Photography Comparison D90 D7000 X30 Part 1 – ISO

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For a long while I have wanted to compare my D7000 with a D90, and as I am in the process of producing a simple photography elearning package to explain Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO, it seemed like the ideal opportunity to compare them side by side for quality and noise handling at extreme iso.

The D90, a classic and fantastic camera since 2008. Used with my 17-55mm f2.8 portrait lens.

The D90, a classic and fantastic DSLR camera since 2008. Used with my 17-55mm f2.8 portrait lens.

D7000

D7000 (2010) using a 50mm prime lens

The Fujifilm X30

The Fujifilm X30 (2014) a capable and portable camera which you can take full manual control of.

Recently I have brought an Fuji X30 to be my always carry camera, so thought I’d add that in too…

I could list all of the stats and specs, but if you want that in-depth number crunching check out the great reviews on dpreview..

D90 http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/nikond90

D7000 http://www.dpreview.com/products/nikon/slrs/nikon_d7000

X30 http://www.dpreview.com/products/fujifilm/compacts/fujifilm_x30

Starting with ISO the photos I have taken are really quite revealing…

D90 ISO comparison

Comparing the ISO handling of the D90, a lot of digital grain comes in at 3200 (top left) compare to ISO 400 (bottom right)

The D90 really takes an excellent picture, but it’s ISO quality when you ramp it up to the top of it’s numbered range is pretty bad, the digital grain is very present and I would find this unacceptable, even at 1600 the grain is too obvious.

D7000 ISO comparison, using both the 50mm and 17-55mm lens

D7000 ISO comparison, using both the 50mm and 17-55mm lens

The D7000 has fantastic control of grain, even at 3200 the resulting image is acceptable to use, the only problem with this image is I have got the focus slightly wrong, but there’s not a dot of grain to bother the image… very impressive. I used both lenses just in case it made any difference as I used the 50mm on the D90.

The Fuji X30 ISO comparison

The Fuji X30 ISO comparison

The X30 did surprisingly well too (even with it’s smaller sensor), although it has handled the grain in a different way, it seems somehow smoother, perhaps more blurry at the 3200 end, which isn’t too bad a thing.

On this occasion the D7000 has it on ISO and this from a camera that’s 5 years old, I remember when I bought it I tested it’s ISO against my other work camera, the Canon 5D and it excelled at low light performance in those tests too…

I would be very interested to check out the new D7200 alongside these cameras, but my budget only goes so far!

All of these images are straight jpegs from the camera with no alteration, and no in camera enhancement, put into photoshop so I can compare them directly side by side.

I will be using these sets of images to explain ISO in an elearning package I’m putting together for my students currently, it takes a bit of time to setup, but will be well worth it..

Next comes the Aperture control… but that’s for another post!

Wearable Technology – Sony Smartwatch review #wearable @sony #smartwatch

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After hearing Matt Isherwoods presentation “The state of wearable tech” at Hot Source last week I was again quite surprised not to hear the mention of the Sony Smartwatch. You always hear of the new apple watch, that isn’t even out yet, or the samsung version and the pebble, but never the Sony Smartwatch, so I’m going to give you a review of this watch, as I think it’s brilliant and does all of the things a smartwatch should but keeps being overlooked…

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Sony Smartwatch

Admittedly I got the watch as part of a deal with my Sony Xperia Z1 last year, and when it arrived I had a look and put it back in the box, but I was intrigued.

I have always worn a watch, which seems a little old fashioned as so many people these days would prefer to find their phone, turn it on and then see the time but I have always enjoyed the simplistic twist, look and see the time. I also liked being able to swap watches to suit my mood, or my outfit, a big sparkly job for going out and a simple black strap for the weekends, but always there, always able to find the time.

About a week later I decided to give the Smartwatch a week’s trial properly, not swapping for my favourite blue one, but giving over to the need to play with a new bit of tech.

I started searching and researching online for recommended apps and ways to set it up, changing the clock face to a regular one, not a digital readout – I’d been taught properly how to read the time – hooked it up with my email, twitter and facebook accounts and gave it a full charge all ready for the morning.

I found it really easy to connect to my phone, just swipe the backs of both devices together and they both vibrate to say they’re connected, along with a particular ‘bing’ and I was off.

The first thing I recommend to anyone who gets one of these watches is to turn off facebook notifications, facebook literally bombard you with every nugget and nuance that happens and it totally annoyed me, so that app got removed straight away, the twitter one has been much better with the recent update making it simpler to only receive important notifications, but in the early days that got removed for the same reason as well.

