Camera

Vegas Diary – Day 3 – Back to the Future

polaroid

CES opened its doors today and the tech fest officially opened. A notable trend at this year’s CES was the coming together of retro and high tech. Polaroid unveiled its Socialmatic today – the touchscreen, 14MP camera that instantly prints your images like the retro Polaroid and also uses Android to connect to your favourite Apps and share your photos. The perfect blend of the old and the new from www.polaroid.com

fujifilm

Fujifilm launched an addition to its Instax range at CES, unveiling the Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic. The instant camera looks gorgeous with its classic camera looks but is also packed with some great photographic features – bulb and double exposures, macro mode and high performance flash. Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic will shortly be retailing for around $199 www.fujifilm.com

ion

Audio firm Ion showcased its stylish Archive LP Digital Conversion Turntable with Speakers at CES. Its retro look belies the clever technology packed into this product. The natural wood, all in one turntable converts your records into digital files on your computer ready to take on the go on your portable media device. Thanks to in-built stereo speakers you can play your favourite tracks in an instant. Alternatively you can connect it to your home stereo using the RCA outputs www.ionaudio.com

soundfreaq

Soundfreaq has really been making an impact here at CES. Last month the firm launched the retro looking Sound Spot ($69.99) – jammed full of great technology and audio capability. The small, square, wireless speaker range can be moved around your home to create some seriously sizeable audio. Working with Bluetooth and an internal rechargeable battery this is one highly functional and great looking home speaker system www.soundfreaq.com

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Three cool cameras from Nikon

These compact cameras are brightly coloured and slim enough to slip into a stocking (a Christmas one that is!). Start snapping away on Christmas day, capturing all your favourite, festive moments. There is something for everyone.

Photo Fan

If you’re looking to treat a photography fan, take a look at the new interchangeable lens camera the Nikon 1 J1. Packed with the world’s fastest autofocus system, you’ll never miss a moment. The J1 is designed to get the best shot every time – Smart Photo Selector takes 20 high-resolution images before and after you release the shutter, then saves your ‘best’ five for you to choose from. Images are recommended based on facial expression, composition and focus.

Price £549

All rounder

Capture all the action with the pocket-size COOLPIX S6200. With 16 megapixels and a NIKKOR 10x super-zoom lens, it’s ideal for anything from up-close candid portraits, to crisp shots of a sports match – no matter how far away you are.

Price £149

Action Camera

If you have an adventurer or keen skier in the family, why not try the COOLPIX AW100. Waterproof to depths of 10m, shockproof from heights of up to 1.5 m and freeze-proof down to -10°C, it’s built for an active lifestyle. A swing-motion setting even lets you operate the camera by shaking it – perfect for when you’re on the slopes with your ski gloves on.

Price £279.99

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How To: 5 common photo flaws and how to fix them

You’re back from travelling, a family occasion, or a day out with friends, and you’re ready to upload your photos to your computer. But what do you do with them next?

There are a plenty of ways that you can edit your photos, whether it’s cropping, removing blemishes or altering the colour. This doesn’t necessarily have to be a time-consuming task – and sometimes even the smallest of changes to photos can make the biggest difference.

Taking photos can be easy – what isn’t easy is taking the perfect photo. That’s why we’ve come up with five quick fixes you can do to automatically enhance your photos!

1. Red eye

Our survey found that 62% of camera owners take photos of people. Interestingly, over half (56%) of them found they needed to remove red eye from their portraits. Red eye is caused by the camera flash bouncing off of the person’s retina. Don’t let red eye ruin an otherwise great photo, especially when it can be quickly fixed.

Firstly, you need to check if your camera has the red eye reduction function. If so, definitely use it! If not, photo editing software should have a tool specifically designed to remove red eye in a matter of clicks.

When you’ve successfully removed the red eye from your image, you could also make some other improvements such as removing blemishes, or increasing the whiteness of the subject’s eyes to make them really pop out in the photo.

2. Lack of a focal point

Our recent survey also showed that 56% of photos need to be cropped. Often a photo will lack impact because the main subject is lost among the clutter of its surroundings. By using the crop tool, you can remove the unwanted areas of your background, ensuring the subject is the centre of attention in the photo.

