Logitech TV Cam HD: Make your very own video wall

Whether you’re a fan of Skype or you’ve always dreamed of taking your telephone calls over a live-vision video wall, the new Logitech TV Cam HD could be just the ticket. We’ve seen TVs with Skype capabilities starting to creep into the market, but this standalone high-definition TV camera promises even more.

Logitech-Skype-Camera

It has built-in Skype and Wi-Fi connectivity and works with any HDTV with HDMI input to beam your callers onto the big-screen – ideal for making group calls, whether you’re a home-worker or have family far away.

These capabilities for “lounge conferencing” mean you can phone anyone you know with a Skype account – on their smartphone, laptop, TV or tablet – and they’ll see everything the wide-angle camera sees. So you’ll have to tidy up and change out of your jarmies if you’re due a business call with your international head office! But the beauty of this is that you don’t have to squeeze up to fit in front of the camera on your computer or mobile. You can move around comfortably – just don’t forget they’re watching!!

Everything you need to get going is built in to the device. Place the Logitech TV Cam HD on top of your telly and link to your Wi-Fi. Or for a wired connection use the Ethernet and plug in to the HDMI port. Then switch on and prepare to welcome callers into your lounge. Just log in to Skype as you would on a computer or mobile and use the remote control to navigate the interface. A built-in telephone ringer on the camera alerts you to incoming calls even if your telly is turned off!

The camera itself delivers HD 720p resolution and uses Logitech Fluid Crystal Technology and Carl Zeiss optics for a sharp, rich picture in all light levels rather than a grainy webcam profile of Skype calls gone by. Four integral noise-cancelling mics let you talk normally from wherever you are without interference from ambient sound.

Because it all comes through your regular HDTV, you won’t have to wrench the kids away from the telly to speak to far-flung relatives.  So next Christmas when you’re opening up presents, family and friends far and wide could be right there in your lounge as the action unwraps! And because it will capture the live reactions, you can save money on stamps sending thank you cards!

Logitech TV Cam HD is available across Europe from September. SRP £179

www.logitech.com

Booq Python Pack: Essential protection for your photographic essentials

As a self-shooting video journalist I often find my self lugging an array of cameras, microphones, cables and lenses across the Greater London area. As I don’t have a car (I’m a committed city dweller), and am often on the London Underground or a bicycle, this can be quite physically demanding and potentially hazardous to my precious cargo.

Booq-Python

Fortunately I got to try out a Booq Python Pack, a high-end camera and laptop bag that allows you to comfortably travel from pillar to post whilst keeping your delicate L lenses safe and secure.

The Python Pack has space for a 15″ laptop, tablet, 1-2 DSLRs and various lenses. That can get pretty heavy, pretty quickly so there are all manner of support straps and air mesh back padding, which makes it relatively comfortable even if your walking with a full complement of equipment. It can’t work magic however, so I’d caution against over loading your bag unless you’ve been hitting the P90x hard and need an additional workout.

There’s a commendable level of attention to detail all over the Python Pack and every other place you look you discover another pocket or pouch. Even the bottom of the bag features an ultra-tough rubberized surface

I’m writing this in middle of July in London so obviously there’s been heavy rain almost every single day. Fortunately the Python Pack boasts ballistic nylon exterior fabric with water-repellent coating. And in case that’s not enough, one of the side pockets contains a bright red waterproof poncho to cover your entire bag.

The padded SLR camera and accessory compartment is accessible from the side and the padded dividers can easily be modified to fit whatever camera/lens setup you decide to take on the road with you. You can also hook up a tripod to the back of the bag for extra stability on the move. There’s an extra compartment on top, which is handy if you have a second DSLR, random camera gear or super large headphones.

The Booq Python Pack is out now for about £250. For more information head to www.booqbags.com

Sony Cyber-shot RX100: Big sensor, big price

Sony is targeting the high-end compact camera market with its latest release – the Cyber-shot RX100. This is the first time the company has produced a compact camera with a large sensor, which they say is the world’s first1 1.0-type 20.2 effective megapixel sensor.

Usually a big sensor means a bigger body and lens, but Sony has managed to keep its new baby little bigger than the Canon PowerShot 100, one of the best compacts on the market at the moment. The sensor cannot compete with those found in DSLRs, but it’s certainly at the top of the tree for compacts.

sony-cyber-shot-RX100

Looks-wise the camera is made out of aluminium and has a sleek design, and at its heart is the world’s first1 1.0-type Exmor CMOS sensor with a resolution of 20.2 effective megapixels. The sensor has an area that’s around four times larger than the 1/2.3-type imager in your average point-and-shoot snapper, which means it can capture far more light than small-sensor cameras. So you should get beautiful, detail packed images as well as Full HD movie clips with very low noise.

