Tag Archives: digital

Sony DSC-WX1 Review

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Sony recently sent me their new DSC-WX1 to play with and review in conjunction with an upcoming Sweep Panorama photo contest. I can tell you that I’m excited about this camera. I’m by no means a professional photographer, but I do enjoy snapping shots whenever I can. This camera has some amazing settings options, as well as extremely clean and clear pictures. Even with all of the various modes and settings, it’s not one that is difficult to figure out and operate, unlike other cameras I’ve tried in the past. Even without a flash or tripod, this camera does an amazing job of capturing excellent quality shots indoors. Now that is impressive.

I have to tell you about the most amazing part of this camera prior to the other things. I am so stunned by the Sweep Panorama option. You know how you take a series of shots to make a panorama? Then you have to use software to stitch them together. Well, with the Sweep Panorama option on this camera, you don’t have to do all of that. Choose this option, click the shutter, and slowly move your camera in the direction of the arrow. The camera will stitch the shots together FOR you. That, to me, is worth double the money one of these babies cost!

The DSC-WX features a 10.2 megapixel “Exmor R” CMOS sensor to give you amazing performance in low light settings. The camera also features 10 frames per second burst shooting – which is handy as heck when you’re trying to capture action moments.

The 10.2 mega-pixel WX1 camera has a 2.7-inch LCD display. It’s barely over three quarters of an inch thick. This is an excellent choice for those of you photographers who want to carry a compact digital camera that packs a heck of a lot of power and performance.

The more I use it, the more I love this camera. Thanks to Sony for sending this to me to review. Keep your eyes here for details of the Sweep Panorama contest that will be coming soon.

[awsbullet:sony dsc-wx1]

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How to Edit Video

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Most video editors suck. I don’t mean the people who edit videos. I’m talking about the software itself. Many of them require you to take classes in order to even begin to grasp how to make use of the program. You just want to edit video! Maybe you have video sitting on some kind of media like VHS tapes that you want to digitize, edit and share. If you’re looking to edit video without installing any software (or getting an advanced degree!) – you’re in luck!

Pixorial lets you easily edit your home movies online. You can upload your content from your own computer, or send old tapes to them and they’ll upload them for you. You’ll have your own password-protected account that stores all of your movies, right in one place. Some estimate the average lifespan of a VHS tape to be as low as eight years. Do you really want to chance losing all of those memories?

Pixorial lets you view, label and organize your video content all in one place, on your own password-protected digital video library on the web. It currently supports Firefox and Internet Explorer. Sadly, other browsers – such as Safari – simply cannot handle the high volume that is needed to temporarily store these files.

Making your own high-quality productions is fun and easy with Pixorial. If you can click, drag, and drop, you can produce something extraordinary to enjoy! Add titles, credits, transitions, and remix old and new footage.

Safeguard your memories today. Take a look at Pixorial, and see how they can help you make your life last a … well … lifetime.

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Can Analog to Digital Conversion Happen via FireWire?

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I’ve tried a few devices that could take a signal from a video switcher and feed it into the Mac. None of them really would work with the software I use to integrate all the different components. I picked something up at the Apple store as a last resort, and what do you know? It worked! The ADVC110 A/d Converter is exactly what I needed.

Use ADVC110 to connect all analog and digital video cameras, decks and editing systems. ADVC110 is a portable and easy-to-use digital video converter compatible with Windows and Mac OS computers. ADVC110 is the ideal device for capturing and outputting analog video from any FireWire-equipped notebook and desktop computer. There are no drivers to install and ADVC110 does not require a power supply when used with a 6-pin FireWire cable.

Features include:

  • Connects to all widely used DV and analog video equipment.
  • Compatible with Windows and Mac OS DV editing systems.
  • Compatible with leading editing and DVD authoring applications including Grass Valley EDIUS, Canopus Let’s EDIT, Final Cut Pro, Adobe Premiere Pro, Vegas, iLife, Ulead MediaStudio Pro, and Windows Movie Maker.
  • Audio-only conversion support.
  • No need to install drivers or any software applications.
  • Powered by IEEE 1394 FireWire connector.
  • NTSC and PAL compatible.
  • Color bar reference signal generator.

If you need to convert Analog to Digital and mount that specific signal, the ADVC110 is going to work for you. You don’t even have to install anything – there’s no “installation CD” included. Had I not picked this handy device up at the last minute, you all would not have been able to have live video during the Gnomedex conference. It may be a little pricey, but it’s well worth the cost. It works, it’s easy to use, and it’s just slick. Thank you, Canopus!


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Pay as you Go Internet… Good or Bad Idea?

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The only truth when it comes to Broadband here in America is that we don’t have enough. One community member wrote in to talk about the fact that he really doesn’t have any options for Broadband, other than Satellite. He generally uses his Internet in the middle of the night, when he isn’t subject to capping. The satellite truly isn’t much better than pre-1993 dial-up speeds. He’s asking about “pay as you go/use” Internet service, and what I think the future of it is.

This is just wrong to me, in more ways than one. For those of us who make our livlihood online, and who use it for more than just email, having limited access is damaging. You wouldn’t think Comcast would do this to you. You also wouldn’t think they’d traffic-shape. You also wouldn’t think they’d pay people to sit and sleep during the FCC hearings.

