Archive for Digital Cameras

Zoom and Panoramic Shots with the Olympus SP-800UZ ($299 limited time)

The most important factor for me when buying a digital camera it’s zoom capability. Each year, it seems, camera companies compete for the greatest zoom at the lowest price. Olympus is not exception, and their SP-800UZ is a standout in this regard, and it has some fantastic features, too.

Zoom! This Olympus Sp-800UZ has an incredible 30x (840mm) zoom! (Don’t be surprised if a 1,000mm zoom comes out soon.) And for all that it is surprisingly light. The zoom makes it great for taking sports pictures from the “nose bleed” seats, or for nature watching, or for taking unobtrusive shots of your subjects from a distance. The camera’s impressive ISO of up to 3200allows you to take excellent shots of moving subjects.

(Beatles music welling up) If  zoom is all you need and you want to save on the $349 most retailers are asking for this great feature-rich camera, then use this link ahead before Nov. 27, 2010 and save $50 instantly on the Olympus SP-800UZ 14MP Digital Camera for only $299.

Picture Editing in the Camera. Another great feature is that you can edit the still pictures you have taken using the special effects function. This includes reducing red eye, shadow adjustment, color saturation, and cropping. With most digital cameras, if you want to edit your pictures, you would have to download them to a computer first.

Panoramic Function. The SP-800UZ’s Panorama mode is more interesting. You have a choice of using either Auto, Manual or PC modes.

  • In Auto mode, you only have to press the shutter release once, then move the camera to the next position, so that the target marks and pointers overlap, and the camera automatically releases the shutter for you. Three frames can be taken this way, which are then combined into a single panoramic image automatically in camera.
  • In Manual mode, you can also take three frames with the help of an on-screen guide, but you have to release the shutter manually. After that, the camera stitches the frames as above.
  • Finally, in PC mode, you can take up to 10 photos, which can be stitched using the supplied software after being downloaded to the computer.
Olympus SP-800UZ with Case + Kit

Camera with Case + Kit (Extremely Limited Supplies)

Best Results. For best results, in my opinion, use a tripod mount in the Manual or PC modes, since the Auto mode tends to introduce blurring in the image.

Do beautiful panoramic shots make you day? Then buying the Olympus SP-800UZ 14MP Digital Camera may be just the thing for you, too, and for only $299 before Nov. 27, 2010.

Be careful when unpacking this camera. The owners manual is stored on its memory chip, and you must download the manual before you use the camera. The camera’s PC software is also stored on the camera, so download that, too. Just connect the camera to your computer after removing the memory chip from the camera. Otherwise you can retrieve the manual and software from the Olympus website.

Video Mode and HDTV Connectivity. The camera comes with cables to connect to your computer and your HDTV to playback still images and movie pictures in 720i high definition. The SP-800UZA uses a rechargeable lithium battery pack instead of the Alkaline or NiMH rechargeable batteries. Which save you from frequent recharges. After all, battery capacity is important if you use your camera frequently or shoot video which drains both the battery and your memory card.

2GB internal memory. This camera has great internal memory storage when not using a memory chip. Plus the camera has an app which can transfer the pictures taken from internal memory to the memory card. The camera uses SDHC cards up to 8GB, which also great if you intend to shoot a lot of video.

Beauty mode. Like last year’s Olympus SP-590UZ, this camera has an in camera capability for touching up portraits. In this mode, you take a picture of a person, then the camera identifies the face and tries to remove blemishes and other minor imperfections, giving the skin a smooth look in the process. The touched up copy and the untouched up original are both stored in memory. The only drawback to the beauty mode is it does take several seconds for the camera to complete its work, which makes the camera unuseable until it’s finished.

Overall, the Olympus SP-800UZ is an amazing feature-laden point-and-shoot camera, with stunning zoom and panoramic capability, but it’s not likely to be a pro’s first choice.

Bonus: Get the [amazon asin=B003EG6D9E&text=Olympus SP-800UZ with 2 batteries, a case, and Accessories kit for $289.95]. Supplies are extremely limited.

DIY Green Screen Photography (Save 20% from Skylarking)

We’re all aware of the use of computers and blue-screens to add backgrounds in the movies and television shows we watch, and — thanks to low-cost digital computers and cameras — now anyone can add fantastic backgrounds to their own photos, and the key is Green Screen Wizard. This software is great for the hobbyist or the professional.

Green Screen Wizard is a software and photo package that makes it easy for you to do professional Green Screen Special Effects (also known as “ChromaKey Effects”) with your camera and computer. And, as they say, it’s as easy as 1-2-3:

  1. Take a picture of someone against the provided 5’x7′ portable green screen backdrop
  2. Transfer the picture to you computer
  3. Match the picture to a provided background, and Green Screen Wizard does the rest.

