Sunday, January 30, 2011

Panasonic TS3 ups the ante over the new Fuji GPS-featured waterproof camera by throwing in GPS, barometer, altimeter and compass!

In my last post I was pretty excited about the new Fuji "tough" camera that included GPS.  But my favorite modern "tough" cameras are coming from Panasonic, and Pany has just upped the ante.  Their new model (there are actually two new models, but I view the one shown here as the better one) is the DMC-TS3.  I'd add a link to the panasonic Web site, but the camera is so new (and not yet available) that it is not yet on the panasonic USA Web site.

I don't know how the image quality will be but I like the fact that this has fewer pixels (12 megepixels) than the 14 megapixel Fuji.  Even 12 megapixels is way too many on a camera with such a small sensor.  But more pixels is what marketing departments want.  Image quality would be far better with 6 megapixels on sensors of the size of 99% of all pocket cameras.  Did you know that even on a 24" monitor that images are downsized to about 2 megapixels to fit?!  About 5 megapixels is all you need for an uncompromisingly sharp 8"x10" print.  I've even had some gorgeous 9"x12" prints from my old Pentax 3.3 megapixel waterproof camera.  The problem with more pixels is that the camera's ability to take low-light images is decreased and there is much more noise (grain) in the image... all else being equal.

...So, here are some of the main features of this new panasonic:

Image stabilization
28-140mm (effective field of view) lens
Full HD movie capability

Waterproof to 12' (40m)
Shock proof for drop of 6.6' (2m)
Freeze proof down to 14F (-10C)

Pretty awesome, I would say.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Fuji builds first compact waterproof camera with GPS (Fujifilm XP30)

I've been a big fan of the waterproof point and shoot cameras since acquiring the now "old" pentax 33WR in 2003.  I still keep this camera in my fly vest, but am always following the newest cameras and dreaming that I might buy an "upgraded" replacement.  The Fujifilm XP40 XP30 was announced earlier this month as a "pre-CES 2011" announcement.  CES is the International Consumer Electronics Show held annually in Las Vegas.

[In the "for-what-it's-worth" department: So far, my choice would be the Panasonic, for it's useful 5x zoom with 28mm wide angle, effective image stabilization, and arguably the best image quality of the "tough" camera category.  I say this after reading perhaps every review available on the Internet. Panasonic will remain my choice until I can read reviews on the Fuji's image quality. Perhaps some meaningful reviews will be available before the spring fishing season begins!]

So far, I believe Panasonic has offered a better camera than has Fuji, which until now did not have image stabilization.  I find image stabilization to be very important for low light photos because it allows you to take shots at slower shutter speeds, and therefore get a good exposure without increasing the ISO.  (Higher ISO settings increase the sensor's sensitivity to light so you can get a good exposure using a higher shutter speed, but image quality is compromised.)

The new Fuji has included image stabilization, but more importantly (or perhaps just more interestingly) it has included GPS features.  I can see using this whenever I find a "hot" fishing spot on a remote stream.  Just take a picture of the location... perhaps, if you're lucky, a picture of one of the fish caught there.... and this will record the location.  It is my understanding that it will record the more exacting latitude and longitude and/or simply the place name (such as Yellowstone National Park).  According to the press release, the camera has an imbedded list of over one-half million place names around the world.

It is waterproof to 5 meters, shockproof up to 1.5 meters, dust and sandproof, and freezeproof to minus 10C.  These features are all pretty common on this category of cameras.

The screen shot below is from the Fuji Web site.  My daughter will be happy that it comes in her favorite color, orange.

Here's a link so you can read more about this new model: