Archive for the ‘Photography’ Category

Canon’s new DSLR sets new performance level for the buck

August 30, 2010

Canon Canada’s new EOS 60D is an affordable DSLR on steroids, perfect for photo enthusiasts.

Check it out:

The new EOS 60D DSLR is full of pro features and more. For the first time on an EOS camera, the EOS 60D DSLR boasts a three-inch Vari-Angle Clear View LCD screen, EOS Full HD video recording with manual overrides including audio level control, and in-camera functionality for RAW image processing plus Creative Filters to manipulate images after taking them. Designed primarily for advanced amateurs, the EOS 60D replaces the EOS 50D and boasts a broad array of new features that make it easier for photographers to add personal creativity to their images. Whether it’s capturing an overhead shot on the Vari-Angle screen at a graduation ceremony, or converting a colour image to black and white for a nostalgic look, Canon is delivering in-camera features and functions that empower advanced photographers to capture, display and print the images they want.

“The EOS 60D has been designed to offer the image-capture and the Full HD video features customers are looking for as they continue to expand their photographic skills. The exciting new features of the EOS 60D make using a DSLR camera more attractive and easier than ever before.  We want everyone to experience the great image quality a Canon DSLR can offer with features and functions that they will appreciate and use,” stated Ian Macfarlane, Vice President of the Consumer Imaging Group at Canon Canada Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Canon U.S.A., Inc.

Exciting EOS “Firsts”

For the first time in the history of the Canon EOS System, the new 60D camera features a large Vari-Angle 3-inch (7.6-centimetre) Clear View LCD screen with 1,040,000 dot/VGA resolution plus anti-reflective and smudge-resistant coatings for bright clear viewing from any angle. The new LCD screen is ideal for composing low-angle or overhead shots whether capturing still images or Full HD video clips. 

Another first for the EOS system is the EOS 60D camera’s new Multi-Control Dial, which places a Multi-Controller and Set button inside the Quick Control Dial. This new control layout streamlines camera navigation for vertical as well as horizontal shooting and enables a cleaner camera design.  Responding to customer requests, the EOS 60D also features a locking mode dial, which makes camera operation more secure by preventing inadvertent changes to the photographer’s selected shooting mode.

While the photography mantra of  “get it right in the camera” still stands true, Canon’s new EOS 60D gives advanced photographers an edge with new in-camera features that enable users to enhance their images without a computer even after they have been shot.  For the first time ever in an EOS camera, the EOS 60D features in-camera processing of RAW image files, new reduced resolution image copies, and post-processing creative image filters for exceptional flexibility in digital image rendering. 

•             In-camera RAW image processing features include Picture Style, White Balance (WB), Colour Space, High-ISO Noise Reduction, Peripheral Illumination Correction, linear distortion correction and chromatic aberration correction.  These powerful in-camera editing tools will allow photographers in the field to produce optimized images on the spot and generate JPEG files at various resolution and compression settings for immediate sharing, without affecting the original RAW data.

•             Another great new feature for photographers-on-the-go is Canon’s new image resizing function. After capturing full resolution or smaller JPEG images, the camera can generate lower-resolution copies using menu commands.  New lower-resolution settings include 1920 x 1280 for optimal display on HD televisions, or 720 x 480, ideal for immediate uploading to social networking and other photo sharing web sites. The original high resolution files remain unaffected by the image resizing function.

•             Available for the first time in an EOS camera are Canon’s new creative image filters.  Familiar to Canon PowerShot users, these fun photo effects help make a great image more dynamic, even after it has been shot.  Canon provides four artistic filters that allow photographers to capture an image and then create and manipulate a digital copy of it. 

o             The Soft Focus effect filter helps dramatize an image and smooth over shiny reflections.

o             The Grainy Black and White filter can give a different nostalgic perspective to any shot. 

o             Canon’s “Toy Camera” filter deliberately adds vignetting and colour shift for a creative option when shooting a colourful scene. 

o             Users can also make a scene appear like a small-scale model, simulating the look from a tilt-shift lens, with Canon’s Miniature Effect filter, great when shooting any scene from a high vantage point. 

