Tag Archives: camera

Wireless Camera

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Many of you have asked what I like to watch on tv. Right now, I’m watching oranges, using a wireless camera. The oranges are on the other side of my house, and the camera is tethered to a nine volt battery. The receiver is plugged into the wall, near my tv. Half of the receiver is plugged into the tv, and the other half into the wall.

All of this is possible, because of what came in the little box you see me holding. It’s only about $100.00. The signal, when close to the receiver, is really pretty good! It’s a little more secure than if you were broadcasting with a 900MHz connection. I’m not sure what I’m going to use this for yet, though.

The issue I have with it so far, is that I can’t seem to change the channel on the camera. Also, the wireless camera literally kills any kind of internet connectivity I may have in my home office. The focus can be adjusted, which is nice. It also has a little stand that it comes with, as well. You probably couldn’t use this as a full-on security camera. Whoa, wait! We could put it inside a teddy bear, and use it as a nanny cam! Or maybe… I could scare Ponzi!

Since I’m a geek, I think this is cool as heck. Some people may disagree, and that’s ok.

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More Help with Your Digital Camera (SLR)

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As you know, I bought a new Canon(SLR) camera for Christmas. One of our readers sent in ten tips to help me (and all of you!) along the way when using and/or buying one.

  • Megapixels are not everything. People tend to think, the more megapixels the better my photos turn out. That is true to a small degree but there are so many other factors that come into consideration like sensor size, Lens, Mirror etc. I could go on for days. For example you can have a 10 megapixel point and shoot and have a very small or very bad sensor thus your pictures will probably turn out well, not too good.
  • Some people say it’s alright to change lenses while the camera is on but over time you can cause damage to your camera because the sensor is electricity charged dust particles and such are attracted to it. It does not take long to flip the off switch and change the lenses.
  • If you live in the cold like I do chances are you’ve left your camera in the cold. First things first, Condensation, if you take the camera/lens inside after being in sub-zero temperatures the camera will condensate reason being is because it comes from something cold and is probably going into a house that’s around 65-75 degrees. Instead of taking it inside that moment if you have a camera bag (I hope you do) then take the camera bag outside DO NOT PUT THE CAMERA IN IT RIGHT AWAY. Let the camera bag cool down to the outside temp. Then put the camera inside the bag. Take the bag inside the house and let them gradually warm up hopefully preventing any damage to your camera and lenses.
  • This does not apply to SLR cameras Do not get non-name brand CF cards. It’s a bad idea to risk 200-300 photos. Sure their cheaper but they break a lot and in the long run you’d have to keep replacing them so stick with the name brands and save yourself the headache.
  • Treat the camera well. You probably paid 400$+ for this camera, treat it well. It’s not disposable you know. Put the camera strap on the camera, it’s saved me a lot when it slips out of my hand.
  • Does not apply to dSLR cameras Don’t leave film in your camera for extended periods of time. It wastes the life of the film.
  • When you’re changing lenses you can’t help but to inside the camera, It’s a good idea to look inside for dust and such on a regular basis but if you ever notice something like a screw out of place, don’t try and put it back in place or tighten it. It’s just not worth it. Keep shooting with the camera and if you notice anything wrong consult your manual or your camera company.
  • If your camera has a problem that you think you can fix. Don’t try it, chances are you’re only going to make it worse and probably break the camera because there are so many small parts.
  • Something I see happen quite a lot, is people with their damn flashes open, Yeah they are useful with you need them. Not when you’re in broad daylight and don’t even need it. So when the flash is not in use make sure it is not up.
  • Before even buying the camera. Go to a place that sells camera’s, whether it be Best Buy, Joes Camera, Ritz Camera, any shop that has camera on display so that you can test the camera out before you buy it, Test to make sure it does what YOU want it to do, Make sure it fits your hands they way YOU want it to. Make sure you like it before you drop over 400 dollars for it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve talked to someone that hates their camera because it does not work for them.

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Buy a Digital Camera

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You’re buying a camera, but you have absolutely no idea what is best suited to your needs. Even for a seasoned photographer, it can be tough. Try to keep these tips in mind next time you’re shopping for a new camera.

