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Fuji Instax Cameras

29th March 2018

Instant Cameras on the Comeback Trail


When I was growing up, Polaroid instant print cameras were very popular.

After I bought my first SLR, my next purchase was the $19.95 Polaroid Swinger. The size of a small loaf of bread, the Swinger produced small black and white prints (about 2″ x 3″) in a mere 60 seconds. Instead of spending hours in the darkroom to see the results of my picturetaking, the Swinger provided me the instant gratification that today’s digital devices now deliver.

Before I knew it, I had several Polaroids in my stable of cameras including the OneStep as you see on the right. This model popularized the square 3′ x 3″ format prints in both black and white and color.

For many reasons by the start of the year 2000, the Polaroid Corporation was on a downhill slide and its bankruptcy claimed their instant cameras and film as a casualty.


At about this same time, Fuji was developing their Instax line. Fuji has since introduced a series of cameras that are tailored to multiple markets. Various models of the Instax are available in many different sizes and dozens of bright colors as you can see below. They include models for children, teenagers and millenials. I had a chance to see many of these models and displays at this year’s annual Wedding & Portrait Professional International Convention and Expo where I learned about Fuji’s continuing commitment to instant photography.

 

Instax film is available in several different sizes and with colorful borders.

The board on the right shows a set of instant prints that might be displayed for an engagement – in real time.


Instax Square SQ10

 

The Fuji rep showed me one of their new models. It’s called the Instax SQ10 and Fuji dubs this an instant print camera with digital features.

As its name suggests, the prints are about 2-1/2″ x 2-1/2″ square. The SQ10 has a digital sensor so it can capture images to a microSD card. You can edit and or enhance the images using the builtin LCD monitor. The SQ10 has 10 builtin filters and adjustments for brightness and vignette. Lastly you can immediately print one or more copies.

The SQ10 has a fairly fast f/2.4 aperture with autofocus, a builtin flash, a self-timer and automatic ISO setting from 100 to 1600. The film is packaged for 10 exposures.

The suggested price is about $230 and film about $12 per pack. For more information please visit Instax Square SQ10.


Instax Share SP-3

 

The rep also demonstrated the Share SP-3. This is a small, portable printer that uses the same square film as the SQ10.

It’s aimed at users who want prints of their smartphone photos. To use it you first install the SP-3 app onto your smartphone. The app then establishes an integrated Wi-Fi connection from the SP-3 to the smartphone.

The app offers several ways to customize the prints. There are adjustments for brightness and contrast, color and special effect filters, conversion to black and white and multiple ways to combine two, three, four or nine images on a single print. Additionally the time, date and location can be added to the print.

The SP-3 also lets you print images from a Facebook, Instagram, Flickr and Google Photo account so you can share prints with others.

The suggested price of the SP-3 is about $180. It uses the same film as the SQ10 costing about $12 per pack. For more information, please visit Instax Share SP-3.


 

 

Written by: Arnie Lee

 

 


 

 

The Litra Torch

28th March 2018

Tiny LED Lighting


As I was walking through the WPPI Expo, the display to the right caught my attention. And so I stopped to talk to the rep. Here is a small aquarium filled with water. At the bottom are two small cube devices. Both of them were brightly shining to demonstrate that they are waterproof.

The small device is the Litra Torch – a cube about 1-1/2″ in size and weighing a mere 3 ounces. It provides up to 800 Lumens of continuous daylight balanced light but is also adjustable to 450 and 100 Lumens. With it’s 80 degree coverage, it’s usable with most wide angle lenses. The Torch also has a strobe mode – useful for special effects while shooting video.

There are a variety of options for mounting the Litra. The body has two standard 1/4-20 tripod sockets. Its back is magnetic for attaching to a metallic surface.

For close up work, you can attached the diffuser (see below). It includes a mount when used with a GoPro. Rep Andrew Siminoff showed me a GoPro mounted with a pair of Torches that was set up for video recording (see below right).

The Torch is powered by a rechargeable lithium ion battery that provides about 30 minutes of light at the high 800 Lumens setting.

Litra also has a set of accessories for the Torch including bicycle mounts, head mounts, several handheld mounts, miniature tripod and filters.



 

The Torch is an accessory that you can literally carry around in your pocket to provide a convenient light source. Suggested price is $80 and includes the diffuser, belt clip, GoPro mount, USB charging cable.

For more information please visit Litra.

 

 

Written by: Arnie Lee

 

 


 

 

Scanning Made Easy with the Epson FF-640

If you’re old enough to drink (alcohol that is), then you may remember the shoebox in the closet stuffed with family photos. They sit there collecting dust until someone brings up a past event that has you digging through hundreds of prints looking for the time that Uncle John took you fishing and you caught your first keeper.