Each of these filters can be applied to a captured still image in-camera to create a second “filtered” JPEG version, leaving the original RAW or JPEG file unaffected.

Another addition to the camera’s Live View function is Canon’s new Aspect Ratio feature whereby the Live View screen can display cropping lines for 1:1, 16:9 or 4:3 aspect ratios in addition to the standard 3:2 ratio. These cropping lines make it easier to compose images in Live View, and they can help to expedite printing when using Canon’s supplied Digital Photo Professional software. Custom aspect ratios are also applied to JPEG images whether captured directly in-camera or created with the EOS 60D’s in-camera RAW image processing function.

For more info, go to:

http://www.canon.ca/inetCA/products?m=gp&pid=4714

Sanyo Shrinks Cameras One More Time

April 1, 2010

Sanyo's Dual 2010 VPC CS1P is tiny, with reasonable quality and mega features found in larger Dual still/HD video models.

Sanyo Canada invited a small group of influential journalists in Toronto to show off its new line of super slim full HD Dual cameras. We got to play with the new product and meet with Sanyo Canada’s General Manager, Digital Imaging, Bryan Asa and Sanyo’s specialist for corporate communications Aaron Fowles. They also showed us some interesting eneloop products, one of which being the two sided hand warmer and battery charger, a gem of an accessory.

You might have noticed an increased market presence of Sanyo cameras in the Canadian market.

It’s about time. Although niche stores have carried Sanyo, now Future Shop is also stocking these smartly designed and engineered cameras. I have been using Sanyo for several years now; my world-wide tech travel www.youtube.com/user/stevoidstickcam videos have been shot on Sanyo’s workhorse HD1010 and now on the HD2000.

But let’s talk about the new camera line. These new Dual function cameras all shoot Full HD1080 / 60i  and feature varying degrees of impressive smallness, still keeping the big picture in mind. I have attached the press release in the bottom for you perusal.

Let’s take a closer look at the VPC-CS1 model I took back from Toronto and have been playing with for the past several days. This is an unbelievably tiny camcorder/camera, the size of today’s popular pocket cams, but much better quality in stills and video, not to mention extensive menu features like onboard editing and splicing, image stabilization and more. The CS1 features a generous 2.7-inch LCD multi-swivel screen, 8 megapixel stills (4 MP interpolated to 8 MP) 10X Advanced zoom and a “Sound Zoom” function, allowing several modes to help focus the sound recording on a specific subject being zoomed on.

Can a camera this small compete with the rest? At $439, you are paying for tiny. Like tiny buttons that take some getting used to, when in the middle of a shoot. Performance was sometimes slightly under par with the rest of the Sanyo camera clan. Not that the camera doesn’t meet the specs. It’s just so small and light, you have to be extra careful when shooting in anything but perfect light conditions.

I had mixed feelings with my first try…more “bad” still pictures than I would care for, but the HD video was surprisingly acceptable from the get go.  Once I got used to the camera’s delicate personality it came through. Its biggest Achilles Heel is the LED light, replacing traditional flash, due to the cameras small size. It’s only good for up to one meter so if you plan to do lots of indoor family stills, look into one of the other Sanyo real-flash models.

The processing, like on-camera edit and splice functions where faster than the Sanyo semi-pro HD2000 and the almost endless control of image and video exposure settings make up for the camera’s awkward personality. The Zoom-Sound definitely adds to the overall video shooting impression, but is awkward to get to in the menu.

Bottom line? A good average-quality camera, easily runs circles on past DVD cams, with occasional mood swings, but small, small, small and a real looker, especially the hot pink version.