  • Read the reviews. This is especially important if you don’t know much about photography or cameras. Camera reviewers tend to be really knowledgeable and passionate people. There are many sites that have extremely thorough reviews that bring up very specific things that you probably wouldn’t have bothered to check out, like whether or not the camera has manual focus controls.
  • Make sure you see sample shots/footage Do some web searches for sample shots from the camera you’re looking at. Don’t go the companies website, because their pictures are usually done professionally in optimum lighting situations. Search on Flickr for the camera to see samples or on video sites like Vimeo, Youtube and Blip.tv. These will be from regular camera owners and users playing around with their cameras and it’ll give you a good idea of what you can do with the camera.
  • Go see the camera. So, you see the camera of your dreams, and it looks great, however just because it looks great on paper doesn’t mean you’ll love it in real life. For example, if the camera is too large or small for your hands, it doesn’t really matter how great it’s specs are, your are never going to be comfortable with it.
  • Watch out for scams Cameras are popular bait in online scams. If you see a deal that looks too good to be true, well, it probably is. Do a search for the seller and see what comes up. Last time I was looking at a camera I saw 3 retailers selling it at an unbelievable price, but when I search for their names I found multiple blog and forum posts for each saying how their were a scam, so even had pictures of taken from the addresses listed on their sites where they found boarded up or abandoned buildings. Just because the site lists a phone number, it may not be enough. Also make sure you know where the camera is from. Not where it’s shipped from, the camera’s origin. The camera might end up being from Japan in which case there will be no warranty.
  • Pay attention to the small details When buying a camera there are a lot of tiny things that you might not notice when researching a camera. Here are some of the most important ones:
    • Media types Remember to check out what type of digital media the camera takes, like SD, SDHC, Compact flash. Digital SLR do better with Compact Flash and SD and SDHD are more common in smaller point-and- shoots.
    • File Format Look to make sure that the file formats are something you can actually work with for example see if the camcorder requires AVCHD support, because many video editing programs have trouble with it and it is slightly lower quality than tape.
    • Viewfinder It’s a very handy thing to have on your camera, if you don’t care, you can ignore this, but if you do, make sure you check that out because while most cameras will have one, many will just be a little nubby thing that won’t do much for you.
    • Battery type Look for rechargeable Lithium Ion battery cameras as the camera will go longer than one with standard batteries.

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SLR Accessories to Buy

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Calvin writes: “Just watched you video on your new Rebel XTi. Congrats! I remember when I made the jump and it was great. As a hobby photograph,I used point and shoot cameras for a while. I thought I’d suggest 5 things that I found helpful as a DSLR owner.”

  • Additional lenses I’m not being specific here, because every “eye” is different. I like landscape shots, so my wide angle lens hogs my Canon body a lot. It always helps to carry more than one lens at a time, you never know when you need that Telephoto moment or that wide angle when you just can’t step back any further. Assuming you’re gonna stick with Canon lenses, be mindful of the difference between EF and EF-S lenses. EF-S is for the cropped sensor models e.g. Rebel XTi, whereas EF are usually for the full frame sensor models e.g. 5D. You can fit EF lenses on an EF-S body, but you can’t fit EF-S lenses on a full frame body. So if further down the line you trade that Rebel XTi in for a full frame model those EF-S lenses won’t work! Also, Canon don’t ship lens hoods with their lenses that aren’t part of the L range (argh!) so you’re gonna have to buy a separate lens hood for that lens if it’s not an L “Luxury” model. IS (Image Stabilization) is another feature to look out on lenses for if you find out you have more shaky hands then you realize. Since the body doesn’t have this technology and any IS you get will be from the lenses, the benefit of this that you can see the IS effects through the viewfinder.
  • Battery Grip Picture the scene, your baby is in Ponzi’s arms and is about to yawn for the first time. You reach out for your camera in attempt to snap this amazing moment…. only to find out the battery is dead. Not that this has happened to me, but you can imagine you’d be pretty livid if this were to happen, regardless of how organized you are with batteries. Which is why I recommend a battery grip for your Rebel XTi. Not only can you store 2 batteries worth of power within the grip, but it also allows you to hold your camera vertically much easier and has additional controls when holding it in that position. The official Canon model is the BG-E3, but if you find that too pricey, there are some other ones out there which are basically the same but don’t sport the Canon name.
  • Flashgun + diffuser Whilst the flash is acceptable on the camera itself, it can never fully compare to a proper flashgun. With one, you can adjust its angle so you can bounce the flash off walls or ceiling for a less direct flash. Or even better, use an off-shoe camera cord and manually control the direction of the flash with your hand off-camera. Take a look at the offerings from Canon’s Speedlite range, they’re sure to get you going a bit. I also recommend getting a flash diffuser. Basically its a small device which softens the flash from the flash gun, which is especially useful if you need that direct flash but don’t want the harsh shadows that go with it.
  • Tripods/Monopods Tripods are fantastic if you want to take shots which just aren’t possible handheld. I have a bit of a soft spot for long exposure shots, but that’s just me! I recommend something from the Giottos and Velbon range. Again, I won’t name specifics because everyone has their own tastes so I suggest you get down to the store and have a feel, tug at its joints and play around with it. A monopod isn’t a must, but if you feel the need to reduce the camera shake in those moments but don’t have the time to setup the full Tripod, it may come in handy.
  • Camera bag You’ve got the equipment, now you need a container. I have several camera bags, namely a backpack if I want to carry a tripod, laptop and a few lenses for a long trip or a small messenger bag for just the camera and another lens. Unfortunately, I find most camera bags look too much like camera bags and are begging to be swiped. I recommend Crumpler. It’s not cheap, but they do make attractive bags. And whilst now thieves have caught on that Crumpler bags are what more and more photographers are using, for the most part they disguise themselves pretty well as being passed off as just “a bag”. They make a large range of backpacks and messenger bags for photographers so do check them out. If you don’t mind that obvious camera bag look, check out bags made by Lowepro. Their sling bags are a favorite for photographers, and their range is very respectable.

