Nikon 1 J2 Review

November 17th, 2012 118 Comments   Posted in Digital SLR Cameras

The Nikon 1 J2 is a stylish compact system camera featuring a 10-megapixel “CX” format sensor and the Nikon 1 lens mount. Boasting continuous shooting speeds of up to 60 frames per second at full resolution, Full HD video capture, an ultra-fast hybrid auto-focus system, Smart Photo Selector and a unique Motion Snapshot Mode, the portable Nikon J2 also offers more conventional shooting modes like Programmed Auto, Aperture and Shutter Priority, as well as Metered Manual and a new Creative Mode that provides a variety of photo effects and easier access to the camera’s key settings. Also on board is a built-in pop-up flash with a guide number of 5, a 3 inch rear display with an increased resolution of 921k-dots, and an electronic shutter.

Firstly, it uses the same screen as found on the higher end Nikon 1 V1, bringing it up to 920,000 dots, where the Nikon 1 J1 included a 460k device. Secondly, it’s now much easier to access those all-important creative and manual modes, thanks to a new Creative mode that can be accessed from the mode dial.

As of yet, we haven’t seen an upgrade offered for the Nikon 1 V1. Since the compact system camera was not as successful as it had been hoped, it’s a possibility that the camera will be discontinued altogether, perhaps to be replaced by a much more advanced model.

Canon PowerShot SX120 IS

August 22nd, 2009 228 Comments   Posted in Digital Compact Cameras

Canon PowerShot SX120 IS camera functions
The Canon SX120 IS digital camera is ideal for capturing a variety of scenes and activities. A 10x optical zoom lens is perfect for family holidays or school sports days, when you often need extra zoom. For pin-sharp results, the Canon PowerShot SX120 IS features technologies that dramatically reduce camera shake and image blur. Canon’s Image Stabiliser (IS), ISO Auto and Motion Detection Technology work together to form a complete Anti-Blur solution.

10 megapixel Canon PowerShot SX120 IS camera
To capture every detail, the Canon PowerShot SX120 IS includes a 10 Megapixel sensor with Canon’s powerful and intelligent DIGIC 4 processor – ensuring superb response times and natural colour reproduction. Canon DIGIC 4 also takes care of difficult lighting conditions with i-Contrast – a technology which prevents highlight blowout, whilst retaining shadow detail.

Record VGA movies with the Canon SX120IS
More experienced users can choose their settings with additional shooting modes such as Aperture Priority and Shutter Priority. A full manual control mode is also provided – perfect for users who wish to experiment with their shots. The camera can also shoot VGA movies with sound, so users can film action as well as shooting beautiful stills.

Shoot perfect portraits with the Canon PowerShot SX120IS
The Canon SX120 IS digital compact camera also comes with the latest DIGIC 4 Face Detection Technology which recognises up to 35 faces in a scene and automatically adjusts key focus and exposure settings to ensure everyone looks their best. This technology includes Auto Red-Eye Correction, Face Detection AF/AE/FE, and Face Self-Timer – a feature that is great for group shots and self-portraits as the camera waits until it detects a new face in the frame before taking the shot. Faces can also be detected if they are at an angle to the camera so that the correct focus and exposure can be achieved without subjects facing the camera directly.

Buy Canon PowerShot SX120 IS Online

Olympus SP-590 Ultra Zoom Review

July 4th, 2009 38 Comments   Posted in Digital Compact Cameras

Olympus has done a respectable job of outfitting the rest of the SP-590 all the same. The 12 megapixel SP uses a 2.7 inch HyperCrystal II LCD for shot composition duties, and offers Olympus’s trademark Shadow Adjustment Technology as well. Other features include face detection, compatibility with Olympus’s range of wireless-ready external flash units, and a high-speed TruePic III processor that claims to provide faster sequential shooting and better high ISO performance.

