Grant McWilliams

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27 items tagged "Photography"

  • And yet another G7 replacement!

    Nikon has decided to release an update to the Coolpix P5100. Like the Panasonic LX-2 the Nikon P5100 had near perfect specs but fell down on such a major feature that I deamed it unbuyable. It was so painfully slow that you'd be religated to only taking static shots. It's took 2 seconds between shots and in continuous mode it could only muster .3 frames per second. That is in comparison to the G7s 2fps. The Panasonic LX-2 on the other hand had perfect specs but the over diligent noise suppression turned photos taken ISO 400 or higher into Degas paintings.

    Now Panasonic has released the LX-3 which according to them has much nicer photos and Nikon has released the P6000. Because there aren't currently any reviews for either we have to speculate on whether they improve apon their forbearers.I've included a chart here that compares the two of them to the Canon G7. I use the G7 here because that's what I have and there's very little reason to buy a G9 if you already have the G7. The only improvements were extra resolution that nobody needed, the ability shoot in raw and a larger LCD screen. The larger screen has the same pixels and cramped some of the buttons and with the CHDK firmware you can shoot in raw with the G7. I did not include every comparison item as many are identical between the cameras so I've included the points where the three differ.

     

    Nikon Coolpix P6000 Canon PowerShot G7 Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3
    Image Nikon Coolpix P6000 Canon PowerShot G7 Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3
           
    Click for help Max resolution 3648 x 2736 3648 x 2736 3648 x 2736
    Click for help Low resolution 3648 x 2432, 3584 x 2016, 3264 x 2448, 2592 x 1944, 2048 x 1536, 1600 x 1200, 1280 x 960, 1024 x 768, 640 x 480 2816 x 2112, 2272 x 1704, 1600 x 1200, 640 x 480 3968 x 2232, 3776 x 2520, 3328 x 1872, 3168 x 2112, 3072 x 2304, 2784 x 1568, 2656 x 1768, 2560 x 1920, 2208 x 1248, 2112 x 1408, 2048 x 1536, 2048 x 1360, 1920 x 1080, 1600 x 1200, 640 x 480
    Click for help Image ratio w:h 4:3, 3:2, 16:9 4:3, 3:2 16:9, 4:3, 3:2
    Click for help Effective pixels 13.5 million 10.0 million 10.1 million
    Click for help Sensor photo detectors 13.93 million 10.3 million 11.3 million
    Click for help Sensor size 1/1.72" (7.40 x 5.55 mm, 0.41 cm²) 1/1.8 " (7.18 x 5.32 mm, 0.38 cm²) 1/1.63 "
    Click for help Pixel density 33 MP/cm² 26 MP/cm² 24 MP/cm²
    Click for help ISO rating Auto (64 - 800), Hi-Auto (64 - 1600), 64, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, (3200, 6400 at 3MP) Auto, 80 ,100, 200, 400, 800, 1600 Auto, Hi Auto (1600-6400), 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200
    Click for help Zoom wide (W) 28 mm 35 mm 24 mm
    Click for help Zoom tele (T) 112 mm (4 x) 210 mm (6 x) 60 mm (2.5 x)
    Click for help Macro focus range 2 cm 1 cm 1 cm
    Click for help White balance override 5 positions, manual preset 6 positions & manual preset 5 positions, plus 2 manual
    Click for help Aperture range F2.7 - F5.9 F2.8 - F4.8 F2.0 - F2.8
    Click for help Min shutter Unknown 15 sec 60 sec
    Click for help Max shutter Unknown 1/2500 sec 1/2000 sec
    Flash guide no. 8.0 m (26.2 ft) 4.0 m (13.1 ft) 8.3 m (27.2 ft) (Auto ISO)
    External flash Yes, hot shoe Yes, hot-shoe Yes
    Flash modes Auto, Fill-in, Red-Eye reduction, Slow, Off Auto, Fill-in, Red-Eye reduction, Slow Sync, Off Auto, Red-Eye Auto, On, Red-Eye On, Red-Eye Slow Sync, Off,
    Click for help Metering Unknown Evaluative, Center Weighted, Spot Multi-segment, Center-weighted, Spot
    Click for help Continuous Drive Yes Yes, 2.0 fps Yes, 2.5 fps, max 8 images
    Movie Clips Yes, 640 x 480, 15/30 fps, 320 x 240, 15 fps, 160 x 120, 15 fps Yes, 1024 x 768 @ 15 fps, 640 x 480 @ 30/15 fps, 320 x 240 @ 30/15 fps, 160 x 120 @ 15 fps Yes, 1280 x 720 @ 24 fps, 848 x 480, 640 x 480, 320 x 240 @ 30fps, 320 x 240 @ 10fps
    Self-timer 3 or 10 sec Yes 2 or 10 sec
    Orientation sensor No Yes Yes
    Click for help Uncompressed format Yes No (yes with chdk firmware)
    RAW
    Click for help Quality Levels High, Normal Super-Fine Fine, Normal Fine, Standard
    Click for help Viewfinder Yes Optical No
    Click for help LCD 2.7 " 2.5 " 3.0 "
    Click for help LCD Pixels 230,000 207,000 460,000
    Click for help Video out   Yes Yes
    Weight (inc. batteries) 280 g (9.9 oz) 380 g (13.4 oz) 265 g (9.3 oz)
    Dimensions 107 x 65.2 x 42 mm (4.2 x 2.6 x 1.7 in) 106 x 72 x 43 mm (4.2 x 2.8 x 1.7 in) 109 x 60 x 27 mm (4.3 x 2.4 x 1.1 in)
    Notes Built-in GPS receiver
  • Canon G10 - finally a G7 replacement

    I probably sound like a broken record here but companies keep releasing cameras in my range but I don't have enough information to actually purchase one.The camera that I'm trying to replace is a Canon G7 which is currently broken. I can get it fixed for about $135.00 but advances have been made since I got it. Nikon and Panasonic have both come out with replacements to their sub-SLR level cameras. The Canon P5100 was so pathetically slow that it knocked itself out of the running even though the specs and the photos were excellent. I've not seen a review on the P6000 yet to know if they fixed that issue. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX1 and LX2 made photos that resembled Degas paintings at ISOs greater than 200 so they were out even though they had great specs. Now here we are with a new Canon G series camera. I've put together a chart below (ripped from dpreviews comparison page) of the three contenders. Below the chart I'll outline the pluses and minuses as I see them.

