Mar 25, 2005

Camera-Binoculars Are They Any Good?

The New York Times has a peice in their Technology Section about the new breed of Camera-Binoculars that are appearing in stores. Some of the things they have to say-

Most alarming of all, the photo quality on some of these models ranges from mediocre - too many shots wind up blurry, a casualty of the camera shake that results from such powerful magnification - to worthless, especially when indoors and in twilight. If you're used to real digital cameras, your disappointment in the results will range from mild to hysterical. More on this topic in a moment (and at, where you can see some sample shots).
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What's so smart about the idea is that it perfectly suits the kinds of situations for which you use binoculars. Waiting for that dark-eyed junco to emerge from its hole? Instant Replay throws away all the boring waiting-around footage and retains only the magic moment. Tracking your child on the soccer field? Tap the button to retain only the goal-making part. Not sure when your youngster's name will be called to collect the diploma or karate trophy? Start filming when the last names approach yours alphabetically; you'll store only the truly important one.

This is a new product category, so there's no standard definition of a digi-binoc. It's downright charming to see how differently these companies have dreamed up their takes on the same task.

Now, camera enthusiasts may be snickering already. "Three megapixels? Grainy photos? 8X zoom? Why, my regular digital camera takes five-megapixel photos that look sensational - and it's got a 10X zoom lens! Why would I buy a wannabe like these binoculars?"

There's some merit in that argument (if you ignore the fact that digital cameras with 7X to 10X zooms cost a lot more). But just as you wouldn't want a pair of binoculars as your sole recording instrument at a family reunion, so you wouldn't want to use a digital camera for minutes-at-a-time watching. That's something that binoculars - with their big, bright, rubber-lined eyepieces - make comfortable and effective.

And now, thanks to the integration of basic digital photo features, you can do more with these binocs than sit out in the bushes for hours at a time while the sun comes up. At last, you can bring home proof of what you've been up to.

Read the full article here...