Category Archives: Camera News

Olympus SH-1 Review and Samples

olympus sh1

The first impression you might have pulling the Olympus SH-1 out of the box is how much this camera looks like a Pen Camera.  For better or for worse, it isn’t.  Instead, the SH-1 is decidedly a point and shoot camera with a large zoom range and excellent video.  But what else does the Olympus SH-1 boast?  And is the camera’s price tag a fair indicator of image quality?

Shooting with the Olympus SH-1

So it isn’t a digital Pen, but is it still worth buying?  For some, the Olympus SH-1 will make a big difference in terms of what can be captured, and when it can be captured.  The biggest feature on this small camera is, without a doubt, the 5-axis image stabilization, which is being implemented in compact FULL HD video for the first time (so Olympus says, at least).

At any rate, that IS is really helping out video and Image Quality and long ranges, so it’s safe to say that those looking for a compact megazoom – or a pocketable camera that also delivers excellent video – will find this little runt appealing.

olympus sh1

Controls

Like most compacts, especially Olympus compacts, the controls and their layout are minimalist but functional.  Missing are any dials for shutter and aperture, and between the mode dial on top and the concise menu layout, it’s plain to see that the Olympus SH-1 is an easy-to-use camera streamlined for a more automatic shooting experience.

Built in WiFi is easy enough to sync to your smartphone or tablet, and the relative ease with which one can change shooting modes (set the mode dial, then press the “ok” button to select different options), gives this camera a certain appeal not readily found in other brands.

olympus sh1 olympus sh1 olympus sh1 olympus sh1

Zoom

What can I say, the reach on this sucker is fantastic.  From a 25mm equivalent at it’s widest, to a whopping 600mm equivalent at it’s furthest in, the lens is great.  That 5-axis image stabilization only bolsters the performance.

olympus sh1

“Manual”

Manual Mode on the Olympus SH-1 is a bit of a pain.  Like most compacts, here you’re working with a D-Pad to adjust your settings – from Shutter Speed and Aperture, to ISO.  If you’re working in a location with constantly-changing lighting, it may not be the easiest way to use this camera, but if you can set it and run with it, you won’t be disappointed.

olympus sh1 olympus sh1

Art Modes

As usual, Olympus throws in some nifty art filters for certain effects.  While most might seem gimmicky, I personally like the Grainy Black And White effect, which tends to offer extreme contrast for a love-it-or-hate-it feel.

olympus sh1

Panorama

Panorama mode allows wider images with decent stitching.  It works best with still subjects, and if you wanted a panoramic shot of architecture or landscapes, this feature would prove itself useful.  If you’re looking to capture busy scenes with lots of movement, you may want to look elsewhere, as the stitching software still seems to mar some difficult, moving subjects.

olympus sh1 olympus sh1 olympus sh1 olympus sh1

Image Quality

Image quality is the big bust on the SH-1, and while it might not be perfect, it certainly isn’t abysmal.  As with most small-sensor cameras, the big point one should keep in mind when considering this camera is that you’ll want to get the image right while in-camera.  TRYING TO SAVE A SHOT IN POST IS VERY DIFFICULT.

That being said, I’m still surprised at how this little puppy held up.  I especially enjoyed setting up the WiFi and using my old iPhone as a remote LCD while I held the camera nonchalantly, taking some pretty nice candid shots of people walking by.

Conclusion

It’s no RX-100ii, but the Olympus SH-1 may be the compact to look at.  Generally, it strikes you on paper as being a go to workhorse for stable handheld video, and long-distance lens performance.  With the added WiFi and some minimalist design, however, it could lend itself to almost anyone who wants a basic camera with some decent output.  In general, I would say it performs about as well as – if not better than – Fuji’s X20.  You might lose a viewfinder and a lot of manual controls, but a more portable design will have many right in the Olympus Brand pocket.

Fuji 10-24 F/4 Review and Samples

fuji 10-24

Recently out in stores (since early March), the Fuji 10-24 f/4 R OIS is a lens of great construction with pretty awesome performance.  Is it worth the $999 price tag, though?  Here are some sample images and some personal input on a lens I became addicted to the moment I used it.

Fuji 10-24 f/4:  Classy Camera Companion

fuji 10-24

 

This review’s setup:  the Fuji 10-24 f/4 on the X-T1.

