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compact cameras

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    Olympus Pen-F

    After I sold all my DSLR camera bodies and lenses a few years ago, the photographer in me has been secretly looking at latest models from Nikon, Canon and even Olympus because of their high performance Zuiko lenses. The reason I remained on the sidelines is that I want a camera that is light, versatile and mobile. Something that I will carry with me all the time. If you have been reading the features on GrateNews, you will realise that I have been mostly shooting using my smartphones, opting for portability over quality. Well, that was before I laid eyes on the latest Olympus Pen-F.

    The new Olympus PEN-F interchangeable-lens camera is a digital beast in a retro outfit. I don’t know about you but there is something extremely sexy about a camera when it goes old school with its dials and knobs. The concept of the Pen-F is inspired by an old Olympus line of film cameras produced from the 1960s and the build quality of the reboot model is simply exquisite. Comparing this camera to a Leica wouldn’t be fair, but I think Olympus did well to fuse aesthetics and digital power.

    Beating inside this camera is a 20.1-megapixel micro four thirds sensor, capable of shooting excellent high-res images. A multi-shot mode allows you to push the resolution up to 50-megapixel in JPEG. It also has a dedicated creative control knob on the front, allowing you to switch quickly between customisable shooting modes with features like monochrome settings, colour profile controls and various art filters.

    Front view of the Olympus Pen-F

    Top view of the Olympus Pen-F

    Back view of the Olympus Pen-F

    The Olympus PEN-F has a rear LCD touchscreen LCD panel as well as a high-resolution built-in 2.36-million dot OLED electronic viewfinder for you to see what you are shooting. And like previous Olympus models, the PEN-F comes with Olympus’ 5-Axis image stabilisation system to save your shots from unsteady hands. You may not realise it but this feature is extremely useful for low-light conditions and when shooting videos as well.

    The Olympus PEN-F will go on sale March 2016 and is available in Silver and Black. But be prepared to fork out USD$1,200 for the dials and all that jazz. Time for me to save up.

    Olympus PEN-F features

    20-megapixel Live MOS Four Thirds format sensor
    5-axis image stabilization with automatic panning detection
    2.36 million dot OLED electronic viewfinder
    Up to 10 fps continuous shooting
    Highly customizable interface, twin controls
    Swivel 3.0 inch Touchscreen LCD with 1.04 million dot
    50MP High-res Shot mode
    1/8000 sec shutter speed (1/16,000 with e-shutter)
    Full-HD movie with 5-axis IS stability
    High-res Shot captures 50MP JPEG or 80MP RAW shots
    Built-in Wi-Fi when coupled with OI.Share app for smart devices (iOS & Android) enables camera remote control; image and video transfer for social sharing

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      It is hard to imagine consumers buying a casual compact camera these days given the advancement in camera optics on smartphones, let alone one that costs S$1,399. But Instagrammers and trigger-happy selfie shooters may disagree with that if they know the images from the compact camera will give them flawless skin and awesome skin tone. Casio’s EXILIM TR70 is aimed at doing just that. An update to the EXILIM EX-TR60 launched in the middle of 2015, the EXILIM TR70 now touches up videos you shoot as well.

      Look-wise, EX-TR70 has a slim, wedge-shape design that tapers from the lens unit toward the monitor. Flipping open the camera releases a wedge frame that is used as a grip, allowing you to capture a selfie without having your fingers getting in the way. The frame also double up as a stand for hands-free photo-taking. The 11.1-megapixel camera has a bright f/2.8 aperture and a fairly wide 21mm (35mm equivalent) wide angle lens.

      The most important feature and the key selling point of this camera is perhaps the Advanced Make-Up Mode – a Skin Brightening function that enhances skin tone and gives your complexion a certain amount of glow and radiance as well as a rosy tinge. The good news is that the Make-Up Plus Technology is now available for videos too. According to Casio, the technology is able to reproduce the smoothness of skin without any loss of skin tone gradation while capturing details down to each eyelash and hair. The EX-TR70 is also fitted with a large 1/1.7-inch CMOS sensor that enhances image quality in dim lighting.

      Another enhancement is the addition of a Instant Movie button that allows you to record a series of short clips before stitching it together for a longer video. Users simply have to hold down the Instant Movie button to start recording and release it to stop. Pressing the button again will automatically add another clip to the storage. Once you are done, EX-TR70 will piece together these snippets to publish a complete video. If you are familiar with Instagram videos and Snapchat story, the end result is similar but prettier with the make-up effects on. This feature is great for users who have no intention of editing the footage further but prefer to share them immediately onto their social networks.

