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For the better part of a decade, Canon PowerShot A-Series cameras have offered a respectable set of features at an affordable price. Excellent resolution, sharp Canon optics, and quality handling have made the cameras extremely popular with budget conscious shutterbugs. Though never quite as compact or sleek as the Digital ELPH line, the PowerShot A-Series has always been renowned for capturing high-quality images with ease.
The all-new PowerShot A3100 IS and A3000 IS cameras retain the quality hallmarks of the A-Series, but with a much stronger emphasis on design. Incredibly slim and stylish, the slick looks of these new point-and-shoots are giving their higher priced siblings a run for the money.
The A3100 IS and A3000 IS measure just over an inch thick-perfect companions for the pocket or handbag. Their subtle, rounded lines and logical controls demand to be touched. Photos are easily composed and reviewed on the cameras' bright 2.7" LCD screens. Slightly larger navigation buttons and the top-mounted A-Series mode dial make accessing features an intuitive, enjoyable experience. Can a beautiful camera make you want to take pictures? Oh, yes.
Beneath the slick exterior, Canon has beefed up both cameras with a feature set not often found in the entry market. Good low light performance, wide-to-medium telephoto lens coverage, advanced face detection, and genuine optical image stabilization have been refined to a level befitting a higher class of pocket camera. Of course the biggest draws of the A3100 IS and A3000 IS are the next generation of Canon Scene Modes and Smart AUTO technology.
Scene Modes invite shooters to embrace their inner creativity without complicating the picture taking experience. Super Vivid and Poster Effect, the latest additions to Scene Mode line-up, make it easy to punch up color saturation and create an in-camera pop-art effect. New Smart AUTO technology makes taking great pictures easier than ever before. Using an advanced set of scene recognition algorithms, the camera automatically identifies the scene you compose and intelligently assigns one of 18 predefined shooting modes. From night landscapes to children at play, Smart AUTO makes taking great pictures as easy as point and click.
Similar in every way, with the exception of resolution (the A3100 IS offers 12.1 megapixels; the A3000 IS has 10.0 megapixels), these excellent little cameras are bringing some much-needed freshness to the entry-level point-and-shoot market. The A3100 IS is available in red, blue, and silver. The A3000 IS ships in silver with black trim. Both cameras are fully compatible with SD/SDHC and the latest SDXC memory cards for up to 2TB of storage space. In another A-Series first, the A3100 IS and A3000 IS ship with rechargeable lithium ion batteries.
Borrowing heavily from the look of the A3100 IS, the new PowerShot A495 deserves some attention, as well. Powered by readily-available AA batteries, this handy pocket snapper offers many of the same conveniences found in cameras twice the price. Again, the high-order bid is Canon Scene Modes and Smart AUTO technology. The production value of these combined features is a testament to Canon's commitment to quality point-and-shoot photography.
Pricing is very attractive (under $130)-especially when considering design and included features. The A495 has the familiar rounded lines of the A3100 IS, but the body is ever-so-slightly thicker. It's almost like carrying a small bar of soap in your pocket-if the soap had a sharp, 3.3x zoom lens, 10.0 megapixels, and the ability to take great pictures. The PowerShot A495 ships in red, blue, and silver. The PowerShot A490 (essentially an A495 sans some of the newer Scene Modes) is available in silver with black trim and sells for under $110.
An improved version of Sweep Panorama mode - the innovative, wide-field imaging feature introduced last year at PMA 2009 - is now included in all of the latest 'W-series' Sony Cyber-shots introduced at CES 2010. The updated version includes better rendition of moving subjects, which had a tendency to 'strobe' or look foreshortened in the original release. Depending on the widest focal length of the camera lens, the new Cyber-shots can capture in-camera panoramic images with angles-of-view ranging from 243° to 268°.
Other Sony imaging technologies found in each of the new Cyber-shots include Optical SteadyShot image stabilization, Intelligent Auto (iAuto) mode, Easy mode, which should remove any lingering doubts about whether you can take a digital picture, and Smile Shutter technology for frown-less pix of Aunt Trudy. In a ground-breaking nod to public preferences, all Cyber-shot digicams now support SD/SDHC memory cards in addition to Sony-devised MemoryStick Pro Duo cards.
In the 'neat tricks in a svelte body' category, the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX7 takes top prize. Available in blue, red, and silver, the very-pocketable TX7 contains a 10.2 Mp Exmor R CMOS imaging sensor, which can capture up to 10 full-resolution images-per-second as well as 1080i AVCHD and HD MP4, (16:9) movie modes. A 4x wide angle Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar zoom (25-100mm equivalent for stills) records the action which can be viewed and edited on the TX7's bright, easy-to-view 3.5" Touchscreen display. Along with optical image stabilization, the TX7 features Sony's unique Handheld Twilight Mode, which enables sharp hand-held stills under low light conditions by capturing 6 rapid-burst images and stitching the sharpest, most detailed portions of each into a single optimized image.
