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Nikon announces new ultrazoom, I cry [Digital Cameras]

Nikon P90

Nikon P90

The race continues. Nikon has unveiled Nikon P90, the new ultrazoom camera as a successor to the popular and average-reviewed Nikon P80. High, Super, Ultra, I am sorta worried they’ll run out of superlatives soon. Oh and if you didn’t get it, the race is to make the lenses zoom so much that you can peep through the window of your favorite astronaut (when she’s in space of course).

Pardon me for all the the ranting; it’s just that I recently switched to a DSLR with grossly unaffordable lenses.

The camera has a 24x (26 – 624) zoom lens! I just checked Amazon. This kind of telephoto lens will cost me over $1300 (Don’t even ask the Indian price) and weigh over 1 kg.  If only I had that kind of money 🙁

The other specs look great too – 12.1 Megapixel sensor, 3.0 inch tilting LCD and a burst mode running at 15 fps (5 times better than my DSLR!). It obviously has other regular stuff like full manual controls, vibration reduction and loads of picture and movie modes. Some cool ones being smile timer, blink warning and time-lapse movies. Oh and it allows you to go as close as 1 cm from your object and take gorgeous/weird (take your pick) macro shots. You don’t need another super expensive macro lens for that.

Nikon also mentions ISO sensitivity upto 6400 but I’d ignore that. Unless Nikon did something out of the world in the labs, the pictures will start sucking at ISO 800. This is one thing where DSLRs with there larger sensors are inherently better.

But all in all, this looks like a great camera for a launch price of $400. It really makes me wonder whether I made the right decision switching to a DSLR.  If you’re looking for something cheaper Nikon also announced a budget model with a decent 15x zoom lens, Nikon L100 at $280.

Oh and about that zoom race, Nikon is still not at the top. Olympus already has a 26x ultrazoom in the market.

What’s wrong with Canon?

Few days back, Canon announced some major upgrades to it’s consumer digital camera lineup. Sadly this time, they made choices that make me hate them.

The first announcement was Canon SX 110 IS. It features a 9 MP sensor with 10x optical zoom, VGA (640×480) movie mode and 3.0 inch display.

Canon SX100 IS
It looks great on paper and in pictures but have you seen it in real life? It looks really stupid and overweight for a small camera wannabe.
Canon, Have you seen how cool the competition is!

Panasonic TZ5

The Panasonic TZ series is better in looks, much lesser in dimensions, takes higher resolution (HD) videos, and above all, it goes as wide as 28 mm. You may not feel it’s an important feature but just look at these images and you’ll know.

28_1 35_1
28_2 35_2

View Panasonic’s flash presentation for some more great examples.

The saving grace is that the SX 110 features Full manual controls, which the Panasonic lacks.

The second release announcement introduced A1000 and A2000 replacing A590 and A720 respectively.

Canon A1000 IS
Now this is my favorite group amongst the Canon digital camera range. Ever since last 2 years, when I purchased my A700, I’ve been recommending the A5**/A7** as the best first cameras for anybody.
But Canon screwed all that the moment they decided to bring in these so-called upgrades. Just look at the stupid dual color scheme. What were you thinking, Canon!

Worst of all, they decided to remove the manual controls. All at a time when competition learnt from it’s mistakes and produced cameras like Nikon P60, which look good, shoot good and allow interested user to tinker around with their camera’s manual settings.

Nikon P60
A590 used to be the cheapest way to learn photography, while taking decent pictures. Sadly the choice is isn’t so easy now. In fact, I don’t know what to recommend when people ask me for an all-in-one digital camera.

The last announcement was the Canon E1 which, I must agree, looks cute. I just hope it’s better at taking pictures than other tiny (and much slimmer) cameras like Nikon S series and the new Olympus Stylus series.

Canon E1

Nikon S7c

Olympus Stylus 1040

Apart from these, I have been really looking forward to the long due update to Canon S5 IS. Since it’s release, Panasonic and Olympus have announced multiple superzoom cameras changing the definition of superzooms from 12x to 18x. Even Nikon launched it’s superzoom which is getting decent reviews.

Oh Canon, I hope that you don’t disappoint me once again.

The Camera Megapixels race! What’s NeXt?

