Sony's A3000 is a big mirrorless camera

I'm trying my very hardest to get my head around this one. Sony's new A3000 is a mirrorless camera that's bigger than your common-or-garden EVIL camera, a bit smaller than a traditional dSLR, and roughly the same size as the Canon 100D. And it has been deliberately designed to be on the larger side. Sony A3000 with 18-55mm kit lens

This means that Sony has taken a class of camera that was developed with the specific intention of including almost all of the traditional SLR's best features barring the pentaprism and optical viewfinder, which were removed in order to make it smaller, and then made it larger but omitted the key bits of a camera's mechanism that draws people back to the SLR time and time and time again: the pentaprism and optical viewfinder. No. My logic here is failing me. Anyone?

The A3000 is an E-mount camera with a 20 megapixel APS-C sensor that has an ISO range of 100 to 16,000. There are 25 auto-focus points and it can manage 2.5 frames per second continuous shooting. That can be upped to 3.5 frames per second on switching to speed priority shooting mode.

Mode dial, hot shoe, general SLR-likeness, but no mirror

Full HD video can be shot with either 50i or 25p modes and it can be hooked up to stereo microphone. There's also the hotshoe for flashes and a range of filters and effects.

It has a few more megapixels of resolution than Sony's NEX-3N, but they're otherwise very similar cameras. Except that the A3000 is larger and it doesn't have a tiltable screen.

Price-wise it'll be in the region of £370 ($399) and available from September 2013.

Hero2 helmet cam can record heroic exploits with bikes, cars, and surfboards


If my Ma had her way, she’d strap one of these things to my helmet whilst I’m racing around London on my bicycle so that she can yell at drivers when they cut me up and yell at me when I zip in and out of traffic. (My bicycle is called Elspeth, by the way.) It’s the GoPro HD Hero2 helmet cam; the super-improved replacement for Go-Pro’s already rather wonderful original Hero helmet camera that records your awesome adventures as you go careening around race tracks and tumbling through waves so that you can relive them with mates and beer whilst you nurse your bruises.

It captures 1080p HD video and 11 megapixel photos. That’s a bit of upgrade from the previous five megapixels, eh? The new lens should be better in low-light, too. Come the winter, you’ll even be able to stream your exploits live via Wifi (if there’s an available Wifi connection, obviously). And the interface has been redesigned so that you should, in theory, be able to use it without the need for destructions.

You can select from three different angles of view: narrow (90º), medium (127º), and wide (170º) for your video, or there’s medium or wide for your timelapse photos that you can set for every half second.

The Hero2 comes in three flavours – outdoor, motorsport, and surf – and is retailing at $299.99. There’s more info from GoPro.

No Ma, if you’re reading this, I’m not getting one. But I’d love to see someone’s exploits as they hurtle down a mountainside with one attached to their helmet.

Pentax Optio RS1500 review


We do enjoy getting toys to play with here at the Small Aperture Mansion. The latest to pass through our grubby mitts has been Pentax’s Optio RS1500, the little point-and-shoot with the customisable front. The idea is that you can take off the lens ring and change the ‘skin’ on the front for anything ranging from candy-cane stripes to camouflage. Armed with its 14 megapixels, 4× optical zoom, 15 picture modes, smile detection, and nine filters, we set about finding out what we thought of it.

Build and design

It’s a small, light-weight camera. Even in my tiny hands, it felt little and I dread to think what sort of damage you might do to it if you drop it. Without any of the fun skins that you can slot beneath the front cover to turn it into a zebra or a Green Lantern superhero special, it’s a plain looking beast. The front’s silver and the back’s matt black. I don’t have any problem with that, but half of the appeal of this camera is its chameleon appearance.

Features and controls

The on-off switch and the shutter release are the only buttons on the top of the camera. Everything else – zoom rocker, play back, smile detection, and menu buttons, customisable ‘green button’, together with the four-way controller – is positioned to the right of the LCD screen. I found the menu system quite fiddly to use, and when I tried to put the camera in Program mode – which is as manual as it gets – trying to adjust the ISO wasn’t as intuitive or as quick to access as it should have been.

