Shooting Rainbows With Your Digital Camera

rainbow_01-5193490 For an ordinary act of nature, rainbows seem to have an almost supernatural hold over us. A rainbow is really just a giant prism; water vapor in the air splits sunlight into its individual component colors. Yet seeing those colors arcing overhead is always an event; people never seem to tire of rainbows. If you've already tried your hand at flowers, silhouettes, fireworks, and night photography, perhaps you'd like to capture some rainbows. If so, keep reading--this week is all about freezing nature's prism.

Finding a Rainbow

No matter how much digital photography advice or photographic theory you get about rainbows, the first--and likely biggest--problem you'll encounter is simply finding one. If you're in rainbow hunting mode, it's not a bad idea to keep a camera in the car or otherwise carry one around with you.

That said, you can learn to anticipate prime rainbow conditions. To see one, you'll need both water in the air and bright sunlight. Rainbows commonly appear right before or after a storm hits your location, when it's raining nearby but the clouds have parted, allowing the sun to peek through. Rainbows always appear in the sky opposite the sun--so if the sun is in the west, look east for your rainbow.

Rainbows also have a very specific geometry. The top of the arch is always about 42 degrees above a line formed by the intersection of the sun and your head. That means you'll see more rainbows when the sun is relatively low in the sky; in fact, if the sun is higher than 42 degrees in the sky, the rainbow would be below the horizon entirely, and therefore impossible to see. Exception: If you're at a high elevation, such as on a mountain or on a cliff overlooking a valley, the rainbow might have enough room to form even when the sun is high overhead.

Make Your Own

I should point out that if Mother Nature isn't cooperating, you can create your own rainbow. Since a rainbow is just the right combination of bright sunlight and airborne water, you can generate your own with a sprinkler or garden hose from your backyard on a sunny day. Put the sun at your back and then spray water into the air in front of you. You'll want a fine mist or small droplets of water rather than a stream, so if you have a hose, plug it with your thumb to create a thin wall of high-pressure water. If you're lucky, you'll see a rainbow materialize. To photograph it, delegate hose duty to someone else.

Shooting Rainbows

rainbow_03-5193498 Now that you know how to hunt rainbows (or generate your own), let's talk about how to capture one with your camera.

This might be obvious, but I should point out that a rainbow is not a real physical thing; it is an optical illusion that is unique to your particular relationship to the sun and where you are actually standing at any given moment. You can't move closer to it; it will always appear to keep a constant distance from you. So while you can photograph a rainbow, remember that you can't lock your camera's focus on it, nor does the appearance of the rainbow affect the exposure setting.

That said, you can take advantage of the optical illusion to make a more interesting composition. If you move parallel to the rainbow (rather than getting closer or further away), the rainbow's relative position will change with respect to the background. That means you can make a rainbow photo more interesting by walking around until the rainbow's ends--where it intersects the ground--line up with something interesting. At the very least, by moving around you might be able to position the rainbow against a more interesting backdrop. In the photo on the right, for example, you can see a rainbow that's been expertly positioned to frame a tree.

Another element of the composition you can control is the zoom level. You'll need a fairly wide-angle zoom setting to capture the entire rainbow in a single photo, but by zooming in, you can focus the scene on just one part of the arc, as in the photo on the left.

Finally, you don't need to worry much about tweaking the exposure. You can shoot the scene normally with your camera set on its Program mode, but photographers will commonly underexpose the shot a little (you can set the exposure compensation dial to -1) to saturate the colors a little. Another way to saturate the colors: Use a polarizing filter. Experiment with your polarizer's setting, since using the polarizer at full strength can make the rainbow disappear from the photo.

PC World

5 Lomography Cameras for Retro, Dreamy Photography

Digital photography has come a long way. It has removed the barrier of expensive film and development, led to decent smartphone cameras that let anyone to snap a photo anywhere, and bumped the maximum resolution up to a ridiculous 59,783-by-24,658-pixel image. At the same time, high-end digital cameras and lenses can get very expensive, and that fact holds back some from experimenting. Some groups still stand by the analog format, and lomography is perhaps one of the most interesting results.

Lomography is an artistic experimental photography movement that revolves around quirky, plastic cameras that use film. The cameras take heavily vignetted and saturated pictures for a low-fi look that makes them comparable to their digital camera counterparts, some of which cost 100 times more money. Some of these cameras are also designed to do something I’ve never imagined with my DSLR.

Holga 35mm

There’s nothing like a reliable classic. My first film camera was a 35mm, and this is probably the case for anyone who has wound his or her film by hand. The Holga 35mm comes with a plastic 47mm lens (which is a good focal distance for any kind of photography), and the minimum aperture limit set at f/8 ensures that nothing in your shot will be out of focus. The camera also has a decoupled film advance and shutter, which means you can shoot double exposures on the same frame.

Holga 120-3D Stereo Camera

holga_35mm-5203505 3D photography is still a very expensive niche in the digital space. But the Holga 120-3D Stereo Camera is an inexpensive analog alternative that takes two simultaneous shots with twin lenses. However, you'll need to buy a special slide viewer to see the images in 3D, and the 120mm film is a bit more costly than standard film.

Spinner 360°

Taking a regular panoramic shot usually entails shooting a set of vertical photos while moving your camera around an axis. It takes a decent amount of time to set up, and you don’t get any results until you are done with post processing, cropping, and cleaning it up. The Spinner 360° simplifies everything with a ripcord. Just pull the cord, and the camera starts spinning to take a full 360-degree image.

Fisheye One

fisheye_one-5203501 Specialty lenses that provide a particular look to your photos can be really expensive, so a fisheye camera for under $60 is a real bargain. This particular fisheye camera takes photos in an ultra-wide 170 degrees and a near-circular view thanks to the lens's extreme distortion effect.


A quick-burst shooting mode is one of my favorite things about using a DSLR, but it’s a feature that's almost completely absent on affordable point-and-shoots. The SuperSampler is quick-snapper that takes four consecutive exposures on the same frame of film. The four separate lenses take a sequence of four exposures in 2 seconds on a single photo.


Sony Alpha A77 review

Sony_Alpha_A77 At first glance, and probably even after several subsequent glances, you might mistake the just-announced Sony Alpha SLT-A77 for a DSLR.

Its size, price, and weather-sealed magnesium alloy body are all well in line with what you'd expect from a high-end consumer DSLR. Its 24.3-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor, A-mount for interchangeable DSLR lenses, and manual control scheme are usually found only on DSLRs. And perhaps most important, it just looks like a DSLR.

The Sony Alpha A77 is not a DSLR. The distinction won't mean much to most people, but many photographers say that something is "not a DSLR" in the same tone that a guy with a sweater tied around his shoulders uses to describe a box of Franzia wine. A camera is "not a DSLR" in the same way that Oasis is not the Beatles, Footloose (2011) is not Footloose (1984), and Ant and Dec aren't Eric and Ernie. But with the Sony Alpha A77, the whole "not being a DSLR" paradigm may get flipped on its head. That's because what makes this camera "not a DSLR" is precisely what makes it more compelling than a DSLR, especially for videographers and fast-action photographers. And by "fast-action photographers," I'm not just referring to cricket photographers or the paparrazi; a fast-focusing, fast-shooting camera is incredibly useful for people interested in taking photos of their baby, wildlife, Bigfoot, or their dog jumping to catch a Frisbee.

The Sony Alpha A77's translucent internal mirror makes the difference. Because it doesn't move while you're shooting, the camera doesn't meet the "reflex" requirement of the "digital single lens reflex" (DSLR) name.

In practical terms, the translucent mirror means that the Sony Alpha A77's phase-detection autofocus system works when the camera is shooting video or is in burst mode, neither of which is the case with a DSLR. As long as light comes through the lens, the Alpha A77's mirror redirects some of the light to the camera's autofocus sensor. In a traditional DSLR, the mirror is flipped up during video capture and in burst shooting mode, and the DSLR's through-the-lens, phase-detection autofocus system punts to the camera's less-effective contrast-detection autofocus system, which the imaging sensor itself drives.

Continuous autofocus isn't new, but because many DSLRs use contrast-detection AF rather than phase-detection AF during burst and video capture, they struggle with those modes. Maintaining sharp focus on fast-moving subjects that are approaching the lens during burst or video capture is especially problematic for most DSLRs.

In contrast, Sony lists meeting that challenge as the Sony Alpha A77's core strength. The specs tell the story here. The camera's lightning-fast, 12-frames-per-second burst mode at full 24.3-megapixel resolution runs laps around the maximum continuous shooting speed of most DSLRs. Sony claims that the Alpha A77 is the first camera to shoot images at a resolution of greater than 20 megapixels with a speed faster than 5 fps; most DSLRs top out at around 8 fps in burst mode, even at lower resolutions.

