Sony RX10 ii Unboxing Reveals new 4K Powerhouse

The Sony RX10 Mark 2 just hit the Geekanoids studio and thanks to Park Cameras we have one of the first unboxing videos on YouTube. Check out the video below to see what you get inside the box and for a look around this powerful piece of kit.

I really want to make sure that you do not overlook this camera. Many advise the purchase on a DSLR or Interchangeable Lens Camera, only to find that you just use one lens, more often than not, the kit lens. What you get with the Sony RX10ii is a bridge camera, with a fixed lens. However, this is an impressive piece of glass and has a constant f2.8 aperture throughout the zoom range. Sony also included a stacked image sensor on this second gen RX10. This equates to DRAM being stacked on the sensor, resulting is a 5x faster readout than conventional models. 

OK, enough of the tech talk. This new beast of a camera delivers 4K internal video recording, a gorgeous lens, microphone input and headphone monitoring output too. Everything you need to capture extremely high quality video. The lens resolves a lot of detail too, so your videos have the potential to exceed the quality of a DSLR with a larger sensor costing twice the price. Add to this high speed frame rate capture (so you can do those crazy slo-mo videos), plus a decent 20-megapixel camera and it is a very compelling proposition. Stay locked to The Geekanoids Channel for indoor & outdoor 4K video tests soon.

Park Cameras raise over £790 for St. Peter & St. James’ Hospice

United Kingdom, 17th February 2015 – On Thursday 29th January, staff at Park Cameras, one of the UK’s leading independent photographic retailers attempted to run between both their stores in Burgess Hill and Central London in a single day, in an effort to raise as much money as possible for local charity St. Peter and St. James’ Hospice.

Stop that Employee!

It was a chilly day outside Burgess Hill, with the temperature at just 5oC. However, inside the Park Cameras store, things got pretty warm, as amongst the wide range of cameras, lenses, bags and tripods, a team of 13 employees set of on their challenge to run the equivalent distance between their two retail stores.

The team worked in relay fashion on a treadmill, each doing their leg of the 45.7 mile journey as quickly as they could physically manage. The store itself was still open for business as usual, and it was great to see customers donating what they could to add to the total amount of money raised for local charity St. Peter & St. James’ Hospice – although it wasn’t necessarily as easy for the runners to give any expert photographic advice when asked!

Park Cameras chose to raise money for St. Peter & St. James’ Hospice as this is a charity based in the local area that many of the staff feels particularly strongly about. The hospice receives just 14% of their funding from the government, and have to raise more than £2.6 million every year through fundraising events. That’s £7,200 every single day.

Park Cameras HR manager Adel Charles said, “We are delighted to have been able to raise £795.77    for St. Peter & St. James’ Hospice. Whilst the team here went through a bit of pain and quite a lot of sweat, and I certainly know this first hand, it makes it worthwhile knowing the money raised will help all at St. Peter & St. James continue with the fantastic care, love and support they provide for those in the community that need it.”

Their Just Giving page is still available to view and donate to, should you wish.  Simply visit www.JustGiving.com/parkcamerasrun.

Why Wouldn't You Share Your Own Videos?

Technology changes very quickly and I remember back to when I published that first video on my YouTube channel recorded with my 4 megapixel Canon PowerShot camera. The video quality in comparison to what is possible nowadays was very poor, but the content was more than acceptable. 

 My first YouTube camera … the Canon PowerShot A80

My first YouTube camera … the Canon PowerShot A80

That was over eight years ago and the advancements in technology, during such a short time, is simply quite amazing. I experienced compact cameras that gave us 720P video, soon followed by the same small photo snappers delivering 1080P video. Conventional camcorders giving up the ability to not only record in full HD, but also in 3D. Tiny little action cameras, that one could mount to a car, surf board, your body or even your pet dog. If we fast forward to the current day, all of these wonders of technology can now dazzle our visual senses with even more detail in 4K resolution. 

Throughout my journey of creating visual content to share online, I have helped many others with questions and product recommendations. One of the most common questions, or for want of a better term, "excuses" is that many people want to create videos, but use their lack of "expensive" camera as an excuse.
Emails I receive are often like this (what follows is part of an actual email I received)… "Hello Dave, I really want to start my YouTube Channel but need an amazing camera and microphone setup. Can you suggest something around the £1,000 to £1,500 mark. Once I have saved enough money I can then start producing videos like you". 
The perceived need for the so-called "best camera" could not be further from the truth. Look at how I started … with just the family point & shoot compact camera. Also, consider how smartphone technology has also evolved, with many capturing awesome 1080P and some even managing to deliver a crisp 4K experience too. So why wouldn't you share your own videos. Now is the time to use the technology you already have in your pocket or bag and share your story. We can no longer make the excuse that we do not have a great camera, 

Throughout December, Intellicig are running a competition to give away a £200 Red Letter Day experience for two. Check out their #WhyWouldntYou campaign here.

