The Canon PowerShot A710 IS



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An upgrade to the short-lived Canon PowerShot A700, the A710IS received a design facelift and a few feature tweaks, the biggest and most welcome of which is that the new model adds optical image stabilization. In addition, upgrading from 6 mega pixel to 7 mega pixel provides for improved image quality. Is the A710 IS a worthy successor to the popular A700? 

Here are the main features:

  • 7.1 Megapixels
  • 6x optical zoom with optical Image Stabilizer (35-210mm equiv.)
  • DIGIC II, iSAPS, 9-Point AiAF, FlexiZone AF/AE
  • Digital Tele-Converter and Safety Zoom
  • 2.5” LCD with wide viewing angle and real-image optical viewfinder
  • 20 shooting modes

What else has changed?

Although a better looking camera, the A710 IS is more than mere style, with the addition of the optical image stabilization system, the only downside of which is the slight decrease in battery life.  Still, one can get an impressive 360 shots from a good pair of rechargeable AA NiMH batteries.

Additional changes include….

  • 60fps (QVGA) movie mode
  • MyColors effects in playback mode
  • Playback overexposure warning
  • 3:2 overlay on live view
  • SDHC card support
  • Underwater scene mode (for use with new optional 40m underwater case)
  • Slightly reduced continuous shooting speed (1.7fps vs 2.0fps)
  • 10g (0.36oz) heavier

Here are the full list of features and specifications:

  • Sensor:  1/2.5” Type CCD, 7.1 million pixels
  • Image Processor:  DIGIC II with iSAPS technology
  • Image Sizes:  3072 x 2304, 3072 x 1728, 2592 x 1944, 2048 x 1536, 1600 x 1200, 640 x 480
  • Movie Clips:  640 x 480 – 15/30 fps, up to 1 GB or 1 hour.  320 x 240 – 15/30/60 fsp, up to 1 GB or 1 hour (15/30 fps) or 1 minute (60 fps).  160 x 120 – 15 pfs, up to 3 minutes.  AVI motion JPEG.
  • Lens:  6x optical zoom, 35-210 mm equivalent, F2.8 – F4.8
  • Optical Stabilization:  Yes (shift type)
  • Focus:  TTL auto focus, AF illuminator, 9-point AiAF or 1 point AF (any position or fixed center), 1 cm macro mode
  • Metering:  Evaluate, Center-weighted average, Spot (center or linked to focusing frame)
  • Shooting Mode:  13 different modes, including Night Scene, Shutter Priority AE and Aperture Priority AE
  • Shutter Speeds:  15 – 1/2000 second
  • Apertures:  F2.8 – 8 (Wide) F4.8 – 8 (Tele)
  • Exposure Compensation:  +/- 2EV in 1/3 stop increments
  • Sensitivity:  Auto, High ISO Auto, ISO 80 – 800
  • White Balance:  8 settings, including underwater
  • Image parameters:  12 different settings, including photo-stitch
  • Continuous:  Continuous (1.7 fps) until memory is full
  • Flash:  5 modes, including red-eye reduction.  Range: 55cm – 3.5m (wide) / 2.5 m (tele)
  • Storage:  SD, SDHC, MMC compatible.  16 MB card included
  • Viewfinder:  Real-image zoom, optical viewfinder
  • LCD Monitor:  2.5” P-Si TFT, 115,000 pixels
  • Connectivity:  USB 2.0 Hi-Speed, AV out
  • Power:  2x AA batteries (alkaline included, but NiMH recommended), optional AC adapter
  • Optional Accessories:  3 lenses, high-power flash, waterproof case
  • Dimensions:  97.5mm x 66.5mm x 41.2mm

Generally, users of this camera give good reviews, citing the advantages of using 2 batteries over 4, the convenience of using SD disks, date/time feature, overall quality and ease of use.  Some users find that using the zoom feature indoors lowers image quality and the limits of the 1 GB file (about 8 minutes of video) and the limited storage capacity of the provided 16MB card.  



The Polaroid a520m Digital Camera

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Designed for the first-time user, the Polaroid a520m Digital Camera has some easy-to-use features. Here are a few examples of what you can do with the Polaroid a520m camera:

  • Enjoy point & shoot operation. The resolution is adjustable for print or email.
  • Store video clips and pictures to an SD card or the internal memory.
  • Shoot pictures or video clips, and play them back on the LCD screen or on a computer.
  • Send your friends and family your pictures and video clips over the Internet.
  • The camera has PictBridge capability.

The camera offers a splashy break from the sea of traditional black and silver cameras, being offered in a cute theme of colors:  pink, light pink, and magenta—sure to appeal to young girls—in support of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. 

The list of technical specifications and additional features are as follows:

  • PC and Mac compatible
  • 4x digital zoom
  • Standard 16 mega byte integrated flash memory
  • Supports MultiMedia Card and SD Card for extra memory
  • 5.1 mega pixel resolution
  • Built-in flash
  • 2.0” bright color TFT active-matrix LCD which offers a preview of images before shooting
  • Video recording in AVI format
  • Built-in microphone
  • Built-in tripod stand (tripod sold separately)
  • Still image compression in JPEG, EXIF 2.2 and AVI format
  • Settings include flash off, auto, red-eye reduction, and fill-in flash
  • Automatic white balance
  • Automatic exposure
  • Features an electronic 10-second delay for taking pictures of yourself
  • Optical sensor type:  CCD
  • Image sensor type:  CMOS
  • Minimum focus range:  38.4”
  • Image resolutions:  640 x 480, 2592 x 1944, and 2048 x 1536
  • Video resolution:  320 x 240 (QVGA)
  • Aperture range:  f2.8/f8 (w/t)
  • Shutter speed:  1/8 – 1/2000 of a second
  • Unit dimensions, metric:  60mm high, 94mm wide, and 21mm deep
  • Unit dimensions, English:  2.4” high, 3.7” wide, and .8” deep
  • Retail package dimensions, metric:  222mm high, 267mm wide, and 69mm deep
  • Retail package dimensions, English:  8.74” high, 10.5” wide, and 2.7” deep
  • Unit weight, metric:  .13 kg
  • Unit weight, English:  4.5 oz
  • Retail package weight, metric:  .49 kg
  • Retail package weight, English:  1.1 lb
  • Comes with a wrist strap, skin, USB cable, 4 “AAA” batteries, and a software CD which includes drivers and utilities.

