DSLR or even compact system camera quality you won’t be disappointed.


A higher resolution than its predecessor (though from the same size sensor), HDMI output, Full HD video and use of the zoom when recording are all notable improvements over the Z800EXR, which a year ago we were recommending as a best buy for those looking for a competent “auto everything” point and shoot. Of course the market has moved on since then and we now expect a lot of bells and whistles for our bucks.

Even so, the Fujifilm FinePix Z900EXR still comes on like a little firecracker for beginners happy to point and shoot in the main, with sufficient creative features to lift it above the others in class in a straight head to head comparison. Again, given our outlined caveats and for the £199 asking price, it cannot really be faulted.


Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ10

Panasonic's Lumix DMC-TZ10 is a high-end point-and-shoot and retails for $490.

The biggest feature on this Lumix is its built-in ‘Travel Mode with GPS'. The feature takes advantage of GPS and a built-in database, so that pictures you capture are tagged with the name of the location. Unfortunately, when we tried this the camera couldn't lock on to any GPS satellites and therefore failed to tag our photos.

Panasonic-Lumix-DMC-TZ10 The camera features a CCD sensor with a 12.1-megapixel resolution and this returned fantastic shots in-conjunction with the camera's 25mm ultra wide angle LEICA DC lens. In natural light we found skin tones were natural and accurate to the original subject whilst colours were vibrant and well contrasted. Photos captured in low light using the camera's flash and ‘iA' mode (automatic) were also quite good though close scrutiny showed visible grain.

The Panasonic Lumix DMC TZ10's zoom capabilities are excellent, it offers no less than 12x optical zoom and in-conjunction with digital zoom, the camera offers 16x intelligent zoom or 23.4x extra optical zoom. The zoom works like a charm but you'll need a tripod to take blur-free shots about 6x zoom. In hand the Panasonic feels solid and weighty, the interface is easy enough to use and there are ample buttons and switches for easy navigation. On a full charge the camera managed 270 photographs before the battery was completely flat.


Canon IXUS 1000HS

The Canon IXUS 1000HS was launched to mark the IXUS brand's 10 year anniversary. This point-and-shoot camera boasts a 10-megapixel sensor and features a 10x optical zoom lens. As you'd expect the camera is also capable of Full HD video recording. According to Canon, the IXUS 100HS is the first camera to feature such a capable super zoom lens in a body that is around 22mm thick.

In hand the camera feels very well built care of its aluminium alloy shell and the lines of IXUS' styling are instantly evident at first glance. The camera doesn't have a viewfinder but the widescreen LCD is more than adequate for framing your photos before you capture them. Outdoors, the screen has enough muscle to overcome washout by natural light.

Canon-IXUS-1000HS The 1000HS is sparse in terms of buttons and controls, the most prominent piece of the interface is a control wheel for navigating menus that encircles a Func.Set button. Atop of this is a dual-function record button for capturing video; the button starts and stops the recording function. This is an odd inclusion given that most cameras use the standard shutter control button to start/stop video recording. Below the control wheel are two more buttons; Menu and Play. On top of the camera is a switch to toggle between Movie mode, ‘P' shooting mode where the user can determine a few characteristics of the shot manually, and the amateur-friendly Auto mode. The On/Off button lies next to it and finally the shutter button sits to the right with a zoom lever surrounding it.

Thanks to its dimensions, weight and design, the IXUS 1000HS sits firmly in hand and single-handed use is a doddle. When starting up the camera the user is greeted by a Canon wallpaper, and as you'd expect of a Canon camera, the interface and menu systems are simple to use. Features such as White balance, ISO setting, centre weighted or spot metering, image size and quality, flash, red eye reduction, iContrast and blink detection can easily be adjusted via the menu system.

Image processing is done by Canon's patented DIGIC4 processor and images captured by the IXUS ultimately proved to be of good quality. Colours appeared natural and vivid with the camera's iContrast helping to correct a lot of deliberately under and over exposed shots. The images the Canon captured also appeared very sharp and focused. Image stabilisation is effective and no loss of focus was evident even with our gruelling stability indexing test at no zoom. Zoomed stability was satisfactory but inconsistent upon repeated shooting. In stable hands though the zoom is the best we've seen in a point-and-shoot camera. The Canon's autofocus is questionable when clicking multiple pictures in short sequence however.


Nikon Coolpix S8100 review

When the Nikon Coolpix S8000 came out last year, Nikon lauded it as the slimmest compact camera in the world with a 10x zoom lens. The S8100 is its successor, although many of the changes feel more like refinements than definitive upgrades.

Nikon has changed the body slightly, moving the power button and adding a comfortable strip of plastic to the right-hand grip, but the most interesting changes are on the inside. The resolution of the 1/2.3in CCD sensor has shifted into reverse, with the S8100 offering a 12.1-megapixel sensor to the S8000’s 14.2. The processor has had an upgrade, though, moving to Nikon’s Expeed C2 chip, which means 1080p video, up from the S8000’s 720p.

The S8100 has another nifty video trick up its sleeve: 120fps recording, which produces impressive results when filming fast-moving action, playing it back extremely smoothly. Don’t get too excited, though – the highest resolution available in 120fps mode is a heavily compressed 640 x 480, rendering footage unusable on anything larger than the S8100’s 3in, 921kpixel screen.

Nikon-Coolpix-s8100 The lens is one of the longest on offer on any compact. In 35mm terms it’s a 30-300mm, 10x zoom monster, and goes from wide-angle to true telephoto in just two seconds. The Nikon Coolpix S8000 was criticised for chromatic aberration, and while purple fringing is still evident in some situations, our test images suggest an improvement has been made.

Despite fewer megapixels on the sensor, there’s been no increase in the S8100’s ISO capabilities, with ISO 3200 remaining the loftiest setting. At that level the S8100 surprised us by returning broadly usable test images. Softness begins creeping into images only at around ISO 1600; below that we had a hard time telling our shots apart. At the lower reaches of the ISO range, our test images were sharp and punchy, if a little blurred in the corners of the frame at the S8100’s widest angle.

The drawbacks are otherwise few and far between. It’s disappointing there isn’t more manual control. Exposure compensation and ISO can be adjusted, but not shutter or aperture. The continuous mode is reasonable, shooting five frames in one second, but the buffer expired after those same five shots.

