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Nicholas Wanstall Group

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Mark Komarov
Mark Komarov

Driver Megapixel 10x Digital Zoom Camera: Features, Installation, and Usage

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Driver Megapixel 10x Digital Zoo

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Primostar 3 features a digital microscope camera that is fully integrated into the tube, offering superior connectivity options. You connect microscopes in your classroom with Labscope, the unique microscopy app from ZEISS, and share snapshots or live video via HD monitors or projectors with your students. With the optional software module Labscope Teacher you manage and organize your whole digital classroom by getting insights into each and every student microscope from your Apple iPad or Windows PC. For online teaching purposes you simply connect Primostar 3 with your Windows PC and share the camera feed from your microscope directly with all participants in the remote video call.

Sony's P-series digital cameras have been perennial favorites with consumers,being quintessential examples of the "all around" digicam. They offera very respectable assortment of features and sophisticated capabilities, withgood image quality, good ease of use, all at affordable prices. The Cyber-shotDSC-P73 represents the middle of the current P-series lineup, sporting a 4.1-megapixelCCD and a 3x optical zoom lens, but with other features very similar to itssiblings in the line.

Sony's P-series cameras share a compact, yet somewhat elongated form factor, a design that I've long felt makes great good sense. The relatively slender profile fits into even fairly modest shirt pockets, while the elongated body makes it easy to grip and provides ample room for rear-panel controls. In the case of the P73, the compact design includes a shutter-like, built-in lens cover which conveniently slides open whenever the camera is powered on, allowing the lens to telescope outward about 3/4-inch from the body. The DSC-P73's 3x zoom lens features automatic focus control, with several fixed focus settings available as well, and an adjustable focus area. The 4.1-megapixel CCD produces high resolution, print quality images, as well as lower resolution images suitable for e-mail or other electronic use. Combine this with the ease of automatic exposure control, a handful of preset "scene" modes (including two new settings for snow and beach scenes), and the creative Picture Effects menu, and the DSC-P73 is an excellent choice for novice consumers who want to take great pictures without hassling with exposure decisions.

The DSC-P73 is equipped with a 3x, 6-18mm lens, equivalent to a 39-117mm lens on a 35mm camera. This is a fairly typical range, slightly biased toward the telephoto end relative to the more common 35-105mm range found on many 3x zoom-equipped cameras. Normal focus ranges from approximately 1.64 feet (0.5 meters) to infinity, with a Macro setting that lets you get within four inches (10 centimeters) when the lens is zoomed to its wide angle position, and 19.75 inches (50 centimeters) at its telephoto setting. (The net result is about average performance in closeup shooting.) In addition to automatic focus control, the DSC-P73 offers a total of five fixed focus settings through the Record menu, as well as Center AF and Multi AF focus area options. An AF illuminator lamp on the front of the camera helps focus at low light levels, a very handy feature I wish more digicam manufacturers would add to their cameras. The DSC-P73 carries forward Sony's "Smart Zoom" feature, which offers a maximum of 10x digital zoom. According to Sony, Smart Zoom lets you digitally enlarge the image without any significant loss of image quality. In actuality, "Smart Zoom" simply means that the camera doesn't interpolate the pixels it crops from the center of the CCD array when zooming digitally. This limits the digital zoom range based on the currently-selected image size, with the 10x maximum zoom only available at the smallest image size, and digital zoom limited to 3.4x at the 3M image size, or 5.4x at the 1M size. This is the most reasonable approach to "digital zoom," and one that I wish more manufacturers would adopt. (For the record, Fuji's digicams have operated this way for some time now.) For composing images, the DSC-P73 offers a real-image optical viewfinder and a 1.5-inch, color LCD monitor. In my testing, the optical viewfinder was rather inaccurate, showing only 78% of the final frame area, while the LCD display showed almost exactly 100%. - The LCD is a somewhat low-resolution model though, with only 67,200 pixels (280x240 dots), one area in which the higher-end P93 does much better, with 134,400 pixels (560x240 dots).

