Picture Snob

March 31, 2008

March 2008 Monthly Roundup for PictureSnob

monthlyroundup.jpgOh, March. A little bit of everything happened this month. We introduced two new categories--Photo Printers and Scanners--expect more on those topics "moving forward" (corporate speak). There are some great tips and tricks on lighting (featuring the Strobist) and photo books that could save you some aggravation, so be sure to check those out.
Thumbnail image for tinyprints1.jpgProduct of the Month: tiny*prints
By product, we mean service. tiny*prints we dub thee the product of the month. It's the myriad of design options and heavyweight paper that puts tiny*prints ahead of its competition. They specialize in announcements, invitations and many other custom stationery products. See the full post here or visit tiny*prints directly and try them out!

Digital Cameras
Olympus E-420 Superlatives: Smallest, Lightest... Cheaper DSLR
Olympus Stylus 830: All-Weather Body Survives Beach Bums, Ski Bums and Puddle Lovers
Panasonic Lumix FX500 Digital Camera: Touch It!

Digital Picture Frames
Polaroid-style Digital Photo Frame
Westinghouse Digital Photo Frames with MosaicView™ Technology

Digital Photo Services
tiny*prints: There's nothing tiny about them
Apple Photo Books: 6 Tips to Get Good Results

Industry News
The Future Continues to Be Scary: The Auto-Focus Oven
Polaroid-style Digital Photo Frame

Photo Printers

Epson Stylus Photo Series: Proven Ink Jet Photo Printers

Scanners
Convert Negatives to Digital with the Digital Film Scanner

Tips & Tricks

Lighting 101 from the Strobist and Table Top Studio
Apple Photo Books: 6 Tips to Get Good Results

Flickr Friday
Primavera by Berhart Erich
Pointing to Heaven by Extra Medium
Rock of Cashel by Monti 12
A Brand New Bunny by Greefus Groinks
Chikezie! RIP by Mizz Iyabo Opeke

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March 28, 2008

flickr Friday: Chikezie! RIP

flickr_chikezie.jpg©Ray Mickshaw/Fox Broadcasting Co.
Well, we can't believe how America voted. The adorably styled, smiley, bouncy guy with the tiny teeth was so wrongly eliminated. See more American Idol obsession atMizz Iyabo Opeke page at Flickr.

Is there a flickr photo you want to see on PictureSnob? Email us!

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March 27, 2008

Apple Photo Books: 6 Tips to Get Good Results

applebook1.jpgRecently, PictureSnob ordered some photo books through Apple and we were a little surprised by the results... we designed and purchased a hardcover book and several soft cover books. We're going to describe what happened and at the end of the post are 6 hot tips for getting good photo book results. Read this! It will save you.

So we had a great time designing these books in iPhoto. It was easy to use and if you consulted the "help" menu you could figure out how to crop and customize to your heart's content. So we get the books (timing was fast, less than a week) and the hardcover book looked fantastic except for a magenta cast that was apparent across all the photos, including black & white images. Now most people might not notice this, but PictureSnob is, well, a SNOB, and this wasn't up to snuff for us. The soft cover books were damaged in shipping (bent corners) and the text had dropped out of most of the book. Additionally, it seemed like images were darker than expected.

So we go to the Apple Photo Services Support page to kvetch. Within hours Apple fully refunded every single book and included some helpful tips on how to better control the photo book results. (We still don't understand why they're shipping soft cover books in cardboard envelopes, but it's their buck.) The tips are good. Why this kind of information isn't more apparent when you set out to make your first photo book is mind-boggling. Apple? What gives?

