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March 30 2013

00:30

Beginners Guide To Using The iPhone Camera

using the iphone cameraIf you haven’t used the iPhone Camera app much, or if you’re a new user of the device, you may not realize just how close the app is to literally being a point-and-shoot camera, and it includes enough features for average shooting situations to make it nearly unnecessary to need a separate and dedicated compact camera.

We have published a few articles about using the iPhone camera, including how to take self-portraits with it, as well as reviews of third-party camera apps that are better than the iPhone camera. But we have yet to cover the basic and newer features in the iOS 5 and 6 version of the Camera. If you don’t have the time or inclination to learn advance camera apps such as ProCamera, the default Camera app will suffice. For many iPhone users, it’s the only camera you may need for family photos and videos. You don’t need to know anything about aperture or shutter speed, or other camera mode settings. It is helpful, however, to know something about photo composition and focusing shots, both of which I describe in this article.

Using the iPhone Camera

The iPhone camera is always ready to shoot with a simple tap. Simply tap open the Camera app on your iPhone, and you’re ready to go. If you’re going to be taking lots of vacation shots, or snapping photos at a party or event, you might want to put the Camera in the iPhone Dock or on the homepage for quick access.

using the iphone camera

When the iPhone is in lock screen mode, you can also quickly launch the camera by sliding up the camera icon at the bottom-right of the locked screen.

using iphone camera

Holding the Phone

Snapping a photo is as simple as tapping the camera icon of the app, but you need to hold the phone steady with both hands. If you’re shooting in landscape position, you will probably want to use your thumb to tap the shutter button (camera icon.)

using iphone camera

If you’re shooting in portrait position, it’s still best to hold the phone with two hands and press the shutter button, but in this case use your index finger.

using iphone camera

Compose Shots

A big part of taking good photos is composing your shots and filling the frame. The iPhone camera includes a photo guide to help you compose shots. It is based on what is called the Rule of Thirds. The idea is to place the subject of your photo into one of the quartiles of the grid, instead of smack in the middle.

iphone camera tips

Tip: you can press and hold on the shutter button, continue to compose your shot, and then lift your finger to activate the shutter. This may help get a more steady shot in some shooting situations.

Focus Lock

There is, of courseno focusing ring on the iPhone or focus button in the Camera app, but the app does include a focus feature. When you point the phone/camera on a subject, the camera will try to lock and focus on the subject that it thinks you’re trying to snap a photo of.

iphone camera tips

You can also tap on any part of the camera frame/screen to lock the focus where you want it to be. You will actually find that the iPhone camera takes sharp photos, even for micro shots, if you hold the camera steady and use the focus feature.

Using the Flash

The on-camera flash on any camera is never that good, and I avoid using it. But if you’re shooting in a low light situation, you can tap the flash icon, and select Auto, On, or Off. With Auto, of course, the camera will determine if it needs the flash in order to get enough focus and light to take the shot.

iphone camera tips

Reviewing Your Photos

As you take photos, you can quickly review them while the camera app is open, by swiping your finger across the screen, which will open the Camera Roll, where all your photos are saved. Note, you can also open the Photos app in your iPhone to access the Camera Roll, and another feature called Photo Stream.

Also notice the other available menu items for deleting images, sharing photos (to Twitter, Facebook, email, etc), starting a slide show, and showing photos via AppleTV.

IPhone camera 50

To get back to camera mode, tap on the screen and then tap the blue and white camera icon on the bottom-left of the app.

IPhone camera 49

Video Camera

The Camera app also has a video camera that is useful for average shooting situations. As you probably notice, you can activate the video feature by sliding the button to the tiny video icon.

IPhone video 1

What you probably don’t know, however, is that you can actually take photos while you shoot video, as long as you keep the iPhone steady, and the subjects you’re shooting are not moving too fast. As you’re shooting video, all you need to do is tap the camera icon on the screen, and it will snap a photo, without interrupting the video recording.

using the iphone camera

What I have described above are the basic features of the iPhone Camera app. In a follow-up article, I will share advance features (e.g., taking Panorama and HDR images) that you might find useful for different shooting situations.

If you’re a new or inexperienced user of the iPhone camera, let us know if this guide was helpful. Also let us know what questions you still have about using the iPhone camera.

The post Beginners Guide To Using The iPhone Camera appeared first on MakeUseOf.

August 17 2012

02:15

5 Things You Didn’t Know About The First Digital Cameras

digital camera historyThe digital camera has taken more than 35 years of technological advancement to reach its current stage of development. The journey from original concept to the all-singing devices we have access to today has been long, and still new technologies in photography emerge. I’m already excited about what the next 35 years might bring.

In 1975 the first digital camera came to be after an engineer for Eastman Kodak was tasked with creating what was then dubbed an “electronic camera”. The ensuing breakthrough laid the building blocks for digital photography as we know it today. We now live in an era where it sometimes feels like cameras are slapped onto devices as afterthoughts, so it’s important to look back and appreciate the path to our modern “snap and forget” habits.

The First Digital Camera Used Cassette & Was Slow & Heavy

The world’s very first digital camera was built in 1975 by Eastman Kodak employee Steven Sasson who was asked to build an electronic camera using a charge coupled device (CCD). Such a device has become an important component in digital imaging and it was the CCD which allowed Sasson to record a 100×100 (.01 MP) black and white image using his invention.

digital camera history

Using the CCD to capture the image, Sasson’s electronic camera then wrote them to cassette. This rather analog process took 23 seconds to complete. The device he had created was indeed just what the brief had stated – an electronic camera which weighed 8lbs (3.6KG) and was the size of a toaster. Because the device used a solid chip rather than tape or film like conventional cameras, Sasson had created the world’s first digital camera. You can view the patent the device was awarded here.

“Still Video Cameras” Were An Important Stepping Stone Towards The First Truly Digital Cameras

Before cameras were really digital, the “still video camera” emerged with the unveiling of the Sony Mavica in Tokyo in August 1981. These types of cameras are considered predecessors to the standard digital camera, and the original Mavica (which stood for magnetic video camera) came in SLR format, with interchangeable bayonet lenses.

the first digital camera

Complete with a CCD capable of recording 570×490 resolution images, then considered broadcast quality, the Mavica was not digital as it produced an analog NTSC signal. The camera stored footage on magnetic floppy disks called “Mavipacks”, which the industry later renamed Video Floppies. The nature of a still video camera meant that the device recorded several still frames to disc which when played back in succession created a moving image.