For more information, please go to: http://en.ca.sanyo.com/

Press Release:

SANYO Canada brings super slim, full HD Dual Cameras to market 

Woodbridge, ON, March 30, 2010 SANYO Canada Inc. (SANYO) today announced it has shipped to stores five new Full HD Dual Cameras that also offer between eight and 14 megapixel still image capability, in an affordable, stylish slim body.

Truly fitting into small pockets or purses, the super slim (27 mm) vertically formatted VPC-CS1 boasts Full HD1080 / 60i video, 8 megapixel stills, 10X Advanced zoom, a 2.7 inch LCD screen and iFrame compatibility. Its horizontally formatted sister, the VPC-SH1, sports Full HD1080 / 60i video, 10 megapixel stills, 30X Advanced zoom, 2.7 inch LCD, iFrame, and a thinness of 43mm. Both cameras also feature a new “Sound Zoom” function, allowing several modes to help focus the sound recording on a specific subject being zoomed on, or clear channel separation to record the ambient environment being filmed in. MSRP on these two models are $439 and $549 respectively.

High resolution product images are available at www.marketwire.com/sanyo 

SANYO is also offering three new compact, affordable HD dual cameras. The VPC-CG102 offers Full HD1080 / 60i video, 14 megapixel stills, 5X optical zoom with a 12X Double Range zoom, 2.7 inch LCD, HDMI mini terminal and is compatible with Eye-Fi wireless SD memory card that offers a way to quickly and easily upload images to a computer. Its horizontally formatted sister is the VPC-GH2, which offers the same features. Both have an MSRP of $329. Finally, the SANYO Dual Camera VPC-CG20, in vertical format only, offers Full HD1080 / 60i video, 10 megapixel stills, 5X optical zoom with a 12X double video zoom 2.7 inch LCD, HDMI mini terminal and Eye-Fi compatibility. MSRP is $299.

“These cameras offer an awful lot of technology in beautifully designed bodies for an affordable price,” says Bryan Asa, General Manager, Digital Imaging, SANYO Canada Inc. “The fact that these cameras offer 1920 x 1080 Full HD video as well as super high resolution for photos, means you can record high quality photos and videos using only one small camera that is both lightweight and easy to carry in a pocket, purse or wear simply on your belt.”

All of the new models output seamlessly to Windows 7, which recognizes MPEG4s without the need for conversion. All models store the video and images onto SD flash memory cards.

These five new models join four of SANYO’s previous models that will continue into the second half of 2010. They either offer high performance (the HD2000A and FH1A) or full waterproof functionality (the CA9 and WH1).

These new cameras are available now at Canadian retailers including Centre HiFi, Henry’s, Bay Bloor Radio, Brentview Electronics, Golden electronics, Audio Warehouse, Krazy Kiley’s, PA Soundworks, The Camera Store, Best Buy, Black’s Photo, Dell.ca, Future Shop, NCIX.com and other selected retailers. 

*About SANYO *

SANYO Electric Co., Ltd. is a global, multi-billion dollar leading

company for energy and environment, providing solutions for environment,

energy and for lifestyle applications. SANYO Canada Inc. (a subsidiary

of SANYO Electric Co., Ltd.), is based in Woodbridge, Ontario (a suburb

north of Toronto). SANYO Canada is a service and sales company that

markets and sells a variety of commercial and consumer solutions

including rechargeable batteries, solar modules, HVAC, digital

projectors, dual cameras, digital still cameras, home appliances,

security video equipment, audio systems, portable and mobile

electronics, and weatherproof monitors. For more information, please

visit http://ca.sanyo.com or http://fr.ca.sanyo.com

Ten Easy Cellphone Uploads while in Italy

October 6, 2009

Here are ten daily Telus Storm World mobile photo uploads while in Italy last week. I did publish daily in Facebook but  for tech reasons was not able to, here in my blog. Here they are.

