Saturday, August 17, 2013


From this article. And from Nathan Benn's upcoming book.
*Love* this shot. 
This is one of those rare ones which confirm for me the worth of photography as an art form. (As opposed basically to documentation and Spectacular Pictures.) 

It's a "me"

You can't say much in 140 characters. Twitter is not a medium, it's a "me...".

Zoom compacts are new

I just realized something I hadn't really thought about before: back in film days, there were no pocket- or even compact-cameras with zoom!

Funny how I got used to that without really thinking about it. Probably because it happened gradually in terms of quality. Around the millenium they could zoom, but the image quality was... let's call it Usable For Some Values Of Use. (And this Nikon 950 and its 2MP images were real dang good for the time.)

Our friend Bert made me think about it when he mentioned how today's good zooms were explained one day his compact camera broke, and he saw how much smaller the sensor was than the lens. The sensors in most compact cameras are around the size of a pinky nail!

If a zoom were to have the same size relationship to a 35mm film frame, it would be big, heavy, and expensive. And of course then you no longer have a compact camera, or an economical one. (Look at the Canon 6D with the 24-105mm "kit" lens. It's a chunk!) I am not sure what you'd have, but I don't think we ever had one! (For zoom in those days you needed an SLR, and then you might as well have exchangable lenses too.)

In other words, a compact camera with built-in zoom only came around when they became capable of making tiny sensor in good quality. And they became really good cameras when those sensors became really good, let's call it the mid-noughties.

Of course the weakness of the small sensor is that it takes in equally less light, and so low-light shooting is an issue, one they've been battling, and quite successfully since then. By now it's pretty much only camera phone which have problems with shooting in relatively poor light. And with some (like Sony RX100 not the least) you can shoot hand-held at night, because it has a much larger sensor than any pocketcamera.

In fact I'm wondering when anybody will really challenge the RX100. It's still standing in a class of its own after a year. 

Friday, August 16, 2013

Ashton Kutcher Acceptance Speech - Teen Choice Awards 2013

I think this was an excellent speech, especially considering the setting and the (state of mind of) the audience.

"I never had a job I thought was beneath me, for I was always just thankful to have a job." 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Design Museum app

This is one of those apps which really makes sense only after tablets came around.
Design Museum is a free iPad app from, well, Design Museum (London), and it's pretty cool. It has a nice selection of interesting designs (and not just products), and it has pictures in good size, pretty well informative, and even videos about the items (some more interesting than others).

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Micro Four Thirds will be (too) BIG

... And I don't mean "successful", though it probably will be that too.

In recent times I've talked a little bit about how it's a shame and a bit stupid that the bigger companies who are finally doing mirror-less cameras tend to go for the APS-C format (same as for DSLR cameras), rather than smaller ones like my current favorite, the Micro Four Thirds format (which is one-fourth of the old 35mm film frame, now called "Full Frame".)

It's simply that:
1) with any format, there is a certain minimum to how compact you can make the lenses. Full frame lenses, especially high-quality ones, are really durn big. M4/3 lenses are much smaller, but still not exactly pocket gear.

I feel that right now, and for the next few years, the M4/3 format is about the ideal compromise between quality and size.
BUT: sensor technology continues to improve. And it suddenly struck me that around 2020, Micro Four Thirds may be seen as an unnecessarily LARGE format! Because if things keep progressing like they have, by then you can get all the quality you need, even for most professional purposes, in smaller sizes.