When it comes to wide-angle lenses, I’ve almost always used primes.  I’ve handled some nice Tokina wide angle zooms, and I’ve personally owned the Sigma 10-20, and I’ve sometimes been impressed by the performance I’ve experienced or the samples I’ve seen.  Well, Fuji’s new lens has its hooks in me.  It’s truly a great lens.  It may not be worth the money, though, depending on who you are and what you shoot.

fuji 10-24 fuji 10-24

I found the easiest way to use this lens to be setting the camera to aperture priority mode.  On the X-T1, this simply meant setting shutter speed and ISO to auto, and trying desperately not to fudge the aperture ring too much.

The Aperture Ring

This is the only negative thing I really have to say about the lens:  the aperture ring sucks.  Okay, maybe not sucks.  But it’s just too easy to move inadvertently.  Some basic prep time spent memorizing the position of the three rings – aperture, zoom, and focus, probably would have helped, but I’ve got too short of an attention span for that so I hit the streets and cursed at the camera in my head every time I scrambled to get a shot.  In summation, it’s not so much a deal-breaking flaw as it is something you can learn to work around, or work with.  Just be prepared to drop one or two mental f-bombs.

fuji 10-24 fuji 10-24

The Glass

Astounding glass can be found in this lens.  Maybe it’s the quality of the glass itself, or the coating they’ve put on the glass, or a spell cast by wizard from another dimension, but the performance here is fantastic.  There is some drop in sharpness at the extreme corners of the lens, but when you shoot at f/8 and up, you can kiss that hiccup goodbye.  And given that this lens is primarily aimed at landscape and architecture photographers, I don’t image many people would be shooting at f/4 to begin with.

fuji 10-24 fuji 10-24

Image Quality/Color

Probably having just as much to do with the fact that I’m using the X-T1 as it does the lens, the colors and image quality are still impeccable with this camera.  Given the choice of pairing the Fuji 10-24 with the X-T1, or sticking with the kit lens, I would pick the 10-24.  Mostly because I love shooting wide, and photographing on the street, but also because I personally feel the images that I am getting with the 10-24 maybe be just a little better.

fuji 10-24 fuji 10-24

Weight/Construction

Again, the Fuji 10-24 has some great construction, with a mostly metal exterior and interior (although there is still a little plastic on the front and rear inside barreling).  The heft of the lens is nice, with what I would say is just the right amount of weight.  It may put off some prospective buyers, especially those looking for a lightweight mirrorless setup.  Luckily, most of those people tend to go for Olympus and Panasonic, so this lens shouldn’t be disappointing to them.

fuji 10-24 fuji 10-24

Who It’s For

Generally, I’d recommend this lens to people who love the wide-angle look.  Duh, right?  But that price tag ($999) can be a bit steep for some, and it really is a specialty lens.  Couple this with the fact that you still get a keystone effect in shots of architecture, and it may not be everything Fuji has claimed it to be.  Definitely a high quality beast, but more suiting to people who can live with distortion than those who can’t or just outright abhor it.  Also, as I mentioned above, it isn’t very light, so weight may throw some people off.  I would say this is ideal for street photography and landscapes, but I would definitely suggest you try before you buy.

fuji 10-24

Conclusion

I’m addicted to this lens.  I love the 15mm focal length, I love the weight (it doesn’t feel like it’s another plastic lens with an over-inflated price tag), and I love the image quality.  I still detest the aperture ring, but maybe I’m just becoming a crotchety old man.  Who knows.

fuji 10-24

Just for fun, here’s a Toynbee tile I found while testing the lens.

Olympus TG-3 Makes a Splash

olympus tg-3

Perhaps somewhat overshadowed by the news of a point-and-shoot Pen, the Olympus TG-3 appears no less impressive, effectively announced as a replacement to the WG-2 and sporting some welcome improvements.

Olympus TG-3:  Competition-Proof Compact?

Tough cameras may induce wonder from some, but they rarely pique my interest.  I say rarely because the TG-3 has been announced and my interest has finally been piqued.

Here are some pictures of a pre-production model.

olympus tg-3 olympus tg-3 olympus tg-3Here are the full stats.

Model Stylus TOUGH TG-3
Waterproof Submersible down to 50ft/15m
Crushproof Withstands up to 220lbf/100kgf of pressure
Shockproof Resists drops up to 7ft/2.1m high
Freezeproof Puts up with freezing weather down to 14°F/-10°C
Dustproof Yes
Wi-Fi Connectivity The built-in Wireless LAN and free Olympus Image Share (OI.Share) app enable you to:1) Easily share files (JPEG/MOV) to iOS and Android mobile devices,2) Geotag photos with GPS location information from iOS and Android mobile devices,3) Remotely operate the zoom, activate the self-timer, adjust white balance and exposure (ISO, shutter speed, aperture), select the shooting and drive modes, select the AF area, and trip the shutter, all from an iOS and Android mobile device.

