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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 5)

When it’s all just right, trip the shutter by pressing the on-screen button. This neat trick works equally well if you’re holding your camera high overhead or down low—no more point-and-pray photography. Your phone’s built-in GPS will let you attach location information to photo files shot using the remote control app.

And if a little geek-speak doesn’t freak you out, DLNA support is another intriguing option. DLNA is an industry standard for sharing media files between devices. Some AV receivers and TV sets now support DLNA, along with Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 game consoles. Turn on the camera’s DLNA function and you can browse your photos on a big-screen TV without connecting a single wire. You can even set up a slick-looking on-screen slide show. Master this simple trick and even your kids will grudgingly admit you’re kind of cool.

Beyond its unusual wireless proclivities, the 14.2-megapixel SH100 is a photographic mixed bag. There’s a 5x zoom lens, but no mechanical image stabilization, the system that keeps blur to a minimum in most current digital cameras. The LCD is a relatively low-res 3-inch affair, and it’s touch-sensitive. Some people like touch-screen camera controls, and it’s easy to see the charm of focusing on a particular point in a scene by tapping on it.

Personally, though, I prefer good old-fashioned buttons. They let you work faster, without having to search a screen full of icons every time you want to change a setting, and respond more reliably. Then again, the SH100 isn’t the right camera for those who yearn for precise manual control anyway.

There are adequate adjustment opportunities for the basics, but it’s really designed for the point-and-shoot crowd. And given the camera’s extensive wireless capabilities, and the fact that Samsung’s previous wireless model sold for a hefty $399, the price for the SH100 came as a very pleasant surprise.


Fujifilm FinePix REAL 3D 3W

I’m inclined to see 3-D as more of a gimmick than must-have technology, but when it comes to gimmicks, it’s kind of fun. It gets a whole lot more interesting when it becomes a do-it-yourself project, which is precisely what the groundbreaking FinePix REAL 3D W3 camera does best.

The expertise required to build an inexpensive handheld 3-D camera is not to be taken lightly. Fujifilm combined two separate, independently controlled and precisely aligned lenses with two 10-megapixel sensors to capture the separate left-eye right-eye images required to create the 3-D effect.

To give you an idea of the complexity involved, Panasonic recently delivered a $1,400 3-D camcorder that won’t let you zoom the lens at all when shooting in 3-D. Fujifilm mastered the parallax problem, thank you very much, in a $500 camera that shoots both 3-D stills and high-def 3-D video. And unlike the Panasonic, the REAL 3D W3 has a built-in 3-D LCD so you can preview the 3-D effect while you’re shooting.

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