1 Rome, making new friends at fountain

2 Rome, Being illuminated at Vatican

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3 Rome, Digital Gladiator at Colisseum

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4 Rome, Angels and Demons site at Popolo church

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 Florence, found my long lost twin...David

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6 Florence with my butcher buddy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7 Florence, Vicky and me in the middle of wine country

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8 Pisa, I kept it up!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9 Venice, Pickaboo-to!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10 Venice, Vicky and me last night in Venice Grand Canaal

Olympus announces its best quality camera

June 22, 2009

NEW DIGITAL CAMERA HAS THE BEST FROM POINT&SHOOT AND DSLR MODELS

Panasonic's 12.1 megapixel Micro four thirds cameras has all the bells and whistles while the Olympus E-P1 can actually fit in your pocket.

Panasonic's 12.1 megapixel Micro four thirds cameras has all the bells and whistles while the Olympus E-P1 can actually fit in your pocket.

It’s not often a camera maker flies you to New York to show off its newest digital camera and let’s you play tourist with it all day long…with a handful of company technicians in tow. This included a sea harbor tour of New York, the Statue of Liberty, the colourful Conny Island beach boardwalk, an impromptu picture-perfect pass under the Brooklyn bridge  and a spectacular evening penthouse view of the New York skyline from the lower east side.

So what was all the fuss about last week in the Big Apple? Olympus announced its much awaited E-P1, 12.3 megapixel, interchangeable lens system digital camera. The classic looking aluminum/stainless steel body draws attention anywhere I have been taking it since, especially camera stores. It even has similarities with the original PEN film camera Olympus launched 50 years ago…imagine, that’s half a century!

But it’s what’s inside that’s special about the E-P1 (body $849.99, with ED 14-42mm f3.5/5.6 Zuiko Digital Zoom lens, $899.99) as well as two cameras released earlier by Panasonic, the Lumix G1 and  GH1.

It’s the new Micro Four Thirds system, adopted by Olympus  and Panasonic with a few new potential partners like Kodak, that uses the same size full four thirds sensor in Panasonic and Olympus DSLR cameras.

The prism and mirror are gone, the lens mount is smaller and the sensor is closer to the lens, allowing for better lens design (less retro-focus). This also allows for smaller camera and lens design but the new micro cameras also accept the full Four Thirds lens family from the consortium camera and lens makers, with an optional lens converter.

Call it a hybrid digital if you will…the size of enthusiast point & shoot cameras, the quality of DSLRs and interchangeable lenses and new features.

I have been testing the Olympus E-P1 since last Tuesday and I can tell you, without a doubt, its picture quality is equal, if not better to that of Olympus’ newest DSLR, the 12.3 megapixel E-620, in fact, showing even less noise at higher ISO settings.

Did I tell you it also shoots HD video? It shoots 720p (AVI format) with stereo sound recorded in audio CD quality. You can also record (or re-record) 30 seconds of audio on any still frame you shoot. All very handy for in camera slide shows.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

-Picture quality is the tell-all of how good a camera really is. Does the E-P1 12.3 megapixel on a larger chip translate to a better looking image than that of the 12.1 megapixel GH1? Yes. On the lower ISO settings the cameras are close, with the E-P1 showing richer colours, to some a personal preference. But as the ISO is notched up from 800 to 3200, the Olympus retained colours longer and less grain, yielding very usable pictures in dim lighting. But at 6400 ISO, the only camera to go that high, the E-P1 yielded noticeably grainer images and flatter colour. Still, the E-P1 is Olympus’ best image quality four thirds chip camera, beating out all company DSLR models. It also shoots twice the sequential pictures faster than the GH1.

-The E-P1 does not have an optical viewfinder, or a small secondary LCD eyepiece, like the Panasonic models have. But its 3-inch brilliant LCD can be seen clearly from angled overhead or ground-up photography, even in sunlight. The Panasonic Micros have a full swivel LCD, finer detail screen, but that also adds weight and bulk. The EP-1 screen has smoother motion having an adequate 230,000 dots compared to the noticeably finer detailed 460,000 dots of the Panasonic models. Still, the GH1 impresses with a print-like quality LCD screen which is also clear, even in dark rooms, unlike the E-P1 which gets grainy, but at the end, produces the best quality photos.

