Category Archives: Cameras and Camcorders

Compact System Cameras (CSC) – Should You Buy One Or a DSLR Camera

Compact System Cameras (CSC) - Should You Buy One Or a DSLR Camera
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What are Compact System Cameras (CSC)? They are a new class of digital cameras that fit between SLR cameras and compact cameras. So what sets them apart from the other types of cameras?

Comapact System Cameras vs Compact Cameras

The compact system camera has the advantage over compact cameras in two main areas, flexibility and image quality. The greater flexibility of CSCs comes from being able to change lenses, just like an SLR camera, instead of just having a fixed lens of a compact cameras. This means you can select from a range of lenses for different types of photography. These range from wide angle lenses to zoom or telephoto lenses, or even 3D lenses. 3D lenses will enable you to view your photographs in 3D on a suitable 3D television for even greater impact.

Generally the comapact system camera will also have many more control settings than a compact camera allowing you greater creative control of your photographs.

The other great advantage of the CSC is the size of the image sensor, it
is in the region of 12x bigger than the image sensor of a compact
camera. This is the size of an image sensor normally found in a SLR
camera. The larger image sensor will produce superior quality images
(low noise) particularly in low light situations, where the compact
camera image deteriorates far more quickly. This also reduces the need to use
flash, which can be a great adavantage in many situations.

Compact System Cameras vs Digital SLR Cameras

The CSC scores over the SLR camera in two areas, the first is in size and weight, where the camera body is much smaller than a SLR, This has been achieved by doing away with the reflex mirror mechanism which required considerable space to operate. These cameras might look out of proportion, with the lens being so relatively big to the body, as exampled in the Sony NEX5K opposite. But they feel balanced and comfortable in use, the Sony’s all metal body feels solid and tactile.

A smaller or “compact” body means it is far easier to carry than the bulkier SLR camera. The best camera in the world can’t take a photograph when it’s been left at home or in your vehicle because it’s too much of a hassle to take with you. A dedicated range of lenses are also generally less bulky than SLR lenses. Although adapters are avaialble if you want to use some SLR lenses, if you already have them, although with reduced functions in some cases.

The other “advantage” compact system cameras have for many people will be ease of use, when compared to an SLR camera. CSCs come with a range of intelligent auto features to help you take great photos with minimum effort. These features are selected either with simplified dials, buttons or touch screen menus, set up for ease of use.

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Some die hard SLR enthusiasts will of course see these simpler automatic
controls as a disadvantage by losing some creative control, but for
many this greater simplicity will be a selling point.

However, there is
still considerable scope for creative control as your need or desire to
do so increases. This quality is being proved by the impressive results of both by amateur and professional photographers who have bought these CSCs as a back-up cameras to SLRs. It is also an ideal camera if you want more control over
your photography yet are daunted by the thought of operating an SLR
camera for the first time.

My personal choice in the CSC range is the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G2, for one reason alone, despite not being as compact as other cameras in this range, it has a very good electronic view finder (EVF). I have always struggled with LCD screens in bright light, although they have improved since first introduced. Many younger readers may never have had a camera viewfinder and know nothing other than framing photos on a LCD screen, but I still generally opt for the viewfinder where possible.

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-G2 is clever in that it has a sensor that switches from the normal 3″ LCD screen to the EVF when you put it up to your eye. For other times however, the LCD screen can be pulled away from the body, then tilted and swivelled in amazing ways for easily framing shots in difficult positions, so this camera has the best of both worlds really!

Panasonic Lumix DMC-G2 12.1 MP Live MOS Interchangeable Lens Camera with 3-Inch Touch Screen LCD and 14-42mm Lumix G VARIO f/3.5-5.6 MEGA OIS Lens (Black)
Amazon Price: $944.00
List Price: $799.00

Two of the latest Compact System Cameras worth considering and are reviewed together are the Samsung NX1000 and the Olympus Pen E-PL3

Best Video And Camcorder Gadgets: Flip Video Camcorders And Other Hot Camera Gadgets

Best Video And Camcorder Gadgets: Flip Video Camcorders And Other Hot Camera Gadgets

Flip Video Camcorders and Hot Camera Gadgets

Flip video camcorders just keep getting better and better! I bought a Flip video camcorder last November at Costco and paid just under $100 for mine.  It came with everything I needed, no software to install, and even included a small tripod.

However, they have continued to come out with more and more accessories and also many different versions of their camera.

If you are looking to buy a Flip video camcorder or any of their hot camera gadgets, check out their website as well as Amazon.

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Pictures by Audrey Kirchner
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Flip Video Camcorders and Gadgets

At the moment, the following cameras are available

Slide HD – This slick camera sells for about $279 and is their most expensive model thus far. The beauty of this neat little camcorder is that you can record video and then flip it open and watch it right there on the screen. You can shoot up to 4 hours of video with this model. These camcorders also shoot snapshots. This video camcorder stores up to 12 hours of video.

