Before I start I ought to say that Iam a bit of a luddite and have been forced to adopt new technology, so apologies if my opinion is not technology orientated! Anyway I had decided to purchase a new computer, it came bundled with a number of items including a basic digital camera. I decided to upgrade this camera for another £30 to the Jenoptik 2.1 LCD digital camera. I'd never used a digital camera before and was still a little wary of them, believing that they could never match the picture quality of my pentax 35mm. ----Style and Design---- While this camera won't win any design awards its looks ok if a little uninspiring. The camera is made of a shiny silver plastic and is rectangular in shape. It looks and feels relatively robust and well constructed which is a little surprising considering this camera is aimed at the bargain basement end of the digital camera market. Looking from the front the biotar lens , viewfinder and flash are located at the right while on the top are the power, mode and shutter buttons. The rear of the camera is taken up by an LCD screen, the microphone, and various controls. On the bottom of the camera is the battery compartment opened by sliding a panel and a screw hole for a tripod. The camera's LCD screen is around 1.5" and gives a good picture, far better than many more expensive digital cameras. The camera feels relatively light though a little weighed down at one side due to the four AAA batteries it takes. ----Ease of Use---- Soon after buying the camera I had a great opportunity to use it, when I went on holiday to Austria. I was still rather dubious whether it would work ok and whether the picture quality would be any good. Having finally mastered the controls, no thanks to the poor manual, I was eager to start taking photos and try out the video function. The camera comes with autofocus like most 35mm cameras. The only problem with th
e Jenoptik's autofocus is that it takes around 3 seconds to focus properly and if you take a photo before it has done this it will come out blurred. I've found that the best way to take photos with this camera is not to use the viewfinder but to use the LCD screen. The screen shows the camera focusing and if you wait until the colour on the screen has adjusted then the camera has focused. It takes a little getting used to at first but it doesn't bother me now and really its only a small fault when compared against what this camera does so well. To turn the camera on hold down the power button for a few seconds and the rear LCD display will light up. To access the various modes turn the dial at the top of the camera and the rear LCD display will show the mode you are currently in. The modes include: Manual photo - This means you choose whether to put the flash on and the light and other settings Automatic photo - The camera chooses the most appropriate modes and settings, all you do is press the button Playback - To review any photos and videos on the rear LCD display Video Audio PC-Cam - The camera acts as quite a decent webcam when in this mode Moving away from the mode dial the majority of the cameras other functions are accessed through the menu button located on the right hand side of the LCD screen. These functions include white balance, image size, power saving, date and sound amongst others. It does take a bit of time to get used to scrolling through these various functions and could possibly have been made easier. One of the most useful of these functions I've found is the sound of a film winding on. While the sound is tinny and not particulary great its main advantage is that it marks the amount of time you need to hold the camera still to get a clear and sharp photo. I've used the camera without having this function on and have ended up with a lot of
blurred photos. Located at the rear right are a circular set of buttons, these include the zoom in and out buttons and the timer. Unfortunately the camera only comes with a digital zoom up to 4x and the quality is not that great. If you want a decent zoom then I recommend that you opt for another camera with an optical zoom. The camera can also take close up pictures through the macro button on the side. The quality of these pictures when using this mode are appalling and its very easy to forget to turn this mode off which means that if you take any further pictures they will come out blurred. While the camera does come with a 8mb internal memory this will only take around 16 photos at the highest resolution and around 56 at normal resolution, its not worth bothering to take photos at the lowest resolution as the quality is so poor. I purchased a 128 MB SD memory card which is inserted next to the batteries at the bottom of the camera this means that you can take 155 photos at the highest resolution and a ridiculous 833 photos at the lowest resolution. The video function even has sound which makes it perhaps the only sub £100 digital camera to include this function! The quality of the video is pretty good when viewed through the rear LCD display of the camera though if you view the video through your computer be prepared to lose quite a lot of the clarity. I've taken a number of videos now and have found it best not to move the camera while taking the video otherwise it turns out very jerky. The sound is rather tinny and is'nt that great but to include a microphone on a camera worth less than £60 is a great breakthrough, more manufacturers need to take note! I've managed to get around two minutes of video from the camera on the 8mb internal memory it comes with ----Conclusion---- I'd expected this camera to be useless, I was surprised! I've found it to be reliable and well built. It also tak
es very clear and sharpe photographs (virtually indistinguishable from a normal 35mm camera) once you have got the hand of its idiosyncracies. It has its problems though, notably the flimsy USB cover and the time it takes for the camera to autofocus amongst other things, but if you take these faults into account its still a bargain and well worth buying ----Additional Information---- The camera comes with a USB cable to download photos onto your computer. It also comes with three pieces of bundled software, Cam in Suite III, MGI Photosuite 4 and MGI videosuite. Cam in Suite III I've found difficult to use and when I did finally manage to get the hang of it the results were not that great. MGI photosuite and videosuite, a photo editing package and video editing package perform ok but other programs do the tasks better, I would'nt recommend using them unless you have to. The camera comes with a wrist strap and a small black fabric protective case Cost wise you can pick up this camera for less than £70 now, a bargain! The camera takes pictures at 2.1 megapixels and can take pictures at an interpolated 3.1 megapixels.