Because the Sony Alpha A77 has no moving mirror, you'll see an intermittent, strobe-like black-out time on the camera's OLED viewfinder and LCD screen while you're shooting continuously. This A77 is also the first interchangeable-lens camera to support the AVCHD Progressive format when shooting video, meaning that it can capture 1080p video footage at a higher frame rate and at a higher bitrate, with continuous autofocus employed. The camera's ability to shoot full 1080p video at 60 fps and 24 fps should make it a standout device for video capture.

Translucent-mirror technology isn't new. Last year's Sony Alpha A55 and Alpha A33 offered the same in-camera hall of mirrors. But the Alpha A77 ups the ante with that insane 24.3-megapixel sensor (up from 16 megapixels in the A55), a new Bionz image processor (which has to be powerful to process huge image files and all of those AF adjustments simultaneously), a faster burst mode despite the significantly higher-resolution images, and video capabilities that appear to be second to none when matched up against consumer DSLRs.

The major tradeoff for all of these performance enhancements is the absence of an optical through-the-lens viewfinder, which many accomplished shooters consider a dealbreaker - and a major contributor to their mocking "not a DSLR" tone. Certainly most users of last year's Sony Alpha SLT-A55 would list its grainy-security-camera-like eye-level EVF as a key weak spot.

But the Sony Alpha A77 vastly improves on its predecessor in this area as well. The 2.5-million-dot OLED eye-level viewfinder on the A77--which Sony claims is the first OLED EVF in the world--is currently the sharpest and brightest in the game. And though it's not an optical viewfinder, it provides a crisp, bright, full-coverage view, and you get the benefit of better low-light visibility, a histogram display, and detailed data through the eyepiece as you're shooting--all advantages over an optical viewfinder.

The electronic viewfinder isn't the only element that Sony has completely redesigned for this camera. The Sony Alpha A77's 3-inch LCD viewfinder has a new "three-way tilt" adjustment mechanism that lets you position the screen in almost any direction, while enabling it to remain on the same vertical plane as the camera's lens.

The Sony Alpha A77 may also be the camera that shows DSLR users what Sony has been up to with the innovative modes added to its Cyber-shot point-and-shoot cameras over the past few years. The Alpha A77 offers many of the same creative and fun-to-use shooting options we've seen in recent Cyber-shots, which gain even more power from the A77's fast performance, higher-end optics, big sensor, and beefy image processor.

The Sony Alpha A77 has the same Sweep Panorama and single-lens 3D shooting options as Sony's recent Cyber-shot cameras, along with a range of effects that let you simulate a tilt-shift lens, automatically bracket and stack images to create instant HDR and sharper low-light shots, isolate a single color in black-and-white photos, and choose other optional features and effects. The A77 also has a GPS receiver to geotag shots as you take them, and its body-based sensor-shift system ensures that any lens will be stabilized once it's mounted.

So the Sony Alpha A77 may not be a DSLR, but that fact shouldn't deter anyone seeking a versatile interchangeable-lens camera from checking it out. The sum of its parts is a "not a DSLR" to get very excited about, as it seems to cover more ground than any similarly priced DSLR in terms of high-speed capture, video capabilities, autofocus skills, creative in-camera filters, and fun-to-use modes.

PC Advisor

11 Tips to Ensure Great Smartphone Photography

You probably don't carry your fancy-pants DSLR camera with you all the time, but your smartphone--along with its built-in camera--is in your pocket everywhere you go. That's why these days the most popular camera used to upload photos to Flickr isn't a camera at all, but the iPhone.

The challenge, of course, is getting great-looking photos from a gadget primarily designed for chatting. If you keep a few tips in mind, you can take some pretty sharp pictures with either an iPhone or an Android phone. Here is what you need to know (click all photos to enlarge).

1. Let the sun shine in: Your phone can handle a lot of situations with aplomb, but it can't shoot every scene you encounter. The teeny image sensor craves light, and does best outdoors, in daylight. For the best exposures, follow the same advice that photographers have kept in mind for decades:

Try to put the sun behind you or over one of your shoulders. Avoid shooting directly into the sun, or you'll radically underexpose your subject. If you're shooting indoors, put your back to the window and turn on the lights.

2. Compose your photos: Capturing a good photo isn't merely about knowing the right settings. Compose your photos as the pros do. Divide the frame into thirds--imagine a tic-tac-toe board--and put your subject on one of those lines, rather than in the middle of the screen.

Be careful to keep the camera level, too; nothing ruins a photo like a tilted horizon. Keep an eye on the background to be sure that nothing is "growing" out of the top of someone's head.

3. Start the camera faster: Some phones make it so hard to get to the camera that you might think they're, well, camera-shy--which could mean losing out on many a great photo opportunity. If you have a smartphone and the operating system allows it, move the camera app to a more convenient location.

On the iPhone, for example, ensure that the camera app is on the first screen, or put it in the quick-access area at the bottom of the screen. Some phones even let you reassign buttons to launch the camera.

4. Keep the phone steady: One reason you tend to get blurry photos with your phone is that it's light and thin, and awkward to hold compared with a full-size camera. Grip the phone as still as you can, with both hands, and keep your elbows tucked in to your sides for support. Take a deep breath and then let out a slow, steady exhale as you gently trigger the phone's shutter release.

5. Know when the shutter clicks: If the shutter lags, you'll need to account for that. Some phones have a surprising delay after you press the shutter release. And if the shutter release is on a touchscreen (as it is on the Apple iPhone), the shutter probably trips after you lift your finger, not when you press down. Either way, hold the camera steady while the picture is being exposed. And don't jab at the screen, or the shake will blur your photo.

6. Optimize the settings: If your camera has a white balance control, you'll often get the best results leaving it on automatic. But if the colors come out wrong, try setting the balance to reflect the ambient light, such as fluorescent, daylight, or sunset. Just be sure to reset it to automatic when you're done, or future photos will look weird.

If the camera offers an ISO setting (usually under Settings or Camera on an Android device, and under the gear icon on Windows Phone), take that off Auto. When you're outdoors in daylight, set the ISO to its lowest value to minimize the digital noise in your picture. In low-light situations, bump the ISO up as high as it will go.

7. Widen the dynamic range: Some phones (such as the iPhone 4 and Windows Phone 7 handsets, to name a few), provide a High Dynamic Range mode that captures an impressive amount of detail and a range of tones and colors in a single exposure.

The effect is similar to the way HDR software can combine multiple photos to create one rich, dynamic photo. If you have an HDR option (it might also be called Wide Dynamic Range, or some similar variation), try it instead of the flash when faced with tricky lighting.

8. Turn your camera into a photo lab: Most phones offer relatively few options for enhancing photos. That's what Photoshop and other editing apps are for. But some cameras include a veritable treasure trove of ways to tweak your shots, so check the camera settings for adjustments such as contrast, saturation, and image effects. You can use most of these controls as if you were adding spices to a soup: Experiment and apply the ones you like to taste. The saturation control, for example, adjusts the intensity of colors in your photos.

It's usually best to stick with low or medium, since high saturation levels tend to make everyone look like an overcooked turkey. Image effects like negative, sepia, and black and white can help you take charming photos. But remember that if you shoot a photo in sepia, for instance, it will be tinted that way forever--there's no going back to the real colors. You might be better off ignoring such controls and adding a similar effect on your PC with a free program like Windows Live Photo Gallery, so you can always revert to the original color if you prefer.

9. Use the flash to reveal daytime details: It's counterintuitive, but in daylight, a fill flash can be your secret weapon. It provides a burst to reduce the shadows that bright sunlight causes. Although the flash won't be powerful enough to fill every shadow, if you're close enough to your subject, it can provide pleasant, even lighting on your subject's face. Of course, the tiny flash on most cameras works only at very close range, so don't expect it to help unless you're within a few feet of your subject.

10. Don't use digital zoom: Your camera phone can't magnify the image by moving its lens. Instead, it has a digital zoom, which merely makes the pixels big and blocky, obliterating fine detail. Want to fill the frame? Walk closer to your subject. If you really need to zoom, you can always produce the same effect on your PC with an image editor later.

11. Stock up on software: One of the best reasons to carry a smartphone is for the scores of apps you can install to enhance every aspect of the phone, and photography is no different. Check out your phone's app store for programs that can improve the way the camera works, as well for apps that can enhance the photos you take.

PC World

Olympus Sets PEN E-PM1 Price, Availability

Olympus-PEN-E-PM1 Olympus has announced that its smallest Micro Four Thirds camera, the E-PM1 PEN Mini, will be available for purchase in September for $499.99.