Mino HD’s – 1 hour and 2 hour model. This camera comes in 2 different models – the Mino HD 2 and the Mino HD 1. The only difference between these 2 cameras is the amount of time you can shoot. The Mino Hd 2 will give you 2 hours of video capability while the Mino HD 1 will give you 1 hour.

Ultra HD’s – This model of Flip video camcorder runs off 2 AA batteries while the other cameras run off lithium batteries. The Ultra HD style recorders are pocket-size and the smallest and lightest of the Flip video camcorders. This is the style that I’ve used for the past year and have not had a bit of trouble with mine. Both these models have up to 2 hours of video recording available.

Features of all Flip video camcorders

They have a built-in USB port you merely insert into your laptop or computer and download videos – to your computer or to the Internet
Software is already installed on the camera so when you plug it into your computer, it automatically installs FlipShare software which will enable you to view your videos and then convert or upload them, share them out on the Internet
All Flip video camcorders come with cables so that you can connect your camcorder to the TV and play the videos on TV instantly
There is also a connecting port for tripods and hatcams on the bottom of most models
They are super lightweight and small in size making them easy to use and super easy to carry. I generally have mine in a case and put that around my neck so it’s ready to use – or use it on my hatcam hat


Some of the cool things out right now for the Flip video camcorders:

– I have this and it is so cool! It has 3 flexible legs but then folds down flat. It is very small and easily tucked into my video case – which is the size of a pack of cigarettes or a little longer. You can use the tripod to set the camera up on a table for instance and then you
can video tape hands free. I recently used this to videotape musicians
playing – it was great and produced stellar video. This runs $14.99 if
it is not included in the package.
They also have a new action tripod
that will do the same as the regular tripod but is a bit sturdier. However, the action tripod can also attach to another surface – such as a
deck or even a hat and you can videotape hands free. It runs $24.99
Flip sells USB cables if needed – $24.99
They also HDMI cables that you can connect right to your HD TV – $24.99
There is a power adapter
that you can purchase – $24.99 – this is useful for travelers using their Flip video camcorders all the time and allows you to have your camcorder charged and ready to go.
Battery packs are available for $24.99
Soft pouches
are available for $24.99 – a carrying case for your Flip video camcorder although I bought mine at Bestbuy for way less! They also have wool pouches available for the same price.
Also new is an underwater case –
$49.99 – This allows you to take your Flip video camcorder to a new level – underwater. This case fits the HD and Ultra HD cameras.
Hatcams are available at
and work with a lot of high definition video camcorders – they run $29.99 and can be sold as just the hat or as a kit – also available on Amazon

The prices on Amazon are much less than on the Flip video camcorder website!

Summing Up Flip Video Camcorders and Hot Camera Gadgets

Flip video camcorders really make it easy to have a great time and videotape your experiences. I remember the days of the bloated video cameras and the huge tripod that I had to lug around to videotape events or experiences. No more!

These slick little gadgets are incredibly durable yet produce extremely high quality video – and they are so lightweight you might even forget you have it with you.

If you’re looking for a video camera that you simply do not have to be a
rocket scientist to operate, this is the one for you. You simply turn it on and 3 seconds later, you are videotaping.

It has zoom capabilities and produces great audio as well. No software to load and it just gets simpler and simpler! You pop out the USB port and plug it in – any computer anywhere and you can see your videos – or plug it into
the TV and you’re watching video in seconds.

Try out one of the Flip video camcorders and see if you don’t think the experience is well worth the money. As well, there are some great camera gadgets that can make your experience even better! I love the tripod and the hatcam and plan on checking out that underwater case next.

