VIDEO CAMERA 1997

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MINITESTS

 

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SNAZZY SNAPPER

 

INTRO

Suddenly digital still video cameras are beginning to make sense, with the arrival of the Sanyo DigiCam

 

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Still video cameras have been around in one form or another since the mid 1980’s but now their time seems to have come. They’re riding on the back of the PC revolution, with cheaper, faster and more sophisticated machines able to quickly process digital images. Pictures can be incorporated into documents, web pages, and printed out with reasonably clarity, using low-cost colour inkjet and bubblejet printers.

 

The Sanyo VPC-G200 or ‘DigiCam’ is actually their second digital still camera (DSC) to date, and its about to hit the shops for just under £550. It looks and feels a lot like a normal 35mm compact, in fact the only obvious sign that it doesn’t use roll-film is the 2-inch colour LCD display on the back. It handles like a compact camera too, with a conventional optical viewfinder and built in automatic flash; there’s the option to use the LCD screen for shooting, though this is best avoided as it drains the battery very quickly indeed. It has a choice of two shooting modes: high resolution gives a display of 640 x 480 pixels, and standard resolution, with 320 x 240 pixels. Up to 60 high-res and 120 standard mode shots can be stored on the non-expandable 4 megabyte memory. There’s also the option to record an audio caption along with each image, either at the time, or retrospectively. This reduces the image storage capacity by up to 50%.

 

Images can be viewed on the spot, on the screen, either singly or in a scrolling multi-picture display. The camera has an AV output, that can be connected directly to the AV input on a normal PAL TV or VCR, and it comes with a PC link cable and software. Photosuite is a powerful image archiving and manipulation application, with some excellent fun facilities. These include ready-made templates for making your own posters, calendars, greetings cards and phoney magazine covers.

 

It’s unfair to compare images captured on a digital still camera with a conventional film camera, but in the context of video and PC applications the quality is actually very good. Moreover, the camera has reasonably responsive exposure and white balance systems, that work well in good daylight, and better in low light conditions than many other low-end DSCs we’ve tried. Digital still cameras like this one are  not a challenge to silver halide photography, though at the rate the technology is progressing it won’t be long.  The DigiCam is one of the best DCS’s we’ve tried lately, not only does it work quite well, the bundled software is simple to use and fun for all the family. A scanner is still probably the best option for getting an image into a PC and onto a document or web page, but if you’ve got to shoot the picture first then the DigiCam can do it all, quickly and efficiently.

 

SPECIFICATION

Make/model                  Sanyo VPC-G200 ‘DigiCam’

Guide Price                   £550

Features                       2.0-inch colour LCD display screen, optical viewfinder, voice memo recording, built-in flash, auto focus, macro setting, self timer, carry case, PhotoSuite, Photo Wallet PC software & serial cable supplied   

Image specs                  4 megabyte memory stores 60 hi-res (640 x 480 pixel) images or 120 standard res (320 x 240 pixel) images (less with voice captions)

Sockets                        AV out, digital out, earphone (minijack), DC power in

Dimensions                   138.5 x 65.5 x 43mm

Weight              0.3k (inc batteries)

Distributor                     SANYO UK LTD., Sanyo House, Otterspool Way,  Watford, Herts WD2 8JX. Telephone (01923) 246363

 

VIDEO CAMERA RATING   8

Digital cameras are starting to make sense...

 

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Ó R.Maybury 1997 1604

 


 

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