The camera is bundled with the same MSC M. Zuiko Digital ED 14-42mm II R f/3.5-5.6 zoom lens that is included with its other PEN cameras, including the E-P3 and E-PL3. The 12.3-megapixel E-PM1 will be available in black, silver, pink, purple, brown, and white.

The camera's large, 3-inch LCD is packed with 460,000 dots of resolution and in-body image stabilization helps you capture sharp images in dim lighting. An accessory port and standard hot shoe are available, making it possible to use an external EVF or flash. The camera doesn't have a built-in flash, but an accessory pop-up flash is included.

Olympus has designed the camera's menu system to use on-screen graphics. A pop-up guide is available to explain settings to users moving up from a point-and-shoot. Popular features, including Art Filters, iAuto, Scene Modes, and Movie recording, are very easy to activate. A 3D photo mode rounds out the camera's feature set.

Late last month, Olympus also set a September release date for the PEN E-PL3 Micro Four Thirds camera and announced a VF-3 viewfinder accessory and SP-810UZ ultrazoom digital camera. The 12-megapixel E-PL3, the successor to the E-PL2, uses a tilting 16:9 LCD display, a departure from the fixed 4:3 OLED display of its predecessor, and eliminates the built-in flash that was found on the E-PL2. The camera will be available as a kit with either the M. Zuiko 14-42mm zoom lens or M. Zuiko 17mm pancake prime lens. Both kits are set to retail at $699.99 in black, white, red, and silver.

PC Magazine

Samsung PL210 review

Samsung_PL210 Samsung PL210 is an ultra-compact digital camera which packs in a 10x zoom lens and a host of other interesting features. However, bear in mind despite the fact that this camera is slim it is not exactly going to turn any heads with its plain-Jane looks. The PL210 relies heavily on the feature set to keep abreast of the stiff competition in the compact digital camera segment by dedicated camera manufacturers like Canon and Nikon. Some of the main rivals are the Canon PowerShot SX120 IS, Canon IXUS 220HS and Nikon Coolpix S9100.

Feature and Specs

The Samsung PL210 boasts of a 14.2MP lens with 10x optical zoom which is great for a camera at this price point. The dual Image Stabilization (IS) feature promises to destroy even a little bit of shake and blurring your pictures. The PL210 has a 27mm (w) – 270mm (t) (35mm equivalent) lens which is a great.

You have seven ISO settings to choose from starting from ISO 80 right up to IS0 3200. The 3.0 inch LCD has the regular 230K resolution with four adjustable brightness modes.

Apart from the Smart auto mode in which all the scene setting choices are made by the camera itself, the PL210 has three other basic modes i.e. Program, Dual IS and Scene. The scene mode lets you choose some other sub-modes like White, Macro Colour, Portrait, Night Portrait, Backlight Portrait, Backlight, Landscape, Action, Tripod, Night, Macro, Macro Text (with Smart Guide), BlueSky, Sunset, NaturalGreen, Fireworks, Magic Frame, Beauty Shot, Portrait Highlight, Night, Landscape, Text, Sunset, Dawn, Backlight, Beach & Snow Drive. You can also access the different drive modes which let you choose between continuous shooting, motion capture and shooting the same image in three different exposure values.

The PL210, additionally, has smart filters like Miniature, Vignetting, Half Tone Dot, Sketch, Fish Eye, Defog, Classic, Retro, Negative and Custom RGB for shooting artistic pictures on the fly. You can also edit the pictures on the camera using these same smart-filters. This is adds great value to a consumer digital camera.

The camera doesn’t record Full HD video which is a bit of a letdown but it definitely records 720p videos at 30fps and 15 fps.

The box contained an AV cable, battery charger, USB cable Software CD (with the software ZoomBrowser and Photostitch), a 2GB memory card and the manual which is a good package. The major plus point for the PL210 is that it accepts microSD cards which is a cheaper option and is easier to find in local stores.
However, you have to be content with slightly slower performance.

Design, Interface And Usability

As I mentioned earlier the Samsung PL210 is not exactly a flashy looking camera like any other compact digital camera in the market. It has a two-tone finish with a fully silver metal front and the back is made of plastic which is black in colour.  The design reminded me of Pentax cameras with the slightly angular tilt.
However, the camera is extremely slim at 100.4 x 58.5 x 19.7mm and weighs around 148 grams which is light. The PL210 has a great build for single handed use as I faced absolutely no problem clicking photos on-the-go.

The plastic finish looks tacky and since most of the physical hardware buttons (i.e. the circular dial, mode, menu, play and function keys) are located on the back they also have the plastic finish to them. These keys are of inferior build quality and also tend to creak sometimes. I have never had problem with shutter buttons of the cameras I have reviewed but the PL210’s shutter button failed to have any sort of effect on me. It had very less travel and as a result I ended up clicking pictures unintentionally. I also have a gripe with the power button. After extended use I was finding that the camera took a good 3 seconds to just start and I thought it was a problem with the camera itself but I realised later that I wasn’t pressing the button right (It could also be a problem with the test piece I received).

Let us come to the user interface (UI) of the camera. By far this is has to be the most cumbersome UI I have used on a camera. It was very unintuitive. Even if I had to just change the shooting mode, I had to go through four cumbersome steps to get to the shooting mode eventually. The LCD screen also was not upto the mark as the viewing angles are bad and the visibility under sunlight is also not good.

Overall, the design and the usability factor of the camera is a bit of a let-down. It could have been much better.

PC Advisor

How to Clean Your Camera

If you're not satisfied with the camera in your cell phone and you prefer to keep something better around, that device needs its own special care, too. First, you'll want to start by cleaning the LCD view screen:

  1. As a safety measure, remove your camera's battery. If the battery cannot be removed, turning off the device will suffice.
  2. Wipe the screen gently with the dry cloth. Don't press hard on it, but for particularly stubborn dirt you can apply some gentle pressure.
  3. If a dry cloth doesn't do the job, you'll need to use a wet one--and that can be tricky. Distilled water is the safest and cheapest liquid for a screen. If that isn't strong enough, mix it half-and-half with white vinegar.
  4. Put the liquid into a spray bottle, and spray it onto the microfiber cloth.
  5. Wipe the display as described above, and then wait until the screen is completely dry before turning the device back on.

How to Clean Your Camera However, in a camera, cleaning the LCD is the secondary cleaning job. Your photos don't really depend on a clean menu screen, but they certainly rely on a clean lens:

  1. The first tool you'll need is a blower brush: a rubber bulb with a brush on the end. Use this to remove the bulk of the dust. If that doesn't do the trick, use a photographic microfiber cloth and some lens cleaner. Spray the cleaner on the cloth and apply it that way. You can pick up all of these items, often in a kit, in any photography store.
  2. If you have a pocket camera, you'll notice something that keeps you from cleaning the lens--it's enclosed inside the camera. That means you have to turn on the camera to clean the lens.
  3. You won't need to turn on your digital SLR to clean its lens, but it has another component that you might want to clean from time to time: the sensor. Because you can remove and change the lens on an SLR, dirt can get inside and affect the light-sensitive chip that records the images (not a problem with fixed-lens pocket cameras). This is a delicate and dangerous job, and you should think carefully about undergoing it (I've never tried it myself). Check out "Clean Your Digital SLR Camera's Image Sensor" for detailed instructions. If you think you're not up to the task, bring your camera to a professional.
  4. Cameras can get pretty badly banged up as you carry them around, so investing in a carrying case will help keep it protected. The best cases for pocket cameras aren't much bigger than the camera itself, and have loops to attach to your belt. Serious SLR photographers will want a padded shoulder bag with room for extra lenses as well as the camera. No matter the size of your camera, you'll want a case with a few small pockets for extra batteries and memory cards.
  5. If you need to swap out batteries or memory cards, be sure to turn your camera off before opening it up to remove or replace any inside component.
  6. After you get home from a vacation or other photo-friendly event, and you transfer your photos from your camera to your computer, remove the camera's batteries. That way, should an aging battery spring a leak, it won't ruin your camera.


Sony Announces New D-SLR and NEX Cameras

SONY DSC Sony made some noise this morning with announcement of five cameras. The new cameras include the Alpha A65 and A77 D-SLRs, both with a translucent mirror and OLED viewfinder. Three NEX cameras, the NEX-5N and NEX-7 for photographers and the NEX-VG20 for videographers arrived on the scene, along with a trio of new E-mount lenses.