4) Apply custom signatures and Art Filters to photos taken and stamps to Photo Story photos.

GPS & Electronic Compass GPS: Quickly locates position within 10 seconds and is more accurate than ever.Location and landmark information can be viewed and geotagged to photos.Electronic Compass: Displays information such as 1) Latitude and longitude, 2) Atmospheric and water pressure, 3) Altitude and water depth, and 4) Date and time.
Zoom 4x Optical Zoom + 2x Super Resolution Zoom + 4x Digital Zoom
Focal Length 4.5 – 18.0mm (35mm equivalent: 25 – 100mm)
Aperture Range Wide:  f2.0, f2.8, f8.0Tele:  f4.9, f6.3, f18.0
Focus Range/Working Distance Wide/Tele: 3.9in/10cm to infinity;Super Macro Mode: 0.4in/1cm to infinity, focal length fixed to 25mm (equiv)
Image Sensor 16 Megapixel – BSI CMOS 1/2.3”
Image Stabilization Sensor-shift
Image Processor TruePic VII
ISO Sensitivity ISO 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200, 6400, AUTO, HIGH
White Balance Auto, One-touch, Cloudy, Sunny, Incandescent, Fluorescent, Underwater
Shutter Speed 1/2 – 1/2000 (Night Scene: Longest 4 sec)
Continuous Shooting 5fps / 100 images (16M); 15fps / 100 images (3M); 60fps / 100 images (3M)
Self-Timer 2 sec, 12 sec, Custom Self-Timer  (1-30 sec start timer, 1-10 pictures, 1-3 sec interval)
Interval Shooting 1 sec – 24 hrs interval, Max 99 frames, 1sec-24hrs start timer
AF Illuminator Built-in AF Illuminator
Flash Modes Auto, Red Eye Reduction, Fill-in, Off, LED
Focus Mode Face Detection AF, AF Tracking, AF Lock
Shooting Modes Mode Dial: Intelligent Auto (iAUTO), Program Auto (P), Aperture Priority (A), Microscope, Scene Modes (22), Art Filters (11), Photo Story, Custom (C)Microscope Modes: 1. Microscope, 2. Focus Stacking, 3. Focus Bracketing, 4. Microscope ControlScene Modes: 1. Portrait, 2. ePortrait, 3. Landscape, 4. Interval Shooting, 5. Hand-held Starlight,6. Night Scene, 7. Night + Portrait, 8. Sport, 9. Indoor, 10. Self Portrait, 11. Sunset, 12. Fireworks, 13. Cuisine, 14. Documents, 15. Beach & Snow, 16. Under Water Snapshot,

17. Under Water Wide1, 18. Under Water Wide2, 19. Under Water Macro, 20. Snow,

21. Panorama, 22. Backlight HDR

Art Filters: 1. Pop Art, 2. Soft Focus, 3. Pale & Light Color, 4. Grainy Film, 5. Pin Hole, 6. Diorama, 7. Dramatic Tone, 8. Fish Eye, 9. Sparkle, 10. Reflection, 11. Fragmented

