Sunday, 7 October 2012

Panasonic DMC-ZS7 Lumix Review (part 1)

The Panasonic ZS7 is part of the very popular Lumix range from Panasonic, costing £348.88 from online retailers such as it's a high ask, however if that's in your digital camera budget then let's get into a review.

Colours Of ZS7 Lumix
The ZS7 comes in four colours; black, silver, red and dark blue and has many interesting features such as a GPs and touch screen. It looks good with the silver lens housing and the silver top plate-with most of the dials- sticking out from the body, but doesn't look spectacularly different from any other camera.

The front contains the external flash and also contains the lens

The Flash
The camera has a built in external flash which I’m assuming is a xenon bulb, I’m not sure, but it is very bright. The flash has four setting which can be combined in six different ways -
  • Auto mode/Red-eye reduction- Camera judges whether or not to flash, used when taking photos of people or animals in the dark
  • Auto mode- Automatically judges whether or not to flash
  • Flash on- always flashes
  • Flash on/red eye reduction- always flashes but camera judges whether to use red eye reduction or normal flash
  • Slow sync/ red eye reduction- camera judges whether to use red eye reduction or slow sync used against night back ground (slow sync is essentially a longer exposure time)
  • Flash of- The camera never flashes
The Lens
I've got to say the lens system is impressive. It has 12 times optical zoom (i.e. the better one) and 4 times digital zoom (i.e. the one that makes things pixelated), contains autofocus, has a lens shutter and with the macro focus can focus at as little as 2.5cm.

Top Of DCM-ZS7
From left to right of the picture above is the on/off switch to the left of that the shutter button (press half way to auto focus and fully to take a picture) then there is the "recording mode dial" which contains the functions (going clockwise from the red iA)-                                                       

  • Intelligent auto-The camera takes photos of faces when it decides the subjects are looking at the right spot (very nifty)
  • Program AE- Record pictures with setting you program in
  • Aperture Priority- Set the aperture manually
  • Shutter Priority- Set shutter speed yourself
  • Manuel Exposure- Set aperture and shutter speed yourself
  • Custom Mode- Use pre-registered settings
  • MS1/MS2- Commonly used scenes. Say mountains and beach can be programmed to these so that they can be accessed quickly
  • Scene Mode- An appropriate scene can be selected
  • Clip Board Mode- allows you to take pictures as memos
In the middle is the microphone which allows earphones to differentiate between right and left. And last but by no means least is a slightly stranger feature of the camera, the GPS. The GPS means that you will never forget where you took a picture again.

More of the features, of which there are many (the manual is 178 pages long) and usage will be covered in the next post.
So far the camera has a wide range of photographic features, looks good, and has an impressive lens system and a GPS, if it's within your budget it's defiantly worth it.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Targus City Gear Messenger Laptop Bag Review

Today I've decided to review, as promised, a laptop bag. The one I’m reviewing is the “Targus city gear messenger bag”. The bag can accommodate laptops with screen from 16 inches to 17.3 inches and retails from, to name a few, John Lewis for £29.95, LambdaTek for £24.31 and from Amazon for£45.89.  A picture paints 1000 words so here's a picture.  

This laptop case actually won the What Laptop gold award in May 2005. It  only comes in black with a silver trimming i.e. the one above. The material is kind of "meshie", presumably to make it ripstop. The shoulder strap is fully adjustable and has a shoulder pad to prevent it rubbing against your shoulder. One of the sides has a "hidden pouch" that contains a net bag for carrying a water bottle. On the bottom of the bag there is only material, no rubber strip-like in some of the Tech Air laptop bags- that prevent wear and tear from the bag rubbing of the ground and, I dare say help prevent the laptop breaking in the event of a fall.  At the top of the "flap" is a zip so that small objects can be stored in it. The laptop pouch has soft padding in it, but I don't feel its substantial, unlike some of the tech air ones which have impact foam. This means if you drop the bag with the laptop in it, it’s going to offer minimal protection. Which isn’t ideal as one of the main ideas of laptop bags should be to protect the laptop during travel.
Moving on to the inside-

As you can see, the front of the bag actually zips down to give easy access to the pockets at the front, there are loops to store pens in, zipped pouches for SD cards, business card and credit card holders, a key ring and pockets for wires and phone or whatever else you choose to put in there. Behind there is pocket the size of the bag which has the soft lining and can hold a tablet computer and behind there is the laptop pouch.

The laptop pouch contains an adjustable sleeve to secure the laptop firmly in place so it can’t rock-about and get scratched. Then on the outside at the back is yet another compartment that papers or other smaller objects can be put in.

The bag looks great and has a lot of storage space and pockets, however I don’t feel it protects a laptop that well. My philosophy has always been a laptop bag that offers a lot of protection may be more expensive that one that doesn't but it’s cheaper that replacing a laptop because you’ve dropped it. If like me you can be clumsy I’d sacrifice looks and features for a non broken laptop. However if you’re not going to do anything that destructive with it, this is a good bag at a very good price.