Archive

Archive for the ‘photo’ Category

Camera Connection Kit with iPad and iPhone Review

June 25, 2010 13 comments

The main accesory I wanted to buy with my iPad was the camera connection kit. Unfortunately this was sold out in New York, so I tried again on launch day in the UK. When the kit sold out in a couple of hours here it was time to place an order through the Apple online store and wait three weeks like everyone else. I’ve now had the kit for two weeks and can give some thoughts on it’s use.

The camera connection kit comprises two small adaptors that plug into the iPad dock connector, providing an SD card slot and a USB socket.

The intended use for these two items is to transfer photo and video content from your digital camera to the iPad for viewing, storage and subsequent transfer to a computer. The first thing I tested when the kit arrived was its ability to import media from my Panasonic LX3 camera. Jpeg and RAW images preview and copy to the ipad correctly, and the camera’s 720p video is also fully supported. This wasn’t a huge surprise as much has already been written about the functionality of the kit, but being able to copy party video’s quickly to the iPad for immediate viewing was one of those ‘wow’ moments for the guests. Read more…

Advertisements

iPhone 4 announced

June 8, 2010 1 comment

On 7th June Steve Jobs took the stage at the 2010 WWDC to announce the fourth version of the iPhone hardware. Full details of the improvements over the 3GS model have been well covered elsewhere, so here’s a brief summary:

  • 960 by 640 pixel display with 800 to 1 contrast ratio using an IPS (same as iPad) panel
  • A4 processor, also same as used in the iPad
  • Adds 802.11n wireless
  • Up to 7 hours talk time (3G), 300 hours standby, 10 hours WiFi internet use, 40 hours audio playback, 10 hours of video playback
  • 16 or 32Gb storage
  • Available in white or black, with colour edge covers offered
  • New 5 Megapixel backside illuminated camera sensor for better low light images
  • 640×480 front camera for self portraits and video calls
  • LED flash
  • 720p video recording
  • Three axis Gyroscope
  • iMovie software available to run on the phone for $4.99

The standout features for me are the improved camera and 720p video recording. The Apple iPhone camera page has some un-retouched samples at the bottom of the page that can be zoomed to full size. While none of them are really low light (there are a couple of low light smaller examples near the top) they offer quality good enough for holiday snaps. The popular phrase “the best camera is the one you have with you” doesn’t present too much of a compromise for the average consumer. The availability of iMovie for iPhone 4 is a big bonus, though it appears to be limited to the new iPhone with no word on backward compatibility with the 3GS.

My hope is that Apple will provide some way of transferring photo and video from the iPhone 4 to the iPad, where a version of iMovie and iPhoto would provide much easier editing. The iPad camera connection kit could easily do this, and both devices offer wireless connectivity that would make it a cheaper option.

Uk networks O2, Orange and Vodafone have announced availability of the iPhone 4 on 24th June, but have yet to release details of pricing. O2 have promised a limited time offer for those in existing iPhone contracts wishing to upgrade. Hopefully this will match the AT&T offer to cancel up to six months remaining contract if the new iPhone is taken with a new two year contract.

Price wise the new iPhone is $199 for 16Gb and $299 for 32Gb. No word yet on UK pricing but I’m expecting £170 and £260 if the same conversion as the iPad is used.

Categories: apple, iPhone, movie, photo Tags: , , ,

Blurb Imagewrap photo book review

October 1, 2009 2 comments

blurb_logo_smallI previous mentioned the Blurb photo book I had ordered with the intention of updating that post with my thoughts when it arrived. Now that it’s here there’s quite a bit to say so those thoughts are now presented as this new post. There are also plenty of photo’s of the book, shared for anyone trying to decide whether to go ahead and place an order.

Delivery took seven days from placing the order, and I received an email the day before notifying me of dispatch with UPS. The book came from the Netherlands to the UK so to me this was very good since Blurb claim 5-6 business days to make the book and 1-15 to deliver dependant on your shipping choice. I had specified priority 2-4 day shipping at £10.37, in effect I got the 1-2 day £21.37 express option. To save more money in future I intend to order multiple books in one order as the shipping cost for ten books was still £10.37. Read more…

Panasonic Lumix LX3

September 30, 2009 Leave a comment

panasonic_LX3Part of my holiday planning routine involves looking at the photo and video equipment I will be taking. A Canon HF100 HD video camera is doing an excellent job so that will be going on my next trip, but the photo capturing position was unfilled. On my last trip I took a £100 Panasonic DMC-FS3, an 8 megapixel compact that gave acceptable results in bright sunlight and poor quality pictures in anything else. My Nikon D50 performs well in most situations, but a Digital SLR is a burden to carry for anything active. The announced-but-not-reviewed-yet Canon S90 looks interesting, but some of the few sample shots I have seen have not impressed. The combination of compact size and quality images seemed elusive.

One camera that is claimed by many reviewers to offer both reasonable size and decent quality is the Panasonic DMC-LC3, a 10 megapixel compact with a bright f2 lens and a limited zoom range. These have been difficult to come by with every retailer I checked over the past few weeks being out of stock. The few that claim to have stock are known in many forums to be less than honest, so are best avoided. Around a week ago Play.com showed the camera available for immediate dispatch, and since they are one of the retailers I trust to be honest I placed an order.

