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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Gadget Bag: Large Sensors, Compact Cameras

The brand-new class of fixed-lens compacts with big sensors and pro features

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Nikon Coolpix P7700
Outsizing the majority of compact and smartphone sensors on the market, the Nikon Coolpix P7700 includes a 1/1.7-inch, 12.2-megapixel sensor. For this class of camera, it includes an impressively long 7.1x zoom range with 28-200mm equivalence on the 6.0-42.8mm ƒ/2.0-4.0 Zoom-NIKKOR lens. There's lens-shift Vibration Reduction and a close-up mode with a minimal focusing distance of only 0.8 inches from the front of the lens. The 3.0-inch, 921K Vari-Angle TFT-LCD screen is fully articulated for composing shots from odd angles. The camera offers both 1080p and 720p video at 30 fps, as well as High Speed HS movie capture in three resolutions: 120 fps (640x480), HS 60 fps (1280x720) and HS 15 fps (1920x1080). ISO ranges from 80 to an equivalent 6400. Interestingly, its top continuous shooting rate is 8 fps at full resolution, but only for up to six shots. List Price: $499. www.nikonusa.com

Olympus Stylus XZ-2
With a 1/1.7-inch, 12-megapixel back-illumination BSI-CMOS sensor (backside illumination results in better light-gathering abilities over conventional sensors), the Olympus Stylus XZ-2 sports a fast ƒ/1.8-2.5 variable aperture and 6-24mm i.ZUIKO DIGITAL lens for a 27-108mm equivalent 4x zoom. The swiveling 3.0-inch LCD panel with 910K pixels makes composition a snap from most angles, and you also can achieve critical automatic focus through the touch screen. Backlight HDR will composite several exposures for working with washed-out exposures, and ISO ranges up to 12,800. The XZ-2 comes with a hybrid control ring around the lens for switching between manual and digital operations, and also for assigning customizable functions that can be switched quickly via the adjacent Fn 2 lever. Dual Image Stabilization combines Sensor-Shift I.S. with high ISO sensitivities and fast shutter speeds for reducing shake. There's also a Multi-Motion Movie I.S. for the same results during video capture, which is provided in 1080p or 720p at 30 fps. List Price: $599. www.getolympus.com

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX7
The stylish Lumix DMC-LX7 from Panasonic with a 1/1.7-inch, 10.1-megapixel High Sensitivity MOS sensor is available in white or black. The Leica Vario-Summilux 24-90mm ƒ/1.4 lens sports a 3.8x optical zoom and an incredibly fast ƒ/1.4-2.3 variable aperture. There are advanced features like Intelligent HDR, multiple aspect ratios and 11 fps continuous shooting at up to 12 frames, with up to 5 fps available during autofocus. Intelligent NR noise reduction optimizes by brightness to perform adjustments where it's needed the most in a scene. Video capabilities are verbose with a selection of frame rates, resolutions and bit rates of up to 28 Mb/s, including high-speed frame rates of 120 and 100 fps at 720p, 1920x1080 AVCHD video files in 60p/50p/60i/50i and MP4 1080p video in 30/25 fps, as well as standard 720p in 60/50/30/25 fps. ISO sensitivities range from 80-12,800, and there's a Time Lapse Shot function alongside several in-camera filters and modes. List Price: $499. www.panasonic.com

Pentax MX-1
Available in silver or black, the vintage appeal and economic price point of the 12-megapixel MX-1 from Pentax Ricoh Imaging are its biggest selling points, especially when coupled with a healthy set of specs. The MX-1 has a fast ƒ/1.8-2.5 aperture with a 6.0-24mm (28-112mm equivalent) zoom lens and 4000x3000-pixel resolution. The 1/1.7-inch BSI-CMOS sensor is backside-illuminated, and ISO extends from 100-12,800. Full HD capture is available in 1080p at 30 fps and 720p in 60 fps or 30 fps. The MX-1 includes macro abilities with the 1cm macro mode for close focus, as well as dual camera shake compensation with body-based Sensor-shift and Pixel Track Shake Reduction (SR). The 3.0-inch, 920K-pixel LCD screen can be tilted up or down for achieving overhead or underhanded compositions. Estimated Street Price: $499. www.pentaximaging.com

's affordable 12.4-megapixel EX2 incorporates one of the fastest apertures in the compact segment with a very bright, constant ƒ/1.4 aperture within the 5.2-17.2mm zoom (24-80mm 35mm equivalence. It's also part of the Samsung Smart Camera line with WiFi for uploading files to social-media sites or accessing and transferring photos and video remotely through compatible Samsung TV Link and MobileLink-app devices. Video is available in 1080/30p, and three high-speed frame rates can be used at lower resolutions: 480 fps (192x144), 240 fps (384x288) and 120 fps (640x480). A Dual Capture mode lets you take photos and video at the same time. The 1/1.7-inch sensor is backside-illuminated, and ISO is expandable from 80-12,800. The EX2 also offers RAW shooting, full manual controls and DUAL IS with Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) and Digital Image Stabilization (DIS) to minimize shake. Estimated Street Price: $449. www.samsung.com


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