-The most important part, for me, is the camera’s response, commonly referred as shutter lag. Having been a professional photographer for more than 40 years, I know a few things about capturing the exact moment in photography. I compared the E-P1, GH1 and Olympus’ newest E-620 DSLR shooting a digital timer dozens of times (manual and auto focus). The Olympus E-P1 averaged .28 seconds lag, compared to the .30 seconds of the E-620 and the .36 seconds of the GH1. The E-P1 also can shoot more than twice the number of sequential frames.

-The video quality of the E-P1 maxing at 720p was similar to the GH1, both exhibiting slight image stuttering on fast moving scenes, typical or still cameras wanna-be camcorders. The GH1 also shoots an impressive 1080p, but with less panning smoothness, in AVCHD format. A plus, it also can shoot MPEG4 video. The E-P1 HD video is a feast for the ears with best-sounding stereo Linear PCM audio recording.

-Both cameras have excellent dust reduction systems.

-The extras on the E-P1 rock when it comes to applying live view art filters on still photos and videos, although the Pop Art and Vignette effects affect the video smoothness. Then there’s the multiple exposure feature which you can do live, while shooting, or after, picking from already taken frames.

-On image stabilization, the GH1 can take steadier pictures at slower shutter speeds. Oddly, the E-P1 does not have built-in flash, when it needs it more than competitors. But a small, metal finish external TTL capable flash is available for $100, after rebate.

-Both Micro cameras share a slew of similar features, including a 300-325 frames with some flash, on one battery charge. Both cameras have extensive menu options, but the E-P1 all in one info display, a carry-over from the DSLR line, rocks, allowing you to make 20 quick settings changes of one screen, and the new thumb operated vertical roller bar speeds up your menu navigation.

WHICH TO BUY?

The GH1 retails for more than twice the price of the E-P1, at $1,899.99 but you get more things to tinker with on-camera and an unquestionably impressive 10X  14-42 mm optical zoom lens. The G1 12.1 megapixel sibling goes for $799.99 with similar features, a 14-45 mm zoom lens but no video. If video is important to you, the GH1 has more options and its quiet lens does not make distractive audio sounds when zooming. The E-P1 zoom during video is so noisy, you have to turn the auto focus off. The GH1 comes with lens hood and runs directly off a power outlet if your battery is dead. Both cameras have mini HDMI output for flat panel TVs, but the GH1 can be controlled with your newer TV’s remote control.

But if you want small, cool style looks and best still picture performance, go with the Olympus E-P1, out the first half of July.

SOME PMA ACCESSORIES THAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT

March 16, 2009

Some cool gadgets from the recent PMA photo show in Las Vegas that caught my attention:

 

The HoodLoupe 3.0 works on any camera screen up to 3-inches

The HoodLoupe 3.0 works on any camera screen up to 3-inches

The HoodLoupe 3.0 from www.hoodmanusa.com has multi-element optics and fits over any camera screen up to 3-inches in diameter. It’s great for viewing the LCD screen on your camera before or after you have taken a photo, especially on bright sunny days. It magnifies the image for closer inspection and is available online for $79.99 US  You can also get a special Cinema Strap for 19.99 US for attaching it to your camera. It’s rugged and its diopter covers a wide range of viewers who don’t want to use glasses when viewing their screens. A great idea and even better investment for any camera you own.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Universal Adapter bracket with Fisheye and Macro lens from Jackar Optical fits on most consumer digitals

The Universal Adapter bracket with Fisheye and Macro lens from Jackar Optical fits on most consumer digitals

The Jackar Optical Universal Adapter and Fisheye Lens and Macro lens is expected to be available in North America soon. It will sell for about $80 US and consists of a quality-made adjustable bracket, a long-threaded mount to accommodate most point and shoot digital cameras with either flush lenses or ones that extend out. The lens is coated and gives you a 180 degree fisheye effect for some dramatic pictures and videos. The sharpness falls off on the edges but about have the center image is still reasonably sharp. Keep on checking the company site for North America at www.hkdcplus.com I am sure there will be a distributor from the PMA show willing to carry this innovative product. These folks carry a huge selection of lens converters for DSLRs as well as small device underwater bags and other accessories shown last year at PMA.

