Panasonic Lumix DMC-G6 Review

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If it looks like a DSLR, feels like a DSLR, works like a DSLR and takes pictures like a DSLR, it probably is a DSLR. Izznit?

Nup. This ‘un is a MILC – mirrorless interchangeable lens camera … one of the many models now proliferating on the market like rabbits.

In reality, the major difference between this MILC and true blood DSLRs is that, with the former, the top Live viewfinder presents an electronic view of the shot you’re about to fire, while the DSLR delivers an optical view, thanks to a prism and a series of mirrors …just like the ole time film cameras used to do!

True, the electronic view is not as razor sharp as the optical, it does look a bit ‘electronic’ and very alike to the view delivered on the rear LCD screen, but when you’re outdoors, as many of you know, the rear screen can be washed out in bright light, so Live View to the rescue.

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The review camera was furnished with a Panasonic-made G Vario lens of f3.5/14-42mm specs.

The G6 is a welcome addition to the lineup. In stills, it can pull a maximum image size of 4608 3456 pixels, leading to a 39x29xcm print.

In video capture, it can shoot AVCHD or MPEG4 formats at Full HD 1920 1080 pixel resolution using a Class 4 card or better. And you can shoot stills while recording video. Auto focus tracking locks on the subject and maintains focus even as it moves.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-G6 Handling

It sure feels like a DSLR! And it is a comfy feel in the hand, mostly thanks to the pronounced speed grip and overall good balance.

Top deck controls: there’s a hot shoe on top centre to accept an auxiliary flash (in addition to the lower powered internal flash beneath the hot shoe).

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Panasonic Lumix DMC-G6 Menu 1

Panasonic Lumix DMC-G6 Menu 2

Farther right is the mode dial with positions for PASM, creative video, two custom modes, panorama, a scene guide and a creative control mode. The scene guide offers 23 sample pictures shot by pro photographers which you can use as a helper in making your own shots …like silky skin, glistening water etc. The creative control mode has 19 filters (old days, sunshine, retro, etc. The effect parameter of each mode is adjustable.

And, for what it’s worth, the camera can only shoot panos while held in an horizontal attitude, unlike the methods that some other cameras can deliver.

If you want to shoot in auto mode you move your finger farther right and tap a tiny red button marked ‘iA’. The power lever is set into the side of the mode dial. Close by is the familiar video record button, hemmed in by the mode dial, power lever and intelligent auto button …it is not the most ideal position for this button and takes quite a bit of precise pressure to operate.

Forward on the top deck is a control I had not seen before: a lever that could be used in either of two ways: it could drive any exposure compensation you desire by +/- five f stops; or with specific power-driven lenses, it can operate the zoom. Additionally, just to the rear and over the corner edge of the camera is a control dial which adjusts aperture or shutter while in those modes.

Rear: the 7.6cm LCD touch screen is a vari-angle screen that can be rotated 180 degrees laterally and 225 degrees vertically. At the extreme left is the internal flash release and a function button that switches between top and rear finder; to the right are two more function buttons. Flanking the screen are the replay button, another for display options plus two more function buttons. The jog dial has positions for menu; ISO setting; direct setting of options for AWB, colour balance etc; continuous shooting and self timer; AF options.

A 3.5mm terminal is set into the camera’s right side to accept an external microphone.

Overall, not a fully packed brigade of external controls. The viewfinder menu is not overly complex.

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Panasonic Lumix DMC-G6 Features

A Wi-Fi connection allows users to connect the G6 to their smart phone or tablet at a touch, while still and movie shooting can be driven remotely from the smart phone screen.

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And a couple of unusual features: time lapse and stop motion video shooting; a novel Clear Retouch function lets you edit out unwanted parts of a picture after shooting by simply tracing over them on the monitor with a fingertip; I tried this and it works (above)! But only with large areas of unwanted image data: don’t think you can remove wicked Uncle Ted from a family group shot!

Panasonic Lumix DMC-G6 ISO Tests

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It’s only at ISO 6400 that the image begins to degrade. Much the same at ISO 12800.

By ISO 25600 the show’s over: much noise, artefacts and a washed out image.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-G6 Review Verdict

Quality: above average.
Why buy the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G6: looks and works like a DSLR.
Why not: a bit complex for the raw amateur.

If you get the feeling that this camera attempts to bridge the needs of the enthusiast and the dabbler, you’re right. Just check out the creative and scene guides.

However, I would not be unhappy to use it on an advanced shoot!