In addition to its generous flash control options, the SP-590 should appeal to advanced and advancing photographers with a full complement of manual exposure controls that includes aperture and shutter priority modes. Twenty-nine total shooting modes also encompass several “artistic” scene modes inspired by the Olympus E-30, including a multiple exposure mode (for compositing two or more shots into a single frame) and a setting for softening backgrounds.

Of course, Dual Image Stabilization (using both mechanical and ISO boost methods) is essentially a must for a camera with this kind of zoom range.

All things considered, while Olympus is unquestionably a masterful builder of zoom lenses, the SP-590′s lens does raise some obvious questions about performance and image quality. Built around 14 lenses in 11 groups – including 4 aspherical lenses and 3 ED elements – the lens’s compact design will no doubt appeal to space-saving shooters. But with nearly 700mm of reach at the long end and an extremely wide 26mm at the other, the optical compromises are almost certain to manifest themselves in the images to some degree. Just how much, though, is the open question at this point.

Buy the Olympus SP-590 Ultra Zoom

Pentax A40 Review

June 20th, 2009 29 Comments   Posted in Digital Compact Cameras


The Pentax Optio A40 is a 12 megapixel compact camera that packs a lot of features. Sporting a 3x zoom (37-111mm equivalent) lens, enhanced Shake Reduction image stabilization technology, a 2.5-inch high-res screen, and a plethora of in-camera modes and options, the A40 sounds like a capable camera. Included with the camera are a USB cable, audio/video cable, hand strap, rechargeable li-ion battery, charger, and CD-ROM with software.

The A40 features the following primary shooting modes:

  • Auto: Complete automatic mode, which allows basic settings like flash mode, macro focus mode, drive mode (continuous, single, timer, etc.)
  • Program: Allows the choice of auto-exposure program, shutter priority, or manual exposure mode, giving more options to more advanced users
  • Night Scene: Optimizes the camera for shots of scenes or people at night; the camera suggest the use of a tripod or similar to help stabilize the camera, and the use of flash for portraits
  • Landscape/Flower: These two modes are optimized for their respective targets, with the camera adjusting the focus style as well as some color options to help make the pictures appealing
  • Natural Skin Tone/Food: These modes also adjust color tones to help get the best pictures – natural skin tone is clearly aimed at making photos of people look better, while food mode gives more saturation to make food items look more appetizing
  • Kids/Pets/Sport: These modes are all specialized for quick moving subjects, changing the focus mode to help track and allow quick shots of your target
  • Text: Designed to help get sharp, clear photos of text – this mode allows for choice of black and white photos and can be further optimized by adjusting the contrast value

Buy Online Pentax Optio A40

Nikon D5000 DSLR

June 15th, 2009 148 Comments   Posted in Digital SLR Cameras

Nikon’s D5000 is the most intriguing camera of the year so far. It’s an entry-level digital SLR that has plenty of advanced features, yet it also features shooting guides and in-built scene modes. It’s a camera that can be tailored to any shooting situation, and inexperienced photographers should find it simple to use. Essentially, what you are getting in the D5000 is a camera that incorporates technology from the Nikon D90 (Live View) and marries it with user-friendly features from point-and-shoot and advanced compact cameras.

It has a compact body that is 12.5cm long, 8.3cm wide and 10.5cm tall, and it weighs 0.6kg without a lens. Inside, it has a 12.3-megapixel DX-format CMOS sensor and an EXPEED processor. It can be paired with any F-mount lens, but it’s best suited to autofocusing AF-S and AF-I type DX-format lenses; you can attach anything from a fisheye to a 300mm lens. To get you started, Nikon supplies the D5000 in a single or a dual lens kit. The single lens kit has an 18-55mm image stabilised lens, while the dual lens kit has the 18-55mm lens as well as a 55-200mm image stabilised lens.

To really get the most out of the D5000, you will want to learn all about exposure settings and what effect changing the shutter speed, aperture and ISO will have on your photos. However, if you don’t want to learn about them all just yet, you can use the 19 scene modes to good effect. They really do a good job at selecting the right settings depending on your environment. Also, if you choose to shoot in the semi-manual aperture priority or shutter priority modes, the camera has built-in hints that can let you know if a scene is too dark or too bright, allowing you to change your setting.