The World’s First Digital Camera Was (Apparently) The Fujix DS-1P

In 1988 Fujix, a company best known for film, introduced the world’s first digital consumer camera – the DS-1P. According to the limited resources available that document the invention (Fuji’s Japanese website for one), it came with a 400 kilopixel CCD sensor and stored images as files on removable solid state memory cards. The whole process was digital – from the capturing of the image, to storing it, to later retrieving it using a computer.

the first digital camera

The DS-1P wasn’t around for long, however. In fact, it was only ever released in Japan and there’s much speculation over how many units were actually shipped in the short period it surfaced on the market – some even say it never shipped. It certainly never made it to the United States or Europe, and it’s undoubtedly one of the rarest cameras around today.

The Dycam Model 1 Was The First Digital Camera You Could Actually Buy

In 1990 Dycam released the first proper consumer camera, and by proper I mean it was the first digital camera that I can find with multiple sources confirming that you could indeed buy one. The Model 1 – also known as the Logitech Fotoman – captured 8bit greyscale images of 320×480 resolution. There was no LCD screen mounted on the back, instead a traditional optical viewfinder was used and snapped away using the button on the front.

the first digital camera

The camera had a list price of $995, which is roughly double that in 2012 currency. For your money you could store 32 pictures in TIFF or PICT format on the internal memory, and you had to extract your photos using specialised software that came on good old floppy disks. You can read more about the Dycam Model 1 over at Ben Warde’s Camera Curiosities blog.

Nikon’s D1 Was a Game Changer

The Nikon D1 was the world’s first digital SLR built entirely by a major player in the camera industry. This was important as it helped keep the cost down and the compatibility with existing camera equipment high. At a time when the digital SLR market consisted mostly of Nikon 35mm SLRs with $30,000 Kodak digital backs, Nikon went ahead and designed, perfected then built a camera that was entirely digital from the outset.

digital camera history

The result was the D1, released in 1999 with a CCD sensor capable of capturing 2.74MP images (that’s  and full compatibility with Nikon’s F-Series lens mount. At a cost of around $5,500, the D1 appealed to professionals, journalists and the serious consumer market. The camera was praised for its high sensitivity, excellent signal to noise ratio and ability to capture 4.5 frames per second for up to a total of 21 frames. The rest is history.

Did you own an early digital camera? Do you still have your old photographs? You can reminisce and add your own stories in the comments, below.

Images: Sony Mavica, Fujix DS-1P, Dycam Model 1, Nikon D1


August 10 2012

19:00

Swap Your PJs For A Camera – Try Taking A Photo A Day And Improve Your Photography

improve your photographyOnce, there was this interesting news item about the man with the perfect memory. No…Mr. Gordon Bell wasn’t a freak; as a research scientist he just used modern technology to record every waking moment of his life. That was a Microsoft project. On lower tiers, we use journals and blogs to document our daily lives. Why not a camera? Especially if you love pictures.

Just a few minutes a day could really add up to improving your photography. Who knows, you might catch life at its best and the memories it seeds. Then again, interesting projects like A Day might come along to pique your enthusiasm further.

My friend Nancy, took a look at the Top 4 Photo Websites To Share One Photo Everyday. She covered four very niche photography sites (365Project | Blipfoto | Photoblog | Momentile ). There are quite a few you can add to this list for your photographic inspiration. Let’s look them over.

Shuttercal

improve your photography

Shuttercal is one of the more oft-recommended sites for a photo a day projects. The free site gives you a straightforward calendar, and you add a photo to it that showcases your day. It could be anything – it doesn’t ask for a great photo. Just a slice of life in a photograph could add up to a memorable photo-journaling experience one day. Then, Shuttercal s not limited to photography, so you can document the day using a poem, a drawing, and even a news clip. Daily photo projects are challenging and fun. The calendar helps you be focused.

Also Read: Document Your Life & Improve Your Photography Skills With Shuttercal

Flickr

improve your photography skills

Flickr – 365 is actually a photography group on Flickr with one common interest. You guessed it – posting a photo a day. Nearly 3000 members and 190,000 photos is quite a collection. The group says that most 365 self-projects have a theme – self-portraits, landscapes, non-Photoshopped pictures, shots that are made outside. Anything and anyone is allowed and the only simple rule is that it should be a shot a day for the next 365 days. If you have a Flickr account, you can straightaway join this group. Start from the Introduction thread. You can spot one or two ‘games’ here, like the Look at the photostream of the person above you and pick your fav one.

Aminus

improve your photography skills

The site describes itself as a World Photography Showcase where professional and amateur photographers share their life in images from around the world each day. It is an open photography community and a photoblog hosting service. You can start your own free photoblog here and upload one image per calendar day. If you are interested, this is a photography community which can teach you about the nuances of taking great shots. You can dive into the showcase and browse by date, color, category, tag, and theme. There are also the Spotlight Themes which are photo stories in themselves.

Read the FAQ for more detailed information.

What Comes Out Of Taking One Photo a Day?

improve your photography

Today, taking photos is no big deal. We have point-and-shoot cameras, compact DSLRs, mirrorless cameras, and of course the ubiquitous smartphones. Why one…we can take a dozen photos a day. But in my opinion limiting oneself to just a single photo makes the whole exercise more focused. You think more about that one photo. Composing it just perfectly isn’t a click and upload affair anymore. In the end, by forcing ourselves to think about the composition of that lone shot, we become thinking photographers…and hopefully better ones. And if you are that good, there are always photo-of-the-day contests on and about on the web.

You do not have to depend on these photo-a-day websites. Start your own project. You already have the tools freely available – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Flickr, or a simple free blog. A search on the web will reveal that people have their own versions of one-photo-a-day that they are using to document their lives. Read about someone like Jamie Livingston. Get inspired and tell us if you are up for it. Point us to your gallery if you have done it before.

Image Credit: Child taking a picture via Shutterstock


July 31 2012

20:01

The Top 7 Places To Learn The Art Of HDR Photography

hdr photographyEven if you have no interest in the visual image (not very likely), you would have come across those dreamlike, glossy, and luminescent photos somewhere. Maybe as wallpapers, or photos which you imagined to be illusionary paintings. Welcome to the art and craft of HDR. High Dynamic Range Imaging is an image-processing technique that allows you to represent a wider and deeper range of colors. You can go to Wikipedia to read all about HDR, but I wouldn’t advice it as it is a bit too ‘technical’. Glance through it though, and then go over to this HDR photo gallery which gives you an idea of what HDR is with the help of the sliders on the photo.

The clarity and detail in the photos that comes from the HDR treatment is eye-popping. The good thing is that you can do your own quite easily and enchant the world. These seven websites tell you just how.