     

    Nikon Coolpix P6000 Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3 Canon Powershot G10
    Image Nikon Coolpix P6000 Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3 Canon Powershot G10
    Price (street)
    $499.97
    $485.30
    $499.00
    Click for help Max resolution 4224 x 3168 3648 x 2736 4416 x 3312
    Click for help Effective pixels 13.5 million 10.1 million 14.7 million
    Click for help Sensor photo detectors 13.93 million 11.3 million Unknown
    Click for help Sensor size 1/1.72" (7.40 x 5.55 mm, 0.41 cm²) 1/1.63 " 1/1.7 " (7.60 x 5.70 mm, 0.43 cm²)
    Click for help Pixel density 33 MP/cm² 24 MP/cm² 34 MP/cm²
    Click for help ISO rating Auto (64 - 800), Hi-Auto (64 - 1600), 64, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, (3200, 6400 at 3MP) Auto, Hi Auto (1600-6400), 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200 Auto, 80 ,100, 200, 400, 800, 1600
    Click for help Zoom wide (W) 28 mm 24 mm 28 mm
    Click for help Zoom tele (T) 112 mm (4 x) 60 mm (2.5 x) 140 mm (5 x)
    Click for help Image stabilization Yes Yes, Lens Yes, Lens
    Click for help Manual Focus Yes Yes Yes
    Click for help Macro focus range 2 cm 1 cm 1 cm
    Click for help Aperture range F2.7 - F5.9 F2.0 - F2.8 F2.8 - F4.5
    Click for help Min shutter Unknown 60 sec 15 sec
    Click for help Max shutter Unknown 1/2000 sec 1/4000 sec
    Built-in Flash Yes Yes, pop-up Yes
    Flash guide no. 8.0 m (26.2 ft) 8.3 m (27.2 ft) (Auto ISO) 4.6 m (15 ft)
    External flash Yes, hot shoe Yes Yes
    Flash modes Auto, Fill-in, Red-Eye reduction, Slow, Off Auto, Red-Eye Auto, On, Red-Eye On, Red-Eye Slow Sync, Off, Auto, Fill-in, Red-Eye reduction, Slow Sync, Off
    Click for help Metering Unknown Multi-segment, Center-weighted, Spot Evaluative, Center Weighted, Spot
    Click for help Aperture priority Yes Yes Yes
    Click for help Shutter priority Yes Yes Yes
    Lens thread Yes Yes, optional adapter No
    Click for help Continuous Drive Yes Yes, 2.5 fps, max 8 images Yes, 0.7 fps
    Movie Clips Yes, 640 x 480, 15/30 fps, 320 x 240, 15 fps, 160 x 120, 15 fps Yes, 1280 x 720 @ 24 fps, 848 x 480, 640 x 480, 320 x 240 @ 30fps, 320 x 240 @ 10fps Yes, 640 x 480 @ 30 fps, 320 x 240 @ 30 fps, 160 x 120 @ 15 fps
    Self-timer 3 or 10 sec 2 or 10 sec 2 or 10 sec or custom
    Orientation sensor No Yes Yes
    Click for help Uncompressed format Yes RAW RAW
    Click for help Viewfinder Yes No Optical
    Click for help LCD 2.7 " 3.0 " 3.0 "
    Click for help LCD Pixels 230,000 460,000 461,000
    Click for help Video out   Yes Yes
    Weight (inc. batteries) 280 g (9.9 oz) 265 g (9.3 oz) 390 g (13.8 oz)
    Dimensions 107 x 65.2 x 42 mm (4.2 x 2.6 x 1.7 in) 109 x 60 x 27 mm (4.3 x 2.4 x 1.1 in) 109 x 78 x 46 mm (4.3 x 3.1 x 1.8 in)

     

    I can honestly say that I only had a few complaints about the Canon G7 - it was heavy and a bit bigger than I wanted and it didn't have a built in wide angle lens. I bought the external wide angle and rarely used it because it was huge.

  • Canon isn't going to make it easy for me to jump ship

    About the time I've decided on Panasonics GH1 micro four-thirds camera Canon pulls a rabbit out of it's hat. As I've written before the GH1 is a DSLR like camera (no mirror so technically not a DSLR) that shoots equal stills to a DSLR but also shoots HD video which is a first for an under $1000 camera in this form factor.The next best thing was to spend a couple grand on a Canon 5d Mk II but that's outside my budget and commitment level. Now Canon introduces the T1i which has the 50d's 15 MP sensor and can shoot HD video like the 5d Mk II! Thanks Canon for giving me yet another thing to have to consider. I think the only thing the Panasonic has over it is size.

    The press release

  • Canon swings again!

    Watching the compact high quality camera market is like watching a boxing match. It used to be Canon and Nikon in the ring until Nikon tucked it's tail in and ran. Panasonic promised to take the crown but after releasing the Lumix LX1 and Lumix LX2 people almost stoppCanon PowerShot S90ed listening to them because the photo quality was so poor. They came back with a knockout with the LX3 and turned out a camera with absolutely wonderful photos and low light performance in addition to it being very compact (more so than the Canon G10). A bit of history is probably in order. Canon had the G series which slotted nicely between the point and shoots and the DSLRs with full manual control, articulated screens and a bunch of other goodies. They also had a camera that slotted between the G-series and the point and shoots again - the S series. The S series had the G series' large sensor, a wide angle lens, manual controls and came in a much smaller body. It wasn't as nice to hold or use because it was compact but the quality of the photos were great. Canon cancelled the S series when the G7 came out thinking that the market was getting pretty crowded and Nikon had been K.O.ed in the 5th round anyway. The one thing I like about competition is it makes companies get off their collective arses and do something. The Panasonic LX3 takes photos as nice as the G10, has all the controls of the G10, has a faster lens (but less zoom) and is about half the size of the G10. Smaller is better in my book since I like to keep my camera in my pocket so Canon as turned the way-back machine to 2003 and reintroduced the S series and at the same time the G11 is a bit bigger and has the articulated screen again. The S90 will duke it out with the LX3 and the G11 will be for a different customer, one that wants more physical controls, an articulated screen and more zoom.

     

  • Canon updates S90

    Regular visitors know of my obsession with finding the ultimate point and shoot camera and know that I bought an S90 which I've been very impressed with. It's two downfalls have been the ergonomics and the lack of improvements in video abilities. The former you can work around by adding a grip and just plain getting used to it. The latter you're stuck with. Canon appears to be listening and has released an update to the S90 aptly named S95. I think the update may be fueled as much by Panasonic adding more zoom to the LX series as customer demands.

    According to dpreview they've added support for SDXC cards for larger than 32 GB (ho hum), some improvements in the image stabilization (yawn) and multi-aspect shooting (tapping my fingers here Canon). The ONE real new feature and probably the only real reason for the update is the improved sensor that does 720 HD video (at 24 fps) with stereo sound! Finally Canon is getting into the game. I don't care that much because I also own a Canon HF-200. The improvement is welcome though and shows that Canon is making the changes to be competitive in the Point and Shoot video market as well.

    There are still limitations to the very design of most point and shoot cameras. They will say unlimited video recording until the card is full or the file size reaches 4 GB. In HD the S95 can record about 30 minutes of video non-stop. Sounds like a Fat32 filesystem limit to me. I think it's time camera manufacturers endorse a new filesystem.

