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Pick of the Week – Polaroid ZIP Mobile Printer

Pick of the Week – Polaroid ZIP Mobile Printer

The Polaroid name is a blast from the past.  Some of us remember waiting for a photo to develop after it popped out of the camera, giving us the only “instant” photos of the film era.  Now Polaroid has their ZIP mobile printer.  The ZIP is in the same realm as Fuji’s Instax SP-2 Printer.  First, I’ll give you the rundown of the Polaroid offering.  And at the bottom of this article, I’ve got a quick comparison between

Polaroid Instant Print

Now you can get the functionality of Polaroid instant print cameras for your camera phone or any other device. This standalone mobile printer is designed to print color photos from a variety of sources. It features its own rechargeable 500mAh lithium polymer battery. After just 1.5 hours of charging time, it is ready to print 25 sheets before needing another charge. A standard micro-USB port – and included USB to micro-USB cable – means no special (read: expensive) adapters or cables needed. Simply plug it into your computer or a wall outlet (with optional adapter).

ZINK Zero Ink Paper

Forget messy ink cartridges and ribbons. This mobile printer is smart enough to understand that you’ll be taking it on the most outrageous adventures around the globe! That’s why it prints your photos onto ZINK photo paper, which, when subjected to heat from the printer, activates unique color-forming molecules embedded in the paper’s layers. The resulting prints measure 2×3″, feature deep, vibrant colors, are completely smudge-proof, and sport a peel-back sticky paper for even more fun. Your Polaroid ZIP mobile printer ships with 10 premium ZINK sheets; refills can be purchased on Amazon.com.

iOS & Android. Bluetooth & NFC. And more.

Sending your photos to the mobile printer is super easy. Simply connect your iOS or Android smartphones, tablets and other devices over Bluetooth or NFC, and print wirelessly from anywhere within range. Your purchase of the Polaroid ZIP mobile printer also includes a FREE download of the Polaroid ZIP app for iOS and Android devices. With a few finger taps, you can edit your photos before printing. Add emojis, voice recordings, general text, links and a lot more.

Polaroid ZIP

Fuji Instax SP-2

Printer Cost 129.99 195.77
Film Cost 9.99 / 20 sheets 11.49 / 20 sheets
Print Size 2x3 2x3
Battery Rechargable Rechargable
Device Support iOS and Android iOS and Android
Weight 6.6 oz 6.5 oz

 

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Pick of the Week – Kodak Ektra Smartphone

Pick of the Week – Kodak Ektra Smartphone

ektra-camera-ui-mockup_landscape

Kodak Ektra Smartphone

On October 20th (2016), Kodak issued a press release, announcing their new smartphone.  The Kodak Ektra. This device, which seems more camera than phone, seems wonderfully retro.  It has dial controls on the screen for intuitive control of the camera’s features, and sports a number of photo modes for many of your shooting situations.  They are also releasing some interesting accessories (see the photo with the case below) to further enhance that retro style.

From the press release:

At the heart of the KODAK EKTRA Smartphone is a 21-megapixel fast focus camera sensor with f2.0 aperture, and an industry leading 13-megapixel front-facing camera with Phase Detection Kodak Ektra SmartphoneAuto Focus PDAF and f2.2 aperture. The custom built camera app is controlled by an intuitive haptic touch, SLR-style Scene Selection Dial, where adjustments are made in real time via a range of settings including HDR, Landscape, Portrait, Macro, Sport, Night-time, Panorama and Bokeh, alongside a Smart Auto mode which auto-selects the best conditions for your photographs. In Manual mode, more advanced users can adjust exposure, ISO, focus, white balance and shutter speed, with the results being visible on the screen as changes are made.
Kodak Ektra with Case

Kodak Ektra with Optional Case

Kodak Ektra with Optional Case

Here are some of the specifications:

KODAK EKTRA Smartphone key features:

  • ANDROID 6.0 (Marshmallow)
  • Professional results from a 21MP fast focus camera sensor with F2.0, PDAF, OIS, Dual LED Flash
  • 13MP phase detection auto focus front-facing camera with F2.2 PDAF
  • Helio X20 2.3GHz Decacore processor with 3GB RAM
  • 32GB memory, expandable with MicroSD cards
  • Advanced Manual Mode – adjustable on Exposure, ISO, Focal Length (Manual/Auto), White Balance, Shutter Speed, Aperture (fixed f2.0 main camera)
  • Familiar scene selection dial experience – includes scene modes Smart Auto, Portrait, Manual, Sports, Bokeh, Night-time, HDR, Panorama, Macro, Landscape, Film / Video
  • Integrated high quality printing app
  • Super 8 Video Recorder
  • Integrated social media sharing
  • 3000mAh, with USB 3.0 Type C fast charger

The Extra will be priced at £449 when it is released in Europe later this year.  The press release didn’t indicate when it would be released in the U.S, but I was told from the PR person I contacted that it should be sometime in 2017.  This is a camera, which will also let you make a phone call.  And I’m looking forward to getting my hands on one!