The Alpha A77, which replaces the A700, is built around a 24.3-megapixel APS-C Exmor CMOS image sensor, and features a new Bionz image processor and a translucent mirror that allows the camera to shoot at an amazing 12 frames per second with continuous autofocus. An innovative shutter, which uses an electronic first curtain, helps to speed up shooting and reduces shutter lag to less than 50 milliseconds.

The camera's eye-level electronic viewfinder is built on OLED technology, and it's astounding to look through. It refreshes very quickly and boasts an extremely sharp 2.359 million dot resolution, with none of the light fall off or coverage issues that are present when using a pentaprism or pentamirror optical viewfinder.

Its rear LCD features an innovative hinge system, which makes it possible to position it so you can view it form the top, bottom, or either side of the camera. The A77 can capture video at 1080p60 or 1080p24 resolution using the AVCHD Progressive codec. If you’d rather record direct to MP4, you can do so at 1080i60 or 1080p30.

The camera’s magnesium alloy body is sealed against the elements, and includes built-in GPS for geotagging. A vertical battery grip accessory is available, which is also sealed. Sony is launching a new kit lens with the A77, a 16-50mm f/2.8 SSM zoom lens. The camera will be available in October for $1,399 as a body only or for $1,999 with the kit lens.

The A65

The A65, which will be made available at the same time, is a pared-down version of the A77, targeted at a consumer audience. The camera features a 24-megapixel Exmor CMOS sensor, and is capable of 10 frames per second shooting with continuous autofocus. Its AF system is less advanced than that of the A77, its kit lens is the standard 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 variety, and its LCD features a simplified tilting mechanism. The camera’s body is polycarbonate, and it is a bit smaller than the A77. There are many shared features between the two cameras, including the OLED EVF, GPS support, and the translucent mirror design. The A65 will be available as a body only for $899 or with the kit lens for $999.

The NEX-7

The second generation of the NEX system continues to roll out, featuring two more upgraded bodies and one completely new camera. The latter, the NEX-7, is an enthusiast-targeted mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, loaded with the same 24.3-megapixel sensor, OLED EVF, and video capabilities found in the A77. The camera features the same tilting 3” LCD that has been used across the NEX line, and is packed with as many manual controls as Sony could fit on its svelte body. It is capable of shooting images at 10 frames per second, and cuts shutter lag to 0.02 second thanks to its use of an electronic first curtain design.

The Tri-Navi system, which uses three control wheels, allows you to quickly adjust shooting settings, without having to delve into menus.  It somehow manages to squeeze a built-in pop-up flash and an Alpha hot shoe in as well. The camera will be available in November at a price of $1,199 for the body only or $1,349 with an 18-55mm kit lens with a matching black finish. That lens will be available only in the kit.

The NEX-5N

The NEX-5N, which replaces the NEX-5, is a 16.1-megapixel camera with a touch-screen interface. Sony has designed the interface so that the screen augments the physical buttons on the camera rather than replacing them. The camera shares the shutter design of the NEX-7 for extremely fast performance, although it does not include an integrated OLED EVF. Rather, an accessory viewfinder, which will only be compatible with the NEX-5N, will be available to add the same high-resolution OLED to the camera, priced at $349. The camera will be available in early September in black, silver, or white as a body only for $599, or $699 with the 18-55mm lens.

Sony has also released an update to their NEX-VG10 camcorder, the NEX-VG20. Available in November for $2,199 with an 18-200mm lens, or $1,599 as a body only, the camcorder offers a few upgrades over its previous incarnation. Its resolution has been improved to 16.2 megapixels, and it can now capture RAW stills, 1080p60 and 1080p24 video, and 5.1-channel sound. A new grip and belt design, an additional Record button, and a wireless remote control are also now part of the package.

The NEX lens line-up is also expanding with three new optics. The E 50mm F1.8 OSS adds a fast, standard angle prime lens to the system, which should really work well in low-light situations when coupled with the outstanding high ISO capability of the NEX system. Sony has also announced a companion telezoom that should match well with the existing 18-55mm kit lens. The E 55-210mm F4.5-6.3 OSS lens will come in handy for situations when you need some extra reach with the camera, such as at sporting events or the zoo. Finally, the Carl Zeiss SonnarT* E 24mm F1.8, the first Zeiss-designed lens for the NEX system, steps in to provide fast, wide-angle coverage. Its offers a field of view that is equivalent to 36mm on full frame cameras, making it a great asset to street photographers, photojournalists, and others with the aspiration to be the next Cartier-Bresson.

Rounding out the announcements is a new Alpha lens adapter for the NEX system. It does not replace the existing adapter; instead it brings improved autofocus performance when using Alpha lenses on a NEX camera. The LA-EA2 adapter, set to retail for $399, features a translucent mirror and a dedicated phase detect autofocus sensor. This provides much faster focus performance than the contrast detect system currently used in the NEX. It is compatible with all NEX cameras, although a firmware update will be required for older bodies.

PC Magazine

Nikon Updates Its Coolpix Line

nikon-Coolpix-Line Nikon added six new cameras to its Coolpix point-and-shoot line today, including the P7100, an update to its enthusiast-targeted P7000.

Available on September 21, the $499.95 camera adds several features to the already-impressive feature set found on the P7000, including an articulating LCD, a front control wheel, additional creative filters, and an AE lock when shooting video. It uses the same 28-200mm (35mm equivalent) zoom lens and 10-megapixel sensor found in its predecessor.

The AW100 marks Nikon's first foray into the rugged camera sphere. The 16-megapixel shooter is rated for underwater use to a depth of 33 feet, works in temperatures as cold as 14 degrees Farenheit, and can survive a five-foot drop without harm. It features a 28-140mm (35mm equivalent) zoom range, a built-in GPS, a 3-inch HVGA LCD, and support for 1080p60 or 720p30 video capture. In addition to changing modes via standard buttons, you'll be able to shake it to quickly change settings—making one-handed operation feasible. The camera will be available in a black, blue, or orange on September 8 for $379.95.

The Coolpix S8200 is a 16-megapixel superzoom with a 14x 25-350mm (35mm equivalent) lens. It supports 1080p30 and 720p60 video capture. A rear 3-inch 921,000-dot LCD is present for framing images, and the camera will be available in black, red, and silver finishes. The camera will retail for $329.95 and hit stores on September 11.

Also available that day, the Coolpix S6200 features a more modest 10x zoom range, covering a 25-250mm (35mm equivalent) range. The 16-megapixel camera is capable of 720p video capture and sports a 2.7-inch QVGA rear display. Launching in red, silver, blue, black, and pink, the S6200 is set to retail at $229.95.

The Coolpix S100, available on September 1 for $299.95, is a touch-screen point and shoot with a 3.5-inch OLED rear display. The 16-megapixel camera sports a modest 5x zoom lens that covers a 28-140mm (35mm equivalent) focal range. Available in red, black, purple, and gold, the camera supports 1080p video capture and 3D image capture.

Rounding out the announcements is S1200pj, the third generation of Nikon's projector camera line. The 14-megapixel shooter features a 3-inch HVGA LCD for image framing and will be made available in black or pink. The built-in projector can output an image that is up to 60 inches in width. In addition to projecting images stored on the camera, it can accept a video input signal via USB or from any iOS device. It will be available on September 22 for $429.95.

PC Magazine

5 Accessories to Take With You (and Your Camera) on Vacation

No matter where you go on vacation this summer, you undoubtedly plan to take a camera along, too. Perhaps you have your sights set on capturing panoramic landscapes, or waterfalls, or scenic nightscapes in a foreign city. Vacations are a perfect times to try all sorts of photos. But no matter whether you pack a convenient point-and-shoot camera or a bulky-but-trusty digital SLR, here are five important things you'll want to take with you on your trip.

1. Spare Batteries and a Charger

There's an inescapable truth about digital photography: Your camera will always run out of juice at the worst possible time. I've found this to be true both with point-and-shoot cameras that only get about 100 shots on a pair of AA batteries with a professional digital SLR that lasts 800 shots with a double battery pack.

If your camera takes ordinary AA batteries, you can find replacements almost anywhere. But these days, most cameras use Li-Ion rechargeable batteries, so you should have a backup battery packed for your trip--and don't forget the charger. If you're going to another country, you'll need to have an international power adapter.

2. Extra Memory Card

I'm a fan of loading your camera with a large memory card rather than carrying many small ones. The "many small memory cards" strategy is designed to limit the potential losses to your photo collection if a memory card should fail. I can appreciate the logic, but that's more trouble than it's worth to me: You'll likely never encounter a memory card that fails in the line of duty. So why overcomplicate your life?

