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Archive for the ‘Technology’ Topic

2019.10.29

Gigabyte recently introduced the Aero 15 OLED laptop, the newest model in a series of high-end laptops designed for photographers.  It joins  the rest of the Aero 15 laptop-series, adding a new Ultra-HD 4K AMOLED display in a ultra-thin bezel measuring a mere 3mm think. This display is Pantone Certified by X-Rite due to its high color-accuracy and 100% DCI-P3 gamut. AMOLED technology is VESA DisplayHDF 400 compliant which also guarantees a wide dynamic-range.

Gigabyte Aero 15 OLED

The Aero 15 and its new OLED variant are available with a powerful 9th-Generation Intel Core i9 or i7 H-series processor and NVidia GeFrorce RTX 20 or GTX 16 dedicated graphics chip. This combination of high-accuracy display and powerful graphics make these laptops very well suited for photographers. The Aero 15 provides a superior experience due to its Sharp IGZO 240Hz panel which has an anti-glare coating, making it much easier to perceive nuances in tonalities. The Aero 15 series is kept cool using two fans, five heat pipes and 11 vents to improve heat-dissipation by 30% over previous models.

Gigabyte Aero 15

Both these laptops are only 2cm (0.8″) thick and 36 by 25cm wide (14″ x 10″) while offering a 15.6″ screen. They offer a built-in SDXC UHS-II memory-card reader to directly read the most common memory-card currently in use by digital cameras. There are 3 USB 3.1 Type A ports plus dual-purpose DisplayPort 1.4 and USB 3.1 Type-C ports. These laptops are sufficiently thick for directly hosting a Gigabit RJ45 port. A 94Wh battery gives these powerhouses an 8.5h battery-life. The back-illuminated keyboards are not spillproof but a compatible keyboard skin is available for an additional $15 USD.

The Aero 15 and Aero 15 OLED come in six of configurations shown here with a starting price of $1700 USD.

Neocamera Blog Neocamera.com © Cybernium

2014.06.16

Lenovo’s flagship laptop is the lightest 14″ laptop available. Made of military-grade and ultra-light carbon-fiber, the Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon 2014 is packed with features and unique technologies. New to the 2014 model is an anti-glare QHD display with 2560×1440 resolution. Revised trackpad and keyboard round-off change from the original X1 Carbon.

Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon 2014

The X1 Carbon provides incredible portability with a body under 0.7″ thick and weighing less than 2.8 lbs. Its built-in battery offers up to 9 hours battery-life and can recharge to 85% capacity in under 45 minutes! The keyboard is illuminated and spill-proof. It features Lenovo’s Trackpoint for precise pointer control and a Trackpad with 5 integrated buttons.

Read Neocamera’s Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon 2014 review to learn all about this high-end ultra-book and find how it measures to the competition.

Neocamera Blog Neocamera.com © Cybernium

2013.02.26

While people are divided on whether an electronic viewfinder (EVF) or an optical viewfinder (OVF) is better, most have a strong preference based on what they are used to. DSLR users, by definition, use an optical viewfinder which is based on the well established design that has existed since the launch of the first SLR camera.

Mirrorless cameras, on the other hand, use an electronic viewfinder as they cannot have a reflex optical viewfinder that sees through the lens since they lack the mirror to bend the light path that way. The good news is that companies have been working hard at improving EVF technology.

There are both advantages and disadvantages to EVFs compared to OVFs. The very best ones with high-resolution and high-refresh rates are actually quite suitable for most uses when well-implemented.

EVFs can have the following advantages:

  • WYSYWYG: With an Exposure-Priority display, like those of Sony SLT and NEX cameras, you see something much closer to the results before shooting. With an OVF, you see with your eye and therefore have no way of knowing how an image will be exposed. The same is true of White-Balance.
  • Sensitivity: EVF are electronic and can have the signals amplified to produce a bright image even in dark conditions. This makes them usable for framing with ND filters. When using a very dark filter, say an ND400 for example, an EVF still shows an image while an OVF becomes too dark.
  • HUD: An EVF can show detailed information overlaid on the image, including a Live-Histogram and detailed camera status. One can also navigate menus and change almost any setting with the camera at eye-level.

Olympus VF-2EVFs also have disadvantages:

  • Lag: There is a short lag between action happening in front of the camera and what you see.
  • Dynamic-Range: EVFs are small LCD screens and have limited dynamic-range.

Lag is a problem for action and photography where following action is critical. The limited dynamic-range means that it is possible for areas to be either fully white or full black without any details even though details will be captured.

A few aspects are not so clear-cut:

  • Focus: With 1.5 – 2.4 MP EVF it is now quite easy to judge focus. The same cannot be said about most EVFs which have around 200K-350K pixels. Additionally, a lot of cameras can magnify the EVF to assist MF and some can highlight high-contrast edges which is called focus-peaking. The remaining problem for manual focus is lag. Just like the EVF lags action, it lags behind the focus-ring too and on some cameras it is rather hard to get focus exactly right without back-and-forth movements.
  • Coverage: The vast majority of EVFs show 100% coverage. For OVFs, it is sadly the minority.

