In the midst of rumors about Kodak planning to file for bankruptcy, the other photography once-giant Polaroid just announced a new product, dubbed the smart camera. It’s a camera, as you would expect from Polaroid, that packs an interesting punch. It’s powered by Android, which means it can do all the fun things you can do with… wait for it… A phone!
Camera makers have found themselves skating on very thing ice for a while. Every new phone (and a lot that can be had for “free” with a mobile contract) comes equipped with a camera that in many cases works just as well or better than what is available as a stand-alone camera at the same price point. Camera sales are slowing down or flat and most of that lost business goes to phone manufacturers.
Maybe not an entirely fair comparison, but as an example of how quickly things change… In late 2003 Canon announced the Digital Rebel (D300), a digital SLR with a list price of 899 USD (without a lens). The camera is capable of shooting 6.3 megapixels photos. In late 2011 Apple introduced the iPhone 4S. It features an 8 megapixel camera and in most parts of the world is free with a 24-month phone contract.
Something that has increasingly irked me as of late is the censorship that several web companies think they have to impose on the world. Who the hell died and made these people God, I don’t know, but it seems that every time I turn around my cozy little world is robbed of more of its freedom.
If you use Instagram (or anything on the net really) you are probably familiar with hash-tags. By inserting a # (that’s a pound sign in the US) in front of a word you let the web service you are using know that you want what you just wrote, recorded, photographed to be easily found by people who are searching the internet (or a part thereof) for the word immediately following the #. It’s an indexing mechanism of sorts. Very rudimentary, but it works. That is untill you want to share a photograph on Instagram and index it on the word “ass”. By the way did I mention this article is not safe for work? Oops! Too late…
While Instagram lets you type in #ass and gives you no grief about it, try to find a picture tagged with #ass. According to Instagram there aren’t any! I know that to be bogus because I tagged my photos (not all of them) with #ass. Read more…
I promise, the next article I write will be about something else. Having said that, there are 2 iPhones in my household and both recently got upgraded to the shiny new iOS5. So here are some of my thoughts.
The upgrade process: After using 2 Android phones for the past 3 years before switching to the iPhone, I have to say this is the worst upgrade experience I ever had. I am used to over the air, in place upgrades that, at the most, take 20 minutes. This one had my phone connected to my computer for over an hour. I got lucky! The spouse had to restart the upgrade 3 times making it a several hour ordeal (that somehow deleted all the music from the phone).
And unless the upgrade drastically changed the phone’s file-system, there should absolutely be no need to have to re-download all my apps from iTunes to the iPhone. Speaking of which, even after a full sync and backup my phone could not remember the folder structure I had created so it just started randomly throwing apps at my home screen where previously it was perfectly organized. Bad Apple!
Shiny new toy: Not quite! I love the new iOS, but mostly because it finally does things in a way that make sense to us old-school Android users. What do you know? A status bar that you can pull down to see your latest notifications (which calls you missed, who messaged you on Facebook) actually makes sense! Android users knew that years ago. If like me, you recently switched from an Android phone, iOS5 is a must-have for the “new” notification system alone.
The new camera features are pretty sweet. Finally you can use a real button (the volume up in this case) to snap a picture. The number of times I have been carefully framing a photograph only to find out that the way I am holding the phone doesn’t allow me to reach the on-screen shutter button makes this a really welcome addition. You can finally lock the exposure. Hurray! Unfortunately the iPhone’s native camera app insists on combining this with the focus point. Hello! Earth to Cupertino! It’s back to Camera+ for me, but I guess a lot of folks will find locking the focus more important than the exposure.
The improved weather widget FINALLY shows the weather based on current location rather than making me select a city. Cool! No really it is, I just checked the local weather and it’s quite chilly! The new “Reminders” app is all but pointless. Putting an actual sticky note on your Retina display works better.
And what is with not being able to throw the “News Stand” app in a folder? With not a single subscription I’d want to read, I don’t want this thing on my home screen any time soon. Problem is, I can’t get rid of it.
Fix that Apple! Meanwhile, now that the iPhone finally does stuff the way I am used to from my HTC Hero, I am happy as a clam (that ended up in chowder).
I will not go into my love-hate relationship with all things Apple today. Let’s just say I recently got an iPhone. You may know that I am an obsessive compulsive photographer. I am one of those people that forgets to bring a grocery list (or the kids for that matter) but never leaves the house without a camera. So I had to put this thing (the iPhone 4) through its paces. Coupled to Instagram, an iPhone is the most addictive device a photographer can own. Look in the side-bar of this site for some examples!
