Gadget Watch: Cameras, cameras and even more frikkin’ cameras

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Gadget Watch: Aug. 29, 2014

Cameras, cameras, cameras. German photographic trade show Photokina is just around the corner, and the big names are outing their latest models before the news pipes get completely clogged with the tangled hair and soap scum of new releases. So this week we have a bunch of cool new cameras and accessories, including a GoPro harness for your pooch, along with the usual mix of gadgets designed to make you want to part with your cash.

Fujifilm X30

An update to the already-discontinued X20, this compact swaps the old optical viewfinder for a hi-res electronic finder, gets a bigger tilting rear LCD and adds a control wheel around the lens. It keeps the amazing X-Trans II sensor and 28-112mm (equivalent) ƒ2-2.8 zoom, and packs a new Classic Chrome film mode. I want this so hard. $600

Evernote Pfeiffer Collection

Evernote’s Pfeiffer Collection is not – as you might hope – a range of productivity tools designed by 1980s actress and icon Michelle Pfeiffer. It is instead a set of desk tidies, made from various materials including walnut and “bright.” They’re intended to hold old-school detritus like paperclips and pens, plus modern junk like iPhones, SIM cards and even an iPad. $106

Pentax K-S1

The best part of Pentax’s new mid-level K-S1 is the strip of pulsing LEDs on the hand grip. Pentax missed a chance to build the “Knight Rider of cameras” with its choice of green over red LEDs, but still. This pointless addition will flash to count down the self timer, and the light around the shutter release will turn red in video mode. $750

Bluelounge Soba

Bluelounge’s Soba is a cable-routing kit that will wrangle wayward wires, keeping them tidy in a “Vortex” tube and letting them exit where you need them. The kit comes with 10 feet of zip-closed tubing, a y-splitter and mounting caps (brackets). I have one here and ready to test, but it looks like there’s some effort involved in planning it all out, so maybe I’ll just have one more coffee first… $25

GoPro Fetch

Of course GoPro’s dog harness is called the Fetch. Of course. The Fetch straps onto the dog’s back, secured around its shoulders, chest and belly, and the camera can be mounted up top or down below. This is probably my favorite product of the year so far, and the photo above is definitely the best product shot for 2014. If I had a dog I’d be out with one of those playing frisbee right now. $70

Olympus Pen E-PL7

Olympus makes the best Micro Four Thirds bodies right now (and that’s coming from someone who owns a great Panasonic). This one’s even better, with a 180-degree flip-screen that activates “selfie mode” when fully extended (there's a shutter button on the touchscreen), built-in Wi-Fi to share that selfie to your iPhone, a 16MP sensor and a 14-42 mm (equivalent) ƒ3.5-5.6 kit lens. From $700.

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Moleskine Livescribe notebook

Moleskine’s newest notebook has an almost-invisible dot pattern on the pages that makes it work with your Livescribe pen. The pen has a camera in its nose that tracks your every stroke and scribble and sends it all to your iPhone or iPad as editable text, creating a perfect digital copy of your paper notes. Now you can continue your Moleskine habit, but with added digitization. $30

iPhone magnetic lens plates

Love: accessory iPhone lenses. Hate: Those stupid stick-on metal rings the lenses’ magnets stick to.

The answer is the new magnetic plate that now ships with every set of lenses sold by Photojojo. The plates, color-coded to your iPhone, stick over the entire glass strip at the top rear of the iPhone 5/s, so you can use these lenses and still get the iPhone in a case. Bonus – you can slide the lens out of the way when not in use. From $20.

Schiller X1

This Schiller water bike is to the pedalo what a sweet S-Works road racer is to a recumbent bike. It’s slick, speedy and way overpriced. A Gates carbon drive turns a NuVinci transmission, which turns two propellers. You can even use the handlebars to steer the thing, and it’s only $6,500.

Pentax 645Z Medium Format Camera: 51 Megapixels For Just $8,500

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In the olden days, format snobbery was a little bigger. Real photographers used medium format cameras, stuffed with big rolls of 120 or 220 film, and they laughed at folks who struggled by with little toy “full-frame” 35mm cameras.

These medium format cameras were also distinctly old school, without much automatic control.

Back then, the Pentax 645 was an odd camera, an affordable medium format camera with auto-everything. Well, not everything, but way more than you’d get in the Mamiyas and Hasselblads at the time.

Which is all to introduce the Pentax 645Z, Ricoh’s new 51.5 megapixel body with a price tag of $8,500, not much more than a top-of-the-line full frame SLR body.

Pentax Q7 Adds Bigger Sensor To Mirrorless Range, Still Too Small

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Pentax’s new Q7 has been styled to look like it was put together by somebody in shop class when told to “make a camera” out of whatever wooden offcuts were laying around the place. It can even be had in 120 different color combos, presumably all hideous.

But the Q7 does add one thing that’s worth noting: A bigger sensor. And judging by how the lenses now match that sensor in terms of 35mm equivalence, it looks like this was the plan all along.

Tough And Sensitive, The Pentax K5-II And K5-IIs

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You could probably use this to hammer in nails. Probably.

 

 

Pentax other announcement at Photokina this week concerns a pair of prosumer-level SLRs, the K5-II and the K5-IIs. These are the exact same camera, only the S has had its low-pass filter left off, and will cost you $100 more than the vanilla K5-II. The low-pass, or anti-aliasing filter allows for higher-resolution images, but could introduce unwanted moiré patterns into photos. Studio photographers will love it.