The camera has impressed so far, with all the manual control I could want and a usable automatic mode. The version 2 firmware for the camera was released a couple of days ago, adding 1:1 shooting and some speed improvements. So far the biggest problem is that neither Mac OS 10.5 or 10.6 support the RAW format of the LX3. The previous LX1 and LX2 models work fine, but for a camera that has been available for approaching a year it’s strange that RAW support has not yet been added. Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom work with LX3 RAW, and the supplied Silkypix software does a great job of RAW editing and conversion so it’s only a minor problem.

UPDATE 1st October 2009

Panasonic has today withdrawn the update citing problems with the custom shooting mode if you had stored settings from the previous firmware. The temporary fix is to reset the camera and re-enter the settings in custom mode, or wait to 20th October when an updated version should be available.

The Perfect Photo Book….

September 24, 2009 Leave a comment

….is something I have been seeking for the past week. Having used the iPhoto service previously with mixed results I’m now looking for something a bit more flexible. And if I’m honest, a bit cheaper. My quest started with an 80 page album of a holiday to San Francisco and Las Vegas earlier this year. Through the iPhoto service this book, with hard cover and custom dust jacket, will cost around £65. I’m also buying a second copy for friends who came with myself and Mrs Basshead, so that’s a lot of money for holiday albums.

Just about every service that prints photo’s is now offering photo books, and the software some provide has become genuinely impressive. Snapfish has a pretty slick web based book creating system, but prices are still around the same as through iPhoto. Bobbooks looked a lot more promising, with a similar 82 page book priced at £43. Unfortunately the software they use wouldn’t run under Snow Leopard on my hackintosh. Read more…

The Atlantic price divide, part 247

August 20, 2009 Leave a comment

One of the camera’s Canon announced yesterday, the S90, looks like a contender for my next compact photo shooter. It’s due out sometime in September based on early information, with a UK price of £449 for pre-order from Amazon.co.uk as shown below.

Amazon_S90_UKNot cheap but the spec is good and I would expect this to quickly drop below £400. Since I’m off the Florida at the end of October I took a look at early US prices to see if it would be worth waiting and buying out there (dependant on reviews and a hands on of course). The Amazon.com price is shown below.

Amazon_S90_USI know UK citizens often get a poor deal when it comes to prices, but this is ridiculous. At the current exchange rate (as I type on 20th August 2009) of $1.65 to the pound that makes the US Amazon price the equivalent of £260. The other way round, the UK price is $740. However you look at it this is an obscene markup, and as this article questions, didn’t the British PM promise an end to this?

Categories: money, photo Tags: , , , ,

Are Megapixels going the way of Megahertz?

August 19, 2009 Leave a comment

I’ve been looking at high end compact cameras recently, in my continuing quest for a reasonably sized camera that can capture good images in less than optimal light. My Nikon D50 does a very good job, and while a £120 vibration reduction lens would make it even better it’s still a big camera to carry around a theme park all day for holiday snaps. The Panasonic DMC-FS3 (a £100 compact) I took to San Francisco and Las Vegas earlier this year did an OK job in daylight but gave poor results as the light levels dropped.

Unlike the iPhone 3GS finally replacing my mobile phone and PDA, my quest for an all in one image/video capture device has been a failure. The Sanyo Xacti range failed to deliver, with the C5 and HD2 being too much of a compromise in both photo and video quality. A Canon HF100 now does video duties with excellent quality results, so the hunt is on for a compact that can deliver good results in low light.

panasonic-lx3

The current model that has caught my eye is the Panasonic LX3. A fast F2-F2.8 lens (meaning more light reaching the sensor so faster shutter speeds and less blur) and a sensible 10 megapixels suggest at least one manufacturer has taken a step back from the megapixel race to assess what customers actually want. This happened a few years ago when AMD and Intel reached a limit in pure processor speed and had to start looking at increasing efficiency and the number of cores in their processors. Megaherts was never much more than a marketing buzzword, and megapixels means even less. Would anyone choose a fuzzy fifteen megapixel image over a sharp six megapixel one? The crazy thing here is that the number of pixels comes from multiplying horizontal and vertical resolution, so while my Nikon D50 produces six megapixel images of 3000 by 2000 pixels, a twelve megapixel camera which sounds twice as good gives images of 4240 by 2824 pixels, an increase of around 40% both horizontally and vertically. To get a true doubling of resolution to 6000 by 4000 requires a 24 megapixel camera, well out of the consumer price range.

Canon-G11

The reason for this rather lengthy ramble is that todays big photographic news is the announcement of the Canon G11. Where Panasonic decided to keep the number of pixels the same and improve image quality with the move from the the Lx2 to Lx3, Canon has decided to reduce the G10’s 14.7 megapixels down to 10 megapixels for the G11. Hopefully reviews will shortly rave over increased low light image quality, and other camera manufacturers will finally realise that consumers value image quality over marketing hype. This may be wishful thinking on my part, but I suspect that two big names making a brave move may be enough to start a new trend.

UPDATE Looks like there’s another model to compete with The Panasonic Lx3, as Canon also announced the S90. Offering the same 10 Megapixel sensor with a 28-110mm zoom and F2-F4.9 lens this may be the model that goes head to head with the Lx3 at a similar price.

Categories: photo Tags: , , , , ,