Archive | May, 2014

Photographer of the week

29 May

My selected photographer of the week is Triple Beam Dream. After visiting that link, you can find more in his gallery.

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Next entrant to the 360° panoramic camera circus

26 May

Given similar projects have been launched previously, what could be new about this camera, the 360cam by Giroptic? Well, it supports geotagging and is waterproof to 10m (but requires an accessory to prevent distortion underwater – think swimming goggles). It’s also predicted to have a range of connectivity options – microSD, USB, WiFi – although the documentation is currently a little fuzzy on whether WiFi is available without the additional ethernet base – I’m interpreting the information as saying the ethernet base is only required for wired connectivity.

There are some clever twists, such as the light bulb adapter that allows the camera to draw its power from a standard screw-in lightbulb mount, making it unobtrusive and providing an attachment possibility without the need for further specialised accessories. When not mounted in a bulb fixture, battery life is rated at 1 hour of continuous video shooting “without WiFi”.

The design reminds of an octopus body, and is neat once you realise the functional constraints, but may seem odd-looking at first. Compared to the similarly priced 72 megapixel Panono, this one produces modest 8 megapixel images, narrowly beating out the Ricoh Theta, and seems to have video streaming as its main goal. Like other similar cameras, the 360cam can be used with dedicated iOS and Android apps.  These can already be obtained and may or may not be necessary to take full advantage of the camera.

The 360cam actually records 360×300 degree images. The cameras are arranged in a horizontal plane, so as in Google Streetview imagery, there will be bits of road and sky missing. There is also a discrepancy between the video and still aspect ratio (16:9 vs 2:1), which suggests that the camera either crops one of the formats (stills or video), or stretches/squeezes one of them. A third possibility is that a different projection is used, but this seems unlikely given the additional effort involved and the absence of a good reason for doing this.

The project has a Kickstarter page, where the funding target has already been met, and the possibility for third-party development is being advertised. One can be fairly confident, therefore, that this unit will actually materialise. The advertised warranty is 1 year, with a target price of 499 USD once a distributor has been found. The company can only be contacted through an email form at

Pentax DA 55-300mm sharper than premium lens, according to DxOMark

24 May

I was looking at some DxOMark figures, when I noticed this oddity: At 300mm, the Pentax DA 55-300mm (non-WR version was tested) is sharper than the top-line DA* 300mm. See the figure to become a believer:

Sharpness of Pentax DA 55-300mm vs. DA* 300mm

Sharpness of Pentax DA 55-300mm vs. DA* 300mm

So why would you buy a 1350 USD lens when you can have more fun for 390 USD? Well, the DA* lens has almost no distortion and is also relatively free of chromatic aberrations (CA) – see the next graph:

Aberration of Pentax DA 55-300mm vs DA* 300mm

Aberration of Pentax DA 55-300mm vs DA* 300mm

So if you’re looking for a lens to pair with the lovely new 1.4x Pentax teleconverter (yes, the specs are every Pentax photographer’s wishlist come true), as long as you have a scene that’s free of CA, you might want to give the 55-300 a go!