Standout Digital Cameras
Hot digicams from PC Expo
by Stephen Jones (June 30, 2000)
As expected, the crop of digital cameras continued to be abundant at PC Expo. But, several cameras stood out as especially innovative, cost-effective, or otherwise representative of digital imaging trends.
Casio PCMCIA Digicam
While not a new camera, the Casio model JK-710DC is certainly has a unique form factor. It can turn any PCMCIA connector into a digital camera. So if you don’t have a Sony Vaio PictureBook, but want one, this might be a way to “upgrade” your laptop.
Casio's Newest Digicam
This very new digicam (this is an alpha unit), the Casio QV-2800UX has an 8X zoom (second only to Sony’s 10X and 14X digicam zooms). It features a 2.11 megapixel CCD with a swivel lens for shooting at almost any angle. (Doesn’t this camera remind you of the very successful Nikon 9XX series of digicams? But this one has an EIGHT times zoom!) The Casio should be shipping in September 2000, with a street price of $699.
If the two new consumer cameras Kodak is introducing this summer were roommates, the DC5000, would be the likeable, rugged outdoors type (below). Its opposite, the DC4800, would more be the the smart yet approachable type. Read about it here.
Do you ever feel guilty about taking a piece of expensive electronics out of its padded bag and into the elements? Afraid your boss and/or spouse will kill you if your technical marvel is wrecked by a raindrop or sandbagged by a sand grain?
Someone at Kodak must have felt your angst, because they just introduced the multi-megapixel camera for you.
The DC5000 is a rugged, weather-proof device that doesn't skimp on technical specs despite its thick hide. The camera includes solid features like 2X optical zoom, built-in flash with red eye reduction, removeable CompactFlash and both an LCD and optical viewfinder.
Best of all, the camera's many options and functions are accessable via oversized controls designed to be workable by large or gloved hands.
So, if you dispaired that digital cameras couldn't weather the dirt and drizzle of your typical photo opportunities, Kodak's DC5000 might be your rugged ray of hope.
- Weather-proof construction
- Oversized controls
- 2.0 megapixel (1760 x 1168)
- 2X optical zoom (30 - 60 mm)
- 3x digital zoom
- Flash: Strobe w/ red-eye reduction
- Media: CompactFlash
- Viewfinder: 1.8" LCD and optical
- PC interface: USB, serial
- Shutter speeds: 1/2s to 1/755s
- Effects: B/W, sepia, borders
- Video: NTSC/PAL
- Power: 4 AA batteries
- Dimensions: 140mm x 89mm x 83mm (WxDxH)
- Weight: 459g (1 lbs) w/out batteries
Kodak DC4800 Digital Camera
Handy Yet Powerful
If the two new consumer cameras Kodak is introducing this summer were roommates, the DC4800 below would be the smart yet approachable one. Its opposite, the DC5000, would be more the likeable, rugged outdoors type (read about it here).
If you want a smart digital camera that doesn't require much of you at first, but has hidden depths to explore, the DC4800 could be your favorite of the two.
First you'll notice the unintimidating form factor, a relatively compact camera that looks a little like those sturdy German SLRs of the 60's. Unlike those cameras, however, the DC4800 has (if you chose) all the automatic features you would expect from a modern camera.
Whether you chose more control or less, you get serious resolution (3.1 megapixels) and decent 3x zoom lens with a nice, wide-angle view when zoomed out all the way. Of course, you get both an LCD and optical viewfinder, video output, built-in flash, and your choice of picture resolutions.
Get past its friendly features, though, and what sets this new camera apart (besides its generous pixel count) are its serious photographic specs.
For instance, its light gathering ability approaches that of ISO 400 film. Another SLR-like feature is its wide shutter speed control, from 1/1000th of a second to a full 16 seconds. You can finally take that river-of-blurring-headlights-at-night cityscape you always wanted to capture.
Taking together, the DC4800's automatic conveniences and photographic range might make this a friendly digital camera whose deeper qualities you could grow to respect (and really use).
- 3.1 megapixel (2160 x 1440)
- 3X-optical zoom (28 - 84 mm)
- 2X digital zoom
- 1.8" LCD and optical viewfinder
- PC interface: USB
- Image formats: lossy JPEG or uncompressed TIFF
- Shutter speeds: 1/1000s to 16s
- Effects: saturated, neutral, black- and-white, or sepia
- ISO settings of 100, 200, and 400
- Flash: Strobe w/ red-eye reduction
- Time between shots: 2 secs per picture
- Video out: NTSC or PAL
- Burst frame rate: 2 to 5 fps
- Power: Lithium-ion battery (charges in camera)
- Dimensions: 120mm x 65mm x 69mm (WxDxH)
- Weight: 320g (11.45 oz) w/out batteries
New Nikon Coolpix 990
Great rez, nifty features
Nikon has reason to show off its new Coolpix digital camera this week. Besides its respectable pedigree, the Coolpix 990 boasts multiple megapixel resolution, some semi-pro features, and a killer software bundle.
While you shouldn't blindly follow the "more pixels is better" trend, the fact that this camera grabs 3 and 1/3 times as many pixels as many of last year's cameras, should make it worth a look.
