Sony announce new cameras: NEX-7 and NEX-5N

Sony-Nex-7

Sony have just announced two new compact cameras to be released this September, and from the position of this writers lofty throne they are looking good. First up is the Nex-7, which is the more expensive of the two at around £1000. The features and specification of the camera would appear to justify such a price, though it is impossible to say for certain as it this point no models have been available for testing.  With 24.3 megapixels and the new Exmor APS HD CMOS sensor that Sony are now rolling out, it will mean users have the opportunity to create professional quality images with a camera that comes in at only 119.9mm x 69.mm x 42.6mm (excluding the lens).

Big noises are being made by the developers about the shutter release lag of 0.2 seconds, apparently a record for a digital camera with an interchangeable lens.  We haven’t seen any proof of this, mind, and therefore cannot vouch for the accuracy of said claim, but we’d like to think them lovely honest people up in Sony PR HQ wouldn’t lead us up a dark alley with claims they can’t substantiate. Because that never happens, right?

Wrong…anyway…this tiny lag mixed with the models new Object Tracking feature means that focus should be easily held onto whatever target the snapper has selected, even when said target is moving within the frame.  If you utilise the cameras speed priority mode, you can also snap action at 10fps; another world’s best apparently, this time the fastest burst shooting speed of any mirrorless interchangeable lens camera.

The other major selling point of the NEX-7 is the ability to produce sophisticated effects on pictures ‘in camera’, basically negating the need to spend hours fiddling with them on your PC.  There’s 11 modes and 15 effects that can be accessed from the camera menu, and not a Hipstamatic in sight.  Modes included are Pop Colour, HDR Painting, Rich-tone Mono and Retro Photo

Of course it’s not just about the stills.  We’re all into home movies these days, with the NEX-7 being a sound option for the next Hilton, Thomas or Kardashian.  Everything is in ‘smooth’ AVCHD, with the device also providing support for AVCHD Progressive 2.0 format, which means you’ll be able to use 25p or 50p  frame rates.

DigitalRev TV review:

Although exact prices are unavailable at the time of writing, it is assumed that the NEX-5N will come in at £550-£600, and this difference is reflected in the fact in it being a slightly tamer beast.  It has mostly the same features, spec and gizmos as the NEX-7, just with a little less oomph under the bonnet.  The megapixels offered is a not-too-shabby 16.1, and it does unfortunately get rid of the in-body flash, though you can choose to purchase the latter. Other than that it’s essentially the same and it will just be a case if you need, or are inclined to spend the money on, that little bit of professional quality.

Taking pictures just got easy with Panasonic’s pair of snappers

Panasonic is appealing to photographers who want a camera that makes life simple as well as those who appreciate having full creative control, with two launches this summer.

LUMIX-DMC-FZ48

First up is the Panasonic LUMIX DMC-LS5. It’s not slacking in the sensor department – boasting a whopping 14.1 megapixels – plus it has a 26mm wide angle lens and can stop down to F2.8, which means you should get decent pictures in low-light situations – which has long been an issue with digital cameras.

If your hand is far from steady, Panasonic has the answer in the form of the OIS (optical image stabilizer), which corrects any blur caused by handshake.

Along with this facility, the camera also offers the benefits of iA (Intelligent Auto), which basically does the thinking for you. Intelligent Scene Selector is able to automatically select the correct choice of five Scene Modes – Scenery, Night Portrait, Macro, Portrait, Night Scenery – so that you have the right settings for the situation. Face recognitions allows human faces to be captured in focus with the correct exposure, while Face Detection corrects unwanted red-eye digitally.

The new LS5 also records HD movie in 1280 x 720p at a smooth 30 fps and the bundled software, lets you share via Facebook or YouTube.

The only downside may be the fact that the camera runs on AA batteries – my own compact runs on AA batteries and you can guarantee that it runs out unexpectedly and that I don’t have any spares when I need them! Panasonic’s specs quote 160 to 320 images from a full battery charge, depending on settings.

