Sony A65

After several weeks of researching for a new DSLR, I finally found one that will fit my new needs. I have a Canon XS (1000D) that will need replacing. It’s a great camera and it still works great but there’s 2 things I was looking for.

  1. Capture HD video
  2. Faster fps – I have a young son who is very active and my XS can’t keep up. I get plenty of blurry pictures. The XS shoots at 3 fps, so I need something much quicker.

Being that I have a couple of Canon lenses already and have been using Canon for years, my obvious choice of brand is Canon. The 3 models I liked were the 7D, 60D, and T4i (650D).

Everyone already knows what they like about the camera so I won’t spend much time with what I like.

Canon 7D: I liked everything about the camera except it still uses the aging DIGIC4 and the price is close to aCanon 5D Mark II – which is a full frame camera.

Canon 60D: Just like the 7D, it uses the DIGIC4 and though it is faster than my old camera at 5.3 fps, it wasn’t holding up against the 7D. There is no auto-focus for video just like the 7D too.

Canon T4i (650D): I’m replacing a Rebel with another, to me didn’t seem like much of an upgrade – although it does have what I’m looking for. The new STM lens from Canon are great, too bad it only works with the T4i (650D) – for now. I was able to play with the [40mm pancake lens]/blog/2012/11/01/canon-ef-40mm-f2-8-stm-pancake-lens/ and during video auto-focusing it was near silent.

In general, I wasn’t too impressed by Canon’s line up. As I looked at other brands (Nikon, Sony, Pentax, etc), it just seems like Canon is holding back on using newer technology which comes standard with many similarly priced cameras from the other brands.

I ended up with a Sony because of their translucent mirror technology. Their alpha cameras also come equipped with image stabilization on the body. This means I don’t have to spend so much money on lenses that come with IS. I mean, I’m not a pro photographer so why should I spend that kind of money just to get the benefit of IS when there’s lenses that are less but not have IS. I won’t need it if the camera body has it.

So it was between the Sony A65 and A77. The A77 would’ve been great but it cost almost as much as a full frame camera. I’m not ready for FF yet. But it does have some slight advantages over the A65 like more cross focus points, magnesium alloy body, slightly higher fps, and a very nice kit lens – 16-50 f/2.8. Mostly everything else is the same. I didn’t want to pay extra for those as they are not as important to me at this time. So the A65 it is.

So far I am pleased by the results. The IS on the body makes a huge difference specially when using it with a telephoto lens (75-300). At it’s maximum zoom I had no issues with taking clear photos while trying to keep the camera steady. The EVF does take a little time to get used to than OVF.

This camera comes with many features like the following:

  1. Panoramic mode that’s on the camera and no stitching required on post.
  2. 3D photos – though i won’t be using it, at least it’s there.
  3. Photo filters.
  4. SCN mode like twilight are great for night shots without a tripod.
  5. HDR
  6. GPS – At first I didn’t care too much for it but it does save me some time with Lightroom. Although it does eat up some battery life.

So what don’t I like?

  • Because of the EVF, GPS, etc, I found the battery to drain a lot quicker. I guess having all those features has its price. It’s a good idea to carry a spare battery.
  • Sony is know to be proprietary with things and this camera is no exception. You will need to get a hotshoe adapter unless you plan on using Sony products that mount on it.
  • The auto-focus motor is a bit loud so if you will be doing video with auto-focus, you may want to use an external microphone or switch it to manual focus.
  • It’s not against the camera, but I did have to buy new lenses since I’m coming from a Canon to Sony. Though I was able to sell most of my old lens. I’m keeping my Tamron on my Canon since I don’t plan to sell my old camera.
  • The A65 doesn’t have a battery grip – at least not an official one from Sony, but the A77 does.

Below is a pic of my camera. Picture is the kit lens 18-55mm, Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 (I have this on my Canon and love it), Sony 50mm f/1.8 (mounted on the camera), and the hotshoe adapter.