Even if the Nikon Coolpix S8100 doesn’t allow much creative flexibility, the lens remains an impressive achievement, and top image quality means it’s a good choice for those who want an accommodating camera and who treasure pocketability above all else.

Author: Dave Stevenson

Ricoh CX5 review

Like the Nikon S8100, the Ricoh CX5 hides a huge lens in a small body. Behind the faintly boxy, 3cm-deep body lurks a lens that (converted to 35mm) runs from a wide-angle 28mm to a very long 300mm, with an aperture ranging from f/3.5 to 5.6. Impressive stuff.

Aesthetically, we prefer the CX5’s styling to the S8100’s. For this kind of cash it seems appropriate that you get a camera that looks as if it’s been made for grown-ups, and the CX5’s all-black, all-metal body looks and feels the part. Push the power button on the top and the lens slides out of the body with a refined, finely machined whir. The general feeling of expensive refinement continues to the 3in, 920k-pixel screen, which delivers plenty of brightness and detail, even if the heavily text-based menu system suggests Ricoh has something to learn about interface design.

As you’d expect of a camera costing the better part of £300, the CX5 produced some superb images in our testing. Despite its internal complexity, the lens is generally sharp, if a little prone to losing resolution at the corners at its 28mm setting. The CX5 did produce slightly less detail than the S8100 throughout its 100-3200 ISO range, though, and at higher ISOs, the S8100 produced less chroma noise.

Ricoh-CX5 The Ricoh CX5 fails to deliver any meaningful manual controls, though. If you’re in the dark, you can set the shutter manually from one to eight seconds, but there’s no way of metering or controlling the aperture when you do so, so shooting is a little hit and miss. The 720p video mode is also a little underwhelming: for this much money we expect Full HD.

One definite plus is the CX5’s performance, which is little short of spectacular. Timed against a stopwatch, it fired 15 full-resolution frames in 2.8 seconds, or a little over 5fps. To get that kind of performance in a DSLR you’ll have to spend considerably more than £300. Not only is that faster than the S8100’s 4fps, but the buffer lasted for three times as many shots.

There’s a huge amount to like about the CX5, not least its sophisticated, polished design and its superb performance. We wish it resolved slightly more detail in stills – it’s behind the S8100 in that crucial respect – and its video mode could be more impressive. However, the lens marks it apart as a compact camera that’s comfortable with everything from landscape photography to long-distance wildlife work, as does its excellent continuous mode. If you’re worried about missing shots, the Ricoh CX5 is a marvellous buy.

Author: Dave Stevenson

Fujifilm FinePix F500EXR review

Fuji offers the 16Mp F500EXR in a range of colours, so we were disappointed that our review sample was the rather unimaginative black version. It also comes in silver, red or blue. The zoom itself is finished in a smart, contrasting black making for a stylish overall impression. You can also get a GPS-enabled model, the Fujifilm FinePix F500EXR, which adds another £30 to the current price (this camera went onsale in April and has already dropped from £249, while the GPS model was original listed at £329).

fujifilm_finepix_f500exr Aside from the excellent price, we were impressed by the Fuji's attractive build and its smooth, near silent operation. The camera body is 23mm thick, into which a 1/2in CMOS sensor and plenty of functionality have been packed. This includes a 3in (460K dot) LCD on the rear and a Fujinon lens that extends from 24-360mm equivalents.

The overall weight with battery and card in place is 215g. Having spent a lot of time the noticeably chunkier Ricoh CX5 immediately before testing out this camera, a zoom that operated in a slightly less skittish and generally more discreet fashion was welcome. The F500's 15x zoom is super-smooth and, provided you use it with a mini tripod and a stable surface, you can use it fairly effectively in video capture mode as well as when taking still shots.

As we'd hoped, this camera is able to take wide-angle shots as well as zooming in a long way. Fuji touts the 360-degree panoramas that can be captured, but during our test period the weather was atrocious and the resulting shots we took hobbled by lack of light and fuzziness. Electronic cleverness can only do so much in such conditions. With better light we'll be able to make a fairer assessment of how effective this feature really is.

In general use, the Fuji is an effective sharp-shooter. It has a host of automatic and manual controls, featuring 27 separate scene modes, including an underwater one. (The necessary housing for this is sold separately - don't go dunking this pretty piece of electronics in the pool.) Should you wish to experiment, exposure controls extend to white balance, bracketing and light compensation from 60 to ISO 1600 (or 3200 using software).

If a photo really matters, it pays to activate the Best Frame Capture mode. Similar to the Best Shot feature on comparable cameras, this option starts to trigger the shutter as soon as your finger begins to depress it and lock the focus and then take up to seven photos in quick succession. The best composition and sharpest shot is then automatically saved.

Inevitably, face recognition and smile detection are also included, though the anti-shake above average video capture features are stronger selling points. Full 1920x1080 HD video can be shot and, if you wish, there's a film simulator to help you get into the action. Three frames per second stills can even be taken at this camera's top resolution of 16Mp. Fuji includes support for SDXC cards which write large image and video files faster. The results can be displayed on an HD TV using the HDMI out.

We had two bugbears with Fujifilm FinePix F500EXR: first is that the flash that sits at the top left pops up whenever you switch on this camera. On a sunny afternoon, this is both pointless and a potential battery drain (anecdotal reports such the battery life on this camera is underwhelming, though we experienced no such disappointment). The other is the rather weak macro mode. Focusing extremely close up is not the F500's strongest suit and while we got sharp, textured photos from 15 to 20cm from our chosen subject, we were unable to get the Fuji to focus lock at under 10cm.

By Rosemary Hattersley
PC Advisor

Samsung NX11 review

The Samsung NX11 is an interchangeable-lens camera with a 14.6Mp APS-C sized sensor and a relatively compact body size. It's the type of camera to go for if you want something slightly smaller than a traditional digital SLR, yet still want to have the flexibility of choosing between different lenses and settings. However, the NX11 doesn't usher in any improvements over the NX10, which was released over one year ago, and this is a little to its detriment.

The NX10 came at a time when existing interchangeable-lens cameras didn't offer excellent value for money. The NX10 was one of the only models in its price bracket to offer a built-in flash and electronic viewfinder. Those features, along with its bigger, APS-C sized sensor and an easy-to-use menu system made it a far more interesting value proposition than, say, the Olympus PEN E-P2.