This DSLR thinks it’s Photoshop!

February 24, 2009

 

New Olympus E-620 and E-30 Art Filters applied while you shoot

New Olympus E-620 and E-30 Art Filters applied while you shoot

 

 NEW DSLR GET’S ARTISTIC-Olympus pushes the envelope one more time with the release of the unique and affordable E-620 12 megapixel DSLR, available in Canada this May, for $799.99 (body) and $899.99 with  ED 14-42mm f3.5/5.6 Zuiko Digital Zoom Lens.

I have not been able to play with one yet, but if it’s anything like its E-30 12 MP pre-cursor I have been using for the past month, released late last year, this camera is a win-win-win-win-win.

Why?

-It breaks the 10 megapixel barrier the past Olympus DSLR’s have been content with. Albeit, a touch more digital noise, when pushing the ISO to its limits, but the consistently excellent mechanical IS (image stabilization) modes make up for that. There are three IS modes: a 2D for general shooting and the other two allowing for horizontal and vertical panning keeping one axis sharp. They work so good, your tripod will be lonely again.

-It comes with six art filter settings, applied to the picture as you take it. Effects vary,  from grainy monochrome to pin-hole, saturated colours, soft focus and muted colours. Enough to make mundane photos jump back to life.

-Multiple exposures, up to two frames, can be taken live and are recorded as a combined photo (if you shoot in dual Raw + JPEG mode, the original frames are kept too. This requires planning and frankly, unless you are good at it, you are limited on how well your two sequential images will look when exposed on the same “frame.” You have some control on the density of the two overlapping images. What I find most exciting, is the ability to merge (double-expose after the fact) two to three pictures you have already taken on the E-620 with a wide transparency range you can control for each frame. On the way back from a recent trip to Mexico, I spent hours on the return flight, overlapping frames on the E-30 from several hundred frames for some spectacular multiple exposure effects. Overlapping photos later, lets you plan your shots beforehand, like shooting a variety of extra frames so key image elements effectively work with multiple exposures (see my examples on this page). For example, I made sure I shot full moon frames composed differently for combining with a variety of other photos.

-A simple feature, but wanting by every photog shooting in dark places…the camera controls light up!

-Small and light. The E-620 is similar in size to the E-420 with all the extra features, plus improved auto-focus in Live view. It also has a double battery grip option and complete underwater housing.

To me, it was like re-discovering the art of photography in a different dimension.

I don’t want to bore you with all the other camera details, all well thought out, in a small dynamic package with one of the sharpest optics from the get-go.

For a list of all the features of the new E-620, go to: www.olympuscanada.com

Merge several images together after they are taken, on the E-30 and new E-620

Merge several images after they are taken, on the E-30 and new E-620

Keep the spoils of war to yourself!

March 8, 2008

Future Shop has come up with a scheme to sell its most expensive high definition movie players, which understandably, are not selling fast. If you bring in your HD-DVD player from March 7th to April 3rd they will give you $100 credit towards the purchase of the LG or Samsung combo HD-DVD and Blu-ray players.

Although Future Shop will donate the exchanged HD-DVD players to charity the consumer should think twice. The combo players are pricey, especially the much better Samsung model.

But do the math. Why pay more money to get into a duo combo player half of which is kinda dead already? Future shop says this deal will ease you into Blu-ray. I say keep your HD-DVD player for as long as you can, rent, don’t buy, HD-DVD titles and switch to Blu-ray-only players when they start dropping below $300 by this fall.