That said, you should carry at least one spare memory card in case your first one gets full. And given the price of memory these days, why stop there? I carry several cards. Each one of my 8GB Secure Digital cards can hold about 200 RAW or 800 JPEG photos, so three reasonably priced cards are sufficient for any situation (up to and including meeting Elvis on the starship Enterprise).

For more memory card tips, read "Memory Card Questions Answered."

3. Photo Backup

The reason I don't fret over my memory cards is because I also carry a way to back up my photo every night while I'm on the road. For starters, I carry a small laptop onto which I upload my photos after every day of shooting. But that's not enough; if I accidentally drop the laptop off the balcony of my hotel room, the photos would disappear in a heartbeat. That's why I also upload the photos to an online service. Because Microsoft's Windows Live SkyDrive offers a massive 25GB of storage space, that's my go-to choice for backing up my vacation photos while I'm still away (thank you, free Wi-Fi).

Unfortunately, SkyDrive has a Web-only interface for uploading files, which makes it nearly impossible to upload a large cache of photos in any reasonable way. That's why I also use Gladinet Cloud Desktop, a program that mounts SkyDrive as a network drive in Windows. Using Gladinet, I can drag and drop a folder full of photos to SkyDrive as easily as if I was copying them to another hard drive. And while the Pro version costs $50, you can save your money. The free Starter Edition does everything you need to copy photos to the cloud while away from home. Read "Turn Your Amazon Cloud Drive into Desktop-Accessible Storage" for more details.

4. Neutral Density Filter

If you're anything like me, you will want to take a lot of landscape and wildlife photos while you're on the road. In particular, waterfall photos can be especially challenging, because you'll want to get a somewhat long exposure (to blur the water) in the middle of the day. For times like that, snap or screw a neutral density filter onto the front of your camera. A neutral density filter reduces the light reaching the sensor without affecting the color balance, allowing you to take pictures with a slow shutter speed, even in the middle of the day. It's a great tool for your toolkit, and you can one from any local photo shop. The price will vary from about $30 to $100, mainly depending upon the diameter of your camera's lens.

5. Tripod or Monopod

Finally, I recommend carrying a tripod to any location where you plan to do a lot of photography--especially photos at night or photos that might require a longer exposure. For places where tripods might be off limits, like museums and cathedrals, you might be able to use a monopod instead. Some monopods, in fact, also double as a walking stick, which can come in handy for hiking and long walking tours.


Contour+ video camera review

Contour_video_camera1 The Contour+, from extreme sports video camera company Contour, is a tough and compact camera that records Full HD video at a variety of quality settings and frame rates. It has the potential to be an indispensable tool for anyone looking to record their sporting endeavours, and we’re pleased to report that it does its job near-perfectly.

Contour+: Design and specifications

The Contour+ is compact. There are no hand straps or flip-out screens or dangly clip-on lens caps, just a smooth (and very strong) brushed metal barrel that houses the camera’s internals with a mounting rail on either side. The back of the camera flips down to reveal a mini USB connector (charging and file transfers), microSD storage, a battery compartment, a dual-mode switch (for changing between preset video modes) and a proprietary Bluetooth card slot. The camera’s front lens housing rotates over 270 degrees of motion, so even if you’ve got the Contour+ mounted upside down or on an angle you can adjust the lens to frame your video correctly.

The lens of the Contour+ covers a 135 degree field of view for 1080p video, and a maximum angle of 170 degrees when it’s recording in the reduced-resolution 720p mode. This is heaps — wider than the human range of vision, and much wider than even most wide-angle sports cameras. To put the lens of the Contour+ in perspective, if you were recording on a digital SLR camera you’d need a fisheye lens to get this kind of coverage, with all the distortion that those kind of lenses have. The Contour+’s lens and sensor do a good job of fighting distortion, so even towards the edge of the video frame straight lines are reasonably straight.

The two mounting rails running along either side of the Contour+ can lock into a whole heap of Contour mounts suited to different activities. When we tested the Contour+ on top of a car we used the two rotating mounts included in the camera package (a single profile mount is also included), but you can also buy mounts for helmets, car or motorbike windshields, goggles, bicycle crossbars... there’s a mount for almost all purposes we could think of. We are disappointed that the Contour+ doesn’t have an integrated tripod screw thread (like the one on the bottom of a camcorder or compact camera), though — this extra bit of versatility would have been useful.

Without a doubt, the Contour+’s coolest feature is its inbuilt wireless communication to an Android or Apple smartphone or tablet over Bluetooth, letting users set and position the camera’s video frame coverage using the phone as a wireless viewfinder. It does this through a removable Connect View card in the camera — you can buy these to enable the functionality in Contour’s other cameras, but one is bundled with the Contour+. When you’ve connected the Contour+ to your smartphone over Bluetooth (we used an iPhone 4) and installed the Contour app, you can change camera settings like exposure, capture resolution, frame rate and quality.

PC Advisor

Motion FX uses Lion to add video effects in real time

Motion FX uses Autodesk’s Maya animation software to offer 80 visual effect filters—including smoke, fire, and “rainbow plasma”—all designed to react in real time to your on-camera movements. Users can set the application to apply the effects using motion, face, or color detection. Animated thumbnails allow you to preview effects before using them. (See the video below for a demonstration.)

The app includes a “cycle mode” that can automatically shift between effects during an on-camera performance. It includes support for switching between multiple cameras, and can be viewed using multiple displays—letting operators control the effects from one screen, say, while the performance is projected for an audience.

Motion FX is free, and compatible with computers running OS X 10.7 Lion.

PC Advisor

Canon's New Pocket Megazooms Are More Pocketable Than Ever

Canon PowerShot Elph 510 HS We've referred to compact high-zoom cameras as pocket megazooms for quite some time now, but in most cases "pocket megazooms" require the pocket in question to be fairly big. Think "a jacket's inside pocket" rather than "jeans front pocket."

Two of Canon's new PowerShot pocket megazooms announced today actually are jeans-front-pocket friendly, despite offering optical zoom ranges that compete with those of slightly bulkier rivals. The 12X-optical-zoom Canon PowerShot Elph 510 HS has a body measuring just 0.86 inches deep, while the 8X-optical-zoom Canon PowerShot Elph 310 HS sports a frame that's 0.87 inch thick.

The company also announced a third, less-pocketable megazoom today: The 12X-optical-zoom Canon PowerShot SX150 IS has a beefier 1.8-inch-deep body--but unlike the two smaller pocket zooms, it offers manual exposure controls.

Canon PowerShot Elph 510 HS: Superslim Design, Touchscreen, 12X Zoom

Canon is billing the 12-megapixel PowerShot Elph 510 HS as the "world’s thinnest digital camera with 12X optical zoom and a 28mm wide-angle lens." The body measures 3.9 inches wide, 2.32 inches tall, and 0.86 inch deep. Its optically stabilized zoom lens reaches from 28mm wide-angle to 336mm telephoto in 35mm film equivalent.

The latest PowerShot camera in Canon 's HS System line, the Elph 510 HS offers a low-light-optimized CMOS sensor and a 3.2-inch-diagonal LCD touchscreen. Added to the touchscreen functionality of the PowerShot Elph 500 HS from earlier this year is the ability to control the camera's shutter using the touch-to-focus controls; pressing the screen focuses on a subject, while releasing your finger from the screen fires the shutter.

The PowerShot Elph 510 HS offers a high-speed burst mode for still images that fires off 7.8 shots per second; however, unlike previous models in the HS System line, this camera doesn't provide a high-speed/superslow-motion video mode. In video mode, the Elph 510 HS shoots 1080p video at 24 frames per second, and optical zoom controls are enabled while the camera is shooting video.

You won't find any manual controls for shutter and aperture, but the PowerShot Elph 510 HS looks to have the generally excellent auto exposure, scene modes, and creative filters found in recent PowerShot cameras. New to the mix is an "Intelligent IS" stabilization system, which Canon says selects from various presets to correct camera shake more effectively in different scenarios. The system reportedly adjusts the level of shake correction automatically, depending on whether the user is snapping a wide-angle shot, a macro photo, a moving handheld shot, or a tripod-mounted shot, for example.

Due in the beginning of October, the Canon PowerShot Elph 510 HS is priced at $350 and will be available in black, silver, or red.

Canon PowerShot Elph 310 HS: Very Thin Design, 8X Zoom, and Physical Controls

The 12-megapixel PowerShot Elph 310 HS trades in the 510 HS's touchscreen for physical buttons, and it has a slightly shorter zoom range (8X optical zoom, 28mm to 224mm) to go along with its smaller dimensions overall (3.77 inches wide, 2.24 inches tall, and 0.87 inches deep).