It’s a great camera to have and as far as features, it blows away the competition. For picture quality, I’ve been pleased with the results so far. I will be blogging about my other lenses soon, so you can check out the samples there.

sony a65

My new MBP 13″ MB990LL/A

I finally bought the new Macbook Pro 13” MB990LL/A last Saturday. It’s replacing my first gen Macbook Pro 15” MA464LL/A. It’s 3 years old and still works great but it overheats. I was able to get a free iPod Touch 8GB and a $100 towards a printer – after rebate. I thought I could pull out my old hard drive from my 15” and swap it with the 13” but I was wrong. I’m guessing because the processor is different – Core Duo and Core 2 Duo. It took half of Saturday to transfer my files over but I got it to how I had my old laptop on the new one. With the help of Migration Assistant, the task was simple. It only took longer than I thought because I had a lot of files to transfer over.

I’ve already upgraded the storage with a Seagate 500GB hard drive and I’m planning on upgrading the ram to 4GB. So far, what has impressed me is the battery life compared to my old MBP. Here’s a comparison between my old and new MBP current setup.

MB990LL/A (new) MA464LL/A (old)
Processor: 2.26GHz Intel Core 2 Duo 2.0GHz Intel Core Duo
Memory: 2GB 1066MHz DDR3 (Upgradeable to 8GB) 2GB 667MHz DDR2 PC2-5300 (max)
Hard Drive: 500GB SATA 5400rpm 100GB SATA 5400rpm
Grapics Card: Nvidia GeForce 9400m 256MB shared ATI Mobility Radeo X1600 256MB GDD3 dedicated
Display: 13.3-inch LED-backlit glossy 1280×800 resolution 15.4-inch TFT 1440×900 resolution
Expansion: One FireWire 800 port (up to 800 Mbps), two USB 2.0 ports (up to 480 Mbps), SD card slot One FireWire 400, two USB 2.0 ports, and ExpressCard/34 slot
Network: Built-in 10/100/1000BASE-T (Gigabit) Ethernet Built-in 10/100/1000BASE-T (Gigabit) Ethernet (didn’t know it had Gigabit)
Wireless: Built-in AirPort Extreme Wi-Fi (based on IEEE 802.11n draft specification); built-in Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR (Enhanced Data Rate) module Built-in 54-Mbps AirPort Extreme (802.11g standard); built-in Bluetooth 2.0+EDR
Weight: 4.5 pounds 5.6 pounds

My old MBP was a work horse so I expect nothing less with the new one. I am however, taking a big hit on the video card being shared but I won’t be doing much video editing as I thought I did in the beginning.

Here is my initial Pros and Cons on the MBP 13” compared to my old MBP 15”.

Pros:

  • Improved battery life
  • Upgrading HDD and ram is painless
  • Runs at a lower temperature
  • Trackpad gestures similar to the iPhone
  • Firewire 800
  • SD Card reader
  • Cheaper
  • Ram is expandable to 8GB
  • Core 2 Duo

Cons:

  • Shared video memory. I noticed a much lower FPS while playing WoW and visit a heavy populated area – while running other programs in the backgroun (ie: iTunes, Firefox, Quicktime, and other apps)
  • No ExpressCard slot
  • No Firewire 400 port
  • Scratches easier
  • Being a pound lighter, it doesn’t feel at all lighter

I’ll probably extend my list more as I continue to use it. So far I’m impressed. It’s a great upgrade for me.

macbook pro mb990lla

macbook pro mb990lla

macbook pro mb990lla

macbook pro mb990lla

macbook pro mb990lla

Thoughts on Brother MFC490cw

I recently picked up a Brother MFC490cw for a good price. I’ve been in the market for a printer with networking capabilities for a couple of weeks now. My existing HP 2600N is nearly out of color toners but has a brand new black toner. I checked out the price for the color toners and figured it’s cheaper to get a new machine rather than purchasing new color toners. I also wouldn’t mind a wireless networking option.

So what I was mainly looking for was networking capabilities. I found the MFC490cw to have what I needed plus more. Here’s my initial impression of the machine after a day of use.