For combating lost shadow details in contrasty and/or backlit scenes, the Sony DSC-TX7 features Backlight Correction HDR. And for capturing dramatic landscape imagery, or simply to capture images in the tightest of quarters, the TX7 can record in-camera Sweep Panorama images up to 243° wide. The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX7 supports Memory Stick PRO and DUO PRO media up to 32GB.
Available in silver, red, and green is the Sony Cyber-shot W370, which in addition to Handheld Twilight Mode and in-camera 243° Sweep Panorama image mode, features a 14.1 MP Super HAD CCD imaging sensor, a 7x (34-238mm equivalent for stills and 37-259mm equivalent for video) Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar zoom, and a 3" Clear Photo LCD (230,400-dot).
Other features found in the W370 include Intelligent Scene Recognition (iSCN), a Self-Portrait Self-Timer, an Anti-Blink detector, ISO ratings up to 3200, an HD MP4 movie mode, a Dynamic Range Optimizer, and a handy built-in Function Guide if you should somehow find yourself lost along the way. The Sony Cyber-shot W370 accepts Memory Stick Duo, Memory Stick PRO Duo, Memory Stick PRO-HG Duo, and SD/SDHC memory cards.
For those seeking wider fields of view, the Sony Cyber-shot W350 sports a 4x Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar zoom with a focal length equivalent of a 26-105mm lens (37-149mm for video). Available in black, blue, pink, and silver, the W350 also features a 14.1 Mp Super HAD CCD sensor, a 2.7" LCD, a Sweep Panorama Mode for images up to 185° wide, a BIONZ image processor, iSCN, a Self-Portrait Timer, Intelligent AF, Dynamic Range Optimizer (Standard & Plus), In-camera Retouching tools, PhotoTV HD, and HD 720p Movie mode. The Cyber-shot W350 can record images onto Memory Stick Duo, PRO Duo, and PRO HG-Duo at ISO ratings up to 3200.
Slightly smaller is the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W330, which is available in black, blue, silver, & red. Packing a 14.1MP imaging sensor and a 3.0" LCD, the W330 features a Carl Zeiss 4x zoom with a wide-angle equivalency of 26mm. Technologies in it include iAuto, Face Detection, Smile shutter™ technology, SteadyShot digital image stabilization
Slightly simpler and lower-priced is Sony's Cyber-shot DSC-W310, which features a 12MP CCD imaging sensor, and a 4x zoom with a wide angle equivalency of a 28mm lens, and a 2w.7" LCD. The Cyber-shot DSC-W310 is available in Black, Pink, and Silver.
The Sony Cyber-shot S2100 delivers sharp pictures in an attractive, simple-to-use package. AA battery powered, the Cyber-shot S2100 features a 12.1Mp Super HAD CCD sensor, an Intelligent Scene Recognition (iSCN) mode which offers the user a choice of 9 scene-matching shooting modes, an 'auto-everything' Intelligent Auto Mode (iAuto), ISO levels up to 3200, and a set of in-camera Retouching Tools.
Casio introduced four Exilim cameras with optical zoom lenses that extend the telescopic length of its predecessors. The Casio Exilim EX-FH100 (above) is a 10 Megapixel digital camera and the EX-H15 is a 14MP camera that despite their compact bodies each contains a lens capable of 10x zoom and a generous wide angle of 24mm. They both record high-def video at 720p.
The EX-FH100 features Casio's well-publicized burst mode, which makes it possible to take 40 shots per second. The camera can be set to a mode called Prerecord Continuous Shutter, so users will be less likely to miss a critical moment even if they're slow to press the shutter. In movie mode, the EX-FH100 can record 120-, 240-, 420-, or 1000 frames per second (fps), so that playback will reveal, for example, the wing gyrations of a hummingbird or the minutia of a golf swing. (One second of a clip recorded at 420 fps takes about 14 seconds to play at the normal speed of 30 fps.) The EX-FH100 incorporates a back-illuminated 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor that according to Casio boasts nearly twice the usual sensitivity, producing low-noise photos in dim lighting. The camera, which includes 89.5 Megabytes (MB) of built-in memory, can capture RAW still images. It sports a 3-inch TFT color LCD displaying 960 x 240 pixels. The EX-FH100 weighs 8 ounces with battery and memory card.
Joining the EX-H15 in the category of 14MP cameras are the Exilim EX-Z2000 (above) with a 5x zoom and 26mm wide angle and the Exilim EX-Z550 (below) with a 4x zoom and 26mm wide angle. They all can record video at 720p. The EX-Z2000 will be available in black, pink, red, silver, or violet; the EX-Z550 in black, blue, pink, red, or silver. The EX-H15, EX-Z2000, and EX-Z550 all incorporate Casio's Dynamic Photo function that enables users to edit and combine different moving images in the camera itself. Introduced last year with the capability to combine a moving image with a still background image, Dynamic Photo now enables you to composite one moving image against another. You can upload the results to YouTube or post them on a blog.
The image sensor in the EX-H15, EX-Z2000, and EX-Z550 is a1/2.3-inch square pixel CCD. The EX-H15 and EX-Z2000 both contain 73.8 MB of built-in memory and 3-inch LCD displays; the EX-Z550, 24.5MB and a 2.7-inch screen. All of these Casio cameras contain a SD/SDHC memory card slot. With battery and memory card, the EX-H15 weighs 7.2 oz.; the EX-Z2000, 5.3 oz.; and the EX-Z550, 4.8 oz.
Hoping to flummox competitors with a volley of Lumix models, Panasonic launched its new FP3, FP1, F3, and FH cameras. All are memory card compatible with the ultra-high capacity SDXC format. (See Thanks for the Memory Cards.)
The 14.1 Megapixel Lumix FP3 (above left) contains a 3-inch touch LCD, while the Lumix FP1 (above right) offers 12.1 megapixels and a 2.7-inch non-touch screen. Each camera's slim profile is maintained even when zoomed to take a picture due to a prism that enables the lens to extend internally. Both build upon the folded optics architecture introduced in the DMC-FP8 last year. The FP8 was able to provide a 28-128mm equivalent wide-angle 4.6x optical zoom; the FP3 and FP1 each incorporate a 35-140mm 4x lens.
In composing your picture with the touch model, you can simply touch the portion of the image to prioritize the focus. In playback mode, you can just drag your finger across the screen to see the next image. Both models' LCDs automatically increase in brightness to be better visible in daylight. Both FP-series models contain a 4x optical zoom with a folded optics design so the front has a flat, smooth design, featuring a newly-adopted sliding cover that protects the lens and doubles as the camera's power switch. New to the FP-series is high definition video recording (1280 x 720p) at 30 frames per second. The FP3 models will come in black, navy, or silver; the FP1 in black, blue, pink, red, or silver. The FP series is expected to be available this spring.
Panasonic's unveiling of the FH-series brings to the Lumix family three models that share one-inch-deep waist lines, wide-angle zoom lenses, and 720p high-definition video capture at 30 frames per second. The FH-series cameras are bundled with PhotofunStudio software for seamless uploading to YouTube. The top model is the DMC-FH20 (above), a 14.1 Megapixel camera with a 28mm lens with 8x optical zoom. It features a 2.7-inch LCD and optical image stabilization. It will be available later this year in black, red, silver, or violet.
Also registering 14.1 Megapixels is the Lumix FH3 in black or silver. The main difference is that the FH3 has a 5x optical zoom. Completing the FH trio is the Lumix FH1 in black or silver. It also has a 5x optical zoom, but the resolution tops out at 12 Megapixels.
The Lumix DMC-F3 is an entry-level digital camera (above) in silver or black that features a 12.1 Megapixel CCD equipped with a 28mm wide-angle lens to 4x (112mm) optical zoom. The F3 is capable of increasing its zoom ratio to 7.8x by dropping the resolution down to 3 Megapixels. The camera includes a 2.7-inch LCD and digital image stabilization. Though pricing wasn't announced, the F3 is expected to be less than $200.
All of Olympus's new compact models being released early this year are equipped with SD card slots, the company having retreated from the xD or MicroSD card slots seen on previous models.
The Olympus Stylus Tough 3000 digital camera (below) features a rugged body meant to withstand a 5-foot drop, water depths up to 10 feet, and temperatures as low as 14 degrees Fahrenheit. The 12 Megapixel camera, expected to be available in February in blue, pink, green, or red, features a 28mm wide angle lens with 3.6x zoom and 720p high-def video recording. There's HDMI output (cable not included) for direct playback on your HDTV set. By the way, Olympus has taken the unusual step of orienting front panel labeling to subjects being shot in portrait mode, but we suspect you'll more often be holding the camera in landscape position to fill the widescreen real estate of your TV or monitor.
