Kiss me: Canon Inc. sparked a revolution in digital photography five years ago when it created the EOS Kiss Digital, justly acclaimed as the first digital SLR camera priced for the average consumer.

In effect, Canon created a whole new market: the entry-level DSLR. But product evolution is a ruthless beast and Canon’s early advantage noticeably evaporated when competitors Nikon (D40X), Pentax (200D) and Olympus (E-410) entered the game with less expensive kits.

The just-released Kiss Digital F shows that the line has some pucker power left. The 10.1-megapixel camera is a little brother to Canon’s popular 12-megapixel EOS Kiss Digital X2. It includes the Digic III image processor, Live View (which enables the rear LCD screen to function as the viewfinder — a big step for DSLRs) and dust-prevention system found in the X2.

The Kiss Digital F packages this in a body that is one of the smallest and lightest, weighing just 450 grams, for DSLRs at the moment. It also features a seven-point autofocus system and up to three frames per second of continuous shooting. The kit lens for the camera is Canon’s EF-S 18-55 mm IS, which was designed to enhance image stabilization. The Kiss Digital F is priced competitively, selling for ¥79,800 with the kit lens, or ¥69,800 for the body only.

Canon DSLRs are particularly well-known for the lack of noise in their photos, a form of image distortion that commonly dogs digital cameras, making them especially good in low-light situations.

Anybody thinking of buying the Kiss Digital F should first pick one up to see how it feels before reaching for their wallet. This is because shrinking a camera’s body often means cramping the ergonomics, making the camera less comfortable to hold, a problem that Canon’s lower-level DSLRs have had in the past. But for people looking to buy their first digital camera or to upgrade from their compact, the Kiss Digital F is a camera that will take good photos straight away.

Efficient illumination: The humble incandescent light bulb might not be enemy No. 1 in the fight against global warming, but it gets its share of demonization. After decades of confusion over whether to turn them off to conserve electricity or leave them all the time to extend their life, the latest trend is to throw them out altogether and replace them with fluorescent versions.

No longer restricted to boring circular or straight tubes, florescent lamps are gaining renewed popularity not only because they last much longer and use less electricity than incandescents, but also because many of the new models screw right into standard light-bulb sockets and provide lighting that is equal to or better than the old-fashioned bulbs.

One notion that has held back florescent lamps is that they take too long to light up. Panasonic Corp. is hoping to nix that excuse for not switching to green lighting with its new Pa-Look Ball Premium Q bulbs, which hit the market July 1.

Panasonic claims the bulbs reach their maximum brightness 50 percent to 60 percent faster than usual by employing a “hybrid lighting method.” Moreover, one of these bulbs can, for example, dish out the equivalent of 54 watts of light while using only 10 watts of power. This equates to an 80 percent cut in power usage for lighting.

Panasonic also claims that the new bulbs, priced at ¥900, will last for 13,000 hours and can be switched on and off about 40,000 times, a 30-percent improvement on their current Pa-Look Ball Premium bulbs.

These benefits may unfortunately be wasted on consumers if they can’t get over the “sticker shock” of florescent lamp replacements, which typically cost more than ¥700 each.

Now that incandescent bulbs are common inventory at ¥100 shops, spending nine times more to avoid the familiar rattles of incandescent death might be too much of an investment, even if it actually saves money in the long term. panasonic.co.jp

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