Panasonic’s other launch is a super-zoom camera, which aims to impress not only beginners but more experienced photographers.

The DMC-FZ48, has a 24 x optical zoom and can be operated manually for full creative control. It also has full-HD video recording capability and offers a Miniature Effect mode.

Panasonic promises improved image quality from the 25mm ultra wide-angle LEICA DC VARIO-ELMARIT lens, which also features Panasonic’s Black Box Nano Surface Coating technology, which has been designed to minimise light reflection. The lens has been designed to suppress distortion at the wide end and colour bleed at the tele end.

Most useful is the 24x optical zoom (which gives you an equivalent range of 25-600mm from a 35mm camera) so the snapper can be used for everything from lanscapes to sports shots to group portraits.

Price and availability have yet to be announced for both cameras.

Samsung Class 4 SDHC cards: Semi-indestructible storage

Memory cards are often the unsung hero of the gadget world, much like batteries – another component that rarely gets a shout out. Yet memory cards can often be the lynch pin of our digital life – storing those amazing shots from our swanky new camera, expanding the memory on a smart phone or holding the soundtrack to our lives. The gradual move to cloud storage may make them a little less deserving of our love and attention in time, but we clearly aren’t yet at the stage where we can abandon local storage and live in the cloud just yet (I speak as someone who has just been barred from the mobile internet for the rest of the month by O2 for streaming podcasts over my “unlimited” 3G connection, thereby causing their network to freak out. Blame Earwolf.com. I digress).

Samsung-8GB-micro-SDHC

Seeing as storage is so important in our lives, it’s amazing how much thought doesn’t go into its use, with people happy to plump for the cheapest generic card they can find, only to freak out when said card runs slowly , is damaged or dies altogether.

We had a Samsung class 4 SD HC card to put through its paces and were impressed with what we saw. It’s a class 4 memory card, so it transfers data in a with Read speeds of up to 15MB/s and minimum sustained Write speeds of 4MB/s. The Samsung Micro SD Card is covered with EMC (Epoxy Molding Compound) to protect the flash memory chips from the very real threat of it’s mortal enemies water and dust. We dipped the card into a variety of drinks throughout the day and it barely noticed (and tasted delicious). The card is also shockproof, so we recited some Louis CK routines with little effect. We then threw it against a wall. Again, it shrugged this off nonchalantly. Magnets also seemed to have little effect. And it comes with a 5 year warranty!

So if you spend a lot of time flitting between lakes and high-impact aerobic classes and the occasional battle with Magneto in-between, then this is clearly the SD card for you.

Check it out from memory card zoo.

The TX-10 Cybershot and two other ‘summer holiday proof’ cameras

Packing for your summer holiday simply wouldn’t be complete without a camera. Taking photos and videos to remember your holiday is priceless and therefore your choice of camera shouldn’t be taken with a pinch of salt. If you are on the lookout for a new camera ahead of your couldn’t-come-fast-enough holiday take a look at three of the best cameras available geared up for sun, sea, sand and surf.

Summer-Cameras

The TX-10 Cybershot

Being waterproof, drop-proof, dust-proof and freeze-proof, you can safely assume the TX-10 Cybershot will be robust enough to handle all the technology-damaging components a beach holiday comprises of, although let’s hope the latter resilient feature won’t need to be tested on a summer vacation. This stylish camera takes 16-megapixel photographs, shoots HD videos and is available in five different colours, meaning it will impress your mates and not fall apart when you pull it out of your handbag at a foam party in Ibiza!

It doesn’t come cheap though, as the TX-10 Cybershot costs approximately £330, quite an expensive to fork out just ahead of a holiday!

Panasonic DMC-FT10

For a less expensive £159.95 you could own a Panasonic DMS-FT10, which, weighing just 157g and measuring a minute 21.6mm, this stealthily sturdy little snapper won’t take up much of your precious weight allowance on the aeroplane. Not only does the SMC-FT10 boast Panasonic Intelligent Auto Mode, as well as Intelligent ISO control and face detection, but, like the TX-10 Cybershot, its shockproof, dustproof, waterproof and can handle Icelandic temperatures – Great if your holidaying to the southern hemisphere this summer.