Written in collaboration with Intellicig.

Will the Lytro Illum Succeed?

You’d be forgiven if you perhaps hadn’t heard of Lytro before now. A relatively new company in the world of photography, Lytro manufacture consumer targeted - and indeed relatively affordable - light-field cameras. 

Lytro’s first camera, the aptly named ‘Lytro’, perhaps didn’t generate the sales and reaction the company were hoping for. Liberties with the camera’s design, ostensibly to allow the light-field technology to work, didn’t endear consumers to its merits. 

Their second camera, the ‘Lytro Illum’, has seemingly remedied this issue with a much more conventional and arguably user friendly design. A traditional style lens sits on a compact form factor body, making it strikingly similar to the Sony Alpha series. The only indication that the Illum has anything groundbreaking to offer is its awkwardly angled body - something which has potentially been avoided by other manufacturers for good reason. 

That being said, the Illum packs a rather unique punch. The Illum (and the initial Lytro) use modified CMOS sensors and some clever physics to create a ‘light-field sensor’ instead. So what on earth is a light-field sensor and how is it different to a CCD or CMOS sensor? We’ll start with old money: the CCD.

A CCD, or Charge-Coupled Device, is a sensor comprising an arrangement of pixels in rows and columns. As an example, open a spreadsheet and imagine the spreadsheet itself is the camera’s sensor (a CCD in this case). Each cell of the spreadsheet is a pixel in the sensor. The megapixel count of your camera is related to this. A 20 megapixel camera would have 20 million pixels on its sensor. In the case of the spreadsheet example, it would contain 20 million individual cells - that’s a big spreadsheet! 

Each pixel is essentially a bucket that collects light incoming from the camera’s lens whilst the shutter is open. When light strikes a pixel, it generates a small electrical charge in that pixel (for the real world analogue, it begins to fill the bucket). Once the shutter has been closed, the sensor is ‘read’ so that the amount of charge (or water in the bucket) in each pixel is analysed. At this point the camera’s processor interprets the information it has read and turns this into an image which is saved to the storage unit. 

Most smartphone, tablet and indeed DSLR image sensors are not CCD based. They are in fact CMOS, or Complimentary Metal Oxide Semiconductor sensors. The CMOS style of sensor is, essentially, a more technologically sophisticated version of a CCD that uses a different process to read each pixel. The process uses transistors mounted to each pixel making CMOS sensors much more cost effective, as well as more efficient, hence their uses in devices that need to use power sparingly like smartphones and DSLRs. Telescopes, interestingly, use CCDs. 

Regardless of sensor types discussed, the images they produce will always be 2-dimensional. Whilst we may perceive depth in the image, that depth is manufactured and interpreted by the brain and not embedded within the image. To understand why some theory is required.

We live in 3-dimensional space. Things have height, width and depth. Light is similar, only it is has many more dimensions. It has the 3 spatial dimensions (height, width and depth) but also further dimensions that describe associated quantities that make up the literal light-field. A conventional CCD can only capture information based on height and width as the CCD’s pixels all lie on a flat surface, hence why the image it produces is also flat (2-dimensional, as it lacks depth information). The Lytro’s light-field sensor cannot directly detect depth information as, much like the CCD, its pixels are once again on a flat surface. It can, however detect further information from the light-field that it then uses to ‘fake’ depth in the image using both clever hardware and clever software.

In terms of clever hardware, the light-field sensor uses an array of incredibly small lenses (Lytro market this as a microlens array) in front of the pixelated sensor so that the incoming light is broken up into individual light rays. This allows the sensor to analyse individual, rather than multiple, rays of light as would have been the case with a CCD. The microlens array also allows the camera itself to take images through each individual microlens, therefore generating information about each megaray. As a consequence of this Lytro market their cameras with a ‘megaray’ value rather than a ‘megapixel’ value. The megaray value is the number of individual light rays the sensor can process and doesn’t necessarily correspond to the megapixel value of the sensor. As such the Lytro could use a relatively small number of megapixels but still generate a fairly high megaray value. 

