Lightening the Darkroom

Lightening the Darkroom

Camera: Olympus Stylus 770SW ($379.99), Printer: Epson Stylus Photo R380 ($129.99), Total Cost: About $510


Olympus says, “A camera that’s made to photograph your life should be tough enough to survive it.” So go ahead and dive into a pool with the Stylus 770SW, drop it, dump stuff on top of it, expose it to dust, sand, dirt, extreme temperatures, inflict pretty much whatever torture tests you can dream up, and the Stylus 770SW will cheerfully keep on working. Granted, it’s not the world’s fastest camera - a bit sluggish when saving high-resolution pictures - but the benefits far outweigh this small drawback.


Image quality was very good in both indoor and outdoor light, with natural colors, no loss of detail in the shadows, and just a bit of noise at ISOs over 400. The bright 2.5-inch LCD is readable even in strong sunlight. The preset scene modes (there are 24) include settings for candlelight, cuisine, objects behind glass, and several underwater options along with the more-standard preset modes. There’s even a built-in manometer that records water and air pressures, nice for those scuba-diving (the 770SW is waterproof to 33 feet without a case) and mountain-climbing pictures.


The six-ink Epson Stylus Photo R380 also has a unique feature set. Besides producing the usual prints from your photos, it also prints still captures from video (we had a great time capturing video with the 770SW and watching it on the printer’s display screen; you just press a button to grab and print an image), and it prints on inkjet-compatible CDs and DVDs.


And the images it produces are really terrific - photos are crisp and clear. The printer automatically analyzes and adjusts the color and lighting of each image, plus it removes red-eye. The video grabs are more than decent, and the CDs and DVDs look great. Direct from your memory card or Mac, you can crop and edit photos using the printer’s 3.5-inch color LCD.



The 5-megapixel Canon PowerShot A460 is a great camera for a beginning photographer or someone who doesn’t want to fuss with a multitude of features and options. A nice collection of preset shooting modes makes it easy to set the camera to capture scenes such as fireworks, snow, and foliage. And even if you don’t select a specific mode, Canon’s multipoint Artificial Intelligent Auto-Focus (AiAF) system chooses and applies the optimum focus, and the camera can also adjust exposure and white balance.


All of the menus are exceptionally easy to navigate. Images have nicely saturated color, but shooting in low-light conditions will tend to produce images that are a bit noisy. At this price point, you really can’t expect perfection, but the PowerShot A460 provides more features than you’d think a budget camera would have. It even captures video.


Epson’s portable PictureMate Dash PM 260 is the perfect companion for this (or any other) digital camera. The (dare we say “cute”?) little lunchbox form-factor (complete with carrying handle) makes it seem almost like a toy, but once the Dash starts churning out images, all doubts are removed - it’s a very capable printer. Pop your camera’s memory card into the slot, crop and edit on the large 3.6-inch LCD, and print really outstanding (natural color, sharp) prints with or without borders.


Epson claims the photos produced by the Dash will last two to four times longer than lab prints; we didn’t have enough time to test for longevity, but the images were certainly scratch- and water-resistant. The Dash spits out 4-by-6-inch prints, assorted wallet sizes, portrait packages (four per page and 10 per page) and proof sheets. Printing a slew of pics won’t break your budget, because ink and paper (glossy or matte) come in the $35 PictureMate Print Pack, which contains supplies for about 150 prints. You can also archive photos directly to CDs or print from a CD or DVD.


Camera: Canon PowerShot A460 ($129.95), Printer: Epson PictureMate Dash PM 260 ($99.99), Total Cost: About $230




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brad Beauchemin

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

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