LIKES:

  • Draft quality copies are fast.
  • Both wire and wireless networking capabilities.
  • Scanning capabilities over the network and it works on both Windows and OS X.
  • Low cost cartridges (4 total – black, magenta, yellow, cyan).
  • Good price for an all-in-one with networking features.
  • Small form factor for an all-in-one.
  • Once the machine is set up on the network, installation of the printer on your computer is easy.
  • Memory card reader can read SDHC.
  • USB direct print available.
  • USB port is hidden inside, underneath the scanner – it’s a good design idea so that the USB cable doesn’t stick out as much and is cleaner.

DISLIKES:

  • After a copy session, there’s a lag for about 5 seconds where you can operate the machine.
  • Photo quality isn’t all that great.
  • If the 4×6 paper isn’t positioned properly on the paper tray, even if you select 4×6 paper size on the machine’s interface, it will still use the 8×11 paper (this is using the memory card reader and direct print features).
  • A little noisy for an inkjet.
  • The flatbed scanner seems like it’ll break easy.
  • On board interface was a little confusing while trying to have it recognize my WPA enabled network.

OTHER THOUGHTS:

  • For PC users, you can send a fax using your computer to create the document. This will save you from printing the document then faxing it. I wish they had it available for OS X but then again, I hardly fax things but still a cool feature to have.
  • I printed a photo using Kodak paper. It didn’t come out to well. The Kodak paper sucks. I got the same results on other printers using the Kodak paper and I got the same crappy results. Lesson: Do not buy/use Kodak paper.
  • I had somewhat of a hard time setting up the machine on the network. I am using an Apple router, WPA/WPA2 security, MAC address filtering, and for the printer I assigned it its own IP address. It still wouldn’t pick up the SSID and I have it broadcasting. I finally turned it off and waited a few minutes. I ran the network setup again and this time it found it and I was good to go. I guess power cycling it did the trick.

Even with a good amount of dislikes for the first 24 hours, I still think it’s a decent machine for the price. Brother did not short change OS X users with features. Only thing it didn’t have was the PC fax capability that is available for Windows users. I’ve already seen generic ink cartridges for this machine and since I won’t be printing much photos on here it looks like it’s the route I will take when replace the ink.

Here’s an image I printed out using Kodak photo paper and scanned via wireless network (600×600 dpi and 24 bit color).

Check out Abby’s hair, there’s so much distortion. It seems like it can’t handle black properly. I printed another copy on Brother paper BP71 and the results were better but still cannot compare to what I normally get with my Canon i900D printer. I didn’t expect Brother to be my photo printer replacement anyway. Again, still a good deal for what I paid for and what I’ll be using it for. So if you can get this printer under $90, it’s a good deal for low to medium amount of jobs.

Asus EEEPC 900A netbook

I just picked up an Asus Eee PC 900A from Best Buy. I wanted to pick up a netbook for a couple of months now but ended up getting an HP dv9999us last month. Office Depot it for a very good deal so I could not pass it up. Now Best Buy has a deal with this Asus netbook that I cannot pass up. After a week of use, here’s my initial impression and experience.

The netbook comes with Xandros OS. The desktop is grouped by tabs with applications in each group. After the software updates though, the system became unstable. There were times after boot up, the mouse and/or keyboard didn’t respond. I had to restore the system to factory defaults. That was easy to do. I just had to press and hold F9 as soon as the netbook started.

I then decided to install Easy Peasy via USB flash drive. The manual says to press and hold the ESC button to access the boot device selection. It didn’t work. What I found to work is pressing both ESC and F2 keys during POST. It only recognized my bootable USB flash drive when connected to the USB port closes to the right, Shift key.

I used Unetbootin to create the bootable USB. Once I booted off it, I got 3 options: Default, Help, and OEM. I selected Default and it run the Live CD version. Once Easy Peasy loaded, I installed it. There were some bugs after installation but this post http://www.ubuntu-eee.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=12&t=543 answered all my problems.

