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Archive for 2006

2006.11.19

The express review for the 10 megapixels Canon Digital Rebel XTi, also known as the Canon EOS 400D in Europe, has just been posted at neocamera. There is only one 10 megapixels DSLR which has yet to be reviewed, the extremely well specified Pentax K10D.

With the Rebel XTi, Canon has proved once again that it easily leads the pack in terms of DSLR image quality. It has also shown its ability to deliver a quality product with a timely release date with less than 2 months between the announcement and general availability of this camera. Unfortunately, this can neither be said of Nikon nor Pentax.

Neocamera Blog Neocamera.com © Cybernium.

2006.11.18

An express review of the Canon Powershot G7 has just been posted at Neocamera. The G7 is an advanced compact digital camera which borrows its name from the previously recognized – yet unpopular – Canon G-series of medium cameras. The Canon G7 has little to do with the previous Canon G-series in both features and ergonomics. While the sleek body design is completely new for Canon, the G7’s feature set is extremely similar to the Canon A-series – aside from having a hot-shoe.

Canon Powershot G7

Taking a peek at Neocamera’s sitemap, its obvious that there are not many medium-size digital cameras. Previous Canon G-series cameras unfortunately fell into that category, which surely contributed greatly to their unpopularity. Medium cameras are too big to be easily carried out of sight, yet they generally provide none of the advantages of large cameras. Most large cameras have better optics, longer zooms and ergonomics. Most importantly, large camera can use larger imaging sensors which result in lower noise levels, wider dynamic range and frequently sharper images.

Faced with this, Canon had to choose a compromise for its new G-series camera. By making the G7 a compact camera, Canon probably took the better choice. Keeping with a larger size would have meant putting the G7 against the hugely successful Canon Powershot S3 IS. Since the S3 has a 12X stablized optical zoom, a complete set of manual controls, great movie-recording capability and good handling, a larger G7 would have virtually no chances.

[eminimall product=”Digital Camera”]

Among compact cameras, features tend to be more limited. Advanced photographers love manual controls. They frequently express the desire for a compact camera with easy-to-use advanced photographic controls. That is what the Canon G7 – and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX2 for that matter- are aimed at. Unfortunately for Canon, they also have the hugely successful Powershot A-series. The A-series has full manual controls, including manual focusing – plus they all show great battery life using standard AA batteries. What the Canon G7 offers over the A-series are additional external controls designed to provide faster access to advanced photographic features. What it gives up for that is battery life, the convenience of AA batteries and an easier to hold body. Together with the G7’s steep price, there are virtually no chances for Canon to sell more of this camera than any one single A-series camera model. Some people will buy the G7 based on looks alone, so Canon will sell some G7s, but probably not enough to make it a success.

2006.11.14

Seamonkey Logo

Seamonkey is the official name of the latest Mozilla internet suite. While many have moved to the Mozilla Foundation’s Firefox browser, many such users miss the simplicity and elegance of Mozilla which was previously used as the foundation of Netscape navigator, mail and composer. According to the latest statistics at W3Schools, 28.8% of Internet users now use a version of Firefox.

This is a great stride for Firefox. While both Firefox and Seamonkey are modern browsers supporting open web-standards, extensions and even propriatary plugins, there are differences in their usability. First, Seamonkey in an integrated suite. Unline Firefox, Seamonkey comes with an email client and an HTML composer. This avoid integration problems where Firefox has to rely on Thunderbird which does not fully work accross different versions. Second, the interface is different. Firefox has a toy-like and more graphical interface which uses relatively more screen space by default. Seamonkey, however, provides a lean and simple interface which is more efficient.

One difference is that Firefox uses 2 text-fields, one for locations and one for search. Seamonkey can do both these actions but with only a single bar. It is not so bad, with Firefox you can get rid of the search text-field and use short-cuts in the location text-field. There is also a Firefox extension to resize the search bar, which is too small to begin with. Then again, why bother? In Seamonkey, you can do both from the start, either with the 2 graphic button or buy using the down-arrow to activate the search feature before pressing enter.

Those who installed Firefox and stopped using it because of its interfance or lack of an email client and composer, should defintely try Seamonkey. If you have not tried these web-browsers, why not try them both and decide for yourself? Compatibility is not such a big problem anymore with sites being designed for all sorts of devices now. Many sites, like Neocamera, are tested with dozens of browsers to provide the most uniform look possible. Too bad we could not get all our dynamic content to work with Opera.

Seamonkey Add

Neocamera Blog Neocamera.com © Cybernium.

2006.11.04

Has anyone noticed the huge price difference for digital cameras between Canada and the US? Its not just for cameras. Among other things: lenses, electronics and computer parts are frequently priced much higher in Canada, even though they neither come from Canada nor from the US.

