Archive for April, 2008

By April 4, 2008 Read More →

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LS80 review

Panasonic have some of the most innovative digital compact cameras on the market, but how does their latest “suits-all” camera fair?


Let’s start with some honesty – I really like Panasonic cameras. I use my personal TZ3 camera often, and absolutely love it. The LS80, along with most in the range share a lot of common features, and a standard UI within the menu.

Although the LS80 is more entry level than my TZ3, I was interested to find out what Panasonic had updated and improved in this latest addition to the range.

You’ll also notice that I’ve deliberately written this review in a rather non-technical way. The reason for this is that the LS80, although a capable camera, is designed to be a simple to use non-technical camera. So if you are looking for complex features then the LS80 probably isn’t for you.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LS80

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LS80

What’s in the Box?

  • Camera
  • Application CD
  • Manual
  • Wrist strap
  • 2x AA Alkaline batteries
  • USB Cable
  • AV Cable
  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-LS80 Specification:

  • Resolution: 8.1 mega pixels
  • Memory Cards: SD / SDHC
  • Zoom: 3x Optical/4x Digital(e.Zoom)
  • Shutter speed: 8 – 1/2,000 sec & 15/30/60 second
  • Apperture: Wide: F2.8/F8 (2 steps) Tele: F5 – F14 (2 steps)
  • ISO: Auto / 80 / 100 / 200 / 400 / 800 / 1250
  • LCD Screen: 2.5 inches
  • Flash Modes: Auto, Auto / Red-eye Reduction, Forced On / Off
  • Maximum Movie Resolution: 848 x 480 pixels
  • Self Timer: 10 sec / 2 sec
  • Video Out (TV Playback): Yes
  • Computer Connection: Yes
  • Batteries: AA Alkaline included
  • Dimensions: 94.1 x 51.4 x 24.2mm
  • Weight: 170g
  • General

    The Panasonic Lumix DMC-LS80 is a fairly conventional looking digital compact camera. The rear of the camera houses a generous 2.5″ TFT colour screen which displays both live and saved images as well as the cameras menu system. Also on the back you’ll find the main controls for the cameras settings.

    Panasonic Lumix DMC-LS80 back

    Panasonic Lumix DMC-LS80 back

    On the right hand side you’ll find a flap covering the SD/SDHC memory card slot.

    Panasonic Lumix DMC-LS80 right side

    Panasonic Lumix DMC-LS80 right side

    The left hand side has a rubber flap covering the USB/AV connector. The connector is proprietary as it carries both USB and AV signals.

    Panasonic Lumix DMC-LS80 left side

    Panasonic Lumix DMC-LS80 left side

    As with every other camera on the market, the top right of the camera has the zoom and shutter release controls as well as the power switch and e.Zoom button (more on that later).

    Panasonic Lumix DMC-LS80 top

    Panasonic Lumix DMC-LS80 top


    The first thing I noticed when unboxing Lumix DMC-LS80 was the lack of the customary (And propriety) Panasonic battery. 2 standard AA batteries are included instead, and although I’m guessing this could vary, my opinion is that this is decent improvement. Although replacement batteries weren’t expensive, I’d much prefer the AA standard batteries – if only for an emergency dash to the supermarket to buy replacements. Obviously the chances of finding a specific Panasonic battery on the high street are very slim.

    I’ve also used an FX12 camera from Panasonic, and although another great little camera, the LCD display was a little lacking in some aspects, especially as none of the mentioned cameras have viewfinders. The LS80 has a large, higher quality 2.5 inch screen which is as good as I suspect you will ever need.

    The camera is nearly completely menu-driven. The dial switch found on most Panasonic compact’s is missing here, and instead you need to use the menu. Some functions, old and new, do still have dedicated buttons.

    Almost all new camera’s in the Panasonic compact range include an extended zoom function. It sounds straightforward – lower the megapixels, and use the spare to increase the zoom. Strangely I believe only Panasonic bother to add this as a feature. While it may not be a regularly used features, I’d rather than that, than the utterly pointless digital zoom techniques found elsewhere. In this instance, e.zoom takes the acceptable 3x zoom, upto around 4.5x.

    As mentioned, the screen is much improved, and extremely high quality. Extra modes are available for high level shooting, and a full-brightness setting (expect this to kill batteries!)

    For a ‘cheap’ £100 camera, the shot quality is excellent – as you might expect from a Vario lens. Colours are produced well, and images while slightly soft in some cases, are hard to beat with anything close to this price bracket. At 8.1 megapixels, it won’t be “out of date” anytime soon, and will be an excellent first camera, or a secondary “put-in-pocket” camera as well.