HDRSpotting

hdr photography

Make this your first stop, even before you start learning the technique of stitching together multiple exposure shots to create a HDR photo. HDRSpotting is a Pinterest-styled gallery of user-contributed HDR photos from all corners of the world. Photos are arranged by – Latest, Popular, and Editor’s Picks. You can use Advanced Sort to search through the photo gallery using filters for category, lens, user name, camera, and tags. Each photo-page gives the details of the image. Users can log-in for free and browse and upload on the site.
Look out for: The Advanced Sort feature. Use it to search by the camera-lens combo you own and learn from the HDR photographs.

Flickr

learn hdr photography

Head to Flickr for some more HDR inspiration. Flickr has a whole group chatting all theirs to HDR photography. Nearly 750,000 photos should take some time to file through. If you don’t have the patience, jump into the discussion group where 85,000 members can pool their experience to give you the best know-how on how to take great HDR photos.

Look out for: The Flickr group map which lets you explore photos on a world map.

Stuck In Customs

learn hdr photography

The sister site of HDRSpotting is a good place to go to if you want to learn how to take those cool HDR photos. It’s not only about photos but also equipment and frank opinion on a range of photography topics. Trey Ratclif specializes in HDR photography and travel photography and you will see them merge beautifully here on this site. Interesting note: He was born blind in his right eye.

Look out for: The HDR Tutorial in two parts and the YouTube channel which is fun and entertaining.

HDR Creme

learn hdr photography

HDR Crème has photo galleries, user contributions, and a community centered on the art of HDR photography. It features one photo each day labeled as Photo of The Day. It behaves more as an image hosting service than a tutorial site. I just found one tutorial here (HDR with your compact camera) , and that’s a bit disappointing.

Look out for: HDR photo collections centered on world cities and the camera and the Find By Camera feature.

HDR Cookbook

learn hdr digital photography

The HDR Cookbook is a free collection of practical, in-depth tutorials (the author calls them recipes) on High Dynamic Range photography and some variants like HDR Panorama and Vertorama photography. The contents are very systematically arranged right from the introduction to HDR photography to the workflow you need to follow.

Look out for: Watch The Making-of: High Five (HDR) video and pick up tips.

Before The Coffee

learn hdr digital photography

Ferrell McCollough is a well-known photographer and author of a photography book on HDR. Here in his blog, you will find tutorials on how to shoot HDR photos and a look into his rich galleries. He has a collection of informative posts filed under Quick Tips too.

Look out for: His beautiful collection of black and white HDR photos.

3Exposure

hdr photography

The site is all about tips, tricks, reviews, punditry, training videos, podcasts and anything else that can interest a photographer shooting time lapse, HDR or panoramic photographs. If you are looking to introduce yourself to the basics of HDR photography, head to the HDR Primer page on the site. The posts are a bit dated, but it doesn’t make much of a difference as the tips remain valuable as long as you hold a camera.

Look out for: The nicely compiled list on the The Top 10 HDR Software Programs

These sites are almost completely dedicated to the art of HDR photography. If you have been following our site, you would have come across my previous post on 10 Blogs That Will Make You Into An Amazing Photographer. Quite a few of the resources on that list also talk about HDR photography.

Also:

If you are a member of the photographic community, do you give a thumbs-up to HDR photography, or do you think that it’s more of a gimmick? If you are still on the doorsteps of the photographic community, you can give your take from the outside too. Also, enrich our learning with the best HDR tutorials you know of.

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons


May 10 2012

13:30

Wood Camera for iPhone – Shoot, Edit and Stylise Your Photos On The Go [Giveaway]

There’s certainly no shortage of “iPhoneography” apps about these days. While I dislike that word as much as the next man, there’s no denying it’s possible to pull off some pretty interesting effects with your iPhone and the right app.

Wood Camera ($1.99) is another addition aimed at the Instagram generation, and offers some interesting extra features over its free alternatives. This week we’re giving away 25 copies of Wood Camera for iPhone!

Keep reading for your chance to win a copy.

Got Wood

Wood Camera differentiates itself from the rest of the pack by giving you slightly more control over the outcome of your photo. The main feature here is the ability to stack effects, so you can add a lens, a texture and some faux-focus tilt-shift before finishing it off with a nice frame and sharing it amongst your friends.

wood camera review iphone

This provides more control than Instagram, but then again this isn’t Instagram. Wood Camera is primarily an editing and styling tool for your photos, which you can then take an share elsewhere. There is no inbuilt community with the latest and greatest edits, and thus unlike Instagram there’s no popularity contest or posers to be found, just your own shots.

Another selling point that the Wood Camera team have gotten right is the ability to – at any point – preview your changes and compare with the original image. This is accomplished with a simple tap of the fx button at the top of the screen from anywhere in the edit process.

wood camera review iphone

Finally there are a couple of settings for configuring Wood Camera just the way you’d like it. These include the ability to use geotagging, save images captured within the app to the Camera Roll (which is off by default, interestingly) and also the ability to launch the app in “capture” mode – i.e. to take a picture immediately (also off by default).

Editing & Styling

Using the default settings, Wood Camera will launch in lightbox mode. From here you can import pictures from your Camera Roll, capture a shot using the iPhone’s camera and paste images from your clipboard. The paste option is interesting as I’ve never seen it before, though importing images from Camera Roll is painfully slow as you can only import one at a time.

wood camera review iphone

In edit mode, there are six buttons along the bottom of the screen denoting edits and effects, and they are: rotate, crop, lens, texture, tilt shift and frame. You can use one effect from each category simultaneously, though this often isn’t necessary. Try to resist the temptation to turn your effects up to 11 and over-process any redeeming qualities out of it.

