Tag Archives: Technology

Review – the Olympus Stylus Tough TG-2

I got my hands on the Olympus TG-2 Stylus Tough series digital compact camera.  This is Olympus’s flagship tough waterproof camera, so this baby is definitely going to see some action in this messy family, and with any luck won’t see me having to get sand cleaned out of lens threads.

Waterproof to 15 metres, 2.1m shock proof (didn’t test that out though) and 100kg crush proof (also not testing that out, unless the Husband sits on it). Also freeze proof to -10 which doesn’t help those enduring a polar vortex right now, but still good to know I can take it skiing. But most importantly for me is its dust proof.  Keeping dust out of my larger DSLR set up really gets to be a pain in the arse when you are down on the ground trying to get ‘that shot’.

You can pretty much charge and go with the Tough, beginners can just leave it on auto and the iHS technology on the inside will figure out the settings for you.  If you put the camera on auto and just stand in one spot and move the camera around, and up and down, you will see the settings change from portrait to macro to whatever you need for the shot. It does this very quickly using tech from its big DSLR brothers, and its low light shots will surprise you with their clarity. It focuses in a heartbeat, with a 4x wide angle lens and an effective 12 megapixels.

We took it out for its first run, on a miserable day over the coast.  I can imagine that if the sun was out these shots would’ve been even better.  It also has a built in GPS, giro and compass which I’m yet to use to its full capability, but from first impressions it looks to be a useful traveling tool.   I forgot to mention it has a macro, an advanced super macro to be precise.  This has to be the best macro I’ve ever come across in a compact, especially a waterproof one.

There is software onboard for special effects, pop art (great to bring out colour in a hazy looking landscape), pin hole, fish eye (this effect looks very good, almost like you have the actual lens for it), soft focus, punk (which is a weird one that just makes everything hot pink), water colour, reflection (you can get very arty farty with this one, people will think you rock at photography after seeing this shot), miniature and dramatic.

It doesn’t have a secondary viewfinder or a shoe for a secondary flash, but it’s a waterproof camera so you can appreciate why not.  Actually I’ve rarely needed the flash because the bright lens copes with low light so well.  Battery life has proven itself to be good so far, specs say it’ll do 350 shots before a charge. The only little annoyance for me is the pictures are only saved in one format being jpeg, I’d like a RAW option.  I’m still looking into the FlashAir card option that apparently makes it so I can bluetooth pictures to my smartphone, which sounds awesome if I can get it.

 I’m excited by the possibilities this little camera brings. This weekend we will take it camping which is always very muddy times with our lot, I look forward to the results. Oh and it can charge via the usb socket in my car, very handy.  I will update this post with more photos of the effects as I take them, which will probably be this weekend when I dare take this crowd camping. I know there is no way I have explored everything this camera is capable of yet.

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Olympus Pen Mini – a review

I went travelling and decided that my big beast of a camera was too heavy to carry, and my pocket one was not going to produce the images I had in my minds eye.  So I went hunting for a baby DSLR, not knowing if there was such a thing, turned out there was.  I found the Olympus Pen Mini with a twin lens kit.

It is a camera that would suit those going from a point and shoot camera to their first DSLR, introducing you to interchangeable lens.  The mini has everything the larger PEN cameras have onboard, to look at it you wouldn’t know given it is able to sit in the palm of your hand.

With the zoom lens on.

I carted this around China, and the hubster took it to Vietnam last month. It was much lighter in our day packs that is for sure.  If you are a photographer who prefers to let the camera do the thinking for you when it comes to the settings, then this camera will make you look like an expert.  It does everything for you, in fact using manual on this camera is near on impossible.  There were a few occasions where I wanted to alter the depth of field and it just wouldn’t do it quick enough.  The manual control are there but you have to scroll through a few menu options to get them going, I’m more of a one switch person, especially if your trying to grab a moment.

