Canon EOS 600D: Full HD, wireless flash technology and more

Here’s an early warning – if you’re a Canon EOS fan, but really need to keep hold of your cash at the moment, read no further.

So, you’re still here? Okay, don’t say I didn’t warn you. Here’s the good news and the bad news, depending on how deep your pockets are.

The bad news if you’re strapped for cash is that Canon has just announced the release of the EOS 600D – the slightly bigger brother of the 550D and smaller sibling of the 60D. Coming in at £679, the good news is that the camera won’t actually be released until April, so you have a bit of time to save up if you’re really tempted.

Canon-EOS1100D

So what does the 600D have that the 550D doesn’t? Well, if you’ve drooled over the pricier 60D’s articulated screen, there’s one on the 600D, a real boon if you want to take video. With a 1.04 million-dot LCD as well as a fingerprint-proof fluorine coating and anti-refection coatings the screens sounds like it should do the business. While we’re on the subject of video recording, the 600D offers Full HD recording AND a built-in stereo mic.

So what else is there to tempt you? Well, there’s an 18-megapixel CMOS sensor, and continuous shooting at 3.7fps, plus the 600D features wireless flash technology, which should make using a flashgun remotely a breeze.

While the 600D would certainly suit an enthusiast, especially at its price point. Canon is really aiming it at the beginner, which is why it benefits from Canon’s ‘Basic +’, which allows the user to make changes to the exposure modes without really knowing all the technical explanations behind it. Also useful to beginners is the Feature Guide, which has a short onscreen explanation of how each function works.

And videographers can make use of Video Snapshot, which stitches together short bursts of video into one continuous movie – effectively editing within the camera.

While it’s more than a bare-bones entry-level model, the 600D does offer a number of facilities that will tempt the beginner, as well as functionality for the more enthusiastic photographer with a smaller budget.

Having said that, there’s quite a lot of competition in this part of the market, especially from the mirrorless, smaller models, so it will be interesting to see how it fares in the long run.

For absolute beginners, however, Canon has another model up its sleeve – the EOS 1100D, which boasts a 12.2 megapixel CMOS sensor, as well as Basic + and Creative Auto models and comes in at a pretty reasonable £419 for body only.

More on both models at www.canon.co.uk

GE’s 2011 camera range

Among the raft of cameras released at CES in January, one that has something just a bit different is the GE Power Pro GE PJ1 (£249.99). The compact camera has a built-in Pico projector, which lets you beam your video and images onto any surface up to 70 inches in size. A nifty way to show off your pictures and video when you’re in a group – whether you’re showing your Mum pictures of the kids, or replaying the video you took at a party. Business users may be interested in the PJ1 as it can be linked to a laptop and used as a portable video projector.

GE-Cameras

As well as this rather interesting feature, it also has a 14.1mp sensor, can take HD movies at 720p and has a 7x optical zoom. It offers 20 shooting modes, face auto exposure, and smile and blink detection. The camera will be available in the spring.

There are three more additions to the GE Power range – the X500 (£149.99), which is aimed at the ‘bridge’ market between compacts and DSLRS. It has a 15x optical zoom, 27mm wide angle lens and is as easy to use as a point and shoot yet has many of the features you’d expect from an SLR, including shutter and aperture priority modes. Look out for it in the UK in the spring.

For photographers who are looking for a compact with a long zoom, the E1680W (£149.99) could fit the bill. GE has designed it to be as slim as possible, while offering 16mp resolution, 28 wide angle lens, optical image stabilisation and auto scene detection. It has a 3in LCD screen and models will be available in black silver and red when they appear in February.

The E1450W (£89.99) offers 14mp resolution, 5x optical zoom, a 2.7in LCD screen as well as a facility for Pan-Capture Panorama. Coming out in April, it will come in silver, red and black.

GE has increased the GE Smart with three new models, all with 14.1 mp resolution. The J1470S (£89.99) has an incredibly useful retractable USB plug, a 3in LDC screen and captures VD video, while the A1456W (£79.99) has a new 28mm wide angle lens and Pan-Capture Panorama. Both are released in March. Coming a month earlier is the entry-level C1433 (£59.99), which has 14.1 mp resolution, panorama stitching and red-eye removal. Due out in February.

Anyone who’s tough on their gadgets should look for the GE Active DV1 (£79.99), a pocket-sized waterproof, shockproof and dustproof camera with flip-out USB plug, HD 1080p movies recording and a number of advanced camera features such as face detection and optical image stabilisation. Available now.

www.ge.com/digitalcameras

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

CES 2011: Golla cases and bags for your gadgets

If Santa was good to you this Christmas and bought you a new phone or even iPad it is time to start thinking accessories. So by now you have got to grips with it and you want a new case. When you have something as valuable as the iPad you need something stylish and functional to carry it around. A quality bag or case which does not fall apart on you after 2 weeks can sometimes be hard to find. Golla have cases and bags for iPhones, eReaders, cameras and laptops and they announced their 2011 range at CES 2011. Here are some the best.

