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Review

Shooting Video? Buy a Smartphone

By | Photography, Review, Technology, Video | No Comments

Petapixel posted an article today that had Alec Weinstein pitting the Canon 5D Mark III vs. the Samsung Galaxy Note 3. I couldn’t believe it myself, but the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 video quality wins in my opinion.  The sharpness was pretty incredible.  Granted, it was placing 4K (Samsung) against 1080p (Canon); however, what we want is best quality for the best price, right?  Seems fair to me to find the best device for the task. Read More

Storehouse for iPad – Guest Review

By | Photography, Review, Software | No Comments

I’ve been thinking a lot about how to share pictures in a more meaningful way. I’m now up to 49,911 photos in my Lightroom library. I’ve traditionally shared everything on my Smugmug site (great site by the way) and they’ve done an awesome job of updating their themes to enhance the user experience.

The problem with Smugmug is that it’s essentially just an album. No stories, no context.

Enter Storehouse. I saw this yesterday on the App Store and have yet to try it out, but my brother was quick to download and here are his thoughts:

Pros:

  • Super easy to use. Was able to create and publish a test page within 5 mins.
  • Links to enough social media accounts that it’s reasonable that you could plan ahead and take pics through Instagram, or like you said, just upload pics directly to your iPad Album.
  • Looks great.
  • It’s Free! A huge plus in my book.

Cons:

  • It’s public and there’s no way around that. Therefore, can’t create and share anything intimate or have descriptions that you wouldn’t want to the whole world (which includes your employer) to read.

Thanks Mike for the quick review. I look forward to trying this out.

On a related note, there is another great site out there doing a very similar thing: Exposure. I’ll try to write up my thoughts on this in the future.

Sony RX100 vs. Sony QX10

By | Photography, Review, Technology | No Comments

Santa was awesome this year and took me by complete surprise and brought me a Sony QX10 camera.  What’s so special about the QX10?  It’s essentially a camera inside a lens that is wirelessly controlled by your smartphone (iPhone or Android).

I took the opportunity today (a brief winter weather break) to head out, test it out and see how the QX10 would fare against my RX100.  This is also a little bit of a review of the QX10.

Trees

Image Quality / Sharpness

I took quite a few pictures today from the same spot with the intention of seeing if I could tell a difference in the shots both in regular view and 100% cropped. Important to note, the RX100 is a 20MP camera while the QX10 is 18MP.  Additionally, the RX100 has a larger sensor than the QX10.

This first image was taken at the Observatory in Cincinnati.  

At first glance the images looked pretty similar.  The colors about the same and generally nice shots.  

Shot3

Then I zoomed in. The RX100 (image on the left) is drastically sharper.  Notice the bricks and grass.

Shot3_zoom

I headed into the Ault Park forest and grabbed this shot of a newly built bridge.  This was in a bit of a darker area to test a lower light situation.  Again, the standard image looks pretty good and is very usable.

SHOT1

Zooming to 100%, you again see the difference in sharpness.

SHOT1_zoom

What does this all mean? All depends on what you’re using your pictures for. Since the QX10 is meant to be an upgrade to your smartphone camera, then I would definitely say this is an upgrade from my iPhone 4S camera. I have not yet tested an iPhone 5 or 5S which may be on par with the QX10. If that’s the case, then the QX10 may not be the best option.

Bokeh

The ability to blur a background to focus on your subject in photography is known as bokeh.

Here is the QX10. Not much bokeh.
RidgeQX10

Here is the QX100. A fair amount of bokeh.
RidgeRX100

Without getting too scientific, the amount of bokeh you can achieve is dependent upon sensor size and aperture size. Larger sensor, larger aperture equals more bokeh. Given that the RX100 has a larger sensor and larger aperture (f/1.8 vs. f/3.3), it’s not a surprise that the RX100 has these better results.

What I love about the QX10

  • Bold innovation
  • Small size (on it’s own)
  • Loads full resolution images onto iPhone for easy sharing
  • Wireless control makes for easy self portraits of yourself and with others
  • Easy to get unique angles
  • Much cheaper than the RX100
  • Tripod mount

What leaves me wanting more

  • Very slow startup process
  • Inconsistent connection quality causes pauses during crucial moments
  • When attached to iPhone (using included bracket), much bigger than RX100
  • Image quality
  • No flash, so won’t really work once the sun goes down
  • Wifi solution is terrible

Closing Thoughts

The QX10 is a nice upgrade from the iPhone 4S camera and has some unique features that I can’t duplicate with any of my other cameras. Images are still good enough for web use and general printing. I know the QX100 version of this camera would solve my image quality issues (and some low-light problems), but it’s increased size would likely be too much for me.