I think only three things will break or stop that slide:

  1. Habitual thinking, especially from Professionals. They want it big. So a number of big cameras will always be around. 
  2. How small gear can get and still be very usable. Admittedly M4/3 is pushing this limit already. I'll say the size of the new Panasonic GX7 is hovering around the sweet spot for serious cameras. (The Fuji X10/X20 also feels great in the hand.)
  3. When you want shallow depth-of-field, it's easier to get it with a larger sensor. But two things are helping this: higher resolution makes DoF seem shallower, as we can see now with cameras like Nikon D800 (36MP). Also, I think advances in computing can make the camera simulate shallow depth of field, at some point probably better and much more flexibly than big sensors and fast lenses. 
So I think that in the twenties, Micro Four Thirds will have taken over a big part of the pro/enthusiast market, and amateur cameras will be based on smaller sensors. 
Full Frame will still be around for specialized use. I doubt there is much use for the reduced-frame DSLRs (APS-C) though, apart from sheer enertia. 
I don't see why anybody, at that point, will want anything bigger than full frame, so I wouldn't invest in Hasselblad or Phase One. 

An Olympus M4/3 camera with the high-end 75mm 1.8 lens. This one produces all the quality and optionally all the narrow depth of field any normal mortals would dream about. (It seems big, but a similar lens for full frame is twice the size/weight.)

Commercial for the new Panasonic GX7:

Bonneville Salt Flats

A spectacular night-time panorama.

It's beautiful how the stars twinkly like in real life. I guess it's an artefact of the pixels combined with the slow default rotation of the image. (A tiny prick of light may be brighter in the image when it's directly above a pixel, though technically it shouldn't.)

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Sony's upcoming "Lens" camera

Sony's upcoming "Lens" camera.

I've been talking a couple of times about how I'm interested in a large cameraphone with a really good camera, meaning you get the advantage of the big screen for composing pictures, and the phone for manipulating picture, and sending them, etc.

This Sony thing actually seems like a good solution to me, because you will be using your own phone, you don't need a new one. (It should work with both Android and iOS.) The lens/camera also have the sensor (obviously, otherwise the advantage is limited by the tiny size of cameraphones' sensors).

The camera only attaches magnetically. Apparently communication to the phone is via Wi-fi. I'd guess Bluetooth is not fast enough for images.

I would guess these should also work with tablets then. A camera with a high-rez 5- or 7-inch screen should be the bee's knees for composing. (A Samsung Note or a Google Nexus 7 or an iPad Mini.)
And then you can post and blog and whatnot on the same tablet.

Apparently two models are coming, and the big brother has the same lens/sensor as the Sony RX100, which is an excellent choice, it'd be hard to find a better compact camera than that.

If the whole widget works well and smoothly (a big if, since it involves wifi and two gadgets working closely together), I think it sounds kewl.

Monday, August 12, 2013

A home is work

[Thanks to Henry]

An ingrate

The 7 Deadly Sins of Happiness

The 7 Deadly Sins of Happiness, article.
3. Listening to people with nothing positive to say
Negative people are a drain on you. It’s impossible to become immune to someone complaining in your presence—even when you diligently ignore them, simply being in the same room with someone spouting negatives will affect your mood. The only way to really combat negative people is to avoid them. [...]

4. Focusing on the news
“The bad news is that only the bad people reach the news, because they are noisier.”
-Javier Bardem
When was the last time you finished watching the news and felt good about the world? 
In 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey points out that the majority of successful people spend very little time watching the news. The primary reason behind this is that we really can do nothing about what we are watching, which leads us to feelings of helplessness and negativity. 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Tickled pink, and then green

Why You Can't Tickle Yourself, article.
... But, when the robot introduces a delay of one-third of a second between their left hands moving the stick, and feeling the sponge move on their right hands, suddenly it tickles!

All well and cool, but it doesn't explain:

  • What *is* "being tickled", the sensation? 
  • What is the purpose of it? 
  • Why is the reaction laughter? 
  • Why is it so unpleasant despite the laughter? 
  • Why will so many people torture kids with tickling, despite that they know it's unpleasant? 

... Maybe it's only really unpleasant to Highly Sensitive People?

What's "Google Now"?

(See, this is why I don't like too-generic names. It confuses things and you can't find things.)
I keep hearing about "Google Now", but I can't find an app like that, neither in iOS app store nor in Google Play app store. What's going on?