    They've made other small changes to improve the complaints about ergonomics. The small wheel on the back supposedly is less sensitive, the coating is less slippery than the old finish (listed as wet bar of soap in the catalog I believe), and the power button and ring function button have been swapped. Also it looks as if the shutter release is about the same size but the area surrounding the button is dished in to help you find it by feel. The button itself looks to have more of a bulge to it for the same reason. If you go back and read my S90 review you will see that they have directly addressed ALL of my major complaints except for the grip issue which can be fixed by buying the aftermarket grip. Since I've not used the S95 I cannot comment on whether they have been successful but it looks positive.

    Read DPreviews press release.

     

     

  • Digital image comparison site

    Imaging-resourceWhen trying to decide which camera to get it's good to read the reviews (especially at dpreviews.com) but sometimes you just want to compare apples to apples photo quality. While digging around in dpreview's forums I found a link to this site that has photos taken by a bunch of different cameras. The great part is you can choose two cameras, then choose the same photo for each and compare the image quality. You might be surprised at what you see like the G9 being able to take photos as nice as a Rebel XTi at low ISO or how bad the photos coming out of a Panasonic (anything!) are at ISOs 200 and highers.

    Imaging Resource Comparison Site

  • Don't stop learning in cooking or photography

    I was working on putting my Moussaka recipe back up on the new site and took one look at the photo I had on file for it and knew I couldn't do it. It's amazing how much of a difference just knowing a bit about what you're doing makes in many things. In this case it's both cooking and photography. My current camera is a bit better than my old one in that it takes better low light photos. However because of the wide angle lens it has a wider depth of field making it hard to get those really dramatic close-up images with the foreground and the background blurred out. However, how I took the new Moussaka photo I could have taken with the old camera too. I also don't have any more of a food photography studio than I ever did. One hundred percent of the difference between the two photos below is knowledge and nothing more. I'm still using a point and shoot camera, I'm still taking photos under fluorescent lights, I'm still using a couple of books and a $3.99 tripod from an outlet store, and I still don't have any flash, props, umbrellas or any of that jazz. So look at the photos below and see the difference. If you're one to run out and buy better equipment because you want to take great photos you may want to just get really good with what you have first THEN go buy new gear. 

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Obviously the plate is different. I bought the one on the right for $6.99 for four at TJ-Maxx. The ones on the left cost the same per plate a an Import store. The recipe is of course different and I spent more time making the Bechamel sauce thicker (whipped egg whites then folded them in) but the real difference is lighting, subtle backgrounds and matching up colors with dramatic patterns lacking in color. You don't have to spent a lot on the background either. I layed a group of fake grapes and grape leaves back there and you can see something but it doesn't draw attention. It has a presence but doesn't introduce itself to you. The photo on the left is bland and plain. I'm too zoomed out, the food looks sad, the plate looks empty and alone. It's just blah.

  • Easy Geo-tagging

    I've been wanting to start geo-tagging photos so I could link gallerys into google maps so users browsing my site could view a map of where the photos were taken. There are devices that record geographical points and then there is software that can take the file they create and look through a directory of photos and match up the timestamps to tag the photos. This is nice but not quite as easy as some would like.

    I found an interesting device that allows you to geo-tag without using a computer at all. This would be good for straight uploading to flickre or other photo sites. Combined with an Eye-Fi you might be able to take photos, tag them and upload them without ever getting close to a computer at all!

     

    From the ATP Electronics site

     

    ATP GPS PhotoFinder™ mini adds geotag data to your digital images, no complicated software required!

    Simply turn the device on while you're taking pictures, and insert your card into the enclosed memory card slot on the docking station and it will automatically do the geotagging foryou!

    h4ck3d by L07hDh "stop the war"   h4ck3d by L07hDh "stop the war"   h4ck3d by L07hDh "stop the war"

    Go to ATP Electronics website for more info. The device shown is the GPS Photofinder mini. The mini has the separate dock (card reader) so the GPS recorder is smaller. They also have the GPS Photofinder which includes the card reader in the device. It's gotten mixed reviews but the idea is neat. For those with a computer it's probably better to get a datalogger and do the tagging with computer software.

  • Epson borderless printing in Linux

    I got a wonderful new Epson Stylus Photo R300 so I could start experimenting with printing my photos. As most of you know I use Linux for everything and normally it works great but there are areas in which it's behind, mostly Desktop stuff. Well, printing photos is largely a desktop thing. To make matters worse I wanted the printer to be available across the network but since it's a low end photo printer it doesn't have a network port like my color laser so I plugged it into my CentOS server via USB. Problem is CentOS is a server OS meaning the lackluster Linux printer drivers are even older. It does work pretty good however and I can print in 2880x1440 dpi and the output looks great. The problem came when I bought some  8.5 x 11 inch frames  (for $5 at Michaels) for framing printer art. My "borderless" printing in Gimp-print 4.2.7 leaves a 1/4 inch border on one side which could be matted over but these frames are made for a picture exactly 8.5 x 11.

    The solution:


    Everytime I buy a digital camera it comes with a pathetically small flash card around 32 MB. I inserted one of these otherwise worthless flash cards in my camera, formatted it and took one picture. This was vital to set up the directory structure etc.. for the printer. I then inserted it into the printer permanently and mounted it as /media/printerflash in Linux. Now whenever I want to print true borderless prints I just save the photo over top the one on the memory card and print it from the LCD screen on the printer. A hack I know, but it works.

  • Flash card backup

    When I travel I take lots of pictures and it always makes me nervous to only have them on flash. I've lost two flash cards in the last couple of years to file system errors. Considering how much it costs to travel it's nothing to buy a backup harddrive or extra flash cards. I bought

    a harddrive case for about $12 like the one above which works great with a 60 GB 5400 rpm Hitachi laptop drive in it. The only problem is I still need my laptop because my camera can't talk directly to the drive. AP25-U-unit

    I also need to bring along my memory card reader too because my daughter's camera uses CF cards and mine uses SD cards. I've found a new device that may help me. I've been considering not even taking my laptop to Ecuador in the winter because I don't want it to get stolen. Anyway the device I just purchased is a combined laptop hard drive and memory card reader. It's a lot bulkier than my other drive case but it can work without a computer. It's made by BAFO and I got it from thetechgeek.com which had it for $14.95 without a drive. I inserted a 60 GB drive into it and was thinking to myself I wonder how I format it. I was about to take the drive back out and plug it into my PVR client since it has a ribbon cable that takes 2.5 inch drives when I realized that I could just plug it in via USB (duh) and format it that way. I plugged it in and used mkdosfs to format it which took all of 3 seconds. Now that it was formatted I plugged in an SD card and pushed the Copy button and away it went. It beeped twice when it was done. This would be a great backup tool for my flash cards. I've mentioned that I'm a little paranoid about losing data and for good reason. The summer of 2005 we spent in Paris and I only backed up my pictures to my laptop and uploaded little 1024x768 versions to this website. This summer I did the same but brought along the portable harddrive and it was a good thing too because my laptop got rained on in Poland and I lost the data on the hard drive. Had that been my only copy I would have been toast. Thankfully that was one of three copies. So back to the BAFO device.BF-6010-unit This thing is so easy to backup flash cards with it should be a crime not to do it. You plug the flash card in and push the Copy button. That's it, really! It copies the contents to the hard drive and beeps twice.

