Panasonic Lumix GH2 Review

The Micro four-thirds system (first seen in the Olympus Pen) were the first to jump on to the mirror-less interchangeable lens camera (ILC) segment, bridging the gap between the DSLR and the high end P&S cameras. Panasonic, with their extensive range (G1, GF1 & GH1) were a step ahead of their competitors and with their second generation updates (G2, GF2 & GH2) and were able to consolidate their strong position in the niche market. At the time of writing, Panasonic has already moved forward with the third generation updates in the form of the G3 and GF3.

Never having been a fan of the four-thirds system, trying out the Panasonic GH2 was a bit of a challenge as I tried keeping my personal opinion aside. The GH2 is the most DSLR-like in the range with its rather large body, features and price tag.

Some of the main features on the GF2 are

• 18.3 megapixels 4/3 live MOS sensor.
• 16.0 effective megapixels.
• Micro Four Thirds lens mount with Four Thirds mount via adapter.
• 3 inch touch-sensitive TFT LCD display.
• Electronic viewfinder.
• Full HD video mode with stereo microphone.
• 3D capabilities.
You can buy the GH2 in three different packages which is the body only, the body and the 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 OIS lens (GH2K kit), or the body and the 14-140mm f4-f5.8 OIS lens (GH2H kit). For this review, we were provided with the GH2H kit. You’ll also find a DMW-BLC12 lithium-ion battery and the charger for it, body cap, shoulder strap, stylus pen, USB and A/V cable, CD-ROM containing PhotoFunStudio, SilkiPix Developer Studio and Super LoiloScope trial and a printed camera manual. You’ll also get a lens front and rear cap with a pouch with the GH2K and GH2H kits.

An SD card is not provided nor does the GH2 have any built-in memory. The camera is compatible to SD (8M-2GB), SDHC (4GB-32GB), and SDXC (48GB, 64GB) memory cards. For still photographers, a 4GB or 8GB card should be adequate, though for movie shooters, anything over 8GB would be advisable.

The DMW-BLC12 battery takes over 2 hours to charge but lasts for about 150 shots under normal LCD and OIS usage, which was disappointing. The manufacturer claims a 320 shots battery life which is either too ambitious or maybe I was doing something wrong (mostly not).

Canon IXUS 1000 HS Review

Launched as the worlds thinnest camera with 10x optical zoom coupled with a full HD movie mode, 8.8fps burst mode, a super slow movie mode with a Digic 4 processor to back it all up; the 1000HS looked like a promising camera on paper at least. Let’s see if this translates into real life performance.

Package


The 1000HS comes with Rechargeable Li-Ion Battery NB-9L, Battery charger, Hand strap, USB cable, A/V cable, CD-ROM featuring Canon Digital Camera Solution, basic printed manual and full manual on CD-ROM

Canon does not provide a memory card with the camera so you’re going to have to buy one unless a local retailer gives one as a freebie with the camera. With the cameras capabilities of taking 10mp images and Full HD videos that translates into huge file sizes, it would be recommended to buy an 8GB or bigger capacity memory card with HD video capabilities. (Class 6 or above)

The camera body

Available in silver, brown and pink; the 1000HS feels and handles like a top of the line camera. The metallic body is of high quality with smooth panels and angular corners. The battery and memory card doors don’t feel flimsy at all, although the plastic flap over the connection ports could have been designed better.

Even though it’s the worlds thinnest 10x optical zoom camera, with dimensions of 101 x 59 x 22 mm, the 1000HS isn’t a very small or light (weighs 191gms) camera when compared to ultra compact cameras. In fact, the extra bulk helps to hand hold this camera more easily when shooting at the longer end of the zoom, particularly with the lack of any real hand grip.

The lens has a focal length of 6.3-63mm which translates into 36-360mm in 35mm format coupled with a rather disappointing aperture of f3.4 at the short end to a decent f5.6 at the long end. The lens is image stabilized which allows users to hand hold the camera even in low light conditions and get sharp images. With competitors flaunting 28mm wide lens on their cameras, the 1000HS seems to be at a disadvantage.

There are just three main selections on top of the camera in the form of Video, Still and Play. Different modes for Video and Still can be found in the menus. The camera features a mini-HDMI output allowing you to connect it to the TV along with an AV/USB 2.0 port on the side. The zoom control is a rotary switch around the shutter button, and has two speeds depending on how far you move the control.

Video gets a dedicated record button on the rear of the camera allowing you to instantly take videos even when in the Still photo mode. The scroll wheel on the rear of the camera is a welcome addition for people who are used to a similar wheel in pro level DSLR cameras, though it might seem a little hard for people used to buttons to get a hang of how it works. It’s something that people will either love or hate. The lack of a dedicated delete button makes deleting pictures a 3 step process.