Picture Modes: Vivid, Natural, Muted

Panorama Allows you to intuitively pan the camera across the scene; standard and full 360° views available.
Still Image Playback Edit Effects 1. Resize, 2. Crop, 3. Audio Clip (Record 4 sec audio to image file), 4. Red Eye Fix, 5. Shadow Adjustment, 7. Rotate Image, 8. e-Portrait (smoothes skin tone to view on HDTV)
Still Image File Format JPEG
Video Mode, Resolution and Recording Speeds 1080p, 720p, VGA, Time-Lapse Movie (720p),High-Speed 120fps (640×480), High-Speed 240fps (432×324)*When shooting 1080 60p/1080p/720p movies, use SDHC class6 (speed class)/SDXC class6 or higher for best results.
Time-Lapse Movie Images obtained with the Interval Shooting mode can be compiled automatically in the camera into a Time Lapse  Movie lasting up to 10 sec. Movie is recorded in 720p size at 10 fps.
Audio Recording Linear PCM
Video File Format MOV/H.264, AVI/Motion JPEG (High-Speed Movie, Time-Lapse Movie)
 Rear Monitor Size (Aspect Ratio) 3.0″ (3:2)
Rear Monitor Resolution and Type 460K Dots LCD
Removable Media Card SD, SDHC, SDXC, Internal Memory
Internal Memory 36MB
Outer Connectors Multi-terminal (USB Connector, DC Jack, Audio/Video Output), HDMI Type D
Auto-Connect USB USB 2.0 High-Speed (USB Mass Storage)
Language English, French, Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, European Portuguese, German, Italian, Russian, Czech, Dutch, Danish, Polish, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish, Croatian, Slovenian, Hungarian, Greek, Slovak, Turkish, Latvian, Estonian, Lithuanian, Ukrainian, Serbian, Korean, Simple Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Thai, Arabic, Bulgarian, Romanian, Persian, Indonesian, Hebrew, Malay, Vietnamese, Japanese
Battery Lithium-Ion Rechargeable Battery (LI-92B)
Battery Life
(CIPA DC-002)
380 shots; 120 minutes continuous video shooting
Dimension 4.4″ W x 2.6″ H x 1.2″ D  (111.5mm W x 65.9mm H x  31.2mm D)
Weight 8.7oz (247g)
Box Contents TG-3 Digital CameraWaterproof InstructionsWrist StrapLI-92B Rechargeable Lithium-Ion Battery

USB Cable (CB-USB8)

AC Adapter (F-2AC)

Quick Start Guide

CD-ROM with Instruction Manual and Olympus Viewer 3 Software

Worldwide Warranty Card

 The biggest highlight here?  Built-in WiFi and interval shooting give users that ability to turn the Olympus TG-3 into an action camera with a remote, as well as send of pictures and video to social networks like Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.  Having used the free Olympus app, OI.Share, I can safely say that it feels fairly easy to use, and once you get used to setting up a connection with between the camera and your phone, it is pretty close to hassle-free.

For those who disdain the ever-increasing social aspect of digital photography can still fall in love with this camera, thanks in no small part to improved macro capabilities, including a claim from the manufacturer that the Olympus TG-3 can focus as close as 1 cm (!!!) – probably made possible with some crazy zoom feature in the camera menu, or the optional LG-1 LED ring light ($59.99).

olympus tg-3

At any rate, the TG-3 has been announced, and will retail for around $349.  While you might rejoice at that price, you’ll have to wait until June for the camera to become available.  It will be available in red and black.

Olympus Stylus SH-1: Pen for Pockets

olympus stylus sh-1

Say what you want about Olympus, they never seem to stop cranking out cameras, and pushing as much technology into those new bodies as possible.  Nowhere is this more true than in the case of the Olympus Stylus SH-1, just announced and packing some nifty features.

Olympus Stylus SH-1, the Pocket-able Pen-inspired Point-and-Shoot

Olympus’s top tier Stylus cameras mostly rock the black, angular svelte of the E-M1, but the SH-1 is a slight departure from that trend, coming in black, silver, or white.  The overall appearance of the camera is easily comparable to the Pen cameras, but with a fixed lens equivalent to 25-600 mm.  Aperture ranges from f/3 to f/6.9.  The big improvement in this camera is the inclusion of 5-axis image stabilization, but that doesn’t mean the camera lacks in other features.  Full HD Video, built-in WiFi, a 3″ touchscreen LCD, and built in stereo mics only increase the appeal.  Even some degree of manual control has been pledged by Olympus.

Here are some pictures of the new Olympus Stylus SH-1:

olympus stylus sh-1 olympus stylus sh-1 olympus stylus sh-1

The back LCD has a decent resolution of 460,000 dots, but there is no ability to attach an electronic viewfinder or a flash via hot shoe.  There is a nifty, Pen-looking flash that sits on the left side of the top plate, but I haven’t been able to narrow down a range for it.

Other specifications of note would include a 12 fps continuous drive (!), an auto focus assist lamp, and the TruePic VII image processor.

olympus stylus sh-1 olympus stylus sh-1

Admittedly, I’m a little curious about what that small bump under the left side of the lens does.  A seemingly-paltry 3 cm minimum focusing distance has me a little miffed, as the just-announced, brand-spankin’-new TG-3 (also from Olympus) features a minimum focusing distance of just 10 mm.  Yeah, that’s right:  10 freaking millimeters.  However this is about my only qualm, and all in all, 3 cm ain’t too shabby for a minimum focusing distance.  But if I had to pick one down side to a camera based on specs made available on the same day it was released, that would be the down side that I choose.

