Lightening the Darkroom

Lightening the Darkroom

Camera: Nikon Coolpix S51c ($329.95), Printer: HP Photosmart C7280 ($299.99), Total Cost: About $630



The chic Coolpix S51c sports a 3.0-inch LCD with antireflection coating and a 160-degree viewing angle. The camera includes Nikon’s new Expeed high-performance image-processing system, and is nicely responsive, focusing a bit faster than many other point-and-shoots.


Beyond the outstanding image captures (vibrant but natural color and nicely saturated, detailed shadows in all lighting conditions), the coolest feature is that the camera can connect directly to the Internet via Wi-Fi. You can upload images to Nikon’s Picture Bank storage service and stash 2GB of pictures for free, upload images directly to your Flickr account, or send email directly from the camera. It’s a great way to back up your pictures on vacation or during a busy shooting day. You also get six months of free T-Mobile access, so you can zip off your images from the 8,000 or so T-Mobile HotSpots nationwide. The Coolpix S51c also has all the image-correction features offered by the Coolpix P5000 (p1).


HP’s Photosmart C7280 is a terrific six-ink printer (complete with a copier) that produces excellent color and good black-and-white images at superfast speeds, spitting out 4-by-6-inch prints in about 13 seconds in our tests. Print from your Mac or directly from the printer by inserting the camera’s memory card into the onboard slot. You can also do basic image editing on the 3.5-inch touchscreen. The Photosmart C7280 prints images from 4 by 6 inches to 8.5 by 14, and it supports HP’s Auto Sense technology. That means that when compatible papers are put in the printer, it automatically selects the right settings for the media (plain paper, special inkjet paper, glossy, matte, etc.), and will even alert you if the paper is incorrectly loaded.



The Panasonic Lumix DMC-LS70S produces surprisingly good images - with well-balanced color and good exposure - considering its low price. It’s not the most comfortable camera to handle, with no handgrip, but this isn’t a huge problem. The optical stabilization feature does a great job of reducing image blur created by jittery hands. For shooting moving objects, the Venus Engine III image-processing system kicks in and automatically bumps up the ISO setting and shutter speed according to how fast the subject is moving and the lighting conditions. A couple dozen preset scene modes make setting up shots a snap. All in all, it’s a good choice for anyone who wants a reasonably priced, easy-to-use camera.


Epson’s outstanding Stylus Photo 1400 uses six ink cartridges and can spray out ink drops as small as 1.5 picoliters, producing prints with supersmooth transitions and clear, true colors with fine detail in both bright and dark areas of the images. This is a printer intended for serious photographers, and Epson probably assumes this audience will be refining their images in Photoshop before printing, so there’s no card reader onboard.


You can print images from 4 by 6 inches to 13 by 44 (on paper stock as thick as 0.11mm) and can also print on inkjet-compatible CDs and DVDs. One possible caveat, given its target market: This isn’t the printer to buy if you want to print drop-dead perfect black-and-white images, and it doesn’t produce truly neutral prints (few, if any, under-$500 printers do). Noir fans will be better off with Epson’s nine-cartridge Stylus Photo R2400 ($849.99). Otherwise, this is yet another excellent photo printer from Epson.


Camera: Panasonic Lumix DMC-LS70S ($149.95), Printer: Epson Stylus Photo 1400 ($349.99), Total Cost: About $500






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brad Beauchemin

Are you sure this printer can print up to 44" in length?

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