[LINK] digital cameras
stephen at melbpc.org.au
stephen at melbpc.org.au
Sat Apr 11 03:28:01 AEST 2009
Cameras With Time-Machine Powers
By DAVID POGUE nytimes
I had so much fun reviewing the Casio EX-F1 last year. Here's what I said
"The Exilim EX-F1 (US $1,000 list price) is the world's fastest camera.
It can snap -- are you ready for this? -- 60 photos a second.
These are not movies; these are full six-megapixel photographs, each with
enough resolution for a poster-sized print.
"After such a burst, you're offered three options: delete all 60 shots,
keep all 60, or review them and pluck out the individual frames worth
"So who would ever need to take so many pictures in one second? Sports
fans, of course. But there are many other times: when your subjects are
wildlife (including children), explosions, splashes, bouquet tosses,
celebrity glimpses, broadening smiles and so on.
"(As I experimented with the FX1, I couldn't help feeling that my great-
uncle Harold Edgerton would have approved. He was the M.I.T. professor
who, in the late 1930's, pioneered the art of high-speed photography: the
projectile piercing an apple, the splash of a milk drop, and so on.)
"In pre-record mode, you half-press the shutter button when you're
awaiting an event that's completely unpredictable: a breaching whale, a
geyser's eruption or a five-year-old batter connecting with the ball. The
camera silently, repeatedly records 60 shots a second, immediately
discarding the old to make room for the new.
"When you finally press the button fully, the camera preserves the most
recent shots, thus effectively photographing an event that, technically
speaking, you missed.
"Then there's the motion detector. In this mode, you put the camera down
on something steady, press the shutter button and back away. It sits
there, waiting for hours if necessary, until it detects movement in the
scene -- at which point it auto-fires 60 burst shots. That could come in
handy when you're trying to photograph a hummingbird approaching a
flower, a bird arriving at its nest or an unauthorized household member
raiding the cookie jar.
"As a final time trick, the FX-1 can display, on its 2.8-inch screen, a
slow-motion version of what the camera is 'seeing.' Your preview falls
farther and farther behind real time -- but you now have the luxury of
patience as you decide precisely when to snap the shot.
"The FX1's movie mode is one of the most powerful ever. This camera can
film at outrageously high frame rates: 300, 600, or even 1,200 frames a
second. The result is incredibly smooth, extremely slow motion, like
something in an Imax nature movie. No still camera has ever offered
anything like this feature.
"The downside, alas, is that at faster rates, you get smaller movies. At
1,200 frames a second, you're dealing with a Triscuit-sized video in the
center of your TV screen, surrounded by oceans of black margin.
"Still, when you're trying to pinpoint problems with your golf swing,
your tennis serve or your industrial equipment, slowing time down to this
extent is like a keyhole into a previously invisible world. You might not
care about the size of the keyhole."
OK. So why did I just copy-and-paste half my Times review of a year-old
Because despite all of its miraculous time-machine powers, the FX1 is
big, bulky and expensive. It looks like an SLR, in fact, and costs $1,000.
Imagine, though, how cool it would be if you had all of those features in
a shirt-pocket camera--for $350.
Believe it or not, Casio has done it. Two new models are sleek, compact
versions of that ground-breaking FX1. There's the EX-FC100 (5x zoom, 2.7-
inch screen, image stabilizer, $400) and the EX-FS10 (3x zoom, 2.5-inch
screen, $350). Both of them do all that crazy time-machine stuff.
You can snap 30 frames in one second (not 60, but who cares?); each frame
is a six-megapixel still--amazing. You can capture full-frame hi-def
video, or you can shoot high-frame-rate (slow-motion) video at smaller
frame sizes. At maximum, you're catching 1,000 frames per second--tiny,
224-by-64-pixel frames--which is so slow, it's pretty much like staring
at a still photo. The larger slow-mo movies (210 frames per second, 480
by 360 pixels) are plenty slow.
(You can see my video about the FX1 here-- http://bit.ly/JTkk --or look
at what some other people have done with Casio's high-speed cameras.
Lighting: http://bit.ly/7vXoS. Geese: http://bit.ly/K8Fc. Dogs:
You can snap a still while filming video, and you can also change slow-mo
speeds while filming, flipping between 30 and 210 frames per second with
the touch of a button. Very, very cool.
Tragically, you can't change focus while filming. You can focus before
you start, but that's it.
Casio high-speed cultists have discovered some very cool tricks with this
camera, like shooting 30 frames per second while whipping the camera
horizontally. Later, they create a stunning panorama by stitching
together the best shots.
I used the camera to help my son with his school report on Uncle Harold.
We stood him in the bathtub holding a pin--and then we lobbed water
balloons at him. They blew up in slow-mo, our son cracking up in
laughter, at 200 frames per second. Let me tell you, his classmates will
never forget that report.
The FC100 is a truly amazing camera, one of a kind, joyous and smart, and
it does things even a $2,000 digital SLR can't do.
It is, however, still a point-and-shoot cheapo cam. Indoors and in low
light, it's only average--lots of grain--and that's at normal speed. The
high-speed modes don't even work without bright light; indoors, they
darken up so much that everything comes out nearly black.
Even so, it's been a long time since any gadget produced the sense of awe
that you feel the first time you see this camera's time-bending ability.
I love that Casio invented something truly new. It has left its much
bigger rivals in the dust, stranded in real time.
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