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March 2008

March 2008 Essentials Review: High Tech


Best Buy
Olympus SP-560 UZ
It used to be that hikers had to lug heavy telephoto lenses to capture crisp wildlife images. No longer. This compact 8mp features a stunning 18x optical zoom; compare that to the 4x found in most point-and-shoots. And its digital zoom magnifies subjects up to 100x. You’ll need to spend twice as much on an SLR and lens kit to beat that. The built-in lens does a decent job with wide-angle shots, too; it zooms out to an SLR-equivalent 28mm. Action shots and skylines are crisp and color-correct, thanks to an image stabilizer and light sensor that work together. Other sweet features: 33 shooting modes including 640 x 480 video, plus full manual control; fast auto-focus; and a speedy image processor (up to 40 frames per second). And since it uses AAs, there’s no recharging on long trips. Video tip: Turn the sound on before shooting (it’s shipped with the sound off). $500; 12.9 oz.;

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T20
This high-performance mini raises the bar for ultra-compact, sub-$300 point-and-shoots. It has a big 3-inch screen with touch controls, shoots art-gallery-ready prints (8.1mp), and runs slideshows on an HDTV–all in a pocket-friendly package. A large sliding cover protects the lens (3x optical/2x digital). Advanced users can edit colors and trim photos inside the camera without a PC, and there are 31MB of extra internal storage in case you forget a memory stick or run out of space. It comes preset with 10 scene modes and runs on a rechargeable lithium-ion battery. $270; 4.5 oz.;

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