Also, while many manufacturers think gobs of resolution makes up for a whimpy zoom, Nikon has wisely kept the 3x optical zoom (with additional Coolpix lenses available). In addition, you get a unique, step-less 4x digital zoom that smooths the sudden jumps between digital zoom levels.
Nikon has made sure that all that extra resolution isn't wasted by adding the option to save uncompressed images in the camera. Once uploaded to your PC, however, you can use software (Altimira's Genuine Fractals LE) that Nikon has thoughtfully bundled with the camera to compress these multi-megabyte images down to a manageable size with little visible loss of detail.
More professional features include the ability to sync up to four external flashes to the camera. Yet, when a picture requires natural light, the Coolpix 990 can be set to soak up the same low-light detail as ISO 400 film.
Even with all the lighting and exposure controls, capturing a hand-held snapshot at exactly the right moment usually requires a fair bit of luck. But, the 990 offers a mode that will squeeze off 10 shots in 5 seconds and automatically choose the most detailed, jitter-free image.
Details like these suggest that Nikon understands the process of photography and cares about the end result: A quality captured image. If they've applied that philosophy as well to this camera as its predecessors, the Coolpix 990 should deliver the goods.
- 3.34 megapixel (2048 x 1536)
- 3x optical, 4x digital zoom (step-less)
- Storage: 16 MB CompactFlash
- Video Capture: 1.5 fps full-res, 30 fps 160x100
- Interface: USB and serial
- Accepts Coolpix lenses (wide-angle, fisheye, telephoto)
- Flash: Red-eye reduction (and up to 4 slave Speedlights)
- Macro: .8" to infinity
- Viewfinder: 1.8" LCD, optical
- Uncompressed TIFF or JPEG
- NTSC/PAL video out
- Power: 4 AA
- Dimensions: 5.9" x 3.1" x 1.5"
- Weight: 13.8 oz. (approx)
- Genuine Fractals 2.0 LE (Altamira Group)
- iPIX immersive imaging
Panasonic - PalmCam PV-SD4090
Store megapixels on mega-floppies
Panasonic and Imation are muscling in on the Sony Mavica's turf with the introduction of the PV-SD4090 SuperDisk PalmCam. The $900 digital camera can not only capture its megapixel images on standard 1.44MB floppy disks but accepts Imation's 120MB SuperDisks as well.
Thanks to the built-in SuperDisk drive, the camera can snap close to 450 shots at its highest resolution without running out of digital film.
That's nearly four times as much as a typical 32MB CompactFlash or SmartMedia cards at much lower media cost. And, it is nice to know that you can fall back to easily available floppies in a pinch.
The camera's other notable features include a decent optical zoom, a extra large LCD viewfinder, movie recording in QuickTime format, and the ability to attach audio clips to each picture.
But, let's say you don't already own a SuperDisk. What then? You simply plug the camera into your PC's USB port and it appears as a disk drive visible in File Explorer. This makes it easy for you to download your latest snapshots of course, but also turns the camera into a fully-functional, 120MB SuperDisk drive you can use for everyday backup or file transfer.
All this storage versatility could make the Panasonic PalmCam and Imation SuperDisk combination a unique challenger to the rest of the digital shoot and store crowd.
- 1.3 megapixels (1,280 x 960)
- Zoom: 3x Optical / 2x Digital
- Viewfinder: Large, 2.5" Color LCD
- Built-in flash
- Audio recording: up to 5 secs per picture
- Movie recording: QuickTime (10 fps)
- Burst mode: Shoots 16 shots in 8 seconds
- Interface: USB
- Price: $900
Polaroid Camera Announced
New Model - PDC 2300
Polaroid’s soon-to-be “top of the line” digital camera, the PDC 2300 boasts a whopping 2.1 megapixel image AND a 2X OPTICAL zoom in camera that will be priced at less than $400. Currently, we are reviewing the PDC 1100, the current top of Polaroid’s line which presently ranges from $60 to $299.
Sony's Latest Mavica
This camera is the latest version of Sony’s very successful Mavica digital camera line. Not only can this camera take great pictures and store them onto 156 MB CD-R media, it can also be used as a portable, USB connected, 3.5” CD-R burner for ANY kind of data.
The 3.5" CD-R discs are completely compatible with a majority of CD-ROM drives and should only cost about $4 a piece or $0.25 per megabyte. That's a phenomenal savings compared to CompactFlash or SmartMedia.
As a camera, I found that the clear, bright, “real-time” viewfinder Sony has been known for was still there, even though this camera boasts 2.1 megapixels. The 10:1 optical zoom is still crisp and sharp as well. While this digicam is larger than my Sony MVC-FD7, it is still lighter than most film 35mm cameras with a standard removable lens and is far lighter than those same cameras with 350mm lens! Picture shooting was quick and seemed to take only a few seconds between shots (and this camera is storing each pictures onto a 3.5” CD-R) - No need to download or worry about stray magnetic fields!
This camera should make for an interesting review, as we compare its features against higher resolution CompactFlash cameras with far less zoom.
Want to see all this page in a more compact form? View the linked version of this article. It's a smaller download than this page, and each product's information is only a link away.
© 2006 Stephen Jones All rights reserved.