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TOYS

Smartphones replacing cameras? Not so fast!

by Rick Martin

For many consumers, compact cameras have gone the way of the dinosaur thanks to the growing popularity of smartphones. Why take a camera around in your right pocket, when you already have a camera phone in your left? Indeed, the term “camera phone” is itself somewhat outdated since nearly every mobile phone these days comes with a camera built-in. Nevertheless, there are some specific cases where a smartphone just won’t do the job. And we’re going to look at two of those today.

Have you ever seen those videos of clouds rushing across the Tokyo sky, or a sunset in a matter of seconds, or a midnight to dawn view flash by in just a few moments? This kind of fascinating imagery is captured by using time-lapse photography. And while some cameras support this feature, not all of them do. Most of the time, in order to create an animated movie from a collection of sequential photos, you require special software.

But a new, affordable camera from Japanese manufacturer King Jim makes interval shooting dead easy. The Recolo is a simple camera that is dedicated to time-lapse photography.

It can be set to take pictures at intervals of anywhere between one per 3 seconds to one every 24 hours. You can also adjust the frame-per-second setting for your video playback, which will determine how fast or how slow your photos get animated. The most remarkable thing about the Recolo is that it doesn’t require any third-party software to animate your time-lapse photos. The camera will save them in video format (AVI file) when you’ve finished. The controls are simple enough too. You just press a button to start the shooting, and press it again to save the pictures as a movie. To help you set up your camera at a good view-point, there is a mini-tripod included with the Recolo.

The potential for the kind of films you can make is limited only by your imagination. For example, you could create time-lapse movies of your plants growing over a couple of weeks, or perhaps capture your favorite flower as it blooms — this would be a gorgeous way to catch the sakura blooming in spring. Using the Recolo to capture the progress of a building under construction, or even how experiments progress in research labs are other ideas.

The camera has a water-resistant design, so if you’re using it outdoors you don’t have to worry about moisture or an occasional shower (although obviously the AC adaptor wouldn’t fare well in the rain!). In addition, since the camera is relatively cheap, you don’t have to be as concerned about theft as you would with a more expensive solution.

The Recolo comes in either orange or white and costs ¥6,930. It is available from Sept. 26. The AC adapter, if you opt to pick that up as well, retails for an additional ¥2,100.

While King Jim’s Recolo is water resistant, for real underwater shooting, you’ll need something a little more hard-core. And Japanese gadget giant Thanko has just the thing.

A scuba-mask that has an ingenious built-in video camera so you can actually capture all that you see underwater and still keep your hands free for more important things — in my case, the doggie paddle. The controls are cleverly operated by using a ring-magnet — it simply requires a wave in front of a power button to toggle on or off.

The mask features tempered glass and comes with a snorkel included. As for the camera portion, it sports a 2.0 megapixel CMOS camera lens, which can be used for either video or still photographs. Video is saved in AVI format, at 1280×960 resolution and a rate of 30 frames per second. The internal memory capacity is 4 gigabytes in total, and the battery life will get you about 2.5 hours of operation. Once you’ve finished your underwater adventures you can dump your digital treasures onto your computer using a USB cable, which connects to the mask’s USB port that is normally covered by a waterproof cap.

Thanko’s underwater mask camera went on sale this summer for ¥7,980

For more on King Jim’s Recolo visit www.kingjim.co.jp/sp/recolo_ir5/. For more on Thanko’s underwater mask camera see www.thanko.jp/product/usb/water-camera-5m.html. Rick Martin is a contributor to Penn-Olson.com. Read more of his work at 1rick.com