There are a myriad of crop options, including the golden ratio and freeform crop in addition to the usual aspect ratios like 4:3 and 16:9. The addition of 4:6 and 5:7 are great for printing purposes, and are the two main sizes you’ll find at photo labs.

wood camera review iphone

Each lens has a few options to choose from, including lens intensity (great for subtle effects), brightness, saturation and contrast amongst others. Each lens is essentially a different configuration of these settings, and the ability to control brightness and saturation certainly opens up some possibilities.

wood camera review iphone

Textures are so-so in my opinion, and it’s probably just a personal thing but I find them a bit unnecessary. Again, there’s full control over the intensity and turning down the effect certainly improves the outcome. Tilt shift comes in both radial and linear flavours, and can be adjusted to modify the intensity of the effect. On this screen you will also be able to add a vignette, again completely customisable to your tastes.

wood camera review iphone

The included frames could also do with some work, but then I’m not a fan of adding frames to photos anyway. It’s there if you’re that way inclined, and the preview button helps when deciding if the frame detracts or adds merit to your photo.

wood camera review iphone

Sharing & Final Thoughts

Once you’ve done editing, hit Done and your photo will be saved to the lightbox. Wood Camera is non-destructive, meaning your original shots will still be unmodified. A tap of the share button reveals a plethora of sharing options including save to Camera Roll, social network integration, Flickr and even Instagram.

wood camera review iphone

Wood Camera is a decent photo editing app that focuses on styling and editing rather than its own social network. The team are fully aware they aren’t going to compete with Instagram out-right, and thus have aimed higher and gone for greater control and extra features like preview and import from clipboard.

wood camera review iphone

If you like Instagram but want more control and editing options then Wood Camera might be the app for you. Better still, we’re running a giveaway and you can take part by entering below!

How do I win a copy?

It’s simple, just follow the instructions.

Step 1: Fill in the giveaway form

Please fill in the form with your real name and email address so that we can get in touch if you are chosen as a winner. Click here if you can’t view the form.

The giveaway code required to activate the form is available from our Facebook page, our Twitter stream and Google+ page.

Fill out my online form.

Step 2: Share!

You’re almost done. Now, all that’s left to do is to share the post!

Like it

Tweet it

+1 on Google

Double your chances to win by following us on Twitter! We’ll be hosting the Wood Camera giveaway there as well! Find out more by following us.

This giveaway begins now and ends Friday, May 18th. The winners will be selected at random and informed via email.

Spread the word to your friends and have fun!

Interested in sponsoring a giveaway? We’d love to hear from you. Get in touch with us via the form at the bottom of this page.


May 01 2012

01:31

Start Shooting With These 4 DSLR Video Tutorial Sites

dslr video tutorialRecently, I covered a little bit of DSLR video for those of you stepping out to see the low-cost solution to production. My focus has been on helping those who don’t necessarily do much video production themselves learn the basics so that they can take advantage of the cheaper cameras.

However, we have four dedicated resources to help you venture further into your DSLR studies. These sources are quite reputable and have been recommended by several sites all over the Internet. Bear in mind that they even go beyond DSLR shooting, so you can dive deeper into the video world as a whole if you so choose to.

Vimeo’s Video School

dslr video tutorial

Vimeo is a great site designed for sharing video with your fellow auteurs as well as reading up on tips for video-making. Fortunately for you, they have an entire section of their site dedicated to DSLR video production. The tutorials are given in a video format, so not only will you be instructed on how to perform certain techniques, but you will actually see them in action.

Tutorials range from shooting styles to DIY instructions to even camera maintenance. With over 10 pages of videos, this is quite the jackpot of DSLR information.

Philip Bloom

dslr tutorial

Video professional Philip Bloom’s website is the Mecca of all DSLR video. Within the archives of his super-blog, there are tutorials for techniques, gear updates, and even post-production methods. Since Bloom is in the field (and apparently doing a good job at it – just saying), you can rest assured that the content on this site is completely relevant. The articles also go into detail covering specific lenses and specific parts of the gear.

Furthermore, his methods go beyond “this looks like a cool shot” and into the technical side, covering items such as DSLR workflow. Overall, Bloom’s site is a go-to guide for DSLR video.

DSLR Video Shooter

dslr tutorial

DSLR Video Shooter is a blog written by shooter-editor Caleb Pike, a gentleman with a wide range of knowledge concerning DSLR video. He has made it his mission for his site not to be a “DSLR fan boy blog”, and he is dedicated to publishing useful techniques and resources concerning DSLR video production. However, his site does not only cover DSLR video tutorials. He actually goes beyond these tutorials to publish DSLR work by other people, general gear reviews, and even video technology news. It seems like Pike has a lot going on for his blog.

Cinema5D

dslr video tutorial

Cinema5D is a forum for professionals to gather and share the tricks of the DSLR video trade. Taking its name from the Canon 5D Mk II camera (which was actually used to shoot an episode of the U.S. show House), the site focuses on high-quality DSLR video production. The content of the site covers all things DSLR ranging from lenses to frame-rates to lighting. This is a perfect site to learn from various resources all at once seeing that the entire site is user-generated.

Conclusion

DSLR video was a game-changer, and as technology grows (especially after looking at the recent NAB conference), we will likely see traces of DSLR-style production grow with it. Fortunately, the Internet is a great way to keep up and apply tech to creativity.

What other sites do you use for DSLR video tips? Do you have any DSLR video tips yourself?


April 25 2012

01:31

Have You Lost Your Camera? Then Find It Again With IFoundYourCamera

i found your cameraHave you ever lost your camera while on vacation? Has one of your friends? Have you ever found a camera that someone has obviously lost? If only there was a way to reunite lost cameras with their likely distraught owners…actually, there is.

IFoundYourCamera is a blog devoted to exactly these types of reunions for people all over the world. Users post photographs of lost cameras they have found in the hope that owners (or friends of owners) recognize them. After contacting the finder, the camera is then shipped to the owner right away.

Browse Lost & Found

IFoundYourCamera is set up with a WordPress blog-style format, so not only will you find lost pictures, you’ll be able to read about the location where the camera was found, the type of camera in question, and details as to what else was on the SD card. Say that you lost your camera while on the beach where you took a photo of the sunset. Well, there are likely a few thousand other people who have taken the same exact photograph that you have taken, so it helps to know the information concerning where exactly the camera was found and under what conditions.

i found your camera

However, besides looking for your lost camera, you can spend your time admiring these interesting photos from all over the world. Yes, it sounds a little creepy, considering the fact that people from all over the Internet are browsing these photos of people who they do not know – maybe even your own. But think of it this way – these photos are simply the re-telling of stories about people from all types of backgrounds. Furthermore, the purpose is to help these people so that they can be able to keep the memories from these stories.

i found your camera site

Post Orphaned Photos

Requirements for a lost posting include that there should be at least four photos from the card to be submitted. Beyond that, details concerning the time and location are to be added. If found suitable for publishing, the photos will be posted along with the information.

Furthermore, let’s say that you actually recognize someone in the photos. Well, do something about it! Simply email IFoundYourCamera, and make arrangements for the lost camera to be sent to the person.

i found your camera

With that being said, if you find an obviously lost camera yourself, it’s definitely worth a shot to post it on IFoundYourCamera. Doing something is better than doing nothing, right? Although the success rate to posting ratio isn’t exactly that high (4 pages worth of successes versus 85 pages worth of postings), the fact that anyone has even been reunited with their camera is amazing. However, in order to increase these success stories, it’s fairly important to spread the word.