Afro Ken does the boudoir look

Its fifteen different shooting modes range from auto to portrait via candlelight and blue sky. They’re accessed from the four-way controller, together with the flash, focus control, and self-timer. You can set the green button, which doubles as the delete button, to access the video mode, EV compensation, or ISO. This will help to alleviate the fiddly-ness factor for one of those settings, but not the others. But then, I’m not sure how bothered someone using this camera will be by EV compensation. So it probably doesn’t matter all that much.


Roasted tomatoes in auto mode

In daylight, this camera produces some decent images and I really couldn’t complain about them too much. Okay, yes, maybe reds and oranges were a touch over-saturated. But honestly, it was fine.

Roasted tomatoes in food mode. Any different?

With fifteen different modes to choose from, it was almost overwhelming, and honestly, I preferred the photo of some roasted tomatoes taken in auto mode rather than taken in food mode.

It’s in lower light situations where the problems begin to creep in. The auto-focus struggled badly and sometimes couldn’t latch on to anything at all. This was hugely frustrating and resulted in pictures that were mushy and had to be binned. Pictures were pretty noisy, too. And Gareth and I both commented that we found the flash glarey.

Gareth also pointed out that the filters were quite poor. It’s as if they’ve been tacked on because every camera needs to have a toy camera and sepia effect now. As for the screen, Haje commented that its quality isn’t great, but it is quite large.


You get what you pay for with a £70 camera. In daylight, it takes some pretty decent photos. Anything approaching low-light, however, presents its auto-focus with some serious problems and the noise in the images that it does manage to produce is quite unpleasant. With its interchangeable skins, it’s a fun, small, light-weight camera. You could do better, and you could do worse.

Portraits in daylight are just fine

Sony joins the party at CES


It might not be as impressive as the 16 new cameras that FujiFilm unleashed at CES, but Sony has brought 11 new cameras to the party, along with three Bloggie cameras, and not forgetting its range of TVs, computers, and BluRay players. That’s quite a bit of shininess that they’re hoping will tempt us to part with some, okay, quite a lot, of our hard-earned pennies. Shall we see how tempting it all is?

Starting things off are the three new cameras in the W-series: W510, W530, and W570. They’re designed to be lightweight and easy-to-use, with intelligent automode and an in-camera guide to help the user along. They’ve also Sony’s new Sweep Panorama technology, which all the new cameras have. It creates a panorama by automatically stitching together a series of images made by holding down the shutter and sweeping the camera across the scene.

Sony Cyber-shot W570

Next up is the new T110. The swish-looking one. It has a 16 megapixel sensor, can take 720p HD movies, and has a touch screen.


Onwards to the H70. It has the same 16 megapixel sensor and movie-making capabilities as the T110, but it also has a 25mm wide angle lens with a 10x optical zoom.


And then there’s the J10. It also has a 16 megapixel sensor (enough with the megapixels already?), but it’s piece-de-resistence is its integral USB arm that is stowed away inside the camera. How cute!

Sony Cyber-shot J10 with a retractable USB cable.

Then, heaven help us, come the cameras with 3D capability. I know, you can hear me groaning. There are five of them available: DSC-TX100V, DSC-TX10, DSC-HX7V, DSC-WX10 and DSC-WX7. Whoever decided on that naming convention needs some help, but perhaps not as much as my eyes will. Yep, five cameras that can take 3D stills at 16 megapixel resolution.

The TX10, one of five 3D-capable cameras from Sony

There’s more information over at Sony.

Shadow Catchers at the V&A

Garry Fabian Miller

Sometimes, I think it’s easy to forget that you don’t need a camera to create a photograph. Oh sure, cameras make it easier, and in some respects safer, but it definitely isn’t all about the megapixels. If you need convincing of this, you should take a trip to the Shadow Catchers exhibition at the V&A, which opens today.

A selection of 75 different images, including photograms, luminograms, and chemigrams, produced by five different photographers—Pierre Cordier, Susan Derges, Garry Fabian Miller, Adam Fuss, and Floris Neusüss—will be available for your delectation.

