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Picture That!

Eight boundary-busting digital cameras hit the market with features that include ultra-zooms, low-light sensitivity, better flexibility, new connectivity choices, superior durability and even 3-D images
Steve Morgenstern
From the Print Edition:
Matthew McConaughey, March/April 2011

(continued from page 3)

$349.99, usa.canon.com

Fujifilm HS20 EXR

It looks like an SLR, but the Fujifilm HS20 EXR is actually an upscale compact camera, offering an insanely long built-in zoom lens instead of an SLR’s interchangeable optics. We’re talking a 30x lens—the equivalent of a 24-720mm lens on a 35mm camera (if such a thing could be built for a 35mm camera, that is). The shooting flexibility this range provides is mind-boggling.

The widest setting is unusually wide, which makes both expansive landscape shots and large group photos in tight quarters feasible. And the 720mm telephoto? It’s instant paparazzi power when you can get close-ups of random weirdness from a football-field-length away.

The camera is large, at 5.1 x 3.6 x 5.0 inches, but it’s surprisingly light, and the substantial, rubberized right handgrip is a comfy pleasure to hold. Unlike many long-zoom compacts, which control the zoom with a side-to-side lever push, the HS20 zoom works by twisting the lens barrel, just like an SLR, providing superior speed and control.

Want to grab a photo from an unusual angle? The 3-inch LCD screen pulls away from the camera body and pivots up and down—great for overhead shooting. Need to capture a fast-action sequence? You can grab eight full-resolution images in a second. Special shooting modes handle low light as well as heavy backlight and let you capture ultrawide panoramic images by simply pressing the shutter and panning the camera from side to side. When video shooting, the HS20 offers full 1080p high-def recording, along with slow-motion video capture (perfect for analyzing your golf swing).

The image quality isn’t going to match what you’d get with a full-fledged SLR, particularly when you start pushing the envelope with low-light conditions or big enlargements. On the other hand, given the extraordinary zoom range, you can get 16-megapixel photos that just wouldn’t be possible with a less feature-rich camera, particularly with long-range shots outdoors. A close-up of the bird perched on your fence? Got it.

A screen-filling shot of the singer in a band onstage? No problem. And unlike on some ultrazooms, the controls are smooth and easy to use, the controls for tweaking photo settings are extensive and you’ll find the special features actually have practical value.

$499.95, fujifilm.com

Pentax Optio W90


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