A thumbs up for the Nikon Coolpix S9900 and P7000

nikon-S9900-front

Increasing the Coolpix range further, two new high zoom cameras have been announced by Nikon – The slim line S7000 and the vari-angle S9900. Latest Gadgets looks at the initial reaction to Coolpix additions.

Coolpix S9900

According to Digital Photography Review’s assessment the 16-megapixel S9900 is the “ideal long zoom camera for the light-packing jetsetter.”

Resoundingly impressed it seems by the new Nikon camera, the DP Review is quick to point out that blurred images are effectively minimised by the camera’s Hybrid VR Technology for videos and the 30x optical zoom lens shift VR for stills.

You can’t get much better than a camera that delivers images of “superb quality” and “precise detail”, qualities attributed to the S9900 by the DP Review.

A retro design

In its hands-on review of the S9900, Pocket Lint is compelled to excitedly flaunt the camera’s retro design. In fact the word ‘retro’ is repeated four times by Pocket Lint by the time we reach the sixth paragraph of the review.

Asides its stylish retro look, Pocket Lint is impressed by the Coolpix S9900 3-inch vari-angle display on the rear, which has a resolution of 921k-dots but is a TFT LCD display rather than an OLED.

By all intents and purposes, it looks like the S9900 will compete against the likes of the Panasonic Lumix TZ70 and the Canon’s PowerShot SX710, both of which, according to Pocket Lint, are “excellent cameras in their own right.”

Retailing at £279.99, it seems the new Coolpix S9900 has got the thumbs up by the tech reviewers, but what about its considerably cheaper sibling, the CoolPix P7000?

Coolpix P7000

CNET award the P7000 a less favourable 3.5 stars, deeming the camera’s plus points to be its ‘nice’ – hardly the most engulfing of adjectives – set of shooting-focused features. Other pros, according to CNET, is the P7000’s optical viewfinder and built-in density filter, “very good” photo quality for its class, and comfortable and “relatively” streamlined shooting design.

And on the negative side, the Coolpix P7000 brags “relatively slow raw shooting.”

Overall though CNET tends to be in favour of the new Coolpix citing it as a “fine camera that lots of enthusiasts will appreciate for its smart shooting design, interesting feature set, and worthy photo quality.”

Also to Nikon’s credit, state CNET, is the fact that the Coolpix P7000 is a complete rework of its predecessor the P6000, rather than a mere update.

Trusted Reviews give the P7000 an impressive 9 out of 10.

The review site is eager to cite the camera’s key features that include a 1/1.7-inch 10-megapixel CCD sensor, a 7.1x f/2.8- 5.6 Nikkor zoom lens, a 7.5cm LCD monitor and being 114.2 x 77 x 44.8mm in size and 360g in weight.

Excellent autofocus

The pros of the P7000 are, according to Trusted Reviews, its excellent autofocus, superb lens, and good build quality. On the downside is the camera’s disappointing video recording mode and the fact it’s slightly sluggish.

nikon-S7000

The slim line P7000 retails at £169.99.

Coming in a hugely diverse range of styles, colours, quality, features and capabilities, which are easy to transport and don’t cost the earth, it’s easy to understand why Nikon’s Coolpix range has proven so popular.

And it seems, by most accounts, Nikon’s two latest Coolpix additions won’t let consumers down.

Make someone snap-happy this Christmas

Whatever your budget, you should be able to pick up some great gifts this Christmas for everyone from the keen amateur photographer to the kids.
Shop around online for some excellent prices.

Canon-EOS60D

Compact cameras

For a point-and-shoot camera, you can’t go wrong with the Canon Powershot A300 IS. It delivers clear images (it has 12.1MP onboard) and will also be a good choice for anyone who is already familiar with Canon’s DSLRs. It doesn’t have loads of bells and whistles, but if you want a camera that is easy to use and delivers on results you can’t go far wrong. And you should be able to pick one up for less than £80.

High-end compact

If you’ve got more cash to spend, the higher price compacts boast more in the way of functionality and video facilities. The Sony Cyber-shot DSC W390 has a 14.1MP processor, a 24-90mm zoom, and its Sweep Panorama mode, which allows you to produce extra-wide panoramic pictures just by pressing the shutter and sweeping the camera across the scene. Great fun if you’re going to use it. Around £189.99.