Panasonic Lumix DMC-G6 Specifications

Image Sensor: 16.1 million effective pixels.
Metering: Multiple, centre-weighted and spot.
Effective Sensor Size: Four thirds 17.3 13.0mm CMOS.
Lens Factor: 2x.
Compatible lenses: Micro Four Thirds.
Exposure Modes: Auto, Program AE, shutter and aperture priority, manual.
Shutter Speed: 60 to 1/4000 second; flash sync 1/160 sec.
Burst Speed: 7 fps.
Memory: SD/SDHC/SDXC cards.
Image Sizes (pixels): 4608 3456 to 1712 1712. Movies: 1920 1080, 1280x720p, 640 480.
Viewfinders: Turret finder: 1,440,000 pixels. 7.6cm LCD screen (1,040,000 pixels).
File Formats: JPEG, RAW, JPEG+RAW, AVCHD/MPEG4, MPO (3D).
Colour Space: Adobe RGB, sRGB.
ISO Sensitivity: Auto, 160 to 12800 (25,600 with boost).
Interface: USB 2.0, AV, HDMI mini, WiFi, DC input.
Power: Rechargeable lithium ion battery, AC adaptor.
Dimensions: 122x85x71 WHDmm.
Weight: Approx. 390 (inc battery).
Price: Get a price on the Panasonic Lumix G Series DMC-G6 with 14-42mm II Lens Kit or body only.

Post originally from: Digital Photography Tips.

Check out our more Photography Tips at Photography Tips for Beginners, Portrait Photography Tips and Wedding Photography Tips.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-G6 Review

Lens Review Tamron 24-70 mm f/2.8 Di VC USD

The Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD is a great lens choice for both professionals and enthusiasts.

The Tamron 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD is a great lens choice for both professionals and enthusiasts.

I won’t make you wait until the end of the review for the verdict- this lens absolutely rocks. Plain and simple. Despite what I consider to be a huge and unfortunate misconception among many professional photographers, there are some truly amazing, high-quality lenses being designed and produced by companies other than Nikon and Canon. Dismissing them as being somehow inferior simply because their logos don’t match up with those on the camera would be a big mistake. The Tamron SP 24-70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD is just such a lens. I recently had the opportunity to put it through its paces, and this is where the test drive took me.

The Specs

Let me start with deciphering the alphabet soup. Designed for digital (Di), this lens includes Tamron’s proprietary Vibration Compensation (VC) for less camera shake and smoother image stabilization, as well as its Ultra Silent Drive (USD) motor, ensuring fast, virtually silent auto focusing. This Super Performance series (SP) lens includes 17 elements in 12 groups, which vastly reduces chromatic aberration.

  • Focal Length: 24-70mm
  • Maximum Aperture: f/2.8
  • Lens Construction: 17 elements in 12 groups
  • Minimum Focal Distance: 0.38m (15.0 inches)
  • Maximum Magnification Ratio: 1.5 on APS-C sensor cameras
  • Filter Size: 82mm (3.2 inches)
  • Length: 108.5mm (4.3 inches)
  • Extended Length: 116.9mm (4.6 inches)
  • Diameter: 88.2mm (3.5 inches)
  • Weight: 825g (29.1 oz)
  • Diaphragm Blades: 9 (rounded diaphragm)
  • Standard Accessories: Lens Hood
  • Cost: $1,224 (USD), compared with $1,887 (Nikon) and $2,299 (Canon L Series)
  • Compatible Mounts: Nikon, Canon, Sony (NOTE: The Sony version of this lens does not include the vibration compensation feature, since Sony DSLR bodies already have this functionality).

First Impressions

In some ways, I was sold on this lens before I even put it on a camera. Taking it out of the box for the first time, I was immediately impressed with the feel of it. It’s obvious that this lens was both designed and constructed with high-quality materials and great attention to detail. A common complaint among photographers about “off-brand lenses” (a term I hate, by the way), is that they just don’t have the same feel or build quality as lenses coming from Nikon or Canon. I’ve used several Tamron lenses over the years (the 28-75mm f/2.8 being among my favorites), and I can tell you that you’d be hard-pressed to find any flaws in the construction and build of this lens. As a matter of fact, this is Tamron’s first lens to include extra seals for moisture-resistant construction.

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Lens Creep

Lens creep is a fairly common problem with zoom lenses of lower quality. If you have ever zoomed a lens all the way out, only to have it slowly slide back down on you when trying to shoot at a sharp, upward angle, you know what I’m talking about. The opposite can also happen, where a poorly crafted zoom can start sliding out all on its own when pointed at a downward angle. While lens creep usually manifests itself more readily with longer, heavier zooms, it can be an issue on shorter lenses also. I experienced no lens creep at all on this lens, regardless of where I was along the zoom range.

Focus

As noted in the specs above, this lens is equipped with Tamron’s Ultra Silent Drive (USD) motor, which is supposed to help ensure fast, virtually silent autofocus. This is particularly useful for wedding and event photographers who are trying to be as unobtrusive as possible. One of the things that helps me hide in plain sight is quiet autofocus. One word of caution is worth mentioning. While the USD is virtually silent on the outside of the camera, it is possible that additional noise might be picked up when shooting video.