It also has a slightly faster burst-shooting mode than the PowerShot Elph 510 HS does, clocking in at 8.7 shots per second at its speediest. You handle shot composition via a 3-inch-diagonal LCD screen; the back of the camera also hosts a dedicated video-record button, a playback button, and your standard PowerShot four-way directional pad/function controls.

powershot-sx150-is_black_1-5209700 In an interesting design twist, the Auto-mode and Menu buttons reside on the side of the camera rather than the back of it. Canon moved those buttons from the back to the side in order to leave more room for the LCD screen without increasing the size of the camera or reducing the size of the display.

Like the PowerShot Elph 510 HS, the Elph 310 HS offers the new "Intelligent IS" stabilization system, 1080p video recording at 24 fps with optical-zoom functionality enabled, and a low-light-optimized CMOS sensor. Slated for availability in the beginning of October at $260, it will be available in purple, silver, blue, green, and pink.

Canon PowerShot SX150 IS: 12X Zoom, Manual Controls, and a CCD Sensor

One of these cameras is not like the others. It's the 12X-optical-zoom (28mm to 336mm) Canon PowerShot SX150 IS, which is the only non-HS-branded PowerShot camera we've seen this year.

For instance, the PowerShot SX150 IS offers a 14-megapixel CCD sensor rather than the HS System's CMOS imager; most likely due to that CCD sensor, the SX150 IS lacks the fast-shooting burst mode and 1080p video capabilities of the other cameras. The PowerShot SX150 IS shoots 720p video with optical zoom enabled, and it measures a comparatively hefty 4.46 inches wide, 2.88 inches tall, and 1.8 inches deep.

However, the larger PowerShot SX150 IS offers more manual maneuverability, with aperture-priority, shutter-priority, and full manual exposure controls, as well as a pop-up flash instead of the other new models' fixed, front-facing flash. The SX150 IS also offers the Intelligent IS stabilization system found on the other cameras, and its 3-inch LCD is flanked by physical buttons and a scrollwheel to control its range of in-camera functions.

Due in early September, the Canon PowerShot SX150 IS is priced at $250, and will be available in black or red.


Canon Announces Three New PowerShot Cameras

Canon-PowerShot-SX150-IS Canon has bolstered its point-and-shoot camera lineup with three new PowerShot cameras and a small flash unit designed for use with compact cameras. The PowerShot SX150 IS will be available in September, and the PowerShot Elph 310 HS and 510 HS will be available in October. A wireless flash unit, the HF-DC2 High-Power Flash, will be available in December.

The SX150 IS is a 14.1-megapixel superzoom with a 12x optical zoom lens. Covering a field of view equivalent to 28-336mm in 35mm terms, the camera features a large 3-inch, rear LCD and a built-in pop-up flash. It supports manual shooting modes, aperture priority, and shutter priority for enthusiasts, as well as automatic operation for those who opt to simply point and shoot. Its CCD sensor is also capable of 720p video capture. The SX150 IS is set to retail for $249.99 and will be available in red and black finishes.

For those who would like the same 12x zoom range in a smaller camera, Canon also announced the PowerShot Elph 510 HS. It uses a 12.1-megapixel CMOS sensor, which supports 1080p video recording. Its 3-inch LCD is a touch screen for fast navigation through menus and Touch Shutter capability. Available in red, silver, and black, it will retail for $349.99.

The PowerShot Elph 310 HS offers a lesser 8x (28-224mm equivalent) zoom range and lacks the touch-screen capabilities of the 510 HS. Otherwise, it is a very similar camera, sharing the same form factor, sensor, and video-recording capability. It will be available in a rainbow of colors, including pink, blue, purple, green, and silver, and is set to retail for $259.99.

Rounding out the announcements is the HF-DC2 High-Power Flash. This compact, wireless strobe is designed for use with PowerShot cameras. It can cover a 24mm angle of view with an illumination range of about 30 feet. It includes a mounting bracket to attach it to your camera, but can also be hand-held or attached to a tripod. It is set to retail for $149.99.

PC Magazine

Sony Unveils a Pair of Digital Binoculars

SONY DSC Sony has entered the binocular market with a splash, announcing two digital optics early this morning. The DEV-3 and DEV-5 are similar in form and function, each featuring a pair of f/1.8-3.4 lenses, 1080p60 2D and 3D video recording and still capture, and a pair of high-resolution electronic viewfinders (EVFs).

The DEV-3 features a 10X optical zoom range, an autofocus system, optical image stabilization, and a battery rated for 3.5 hours of life. The binoculars support Memory Stick PRO Duo, Secure Digital, SDHC, and SDXC memory cards, and feature an HDMI output, a standard cold shoe, and a tripod thread. It will be available in November for $1,399.

The DEV-5 looks identical to the lesser model on the outside, but offers a few added bells and whistles. A digital zoom is available to supplement the 10x optical zoom, delivering a 20x maximum zoom range. Integrated GPS automatically adds your location to photos and videos. It also includes a case, strap, and eyecups, none of which ship with the DEV-3. It will also be available in November, for a suggested retail price of $1,999.

PC Magazine

Canon Pixma MG5320 review

canon-pixma-mg5320 The Canon Pixma MG5320 encourages families, work groups, and individuals to print creative photos with the help of new software features like HD Movie Print, fun photo filters, and Pixma Cloud Link. Still, we have a few complaints. The printer doesn't have an Ethernet port so you have to connect to Wi-Fi for network printing, and with no high-yield ink cartridge option, the cost of replacing all five standard-size inks can get out of hand. Despite those caveats, the MG5320 earns our recommendation for competent performance in our speed and quality tests, and the extras you get for $150 offset its connectivity shortcomings.


The Pixma MG5320 has a thinner silhouette than we're used to seeing from Canon, incorporating a unique design with folding trays to reduce its overall footprint. The printer measures 17.8 inches wide, 14.5 inches deep, and just under 7 inches tall with the paper trays folded up. At 18.3 pounds it weighs less than its beefier linemate, the Pixma MG6120, due to the rear-mounted, 150-sheet autodocument feeder (ADF) and the five internal ink tanks. With those specs, it should be relatively easy to transport around the home or office.

The MG5320 also costs $50 less than the MG6120 because it doesn't feature a touch-screen panel. We actually prefer the additional hard buttons on the control panel, as they make it easier to rapidly locate the necessary buttons to access a job. The top of the printer is home to the one-touch copy, scan, and print buttons, but you also get a tactile home button and a circular dial that clicks as you scroll through menus on the 3-inch LCD screen. You can adjust the brightness level of the display by navigating to the settings menu, and the screen can be tilted forward and backward to achieve your desired viewing angle.

The 150-sheet paper trays that fold out of the top and bottom of the MG5320 allow horizontal and vertical movement to accept a range of paper sizes from 4x6-inch snapshots all the way up to legal-size sheets. The 300-sheet overall capacity means you can store standard paper in the bottom tray and photo paper in the ADF, and a paper sensor inside automatically knows which one to grab depending on your job. The trays themselves are made of a light plastic that feels easy to break; we worry about their durability.

Setting up the printer is simple no matter how you choose to connect it to a computer, and the installation disc provides onscreen instructions guiding you through two options: 802.11 b/g/n wireless, or a simple USB cord. Most printers in this range also include an Ethernet port for wired networking in small offices, but Canon omits this key feature from the MG5320 so it can pull an extra $50 from your wallet if you opt instead for the $200 MG6120. Regardless, this won't be an issue if you're planning to use the printer at home or with a single computer.

USB setup is standard for printers and the instructions are easy to follow, and the same is true of Wi-Fi installation. If you have a wireless router with a Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) button, all you have to do is press the button and it'll automatically connect the Pixma MG5320 to your network without your needing to input your username and password. Otherwise, make sure you have that information handy.

From here, you can select either Easy Install for straightforward help, or Custom Install if you want to sort through which extra features you want--these include Easy-PhotoPrint EX for managing digital photos, MP Navigator EX to guide you through the scanning process, and Pixma Cloud Link, which lets you print directly from the Canon Image Gateway portal or a Picasa account. Keep in mind that you'll need more free storage space on your hard drive if you go with the comprehensive Easy Install.

Once installation is complete, Windows users will notice several new buttons displayed above the taskbar on the lower right side of the screen. These shortcuts are designed to give you quick access to five of the most commonly used printer functions: Scan a Document, Layout Print, Photo Print, Show Main Screen, and Hide Toolbar.

The MG5320 also includes Canon's HD Movie Print feature, which lets you pull still snapshots out of videos shot with compatible Canon HD video cameras. We tested the printer with a top-flight Canon PowerShot S95 handheld camera and were impressed with the Canon Solution Menu EX software's step-by-step instructions.