And what about the lens? Well that’s a Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T lens with 3.6x optical zoom range. There is also a very large F1.8 maximum aperture, which lets in more light to complement the resolving power of the CMOS sensor.

The aluminium body looks sleek and stylish, and if you’re a DSLR user you’ll like the control ring that surrounds the lens body and lets you use fingertip adjustment for exposure, zoom, ‘Picture Effect’ and other functions. In fact for DSLR users, the RX100 makes a good, pocketable, second camera.

So that’s some of the technical stuff – let’s get down to what you really want – the pricetag. Here’s a clue – the camera is being plugged as “the professional’s compact camera”, so sit down now.

The camera will sell for around £579, which means it’s one of the most expensive fixed-lens cameras we’ve seen. You could, for instance, buy an entry-level DSLR or a compact interchangeable-lens snapper with a kit lens for the same price. But if you want power in a pocketable snapper, this sounds like the one to choose.

The Sony Cyber-shot RX100 will be available at the end of July 2012.

Olympus TOUGH TG-1: Tough but not rough

The trouble with a lot of our precious gadgets is that they’re just that – rather fragile, expensive and a worry when we take them out into the great outdoors.

But a camera is supposed to be taken out and about, so what do you do if you want to take great snaps, but are likely to be out in all weathers, at risk of dropping your snapper, or even likely to get it wet?

Olympus-TG-1

The answer is to choose a model that is made to be treated roughly – a model such as the new TG-1 compact camera from Olympus.

This camera is as tough as Bruce Willis in Die Hard – it can survive being dunked in water up to 12 metres, dropped from a height of 2 metres, survive temperatures a low as -10C and being crushed by up to 100kg of force.

And if you want to try your hand at underwater photography, this is the camera to choose – a soon-to-be-available additional housing will enable users to take the camera to depths of up to 45m, while a powerful flash attachment will boost illumination at these kinds of depths.

The camera has a 12mp, high-sensitivity COS sensor and if you’re serious about your photography, there are waterproof lenses for you to use to get more creative. What underwater camera would be complete without a fisheye lens, for instance? This will let you grab wider, dynamic images, while a tele converter lens can increase the optical zoom ratio by 6.8x.

Other features of the Olympus TOUGH TG-1 include GPS and compass, manometer for checking depth underwater, and an LED illuminator for lighting up underwater scenes.

It also has Magic Filters for adding creative effects to both still images and HD movies, and a number of scene modes – including an all-important i-Underwater Snapshot.

The Olympus TOUGH TG-1 is available from mid-June and will cost £359.99; the Fisheye Lens is £129.99, the Tele Converter Lens, £129.99, and the Converter Adapter £19.99.

Canon EOS 5D makes its Mark (III)

Canon has just added a 22.3 megapixel camera to its famous EOS range. The EOS 5D Mark III has been some time in coming and rumours about what it would offer have been bandied about for a while.

The EOS 5D Mark III builds on the performance of the Mark II, with better speed, improved resolution, more creative options and more powerful processing – as well as the option to shoot Full HD movies. On the rear of the camera you’ll find a live view/movie switch that speeds up movie activation.

EOS-5D-Mark-II

The Mark III is powered by the latest DIGIC 5+ processing technology, and is targeted at those photographers who are just as interested in shooting video as they are in capturing still images. The top continuous shooting speed is 6fps – quite an improvement on its predecessor’s 3.9fps.

If you’ve been thinking about buying the EOS 1DX, you might want to take a look at the new arrival first before you make a decision. Mind you, if you’re contemplating buying one, you’ll need a smidge under three grand to take it home with you.

The autofocus system has a 61-point wide-area (like the EOS 1DX), which is far better than that on the Mark II, and the Mark III is also the first of Canon’s SLRs to offer in-camera HDR recording.

If you want to take your camera out and about (and if you’re spending £3,000 or so, you’ll be doing a lot with it, we imagine), the good news is that Canon has improved the weatherproofing on this new device. The 3in LCD is the same as that found on the 1DX – when Canon is going to see fit to add an articulating screen for video makers, we don’t know.

The Canon EOS 5D Mark II is definitely an improvement over the Mark II, even if there are not standout extra features that make you go wow!

Swann Freestyle HD: The all-action video camera

As any would-be director will tell you, camcorders are great when it comes to recording footage, but you have to be careful where you take them. Expensive bits of kit at the best of times, they are so delicate and easy to break that one slip can see hundreds of pounds go up in smoke if you do not wrap them in cotton wool. Even just carrying them as you walk down the road can be potentially hazardous should it start to rain.