Jenoptik JD2.1. Review by Colin Glover. Jenoptik is rather a much an underdog in the digital camera market, having a reputation of providing cheap digital cameras of 'bargain basement' quality. But is this reputation justified or not? Jenoptik's parentage is based in the camera heritage of Carl Zeiss, a highly respected company famed for its high quality 'Biotar' lenses which are highly sought after lensesfrom the 40's & 50's, being arguably the best lenses you could buy (before the Japenese got in on the act). It is described as the 'Legal successor' to the business of Zeiss, and The Jenoptik buisiness provides specialist industrial laser cameras for the top end of the industrial photographic and scientific markets and is well respected in that field,so it is surprising that it markets its cameras at the lower end of the spectrum, given such famous credentials. In fact the Jenoptik range is is not stocked by as many Uk retailers as it used to be, with only Time computers 'The computer World' chain and Dixons Group Jessops stocking the latest models. However, for a while now, Jenoptik has been importing cameras from China and re-badging them, leading to issues about quality. However, recent advances in Cmos sensor technology have brought about an influx of 2 megapixel cameras under the £100 price range. For example, the JD 1.3 bosts a tft screen and seels for about £70, whilst it's almtost identical twin the JD2.1 comes in at around £90-£100. It's the 2.1 which we'll be reviewing here, and as you can guess the 2.1 stands for the image sensor size, of 2.1 megapixels. However as a name this is a little misleading, as the camera will actually take pictures at 3.0 megapixels, although this setting is interpolated and as a result quality suffers. So how does the camera rate. Well first impressions as you take it out of the wrap are of a lightweight plastic cased camera. However, insert the batteries and it feels quite solid, unlike some chea
per cameras. The box tells us it has a Cmos sensor which usually realates to poorer image quality than those with Ccd's. However Cmos's are lighter on battery load, and thankfully this camera seems to last well on the 4 supplied AAA alkalines. The buttons on the cam,era are as professionally made as those on any branded camera and the dial moves easily enough without feeling too loose ot too stiff. The screen is 1.5 inches and gives a clear picture, especially when being used as viewfinder, and is actually better in this respect than say the similary priced konica KD 100 which is only 1.3 Megapixels. The lens states that it's a Biotar lens, though as this is a rebadged camera, wether or not its a genuine biotar lens manufactured by Jenoptik stuck onto the camera or wether they've just used the name as they own the rights is unclear. The manual is fairly well written, though it's obviously written by someone from China, as it contains a few translation errors that appear to be beloved of translators of cheap rebadged hardware from the far east. Pictures accompany every stage, although it must be said that often there is not much text to back them up, the transferring of images to the harddisk being a good example, telling you what the filename will be and showing a picture of explorer, but not telling you to drag and drop the files over. In that example the camera is shown as removeable drive f (must be a cd writer in the pc used for the screenshot) yet the text tells us the camera will appear as drive E. So onto using the camera. Upon powering it up by holding the power button down for 3 seconds you are presented with a blue screen showing the mode the camera is in, be it manal photo, auto photo, playback, video, audio, or PC cam modes. These are accessed by the dial on top of the camera. Then the lcd shows the lense image. Though you can turn it off at any time, changing modes automatical switches itself on which is not a good idea, esp
ecially if you take shots without it to save battery power. The menu buttons are easy to use and aren't fiddly to use, but easy to operate, though using the circular set of buttons can be confusing at first untill you get used to it, after which it becomes a breeze. The icons by the buttons are clearly marked though deciphering what they srepresent needs the manual. Also, the setting flash mode is not accessed through the menu, but by cycling through using the bottom buttons. this is also used for selecting thumnail view in playback mode, though the icon used to represent it is identical to that used by some other manufacturers to represent image size, so don't be confused. Theres a macro switch on the side, but this turns the flash off yet fails to reverse this upon selecting normal mode again. so how well does it take pictures? The image size, and quality are all accessed through the menu, as is white balance, date, beep, timer delay, language and power saving modes. Oddly the manual shows a 'video mode' setting which is not present so ignore this. Another, rather annoying, quirk is that the camera defaults to Germam for its menu language. Luckily the English manual tells us how many times to press each button before we arrive at 'change language, though thanks to the 'video system' item not being present you only have to go doewn 6 times and not seven. In case you're stuch the language option in german is 'sprache' as in 'Sprachen sie Deutsch?' Once thats been figured out its easy to start working your way round the menu. The camera has an auto focus lens, that does a great job if it's allowed the time to focus and adjust itself to the light properly first. if the screens on this is cleary visible especially when settling the camera still after movement as it re adjusts. Avoiding the effects of this simply mean waiting a couple more seconds before taking your shot, otherwise you might end up with a blurred photo or a funny colou
