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By February 19, 2014 Read More →

TOP OF THE LINE The best picks for cameras

Every month the staff at PubSecAlliance will gather information on some hot new consumer product that you may be thinking about purchasing. This month we take a look at digital cameras. If you have a product or equipment you’d like us to focus on just let us know and we’ll get to work. Email:


Just about everyone these days has a digital camera, or at least a phone with a camera in it. But you may not have realized some of the new technologies available, and how much picture quality has increased in the last few years. There are a lot of crazy cameras being built these days, from throwable 360-degree cameras to tiny spy cameras to – no, seriously – people who have implanted cameras in their own eye (Google the “eyeborg project”). But today we’re going to stick to gadgets that you might actually be able to use in public without alarming the citizenry. We’re practical like that.

Best rugged/waterproof camera: The Olympus Tough TG-2
Let’s face it, some of us are tougher than others. While your friends are on the couch watching reruns of NFL games, you’re off SCUBA diving, mountain biking, snowkiting, or rock climbing. This is the camera for you: compact, waterproof to 50 feet, shock-resistant, crush-resistant and freezeproof to 15F. It’s designed to be used while wearing gloves, if necessary, and has a built-in GPS so you can keep track of which photos were from which hike, or maybe get creative with a geocaching project. You can also purchase add-on fish-eye and telephoto lenses for this camera, which are also waterproof. Check out this underwater footage to see what it’s capable of.

Best educational camera: Bigshot
For a mere $89, you can get a kit to build your own completely functional digital camera; it’s designed to encourage an interest in science and engineering among young people, so it would be a great project to do with older kids. Not only is it a fun project, it’s a pretty cool camera too – for example, it has a built-in stereo lens that can be used to take 3D photos (viewable with those old-school red-and-blue glasses). To go along with the kit, there is a booklet teaching you (and/or your kids) all about the science involved in the camera – everything from the basic optics behind the lens to the circuitry and software.

Best everyday pocketable camera: Canon Powershot S120
There’s nothing really unusual about this camera – it is simply the sweet spot between picture quality, size, and budget for many photographers. It’s small enough to fit in your jeans pocket, but in spite of the diminutive size, it can take surprisingly good-quality pictures and videos (up to 1080p). It’s a great all-rounder for the casual photographer with some neat features like Wi-Fi and a touch screen. TIP: The older models such as the S110 can be found (new or used) for quite a bit less money, and you don’t lose too much in terms of quality or features by buying last year’s model. But if you’re a big spender, check out the Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-RX100; it’s top-of-the-line for the ‘pocketable’ camera category.

Best camera on a smartphone: Nokia Lumia 1020
Sometimes, even the pocket-sized camera is too much to bother with – but you’ve always got your phone with you, right? The Lumia 1020 has an upgraded lens and custom camera app that brings this phone to another level when it comes to photography. The in-phone app allows you to control options like flash, ISO, exposure, and so on. For hobbyist photographers who want to have a decent camera on them 24-7, this could be a great choice. Potential downside: It’s a Windows 8 phone. The iPhone 5S or Samsung Galaxy S4 make great choices for users preferring iOS or Android, respectively. (Editor’s note: We disqualified the Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom in the “best camera on a smartphone” category because, well, we’re pretty sure no one wants to make a phone call with that thing.)

Posted in: Intel Report

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