Olympus TG-810

With a ‘tank-like chassis’ this little ultra-tough camera is capable of withstanding a load of up to 100kg. Whilst this rock hard snapper may be a great addition to an extreme sportsman’s backpack, it’s perhaps not the ‘coolest’ looking camera to pull out at a club in Ayai Napa. Nonetheless its crushproof credentials makes the TG-810 a safe option to weather the potential injuring elements a summer holiday can pose on our gadgets.

You can pick up the TG-810 and pop it in your hand luggage for £219.

Sony sees through the SLT market with the Sony Alpha A35

Sony has set it sights firmly on the SLT market with the launch of the Alpha A35. If you’re wondering what SLT means – let me enlighten you – it stands for Translucent Mirror Technology, Sony’s own technology, which was named Innovation of the Year at the Amateur Photographer awards this year.

Sony-a35

Many have been the mutterings that the SLT will see the end of the DSLR. The difference is that an electronic viewfinder (EVF) is used with the new technology, but the payoff is that you benefit from full-time phase-detection live view and ultra-fast 7fps continuous focus burst mode. It makes for a speedy shooting experience, and yet the camera looks like your traditional DSLR, but in actual fact blurs the line between DSLR and the more recent interchangeable lens cameras.

While SLT cameras might look and feel like DSLRs, the mirror inside does not move (hence they don’t offer the single-lens reflex action). The mirror inside is semi-transparent and lets 70 per cent of light through to the main sensor. The rest of the light is deflected to a phase-detection autofocus sensor.

As a result you get continuous autofocus for still and moving images. This means you can capture up to 10 frames per second.

The advantage of an EVF is that you are able to preview your settings, and see all of the frame. Sony’s EVF also includes focus-point magnification, a digital spirit level and a histogram.

The A35 replaces Sony’s A33, bringing a better resolution of 16.2 megapixels and tele-zoom high-speed shooting, which magnifies the central portion of the image by 1.4x and enhances the performance of continuous tracking AF. It has a maximum sensitivity of ISO 12800, which should give you an advantage in low-light situations.

The A35 also features some new picture modes, including toy camera, high key and retro photo – modes that can be used for still and video shooting. (if you have an Alpha 33 a firmware upgrade is available to you).

The body is similar to its predecessor, but just a tad lighter, and oddly it now features a fixed LCD screen rather than the vari-angle one on the A33, which apparently is aimed at keeping costs down. It seems a strange backward step to take though…

Battery life on the other hand is decent – you should be able to take a generous 440 still shots – 30% more than its predecessor. The camera is also compatible with 32 A-mount interchangeable lenses from Sony, including six Carl Zeiss lenses.

The Sony a35 will be released in August. The body only comes in at £519. More here

Aquapac underwater camera cases

Ever had a baby, a swimming pool and an urge to recreate the cover of Nirvana’s 1991 classic album Nevermind? It can’t be just me. Aquapac have released a new range of underwater (5 m) cases that gives you a few more options your shots – whether you want to capture some up close fish pics, some waterfall shots or just want to keep you camera safe from splashes in hazardous environments.

AquaPac

The five-strong range comprises a mini, small and large sized case, plus a mini case with a hard lens, as well as one specifically designed for SLR cameras. So pretty much any recording device you have will be safe from splashes.

The cases will protect your camera from water damage upto depths of 5m. Simply secure your camera in the case using Aquapac’s unique Aquaclip® and start taking pictures in, around and under the water, worry-free. It’s pretty much idiot proof.

You can fully operate your camera through the case, using all the buttons and switches and an acrylic lens material on the mini case with hard lens and the SLR camera case enables you to take great pictures through it even when underwater. And self indulgent, mediocre pictures as well. Pretty much all styles are catered for. Each case is supplied with a lanyard, or for the SLR case an adjustable shoulder strap and handy desiccant sachets are supplied to absorb any condensation in humid climates.