r tint. However taking your time over this produces shots of excellent clarity, comparable if not better than a 3 year old 2 megapixel Kodak costing three times the price. It must me noted though that distant background objects don't focus completely sharp as theres no macro setting for distant objects. The seamless digital zoom is a pleasure to use, the level increasing by 0.2 each press of the button up to itsts maximum 4x, and this doesn't reduce the image size unlike some cameras do, though the end photographs are disappointing at anything over 1.6 mqagnification. Overall picture quality is superb if you get the autofocus right, though slightly overexposed and a little touching with the contrast improves photos, but in most cases you wouldn't need to as coulour is so vividly reproduced. If you get the focus wrong not, it's very disappointing. Having said that a half resolution 800x600 image from the jenoptik viewd at 1x magnification knocks spots of a 1280x1024 image from Konicas aforementioned KD100 at 1x magnification. Indoor shots in a well windowed room in daylight are great even without a flash, though using the flash at night with normal lightbulbs on gives a warm creamy effect to photos on auto white balance, though setting this to tungsten gives some improvement, but may result in an overexposed image. Outdoor shots in daylight give the best results, totally faultless for a cmos sensor, which is surprising, and they print out well to A4 size. However the camera does have its niggles. It was giving 'not support' (bad Chinese translation) errors and freezing the camera trying to playback some images, so that only opening the battery cover would enable the camera to be switched off. Luckilly a replacement didn't appear to have this defect. The shutter button is a kind of two press affair. Holding it down halfway gives you a preview on screen, whilst a full press takes the picture. Initially it would not take a picture evey time it wa
s fully pressed (and pressed hard too may it be said) though the replacement camera seems to have helped this. As for the number of stored images, the manual states nine at its highest setting, though in practice 12 was achieved. Also it states just over a minute of video with sound is possible, though almost a whopping 7 minutes was achieved though average length was around a minute. The video itself is good quality but can be slightly blurred if the camera is not held steadily and moved slowly without jerking. Though its video output is normally very rich in colour, filming indoors with tungsten lighting produces a dark red image with no noticeable colour which may account for well account for 7 minutes of video from an 8 meg card. Indoor filming in daylight presented no problems whatsoever, apart from the slight bluriness which was eventually eliminated on later shoots by ensuring a steady hand was used at all times. The camera itself has two image quality settings, fine and normal, with nt much to choose between the two. File sizes for for a 2 megapixel image are resonably sized between 300 and 650 kb dependant upon quality setting and number of colours detected. It must be noted that the number of pictures available in memory displayed as less than that quoted in the manual, though in filling the memory the manuals quoted figure was exceeded. Although it was never filled with all images at half size and normal quality, the manuals quoted figure for that setting was 159, though the camera on an empty memory at that setting was only displaying 51. With the camera producing 33% more photos at best setting than the manual quoted it appears reasonable to assume about 200 photos on its lowest setting would be average. So there you have it, the Jenoptik JD2.1. At £90 its not a bad little camera for the money, though in all fairness you do have to spend some time getting to know the camera to get the best from it, but once you 'u
re accustomed to its foibles you'll get super clear shots.
first digital camera of my own and for ease of use and value for money it is excellent. my friend has one of the leading manufacturer's camera and the JD-C 1.3 LCD is by far easier to use, far better value for money. comes with decent software to manipulate photos. The picture quality is only good at its best but then it can only hold 19 photos, but £30 on a 64mB SanDisk SD Memory card and the total is now 171 decent quality photos. its a bargin!!!