Samsung-NX11 The Samsung NX11 doesn't bring with it the same sort of 'wow' factor that the NX10 brought last year; the NX11 is essentially the same camera as the NX10, with the only notable differences being that it now ships with one of Samsung's i-Function lenses and supports GPS features; it's also cheaper, retailing from around £410 inc VAT online.

Despite the lack of changes from the previous model, the Samsung NX11 is still a good camera, and we think it's worth considering if you want to get yourself a relatively small camera that will accept different lenses and feel a little like a digital SLR. It brings a digital SLR-sized sensor to a body that is very compact, yet well featured: you get a built-in electronic viewfinder (EVF), a built-in flash, a hot shoe, and a control dial for changing the shutter and aperture values.

The Samsung NX11 uses Samsung's NX lens mount and it ships with one of the company's i-Function lenses (our kit came with the 18-55mm lens). An i-Function lens contains circuitry that allows you to change the shooting settings by pressing a button on the lens and then moving the focus ring.

It's a very awkward way of doing things if you ask us, and we're not sure how it's meant to be easier to change settings by moving the focus ring rather using traditional methods. We much prefer the buttons on the back of the camera and the control dial that sits near the shutter button. In fact, we wish it had two separate control dials for the shutter and aperture values when using it in manual mode.

Samsung NX11: Performance and picture quality

The camera's picture quality is impressive and we think that anyone from a casual user to an avid photographer will like the results.

The Samsung NX11 does a good job in bright light conditions and also in overcast conditions. It's not great for night photography, mainly because there is a lot of noise when you use a value above ISO 800. Images shot at ISO 800 will also look a little grainy and this will be noticeable when viewing the photos at their native size on a screen.

It's a shame that Samsung hasn't improved in this area, and cheap digital SLRs from Canon and Nikon are well ahead in this regard. Colour tones and saturation were good in our tests and most photos came out looking rich and vibrant (although this will depend on the settings you use).

The overall crispness of the Samsung NX11's shots is good, even when you view photos at their native 14.6Mp size. You can rest assured that you'll be able to print photos at a large size and they will still look well defined.

As for its overall speed, the Samsung NX11 has quick shot-to-shot performance, but it's somewhat slow to focus. Furthermore, it can struggle to focus on the right spot in a scene; luckily, you can easily move the focus point to the part of the image that you want to be in focus. One feature that the NX11 could use is tracking focus. This is available in the higher-end NX100.

Focusing in dark situations will also be a bit of a chore with the Samsung NX11. There is a focus assist lamp, but unless there's plenty of contrast between the background and the object you're shooting, the NX11 will be forever lost.

Manual focusing is adequate, but only if there is enough light, otherwise the image through the electronic viewfinder or LCD screen will look too noisy and it will be hard to determine whether the image is in focus or not.

The EVF isn't of a high quality and you can't rely on it for setting the exposure and colour balance; for these tasks you are better off using the bright AMOLED screen. The AMOLED screen isn't WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) either when it comes to exposure, but it's much better than the EVF. Both the EVF and the LCD are sometimes ineffective when shooting in dark conditions - you essentially have to shoot blind and hope for the best. The screen on the NX100 is much better in this respect as it basically is WYSIWYG at all times.

By Elias Plastiras
PC Advisor

Pentax Optio S1 review

Looking for an inexpensive bauble with which to turn heads every time you take a snap? Photography stalwart Pentax is better known for practicality than trend setting, yet recent(ish) pocket snapshots including the Optio I-10 and RS1000 have bucked that expectation with cool retro styling and funky swappable faceplates respectively. Pentax, it appears, is suggesting that yes you can have style on a budget.

The “gimmick” with the new Optio S1 - another inexpensive point-and-shooter at around £120 - is that our review sample sports a fully chrome outer shell with snazzy laser etched logo. It’s mirrored, so that you can see your face in it from just about every angle, making it an ideal aid to self-portraiture. If classy toaster manufacturer Dualit made cameras, they might look a lot like the Pentax Optio S1. Glossy black or aquamarine coloured versions are additionally available.

Pentax-Optio-S1 While the reflective surfaces look fantastic, they also inevitably mean that the S1 quickly becomes smudged with fingerprints, so you’ll be constantly wiping it clean. Width and height of the S1 are roughly similar to that of a business card, with a depth of 20mm, so thisPentax pocket rocket will slot easily into trouser or handbag. It weighs 126g when loaded with supplied rechargeable battery and optional media card - here a choice of SD, SDHC or SDXC. Battery life is rather underpowered however with just 180 shots provided by a full charge of the tiny rechargeable D-L178 lithium ion cell.

Still, give the top plate power button a press and the S1 is fast to respond, its lens shooting outwards from the body and rear LCD blinking into life with a happy “chirp”. You’re ready for the first shot (or 1280 x 720 HD video) in around 2 seconds, which isn’t bad.


Headline features are an equally respectable 14-megapixel resolution from a 1/2.3-inch CCD wedded to a 5x optical zoom starting out at a wide angle 28mm in 35mm film terms and winding up at 140mm, retracted within the body when not in use. Pictures and HD video at 30 frames per second (which gets its own record button at the back), backed up by sensor shift image stabilisation, are composed with the assistance of a regular 4:3 aspect ratio 2.7-inch back screen, which, although being almost small by current standards boasts the standard 230k-dot resolution.

Being an auto everything snapshot model, also featuring is a heavy degree of hand holding in the shape of face recognition, smile capture (shutter fires when a grin is detected), blink detection plus 22 scene modes with the usual bias toward portraits and landscapes. Give the shutter release a squeeze and with contrast detection AF deployed, there’s a brief wait whilst focus visibly adjusts and the AF point appears highlighted in green. Take the shot and a full resolution image is committed to card or small internal memory in around 2 seconds - which again isn’t bad for the entry-level price tag here.

Also found among the modes (a feature of the four-way command pad rather than being presented as a separate dial or button) are the default Auto Picture mode, which reportedly “recognises” up to 14 common scenes and subjects, plus regular Program Auto. We say “reportedly” because in our experience the Pentax’s default Auto Picture mode was a little more hit and miss than competing smart auto modes. The Pentax Optio S1 was easily confused by busier scenes into opting for, to take one example, a close up setting when landscape would have been more befitting. The result: an entirely blurred frame. OK, so you can simply recompose the frame and try again, but the original “moment” will have been missed.