A 16:9 ratio 3.0 inch TFT screen with 230,000pixels and 100% coverage works flawlessly for HD videos; meanwhile black bands crop on either side of the screen while shooting in normal 4:3 ratio. The low resolution screen falls behind by a long shot compared to competitors and it makes you wonder why such a high-end camera was fitted with a rather basic screen.

Samsung NX10 Digital Camera Review

October 10, 2010 by  
Filed under Articles, Digital Photography, Reviews, Spotlight

The NX10 is Samsung’s entry into the mirror less interchangeable lens camera (ILC) market competing with the Panasonic Lumix DMC –G2, the Olympus E-PL1 and the Sony NEX-3. After failing to establish a foothold in the DSLR market, Samsung is hoping to establish themselves as an early player in this (still infant) ILC market.

ILCs cameras are basically trying to fill the gap between advanced Point and shoot (P&S) cameras and a fully fledged DSLR by offering the image quality of a DSLR in more compact bodies by eliminating the mirror box which reduces the distance between the lens mount and the sensor making them slender cameras.

Some of the main features of the NX10 are

• 15.1 megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor
• 14.6 million effective pixels
• NX lens mount with backward compatibility with Pentax K-mount lenses
• Contrast detect autofocus
• 720p movie mode
• 3 inch AMOLED display.
• Electronic viewfinder

Package

The NX10 is packaged with a Samsung 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 OIS lens for AED 2,999. You’ll also find a BP1310 lithium-ion battery, BC1310 battery charger, shoulder strap, lens hood, body cap, USB cable, printed manual and two CDs containing Samsung master and raw converter and the manual.

Samsung does not provide a memory card with the camera so you’re going to have to buy one unless a local retailer gives one as a freebie with the camera. With the cameras capabilities of taking 14mp images that translates into huge file sizes, it would be recommended to buy a 4GB or bigger capacity memory card.

The camera body

The NX10 when compared to a regular DSLR is quite small but when looking at some of its competitors (NEX, E-PL1, GF1); it’s on the bigger side though it is still quite portable.

The camera is completely made up of plastic which feels well put together and of high quality though the plastic cover the pop up flash, the memory card and the connections door felt flimsy. In fact the pop up flash pop up mechanism stop functioning after using it for a few weeks.

Canon LEGRIA HF S21 camcorder review

September 7, 2010 by  
Filed under Articles, Gadgets, Reviews, Spotlight, Video Equipment

Canon calls it’s LEGRIA HF S21 its most advanced flash memory camcorder that puts pro-level HD shooting in your hands. Launched in June 2010, the camcorder is designed for serious amateur video enthusiasts especially with that hefty price tag of over $1,200.

The LEGRIA HF S21 is capable of recording AVCHD format progressive 1080p video at a maximum data rate of 24Mbps on a 64GB flash drive that can be supported by SDHC cards in its two slots. It also comes with 2 SDHC card slots that can each hold a 32GB card making the total capacity to a whopping 128GB.

The camcorder features a CMOS sensor capable of capturing 8 Megapixel still images, a high quality lens capable of an optical zoom of 10x, a 3.5inch LCD touch screen, dolby stereo sound, pop up flash, a DIGC III processor, manual controls and so much more. The pay-off for this top of the line specification sheet is that unlike the norm, the LEGRIA HF S21 is bulkier than its predecessor and its competition.

The LEGRIA HF S21 has a set of manual controls in terms of white balance, focus and exposure. It allows you to adjust focus view a small dial next to the lens or the touch screen interface where you can also control the white balance, shutter speed(between 1/2000th to ½ sec) and aperture. These set of controls give the user more space to be creative with their videos or images keeping avid video enthusiasts happy. You also have the Zebra pattern function that warns you when a scene is overexposed.

On top of the camcorder, you’ll find the hot shoe in the form of a mini Advanced Accessory Shoe enabling you to add a more powerful video light in situations when the inbuilt LED video light seems inadequate. Also the 58mm lens thread is compatible to various professional filters.

Sound is recorded via a two-channel dolby digital microphones while an additional (and optional) microphone can be used to create a 5.1 channel surround sound. The inability to record 5.1 channel surround sound straight out of the box from a top of line camcorder is a little disappointing to say the least especially when compared to competitors. There is a headphone output for monitoring the sound recording.

You can connect the LEGRIA HF S21 to a TV using composite or component output, or for maximum quality you can use the mini HDMI terminal to connect it to a HD TV. A USB port provides computer connectivity. The LEGRIA HF S21 allows you to convert AVCHD (MPEG4) files to smaller standard definition (SD) MPEG2 files enabling easy sharing for web.