< silence >

Oh sorry. I was wasting your bandwidth there. I don’t know where my mind is. Do you understand what that could do? Do you get what they’re doing here? I wouldn’t put it past any large ISP to be doing this. It’s scary! If this happens, I can seriously see big companies start coming in to offer service that we need… such as Google or Microsoft. The ISPs would be in serious trouble at that point.

I use cable, because I do get better speeds with it. I have a DSL line that is dedicated to running the Live Stream. Heck, I know people who chose their place to live based on the type of Internet available to them.

Pay As You Go gives you the flexibility to use the Internet as much or as little as you like. You only pay for what you use. There are no monthly charges. Think of it like prepaid cell phone service. It’s the same time of plan and deals.

I don’t know. What do you guys think? If this were available, would you go for it? How reliable do you think it would be? Could Power Users ever be able to rely on it when doing business?


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ISP Tips

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I recorded a video not long ago about Bandwidth Capping from ISPs. I have a top-five list of things to look for when looking for an ISP. Here are some tips sent in by Lundberry to help you choose the right ISP for you.

  • What is there reliability in your area? While this might seem obvious to ask you would be amazed at how many people will go with an unreliable ISP because they are cheap. Is your time worth more than a few extra dollars a month to have confidence that when you go online you’ll actually get what you want to.
  • What is the cost going to be? Is the cost to add a little extra speed and confidence that it will work reasonable and how does that compare to the competition.
  • Do you get what you pay for? When you pay for a 5Mbps connection do you actually get 5Mbps or do you get 2Mbps. These things will have an effect on how you feel about your investment in internet. You need to ask yourself if your using cable how many cable customers are around here and how will that effect my connection speeds.
  • What do you need? Do you really need a 20Mbps connection to do flickr a few times a week. I am surprised at how many people will upgrade to a superfast connection for no reason. You can use that extra money you save to get better hardware which will help you just as much as that speed increase your paying for.
  • Is it Comcast? This one is pretty self explanatory. Though for me Charter is my comcast but I still get raked over the coals in terms of various different things are done to me. For instance the fact that I pay for 5Mbps internet and average about 1Mbps. Or the fact that no matter what modem I use I never can get a consistant connection to the service. Ie. I don’t even get an IP address from my ISP.


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Tips for Choosing the Best ISP for your Needs

The other night, I was having difficulties once again with my Comcast connection. Within hours, two different people emailed me with their Top Five lists of ways to choose an ISP, and why. Here they are… hopefully they’ll help all of you. This list comes from Azaas in the live community.

  • Don’t fall for marketing. Commercials and trends are not the things you wanna take into consideration when you’re choosing for ISP.
  • Always read very carefully what you’re signing for. I don’t know if that applies to the states,but in Europe many customers have fallen for the “up to x MB ” thing. That means that your net speed can reach that point but most likely WON’T. So many people end up paying more for something that they could have purchased for less.
  • Take the time needed and do a research on how user friendly the ISP is. I was trying to contact my ISP for like 4 hours,through their emergency line, and noone would answer my god damn call. That,trust me when i say,should be ranked as one of the most important things you should be looking at an ISP.
  • Never trust a new company just because it offers great speeds at low prices. What you want is take advantage of the know-how of those old time classic ISPs and not having to put up with the numerous problems a new company will certainly face.If despite that you can’t resist those low costs,take the time and see what people,who are already customers,have to say about that specific ISP. Cost should certainly not be the only thing to take into account when choosing an ISP.
  • Last but not least… always read the small letters. When i dropped my old plan i got a notice that the router they had provided me with should be returned within a week or i’d have to pay a 300 euros fee. The thing is that i was leaving for Greece the very next day,so i had to change both mine and my gf’s plane tickets which had a cost of 420 euros more than what we had already paid.

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 Camcorder

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With so many brands and features, it’s difficult to know which technology may be best for you. Here are some tips to help you in the selection of a Camcorder.

  • Manual focus. Do you ever get annoyed when you are trying to video tape something and the camera keeps focusing to something in the background? A focus wheel is a nice quick fix or if it is in a menu option you can have a quick fix but you won’t be able to focus if the subject moves.
  • Low Light Conditions. Get tired of having to have perfect light to see things if you want to make a quick video at night? A Night Shot Plus or another low light system is nice. I personally like the Sony Night Shot Plus it has a professional look at it uses inferred technology .
  • Battery. I have noticed some videos that the description is always, sorry the battery went dead. I find Info Lithium battery’s hold a long charge. There is also a few company’s that will sell bigger battery’s and have a connector clip so that it fits on the camera. I find these are very hard to get off sometimes though. So you might want to find a regular sized battery that holds a longer charge.
  • If you have a tri-pod. Sometimes it gets very annoying if you want to just take out the tape and put in a new one without going though the mess of taking it off the tri-pod. I see allot of smaller camcorders having bottom open tape “drawers?”. These are very frustrating because I know I like to get my camcorder on the tripod nice and tight and I don’t want to spend 5 minutes in the middle of shooting video trying to get the camera off the tri-pod.
  • Last thing, Firewire/USB. I got my camcorder and hoped to start importing right then. But what? There was no USB or firewire cable included. If you get this I might suggest reading what comes with the camcorder so you don’t get caught in this mess.

Current Camcorder Deals:


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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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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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