Anyhoo, here's the tips:

ArrowContinue reading: "Apple Photo Books: 6 Tips to Get Good Results"

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March 24, 2008

Panasonic Lumix FX500 Digital Camera: Touch It!

lumixFX500.jpg
So it's not the first, but the Panasonic Lumix FX500 is among the best with its new 3-inch LCD touchscreen. The funny shaped thing in the photo is the pen it comes with -- presumably so you don't actually TOUCH the touchscreen... It's got some similarities to the Lumix FX35 but here are the full stats:

- 10.1 megapixels
- 25mm ultra-wide-angle Lecia DC lens
- 5x optical zoom
- Touchscreen (pen included) and joystick operation
- Intelligent ISO, face detection, scene selection, digital red-eye correction
- MEGA O.I.S. -- English, please... this is Panasonic for "image stabilization"
- Continuous Auto-Focus
- Shoots HD video at 1280 x 720 dpi
- Captures still photos with 16:9 aspect ratio
- Can set manual settings for aperture and shutter

Check out the full press release. You can preorder at Amazon for $399.95, otherwise it'll hit the retail stores in May/June -- comes in black and silver.

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March 21, 2008

flickr Friday: A Brand New Bunny

flickr_bunny.jpg
Ow, this makes my cutie bone hurt. Happy Easter to the Easter people, and to the non-Easter people, take a moment to enjoy bunnies. See more work from Greefus Groinks (who?) at Flickr.

Is there a flickr photo you want to see on PictureSnob? Email us!

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March 20, 2008

Epson Stylus Photo Series: Proven Ink Jet Photo Printers

You can't go wrong with an Epson, especially if you've got a big, fat wallet to spend on ink. But that's the trick of all printers... they get you on the ink. Here's an overview of the updated line. We've included printing speeds, but keep in mind that you usually give up quality for speed. We've directed you to Amazon for the best deals on Epson, but check out the Epson Store as well -- their inventory is sketchy but they sometimes offer good rebates.

Our one piece of advice here: Epson paper does make a difference when you want high-quality prints. We've tested generic store brands, Kodak and HP over the years on our Epson printer and it's just not the same. For everyday printing and drafts, just use plain old paper. As far as generic ink goes, it works just fine but there aren't the same guarantees on fade resistance. Just be wary if you want archival-quality results (photos that won't fade) -- it pays to read the details on ink and paper for those needs.

For most folks, a photo printer can be your only printer. However, if you print hundreds of pages of text a week, you might want to think about having a laser printer in addition to a photo quality ink jet to save you some printing time, cash on ink and wear and tear on the photo printer.
epson_R280.jpg
Epson Stylus Photo R280: Cheap and Easy (Amazon $89.99)
Ink Cartridge: 6 individual ink cartridges (Black, Cyan, Light Cyan, Magenta, Light Magenta, Yellow)
Ink Type: Claria Hi-Definition Ink (smudge, scratch, water and fade resistant photos)
Maximum Printable Area: 8.5" x 44"
Resolution: 5760 x 1400 optimized dpi (dots per inch)
Speed: 4"x6" photo in 11 seconds, black text at 37 pages per minute
Features: Built-in Auto Photo Correction will automatically adjust poorly exposed photos -- this is helpful if you don't want to spend time editing your photos prior to printing. Advanced face detection helps ensure natural skin tones. Also prints directly to ink jet printable CDs and DVDs. Connects via Hi-Speed USB 2.0.
epson_R380.jpg
Epson Stylus Photo R380: Versatile and Affordable (Amazon $229.99)
Ink Cartridge: 6 individual ink cartridges (Black, Cyan, Light Cyan, Magenta, Light Magenta, Yellow)
Ink Type: Claria Hi-Definition Ink (smudge, scratch, water and fade resistant photos)
Maximum Printable Area: 8.5" x 44"
Resolution: 5760 x 1400 optimized dpi (dots per inch)
Speed: 4"x6" borderless photo in 13 seconds, black text at 30 pages per minute
Features: 3.5-inch LCD screen allows you to print direct from camera (or memory card or mobile phone) to printer. Built-in Auto Photo Correction will automatically adjust poorly exposed photos -- this is helpful if you don't want to spend time editing your photos prior to printing. Advanced face detection helps ensure natural skin tones. Also prints directly to ink jet printable CDs and DVDs. Connects via Hi-Speed USB 2.0.
Take the interactive tour of the Epson R380.

