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Monday, February 4, 2008

Toolbox: Take Me With You

Compact cameras offer quick shooting, easy portability and advanced features


leicaLeica D-Lux 3 Leica cameras are known for their superior optics and sleek, yet classic design. The 10-megapixel D-Lux 3 offers style and functionality with a 28mm wide-angle 4x zoom (rare for compacts), an internal optical image stabilization system that can be switched on and off, and three picture formats at 16:9 (10 megapixels), 3:2 (8 megapixels) and 4:3 (7 megapixels). The 2.8-inch display plays back images in full 16:9 widescreen, and Leica has worked to improve its signal processor for faster image processing. Manual modes offer extended control over focus, exposure, shutter and depth of field; the D-Lux 3 also offers RAW capture. List Price: $599.

nikonNikon Coolpix P5100 The Coolpix P5100 is about as close to a D-SLR as you can get with a compact camera. The 12.1-megapixel camera features extensive automatic and manual exposure controls, including program, aperture, shutter and manual exposure modes. Optional wide-angle (24mm) and telephoto (369mm) adapter lenses extend the 3.5x optical zoom's focal reach, and there's a built-in accessory shoe for support of Nikon's comprehensive i-TTL flash system. Optical VR (Vibration Reduction) image stabilization compensates for camera shake, plus the P5100 features automatic in-camera innovations like Red-Eye Fix, Face-Priority AF and D-Lighting technology, which adds light to compensate for underexposed areas in an image without affecting other properly exposed areas. List Price: $399.

olympusOlympus Stylus 830 Boosting the power to the sensor of a camera provides higher light sensitivity, ideal for shooting with faster shutter speeds in low light. With an ISO light sensitivity rating of 1600, the Stylus 830 goes one step further to ensure crisp and fast image capture by adding Sensor-Shift Image Stabilization for Dual Image Stabilization. The Stylus system of compacts is great in inclement weather, too, featuring a splashproof design with All-Weather protection. The 2.5-inch LCD offers multi-frame windows with Perfect Shot Previews for viewing the effects of various settings in real time. The Stylus 830 also includes an 8.0-megapixel CCD, a 5x optical zoom, TruePic III image processing and Face Detection. Twenty-six different preset Shooting Modes are available for your convenience. List Price: $299.

panasonicPanasonic Lumix DMC-FX100 Lens performance is sometimes sacrificed for space in compacts, but the 28mm (35mm equivalent) wide-angle Leica lens of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX100 has a 3.6x optical zoom that can be extended to 7x with the Extended Optical Zoom option. Intelligent ISO Control automatically detects movement and sets the ISO setting and shutter speed to prevent motion blur. Panasonic's MEGA BURST two-shots-per-second mode has been improved in the DMC-FX100, with a Hi-Speed Burst Mode for eight-shots-per-second consecutive shooting. MEGA Optical Image Stabilization automatically compensates for shake in dim lighting, and the 12.2-megapixel sensor is just barely the largest in the class-for now. List Price: $399.

pentaxPentax Optio Z10 An optical 7x zoom on a compact is rare enough, but the Optio Z10 is a completely internal design, using a refraction lens system so that the lens never protrudes from the camera's body. Offering a broad range of coverage, from wide-angle at 38mm to telephoto at 266mm (35mm equivalent), the optical zoom also can be combined with a digital zoom for up to 35.7x magnification for close shooting even when far away. The Z10 offers other digital perks, with Digital Shake Reduction for reducing blur, autofocus and auto-exposure Face Recognition functions, and Digital Wide mode for converting two images into a single 28mm wide-angle expression (approximately at a 35mm equivalent). List Price: $249.

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