Golla

Golla introduce the G-bag in 5 colours with the grey being my favourite with the stylish design. With a magnetic flap, it’s easy to open and close. A G-bag can be used for an iPad or laptop using the padded compartment. The straps can be folded away so they no longer drag on the floor. Golla show their flair for design with the laptop bags as they have a dedicated laptop compartment with velcro fastening to keep it in place. They also come with a screen cloth to keep your laptop clean. There are several more compartments to keep your accessories, keys and wallet. The designs tend to be letters or floral designs on the flap and will suit men and women. A lot of the new designs are in denim as it seems to be the rage, good for a more casual look.

If you a new DSLR camera, then how about camera bag? Golla’s cam bags are padded and two removable walls in the bags to provide extra space when needed. They come in 3 sizes and the large cam bag has extra slots for memory cards, outside pockets for ease and a top handle to carry when your shoulder hurts. The small size is for compact cameras.

The new range of cases for mobile phones has been given an extra pocket which is perfect for storing earphones or loose change. Some of the cases have a carabiner attached which is useful for sporty people as you can clip it to your bag or belt. The new Golla collection will be available from April in Currys and phone retailers.

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.

Round Up: Ricoh CX4, Olympus FE 5050 and Nikon D3100

‘Tis the season to be snap happy, according to camera giants Nikon, Ricoh and Olympus. They’ve all prepared new cameras for launch this Autumn, giving us all plenty of time to master the new lens’ before the annual family Christmas photo-a-thon.

Ricoh CX4

Ricoh

The CX4 is a lot more rounded than Ricoh’s previous compacts – in hardware, software and style.

In the physical realm, the new model is sleeker, slimmer and curvier, complete with a high-power 10.7x optical zoom lens which also offers wide-angle 28-300mm photos.

Thankfully, with such a long-zoom, Ricoh have also improved on the image stabilisation sensor too, promising to reduce shutter-speed by 3.7 EV.

The software has also been improved all round. The camera uses subject-tracking auto-focus to keep whoever you’re aiming at in perfect focus, whether they’re running about or waiting for a portrait.

The camera also boasts a “night landscape multi-shot mode” which takes four exposures and combines them into a single photograph to reduce image noise in low-light photos.

To round-off the new software updates, Ricoh have thrown in a bunch of more fun updates. In the “creative shooting mode” budding photographers can add a soft focus, cross process and toy camera effects.

These picture options may be less impressive than those found in an iPhone with a £1.19 app, but “creative shooting” will be sure to keep the family entertained when a chestnut roasting on the open fire sets the Christmas tree alight, melting the presents and scorching the new Puppy (which, by the way, should never have been wrapped and placed under the tree in the first place).

Olympus Gets Funky with Three New FE cameras

Olympus-fe

This September, Olympus is extending its extensive range of point-and-shot cameras. There will be three new Olympus FE cameras with almost identical names: 5050, 5040 and the 4050.

They’re almost identical on features, too. The 5050 (RRP: £129) has 14 megapixels, 5x wide optical zoom, advanced face detection (up to 16 faces).

It also comes in a range of colours, including (and this is where Olympus spent its “naming things” budget): Starry Silver, Classic Black, Champagne Gold and Dusty Pink.

The 5040 (£119) drops down to 12 megapxiels and can only track 12 faces. It does comes in a slightly different range of colours, though: Starry Silver, Classic Black, Raspberry Red and Copper Orange.

The 4050 (£99) also only has 12 megapixels, drops the optical zoom to 4x, but strangely gains advanced face detection for up to 16 faces – something the 5040 lacks.

And the 4050’s colours? Starry Silver, Classic Black, Wine Red and Pure White.

All three cameras have auto-focus tracking to keep moving subjects in focus, as well as i-Auto to automatically detect the type of photo and change the photo settings accordingly.

Nikon D3100 – DSLR Pictures, Compact Usability

Nikon-D3100

While other companies are content with creating compacts, Nikon like to make their DSLR’s so easy to use that they blast their way into the point-and-shoot market. That’s why the D3100‘s older brother, the D3000, is Europe’s best selling DSLR.

With a 14.2 megapixels, Full HD video and Live View, however, the D3100 looks set to become the new king – especially at just £499 (or £579, if you’d like a lens).

