Monday, March 31, 2014

Nikon P340 Review

As smartphones eat into the compact camera market,  the demand side of the camera market has shifts upwards. Cameras like the Canon S120 or Panasonic LF-1 were once considered to be advanced compacts; devices that catered to enthusiast shooters looking for portable shirt-pocket machines. However, many modern smart devices produce image quality that is comparable to the matchbox cameras of old, and as such, anybody who is purchasing a camera in 2014 (and beyond) is likely looking at a device that gives demonstrably better features and image quality than their phone. This is the "disruptive" aspect to what the iPhone has done; not only has it replaced the traditional digital camera for many people, it has changed the nature of the cameras that people are buying in its wake.

The benchmark in small, lightweight and slim compact cameras has long been Canon's S-series. The current standard-bearer is the S120, but the range dates back to the S90. That camera was launched in 2009; future iterations did not stray far from it's formula of basic box with above-average photographic features. As a competitor,  Nikon's P3xx series launched in 2011, and like the Canon S-series, has maintained a consistent form factor and overall operational familiarity. The P300-320 cameras have traditionally been positioned below the Canon S series, but starting with the P330, the sensor size was increased from the entry-level 1/2.3" size to the more advanced-compact 1/1.7" size to match against the Canon S110. So, is the Nikon P340 a worthy competitor to the Canon S120?

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Canon EOS Rebel SL1 (100D) Review

2014 is still young as this is being written, but already its clear that this will be remembered as a particularly difficult year for the camera industry. The higher end of the market, dominated by DSLR's, has been more economically solid than the inexpensive compact camera side of the market. However, both Canon and Nikon have been looking anxiously at the mirrorless segment, and both have made small steps towards competing with this rising segment of the market. The EOS SL1 (EOS 100D) is one attempt by Canon to combat the likes of the Sony NEX and Fujifilm X systems. In one aspect, the SL1 is a design success, as it is indisputably the smallest APS-C DSLR available on the market. It's small, lightweight and has a little bit more design flair than its EOS Rebel siblings. The question then, is it just another DSLR in shrink-wrap, or is it a credible mirrorless fighter?

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Lowepro Urban Reporter 250 Review

If camera bags were only about protecting your camera gear, there wouldn't be so many of them on the market. All you would need would be a boxy padded rectangle with a simple and clear design and you would be done. In a way, that's how you could describe the stereotypical Lowepro camera bag; competent but functionally angular. That's not so much the case in today's competitive market, and with the Urban Reporter series, you have the basic black bag, but with a stylish flair.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Gordy's Camera Strap Review: Lug-Mount Wrist Strap

When it comes to modern cameras, the digital aesthetic is decidedly synthetic. There are many camera accessories available on the market, but the vast majority of bags and straps are made from nylon or other made-made fibers. That's understandable; given the qualities of synthetic materials, it's no wonder why they are used for rough-wear applications. However, no touch-wearing material is as evocative as natural leather.

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II

During the heyday of the APS-C DSLR boom, the camera makers actively pushed older 50mm primes as "low-light" or "portrait" lenses. This practice continues today; 50mm and f/1.8 on Canon's EF-S APS-C format is roughly the equivalent of 80mm and f/2.6. It's just on the short side of the portrait range, but f/1.8 on a Canon EF-S body gives plenty of room to create blurred out backgrounds. However, as much as these lenses are sold to fulfill a niche in the Canon consumer DSLR line-up, the real reason why primes like the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 exist is because they are inexpensive to produce, and consequently sell at an inexpensive price for the price-conscious end of the DSLR market.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Sigma 30mm f/1.4 DC HSM ART Review

With most things in photography, you can spend a little or you can spend a little more. This is especially true of lenses given the wide variety that is available from the various manufacturers. Sigma was the first with a "normal" 30mm fast prime for crop cameras, but was upstaged in the Nikon world by the Nikkor AF-S 35mm f/1.8 G, which was cheaper (a traditional Sigma virtue) and sharper, albeit with dodgey bokeh. Given that Sigma invented this category, the 30mm focal length was one of the first lenses that they returned to at the outset of the Global Vision refresh. As such, Sigma's response was something that fell into their "ART" lineup. It's very much the little brother to well-received full-frame 35mm lens, meaning that this is an upscale offering in the value-oriented APS-C category.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Nikon D5300 Selective Color (Stills and Video)

One of the neat features of the Nikon D5300 is the ability to apply a selective colour effect to still images and video. The above example of the coffee mug is a fairly good illustration of what can be accomplished when one predominant colour is selected out of the background. The camera has the ability to pick up to three colors out of a scene.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Ona Bowery Canvas Camera Bag Review

Virtually all markets spiral into the inevitable economic equivalent of thermodynamic heath death. Before the market's demise by commodification occurs, a natural inclination for competitors is to escape upwards ... "up" as in heading for the hills to avoid the tide of increasing price competition and declining margins. So it is with cameras, and so it is with camera accessories. Let's be honest, there isn't anything groundbreaking  about a camera bag "technology", and the problem for any maker of such is how to stand out from the numerous over competitors in the market.  Admittedly, some makers of camera bags do a better job of creating a desirable product than others. To that end, Ona camera bags are visually fetching and have a way of conveying an upscale presence that remains accessible.