Olympus introduced two models in its popular FE series: the FE-4020 and FE-47. According to Olympus, the FE line might be construed as high fashion. The FE-4020's sleek double-layered crystal shell utilizes silk printing and a pearl-like mirror finish to give the cameras a classy, transparent look. The cameras come in a variety of colors. The FE-4020 is available in warm gray, pearl white, light pink, and light blue. As you can see from the blue model (above), two different tones of blue actually complete the finish. The FE-47 (below) comes in silver, black, red, and blue. Getting down to basics, all the FE models are 14 Megapixel cameras with 2.7-inch LCDs. The FE-4020's 4x zoom lens goes from 26mm to 105mm; the FE-47's 5x lens from 36mm to 180mm. Both models can take VGA-resolution movies. The FE-47 is expected to be available in late January with a $120 street price; the FE-4020 in February at $150.
Olympus also unveiled its most advanced lineup of premium Stylus cameras: the Stylus 7030, Stylus 7040, and Stylus 5010. All can capture still images at up to 14 Megapixels and high definition video at 720p. The models contain HDMI outputs for direct connection to your HDTV set. Besides seeing photos in high resolution and video in high-def (neither is possible with conventional composite video connections), HDMI also provides a back path so that you can use the TV's own remote to control playback while you sink into the sofa. (The HDMI cable isn't included.) Another feature common to these cameras is AF Tracking technology that keeps fast-moving and capricious subjects like young children, dogs, and goats in focus.
The Stylus 7030 (above) is notable for containing 1GB of internal memory, so you won't need to fill the SD card slot right away. The camera contains a wide-angle 7x optical zoom lens (28mm to 196mm equivalent). The 7030s will be available this February in blue, purple, or titanium at a street price of $200.
The new top-of-the-line Stylus is the 7040 (above). It contains a generous 2GB of internal memory and a spacious 3-inch LCD monitor. Like the 7030, the camera incorporates a wide angle 7x optical zoom (28mm to 196mm) lens. Available in blue, pink, or titanium this February, the 7040 will carry a street price of $250.
For a slimmer body with a shorter zoom, the Stylus 5010 (above) incorporates a wide angle 5x optical zoom (26mm to 130mm) lens. There's 1GB of built-in memory and a 2.7-inch LCD monitor. The color choices are blue, pink, or titanium. The model is expected in February with a street price of $200.
There's no denying the cool factor of an ultra-slim point-and-shoot camera. Stylish and easy to carry, the form factor presents itself as the combination of a pocket camera, fashion accessory, and genuine object of desire. For many manufactures, developing an attractive slim-line body would be enough, but the folks at Kodak wanted to do something more.
As a camera, the 0.7" thin Kodak SLICE boasts 14 megapixel resolution, a 5x optical zoom lens, and even records 720p HD video. But beneath its svelte exterior, lies the big story: a powerful set of organizational features developed for the modern digital lifestyle. Utilizing a brilliant 3.5" touch-display, photos and video can be intuitively organized by person, place, event, or any manual tag you choose to create. These tags are automatically applied to your image files and can be read by popular photo management software. How cool is that?
With the SLICE, organizing photos is literally at your fingertips. Touch a face with your finger and drag it to the SLICE Search icon. You can quickly locate all of the pictures of your friends or family members (up to 20 unique persons) by touch. With gesture-based controls, it's never been easier to sort through your digital memories.
The SLICE ships with 2GB of internal memory and can be expanded with micoSD/microSDHC cards. Shoot and share? That's easy, too. Simply connect the SLICE to your Mac or PC via USB. On the touch-display you'll have the option to upload individual photos and videos or entire albums directly to Facebook, Kodak Gallery, Flicker, or YouTube.
The one-touch sharing philosophy carries over to Kodak's other new point-and-shoot cameras, as well. The latest M580, M575, M550, and M530 cameras all feature Kodak's Share Button App-the easiest way to shoot and share. In addition to Facebook, Kodak Gallery, Flicker, and YouTube, the M-Series also supports email sharing.
At the top of the M-Series, the M580 and M575 offer 14 megapixel imaging, 28mm wide angle lenses with optical image stabilization, 720p HD capture, and crisp 3.0" LCD screens. The M580 features an HDMI output and employs an 8x optical zoom lens. The M575 utilizes a 5x optical zoom. The M580 is available in brown, light blue, pink, purple, and silver. The M575 ships in black, blue, brown, green, and red.
Kodak's M550 digital camera boasts 12 megapixel resolution, a 5x optical zoom lens, VGA movie recording, and a bright 2.7" LCD. At just 0.9" thin, the M550 is easy to carry and available in 5 fun colors: dark grey, purple, green, blue, and tan.
At the entry level, the M530 provides all the features you would expect from Kodak: 12 megapixel resolution, a 3x optical zoom lens, VGA movie recording, and a 2.7" LCD. For under $130, the M530 comes in 5 two-tone colors: orange with black, red with black, carbon with black, blue with black, and green with black.