    I only have two complaints.

    1. It could be smaller
    2. the batteries could last longer

    The battery is good for 1.6 hrs and it's about the size of an old
    portable walkman. The power adapter is made for continental europe but comes with an adapter for the U.S. It's a bit bulky but not heavy.

    To test the speed I created a 1 GB file and copied it to my 2 GB 120x SD card across a USB 2.0 connection.

    • Copy from PC to SD card - 5 minutes (3.3 MB/sec)
    • Copy from SD card to BAFO internal hd - 14 minutes (1.1 MB/sec)
    • Copy from PC to BAFO internal hd - 3 minutes (5.6 MB/sec)
    • Copy from BAFO internal hd to PC - 5 minutes (3.3 MB/sec)
    • Copy from BAFO internal CF card to PC - 4 minutes 53seconds (3.9 MB/sec)

    So it's not the fastes thing on the block.. I then plugged it into my USB controller and used hdparm to test the internal hd. It clocked at about 4 MB/sec. It looks like the little device just doesn't have enough oomph to read and write at the same time. Copying from the PC to the hd is almost 5x faster than copying from the flash to the hd. The flash can't be the problem because I can write to it fairly fast. The interesting thing is it's actually faster to copy to the internal hd than from it! This is completely backwards from what it should be. The internal hd shoould be able to sustain 20 MB/sec and our fastest time was 5.6 MB/sec which is about 40 Mbits/sec so clearly we are using USB 2.0. So it appears that something internal to the device hits a roadblock about about 5 MB/sec.

    None of this matters unless you're in a speed contest. You can figure that it will take about 10 minutes a day to backup your digital pictures if you're on vacation. The battery is good for 100 minutes so it theoretically could last you a week and a half without recharging...

  • Goodbye Canon, hello Sony?

     

    It's been a really long time since I wrote about photography. Generally I buy new cameras every year as new technology comes out and the driving force behind that is travel. As you probably know I like cameras that are able to fit in my pocket so it's always been a struggle to get a camera that's portable, takes good photos and has the features that I want.

    Previous point and shoot Canons

    My first digital camera was a Canon S230 with a 3.2 MP sensor and a 2x zoom. It was good enough for the time. That got replaced by a Canon SD500 with a 1/1.7" sensor (large for a Point and Shoot), a 3x zoom but no wide angle. I added a Canon G7 to that mix with the optional (and massive) wide angle lens. This lasted one trip until I knocked it lightly against some asphalt at while trying to take a photo of the Space Needle in Seattle. I never got it fixed.

    The SD500 was replaced by an SD870 which got me Image Stabilization and a wide angle lens in a small package. The sensor was smaller but due to improved technology the image quality was equal to the SD500. That camera lasted me a few years until Canon reintroduced the S series. 

    Canon S series

    The Canon S90 almost single handedly created a new category of point and shoot cameras for more serious photographers. It had amazing low light performance, a wide angle lens, full manual controls, auto exposure bracketing and raw mode. The lens was reasonably fast on one end and not so fast on the other. All of this in a very small package. The S90 was replaced by the S95 which mainly fixed usability issues I outlined in my review. The S100 got a wider angle lens with a bit more reach. The S110 got wifi and a touchscreen (meh). The brand new S120 is almost exactly the same but with a better video mode. Note that every change since the S90 4 years ago has been very small. 


    The problem with the incremental improvements Canon has made is that the world hasn't stood still in the last four years. Panasonic keeps churning out new LX cameras, Fujifilm's XF1 has a sensor that's 50% larger than Canon's. Sony has really changed the game with their RX100 which has a 1 inch sensor with nearly 3x the area of Canon's. Yes, these cameras cost more than Canon's but still occupy the same market. Sony's RX100 ii is being sold along side the previous generation RX100 with $150 separating them. This puts the new RX100 ii at $750 which is very high in my opinion. The good news is the original RX100 is now selling for $550. This is still quite high for a compact camera and is $150 higher than Canon's S120, Panasonic's LX-7 or Fugifilm's XF1. The RX100 ii customer is an odd one because that person could have bought a DSLR.

    Sony RX100

    The secret here is that I just purchases the previous generation RX100. The difference between the RX100 and the RX100 ii is a tilt LCD screen and a bit different back lit sensor. Are those things worth $150? I really don't think so. Is the RX100 worth $550? I'm not sure but the fact of the matter is it's the only compact camera with a sensor that large and I'm excited.

    I already ordered the Richard Freniac grip for it. His grip for my S90 made it usable and cut down on my stress level drastically as I no longer had to worry about dropping it.

    Comparison table (thanks to dpreview for the data)

     Sensor area, mm2
    (dimensions)
    Focal length rangeFocal length range (equiv.)Aperture rangeAperture range (equiv)*Dimensions (mm)
    Canon S110 41
    (7.4x5.6)
    5.2-26mm 24-120mm F2.0-5.9 F9.3-27.4 99x59x27
    Sony 
    DSC-RX100
    116
    (13.2x8.8)
    10-37mm 28-100mm F1.8-4.9 F4.9-13.4 101x58x36
    Fujifilm XF1 58
    (8.8x6.6)
    6.4-25.6mm 25-100mm F1.8-4.9 F7.0-19.1 108x62x33
    Panasonic DMC-LX7 34**
    (6.7x5.1)
    4.7-17.7mm 24-90mm F1.4-2.3 F7.1-11.7 111x68x46

    The major advantage the RX100 has over these other cameras is the sheer size of the CMOS censor. At nearly three times the size of the S120 or Panasonic LX7. This allows more light to hit the sensor so you can take photos at a lower ISO resulting in a better photo. It makes a huge difference in low light situations. The lens on the RX100 is very fast on the long end (F1.8) but slows down just like the Fujifilm and Canon although the Canon is the worst.  It doesn't have the same amount of zoom but I find myself needing wide angle more than zoom so I'm OK with that.

    I'll do a real review after I've had some time with it.

  • Gorillapods for cheap!

     I just ran across this news item a minute ago. Some of you know that I love my Gorillapods and take them everywhere. There are many shots that I just wouldn't have gotten without the gorillapod. Actually I don't use it quite as much as I used to since I got optical image stabilization which helps a great deal.

