Cameras to Fill a Room with a View

The Sony DCR1P5, Pentax's IQZoom 95 WR, and Minolta's DiMage X

Jun 1, 2002
Outside Magazine

The SONY DCR-IP5 camcorder is so shockingly small and light that when I opened the box, I mistook the camera for the battery. But don't be misled; this 12-ounce featherweight is a full-fledged camcorder, with a 10:1 Zeiss zoom lens, a swivel-mounted color LCD screen, and an image stabilizer for the overcaffeinated among us. It uses only Sony's proprietary 60-minute MICROMV tape, but that's OK. The microcassette records 500 lines of resolution— on par with the larger MiniDV format. Less OK, the camcorder's tiny size makes it hard to operate with gloves on or cold fingers. But the wow factor with this mighty mite is immense. ($1,200; 800-571-7669,

Point-and-shoot cameras are almost as generic as compact SUVs, but PENTAX's IQZoom 95WR is an exception. It's watertight—ideal for kayakers, skiers, surfers, and others who spend their time near water, liquid or frozen. Mind you, the 95WR is not waterproof, so no diving, but if you drop it in the drink, just wipe it off and go. It even floats. The 38-95mm zoom lens could offer more on the wide-angle side, but it works fine for most of your needs. Pentax's light meter and autofocus are spot-on for all but the trickiest scenes, and this easiest-to-use marvel uses 35mm film, conveniently available worldwide. ($170; 800-877-0155,

MINOLTA's DiMAGE X would qualify as Most Amazing Camera Here were it not for Sony's camcorder. The DiMAGE X is a two-megapixel digital shooter that's only 0.8 inches thick, weighs no more than a four-pack of AA batteries, and can slide into a T-shirt pocket. Design legerdemain folds the 3:1 zoom lens inside the camera body—when you zoom out, there's no Pinocchio-like lens protruding into space. Another surprise: The DiMAGE X fires up extremely fast—1.8 seconds after pushing "on"—so you can snap your picture before it gets away. Alas, the folded lens results in slightly less crisp images than those from bulkier competitors, but the camera's James Bond elegance and size make it utterly drool-worthy. ($390; 800-964-6658,

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