After installing a few more softwares, I still have about 800MB. I’m planning on getting a 16GB SDHC card and maybe a 16GB SSD drive to replace the 4GB. This netbook has an Intel Atom N270 processor, 1GB DDR2 ram, 8.9” WSVGA widescreen monitor (1024×600), Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 950, SD and MMC card reader, 3 USB 2.0 ports, and wireless connection (supports WEP and WPA/WPA2 security). This thing only weighs 2.2lbs and 1.3” thick. It’s very nice and portable. Another cool feature is the 2 finger scroll just like my MacBook Pro. You can scroll up and down using 2 fingers on the trackpad. I also was able to connect to my HP 2600N color laserjet.

If you will not upgrade the 4GB SSD drive, I highly recommend installing Easy Peasy (Ubuntu EEE). If not, do not update the software unless you are experiencing problems and even then be careful not to run out of drive space.

Only 2 things I wish it had, a webcam and an ExpressCard slot. I can live without the webcam but my Verizon V70 is an ExpressCard. Now I can only access the internet if I’m within a wireless connection. Many coffee shops now have free wi-fi access anyway so again no big deal.

So after a day of use, it’s a great machine with lots of potential uses and upgrades. If you can get your hands on one for around $200, jump on it.

asus eeepc 900a

asus eeepc 900a

asus eeepc 900a

asus eeepc 900a

HP dv9999us Review

I’ve been looking for a new laptop for a couple of months now. My MacBook Pro is nearly 3 years old, still has the original Core Duo cpu, and it over heats so much it just freezes. I had Apple look at and they replaced a heat sink but it seemed like it didn’t help. They also replaced the battery and power adapter plug – still didn’t help. They finally said that the temperature is normal and they can’t do anything else. My co-worker’s newer MacBook Pro doesn’t heat up as bad. Anyways…

I started looking at the netbooks. They are very light-weight, ultra portable, no CD/DVD-rom drives. I thought it would be perfect for what I need. I can still carry my MBP and have a netbook too. I waited and waited. Then I saw an ad at Office Depot for a laptop. It was a total opposite of what a netbook is but for the price I had to take a look. I ended up buying the HP dv9999us. Here are the specs:

  • AMD Turion-X2 64bit 2.0GHz
  • 4GB ram
  • 250GB hdd
  • 17” WXGA 1440×900 BrightView LCD
  • USB 2.0 (4x)
  • Firewire 400 (1x)
  • S-Video out
  • Built-in web cam
  • Media remote control
  • 2 audio out headphone jacks and 1 input
  • 5-in-1 memory card reader
  • Express card slot

You can view the hardware specs here. So after about 2 weeks of use, here’s a list of likes and dislikes.

LIKES:

  • 4GB ram
  • 64 bit OS and CPU
  • numeric keypad is part of the keyboard
  • 17” screen is great
  • Vista Home Premium 64bit has been impressively stable (so far)
  • memory card reader
  • has remote control for media software and can be stored in the extreme card slot
  • built-in webcam
  • after rebates the laptop costs only $490
  • physical on/off switch for WiFi
  • no incompatibilities so far being Vista and 64bit (programs that are 64bit are stored in the Program Files folder * while the rest are stored in Program Files x86)
  • S-Video out support
  • light scribe DVDRW drive

DISLIKES:

  • media buttons on top of the keyboard are too senstive
  • video card is not all that good when it comes to games
  • right, Shift button is awkwardly positioned and size is smaller than usual – I sometimes press “/” key to the left of it
  • heavy 7.7lbs (but it is a 17” laptop)
  • media software isn’t too responsive, too cluttered – OS X has a more intuitive interface
  • lots of pre-installed software (can be removed, but why are they there in the first place – doesn’t exists in any Apple computer)
  • took almost an hour to access the desktop during first boot – must be a Vista thing
  • no HDMI support, but no biggie
  • sometimes I hear buzzing sound when the laptop seems like it’s heating up – I’ve had this happen on several other * laptops so it seems normal

Overall the laptop is great for the price. My views towards Vista have changed a little bit. It seems the 64 bit version runs a little more stable than the 32 bit version. I do miss my MacBook Pro and OS X but I don’t miss the overheating. I still have Apple desktops at home and at work so it’s not that bad.

hp dv9999us

hp dv9999us