The DSC-P73 stores images on Sony Memory Sticks, available separately in capacities as large as one gigabyte. (The DSC-P73 is compatible with Sony's Memory Stick PRO format, breaking the original 128 MB barrier for Memory Stick storage.) A 16MB Memory Stick comes with the camera, but I'd recommend also purchasing a larger capacity card so you don't miss any shots. As with last year's mid-sized P-series models, the P73 once again departs from Sony's typical practice of using their proprietary "InfoLITHIUM" batteries, using instead two AA batteries for power, either alkaline or NiMH. A set of two rechargeable NiMH AAs and a battery charger are included in the box with each camera. Battery life is very good for a two-AA cell camera, but I still strongly advise picking up a couple of extra sets of rechargeable AA batteries and packing them along on any extended outing. (See my Battery Shootout Page for actual capacity test data of the top AA cells on the market.) The optional AC adapter is useful for preserving battery power when reviewing and downloading images, but having a couple of sets of rechargeable batteries really eliminates the need for it apart from extended studio use. The DSC-P73 features a Video Out jack, for connecting to a television set, and a USB jack for downloading images to a computer. A software CD is loaded with Pixela Image Mixer software and USB drivers, for downloading and organizing images. (On Windows Me, 2000, or XP computers, or Macs running OS 8.6 to 9.2, no separate USB driver software is needed. The camera shows up on the desktop automatically when it is plugged in.)

RecommendationLike the rest of the mid-sized "P" series of Sony Cyber-shot cameras,the DSC-P73 is a good quality, compact digicam, competing strongly in the "affordable,full-featured" segment of the market. It offers the convenience of point-and-shootsimplicity, but with enough advanced features to make it possible to take photosin otherwise challenging situations (low light, fast action, etc.), and enoughoptional exposure controls to keep advanced users interested. The 4.1-megapixelCCD delivers high quality images, appropriate for any use from printing to distributingvia e-mail, and its compact design makes it a good candidate for travel. (Whilenot as tiny as cameras like Sony's own P100, or the Canon Digital ELPH series,the P73 fits quite nicely into pant or coat pockets.) Overall, the P73 is agood choice for anyone wanting a capable, portable camera that takes good photosin a variety of circumstances. The DSC-P73 is easy to use for rank beginners,but has enough flexibility to handle a surprisingly wide range of conditions.

Operating the P73 in any of its automatic modes is very straightforward, with only two additional controls when you enter Manual mode. The Mode dial on top of the camera controls the main operating modes, with options for Auto, Program, Manual, Twilight, Twilight portrait, Candle, Landscape, Beach, Soft snap, Setup, Movie, and Playback modes. In all image capture modes, the P73 provides an onscreen LCD menu (activated by the Menu button), with a variety of options for adjusting image quality or adding special effects. The four arrows of the Five-way arrow pad are used to scroll through menu options, while the button in the center of the pad functions as the OK button to confirm selections. In Manual mode, pressing the OK (center) button on the Five-way arrow pad switches the arrows from adjusting flash, macro, self-timer and quick review modes to adjusting aperture (left and right) and shutter speeds (up and down). When in Manual mode, information on the LCD to the right of these values tells you by how many EV units it thinks your exposure is off, up to plus or minus 2EV. The four arrow buttons also serve as external controls when the camera's menus are turned off, or they can be used to scroll through captured images in Playback mode. Starting with the Up arrow and going clockwise, the functions they control include Flash, Macro, Self-Timer, and Quick Review modes. A separate Image Resolution button calls up a menu of the available resolution settings, removing this item from the main menu system and thereby making it much quicker to access when needed. The Zoom control in the top right corner of the back panel adjusts both optical and digital zoom (when the latter is activated through the Setup menu). Overall, I was impressed by Sony's judicious use of space, especially with the large number of external controls provided, and the relatively short learning curve the P73's user interface entails. Along with Sony's other recent cameras, the P73 has one of the cleanest user interfaces I've seen, and will present few challenges to even the most novice user.


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