Trust's 910Z Powerc@m
Our previous digital camera review was about Eksitdata's MiniCamera. This time, we focus on a medium sized camera that isn't too expencive either. The review is about Trust's 910Z Porwerc@am Optical Zoom that in addition to normal photographing can be used to take video clips and function as a webcam.
The popularity of digital cameras is increasing all the time and so is increasing the amount of models and features. Choosing between different manufacturers and models can be difficult. The worst thing to happen is that the camera is buried under other stuff in the drawer and never used, because it is either too difficult to handle, it is too technical or just doesn't feel right.
The first thing in choosing the right camera is to think about the usage. A person who wants to photograph grandmother's birthday or holiday occasions and make only small printouts of the images, doesn't need to have a digital SLR camera like someone who takes images in various of conditions for printing to magazines etc. Camera capable of taking 3 Megapixel images is well enough for publishing 640x480 images on your website and you don't need to have the latest model with 5 Mpix resolution. Sure, if you have money go for it but maybe you could spend that money for external flash units, spare batteries or bigger capacity memory card to take the full advantage of that lower end model.
Is Trust's 910Z the right camera for your needs? I'll show you what it can do and you decide after that. :) Lets start with the specifications.
|Dimensions:||67 x 113 x 47 mm (HxWxD)|
|Weight:||256 g with batteries and memory card|
|Resolution:||3.1 Megapixel (2048 x 1472) sensor resolution, Camera resolution 5.0 Mpixel (2496 x 2016)|
|Zoom wide:||38 mm|
|Zoom tele:||114 mm|
|Normal focus range:||60 cm|
|Macro focus range:||8 cm|
|Exposure compensation:||-1.5EV to +1.5EV in 1/3EV steps|
|ISO rating:||100 and 200|
|Memory:||15 MB built-in, up to 256 MB with SD/MMC card|
|TFT Display:||4 cm colour; live viewfinder, 4x zoom preview, review images, review video and menu functions|
|Zoom:||3x optical and 4x digital|
|Preset modes:||Selftimer, Night exposure, Portrait, Macro and Landscape|
|Flash:||Built in automatic flash light with on/off/auto/red eye reduction function|
|Audio:||Integrated microphone and speaker|
|White balance:||Daylight, indoor and automatic|
|Access:||Pictures directly accessible as removable disk on computer (for Macintosh and Windows)|
|TV-out:||PAL / NTSC|
The camera is ment to be used as point-and-shoot camera but it still allows some manual control over the white balance. Sensor is capable of 3.1 Megapixels but camera's internal software is capable of interpolating the image to whopping 5 Megapixels. What is interpolating anyway? The camera uses a fancy algorithm that analyzes the image and calculates more pixels to it making it larger. Image will still contains only that 3.1 Megapixel worth of real data but the file size increased. Because of this, there is no real point on letting the camera to interpolate that image even if you need that higher Mpix image. For example Adobe Photoshop can make far better images with its own routines and by letting the off camera software do the job you don't need to wait the camera to process the image so long and you also save some space on your memory card. This said, all the images and tests on this review are made with the maximal sensor resolution (2048 x 1472).
So, what do we have inside then? A handy carry case that I really like. Well cushioned so it protects the camera very well. Small tripod, instuction manuals with several languages, USB cable, Composite cable for TV-out, batteries, a driver and software CD and the camera itself. The bundle is really great because it includes both a carry case and a tripod that are usually missing. Software on the CD includes Photo Express 4.0SE for photo editing, Photo explorer 7.0SE to organise the photos, DVD Picture Show 1.0SE to convert the images to a slideshow that is playable with DVD player softwares and COOL360 to convert the images to panoramic photographs.
The camera may look familiar to some readers. Minolta is also selling the same camera under their own brand.
Front side of the camera houses the lense with automated lens cap and the microphone. Also visible are the flash eye and an optical viewfinder. Top part has only one button, the shutter release. Back side houses all other function buttons and selectors. Optical viewfinder is located on the far left and that makes its usability real good. On some cameras the viewfinder is located on the center part of the camera body and when you are using it your nose is making these nasty grease mark to the LCD display. There is no such problem with this 910Z. Also the viewfinder is aligned with the camera lense so you see what the lense sees and this makes aiming a lot easier. Good thinking there.
There are six modes selectable with the mode dial.
- Video - taking video clips
- Pre-set - pre-set modes for easy photographing
- Snapshot - taking photos with your own setup
- Playback - playing back and removing of images and videos
- Set-up - Setting it all up; time, resolution etc.
- PC Camera - Used when connecting to PC.
Other buttons visible are: Power, White balance/image deletion, flash, selection up/down, display/enter and Zoom in/out. Markings of the buttons are not always so clear and there are some functions on these buttons that are not painted at all. For example while previewing the images, up and down arrows move the zoom box up and down but if you want to scroll the box to left and right you use White balance and Flash keys.
Next to the lense is the speaker that outputs audio from the video clips. On the opposite side of the camera body are the connectors that allow the camera talk to the outside world. DC IN is used with an optional wall transformer to power up the camera for example in studio environment. Video out is for connecting the camera to TV set. It supports both PAL and NTSC. USB is naturally used with a computer that has this connector. This dictates that you can't use this camera with older computers with only serial/parallel connection. This is the case with most of the digital cameras today but wanted to bring this up.