Canon EOS 550D DSLR Review

Launched in February 2010, The Canon EOS 550D (also known as the Rebel T2i) enters the market with a bang making it a revolutionary upgrade to the almost one year old Canon EOS 500D (also known as the Rebel T1i).

Initially dubbed as the baby 7D, the Canon EOS 550D is a huge step up from the 500D with its new features that seem to have been borrowed from the 7D while being packaged into a smaller body. Starting off, the most obvious changes on the EOS 550D are the higher resolution sensor, unrestricted HD video mode, a wider LCD display and improved metering system.

The table below lists more of the changes Canon has made.

Camera EOS 500D EOS 550D
Sensor 15.1 million effective pixels 18.7 million effective pixels
Image processor DIGIC 4 DIGIC 4
Image sizes 4752 x 3168
3456 x 2304
2353 x 1568
5184 x 3456
3456 x 2304
2592 x 1728
ISO range ISO 100 to 3200, expandable to 6400 and 12800 ISO 100 to 6400, expandable to 12800
LCD display 3.0 ” TFT LCD, 4:3 aspect ratio, 920,000 dots 3.0 ” TFT LCD, 3:2 aspect ratio, 1,040,000 dots
Video mode 1080p @ 20fps
720p @ 30fps
VGA @ 30fps
MOV (Video: H.264, Sound: Linear PCM)
1080p @ 30, 25 or 24fps
720p @ 50/60fps
VGA @ 50/60fps
MOV (Video: H.264, Sound: Linear PCM)
High-speed continuous 3.4 fps
170 JPEG/Fine frames
9 RAW frames
3.7 fps
34 JPEG/Fine frames
6 RAW frames
Connections USB 2.0
Video output
HDMI Type C
USB 2.0
Video output
HDMI Type C
Stereo Microphone

Package

The Canon EOS 550D, like its predecessor is available in two kits- one that is a body only option while the other one available is packaged with the Canon EF-S 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 IS lens. You’ll also find a LP-E8 lithium-ion battery, LC-E8E battery charger, body cap, shoulder strap, USB cable, video cable, printed camera manual and two CDs containing the Canon EOS Digital Solution software and documentations.

Canon does not provide a memory card with the camera so you’re going to have to buy one unless a local retailer gives one as a freebie with the camera. With the camera’s capabilities of taking 18MP images that translate into huge file sizes, it would be recommended to buy a 4GB or a higher capacity memory card. The camera uses SD, SDHC or SDXC memory cards and Canon recommends Class 6 card for HD movie recording.

The camera body

The 550D like the 500D is Canon’s entry-level camera which means it is made up of a stainless steel frame and a polycarbonate shell making it feel lightweight and a little delicate. It’s also quite small and the grip will seem inadequate for people with bigger hands so I recommended you to try the camera out before buying it just to get a feel of it’s size. The camera looks well put together and the built quality seems perfect.

With the launch of various mirror-less cameras, the Canon EOS 550D isn’t the smallest or lightest camera though it still holds its ground well with other ‘real’ DSLRs. Irrespective of everything; it is effortless to carry around and perfect for people who don’t want the bulk of a heavy professional camera.

The following are some of the specific physical features of this camera:

  • The camera supports both the EF and EF-S lens and has a crop factor of 1.6x which basically means it’ll give you a field of view of almost 29mm if you mount an 18mm lens.
  • The electronically released pop up flash has a guide number of 13 meters at ISO 100 with field of view coverage of up to 17mm. It also doubles as an AF assist lamp.
  • The camera’s microphone records sound in mono can be found on the front above the EOS label.
  • Unlike several older DSLRs, the LCD can be used to compose shots through the Live view option just like a point and shoot camera though it isn’t as quick at locking focus.

You have three auto focus options in live view:

  • Live: This uses the contrast detect AF which is quite slow. It takes the camera a few seconds to lock focus.
  • Live with face detection: Same as the Live AF mode but with the ability to detect a face. Unlike the face detection of a point & shoot, this system isn’t accurate as it detected a face even in scenes that did not have a person in it.
  • Quick: In this mode, to focus, the camera flips the mirror down, uses the cameras AF points to lock focus, flips the mirror back up and returns to Live view. A faster way to focus if you don’t mind the short period of blackout and the sound the flipping mirror makes.
  • In Live view, you can zoom in by 5x to 10x that allows you to make sure your subject is perfectly in focus especially when focusing manually.
  • A dedicated live view button can be found on the right side of the viewfinder though the button is a bit small.
  • A quick control button found on the right side of the screen enables you to change camera settings with the 4 way controller.
  • The buttons on the rear of the camera are now larger and square instead of being round.
  • Unlike the 500D, live view is available in all the shooting modes.
  • The external microphone port found on the right side of the camera is a welcome addition and compliments the cameras video capabilities.
  • Canon EOS 500D DSLR Review

    May 24, 2010 by  
    Filed under Digital Photography, Reviews, Spotlight

    The Canon EOS 500D (also known as the Rebel T1i) was released in 2009 as a replacement to the popular Canon EOS 450D (also known as the Rebel XSi) as Canons entry level DSLR. It’s more of an evolutionary improvement over the 450D by providing a similar package with some new features and upgrades. The most visible changes on the EOS 500D are the higher resolution sensor, HD video mode and the new high resolution LCD display.