Creative compacts

There are lots of keen photographers who love their DSLRs, but just find them too bulky to carry around al the time. The answer is a creative compact – they don’t come cheap, but they offer the kind of control previously only found on big cameras.

The Fujifilm FinePix HS10 is what’s called a superzoom camera – it offers a massive 30x zoom, which makes it ideal for wildlife and sports photography, and in many respects is just like a DSLR. So it could replace your DSLR, and with 1080p video recording, could also mean you don’t need to carry a video camera either. It was £375 on release, but a few months later, you can easily knock a hundred pounds off the price if you search online. Good luck!

For a smaller model, check out the Panasonic Lumix LX3. With raw capture, a Leica 24-60mm lens and HD video for around £380, as well as excellent image quality and good autofocus, along with a good build quality.

DSLR

Prices for DSLRs range from around £400 right up to the near-£2,000 mark.

If your budget’s tight and you can’t stretch to a Canon or Nikon (which we’ll get to in a minute), you could consider the Pentax K-r. Pentax has always been runner-up to the big names, but actually produces some decent cameras, and the K-r offers good image quality, and 720 HD video recording, although this has had some mixed reviews. Bear in mind that you won’t get the wide range of lenses on offer for Canons and Nikons, but it’s a decent entry-level camera all the same – for around £440.

If you love your loved one very much, splash out rather more on the Canon 60D (pictured), with 18Mp processor, Full HD video and a flip-out LCD screen. It remains quite compact and lightweight for a DSLR, and it comes in at around £800 for body only.

If you’ve got a couple of hundred quid more to splash out (and if so, can I give you my address?) you could go for a Nikon D300s, which has been praised both for image quality and the speed with which it an be adjusted to take the next shot. Excellent build quality as we’ve come to expect from Nikon, and 720p video recording also thrown in.

Christmas gifts for girls

Christmas is looming. If you like to miss the mad Christmas Eve rush then you best start buying those pressies now. Here’s our top present ides for the ladies! So ladies treat yourself to something nice or better yet drop a hint by leaving this site open for the significant other in your life to see.

WiFi-Scales

For the gym bunnies, Wi-Fi Bathroom scales are sent from heaven. Losing weight is hard enough. Do you really want to spend time manually tracking your progress? I know I don’t. The Wi-Fi Scales by Withings will wirelessly send your weight, lean mass, fat mass and BMI all to your PC, iPhone or iPad or Android phone. Your progress is shown graphically with an easy-to use interface. You can even tweet you weight if you like, perhaps when you reach a milestone? For users with multiple in the household, it has user recognition so you stand on the scales it knows who are without having to select which user to weigh in as. The iPhone application is free allowing you to keep track on the go wherever you are. You can get it in black and newly available white for £120 here.

For the ladies with multiple gadgets, save yourself from having a low battery with the iHome iB969 Charging Station. This is a practical gift for people with several gadgets to charge at the same time. The station can charge up to 4 gadgets at the same time including iPad, iPhone, iPod and a Kindle. You can charge other devices using a USB connection. Guys, if you ask very nicely maybe your lady will let you charge device?

For the designer-clad woman who loves fashion, uber cool Marc Jacobs have made a case for the iPad. Available in hot pink, purple, turquoise and black. I recommend the hot pink as it’s gorgeous. The cases are foamed rubber with jumbled logo embossed. For a designer case at street price you cannot beat this. Available in different sizes allowing you to carry your laptop in the large cases starting from £35 for the iPad case here.

For the teen girl in need of a PAYG phone, the Alcatel OT-808 is a good choice. It has a unique, compact clam-shell handset in pink. With integrated social networking at its core, a gossip girl can keep in contact with everyone. A 2MP camera, FM radio and a QWERTY will keep your daughter or little sister happy without breaking the bank for you. Exclusively to Carphone Warehouse, it is £39.95 on PAYG.

If you know any photographers, why not give them the Casio Exilim EX-15. Packing 14MP, 10x Zoom and HD video recording, features we have all become accustomed to. What makes this camera different is the Art Shot function enabling the photographer to create photos that have the feel of a real painting. You can select from three art styles to capture the scene, oil, crayon or watercolour. A Premium Auto function automatically analyzes the scene and optimizes settings including focus location, sensitivity and colour balance. This makes the camera easy to use as you just push the button and the camera does the rest. Available in pink, black and silver with a RRP of £250 from Amazon.