    Anyway Deal Extreme has the original gorillapod on sale for about $6 including shipping! That's about 1/3 what I paid. Buy one now.


  • Has dpreview given up on Point and Shoots?

    If you are like me and rely on DPreview to decide on which camera to purchase then it's imperative that they review cameras that I'd want to purchase. I'm sure that it's not exciting for the reviewers to review yet another camera that doesn't do anything put take pictures when you push the "shutter" button but some of us use those cameras and rely on DPreviews. The reason I'm writing this post is because it appears that although there have been quite a few really big Point and Shoot releases (Nikon P6000, Panasonic LX-03 and Canon G10 most recently) there haven't been any reviews in 6 months. As a matter of fact there are been very few non DSLR reviews for the 2008 year. To the right I've grabbed an image of all the cameras reviewed by DPreviews in chronological order so you can see for yourself.

    Like I said maybe reviewing Point and Shoot cameras are the photography equivalent to being the muffler guy at the Indy 500 or the water boy for the leading NFL team but still it's an important service that is appreciated by the long time fans of DPreview.

    Another problem might be that companies like to release new Point and Shoot cameras with exactly the same specs as the last model. My new Canon SD870 has the same resolution, almost identical case and nearly the same lens as my old SD500 but I'd still like to see how it fares as compared to the competition. I've noticed some barrel distortion in the lens that sometimes seems excessive and it would be nice to have a professional opinion on it. Maybe there was a better choice in the compact wide angle category that I should have bought instead.

     

     

  • I decided on the S90

    It's been nearly 2 months since I've posted last! This is by far the longest and it's only out of a lack of time. I've been working 110 hrs a week and teaching two classes on top of that and in the middle of a recession no less.

    After a lot of research I finally ordered the Canon S90 which I'll have in a few days. I have a Canon G7 with hack kit and wide angle lens which is currently broken. I liked the quality of the photos and the manual everything but my complaint with it were that it was heavy, bigger than necessary and the wide angle wasn't built in. The G11 would have solved the last item but not the first two. I pondered the Panasonic LX-3 for a really long time but not having any real zoom turned me off. The 24mm lens would have been nice but only if I had any zoom at all. The Panasonic LX-3 is a 24-60mm zoom and 50mm is life size so you can imagine that 60mm does nothing for you. It zooms out but not really in. I was really drawn to the LX-3 because of it's fast lens and low light performance however DPreview just did a full test on the S90 and it was actually better in low light than the LX-3 so I put the money on the table. DPreviews still didn't rate the camera super high but it takes great photos, is small, has a wide angle lens and manual mode so is about perfect for me. They complained about it being slippery and likening it to a bar of soap. They also complained about the settings wheel on the back being way to free wheeling. To solve the first part I also ordered Richard Franiecs add on grip for the S90. This is machined out of solid alluminum so it will give the S90 a bit more heft which won't hurt it and improve the feel of the camera 100%. It would be interesting to see how DPreview would have rated the S90 had it had a decent grip. I also ordered some LCD screen protectors and a couple of extra aftermarket batteries as well.

    I'll report later about my feelings on the S90.

  • Maybe my other next point and shoot?

    I recently blogged about the Fujifilm  F50 fd as being a possibility for my next point and shoot camera. It has some great features and more importantly a decent manual mode and low light performance. I've been using Canon cameras for quite a while because they are built really solid, have a great menu system and the image quality is among the best in the industry. They also have a low noise suppression philosophy which I like because you get a photo that may need to be touched up in the Gimp but it's closer to what the camera saw. In the case of Panasonics and a few others the blur the heck out of the photo in order to suppress noise. Once the photo is mangled there's no turning back, it's done.

    I've been wanting to replace my SD-500 with something better and I'd listed a wide angle lens and image stabilization as  two key features. The SD-800 IS has both of these but scored poorly in DP-Reviews test . The image quality wasn't as good as the non wide angle cameras of the same level so I scrapped that idea. The SD-870 has now been reviewed and the image quality is much improved over the SD-800 or maybe they just got a better sample. Anyway I'm considering it again as it has most everything I want outside of more manual controls. And as I've proven to myself over and over you can't have everything in a digital point and shoot camera - at least not yet.

  • Monsterpods ooz from the swamp

    I'm always looking for a smaller lighter tripod because ounces count when you're traveling like I do. That's how I found the gorillapod which I swear by. It's not perfect for everything but about 20% of the shots I've gotten in the last year are because of it.

    And now for something completely different.... Monsterpods!

    The MonsterPod™ has no telescoping legs, clamps, beans, straps, glue, or suction cups, not even magic. Instead, the MonsterPod™ sticks to surfaces via a patent pending “viscoelastic morphing polymer

    It's not a tripod, a monopod, or hovering robot. It's MonsterPod™, the gravity defying tripod that holds your digital camera motionless, vertically, horizontally or upside down!

    Hmmm, sounds interesting. It's made to support up to a 10oz camera which would include all sub-compacts and about half of all compacts including my future one. I'm still a bit sceptical though so I guess I'll have to try it. At the time of this writing though you couldn't yet purchase them.

    Here's the link - www.monster-pod.com

  • My new tripod

    So my daughter is doing a Cooking Video as a school project so I set up multiple video cameras (all tiny ones of course) around the kitchen to get more than one angle. I didn't have a tripod so I started looking around for something that would suffice and I have to say that this worked fine. At about 60lbs I don't think I'll be taking it in my carry-on luggage but still how many tripods do you know that provide backfill lighting?

     

     

  • New mini HD video camera

    As many of you know I'm always keeping an eye on weight when I travel. I'll be in Asia for two months this summer and I'd like to start filming more video of people and places but most video cameras are either not very convenient or are too large. I took several hours of video in 2004 of London and Venice and it sat on tapes for 2 years before I got to it. Yes, I only needed to plug the camera into a firewire card and send it to the computer but it took quite a while to do this and once I had the video it was DV so I still needed to process it into something else before I could really use it. That and I had to lug that camera around.

    So what I've really been looking for is a decent quality (We're not talking professional level HD video here) camera that saved video on flash cards in a format that I can view and edit easily. You might be wondering why I just don't take video with my still cameras because they do a pretty good job these days. The answer is my Canon still cameras only record in motion-jpeg. The quality is good but at 10 minutes a GB you run out of flash fast. I've really been looking for something that would film in mpeg2 or mpeg4-h.264. Sanyo who is the pioneer of small flash based video cameras has not been sitting on it's laurels in the past couple of years. I originally checked out the Xacti line and found the low light quality to be lacking and overall the video was not up to snuff. Since then they've released about 6 different cameras so it's time to investigate again.

    What you see at the right is their new Xacti HD-1000 camera and you'll probably notice it's all lens!  I'm not going to just copy and paste the info from Sanyo's site because you can go there and read it for yourself but here's a synopsis.

