Tag Archives: dslr

Are Point and Shoot Cameras Coming To An End?

A decade ago, a point and shoot digital camera would have been the perfect gift to someone that’s into gadgets and technology. Unfortunately, the era of point and shoot cameras is coming to an end. Today, a smartphone replaces your average point and shoot and you don’t have to carry an extra device. Progress has spoken but is there a still a place for the old point and shoot? Continue reading Are Point and Shoot Cameras Coming To An End?

Best Portable Audio Recording? Zoom H1 Review

The Techshift team and I are slowly progressing into the world of video making for YouTube. (More of that come of course!) During this journey we have noticed that our sound equipment, none besides the onboard mic of our dslr, just was not cutting it. Upon doing some research I originally sought to buy the Zoom H4N. It ended up out of my price range. Needless to say from there I searched for a budget, but quality, mic and what I found was the Zoom h1. What was advertised as your perfect walk around audio recorder, came to be the perfectВ supplementВ to aВ DSLR. The purchase came out to be about 100 bucks. Yeah! were not rich yet! В While some people would not even consider an external microphone, the Techhift team and I feel as though sound is just as important, if not more, than the video. В So let us get right down to it! Here is the full review of the Zoom H1.

 

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Build

Before actually owning the zoom h1, I did do my own research on the product. Everyone’s conclusion was that it felt like a cheap toy. However, I feel as though, while it is all plastic, it still feels sturdy.  I have dropped this mic before and it has yet to crack. (I hope it doesn’t of course!)  And upside to it being all plastic is that it is very light. The build itself is a very small mic intended for on the go usage. It might just be me, but there is something satisfying when you can buy an a product for use, and not have to worry about it getting scuffed up. Coming in an all plastic and cheap form actually makes me want to bring it around more. I toss it into my bag and go. And I think thats a very important factor when considering this type of product to buy. Just dont expect a tank when your buying this product. Keep in mind the satisfying buying price of it and you wont have any complaints.

 

Sound

To be blunt the sound is fantastic.  With an onboard mic that you get with your typical DSLR, you’ll notice the sound levels are not equal. Every now and then I would record a conversation with two people, and while they are at the same exact distance from the camera, every now and then one voice would be extremely high while the other would be low. Not with the zoom h1. If I aim the mic correctly, the audio is not only equal, but it is also accurate.Another problem that I had before using the Zoom h1 was the fact that my onboard mic picked up a certain humming noise in the background. The h1, as im sure many if not all external mics, fix this problem.  The Zoom h1 mic also removed the audio echo that I received with many other cameras. (Especially webcams)

As far as the amount of audio you want to capture goes, you can easily control it. You can set it so you are capturing sounds closer to you, or sounds further away with the input level. Ive been testing the extent of the mic and I once pointed the mic towards my kitchen, while being 2 rooms away, and I swear I heard the conversation my mother and father were having! While we are on the subject of direction. I have noticed that if you move this mic a little off of your subject, the audio that you pick up will be loads different. And no, that does not mean the zoom h1 will not pick up audio, or will have bad audio if you don’t have it directly on the subject. It just sounds much more crisp when you have it directly on your subject oposed to 3 inches off.  So definetly keep in mind, if you are recording something importatnt to have someone overhearing it it through headphones. Once you adjust the input level correct and youve aimed the mic correctly, your 100 dollar equipment surely pays off.

I do not have a wind filter, as it does not come with one, but I have noticed, to no surprised, that in semi-windy condition, without a wind filter, it does pick up a lot of wind noise.  A LOT. Not a negative thing, that’s typical, but don’t be put off by it and buy a wind filter. (If you intend to work in windy conditions)

 

KEEP IN MIND

The Zoom H1 does cannot be directly connected into your camera. You must manually sync you audio. It could be a major pain, and it is something you definitely want to consider. I believe in the new Final Cut Pro X there is a way to automatically sync the audio, but even then, I would of course rather just have the audio recorded right into our DSLR. If this is a problem, you might want to consider the Zoom H1s big brother: the Zoom H4n.

