Pentax K-r

Pentax has long made very good digital SLRs that offer excellent image quality with simple, intuitive interfaces. And while their latest cameras pack a thorough selection of high-end features, they also have something that a lot of other SLR vendors don’t: style. For example, consider the Pentax K-r, a midrange 12.4-megapixel SLR priced at $850 with an 18-55mm lens, or $800 for body only. A compact, lightweight, but very sturdy camera, the K-r is available in red, white, and, of course, boring old black. We looked at the white K-r, which is very striking and a nice break from the usual black cameras. Fortunately, the camera’s also got features and good image quality to back up its pretty looks.

Body and design

Like most midrange SLRs, the K-r is very compact and lightweight, making it easy to carry for an entire day of shooting. The grip design is good, making the K-r very comfortable to hold. As with other Pentax SLRs, the K-r feels very sturdy, weighing in at 21 oz with the battery and a memory card. While not fully weatherproofed like Pentax’s higher-end offerings, the K-r has a solid, creak-free build that feels very nice in the hand.

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Samsung NX100

The Samsung NX100 is an innovative camera, but not always a practical one. The compact interchangeable lens camera has a handsome and slim body, but you should hang on to it carefully because it doesn’t include a textured grip. Inside is a large APS-C image sensor that captures 14.6-megapixels of resolution. This means that you get the same sized sensor as in many standard DSLRs, but in a smaller overall package. Samsung designed a clever iFunction control system that lets you adjust some of the most common camera settings from controls on the lens itself. Yet, neither the 20-50mm kit zoom, nor the body, includes image stabilization. There’s a smart system for automatic exposure selection, but no built-in flash.

When thinking about a NX100 as the next possible camera for you, the real question is, does innovation outweigh its shortcomings?

Features overview

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Apple releases Aperture 3.1.2 update

On Tuesday, Apple released an update for Aperture 3 that addresses some lingering issues with importing iPhoto libraries. It is recommended for all Aperture 3 users.

Aperture 3.1.2 has the usual "overall stability and performance" improvement touted in every Aperture update, along with specific fixes for iPhoto compatibility, image importing, library, and adjustment issues. There are 14 fixes total on Apple's list, seven of which are for processes that caused Aperture 3 to freeze or quit unexpectedly.

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A case that makes an iPhone look like a camera

Despite the boom in megapixel counts in smartphone cameras, taking pictures with a cell phone still doesn't feel the same as taking photos with an actual camera. For those who miss the look of a camera dangling around their neck but prefer the convenience of always having a smartphone camera on-hand, there’s a new prototype iPhone case from UN Design that imitates the look of a real camera. It does not, however, give your phone’s camera any new abilities, like the Clarifi Case ($35) or the OWLE case ($130).

The UN01 case is designed to make an iPhone 4 look like a run-of-the-mill camera. On the more functional side, it includes an adjustable strap that allows it to hang around your neck so that you're ready to snap photos at a moment’s notice. Currently, UN Design is taking donations to start production on the new case at Kickstarter.com. (Another iPhone camera accessory to get its start on Kickstarter was the very popular Glif stand by Studio Neat.)

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Pentax releases fashion-forward Optio RS1500 camera

Photographers worried about carrying cameras that clash with their handbags, fear not: Pentax continues its quest to make cameras that double as fashion statements with the new Optio RS1500. This customizable point-and-shoot offers several means of creating a personalized look for the device, but it also backs up the fun with the same solid specs found in last year's RS1000 camera.

The 14-megapixel RS1500 compact camera comes with ten easy-to-apply skins that that fit around the lens and under a lens ring and clear faceplate to give the front of the camera a unique look. Better yet, Pentax has free PDFs of additional designs available to download at the Pentax Skins Gallery. Users can upload skins they've designed to this gallery for others to enjoy and print. This is all an upgrade from the RS1000's interchangeable faceplate set-up, which required more work to swap out and offered limited custom options.

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Review: Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2 camera

It may not be a "true DSLR," but the interchangeable-lens Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2 has features that outclass some of today's DSLRs, and the camera may indicate where future DSLRs are headed with regard to controls and video options.

The GH2 offers touchscreen controls to accompany more-traditional buttons and knobs, and those touch controls are all the more engaging in a camera equipped with a large sensor, a high-quality lens, a fast autofocus, and high-end image quality. The result is a unique camera whose touch-to-focus controls enable you to pull off complex focusing tricks with ease.

Beyond the touchscreen, the GH2 is the most DSLR-like compact interchangeable-lens camera we've tested, due to its larger size and design. The Lumix GH2's video performance is very impressive, but its still-image quality is a notch below that of a true DSLR: Colors and exposure quality tend to look muted unless you dive into the camera's array of manual controls, which is a bit disappointing for a camera of the GH2's size and price. That said, the kit lens we tested it with was optimized for video and zoom range, so still-image quality is likely to improve considerably when you use the Lumix GH2 with a bright, prime lens.

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