Green Screen Test Drive. The basic trial package of Green Screen Wizard costs $79 for the next 4 days. But Skylarking readers can take 20% off ANY PURCHASE at GreenScreenWizard, where it’s easy to get started producing green screen effects for photography and video! Enter GSPP20JUNE during checkout.

The 20% off code expires on 6/30/10.

Green Screen Lite includes:

  1. 5×7 Popup Screen
  2. 20 Magazine Covers
  3. 120 Backgrounds in six collections

Magazine BackgroundsUpgrade. Maybe you’re a professional or semi-professional events photographer. If you decide you like the trial package and you want to do more, you can apply $50 from your trial package purchase towards an upgrade. The full package is available as a digital download for $99, or you can have the physical package shipped to you for about $170.

Their standalone photography software runs on Windows XP, Vista, and Windows 7. They also sell Photoshop Plugins that run on Windows and Macintosh computers.

Video: Galactic Center of Milky Way Rises over Texas Star Party

A friend of mine shared this time lapse video link with me over the weekend. The video was posted on Vimeo, a video sharing web site.

The video shows a band of stars which make up one of the “arms” of the Milky Way galaxy — our galaxy. If you live in an urban or suburban area then it’s not likely you’ve seen it at night. Light pollution from street lamps, buildings, and homes wash much of the star light overhead, but if you are able to get far enough away from the cities (or find yourself in a massive night-time blackout) then you could see an arm of the Milky Way. I once saw it myself while camping at camp Epworth upstate in High Falls, New York in the Catskills, two hours outside of New York City about 30 years ago. Now there are two many lights even in that area for this sight to be seen. These photos were taken at Fort Davis, Texas which is about 8 hours from Dallas and 6 hours from San Antonio.

The video is comprised of a series of 810 photos taken with a modified Canon EOS 5D 12.8 MP Digital SLR Camera.

One photo was taken every 40 seconds over a 9 hour period. The shutter remained open for 20 seconds during each shot. The photographer, William Castleman, used a special “anti-alias (AA) filter” which allowed more red light to enter the camera. Specifically the type of red light emitted by stars and nebulas. He used a Canon EF 15mm f/2.8 Fisheye Lens which allows a wide field of view — 180 degrees in fact. He mounted the camera on a tripod and attached an external battery. Exposures were 20 seconds at f/2.8 ISO 1600.

Other equipment used by the photographer included:

He then processed the photos using Adobe Photoshop and created the video using Apple’s Quicktime Pro, and then editted the video using Sony Vegas Movie Studio 9.

Canon EOS 5D

Canon EOS 5D 12.8 MP Digital SLR Camera (Body Only)

Canon Fisheye EF 15mm f/2.8 Autofocus Lens

Canon EF 15mm f/2.8 Fisheye Lens

Canon TC80N3 Timer Remote Control

Canon TC80N3 Timer Remote Control


Adobe Photoshop Elements 7 (Windows)
Adobe Photoshop Elements 6 (Mac)


Apple Quicktime Pro


Sony Vegas Movie Studio 9 Platinum Pro Pack

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Shoot underwater video for less than $200

Here’s another item to watch out for this coming Monday (Jan. 5) on

sanyoSANYO VPC-E2 Camcorder
8 Megapixel Waterproof Camcorder with a 2.5″ LCD Display and 5x Optical Zoom
Price: $184.99 (List Price: $249.99). FREE BUDGET SHIPPING
This is a great little video camera if you ask me. It’s reminiscent of the Flip Minos that were so passingly popular this past summer, but this camera has a much better picture quality, not too mention its colorful beauty and shine. I also like the fact that its waterproof, so you can carry without fear to the beach or the poolside.
But why stop at the poolside? Why not take it in the pool with you? What?! Yes, that’s what i said, “Take it in the pool with you.”  This camera can shoot up to 30 minutes of video while submerged 5 feet under water. So, no, you won’t take it deep sea diving, but you might take it snorkeling with you, or into the backyard pool.

In detail:

cam1This camera is designed to International Standards for Waterproofing which allows 30 minutes of recording underwater.

Above water you can record up to 8 hours of video on its SDHC (high capacity SD) Flash memory card. How much time is determined by the size of your memory card: Get 8 hours of full motion video with an 8 GB SDHC memory card (in TV-HQ mode); 4 hours of video with a 4 GB SDHC memory card, up to 2 hours with a standard 2GB SD card, and up to 1 hour with a standard SD card.