Swann Freestyle HD

What you need is an all action camcorder. One that you can clip onto yourself and wear, to take with you wherever you like, not to mention one that can take a knock or two. Enter stage right Swann’s new Freestyle HD video camera. Built to the toughest specification and capable of recording 1080p video with up to 3x digital zoom and still 8MP JPEG images, this is a camcorder you can use practically anywhere, and in any environment.

As well as capable of handling a knock or two, the protective case surrounding the camera is also waterproof up to 20 meters, which means you can use it outdoors without any fear of damaging it. The camera can also be worn either on an item of clothing, or clip to a wide variety of objects, including a bike, car or even a skateboard thanks to its interchangeable brackets.

Other features of the camera include a rechargeable Lithium-ion battery that allows up to 2.5hrs of recording time, a detachable 4cm screen which is used to view your recently taken movies and pictures, and a wireless remote control function.

If you are planning on going on an adventure, the Swann Freestyle HD should be high on your ‘to bring’ list. Recommended retail price of £279.99

For more information please visit Swann’s website: www.swann.com.

Bridging the gap: the Panasonic LUMIX GX1

Panasonic has been busy – along with announcing the world’s smallest 3D compact camera, it has also found time to bring a new Lumix G camera to the market – offering a new interchangeable lens camera that can fit in your pocket.

Lumix-GX1

The LUMIX G1 has the look of a classic camera, with its gunmetal grey or raven black body – its chassis is smooth aluminium, which means it is both sturdy and light (weighing 413g). The leather grip on the right hand side, is both practical and stylish in a retro kind of way.

The metal body makes it a sturdy camera, compared with some of the plastic bodied models available from Panasonic, making a steady base on which to fit the interchangeable lenses.
Mind you, with a body-only price of £500, it should feel good.

This is another Micro Four thirds camera, which fills the gap between a digital SLR and a snap-and-go compact, offering plenty of manual control and creativity for the enthusiast photographer.

Features that should delight the enthusiast include plenty of manual controls, a speedy autofocus (Panasonic reckons it’s as fast as 0.9s) and Burst Shooting speed of up to 20fps if you’re trying to capture fast-moving subjects.

A 3in touchscreen is also included, although we reckon keen photographers would rather use the buttons for controls. However, if you’re more of a beginner, the touchscreen may feel familiar to you and Panasonic has included an Intelligent Auto Plus mode just for you to help you get going.

The LCD display can also be used to view your HD video and stills.

There are14 lenses to choose from (including Panasonic’s new pancake lens sized 14-42mm X Zoom lens, part of its new range of ultra-compact electronic power zoom ‘X’ lenses) which should be enough satisfy even the most demanding of photographers, plus a 16MP sensor and low-light sensitivity at up to ISO 12800. There is a 3D lens available as well.

As we’ve mentioned, the body is £499.99 or with the H-FS014042 lens £599.99 – both from mid-December. The body with the H-PS14042 lens will be available from mid January at £729.99.

Go Pro HD Hero2: An action-packed sequel

How do you sequel one of the toughest, ruggedest cameras on the market? With the HD Hero2 Camera, GoPro decided to just double everything – power, resolution and field-of-width (well, it’s a bit wider, but not double).

GoPro-HD-Hero-2

The new Hero 2 uses a better camera sensor and a twice-as-powerful processor to capture Full HD video and photos at an impressive 11 megapixels.

GoPro also went back to the drawing board with the lens, making it a much more attractive wide-angle offering. It manages 170º at full-width, 127º at medium and 90º in its narrowest field-of-view in video recording. Photos operate at either the wide or medium offerings.

The new lens also uses a much better glass, which – continuing the pattern – is twice as sharp as before.

Video-wise, it’ll pull in an impressive 120fps in WVGA resolution (great for slow-motion), 60fps in a respectable 720p and 30fps in 1080p. The camera can fire 10 11MP photos a second in burst mode, or take a single 11MP photo every half a second in the time-lapse mode.

The Hero2 is all-set for professional videoing, with a 3.5mm external stereo microphone input and full compatibility with the Wi-Fi BacPac and Wi-Fi Remote, so you can control up to 50 GoPro cameras at once, or stream live videos and photos to the web.

GoPro are offering three editions – the Outdoor Edition, Motorsports Edition and the Surf Edition – each for £299.99. The different packs all feature the same camera, but you’ll find different accessories in each with mounts for each activity (unfortunately, you don’t find a racing strip on the motorsports edition).

You’ll get about two and a half hours of videoing from a single charge, which is insulated with a battery warmer to enable longer life in cold temperatures. You can also stick in an SD card for up to 32GB storage.