It does however have very fast auto focus and HD video recording, and 12.3 megapixel live MOS sensor.  It has few buttons, excellent for the beginner, but a very shiny back display which is hard to see in direct sunlight.  I fixed this using a matt finish screen overlay cut down to size (meant for a smartphone).  It has some speccy build in effects too.

It can do this.

Out of the box you can get going very quickly and the battery life is pretty good, I can get a days touristy shooting done on one battery. I can rate the after sales service pretty high so far.  I cracked the LCD screen and needed it fixed, they did that and updated the software with just a weeks turnaround. And if you’re wondering what results you’ll get, check these out (click on the images to be taken to a larger version):

Lake George

 

 

 

Interested in my other camera type thoughts? I reviewed the latest Polaroid here.

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Polaroid Z2300 Digital Instant Camera – A review.

You all know that I am seldom without a camera about my person, I take around 1000 shots a month of which maybe a get 50 printed. If that.  I just lose track of which ones I wanted to do, forget, don’t have the paper or the toner, or space in the budget to pay someone else.  So you can imagine how the idea of a digital camera that you can edit and print from, was an attractive one.

My dad had an old polaroid camera, you would remember them as the kind that spat a square picture out the front and the picture slowly developed before your eyes.  I loved that camera, I still have some of the prints from it.  Polaroid is that camera brand that everyone has a little nostalgia for.  Enter the new Polaroid z2300 Digital Instant camera.  I was excited to get my hands on one.

 Yes it does look and feel like a little brick.  It does have a 10mp camera in it though, and takes fairly good quality pictures, but…

And you knew the but was coming didn’t you.  I’m not happy with it.

I will start with the good stuff.  It instantly prints 2×3 photos, which is fun and a novelty at events.  It takes 10MP photos.  The prints are stickers too, which makes scrapbooking easy for the so inclined.  You can make multiple prints of one picture, an option not available in traditional polaroid.  The photo you took was the one and only copy in those days. There is built in editing (minimal but some), framing graphics and colour hue options.  You can put an SD card in for loads more memory, it shoots video too.  It has old school switches for the functions like macro to landscape.  With a nice big LCD screen on the back.

Bad stuff… It is heavy and bulky.  I’ve nearly dropped it a few times. Awkward. It really needs a purpose built case, as the power button can be easily knocked on, even in a camera bag.  I end up carrying it with the battery out to stop this happening, as I was getting my camera out finding it on or flat.  The lens is weeny, like a mobile phone lens, sans the autofocus.   The door catch for the paper (film) loading is flimsy, I’ve bumped it open twice. The battery door rattles too, whats the story there?  The resulting prints are not that great, they are often very dark and kinda blue, yet the digital image is pretty good.  The built in frames are kinda dinky and look cheap, like I’ve used a dodgy free app on my mobile.  I can’t rate the software that came with the camera, because it doesn’t work in a mac and I haven’t been directed to a download.

Verdict… Made for fun.  Don’t expect anything more and you’ll be right.

The resulting print from the camera.

The digital image – see, not that bad right?!

The 2x3 print of Miss Georgie

The 2×3 print of Miss Georgie

The digital image, much brighter.

The digital image, much brighter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Photo Apps – my latest favourites

It’s been a while since I’ve done an App post, so I thought I’d share with you some new favourites of mine.

Starting with the latest photo app I’ve been loving, Repix – Remix & Paint Photos.  I’ve wondered how people were pulling off those awesome light trail photos (especially when I knew they lacked the photographic skills necessary), then I found this app.  You can do beautiful things with this app and the result is high res.  I recommend going for the in app upgrade to get the sparkler, stars and light trails option as these are the tools you’ll want to use most.  The app is idiot proof, with simple controls that deliver a big result.  You can check out the instagram feed of Repix’d pictures here.