    The table below shows the important changes between the two models.

    Camera EOS 500D EOS 450D
    Sensor 15.1 million effective pixels 12.2 million effective pixels
    Image processor DIGIC 4 DIGIC III
    Image sizes 4752 x 3168
    3456 x 2304
    2353 x 1568
    4272 x 2848
    3088 x 2056
    2256 x 1504
    ISO range ISO 100 to 3200, expandable to 6400 and 12800 ISO 100 to 1600
    LCD display 3.0 ” TFT LCD, 920,000 dots 3.0 ” TFT LCD, 230,000 dots
    Video mode 1080p @ 20fps
    720p @ 30fps
    VGA @ 30fps
    MOV (Video: H.264, Sound: Linear PCM)
    No video capability
    Noise reduction 4 levels adjustability On/Off
    Auto lighting optimizer 4 levels adjustability On/Off
    Peripheral illumination correction Profiles provided for 25 lenses
    High-speed continuous 3.4 fps
    170 JPEG/Fine frames
    9 RAW frames
    3.5 fps
    53 JPEG/Fine frames
    6 RAW frames
    Connections USB 2.0
    Video output
    HDMI Type C
    USB 2.0
    Video output

    Package

    The 500D like its predecessor is available in two kits. One that is a body only option while the other one available is packaged with the Canon EF-S 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 IS lens. You’ll also find a LP-E5 lithium-ion battery, LC-E5E battery charger, body cap, shoulder strap, USB cable, video cable, printed camera manual and two CDs containing the Canon EOS Digital Solution software and documentations.

    Canon does not provide a memory card with the camera so you’re going to have to buy one unless a local retailer gives one as a freebie with the camera. With the cameras capability of taking 15mp images that translates into large file sizes, it would be recommended to buy a 4GB or higher capacity memory card. The camera uses SD or SDHC memory cards and Canon recommends Class 6 card for HD movie recording.

    The camera body

    The 500D being the entry level camera is entirely made of plastic which makes it lightweight and feel a little delicate. It’s also quite small and the grip will seem inadequate for people with bigger hands so I would would recommended you to try the camera out before buying it just to get a feel of the size. Built quality is top notch though a few areas of the body were already showing signs of wear especially around the I/O ports and the bottom part of the camera.

    On the flip side, it’s amongst the smallest and lightest when compared to competitors which makes it easy to carry around especially for people who don’t want the bulk of a heavy professional camera. Looking carefully, I noticed the following specific physical features of this camera:

    • The camera supports both the EF and EF-S lens and has a crop factor of 1.6x which basically means if you mount a 18mm lens, it’ll give you a field of view of almost 29mm.

    • The electronically released pop up flash that has a guide number of 13 meters at ISO 100 with field of view coverage of up to 17mm. It also doubles as an AF assist lamp.

    • The microphone records sound in mono and can be found on the front above the EOS label.

    • On the mode dial, a new mode called the Movie Mode has been added to enable you to take videos.

    • Unlike several older DSLRs, the LCD can be used to compose shots through the Live view option just like a point and shoot camera though it isn’t as quick at locking focus.

    You have three auto focus options in live view:

    o Live: This uses the contrast detect AF which is quite slow. It takes the camera a few seconds to lock focus.
    o Live with face detection: Same as the Live AF mode but with the ability to detect a face. Unlike the face detection of a point & shoot, this system isn’t accurate as it detected a face even in scenes that didn’ have people in it.
    o Quick: In this mode, to focus, the camera flips the mirror down, uses the cameras AF points to lock focus, flips the mirror back up and returns to Live view. A faster way to focus if you don’t mind the short period of blackout and the sound the flipping mirror makes.

    • In live view, you can zoom in by 5x to 10x that allows you to make sure your subject is perfectly in focus especially when manual focusing.

    • A dedicated record button in Video mode is provided on the right side of the screen which also doubles up as a button to switch on live view mode in P/TV/AV/M/A-DEP mode. The same button can be used to choose what pictures to transfer when the camera is connected to a PC or Mac.

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