What is keeping me from recommending to anyone (with an iPhone at least), and will likely limit daily use, is the amount of time it takes to take a picture. Anyone who has ever used a camera is used to less than 5 seconds from on to snapping shots. I’d love for Sony to adopt GoPro’s approach of allowing you to keep the Wifi signal on. Yes, this would reduce battery life, but if I knew I was going to be taken pictures fairly often then I could likely have a far better experience.

I have not tried this camera with a NFC-capable device. This is supposed to offer a much better experience that I’ll hopefully be able to have in the future versions of the iPhone.

Santa, if you’re reading this, I still love the gift, but I wanted to share my experience with folks.

How does the QX10 work if it doesn’t have a screen?

Using my iPhone 4, I search for the QX10 Wifi network, connect and then open the Sony PlayMemories app.

This camera can be used to take pictures without using your phone, but you then have to guess how you’re framing the shot.

How well does this work?

Honestly, not that well in practice.

Startup Time: It takes a minimum of about 15 seconds to be able to take a picture (best case). For comparison, the RX100 takes about 2-3 seconds.

Live View: There is often a ‘buffering’ that occurs where the image on the phone’s screen freezes, spinning wheel and wait. Really can’t understand why this happening when my phone is literally touching the camera.

The images in this post were not edited in any way. Both cameras were set to take JPEG files at highest resolution.

Startup Owner's Manual

Book Recommendation: The Startup Owner’s Manual

By | Book, Insight, Review | No Comments

If you’re starting a business then read/use this book. I’ve only just begun to scratch the surface, but I know there is a wealth of knowledge in here.

The book covers two main topics 1. Customer Discovery and 2. Customer Validation.

Customer Discovery is all about setting up hypotheses and testing them with your customers. Your original ‘billion dollar’ business idea will almost never be what customers actually want/need so you need to get out there and test, test, test. This will tell you how.

Customer Validation follows the success in finding something that people will buy. Now, how are you going to sell it? This will tell you how.

Here’s a link to buy the book from Amazon. Author’s Note: I don’t get a cut or payment in any way for recommending, but if you can tell me how I can then please do.

Side Note: Despite my recommendation do not substitute this book for people. The best resources at your disposal are those who have gone through it before. Seek out a mentor(s) and start learning from them.

Leap Motion Device

Leap Motion Initial Review

By | Review, Technology | No Comments

I recently received my brand new Leap Motion Controller in the mail.  I had a gift certificate from Best Buy so I figured why not give it a try.

I read about this project months ago where they were demonstrating a device that would bring ‘Minority Report-like’ controls to life.  Consider me interested.  I followed this device somewhat loosely as I wasn’t sold on motion controls, but with implementations like the Wii and Xbox Kinect, things have definitely been moving in the right direction.

Out of the box you have this tiny little device that’s about the size of a package of Watermelon Bubble Yum.  You plug it into an available USB port, download the software and you’re all set.

You are taken through a series of demos that show how the device tracks your hands and familiarizes you with the space you can work within.  It shows your hand tracking in 3D space.  Not a functional piece of software, but it gets you pretty excited to use this thing.  It’s amazingly accurate at tracking your movements.

Leap Motion Tracking My Hand

Leap Motion Tracking My Hand

Once you get past the Orientation you enter the Airspace store where, like the Apple App Store, are able to purchase additional software that can make use of the Leap Motion device. It’s a nice store, laid out well and easy to find new software. The selection is fairly limited for now, but in the past few weeks I’ve seen the selection almost double so there are obviously people developing for this.

What’s my take?

Now that it’s 2013 we’re starting to see some really great uses of touch controls on tablet and computing devices.  Remember when the iPhone first came out?  The touch felt more like a gimmick than an benefit and people complained that it would never be as fast as using their traditional keys on their Blackberry devices.  Now you never hear anyone complain about the touch screen and we’re seeing more and more UX/UI changes that really utilize the technology.  Swiping to access menus just makes sense.  Multiple fingers to access different functionality on the fly is efficient.

Why am I talking about touch screens when this thing requires you to touch nothing?  Growing pains.  Like every new innovate technology it takes years to be able to really truly make good use of it. Look at the Playstation.  It typically takes developers 2-3 years to able to make really stunning games that can use the full capability of the system.  It’s proven that that cycle is shorter now, but the analogy holds true.

Every day, more and more apps are added to the Airspace store by developers.  I give it a couple of months and we’ll start to see some original content that really takes advantage of this device.  It’s too early to say it’s not worth it; after all, I kind of said the same thing about the iPhone.