(No) Lights, Camera, Action!

Having read more articles about DSLRs, mirrorless cameras, premium compacts, the new iPhone 7 Plus bokeh (“portrait” or depth-of-field) feature – take a look here, I have decided that I’d go for a camera that I am already familiar with. The Sony RX100 mk IV – the next iteration from 2014’s mk III (and the one I had sold).

I’d have like to have gone for one of the Canon EOS systems – but the thought of buying more lenses and maintaining them, as well as carrying them with me, was offputting.  And then there’s the upkeep of both lens and body.  And I’m really not that great a photographer yet to fully comprehend f stops, apertures and shutter speeds.  So DSLR is wasted on me – for now.

What I have decided to do this time around is to buy a couple of books that will guide me through all the features of the RX100 mk IV, and teach me the basics of digital photography. I said last time that I wanted to get into photography, but for whatever reason (mainly procrastination, I suppose) it never happened.  But this forthcoming cruise is awakening the desire to really get to know my kit.  As I do with computers and technology.

I also plan a holiday back to the Scottish highlands sometime in the first or second quarter of next year – the perfect opportunity to really get to grips with the camera and any gubbins

One camera I was looking at was the Nikon Coolpix P900 – an absolute beast of a camera that offers 83x zoom that’s capable of close-ups of the moon.  THE MOON.  Take a look:

But ultimately I was looking a for a good balance of portability and image quality against cost.  I did look at some of the higher-end Sony cameras (although definitely not the £3k compact camera which spits out 43-megapixel images), alongside Fujifilm and Nikon.  But the RX100 series is just a great combination of everything.

Once I’m up and running, I’ll post some examples of my work regardless of however good or (more likely) bad it is.

(Return of the Mac) Come on, (You know that I’ll be back) Here I am

Oh, Apple.  What an enormous pain in the bottom you are at times!  Nearly four months away, and I return to discover that your software is just as buggy as when I left.  But, when it works, is infinitely better than that offered for and by Windows / Microsoft.  The last straw was when I created a spreadsheet in Excel 2016 on the Dell UHD laptop, only to find that due to dodgy Windows scaling, the row sizes were all over the shop when the same file was opened on a Mac also running Excel 2016.

  • Importing 8,163 photos and videos into Photos caused Photos to crash half way through.  Thankfully as Adobe Lightroom organises photos by year, I did one year at a time and everything is now inside the Photos ecosystem.
  • Restoring iTunes to a new machine (regardless of platform) while you have an Apple Music subscription is the biggest load of nonsense I have ever encountered from any software company ever.  All seemed to go well – iTunes picked up the freshly copied Windows iTunes folder and organised/consolidated it as it should.  But, alas, while Apple Music was switched on and signed in, iTunes told me otherwise.  A workaround was to browse and/or play something directly from the Apple Music catalogue web site (within iTunes – iTunes essentially acts a glorified browser), then offline stuff could play.  In an attempt to fix the problem once and for all, I turned iCloud Music Library Off (and Apple Music) and switched them back on.  Big mistake.  As soon as that happened, iTunes attempted to reupload music and match, resulting in the duplication of all Apple Music albums and tracks.  At least some 2,000+.  Sorting out the duplicates in the Gilbert & Sullivan 450 track multi-disc album was, to say the least, [censored] annoying.  This was even after nuking the entire iTunes library and letting everything (inc. matched non-Apple tracks and iTunes purchased tracks) download again from Apple’s servers.  This incident has made me extremely nervous of ever having to restore an iTunes library from a backup.  Maybe Apple is promoting Apple Music’s strength as an online service that you really never need to back up to anything other than their servers?  *shrugs*
  • Playing Team Fortress 2 using the AMD Radeon R9 370X is fine and dandy, but things went a bit wonky straight after Steam/TF2 installation, with TF2 and Steam quitting immediately as soon as the game started.  Restarting MacOS seems to fix it.
  • Switching to Apple’s Two Factor Authentication was a pain too.  If you had Two Step Authentication, you have to disable that, create a new series of security questions, then wait a bit before the Two Factor Authentication settings pop up on the iPhone or iPad.  Trying to get the Apple TV to recognise HomeKit involved logging in and out about six times before it finally worked.  Lots of logging in and out across all devices overall.  Apple Watch needed a reboot to get the MacOS unlock functionality working, else the system complained that it couldn’t find the watch.

Otherwise, I am enjoying the Retina display, the quad core processor, and super fast SSD drive.  I’ve come to the conclusion that Windows is not ready for 4K/UHD and above displays.  Not until software developers start making the use of it.

But I will remain a Mac/iPhone/iPad user for the foreseeable future.  The alternative is good, but for me – and despite all the problems with Apple’s software division – it’s not enough. Apple have won.  I surrender.

As much as I like the iPhone 7 Plus camera..

.. I’m thinking that for my trip to Norway, Iceland and Dublin next year, I might need something beefier (my biggest complaint about the iPhone 7/7 Plus is that the images are very, very soft when you view them full size).

While I’m not going to buy it straight away, I’m eyeing up a Canon Powershot G9 X.  I’ve owned a Powershot G5 in the past (as well as an EOS 700D), and rate Canon very highly in the photographic stakes.  And when paired with a smartphone, it can use its GPS capabilities to add location data to photos – something that I can’t live without because I usually never get around to tagging photos – having location data at least allows me to figure out when and where a photo was taken!

We’ll see – I’ll look into this next year.  Still uncluttering (read: selling stuff like a mad thing) and heading back to the world of Apple again slowly and surely first.


Crash! Bang! Wallop!

For the next couple of weeks, this blog may suddenly vanish, go offline, or perform weirdly (what, it wasn’t performing weirdly already? – Ed).  

I’m performing a variety of tests that should yield very favourable results for an upcoming new product that I can’t say anything about yet.  But trust me, it’s gonna be a good ‘un.

iPhone 7 Plus Photo Test

These are full resolution photos.  Click on any of them to get the full size / download. They’re all under my copyright, so if you do use them, please credit me accordingly – otherwise they’re pretty much free to do with as you please.

No zoom.
No zoom.
2 x optical zoom using telephoto lens.
2 x optical zoom using telephoto lens.
10 x digital zoom using the telephoto lens
10 x digital zoom using the telephoto lens