New and Noteworthy Photo Gear
The first thing that strikes you when you see Casio's new Exilim EX-G1 is its wedge-like shape. With few exceptions, most point-and-shoot cameras are as boxy as a '64 Chevy Impala. Not so Casio's Exilim EX-G1, which has lines reminiscent of the far sexier-looking '65 Chevy Impala, a car that to this day remains a true head-turner. (What a difference a year makes!)
|1964 Chevy Impala||
1965 Chevy Impala
(So much nicer...no?)
Graceful lines aside, Casio's Exilim EX-G1 has a lot going for it in terms of thoughtful design elements, functionality and rugged construction. What's especially appealing about the EX-G1 is the meaty size of the controls relative to its overall size.
While most point-and-shoot digicams feature control buttons so small you need a jeweler's loupe to read them, the Exilim EX-G1 has controls designed to be used easily and quickly on land or underwater, with or without gloves. And while there's nothing wrong with making a fashion statement, the EX-G1, which is available in a choice of Red and Black, is actually designed to be used as opposed to merely matching your wardrobe.
The Exilim EX-G1 is waterproof down to 10' (2.13 m), shock-resistant to falls up to 7', dustproof, and freeze-proof down to 14°F (10°C). Along with being quite thin (.79"), the EX-G1's 6.66 - 19.98mm (38-114mm equivalent) zoom lens doesn't pop out like a telescope as you zoom through its focal range, but remains fixed behind a glass porthole regardless of the focal length.
High-res JPEGs and AVI video files (with monaural sound) are captured via the EX-G1's 12MP CCD imaging sensor and can be viewed on the camera's 2.5" (230,400-dot) TFT LCD. You can also shoot time-lapse stills and video by setting the camera to 10-second, 30-second, 1-minute, or
3-minute intervals for stills, and 3, 10, 20, or 30-minute intervals for video clips. The Exilim EX-G1 contains 35.7 MB of internal memory, and also accepts microSD/SDHC memory cards.
The Well-Connected Camera
Considering the three types of wireless signals that Samsung's CL65 digital cameras can handle, you might wonder why Samsung bothers including a USB cable at all. File transfer aside, the cable is still needed to charge the battery either by computer or using the included electric plug adapter. Otherwise, between its Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capabilities plus geo tagging from its built-in GPS receiver, each CL65 model is better connected than a lobbyist in Congress.
Available in red or silver, the CL65 does everything you'd expect from a point-and-share touchscreen camera. The 12.2 Megapixel camera with 5x optical zoom can capture still images and 720p high-def video (H.264 at 30 frames per second) to its 100 Megabytes of internal memory. But since you'll use that up in one burst of enthusiasm, you'll want to pop in a microSD card.
Gestures rule. Drawing your finger across the 3.5-inch wide LCD touchscreen brings up the next or previous file. Drawing an X deletes a photo. Drawing a circle rotates a photo. You can point the auto focus to a particular point in the frame by touching one of up to nine areas on the screen. You can touch and hold a subject on the screen to take the photo. Smart Touch AF will cause a focus frame to appear around a subject you want to track and follow him or her as you move the camera. Samsung makes it hard for you to take a bad picture. You can set the camera to automatically release the shutter only when it sees a smiling face. If the camera detects closed eyes, it will automatically take two successive photos.
The CL65 is as much about what happens after you take the picture as taking the picture. The camera lists available Wi-Fi networks and once you've selected one, you can send email to various addresses (an onscreen keyboard is provided) or upload content to Picasa, YouTube, or Facebook. I sent photos to myself without turning on a computer. The screen capture below shows the email from the camera once I did turn on the computer.
In case you're wondering why if the Samsung CL65 camera is so smart, it referred to itself as the ST1000 in the email, that's because ST1000 is the CL65's model number in Europe.
Beyond using Wi-Fi to send email or upload content to a Web site, the camera is Digital Living Network Alliance-certified. So, if you have a TV set or media receiver that is also DLNA compliant, you can transmit photos to the big screen without attaching a cable. If you have another CL65, you can send photos directly to it wirelessly. If you have a Bluetooth-enabled mobile phone or PDA, you can send photos wirelessly from the camera via Bluetooth.
I had some complaints. The touch interface is less than intuitive. For instance, the touch screen button to switch from taking stills to video is buried. I wish there was a hard button for shifting to camcorder mode. And the trio of radio frequencies employed by the camera drained the battery sooner than I expected, leaving me without the means to capture the awe of speeding trains kicking up snow and sparks on the sunny morning after a storm. You'd be prudent to take along a spare lithium-ion battery like the Samsung SLB-11A.
The Samsung CL65 is an exceptionally versatile point and shoot camera/camcorder and Internet delivery vehicle. If sharing your pictures and videos is as important as taking them, you'll like this socially-connected camera.
SanDisk Extreme Pro
The speed and capabilities of the modern DSLR have exploded in recent years. Today's pro cameras boast insane resolution, fast burst rates, and broadcast quality HD video. The only thing more incredible than these features is the speed at which they chew up space on a memory card. Speed-intensive tasks require high speed memory cards. For professionals and other discerning image makers, SanDisk's all-new Extreme Pro CompactFlash Cards offer the fastest data transfer rates available.