If you find the composition of your photo is less than desirable, try applying the rule of thirds and using the crop tool. The rule of thirds says that you should divide your photo into 9 invisible squares and position the most important elements in your scene along the imaginary gridlines, or at the points where they intersect. This will add balance and interest to your photo. Some cameras offer an option to superimpose a rule of thirds grid over the screen, making it even easier to use.

However, not every photo needs cropping, but the visual impact and composition of many photos can be improved drastically.

3. Shots that aren’t straight

When you’re shooting a scene, there is so much to think about and you sometimes end up with shots that aren’t straight. There are many reasons why this happens, such as uneven ground, or an off-centred camera which can altogether lower the photo quality. The best way to ensure a perfectly straight photo is to use a tripod with a spirit level.

Unless you take all your photos with your camera on a tripod, it’s more than likely that some of your photos are going to turn out a bit crooked. Fortunately, the majority of photo editing software packages make it easy to straighten them in just a few simple steps.

It is quite easy to spot a sloping horizon once it is on your computer screen, especially when you compare it to an adjacent object, or by using the ruler tool. Once you have loaded up your image, use the rotate tool to re-align the scene so the horizon is straight, and then crop the image to make it square again.

4. Underexposed photos

Thought you took the perfect shot until you uploaded your images on your computer and realised darkness or shadowing has ruined it? There are many reasons for underexposed photos, such as shooting in a dimly lit space, standing too far away from your subject, or setting your camera’s shutter speed too fast. This can easily be avoided before taking a photo by moving near a window or lamp to add extra light when shooting indoors, moving closer to your subject and manually adjusting the shutter speed on your camera so it’s slower.

However, for pictures you have already taken that appear under exposed, the easiest solution is increasing the brightness and contrast slightly to lighten it. If you have over exposed images, simply reduce the brightness. You can also use contrast to adjust the difference in brightness between the lightest and darkest pixels, or edit the levels and curves to improve your image dramatically. In fact, most good photo editing programs will have a range of presets (eg. lighten image, darken image, etc.) so it’s easy to make changes to your pictures – even if you have never worked with levels or curves before.

5. Lack of creativity

If you want to make your photos stand out from the crowd, why not add a simple creative effect? We found that 24% of people choose to add creative filters and effects to their photos. There are numerous creative effects that can be applied to images during processing, like changing the colours of an image, applying effects to make the photo look like a watercolour painting, or create a stunning black & white image with a single ‘popping’ colour.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with editing your photos – just remember to save a copy of the original in case you don’t like the changes! It’s always worth spending a couple of minutes editing your images in a photo editing software package to ensure your photos look the best they can. With these five quick fixes your photos can be turned from average to fantastic in a matter of minutes.

For more information on Serif, the award-winning creative software developer of products including photo editing software, visit www.serif.com

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Nine things to know about the new iPhone 4s

Apple has announced the new iPhone 4S packed with loads of new features including Apple’s dual-core A5 chip for super fast performance and stunning graphics; an all new camera with advanced optics; full 1080p HD resolution video recording; and Siri, an intelligent assistant that helps you get things done just by asking. Check out my nine things to know below:

  1. All new camera 8MP
  2. Full 1080p HD video recording
  3. Siri intelligent assistant, ask it “what is the traffie like around here?” 
  4. iOS5 advanced operating system
  5. Dual core A5 super fast chip
  6. iCloud free cloud services for iPhone
  7. iMessage new messaging service for texts, photos and videos between iOS5 users
  8. Built in Twitter integration
  9. Extended battery life – 8 hours of 3G talk time

iOS5

iPhone 4S comes with iOS 5, the world’s most advanced mobile operating system, which includes over 200 new features including Notification Center, an innovative way to easily view and manage notifications in one place without interruption and iMessage, a new messaging service that lets you easily send text messages, photos and videos between all iOS 5 users.

Siri

iPhone 4S also introduces Siri, an intelligent assistant that helps you get things done just by asking. Siri understands context allowing you to speak naturally when you ask it questions, for example, if you ask “Will I need an umbrella this weekend?” it understands you are looking for a weather forecast.

Siri is also smart about using the personal information you allow it to access, for example, if you tell Siri “Remind me to call Mum when I get home” it can find “Mum” in your address book, or ask Siri “What’s the traffic like around here?” and it can figure out where “here” is based on your current location.

