Though inexpensive flash memory camcorders have been snapped up by consumers in droves in recent years, even casual users recognize their severe limitations. Typically, these devices offer a lackluster lens, provide only digital zoom, and perform poorly in dim light or an unsteady hand. Manual controls, touch screens, and GPS simply aren't included in the equipment. All this helps explain why cameras that record to tape or hard disks continue to be preferred by home video enthusiasts.
In our last newsletter we covered a number of products designed to lighten your load when heading out the door with photo gear in tow. Based on your feedback (quite positive, thank you!), we decided to poke around the store a bit further to see what other items we carry for light & compact photo trekking. Compact flash guns and small tripods sturdy enough to use without cussing topped the list, so here goes.
But let's review the similarities. In our hands-on look at the HDR-FX1000, we noted all the great new features and improvements Sony brought to its replacement of the prosumer HDR-FX1. Those same upgrades apply to the HVR-Z5U, which we were also lucky enough to spend some face-time with prior to its official December release.
Video cameras seem to be getting more and more complex, which can be a blessing and a curse. Even the basic "record-your-son's-football-game" camera seems to have features today that were unimaginable only a few years ago. Sony now has a camera that can detect whether or not someone is smiling. Sounds more like science fiction to me. While these new features can be useful in a variety of ways, getting the best possible footage is always paramount. The truth is that the most critical settings are always the most universal. They include white balance, shutter speed, and audio levels.
Continuing our discussion of the year's most interesting lenses, let's revisit those exciting announcements as they pertain to digital SLRs. In 2008 we had PMA, Photokina and PhotoPlus - the trifecta of photographic expositions. These shows brought forth a plethora of delectable tools for both the serious and budding photographer. The following overview is in reverse-alphabetical order (as a change) so we begin with Sony.
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