In terms of the clever software, the light-field engine does something quite spectacular. Because a traditional camera cannot detect depth information, it relies on its user to define the position of the focal point prior to taking the image. The Lytro Illum has a fixed focal length and aperture (resulting in an f-number of f/2) so its focal point cannot be manually defined by the user. Thanks to the information that the light-field sensor captures however, the light-field engine can combine each microlens image and adjust the focal point and aperture after the image has been taken. On the topic of focal points, the Lytro Illum does allow the user to change the focal point using the integrated touch screen. The user simply taps the location of the desired focal point and the light field engine mimics the change in focal length required.

The light-field engine does not output standard JPEG or RAW files, preferring a proprietary file type called LFP: Light Field Picture. Through Lytro’s desktop application, Lytro Desktop, these files can be read and edited to allow the full functionality of the Lytro to be realised. These images can then be uploaded and shared through Lytro Web (https://pictures.lytro.com), Lytro’s web interface to allow rich interaction with its unique images.

All of this technology comes at a price, and a fairly hefty one at that: $1499. Moreover the sensor, although advanced, is limited to an effective resolution of 4 megapixels meaning that the dimensions of a conventional format Lytro image are small in comparison to its competition. Whilst bigger doesn’t always mean better, the rather limited functionality outside of the Illum itself and Lytro Web mean that your interaction with Lytro images is severely restricted. Coupled with the small image size reducing the likelihood that Lytro image JPEGs would appear in print format, the Illum may just be another expensive novelty item. It deserves to be more, but only time will tell if it gets what it deserves.

Author: Tomas James - Twitter

Olympus TG-850 Winner

So the winner has been chosen. Both myself and the Olympus UK team went through all the amazing #TG850MAY photo entries and unanimously agreed on the winner. The theme for May was to post 'action' or 'tough' themed photos and this one from Joseph Choi really captured so much action in the boy doing an awesome flip. The emotion in the face is epic too. Congratulations go out to Joseph who has won an Olympus Stylus Tough TG-850 camera. Thank you to everyone else who took part, keep checking back for more photography competitions coming soon. 

AOC goes ultra-sharp with 28ʺ Ultra HD monitor

Amsterdam, 27 May 2014 – The trends in the monitor market go to larger screen sizes and higher resolutions. AOC now combines both of these trends: With the u2868Pqu, the display specialist launches a 28ʺ (71.1 cm) monitor with the stunningly high Ultra HD resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels at a 60 Hz refresh rate. Equipped with DisplayPort, HDMI (MHL) and USB 3.0 connectors, the sophisticated display also comes with full ergonomics to meet the high standards of professionals and demanding home users alike – at a surprisingly low price.

Ultra HD: See every detail
CAD/CAM professionals, architects, engineers and power users at home – all will benefit from the finely detailed pictures delivered by the u2868Pqu’s latest TN panel technology. Thanks to the Real 8-bit +FRC arrangement, more than a billion colours can be produced. With the Ultra HD resolution (3840 x 2160), over 8.29 million pixels are displayed in a 16:9 aspect, equalling four times the pixel amount of Full HD panels. The 28ʺ model delivers UHD resolution with a refresh rate of full 60 Hz. With a pixel response time of 1 ms only, the u2868Pqu is even perfect for working on or watching fast-paced action video clips or enjoying games. Delivering a luminosity of 300 cd/m², the UHD model is well-suited for desks with bright ambient light. The picture-in-picture and picture-by-picture functions allow watching images simultaneously from different signal sources, such as (4K) Blu-ray players or PCs.

Ultra convenient
The u2868Pqu boasts a classic design with a finely texturised surface in black. For full ergonomic flexibility, the bezel offers an intelligent cable management, tilt, swivel and pivot (90° rotation) functions as well as height adjustability of 130 mm – adjusting the monitor to individual users results in reduced eye and posture fatigue. The monitor is capable of receiving signals via its DisplayPort, HDMI, DVI and D-Sub connectors. For Android enthusiasts, the HDMI connector also offers MHL (Mobile High-Definition Link) connectivity to directly mirror smartphone and tablet screens onto the big screen. In addition, AOC equips the display with four USB ports, two each of the 2.0 and 3.0 standard, as well as a set of integrated 3 W speakers. The monitor can be fixed on VESA compliant wall mounts and racks.

AOC offers a 3 year warranty with on-site exchange service for the u2868Pqu. The Ultra HD monitor is available as of now at an MSRP of £ 499.

The Samsung Galaxy K zoom

Okay so what’s the difference between a camera-phone and a phone that’s a camera? Well Samsung seems to think they found the answer to that question. Yes the Galaxy K zoom, Samsung seems to think that putting an actual camera on a phone is “proactive” I guess you could say. So is it really? Well read along and we’ll find out together.

