Vendors Run Short of Samsung ST700

Samsung has a low-cost winner in the ST700 - by Samsung

Samsung has stumbled on a winner with their compact consumer camera the ST700 as some vendors are having trouble keeping them in stock. Released in January of this year, recent price drops have lead to shortages. If the ST700 was a good deal at $279, apparently many consumers consider it a steal at $199.

The specs are impressive for a pocket size camera. A 16.1-megapixel 1/2.3 in CCD image sensor behind a 5x 26mm (26-130mm equivalent) lens with dual optical and electronic image stabilization.

The ST700 is definitely made for parties. On the back it sports a 3 inch touch LCD screen and has the added feature of a 1.8 inch front LCD screen for framing with the camera on self-timer.

On the software side the ST700 is packed with features like Magazine Album, Smart Face Recognition, Face Detection and Tracking and a bewildering host of in camera effects like soft-focus, fish-eye, miniature and cinema.

One feature that’s really clever is the ST700 will put posing suggestions on the front screen so all users have to do is align themselves with the outline on the front screen for great shots.

Video on the ST700 is limited to 720 at 30 fps and with the CCD sensor it’s a little weak on low-light performance, topping out at ISO 3200.

Since the camera has been out a while, there are plenty of user reviews out there. A few users have reported problems with the build quality and units that have quit working. Even users positive on the camera recommend getting a hard shell case and take care to keep dust away from the lens, but overall the camera gets high marks from users.

Make sure you can return it in case you get one of the bad ones, but for under $200 the ST700 is a great choice if you’re looking for a camera to take along to your bowling league or to give to the kids for their social events.

This camera is an upgrade to the ST600 and strong sales of the ST700 should just about insure an ST800 for next year.

Nikon D800 Rumors Swirl

This is actually a D700 - by Nikon

Specs for the rumored Nikon D800 surfaced on the Japanese website Digital Camera Info, backed up by Nikon Rumors. If these specs have any credibility, the D800 is aiming squarely at the pro studio market.

According to what’s out there now the D800 will pack 36-megapixels on a full frame FX sensor. Nikon has apparently aimed this camera at studio work, sacrificing a little low light performance, which would be a no-go for location assignments.

The rumored price tag of $4,000 is definitely going to raise some eyebrows. I don’t think many Canon shooters are going to be tempted to part with their 5Ds for almost twice the money, even considering the added resolution. Though it’s too early to know what the actual final price tag is going to be this far from production.

The D800 will allegedly shoot full 1080 HD video at 30p, though other frame rates are expected to be added. I can’t imagine Nikon would not add support for 24p.

Other rumored components include 2 CF slots plus and SD slot, so you’ll be able to shoot a long time on this bad boy.

My initial impression is this doesn’t seem as much like an upgrade to the D700 as another variation on the D3 line.

If that’s the case, then it begs the question of what will happen to the D700?  Maybe a D700s upgrade?

The official announcement is expected by the end of the month, until then you Nikon gear junkies will just have to hold on.

Is Kodak Dead?

Dead company walking

Kodak moved quickly to swat down rumors of bankruptcy last week, though they didn’t provide a particularly good explanation for why a company in obvious financial distress retained Jones Day, a law firm specializing in corporate bankruptcy.

Kodak was founded in 1888 and quickly captured the photography market with a combination of mass production, extensive R&D, and a reputation for quality. Their motto “You push the button, we do the rest” brought photography out of the realm of scientists and chemists and put cameras in the hands of anyone who could afford the processing.

The 131 year old company has been struggling for some time and it really comes as little surprise to those of us in the photography business. Kodak stopped making their flagship Kodachrome 64 in 2009, after previously phasing out other speeds in previous years. On December 30, 2010, Dwayne’s Photo in Parsons, Kansas, developed the final roll of Kodachrome, bringing to a close the product that dominated the photography market since 1935.

Although not unexpected, Kodak’s passing will mark the end of an era for many in photography. The days when seeing the big yellow and red sign in a foreign country meant you count on finding film in date, fresh batteries and other photography supplies you could count on, even far from home.