Samsung WB2000 review: On my Christmas wishlist

The Samsung WB2000 is the second compact camera I’ve reviewed from Samsung this week, and like the waterproof WP10, the build quality is admirable.

Out of the box, it impresses with its matte black surround, which makes it easy to hold (along with a raised textured panel on the right) and its fantastic AMOLED screen. ‘Real’ photographers will appreciate its RAW file support, and from an aesthetic point of view I loved the retro dials on its top edges, which indicate memory and battery status. The power button (also on the top edge) features a glowing blue surround when it’s turned on – handy in the dark. While the power button is recessed, it’s easy to turn on with the flat of a finger (or gloves if you’re outside in this weather).

Samsung-wb2000

The menu is very intuitive – finding everything from modes to your choice of image size is really simple, using the jog wheel that has been placed for easy thumb operation.

Along with all the auto modes, which I’ll get to in a second, there is plenty of real control to be had. You’ll find program, aperture priority, shutter priority and manual settings. It also offers dual image stabilisation to prevent blur from camera shake if you zoom in or are shooting in low light.

You can also shoot video in scene and 1080p modes. A one-touch button on the back is useful to start video shooting, although it takes a couple of seconds to get going, so be prepared.

The flash offers options such as auto, fill-in, slow-sync and red-eye correction, you can shoot images at up to 10fps and choose manual focus – great for taking pictures at the zoo through cages! It offers similar modes to those on the WP10 – beauty, portrait, beach/snow, backlit, sunset, dawn and many more. The panorama mode makes it easy to take shots of a wide area – just hold down the shutter and pan slowly – there’s also a mode for taking panorama action shots. Styles for having a bit of fun include sketch and retro – which makes images look a bit like those slightly washed-out affairs we called colour back in the 70s (for those of you old enough to remember).

Like the WP10, the only disappointment is the battery life – you’ll get around 140 images from a fully charged battery.

I often regret taking out my compact in favour of my DSLR, but in the WB2000, I think I may have found a really viable backup camera. At a smidge under £300, it’s not cheap, but you are still getting quite a lot for your
money.

Samsung WP10 review: shiny happy snapper

First impressions of the shiny red Samsung WP10 that arrived in the post were pretty good. It’s a waterproof camera (up to 3m) and as such is really solidly built, with slide-to-lock solid flaps for camera and memory card.

The front looks a bit sparse – just the lens and the flash at the top of the front, but this does give you plenty of space for holding, which is useful, because being so flat and shiny and pretty small, it’s not so user-friendly when you’re holding it. However, it makes it very pocket-friendly – as does the price.

Samsung-wp10

On the top is the power button, which we found rather fiddly unless you can press it with your fingernail – and not ideal for using underwater – and the shutter.

The large screen on the back makes viewing easy, though does tend to make shots appear a bit overexposed – but it’s brightness makes it easier to see in low-light conditions (and presumably underwater too) although we found a bit of a lag when storing your taken shot, which means you can’t take another one until it’s done.

There are plenty of modes on offer – from beach/snow to ‘beauty’ which does its own version of touching up – great for spotty teenagers and anyone who’s overindulged over the festive season. I’m not even going to show you my pictures – but maybe I was just too much of a challenge for it!

It’s clear Samsung is aiming for the family user who wants everything nice and easy, with little need to fiddle around manipulating images after they’re taken.

The waterproof/weatherproof qualities of the camera at a very reasonable price will appeal to anyone who wants a good all-round camera that can be stuffed in a pocket. The one downside for a do-it-all camera is that battery life is disappointing, and you’ll probably want to take a spare battery if you’re heading out for the day.

Image quality was decent, although we experienced quite a bit of noise at anything on ISO800 and above.  We had a good chance to try out the snow setting (pictured), which failed to alter the white balance, leaving us with a blue cast, which was rather disappointing. Macro mode produced excellent results, and we really liked the idea of a mode for taking images of text – handy if you want to copy and send a letter or information off a leaflet and don’t have a scanner.