Compared to Canon's A40 the 910Z is bit smaller. The A40 weigh more because it uses four AA batties to keep it going. Because 910Z uses only two AA batteries it is capable of taking around 60 images with moderate flash usage. This value seems rather low but it is still enough for most of us. Getting a four pack of 1600 mAh rechargeable batteries is still a wise choice so you always have that spare set of batteries with you.
910Z is basically a two hand camera. Canon A40 has a bigger/deeper gripping area and it enables you to operate the camera with only one hand. 910Z isn't stable if you try to hold it with one hand and press the shutter release at the same time because the shutter button needs more pressure to be pressed down than most other digital cameras.
This type of connector is getting more and more popular so finding a replacement cable if you loose this one shouldn't be that hard.
910Z works as a Mass Storage Device (MSD). You don't need to install any drivers for Windows 2000 or XP to transfer the images. Just connect the cable between the camera and the PC, turn the dial to PLAYBACK mode and power up the camera. Windows will show the camera as a regular storage device from where you can copy, delete and move files. Now it is easy to just drag'n'drop the files from the camera to your computer.
Battery compartment and memory card slot
Bottom part of the camera has the tripod mounting threads and a small door. Behind that door is a battery compartment and a slot for the Secure Digital/MultiMedia Card. For most of the users this kind of placement won't bring any problems but for them that like to use tripod a lot will have to remove the camera from it to be able to change the memory card when it gets filled up. Tripod mount threads are made out of plastic to reduce weight so be carefull not to over tighten the fixing screw.
This "baby" tripod may seem small but it is really usefull many times. In low light situations one should always try to use tripod even when you are shooting with the flash. This kind of pocket sized model is easy to carry around and by combining it with a self timer it allow you to be inside the images as well.
Quality of the LCD is good and it follows the scene with no visible delay. On the lower right corner of that LCD you may see the histogram graph. You can turn it on/off and while it gives valuable information in some difficult lighting situations the graphs updates quite slowly so it is not that usable in general photographing. Amount of free space, measured shutter speed settings, operating mode etc. are all visible on the LCD so all in all it includes everything needed for an amateur and more seasoned photographer to operate the camera successfully.
I tested the quality of the optics and the sensor with USAF 1951 test targets. Cameras were positioned 2.5 meters away from the targets, ISO was set to 100 and no flash. One target was positioned on center of the image area and second to the lower right corner. Shutter were released with self timer to eliminate possible camera shake when pressing the shutter release button. Purpose of this test is to indicate the resolution of the sensor and if there are differences in quality when moving towards the edge of the image area. I compare the quality with Canon's A40 2 Megapixel digital camera. The sensor resolution isn't as high as with Trust's 910Z but if there are apparent differences in picture quality they will become visible.
Higher sensor resolution of 910Z is clearly visible. Best noticable when comparing the corner images. Jpeg compression seems to produce some interesting colouring effects on 910Z test images for some reason. These compression errors are also visible in some of the example images at the end of this review. These compression artifacts may feel worse for some people than others but you have to remember that we are talking about sub 300 euro camera here so the image quality produced by it is excellent in this price group.
I tried to include different kinds of scenes in these images to show how the camera handles them. You can open up a new window with a full resolution image of the photo by clicking the thumbnail.
Semi Macro - Good colouring and focus. Image is from a logo that is knit to a t-shirt.
By the pond. Again very good colours but the white flower got "burned" by the white light. I used automatic metering for this image and one can prepare for these situations with manual adjustment.
Taken on a clowdy day. Automatic metering handled the scene nicely. Now its up to the user to tweak the colors and overall brightness of the image on his/hers favorite image retouching utility.
Colours were left a bit flat but they are quite easily corrected. Automatic white balancing wasn't quite able to eliminate the white hotspot on Sara's shirt but the overall image is still usable.
Low light scene - The sky was left bit grainy because the camera has no noise reduction mechanism. By using ISO 100 I believed that the image turns out smoother though. This one is not that usable for bigger printouts but its great for web pages etc.
Partly clowdy scene. I would think that this kind of images are quite common with families that have kids. This camera is a good choice for people who like to share these moments on the internet or as a small sized printouts. Again the colors are bit flat and there are some Jpeg compression artifacts visible but for most users these things doesn't matter that much.
With flash - Flash range and angle of the beam seems good enough for most situations. Flash of the 910Z includes red eye reduction function so you should be able to handle most of the every day photographing situations quite easily.
+ Good bundle
+ Overall image quality
+ Well positioned optical viewfinder
+ Video clips with audio
- Slow flash reloading
- Battery life
- Automatic white balance not perfect
- Low light images bit grainy
I really enjoyed using this camera. Fast and easy to familiarize with, good overall image quality and small enough body so that you want to carry it with you. No point on having a high end camera with larger body and when the situation comes you don't have it with you because you don't like to carry it around.
I would believe that the best target group for this product are people who like to share their images over the internet on a websites or image galleries. Prints of 5x4" are usable and look really nice but if you need larger prints, you should try to brighten the colors and reduce some noise from the images first. I think that those example photographs tell more than I ever can so you just have to judge yourself if the camera would fullfill your needs. It is really great all around camera with a low price tag and good bundle, thing that are valued by a buyer that is entering the world of digital photographing for the first time.