Friday, August 20, 2010

Nikon D3100 digital SLR announced and previewed

Nikon has unveiled the D3100, its latest entry-level offering and its first DSLR that can record full 1080p HD videos. Successor to the popular D3000, it is built around a 14.2 CMOS sensor and a 3 inch LCD. As well as movies it gains Live View shooting, a wider ISO range ( 100-3200 expandable to 12800) and a host of small revisions. The camera will be available soon at a retail price of £579.99 / €599 with the 18-55mm VR lens. We've been given access to a pre-production version of the camera which we've used to prepare a hands-on preview, looking at the changes Nikon has made to its best-selling DSLR.

Nikon releases 28-300mm F3.5-5.36 G ED VR lens

Nikon's salvo of lens releases is rounded off by the AF-S Nikkor 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR. Designed to provide FX format users with an equivalent of the company's popular 18-200mm for DX, this superzoom includes two-mode image stabilisation to the latest VR II specification, a close focus distance of 50cm and a zoom lock switch. It will be available from 2nd September for £869.99 / €899.

Nikon launches 55-300mm F4.5-5.6 G ED VR lens

Nikon has launched an extended-range telephoto zoom for DX users: the AF-S DX Nikkor 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR. Offering an 85-450mm-equivalent range and VR II image stabilisation technology, it's designed as an accompaniment to the 18-55mm kit lens. It includes a Silent Wave motor for quiet focusing, and will be available from 2nd September 2010 at a price of £369.99 / €379.

Nikon introduces 24-120mm F4 G ED VR lens

Nikon has announced the AF-S Nikkor 24-120mm f/4G ED VR, a general-purpose zoom for full frame cameras. This lens covers a useful wideangle to telephoto range with a fixed F4 maximum aperture and features Nikon's latest VR II stabilisation system. This promises shake-free hand-held shooting at shutter speeds four stops slower than would usually possible, with both 'Normal' and 'Active' modes. Also on the menu are Nano Crystal coating, a 9-bladed diaphragm, and a degree of environmental sealing. The lens will be available from 22nd September 2010 at a price of £1049.99 / €1099.

Nikon launches 85mm f/1.4G prime lens

Nikon has released a fast aperture medium telephoto lens in the shape of the AF-S Nikkor 85mm f/1.4G. Featuring a completely new optical design and a built-in Silent Wave focus motor, it also includes Nikon's top-end goodies including a 9-bladed diaphragm, Nano Crystal coating for the reduction of flare, a magnesium alloy body shell and weathersealing. Availability will be from 2nd September 2010, at a recommended price of £1499.99 / €1549.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Seiko EPD concept watch

The Seiko EPD is a design concept watch, a prototype, but something very much like it will go on sale in the 2010 Northern Hemisphere autumn. A forebear of this watch was a prizewinner at the 2006 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève, kind of a big deal in the watchmaking world.

The big deal about this watch is the screen technology. It uses an Electrophoretic Display, hence the EPD in the name of the watch. EPD uses electronic ink technology – the very same type of technology so lauded for its readability in Amazon Kindle. Easy on the eyes, and eminently readable, even in the sunlight. It had a very wide viewing angle, almost 180-degrees, and displays 80,000 pixels, each of which can display one of four grey scale shades.

Like the Kindle, the Seiko EPD concept watch has a very low power consumption. But Seiko have gone a few steps better with power-saving. The screen of the Seiko EPD uses just 1/100th of the power that would be needed to run an e-book reader using the same sized screen.  This is really cool.  Welcome to the Future...

Friday, August 13, 2010

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX5 Overview

Reviewed by David Elrich and Stephanie Boozer
Overview by Mike Tomkins
Date Posted: 03/24/2010

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX5 digital camera is a slim, stylish pocket digital camera that has a secret: It's waterproof. The Sony TX5 is based around the combination of a 10.2-megapixel CMOS image sensor and a 4x optical zoom lens. The Sony TX5's sensor is what's known as a backside illuminated (BSI) design, meaning that its circuitry is placed on the non-light-gathering side of the sensor, allowing the maximum area of the sensor's other side to be devoted to light gathering. This should translate to higher sensitivity, and to reduced noise levels when compared to a non-BSI sensor for the same sensitivity. Actual focal lengths vary from 4.43mm to 17.7mm, equivalent to a range of 25 to 100mm in still image mode. This equates to everything from a generous wide-angle to a moderate telephoto. When shooting high-def movies, the sensor crop raises the effective focal lengths to a range of 28 to 112mm, and for standard-def movies the range is equivalent to 34 to 136mm.

