Accordion Al - image by Ivy, age 10

Business in Vancouver

Canadian Freelance Union- CEP

Focusing on new camera options for business travel

by  Alan Zisman (c) 2011 First published in Business in Vancouver July 19-25, 2011 issue #1134 High Tech Office column

When I was travelling this summer I noticed something that I haven’t seen commented on. Lots of people had digital SLR (DSLR) cameras around their necks. That’s nothing new. What was new, I think, is that a lot of those necks were female.

In the past, while popular, DSLRs seemed to be a guy thing. Apparently that’s no longer the case.

They’re not my thing, however. The other popular picture-taking option, using the camera built into a mobile phone, also doesn’t appeal to me. I like – especially when I’m travelling – a DSLR’s ability to go from wide angle to close up, but otherwise find them too big, too complex, too heavy.

Camera manufacturers offer “ultra zooms” lacking a DLSR’s detachable lenses, with zooms up to 36 times, but they’re still too bulky for my taste. More recently, we’ve started to see “compact zoom” models – not as powerful as the ultra zooms, but much smaller. Both Nikon and Canon loaned me current models to take on my trip.

Nikon’s Coolpix S9100 packs an 18x optical zoom, going from the equivalent of a traditional SLR’s wide-angle 25mm lens up to super-telephoto 450mm. It has very good close-up (macro) capabilities and is very easy to use. Some users (not me), however, will be put off by its lack of manual controls.

Like the Coolpix S9100, Canon’s PowerShot SX230 HS takes 12-mega-pixel images. Both cameras include image stabilization (a must-have at high zooms), multiple shooting options, including night modes, and 1080p high-definition movie recording. Neither camera offers a high-end RAW image mode. Also on each: the flash pops open manually – a feature that I like, making it easy to control whether the flash fires or not.

While Nikon’s model comes in black or silver, Canon offers its PowerShot in your choice of black, red (actually hot pink) or blue. It’s also a bit slimmer than Nikon’s model, perhaps because its lens is a more modest 14x zoom (ranging from SLR- equivalent 28mm to 390mm). Unlike Nikon’s model, it offers manual exposure options but delivers less powerful macro abilities.

The PowerShot includes GPS, which makes it possible to tag shots with their location. Your photos can then display where they were taken on a map in software like Apple’s iPhoto or uploaded to a website like Flickr. The downside: leaving the GPS on dramatically reduces battery life.

Both cameras start up and are ready to fire quickly – about two seconds after pressing the power button. Nikon’s camera produces sharper images in low-light settings and offers smoother 1080p video (30 frames per second compared with the Canon’s 24 fps). It can also refocus while shooting video.

A plus for the Canon, however: its settings dial stays put. The Nikon’s dial didn’t when popped in and out of pocket or carrying case. The resulting incorrect modes ruined some of my shots.

With both cameras listing for the same $380, each will have its fans – the Nikon for its larger zoom and better macro and low-light picture taking; the Canon for its manual options, GPS and slimmer body in cuter colours.

Another Nikon model has a feature that might appeal to some: the Coolpix S1100pj (about $450). While offering a more modest 5x zoom, it has a built-in projector, can be used to project the images (or video) on the camera and can be connected to a Windows PC or Mac – after installing software on the computer. It can also be used to display PowerPoint presentations and the like.

While it won’t replace a dedicated projector for large presentations, it delivers an image of up to a metre-and-a-quarter wide that is surprisingly bright. For someone on the road with a laptop making sales presentations to small groups, it could be handy. I wish it could connect to a smartphone or tablet, though, for real minimalist presentations.

Maybe the next model.

Powered by NetNation- www.netnation.com

Search WWW Search www.zisman.ca