Including a top light sensitivity setting of ISO 6400 also seems to have been a little ambitious here. Images taken above ISO 1600 are just awful in appearance. To get the negatives out of the way in one go, it was also a let down that the 5x optical zoom could not be accessed in video mode. Instead we get a digital alternative that visibly and progressively crops in as you nudge the zoom lever; sophisticated it ain’t. Also, there’s a wait of a second or two between pressing the video record button and recording actually commencing - again, you can easily lose the moment.

Easing some of the hurt the S1 features a couple of fun digital effects modes in the now ubiquitous miniature and HDR (High Dynamic Range) mode - the former reducing the proportion of the image in focus to a narrow band (unusually, you can specify middle, bottom or top of frame), while the latter produces a weirdly coloured sketch-like effect verging on the “so bad it’s good”. As a default the colours are rather overly saturated - and though we did in fairness manage a handful of “keepers”, this was only by taking a lot of shots which we then whittled down.


There’s not much to the Pentax Optio S1; it’s your average, easy to use “auto everything” £100 pocket snapper disguised as the chrome domed Silver Surfer. Ironically, this flash exterior led us to unwisely hope for a much better performance when it came to still images and video than the S1 delivered, so the overall disappointment was that much greater. No doubt street prices will be cheaper still, which means that the S1 may be better viewed as a camera with gifting potential, or one for the kids to muck about with. Full marks for the design, performance must try harder.


Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H55 Review


The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H55 is a new compact travel-zoom camera, sporting a 10x, 25-200mm lens and 14 megapixel sensor. A cheaper alternative to the Sony HX5, the H55 model also offers a 3 inch LCD screen, 720p HD movies and Sweep Panorama mode. Gavin Stoker tests out the £250 / $250 Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H55.

sony_cybershot_dsc_h55 The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H55 is a new travel-zoom camera, boasting a 10x optical lens with a focal range of 25-250mm and Optical Steady Shot image stabilisation. Other highlights of the Sony H55 a 14.1 megapixel sensor, 3 inch LCD screen, 720p HD video recording, Self portrait timer and Smile Shutter technology, plus Sony’s trademark Sweep Panorama feature that lets you capture panoramic photographs effortlessly. The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H55 is available in black and silver for about £240 / $250.

Ease of Use

Described as a stylish super zoom with high end features by its manufacturer, we couldn't, on first impressions, claim to disagree with Sony's assessment of the Cyber-Shot DSC-H55 digital compact. It marries a high performance 10x optical zoom lens backed up with optical SteadyShot image stabilisation to impressive 14.1-megapixel effective resolution from a Super HAD CCD (as opposed to Exmor R CMOS) plus 720p HD movie recording, yet it still manages to squeeze unobtrusively into a trouser or jacket pocket.

As such this big zoom, small-ish form factor compact (with dimensions of 102.9x57.7x28.9mm) does battle for your pennies with a growing number of rivals. These include Panasonic's TZ series, Canon's PowerShot SX210 IS, plus Casio's Exilim EX-H15 to name a few. There's no question that a bigger than average zoom affords a greater wealth of compositional opportunities - from landscapes and group shots to candid close ups - and, high pixel count aside, this is the camera's main lure. With a focal range that stretches from a 35mm-equivalent 25-250mm, the price, surprisingly for a Sony compact, also feels rather fair at around £249. With a more conventional layout than recent Sony snapshots, complete here with top-mounted shooting mode dial, the camera pulls off the usual trick of feeling solidly built whilst relatively lightweight when gripped at 200g with battery and removable media inserted.

Like the more expensive albeit waterproof DSC-TX5 fashion compact we had in to review simultaneously, the H55 features several of Sony's recent technologies, including the operationally impressive sweep panorama function. This takes a rapid burst of images as the user pans with the camera and automatically stitches them together to provide a single letterbox-format image - so there's no need for Photoshop expertise post-capture to achieve similar. Face Detection, Smile Shutter - the camera automatically firing when a smile is detected in the frame - and intelligent auto modes also feature, further ensuring point and shoot simplicity. Active SteadyShot image stabilisation can also be deployed when shooting video to enable smoother imagery if filming whilst walking for example. Macro shooting is possible as close as 5cm from your subject.

Seemingly having all operational bases covered, such thoroughness extends to choice of recording media. With the Cyber-shot DSC-H55 Sony is offering users the choice of recording to removable Memory Stick Pro media or the more widely available SD or SDHC cards. Like the TX5 there's only one slot for both, located within the battery compartment at the camera's base. The obvious problem here is that the different media are of different physical dimensions, so in practice we found it fiddly to wiggle a Memory Stick into (and out of) the wider SD-shaped slot. Fair enough it works, but parallel slots (as usually offered by digital cameras that boast compatibility with more than just the one card) might have been a more practical solution.

Battery life is good for 310 shots according to official CIPA testing, a performance that is neither great nor bad - in fact it's respectably average for its class. In practical terms, we took the camera away for a week and a half's holiday using it every other day and only had to recharge it on our return.

As mentioned at the outset, the faceplate of the metal and plastic build H55 is fairly conventional looking, given a dose of sophistication courtesy of its all-black livery. It is dominated by the large G series Sony 10x optical zoom lens, protected by an automatic cover when not in use. Though it can't obviously compete with ultra slender 3x or 4x zoom models in terms of portability, helping to keep dimensions as compact as possible the majority of the H55's lens is also concertinaed within the body when the camera is inactive.

Top left of the lens (if the camera is viewed face on) is a lozenge-shaped window for the built-in flash, and, over at the top right hand side of the lens, a porthole window for built-in self-timer/AF assist lamp. The flash positioning means that it's all too easy for fingertips to creep in front of it when gripping the camera firmly, a compromise we have to put up with in return for overall compactness. On a more positive note, a slightly rounded edge to the side of the camera welcomingly provides more purchase for the fingers to snake around than slender pocket snapshots. There's also a thoughtful indentation at the top right edge of the camera back that provides a comfortable resting place for the thumb.

The top plate of the camera continues the impression of a conventional operational ethos, featuring as it does the aforementioned mode wheel set into the top of the grip, an adjacent large and springy shutter release button encircled by lever for operating the zoom - a raised lip falling under the pad of your forefinger - and smaller on/off button. Unlike the other two controls this power button is recessed into the bodywork to help prevent accidental activation when placing into or retrieving the H55 from a pocket.