Our family has been taking and collecting photographs since the 1920s. As the unofficial designated keeper of the archives, I’ve been slowly scanning these photos with the goal of organizing, documenting and distributing them to the many relatives and friends among our (very large) extended family.


About the year 2000 I acquired my first flat bed scanner similar to this one.

Although a flat bed produces good quality digital images, it is slow and laborious to operate. Each photo is carefully placed on the glass top, the cover is closed and then the computer is instructed to start the scan. Owing to my lack of patience, I can scan only a couple of dozen prints using the flat bed at one sitting. Afterwards, I have to take a break. At this pace, it will be a long time to complete my archiving obligation.

NOTE: The flat bed scanner to the right is a newer advanced model that can produce very high resolution digitized images from your photos. It can also produce digitized images from film negatives (do you remember film?) and transparencies (slides).

For the many shoeboxes full of old photos that I have to organize, I’ve decided that speed is more important than high resolution. At this year’s WPPI Conference and Expo, I found a solution that is now helping me make progress dealing with the thousands of prints that have been collecting dust in the closet – the Epson FF-640 FastFoto scanner.


The FF-640 scanner connects to your computer with a USB-cable. The computer here is a MacBook but the scanner is compatible with Windows PCs as well.

Photos are stacked into the feeder face down. The guides on the feeder are adjustable and accommodate up to twenty or so photos of the same width.

The Epson software lets you specify the level of resolution – either the lower 300 dpi or the higher 600 dpi. While you can save hard disk space by using the 300dpi setting, I’ve always scanned at the 600 dpi setting since I’m not concerned about conserving hard disk space. You can also select a folder for storing the scanned images.



The photos are loaded into the feeder face down. The gray guides are adjusted to the width of the photos.

Here I’ve specified the name of the destination folder for the scanned image.


You can start scanning your stack of photos by clicking on the FastFoto software start button. Alternatively you can press the blue button on the FF-640. This is another nice feature since you can take as much time to load subsequent groups of photos into the scanner without having to reset the software.

When you’ve completed scanning one or more stacks of photos, the FastFoto software displays the digital images on screen. The software lets you enhance the brightness and contrast, remove red eye and restore faded colors of the original photo if you’d like to save editing time afterwards.


My mother often wrote “notes” on the back of the photos. The FastFoto has a built-in feature that lets you scan both sides of the photo so that you can keep the notes with the digitized image.

This is an example of a scanned image from a photo with a note written on the back.

The note refers to Steven’s school grade when the photograph was originally taken.


This is an old photo from the shoebox. The original was quite faded.

Thanks to the ingenuity of this scanner I can digitally record the imprint on the back of the original. The photo was processed in 1951!


Here is another old vintage b&w photo.

Conveniently annotated from 1950.

Below is a short video of the FF-640 in action. I can scan four or five dozen photographs with the FF-640 in about ten minutes. It’s an amazing time saver.

 


 

 

The FF-640 sells for about $650 – a considerable investment. However, I’m thoroughly happy with this scanner. It has saved me countless hours of time on my quest to archive the thousands (tens of thousands) of family photographs.

For more information, please visit Epson.

 

 

 


 

 

Summer Faces

31st May 2016

 


 

Just Faces

Here’s a small album of pictures that show you that Summer is here.

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 



 

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Feel The Fresh Air

05th October 2015

To be frank, it’s been a busy summer.

You can see by the dearth of recent articles that I’ve kind of neglected my editorial duties here.

The days are shortening and the air is getting brisk. Still I’ve been enjoying the outdoors and took a few snapshots to share that explain why I enjoy the Fall.






I hope you’ll be able to take a few minutes to take a deep breath of the fresh air of the Fall and enjoy the outdoors.

 

 
Written by: Arnie Lee

 

 

 

 


 

 

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Mylio – Organization +

24th March 2015

Organizing your Collections

The proliferation of high quality mobile devices has given professional and non-professional photographers alike more alternatives for capturing, storing, managing and displaying their images. But at the same time using multiple devices has made it more difficult for them to keep their collections orderly.

At the Mylio booth at the Wedding & Portrait Photographers International Expo I stopped to have a demonstration of their software and service that addresses many of the issues that crop up when using multiple devices.

Mylio bills its product as a rich photo management system to organize, edit, synchronize and safeguard a large collection of images.


Harry Wendt gave me a quick demo


Henry showed me that changes to an image on a laptop are immediately synchronized to a second computer, a tablet and a smartphone. You can choose to backup images to the cloud for additional security.