At first I found it almost too big for my little wrist, I do have particularly small wrists, so it wasn’t uncommon for many of my watches to have an extra handmade hole in the strap, but this one was rubber, so I couldn’t do that, but due to the large flat face of the watch, it doesn’t have a chance to wander  too far round.

I really like the masculine flat gloss black front and simple black strap, it only has one physical button on the side, the other controls, back, home, settings, are touch areas, just like on any (oh not apple) normal smartphone. Whilst ‘asleep’ it shows the time with a display that reminds me of an e-ink display so it functions just as a watch should. I have a friend who has the first version of the sony smartwatch and I can’t believe he has to press the physical button to get it to tell you the time. If you tap, or bash, or move your hand quite violently, you will find that it lights up by about 50% so you can see the time in the dark, whilst a single press on the button will light it up fully. You need to press on the home button in the middle to access the many screens and apps actually on the watch, which I find a great bonus as you never access them by accident.

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My first wow moment was when I realised I could be James Bond and take photos on my phone, but using my watch, how cool is that!

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Although this is a bit gimmicky, I did find a genuine use for this distanced photography when I tried to take a photo from the highest possible point in a room of a large scale model, I found the tallest friend there and got them to hold my phone as high as they could, obviously they couldn’t see what they were pointing at or focusing on, but I could, on my watch display of what my phone could see, everyone was mightily impressed with that. It only has a short range, but it does work through floors and walls very well!

I can control my music from my watch, which I don’t use so much, but when I’m playing music with my phone laying on a table as a portable stereo, then it is easier to do this from my watch, I can also adjust the volume from within the watch app.

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Of course the essential requirements of a smartwatch are to receive texts, calls and emails and this the Sony does really well, you can see the name and a small preview of the message both with the text and email.wpid-dsc_0052.jpgwpid-dsc_0061.jpgwith just a downwards glance, and this is where I found I grew to like and want to use this watch more and more, until these days I feel a little lost without it.

I like that I can quickly see who’s ringing me, is it worth looking for my phone, or wait til later, also if I have my headset in and my phone tucked deep in a pocket I can answer the call and be straight onto the important calls, and even if I’m not plugged in, I can accept the call and just shout at the caller, as I fumble to the bottom of my bag for my phone, and they can hear me and I don’t miss it. Which I used to do a lot, so this has been a big improvement.

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But the most used app on my watch is the timer, my girls want to race ‘Can you time us Mum?’ the microwave doesn’t have a timer, but I do, eggs need cooking and I can wander away with the clock running, timing the perfect cup of tea.. is that going too far… 🙂

I have now had the phone a year and thought it time that I reviewed how it has crept into being an important part of my life, I see my texts straight away, so can keep in touch and receive vital information at the turn of a wrist and I still have the time where it has always been, on my wrist.

I’ve never had a problem with the length of charge, it usually lasts a week and is a non-intrusive piece of tech, which when people see it in action, they are quite blown away…

It’s definitely one that has gone under the radar, but I’d highly recommend it, the only downside, maybe it could be a bit more smaller?

I feel like it’s a special little secret that only I have discovered and want to tell people about it, so when I see someone talking about wearable tech, they shouldn’t overlook this hidden gem.

Digital Revolution and the V&A

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Digital Revolution at the Barbican until 14th September

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I had desperately wanted to get down to London to see this Digital show, but with deadlines short this was the only date available, with College Workshops shut on a Friday the only thing left for me to do was the writing and visit this show, so with 4 hours on the train to concentrate on my critical evaluation I thought it was a perfect opportunity to marry the two.

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The exhibition is broken up into sections.

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Although it was fascinating to see all of the old technology I had hoped for more from this section, I recognised quite a few games and consoles, such as an old spectrum and the cream coloured macs with floppy disk drive, it wasn’t much of a revolution.

Quantel Paintbox, 1981, predecessor of the Wacom Tablet, revolutionised the way graphics were produced

Quantel Paintbox, 1981, predecessor of the Wacom Tablet, revolutionised the way graphics were produced

My frame for the Johnny Cash Project

My frame for the Johnny Cash Project

The We Create section was more what I was expecting, you could submit your art in the Johnny Cash Project and interact with robotic birds made from recycled phones, by contacting them on an old dial phone.

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The information about inception and gravity was interesting, but the way they presented and you could access the behind the scenes layers of Inception was of more interest to me, they looked to be using leapmotion…. A wonderful little device which can track five fingers of movement in 3D space. Really fluid transition though the layers on information, very responsive and made it very easy to jump in and use.

wpid-dsc_0179.jpgwpid-dsc_0177.jpgUsing the leap motion to scroll through the layers used in the making of Inception.

will.i.am using one of the oldest illusions in the world the inverted shape to give that 3D effect

will.i.am using one of the oldest illusions in the world the inverted shape to give that 3D effect

The will.i.am project was ok, it was just a platform with fancy animatronics to control the individually designed pyramid instruments and the cleverest part was the use of the inverted shape to give the illusion that his eyes and face were following you around the room, but it’s a very old trick.