 

Controls

It is a very simple microphone that one can just pick up and use.  Right on the front of the mic is a large record button. Ergonoimically speaking, this mic feels perfect for an on the go use. To the left of the mic you have your volume up and down button which controls both the volume of the speaker and the amount of sound you are capturing.  You have your on and off switch. Trash button to delete any files. Your play/ pause botton along with rewinding and fast forwarding. I found these buttons to be a little unresponsive. Time to time I will try to listen to my audio through the mic and I will fastforward or rewind.  While holding onto the button to rewind or fastforward the button will become unresponsive and it’ll consider my press a single click thus having it skip to the next track. I’ve tried this many times with a firm grip of course haha.  You have your line in and out. Your volume control and finally your input level to adjust the amount of sound your mic picks up. It also has a little screen to view your tracks. Nothing too fancy here. Just the basics, which again, is why I love this mic. The simplicity to use it quickly on the go!

 

Other

The zoom consumes only one AA battery, but I still wish it had a charging feature. В It also does haveВ  tripod screw in so if you have an extra tripod you can mount it equally to your camera.

As a walk around mic, it’s perfect. I mainly bought it to compliment my dslr. But I have had times where I brought out this mic to record commentary or record audio as a joke. And with the size and simplicity it gets the job done right for that.

 

All in all

For a budget mic, I think it is a great product. В I do envy the Zoom H4n, but considering the price this product it is going for, I cant complain much. Its a mic, that I use to supplement everything, my DSLR, my webcam, and sometimes even my phone. The only downside I would have to say is, again, you have to manually sync the audio in post production. So do I recommend this mic? Yes, yes I do!

 

Zoom H1

The Zoom H1, your portable audio recorder now the perfect supplement to any DSLR or video recording device. Small and affordable, but what does all of that sacrifice?

Rating by Len Thou: 4.0 stars

The End Of Point And Shoot Cameras?

Many people have already heard about Cisco stopping production of their Flip video cameras. The death of Flip has many people questioning why it failed. Was there a demand for it? Did it fail to appeal to the masses. Was this death inevitable? Some people say the writing was on the wall. Many point and shoot cameras could perform just asВ well as the Flip Mino/Ultra HD. NotВ only that, but high-end smartphones could record video in the same quality. Today, people are willing to pay a bit more for convenience and all-in-one gadgets just make sense. The niche FlipВ fulfilled was dying.В Carrying one smartphone that takes pictures just as well as a point and shoot camera means less things to carry. Cell phones cameras are getting better every day. Does this mean we are seeing the end of point and shoot cameras? Maybe not completely but smartphones will cause some damage towards this market.

 

 

 

Point and shoot cameras are pretty much the same

With a few exceptions, today, point and shoot cameras are pretty much the same. They performed fairly well in good lighting conditions and fall short in lowВ light. The gap between point and shoots and DSLRs is big while the gap between point and shoots and smartphones is closing. Most high-end smartphones have built-in LED flash and at least a 5 megapixel sensor. The image quality is good enough for web use but its not quite asВ good as point and shoots. The difference, although noticeable, is not that big in the grand scheme of things. Theres a new point and shoot on the market. They come in the form of the mirror-less micro four thirds standard. This camera system is a step up from point and shoots with interchangeableВ lenses and a larger sensor but its still not as good as a full size DSLR.

 

 

Taken from a smartphone(Samsung Moment)

Currently, only Panasonic and Olympus support the micro fourВ thirds standard. These cameras are also much more expensive compared to entry-level point and shoots. A micro fourВ thirds camera can cost up to $700. This is a small fortune when most people want to take photos that are just good enough. Today, a smartphone camera fits the needs of many people plus it can do many other things a standalone camera cannot. There are cases where using a smartphone to take pictures orВ video may not be a goodВ idea. For example,В the GoProВ HD cameras fill a specific niche. They are rugged and waterproof. You can use them to take amazing action videos that would be perfect for video streaming sitesВ likeВ YouTube. Using a smartphone where water may be involved may not be the smartest idea. Like most multi-tools, they are good at doing lots of different things but they are not great at doing one thing. The question isВ whether itВ is good enoughВ for you. Some people likeВ to use them to replace gadgets like GPS while others need a standalone device. Personally, I prefer using a dedicated GPS so IВ can save batteryВ life on my smartphone and keep it free for incoming calls.