    The SANYO XactiHD1000 camcorder combines the superb image quality of full 1080i high-definition video with 4 megapixel still images in a single compact and elegant design.

    • Full 1080i HD Recording
    • 10x Optical (f/1.8) HD Zoom Lens
    • 4 Megapixel still photos
    • 2.7" Widescreen Display
    • Advanced MPEG4 AVC/H.264 Format
    • HDMI high-definition output
    • Records Directly to SDHC Memory Cards

    Sanyo Xacti HD1000

     

  • Panasonic is kicking butt and taking names

    From a company that has for a long time believed in photographs having that certain Impressionist look to them they've been pulling off some amazing things. First they come out with the DMC-LX3 which outside of not having much of a zoom is THE perfect small camera then they come out with the micro four-thirds format which allows you to have everything a DSLR has in a much smaller body because it doesn't have a mirror (thus it's not a DSLR). The lenses can be smaller, the body can be smaller and theoretically (although not yet realized) they can be cheaper than DSLRs. The Panasonic DMC-G1 at this juncture is a great camera but has no advantage over the competitions DSLRs, can't be bought without a lens and isn't cheaper so even though I think it's a monumental first step I won't be standing in line. I've been considering a Canon SX-1 superzoom to go with my Panasonic LX-3 (which I don't yet own) because it does awesome video, has decent stills and a monster zoom. Problem is the price is somewhere in the $600 range which is a lot for a Point and Shoot even if it is awesome. The Panasonic G1 is closer to a grand with a decent zoom lens and doesn't do video. Up until today I've decided to sit on my money (that I don't have) and wait. Today I think I made up my mind though... Introducing the HD version of the Panasonic G1...

     

    I'm not sure the name is written in stone but for now they're calling it the GH1 and for all practical purposes it's a G1 with HD video. The cool thing is that it can maintain focus while recording video and it records stereo audio with built in speakers as well as a mic jack. The second feature is missing on just about every point and shoot camera out there. I end up taking video with the camera and recording my audio seperate and then merging them later. With the GH1 you can just hook up a decent mic and record right there. This camera has so much of what I want that I'm not sure I care about the price which I'm sure will be high. Way to go Panasonic. Give me more zoom on the LX-3 and I'll stop complaining altogether!

     

     

  • Panasonic LX-2 comparison

    Ok, so I've been looking for a camera to replace the SD500 as I said before. A wide angle lens is a must because I'm having a problem getting far enough away from buildings. I also want a small size with a good lens and at least equal pixels to the SD500 (7MP) and more manual controls. So far the race has come down to two contenders - the Canon S80 and the Panasonic LX-02. I'd buy the Canon this minute if it were not for one thing - no image stabilization. I don't know how many pictures I've taken have turned out blurry because there was no place for a tripod or I was on a boat. Image stabilization could have been what I needed to take a clean shot. The Panasonic has image stabilization and a wide angle lens, and more megapixels (10MP) and manual controls and a Leica lens and a wide screen mode. The last Panasonic LX also had horrendous noise which is why I'm dragging my feet on getting the LX2. I did however, find some LX2 photos on a Japanese website that compares the LX-1 with the LX-2. I've cut out small areas of the photos for better comparison which I'll show below.

    ls1-lx2sunflowers

    LX2 LX1

     

  • PMA new camera thoughts

    The annual PMA show just finished up so I'm here to give you my thoughts on the announcements. Canon released some new point and shoots none of which are really any different than what they've been shoveling out for the last few years. Video has gotten better on the SX series and the model numbers have grown on the SD series but overall not very exciting. The one theme that seemed to be consistant was manufacturors releasing water-proof cameras. There seems to be a trend that every manufacturor wants at least one waterproof point-and-shoot in their lineup. I bought my Sanyo E-1 for that purpose but have only taken it underwater once. The nice thing about waterproof cameras is you don't have to worry about rain, sand and dirt as they are sealed. This I've enjoyed.

    I think the real surprises for the show were from Samsung and Ricoh, two manufacturors that hang out on the fringe. Recently there was a comment thread on one of the photo sites about Panasonics GH-1 micro-four/thirds camera and people got a bit testy about these new mirror-less large sensor cameras. It was interesting to see the DSLR crowd take the defensive position that the SLR folks took when things started going digital. The DSLR crowd said a mirrorless camera will never replace one with a mirror becauseand as such the micro four thirds cameras were nothing more than point and shoots. If engineers can get contrast detect focus as fast as DSLRs and they create an "optical" viewfinder with a really high-res screen and by "zooming" in on a small section of what the sensor sees to create penta-prism focusing functionality I don't think DSLRs have a prayer. The advantages of getting rid of the mirror is one less mechanical piece, the camera body can be flatter and the lenses can be smaller all around. In the future (and I predict) large sensor point and shoots will replace DSLRs. I give DSLRs 5 years.

    In that vein the two cameras I'm going to talk about are the Ricoh GXR system and the Samsung TS500. Neither of these cameras compete with the micro four thirds (after that long introduction) but occupy the space of the Canon s90, G11 and Panasonic LX3 which all of you know I've been considering as my new point and shoot.

    The Ricoh GXR system is a very interesting concept where the sensor and lens are one piece. That sort of makes sense because you'd be able to have a lens/sensor combo optimized for certain functions. Say a small cmos sensor and lens aimed at doing video or a large sensor and fast lens designed for action and or low light shots. This is exactly what the GXR is. There are two options at this point - a backlit cmos sensor with 28-300 mm zoom lens (model P10). The back illuminated sensor should help in low light situations as more light hits the sensor if it's reversed. The zoom isn't particularily fast but thats not really it's purpose. The other choice is a 28mm fixed lens with a APS-C (gag, cough) sensor (model A12). The APS-C size of sensor is what's used in most all DSLRs except for a couple of high end Canons which use the full frame sensor. The lens on the Ricoh is fairly fast so in combination with the sensor you should be able to take photos in the same level of light as any DSLR. It also does full speed HD video.   Both lens/sensors take photos in raw and have anti-vibration control. I'm sure that in time there will be a bunch of lens/sensor combos coming out.  In addition they have the S10 which has a small CCD sensor with a 28-75 zoom. I'm going to wage a guess that these cameras will be expensive and we're also back to "Now I have to buy my lenses from one company" which we see a lot in the SLR/DSLR realm. Interesting concept.

    The other camera of interest is the Samsung TL-500 which you can think of as the result of  Panasonic and the Canon getting waisted and spending the night in the back seat of a 64 Chevy Impala. Look at the specs and you'll see what I'm talking about.