Announced April 29th 2014 and expected to be released Q2 of 2014, this phone quite literally brand new. Last year’s Galaxy S4 Zoom wasn’t the most popular due to its awkward build and just not needed at the time. But here we find ourselves in 2014 with the likes of the Lumia 1020 and other phones with amazing cameras it comes as no surprise Samsung decided to keep the Zoom lineup. So how do the specs look?
Samsung made this phone to hold its own and it certainly does. An Exynos 5 Hexa system chip is pretty good. Along with a 6-core, 1700 MHz, ARM Cortex-A15 & ARM Cortex-17 processor ( geek talk for pretty fast). Not the fastest phone on the market but again this isn’t meant to be flagship internals. The 8GB built in storage isn’t much; thankfully it does have support for a microSD card slot. The 2430 mAh battery will get you through the day. Plus we have the newest version of Android KitKat 4.4.2 on top of Samsung’s TouchWhiz OS.
 
The display looks to be great. At 4.8 inches it can compete with the best of them. A resolution of 720p and 306ppi isn’t the greatest, but does get the job done. Plus it’s a Super AMOLED which is always looks great on any phone. It feels great in the hand at 7.05 oz (200 g) and it looks like they finally figured put a camera on the back without making it uncomfortable for the user. This brings me to my next point: The camera
At 20.7 megapixels this thing packs a punch. An LED flash does the trick and has all the features in the world, such as; ISO control, face detection, smiles detection, Optical image Stabilization just to name a few. It has a focal length of 24-240mm, now I’m not a camera expert by any means (we’ll leave that for Dave) but I’m thinking that’s pretty good. It also can capture 1080p video recordings and has front facing camera of 2 megapixels, which isn’t that much.
 
So all in all what do I think of this phone? Intriguing is the word I would use. I like the idea; especially in the age of social media cameras are important. It will be interesting to see how this phone sells. I think that even without the best specs, this phone seems to be a viable companion in your pocket for the next two years. Stay tuned to our full review coming soon and as always, be sure to leave a comment and tell us what you think.
 
By: Ben Smith - Twitter

Sexy or Funny?

Adobe -- Sexy or Funny? http://adobe.ly/19In0d9

What do brands need to make online ads more appealing? In recent research we found that a lot of people think TV ads are more important than online ads.

Adobe took to the streets to find out what was important to people in ads. More that two-thirds (68%) of UK consumers said ads should tell a unique story. However humour is even more important, 92% said funny ads are more effective than 'sexy' ones. Watch to see what people thought were their most memorable funny and sexy adverts.

Think Tank Photo’s “About A Photograph™”

About A Photograph : Saul Loeb from thinkTank Photo on Vimeo.

 

Santa Rosa, Calif. – Think Tank Photo today launched “About A Photograph,” a free video series that features some of the world’s leading photographers recounting the stories behind their images that captured global attention.  Narrated by the actual photographers who took the photos, each short video focuses on the forces that led up to that perfect moment in time when subject, story, setting, equipment, and photographer converged.  

The series can be found at http://blog.thinktankphoto.com/about-a-photograph/

The first video in the series features Agence France-Presse photographer Saul Loeb.  In it he narrates the events that led him to capturing the iconic “Presidential Hug” image from the 2012 United States presidential campaign.  His photo captures a Florida pizza shop owner lifting and bear-hugging a surprised President Obama.  At that moment Loeb felt, “This could end up being the defining photo of the campaign season.”

“About A Photograph” is being produced by Kurt Rogers and Deanne Fitzmaurice, Think Tank Photo’s co-founders and award-winning photojournalists.   The video series will feature current as well as classic and historic photographs that span a range of styles, including documentary/photojournalistic, fine art, nature/environment, sports, and politics.

“When we photojournalists go out on assignment we never know what awaits us,” said Rogers.  “It is through our training as experts in sensing when and where events will unfold that we are able to capture images that best convey the story.  ‘About A Photograph’ allows photographers, students, teachers, historians, and others to get inside the heads of these expert photographers at that fleeting moment of creation.

“The images being featured range from the beautiful to the tragic, from the humorous to the informative,” said Rogers.  “The one trait they share is that all are memorable and capture the essence of visual storytelling.” 

Think Tank Photo will release new “About A Photograph” videos every three weeks. 

About Think Tank Photo

Think Tank Photo is a group of designers and professional photographers focused on studying how photographers work, and developing inventive new carrying solutions to meet their needs. By focusing on “speed” and “accessibility,” we prepare photographers to Be Ready “Before The Moment,” allowing them to document those historic moments that reflect their personal visions and artistic talents. We design products that help photographers travel easier, take pictures faster, and organize their gear more efficiently.