ArrowContinue reading: "Epson Stylus Photo Series: Proven Ink Jet Photo Printers"

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March 19, 2008

The Future Continues to Be Scary: The Auto-Focus Oven

electrolux_AFoven.jpg
Thanks to our friends at Kitchen Contraptions who found this auto-focus oven. That's right, folks, an auto-focus oven. The same way our lovable digital cameras can automatically set ISO, lens speed and aperture by assessing the light in a frame, this oven (Inspiro by Electrolux) can assess the contents of the oven and set the optimum temperature and cooking time. Just don't put your camera in the oven, OK? You can read more about this at the Electrolux Inspiro blog.

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Lighting 101 from the Strobist and Table Top Studio

lighting.jpgIf you have ever tried to shoot anything you have to light, we have two tips that just might save you some grief. Check out the Strobist -- it's a fantastic blog about lighting. Go to the Lighting 101 section to get a step-by-step education. He's got great advice on how to light, what gear you need (and don't need) and the blog regularly analyzes shots you see in ads and such and tells you how they were lit. Pretty cool. This lighting mostly applies to those trying to shoot still-life, portraits and interiors, but the more you understand about light in general, the better photographer you'll become.

So let's say you've got a night job hawking wares on eBay. And you can't get a nice picture of that ruby brooch to save your life, let alone get a bid that covers shipping. Or maybe you make things -- jewelry, beads, invitations -- and want to photograph your work for your portfolio. Well, saunter over to Table Top Studio! There's a ton of lighting advice and a bunch of lighting kits you can purchase for various studio shot needs -- they're affordable, portable and contain everything you need from lights and acrylic stands to soft box tents and wires. You can get some of their products, also found under the EZ-Cube name at Amazon -- sometimes you get a better deal there, it depends what you're buying.

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March 17, 2008

Hats Off to the Mother Country

flickr_rockofcashel.jpg
It's time you knew -- PictureSnob loves the Ireland. These apron strings will never be cut. Take a moment to muse the Rock of Cashel (Carraig Phadraig in Irish) from Monti 12 at Flickr. This was once a mighty castle that was the traditional seat of the Kings of Munster prior to the Norman invasion. Cashel is in County Tipperary (hello to our friend Alan there) and is said to be where St. Patrick converted the King of Munster in the 5th century A.D. At any rate, it's a beautiful site. Now run off and find a proper pint if you can. Slainte!

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March 14, 2008

flickr Friday: Pointing to Heaven

flickr_pointing.png
Well this is cool -- all of this guy's work is interesting. This shot seems to be the product of a few exposures and some computer enhancements, but very nice image regardless. He's shot it with a Nikon D200, part of their professional series -- best features are the durable metal body and 4 programmable settings. See more Extra Medium work at Flickr.

Is there a flickr photo you want to see on PictureSnob? Email us!

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March 13, 2008

Westinghouse Digital Photo Frames with MosaicView™ Technology

westinghouseframes.png
Westinghouse Digital Electronics makes a small variety of affordable photo frames, the most notable of which have a feature called MosaicView. This feature allows you to view several photos at once, like in traditional picture frames. The most notable models are on sale at Amazon.

Westinghouse 14.1" Widescreen DPF-1411 (Amazon for $233.58)
1280x800 LCD screen resolution; MosaicView Technology; 128MB internal memory and accepts most memory cards; supports JPG, MPG1, MPG4; wall mountable.

Westinghouse 10.2" Widescreen DPF-1021 (Amazon for $180.64)
800x480 LCD screen resolution; MosaicView Technology; 128MB internal memory and accepts most memory cards; supports JPG, MPG1, MPG4; wall mountable.