You can frame photos either by using the optical viewfinder or the 2.7in LCD screen (Live View). Live View is perfect for the times when you need to frame images at low or high angles: the LCD screen flips open and swivels so that you can take all sorts of angled shots and self-portraits with relative ease. It’s a high quality screen, which helps with focusing. Because the screen flips out downwards instead of sideways, it doesn’t hinder the position of your left hand while shooting.

The Live View implementation on the Nikon D5000 is excellent. It’s better than what we’ve seen from Canon and is as good as what we’ve seen from Olympus. Automatic focusing functions are quick and clear on the screen and shot-to-shot performance is very quick (though the camera’s shutter feels like it takes an eternity to close, even at high speeds). Because of the Live View mode, you’ll have no problems using this digital SLR in the same way as an advanced compact camera.

The only problem you’ll have is viewing the screen in very bright conditions; in these situations you’ll want to use the optical viewfinder. Also, the battery will be drained much quicker if you use the LCD screen extensively. Because the Nikon D5000 does not have a dedicated window for displaying its settings (like a mid-range D-SLR has), you’ll have to refer to the LCD screen more often than not in order to view and change settings.

The LCD screen and Live View need to be active when you want to use the camera’s video mode, which can capture movies at a resolution of 720p. The captured files are in AVI format and can be viewed easily in Windows Media Player on your computer, or on your TV through the camera’s HDMI port.

During our tests, video footage wasn’t on par with a dedicated camcorder. It was jittery, and relatively fast panning made lines skew. It’s as good as video taken from a typical digital camera, but it has a higher resolution. It’s a useful feature to have, and the neat thing about it is that you can change lenses and get weird and wonderful perspectives.

As for the camera’s still image performance — it’s stellar. The focus system has 11 points and it focused very quickly. It can track objects in three dimensions within those focus points, which means you can take photos of moving objects without losing the focus point. The focus point can be changed by using the thumb control. Face detection is also available in Live View mode. The quality of your shots will depend on the lenses that you use. We used a Nikkor AF-S 60mm prime lens, which produced crisp images (it should given it’s a prime lens) and virtually no noticeable chromatic aberration.

We shot in aperture priority, shutter priority and manual modes for the most part, but the scene modes are also useful if you don’t know how to set the exposure manually. You can also play with the built-in filters and colour modes to manipulate your photos without even using a PC. The built-in D-Lighting effect can be used when shooting backlit images, and it does a good job of brightening up the foreground image without blowing out the bright part of the image. It’s a useful feature if you have to shoot towards the sun, for example, or in partly shaded areas.

Because the Nikon D5000 is an entry-level digital SLR, it doesn’t have many of the niceties of a more expensive camera (such as a dedicated aperture dial, a shortcut to ISO speed, a status screen, nor a depth of field preview button, for example), but it does pack some nifty features that make it a desirable model nonetheless.

It has built-in image sensor cleaning; an airflow system (vents) to clean dust off the low-pass filter; support for a GPS module; a hot-shoe; a reduced noise shutter (for example, when photographing a sleeping baby, you can snap the photo, hear the click, keep holding down the shutter button, walk away and release it so that the second click does not wake the baby); as well as a slew of built-in filters (such lens distortion, which does a decent job of straightening lines that have curved due to barrel roll). It also has a useful burst mode (it shot up to 39 frames before slowing down to write them to our Lexar Professional 133x SD card).

The Nikon D5000 is one of the most impressive digital SLR cameras on the market. Not only can it be used as a fully fledged D-SLR with manual settings, but it can shoot movies and also be used in a similar way to an advanced compact or a point-and-shoot camera. Its user-friendly features and built-in hints make it a very easy model to use, and it’s also not a big camera, so it won’t be too hard to carry on outdoor adventures and overseas trips — unless you also pack plenty of lenses and accessories. We recommend it for anyone who wants to make the leap from a compact camera to a digital SLR.

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