Other features include the 11-point autofocus system, which uses Fulltime servo autofocus to keep subjects in focus without the need to press the shutter button. It also recognises and follows 35 faces at a time – which is great if you have a very big family.

The ultimate weapon in Nikon’s war on compacts, however, is the Guide mode. This gives you step-by-step instructions of how to change the camera settings. Not only does it help you take great pictures but also teaches you which settings were used – so you can develop your photography skills as you go.

Other user-friendly settings includes the ability to preview images for each setting before you take the photo, letting you know what you can expect from the exposure or aperture level before you click the button.

Sony takes aim at the novice snapper with A390 and A290 DSLRs

Hot on the heels of Sony’s NEX range of interchangeable lens compact cameras comes a more traditional pair of DSLRs aimed at the novice snapper.

These 14mp entry-level DSLRs are pretty much the same, although the A390 features an LCD screen that tilts and folds, while the A290’s screen is fixed to the body. The A390 also features Quick AF Live View, which avoids squinting through the viewfinder – a boon for first-time DSLR users who are used to the screens on compact cameras.

Sony-DSLR-A390-290

While rumours have been abounding on the net about the new releases for a while, they have failed to excite camera buffs. That’s because the cameras are essentially just a step up from Sony’s A230 and A380 models, with the greatest difference being a new grip designed to make handling more comfortable and of course the image-stabilised 14.2mp CCD sensor.

Newbies, however, will be helped out by the intuitive graphic display that has been designed to enable the user to understand the relation between shutter speed and aperture, and the effects of your chosen settings on the final image. An onscreen help guide explains the camera functions and gives image samples to illustrate how the settings work.

Interchangeable lenses feature the Sony A-mount, which is compatible with Minolta and Konica AF lenses. One battery charge should get you 500 images, though be aware that using live view mode on the A390 will more than halve that.

Both cameras also include a mini-HDMI terminal for connection to an HD-Ready TV and support for PhotoTV HD has been designed to get even better image reproduction on Sony’s BRAVIA TVs. BRAVIA owners can also let you control slideshow and playback function using your TV remote.

The UK is still waiting for prices to be announced (the cameras will be released in the summer) although in the states the A390 will be hitting the shelves at around $600, the A290 at $500.

Professionals look out – Sony’s NEX-3 and NEX-5 puts expert photography in reach of amateurs

Whilst DSLR cameras with interchangeable lenses may produce high-quality images and look the business, owners of these top-notch devices nearly always seem to admit to also possessing another, albeit smaller camera, which they can conveniently place into a bag or pocket and leave their DSLR safe at home for those more ‘special’ photo opportunities.

The reason for this is twofold: One these types of cameras are pretty pricey so people don’t want to run the risk of having it stolen down their local pub, and two SLR cameras are usually big and bulky and therefore not practical to be a permanent feature in a handbag. That was until Sony produced the NEX-3 and NEX-5, which by being the ‘world’s smallest and lightest interchangeable lens digital camera’, has generated a revolutionary approach to DSLR cameras.

New to the Alpha family, the NEX-3 and NEX-5 are sleek, slim, subtle, the former being just 25.4mm at its slimmest point and the latter being 24.2mm, and easy to use, but do not compromise the high picture quality associated with ‘conventional’ DSLR digital cameras, meaning professional photography is now available to the less professional of photographers.

The real beauty of Alpha’s latest additions is the fact that they are compatible with a wide range of interchangeable lenses, which significantly enhances photographic capabilities and smashes the limitations standard lens digital cameras frustratingly adhere to. Perhaps the greatest of these frustrations is the inability to capture an image with a wide field of view, an irritation which can be resolved by boosting field of view by using the VCL-ECU1 Ultra Wide Converter or the VCL-ECF1 Fisheye Converter. But Sony have taken panoramic vision a step further as the NEX-3 and NEX-5 are Alpha’s first cameras which feature Sweep Panorama with 3D capability. By sweeping the camera horizontally or vertically, whilst the shutter button is pressed down, the camera will burst into a series of high-speed frames, creating 23 megapixel panoramas with a 226 degree angle of view.

Although still images are not the only aspect of modern shooting to reach ground-breaking new depths with Sony’s latest cameras, as the NEX-3 and the NEX-5 are the first Alpha cameras to offer HD video recording. This full HD (1920 – 1080) video recording can be connected to a HD television and together provide for the upmost of quality in home recording.

Instead of DSLR cameras gathering dust in the cupboard until a wedding or christening takes place, enthusiasts will be able take advantage of the indisputable rewards DSLA cameras provide on a more daily level from June when the NEX-3 and NEX-5 will be available in the UK.