Siri helps you make calls, send text messages or email, schedule meetings and reminders, make notes, search the Internet, find local businesses, get directions and more. You can also get answers, find facts and even perform complex calculations just by asking. It texts, writes and send emails and even speaks back to you!

iCloud

iCloud is a breakthrough set of free cloud services, including iTunes in the Cloud, Photo Stream and Documents in the Cloud, that work seamlessly with your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac or PC to automatically and wirelessly store your content in iCloud and push it to all your devices. When content changes on one device, all your other devices are updated automatically and wirelessly.

Camera

iPhone 4S includes an all new camera with the most advanced optics of any phone. The 8 megapixel sensor has 60 percent more pixels so you can take amazing high quality photos with more detail than ever. iPhone 4S includes a new custom lens, a larger f/2.4 aperture and an advanced hybrid IR filter that produce sharper, brighter and more accurate images.

New features in the Camera and Photos apps give you instant access to the camera right from the lock screen, and you can also use the volume-up button to quickly snap a photo. The new Photos app lets you crop, rotate, enhance and remove red-eye, and organise your photos into albums right on your device to share them on the go.

iMessage

New iOS 5 features include built-in Twitter integration and iMessage, so you can instantly share your photos via Twitter directly from the Photos app and send photos via iMessage to individuals or groups. And with iCloud’s innovative new Photo Stream service, a photo you take on your iPhone is sent to iCloud and automatically pushed to your iPad, iPod touch, Mac or PC. You can even view your Photo Stream album on your Apple TV.

HD Video

iPhone 4S can also now record video in full 1080p HD resolution and with the new video image stabilisation feature, you can take richer, smoother videos. Other iPhone 4S video camera improvements include increased sensitivity, sharpness and an increased ability to capture video in low light conditions. With the new iMessage service in iOS 5, you can now instantly share videos with family and friends.

A5 Chip

Apple’s dual-core A5 chip delivers up to twice the processing power and up to seven times faster graphics than iPhone 4, all while maintaining incredible battery life—now up to 8 hours of 3G talk time.

Pricing & Availability

iPhone 4S comes in either black or white and will be available in the UK on Friday, October 14 and customers can pre-order their iPhone 4S beginning Friday, October 7. iPhone pricing will be available closer to launch.

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My BBC2 ‘Something for the Weekend’ Gadgets

Loads of you seemed to LOVE the Playstation Move on the show yesterday, Lovejoy was pretty good at the archery! Here are my gadgets from the show…P.S GirlGeekChic is a finalist in the Cosmo Blog Awards! Please vote for me here! Thanks! xx


 

Playstation Move

The Playstation Move is the latest in Sony’s games console range. It is a set of controllers that give you motion control gaming above and beyond what the console’s current Sixaxis controller offers you. It’s a stick that you wave around in front of your console, the game reacts to your movements and then relays that positioning information on screen meaning you’ve just swung a golf club or pointed your gun at someone.

What actually happens is that you plug the Sony Eye webcam into your tv, turn on the Move controller and then the camera tracks said controller as you use it. Because it is actively tracking it visually rather than just through motion detection, as is the case with the Wii Remote, it means that the console knows exactly where the device is. That precise positioning means that the data can be used more effectively in-game, which in turn means an improved experience over the competition from Nintendo. N.B – You have to go through a short calibration process for some games.

Price £34.99

The Waterpebble

The Waterpebble is a new, green gadget designed to help you think about using only as much water as you need, and therefore reducing your water bill and effect on the world’s water supply.  This is a gadget that monitors how long you’re taking in the shower by flashing red when it’s time to get out.

But what makes Water Pebble different from other timing devices is that it memorises how long you took for your first shower and sets about gradually minimizing the amount of water you use by reducing the time it takes for the device to flash red in subsequent showers. It effectively trains you to use less water when you shower. Using a series of “traffic lights, it grades your water usage from green (start) through to amber (halfway) to red (time’s up). So when it starts flashing red it’s time to get out!

Price £8

Spinner 360 Lomography Camera

The Spinner 360 Lomography Camera is designed to take 360 degree panoramic shots. Take the Spinner in one hand, pull the cord with the other and release it. In a split second the camera spins 360° around its own axis and records everything in its path on a frame more than 4 times longer than a conventional landscape picture. The mechanism is powered with a rubber band drive, so no batteries are required. You can create up to 8 full 360° panoramas on a 36-exposure roll of film. The camera can work with any variety of 35mm film.

Price £100

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