At £115 or thereabouts, the Samsung offers a lot of features for the money – especially if you’re keen to take underwater images and want a really sturdy product.

Swiftpoint: The ultra mini-mouse

Hate trackpads? Go on admit it I won’t tell anyone. Trackpads can be amazing – Apple’s multi-touch efforts are pretty swanky and in general the technology has improved since my early days battling IBM Thinkpad nubs. But for detailed work, or frustration free computing … it’s nice to have a mouse. But with laptops getting smaller and lighter (not to mention netbooks with smaller, even more frustrating trackpads and even less space to use a mouse) adding a conventional mouse to your set up doesn’t always make sense. If you actually have the laptop on your lap (or a snazzy Logitech Lapdesk) then having a mouse is a little awkward.

Swiftpoint-Mouse

Enter Swiftpoint Ltd, a New Zealand-based technology company and their super cute Swiftpoint mouse. Fitting snugly over your thumb, the Swiftpoint mouse is dinky yet packs a host of features and design points that Swiftpoint claim improve productivity. With all the buttons you’d expect, plus a carefully positioned scroll wheel the Swiftpoint mouse does seem like a step up from the clunky manoeuvring trackpads provide.

A tiny USB dongle links your laptop (or any computer really) the Swiftmouse and you are pretty much ready to go. An annoying message pops up on Macs but this can safely be ignored. The dongle also acts as a dock. A 90-minute charge will provide between 2-to-4 weeks of normal use, whilst a 30-second burst will give the user an hour of usage time, even if the battery has been completely drained.

I created the Swiftpoint Mouse because of my own frustration with the touchpad, which I and many others consider to be a very inaccurate and inefficient substitute for a mouse,” said Grant Odgers, CEO, Swiftpoint.

“After four years of intensive research, design, development and testing, we are proud to present the final result – a mouse that you can use directly on your palm rest to turn your laptop into a no-compromise mobile workstation, no matter how cramped your work space is.”

The Swiftpoint mouse is available from www.amazon.co.uk at a RRP of £59.99 inc VAT.

Ricoh CX4 review: Miniaturise your world

At first glance, the Ricoh CX4 looks like your average compact camera. My review sample came in a rather uninspiring black, but search online and you’ll be able to buy it in a rather more fetching pink or silver. However, it is compact and has smooth edges, which make it easy to slip into a pocket. It is missing the textured ‘handgrip’ of its predecessor the CX3, which makes it a little less easy to hold.

Ricoh-CX4

I’ve been having some issues with my own Canon compact, and had recently decided to go back to my trusty DSLR, despite its weighty proportions, as I just wasn’t happy with the standard of shots I was getting.

So when the Ricoh landed in my letterbox, I was interested to see how it would compare.

Screen-wise, it was a big thumbs-up. The screen is large (3in) and has a high resolution of 920K dots offers an excellent view of your shots once taken – better than the standard 230K dot screens. But I found, once I’d loaded the images onto my laptop, that they were rather misleading. A couple of black and white shots I’d taken looked fine on the camera’s screen, but in actual fact was underexposed. And indoor shots taken at night (on a rare night out to dinner) were disappointing.

But outside, I was really impressed with the depth of colours the camera achieved. A trip to an open farm over Halloween presented images with fine depth of colour, and using the auto mode gave me some fantastic blue skies, something that my other compact often fails to achieve.

There’s a decent 28-300 optical zoom, and an image-sensor-shift image stabilisation that cuts down on blur. The ‘subject tracking’ AF autofocus system is designed to ensure photos are in focus and correctly exposed – I’d say the focusing works better than the exposure.

I know I’m sad, but I was also excited by the ‘miniaturisation’ mode. This achieves what is known as tilt-shift images, where a picture of something such as a railway station or Big Ben, takes on the appearance of being in miniature, like a model village or train set. It’s something I’ve been keen to try myself, but had never got round to fiddling around with the settings on my DSLR to achieve it. With the Ricoh, it can be done at the twist of the dial on top.

The High definition 720p video mode creates AVI format files that are rather large, and you can’t zoom or focus during recording. There’s also no stereo sound or an HDMI port for viewing movies on your TV.

The Ricoh CX4 retails at £249.99.