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Chris Milk’s ‘State of play’ is a really impressive interactive art piece, this is exactly what I expected from the digital revolution show – and it looked spectacular, the movement was fluid and although it all happens quite quickly, you really get engaged with your shadow and what happens to it in the three stages. Very reactive and fully immersive in the massive space.

Dev art was full of more quirky pieces, I wasn’t sure if I was contributing to the art there or not for some of the pieces, but the keyboard radio was quite fascinating.

Dev Art area

Dev Art area

Digital futures included lady gagas dress and a skirt you could put pregenerated led light images onto (iMiniskirt).

Again the indie games section was interesting but not what I’d call innovative.

Mimaforms petting zoo

Mimaforms petting zoo

The mimaforms petting zoo was only disappointing because I didn’t see a single person successfully interact with them, they looked cool though.

Umbrellium

Umbrellium

Umbrellium was a trance experience in a smoky underbelly space and felt like being at the end of a quiet rave, when viewed through the plexiglass window whilst we had our pep talk, it looked like a zombie movie, people entranced by the light moving slowly about with their arms outraised to the light.

Marshmallow Laser Feast Forest

Marshmallow Laser Feast Forest

The Laser feast tree installation was a work on an immense scale, it looked amazing and gently moving through the ‘trees’ giving each trunk a good push make pleasing tones and I really enjoyed watching the laser lights on the roof dance about alongside their relaxing notes.

Overall I was slightly disappointed with The Barbican show, but on the other hand very interested to see that my peer Andy Logies art and sound piece, would fit straight in, and with a few tweaks, so would mine.

Andy had his Forum exhibition on Thursday and it was brilliant, it worked wel, looked fantastic on the enormous screens they have in the Fusion screen at the Forum, and I thoroughly enjoyed interacting with his piece.

Andy Logie's piece 'bound'

Andy Logie’s piece ‘bound’

Although it made me think a little more about mine, would my piece be as engaging, it’s a very quick shot – firing  the flight animation – will it hold the viewer for more than a moment, how do I get across the meaning behind it… ie, this is what AR could do for you, and you already have the device in your pocket!

The V&A palindrome sign

The V&A palindrome sign

I managed to squeeze in a quick dash to the V & A, to see their interactive tables….

Interactive material tables in the furniture section at the V&A

Interactive material tables in the furniture section at the V&A

The V & A furniture collection have introduced touch screens with information beside the object, but they are just so dry, very similar to the screens at Norwich Museum, even though they are right by the object, they feel strangely disconnected and are uninteresting to click on.

wpid-dsc_0128.jpgThe materials interactive tables are also disappointing… although you have the added interest of tactility with the object itself, they have samples of the different materials scattered around the tables edge, the content that comes up is just like a page from the internet and again it’s a very dry way of interacting.

Different media/materials are on the outside of the table

Different media/materials are on the outside of the table

The way that it functions is also slightly awkward as you need to hold your hand over the little hole that they have in each different piece of wood or metal sample, and if you remove your hand before it’s loaded it can stall and disappear, conversely if you do want to read the other pages, hovering over the object for their pre-determined amount of time feels like an eternity to wait. I would like to have seen the first page come up much quicker and then be able to control the speed and which page I am viewing with the more intuitive hand swipes and gesture that we are used to using.

The holes which you need to cover in order for the interactivity to work

The holes which you need to cover in order for the interactivity to work

It’s a very large area for not much happening.

Rapid Response Collectiona st the V&A

Rapid Response Collection at the V&A

However the rapid response collecting area which I stumbled upon was a really pleasant surprise.

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“The museum collected the objects in this gallery in direct response to important moments in the recent history of design and manufacturing”

Flappy bird and the nude shoe

Flappy bird and the nude shoe

An eclectic collection of a dozen objects, one of which included the app ‘flappy bird’ and a wearable terminal, they had an oculus rift headset.

Oculus Rift in the Rapid Response collection at the V&A

Oculus Rift in the Rapid Response collection at the V&A

Great to see such an established Museum making a collection out of news headline tech or social changes.

Disobedient Objects

Disobedient Objects

Disobedient Objects is one of the featured shows within the V&A currently and it was interesting to see this very politically motivated exhibition on one side of the beautiful reception area, and just opposite were the beautiful statues in a grand space.

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