    It’s hard to find any real faults with it considering the price point, although personally I think it’s a shame to have lost the dial mode switch. I guess the main reason for this, is that the dial simply doesn’t fit within the chassis anymore!

    The menu system and associated scene selection screens work as easy as any other. Lists are clear and easy to understand, and the layout of options are clear and concise. The “new” dedicated switch between record and playback is a good move, especially as it wasn’t always completely clear (believe it or not) on some of last years models. Weirdly the TZ3 I have has 2 different playback modes, each with a subset of the other’s functions!


  • Lens/picture quality: The best lens manufacturer in the world in my opinion, on a camera under £100. ‘Nuff said.
  • Battery life/Standard battery: Panasonic quote around 450 pics per battery charge/replacement which is a decent achievement anyway. Coupled with the fact you can stick £2 AA batteries in it in an emergency, means this is perfect for traveling away from your beloved chargers!
  • Screen: The 2.5inch screen is detailed enough to be a great replacement to a proper viewfinder.
  • Lowlights:

  • Battery: I know I’ve also mentioned this as a plus point but I would have preferred to have seen a rechargeable battery, and charger, included in the package.
  • Conclusion

    In the price bracket, for me the Panasonic quality and Vario excellence makes this a no-brainer. Buy it as a new large megapixel camera, or buy it as a second camera to shove in your pocket when your DSLR is too big. Its an exceptional camera, with many features you’d only expect higher up the range.

    The new, and older Panasonic-exclusive features are actually genuinely useful, rather than just another pointless acronym and sticker on the box. If this is the standard for Panasonic’s 2008 cameras, I’m looking forward to getting a TZ5 from them to review soon! 😉

    Review by: Mark

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    Posted in: Reviews
    By April 3, 2008 Read More →

    Sony announces the worlds smallest HD Camcorder

    Today Sony officially unveiled their new HD camcorder, the Handycam HDR-TG3E. At the moment the TG3E is the worlds smallest HD camcorder. Furthermore it has a pure titanium body, another worlds first, and some excellent features such as intelligent facial detection and BIONZ image processor.

    You may well think that in order to come up with a compact design there must be a trade off somewhere but looking at the specification that doesn’t seem to be the case.

    Sony Handycam HDR-TG3E

    Sony Handycam HDR-TG3E

    Take a look at some of the info from Sony below:

    Now there’s no excuse for leaving your camcorder behind when you could catch the moment in sparkling HD. Sony’s sensationally styled Handycam® HDR-TG3E is your perfect partner for nights out or weekends away. What’s more, it’s tough enough to keep up with today’s active lifestyles – whether you’re on the piste or paragliding.

    Great for city breaks when you don’t want to be weighed down, the TG3E slips effortlessly into a purse, bag or jacket pocket. Little bigger than your mobile phone, it’s the smallest, slimmest, lightest camcorder* ever to feature 1920×1080 Full HD recording with crisp 5.1ch surround sound.

    It’s also the world’s first camcorder that features a body using pure titanium – a material that’s 40% lighter than steel and twice as strong as aluminium. The tough titanium shell is finished with a Premium Hard Coating. This extra-strong protective layer shrugs off everyday scratches – from active sports or hectic holidays – ensuring the HDR TG3E keeps its high-fashion looks for longer.

    The stylish new Handycam® has been created around the design concept of ‘My HD to Go’ – a pocket-sized Full HD camcorder that’s small enough to carry at all times for capturing great movie moments. Its ultra-compact size, chic looks and tough finish makes the TG3E ideal for any situation, from family breaks to the smartest party.

    The camcorder’s elegant, pared down lines are complemented by easy, intuitive operation via the LCD touchscreen. Record, Movie/photo mode and zoom can all be accessed via a conveniently-placed thumb lever and buttons. With ‘Quick On’ mode activated, the TG3E is ready for action within a second of flipping open the bright, clear 2.7-inch Clear Photo LCD Plus touch panel.

    Recording on Memory Stick PRO Duo media (4GB Memory Stick supplied) means there’s no need to carry bulky tapes or discs if you’re out for the evening or spending a weekend away and want to capture your favourite moments. An optional 16GB Memory Stick records up to 5 hours 55min of full HD movies (LP mode).

    Despite its tiny dimensions, the Handycam® TG3E makes no compromises on recording beautiful, detail-packed Full HD images. Sensitivity and low-noise performance are assured by the ClearVid CMOS Sensor that features Exmor™ derived from technology found in Sony professional camcorders and  digital SLR cameras.

    It’s complemented by the powerful BIONZ image processing engine that maintains superlative image quality for video and stills shooting alike. Thanks to the speed and responsiveness of the BIONZ processor, high-resolution 4.0 megapixel still picture can be taken with photo mode, and 2.3 megapixel still pictures can even be taken during HD video recording.