 

 

Whats The Point?

Point and shoot cameras have ventured into some exclusive niches. Theres a new line of rugged cameras that are shockproof andВ waterproof to a certain depth. This market is nice for beach goers and backpackers. Although branching out is a good idea to capture some possible markets, the industry as a whole will likely be on a decline unless something drastic happens. The way I see it, smaller yet powerful point and shoots like the micro fourВ thirds standard needs to be adopted by more manufacturers in order to bring the cost down. The average consumer isnt going to pay $700 for a point andВ shoot. You would expect them to get better over time but many people are now aware of megapixel marketing. Fact is, a 12 MP photo doesnt look much different from a 8 MP photo from point and shoots. Is this the end of point and shoots? Unless camera manufacturers recognize the trends and react to the market, then yes. The way I see it, if smartphone cameras keep improving at this pace, carrying a point andВ shoot will be like carrying a beeper. Whats the point. What do you think? Are point and shoot cameras dying?

 

When Do Megapixels On A Camera Matter?

Sensor Size
A comparison of Sensor sizes

When I first got into photography years back I searched online and reduced my options to cameras with the highest megapixel. Man, was I naive. Even todays most basic point and shoot can offer a whopping 15 or more megapixels. However when it comes to your image quality there is a lot of misunderstandings that suggest a higher megapixel count would mean better image quality. For the most part this is false because the fact is that image quality depends on the sensor size in your actual camera. (And lens if were talking about DSLR and EVIL cameras but that is getting off topic!) Megapixels refer to the resolution (Size) of your image rather than the actual image quality. Some Nikon camera with lower megapixels out performs some of Canons with much higher megapixel count. In general you can find a point and shoot with 20 megapixels but it does not mean the image quality will better a 10 megapixel DSLR.

 

My Findings

In my experience I have noticed many people, including myself at one point, who buy their cameras based on megapixels, end up 99.9 percent of the time cropping their image or resizing it because the file was too large to upload some social networking site. On top of that I find that many people never actually view their pictures in edge to edge full screen mode. However when speaking of all camera very general, what does more megapixels mean?

 

 

 

So when do megapixels count?

If you plan to print a lot of your photos then a camera with a higher megapixel count will do you well. A 21 megapixel camera will fill in more pixels per inch on paper opposed to a 12 megapixel camera. Yes, it is true, even in real world scenarios you will not usually notice the difference unless you are indeed printing HUGE posters. I dont know too many people that print huge posters with point and shoots but who knows you guys and girls may be out there. But if youre in the market to buy a DSLR and intend to shoot photos like wedding photography and want huge prints then it is a good idea to have those extra megapixels.

 

 

 

Canon T1i 18-55mm Kit Lens Review: Is It Any Good?

18-55mm Kit Lens

After getting my first DSLR, I decided to take the time to read and learn as much as I can about photography. There are many forum posts and YouTube videos saying that kit lenses are garbage and you should stay away from them. After getting the Canon T1i as a kit, I started to wonder about the quality of this lens. Is it really as bad as people say? If you are looking into buying a DSLR, is it better to buy it as a kit or body only? Seeing as this was my first DSLR, I decided to make use of it and make mental note as I go along. Lets look at what was on my mind.

 

 

18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Broken Down

The Canon T1i(500D) comes with a 18-55mm lens if you buy it with the kit. The maximum aperture on the 18mm side is 3.5 and the maximum aperture on the 55mm side is 5.6 respectively. As a newbie photographer, these numbers were confusing at first. Basically, the smaller the f-stop(f-number), the better the lens. A smaller number means a wider aperture. A wider aperture means more light can enter the lens. If this isnt confusing enough, some people describe lenses as being fast or slow.

