Seven cameras with cool and unique features

An look at seven cameras have special, unusual, and just plain cool features that set them apart from the average point-and-shoots.

Unlike the others

Among all the new point-and-shoots, DLSRs, and camcorders that were recently announced, a few had unique features that made them really stand out. From the complexity of a new DSLR mirror (a55) to a simple idea that we can't believe took so long to happen (USB connector on the PL90), each of these cameras has a little something special.

Fast DLSR with a translucent mirror

What makes Sony's normal-looking a55 DSLR special is its translucent mirror. Light can pass through the mirror, straight to the camera's sensors and phase-detection autofocus sensor. This allows the camera to capture images faster, particularly during continuous shooting. The 16.2-megapixel A55 can shoot up to 10 frames per second in speed priority mode and an impressive 6fps in continuous shooting mode. Users can record HD video with continuous autofocus while recording, and the camera even has built-in GPS. The translucent mirror technology ultimately means a faster, state-of-the-art camera with a smaller body.

Real 3D images

If you haven't had your fix of 3D entertainment yet this year, Fuijifilm has the camera for you. The recently released Finepix Real 3D W3 has impressive features for a point-and-shoot, such as manual controls and innovative shooting modes. But it also has 3D abilities that set it apart from most compact cameras. The two-lensed camera has dual-10-megapixel-sensors that capture the same image from different perspectives. It can shoot 720p HD 3D video and features an HDMI-out port for viewing the photos and videos on compatible television sets. In 2D mode, the W3 has a wide range of effects and settings for each lens.

Built-in USB connector

At first glance, Samsung's PL90 point-and-shoot camera doesn't look any different from other inexpensive compacts. But it's hiding a pop-out USB connector that saves you the trouble of hunting down that pesky cable whenever you want to upload images or charge the battery. While the built-in USB connectors are not uncommon in pocket camcorders, they set the PL90 apart from other point-and-shoot cameras. Beyond the connector, the PL90 is a solid point-and-shoot with specs you'd expect. The 12-megapixel camera has a 2.7-inch LCD screen, and a 4x optical zoom. The video isn't HD, but not having to dig through drawers to find a cable might make up for it.

Mini-projector and camera in one

The Coolpix S1100pj isn't Nikon's first attempt at a point-and-shoot with a projector, but this second generation camera packs a little more punch than its predecessor. The front-mounted projector has a 14-lumen brightness rating. If that's not enough of a reason to use the Coolpix, the camera also has a decent array of in-camera editing modes, transition effects, and the ability to add music to the in-camera slideshow. Its 3-inch touch screen LCD also allows users to draw on the images projected from the camera. In addition to being boardroom-savvy, the Coolpix S1100pj holds its own as a point-and-shoot camera, with the ability to record 720p HD video.

Tough and rugged compact

An active lifestyle can be pretty rough on cameras, but Panasonic's new rugged point-and-shoot can take the abuse. The Lumix DMC-TS10 can survive the elements better than most humans: it's shock-proof, dust-proof, freeze-proof down to fourteen degrees Fahrenheit, drop-proof for falls of five feet, and waterproof up to ten feet under the surface. Additionally, the 2.7 inch LCD screen has an anti-reflective coating. This tough camera's features are sure to come in handy when facing the elements, but its optically stabilized 4X optical zoom lens, 14-megapixel sensor, and high-speed autofocus make it a great tool any time.

Camcorder that films in 3D

Panasonic's brand new 3D camcorder, the HDC-SDT750K, is a consumer level version of the professional-grade Panasonic AG-3DA1. The specs of the DHC-SDT750K are impressive: it supports optical zoom up to 12X and the camera records 2D in 1920x1080-pixel resolution at 60 frames per second as well as right-and-left-eye 3D video at 960x1080 pixels. In terms of playback, while using active-shutter 3D glasses, the camera can be connected to a 3D-capable HDTV using an HDMI cable or by using a Blu-ray player connected to a 3D TV. You'll be putting Avatar to shame in no time.

Point-and-shoot with Wi-Fi

Having Wi-Fi on a camera is convenient and time-saving, and with products like an Eye-Fi card, it's accessible for most devices. Samsung has cut out the middle man with their Wi-Fi enabled ST80. When you purchase the 14- megapixel touchscreen camera, you get a free, ninety-day trial of Boingo Wireless (after which, users can subscribe to the service for $8/month) which hosts Wi-Fi hotspots at many restaurants and hotels. Once connected, photos and videos can be emailed or uploaded directly to sites like Facebook, Photobucket, or YouTube. The ST80 can also connect wirelessly with DLNA-compliant devices like digital photo frames.

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