Conclusion

IFoundYourCamera is an amazing example of how technology allows us to do things nowadays that would never have been possible years ago. The ability to post something online miles away from someone about their lost device and to even get in touch with them is incredible. Hopefully, IFoundYourCamera will cater to many more people over time.

Have you ever used IFoundYourCamera? Are there any similar sites?


March 14 2012

18:01

Take More Awesome Photos With Camera Awesome [iPhone]

taking better photosJust when I think there’s more than enough iPhone camera apps in the iTunes Store, I stumble upon yet another one that builds off previous camera apps and includes photography features not found in point-and-shoot cameras, or DSLRs for that matter.

In this case, I’m talking about a professional grade camera app called Camera Awesome. I say professional only because the app is feature rich, though you don’t have to be a professional photographer to use it.

Basic Features

Camera Awesome builds off and extends all the features found in the iOS 5 version of the iPhone’s default camera —including lock focus, self-portrait mode, flash, video cam, digital zoom, and quick editing enhancements. Camera Awesome also builds off many other fine apps like Camera Pro, Best Camera and FastCamera.

Advanced Camera Features

If you find the grid composition feature in the native iPhone camera useful, Camera Awesome provides additional composition guides that can help take your photography to another level. Not only does it include the well known Rule of Thirds guide, but it also has Golden, Trisec, and Square guides.

taking better photos

Camera Awesome contains various shooting modes including Stabilization, Slow Burst, Fast (Low Res) Burst, and two different timers. Since you can’t adjust the shutter speed in the iPhone camera, the app’s Burst tools might very well do the job for capturing moving subjects.

When you select one of the tools, just hold your finger on the shutter button in order to take a burst of shots. The tool is not nearly as fast as professional DSLR cameras, but if the iPhone camera is your only tool, Burst could come in pretty handy.

how to take better photos

Camera Awesome also contains a Big Button shutter tool which enables you to tap or slide your finger over any part of the iPhone screen to take a picture. Holding the iPhone in one hand, and your hand lightly tapping or swiping your finger over the screen is the best way to get a more steady shot. However, in my experience with this tool I found the Big Button shutter a little sensitive, so you will want to practice with it before taking it out for important camera shooting.

how to take better photos

No camera app will do an adequate job with flash photography, but Camera Awesome also includes a built-in flashlight that remains on during the shoot. This tool may come in handy when the lighting situation is too dark to even frame and focus on a subject, as well as being useful for low-light, shadow areas.

how to take better photos

In camera mode when you press your thumb and index finger on the screen, it will bring up two tools – one for setting exposure on a part of the subject(s) and another for locking the focus on another area. These are the type of advanced shooting tools that you won’t find in any point-and-shoot camera.

take awesome photos

Artistic Filters

The artistic side of Camera Awesome includes several dozen retro and astonishing filter and frame effects that can be applied to an original shot in just a single tap.

take awesome photos

Camera Awesome starts you off with about a dozen filter presets appropriately labeled with rad names like Rubby Slippers, Trinity, Pillow Fight, and Bombshell. It would take a lot of skill and time to achieve these filter effects in an application like Photoshop.

take awesome photos

With Camera Awesome, in just a few seconds you can see all the effects applied to the same original photo and choose the one you like. There are several dozen filters that you can purchase in packets for 99 cents apiece. If you like artistic style photography, you’re going to be blown away by what Camera Awesome can do.

Sharing Features

Nearly all advanced iPhone camera apps include features for exporting photos to the iPhone camera roll and online photo sharing sites.

taking better photos

The photo sharing and printing site SmugMug, which developed Camera Awesome would like you to store photos on its site, but it also allows you to share to FaceBook, Flickr, Twitter, Picasa, Photobucket and via email. The app also includes a 1-tap pre-set for sending photos directly to a designated site.

For those new to iPhone photography, Camera Awesome may have a bit of a learning curve, but if you’re looking to get beyond just point-and-shooting photos to actually creating artistic shots, Camera Awesome enables you to do that in its all-in-one process.

Let us know what you think of Camera Awesome and other similar apps.  Are there any features of this app that you would like to see incorporated into the iOS camera by default?


March 12 2012

18:01

3 Online Camera Simulators For Photography Beginners

online camera simulatorIt’s like a chicken and egg quandary. What do I do? Should I buy an expensive Digital SLR (single-lens reflex) camera first and hit the ground running, or do I learn the basics of photography before I plonk down the serious cash. Photography is an expensive hobby in some parts of the world, including mine because a good DSLR camera does not come cheap. It’s quite a steep jump in terms of cost and skills from ordinary point-and-shot cameras.

Learning the basics of photography makes sense, because it helps not only in photography but also in understanding the type of camera one eventually buys. Thanks to a few camera simulators available on the web (and also on smartphones), you don’t have to stay on theory. You can in fact try out the basics virtually when it comes to aperture, shutter speed, ISO, focal length et al.

The SLR Camera Simulator (CameraSim)

online camera simulator

The SLR Camera Simulator is probably the best online camera simulator of them all. It is an essential bookmark if you are a photography rookie. You can start of from the The SLR camera explained section which is a cool interactive display of how a DSLR works. It is a step-by-step walkthrough of what aperture, shutter speeds, and ISO settings are all about. It takes just about 2 minutes to learn.

The DSLR Camera Simulator is a virtual camera where you can twiddle around with the different settings and combos. Click the blue “i” (the help mode) to learn about the camera controls. In photography, everything starts with the light. So, keeping that at different points, you can tweak the other controls to click the “perfect” photo of the little girl. You can also check the tripod option to see how it enhances photos (and whether you should invest in one).

CameraSim is also available for purchase on iTunes. We have covered this app in greater detail here – Learn & Practice Camera Exposure Settings With CameraSim.

Camera Simulator

digital camera simulator online

You can try out aperture, shutter, and ISO settings on three different pictures (dogs by the roadside, a close up of a tree, and river rapids), to see how they affect the three photos. With this virtual camera made in Flash, you don’t have to click to see the final result but you can observe the change as you move the sliders. You should also experiment with the aperture setting to see how the depth of focus changes.

The depth of focus is very difficult to replicate in virtual apps like these. Virtual cameras also don’t do the motion blur (that comes with a higher shutter value) that well, but still helps to understand what’s needed for a perfect shot.

The Camera Simulator is also available as a free iPhone app.

