Canon IXUS 110 IS Review

June 20th, 2009 55 Comments   Posted in Digital Compact Cameras

Staring reasonably enough at the front, the light, clean metallic finish to the face plate of our review sample and its curved edges unconsciously recall the tactile nature of a smooth pebble plucked from the shoreline. Its internally stacked lens, only protruding from the body when in use, is encircled by a mirrored surround that you can almost catch your face in. Top right of the lens is a sniper-thin slit for the built-in flashbulb, while top left of the optic is a small porthole doubling up as an AF assist and self-timer lamp. On a practical level, the positioning of the flash bulb means it’s quite easy for your forefinger to stray in front of it when gripping the camera in both hands.

The IXUS 110 IS’ top plate meanwhile features controls set into a tapering dark grey strip that encircles the camera’s periphery. Starting from top right (if viewing the camera from the back), we find a large shutter button with just the right amount of give to be able to determine its half way point before firing off a shot, and so fix focus and exposure. This is handily encircled by a rocker switch for gliding between wideangle and telephoto settings within the camera’s fairly standard focal range. A minimally protruding lip provides just sufficient purchase for the pad of your forefinger.

Still on the top plate, and moving to the left, is a lozenge shaped on/off button set into the bodywork, thereby avoiding accidental activation when sliding the camera in or out of a pocket. Press this and, with an ident-like ‘sting’, the camera powers up in just over a second, the rear widescreen LCD blinking into life while the lens barrel jets out to arrive at maximum wideangle setting. Adjacent is a slider switch with three available settings: auto mode (incorporating the Smart Auto setting-shifting functionality), program auto (which allows the adjustment and selection of a wider array of shooting functions) plus a movie setting. As you’d expect, given the preamble at the top of this review, everything is pretty much point and shoot in auto mode.

Press the ‘function’ button on the Canon Digital IXUS 110 IS’ back and a left hand tool bar merely presents the user with the ability to set image recording size (therefore determining the number of pixels utilised) plus the compression level (Fine or Normal only). Should your thumb come to alight on the fiddly scroll wheel surrounding the function button, a virtual dial appears onscreen offering up the features normally surrounding a four-way control pad on rival models. These are the ability to adjust flash settings (auto or off), change the display (shooting icons on or off), select the self timer options (10 seconds, two seconds, the ‘face timer’ option, plus, unusually at this level, a custom option), while, in auto mode, the fourth option to swap focus distance between macro and infinity is disabled.

Buy the Canon Ixus 110 IS Online

Asus Eee PC 1002HA Review

June 20th, 2009 83 Comments   Posted in Laptop Reviews

Asus Eee PC 1002HA Review

If there’s one problem plaguing just about every netbook out on the market right now, it’s that cheap, toy-like feel. Manufacturers just can’t seem to escape it when they’re having their devices manufactured thousands of miles away in factories that seemingly just switched over just last month from building olive-green plastic army men. Asus attempted to remedy the netbook’s image problem with the high-end S101, but price followed suit, and the $800 price tag made us question whether you call it a netbook at all.

Highs:
Aluminum trim adds style;large hard drive; comfortable keyboard; compact power brick

Lows:
Plastic chassis still shines through; dim, somewhat dull screen; slight price premium; so-so battery life

Genuine Windows® XP Home

(*Pre-installed with Microsoft Office Home & Student 2007 60-day Trial)

Display

10.1″ LED Backlight

Intel CPU & Chipset

Intel Atom N270 & Intel 945GSE / ICH7-M

Memory

1GB (DDR2)

*Memory size may differ and is upgradable, please contact local dealers for more details.

Wireless Data Network

WLAN: 802.11b/g/n

Bluetooth V2.0

Storage

160GB HDD

10GB Eee Storage

*Eee Storage service is complimentary for the first 18 months. Please register account information for 6 months extension (depend on country)

Camera

1.3M Pixel

Audio

Build-in stereo speakers

High-Definition Audio CODEC

Digital Array Mic.

Storage Cards

4-in-1 MMC, SD, Memory Stick and MS-PRO flash card slot

Input / Output

1 x VGA port (D-sub 15-pin for external monitor)

3 x USB 2.0 ports

1 x LAN RJ-45

2 x audio jacks: Headphone / Mic-in

Battery

Li-polymer Battery, 5hrs*

*Operation lifetime subject to product model, normal usage conditions and configurations.

Dimensions

264 mm (W) x 181 mm (D) x 27.6 mm (H)

Weight

1.2 kg

Olympus Mju 9000 Digital Camera Review

June 20th, 2009 27 Comments   Posted in Digital Compact Cameras

Olympus Mju 9000: Specification

  • Zoom: 10x optical (28-280mm)
  • Resolution: 12Mp
  • Sensor size: 1/2.33in
  • Sensor type: CCD
  • Max. image size: 3968×2976
  • File type: JPEG
  • Sensitivity: ISO64-1600
  • Storage: xD Picture card, MicroSD
  • Focus types: TTL iESP auto focus with contrast detection
  • Normal focusing: 50cm
  • Close focusing: 1cm
  • Metering types: ESP light metering
  • Exposure compensation: +/- 2EV in 1/3 step increments
  • Shutter speed: 4sec-1/2000sec
  • Flash: Built in-0.2-5.4m (wide-ISO800), 0.9-3.0m (tele-ISO800)
  • Monitor: 2.7in Hypercrystal III LCD 230,000dot
  • Interface: USB2.0
  • Power: Li-Ion
  • Size: 96x60x31mm
  • Weight: 185g (excl. battery and card)

For £234 you can get a large 10x optical zoom, 12Mp and 1cm macro shown on a 2.7in LCD screen. The Panasonic DMC-FX150 costs £10 less, has a larger 14Mp resolution on a larger sensor but a smaller 3.6x optical zoom. Alternatively, the Sony Cybershot DSC-T90 costs £8 more, has the same resolution and a similar zoom to the Panasonic but uses a superior Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar lens.

