Category Archives: gear

Panoramas with the Sony NEX

One of the really cool in-camera features of the Sony NEX camera is the sweep panorama mode.  Just hit the shutter button and move your camera from left to right.  It’s so simple and fast and requires no post-processing on your computer – very cool.

I took the following photo of AT&T Park with the sweep panorama mode.  Before having a camera with the built-in panorama feature, I would have used Autostitch on my PC.  Now, I can create panoramas without a PC.  It’s definitely a nice feature to have when you’re on the road or on vacation.

HD Video with the Sony NEX

One of the features that attracted me to the Sony NEX-3, in addition to its relatively compact size, was the ability to do HD video.  Unfortunately, HD video recording with the NEX-3 is limited to 720p  (vs. 1080p with the NEX-5) at 30 fps.  Basically, this means that my videos won’t be as nice when shown on a big screen TV, but on the web, they should look just fine.  Apparently, editing 1080p videos can be a pain since they can take up a lot of memory anyways.  Take a look at the enclosed videos to see some amazing work being done with the NEX cameras.

Transferring Photos Wirelessly with Eye-Fi

My wife saves her photos on an Apple Macbook.  Unfortunately, the Macbook doesn’t have an SD memory card slot, so she has to use a USB memory card reader to transfer photos to the Macbook.  A little while ago, I bought her an Eye-Fi wireless 4GB memory card, so that she could transfer her photos without having to use the USB memory card reader.

While the Eye-Fi card is convenient, it does have some drawbacks.  Unfortunately, transferring photos is a bit slow.  Maybe it’s our wireless router that’s part of the problem; we only have a 802.11g router.  Transferring movies can take forever.  It’s not big deal; just leave the camera on, walk away, and let the files transfer over.  The problem is that transferring files with the Eye-Fi card also drains the camera’s battery.  Another issue is that you can’t automatically delete photos that have been transferred, so you have to go back and delete the photos on the SD card after the transfer.  To me, this is a major inconvenience.  Keep in mind that I purchased the low-end Eye-Fi, so some of the pricier Eye-Fi cards definitely have better features.

Happy Memorial Day!

New Sony NEX-3

So I decided to sell my Canon XSi and upgrade to a Sony NEX-3.  I was able to get $440 for the XSi and kit lens on Craigslist.  I used the cash to purchase a Sony NEX-3 twin lens kit on sale from DigitalRev for $662 (after shipping; no tax was charged since the store is located in Hong Kong).  The two Sony lenses retail for $299 and $249, individually; so the dual lens kit seemed like a good deal.  Sony has stopped manufacturing the NEX-3, so I guess that’s why it’s on sale.

As I mentioned previously, I was thinking about getting a smaller camera to lighten my load while traveling.  While the NEX-3 is much smaller than the XSi, the Sony camera is loaded with features.  The NEX-3 has a better slightly better sensor according to Snapsort and also has video capabilities, which the XSi does not.  Unfortunately, there are few lenses available to the Sony; although that should improve over time.  My friend had the Sony NEX-5 and convinced me to go with Sony.  I won’t bore you with all the details about the camera.  You can read in-depth reviews at DPReview and Cameralabs.

Canon Powershot S95

The Canon Direct Store had a sale on refurbished Powershot cameras, so I decided to get my wife an S95. At the time of this writing, the refurbished S95 was $319.99. Canon was offering an additional 20% off, so the final price was $255.99, not including tax and shipping. Canon screwed up my order, so they gave me free shipping. I ended up paying about $285 after tax for the refurbished S95. Used S95s are going for about $300 on Craigslist, so it wasn’t a bad deal. To offset the cost, I sold my wife’s old Powershot SD 790IS on Craigslist for $90. Although the S95 was refurbished, it looked brand new when it arrived. As far as I can tell, there aren’t any problems with it – knock on wood. Canon offers a 90-day warranty on their refurbished cameras, so I can always send the S95 back if anything goes wrong. Needless to say, I’m pretty happy with the purchase so far.

The S95 is a very nice camera, packed full of features in a very small package. For an in-depth review, check out CameraLabs or DPReview. The S95 is no SLR, but you can still get some nice photos with it.

Compare Cameras with Snapsort

I’ve been thinking about upgrading my wife’s Canon SD790 IS.  I’m debating between the Canon Powershot S90 and the Powershot S95.  Is the newer S95 really worth the additional cost or is the older S90 model good enough?  What are the differences between the two cameras?

Snapsort lets you quickly compare specifications for different cameras.  Be warned, the site does not provide in-depth reviews.  There are many sites, like DPReview and CameraLabs, that already do reviews.  Sometimes I don’t want to read long reviews about particular cameras; I just want to do a quick comparison, and Snapsort does just that.  The site has a simple and straightforward user interface.  I find myself using it all the time now.

Back from Travels in Asia

I’m finally back from three weeks in Asia: Hong Kong, Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Bangkok, Angkor Wat, and the Maldives. The trip was amazing, and I took over 1,000 photos to record my journey. My Canon XSi performed well, and I was very pleased with most of the photos.

Unfortunately, carrying around my photography gear (i.e. camera body, two lenses, a battery grip, extra batteries, charger, extra memory, etc.) all the time became a major pain. It’s not just camera gear that you’re carrying around; often, you might also have water, snacks, guide books, phone, net-book, souvenirs, etc. in your bag. When you’re trekking through the jungles and climbing the temples of Angkor Wat in 100°F heat, a 10-pound pack can start to feel pretty heavy – I know I’m a wimp.

I plan to lighten up on the photography equipment on my next trip. I definitely won’t be taking the battery grip with me. I might even consider getting a more compact SLR, like the Sony NEX, for long trips. It’d be nice to have a smaller camera with video capabilities as well.