 

Learn More and Register for Updates

To find out more visit: www.kodak.com/go/ektra

Register for updates on www.kodakphones.com

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The Cool and Unique Platypod Pro Camera Support

The Cool and Unique Platypod Pro Camera Support

I just got something new and different. It’s called the Platypod Pro. The Platypod is a small camera support, which stows in your camera bag taking very little space, giving you access to a small tripod when you need one. I heard about this product on a couple of podcasts that I listen to, and decided to buy one.  It fits right in with my Micro 4/3 camera kit that I take when I need to keep my gear light!  Here are my thoughts after taking it out in the field:

It’s inexpensive, at $49.99. Again, making it perfect to leave in your camera bag, or in the glove box in your car.

The included screws are pointed on one end, and have rubber pads on the other. If you have a rough surface to put the Platypod on, you can screw them in from the top, putting the pointed ends down to have a good grip on the surface you are setting it on. Or, you can screw them in from the bottom, leaving the rubber feet on the bottom for smoother surfaces. It also has pre-drilled holes that allow it to be permanently mounted to a wall or another surface in a studio, or someplace where you frequently shoot.

Platypod has been designed and sold by a small start-up company. They were looking for something specific, something portable, and didn’t really find anything out there that did what they want.  So they designed this product, and shared it with the rest of us.  I talked to Larry Tiefenbrunn from Platypod about their product, and found that they are very passionate about their new product, and about photography.

So now for the important part, how does it work. First and foremost, you have to understand what it is and what it’s for. You aren’t going to hang it from a tree, or put it on surfaces where it’s at a really odd angle unless you somehow clamp it in place. It’s small. Using it with the pointed ends of the screws down will allow the 3 points touching the ground to dig in a little and keep it from slipping. And you can adjust the legs so that one end is higher than the other to compensate for weight and angles, to an extent.

So what is it good at? It’s great at tabletop photography, or getting down low to the ground. There are tons of little tabletop tripods out there, that look like little mini tripods. They don’t get as low and close to the surfaces as this does. Same for shooting from the ground. This gets you right down there at ground level.

Autumn in Upstate NY

Autumn photo from Upstate NY, taken with Lumix GX7 on Platypod Pro

It works great to keep attached to your camera in the car. I went out shooting leaves this weekend. The autumn colors have just about peaked this weekend. When I found a safe and scenic place to pull over and park, I didn’t need to take a bunch of time setting up a tripod to get bracketed shots for an HDR image. I just pulled this out and set it on the roof, hood, or trunk of my car. It’s all attached and ready to go.

For hiking, when you want to travel light, it doesn’t add much at all to the pack weight that you need to carry with you. On the trail, you can set it on rocks or logs to get stable shots.

Another thing that I think this will be good for… a seasonal time lapse. If you wanted to take a photo from the exact same place every day of the year, for example from your deck, or the side of a building, or a post on your lawn, you could put three ¼” bolts into the surface. Each day, with your camera on the Platypod, drop it onto the bolts and secure in place with some wing nuts. You will have the same exact location for each daily shot.

You will need to select a ball head to use with it. There are some recommendations on the PlatypodPro web site. Some things to keep in mind: Keep it low. A tall ball head will raise your camera’s center of gravity and reduce stability, making it easier to tip over. Large knobs on the sides of the ball head will stick out and hit against the screws used for legs, so you won’t be able to swing it around 360 degrees. I purchased a Cowboy Studios BK-03 from Amazon.com for $26. This works

Autumn in Upstate NY

Autumn in Upstate NY taken with Platypod Pro

relatively well, and did not add a lot of money to my overall price. I cannot turn it 360 degrees, however with the larger knob facing forward, I have the ability to move it enough. And of course, it’s a ball head, so I really don’t need to swivel the base all the way around anyway. But realistically, you need to have the front part of the plate under the front part of your camera for the best stability. I think another ideal choice would be a mini ball head. One of the little ones without a quick release plate. These will be smaller, and have a lower profile, lowering your camera. I’m thinking that I will likely purchase one of these Giottos mini ball heads to leave on the Platypod on a daily basis. I like the Cowboy Studios ball head, however the quick release plate is not compatible with any of my other tripod heads. This makes it a little inconvenient. As small as the Platypod is, I think it will be just as easy to screw on a ball head that has no plate.

