Whether watching a video, surfing the web, sending photos to your friends or simply making a call, the touchscreen is a key feature in any modern multimedia-enabled smartphone—along with the processor, of course. Mobile phone screens keep getting bigger and bigger in size, and contrast has improved over time to reach a respectable level in both high-end and entry-level handsets. Smartphone screen viewing angles are usually wide enough keep things easy for users to see, but colour fidelity still tends to vary considerably from one handset to another.
> Technology Focus: Smartphone Screens and Colour Fidelity
Take a look at this message a reader posted in our forum:
Subject: Looking for my first camera, Can Anyone Suggest A Good Start? (Bridge)
I am very interested in horses, and I do an awful lot of show jumping (this is when the rider rides the horse as he jumps over the different fences) as well as other horse activities. I use my dad's camera at the moment, but find it is much too slow to get any good mid-air clips. Generally if it does get mid-air clips they just come out blurry, which is awfully annoying.
So I am putting it out there, that I want a new camera. I've been told I should look for a bridge camera, by another forum. I've done a bit of research but all those different names and numbers can become confusing, So this is what I need in a camera:
1) A fast enough shutter speed to capture mid-air shots.
2) Optical and digital zoom - so if I am far away out hunting or something I can still be seen!!
3) I want to start a YouTube channel about my horses and riding so the camera will need to be able to take videos.
4) My sister got a camera for her birthday, which my parents spent €120 on. It's not an amazing camera really, but I would say they'll allow about €150 for this camera. It's a Christmas present I am really planning ahead for. And I will save up from week to week. Realistically I can probably spend up to 250€.
My mom thinks a rechargeable one is the best, as fiddling around with batteries is just stupid. But would it be much cheaper to get a battery-powered one, and just buy rechargeable batteries??
Also what do you think about buying second-hand off the internet? Bad idea??
Well that's about it, that's a load!
The answer to this really depends on whether you take pictures indoors or in low light (at night time).
If that's the case, we fear that there may not be a suitable camera for your needs that falls within your tight budget. The thing is that for low-light or indoor shooting, you'll need a fast camera, with a fast lens and good sensitivity. Riding arenas don't often have great lighting and you can soon find yourself at 1600 ISO, even at f/2.8 aperture, especially since the flash won't be much help given the distance you'll be away from the subject.
To be honest, for shooting show jumping in conditions like that, we can't see any other solution than an SLR. And the distance of the seating from the action itself means you'll probably need a fast telephoto lens—at least an f/4, 70-200 mm lens, in fact. For all that lot, you'll be looking at around €600 (£475) for the cheapest options.
Note that seeing as a bridge is effectively just a compact camera with a more powerful zoom, it won't necessarily do a better job than a compact.
If, however, you want to take photos of competitions outdoors in good, strong daylight, things get a whole lot easier. In these conditions, sensitivity isn't as important, and you can get away with a less fast lens. A Tv mode would be preferable so you can select a high shutter speed, but you can even get around that by forcing the camera to use a higher ISO setting if there's still some blurring from movement.
The two main things to look for are therefore the zoom and the camera's responsiveness. For the zoom, a bridge camera could well be the simplest solution, as these tend to be more powerful than compact camera lenses, and they aren't always a lot more expensive. For example, the Panasonic FZ48 is a top choice that's just within your budget (there are cheaper alternatives but they generally aren't as good).
No compact or bridge will have an autofocus system as fast as an SLR. However, you can cheat by locking the focus on to a specific jump beforehand in anticipation of your subject's arrival.
The photo above, for example, was taken with an SLR, but it could just as easily have been taken with a bridge by pointing the camera at a specific location (a specific jump, for example), then half-pressing the shutter-release button to set and lock the autofocus before shooing when the subject appears.
Here, we could have pointed the camera at the hat this cowboy had to pick up (that's what's in his hand) then half-pressed the shutter-release to make the camera focus on that point (make sure you select the central focusing zone in the camera's settings).
The camera then freezes its settings for as long as you keep the shutter-release half-pressed—it's waiting for you to take the picture. Then, press the shutter-release all the way down when your rider arrives to take the photo, in focus, at right focal length with little significant delay.
For show jumping you could easily do the same. Point the camera at the jump of your choice, half-press the shutter-release to force the camera to focus, then keep the button half-pressed until the rider arrives at the jump. You probably won't get it right first time. It'll take a bit of practice to get used to capturing the moment perfectly, depending on what angle you want to catch the rider at and how quickly your camera manages to take the shot.