The cards utilize the Ultra Direct Memory Access 6 classification, and can read and write information at up to 90 megabytes per second. UDMA 6 is compatible with the latest flagship bodies from Canon and Nikon. Whether you're capturing HD video with the EOS 1D Mark IV or rapid-firing the D3S, the new Extreme Pros keep pace with all that you do. The technology is backwards-compatible with UDMA 5 cameras like the Canon 5D Mark II and Sony Alpha A900. The cards will even work with non-UDMA bodies-though read/write speeds probably won't tick much above 30 megabytes per second.
In every one of our B&H tests, the SanDisk Extreme Pro cards enhanced the performance of the latest UDMA-enabled DSLRs. With the Nikon D3S, we were able to blast off 41 RAW + JPEGs (14-bit NEF, JPEG Large Fine). This raises the camera's already impressive performance by 12%. Shooting JPEG only, the camera throttled through 130 frames before slowing down. That's an impressive gain of 31%
The big show came from the Canon EOS 7D. Shooting Large JPEGs, the camera fired an astounding 255 continuous frames. That's an incredible performance gain of more than 50%! Video recording was smooth and consistent-no blips, slow-downs, or shut-downs.
Sure, they cost more than SanDisk's 60MB/sec Extreme cards, but the new Extreme Pros offer significant speed advantages to let you shoot faster with little or no down-time. In all of our shooting tests, the cards yielded double digit performance enhancements. This provides an edge that could make the difference between hitting or missing the shot-and you can't put a price tag on the critical shot.
Available in 16, 32, and 64GB sizes, the SanDisk Extreme Pro cards are among the fastest and most spacious CompactFlash offerings on the market. As with other members of the Extreme family, they are highly resistant to moisture and humidity and can perform in extreme environments (-13° to 185°F / -25°C to 85°C). For fast transfer to your Mac or PC, pick up SanDisk's Extreme FireWire CF Reader.
All SanDisk Extreme Pro cards include a free 1-Year trial of Rescue Pro Software (via download), a protective case, and a limited lifetime warranty.
Epson Artisan 810
The Epson Artisan 810, clad in a rather attractive glossy black casing, is a faxing, scanning, printing 'all-in-one' that performs each of these chores quite well. Some of the features found on the Artisan 810 include a 30-page Auto Document Feeder, automatic 2-sided printing, Auto Photo Correction of digital photos with on-screen preview, a photo restoration feature, dual input paper trays, and the ability to program slide shows on the built-in 3.5" color LCD.
Operating the Artisan 810 is a piece of cake starting with the 7.8" touch-panel display with a 3.5" LCD, which tilts upward for easy reading, and features clear menus and easy-to-identify icons. Aside from a USB port, the Artisan 810 features built-in Ethernet and WiFi functionality(WiFi 802.11 b/g, compatible with 802.11 n, Ethernet - 10/100), as well as slots for CompactFlash, SD, xD, MultiMedia, and Memory Stick Pro memory cards.The Artisan 810 enables you to charge your cell phone and MP3 player, and you have the ability to plug in an optional Bluetooth Photo Print Adapter.
The flatbed scanner portion of the Artisan 810 has an optical resolution of 4800 dpi, a maximum resolution of 9600 x 9600 dpi (interpolated), and 48-bit color. Scanned document and artwork can be scanned to memory cards, USB flash drives, to PCs, or networks. As for faxing documents, the Epson Artisan 810 has a transmission speed of 33.6 Kb ps (about 3 seconds per page).
The Artisan 810 features Epson's 6-color (K, M, Mm, Y, C, Cc) Ultra Hi-Definition Claria ink, which are printed through MicroPiezoDX5 print heads (1.5 picoliter dots), which together produce brightly-colored smudge, scratch, and water-resistant prints that should last about 98 years behind glass and up to 200 years in an album. Print sizes range from 4 x 6" through 8.5 x 14" (Legal size), and you can print photo-quality images at a maximum print resolution of 5760 x 1440 dpi. The Artisan 810 can bang out a 4x6" print in as little as 10 seconds, and can also print labels and artwork onto CDs and DVDs.
The Epson Artisan 810 is Mac & Windows compatible, and comes with Epson Print CD, Web to Page, Epson Scan, ArcSoft Print Creations, Epson scanner drivers, Presto, and PageManager software. The Artisan 810 also includes a 2-year limited warranty with toll-free customer support.
Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM
With its fast focusing, large aperture, and optical image stabilization, Canon's 70-200mm f/2.8L IS lens has been the go-to zoom telephoto for pros and advanced image makers for years. With the announcement of the forth-coming 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II, Canon ups the ante with an all-new optical formula and an enhanced, user-friendly design.
The new 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II adds an additional piece of UD glass to the previous formula for a total of 5 ultra-low dispersion elements. By incorporating a high-quality fluorite element at the center of the optic, instances of chromatic aberration are reduced, while simultaneously boosting contrast and sharpness throughout the entire zoom range. The previous generation 70-200mm f/2.8L IS was quite a capable lens, but sometimes came off a little soft on the long end. This wasn't a deal-breaker, but attention to user feedback and a rethinking of the previous design have certainly weighed heavily on the roadmap. Expect a significantly higher level of resolving power from the new optic at 200mm.
Despite the dramatic redesign on the interior of the lens, the new 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II maintains nearly the same size and weight specs as its predecessor. Both lenses are about 7.8" in length and weigh in just under 3.5 lbs. The form factor offers some well-considered updates, however. The new 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II offers a wider manual focusing ring for precision photo and video applications. Refined AF, IS, and Focusing Distance switches now boast a significantly lower profile. A direct response to user feedback, the new switches should keep shooters from accidentally changing settings on the go.
Look for the new 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II when it goes on sale later this year.