The Olympus Stylus SH-1 comes out in May, with a recommended street price of $399 – a truly affordable price point if you’re given to buying cameras on the street.

The Panasonic 4K Action Camera

panasonic 4k action camera

Every one I know who wants an action camera, wants a GoPro.  They seem to dominate the market, with no sign of slacking their grip on consumers’ wallets.  But just arrived on the scene, the Panasonic 4K action camera – the HX-A500 – may carve out a piece of the market share…or fail miserably.

The Panasonic 4K Action Camera:  a Different Approach

Innovation is a lovely thing about camera technology:  with every new feature comes multiple ways of delivering it.  So it might not seem like a shock to some (or even many) that Panasonic’s action camera is a bit different in appearance.

The body of the camera itself – the user interface – looks like my old MP3 player.  Not a Zune or a retro iPod.  No, it looks like one of those MP3 players I picked out of a bargain bin at KMart a la 2005.  Attached to this is a cable, and the camera lens, looking not unlike a microphone, or God-knows-what.

panasonic 4k action camera

As you can see, wearing this sucker in public might not be the most low-key thing you could ever do, but then a Panasonic 4k action camera isn’t exactly low-key in any respect, and least of all in terms of specifications.

Sporting WiFi and NFC, and with added measures of waterproofing and dustproofing, the camera offers video capture in multiple formats and speeds:  4k at 30 fps, 1080p at 60fps, 720p at 120fps, and 480p at 240fps.  

panasonic 4k action camera

So you can use this baby to capture yourself kayaking or mountain-climbing, or walking your dog.  That’s what people use GoPro cameras for, right?

The early adopters will probably be on top of this when it becomes available – the UK will see it in May, and North America sometime in July.  While it may not completely replace its entrenched rival, this Panasonic 4k action camera definitely plays on the latest and greatest in video capture – being the first action camera to record in 4k and thus, already bringing it to the attention of some.

Olympus Photo Contest for Instagram Photographers

photo contest for Instagram photographers

Olympus has announced a photo contest for Instagram photographers.  Here’s how it works:

Photo Contest for Instagram Photographers

1.)  Upload a photo to Instagram showing your baseball spirit, using
      #OlympusMLB

2.)   Ten lucky winners will win the opportunity to show off their
      photography skills using Olympus products at ballparks across the
      country

3.)    The two best photographers will be selected in a fan vote for the
      chance to become a reoccurring correspondent at additional MLB games

So just capture an instance of Baseball Fever and upload via Instagram or Facebook (to the the contest page on Facebook with #OlympusMLB in the title) and you could be one of  ten photographers who will receive a free Olympus E-M10.  Of those ten photographers, only two will go on to photograph select MLB games as correspondents.

What are you waiting for?  This photo contest for Instagram photographers has a deadline and it is looming – March 17, to be exact.  So go out and shoot already.

Also, take a look at the full contest rules here:

http://mlb.mlb.com/instagram/sponsored/olympus_rules.jsp

Canon ELPH 150 IS Review and Samples

canon elph 150 is sample image

It’s not for everyone, and straight out of the box it will disappoint anyone who has already handled anything better.

However, you can still get some great images out of the ELPH 150 IS.

Shooting with the Canon Powershot ELPH 150 IS

Menus and “Ergonomics”

canon elph 150 is sample image

The menus are okay.  You probably won’t need to read the manual if you use cameras fairly often.  Personally, I think Canon has the most intuitive menus for beginners, and this camera is no exception.

I put ergonomics in quotation marks because there are no contours to this camera, really.  It’s a little box that has an on/off button on top, and a shutter release with a scroll for the zoom.  There are some buttons on the back and the thing isn’t as tall or wide as most smartphones, but maybe a little thicker.

Takeaway:  anyone can use this camera.

Lens Performance

canon elph 150 is sample imagecanon elph 150 is sample image canon elph 150 is sample image canon elph 150 is sample image

The lens on the ELPH 150 IS is pretty decent, with relative sharpness at it’s widest focal length (24mm equivalent).  Aperture is automatic, with f/3 at the wide end, and f/6.9 when the zoom is fully extended.  Due to the mostly-automatic nature of the camera, the default ISO of 800 at its 240mm equivalent focal length leads to a fairly grainy picture, but working with decent lighting will allow you to override the ISO in Program Auto mode.  Then you can set your ISO to a clean 100 and get fairly smooth shots.