KEY FEATURES:

- Unique, handcrafted brushes to remix your photos 

- Edit any part of your photos by simply painting with your finger
- Free to use with new brushes available to purchase
- Pinch screen to zoom in and pay close attention to certain parts of your photo

- Studio-grade technology and intuitive interface to inspire new levels of creativity

- Choose from images in your camera roll or import from Facebook 
- Made a mistake? Erase, undo or start again to perfect your photos

- Cropping and adjustments tools to add the final touches to your creation

- Share your Repix creations with friends on Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter and Instagram using #repix

Download it here from Australia Post   The Postcard App from Australia Post needs to be shared, why doesn’t anyone know about this app?!  It allows you to create a postcard from photos on your iPhone, you grab the address from your contact list, write your message and done.  Australia Post will print and send your postcard anywhere in Australia for $1.99 (that’s more than the cost of buying a postcard really)  and only $2.99 to send overseas.  You can even use this app while overseas to send cards to home,

What you get.

  but this time they will arrive before you do because you can get them sent from here (just be careful with your off shore data charges they can be heinous!)  I’ve put this app to great use on a recent trip to China.   The print quality is photo quality.  I’ve even been using to create birthday postcards for friends, very personalised :)

Find it here. If you’ve ever tried to get a good shot of the kids like me, you’ll find you have to take about a dozen to get one shot where they are at least looking in your direction. And you often wish you could pick a head from one photo and put it in another to create a shot where they’re all smiling.  With that in mind parents will love this app.  Another simple touch interface, no technical photoshop knowledge required.

groupshot2

“GroupShot solves a common problem found in group photos, namely one person who isn’t facing the camera or whose expression doesn’t fit the rest of the groupWith GroupShot, users can pick and choose parts of each photo, then combine all the parts to create the perfect shot that looks exactly the same.The usage is incredibly simple. All you need to do is to load your images, mark the parts you wish to replace, and choose the best option from the rest of the set.”

* This post was not sponsored. 

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Are you thinking what I’m thinking B1?

Probably not, because who would have thought that ABC2′s Bananas in Pyjamas now have their own apps!  Out now for the summer holiday break.  Bananas Pyjamas Beach Fun ($1.99 AUD) and Pyjamas Say Cheese ($2.99AUD) Designed for kids aged 2 to 4 years old.

These very simple and cheap apps are fairly easy for the little ones to navigate, and if they can’t they can just poke at the screen until something happens (isn’t that how everyones kids drive their iPods?)

The Beach Fun app is great prep for a trip to the beach, the kids get to apply sunblock, put on hats and sunnies or build a sandcastle.  They can knock down the sandcastle too.  I thought this app could be developed a little further, maybe they could go play on the beach or swim, but other than that it’s a good little app.

Say Cheese is a camera app, and who hasn’t got a toddler who loves to take a hundred photos of themselves with Mums iPhone, my kids love this one.  It has 10 picture frames for the kids to choose from, and then they can take their picture along with the Bananas.  Once a picture is taken you can dress yourself up in hats and glasses, or add extra characters and objects and save the resulting picture.  The Bananas commentate while you take the photo, which my kids thought was hilarious.  Check out an image of Georgie below, the apps biggest fan :)

Click on the images if you’d like to be taken to iTunes to download the apps :)

Every kids loves the Bananas, and I’d bet they’d love their very own Bananas dvd!  To be in the draw to win a copy of The Magic Trick comment below, and share what is your kids (or your own) favourite show on ABC2.  (Australian entrants only sorry)

Eight episodes of the all new CGI Bananas, now available on DVD at most department stores and ABC shops.

Disclosure: I received complimentary downloads of the Bananas in Pyjamas iPhone apps and a giveaway copy of Bananas in Pyjamas “The Magic Trick” DVD courtesy of ABC for Kids via Digital Parents. No financial payment was offered nor accepted for this post. All opinions expressed are purely my own. Winner drawn on the 12th of January 2012.

And the winner is LIZ!  My girls chose your comment as the winner, please check your email inbox for a message from me :)

 

 

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