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      25.02.2002 17:20
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      Have you dreamed of finding an easy to use idiot-proof camera that will take great pictures every time you use it? Yeah ? Forget it - take it from me, there is no such beast! I don't care how many buttons, program modes, digital this and that's - the most important thing in a camera is the person BEHIND it - i.e YOU! Personally, I have proved that time and again when I have passed my own pro camera and lens over to someone else. Explained how to use it and then - crap pictures! That's just the way of things. Exactly like handing me over a super-dooper-whizzbang video package. I don't have a clue how to use it, therefore the end product will be - I guarantee - rubbish. So far, so gloomy, you are thinking. But, I would certainly commend to you this small, but eminently flexible 35mm zoom compact camera -the Canon z135. Most 'serious' photographers still find the need to have a lightweight, point-and-shoot camera in their pockets for odd moments that happen. When I am not working, I won't be carrying around all my pro gear - two SLR bodies, Several lenses, flashgun etc. So a hobbyist/enthusiast has no need to either. I will usually have my trusty z135 in the car with me, plus it is the only camera I take if I am away on holiday. After all - I am ON HOLIDAY. But, take it from me, it produces excellent results in most circumstances and as long as you use it within it's extremes i.e don't try and take action photos at Old Trafford from the back of the stand! Don't expect the flash to reach the stage when you are at a Rock Concert and seated in Row Z1 and so on. When somebody who has a decent working knowledge of photography is looking for a small compact, the first question to ask is often "Is the quality of the photographs compromised at the expense of convenience and versatility?" Well the z135 has an excellent Canon lens and that speak volumes in itse
      lf. Canon have been making professional standard cameras and lenses for many, many years. Their optics are amongst the very best around and the lens is a VERY Important part of any camera. I, for one, would probably look for a specialist camera maker first if I was searching for any kind of photographic package, be it digital, APS or 35mm. An electronics company - like Samsung - who make excellent appliances may have some superiority in the camera's electrics, but the handling and 'photo-taking' side of things, I would humbly contend, should be best trusted to a specialist like Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Olympus and Minolta. Just my own view, but one I'm sure you can see the logic of. So what does the Canon z135 have going for it? It is very smart looking for a start. In these days of sleek silver designs, this camera is not the smallest, but still easy enough to put into a pocket. It is lightweight, yet still retains a feel of 'weight' about it. Rather reassuring you that there is something inside that must be helping you in picture making and taking. >> I can vividly recall my Father-in-law buying a cheap and fairly nasty zoom compact 35mm a few years ago. He wanted to replace the heavier camera and lenses as he just could not lug them about on the rare occasions he got them out. He sold his gear and bought a supposed 'all-singing-all-dancing' Zoom compact. Without my guidance, I might add. When I saw it, it looked fine. When I picked it up it felt 'empty' - as if had no 'guts' inside it. Suffice to say that the camera in question was not a 'prime piece of equipment as results soon proved.<< Back to the matter in hand then. The Canon has a range of features and 'program modes' that make things easy for you. On an input dial at the back of the camera you have 'pictograms' indicating different shooting modes. The ubiquitous 'portrait', 'sports'
      ;, 'landscape', plus 'auto' and even a manual override. What these modes do is take exposure worries out of your hands. ~~ LANDSCAPE MODE If say you are on holiday and taking a photo of a building, the beach, any kind of scenery, then 'landscape' mode does some of the thinking for you. It sets the camera to take the photo at the optimum depth of field. That is to say, it will stop down the lens to take the distant view as crisply as possible. As opposed to shooting as a fast shutter speed to 'freeze' action. Which takes us onto... ~~ SPORTS MODE This mode will do as mentioned above and calculate the fastest shutter speed for the picture you are taking. In addition to this, the brilliant Canon autofocus system (as recognised as being the fastest by the Pros) will also go into 'servo' mode which means that it will use an active autofocus to track the subject before taking the photo. Rather than in a static group or individual shot it will be in a 'one shot' mode as the subject is still. ~~ PORTRAIT MODE This is a combination of the two above programs. Usually - as the name implies - ideal for close up photos of one individual or a small group shot. In addition, the camera has the pretty standard, but eminently useful functions of automatic film-loading and rewinding. Fast flash recycling time of 4 seconds, which will automatic come on in dark or backlit situations. Thus, the chances of making mistakes are minimized still further. ~~ ZOOM FACILTY As is pretty standard in cameras of this type, the zoom is done by means of a button on top of the camera close to the shutter release button. You can zoom the lens to any position between the widest angle of 35mm and up to its limit of 135mm. Many zoom compact do not allow smooth zooming like this, but only allow say 35mm, 50mm, 80mm and 100mm and they will stop the zoom accordingly. Don't expect that havi
      ng a zoom lens will let you get super close to your 'prey'. For example a human eye will normally be regarded as having a 50mm angle of view. So at the widest angle of 35mm, your camera is seeing lightly more than you would see normally and as such, is ideal for group photography, team pictures etc. Similarly the 135mm will actually gets just over twice as close to your subject, so yes, you could stand behind the goal at your local Sunday morning football match and get some passable action pics. Also it means that you could maybe stand a little further away from your young children while they are on the beach and still 'fill the frame' with them without them being as conscious of you being there. Either way, as I said at the outset of this review it is a very flexible camera. One final point. I would suggest you look for this camera in the second hand section of your local photo store. They may still have some new stock lurking around, but as far as I'm aware it was discontinued in 2001. Originally it was £250 plus and you'd be getting a great buy if you could pick up one for around £120 s/h. Remember, this camera - NO Camera - is not foolproof. But I can tell you that I have taken some excellent photos with this and also been able to guide my non-camera-using wife into getting good results too. ~~ FINAL TIPS Just think as you look through the camera's viewfinder (any camera for that matter) am I close enough ? - if not zoom in. Is the subject light enough ? - if not make sure the flash is turned on. Does the picture look how I want it to? If not, maybe move position. Good luck.

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