Takeaway:  the lens is great at the wide end, even in auto.  Zooming way out to the maximum distance will leave you with grainy shots unless you adjust ISO in the menus.

ISO Performance

canon elph 150 is sample image   @ISO 100 canon elph 150 is sample image

@ISO 200

canon elph 150 is sample image

@ISO 400

canon elph 150 is sample image

@ISO 800

canon elph 150 is sample image

@ISO 1600

A little grain is a given when using any camera.  Most of us accept that.  But thanks to a diminutive sensor, and the automatic tendencies of this camera to set ISO to some of the grainier extremes, it’s going to behoove most users to stick with 100 ISO if they don’t want a grainy look.  Personally, I found the image quality at 400 and 800 to be workable, but I would still keep away from 1600 unless I really didn’t care about grain/noise.

Takeaway:  change the camera mode to Program and adjust ISO to 100.  And leave it there.

Exposure Whacking

canon elph 150 is sample image

I can’t use “exposure control” because that is misleading.  You’re in for a struggle when you want to change shutter speed on this camera.  That’s okay – you can easily adjust exposure compensation, but finding the in-menu controls for shutter speed is tough.  Very tough.

Takeaway:  memorize how to get back to your exposure compensation for quick adjustment when taking photos.

Flash

Well, it’s a fairly simple point and shoot flash.  It does seem to have some nice range on it, but it’s positioned to the left side of the lens.

Takeaway:  good most of the time but forget using it for extreme closeups.

Macro

IMG_0022a

Probably the best thing about little point and shoot cameras these days are those stunning macro shots.  In fact, it’s one of the niches that point and shoot and ultra compact cameras still excel at.  The ELPH 150 IS has a close-focusing distance of 1 centimeter (or .39 inches).  Decent, to say the least.

Takeaway:  if you like taking macro shots, shell out $150 for this camera and have some fun.

Creative filters

canon elph 150 is sample image Toy Camera canon elph 150 is sample image Fisheye canon elph 150 is sample image

Monochrome

I guess this is Canon’s attempt to cash in on the same things Fuji and Olympus are doing so well.  The problem with these effects in a point and shoot body is that they wind up looking far, far, far…far far far worse than the same effects from Fuji or Olympus.  Sorry Canon…but you just can’t do it in a body this small.  There is a grid display that users can enable to see a rule-of-thirds guide, but nothing that will save the this camera from the pitfalls of its creative filters.

Takeaway:  avoid cancer of the retina and don’t use these filters.  The rule-of-thirds grid overlay (hidden in the menus) may actually be of more use to creative photographers.

Video

It’s a compact camera with images stabilization (hence the “IS” in ELPH 150 IS), but it’s a tiny 1/2.3” sensor.  And it is only HD – not FULL HD.  So yeah.  Video is kind of there.  It’s wonderful, I guess, if you want video in your camera.  Otherwise, yeah.

Takeaway:  um, yeah.

All in All

canon elph 150 is sample image

Final opinion?  Not a bad little camera.  Clearly an automatic package for someone who just wants to “take good pictures” but might not have heard about camera phones yet.

You do get better image quality if you take the ISO down to 100 and utilize the flash a little, and macro is amazing on this camera.  But since most of the people who are buying this camera probably aren’t going to know how to overcome its quirks, I don’t expect it to hear much about it or see it flying off of the store shelves.

In all honesty, it reminds me of the people who used to buy family cameras and let everyone in the family use it to take pictures.  It would probably be nice for a picnic or a family reunion, but even the 10x optical zoom seems to have a hard time grabbing distant subjects with the kind of clarity most can find in marginally more expensive compacts.

It’ll be interesting to see where this camera goes, and if Canon might start making niche macro point and shoot cameras for those of us who would like something small and portable for unexpected situations.

Getty Embedded Image Viewer Born

getty embedded image viewer

Getty Images isn’t evil.  Despite whatever people say (or what photographers say).  No, Getty Images ins’t evil.  Would an evil company create an embedded image viewer to advertise itself on social media – with files so small that the photographer shouldn’t be paid for their use?  No, of course not.  No evil company would do that.

Say Hello to the Getty Embedded Image Viewer

Imagine some old-time photo cashcow right here, inside a cute and innocent little Getty image viewer.  

The news that stock photography is in dire straits isn’t exactly fresh.  Odds are, you’ve been hearing about it for a while.  If you’re like me, you’re already sick of hearing about it.  But the fact that a Getty embedded image viewer exists at all probably deserves some small amount attention.  Probably.

getty embedded image viewer

Look at those helpful ‘lil buttons in the right-hand corner.  Is that a freaking Tumblr logo?  Awesome.  