Plus, even when you've got the hang of things, you can't expect every single photo to come out perfect. In sports competitions, even professional photographers with the best kit out there only end up keeping one photo out of every ten or twenty.
One thing we really wouldn't advise you to do is use your camera's digital zoom. Even if you're very far away, you're better off taking a photo that's not as close-up with the optical zoom and then cropping it afterwards in photo editing software. This will do much less damage to picture quality.
Finally, although there are no doubt some great deals to be had when buying second hand, it's not necessarily advantageous in your case. To get top-quality results, you'd need an SLR, and even second hand your budget would be eaten up by the camera body alone. You'd then have to pick up a lens, like a Tamron 70-300 mm or Sigma 55-200 mm.
> Digital Camera Reviews: Choose the Best Compact Camera
Between the entry-level K-r and the expert-level K-5, Pentax's SLR range was crying out for an enthusiast model in the £600 to £700 price bracket. So here it is fresh out of our test lab—the K-30—Pentax's rival for the Canon EOS 650D or the Sony Alpha 65.
Pentax K-30147 readers want this Me too!
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The K-30 gets you a 100% viewfinder, a weatherproof body, two settings wheels, continuous shooting at up to 6 fps and more, all for around £650-£700. At that price, it's on par with Canon's EOS 60D, which is comparable, even though it's now two years old. In any case, the Pentax K-30 looks great on paper. So how did it get on in our test lab?
Earlier this week, we received a K-30 with its DA L 18-55 mm kit lens. So ahead of the full review, coming in a few weeks' time, you can already get a look at test shots snapped with the K-30 in our camera Face-Off.
You can, for example, compare K-30 test shots with those of other SLRs in this price range: Pentax K-30 vs Sony Alpha 65, Canon EOS 60D, Nikon D7000 (although don't forget that the last two models launched at much higher prices than they sell for today). You can also compare it with other cameras using this 16-Megapixel CMOS sensor Pentax K-30 vs Pentax K-5, Nikon D5100, Sony Alpha 57, Sony Nex-5N etc.
And, seeing as we're feeling generous, we'll give you a peek at the ISO tests:
Image processing doesn't look radically different from the K-5. The cameras are therefore clearly pretty closely related, in spite of the years that separate their release. Image processing in the latest Sony cameras (Alpha 57 or NEX-F3 for example) gives a finer grain, which is less visible at high-sensitivity settings. Pentax therefore still has some room for improvement—plenty, in fact, if it hopes to rival the Fuji X-Pro1 (which uses a sensor of the same size and resolution but with a custom filter).
Anyway, it's now time for us to start using the K-30 for some real-life snapping, and to get to know it inside out before putting together our full review. Stay tuned.
> Digital Cameras: SLR, Micro 4/3 and Interchangeable Lens Reviews
Microsoft has (finally) revealed the official release date of its new operating system, Windows 8. The date is 26 October 2012, probably worldwide.
Microsoft Windows 8
Whether it's the RT version for ARM tablets, the Pro version for x86-processor computers and tablets, or other versions, all new Windows-based PC buyers and £15 upgrade offer holders will automatically get Windows 8 starting 26 October.
Microsoft didn't specify if the date would apply around the globe or in the US alone, but it seems likely that it would be a worldwide launch, especially considering that a good portion of users will be downloading the OS. The company also made no mention of when we can expect to see the Surface, Microsoft's touchscreen tablet that runs on both Windows 8 RT and Windows 8 Pro. If Microsoft really wanted to make a splash, it could release the Surface at or around the same time... All we can do now is wait and see!
> Microsoft Announces Its First Tablet: Surface
> Duel: Windows 7 / Windows 8, Which Is Faster?
On the sidelines of the recent One series (One X, One S and One V), HTC has released a new budget smartphone, the Desire C.
HTC Desire C
The Desire C has a 3.5-inch display, a 5-Megapixel camera, a single-core processor clocked at 600 MHz and runs the latest version of Android, Ice Cream Sandwich, plus HTC's Sense 4.0 overlay. It also features Beats Audio and is NFC-compatible.
All in all, the Desire C is strikingly similar to the One V, but sold for less than £200 SIM-free. What is it really worth? Answers in today's review...
> Review: HTC Desire C
> Reviews: Mobiles & Smartphones
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