Ben Long, the author of many well known digital photography books such as Complete Digital Photography and Real World Nikon Capture NX 2, is also a senior contributor to MacWorld. Just recently, he reviewed the new Canon PowerShot A1100 IS.

As a testament on how far digital imaging technology has advanced over the years, Ben was surprised by the noise performance of the $200 12 megapixel compact digital camera.

One of the most surprising things about the A1100 is its low noise. Shooting up to ISO 400 is surprisingly clean, and even higher speeds, such as 800 and 1600, are very usable, even in low light. Certainly there are cameras that perform better at these speeds, but they’re also much more expensive.

To be certain, different people may have different standards on what are acceptable or usable. One of the users reviews on Amazon for the camera complained about grainy pictures even in bright sunny situations. The Canon PowerShot A1100IS only received two user reviews so far that are not all that glorious. However, its older sibling Canon Powershot A1000IS (10MP, released last year) have received overall very positive acceptance from users.

When it comes to buying digital camera, or anything, people are paying attention to reviews. There are reviews by professionals, which tend to be more objective, accurate and trust worthy. However these are typically not the people who are going to use them as often as the typical consumers will do. They may not have covered all aspects of the product or every possible ways people will be using it. So it is equally important to seek consumer reviews or experiences. Consumer reviews tends to be a little less accurate, incomplete, more subjective, and more noisy. Use good judgment and examine what is said against fact and common sense.

Posted in Miscellaneous on May 14th, 2009. No Comments.

The Modesto Bee has an inspiring article about how a Latvia-born immigrant, former group health insurance compliance and contracts officer stayed with her passion for art and photography and developed a fusion digital media format that blends images using photography as well as techniques from printmaking and watercolor to create an entirely new and different digital art.

When it comes to advices for young artists, Anna has the following:

Don’t be afraid. Let go. Let your creativity flow, and don’t worry about whether someone else will like it or not and forget the rules. Just be free. Most of us are born with wonderful imagination and creativity, but it is stifled and beaten out of us by the public school system and by adults who insist that pictures must look realistic — that the sky must be blue, that the grass must be green. When you get to college and if you decide you want to be an artist, you then need to undo all of that learning and relearn to be free and creative again. True art is creativity. There are many people who can learn technique, who can copy from photographs and pictures. That isn’t really true art. True art is new and creative and comes from the soul; it’s expression and emotion. Don’t be afraid to show yours.

For many of us, perhaps we spend too much more time worrying about gears than developing skills, or become complacent after getting some nice looking photos. The limit of our potentials are coming from within ourselves.

Check out Anna’s work here.

Posted in Inspiration on May 10th, 2009. No Comments.

The upcoming update to the iPhone OS software, version 3.0, promises 100 new features and 100o new programming APIs. People who got hands on the latest beta version of the iPhone 3.0 OS software have seen photos with noticeably better quality and clarity. The difference is quite dramatic.

The 2.0 megapixel camera on the iPhone 3G is hardly worth mentioning compared to most compact point & shoot cameras that are offering sensors in 8-12 megapixel range. However the convenience of having a camera all the time without filling up two pockets is indispensable for many people. The ability to keep track of  where the photos are taken (geotagging) with the built-in GPS is another definite plus.

Posted in Miscellaneous on May 8th, 2009. No Comments.

It is interesting to see that my second most popular post on this blog is about how to find out the total shutter actuations. There could be some curiosity elements from regular DSLR owners but I am wondering if lots of people are selling or buying second hand gears.

It also seems that the old cameras, such as D70/D70s, D200, are still being actively used. The following is the Camera Finder stats for Nikon I found on Flickr sorted by the number of members. First of all, no point & shoot cameras are in top ten (I guess the reason is that there are so many P&S models). Secondly, high end models are significantly less popular than mid or low end models, factoring in the release times of the products.


Overall, the most popular (DSLR) camera chart is dominated by Canon, leading by its 10.1 MP Canon Digital Rebel XTi (400D) that was introduced in 2004. Only the Nikon D80 is in the top 5.

In the point & shoot category, Canon completely dominates, with the 8MP Canon PowerShot SD1100IS showing a impressive surging popularity curve.

Can you guess the most popular camera phone? I guess it is too easy: the Apple iPhone. However the chart seems to show that the popularity has leveled off, after beating the Nokia N95 a while ago. I guess it is difficult for people to sustain interest in posting crappy low resolution photos even from a great phone.

Posted in Miscellaneous on April 29th, 2009. No Comments.

Today, April 22, is the Earth Day! Digital photographers can certainly do something with their cameras to  show appreciation of the planet’s environment. This New York Times article reported some photography projects to promote environmental awareness.

In addition, check out the Earth Science Picture of the Day and Earth Day news around the globe.

Posted in Miscellaneous, News on April 22nd, 2009. No Comments.

When a photo gallery or photo sharing website holds your digital photos hostage and demands payment to avoid the total destruction of your photos that were uploaded to the site based on the promise of “free” service, consumers like you can get stuck. When you clicked on “Accept” on the Terms and Services (TOS) during sign-up process, you might not have read it thoroughly and you perhaps missed the fine prints in the TOS allowing them to change the TOS whenever they want.

That’s what happened to a user of Kodak Gallery. The customer found out that she now has to spend at least $4.99 a year  on prints or other products to keep her photos on Kodak Gallery from being deleted. It certainly sucks standing in the consumer’s shoes. However the business has the goal of making money.  Kodak simply wants to focus on its best customers, not folks who merely want to take advantage of free picture storage. And its new rules are hardly unusual in the online photo business.

Even if you pay for the service from beginning, it is still not certain you will have access to the original photos without paying extra. Some sites are charging extra to download original high resolution photos. Some sites may suddenly go out of business and take all of your photos with it. Especially for those sites are offering unlimited free storage and sharing but doesn’t seem to have any valid business model to generate revenue.

What’s the virtue of the story? Keep a safe backup of your own photos yourself.

Posted in Legal issues, Miscellaneous on March 28th, 2009. No Comments.

Some people just don’t want to let go the old film stuff even through it is getting more difficult to get the films developed as the number of shops that offer such services dwindles. The purists still believe film offers better image quality and the digital shooters are only as good as their Photoshop skills. Perhaps true… and digital cameras do take away the enjoyable moment when you are handed over the printed photos after a long wait. One can also argue that digital shooters tend to be less skilled because they can often retake the photos if the first one isn’t good without the worries of wasted film, reducing the incentives to develop the rigorous skills needed to nail the shots the first place.

Film is not the only one in danger. There are also dangers for digital shooters. The digital storage media won’t last very long. Flash memory cards are guaranteed to keep the data for no more than 10 years. Hard drives can fail in high rate after as short as 3-5 years of use. The optical media such as CD, DVDs may last anywhere from 20 to 100 years. The other danger is from technology development itself: some technologies and associated media formats can become obsolete very quickly. It will be difficult to find the devices that can read the data from them. Or there will be no software drivers for the computers in the future to read the data from those obsolete devices. So it is essential for digital shooters to continuously invest in new digital storage devices to stay current with the technology development in order to keep the digital photos safe.

Posted in Miscellaneous on March 16th, 2009. No Comments.

The famous Actress Angelina Jolie is on the cover of Digital Photographer Magazine issue #79. As expected, she looks fabulous. However, you might have a different perspective after watching this video titled Sex, Lies and Photoshop and going through some examples.

In the digital age, the truth can sometimes be enhanced beyond recognition and reality is buried in the zealous pursuit of visual impacts. How wonderful it is to be able to create a perfect fantasy world.

Posted in Miscellaneous, News on March 13th, 2009. No Comments.
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