I was priviledged to test and try the road bike with “shock absorbers”, bike that won Paris Roubaix number of times. Specialized Roubaix
Conclusion: its pure road bike, stiff and precise. But it’s saving your back and avoid tires to explode in poor conditions. If you want to save your body, then get it. Highly recommended.
Had a rare opportunity to test awfully 3k€-pricey Sony RX1. Its full-sensor, fixed lens compact camera. Probably meant for full-sensor DSLR owner, who needs small camera to-go.
As the Carl Zeiss Sonnar 2/35 lens is individually tuned for that specific 24MP sensor, the result is non-compromise solution. Image is insanely sharp and it’s possible to crop tele-shot fragments with huge detail. Awesome!
Conclusion: Buy if you have £££ to spend
Yesterday I had exclusive opportunity to listen superiour Estelon speakers, designed by Alfred Vassilkov and built in Tallinn, Estonia. As Estelon is heading to Europe’s largest specialist trade fair for high-end entertainment High End Munich, they had 2 models for listening: Estelon XB and most affordable 16 000 € Estelon XC (all photos are Estelon XC model).
We took relaxed 1 hour to go through Alfred Vassilkov’s favourite tracks, most of my personal taste. First thing you notice, that sound field and imaging is absolutely translucent. There is a concert hall, church, jazz club or studio, but not speakers — when you close your eyes. Second observation is, that you start to feel the emotion behind the music — all the meaning of ones piece is “tele-ported” to listening room with no loss of feeling. Third observation was that I started to notice imperfections and naturalness of instruments. Natural-natural-natural are 3 words how to characterize Alfred Vassilkov’s masterpiece.
Estelon speakers have exquisite component selection, but what makes it really special is cabinet material. It’s made in a special casting process, the use of a proprietary marble based composite and the extensive use of sub-structural stiffening spars breaks up resonance nodes and creates an internal acoustic chamber of non-parallel sidewalls that is all but immune to unwanted standing waves that can cause a colored sound. To develop the cabinet material, having all needed physical characteristics, took years. The result is, that the cabinet is heavy, bigger XA model weights over 80 Kg, and has virtually “dead material” properties.
Stay tuned, after the High End Munich, I’ll be back at Estelon and shooting their 80 000 € diamond-tweeter flagship model.
How to get rid of chromatic aberration in Lightroom
Lately I tested pretty good camera with cheap kit lens. It wasn’t big surprise, that I found pretty bad chromatic aberration there. But if you use Lightroom, it’s easy to get pretty much rid of them.
For regular family snapshots Samsung 18-55 III is OK lens, but not for landscape photography. This shot is directly from the camera. I shot RAW, full 20Mpx resolution. There is lack of sharpness at f22 and severe chromatic aberration in the corners.
Sony a99 + Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* 1,8/135 ZA
Sony 50mm SAL50F14 50mm f/1.4 Lens
Pretty soft full open, but at f1.7 it’s sharp. So, do not open it up! All photos shot by Sony a99 RAW, not processed, just cropped. Looking forward to get Sony 50mm f/1.4 Carl Zeiss Planar T* ZA Lens, available in July-Aug 2013.
All portraits shot at F1.4 - F1.7 - F2.5.
Sony VG-C99AM vertical grip for Sony SLT a99
Doubles nicely all controls to exactly the same positions to shoot in portrait. Adds 2 additional Sony NP-FM500H infoLithium batteries, makes possible to switch them during shooting :) Whenever it’s needed. Extends usage in theory to 1500 shots without battery replacement (be conservative). Batteries are depleted sequentially. Running battery is magnified, onm the left. First a99 uses #1, then #2 bettery from the grip and only then the one in the camera body itself. So, its possible to change batteries in the grup when shooting the last battery in the body. a99 on steroids ;)
Samsung NX300 smart camera
Well built, billet aluminum on top and bottom. Camera feels solid and well built. Body is slim, but kit lens add dimensions.
Smart means WiFi connected. So, it allows to upload hi quality photos to Facebook, Google+/Picasa, Skydrive etc. But most fun is to use Samsung Smart Camera App in iPhone or Android. It allows to place camera strategically, follow action via remote viewfinder on mobile phone screen and take shots remotely. Use Your imagination…
Great AMOLED touch sensitive screen. makes using smart functions easy, like selecting WiFi hot-spot, typing in network passwords or account names.
Great focus speed and accuracy in normal conditions due to innovative hybrid focusing method. NX300 has both phase detection and contrast detection areas on the sensor. Still, struggled in low light condition in longest focal length position.
20 Mpix is a tad too much for APS-C, I would prefer 16 Mpix and larger pixels for better low light performance and ISO capability. Shooting with slow kit lens in weak light is pain. Small aperture forces to use high ISO and long shutter, causing either bad noise or motion blur. Even pretty well lit situations may require ISO 1600. That’s not good, as noise is already kicking in.
