It's almost the end of June; we're half-way through the year and here in England we're sweltering in the middle of the first heat-wave of what promises to be a long, hot summer. Maybe it's the result of global man-made climate change, or maybe it's just part of the natural cycle of solar activity, but when the weather's this nice it's hard to worry about the climate, the economy or dead celebrities. I'm off out to take photos in the sunshine with a couple of interesting new cameras, but before I do, lets get you set up with July's round of our ongoing photography competition.
In case you haven't seen our photography competition before, here's a quick recap of the details and the prizes on offer. Each month we provide a theme for your photographs and a closing date, and it is your task to go out and take photographs that match that theme, and then send them to us before the deadline. At the end of the month myself and the rest of the TR editorial team - most of whom are keen photographers - will study the entries and pick the winners based on our judgment. The best entries will be shown on the site at the end of the month.
There will be three prize winners each month, and thanks to our generous sponsors SanDisk and Panasonic we've got some fantastic products for you to win.
Panasonic has generously offered three fantastic prizes this month. For our top prize winner we've got something truly special; our highest-scoring camera of the last 12 months, winner of both our coveted Editor's Choice award and Best Compact Camera of the Year 2008, it's none other than the amazing DMC-LX3. A real photographer's camera, this beautiful and superbly-made compact has a 10.1-megapixel 1/1.63-inch sensor, an f/2.0 24mm wide-angle 2.5x zoom lens, and a three-inch 460k LCD monitor. Thanks to its amazing Leica lens and powerful Venus Engine IV processor the LX3 produces the kind of picture quality previously only available from digital SLRs, and has performance to match. I just wish I could enter this competition myself, because I wasn't kidding in my original review when I said that "The Panasonic LX3 is one of the very few digital cameras that I would consider buying for myself." The LX3 is currently selling for around £340.
Our first runner-up will receive the superb Lumix DMC-FX40, the latest in Panasonic's award-winning line of luxury ultra-compacts, and successor to the FX37. With a 12.1-megapixel sensor, a 5x zoom f/2.8 lens with a super-wide 25mm wide angle setting and a 2.5-inch 230k LCD monitor the FX40 has a tempting specification, but add 1280 x 720 movie recording with component HD output, and ultra-fast performance thanks to its dual-CPU Venus Engine processor and you have one of the most advanced compact cameras on the market. The FX40 is currently selling for around £250.
Our second runner up will receive another great new Panasonic camera, the waterproof and shockproof Lumix DMC-FT1, as featured in last week's group test. The FT1 is waterproof to a depth of three metres, shockproof enough to survive falls of up to 1.5 metres, and is completely dustproof, so it's safe in the sand. As well as being tough enough for any adventure, the FT1 is a high-performance compact camera that can hold its own in any company. Featuring the same 12.1-megapixels sensor and dual-CPU Venus Engine processor as the FX40, it also boasts a bright 2.7-inch 230k monitor and a 4.6x zoom lens with a 28mm wide-angle setting, ideal for all your holiday snaps. As well as this it can record HD movies at 1280 x 720 resolution with Dolby Digital Creator audio, recording in the high quality AVCHD Lite format. The FT1 is currently selling for around £260.
For more information about Panasonic cameras, visit the official website or call on 0844 844 3852.
As well as these great prizes from Panasonic, our top three entries will all also receive a superb two-gigabyte SanDisk Extreme III high speed memory card in the format of their choice, as well as a top-quality SanDisk Imagemate All-In-One USB 2.0 Card Reader. SanDisk memory cards come with a limited lifetime warranty, they are used and trusted by professional photographers all over the world and are renowned for their fantastic performance and reliability. The Imagemate All-In-One USB 2.0 Reader is one of the fastest and most versatile memory card readers on the market, and an essential gadget for anyone who has to deal with multiple memory card formats. It handles every type of memory card currently available, including those used in mobile phones and PDAs. Supported formats include SD/SDHC, miniSD/SDHC, microSD/SDHC, MultiMediaCard, MMCplus, MMCmobile, RS-MMC, RS-MMC DV, Memory Stick/PRO/Duo/HG, xD Type M, M+ and H, and of course CompactFlash. It connects via USB 2.0 for high speed performance, transferring data at speeds of up to 34MB/s. A transfer button on the top of the reader launches your favourite photo downloader or editing program, and the metal stand is detachable for easy transportation.
Please turn to the next page to find out how to enter, and what our theme is for this month…