Don’t let the spoils of the three-year HD player war go to the victor so fast. Let the stores and Blu-ray makers sweat it out until prices drop this fall.

And when it’s time to switch, donate your HD-DVD player and movies to your charity of choice and put the charity receipt for your tax write-off in your pocket, not Future Shop’s.

What do you think?

But if you are still anxious to change now and have the bucks, go to  http://www.futureshop.ca/bluray.

On the happy side of things, Olympus Canada announced an extremely portable E-420 10 megapixel digital SLR that is sure to convert even more point-and-shoot shooters. Weighing at a mere 380 grams (13.4 ounces), the E-420 is 20 to 40 per cent lighter than competing DSLRs. It has an improved Live View, which enables users to hold the camera away from their faces and interact with their subjects, like when photographing kids, before taking the photo.

The Live View auto-focuses onscreen, an improvement over the previous E-410 and E-510 and professional E-3 which required you press an autofocus button, before pressing the shutter. You can also see Face Detection, Shadow Adjustment Technology and Perfect Shot Preview on Live View and the cool new ultra short and compact, Zuiko Digital 28-84mm equivalent (ED 14-42mm Four Thirds) f3.5-f5.6 lens makes this camera as “pocketable” as a DSLR can be.

Can’t wait to try that one out. 

Effective April 1, 2008, Olympus DSLR camera bodies will include an additional one-year warranty, and Zuiko digital lenses will include an extended four-year warranty. The DSLR extended one-year warranty and the extended four-year warranty on lenses each have an estimated value of approximately CAD$99.99.

Go to www.olympuscanada.com for more info. 

Saturday thoughts

February 23, 2008

HD-DVD FALLOUT BEGINS

The swift pullout of the HD-DVD standard will have long-lasting economic fallout on consumers and the industry.

Take Sanyo’s very impressive palm-size HD1000 1080i recorder. Sanyo had an HD-DVD solution for offloading the large size video files off camera (using SD memory) on HHD for storage and future viewing.

Scrap that plan. Sharp says a Blu-ray solution is in the works.

Check out my review on the HD1000 at:

www.canada.com/topics/technology/columnists/story.html?id=c4b8a700-3ca5-45da-9585-8f1a15b50cda 

What about HD-DVD prices? Will they drop? Unlikely. The home DVD industry is a $24 billion business. Frankly, I would never waste my hard earned bucks buying a DVD movie of my own, to keep and maybe watch a few times. This notion of “keeping” you very own title forever in a nice box sells a lot of DVDs. I would rather just pay for watching the same show, online or rental, and spend my savings elsewhere.

GREEN TIPS

The same Edmonton Journal Saturday column also talks about reducing carbon footprints when leaving computers on overnight. The zerofootpront.com folks teamed up with Microsoft to show how Vista’s default energy saving mode can slash electricity costs and keep our air cleaner.

Check out Microsoft’s Home Magazine smart article on “greening” your PC.at:

www.microsoft.com/canada/home/internetandsecurity/2.4.67_cm_GreeningyourPC.aspx

PEOPLE POWER

This past week, Bill Gates was quoted as saying Microsoft is prepared to shell out more than $40 billion for Yahoo’s people, not the company’s business assets. Gates values smart propeller heads and thinks the cultural differences between Microsoft and Yahoo are negligible. How many of those Yahoo engineers do you think will stay on if Microsoft gobbles up Yahoo? Much of their driving force to create Internet-based software was to outdo Microsoft, not just Google. If Microsoft succeeds in buying Yahoo, it will have to lock the company gates to keep Yahoo’s best minds from walking out. Money can buy great tech minds, but can it buy their hearts?

  

  

Digital photography, are we there yet?

February 9, 2008

The miracle of today’s photography

Just a few photo thoughts on my recent Photo Marketing Association Show visit in Las Vegas.

I couldn’t help but think how far technology has pushed photography.

Remember when you had to wait for days or weeks to finish a roll of film, drop it off to the photo lab and pick it up a few days later? It literally took months to see photos!