Mylio has three levels of service for $50/year, $100/year and $250/year that let you synchronize up to three, five or twelve devices respectively. The two higher levels integrate with Lightroom and let you edit RAW images as well.

As I was unable to spend more time at the demo, I plan to do a more lengthy review of this service as it seems to include many useful features.


For more information about this service, please visit Mylio.

 
 
 
Written by Arnie Lee
 
 


Canon 5DS

23rd March 2015

WOW – 50MP Sensor

The Canon booth at Wedding & Portrait Photographers International Expo certainly drew a lot of visitors who wanted to view and ask questions about the upcoming Canon 5DS.

The reason for the crowds was Canon’s earlier announcement that this new camera features a sensor with a whopping 50MP! This is a giant leap in resolution compared to existing full-size sensor cameras.

The camera body is remarkably similar to the 5DMkIII, both in size, weight, LCD monitor and controls. But it’s the inside where the action is. The sensor alone has more than twice the MkIII’s 22.3MP resolution. The 5DS uses a pair of the next generation DIGIC 6 processors to handle the additional pixel load.

A new feature lets you crop to either 1.3x or 1.6x to match the lens factors of the EOS 1D and APS-C respectively. In turn, camera blurs the cropped portion of the image in the viewfinder and provides resolutions of 30MP and 19MP. The mirror lock-up has also been improved to minimize camera shake. Canon has also added an intervalometer for time-lapse photography without requiring a remote control.

So while Canon has drastically increased the resolution of the sensor, the tradeoff is in the sensor’s sensitivity. The normal high ISO for the 5DS is 6400 compared to 25,600 for the 5DMkIII. So this is the price you’ll pay for higher resolution.



The 5DS autofocus uses the same 61AF points as the 5DMkIII. The metering is composed of 150,000 pixels RBG+IR found in the 7DMkII and is said to provide better exposures with artificial lighting.

In addition to the 5DS, Canon is also offering the 5DSR. The 5DSR cancels the low-pass filter to provide higher edge sharpness – useful for detailed subjects such as landscapes. Both cameras are scheduled for June release for prices of $3700 and $3900 respectively.

You’ll also notice that one of the photos above shows Canon’s new 11-24mm super wide angle zoom lens. This is not a fisheye, it’s a rectilinear but comes at a hefty $3000 price.

 

 

Written by Arnie Lee


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The Consumer Electronics Show – Accessories for Photographers

 

I’ve been attending the Consumer Electronics Show for more than 30 years. This huge expo is the premier showcase for new and innovative products that are slated for homes and businesses this year.

 

While walking the several miles of aisles at the Las Vegas Convention Center, a couple of areas especially caught my attention: 3D printers and drones. You can read my show reports here: 3D Printing Technology and Drones.

 

But as someone who also has a keen interest in photography, here are a few of the photo accessories that stood out at the show.


Hisy and Halo Remotes

 

Here’s are two tiny little accessories for those of you who are fans of “selfies”.

 

Basically the Hisy and Halo are bluetooth shutter release for you smartphone. The Hisy is for iOS devices and the Halo is for Android devices.

To the right is the “selfie” of Jackie and myself that we took with her Android smartphone.

They also have the Wing – a selfie stick.

The suggested price of the Hisy and Halo is $24.99. The suggested price of the Wing is $29.95.

For more information, please visit HisyPix.

 



Nanuk Camera Cases

If you’re rough on your camera equipment, you may want to look at Nanuk’s cases. PlastiCase makes some very durable protective cases.

Below is one of their smaller cases. It’s made of a impact resistant plastic, has sure-lock latches, soft-grip handle and is waterproof. This 903 model easily accommodates one of my mirrorless cameras with an 18-200mm lens attached. I’ve removed the foam padding to show the spacing.

The Model 903 has a very affordable suggested price of $25.

 

PlastiCase makes about two dozen different cases in various sizes. For more info, please visit PlastiCase.

 



EnerPlex Solar

EnerPlex is a manufacturer of a variety of solar chargers.

If you’re shooting out in the field for any length of time and run out of juice, these solar chargers may prove invaluable. They are compact, foldable and ruggedized.

On the right, you can see solar chargers built into backpacks. EnerPlex has two backpack models: Packr Executive $130 and Packr Commuter $100.


Kickr IV+ on left produces 6 watts nx Kickr II in center produces 33 watts

Commander-XII produces 19 watts for laptops and tablets

For more info, please visit EnerPlex.

 



Thule Camera Bags

Thule is probably best known as the maker of the well-built and ergonomic car top carriers.

This Swedish company also has a stylish line of camera bags and backpacks.


I found their line of bags to be both attractive and practical.

Their new Legend GoPro Backpack was introduced at the show.