The shooting mode dial meanwhile feels slightly loose; ranged around this are intelligent auto, program, manual exposure, sweep panorama and video shooting modes, joined by dedicated 'easy' mode and separate scene mode settings.  The 11-strong options presented on the latter feel distinctly weedy in number when compared with the 40+ options on Casio's also 10x zoom, 14MP EX-H15 rival, but in truth feature all the essentials. So with the Cyber-shot we get pre-optimised High Sensitivity, Soft Snap (defocused background for portraits), Sports, Landscape, Twilight, Twilight Portrait, Gourmet and Pet modes, plus Beach, Snow and Firework options.

Press the on/off button and the camera powers up in just under two seconds, rear 3-inch, 230,400-dot resolution LCD displaying the Cyber-shot logo before revealing the scene/subject before the lens, the optic extending to maximum wideangle setting from its former resting place within the body. As expected there's no optical viewfinder alternative - the screen itself does all the work. A half press of the shutter release button meanwhile and the H55 determines focus/exposure more or less immediately, central AF point highlighted in green. Go on to take the shot, and maximum resolution JPEGs are committed to memory in 2-3 seconds; another standard showing for a camera of this class.

Examining the back of the camera, to the right of the screen there is a minimal quartet of buttons - all relatively small in size and seemingly needlessly so. Topper-most is an immediately identifiable playback button, with just below it a four-way directional control pad featuring centrally located set button. At 12 o'clock on this dial and moving around it in a clockwise direction are a way of manually adjusting the LCD display from normal (default) brightness to 'bright' setting, a further 'bright plus exposure info' setting (i.e with a live histogram on screen), plus finally, the brighter setting again but now with all other screen icons turned off. Moving around to three o'clock we have a means of adjusting the flash settings - basically to either on or off if shooting in one of the fully auto modes. Switch to program mode and auto and slow synchro options are added.

At six o'clock on the dial is a means of selecting self-timer options. Here we find the usual two or ten second variations joined by two face detection-linked options - the camera firing two seconds after it detects either one or two faces in the frame, making it suitable for self-portraits. At nine o'clock on the dial is the familiar to the Sony range smile shutter option. As expected the camera responds instantly to all such adjustments and settings, making operation a fluid process.

Below this four-way control pad is a final pairing of buttons - with a menu control to the left, and an always very useful dedicated delete button to the right to save having to otherwise dip into menu folders. A press of the 'menu' button summons up a Canon-like toolbar which graces the left hand side of the H55's LCD screen. Using the control pad users can tab up or down and select highlighted options with a central press. Its here that, when shooting in Program or Manual mode, users can adjust image size, from the full complement of a 14 megapixels, 4:3 ratio image down to 640x480 pixels in the same ratio, or 11 or two megapixels in 16:9 widescreen format if so desired for reviewing on a flat panel TV or widescreen monitor. Next down the tool bar there is a means of switching from single shot to burst shooting, and next down again, we find a chance to bracket for both exposure and - separately - white balance.

Fittingly then, the next item on the LCD's tool bar allows adjustment of exposure compensation (-/+ 2EV), then ISO (ISO80 through ISO800), white balance, focus (multi area, central or spot AF), and metering (multi zone, centre weighted or spot again). Subsequent toolbar options let the user govern the camera's sensitivity to detecting a smile - firing the shutter only on a slight, normal or big smile for instance. Face detection and dynamic range optimizer also get their own toolbar settings - the latter allowing the user to either turn off the shadow detail/exposure enhancing feature, again set it to 'standard' optimisation or maximum DRO Plus setting. At the very end of all these toolbar options there appears a toolbox icon denoting the camera's set up folder.

Here, as on the TX5 snapshot we examined at the same time as the H55, the user has access to four further sub folders governing further shooting settings, main settings, media card and clock settings. It's amongst the former settings that photographers can turn red eye reduction on when shooting with flash, activate the AF illuminator (or turn it off) plus summon up compositional grid lines. Basically providing the degree of control you'd expect from a camera of this ilk.

While that's it for the camera back, the right hand flank of the camera if examined from the rear provides a lug for attaching the wrist strap included in the box, while the opposing side is free of any controls whatsoever. The base of the H55 meanwhile features an unprotected slot for the attachment of the composite AV/USB cable provided, and, over to one side and just left of the lens (rather than directly below) a screw thread for attaching a tripod. At the other side of the camera base is a slide open, spring-loaded catch protecting combined battery and media card compartment. Though this can be easily slid open with the thumb it doesn't feel like it might just pop open unexpectedly.

So while that's it for the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H55 in terms of operation, let's next examine how it fares for image quality. Can the shots match the scope suggested by its lens and feature set?

Photography Blog

Canon PowerShot SX210 IS

The Canon SX210 IS targets users interested in a high-end camera but who are not keen on splurging for a basic SLR.

With a resolution of 14.1-megapixels, 14x optical zoom, 35-point face detection and a host of other toys, there's no doubt the SX210 is packed with high-end features. Using the camera over a period of one month, we found its photos realistic and vibrant - its intelligent contrast correction, scene detection and handy image stabiliser no doubt played a part in the quality of our shots.

Canon-PowerShot-SX210-IS Retailing for US $380 the SX210 IS falls in the same category and price bracket as the Nikon Coolpix S8000. The Nikon however is almost half as thin, a tad bit lighter and better designed overall. While the Canon's casing feels quite rugged and looked like it was capable of shrugging off a few knocks, we found its zoom controls quite flimsy. The position of the pop-up flash - on the top left corner of the camera - is a little annoying as well, simply because this is where most users rest their left index finger, when holding a point-and-shoot. Since the flash has to pop-up when the SX210 is on, you'll have to hold the camera differently.      

Given the PowerShot  SX210's specs, we were baffled as to why Canon would design such a powerful camera and then handicap it with odd design and ergonomics.


Canon EOS-1D Mark IV

Photographers that worked with the older EOS-1D Mark III aren't in for a shock in terms of design and handling because the EOS-1D Mark IV is nearly a carbon copy; the body is built from magnesium alloy and is carefully sealed to protect from environmental damage. Thankfully, weight hasn't increased at all so, as before, the Mark IV with its battery weighs in at 1.4kg. The camera is very easy to get comfortable with and is fully customisable, so you can set it up to your preferred style of shooting.        