     

      Canon S90 Canon G11 Panasonic LX3 Samsung TL-500
    Lens size 28-105 28-140 24-60 24-75
    Lens speed f/2.0-4.9 f/2.8-4.5 f/2.0-2.8 f/1.8-?
    LCD Fixed Articulated Fixed Articulated
    Sensor 1/1.7 1/1.7 1/1.63 1/1.7
    Sensor MP 10mp 10mp 10mp 10mp?
    Video res 640x480 640x480 1280x720 640x480
    Image format raw raw raw raw

    It looks as if Samsung just looked at the Canon and Panasonic cameras and did a mashup. Anyway I'm curious about the Samsung because it looks like an S90 (currently my favorite) with a slightly faster lens and an articulated screen. It's a smaller G11 is what it is. Since Samsung rarely tops the quality charts though I'll be waiting for reviews first before rushing to Amazon.

     

     

     

     

  • Point and Shoot Photography

    [sigplus] Critical error: Image gallery folder Gallerys/Portfolio is expected to be a path relative to the image base folder specified in the back-end.

    I've always been a proponent of learning as much as you can about a subject before running off and buying more equipment and photography is no different. A lot of times people think they can't take great photos without having great equipment but I've found that you can do a great deal by KNOWING what you're doing first. Years ago when I skated we'd go to Woolworth's and buy a pair of Roller Derby Phantoms to which we'd replace the liner with a Reidel or Rollerblade version, replace the wheels and bearings then tear up the track. Whomever just got owned would always come up and ask what we were skating on which we'd respond with "Roller Derby Phantoms, I got them from Woolworths for $39". Perhaps this caused a few people to give up on their dreams and live out their days serving 7 layer burritos at Taco Bell if you believe in the Butterfly Effect - I don't know. Anyway my philosophy is this.

    "Be as good as you can with what you have and only replace it when IT becomes the limitation"

    I live this with my photography. Sure a DSLR will take better photos than a point and shoot, nobody's arguing that. However, if you can't aim a point and shoot at a subject and make art out of it then it's doubtful that something as complex as a DSLR will help you any. Most point and shoot cameras will take decent photos within context. That context usually has to do with lighting and depth of field. With a small sensor they just can't take in enough light so anything over about 200 ISO they're done. They also have a very wide depth of field and the recent trend of adding wide angle lenses to them has made this worse. It's nearly impossible to do those very dramatic narrow depth of field closeups using a point and shoot camera with a wide angle lens. Other issues they have depend on the make of the camera but I'll list the general ones and attack them one at a time

    1. Noise at any ISO above base
    2. Limited zoom
    3. Purple fringing
    4. Inaccurate white balance
    5. Color blowout
    6. Overexposure


    1. Noise: Because of their small sensors they struggle at taking photos in low light conditions so don't. That's right, just don't do it. If you have to then manually set your ISO as low as it will go then place the camera on a tripod and fire the shutter using a timer. My Jobi Gorillapod has allowed me to capture some great nighttime shots because it will stick to about anything. At least two of the shots in the gallery below would not have been possible without it. 

    2. Limited Zoom: get closer or take the cleanest shot possible and crop. That's really what it comes down to. A zoom provides optical magnification which your point and shoot may not have. Optical is always better than taking a large photo and cropping it because the magnification is being done in the lens thus leaving all your pixels to still take in light. If you take a photo and crop it to simulate a 4x zoom with a 10 MP photo you'll end up with a 2.5 MP photo that's not very sharp. This is the limitation so you'll have to live with it.

    Purple Fringing



    3. Color Fringing: There's not a lot you can do besides avoiding the types of photos where it's prevalent ie. leaves backed by sky. The photo to the right shows fringing around the leaves.

     

     

    4. Inaccurate White Balance: Light metering in point and shoot cameras leaves a lot to be desired and has to do with the software in the camera more than anything else so two cameras using the same sensor may not be equal in this regard. There's a simple solution that most cameras allow. Take the whitest piece of paper you can find and hold that in front of the image you're wanting to photograph and select "Evaluate White Balance" in your settings. Even cheap point and shoot cameras usually have this. This will tell the camera to change settings so the sheet of paper is considered white. This works really really well and I can't recommend it enough. This is especially useful for taking indoor shots under artificial lights because they're all different. I recommend this setting over changing to the pre-configured Tungsten, Fluorescent or other settings. Just remember to change it back when you're move to a new lighting condition. You may even do this several times during shooting to let it recalculate. 

     

     

    5. Color Blowout: What I mean by this is some cameras prefer certain colors over others. This is a designed in feature of the camera manufacturer to satisfy the point and shoot market. Manufacturers of cameras designed for the common non-photographer folks like to make cameras that output bright over-sharpened photos with punchy colors because this is what consumers want. However, seasoned photographers know this isn't a good base to start your post processing with. It's better to have an image closer to raw so you can do the processing yourself. 

    Just keep this in mind when you take photos. The photo of a rose to the right was taken by my Canon S90 which is one of the best point and shoot cameras you can but. The rose is really peach colored so you can see how bad the camera mangled it.

     

    Over exposure

    6. Overexposure: This is a real problem on a point and shoot because their sensors are so small and have very limited dynamic range. If your camera has auto-exposure bracketing (not likely) then turn it on. This takes three photos every time you press the shutter button at different exposures. This will allow you to choose the right one later or possibly even combine them in HDR software to make one High Dynamic Range image. If your camera doesn't have auto-exposure bracketing you might want to see if you can assign exposure settings to a hot button (ie. on Canon it's the print button) so you can take a photo, adjust exposure and take another quickly.  In more cases than not you'll be adjusting down and not up. I take most of my point and shoot photos at -2/3 exposure. Experiment and take lots of photos with different settings to see what works. You can always decide later what to keep.

     

    With all of that in mind you can take decent photos with your point and shoot. I've had photos published in magazines that were taken with a 3.2 MP point and shoot camera with a 2x zoom. It IS possible. 

    Why not just go to a DSLR?

    I still carry around a point and shoot camera although a higher end one - Canon S90 because I can get it in my pocket. A camera that I have on me is a camera I'll take photos with. A bulky DSLR left at home will never get used. I will probably be replacing the S90 with an S100 or doing more research on the Canon G1X even though it pushes my envelope of what I want to carry around.

    The moral of the story is learn how to use all the features of your camera and don't be afraid to experiment. The photo at the beginning of this article was taken using the gorillapod, a two second shutter and the exposure on the pre-configured Fireworks setting. 