Great cam for gadget lovers. Photographers stay most probably with their Canon/Nikon etc hard core photo gear. But when iPhone or Galaxy is not enough, it’s time to move over to Smart Camera now.
Shoot smart with Samsung NX300
Forget about buying $8000 huge F2.8 telephoto lenses and bank-breaking full-size sensor DSLR’s for wildlife shooting. Be smart!
1. Install Samsung Smart Camera App to iPhone or Android
2. Place Samsung NX300 smart camera strategically
3. Wait — follow remote viewfinder
4. Take crystal-clear shots
All shots are saved in original resolution to camera SD card, but also transferred to mobile phone in 1616 x 1080 pixel reduced resolution. Phone and camera are creating peer-to-peer WiFi link.
Due to smart functions and WiFi capability, its possible to transfer full-resolution files to Picasa, Google+, Skydrive, Facebook, send them over e-mail or share to DLNA capable devices like smart-TV.
500mm f/8 Reflex Telephoto Lens, Model number: SAL-500F80
Its a prime telephoto lens, weighting just 700 grams. Low weight is possible due to reflex (mirror surface) design. Due to f 8.0, enough light is required and shutter speed is 1-2 stops longer than other non-reflex tele primes. It’s the world’s only super telephoto reflex lens with auto-focus capability.
SAL-500F80 makes pretty sharp photos, when subject stands still or camera does high ISO. Donut-shape bokeh is pretty characteristic to reflex lens. Some might not like it. But it’s a cheap alternative for occasional wildlife shooters who are not going to spend 4000-10000 $ for large and fast lens.
- a99 does not support AF-D eg. fepth field focusing
- no zone or multi-point focusing, only spot focusing
Main fact, it’s discontinued. But sometimes available in ebay for mere $600-700. I got mine there.
I was looking long time new mono pod for my Sony SLT a99 to shoot clear photos with 500 mm lens. First I was looking at Gitzo offerings, but the price of decent mono-pod was steep. They ask 350€ for Gitzo GM5541 series 5 carbon monopod and 250€ for Gitzo GH1780QR series 1 centre ball head. Total 600€ bill felt un-adjusted.
By lucky chance I found SIRUI. They offered heavy duty P324 carbon mono pod, withstanding 20 kg load, for only 94€ and additional 100€ for K-10X ball head. Total package just 194€!!!
After few days of shooting, I can say only good words about SIRUI. Ball head is smooth, there is no need to fix it properly, it’s possible to switch from landscape to portrait by using a bit more force, twisting semi-closed ball-head, but the camera with tele lens still feels firmly fixed during shooting. It’s possible to select pre-load on 1-12 scale, where 12 is 100% fixed position. I found useful to leave pre-load to 7, using my a99 and Zeiss 135mm f1.8
Mono pod looks gorgeous. Polished carbon threads are nicely visible and over-sized diameter just looks affirming.
Lumix GX1 and 14mm f2.5 (equiv to 28mm) is excelent street photography set and travel companion. Small, light, sharp, fast focusing and fast in aperture.
Google promotes Chromebook as “Computer for Everyone”. Price-wise it might be, as prices start from $250 or so. It’s sleek and light, it has plenty of battery-life. But what is it and is it really for everybody?
Quick and short answer is — NO, it’s not yet for everybody.
Longer answer is — YES, it for everybody, who looks for lightweight second computer. ‘
Consider Chromebook if
- you are already Google ecosystem user
- your main task is e-mails, documents, spreadsheets, calendar event planning, social media, web browsing
- if you have other (may be stationary) powerful PC or Mac for photo/video editing
- for second computer
Don’t consider Chromebook
- as your only computer and you have to edit photos, videos, do graphic design on that
- to use Skype (here is no Skype on Chromebook)
- you happen to be Google-hater for some reason
- you a afraid of cloud (there is no local data storage any more, everything is kept in the Internet)
So, if You spent all day only in Explorer, Safari, Chrome or other web browser and mail client software, Chromebook might be your choice of computing platform.
Why Chromebook is good?
- software is so lightweight, it boots fast and operates smooth;
- easier to create content than on tablet;
- good battery life;
- 3G-WiFi connectivity is easy and fast — you really are always connected;
- documents are saved in real time, you can’t lose any, even if computer crashes (highly unlikely) or when running out of battery;
- Google Docs is so refreshingly simple and practical
- No messing with drivers, updates etc
What Cromebook to buy?
Medium/Low budget: Samsung Series 5 Chromebook (model 550), based on Intel Celeron processor and GMA 3000, enough to run HD movies with absolutely no problem; About $400 with 3G+WiFi
Big roller: Go for Google Pixel
Tip of a Day: Don’t buy WiFi only version. 3G gives such a freedom.