SimCam

online camera simulator

The SimCam is not as fancy as the above two apps. It relies more on pre-sets under a dropdown to show you the correlation between different settings. For instance as the above screen shows, you can learn the basics by changing the shutter speed and the F-number from the dropdown. The tool is effective enough to show you that photography is a lot about compensation…if one factor is naturally high, you have to compensate elsewhere to get the perfect shot.

Also, try out the Camera Shake tool to learn how to spot and avoid camera-shake, something that’s quite common if you don’t own a tripod.

In the end, these three are just simple simulators. The SLR Camera Simulator does the best job out of the three in my opinion. For instance, it does a far better job of displaying the balance needed between distance from the subject and focal length.  The camera simulators help you get hands on with the settings before you get hands on with an actual camera. You can always come back and benchmark the settings for use in your real-world camera.

Here are two more of our photography posts that should help:

Learn Digital Camera Exposure Settings Using Your iPhone
Basics: Aperture and Shutter Speeds for Beginning Photographers

How did you learn the basics yourself? If you are a crackerjack photographer, send in your tips. It would be an education for beginners. Do you know of any other online camera simulator worth the click out there?


December 21 2011

00:30

2.5 Gifts To Make The Perfect Homemade Holiday Film

how to make a home filmIt’s time for the holidays, and what better way to celebrate than building a fire, grabbing a blanket, and turning on Netflix for a classic Christmas film? Sure enough, it’s a great tradition, but it’s quite possible that you know an amateur filmmaker just dying to make a similar film and is looking for a a couple of extra toys under the tree.

I can’t promise that you’ll make a full-blown Hollywood film that is on par with Miracle on 34th Street, but I can give you a few items that you can put on your last-minute shopping list or even your own wish list. Here are a couple of tools to get the filmmaker in your life started right.

Canon EOS 60D

DSLR video is the way to go these days, and if you’re wanting something that provides cinematic quality on the (relative) cheap, I recommend the Canon EOS 60D. Retailing at $1,072 (with the 18-135mm lens), you can grab one from B&H Photo Video. Being a 60D user, I can vouch for it, and the only issue that some may have with it is the fact this camera’s image sensor is cropped. However, I say that’s no problem. This camera has a flip-out viewfinder that’s perfect for those oddly-angled shots.

how to make a home film

With only a week until Christmas, you may be hesitant about being able to pick up this camera, but fear not, for this camera is surprisingly at many local Best Buys! However, if you are wanting a nice starter DSLR, you could go with the Canon Rebel T3i, which retails for $756 at Best Buy during this holiday season (normally $900).

make film

The 60D’s older brothers – the 7D and the 5D – do not have the cropped image sensors. Granted, I’m a big proponent of the flip-out viewing screen (which offers a feature called Live View), and furthermore, the 60D allows audio control for whatever microphone you decide to plug into it.

Zoom H4n Handy Portable Digital Recorder

The Zoom H4n Handy Portable Digital Recorder is a field audio recorder retailing at $300 that comes with two onboard condensor microphones that can pick up sound at either 90° or 120° angles. This is my personal pick (and the personal pick of many others) when it comes to audio for video. Besides the onboard microphones, the Zoom offers two inputs for XLR microphones as well as a 3.55mm jack input. Pop on a splitter and extension cable on the 3.55mm output, plug in the other end of the cable to your camera, and you’re set.

how to make a home film

The Zoom H4n offers very easy to use basic audio monitoring, and it stores everything on a nice SD card in case you opt to not plug it into your camera. Despite its inputs and 4-track recording mode, the onboard mics do an excellent job of picking up sound within themselves! Furthermore, if you put on a windscreen, it picks up some of the highest quality outside sound on even the windiest of days.

Other Stuff

The above items are really just two samples of the many types of products out there, but these are my recommendations for a really basic – but decent – video set-up. You probably won’t be able to purchase them both at once, but I encourage you to build on them over time. For instance, you can’t just buy the DSLR – you’ll need extra lenses, tripods, and cases. Heck, you may find an even better DSLR! (They do exist.) As for the Zoom, you may want to buy extra mics to use with it.

However, in addition to these items, you’ll probably need some other stuff for lighting. For that, I recommend some cheap worklights. They are really effective! Furthermore, you may not be able to grab the 60D or the Zoom right away, and that’s just fine. With that in mind, I recommend these cheaper consumer cameras (some currently on holiday deals) from B&H Photo Video:

Conclusion

Keep in mind that with any of these products, you will need to factor in the costs of memory cards, tripods, bags, extended warranties, cleaning kits, etc. Also, it never really matters as to what kind of gear you get for making videos – what matters is how you use it.

What other cameras do you recommend for holiday filmmaking? Tell us your thoughts in the comments.

Similar Stuff


September 13 2011

18:01

Add Text & Comments To Images Using Skitch [Android 1.5+]

add text to imagesIn Mac-using circles, Skitch has been a household name for a while now as it’s a great tool for capturing, editing and sharing screenshots. In August, Skitch was bought out by Evernote, and now we get to see Skitch on Android for the first time.

add text to images

The Evernote logo is featured prominently; the left button lets you capture an image, but worry not – Skitch is not another camera application. The button merely launches one of your existing camera apps.

add text to pictures

One you capture an image, you can start editing it:

add text to pictures

As you can see, the image was displayed with an incorrect orientation, and there’s no real way to rotate it within Skitch (the arrow icon on top is for Undo/Redo, not for rotating the image). You can make the image rotate by flipping the phone over – the Skitch interface doesn’t fully rotate, though. This image was taken with the phone in landscape mode:

add text to pictures

Now let’s look at some of the editing tools. In general, the interface is simply gorgeous – one of the best points in the Skitch experience, really. Let’s pick a color for our annotations:

image

You can very easily change the color, as well as the line thickness. The whole thing feels simple and inviting. Now let’s add an arrow pointing at the Chicago Manual of Style:

image

You can’t edit the length of the arrow once you’ve drawn it, but you can change its color, line width and position. Just select the “finger” tool and tap on the arrow:

add text to gif

Here you can see I made the arrow yellow, and nudged it down a bit. Next, let’s look at the text tool:

add text to gif

To change the size of the text, you need to select it and then pinch in (not necessarily within the text). The same method also works for the square highlight tool:

image

It’s actually a bit tricky at first, because the interface doesn’t include any hints showing how to do this. It took me a few minutes of trying and fiddling about until I stumbled on this option.

Once you’re done editing, you can share your glorious creation using any sharing method your device supports – not just within Evernote:

add text to gif

In fact, Skitch isn’t tightly tied into Evernote at all. I don’t have Evernote installed on my device, and Skitch still worked just fine. That’s quite a nice touch on the part of Evernote, really.