Kodak was killed off by a variety of factors, not just digital photography. In 1948, just a few days before Thanksgiving, Edwin Land offered consumers a the first instant cameras. Why wait for processing when you could get pictures on the spot?

In the 1980’s Japan’s Fuji started selling rolls of film way below what Kodak was use to charging. Fuji’s willingness to cut prices was popular with growing discount retailers like Walmart.

Then there was Kodak’s bizarre purchase of Sterling Drug in 1988. Instead of investing in R&D, Kodak was investing in M&A (Mergers and Acquisitions) in fields they didn’t understand.

The digital photography trend finished off what Fuji started. Kodak was never able to rationalize the transition to lower margin digital cameras when so much of their profit came from their film business.

I remember Kodak sponsoring seminars in Hollywood to promote movie production on film in the mid-2000’s, right up until RED fielded their first RED One in 2007. While other companies were working hard to put big sensors behind quality glass, Kodak was still promoting film.

That seems bizarre considering Kodak had big sensor technology before many other companies in digital photography. We may never know why we didn’t see the Kodak One instead of the RED One or the Kodak big chip DSLR instead of the Canon 5D.

What do you think, is Kodak dead or can they reinvent themselves?

Picking a Beginner Camera

Nikon D7000
Nikon D7000 - by Nikon

The question I get most often is, “What kind of camera should I buy?” That’s a big question and a lot depends on your budget and what kind of photography you’ll be pursuing and at what level.  The word beginner comes in many contexts: are you a beginner to shooting for money or using a camera period. Different options apply.

Professional and Semi-Professional

You’re planning on making money with your camera or plan to do a lot of shooting as a semi-pro or amateur. You have $1,800 to $2,500 in your budget.

Cameras: Nikon D300s , Nikon D7000Nikon D700, Canon 5D MKII, and Canon 7D.

If you’re shooting stills, go with Nikon. If you think you’ll be doing a lot of video go with Canon. Nikons have video recording capability, but most of the video accessories are made for Canons.

Advanced Hobbyist

You are really serious about taking pictures, but you have a day job in another field. Photography is a serious hobby. There’s an outside chance you’ll be taking a paying job, or filling in for friends who can’t afford a professional photographer. You have a budget from $800 to $1,500.

Cameras: Canon 60D, Canon T3i, Nikon D3100, Nikon D5100

It’s pretty much just which ever camera you like in this range.

You Just Want To Take Good Pictures

You want to take great pictures, but mainly of your family and friends. You want something better than a pocket camera and you might want to experiment with manual controls once in a while.

Your budget is $400 to $800.

Cameras: Sony NEX-5N, Canon S100, Nikon P7000, Samsung NX100

Remember you can always use Snapsort to get the latest and best camera recommendations, including beginner DSLRs, semi pro DSLRs and small high quality cameras.  Our system will produce slightly different results from our editorial coverage as it allows you to define your exact personal criteria.

Major Product Announcement From Canon In November

I’ll admit to being somewhat jaded by corporate media relations but the announcement from Canon about a major product announcement on November 3rd caught my attention.

Canon announcement

If you notice Canon is a little different about product announcements. For them, by the time they announce a product, it’s already on store shelves.

It’s rare that Canon ever makes this kind of production out of a product announcement, so photography and video professionals will be paying attention. The blog sphere is already alive with speculation.

Engadget speculated it could be an announcement of the new mirrorless camera lines hitting the shelves in time for the Christmas holidays, and the timing makes that a definite possibility.

WideOpenCamera thinks it’s an announcement about the rumored Canon 4K movie camera, and announcing that in Hollywood on the red carpet would make perfect sense.

DVFreelancer has a long-shot guess this is the long-awaited and oft-rumored 5D MKIII. Which would work from the holiday timing and Hollywood venue, but that would hardly qualify as “historic”, so I’m going with the 4K.

Whatever the product, Canon certainly has my attention. I’m just hope whatever it is lives up to the hype.  What do you think it is?