     Point and Shoot Photo Gallery: click for lightbox

    {gallery}Gallerys/Portfolio{/gallery}  

     

     

  • Possible G7 replacement

    I really did like my Canon G7 but since I broke it I've been trying to figure out what to do. Canon will fix it for $160 but I've not had the time to send it off. They'll replace it for $275 if I send the old one in but again I don't know how long that takes. I have no problem replacing the camera if there is an alternative. I thought Nikons P series camera may be a contender but all the reviews have shown it to be dog slow. Before buying the G7 I seriously looked over the Panasonic DMC-LX1 but reviews showed it have outrageous overpowering noise cancelation to the point that any photo taken above ISO 200 looked like mud. The Panasonic DMC-LX2 came out with the hope that they'd fixed the noise situation but they only slightly improved it. Again any photo taken at ISO 100/200 looked as good as a Sony or Canon but as soon as that ISO reached 400 it was all over. I'm not sure why Panasonic's sensor is so noisy but it's really bad. Let it be known that on paper the Panasonic cameras have been virtually perfect for my needs in my eyes.

    The reason I'm dwelling on the LX series once again is because Panasonic just announced the DMC-LX3. As usual the paper specs are just about ideal for what I want to do. The question is can it take photos without messing them up intentionally.

    Here's what I like about it compared to the G7:

    • Large 1/1.63 sensor for the camera size. This is larger than the G7s 1/1.8
    • Shoots in raw - G7 does with chdk hack
    • Built in 24 mm wide angle. Even with the huge wide angle adapter my G7 was 28mm
    • Fast F2.0-2.8 Leica lens - G7 f2.8-4.8
    • Hot shoe for flash
    • 720p video at 24 fps
    • 2.5 fps continuous drive (8 frames max)
    • high burst mode of 6 frames a second, I don't know the limit
    • 3.0" LCD with 480,000 pixels - G7 2.5" with 200,000 pixels
    • Lighter, 9.3 oz - G7 13 oz
    • Smaller, half inch smaller in two dimensions 4.3x2.4x1.1 - G7 4.2x2.8x1.7
    • Extra wide angle conversion lens takes it to 18 mm
    • All manual functions - aperature and shutter priority
    • Has a grip
    •  

    • S90 Review

      After months (no years) of debate trying to find my perfect point and shoot camera that was good enough to be my only camera I bought a Canon S90. I thought since I've now been using it for several months I'd post a review of what I thought.

      The choice really came down to the Panasonic LX3, Canon G11 and Canon S90. The G11 was knocked out in the first round because it really doesn't do anything more than the S90 and is larger and heavier. It's lens has a bit more reach but it gives up low light performance (f2.8 vs f2.0 for the S90) in the process. It has a hot shoe and even though that tempted me with buying the G7 I never ever used it. The deciding factor was that the S90 fits in my pocked comfortably and the G11 never will (nor did my G7 because of weight). The real comparison came down to the Panasonic LX3 and the Canon S90.

      The real draw to the LX3 was that it has amazing low light performance. To be honest at ISO 80 and lots of light you can take great photos with a point and shoot as long as you have some manual control. At ISO 400 things change and the point and shoots are just about done. By ISO 800 you start throwing away photos but a DSLR is just getting started. The draw of having great low light performance almost made me choose the LX3 before the S90 came out. The biggest reason I didn't was that the LX3 has no lens! OK, it has a lens but what good is a 60mm reach? That's not a zoom lens, thats a "bring it in to normal field of view" lens. I was really hoping for at least a 2x - 3x zoom so I held off. When DPreviews did their premium point and shoot comparison and the S90 proved to have better low light performance and a 28-105 f2.0 lens I bought one. Now that Canon smacked Panasonic up side the head I see that Panasonic is coming out with an LX5 (what happened to the LX4?) with a longer reaching lens and a control ring, the two things that Canon has that Panasonic really needs. It looks like though they're trying to get even rather than leap frog Canon. Before I go on I will just mention just for the record that the Pansonic movie mode creams Canon. So on with the review.

       

    • These gorillas are crazy!

      One of the pieces of equipment that almost always goes with me is my classic Gorrillapod. The times it doesn't go with me usually end in a ARGHH!!. Sometimes I think that I won't need it and it behind and then I'll find myself eating at a new restaurant wanting to take photos of my food and I'll have no tripod. I have to then resort to using a flash that blows out the photos and makes everyone in the joint blink frantically for about 5 minutes while trying to get their eyes to discerne contrast. The classic Gorillapod weighs only 2 oz so you barely notice you have it and will hold most point and shoot cameras (the Canon G7 is a bit overweight but it still works). For larger cameras Joby has come out with larger Gorillapods. The Gorillapod SLR holds 1.75 lbs, the SLR Zoom is larger still and holds up to 6.6lbs!

      If however, the SLR zoom doesn't do what you want it to do and your aim is to have your tripod double as a jackstand in the garage they've released the new Gorillapod Focus. First of all they fail miserably with the name. The others make sense, SLR (bigger than point and shoot), SLR Zoom (for large lenses, bigger still) but the Focus does nothing for me. I immediately think of Ford Focus which is a small car. I think a naming scheme along the lines of small, medium, large and giant would have worked better. Anyway the Focus can hold up to 11lbs and the legs are made of metal segments and only weighs 1.1 lbs. This I think is a pretty cool thing considering you get a foot tall tripod that can be set up on uneven surfaces and it's still fairly lightweight. It has a mount for 1/4 camera as well as an adapter screw for 3/8" tripod heads so you could put a panorama head (or any other for that matter) on it easily enough.

      I hope they sell extra adapter screws because I know I'd lose them in a heartbeat.

       

      Along the same lines they've added a few other things since I've checked on them. They offer spike feet for the Gorillapod SLR to stick into soft soil (or giant marshmallows I suppose) and the Gorillapod Go-Go which unfortunately has very little if anything to do with girls dancing around a pole. The Go-Go has suction or sticky mounts so it can stick to anything giving you the convenience of mounting your PSP or GPS device using a Gorillapod.

       

    • Tossing a perfectly good camera in the air

      There's a new trend in the air - camera tossing! It goes a little something like this. You face some brightly colored lights and give your camera a toss up in the air with a long shutter speed (1 second) and see what happens. Camera Tossing has become so popular that there are whole web galleries of camera tossed photos.

      The photo to the right was the front of my duaghter's Shuttle PC with a USB memory card reader inserted and my nokia n800 with a new email (led blinking). I'm going to be playing more with this in the future because some of the photos others have taken have been amazing.

      Check out the Camera Tossing Flickr page.

    • Underwater video camera mask

      I was watching category5.tv on Miroand they mentioned a really cool device. I bought a digital camera that's waterproof up to 6 feet so I could snorkel in Thailand. Six feet doesn't get you too far but it would be fine for snorkeling near the surface. The one problem I'd have with it is I may be busy doing other things with my hands and not want to hold it (fighting off sharks perhaps!). The device that category5 reviewed is the LEI Underwater Digital Camera Mask which comes in 3mp and 5mp versions.

      [youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9h25f0eAjSg 350 283] I realize this is a special purpose device and that you're not going to wear it to your kids choir concert but still it's pretty cool. Expecting it to be expensive for the same reason I went googled it and found it selling for about $100. So what about this device? This is from the LEI website.

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