Westinghouse 8" DPF-0802 (Amazon for $129.99)
800x600 LCD screen resolution; MosaicView Technology; 128MB internal memory and accepts most memory cards; supports JPG, MPG1, MPG4.

Westinghouse 7" Widescreen DPF-0702 (Amazon for $99.99)
800x600 LCD screen resolution; widescreen; MosaicView Technology; 128MB internal memory and accepts most memory cards; supports JPG, MPG1, MPG4.

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March 12, 2008

Olympus Stylus 830: All-Weather Body Survives Beach Bums, Ski Bums and Puddle Lovers

olympus_stylus830.jpg
Here's a great point and shoot you can pick up right now. (It's hard to wait for the new launches!) It's a bestseller at Amazon and right now they're running a promotion where you'll get a free 1GB memory card with purchase. And this all-weather body is nothing to scoff at. Think of the danger the average camera faces with an active lifestyle! Here are the specs:

8-megapixel
(up to 16" x 22" prints)
5x optical zoom with Dual Image Stabilization (reduce motion blurred photos)
2.5-inch LCD screen
Face Detection technology (see earlier post)
Bright Capture technology for low-light situations
26 preset shooting modes
All-weather body protects from rain, snow and sand

Comes in silver, black, blue, green and orange -- find the Olympus Stylus 830 at Amazon for $184.99.

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March 11, 2008

Polaroid-style Digital Photo Frame

polaroidframe.jpg
Keep hoarding the Polaroid stuff, that's all we can advise for coping with their departure. Now keep in mind this is still a concept product -- digital photo frame that mimics a Polaroid photo. You can write on the frame with a dry erase marker, just like a good old Polaroid. The photo actually fades into the screen from white, just like a good old Polaroid. If you shake the frame and blow on it, that's cheap therapy. This frame takes a memory stick and is operated by a touch screen. Also runs on a rechargeable battery in case you want to be free of the wire. Hopefully Polaroid will get this on the market soon. Stay tuned.

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March 10, 2008

tiny*prints: There's nothing tiny about them

tinyprints1.jpg
We recently met up with a new photo printing service that looks fantastic -- tiny*prints! They specialize in baby announcements, invitations, thank you cards, gift tags -- not the place to go if you just want prints, but when you want to DO something with your photos. Actually, there's a bunch of options that use no photo too, which is also fun. The designs look great -- arguably the best design option out there (see our earlier post comparing digital printing services).

Their prices are on par with competitors -- about $1.39-2.69 per card, depending on the design and how many photos you use. Cards are produced on a digital press on 110# cardstock -- translation: they'll be vibrant, fast and nicely weighted.

PictureSnob is going to try out tiny*prints, so we'll report back on the whole experience. If you want to try it out yourself in the meantime, click through to tiny*prints and check it out!

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March 7, 2008

flickr Friday: Primavera

flickr_primavera.jpg
Maybe Spanish Spring (primavera) will help New England out with the thaw. This was shot with a Canon EOS 400D -- a solid camera you can learn more about on Amazon. See more Bernhart Erich work at Flickr.

Is there a flickr photo you want to see on PictureSnob? Email us!

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March 6, 2008

Olympus E-420 Superlatives: Smallest, Lightest... Cheaper DSLR

olympus_E420.jpg
Just when you thought the Olympus E-410 was the camera to invite to dinner, Olympus today debuted a better houseguest: the Olympus E-420. It's light, it's compact, it's chipper! We will point out that it put on some weight -- 2 ounces (oink, oink), for a total of 13.4 ounces. So it's heavier than its predecessor but lighter than any other DSLR in the marketplace. However, to make up for it Olympus priced the E-420 $200 less than the E-410! But we shouldn't compare siblings.

The 2.7-inch LCD screen features Live View -- a fancy phrase for the feature that allows you to see what you're taking a photo of on the screen instead of looking through the viewfinder. The E-420 flaunts face detection, shadow adjustment technology (see our earlier post on this goo) and onscreen auto-focus. 10 megapixels.