People who have purchased this camera describe it as a good camera for first-time users especially young teen-agers:  it’s cute, it’s light, it easily fits into a pocket, it’s easy to use, and it seems to be priced with this young demographic in mind, coming in at around $65.00 US. 

Many users complain about the photo quality, stating that even in moderately well-lit indoor settings photos are too dark without the flash, but that photos come out too bright with the flash or outside on a bright day—sometimes to the point of washing out people’s faces.  However, this problem seems to be more pronounced when the subjects photographed are close to the camera—subjects further away photograph better. 

Some users also complain that the LCD display is too dark when used indoors as well.  In addition, the LCD goes black for a few seconds after a photo, which some users find frustrating.  On a bright note, the LCD is considered large enough to be eye-friendly. 

The lack of a view finder is aggravating to users who are used to having this functionality in their digital cameras.  Users sometimes find background objects to be out of focus.  However, users do find it easy to upload photos from the camera to the computer.

Bottom line:  it’s a good camera for younger first-time users who will be more excited about owning a pink camera than being discerning about the quality of pictures they take.



The Sony Cyber-shot® DSC-W55

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Powerful, colorful and pocket-sized, the ultra-compact Cyber-shot® DSC-W55 camera offers 7.2 mega pixel imaging, a Carl Zeiss® 3X optical zoom lens, high ISO 1000 sensitivity for low-light shooting and Stamina® battery power for extra long life and up to 380 shots. A bright 2.5" LCD screen makes it easy to compose shots, check results and read menus even in bright sunlight. The 56MB of onboard memory allows you to save photographs without a flash memory card. And the optional Memory Stick Duo™ media slot makes it easy to save and exchange photos. The Cyber-shot® DSC-W55 is available in four stylish colors including:  black, blue, pink, and silver.

Features include….

  • 7.2 Mega pixel with Super HAD™ CCD - The Sony® Super HAD™ (Hole Accumulated Diode) CCD design lets more light pass to each pixel, improving sensitivity and reducing noise.
  • Carl Zeiss® 3X Optical Zoom Lens Design - This advanced lens design allows the DSC-W55 to bring distant subjects closer and lets the user frame shots quickly—a significant advantage for action shots, outdoor fun and travel photos.
  • Large 2.5” LCD Screen - a large and bright LCD screen that is easy for the eyes, letting the user compose shots, check results, share photos instantly and read camera setup menus even in full sunlight.
  • High Sensitivity Mode - with high ISO 1000 sensitivity, the DSC-W55 takes better shots in low light so the user can shoot without flash to preserve the mood—fantastic for birthday parties, indoor gatherings and candid portraits.
  • Original Sony® Clear RAW™ NR (Noise Reduction) image processing technology - helps negate color noise that can happen with high-sensitivity shooting.
  • 56 MB Internal Memory - capture a large number of images with the onboard memory, great for traveling or for quick snapshots.
  • Memory Stick Duo™ Media Convenience - a built-in slot for optional Memory Stick Duo™ or Memory Stick PRO Duo™ media is provided, making it easily to upload photos to your computer or make lab-quality prints at home on your Sony Picture Station™ digital printer (sold separately).
  • Function Guide Text/Icon Display - skip the user manual and let the on-screen Function Guide text/icon display teach you the camera functions that you want, giving you greater creative freedom to adjust the photo settings you are interested in.
  • Versatile Color Modes - greater creative freedom to adjust color mode for the creative results you want is yours—use the Natural setting for subtle colors, the Rich setting for more intense colors, and the Monochrome and Sepia color settings for special effects.
  • Convenient Photo Modes - easily adjust to specific shooting situations by choosing from several available photo modes:  Auto, P-Auto, and Scene Selections for Twilight, Twilight Portrait, Landscape, High Sensitivity, Soft Snap, Snow, and Beach environments.
  • 14X Smart Zoom® Feature - this camera feature intelligently “crops into” the central portion of interest in your photo, avoiding the image degradation found with many other digital zooms.
  • MPEG Movie VX Fine Mode - capture VGA (640 x 480) audio/video clips at high frame rate (up to 30 frames per second), with length limited only by the capacity of your media.
  • Stamina® Battery Power - capture up to 380 shots with a fully charged NP-BG1 Lithium Ion battery.
  • Burst Mode - fire off four successive shots automatically at 7.2 MP mode or up to 64 shots at VGA Standard mode, and get that perfect shot of even unpredictable subjects like animals and small children.
  • Picture Motion Browser Software - easily upload, organize and search photos on your PC with the supplied software package.  Includes a convenient map view function to sort photos by location and display their origin on a world map by using an optional GPS unit.

Other specifications: 

Dimensions:  2.3” high x 3.5” wide x .9” deep
Weight:  4.2 oz
PictBridge Enabled:  yes

Users give solid reviews of this product, with the ease of use and zoom capacity being particular favorites.  Unlike many digital cameras, users are generally happy with the battery life of this model.  Users do complain that the software is not compatible with lower-end or home-built computers, that the factory-specific batteries are expensive, and some users would prefer slightly larger control buttons.





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