It also has advanced video compression features that enable you to post your movies on the Internet or e-mailing them to friends and family. Another feature I really like on this camera is the ability to import video files into your iTunes software for easy transfer to your video-capable iPod. So you can share a quick video next time you see your friends!

cam3You can find an advanced 8.0-megapixel image sensor which allows this camcorder to capture high-resolution 8-megapixel still images in addition to recording high-quality digital videos with full-range stereo sound.

And its not just a camcorder.  it’s digital camera, too. You can shoot video and photos at the same time with a press of the shutter button during the shooting of a video clip, so you don’t have to worry about missing another precious photo opportunity. (I may very well replace my 3 year old MiniDV camera with this.)

This camcorder also distinguishes between unintentional camera shake and deliberate camera movement. This handy feature operates in both wide-angle and telephoto modes, giving every shot a solid, professional-looking feel. It can detect faces and adjust the focus and exposure accordingly. Faces are sensed even when they move, allowing you to track up to 12 people at once. During playback, you can zoom in and enjoy those facial expressions in detail.

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Holiday Specials from Dell

Here are some extra holiday savings from Dell. These coupon codes are valid starting Nov. 27, 2008 at 7:00 AM CDT. Just enter the coupon codes provided at checkout.

Save 15% on select Dell Electronics & Accessories. Coupon Code: CTV2$2HX963145. Expires Dec. 2, 2008 or while supplies last.

Save and extra 5% on select cameras from Dell. Coupon Code: 1?ZRX6HH4G2ZW3. Expires Dec. 11, 2008 or while supplies last.

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$40 off, Canon PowerShot SD880 IS (10 MP)

Canon PowerShot SD880 IS

Canon PowerShot SD880 IS

If you’re looking for a digital camera for yourself or as a gift, you might want to check out the Canon PowerShot SD800 IS.  This is a slick, trendy, and compact 10.0 megapixel camera with 4x Optical Zoom. I always recommend an optical zoom over a digital zoom. The optical zoom is handled by the lens, while a digital zoom is calculated by the camera’s processor. There’s also an optical image stabilizer to reduce blurring in low light and on moving objects. The 28mm wide-angle lens can zoom to the equivalent of a 112mm lens on a standard camera.

The back of the SD880 has a large high-quality 3-inch color LCD with an anti-glare and anti-scratch coating. The camera back is essentially all screen.  The camera image review controls take up a minimum of space, and there’s very little in the way of wasted metal and plastic surface.

Face Detection and Self-Timer

If you use a camera’s timer to get yourself in the picture then you’ll love the Face Detection technology of the SD880 and its DIGIC 4 Image Processor. The Face Detection programming, in conjunction with the self timer, detects when another face has entered the scene before taking the picture. This will help alleviate “rushing” to get into the shot before the timer goes off.

The SD880 also has a Print/Share Button for easy direct printing and downloading, plus ID Photo Print and Movie Print with select PIXMA Photo Printers and SELPHY Compact Photo Printers. (See Tuesday’s Digital Photo Printer post).

The camera comes with:

  • Lithium-ion Battery Pack (NB-5L)
  • A Battery Charger CB-2LX
  • A 32 MB SD Memory Card
  • A Wrist Strap
  • A Digital Camera Solution CD
  • A USB Interface Cable
  • and an AV Cable for connecting to a television or other audio-video device

I’d recommend buying a 2 GB (gigabyte) SD Memory card along with this camera.  The included 32 MB card will only hold about 6 images (at the highest setting). A 2 GB card will hold about 450 images.  2 GB SD cards can be purchased these days for around $10 or $20.

Special Offer from Dell and Skylarking:
The Canon PowerShot SD880 IS’s has a MSRP of $299, but Dell is currently selling the camera for $259. Skylarking readers can save an additional $40 from now until Dec.4 by applying the coupon code 6CJFK841QJCZVR at checkout (see picture at right, click to enlarge). That brings the price down to $219. This offer is good until 12/4 or for the first 500 readers. Just click the following link to access the Dell page for the SD880.

Save $40 off Canon SD880 digital camera! Coupon Code: 6CJFK841QJCZVR

If you want a good price on a SD memory card from HP, checkout the 2GB card selling at TigerDirect for $9.99. Click this link to transfer to HP 2GB Secure Digital CardOr get a HP 4 GB SD High Capacity card for double the storage. That’s about 900 photos on one memory chip. Tigerdirect sells thus card for $25. Today they’re offering a $5 instant rebate. HP 4GB Secure Digital High Capacity Card (SDHC)

Post Comments or Questions with the link below. Keep up-to-date with Skylarking: By Email or RSS Newsfeed or on Twitter. You can also send questions with my email form.