Now. We try not to be superficial here at PictureSnob but we have consumers to look out for... so, the 80s called and they want their camera body back. OK there, we said it. Ahem. At any rate, it's a good camera if you can handle the visual throwback. The Olympus E-410 goes on sale in May for $599 (with lens) or $499 for body only.

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March 4, 2008

Convert Negatives to Digital with the Digital Film Scanner

Film_Scanner.jpg
This little machine is incredibly generic looking (and barely branded) but it's actually an affordable negative scanner for the common man, woman or chicken. It's hard to invest the money in the negatives of the past when there's so much digital goo to spend on! You simply insert a negative strip or slide, push a button (like a copy machine) and it scans your images with a 5-megapixel CMOS sensor. Save them to your PC via USB cable as TIF or JPG files. There's also software included to edit, crop and resize images. They also speak of a 3600dpi "image enhancement" but don't hold your breath on that one. Unfortunately this isn't built for MAC folks. Selling for $99.95 -- see details at Hammacher Schlemmer. (Catchy!)

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March 3, 2008

February 2008 Monthly Roundup for PictureSnob

monthlyroundup.jpgThis was a big month, kicked off with the latest photo innovations showcased at PMA 08. We put together some comprehensive assessments of digital printing and sharing photo services to help you decide which is best for you -- these services don't need to be like cell phone plans! There are several exciting lines of digital picture frames out now, most notably Sony and Ality. And of course the cameras just get better and better with more megapixels and less body mass. Now go out there and take some shots!
ality_pixxawireless.jpgProduct of the Month: Ality Wireless Pixxa Digital Picture Frame
This actually wasn't a hard choice this month. The coveted Product of the Month award is going to the Ality Wireless Pixxa Digital Picture Frame! The entire Ality line is so impressive and unique. The Wireless Pixxa is right up there with the latest developments and a commendable free service for sharing photos that really embodies the spirit of the World Wide Web. Ality, we like your style and can't wait to see more from you.

Digital Cameras

HD Video Recording is the New Standard for Point + Shoot Digital Cameras
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T300 Slim Digital Camera
Olympus Stylus 1030 SW is Shockproof, Waterproof, Freezeproof + Crushproof!
Just Released! The Casio EX-S10 is Slimmer than Slim
Smile Detection, Blink-Recognition and Other Intelligent Promises
VuPoint Zippo Digital Spy Camera
New Patent Allows You to Take Movies on DSLRs
RIP: Polaroid Stops Making Instant Film
NEW: Sony DSC-W300 and DSC-H50

Digital Picture Frames
Sony S-Frame: DPF-V900, DFP-V700, DPF-D70
Coping with Technology: Smashing a Digital Picture Frame
Smartparts SP3200 32" HD Photo Frame: The Crème de la Crème
DIY: Homemade Digital Photo Frame
Ality Digital Picture Frames: Wireless Pixxa is King

Digital Photo Services
Digital Photo Services: Comparing Apple, Kodak, Shutterfly, SmugMug and Snapfish
Photo Sharing: From Flickr, Facebook and Shutterfly to iWeb, .Mac and Pixamo

Industry News
News from PMA 08: HD Video Recording is the New Standard for Point + Shoot Digital Cameras
News from PMA 08: Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T300 Slim Digital Camera
News from PMA 08: Olympus Stylus 1030 SW is Shockproof, Waterproof, Freezeproof + Crushproof!
New Patent Allows You to Take Movies on DSLRs
RIP: Polaroid Stops Making Instant Film

Tips & Tricks
Coping with Technology: Smashing a Digital Picture Frame
DIY: Homemade Digital Photo Frame

Flickr Friday
Dinnertime by Laura Travels
A Striped Affair by Catherine Reyes
Valentine Altoid Tin by HerArtworks
Inseto by Werner Mathi
Maple Tree Buds by Danno-3

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