Olympus Mju 9000: Features
Let’s get this straight, I’m not a massive fan of futuristic looking cameras although the artist in me can appreciate a more modernist approach to camera design. However, I’m happy to say that the Olympus Mju9000 fits snugly between modern and vintage with its blocky, square design and large lens barrel covered in glossy black plastic and reflective surfaces.

Olympus Mju 9000: Performance
Start up time is pretty fast at around 1.5sec and taking a picture straight away from there gives a total of just under three seconds.

There are two burst modes which are found in the function menu along with resolution, white balance, sensitivity and metering. In normal sequential, Olympus say that the Mju9000 can manage 1fps and that’s about right. I actually got nine shots but the first and last images were half a second within the ten second limit each meaning theoretically another shot could be got in the limited time we allow.

The hi-speed mode takes lots of pictures in a short time then stops to download from the buffer unlike the normal mode which will keep going until the card is full. It managed 11 shots in two seconds but only took a second or so to download because the resolution is dropped to 3Mp in this mode. This did mean that I got to take more pictures and in ten seconds I managed a total of 24 images with an average rate of 2.4fps ( frames per second). Of course 3Mp means lower quality but then that depends on whether you’re going to need big pictures. If you only want 6×4 prints then the quality is wholly acceptable.

Olympus Mju 9000: Plus points
Nice design
Good build
Improved user interface

Olympus Mju 9000: Minus points
Noise problems at low ISO
White balance is too limited

Buy the Olympus Mju 9000 online

Sigma 10-20mm F3.5 EX DC HSM Review

June 20th, 2009 50 Comments   Posted in SLR Lenses

Sigma 10-20mm F3.5 EX DC HSM Review

The Sigma Corporation is pleased to announce the new SIGMA 10-20mm F3.5 EX DC HSM. This super-wide angle lens has a maximum aperture of F3.5 throughout the entire zoon range. Its wide angle of view from 102.4 degrees produces striking images with exaggerated perspective. The maximum aperture of F3.5 is ideal for indoor shooting and it enables photographers to emphasize the subject.

Two ELD (Extraordinary Low Dispersion) glass elements and a SLD (Special Low Dispersion) glass element provide excellent correction of color aberration. Four aspherical lenses provide correction for distortion and allow compact and lightweight construction. The Super Multi-Layer coating reduces flare and ghosting. High image quality is assured throughout the entire zoom range.

The incorporation of HSM (Hyper Sonic Motor) ensures a quiet and high-speed AF as well as full-time manual focusing capability. This lens has a minimum focusing distance of 24cm (9.4 inches) throughout the entire zoom range and a maximum magnification ratio of 1:6.6. The lens design incorporates an inner focusing system. It eliminates front lens rotation, making the lens particularly suitable for using the Petal-type hood. The Petal-type hood blocks extraneous light and reduce internal reflection.

Buy the Sigma 10-20mm F3.5 EX DC HSM Online

Sony Alpha A380 Camera Review

June 20th, 2009 58 Comments   Posted in Digital SLR Cameras

The Sony Alpha 380 is the most highly specified of three simultaneous new releases from Sony, alongside the A280 and A300, and is designed to appeal to both first-time DSLR buyers and enthusiasts.

It directly replaces the Sony Alpha 350, which was released last June and shares many of the same major features as its predecessor.

These features include a 14 million-pixel CMOS sensor and a unique ‘Quick AF Live View’ mode, but all in a newly designed, lighter body. On paper, it’s Sony’s best entry-level DSLR so far, but does the A380 have what it takes to compete with new HD video-equipped competition from Canon, Nikon and Pentax?
Sony A380 review – SLR camera body
The front of the Sony Alpha 380 stands out because of its bright orange Alpha logo on a matte black/grey colored housing. The material the housing is made of is obviously plastic, and this is also what the camera feels like. It are just the handgrip and the left side of the camera that have a different feel to it, thanks to the soft rubber coating. The handgrip is short and feels stiff, yet provides enough hand-fit and support to hold the Sony A380 stable in your hand. The other items of the housing feel somewhat cheap, due to the plastic used. The buttons, command dials and switches, however, are solid and prove a joy to operate.

Sony A380 test – DSLR operation
The Sony Alpha 380 responds swiftly to activating the camera. Within no-time, the LCD monitor will display information about the setting the Sony A380 is in at that moment. At first, a general description will be given of the setting concerned, but by pressing the shutter release halfway down, more technical details will become available. This is an inventive way of gradually teaching the user the basic knowledge of photography.

Buy the Sony Alpha A380 Online