'Homage to Talbot: The Latticed Window, Lacock Abbey, 2010', by Floris Neususs

Every one of the images is completely original: there’re no negatives. I’ve only had a quick peek, but I reckon this one might be worth the entry fee.

Shadow Catchers runs from from 13 October 2010 until 20 February 2011, at the Victoria and Albert Museum, Cromwell Road, London, SW7 2RL.

200 megapixels? You'd better believe it


Oh L-rdy! The clever people at Hasselblad have been thinking up clever ways to capture images using a 200 megapixel monster. Yeah, I had to read it several times before it sank in.

It relies on using a 50 megapixel sensor that takes six images and then calibrates them. Doing it this way, Hasselblad reckons that it’ll be more accurate than a single image from a 200 megapixel sensor.

Hasselblad are marketing this to museums and studios that shoot lots of lovely luxury products that mere mortals can’t afford. I’m imagining diamonds the size of golf balls and cars that travel at the speed of light.

They’ve a little more testing to go, but the plan is to insert the 200 megapixel mode into the HD4-50MS in early 2011. The camera will still be able to shoot in plain old boring 50 megapixel mode, too. And if you already own an HD4-50MS, you’ll be able to send it back to factory for an upgrade. For a fee, of course.

No, they’ve not released any prices at all.

Found: 5 Landscape Photography Tips


Ah, landscape photography, why do you taunt us so? There’s something beautiful about capturing the world around you, but it’s bloody frustrating.

After all, you can see all the beauty around you, but why won’t your bloody camera capture it all?

There’s a lot to think about when doing landscapes. What lens should you use? How do you make it all come together? Is my horizon straight? Why won’t that cursed tree stop swaying in the wind?

Beyond Megapixels has five great tips on how to make your landscapes come to life, along with some dishy examples of gorgeous landscapes. G’won, give it a shot.

The Canons of Navarone

A very tasty camera indeed.

Something interesting has happened in the world of photography: Canon currently have two cameras on the market, at basically exactly the same price point. The Canon 550D (EOS Rebel T2i) costs £705 in the UK and $799 in the US, whilst the Canon EOS 50D costs £726 / $850.

Shop around further afield than Amazon, and the prices are so similar that they are practically identically priced. Which is a curious and interesting situation. The question, then, is as follows: You will buy one of them, but which one would you choose?  


Comparing the specs

When you compare the specifications side by side (made a lot easier by using dpreview’s fantastic side-by-side comparison tool of the two cameras), there ain’t much between them. The 50D is slightly faster, the 550D has a slightly better screen and higher resolution.

Some would argue that the 550D makes more sense because I have the memory cards already (HD/SD), but the 550D generates massive files, and I probably have to buy new, bigger memory cards anyway, so that point is moot.

In favour of the 550D

A very tasty camera indeed.

The 550D has a full-HD movie mode, which isn’t something I generally look for in a stills camera, but I have seen some beautiful results, and I’m tempted to give it a go.

The 50D doesn’t have particularly good high-ISO results in some tests, which is a downer, while the 550D appears to have inherited the absolutely epic low-light skills from the 7D camera.

Resolution means nothing, and the difference between 15 or 18 megapixels is practically non-existent. Having said that, having a little bit higher resolution can’t harm, but the key thing is that imaging chips in general are slowly getting better – seeing what the 7D has been able to do with a ‘very similar’ imaging chip, I’m leaning towards the 550D based on its innards

In favour of the 50D

A very tasty camera indeed.

I’ve owned many cameras in the xxD series in the past – the 60D, 10D, 20D, 30D, and 40D have all been in my possession at some point, and I trust Canon to do a good job on it. They’re a lot more solidly built than the xxxD series, so that’s a huge advantage if you mistreat your camera (which I generally don’t).

The 50D is also faster in general: It starts faster, it takes photos in continuous mode faster, etc.

What would you do?


So, the 550D and the 50D cost practically the same, and have different advantages. Which one would you buy?

View Results

It’s an interesting (and fiercely difficult) choice to have to make; choosing between these two, very similar-yet-different cameras. I know which one I am leaning towards, but I’m very curious to hear what you would choose – and why. Vote above, comment below, make it good!

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