Canon takes on Fuji with new instant-print CLIQ cameras

Canon takes on Fuji with new instant-print CLIQ cameras

2:04pm, 28th March, 2019
Instant print cameras have been popular for a long, long time, but they’re seeing a renaissance now — led by Fujifilm, whose Instax mini-films and cameras lead the pack. But Canon wants in, and has debuted a pair of new cameras to challenge Fuji’s dominance — but their reliance on digital printing may hold them back. The cameras have confusing, nonsensical names in both the U.S. and Europe: Here, they’re the IVY CLIQ and CLIQ+, while across the pond it’s the Zoemini C and S. Really now, Canon! But the devices themselves are extremely simple, especially if you ignore the cheaper one, which you absolutely should do. The compact CLIQ+ has a whole 8 megapixels on its tiny sensor, but that’s more than enough to send to the 2×3″ Zink printer built into the camera. The printer can store up to ten sheets of paper at once, and spits them out in seconds if you’re in a hurry, or whenever you feel like it if you want to tweak them, add borders, crop or do duplicates, and so on. That’s all done in a companion app. And herein lies the problem: Zink prints just aren’t that good. They cost less than half of what Instax Mini do per shot (think a quarter or so if you buy a lot) — but the difference in quality is visible. They’ve gotten better since the early days when they were truly bad, but the resolution and color reproduction just isn’t up to instant film standards. Instax may not be perfect, but a good shot will get very nice color and very natural-looking (if not tack-sharp) details. The trend towards instant printing is also at least partly a trend towards the purely mechanical and analog. People tired of taking a dozen shots on their phone and then never looking at them again are excited by the idea that you can leave your phone in your bag and get a fun photographic keepsake, no apps or wireless connections necessary. A digital camera with a digital printer that connects wirelessly to an app on your smartphone may not be capable of capitalizing on this trend. But then again, they could be a great cheap option for the younger digital-native set and kids who don’t care about image quality, have no affinity for analog tech, and just want to print stickers for their friends or add memes to their shots. Oh, we do have fun, don’t we, fellow kids? The $160 CLIQ+, or Zoemini S, has a ring flash as well as the higher megapixel count of the two (8 vs 5), and the lower-end $100 model doesn’t support the app, either. Given the limitations of the sensor and printer, you’re going to want as much flash as you can get. That’s too bad, because the cheap one comes in a dandy yellow color that is by far the most appealing to me. The cameras should be available in a month or two at your local retailer or online shop.
The Samsung S10’s cameras get ultra-wide-angle lenses and more AI smarts

The Samsung S10’s cameras get ultra-wide-angle lenses and more AI smarts

2:34pm, 20th February, 2019
Samsung’s features a whopping four models, the S10e, the S10, the S10+ and the S10 5G. Unsurprisingly, one of the features that differentiates these models is the camera system. Gone are the days, after all, where one camera would suffice. Now, all the S10 models, except for the budget S10e, feature at least three rear cameras and the high-end 5G model even goes for four — and all of them promise more AI smarts and better video stabilization. All models get at least a standard 12MP read wide-angle camera with a 77-degree field of view, a 16MP ultra-wide-angle camera for 123-degree shots, and a 10MP selfie camera. The standard S10 then adds a 12MP telephoto lens to the rear camera setup and then S10+ gets an 8MP RGB depth camera. The high-end S10 5G adds a hQVGA 3D depth camera to both the front and rear setup. The ultra-wide lens is a first for Samsung’s flagship S10 series, though it’s a bit late to the game here given that others have already offered these kind of lenses on their phones before. Still, if you are planning on getting an S10, this new lens will come in handy for large group shots and landscape photos. On the video front, Samsung promises better stabilization, UHD quality for both the rear and front cameras and HDR10+ support for the rear camera. These days, though, it’s all about computational photography and like its competitors, Samsung promises that its new cameras are also significantly smarter than its predecessors. Specifically, the company is pointing to its new scene optimizer for the S10 line which uses the phone’s neural processing unit to recognize and process up to 30 different scenes and also offer shot suggestions to help you better frame the scene. Since we haven’t actually used the phones yet, though, it’s hard to say how much a difference those AI smarts really make in day-to-day use.