Autofocus was fast, accurate, and, as mentioned, quiet. There might have been a slight bit of focus lag in extremely low light situations, but I would expect that from just about any lens in dark conditions. My only complaint regarding the manual focus on this lens is the size of the rubber focus ring. I think it’s a little too small, even for average hands. Add my big Chewbacca hands into the mix, and manual focus ends up taking a little more concentration that it should actually need. As far as the actual manual focus mechanics, however, I have no complaints at all. There was no lag whatsoever on the ring, making it smooth, accurate and responsive.

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Chromatic Aberration

Forgive me for a minute or two while I geek out on the science end of things. Chromatic aberration is a type of distortion in which the lens fails to focus on all colors to the same convergence point. It is also a type of distortion which appears more frequently in lower quality lenses. It occurs because different lenses have different refractive indices for different wavelengths of light. Before your eyes glass over too much, let me just say that chromatic aberration becomes visible as fringes of color along boundaries separating light and dark parts of the image (i.e., contrast). As a general rule, chromatic aberration is mainly an issue at the combination of a lens’ shortest focal length and its widest aperture. This particular lens was designed specifically to minimize chromatic aberration and those efforts appear to be successful. While the laws of physics make it practically impossible to completely eliminate chromatic aberration, this lens exhibited it so slightly that I actually had trouble finding it. To that end, I’d say that any chromatic aberration actually created by this lens is inconsequential.

As long as we’re on the subject, let me offer one additional point regarding chromatic aberration that has nothing to do with this review. Colored fringes (often purple) around image highlights can be due to lens flare and have nothing at all to do with chromatic aberration.

Sharpness, Vignetting and Distortion

I found this lens to be very sharp in the center at all focal lengths and apertures. While stopping down a lens (moving to a smaller aperture) can sometimes result in an increase in sharpness and resolution, there was virtually no change in this lens between 24mm and 35mm. It wasn’t until I got between 50mm and 70mm that I think I might have noticed a very slight improvement by stopping down, but it was too slight to be of any real concern to me.

On a full frame Nikon D800, the corners are slightly less sharp than the center-a fairly common issue in lenses of this focal length. Having said that, however, corner image quality improves at all focal lengths as the lens is stopped down. I found the optimum aperture for the corners to be around f/8. Taking both center and corner sharpness into account, I’d put the “sweet spot” for this lens to be around f/5.6, but don’t let this keep you from capturing great “wide open” shots at f/2.8. The big surprise for me came when I compared corner sharpness on the Tamron with a Nikkor 24-70 f/2.8 and found corner sharpness on the Tamron to be better than the Nikkor.

While there is some visible distortion at the wider end of the lens, it does drop off quite quickly as you zoom in from 24mm. This is of most concern when shooting portraits. Making sure that faces are not distorted is an obviously valid concern, and is easily addressed by zooming the lens all the way in to 70mm.

Putting it to the Real Test

It’s easy to get passionate about lenses, regardless of brand name. It’s also easy, however, to get lost in the details. Look hard enough and you’ll find issues relating to chromatic aberration, sharpness, vignetting, and distortion in any, and every, lens you try. As pointed out earlier, we’re dealing with the laws of physics. That’s why the ultimate test of any lens has to be how it performs in everyday shooting conditions.

The first thing I want to know about any lens is what it’s going to do for me. Like many photographers, I make a living capturing a wide variety of subject matter. Since most of us don’t have unlimited gear budgets, the best purchases are those that are going to fill more than just one function. This is one of those lenses that does a great job, regardless of whether I am shooting portraits, food, or architecture. The fact that it does a great job as an all-around, everyday lens for personal photography is a bonus for the professional and a necessity for the enthusiast.

First came outdoor portraits. This first image was taken in the shade with no direct sunlight. There was a single off-camera strobe in a softbox to the left of the camera, approximately three feet from the subject. I was impressed with the speed of the autofocus, as well as how this lens captured the fine details. As noted, the wrong focal length can sometimes distort a subject. Zooming a 24-70mm all the way in to 70mm, like I did here can prevent that.

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1/125, f/8, ISO 200, 70mm, off-camera flash.

I was in the middle of a cookbook shoot when this lens arrived, and I was curious to see how it would do in an all natural light scenario. When we shoot food in the studio, we generally use a single natural light source (big window) to backlight or sidelight the dish, along with a bounce card for fill. Shooting from the shadow side of the food can sometimes pose a challenge for auto-focus, but this lens had no problems at all, even when I selected a focus point in the darkest part of the frame.