Canon-EOS-1D-Mark-IV One area Canon focused on with the Mark IV is with its AF (Auto Focus) system. This isn't a surprise considering the main fault with the Mark III is AF related. With the Mark IV Canon introduces a completely new AF system though the company hasn't made any changes to the layout pattern of the camera's 45 AF points. Of those points 39 are setup to be cross-type points that are sensitive to both the horizontal and vertical axis. (The Mark III only featured 19 cross-type points.)

In terms of photo quality the Mark IV is spectacular. The photos we captured over our two week test period were absolutely brilliant; we observed fantastic colour and an incredible amount of detail whether we shot in JPEG format or RAW. This Canon's a fast worker too, we were able to take advantage of its capabilities and shoot 121 JPEG shots in quick succession before the camera needed to empty its buffer. If you prefer shooting in RAW the Mark IV is equally impressive, here it grabbed 28 shots before needing to clear its buffer and write to our CF card.

The Canon EOS-1D Mark IV blows its predecessor out of the water when it comes to ISO performance. Whereas the Mark III struggled to maintain detail and quality at an ISO setting of 6400, the Mark IV returned professionally-useable photographs at the very high setting of 25,600. Beyond this we noticed quality degradation, with the top most settings being completely useless.

Beyond grabbing still images the Mark IV can capture movies. Unfortunately the shooting experience here lags behind what the camera delivers when shooting in still image mode. The first problem we have is that the body while great for grabbing still images through its viewfinder, is clumsy and awkward to work with when shooting movies. This is a bit of a shame because it actually sports some powerful features. The second issue is that these features, while great, feel a little too tacked on, rather than integrated. Still, if you can work around these hurdles the EOS-1D Mark IV captures excellent video footage at Full HD resolution.


Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX10 review

Updating last year’s WX5, the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX10 is around £50 cheaper than its near numerical doppelganger in the current waterproofed DSC-TX10, though it’s unable to withstand the wet and the cold in the same way. Both cameras share a 16.2 megapixel effective resolution from a 1/2.3-type back illuminated Exmor R CMOS sensor, pictures written to a choice of Memory Stick Pro Duo or SD, SDHC or SDXC media cards which share a slot at the base.


For us though, if you don’t need the destruction proofing, the WX10 has the edge for style - something the Cyber-shot range has long majored in. Feeling sturdy in the palm too thanks to a largely metal build, and marginally wider than the most svelte of compacts, the WX10 offers portable dimensions of 95 x 53.5 x 23.3mm plus a weight of 126g when housing card and battery.

Sony-Cyber-shot-DSC-WX10 It’s not merely a pretty fascia however. On the WX10 we also get SteadyShot image stabilised 7x optical zoom, so it almost strays into “travel zoom” territory, with a wideangle 24-168mm focal range in 35mm terms and bright F/2.4 maximum lens aperture. Happily the optical zoom can be deployed when shooting video too, but it’s far slower to move through the focal range than when framing up a still photo - no doubt to cut down on any distracting mechanical noise.

Said video here is Full HD 1920 x 1080 pixels utilising AVCHD compression, though there’s a resolution drop to 1440 x 1080 if opting for the slightly more widely compatible MPEG4 capture instead. Stereo sound is provided courtesy of twin microphones sunk into the top plate while a dedicated camcorder style record button features on the Sony’s backplate. Indeed, while from the front the camera looks trĂ©s chic, at the back the accent is on beginner friendliness, courtesy of dime-sized eight option shooting mode wheel and multi directional control pad. The attendant display, menu and delete/camera manual buttons do however almost require a microscope to find.

HDMI output for hooking up to a flat panel TV is offered via a side flap, whilst AV and USB connectivity is via a joint unprotected port at the base. There’s barely any concession to a handgrip on the WX10, just a sloping edge to the side of the faceplate, the thumb coming to rest on a familiar shooting mode dial top right hand side of the backplate. Though we didn’t feel in danger of dropping it, our fingers did skate around a bit.

Get shooting

In any event, with a press of the top plate power button the DSC-WX10 readies itself for the first shot in around 2 seconds. The lens extends from flush to the body as the LCD screen blinks into life accompanied by an audio flourish. Pictures and video are composed via the 2.8-inch, 460,800-dot resolution LCD, presented in 4:3 aspect ratio; the display is therefore cropped top and bottom when recording 16:9 ratio video.

Background defocus and HDR (High Dynamic Range) modes among the scene options further raise the WX10’s status, though in truth this is still closer to flashy point and shoot for the occasional photographer than premium enthusiast model, such as the Panasonic Lumix LX5. Still, give the shutter release button a half press and focus and exposure are determined almost instantly, AF points highlighted in green, so that the taking of a shot is pretty much one continuous, fluid motion.

Going some way to suggesting that the DSC-WX10 is a notch above your average sub-£300 “style cam”, its manufacturer is underlining the fact by also making a pitch for DSLR-like speed this time around. Not only do we get up to 10 frames per second continuous shooting at maximum stills resolution, we’re also provided with a magnetic coil focusing mechanism - resulting in a back-and-forth as opposed to rotational motion - for, suggests Sony, a lightning fast response.

If you own a 3D TV, then the WX10’s more otherwise gimmicky features may well be of added interest. Its predecessor in the WX5 was one of Sony’s first compacts to introduce 3D shooting; specifically the 3D “Sweep Panorama” feature. So, unsurprisingly, the WX10 builds on the stereoscopic functionality by including not just the lenticular print-like “cheat” of the multi-angle mode, allowing the camera to be tilted left and right for a “3D-like” effect, but also a new 3D stills mode proper. This option takes two consecutive shots - one for each eye - and combines them. If you haven’t got the requisite TV, then 2D panoramas can still be captured by hitting the shutter release and “sweeping” with the camera in an arc as indicated by the on-screen arrow, the resultant elongated picture automatically stitched together in-camera.

Thus, with barely any skill required at all except perhaps a steady hand, some really quite effective results are achievable, largely avoiding tell-tale unsightly joins or overlaps unless you are deliberately shooting a fast moving crowd at rush hour (yes, we tried).

Apart from 3D and panorama functionality, the other six options on the shooting mode dial include the shot-enhancing Superior Auto, scene and subject recognising intelligent auto plus regular (and more expansive) Program auto option. Also blessed with dedicated settings are a manual shooting mode which allows aperture and shutter speed to be tweaked, video (in addition to that dedicated record button), plus separate scene modes. There are 15 of the latter in total, covering the usual range of daylight and night portrait and landscape options. It all adds up to a comprehensive feature set that will prevent those trading up from an inauspicious snapper - but who don’t want to go the whole hog and opt for an enthusiast compact - from getting bored.