Designed and built for rugged outdoor use, you can mount two GoPro cameras directly to the backpack – one forward-facing the other backward-facing. The outermost compartment has die-cut foam insert for GoPro accessories. It’s lightweight and crushproof (EVA shell) and has several other padded compartments for safe transport of camera accessories, hydration reservoir and smartphone.

Thule tells me that the Legend GoPro Backpack will be available in May. Suggested price is $199.

For more info, please visit Thule.

 



Meikon Diving Equipment

For divers and shooters needing protection against water, Meikon had a large array of waterproof housings and accessories for many popular camera models.

On display were housings for Sony mirrorless, Nikon D7000, Canon 5D, Canon M, Canon T2i, T3i, T4i, T5i, Panasonic GF2, GF3, GF5 and GF6.

Meikon also has a nice selection lighting equipment and brackets.

For more info, please visit Meikon.

 



 
 

This concludes my reports from CES.

As usual, I’m excited when I return home from CES. Maybe a few of my finds will get added to my wish list for this year.
 
 
Written by: Arnie Lee
Updated 02/20/2015
 
 


 

CES 2015 – The Drones

24th January 2015

The Consumer Electronics Show – Drones

 

For more than 30 years, I’ve started the New Year with a trip to the Consumer Electronics Show. CES is the premier showcase for new and innovative techie products that are in line to hit the store shelves.

This year I notice the proliferation of 3D printers and picture-taking drones at the show.

Earlier, I wrote a short article about 3D Printing Technology that I saw at CES.

There’s plenty of controversy surrounding the use drones for commercial purposes, manufacturers from around the world are gearing up for battle as they try to outdo each other on features, price, and speed to market. This article presents several of the picture-taking drones that I saw at the show.


Robotix Ghost+

This is the Ghost+ quadcopter.

Its payload is a GoPro camera mounted on a controllable gimbal and has a GPS receiver, gyroscopic controller for smooth flight, retractable landing skids and can stay airborne for 18 minutes.

The WiFi module lets you stream the video remotely to a smartphone and/or tablet.

The suggested price of the Ghost+ is $1300.

For more information about the Ghost+, please visit Thunder Tiger Group.

 


DJI Inspire 1

This is DJI’s newest model – Inspire 1. It has a bult-in gimbal-mounted 4K video camera that can be remotely positioned, real-time feed to the controller and automatic takeoff and landing.


while in the air, the landing pods fold into the “up” position for obstruction-free video recording

Price is $3400 with dual remotes – one for flight control and the other for camera control.

For more info, please visit DJI.

 


Proto-X FPV

The FPV quadcopter is equipped with a 1280 x 720p video camera.

Notice that the controller has a built-in video screen that displays the captured video in real time. It is gyro stabilized for steady movie.

The suggested price is $350.

For more info, please contact Hobbico 


Zano – the nano drone

Zano calls itself a “sophisticated nano drone”. It’s so small that it fits in the palm of your hand.

Your smartphone or tablet is the controller. Simply tilt your phone left, right, forward or backward and the Zano follows. Other onscreen icons control the altitude, rotation, capture, etc.

This is a prototype model and Zano tells me that production begins in July 2015. Price in UK Pounds £170.

For more information, please visit Zano.


 

As a former participant in the flight simulation industry, I’m in awe of the drone “landscape”.

As I watch these new models flying at CES, I am amazed at how quickly the technology surrounding drones has progressed. In addition to highly competitive prices, these devices are much easier to fly – many with auto takeoff and auto landing capability – and features such as gimbals, streaming and navigation are truly impressive.

Written by: Arnie Lee


 

Flying Museums

11th December 2014

Warbirds up Close

For more than a 15 years in one of my previous careers, our company was immersed in the world of flight simulation.

One of the most enjoyable parts of the job was attend the many aviation air shows and events. Yearly we would trek to Florida, California, New York and Wisconsin to name a few places where we could see and touch a multitude of flying machines. My favorite time was strolling along side the many historic aircraft from World War II.

Here’s an up close look at of some of the warbird aircraft that we eagerly visited but from a slightly different viewpoint than you would ordinarily see.


Dakota Kid – North American P-51D Mustang

Marine’s Dream – Vought F4U Corsair

Hot Stuff – Lockheed PV-2 Harpoon

Miss Magic – North American T28B Trojan

Annie Mo – Vought F4U Corsair

VMF – unknown Marine Fighter Squadron aircraft

Panchito – North American B-25J Mitchell

Martha Jean – North American B-25J Mitchell

 
I think you’ll agree that there is certainly a lot of artistic pride and patriotic flavor to these fine examples of nose art.
 
 
Written by: Arnie Lee
 
 

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