With the software you can also edit video images and prepare a moving clip for grabbing still shots from the video. It's as simple as selecting a video snippet and either capturing a group of 10 frames or hitting the "capture" button to select single images. After that, you can edit an image to reduce noise and sharpen it, and although the SD95 is only capable of 720p video resolution, the software supports true 1080p digital SLR cameras like the Canon EOS 5D Mark II. When that's finished, you can even print custom disc and jewel-case labels using the multipurpose tray installed just above the paper input tray, and you can personalize them using templates accessible through the software suite.


JVC Everio GZ-HM650 First Look

JVC_Everio_GZ-HM650 The JVC Everio GZ-HM650 is a Full HD 1920 x 1,080 pixel camcorder features 8GB of internal memory, plus a slot for supplementary SD, SDHC or SDXC card. The former allows for six-and-a-half hours of footage in UXP mode, or 9,999 photos. Footage is composed and reviewed via a flip-out and twist 2.7in, 230k pixels, touchscreen LCD. Pulling the faraway closer is a best-in-class image-stabilised 40x optical zoom. This can be digitally boosted to a 70x equivalent if desired, but with resolution dropping to standard definition as a result.

Showing its mettle in low light, the HM650 comes with an f/1.8 maximum lens aperture, plus back-illuminated 1/4.1in CMOS sensor with a total of 3.3Mp. This may not sound like much on paper, but when HD footage is roughly the equivalent of 2Mp, it’s plenty.

Lightweight even with the rechargeable battery loaded on the back – charged on the camcorder itself – the HM650 sits comfortably in the palm or a jacket pocket. With a glossy finish part disguising its plastic construction, controls are few and fall readily to hand. The large record button rests under the thumb as your forefinger hovers over the zoom switch with a ‘snapshot’ shutter release button sitting behind.

Indicating step-up potential, it’s big on user friendliness though its touchscreen icons are small. Fold out the LCD screen and the camera powers up automatically and instantly, though the lens cover has to be opened manually, with an on-screen prompt reminding you to do so. The zoom action is steady and near silent, with just a very low grinding noise; not quite as finessed as the Canon then, but the focal range here is broader. For a device of this size, detail and colour are impressive, but the sensitive built-in mic does pick up operational noise.

Aimed at a family audience, the JVC features common digital camera gizmos such as subject-recognising intelligent auto mode (with its own button), face recognition and smile-shot modes, while time lapse recording and the ability to add an animation effect to footage provides a degree of creative scope. HDMI, AV and USB output are hidden beneath the screen when it’s not in use.

PC Advisor

Olympus PEN E-P3 review

Olympus_PEN_E-P3-1 The PEN E-P3 is the third generation Micro Four Thirds camera from Olympus. It's larger than a compact camera, smaller than a digital SLR, yet it's packed with features from both camps and has a style all its own. It's easy enough for novice users to pick up and use thanks to its simple auto mode, and it's also a camera that enthusiasts and professionals will love thanks to its manual controls, interchangeable lenses and high image quality. We think it's one of the most fun cameras on the market, and this is mainly due to its ease of use and also the inclusion of cool art filters (such as Dramatic, which we pretty much used all the time

The camera itself is a good size. It feels solidly built and its handgrip makes it comfortable to hold. The shutter button has a distinct two-step feel to it and all the other dials and controls are easy to manipulate. There are two separate dials that can be used to adjust the aperture and shutter values when the camera is in manual mode; you get a dedicated video recording button, as well as two function buttons, but there is no dedicated ISO button.

The function buttons can be programmed to perform a task of your choice (from the task list shown in the menu), be it manual focus or depth of field preview, but there is no option to make one of them the ISO shortcut button. However, you have the option to assign either the timer or flash buttons to change the ISO value. We're not sure why Olympus has set it up this way, but it's something that we would change in the next version of the menu system.

The PEN E-P3 has a re-vamped menu system that doesn't show all of the camera's advanced features by default. We think is clear and easy to navigate once you get used to it, but some of the pop-up descriptions for menu items can get in the way. There is no reason to enter the menu system regularly though as simply pressing the 'ok' buttons brings up the most regularly-used functions, such as ISO mode, focus mode, exposure compensation, metering, flash type, white balance and picture size, as well as many more settings.

Once you've adjusted all your settings, you can frame your pictures using the 3in OLED screen, which we think is one of the best camera screens on the market. It's rich, bright and it even has some touch functionality. You can simply touch anywhere on the screen to focus on that part of the picture, and you can even set it so that a picture is taken every time you touch the screen. In auto mode, the touchscreen can be used to select different picture and colour modes. We like the fact that the touchscreen isn't relied upon for menu navigation, but absolutely love the fact that it makes focus operations so easy. This is one of the best improvements over the PEN E-P2.

Focusing performance is one of the key selling points of this camera. It has a dual-core processor and improved techniques for analysing a scene and focusing as quickly as possible. However, if the point of a scene that you're focusing on does not have adequate contrast, the camera will struggle to focus. When shooting indoors or outdoors in dim lighting conditions, and regardless of which lens we used (we had the twin lens kit with the 40-100mm and the 14-42mm zoom lenses), the camera refused to focus on the part of the screen that we wanted. We either had to do it manually or find a different angle with slightly different lighting. When we shot outdoors in bright conditions, the focusing performance was both very fast and accurate.

Stunning clarity and colour richness can be captured by the PEN E-P3 and it's a camera that can be used to capture images that can then be printed at large sizes. It has a 12-megapixel sensor and even when you view images at their native size they look clear. You can crop them close — even if they are shot with a high ISO speed — and they will still look well detailed.

You can use the PEN E-P3 as a normal camera and take normal shots, or you can play around with its many art filters, scene modes and borders to create something different from the norm. Some of the most fun art filters are Dramatic Tone and Cross-process, but the usual filters are present, too: Grainy film, Pop Art, Soft Focus, Pale and Light, Pin-hole and Diorama. You have the ability to slightly modify some of the filters and also to add borders around them if you wish. Basically, this camera gives you decent in-camera tools for manipulating photos so you don't have to learn how to edit photos on a PC to get weird and wonderful effects.

Olympus_PEN_E-P3_review-4 This was a handheld shot using aperture priority mode; even though the camera selected a shutter of 1/8sec, the camera's built-in image stabilisation (along with steady hands) helped capture a clear shot.

The PEN E-P3 has a built-in flash and a hot-shoe and it can accommodate an optional electronic viewfinder and external microphone. It has improved video stabilisation compared to the E-P2, but the motion in some of our shots came out a little wobbly, rather than jittery, which is what we usually get from still cameras. The stabilisation works best to counter the effects of the camera bobbing up and down as you walk. We'd still use a tripod for most video work though. Art modes can be applied in video mode, too, but the results won't be pleasing. The frame rate is reduced so severely when Art modes are applied that videos no longer resemble videos.

Overall though, this camera is a champ. Its image quality is great, its ease of use is high, it feels good to hold and it's relatively fast. We had some issues with its focusing performance in low-light situations, but for the most part it was an above-average performer in this area. We love the built-in Art filters and extensive scene modes, but its auto mode is great, too.

The only downside of this camera is that extra lenses for it will cost you a lot of money (much like a regular digital SLR). You should definitely consider picking up a twin lens kit — we used the twin lens kit with the 14-42mm (28-84mm 35mm equivalent) and 40-150mm (80-300mm 35mm equivalent) lenses and even though those lenses feel very light and a little awkward, we think they produce great results.

PC Advisor

Panasonic HDC-SD90 first look

panasonic_sd90_550 Headline features of this full-HD, MPEG-4 format camcorder include an image-stabilised 40x intelligent zoom. This boosts performance beyond the 21x optical range, with a 28mm wide-angle, f/1.8 maximum-aperture lens that proves useful for not only avoiding judder while pulling distant scenes closer, but also shoehorning landscapes and groups into frame while offering improved low-light capability.

The zoom action is smooth and silent, though the sounds of fingers operating the controls are picked up by the stereo microphone in quiet environs. The Panasonic HDC-SD90 is compatible with a 3D conversion lens (the VW-CTL1) via an adaptor ring.

The widescreen touch-screen LCD is large at 3in with 230k-dot resolution. Construction is the usual mix of sturdy plastic and metal detailing, and the Panasonic HDC-SD90 camcorder fits snugly into palm or jacket pocket. A chunky rechargeable battery clicks into place at the back and the lens is protected with an automatic slide-shut cover.

Powering up in just over a second, the Panasonic HDC-SD90 commits footage to removable SD card. Panasonic suggests the quality is beyond that normally defined by 1920x1080 pixel images thanks to a Crystal Engine processor.

