Category Archives: Cameras

Brief stuff

It’s a bit quiet here this week, probably because I’m busy and Josh is away offline somewhere in Gippsland.

Google have announced the Anita Borg scholarship programme is now running in Australia, offering A$5000 scholarships to women studying at undergraduate or postgraduate level in computer science in Australia.

One of the oldest games software houses in the world, let alone Australia, Melbourne House is in trouble, and likely to be sold/offloaded by Atari in the near future.

Another example of where being geek luddite is good: Dans Data on why the latest and greatest X mega-pixel cameras aren’t good value for money. I’m sticking with my 3.1MP Canon A70, thanks — for web and domestic use, it’s great.

Nothing lasts forever. This page logs the deaths of free email services: Free email DeathWatch.

Economics of Digital Cameras

I was reading a backissue of Money magazine where Paul Clitheroe made a remarkably insightful analysis of film vs digital cameras (Money, June 2005, pg 20 am I better off With a digital or film camera?).

One thing he noted is that acquiring a digital camera turns you into a shutterbug; I would suggest spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on a camera has that effect, but the zero-cost of each individual photo certainly does help. He notes that in bangs-per-buck, film beats digital – and he’s right. Not only are digital cameras more expensive to acquire for the features you get, but (at the time of the article) processing costs were higher too. Couple that with the poorer image resolution you get from digital images (super high-end digital cameras are only now approaching the image resolution of $20 compact cameras) and you would have to be nuts to go digital.

Unless you don’t actually process your images. As a general rule, I don’t. In the last eleven months I’ve taken… let’s see… 10,327 images (I was wondering what would happen to the camera when it rolled over 10K images, because the manual hints that you might have to re-format your media; turns out that’s not the case). Recently Cathy and I took advantage of a Harvey Norman promotion and trebbled the number of images we’d printed, to a total of 200. We might have spent $50 on printing all up. That would have bough 240 frames of analogue film in processing costs, but we only printed out the winners. If the full 10K images had been processed we may have spent $2000 on processing. That’s a bunch of money. I suspect I would have husbanded my shots more if I’d spent the same amount of money on a film camera. In fact, there’s no way on God’s green Earth I would have spent that much money on a film camera. Something about perceived value differences. Anyways, the camera has been fun, and I think given the thrashing it’s been getting, I’ve been getting value for money from it. Which I’m a little surprised by, because it was a lot of money.

For me, the big advantage of digital is that I can learn to be a better photographer at no marginal cost. And Paul says that at National Geographic, photographers average 350 rolls of film (almost 12600 frames) per story, with an average of 10 published. So, if I was a professional grade photographer using professional equipment, one in twenty of the photos I’ve printed would be magazine quality.

Sony, Llamasoft, and stitching

Turns out Sony has a Mac version of DRM, too.

Meanwhile, Texas is suing, possibly for $100K per violation… times 2.1 million CDs sold??? (Thanks Lana)

Jeff “Llamasoft” Minter contributed some of the visualisations in the XBox 360 media player.

Research at the University of British Columbia has come up with stitching software that many say out-performs that provided with digital camera software.

Digital SLR: Initial thoughts

So, When Canon introduced the EOS350D, they obsoleted the EOS300D and ran it out at stupidly low prices… well, that’s the justification I used when I bought one last week.

Anyways, I knew when I bought it the 300 runs USB 1.1 rather than 2, and I can live with how astonishing slow it is to transfer pictures.

And the rapid shot buffer is only 4 shots, but I knew that.

And writing to the flash card is slow. Shooting at high resolutions and taking a rapid collection of photos do not go hand in hand. I didn’t know that, but the camera is quite a step up from where I was, so I can live with that.

And the RAW format! Nothing seems to understand it, not even Photoshop. Why have a lossless format if nothing can read it? Just store the things as TIFFs, for the love of God!

But the freak-out thing is the level of OS support for digital cameras. In XP, just plug in random USB memory stick and it works. Plug in a camera, XP says “hey look! A camera! Got a driver?”; if you say “no”, XP says “oh well, forget the camera then. It certainly can’t be anything like all those memory sticks. You’d be wanting to plug that super expensive SLR camera in so you can use it as a web cam, and I need drivers for that. You certainly wouldn’t want to be ripping the images off it to free up the flash card.” XP then proceeds to become unstable, requiring cold boots to get better again.

XP is such crap. So I loaded the drivers, and all the shitty Canon image manipulation software (excluding Photostich; that’s amazing, purely amazing).

On another note, why doesn’t my camera have a built-in MP3 player? How hard would that be? All that lovely flash memory and great thunking battery going to waste…

Oh. Final tip: to claim the GST back on “duty free” (modern equivalent) purchases over $1000, you need a tax invoice with your details on it. Or more precisely, the traveller’s details. Can be a trap for young players.

Little Dreams Coming True

At last, one of my longest standing tech dreams has been realised. I can finally sync my phone with Outlook. I know you’ve been able to do this for years but up until today I’ve never had the means to. Two weeks ago I got a great new Nokia 6230 so I purchased a connector cable off Ebay which arrived today. I could have used Bluetooth for my connection but this chews through battery life (more of which shortly) and a cable was cheaper than an IR usb adaptor. Now I have all my contacts and calendar information for the next 12 months wherever I go.

“But surely you had all this in your Ipaq?” I hear you ask. I did, but in an effor to simplify my life and reduce the bulge in my left pocket I am increasingly leaving it home in favour of my Hipster PDA. Another reason for relying less on the iPaq is the Pocket PC version of Microsoft Money never really synched with my desktop version and tracking finances on the go was one of the major reasons I wanted a PDA. Now I simply keep my receipts in my wallet until I get home.

While I love my new phone, I’ve even set it up so I can email photos from it direct to Flickr (see my test shot), I am not impressed with the battery. It advertises 300 hours of standby – I get 48. I’ve tried to get it replaced but am having nightmare time as Optus and Nokia shuffle responsibility. All I want is a new battery and they will never hear from me again.

No auto whiteboard

Butchers paper photoWhen you’re away on a weekend for a workshop, at a location off the beaten track with no provided technology other than 240 volts… and your IT resources are limited to what you bring yourself — a couple of laptops — and your group spends 48 hours scribbling notes all over butcher’s paper…

The way to capture that in its pristine, messy, original form is to bring along a digital camera with a decent resolution. Put the papers on the floor in the light, turn the flash off to avoid a strong reflection, and snap away. Worked wonders. Rotate them all to face the right way, rename them to something sensible, burn to CD. Presto, all the scribbling, to accompany and cross-check with the notes typed-in as it went.

Doesn’t help people’s messy writing though.