    Intelligent Face Detection automatically adjusts focus, exposure, colour balance for clear, beautifully realistic videos and still pictures of friends and family. It recognises up to 8 faces in one scene, making it easier to shoot people in different situations. For even better ‘people pictures’, advanced compression technology automatically allocates more data to human subjects for more detailed faces with greater detail and lower noise.

    Also powered by the responsive BIONZ processor, D-Range Optimiser technology adjusts dynamic range for more natural reproduction of high-contrast and backlit scenes with strong highlights and shadows.

    Sound quality is just as important as great pictures. 5.1ch digital surround sound quality is enhanced with an automatic Zoom microphone function that focuses on foreground subjects for crisper dialogue.

    After shooting, Visual Index, Film Roll Index and Face Index make it easier to track down your favourite scenes on the large, easy-view touchscreen LCD.

    Files stored on Memory Stick can be burned to DVD at the touch of the ‘Disc Burn’ button using the supplied Handycam Station. Alternatively, files can be backed up to your computer’s hard drive. After transferring files to your PC, supplied Picture Motion Browser software makes it easy to organise and browse images by date in an intuitive calendar view. Alternatively, Map view displays where images were recorded when used with an optional GPS unit.

    Posted by: Matt

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    Posted in: Cameras
    By April 2, 2008 Read More →

    HTC releases WM6.1 version of HTC Touch Dual in US

    Yesterday HTC revealed a new version of the HTC Touch Dual which now includes Windows Mobile 6.1

    In the press release, which you can see below, HTC also say that they are going to provide a (Free?) WM6.1 update for many of their existing devices including the HTC Touch and the TyTN II.

    HTC Corp. revealed that the popular HTC Touch Dual™ will debut in the United States this quarter. Announced today at the Cellular Telecommunication and Internet Association (CTIA) Wireless 2008 spring conference, the HTC Touch Dual™ combines an intuitive touch screen with integrated TouchFLO™ technology and slide-out keypad and Microsoft Corp.’s Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional software, making it easier for customers to communicate on the go.

    “HTC has witnessed incredible support and demand for the Touch product portfolio, and we are pleased to provide our customers with the opportunity to experience additional iterations of the Touch product family,” said Jason Mackenzie, vice president of HTC America. “The Touch Dual will be among the first devices in the United States to run Windows Mobile 6.1 and will be followed by a range of 6.1 updates for several other HTC products.”

    Software Upgrades Available on HTC Devices

    In partnership with Microsoft and key mobile operator partners, HTC will continue to extend the functionality of many current HTC devices both in the United States and abroad by providing Windows Mobile 6.1 updates. Windows Mobile 6.1, an update to Windows Mobile 6, provides new timesaving features, easier phone navigation and management, stronger security safeguards, and support for Microsoft System Center Mobile Device Manager 2008. Some of HTC’s most popular smartphones including the Touch by HTC and Mogul by HTC from Sprint, AT&T Tilt, Alltel Wireless’ HTC Touch and PPC6800, and the HTC TyTN II, will be among the first of many devices available for a Windows Mobile 6.1 upgrade.

    Supporting existing customers and enhancing their experiences continues to be a focus for HTC; Sprint and HTC recently provided an update for the popular Mogul by HTC, making it the industry’s first EV-DO Rev. A-capable handset while also enabling additional GPS functionality.

    “Windows Mobile enhances people’s lives by providing them with an experience that keeps them close to what’s important to them — anywhere, anytime,” said John O’Rourke, general manager of the Mobile Communications Business, Microsoft. “HTC has a history of providing a great selection of popular Windows Mobile phones, and we are pleased to bring the latest in software to a range of its products around the world.”

    Posted by: Matt

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    Posted in: News
    By April 1, 2008 Read More →

    Mobiles on planes, a step closer

    I can’t think of anything worse, imagine sitting on a plane for 8 hours next to someone that uses the their mobile phone the whole time. A thirty minute train journey is bad enough, and you have the option to move to another seat or stand on a train but you just know that you’ll be stuck next to the noisy one on your flight!

    The above may well become a reality if the plans get passed by Ofcom. Ofcom, which has been examining the proposals since last year, said that the plans would be subject to approval by the relevant British and European aviation bodies. The regulator said that the decision had been developed with other European Union countries and that the system could be used in European airspace.

    Under the plan, airlines would allow passengers to use cellphones once planes reach a minimum altitude of 3,000 meters, or 10,000 feet.

    So what do you think? Personally I would be pleased to be able to use data and text based mobile services but I would rather that voice services be barred, either that or have very strict rules as to where and when phones could be used on the flight, perhaps insisting that calls be made and received only in the galley areas.

    Posted by: Matt

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    Posted in: News