Compact to show

I'm a bit behind on the camera release front, and no wonder (I soothe myself), because new cameras are announced almost daily. But this one is worth noticing: early August, Nikon announced a compact camera with built-in projector. It should give you a view of up to 40", instead of the 2 to 3" screens at the back of compact cameras before which we now have to rub our heads with other onlookers to get a faint idea of the new baby, or whatever people take pictures of. I like the idea of being more aware of the fact that photos are there not just to be taken, but to be viewed. Viewing should be made as simple as possible--quite in agreement with Nikon, and also with other camera makers who let you upload seamlessly to web galleries and social network sites. But will this built-in projector work?

There are some drawbacks. Not the 40" maximum size; that's more than most home tv screens. But that is the maximum, probably only reached under ideal circumstances (no disturbing environmental light, a good flat and white background, I guess). Besides, your tv nowadays has up to HD resolution (1920x1080 pixels, about 2 megapixel--still less than modern phone cameras, let alone good compacts or DSLRs), while this camera-projector is said to have VGA resolution; that means 640x480 or 0.3 megapixel. That won't look good at 40" size, not even if you take the larger viewing distance into account. (The relevance of viewing distance: People look at a small-size picture from a small viewing distance, so it needs a higher resolution to seem sharp than a large-size picture, which they need to step back from to take it all in at a single viewing.)

Besides, I wonder about the colour rendering of the small built-in projector. In our camera club, we worked for close to two hours with a normal-size projector to get its colours more or less right by tweaking all kinds of menu settings against a number of test pictures, from colour cards to 'real life' photos including landscapes, portraits, etc. (No, we don't have a calibration apparatus for LCD projectors--but that's another sad story.) And that was with a fairly new projector already in use, which had been installed by a professional seller and which the non-camera club users found quite alright and convincing as for its colour rendering.

I don't want to forget to mention that the battery time for projecting would be no more than one hour. Probably that's even quite a feat, technically--and more than enough for the slide shows you want to submit your family and friends to. Maybe they should have limited slide show duration to twenty minutes, for the sake of the family and friends ;-)

All in all, Nikon had a good idea, but I'm sceptical as to its practical use. I'll wait for the third generation of such cameras-cum-projector. At least the third generation.

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