Fighting all that negative publicity over the Daniel Morel incident and the fact that bloggers no longer want anything to do with them, Getty Images will now use a free image viewer to help curtail image theft by giving low-res images away.  And hey, because those images are going to be a whopping 0.17 megapixels, there’s really no need to compensate the original photographer, right?

After all, it’s not like the Getty embedded image viewer is advertising material for Getty.  And it’s not like visitors to the blog are going to have the Getty Images brand shoved down their optical nerves every time they view a photo.  It’s not like visitors will keep going back to Getty to embed photos instead of paying for high-res files.

No one’s going to want something for free when they can pay for it.  And is a photo really stolen if it generates tons of traffic to Getty?

No folks, Getty Images isn’t evil.  Evil is something you find in photographers like Morel who want to besmirch the good name of Getty, and its dedicated staff of lawyers, accountants, and now snake-oil salesmen.  Evil is something you find in independent bloggers who use crappy images that were purchased by Getty after a buzzfeed or huffpost article.  But is evil something you find in the Getty embedded image viewer?  Absolutely not.

Unless Getty Images will get some traffic from it.  In which case, yes, you’ll be able to embed the bejesus out of it.

Canon Instant Rebates for March

canon instant rebate sample

Canon Instant Rebates for March!   Up and at ’em, boys and girls!  Canon Instant Rebates are out for March, and apply to these compacts and point & shoots!  The rebates are effective March 2 through March 29.

March Canon Instant Rebates

 

canon instant rebate sample

 

Like DSLR options, but don’t want to spend DSLR prices?  Try the SX50 HS, which offers you control and image quality for a reasonable price.

PowerShot SX50 HS
Reg. Price $429.99 – $30 Instant Rebate = $399.99 Final Price

canon instant rebate sample

 

Though it might have one of the smallest Canon Instant Rebates, the SX510 is worth the money.  Not only does it take great images, but it’s one of the smallest, most portable cameras available.  

PowerShot SX510 HS
Reg. Price $249.99 – $20 Instant Rebate = $229.99 Final Price

canon instant rebate sample

The SX280 shows you don’t need a bridge camera to get multiple shooting modes, including that macro function that seems to be lacking on smaller cameras.  

PowerShot SX280 HS (black or red)

Reg. Price $279.99 – $80 Instant Rebate = $199.99 Final Price

 

canon instant rebate sample

 

Ah, the ELPH series.  It’s been around forever.  And with good reason:  not only are they some of the slimmest, sexiest compacts ever, but their image quality is astounding.  

PowerShot ELPH 330 HS (black, silver, or pink)
Reg. Price $179.99 – $50 Instant Rebate = $129.99 Final Price

canon instant rebate sample

PowerShot ELPH 130 IS (red, gray, or silver)
Reg. Price $149.99 – $40 Instant Rebate = $109.99 Final Price

canon instant rebate sample

PowerShot ELPH 115 IS (blue, silver, black, or pink)
Reg. Price $129.99 – $30 Instant Rebate = $99.99 Final Price

canon instant rebate sample

PowerShot A2500 (silver, red, or black)
Reg. Price $109.99 – $30 Instant Rebate = $79.99 Final Price

So if you’re in the market for a compact camera or a point and shoot, keep these Canon Instant Rebates in mind.  And if interested in the savings, but want a bit more from a camera, check out the rebates on Canon DSLRs here.

Fujifilm XT1 Review

fujifilm xt1 sample image

Since its announcement and fairly rapid release, the Fujifilm XT1 has been turning heads – and with good reason.  Sporting a solid retro design and cutting-edge technology, this camera has vaulted to the forefront of the mirrorless pantheon.  But how does it perform?

fujifilm xt1 sample image

Shooting with the Fujifilm XT1

First, let me say that I was very hyped to get my mits on a Fujifilm XT1.  Mirrorless has been growing on me as of late, no doubt helped along by the Olympus E-M10 – a stunningly capable camera in a small, lightweight package.  So it stands to reason the that this newcomer from Fuji would have me on tenterhooks, but reason abandoned me when I actually took one out for a test drive.