How to Use a Flip Video Camcorder

Flip Video Cables HDMI
Amazon Price: $0.95
List Price: $24.99
Flip Video USB Cables
Amazon Price: $0.01
List Price: $24.99
Flip Video Tripod
Amazon Price: $14.99
Bower VLMWF 0.45x Wide Angle Magnetic Lens for Flip Cameras -Black
Amazon Price: $20.66
List Price: $49.99
Flip Video Battery Pack for Select Flip UltraHD Video Cameras
Amazon Price: $0.49
List Price: $24.99
Flip Video Battery Pack for 3rd Generation Flip UltraHD Video Cameras
Amazon Price: $9.95
List Price: $24.99
Flip Video Underwater Case for Select Flip Ultra and Flip UltraHD Video Cameras
Amazon Price: $49.99
Flip Video Action Tripod
Amazon Price: $16.85
List Price: $24.99
Flip UltraHD Video Camera – Black, 8 GB, 2 Hours (3rd Generation)
Amazon Price: $325.00
List Price: $129.00
Flip UltraHD Video Camera – White, 4 GB, 1 Hour
Amazon Price: $219.99
List Price: $79.00
Flip UltraHD Video Camera – White, 8 GB, 2 Hours (3rd Generation)
Amazon Price: $550.00
List Price: $129.00
Flip MinoHD Video Camera – Black, 8 GB, 2 Hours (3rd Generation)
Amazon Price: $275.00
List Price: $139.00
Flip MinoHD Video Camera 4 GB, 1 Hour (3rd Generation) – Silver
Amazon Price: $75.00
List Price: $99.00
Flip Ultra Video Camera – White, 4 GB, 2 Hours (2nd Generation)
Amazon Price: $209.99
List Price: $149.00
Flip MinoHD Video Camera – Black, 4 GB, 1 Hour (3rd Generation)
Amazon Price: $99.00
Flip Video Tripod
Amazon Price: $14.99
Flip Video Action Tripod
Amazon Price: $16.85
List Price: $24.99
Flip Video Tripod
Amazon Price: $14.99
ChargerCity Exclusive OEM 1/4″ 20 Tripod Sports Bike Bicycle Motorcycle ATV Mount for Contour Contour HD Roam Roam2 camera Action Camcorder (Fits all handle bar .75″ to 1.3″). Also compatible with all Sony HDR AS10 AS15 Veho Muvi Pro Micro Kodak PLaysport ZX3 ZX5 Flip Mino Ultra HD DV units.
Amazon Price: $14.95
List Price: $19.95

More Hubs on Flip Video Camcorders

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Flip Video MinoHD Camcorder – Review and Buy Online
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Flip Video Camcorders

Flip Video Camcorders
Shoot and share all your favorite memories as they happen with the sleek and fun to use Flip Video Camcorders. Capture high quality videos anytime and anywhere.

Another Tutorial on How to Use Flip Video Camcorder

How to Use a Hatcam with Flip Video

Flip Video Slide Camcorder Demo

Flip Video Demo

Flip Video Mino Demo

Flip Underwater Case Demo

Samsung NX1000 vs Olympus Pen E-PL3 Compact System Camera (CSC)

Samsung NX1000 vs Olympus Pen E-PL3 Compact System Camera (CSC)

The Samsung NX1000 and Olympus Pen E-PL3 compact system cameras are two of the latest cameras in this sector. I am comparing them here because I was lucky enough with a photographer friend to test out these two cameras for a few hours with the help of a friendly store manager.

The Samsung was fitted with a 20-50mm lens and the Olympus with a 14-42mm lens, both of these are lens kits commonly on sale with these cameras. You do see them on sale with a 17mm lens, but personally I’d go with the versatility of the variable one.

Both cameras have image stabilization, the Samsung in the lens and the Olympus in the body which we’ll come back to later.

The Samsung NX1000 boasts an impressive 20.3 Megapixels and larger APS-C CMOS Sensor, whilst the Olympus has a more modest 12.3 Megapixels, but how does this difference show in the photographic results?

Wi-Fi – The Olympus Pen E-PL3 has it!

The Olympus Pen E-PL3 does have the advantage of built in Wi-Fi which enables you to easily back up photos, plus when combined with a “smartphone” you can select “remote viewfinder”, a feature that allows you to see the camera’s viewfinder image on you phone and be able to operate the shutter remotely too, something that would be useful for taking candid shots and wildlife photography.

We started taking photos indoors to test out how they performed in low light as they both have an impressive ISO 12,800 rating.

The Olympus seemed to struggle with focusing in the very dim light, but when it finally took the shots they were very impressive and appeared to have been taken in daylight. The results from the Olympus were less impressive and there was an orange cast to the photos where the auto white balance was not quite right. So this was where the Samsung’s larger sensor really scored over the Olympus.

Olympus PEN E-PL3 14-42mm 12.3 MP Interchangeable Lens Camera with CMOS Sensor and 3x Optical Zoom (Black)
Amazon Price: $249.99
List Price: $399.00

A Winner in Image Stabilization

However out in the daylight the Olympus’ in body image stabilization proved to be a winner despite having far fewer megapixels, the photos were much crisper than the Samsung’s. This proved true even when swapping to telephoto lenses. Also the Olympus’ in body stabilization means you can use any Micro Four Thirds lens or Four Thirds lens and benefit from it. As I’ve said before megapixels aren’t

Useful Tiltable Screen

The other feature we liked on the Olympus was its tiltable screen, which when pulled away from the body allows you take high or low shots with greater ease.

Although the Samsung NX1000 didn’t have the adjustable screen, it was very clear even in bright light and the menu gave you features somewhat like a more traditional camera and was logical and easy to use.

Both cameras usually come with a clip-on flash this is not always mentioned in the case of the Samsung for some reason, although we didn’t test them expect similar results to a built in flash.

Prices for these two cameras are fluctuating, but generally the Samsung is more expensive, although not always!

Samsung NX1000 Black ~ 20.3MP Digital Camera with 20-50mm Lens
Amazon Price: $294.00
List Price: $699.99