Affordable Nikons arrive in time for 'Festival Month'

Nikon COOLPIX S9500 shown in pink
Nikon COOLPIX S9500 shown in pink
Nikon COOLPIX L820 shown in plum
Nikon COOLPIX L820 shown in plum
Samsung GALAXY GC100 smart camera shown in white
Samsung GALAXY GC100 smart camera shown in white

I always think of April as 'Festival Month,' even though more festivals are held in New Orleans in other months.

In a few weeks, French Quarter Festival will rock the French Quarter with live music and great food, and for as long as I can remember the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival has been associated with the last weekend of April.

The two events are major photo opportunities, and as such launch picture-taking season, which includes parent celebrations, graduation, summer vacation, and of course, more festivals!

The question is: as a consummate shutterbug, how are you going to capture the excitement of these events?

Smart phone cameras keep improving, but a digital camera is still the tool of choice for serious picture-taking, largely because smart phones lack fast, powerful zoom lenses.

Most point-and-shoot cameras combine a quality zoom lens with a bright viewfinder, vibration control, and superior low-light performance. Some include Wi-Fi for Internet connectivity and GPS for geo-tagging, but you don't have to 'break the bank' to own a quality camera with great features.

For example, the new Nikon COOLPIX S9500 offers an ultra-slim package, Wi-Fi connectivity, and a 22x (25-550mm) optical zoom lens. The camera is small enough to put in a shirt pocket or purse and features an 18.1-megapixel BSI CMOS sensor, designed to capture low-light images with clarity and sharpness. For those who want to record video, the camera also offers full HD (1080p) movie recording with stereo sound.

The S9500's bright 3-inch OLED monitor lets you compose or clearly view recorded movies or captured images even in bright conditions, and Vibration Reduction (VR) minimizes the effects of blur and camera shake.

The camera also provides a wealth of in-camera special effects, such as Glamour Retouch, Skin Softening and Quick Effects. Night Landscape scene mode utilizes advanced noise-reduction technologies that will actually a single image from two exposures.

The Nikon COOLPIX S9500 is available in black, silver, or red and has a suggested retail price of $349.95  For more information, visit

The compact Nikon COOLPIX L820 offers a 30x optical zoom and an ergonomic design, both of which make it easier to capture images and videos at various distances.

L-series COOLPIX cameras are designed for people who have never owned a digital camera. With Scene Auto Selector mode, you simply to point the camera at the intended subject, and the camera automatically identifies the scene, including portraits, and applies the appropriate parameters.

To capture sharp images, whether up-close or at a distance, the L820's 30x optical zoom covers from wide-angle 22.5mm to super-telephoto 675mm. Equipped with a 16-megapixel CMOS sensor and Vibration Reduction (VR) technology, the camera also shoots full-HD movies.

The camera's 3-inch monitor and logically arranged controls allow you to shoot comfortably from any position. Thanks to a simple and intuitive interface, you can even enhance your photos right in the camera with effects like Red Eye Fix, Glamour Retouch, and Skin Softening.

The L820 uses readily-available AA alkaline batteries as well as longer-lasting lithium batteries. The cameras also support nickel metal hydride batteries, which can be used and charged repeatedly.

The Nikon COOLPIX L820 is available in black, red, blue, and plum and has a suggested retail price of $279.95 . For more information, visit

Samsung introduces the 'connected camera'

Samsung's GALAXY GC100 smart camera is the ultimate connected camera. The device not only runs the Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean) operating system, it includes wireless transmission technology, including dual-band Wi-Fi (up to 60 Mbps with channel bonding) and unlocked 3G HSPA+  cellular.

The unique device is equipped with 21x optical zoom and 16MP BSI CMOS sensor. A 1.4GHz quad core processor allows fast web-browsing and multi-tasking, as well as high-speed image processing without a significant impact on battery life.

The body is equipped with a 4.8-inch HD LCD touch-screen display (1280 x 720 pixels), providing colorful and extremely vivid images. Among its standout features is Share Shot, a built-in function that allows instant photo-sharing with other GALAXY devices.

Users can download a variety of applications from Google Play or Samsung Apps stores, including apps for advanced photography. The Remote Viewfinder app, for example, can pair the camera with another Samsung device, turning a GALAXY smart phone into camera remote controller.

The camera's face recognition software even recognizes the faces of your friends! Through a variety of social network applications, such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, users can immediately upload photos and videos directly from the camera. Through Buddy Photo Share, photos can be shared instantly among friends in the picture.

If you want to know more, Samsung has produced a detailed, step-by-step video covering all the features of the Samsung GALAXY GC100 smart camera. Click here to view the video on

The Samsung Galaxy Digital Camera Model GC110 is available in white or black and has a suggested retail price of $499.99. For more information, visit