We can now circle back to the app’s home screen (where you end up once you’re done editing) and explain the remaining two buttons:

add text to images

The middle button lets you select any existing image from your gallery, while the right one is used for adding a blank drawing and just using Skitch as a scratch pad.

One drawback is that since they are so intent on having you share your image, there’s no easy way to just save the image to the local gallery. After I finished editing, I opened the Gallery app and my image was nowhere to be found. If you just want to share a quick annotation, that’s not a major concern.

Final Thoughts

Skitch is a big name in the Mac screen capture world, and I can see why. The Android version doesn’t do a whole lot, but it does have quite a bit of style. If you ever find yourself in a situation where you need to jot down some quick instructions on a map, or add a visual comment to a photo, Skitch is a lovely, free option.


September 12 2011

18:00

EyeEm: Another Fun & Useful iPhone Camera App

You may have heard that Apple’s iPhone 4 is the most popular camera used by members of the international photo sharing site Flickr.com. Even I can attest that my three year-old compact Canon Power Shot G9 rarely sees the light of day, while my less expensive iPhone camera is used on a weekly basis.

Much of the iPhone camera’s popularity is due to its portability, but its appeal also stems from several of the hundreds of third-party iPhone camera apps that enable users to not only take photos, but to also process and share them from within the phone itself.

If you’re an avid iPhone camera user, you no doubt have heard of or use the popular Instagram app which seems to have a cult following. With over 150 million downloads of that app, it’s not surprising to see similar iPhone camera apps come onto the market.

Thus a new camera app called EyeEm may very well attract its own users and followers. EyeEm’s features and capabilities are similar to Instagram’s, but it has a few unique approaches. Let’s check them out.

Taking Photos

Like most iPhone apps, EyeEm is ready for use right out of the box. The opening screen asks you to set up a photo sharing account, either using your Facebook account or EyeEm’s own set up. The simple, well-designed interface presents you  with a nice size camera and “My Vibes” icons, on which you tap to get started.
best iphone camera app
EyeEm provides a slightly different approach however for taking pictures. Before you snap a photo you can select one of ten retro, lo-fi photo filters (Normal, “Magix”, “Wintage” B&W, Strawberry, etc) which are popular with many of the artsy iPhone camera apps.
best iphone camera app
Though your selected filter is applied after you click the shutter, you can replace it with another filter before the photo is saved. This approach saves you a tap or two, and it also provides you a preview of what your photo will look like before it is taken. You can also just shoot in normal mode and change to another filter after a shot is taken.

These type of artistic photo filters are becoming a little clichéd amongst iPhone camera apps, but they certainly save you the trouble of applying similar effects in Photoshop.
iphone camera app
Unlike some camera apps, EyeEm also includes a built-in “flash” to brighten photos, and a front-facing camera option. However, there is no zoom slider or self-timer for setting the shutter release.

Saving and Tagging Photos

After photos are taken in EyeEm, they are saved to the camera roll on your iPhone, at which time you’re provided with the app’s tagging, photo management, and photo sharing features.
iphone camera app
EyeEm uses the geo-location component of your iPhone to tag where a photo is taken, e.g. at home, at an outdoor location, or say at an event. Of course EyeEm can’t read the content of your photo, but it does provide an easy-to-use tagging process useful for managing and sharing your pictures. You can apply one or more tags to a photo as well as customize and add your own.
iphone camera app
In terms of location tags, EyeEm also presents you with a list of places—such as street names, schools, and popular businesses—near and around the location where you take a photo. If an appropriate tag does not pop up, you tap on the “Check in” button a few times to see more tagging options. All this is to save you the trouble of having to manually type tags yourself. Depending upon how particular you are about tagging, you may or may not like this approach.

Sharing Photos

Similar to other camera apps, EyeEm provides options for sharing your photos on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Foursquare, and Tumblr. You can also share your photos privately with selected friends.
iphone camera
Also, as you probably expect, EyeEm includes photo sharing streams in which you can view photos uploaded by other users. Selected images can be tagged as favorites and shared via e-mail, Facebook, and Twitter.
best iphone camera app
There is also an “Edit Photo” option, but the title is misleading, for it only allows you to delete selected photos from your EyeEm account.

All in all, EyeEm is a well-designed and fairly straightforward iPhone camera app to use. It is not much different from Instagram, but it may well develop a huge number of followers, particularly since it is a free download from the App Store.

Let us know what you think of EyeEm. Will it be added to your folder of existing camera apps on your iPhone?

For other MUO articles about iPhone photography, start with these posts:


July 26 2011

18:31

Take Beautiful Photos With Camera360 Free [Android 1.5+]

A few years back, a cellphone’s camera was little more  than a gimmick. It was just one more checkmark for the phone’s feature list – “it does pictures, too!” In recent times, though, we see more and more smartphones with 5 megapixel cameras, LED flashes, and processors powerful enough to create some very interesting images. What remains is the software – and as you may have noticed, this space is exploding with apps vying to be your default camera app. Camera360 received some very warm recommendations when we were collecting applications for our Best of Android page, so let’s take a closer look at it.

First, you should know that this review is about the free version (there’s also a paid Ultimate version). When you launch the free version, this is the first thing you’re going to see:

image

That’s right, a plug for the paid version. I force-closed the app to see if the screen shows up when I re-launch it, and it did. This would probably not be a serious issue for most users because the app would just run in the background, and you don’t get the nag screen when you switch to it. Still, it does make the initial launch not as snappy as it could be.

Next, the main screen:

image

Here you can select one of several looks (or “cameras”) to work with. Let’s try the Effect mode:

image

Here you get to select what effect you wish to apply to your photo before you take it. This is different than most similar apps, where you apply the effect post-factum. It’s an interesting approach. While it means you need to take an extra step before snapping your picture, you would have a better idea of what you’re going for when you take it. Let’s try the LOMO effect.

image

This is the capture screen. The live-preview looks rather jagged in the screenshot, but in real life it’s as smooth as you’d expect. This screen is chock-full of options; let’s take a quick look at some of them. When you tap the question-mark, a very helpful help layout pops up:

image

The most visible thing is probably the composition grid, which you can easily toggle off, or switch to a different grid style called “Modern core section” (a fancy name for a simple grid).

Tapping the cogwheel icon opens a menu with several options that you’d normally expect to find on a “real” camera:

image

You can select one of four different focus modes, choose one of three different options for recording location information along with your photo (GPS-based, cell-based, or no location information), and more. Fortunately, you can also mute the (loud) default beep the camera makes when it takes a photo.