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1/80, f/5.6, ISO 400, 70mm, natural light.

But let’s take low light a step further. Really low light. In the images below, the photo on the right was taken with only ambient light in order to show how the autofocus performs in very low light situations. For purposes of the test, I placed my focal point on the subject’s left eye- the one in shadow. The photo on the left was taken at the same settings, with a single speedlight in a softbox to the left of the camera. The autofocus obviously had to work a little harder than it might have in broad daylight, but not so much that it became a problem on the shoot.

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1/60, f/5.6, ISO 640, 70mm, off-camera flash.

If you read my article on How to Shoot Flowers, you know I spend a lot of time capturing flowers and their delicate details. Obviously, I was excited to see how the lens would perform with flowers. Other than the crop, this image is straight out of the camera. The edges and textures are all very sharp. While not specifically a macro lens, it’s nice to know it can still capture fine details with precision.

1/500, f/2.8, iSO 100, ambient light.

1/500, f/2.8, iSO 100, ambient light.

While attending Photoshop World in Atlanta last month, I stopped by the Westcott expo booth, where models and lights were set up for the Westcott Shootout Contest. Since studio lights were already set for optimal conditions, it seemed like a great opportunity to test the lens for indoor portraits. Other than the black and white conversion, this image is straight out of the camera. The lens performed really well while trying to capture the glam look of 1940s Hollywood.

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1/200, f/5.6, ISO 1600, 70mm, constant LED studio lighting.

The lens had performed extremely well with portraits, food, and flowers, so I decided to see how it would do on an architectural interior shoot before I had to box it up and send it back. I was thrilled with how it captured the color and contrast.

1/160, f/10, 28mm, ISO 200, ambient light.

1/160, f/10, 28mm, ISO 200, ambient light.

Wrap-Up and Recommendations

Like I said at the very beginning – this lens rocks. It performed flawlessly in a variety of lighting and shooting situations. While I didn’t have time to take it out on a landscape shoot, there was absolutely nothing about my experience with this lens to indicate that nature and landscape results would have been any different. An excellent lens for either full-frame or APS-C sensor cameras, if you’re looking for a really great lens that can handle just about any assignment, the Tamron 24-70 f/2.8 should be at or near the top of your list of choices. The only down side to this lens was returning it to Tamron when I was done.

The post Lens Review Tamron 24-70 mm f/2.8 Di VC USD by Jeff Guyer appeared first on Digital Photography School.

The 3Pod P5CFH Fold-Flat Tripod – A Review

The 3Pod P5CFH tripod folds flat, providing an innovative and reliable option for photographers looking for an affordable carbon-fiber tripod system.

The 3Pod P5CFH tripod folds flat- providing an innovative and reliable option for photographers looking for an affordable and compact carbon fiber tripod system

In a recent review of another tripod, I pointed out that writing a tripod review is actually more difficult than it sounds. The primary reason is that not much seems to change. The concept is simple, right? Legs. Head. Plate. On the surface, there’s not much new to write about. Companies like Manfrotto, Induro, 3 Legged Thing, and others are constantly coming up with new ideas for materials, colors, and other cosmetic features, but to the casual observer, innovations to the actual setup are seemingly few and far between. That’s why I got excited about test-driving this new 3Pod fold-flat travel tripod from Flashpoint. A recent newcomer to the Tripod Thunderdome, Flashpoint has a new line of six different tripods, designed around the needs of professional and hobbyist photographers and videographers. For this review, we’ll be getting up close and personal with the P5CFH Flat-folding Tripod with the K2 BallHead.

The Legs

A new flat design makes the P5CFH easier to pack.

A new flat design makes the P5CFH easier to pack.

This tripod offers full-featured camera support, balancing an innovative new design with carbon fiber construction, to provide a great combination of strength and stability. Being able to fold a tripod flat makes it easier to pack, and therefore increases its portability- as well as your chances of actually taking it out on location when you need it. The high cost of light-weight, carbon fiber construction is usually the factor that keeps many photographers from purchasing carbon fiber legs. A comparable tripod from one of the big-name companies could set you back up to $400, dropping it down a notch or two on your list of priorities. The P5CFH from 3Pod, however, cashes out at only $150, including the K2 BallHead.

On the left, legs that adjust to three different angle positions. On the right, an integrated bubble level and compass for nature photographers, as well as a ballast hook for adding weight and extra stability.

On the left, legs that adjust to three different angle positions. On the right, an integrated bubble level and compass for nature photographers, as well as a ballast hook for adding weight and extra stability.

