When we all shot 35mm film, we all produced images with the same aspect ratio (3:2), and the ever popular 4x6 print is based upon that. In the digital world, however, digital cameras do not all share this 3:2 aspect ratio, and as a result, all digital photos do not convert well to 4x6 prints. The most common aspect ratios for digital cameras are 3:2 (most digital SLRs) and 4:3 (most compact point-and-shoots). Some cameras allow you to choose your own aspect ratio. Aspect ratios differ between manufacturer and even between models from the same manufacturer. Awesome, huh?
What is aspect ratio? Aspect ratio is simply the relationship between the width and height of your image--as you see in the chart below, we get the aspect ratio of an image by reducing the numbers to their lowest common denominator. (Don't worry, we did the math for you!)
Some day, this discrepancy may sort out--maybe labs will print in other aspect ratios and maybe manufacturers will agree on an aspect ratio. Until then, here are a few things you can do to prevent an Insolent Cropping Crisis:
If you know what size you like to print, get a camera that agrees with that aspect ratio.
Some labs (try Snapfish) allow you to select "true digital size" and will not crop your image.
Print with a lab that allows you to select your own crop when you want to -- try myPhotopipe.com (see our earlier post on this service).
Be vigilant when taking your photos and leave enough "safe space" around the edges so that an auto-crop won't cut off anyone's head or eyeball or some such.
Write to your congressman. If they have time to pioneer HDTV, they have time to save us from crappy crops.
Come June, Americans can get their hands on this little wi-fi gem. (Japan gets a hold of it in May.) We expect this to be one great little camera, like its other Lumix cousins. The wi-fi feature allows you connect to the web via any wireless network or T-Mobile HotSpot and access a photo-sharing site to upload, organize and delete. Pretty cool, hm? The best part is that the camera is set up to work with Picasa(Google's free photo-sharing service) -- hopefully the days of manufacturer-exclusive photo services are over.
This is what we're talking about when we say "you get a lot of bang for your buck these days in a point + shoot." (See Amazon's deal at $129.95.)You might do a double take at the GE brand name, but don't think twice -- GE has established itself as a solid player in the point and shoot market. The stats are below, but the feature we adore in this camera is the panorama. You take a photo, move the camera to the right or left, line up the shot with the edge of the last photo in the viewfinder, do this one more time, and then the camera mushes the three shots into a panoramic. It ain't perfect but it's close enough. While we're sure it's meant for beautiful vistas, we had a lot of fun shooting the same person in the panoramic, like this busy kitchen elf you see below. One thing of note -- GE (like Sony) uses a proprietary USB cable, so beware that if you lose it you'll need to get another one via GE. Still an excellent option for a versatile digital camera -- we're thinking graduation presents, college kids, even on job sites. Our friend at ToolSnob swears by this camera!
- Less than 1-inch thick! (3.62W x 2.5"H x .82"W)
- 3X Optical Zoom, 4.8X Digital Zoom
- 2.5" LCD Display
- MPEG4 movies with audio
- Macro mode for close-ups (5cm)
- Image Stabilization, Multiple Scene Modes, Continuous Shooting
- Face-tracking, Red-eye Removal, Stitching
- Panorama (Wheee!)