A point-and-shoot iA (intelligent Auto) mode ably identifies what the user is attempting to shoot – using functions including face detection, scene selection and AF tracking – and adjusts the Panasonic HDC-SD90 camcorder’s recording parameters to keep the subject sharp.

A Smile Shot function prompts the Panasonic HDC-SD90 to automatically fire off a photo when it detects a smiling face as you’re filming.

Alternatively, the Panasonic HDC-SD90 can be set to shoot stills of up to 5-megapixels via a slider switch on its right-hand flank that, as well as video capture, also features the playback option.

There’s the option of using a card reader plus AV, HDMI and USB output ports. In short, here is a device comparable with the semi-enthusiast Canon in terms of quality, yet boasting a smaller form factor more in common with an entry-level camcorder.

PC Advisor

Samsung E1182

Samsung-E1182 Samsung E1182 Specifications :

General 2G Network GSM 900 / 1800
  Announced 2011, April
  Release 2011, Q3
Size Dimensions 106.9 x 44.4 x 13.9 mm
  Weight 68 g
Display Type CSTN, 65K colors
  Size 128 x 128 pixels, 1.52 inches
Sound Alert Type Vibration, MP3 ringtones
  Loud Speaker Yes
Memory Phonebook Yes, up to 500 entries
  Call Records Yes
  Card Slot No
Data GPRS No
  3G No
  Bluetooth No
  Infrared port No
  USB No
Camera   No
Features Messaging SMS
  Radio FM radio
  Browser No
  Colors Black
  GPS No
    - Dual SIM (dual stand-by)
- Organizer
- Voice memo
- Predictive text input
Battery   Standard battery, Li-Ion 1000 mAh
  Stand-by Up to 620 h
  Talk time Up to 11 h
  Music Play  

Olympus TOUGH TG-310 rugged digital camera

Olympus-TOUGH-TG-310-rugged -digitalcamera The Olympus TOUGH TG-310 is an entry-level rugged camera that's perfect for the beach and any other general outdoor adventure. It can survive drops from 1.5m and can withstand underwater pressure down to 3m. It's also dust-proof and freeze-proof, but not scratch-proof. It shouldn't be relied on for high-quality images, but its quality is good enough for happy snaps that will be shared online or viewed on a big-screen TV or photo frame.

The TG-310 has a nice overall styling and it's reasonably easy to use for a rugged device. Its buttons have a rubber seal on them so that water can't get between them and the camera body. The menu navigation buttons are tactile, but the zoom buttons are very squishy and it can be hard to tell if you've pressed them, especially on a bright day — like most cameras, the TG-310's 2.7in screen can't be seen easily in bright daylight unless you do your best to shield it from the sun.

Olympus-TOUGH-TG-310-rugged -digitalcamera.1 The shutter button has a distinct two-step feel to it and the camera is comfortable to hold. The location of the lens at the top-left corner of the body means that you have to be a little careful while holding the camera, as you don't want a stray finger to get in the way while you're shooting. The lens has a wide angle of 28mm (with its 3.6x optical zoom, it has a range up to 102mm) and it sits in front of a 14-megapixel sensor.

Image quality is adequate overall, but definition is lost when you view the images at their native size. They are best viewed at up to a Full HD resolution. Any bigger than that and they will look too messy. We shot in iAuto mode for the most part, and the camera did a reasonably good job of exposing our photos, even in trying conditions. On camera such as this one, you won't want to play around with the controls and menu options a lot, especially while you are underwater. Keeping the camera in iAuto mode will produce good enough results for all types of lighting conditions. You will just have to be mindful to disable the flash.

Olympus-TOUGH-TG-310-rugged -digitalcamera.2 There is also a Program mode that can be used when you want to tweak the ISO, exposure compensation and white balance. It's useful if you want to take photos without the camera selecting a high ISO speed, which will introduce plenty of noticeable noise to most photos. There are also plenty of scene modes and Art modes (they are called Magic Filters in this camera). You do get some fun stuff, such as Pop Art, Pin Hole, Sparkle, Soft Focus and Fish Eye modes. It also has a nifty Panorama scene mode that allows you to take three consecutive pictures simply by lining up a target with a bullseye. The camera pieces all the photos together itself and tends to cut out some information in order to get the picture looking straight, but it's nevertheless quite a fun scene mode to use.

PC World

Olympus XZ-1 compact digital camera

Olympus-XZ-1-compact-digital-camera The Olympus XZ-1 is positively fun to use. It's one of those cameras that makes you want to go out and take photos. A lot of that has to do with its size, which is compact; yet despite its small dimensions, it also contains relatively easy to use manual controls. It's reminiscent of the Canon PowerShot S95 and it definitely gives it good competition when it comes to ease of use and image quality.

The Olympus XZ-1 has a 10-megapixel CCD sensor and a 4x optical zoom with a range of 28-112mm. It's a fast lens with a wide f/1.8 aperture, and this is even wider than the lens found on the Canon PowerShot S95 (f/2.0). It allows the XZ-1 to be used in low-light situations and combined with built-in optical image stabilisation, the camera can capture handheld shots clearly even when a shutter speed as low as 1/10 is used.

We think the Olympus XZ-1 is great for both enthusiasts and professional users who want a high-quality compact on those days when they can't (or are too lazy to) carry the old digital SLR. The manual features of the camera allow for custom exposure settings to be tuned in; the ring around the lens can be used to manipulate the aperture and the rotational thumb control on the rear can be used to change the shutter.

There a couple of things about the control scheme that we would change: we'd put in a dedicated ISO button and we'd also make it easier to change focus modes. As it stands, to change focus modes you have to make up to three button presses. We do like the way the focus point can be changed with the press of one button, though, so it's not all bad.

Olympus-XZ-1-compact-digital-camera.1 Perhaps the best thing about the Olympus XZ-1 camera is its OLED screen. It looks vibrant and has wide viewing angles. Like most screens, it can't be viewed easily in the brightness of day unless you shade it, but it only requires one hand above the screen blocking the direct sun to be viewable again. What you see on the screen is generally what gets committed to the SD card, and this means that you don't have to fiddle around much with the settings, nor take multiple shots in order to get the look you want.

In auto mode, the Olympus XZ-1 has a tendency to overexpose images, but only slightly. Its overall performance in this mode is very good and it means that anyone can just pick up this camera, point it, and with the aid of the OLED screen, capture good looking images. In manual mode, the camera helps out by letting you know if the image is properly exposed. The exposure meter will flash in red if the scene is underexposed — simply play with the aperture or shutter until the meter gets to zero and you'll be right.

If you want to get artsy, then you can turn the camera's mode dial to 'Art' and rotate the lens ring to pick one of seven different Art modes. These modes can make your pictures more vibrant, more dramatic, softer or grainier; it can give them dark corners and even make objects look smaller. It's one of the features that makes the XZ-1 so much fun to use — we had way too much fun using the Dramatic Tone filter.

As for the camera's regular, non-art mode quality, it's very good. Pictures are captured with rich colours and they are well defined. Some detail is lost when images are viewed at their native size, but unless you crop your images heavily, this should not be too much of a problem. Noise starts to creep in at ISO 800 and we recommend not using such a high ISO with this camera. With such a wide aperture available, you should be able to get away with a lower sensitivity in most cases.

Olympus-XZ-1-compact-digital-camera.2 The Olympus XZ-1 has a built-in pop-up flash, but it doesn't have an electronic viewfinder; there is an option for one (VF-2). It can capture Full HD video (up to seven minutes) and the art filters can even be used while shooting video. Some frames will be dropped when shooting with an art filter, but it's nevertheless a great feature that can be used on short videos. You have the ability to zoom while shooting video and the camera will focus automatically. We found the overall video quality to be very good, but the sound wasn't. Luckily, there is an optional stereo microphone that can be plugged into the hot-shoe (SEMA-1).

The speed of the Olympus XZ-1 camera is good. Shot to shot performance won't lag noticeably while the previous image gets written to memory and burst mode is capable of capturing around 2 frames per second for around nine shots before it slows down. The biggest performance hit comes when using the Pin Hole or Diorama filter, as the images on the screen refresh very slowly.

All things considered, we really like the Olympus XZ-1. It's easy to use, yet it has good manual features. But most importantly, it's a fun camera to use and it has interesting art filters to play with, too. We also like the screen and the fact that it mostly displays exactly what will be captured to the SD card. We wish the shutter speed was a little faster than 1/2000, and we'd change a few things about the controls and make a few things easier to access, but overall there isn't too much to dislike about this camera. It would make a useful travel camera, a fun party camera and it can even be a worthwhile addition to a professional's photography kit.

PC World