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Digital Camera Tips

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Most people never open their camera’s manual because they are huge, and starting guides only tell you how to turn the cam on and off. You don’t have to read the whole manual. Here are some things that are well worth finding in the manual.

  • Focus then Shoot- How many functions does the picture Taker Button has? #1 Taking a Photo, #2 Focus Activate, and #3 Enter/Select Button (Share that with your friends!). So before jamming on the button, press the button half way the camera will take a second and show you if it is in focus, most cameras will even show you where it is focusing on; and then press the button further down to take a picture.
  • Learn to set your white balance – White Balancing helps your camera capture true life colors OR Capture Creative colors. It must be set Manually in every Location that has more than one light source (Like Shooting in the house with lights on in the room and the sun light from a window). Manual W/B is a must when shooting without a flash! You-Tube the Camera White Balance to get a better understanding on how your camera sees the world. After taking pictures with Manual W/B Don’t forget to set you W/B to Auto. Some people forget that they are in manual, so a day later, take a few pictures and then they realize that something does not look right. Also if you will ever have to pull the Cam out to take a quick shot it will be already in auto and you won’t have to waist time switching and missing the shot.
  • Learn to set your Light Meter position – Ever taken a picture and it was to bright or to dark? By default the camera is set to Multi Meter mode So…If taking a picture of a person wearing lots of white or standing by something bright the picture will turn out dark, or if a person wearing lots of black or standing in a dark area the face may be too bright. Most cameras can switch to a center point meter. When Switched to Center point, point the center mark at the person’s face press the button half way, the camera will set the brightness and focus, then move the camera into a position you want a person to be in the picture. Don’t make a mistake of Pointing the center point on to a person’s face ant taking a picture, those photos look bad, but remember when you press the button half way the camera locks all the settings so you can move the frame around.
  • Lock your ISO – ISO is the camera sensitivity. This is a process that takes place after the picture is taken (digitally brightening of the pixels), so the higher the number (sensitivity) the worse quality you get. Although you can get a brighter picture with higher sensitivity (ISO) The picture will come out grainy, so by locking the ISO lower the camera will have to use all other options to get the picture brighter. Experiment with it and learn more about ISO, it will really help you out.
  • Use Force Flash Outside – Some cameras fire the flash no matter what, and others only when it gets darker. I don’t think there is a camera that does not have a force flash setting. Usually represented by a lightening symbol without an A by it. Force flash really helps to get rid of dark faces or shadows in a beautiful day light – it’s called Fill-Flash. Play around with it, sometimes you need it some times you don’t, but knowing that can improve your photos.
  • Learn to set Flash strength – Rule of thumb: At night shoot with lower setting and in the day time crank it up. Sound weird right, but if the flash is set too high in low light, not only your will blind you subject but the camera will have to compensate for the strong flash and the picture will come out darker. During the day it is already bright so small flash will not help to get rid of shadows on the face.
  • Use Less Flash – Ever tried to take a picture but it never comes out looking like it supposed to? It is amazing what you can get without a flash ironically in lower light. Sometimes the flash is too bright for the situation or will only light up the closest object, or will make the picture loose the feel desired. Like shooting a Christmas Tree, Picture taken with a flash will loose the beauty of the Lights on the tree or candle lit dinner will look like a plain dinner with a candle in the middle. So experiment without a flash but remember to hold your camera extra steady.
  • Set Up Closer – When shooting in low light get closer to your subject rather than zoom in. Because of a small size lens, more zoom = less light entering into the lens, so walking up closer to the subject will help with getting a better quality photo.
  • Get A Tripod – Shooting in low light requires a steady hand, even slight vibration of a hand can make a blurry photo. Instead of razing ISO use a tripod. Most Pros use it always. Tripod can also help when taking a picture of a baby: simply mount the camera on the tripod position the frame and concentrate on entertaining the baby, when the baby smiles hit the button and you got the shot. Tripod is very handy in many situations so have one around.
  • Balance the Quality – Shoot at Highest Quality Setting But Not the Highest Pixel Rate. Setting a camera to use less megapixels while setting to superfine quality can improve low light shots. Most cameras when set to lower pixel rates combine pixels to create a larger one instead of downsizing the photo which helps in low light. Also when using digital zoom some cams take advantage of unused pixels to help-out in sharpness and quality. Check to see in the menus for different digital zoom settings to see if your camera can do that. You may get less zoom than a default mode but the quality will be much better.
  • Use Digital Zoom sparingly – Despite of all the advertisements, digital zoom should only be used in emergencies. More digital zoom = Less quality photo. Also if the camera does not have a smart digital zoom function talked above than consider shooting in highest quality and Highest Pixel Count and then cropping the photo on the computer. Some pros will argue that it is the best way to digitally zoom in a photo and get the best quality out of it. And Trust me 3 optical zoom is not “zoom” and will not help you get closer of your son’s soccer game as advertised, anything less than 5 optical zoom is basically a cropping tool that will help you cut things out of the shot when you can’t move. So if you need zoom Consider a camera with more optical zoom function. Those cameras may be a bit slower and bigger.