So how do I like it? This being an Apple device (and me loving to hate on everything Apple) I’d tell you this thing is utter crap. Fortunately, that’s not the case at all. It is quite the capable camera! But you know what they say about the best camera being the one you have with you. Well if an iPhone is all you brought, you might be in for some brow-raising results. You know, the kind that makes you go “WTF?” Like most people I take a liking to deeply saturated colors in photographs. Everyone loves rich, vibrant colors and there is nothing wrong with that. Apple knows this too, and they created a camera that makes photos absolutely pop! And pop… A bit too much.
Several times now, the iPhone camera unpleasantly surprised me. It seems to over-saturate photos. That makes images brighter (Yay!), but it also means a loss of detail (Boo!) that no amount of post-fiddling will bring back. To make matters worse, it seems to do so on selective colors leading to very unnatural and unbalanced results. The first time I really noticed the iPhone camera “screwing up” was when I was casually trying to take a picture of a Coke bottle (if you must know, Coke Australia started printing names on Coke bottles and I noticed the name of a friend of mine on the supermarket shelf).
Take a look at the detail (or rather lack thereof) of the bottle label. It’s so flat it might as well be an illustration! Then take a look at the entire photograph. Doesn’t look right, does it?
What about HDR?
Without going into what HDR is (Google it) that soda bottle image could have possibly been saved by using HDR. Shame on me for not turning it on. I find however, that in most cases Apple’s implementation of HDR makes the wrong decisions. If the differences in lighting are only subtle I often reject the HDR result as worse than the original. Furthermore, using it stops my work-flow because I have to wait for the camera to calculate and save the optimized image. I get that HDR takes three photos and then has to “mash” them together, that takes time of course. But why do all that processing while I am snapping pictures? Just save the raw images, let me continue working and do all the heavy lifting when I am ready to view the results! In the end, it being more of a nuisance to me than anything else, HDR only very rarely pops into my mind.
So there you have it, my gripes about the iPhone 4 camera. Do I have anything good to report? After all, didn’t I say earlier that it was quite a capable camera? I have a decent arsenal of cameras, from a Canon EOS 550D all the way down to a crappy Kodak EasyShare. The iPhone comes in somewhere above the Kodak but below my other Point-and-Shoot the Nikon S3000. I am suspecting however, that the latter will not be used as often in the future. While the over-saturation isn’t something that can be ignored, the iPhone still is a very solid camera. It’s almost like Apple designed the camera first and then decided to build a phone into it (who knows, that could very well be the case). It works as well as most any small digital camera and if all you want to do is take snapshots of the grand kids, you would do well to go to your local cell-phone retailer to buy your next camera. The retina display is awesome! Matter of fact it’s better than the display in my DSLR.
The other day I found myself walking around with my DSLR doing some “serious” stuff. I couldn’t help but also take an iPhone photo of everything I was shooting. While the blown highlights due to saturation and over-exposure the iPhone has a penchant for were a problem, I ended up using the iPhone photo as a color reference while Photoshopping the photograph shot with my Canon. Not bad for a camera I got for free with a 2-year contract.
Haven’t been here in a while, but I hope that is about to change. I freshened up the looks, now for some writing…
A California woman filed charges against Microsoft over “downgrade” rights. A similar lawsuit, by the same person, was tossed out in favor of Microsoft.
Microsoft no longer allows computer manufacturers to install Windows XP on a new computer. If you still want XP you can buy a new PC with Windows 7 on it and downgrade (under certain circumstances) to the older version. The lawsuit alleges that Microsoft makes more money from the downgrade than they would otherwise and therefore people that still want to use XP are unfairly penalized for opting not to use Windows 7.
The earlier charge was dismissed as the woman could not prove benefit from the practice by Microsoft. The flaw in the woman’s logic (and I hate to be defending the mogul that is Microsoft, but here I go anyway) is of course that Microsoft forces you to do anything. You have plenty of options! Buy a Mac, buy a PC with Linux on it, buy an empty PC and pick your own operating system. Hell, buy a PC with Windows 7, wipe it clean and stick your old XP disc in there… It’s your computer!
DISCLAIMER: This article does not represent the views of the company I work for nor any of its employees. They are mine and mine alone. In other words, it’s an opinion piece. Take it or leave it!
With that out of the way… Some of you may be aware that I work in the hospitality industry. The company I work for specializes in competitive analysis. In short, that means we spy on hotels on behalf of competing hotels (that’s the best explanation I can muster in half a paragraph). I am also a social media junkie, have given presentations related to social media at several conferences and pretty much live on Facebook and Twitter.
I am compiling stats on social media and hospitality for a presentation I am working on. Looking at some of these, I was reminded of the complaints being voiced by a large contingency of hoteliers on LinkedIn.