At a typical social event or gathering where people come handy with their digital cameras, you may come across a comparative conversation quite similar to the following :

A: “ That’s a nice cam! How many Megapixels?”
B: “8.0. And yours?”
A: “Oh! I just sold my 7.1 one last month and bought a 10.0 MP one”
B: “Impressive. I guess I will have to upgrade mine soon as well!”

I am sure I will leave both “A” and “B’ wide-eyed if I tell them that a few camera manufacturers are talking today about 50 Megapixels ….and more! Leading the race of Camera Sensor resolution are two companies PhaseOne and Hasselblad that are going to produce 60.5 and 50 Megapixels cameras respectively. These are unparalleled resolutions till date, and woikr brings to you a brief on the two resolution monsters:

The PhaseOne P65+

July last month, Denmark based PhaseOne announced its latest model P65+ which will provide a whooping 60.5 Megapixels resolution. It utilises a new “Sensor+” design and is the world’s first full-frame capture system based on actual 645 film format.

A 60.5 Megapixel shot means that you will be taking an image having 8984 x 6732 pixels. This in turn means a 180MB data file for one image (8-bit RGB). So, I suggest you better equip yourself with enough disk space if you plan to buy these! To facilitate such image files, the camera has a 1.3GB High Speed RAM built-in and is able to provide a decent 1 frame per second (fps) of image capturing speed. The P65+ also boasts of the largest live capture area ever with a dimension of 53.9mm x 40.4mm, truly justifying the term WYSIWYG. Its salient features are jotted here:

  • 60.5 Megapixels
  • Full frame sensor
  • 1 fps speed (or 1 capture per 1 second)
  • 16 bit image capture
  • 12.5 stops dynamic range
  • ISO 50-800

The Hasselblad H3DII-50

The next leader in terms of megapixel count is the H3DII-50 by Hasselblad. It offers a magnificent 50 Megapixels resolution using Kodak’s 50 MP sensor which can produce a 6132×8176 pixels image (150MB TIFF file size). The Sensor measures 36×48mm, twice the physical size of the largest 35mm DSLR sensors.

The H3DII-50 offers some really unique features like the provision of two view-finders: you can either choose the view-finder at eye-level or waist-level! And when attached with a Global Image Locator (GIL) recording device, this camera can tag the captured images with GPS coordinates, time and altitude. So we are talking here about immediate geo-tagging of your photographs on Google Earth and Flickr Map applications when you upload the image.

The features of H3DII-50 are summarised here:

  • 50 Megapixels
  • Full frame sensor
  • 0.9 fps (or 1 capture per 1.1 second)
  • 16 bit image capture
  • 12.5 stops dynamic range
  • ISO 50-400

“Are these for me?”

Well I would say Yes, only if you are a top-notch full-fledged professional photographer and doing great in the photography market.

And I won’t give you a penny to guess that the best available camera technologies will be coming to us at “some” price. The first introductory price for P65+ Camera system is $41,990 and the H3DII-50 will be introduced for $39,995! So they are likely to burn a crater in your pocket, unless of course, your company sponsors these for you or you are someone who owns a company yourself! 🙂

The huge resolution that these cameras will offer will come handy mainly for shoots where there is absolutely no compromise on the image quality, captured colours and noise absence. Such resolutions are not required for day-to-day photography where 7-10 megapixels suffices. In fact, people prefer to shoot at low resolutions for faster continuous mode shooting, lower file sizes and easy file-sharing. Thus, the manufactures of these cameras are no doubt targeting professionals and companies that are involved in shooting big commercial events like fashion shows, or say, the launch of a new car model.

“I want to be the first to test these mean machines! Where can I find them?”

Both PhaseOne and Hasselblad are planning to demonstrate the state-of-the-art “Sensor+” and “645 Sesnor” technologies through the trade show Photokina 2008, to be held from 23rd to 28th Sept 2008 at Cologne, Germany. The cameras will be reaching the markets approximately early next year (2009).

So go ahead and surprise your friends with these facts the next time they brag about their 10MP cameras, and ask them to start thinking in Gigapixels now!


[Home page Image courtesy: Sam Javanrouh]

*** Footnote: The above mentioned cameras have been chosen primarily on the basis of the Megapixel Resolution that they offer. Image and Information Sources for this article: and ***

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