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Buying a Digital SLR Camera

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A community member at large sent these tips in after watching my video about the new Canon camera we bought for Christmas. These are excellent tips to keep in mind when buying your next camera.

  • When considering a new SLR camera, ask your self do you really need the SLR Camera? Most people want a better camera for better quality pictures, but as Chris said it is only a tool set that can guide you to a better quality picture. Are you up to spending lots of time for learning the skills of photography. If not you are almost not getting the item worth your money. Most Point&Shoot Cams can do a better job in auto than SLRs, Great Brains and Engineers worked hard to make these cameras to be as simple as possible for the user while bringing out the best quality: like best combinations of ISO and Shutter and IRIS positions to get a great picture. SLR camera can be considered as dumber than Point&Shoots, but if used right can out shoot any point and shoot simply because of the expensive lens and larger image sensor.
  • Don’t go for the highest pixel count. Normally 5 megapixel is enough for everyday shooting, but when camera has more pixel count the smaller each Pixel on the sensor, so it needs more light. For an average user the higher pixel count will only result in larger file size.
  • Invest in image stabilizing function – Digital or Optical ? both have +/-. Digital is a bit stronger because it is a before and after shot process, while optical only stabilizes before capture. Digital looses some quality while Optical does not. So try it out and choose one that fits you.
  • Consider semi-SLR – there are many cameras that work like SLR cameras but have all the features of a simple Point&Shoot. Although larger in size and heavier they offer many more features than a pocket size cameras and can be used in full auto as well as full manual mode.
  • Many stores talk down users from getting cameras that have AA Batteries. Use your brain on this one. Lithium batteries are faster and may hold more charge but you can get stuck without power easily. Buying a good set of rechargeable batteries will give you almost the performance of the Lithium’s but whenever you are on the road and don’t have a way to recharge you are stuck, AAs are available in the stores everywhere, while Lithium’s are not. So judge this one your self which one is better for you.
  • Bonus Tip! If you Chose SLR than Don’t fight about Canon or Nikon or Sony…. Go to the store Pickup a camera feel it, Press buttons, play with it. Which one feels better to you? They all have and do basically the same things. Instead Figure out your budget and spend half on the camera and half or more on the lens. Get a good lens with at least 2.8 aperture capability you will not regret it. Just remember you will change your camera 3 or more times before you will change your lens.

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Canon Digital Camera (SLR): Rebel XTi

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Back in the seventh grade, I won a prize of being able to take a few classes at the local Arts center. Back then, we didn’t have Digital Cameras. We learned with an actual film (SLR) camera. I fell in love with taking pictures that day, and that is one love that has never waned.

I upgraded our family to the new Canon Rebel XTi. The Canon EOS Digital Rebel XTi offers an unbeatable combination of performance, ease-of-use and value. It has a newly designed 10.1 MP Canon CMOS sensor plus a host of new features including a 2.5-inch LCD monitor, the exclusive EOS Integrated Cleaning System featuring a Self Cleaning Sensor and Canon’s Picture Style technology, all in a lightweight, ergonomic body. The Digital Rebel XTi is proof positive that Canon continues to lead the way with their phenomenal digital SLRs.

