Fantastic Photos Keep You Snap-Happy

3/22/2013 9:30:23 AM

Whether you’re a keen amateur photographer or a seasoned pro, these Windows companions will keep you snap-happy

We think it’s no coincidence that Spider-Man’s alter ego is a photographer. Like Spidey, photographers need to be fast and flexible. They need lightweight equipment, and must be prepared for every opportunity. We can’t promise that this kit will help you fend off the Green Goblin, but as we’re sure you’ll agree, these picture-perfect performers could be the Mary Jane to your Peter Parker.

Lenovo Ideapad Yoga

Ever wished you could control a computer by waving at it? You can with the Yoga, whose clever webcam recognizes hand gestures. That’s not the only bright idea it has, either: its bright 13-inch display offers superb viewing angles and accurate colours in an innovative, shape-changing case. Need a tablet? The Yoga’s a tablet. Need a notebook? The Yoga’s a notebook. Need something to display your photos? The Yoga can do that too.

The Yoga’s secret is a clever hinge that enables it to change its shape to suit what you want to do

The Yoga’s secret is a clever hinge that enables it to change its shape to suit what you want to do

The Yoga’s secret is a clever hinge that enables it to change its shape to suit what you want to do. In addition to the traditional notebook mode with a touch-enabled screen – you can also twist the device into tablet mode, with the keyboard hidden away, or use it in tent mode – an inverted V shape that’s ideal for slideshows.

The Yoga uses a speedy solid-state drive, and with a choice of third generation Intel Core i3, ị and i7 processors and 4GB or 8GB of speedy DDR3 memory, it’s a very fast machine – something you’ll appreciate if you like to work on very high resolution images, or with complex Photoshop filters. There’s an integrated SD/MMC card reader for quick photo transfers, fast Wi-Fi for effortless uploading and HDMI output for connecting to external displays. The Yoga’s USB 3.0 port offers super-speedy connections for kit like external drives, too.

It’s an excellent and very flexible device, but if you’d rather buy something a little smaller then Lenovo has good news for you: it’s about to release an 11-inch Yoga packing a quad-core Tegra 3 processor and running Windows RT.

Asus VivoBook S200

When you buy your first proper camera, you’ll soon discover that it’s the thin end of the wedge; before long you won’t want to leave the house without packing lenses, adaptors, flashes, filters, tripods and anything else that might help you take the perfect picture. The last thing you need on top of all of that is a heavy laptop, and that’s why the VivoBook is so attractive: it’s a machine that punches above its weight, delivering high-end performance and excellent portability at a very reasonable price.

11.6-inch widescreen HD display there’s plenty of power for image editing and organizing

The VivoBook may be comparatively titchy at 30.3 x 20 x 217mm and just 1.4kg, but behind the beautifully bright, 11.6-inch widescreen HD display there’s plenty of power for image editing and organizing. You can specify the device with an ultra-low power Celeron, Pentium or Intel Core i3 processor, with up to 4GB of RAM, which is more than enough to keep Photoshop happy. With up to 500GB of hard disk space, there’s room for stacks of images – even if you’re shooting in storage-hungry RAW format. The built-in SD/SDHC/SDXC/MMC card reader means you don’t need to carry a separate device to transfer your photos to the laptop from your camera’s memory card, and the integrated 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi offers speedy uploading when it’s time to share or sell your shots. As with all Windows 8 Ultrabooks, the VivoBook offers instant sleep and resume, and its instant-on feature means it’s ready for action within just two seconds, even if it’s been asleep for a fortnight.

We’ve saved the best until last: the VivoBook S200’s screen is finger-friendly, so you can take full advantage of Windows 8’s amazing touch features. Touch-based zooming enables you to inspect the tiniest details instantly, while swiping and panning make navigating even the largest image library effortless.

Sony NEX-F3

The world of cameras used to be fairly simple: if you wanted something affordable and portable you’d buy a point-and-shoot compact camera, and if you wanted something flexible that cost a fortune and weighed a ton you’d buy a digital SLR. Not anymore. Compact system cameras, also known as hybrid cameras, promise the best of both worlds: the portability and affordability of compacts and the power and performance of SLRs.

The NEX-F3 delivers “professional quality” images

The NEX-F3 delivers “professional quality” images

Do these smart snappers deliver? We think they do. Cameras like Sony’s NEX-F3 have much bigger sensors than traditional compacts, so they can capture much more detail, and their swappable lenses give you SLR-style flexibility. You can currently choose from over 30 prime, zoom, telephoto, wide angle and macro lenses to use with the NEX-F3.

You don’t need to invest in lots of lenses to take great pictures, though. Thanks to that bigger sensor and Sony’s wonderfully named BIONZ processor, the standard 18-55mm lens is an excellent all-rounder that’s surprisingly good even in low light, and with a 16.1-megapixel resolution the level of detail is stunning. Sony says the NEX-F3 delivers “professional quality” images, and reviewers agree that while the results aren’t quite SLR-quality, they’re not far off. The Sony camera even delivers decent depth of field effect – something compact cameras are traditionally very bad at.

In addition to straightforward shooting, the Sony can also record HD video, and its tilting LCD screen makes awkward shots considerably less uncomfortable. It shoots in both JPEG and RAW format, and the camera includes built-in filters called Picture Effects to give your shots a retro sheen or soften skin tones in portraits. Intelligent Auto mode does a good job of choosing the best parameters for each photo you take, and if you want to get stuck in you can change the individual settings manually.

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