 

 

 

Say for example we have 2 different lenses. Both 50mm prime(non-zoom). The first lens is an f/1.4 and the other is a f/1.8. The first lens would be considered faster. This may seem confusing at first but let me describe it in plain English. A 1.4 lens has a larger maximum aperture compared to a 1.8 lens. This means more light can enter the lens thus it would take less time to properly expose a photo. Say for example the ISO and shutter speed is the same. The first lens at 1.4 would take brighter(more exposed) photos than the second lens at 1.8. This means in order for the first lens to take a photo at the same exposure as the second lens, you would have to increase the shutter speed. So if it take 1/30th of a second to properly expose a photo on the 1.8, it might take 1/40th or 1/50th on the 1.4 lens. 1/50th is a shorter time than 1/30th. ThisВ faster shutter speed is achieved by the lens. This is why some lenses are described as fast. You achieve the same exposure with a faster shutter speed on a faster lens. Faster lenses are not only good for reducing motion blur, but they also work well in low-light situations.

 

 

The Nifty 50

For the most part, f/3.5 is considered fairly slow but I suppose we have to work with what we got. I had a chance to try out the Canon 50mm f/1.8 also known as the Nifty 50. This lens is nicknamed the Nifty 50 because it is fast and cheap. The lens itself is about $100 new give or take a Jackson depending on where you get it from. It is very cheaply made. The body is made of plastic and the lens itself is very lightweight. This is a prime lens meaning it cant zoom. It has a fixed focal length. You want to zoom? Use your feet. Being a prime lens, the image is noticeably sharper compared to my kit lens. The bokeh(out of focus blur) is also nicer. This lens is great for portrait shooting but I found it frustrating for anything else. The focusing motor is noisy and you have to step back about 3-4 feet to get your subject in focus. It also does not have IS(Image Stabilization) while the kit lens does.

 

 

Comparing the Nifty 50 to the kit lens is like longan and jackfruit. Theyre different. One is more catered to portrait photography while the other is a good all-around lens. Having the Nifty 50 mounted on my Canon T1i left me wanting the kit lens for street shooting. It was so much easier framing shots with the zoom. It was also moreВ discreetВ as I didnt want to walk up to someones face and snap my shoots.

 

 

A Case For The Kit Lens

After spending time with both the Nifty 50 and the kit lens, I thought about some arguments for and against the kit lens. Sure its not as sharp, fast, or as good in low light compared to the Nifty 50 but it is good all around lens. The kit lens has IS, moderate zoom and it seems to focus faster. Probably the most annoying thing about the Nifty 50 is how noisily it hunts for focus. All you hear is *BUZZZZZ*, *ZZZZIMP*, *BUZZZZ*. The kit lens is quieter.

 

 

Then theres the issue of camera body. The Canon Rebel line is considered entry-level in the DSLR world.When you buy an entry-level DSLR, you are dipping your toes in the water. If you like it, you dive right in and buy more expensive gear(lenses). If you dont, you can cut your loses and call it quits without having to invest too much. Since lenses range from $100 to thousands of dollars, a kit lens seems like good insurance to see if you want to take photography to the next level.

 

 

Conclusion

The people who say this kit lens is bad are on another level. Sure it is not as sharp and the build quality isnt as solid as an L lens but sometimes, these things dont matter as much. With an entry-level DSLR, you should worry more about learning how to take good photos. This means composition, lighting and learning how the camera works. All of this is relative. While I would recommend the kit lens for any Rebel camera, I wouldnt for a better camera body like say a Canon 7D or a Canon 5D MarkII. You should build a collection of good glass on your way up, not when you just start. It can be quite expensive to start with an expensive body and L lenses only to realize you dont enjoy photography as much as you thought you would. Is this kit lens as bad as people say? No. The ones saying that have outgrown it and want better gear. Is it better to buy the body only? Honestly, if you are buying your first DSLR, the kit lens is a fine choice. You should either know what youre expecting and have done extensive homework or youre looking at a more expensive/full frame DSLR.

 

 

Whats Hot

  • Lightweight (for mobility)
  • Decent zoom
  • Versatile
  • IS (Image Stabilization)
  • Good for beginners

 

Whats Not

  • Low-light performance
  • Slow (see above forВ explanation)
  • Feels cheap (plasticky)
  • Image quality is a bit soft

Canon EF-S 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 IS Lens

A versatile lens that is a big upgrade coming from a point-and-shoot camera. This kit lens is at the bottom of its class in terms of build quality and sharpness but the versatility of its zoom makes it a great all-around lens for beginners. ImageВ stabilizationВ is also a nice feature for hand-held shots.

Rating by Set Sar: 3.0 stars