Truth be told, the Fujifilm is impressive on paper.  The pixelpeepers and gearheads out there know this.  You probably know this.  The full specs are intimidating.  The viewfinder is A-MAZ-ING.  It feels like any camera should.  You get a drive mode dial like on my Nikon D2Xs, complete with a freakin’ double-exposure setting.  There’s two (2!) kinds of focus peaking.  And let’s not forget that mouth-watering APS-C sensor.

But then you might use the Fujifilm XT1, and feel something vanish.

Let me elaborate.

The Lens

fujifilm xt1 sample image fujifilm xt1 sample image

For my review, I used an XT1 with the 18-55 kit lens at f/2.8-4.  I had my misgivings about shooting with the standard kit.  Much more enticing to me was the 27mm f/2.8.  But as most people just getting into Fuji might purchase the whole kit, I decided to review the body and the 18-55 together.

That being said, you’ll be impressed that a camera manufacturer supplies you with a lens that’s reasonably bright when compared to the competition.  Heck, you even get a lens hood.  But when you start to use the kit lens a couple things happen.

First, there’s the finicky fake-feeling “aperture ring” on the barrel of the lens.  It moves when the wind blows.  So you’ll find yourself changing aperture without meaning to, and missing several shots.  I tried putting adjusting aperture with one of the on-body control dials, but despite my menu telling me that’s what the dial was set up for, nothing ever happened.  So, yeah, that sucked.

Having an f/2.8-4 zoom lens is great an all, but with that crappy plastic aperture ring on there, it just sort of ruins the whole experience.  Some people are used to manual aperture rings.  You set the ring, and when you move your lens, the freaking ring should not change.  On this lens, it does.  And it screws you up.  And you just want to use manual lenses again.

Shutter Speed

I talked about control dials.  Now let’s talk about the shutter speed dial.  You set your shutter speed at full stops – 1/250, 1/500, 1/4000 – and then you can use a control dial below on the body to fine-tune that shutter speed to say, 1/300, 1/600, and so on and so forth.  I guess this stems from Nikon’s design faults with the DF, where users could change the top shutter speed dial to 1/250 and then move the control dial on the camera body to a shutter speed of 1/500 (without the top dial registering the change).  That being said, it makes shutter speed clunkier and more annoying to adjust.

fujifilm xt1 sample image fujifilm xt1 sample image fujifilm xt1 sample image fujifilm xt1 sample image

ISO

ISO is great if you’re shooting JPEGs only.  You get a range of 100-51200.  Then if you shoot in RAW, you get a diminished range of 200-6400.  Aside from that, you’ve got your ISO speeds on a dial that locks every time you have to move it.  So it doesn’t change accidentally, but you no longer get to rapidly change your ISO speed, either.

Drive Modes

Here the Fujifilm XT1 has made some nice headway.  You get all the drive modes you would expect, plus a bracketed setting, a double exposure setting, a panorama setting (which stitches quite well), and an “advanced” setting.

fujifilm xt1 sample image fujifilm xt1 sample image

The Viewfinder and LCD

Both of these are phenomenal.  You can get lost in that viewfinder.  It’s big, it’s bright, and it doesn’t let in any extra light.  It makes optical viewfinders look shallow and dark.  The LCD is crisp and bright.  It tilts.  It does everything a good LCD should do these days.

Image Quality

Image quality on the Fujifilm XT1 is what you would expect – sharp and crisp with excellent resolution and astounding color reproduction.  The added film simulator is a joy to play around with – more so than the Olympus art features, which seem aimed at amateurs, not film buffs.

fujifilm xt1 sample image fujifilm xt1 sample image

Film simulation modes include a black and white mode simulating certain filters, like red (used in the two photographs above), blue, green, or yellow.  

fujifilm xt1 sample image

Velvia/vivid film simulation.

fujifilm xt1 sample image

Astia/soft film simulation.  

Menus

Menus are very intuitive, especially for those coming from a Nikon background.

Overall Impressions

The Fujifilm XT1 has some wonderful features going for it – the best EVF on the market, a rather large sensor, and stunning image quality, as well as a love-it-or-hate-it retro design.  For those willing to learn with the camera, and harness the potential of new interfaces for shutter speed and aperture, disappointments will be few and far between.  For the rest of you old codgers out there, you might actually want to go the Olympus or Sony route, when it comes to mirrorless.

Note:  One thing I did not touch upon in this review was low-light performance.  A review specifically aimed at night-shooting with the XT1 will be coming soon.  

UPDATE:  To see how the Fujifilm X-T1 performs with the 10-24 f/4 R OIS, check out this review.

« Older Entries Recent Entries »