Canon’s large-area CMOS (Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor) sensor captures images with exceptional clarity and tonal range, and offers the most pixels in its class. This APS-C size sensor (22.2 x 14.8mm) has the same 3:2 ratio as film cameras, enabling an effective angle of view that is 1.6x the normal EF Lens focal length. With an effective pixel resolution of 3,904 x 2,598, the EOS Digital Rebel XTi offers superb detail and clarity, even in large prints, and generates finished files that open at approximately 30MB in your image-editing software. On Canon’s CMOS sensor, each pixel is captured with fine detail to create images of tremendous depth and resolution, ensuring enough information for even poster-sized prints.

The EOS Digital Rebel XTi is the product of Canon’s extensive in-house development: The DIGIC II Image Processor was designed specifically for Canon digital SLR cameras and enhances every aspect of image capture. Information captured by the CMOS sensor is processed and assembled into images of exceptional quality. With the DIGIC II Image Processor on board, photographers can expect natural color reproduction, precise white balance in any number of lighting situations and unparalleled clarity. The DIGIC II Image Processor employs sophisticated signal processing algorithms and works at greater speeds, all while consuming less energy.

Color or black and white… it doesn’t matter. I just love photography. This thing takes amazing photos with unqualified outcome. Ponzi and I are going to take some photography classes together. However, I’ve learned a lot over the years. If you’re taking pictures of people, keep in mind the “rule of thirds”. People tend to take pictures of people and things from a “centered” position. However, you can set better harmony in the picture by having your subject just a tiny bit off-center. It is just a dramatic change. It’s not “palpable”, it’s just there and very noticeable.

All in all, I’m ridiculously happy with this camera. Once again… Canon FTW.

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Casio Exilim EX-1080

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On Black Friday, Ponzi noticed that there was a great sale on the Casio Exilim camera, which is being touted as the “YouTube Camera”. I definitely had to check it out, since I record and upload a *lot* of videos. When you use your digital camera to take videos, they are normally very large files, and not formatted as an .mp4 file. An .mp4 format is the one that will play on YouTube, as well as your iPod, the iPhone, or even a Zune. So, I normally have to compress and convert the video files prior to uploading. This Casio Exlim has the .mp4 conversion capability built right in!

The .mp4 quality isn’t outstanding, but it is very good. It comes out as a smaller file size, which makes it nice to upload. I absolutely love the “best shot” mode. You can choose from things like backlighting, ID Photos, Ebay-ready photo, and even YouTube.

Casio’s Exilim Digital Cameras with the new YouTube Capture Mode makes it easy to upload and share your videos publicly or privately. With Casio’s new H.264 video technology, you can record high quality video ideal for playback on wide screen TVs. These YouTube friendly cameras allow you to capture your spontaneous moments and seamlessly transition them to YouTube.

When the shutter is pressed, the camera automatically selects one of nine separate focus points, based on which point is aligned with the nearest part of the subject, and focuses on that point. The screen displays all nine focus points and indicates which points will be in focus when the photo is taken so you can accurately create your photo.

Overall, I have to give props to Casio for this camera. It’s an excellent buy, for sure.

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Wireless Gadgets for Photographers

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The new wifi SD card for your digital camera is an awesome little gadget. You can upload your pictures immediately from your camera to any number of sites you have an account at. Photos shouldn’t be trapped in your camera. Set them free.

The Eye-Fi Card is a wireless memory card. It automatically uploads pictures from your digital camera to your PC or Mac and to your favorite photo sharing, printing, blogging or social networking site. No cables, no waiting, no hassles. The Eye-Fi Card comes with everything needed to make it simple to set up and connect to your home Wi-Fi network. After that, pop the card into your digital camera and start capturing those memories. It stores pictures like a regular SD card no matter where you are, and uploads your photos automatically as soon as you return to your home network. All you have to do is turn the camera on. It supports sharing and printing websites, including KODAK Gallery, Shutterfly, Wal-Mart, Snapfish, Photobucket, Facebook, Webshots, Picasa Web Albums, SmugMug, Flickr, Fotki, TypePad, VOX, dotPhoto, Phanfare, Sharpcast and Gallery.

This is very cool, and very easy. The only thing I’d like to know as far as a “wish list” for this, is if it will ever be able to shoot video directly over to the web. Now *that* would be awesome.

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