I have a Canon 7D, which is pretty fantastic for recording HD video footage and I’ve used it for a number of external shorts. I panic the moment grey clouds start to form and having an Aquapac on standby for accidental rain sounds pretty hand. Also for those iconic moody protagonist walking through a downpour shots that pretty much every indie romcom needs.

Professional photographer Pete Webb has some top tips for taking photographs underwater

  • Take photos in shallow water so that daylight will help you out rather than in deep water.
  • If you are shooting friends underwater, put milk in their eyes to stop them getting sore.
  • Always rinse your camera case in fresh water after using.

Swann DVR4-2000: Unwired for sound and vision

Back in September, we took a look at Swann’s DVR4-2000 security recording system, which offered a well-priced pair of security cameras, but was missing the wireless connectivity of its rival the Y-Cam Bullet (unless you wanted to splash out on some wireless cameras to add to it).

Swann-ADW-200

Now, Swann has upped the ante with the Swann ADW 200 Digital Wireless Security Camera and Digital Receiver, which offers you the chance to view your images on a TV.

The ADW-200 also offers a secure digital transmission, to cut down on interference or static from other wireless devices such as cordless phones, web routers and Bluetooth,

Swann says the wireless transmission is good up to 50m, and that night vision on the camera works at up to 8m. The camera itself has a metal, weather-resistant case and a built-in microphone.

To set up, simply install the camera so that it covers the area you want monitored, plug the receiver into your TV and the camera and receiver will automatically pair up when they’re set to the same channel.

The ADW-200 comes in at the budget price of £139.99, which includes one camera. Extra cameras are available at £79.99 and are available from Argos.

For more details go to http://swannsecurity.com/

Olympus reveals seven new snappers

It’s that time of year, when all the technical bods gathered in Las Vegas to wonder at the latest innovations at the world’s biggest technical showcase – CES. And it’s also the cue for camera manufacturers to roll out a vast swathe of new and hopefully improved models for their adoring public.

Olympus-CES

We’ve already seen what Canon has on offer; next up is Olympus, which has revealed a total of seven new cameras – one of which it says will challenge the future designs of compact cameras. So let’s take a look at it.

The Olympus E-PL2 is compact and lightweight and claims to offer beginners the chance to take SLR-quality stills and movies, as well as offering a good choice of lenses including 16 dedicated Micro Four Thirds lenses and three new conversion lenses – Wide, Macro and Fish Eye (prices start from about £60). Moving on from the E-PL1, the lens is now lighter and sensitivity now extends to ISO 6400. Expect to pay around £500.

Enthusiasts and professionals looking for a second camera are being served by the XZ-1, a compact camera that promises clear pictures in low light, which has long been an issue with compact digitals, and looks to rival the likes of the Canon PowerShot S95 with its fast f1.8 lens. Sensitivity is upped on most of its rivals – at ISO 6400 – and it has a 10-megapixel sensor. Priced at around £399, the general verdict from those techies lucky enough to get their hands on one in Las Vegas has been good so far.

With an optical zoom of x22, sports shots should be a breeze with the compact Olympus SP-610Z, which is Eye-Fi card compatible, allowing automatic wireless uploading of pictures to a computer or website. Priced at around £170.

And for those of you who are tough on gadgets, take a look at the latest range of waterproof, freeze proof and shockproof Tough models – the TG-610 (£250) and TG-310 (£200). They now feature a sliding double lock mechanism to protect cards slots, battery and ports as well as a lens barrier for protection when taking underwater images. They feature 14-megapixel sensors and the ability to shoot in 3D and be charged via USB.

And for newbies on a budget, Olympus has introduced the VR-310 (£130), a very compact camera with a 14-megapixel sensor, creative Magic Filters and the ability to shoot movies at 720p HD, as well as the VG-130 (£99.99), which comes in pink and black.

For more details head to www.olympus.co.uk/cameras