As I pointed out in the earlier review, the low cost had me a bit skeptical. Something had to be wrong with it. What kind of carbon fiber rejects were they using, anyway? Thankfully, I didn’t let my skepticism get in the way of giving these tripods a fair shot. Let’s take a look at some of the specs and what comes in the box:

  • Carbon fiber construction
  • Double-jacketed, wear-resistant leg locks
  • Three independently adjustable/lockable leg angles
  • Height 56.5 fully extended, 13.5 folded
  • Capacity: holds up to 20 lbs.
  • Extendable/detachable dual-section center column
  • Outdoor-ready spiked feet with removable rubber grip covers
  • Hook for adding stabilizing weight
  • Integrated bubble level and compass on tripod legs
  • K2 hydraulic ball head with built-in bubble level
  • Allen wrench set for tightening connections
  • Padded carrying case

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The fold-flat design means the center column has to be removed to get it down to its compact and packable 13.5 .

Because of the fold-flat design, the center column cannot slide down through the hub between the legs. In order for it to break down to its 13.5 packable size, the two-section center column actually detaches by unscrewing it from the rest of the assembly. This could be a negative, since it means keeping track of two pieces, rather than one. The trade-off, however, comes in the form of a tripod that takes up significantly less room than its traditional counterparts. I put it through its paces with several different Think Tank camera bags, and I was able to pack it comfortably inside a wide variety of backpacks and shoulder bags.

The Head

The K2 ball head provides a secure, sturdy platform for mounting your camera.

The K2 ball head provides a secure, sturdy platform for mounting your camera.

The K2 ball head is an Arca-Swiss compatible tripod head with a sliding quick release plate and universal 1/4 mounting screw. It’s got a solid design, and handled weight distribution very well with various camera configurations (i.e., with and without battery grip). It’s made of scratch-resistant carbon, with a hard, protective finish for a (hopefully) wear-free appearance. Landscape and panoramic photographers will find the smooth, 360-degree rotation helpful, as well as two separate bubble levels.

Wrap-up and Recommendations

I’ve only been using this tripod for a couple of weeks, but so far it’s been sturdy, secure, light-weight, and convenient. With built-to-last, high-quality construction, it’s tough to find much in the way of fault. What we ask of our tripods is both very basic and incredibly important. While you may be hesitant to trust a $150 tripod with your $2,000 camera, if you’ve been looking for a reliable, affordable, and compact, carbon fiber tripod, the 3Pod P5CFH is a great place to start.

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On the left: Think Tank Airport Commuter backpack. On the right: Think Tank City Walker 30 shoulder bag.

The post The 3Pod P5CFH Fold-Flat Tripod – A Review by Jeff Guyer appeared first on Digital Photography School.

ioSafe N2 – Your own Private Muscly Cloud

I wrote recently about the Synology NAS, I will write more about it soon as I’ve added to it! But there are, as they say, two sides to every story and here’s the other side to that story!

Introducing the ioSafe N2 NAS

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Having (had!) an IT background and experiencing first hand a number of times people losing their data – sometimes LOTS of data – and being completely overwhelmed at the thought of not knowing what they had saved somewhere else and what was “gone forever*” I wanted to make sure that wasn’t the case for me.

At the same time, I wanted to be able to get to “stuff” from wherever I was. I do use multiple “online” storage things, Dropbox is my main online storage space, I’ve also just started using COPY who give much more free space.. Why multiples? Who puts all of their eggs in one basket? But we’re talking 20gb here and 30gb there… If I wanted to have an entire copy of my computer online just incase something really shoddy happened like theft, flood, fire, or something else… The ability to get to my digital life (as I like to call it) is crucial. I work from home, I have client data (As a photographer, I have photographs obviously, but they’re covered with my other NAS, the DS1512+) and I need to be able to access that data at all time.

There’s also the whole “would I walk up to someone in the street and hand them all the photos of my kid, all of my important business data” that Robb touches on in the video below… I’m sure you’ve heard of businesses folding – well, it has happened to online storage companies too [READ THIS this is from 2009, but there’s nothing to say it can’t happen today] and with this firmly in mind, I smile about my N2 sitting securely in a cupboard in my house, out of line of sight, quietly backing up all of my precious digital stuffs…

That said, having this NAS packed in a cupboard out of harms way, I don’t get to use the SDXC slot on the front of the unit, but it is there if you want to use it – simply take photographs on an SD card, pop the card into the front of your NAS and it mounts up like a little external drive and you can copy all of the images across. Very handy.