The Sony TX5 has a maximum aperture which varies from f/3.5 to f/4.6 across the zoom range. At wide-angle the minimum aperture is f/6.3. To help combat blur from camera shake, the Sony DSC-TX5's lens includes an optical stabilization mechanism which works in concert with a built-in gyro sensor to detect and correct for camera motion. As is sadly the norm for most compact cameras these days, the Sony Cyber-shot TX5 doesn't include any form of optical or electronic viewfinder. Instead, Sony has opted for a 3.0" Clear Photo Plus LCD display with a resolution of 230,000 dots, roughly equating to a resolution of 320 x 240 dots with three dots per color. Overlaid on the LCD display is a touch panel, allowing it to double as an input device with intuitive operations like flicking or drag and drop used to control camera functions.

Perhaps the most significant feature of the Sony TX5 is its rugged body, which for the first time in a Sony Cyber-shot camera is protected against a variety of dangers including water, dust, shock, and freezing. The Sony TX5 is also rated waterproof and dustproof to the IEC60529 IP58 standard, which means that it is dust protected (not completely dust tight, but sufficiently sealed to prevent dust affecting operation), and is suitable for immersion at one meter or below, under conditions specified by the manufacturer. In the case of the TX5, Sony states that the camera functions up to depths of ten feet underwater for as long as one hour. The shock proofing should protect the camera from accidental drops as high as five feet, which merits the MIL-STD-810F Method 516.5-Shock rating. Finally, the freezeproofing allows use in temperatures as low as 14 Fahrenheit / -10 Celsius, and as high as 104 Fahrenheit / 40 Celsius.

A nine-point autofocus system includes face detection capability, and can recognize up to eight faces in a scene. The face detection function can be disabled if desired, and can also be programmed to give priority to either adult or child faces. The AF system can also operate in either center-weighted or spot AF modes. ISO sensitivity in the Sony DSC-TX5 ranges from 125 to 3,200 equivalents, and exposures are calculated using multi-pattern, center-weighted or spot metering. 2.0EV of exposure compensation is available in 1/3EV increments, and to help with capturing contrasty scenes, the TX5 includes Sony's Dynamic Range Optimizer function, although its strength isn't user-adjustable, and is instead fixed at the Standard position. Nine white balance settings are available, including Auto, Manual, and seven presets. Shutter speeds vary from 1/1,600 to two seconds. Burst shooting is possible for up to ten shots at full resolution, with a generous rate of ten frames per second. A built-in four mode flash operates to a maximum range of 9.5 feet at wide-angle, or 7.9 feet at telephoto, using the ISO Auto mode.
As well as still images, the Sony TX5 can capture either high-definition 720p (1,280 x 720 pixel) or standard definition VGA (640 x 480 pixel) video at a frame rate of 29.97 frames per second. Movies are saved with MP4 compression, and include monaural audio. The Cyber-shot DSC-TX5 also includes an unusual sweep panorama function which can capture up to 100 shots automatically by simply sweeping the camera across the scene, and then stitch these in-camera into a single image with up to a 258 degree field of view.

The Sony TX5 stores images on Secure Digital and SDHC cards, but not the newer SDXC types. The Sony TX5 is also compatible with Sony's own proprietary Memory Stick PRO Duo cards, and includes 45MB of built-in memory, enough to provide for a few of the most important photos should you accidentally leave your flash card at home. Power comes from a Sony InfoLithium NP-BN1 rechargeable battery, and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-TX5 is rated as good for around 250 shots on a charge. Connectivity options include both USB 2.0 High-Speed data, as well as standard and component high definition 1080i video output.

The product bundle includes Sony's Picture Motion Browser v5.0 and Picture Motion Browser Portable (5.0 for Windows / 1.1 for Mac OS) applications. Sony also includes a one year limited parts and labor warranty. Pricing for the Sony DSC-TX5 is around US$350, and the camera will be available in silver, black, pink, green, and red versions from April 2010.

Just bought a black colour TX-5 today, for my wife.  It's $542 at Parissilk @ Holland Village.  The package includes a free casing and a 8GB Memory Stick Pro-HG.