Disclosure:  This article contains affiliate links.  If you click on the images of the products below and make a purchase, PhotoMonium will earn a commission (at no additional cost to you) which will help to support this site.

One thing I ran into when shooting with my Lumix GX7, is that the tripod mount on that camera is off center, making it heavier on the right. This makes it want to tip the left a little. Turning the camera at a slight angle over the base, lowering one side of the base with the attached screws, or simply hanging my camera’s neck strap off to one side to compensate worked will to fix this. But it is something you need to be aware of.  When I talked to the folks at Platypod, they also suggested getting an L bracket that would allow me to offset the camera to compensate for the mount being off center.  I’ll be looking up one of those, because I think that will make this work a LOT better for this camera.

There are a number of warnings in the user guide telling you to make sure your camera is stable. These are good to take note of, because like I said, this is a small base. It’s not a full size tripod with a large spread at the feet, so you have to get used to how stable your camera will be on it. And until you know what it will and will not do, don’t set your camera down and just walk away.

Unfortunately, I found that the plastic covers on one end of the screws that you can use for legs, can and will fall off if you do something crazy with them. I found that if I put my window down on my car, that I could put the front leg on the outside of the door, and the two back legs on the inside. I pressed it down, and it was pretty stable (although I wouldn’t leave it there without holding onto it). When I took it off, one of the little feet caught on something and popped off. I never found it. BUT, I did find a package of 25 of them on amazon.com.  When they are delivered, I’ll have plenty of extras for the next time I get careless and pop one off.

Some other points of interest:  The case that comes with it is extremely well thought out, and by no means a simple afterthought.  It transforms.  As-is, out of the box, it is compact and holds the plate, the screws that serve as legs, and a 3/8 to 1/4 adapter for attaching different sized tripod heads.  It also unfolds, making a bigger interior storage area to hold the ball head as well as the plate and the rest of the items it comes with.
You can also get a deluxe model, which includes a mini ball head, and a mount for an ipad.

Overall, I like it. It’s staying in my camera bag. The biggest daily use for me will be for my camera in the car. I drive a lot for work, and as I did while driving around shooting leaves this weekend, I plan on having it attached to my camera in the car so that if I stop to get a shot of something, I can place this on my car’s roof for a stable shooting platform. And I think it will be coming along with me on hikes as well. I’m still pondering the 360 day time lapse idea.

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Vanguard Alta Pro 263AT Tripod

Vanguard Alta Pro 263AT Tripod

I have been using a Vanguard tripod for a while now.  I needed a tripod that was solid, not too heavy, but not as expensive as the carbon fiber tripods.  I heard about the Vanguard product line and started looking into them.  I ended up buying a Vanguard Alta Pro 263AT tripod with a SBH-250 Magnesium ball head.  This is one of the nicest tripods I’ve owned.

First the specs from the Vanguard web site.  It’s made from an aluminum alloy, so it’s light.  Again, not as light as a carbon fiber model, but it weighs in at 4.41 lbs and it will support 15.4 lbs.  With the center column tilted, it will hold 11 lbs.  Fully extended, it is 65 inches tall.  It’s got 3 leg sections, and the feet are rubber pads that will screw up further on the legs to expose metal spikes when you need to dig in a little better.

One of the best features on this tripod is what they call the Multi-Angle Central Column (MACC).  You can essentially take the center column and tilt it  so it is parallel to the ground and point your camera straight down for shooting flowers and other low to the ground subjects.  With legs that adjust to 25, 50 and 80 degree angles, and the adjustable central column, you can put your camera down next to the ground, stabilize your system on rocky uneven ground, or whatever else you can think of.  This tripod is  very versatile.

Amazon.com also has some great illustrations of the tripod along with the adjustable legs and center column: Vanguard Alta Pro 263AT Aluminum Alloy Tripod Legs with Multi-Angle Central Column System

They also have more details on the tripod head: Vanguard SBH-250 Magnesium Ball Head with Sliding Quick Shoe

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8 Advantages of Mirrorless Cameras

8 Advantages of Mirrorless Cameras

Mirrorless camera systems such as the Micro 4/3 cameras by Olympus and Panasonic, as well as mirrorless models by Sony, Fuji, Samsung, and even some attempts from Nikon and Canon, are compact camera systems with many of the same features of larger DSLR’s.

DSLR Camera

How a DSLR Camera Works

Instead of the mechanical mirror assembly in a DSLR, which is used to divert the image from the from the sensor to the viewfinder, the image in the viewfinder on a mirrorless camera is provided electronically. This reduces the size and weight of the camera.  A small camera body, with interchangeable lenses has some definite advantages.  These cameras are getting more

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