We have come a long way, where what happens to a picture after it’s taken is just as exciting as taking it.

I have run into many folks recently who are picking up photography again as a hobby, because of the affordability of shooting to their hearts content and never pay for a roll of film.

Many choose to not print but post their photos online or on their PC, or portable devices. That’s cool as long as you back up your most important photos in three places: your hard drives, a CD or DVD disk and online storage sites, and only if they keep your images in the original size. 

Consumer cameras are getting better and smarter with cool features to help you “just take the picture,” with some incredible results.

See my Edmonton Journal Story at: http://www.canada.com/edmontonjournal/columnists/story.html?id=8d96cdc3-5dac-4eb7-bd3c-d2244c95cecc&p=1

Pundits will say that compared to the good old days where every shot counted, today’s digital cameras shoot faster than you can think or plan for. Critics think that leads to more poor, shot off-the-hip pictures with no artistic merit. 
I disagree.

I see it as simply getting more chances at shooting pictures, learning from your mistakes, eventually honing in on your unique skills on getting the right photo, whether it took one frame or 30. Instead of getting better in photography every several months, today you get better everytime you snap one picture and instantly see it on your bright camera screen.

Digital cameras are bigger and smaller, heavier and lighter, cheaper and more expensive, yet there seems to be just the right camera for everyone.

Digital photo frames, and yes, MMS on cellphones, online scrapbooking and social sharing network sites along with great home and instant public kiosk printers, make the photograph, once again, one of the most enduring media in the last century.

And unlike the olden days where the first keepsake a fleeing family took from a burning home was the photo album, today you just have to remember your password to your online photo gallery.

Today’s photography life is good. Isn’t it?

PMA 2008 was a personal adventure

February 4, 2008

There were signs of a straining economy at the Photo Marketing Associaton show in Las Vegas last week. There were fewer smaller “indie” booths at the South Hall convention Center floors, making it easier to cover. A sign of trouble for the imaging industry?

If you ask Vegas cabbies, yes. They are like nature’s wildlife that can sense a bad winter. All of the drivers told me things are slowing down and that it was getting worse.

My main story this year was the new green footprint photo lab competition between HP and Kodak. Both are pushing dry photo labs, Inkjet and Dye Sublimation respectively.

Check out my story at: http://www.canada.com/edmontonjournal/columnists/steve_makris.html

My next column in the Saturday Journal is on some of the cool technologies I found at PMA, and not from big-brand players, but inventive photo-gadget makers taking a big chance at the show.

Too bad for the fast-disappearing silver halide wet prints. I tend to be anal when it comes to printing and can spot the tiny inkjet dots on prints (especially on highlights and single colours) or the burn lines of dye sub prints. Nothing will replace the smootheness of wet prints. Call me old-fashioned.

My biggest personal challenge at PMA was getting my story and pictures out to the Journal. I left my Lenovo Tablet PC on the first leg of my trip, on a WestJet plane in Vancouver. I realized that too late, before boarding my connecting flight to Vegas and despite WestJet’s fast reaction, my Tablet was off to another destination in inner British Columbia!

Thankfully, the WestJet folks actually called the airplane, midflight, and found my laptop where I had left it.

But due to U.S. cross-boarder regulations, WestJet was not able to get my laptop back to me, like those miraculous TV ads they have. But they kept it safe and I got it back to Edmonton.

This left me with my trusty Rogers BlackBerry Curve and my Creative ZEN MP3 player to write and record interviews. It worked like a charm ( I carry several thousand emails on it, so I am never short of resources) letting me fine-tune my story while waiting for cabs, restaurant service and whenever my hands were idle. Yes, I wash my hands frequently.

Goes to show. Sometimes little gadgets can do a big job.

This weekend I changed work hats. I become a freelance technology and travel photojournalist, after taking early retirement from the Edmonton Journal, where I had worked for the past 39 years. Early? Scary. Freedom 58!