I wrote the cameras section for the Tools feature in Wired's upcoming December issue. As often happens, we had more material than pages to print it on. Here are some cool-looking new cameras that just didn't fit. Unlike with most articles in Wired, Tools items haven't been tested. (We write about them before they come out in most cases.) So I can't say for certain how good these cameras are, but they do look promising.
Little shooters are getting big powers these days. Sadly, camera-makers are still stuck in a megapixel pissing contest. But other growing numbers -- like ISO ratings for light sensitivity -- really will help you take better pictures in more places.
Fujifim Sticks to its Resolution
Fujifilm's latest ultraskinny resists the peer pressure to add ever-more useless megapixels. While rivals are cramming seven million photodiodes onto a miniscule 7.1-millimeter sensor, the Z3 sticks with a perfectly useful 5.1 million. That leaves room for bigger pixels that capture more light and might even produce clean images at the camera's ISO 1600 maximum light sensitivity. Despite its sensible specs, the Z3 is no dowdy digicam. It comes in a yummy pearlescent violet (as well as the industry-standard silver-gray finish). And it measures a sexy 0.8 inches thick all the time -- since the 3X optical zoom lens moves internally rather than popping out the front.
FinePix Z3, $250, www.fujifilmusa.com
Nikon's Little Wonder
Nikon jams the goodies into one slim package. The 7.1-meapixel camera maintains its slender 0.8-inch profile thanks to an internally zooming 3X lens. A three-inch high-res LCD covers the back, and built-in Wi-Fi lets you immediately dispatch photos via email or uploads to Nikon's picture-sharing service. To make connecting easy, Nikon bundles a one-year subscription to T-Mobile's Wi-Fi service, which is available alongside Vente cappuccinos at Starbucks coffee shops. The S7c also packs all Nikon's other clever features, such as face detection for snapping sharp portraits and electronic vibration reduction for processing the blur out of photos taken with a shaky hand.
Coolpix S7c, 379, www.nikonusa.com
OK, stop staring at YouTube and go shoot your own silly videos. With new consumer gear, you can produce slick shows that will make even Paris Hilton and Lonelygirl15 jealous.
Canon's Disc Jockey
There's nothing square about the DC22. Its wide CCD sensor natively captures standard-def videos in the 16:9 format of modern TVs, not the 4:3 box of old tubes (thought 4:3 is an optional setting); and it records them to three-inch DVD discs, not to boxy tapes. The mini DVDs hold up to 36 minutes of top-quality video and work directly in many PC and set-top players for immediately viewing the raw footage, without a trip to the PC editing program. But Canon does include authoring software for making cut and polished DVDs, as well.
DC22 DVD Camcorder, $699, www.usa.canon.com
Sony's HD Jukebox
This is Nirvana: A compact high-definition camcorder with a hard drive that holds hours of footage. The 10X zoom lens funnels light to a new complementary metal-oxide (CMOS) image sensor that Sony claims produces better dynaimic range (shading detail) than the charge-coupled device (CCD) sensors in most camcorders. And built-in microphones capture Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound. With the ability to hold 4 hours of high-def video or 7.5 hours of standard-def fare (at the highest quality levels), the 1.6-pound SR1 is an ultraportable video jukebox that attaches to any TV via the HDMI digital video and audio interface or analog component, S-Video, and stereo connections.
HDR-SR1 AVC HD 30GB Handycam, $1500, www.sonystyle.com
HP's Zippy Printer
If you think a five-minute microwavable meal takes too long, you'll like the D7360 - which HP claims is the fastest photo printer on the planet. And whether or not it retains the record by the time you read this, 12 seconds is still pretty quick for a 4x6-inch photo print. The D7360 has slots for all major memory card types. And you can make fast photo fixes without a PC -- such as removing red eye and brightening highlights -- by tapping through menus on the printer's 3.4-inch touchscreen LCD. But what you do in seconds could last decades. Prints with HP's Vivera inks and Advanced Photo Paper are rated to last for about 30 years. And according to HP's tests, they even hold up after being dunked in water.
Photosmart D7360, $180, www.shopping.hp.com