Sunday, November 25, 2007

Dead Body Forecast

The weather on Sunday will be clouded in some areas, with 9 degree in the morning and up to 30 degree in the afternoon.
A message like this doesn't really catch anyone's attention. Unfortunately this kind of news won't either:
A parked car bomb exploded in a crowded area near a medical complex in Baghdad on Sunday, killing at least nine people and wounding more than 30, officials said. [Newsvine]
I heard this news today on the radio just before the weather report. The reporter used the same voice tone for the forecast as for the killings.
It struck me quite a bit: we've become so used to people dying in Iraq that it's nothing special anymore. Like the monthly car bomb - a never ending series. I guess when a bomb kills only one person in my country, there will be reports about it all day long.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Nokia 5310 XpressMusic Phone Review

I have been using my new Nokia 5310 XpressMusic for a week now. Enough to tell you what I have found out:

The sound quality is really good. I dare say better than my old iPod Mini. You can listen to music with your headphones or through the internal speakers. There is a larger speaker on the back of the phone, so it is loud enough.
The battery lifetime is really good. It lasts half a week with moderate calls and GPRS/EDGE usage. The screen goes black after a few minutes of inactivity - thus saving a lot of energy.
The camera is quite good in terms of dynamics and sharpness. You can take a look at a sample shot. Unfortunately the camera shows a lot of pixel errors in all colors. I've heard from other people that they have the same problem with the camera.
It is a very slim phone and fits perfectly in any pocket.
The phone comes with a 3.5mm headphone jack. This port is used for the headset or for any other headphone.
The phone comes with an integrated browser and Opera Mini. I didn't have any problems surfing the net so far.
The phone comes with many Java applications and most files you download work instantly.
The keys are quite small but easy to press. Writing texts works quite fast.
You'll find the standard set of calendar, notes and tasks. I successfully synchronized with my Google calender by using GCalSync 2.
The integrated radio has everything you need. RDS, automatic and manual seeking. The best thing about it is that you don't need a special headphone for it. Any headphone will do the trick as long as it is plugged into to 3.5mm jack. You can also make the radio use the internal speaker, but still need to attach a headphone which is used as the antenna.
A 320x240 screen has enough resolution for my needs.
A very practical feature is the volume control on the right side. You can also use it while making calls or while listening to your music.
You almost don't notice the phone when you hold it in your hands. It's really light weight.

Friday, November 9, 2007

My new Nokia 5310 Phone

After 4 years of use, my old Siemens M55 has died. Well, it does work, but the keys work crappy and the charger needs a little "fine tuning" when plugging it in. So the decision to buy a new phone was rather easy.

This week I got myself the new Nokia 5310. It has everything from Internet, MP3 player, camera, large screen and so on. With only 9.9 mm thickness, it fits perfectly in every pocket. I'm a little concerned about breaking it, that's why I handle it with extra care.

It comes with a 2GB micro-SD card, so there is enough place to store MP3s and pictures. The camera isn't really that good. I only tested it in low-light scenes so far. But without flash no camera will give good results.

One of the features I really like is the 3.5mm standard audio jack. You can attach any audio cable to the phone. So it can really replace an MP3 player. The headset is also quite nice, it has a button that allows to accept calls or switch through the playlist or select frequencies in radio mode.

So far I have encountered only one major failure: I couldn't load Java files. It simply didn't work. Not even for the files already on the phone. The service team told me to visit the store again, to let them check the software. They replaced it instantly the next week.

Apart from this initial problem, I'm quite happy with my new phone. Let's see what other advantages or disadvantages it has. I'll keep you updated.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

HDR Tutorial for Canon EOS 400D

Schlossberg Stiege in Graz
Originally uploaded by theowl84
In the last weeks I had some time to experiment with my new camera. One of the reasons for buying it was the possibility to use the Auto Exposure Bracketing function (AEB). This setting can be used to let the camera shot three pictures with different exposure settings.

I use a mini tripod and the timer function to avoid any shake of the camera, especially for night-time-HDRs. I'll give you a small tutorial about how I do it:
  • Mount the camera on a mini tripod
  • Set the camera into Aperture-Priority (Av)
  • Get into the menu "Camera 2" and set the AEB to -2/0/+2
  • Change the shoot mode to self-timer to delay the shutter by 10 seconds (press the button below the AV+/- button to do this)
  • Find a nice place for the camera where it can stand on it's own. You must not touch the camera when the shutter is open.
  • For some scenes it's good to manually change the basic exposure to an adequate level (This is necessary when the brightest picture is too bright or the darkest picture is too dark)
  • Then press the shutter button and wait 10 seconds for the camera to start shooting. It will make 3 successive shots automatically.
  • Setup for HDR
  • The setup should now look like the screenshot on the right.
  • After the pictures have been taken you should review all pictures and assure that all details are at least visible in one picture (for example very bright objects should be clearly visible in the darkest picture)
  • If you are not content with your picture series, manually change the basic exposure and re-shoot the entire series.
  • Now you can load the pictures to your PC and use your favorite HDR software to create magic pictures.

A few examples
Schlossberg Tunnel HDR
You can see many other HDR pictures on my flickr page.