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Lets hop around a little.. I run my own business, but it isn’t large and I don’t have co-located servers with my data replicating across multiple sites – if I wanted to make sure I was 100% safe, I’d do that, but it is cost restrictive for me right now, so I needed to be able to trust what I could afford** The ioSafe N2 is sort of like a baby army tank that stores data.. It can withstand fire, water, three year olds etc… 1500 degrees f. for half hour – you’d want to hope the fire brigade had put your house out in that time!, Under ten feet of water for 72 hours… This is no ordinary NAS (Network attached storage) device. There’s also the included one time data recovery service – ioSafe will recover your data up to $5K worth of DRS included with every ioSafe product… that is pretty rad if you ask me! (read more on that here)

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You can see above (and below) where your data is stored, on those two disks in the middle… Then there’s a solid metal plate that goes on the front of the disk bay, then a plug that is the front of the unit… There is airflow around the sealed unit that has heat dispersion wings on it, so your disks maintain a normal working temp, too.

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Lets jump back to where I was talking about accessing my data remotely shall we… The ioSafe runs Synology DSM (I’m currently running the 4.3 Beta on my ioSafe with great success) DSM pretty much turns the N2 into a fully fledged cloud (cloud simply means server that can be accessed remotely in this case.. sort of) and there are some very handy iPhone and Android and (even haha) Windows phone apps that you can use to get to your data.. You can log into your server via FTP too.. (It also works as a web server, print server, ftp server, media server… this thing can’t make a decent espresso, but then I can, so we’re good!)

My ioSafe N2 is setup using the Synology Hybrid Raid, I use two 2TB disks in (basically) raid one so I have a one disk fault tolerance.. My stuff is essentially safe unless Godzilla comes along and eats my N2..

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I use my N2 in conjunction with my other ioSafe drives.. I have a Solo G3 and a Rugged Portable (That my brother has borrowed to take around the world!!)

Who is the N2 for?

Anyone that is serious about keeping their data safe but maybe not quite ready to buy a serve in a datacentre. (You can also bolt the N2 to your floor / hide it in a cupboard and access it wirelessly!)

Pros

  • Life proof.
  • Connectivity.
  • Massive feature set via DSM.
  • Small footprint by comparison.

Cons

  • Errr? For the market this beast is aimed at, there are none.

I want to leave you with a video from Robb Moore, he’s the guy that started ioSafe when nothing else would suit his needs… I’m very glad he did because right now, for me, nothing else does what this N2 does.

I was provided with the N2 for review, I was already an ioSafe user… I use product I love, I don’t have time for rubbish that doesn’t work – who does. I give this N2 a total of 10 out of 11 gold stars, I only deduct one because I know I’m going to need more space soon and there’s not a 4 disk model – yet.

Please feel free to ask any questions in the comments below.

-Sime

Post originally from: Digital Photography Tips.

Check out our more Photography Tips at Photography Tips for Beginners, Portrait Photography Tips and Wedding Photography Tips.

ioSafe N2 – Your own Private Muscly Cloud

Olympus PEN E-PM2 Review

You can’t complain about the lack of variety in the current crop of mirrorless interchangeable lens compact cameras! This one will sure fit many people right down to the ground.

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Although I have to admit it’s not my style of camera, mainly due to the lack of external controls – it’s mostly menu driven – the Olympus PEN E-PM2 is agreeably small and light and, with lens detached, the body is pocketable.

With the f3.5/14-42mm kit lens fitted to the review camera, the distance from the back of the camera to lens front stretched to a lengthy 10cm … and that was with the lens at minimum ‘stretch’!

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Olympus PEN E-PM2 Features

Top deck controls: on/off button, shutter button, Function button, replay, trash.

Rear: video record, four way rocker (exposure compensation, flash options, single/continuous shooting, AF targets), menu and info buttons. And that’s all!

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Choices of Program AE, aperture and shutter priority and manual shooting modes are selected via the menu system, which is initially graphics supported and then moves into the familiar lines of text. Five minutes practice with this and you will become familiar with it. I have to say that using menu driven exposure options does remove a major hazard of rolling the mode dial to your choice: on some cameras the mode dial can be easily knocked to an unwanted spot.

I found the touch screen LCD screen to be bright and clear and useable in bright daylight, although I regretted the lack of a vari-angle screen. A novel touch is that you can tap the screen to take a shot!

The maximum image size is 4608 3455 pixels, enough to make a 39x29cm print.

Movies in Full HD 1920 1080 pixel resolution are on hand.

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Those who have experienced Olympus’ Art Filters will enjoy the options of capturing an image with a Pop Art, sepia, grainy look, pin hole and other ‘looks’ in a total of 12 ‘looks’.

People who like the joys of connectivity with smartphones and tablet devices, will appreciate the PM2 which fully supports the new Flashair SD storage/wireless card that transforms the camera into a wireless access point.

The top accessory shoe can support a wide variety of optional accessories, such as the eye-level digital viewfinders VF-2 and VF-3, an external stereo microphone, and the PP-1 Bluetooth data transfer module.