Keep in mind that implementations vary widely and plenty of EVFs are inexplicably not Exposure-Priority and some do not show the ideal image brightness in low-light. Some EVFs also show an incorrect Live-Histogram.

There are also some minor annoyances such as the need for a camera to be on to see something. With an OVF, it is possible to frame and focus (except for lenses with fly-by-wire focus rings) while the camera is off.

Finally EVFs require a lot of power, often as much as having the rear LCD on, despite being smaller. This makes battery-life similar to using Live-View and roughly half of what it is with an OVF. The actual drain depends on the specific camera of course, usage and power-saving settings.

All in all, modern EVFs are quite usable and Exposure-Priority ones are more helpful to photographers under most circumstances other than fast action.

Neocamera Blog Neocamera.com © Cybernium

2012.11.20

Six years ago, touchscreens were appearing on digital cameras. This was a disturbing trend at the time and still is. While these type of screens may have their place on phones and tablets, there plenty of reasons to avoid them on digital cameras:

  • Smudges: No  matter how many times you wash your hands, that LCD gets smudged! Digital cameras are exposed to sunlight more than any other device and, when it is time to take a shot, the light is what it is. With a phone, you can turn around so that your shadow falls on the screen but a camera has to be pointed in a certain direction to take a specific shot.
  • Gloves: Most modern touchscreen do not respond to gloves. If you photograph in a cold place and take off your gloves each time you take a shot, pretty soon you lose sensations in your fingers.
  • Nose: A camera with a touchscreen is a bad idea but one with a viewfinder and a touchscreen is much worse! With such camers, it is easy to change settings and even fire shots with your nose while trying to frame the image you actually want.
  • Fog: In extreme temperatures, hot and cold, LCDs frequently get fogged up. Any LCD has to be wiped to be usable again but only touchscreens change your camera settings while doing so!
  • Screen Protector: Hard screen protectors prevent touchscreens from being used. That’s a good thing until you realize you paid the the touchscreen which you cant use.

This was a public service announcement for the Aliance Against Touchscreen on Digital Cameras. Please support  this cause by saying No to touchscreens on digital cameras 😉

Should you already have a camera with a touchscreen, you may consult the user manual to find out how to disable it. So far, most of them can.

Neocamera Blog Neocamera.com © Cybernium

2012.11.03

Nine years ago, IBM delivered a display to my desk, the $27,000 USD T220. This is a 9 megapixels 22″ LCD with a resolution of 3840 x 2400. Of course, being IBM, they did not have a cool name for it and they called it a QWUXGA for Quad Wide Ultra eXtended Graphics Array.

Compared to Apples’s Retina, this is quite a mouthful but indeed but the IBM T220 had a resolution of 204 DPI. IBM claimed they had delivered this technology 10 years ahead of schedule and it seems the estimate is very close. The T220 was introduced in September 2003.

The T220 was an amazing display, it delivered crisp details like never seen before and was… quickly discontinued despite a price drop to $9000 USD. The problem is that technology has a hard time living in a vacuum and other components from 10 years in the future had not arrived yet! The first units ran at 40 Hz and required 4 DVI links, so we used two dual-head graphics card to drive it, which each head driving a quarter of the display. The setup was not pretty and moving images were choppy and everything looked minuscule. An amazing demo but not much of a sell.

Now computers are powerful enough and Apple was first out with ultra-high-resolution displays, up to 2880×1800 on a 15″ laptop which equates to 220 DPI. Just last week, Google produced an even sharper display for its 10″ tablet. This one has a 2560×1600 resolution – the same as my 30″ NEC Multisync LCD3090WQXi-SV – but one third the size. I have not seen either in the flesh yet but it must be truly impressive!

It won’t be much longer until more displays start appearing at those resolutions. Probably on laptops first since smaller displays have better yields and on independent ones after some time. This will give much more realism to images and provide a preview which is considerably closer to prints. Operating system support is needed to allow this to work with legacy applications and Apple has done this very cleverly. We’ll see how Microsoft and Linux address this.

Unfortunately this is also bad news for photographers. Higher DPI onscreen means that more pixels have to be sent to cover the same area. To show a 4×6″ print on-screen currently it only takes a 600×400 pixel image, or 0.24 MP. On a 300 DPI display, we need 9 times those pixels, so 2.16 megapixels. Scale that to 900×600 which gives a more comfortable size for appreciating images and you need to replace 0.5 MP images with 4.5 MP ones. This will sadly open more doors to people stealing images because they will be able to do more with them.

Reality is that images on the web get stolen and used without attribution not just by individuals wanting a cool wallpaper but commercial entities for their websites and even print campaigns. The advent of Retina displays gives those felons more ammunition. Of course one can still showcase image at lower resolution but viewers will see an image which is less sharp than others and most won’t bother understanding why.

Neocamera Blog Neocamera.com © Cybernium

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