- Rechargeable lithium-ion battery (included)
- SD/SDHC memory slot expandable to 4GB
So it's not the first, but the PanasonicLumix FX500 is among the best with its new 3-inch LCD touchscreen. The funny shaped thing in the photo is the pen it comes with -- presumably so you don't actually TOUCH the touchscreen... It's got some similarities to the Lumix FX35 but here are the full stats:
- 10.1 megapixels
- 25mm ultra-wide-angle Lecia DC lens
- 5x optical zoom
- Touchscreen (pen included) and joystick operation
- Intelligent ISO, face detection, scene selection, digital red-eye correction
- MEGA O.I.S. -- English, please... this is Panasonic for "image stabilization"
- Continuous Auto-Focus
- Shoots HD video at 1280 x 720 dpi
- Captures still photos with 16:9 aspect ratio
- Can set manual settings for aperture and shutter
Here's a great point and shoot you can pick up right now. (It's hard to wait for the new launches!) It's a bestseller at Amazon and right now they're running a promotion where you'll get a free 1GB memory card with purchase. And this all-weather body is nothing to scoff at. Think of the danger the average camera faces with an active lifestyle! Here are the specs:
8-megapixel (up to 16" x 22" prints) 5x optical zoom with Dual Image Stabilization (reduce motion blurred photos) 2.5-inch LCD screen Face Detection technology (see earlier post) Bright Capture technology for low-light situations 26 preset shooting modes
All-weather body protects from rain, snow and sand
Just when you thought the Olympus E-410 was the camera to invite to dinner, Olympus today debuted a better houseguest: the Olympus E-420. It's light, it's compact, it's chipper! We will point out that it put on some weight -- 2 ounces (oink, oink), for a total of 13.4 ounces. So it's heavier than its predecessor but lighter than any other DSLR in the marketplace. However, to make up for it Olympus priced the E-420 $200 less than the E-410! But we shouldn't compare siblings.
The 2.7-inch LCD screen features Live View -- a fancy phrase for the feature that allows you to see what you're taking a photo of on the screen instead of looking through the viewfinder. The E-420 flaunts face detection, shadow adjustment technology (see our earlier post on this goo) and onscreen auto-focus. 10 megapixels.
Now. We try not to be superficial here at PictureSnob but we have consumers to look out for... so, the 80s called and they want their camera body back. OK there, we said it. Ahem. At any rate, it's a good camera if you can handle the visual throwback. The Olympus E-410 goes on sale in May for $599 (with lens) or $499 for body only.
Sony's just released updates to two digital cameras in their Cyber-Shot line: the DSC-W300 and the DSC-H50. As always, it depends what you're up to in your photo life, but take a good look at the W300 -- it could make many a photographer happy. You can pre-order these on SonyStyle.com.
Sony DSC-W300: the mega-pixels just keep coming 13.6 mega-pixel compact point + shoot (that's right, 13.6!) 3x optical zoom, Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar lens
2.7-inch LCD display
Ability to shoot at high speeds -- 5 frames/second (you have to drop down to 3 mega-pixels though)
Image stabilization, Automatic scene detection to adjust color ISO 6400 mode -- this will eliminate blur but increase grain/noise
Face and smile detection (see our earlier post) A Bunch of Sony Goo: Sony BIONZ image processor, Clear RAW Noise Reduction
Scratch-resistant titanium coating
About $350, ships in May -- preorder at Sonystyle
Sony DSC-H50: great for fast-action shooting 9.1 mega-pixel 15x zoom (WOAH!), Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar lens
3-inch LCD display
Sensitivity from ISO 80 to 3200 Powerful flash -- at ISO 3200 it will illuminate subjects up to 55 feet away Advanced light metering -- matrix, spot, center 9-point auto-focus with "assist lamp" (when you're focusing, the camera shines a small light so it can better see what it's focusing on)
Image stabilization, Automatic scene detection to adjust color
Face and smile detection (see our earlier post)
15MB internal memory (get a memory stick, quick)
About $400, ships in May -- preorder at SonyStyle
Well if this isn't history being buried before our eyes... Earlier this month Polaroid announced it will no longer make instant film, laying off 450 people and closing factories in Massachusetts, Mexico and the Netherlands. The instant film will be available at stores until 2009, but expect the price to go up -- when Polaroid stopped making its iconic camera last year, price rose from $30 to $140! From then on, if you're looking for antique Polaroid bits, try eBay. We're going to miss that nasty green hue.
On the bright side, brace yourself for the onslaught of digital camera-printer-in-ones -- see our earlier post on Zink. We just learned this company was founded by former Polaroid scientists and executives, and there's some kind of alliance in the works so you might see the Polaroid brand on some Zink merchandise later this year.