Olympus PEN E-PM2 ISO Tests

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Olympus PEN E-PM2 ISO 6400.JPG

Olympus PEN E-PM2 ISO 12800.JPG

Olympus PEN E-PM2 ISO 25600.JPG

Excellent performance all the way to ISO 6400. At ISO 12800 noise is still down and definition acceptable. By ISO 25600 the noise level has gone too far but definition is OK.

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Olympus PEN E-PM2 Review Verdict

Quality: very good.

Why you’d buy the Olympus PEN E-PM2: small, easily carried camera.

Why you wouldn’t: you don’t like menu mining!

This is a MILC model that will take very good quality pictures.

Available in black, silver, red or white.

Olympus PEN E-PM2 Specifications

Image Sensor: 16.1 million effective pixels.
Metering: Multi zone, centre-weighted averaging, spot.
Effective Sensor Size: 17.3 13.0mm (22.5mm diameter) Live MOS.
35 SLR Lens Factor: 2x.
Shutter Speed: 60 to 1/4000 second, Bulb.
Continuous Shooting: 8 fps.
Memory: SD/SDHC/SDXC cards.
Image Sizes (pixels): 4608 3455 to 1024 768. Movies: 1920 1080, 1280 720, 640 480 at 30fps.
LCD Screen: 7.6cm LCD (460,000 pixels).
File Formats: JPEG, RAW, JPEG+RAW, MPEG4.
Colour Space: sRGB, Adobe RGB.
ISO Sensitivity: Auto, 200 to 12800.
Interface: USB 2.0, HDMI mini, AV, accessories.
Power: Rechargeable lithium ion battery, DC input.
Dimensions: 110x64x34 WHDmm.
Weight: 269 g (inc battery and card).
Prices: Get a price on theOlympus PEN E-PM2 at Amazon.

Post originally from: Digital Photography Tips.

Check out our more Photography Tips at Photography Tips for Beginners, Portrait Photography Tips and Wedding Photography Tips.

Olympus PEN E-PM2 Review

The Best Thing For Your Smartphone Images

Set Your Smartphone Pictures Free

For the photographic community I think it’s fair to say that the jury is still out so far as the legitimacy of smartphone photography goes. Some say that it’s a fad, others that it is the future. Although I am no evangelist, I do think that the quality of images now achievable is pretty impressive and I can believe a future where the point and shoot is surpassed by the smartphone camera. As you can probably tell, I love taking pictures with my camera phone.

So if you are like me your phone is probably jammed with all kinds of images none of which do anything more than live on your handset or PC. I have always been a massive fan of printing my images, there is just something so satisfying about taking a picture from conception to capture and finally on to paper yet for some reason we don’t think that this applies to the pictures we take on our phone. Recently I discovered the joy of printing images directly from my phone and I can hand on heart say that it’s the best thing you can possibly do with your smartphone pictures. Just in case you aren’t sure how to get started here is a short guide:

Disclaimer – The steps below cover wireless printing from the iPhone (just because it’s the only smartphone I have). It is possible to print from Android handsets however the operating system doesn’t (I believe) do this natively so you may need to download an separate app to do this but the process should be broadly similar.

  • The printer – The best way to print directly from your phone is by using a wireless printer however not all printers support Apple AirPrint so don’t forget to check that your printer is compatible. The Apple website contains a list of compatible printers however its worth checking your printer manufacturers website also.
  • Get your media – You can print on any media which your printer can handle however my preference is to use one of the various pre cut photo papers which are readily available online or in any stationary store. I personally like to print on 6 x 4 glossy sheets as I find that this give a pleasing balance between image size and quality. You can go larger if you like but don’t forget that the maximum size you can print and maintain image quality will be dependent upon the resolution of your camera. A batch of 50 sheets retails in the region of 5 (about $8 US) so assuming you already have a printer its a pretty cheap investment.

Printing

As iOS have inbuilt support for wireless printing (via AirPrint) sending your images to your printer is actually very simple. Check out the video below to see the actual process but in summary here are the main steps:

  • Navigate to your Photos app.
  • Select a photo to print.
  • Tap the share icon (the one with the pointing arrow).
  • Tap the print icon.

Summary

Printing from your phone is a fantastic way to make more of your smartphone images and is an especially good way to share your mobile masterpieces with friends and family. Having recently discovered the joys of printing from my phone I can highly recommend giving this a try, its cheap, easy and a great way to bring your smartphone pictures to life. Enough said!

Post originally from: Digital Photography Tips.

Check out our more Photography Tips at Photography Tips for Beginners, Portrait Photography Tips and Wedding Photography Tips.

The Best Thing For Your Smartphone Images

Fujifilm XF1 Review

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After a swag of complex, interesting and somewhat challenging digicams passed over my review desk, I felt I deserved a holiday. So I fell upon this new, aluminium-bodied Fujifilm model as an example of what you can find out there: small, pocketable, easy to use, yet with a smallish zoom range … but with a very fast lens.