With battery life good for 360 shots according to CIPA standards, the WX10 will also last you for that weekend break - incidentally, said battery being charged in-camera rather than via the aid of a separate adapter.

We were fairly impressed with the DSC-WX10’s image quality - again given that this is a merely a soup-ed up snapshot with a small lens and physically small sensor. Edge-to-edge sharpness is well maintained and even on default auto settings, colours are realistically vibrant. If on occasion we got slightly de-saturated results when opting for the Superior Auto setting as it attempted to preserve highlight and shadow detail, we found it easy enough to turn the shooting dial to intelligent auto, program auto or manual instead. And though results at the top ISO setting of ISO 3200 are a little smudged and a little noisy, we’d still be very happy stretching to this option if the shot required it. In the case of the WX10 we want results straight from the camera that require little or no adjustment, and for the most part that is exactly what it delivers.


Offering brains as well as beauty, the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX10 falls between your auto everything snapshot and enthusiast-targeted premium compacts such as the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5, Canon PowerShot S95 et al. It offers a best of both worlds, providing reliable results when all you want to do is just point and shoot, with the added extra of limited manual control - and a whole host of gimmicky effects - when you do occasionally want to, if not exactly push, then possibly stretch the envelope.

The mostly metal build and sophisticated styling go some way to justifying a price tag heading towards (but just under) £300, but to be honest once you’ve used the camera for a bit these just become mere icing on an already appetising cake.


Casio Exilim EX-TR100 (Tryx) review

At CES 2011 the Casio Exilim Tryx (or EX-TR100 as it’s more conventionally named in Europe) was the toast of the show’s camera releases. The Tryx TR100 is built around a frame that can swivel and rotate - bear with us here - that’s a great idea for setting up unusual angles, taking self-portraits or even using the frame for tripod-like support.

A potentially great concept this may be, but one that’s fundamentally flawed by the rest of the camera’s design: the lens is always to the outer-most edge which means fingers will often get in the way; the shutter button is on the back (or front if you twist it around of course) of the camera which is awkward to press; there’s no flash (only an LED light); and the touchscreen control means that all options are tucked away in a semi-responsive menu system.

Casio-Exilim-EX-TR100-White There may have been some respite from this if the lens wasn’t a fixed 21mm wide-angle. There is no optical zoom, it’s digital only, which means the prospect of taking flattering portraits or more standard shots (without cropping into the frame) is, frankly, not possible. 21mm is very wide-angle: as we mentioned in our hands-on preview, the likes of skaters propping the camera up at the end of a ramp to get a quirky wide shot may go nuts for the Tryx TR100, but for the wider public it’s so niche that there’s no existing category to fit it into.

As all the Tryx’s controls are operated using the touchscreen, even the digital zoom is adjusted using a small slider to the side of the screen. As such it’s not always easy to accurately reach nor is it very responsive which makes for difficult operation.

On the upside the 12.1-megapixel sensor doesn’t cram on too many pixels, so the images are crisp and sharp. This is a trait of other recent Exilim compacts that also produce good images. However, the small lens suffers from poor exposure akin to a mobile phone camera. Bright lights will flare and overexposure isn’t uncommon either. Plus, at such a wide-angle setting there’s a notable amount of barrel distortion towards the edges - not a problem for distinct or stylised pictures, but undesirable for more conventional shots.

As well as the standard set of Auto modes, the Tryx also offers a Slide Panorama for taking panoramic shots in real time. However the wide-angle lens causes a lot of distortion that the camera clearly has to battle with when attempting to stitch shots inside the camera. The result here is that overlapping edges will often produce a poorly made final panorama.

HDR Art is another mode that Casio is trying to push, but another all too unconventional option. A mix of cartoon-like HDR processing and enhanced colours, there’s rarely an occasion when shots don’t look like something out of a kid’s colouring book. We’re a little stumped as to the use of such shots, plus it’s not possible to preview how things are going to look in real time on the screen - only once the shot is taken and processed can you see the results.

In addition to stills the Casio Exilim Tryx EX-TR100 can also shoot 1080i HD movies. The quality is good, though this diminishes should you employ the digital zoom (this can be used during capture too, but the jump between crops is very jolty indeed). It’s in movie mode that the Tryx’s LED lamp comes in useful for subtle fill effects - though this does come at the expense of no flash unit for stills.


The Tryx is for cameras what a flick-knife is for knives: it tries to look all big and clever, but is ultimately pointless if you could buy a better, sharper one somewhere else for even less money. Swanky though it may appear, this is a one Tryx pony with little appeal bar its conceptual prowess.

Of course there will be a market for the Tryx EX-TR100: if you’re after a 21mm wide-angle lens in a self-supporting compact body that can capture HD movies then this is the only camera for you. But for the rest of us folk the Tryx’s flaws are all too many, the appeal all too little and the £250 RRP just too much.


Canon PowerShot Elph 500 HS review

If the idea of an almost-all-touchscreen camera appeals to you, the Canon PowerShot Elph 500 HS is one of the best point-and-shoot options in that class.

But it's becoming clear that touchscreen-operated cameras are a significantly different beast than traditional cameras with similar specs. Because of its touchscreen, the Canon PowerShot Elph 500 HS camera acts more like a phone than a more-traditional camera, and that brings its fair share of pros and cons.

Canon-PowerShot-Elph-500-HS The touch interface is well-implemented - the Auto mode and scene presets operate smoothly. However, the touch interface also has aperture- and shutter-priority modes (but no full manual controls), and adjusting settings in those modes isn't as hitch-free as it is when using analogue controls. What's more, we've seen better touch-focus controls and options in competing cameras.

All the fancy touchscreen features also come at the expense of the Canon PowerShot Elph 500 HS camera's battery life, which is lacking. But beyond these shortcomings, this is a great little camera in terms of performance. Image and video quality are both strong suits, and the model's F2.0 lens and creative shooting modes make it a standout compact unit. When it comes down to it, it all depends on how much you like touchscreens.