Every time we post a review at Neocamera, we look for selling prices from reliable sources. Even considering the Canadian-to-US dollard exchange rate (roughly 1.13 CDN = 1 USD at the time of writing), digital cameras are nearly always cheaper in the US. Sometimes the difference is small, but most times it is not. Just earlier today, the selling price of the Canon PowerShot A640 was 483 CDN in Canada and 311 USD in the US. Since 311 USD equalled about 351 CDN, the A640 cost 37% more in Canada! For the Canon PowerShot A630, it was 33% more expensive in Canada. The Panasonic LX2, only 15% more expensive in Canada.

We are not talking about grey market items here. These are brand new products with full warranty from reputable sources. In the US, these are frequently from Amazon. In Canada, we have the major stores like Best Buy, Future Shop, Walmart and a few online fronts for camera stores.

Sadly Amazon will not let Canadians buy anything electronic, but there are a few US online stores which do ship to Canada. Not the cheaper ones though. When they do, shipping is usually expensive, so it defeats the purpose for small items. Then, there are duty fees, frequently 20-30%.

Perhaps we are looking in the wrong place? If anyone knows of a Canadian online store which closely matches the best US prices, let us know. Even if the selling price is the same, Canadians still end up paying more because local taxes are between 13%-16%. If you are lucky, ordering out-of-province items can save you the provincial task and you end-up paying only 7%. That compares to what US buyers pay in their own states.

Neocamera Blog Neocamera.com © Cybernium.

2006.10.21

Having just posted our 10 megapixels DSLR roundup, some readers noticed that a conclusion is missing from the article. In fact, this is not an omission. For this roundup of digital SLR cameras, there really cannot be one conclusion. Readers should follow the article until they reach the point where a conclusion suitable to their needs can be reached.

For some photographers more than one of these cameras would be perfectly suitable. However, there are some models which stand out for various types of photography. Here are some possible conclusions:

Available From Amazon

Canon Rebel XTi

Pentax K10D

Sony Alpha A100

Nikon D80

Nikon D200

  • Already owning a set of high-quality lenses? You should strongly lean towards the camera which supports those lenses. Acquiring equivalent lenses is costly. For Nikon, there are two possibilities, the D200 being noticeably more expensive than the D80. The main advantages of the D200 over the D80 are 5 FPS continuous drive and weather-proofing.
  • You enjoy low-light photography but do not like carrying a tripod? A camera with built-in stabilization is probably better for this. Not only is saves money but gives you stabilization for ultra-wide lenses, fish-eye lenses and even bright primes. Put an 50mm F1.4 prime on a stabilized DSLR at ISO 800+ and you get awesome pictures that nearly no one else can. Between the Sony A100 and the Pentax K10D, the dual control dials and larger viewfinder of the K10D are very nice to have, plus there is weather-proofing. Checking the lens lineups from Sony and Pentax can also help decide.
  • Dust and rain get in the way of your photography? The Pentax K10D and Nikon D200 are the only ones easily capable of this. The K10D also has dust reduction which can help those who change lenses on the field. On the other hand, the D200 gives access to Nikon’s huge lens lineup.
  • Like to use bright zoom and prime lenses? Both Canon and Nikon have have the greatest modern lens lineup. The Pentax K10D is compatible with every lens Pentax has for over the last 50 years! Some of these are hard to find you can lose automatic features such as AF or P and S mode. Between Canon and Nikon, Canon has a bigger range of capabilities including several F1.2 primes, tilt-shift lenses and bright ultra-wide angle lenses such as a 16-35 F2.8.
  • The smaller the camera, the more you carry it. The Canon Rebel XTi is the smallest and cheapest camera in this lineup. Not only that, available image samples give it the current lead in image quality. It may not have the fancier features such as stabilization and weather-proofing, but you get access to Canon’s extensive lineup of lens and saved some money to start with better lenses.
  • Fast sports and action photography? Get the Nikon D200. With its 5 FPS continuous drive, subject-tracking and dynamic focusing it what probably designed for that.
  • Want to make HDR imagery? Get a sturdy tripod and the Nikon D200. With its 9-frame bracketing, the D200 practically does HDR by itself.
  • Like to show-off your photo gear? Try the Pentax K10D: it has stabilization, dust-reduction, weather-proofing, lots of external controls, plus you can even put Pentax medium-format lenses on it. You can then make unusual images with the Pentax DA 10-17 fisheye lens, the only fisheye zoom for digital cameras. At its widest, it produces images with a 180-degree field-of-view.

Neocamera Blog Neocamera.com © Cybernium.

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