      Casio EXILIM TR70 colours
      Casio EXILIM TR70 is available in Gold, White and Pink

      Casio EXILIM TR70 is obviously targeted at women given its focus on skin beautification (save for some very metro-sexual guys). Casio say that the camera is “for women trying to express the ideal of beautiful skin, the new EX-TR70 not only makes their skin appear brighter, but also includes effects for making skin look more naturally beautiful, with the healthy complexion that women long to have”.

      The camera is available in Gold, White and Pink at all authorised Casio retailers in Singapore.

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        Canon's new 5DS and 5DS R (photo: Google Images)

        It’s that time of the year again when camera enthusiasts (Canon fans, in this particular scenario) can ogle at new gear announcements.

        Often referred to as G.A.S., gear acquisition syndrome can be a very real condition, and we’re about to help perpetuate that ‘illness’. Seriously, Canon’s new full-frame DSLRs, entry-level DSLRs, wide-angle lens and compact are getting us really excited as well and we’ve got to watch our pockets.

        Canon's new 5DS and 5DS R (photo: Google Images)

        5DS and 5DS R full-frame bodies

        Canon announced two new full-frame DSLR cameras that push the limits of camera resolution for such bodies. Breaking the 50 megapixels barrier with their two new 5DS and 5DS R, Canon’s new 50.6 megapixels behemoths set a new bar for mainstream photographers.

        The difference between the two models is that the 5DS R comes without an optical low-pass filter, which seems to be the ‘in’ thing these days. An optical low-pass filter, also known as an anti-aliasing filter, softens the image ever so slightly to reduce the likelihood of moiré patterns happening. However, due to the increase in camera pixel density these days, there isn’t much of a need for the optical low-pass filter now, and its removal will result in more detailed, and sharper in-camera images.

        So basically what that means, in layman terms, is that the images on the 5DS R will turn out sharper than those from the 5DS.

        They will be out for sale in June, retailing at US$3,700 and US$3,900 for the 5DS and 5DS R respectively.

        Canon's new Rebel T6i and T6s (photo: Google Images)

        New entry-level DSLRs

        These new entry-level bodies are known as the Rebel T6s and T6i in the United States, but over here, they’ll be better known as the 760D and 750D respectively (the disparity in naming convention really annoys us).

        First impressions are that Canon’s getting serious on their entry-level offerings, with both new cameras coming with 24.2 megapixel APS-C sensors. For the uninformed, APS-C sensors are smaller than their full-frame brethren, and have a crop-factor of 1.6x. This shouldn’t be a real concern for entry-level users, but you may read this if you’re interested to know more about the differences.

        Back to the new cameras, video is a big focus on these two models with both offering 1080p video at 30fps and 24fps. The 760D will also offer an LCD screen on the top of the camera, much like the higher models, with deeper controls for video recording available like a mic-in port. On the other hand, the 750D will have controls targeted to a more ‘beginner’ crowd.

        That said, images and videos from both cameras will be of exactly the same quality.

        The 760D and 75oD cameras will be available at the end of April. The 760D will come bundled with an 18-135mm F3.5-5.6 IS kit lens for US$1,200 while the 750D will come the standard 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 IS II kit lens for US$900 at the end of April.

        Canon's new EF 11-24mm F4L ultra wide angle lens (photo: Google Images)

        This is targeted at the full-frame camera users, but APS-C body users (e.g. 7D, 70D, 60D, 700D, 650D) can certainly get this as well.

        This would be Canon’s widest non-fisheye zoom lens, with the current most popular ones being the 16-35mm F2.8L USM and the relatively recent 16-35mm F4L IS USM.

        Just to offer a quick comparison, the 11-14mm boasts an angle of view of 126° 5′, whereas the 16-35mm offers an angle of view of 108° 10′.

        The 11-24mm F4L USM will be available in late February for US$3,000.

        Canon PowerShot G3 X (photo: Google Images)

        PowerShot G3 X

        While Canon didn’t exactly announce this compact camera, it did confirm that it’s on the cards, and consumers can expect to see this in their line-up in the not too distant future.

        What we know for now is that this camera will come with a 1″ sensor, which is huge for a compact camera. This puts it in the same league as Sony’s RX100 and RX10 cameras, often praised for its huge sensor.

        However, the optical zoom range on the G3 X beats that competition hands down, with it slated to be an insane 25x! If you want that in numbers, its lens zoom range will be equivalent to 24-600mm. The Sony RX10 comes closest to matching that with an 8.3x optical zoom range of 24-200mm – significantly shorter on the telephoto end.

        Apart from sensor size and optical zoom range, no other details have been released for this. However, based on the photos, the camera’s handgrip looks pretty big, and not surprisingly, so is its lens – which makes the “compact” camera far from pocketable, unlike its Sony rivals.

        We’ll be keeping our eyes and ears peeled for more updates on this front, so check back again in the future for more updates on new releases from the photographic world.