Canon PowerShot Elph 500 HS: Hardware and Design

The 12-megapixel Canon PowerShot Elph 500 HS is one of a new breed of Canon point-and-shoots announced in early 2011: The "HS" designation refers to the camera's "High Sensitivity System" CMOS sensor, which the company claims enhances low-light shots and adds a few innovative shooting modes.

Despite that rejiggered naming convention, the Elph 500 HS is a lot like one of the better Canon point-and-shoots from the past year - the Canon PowerShot SD4000. Like the SD4000 IS, the Elph 500 HS has a bright F2.0 lens, aperture- and shutter-priority modes, creative in-camera offerings, and good image quality.

The Elph 500 HS builds on that foundation, adding a few significant extras to the SD4000 IS's list of specs: an ultra-wide-angle 24mm lens, a slightly larger optical zoom range (4.4X zoom; 24mm to 105mm), a bigger 3.2-inch LCD, and the aforementioned touchscreen controls for nearly every in-camera function.

Minus the control wheel and buttons on the back of the SD4000 IS, the Elph 500 HS also has a very similar body design, with contoured edges that make the Elph 500 HS a comfortable fit in the hand despite the lack of a raised handgrip, and it is slim but slightly large for a pocket camera, with a body measuring just under an inch deep, 2.2 inches tall, and about 4 inches wide.

Canon PowerShot Elph 500 HS: Shooting Modes and Features

You get plenty of shooting modes in the PowerShot Elph 500 HS, which combines tried-and-true Canon in-camera options with a few brand-new selections.

New to the mix is a Handheld Night Scene mode, which acts like Sony's Handheld Twilight mode: It shoots several images in rapid-fire succession at different exposure levels, then combines them inside the camera for a well-exposed nighttime image without having to use a flash.

The Elph 500 HS also has a new Creative Light Effect mode that mimics the effect of using different aperture-blade shapes when shooting photos. For example, you can make twinkling lights in your image appear as stars, cross patterns, heart shapes, butterflies, and other effects by selecting shapes from an on-screen menu. However, it also blurs the rest of the shot, and it can be used effectively only in near-dark situations.

Notable holdovers from previous PowerShot models are the excellent colour Accent mode (which lets you isolate a single colour in a black-and-white shot), Miniature Effect (which mimics the effects of a tilt-shift lens), a Super Slow Motion movie mode (it records 640 by 480 video at 120 frames per second or 320 by 240 video at 240 fps), and a few self-timer modes that let you use your face as a remote control (winking, smiling, or even just entering the frame fires the shutter).

More-traditional shooting modes include a high-speed burst mode that captures up to 8 shots per second at a reduced 3-megapixel resolution, a dedicated low-light mode for shooting in the dark without a flash, and scene selections that include Portrait, Fireworks, Kids & Pets, and Beach. The camera also records 1080p high-definition video at 24 frames per second; you're can use the colour Accent and Miniature Effect modes when shooting video, too.
Canon PowerShot Elph 500 HS: Performance, Image Quality, and Video Quality

In our subjective tests for photo and video quality, the PowerShot Elph 500 HS turned in an impressive overall performance. The camera earned a score of Very Good for exposure quality and lack of distortion, while colour accuracy and image sharpness were both rated as Good. The Elph 500HS generated an overall imaging score of Very Good, with an aggregate image-quality score higher than that of the esteemed Canon PowerShot S95.

Click on any of the thumbnails at left to see full-size versions of the test images used for our subjective evaluations; pressing the left and right buttons on your keyboard will scroll through all the images.

Battery life is probably the biggest drawback of this camera, as the Canon PowerShot Elph 500 HS is rated for just 180 shots per charge of its lithium ion battery. Since that's well short of the 300-plus shots you'll get out of most compact point-and-shoots, that big, beautiful touchscreen LCD appears to take a huge toll on battery juice.

The Elph 500 HS also shoots good-looking 1080p/24-fps video in .mov format, with a video-quality score on a par with that of the Canon PowerShot SX230 HS and the Nikon Coolpix S9100. Overall video quality was rated as Good, but the Canon PowerShot Elph 500 HS's video mode doesn't do the best job in low-light situations. Audio capture through its front-mounted stereo microphones also earned a score of Good.

You can view the test clips used for our subjective video tests below. Select 1080p from the drop-down menu in each player to see the highest-resolution footage.

Canon PowerShot Elph 500 HS: Touchscreen Interface

You can tell that Canon put a lot of work into the camera's touchscreen interface. It's significantly different than the interface found in most PowerShot cameras, which itself is practically the gold standard for point-and-shoot user interfaces. The touchscreen usually reacts well to finger presses, and the on-screen icons are large and well-labeled.

One slight hassle is the five "pages" of icons to scroll through in the on-screen menus--needed to accommodate the camera's 26 distinct shooting modes. However, that shouldn't slow you down much: What are usually the most common shooting modes (Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, Portrait, Program Auto) are on the first page of icons, other useful modes (Low-Light, High-Speed Burst, and Handheld Night Scene) are on the second page, and Auto mode is accessible immediately via a top-mounted switch.

The touch interface is very responsive when it comes to tapping icons, but some navigation options that require scrolling are a bit slower on the uptake. For example, selecting an aperture value in Aperture Priority mode or choosing an option in the camera's vertically scrolling Function menu requires dragging your finger across the screen - just like turning a physical scrollwheel. It's not a big problem, but it may take a couple seconds longer to access some settings than it would with analog buttons.

You also don't always have access to the camera's Menu button, depending on the shooting mode you are in. An always-on "Function" button is in the lower left corner of the screen, and pressing it calls up a menu that lets you adjust image resolution, metering modes, macro/landscape range, and the like. But accessing the main menu for flash settings, stabilization modes, autofocus settings, and other nuts-and-bolts options requires diving a couple of levels deep in the touchscreen interface.

The camera's touch-to-focus controls it doesn't go the extra step of firing the shutter after the focus point has been locked. In some cases, the focus point also "floats" away a bit from the intended subject, and the touch-focus controls aren't available in the camera's movie mode. All in all, we've seen better-implemented and more far-reaching touch-focus capabilities on Panasonic's Lumix cameras, which continue to lead the pack in touchscreen focusing options.

In addition to your standard touchscreen-controlled menu navigation, the PowerShot Elph 500 HS also boasts a few gesture controls for navigating image and video playback. For example, you can swipe in an "L" shape to rotate images, start a slideshow, delete images, or start a customized action that you had previously set via the camera's playback menu.

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