It’s easy to get blas in this business and sometimes I don’t immerse myself deeply enough in the press guff that accompanies these delights of technology. So when I pulled the XF1 out of the box I was flummoxed at how to start it up. No power button! Nowhere could I find a means to kick it into life. And of course the last place I would look for assistance was in the instruction manual PDF!

So what to do?

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I then noticed that the lens was oddly flush with the camera body. So I idly twirled the lens, pulling it out a few mils. Then twirled it a bit more.

Voila! Power’s on. LCD screen comes alive. What a gas! Cleverest startup I’ve ever seen.

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Fujifilm XF1 Features

The review XF1 was beautifully styled with a chrome top deck and black body. Very Leica-ish! It’s also available in two other colours: red and brown.

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The lens is an f1.8 4x zoom, with the wide end a decent 25mm SLR equivalent, zooming into a useable 100mm tele end, ideal for portraiture.

The maximum image size can deliver a 34x25cm print.

Movies at Full HD res of 1920 1080 pixels can be shot.

In keeping with the clean design philosophy, external controls are down to an absolute minimum.
Top deck: mode dial (PASM, auto, two custom settings, EXR, advanced settings, scene position) plus shutter button, Function and flash pop-up.

Rear: four way rocker trash, exposure compensation, macro, self timer, flash settings) display options, Function, replay and video record.

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The screen menus are displayed in large, clear text in a series of well laid out panels. One of the best menu sets I have seen.

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A note on the EXR feature: in this mode the camera selects the optimum setting from 103 patterns; this helps you lift the quality of your image taking

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Choose from an auto setting, or ones that place emphasis on resolution, high ISO and/or low noise or D-Range that will increase detail highlights. One worth exploring.

Startup Time

The camera is fast in departments other than the f1.8 lens: in less than a second I was ready to shoot my first shot with follow-ons coming in at a rate of less than a second each and as I became more practised in rolling the lens out obviously the startup figure would fall!

Distortion

Some evidence of barrel distortion at the wide end of the zoom; no problems at the tele end.

Panoramas

As with the XE-1, this model can shoot large motion panorama stills, with the camera capturing a run of individual frames, then stitching them in camera.

Fujifilm XF1 ISO Tests

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Fujifilm XF1 ISO 6400.JPG

Very interesting! The initial shot at ISO 100 revealed that the camera is not exactly razor sharp at close distances (ie 30cm).

Higher ISO figures revealed that definition fell further, then noise became apparent at ISO 1600 and rose even more by ISO 6400 (2816 2112 pixels). No point in testing ISO 12800 due to an even smaller capture size (2048 1536 pixels).

Fujifilm XF1 Review Verdict

Quality: good at normal distances. Not the best for close up work.

Why you’d buy the Fujifilm XF1: fast to get going; high quality snapping.

Why you wouldn’t: you may find the startup routine unnecessarily fiddly … takes some time to get used to!

There’s a lot to like in this camera, although I fell afoul of the startup routine when rolling the lens from wide to tele: if I ran the lens too hard against the tele end it shut down! Frustrating!

I then figured out there were two startup configurations: travel mode, where the lens retracts fully inside the camera to minimise the camera size; pull the lens slightly away from the body, then (when ready to shoot) roll the lens to the desired focal length.

An interesting camera for a number of reasons.

Fujifilm XF1 Specifications

Image Sensor: 12 million effective pixels.
Sensor: 17mm EXR CMOS.
Metering: Multi segment, averaging, spot.
Lens: Fujinon f1.8-4.9/6.4-25.6mm (25-100mm as 35 SLR equivalent).
Exposure Modes: Auto, Program AE, shutter and aperture priority, manual.
Shutter Speed: 30 sec to 1/2000 second.
Memory: SD/SDHC/SDXC.
Continuous Shooting: Approx 3-16fps.
Image Sizes (pixels): Stills: 4000 3000 to 1536 1536.
Movies: 1920 1080, 1280 720, 640 480, 320240, 320 112.
Viewfinders: 7.6cm LCD screen (460,000).
File Formats: JPEG, RAW, JPEG+RAW, MPO (3D), MPEG4.
ISO Sensitivity: Auto, 100 to 12800.
Interface: USB 2.0, HDMI mini, AV.
Power: Rechargeable lithium ion battery.
Dimensions: 107.9 61.5 33 WHDmm.
Weight: 225 g (inc battery, card).
Price: Get a price on the Fujifilm XF1 at Amazon.

Post originally from: Digital Photography Tips.

Check out our more Photography Tips at Photography Tips for Beginners, Portrait Photography Tips and Wedding Photography Tips.

Fujifilm XF1 Review