Next, let’s look at the available Shooting Modes. The most useful one, to me, is the image stabilizer, which is off by default.

image

As you may have noticed, the English here isn’t perfect (Stabiliger? Brust?). This is even more visible in the options menu; the Ultimate version is selling quite well on the market – perhaps the developers can invest in some decent English localization. Brust means Burst mode, by the way. The camera just keeps on taking photos at regular intervals until you hit the shutter button to make it stop.

Last but not least on the capture screen are the Camera Settings:

image

You can easily adjust brightness, saturation, and several other parameters. Oh, right, I guess you can also tap the Camera button and take a picture (a minor option, but I figured I’d mention it anyway). Here’s what the image looks like:

image

Mind you, this is with the LOMO effect. You van also tweak the effect, but some of the options are paid-version only (those with the tiny shopping cart in the corner):

image

One you’re happy with your image, you can easily share and save it. Finally, when you quit the app, the developers can’t keep from plugging the paid version one more time:

image

Bottom Line

Camera360 is a robust, powerful camera app. I haven’t even touched on the image sharing options it offers or explored its other camera modes (Tilt-shift, Color-shift and more). Its two main drawbacks are the poor English in the UI (sometimes to the point of making things needlessly confusing), and the strong push for the paid version plastered all over the app. Still, the Free version is not time-limited, and is fully functional with plenty of filters and interesting image effects. All in all, a very capable app.


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Take Beautiful Photos With Camera360 Free [Android 1.5+] is a post from: MakeUseOf

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July 08 2011

22:31

Lightbox Photos – A Sophisticated Camera & Photo-Sharing App [Android 2.1+]

photo sharing androidPhotos are becoming a key part of the mobile experience. While the stock camera and gallery app combo on Android is quite nice, it may not be perfect. For one thing, you cannot retouch photos on the device. Also, sharing options may be a tad limited. Lightbox Photos aims to solve both of these shortcomings, and add a bit of flair to the process.

The application launches with a splash, so to say:

photo sharing android

No explanation text, no lengthy dialogs. Just one Abe Lincoln graffiti slowly panning across the screen, and two large buttons. If you’re not partial to Lincoln, fret not: it’s actually a fancy slideshow with all sorts of images (but with no credit for the photographers, I’m afraid). There’s not much to do except press that Create Account button, so let’s do just that:

photo sharing app android

Lightbox Photos doesn’t use your Google account credentials like other applications (Words with Friends, for example). You’re going to need to create an account the old-fashioned way, password and all. All fields are required: It won’t even let you leave the “full name” field blank. This may be a bit of a turn-off for some new users. You haven’t even started using the app, and you’re already required to give away your details and pick a password. Lucky for you, I’ve done just that so you could see what the app looks like on the next screenshot:

photo sharing app android

Here you can connect with various social networks. That’s a large part of the attraction for many users of this app, because you can share your photos all over the place. For this review, I won’t be connecting with any services. Onwards!

photo sharing app android

The next step has you pick out a profile photo. You can actually skip it – just hit Save and you’ll be fine. You now find yourself in the app, looking at a grid of popular photos pulled in from the Web:

android share photos

The reason you see some blank squares is that the photos took some time to load, even on my Wi-Fi connection.  Tapping a photo brings it up in full-screen mode, with full photographer credits:

android share photos

Lovely image, really. You can then swipe the screen to smoothly transition over to the next image – this time there’s no waiting at all. Here it is, mid-swipe:

android share photos

When you rapidly flick between images, you may have to wait a little bit. But if you actually look at the new photo for a moment, the next one will load in the background, so browsing the gallery would be a seamless experience. But while these photos are very beautiful, they were not taken by my friends. This is what My Lightbox is for:

image

Okay, so I don’t really have many friends (sitting here on a lonely Friday night writing this blog post, violins sadly wailing in the background), but the concept seems rather cool. Next, let’s see what image capture looks like:

image

Confused you there, didn’t I? This is actually an image of my screen – of the very application I use to take screenshots of my device. Pretty neat “crazy mirror” effect. Speaking of effects, once you take an image you can apply all sorts of funky effects. Here’s what the image looks like after I applied an effect called XPro:

image

It’s very low-fi, but I think it works with my phone’s simple camera. Once you’re happy with the effect, you get to describe and share your photo:

image

The UI isn’t very standard (one of Android’s pitfalls, really), but it’s clear in this case. I’ve chosen to post the photo to my public Lightbox.com wall, which looks like this:

photo sharing android

Talk about minimalism! I quite like it, actually. That’s a very clean look for a gallery.

Bottom Line

I’ve previously used one of Lightbox’s primary competitors, Picplz, which we reviewed back in November. Both applications require up-front registration, but Lightbox feels snappier and more responsive than Picplz, at least on my own device. Another thing I like about Lightbox is that it doesn’t automatically log my location along with the image – I had some trouble convincing Picplz not to use my location. I also like Lightbox’s tight Flickr integration. If you regularly take photos using your smartphone (or want to make it a habit), you would do well to check out Lightbox.


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Lightbox Photos – A Sophisticated Camera & Photo-Sharing App [Android 2.1+] is a post from: MakeUseOf

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July 05 2011

15:37

We’re Giving Away A Nikon D3000 To A MakeUseOf Reader

How awesome is this? If you’ve always wanted to get your hands on a decent digital SLR, now’s the time to really get excited. We’re giving away a Nikon D3000 dSLR to a lucky MakeUseOf reader. This is a great beginner’s digital SLR to get you started with photography.

There’s just one to give away, so what are you waiting for? Join now!

The D300 is Nikon’s entry level dSLR which comes equipped with a 10.2 MP sensor, a crisp 3″ rear LCD display, amazing 11-point autofocus system, 3 frames-per-second burst image capture and it comes bundled with an 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 VR Nikon lens which is an okay everyday lens. Not a bad start indeed.

The Nikon D3000 supports image capture in both JPEG and RAW formats and accepts SD cards. It’s also capable of minor in-camera editing.

Even though the D3000 may look barebones compare to the rest of the Nikon line, using a digital SLR trumps a compact digital camera any day of the week.

So if you’re even the slightest bit excited about owning a new dSLR, here’s how to join the giveaway.

How do I win it?

It’s simple, just follow the instructions.

Step 1: Fill in the giveaway form

Please fill in the form with your real name and email address so that we can get in touch if you are chosen as a winner. Click here if you can’t view the form.

Step 2: Share!

You’re almost done. Now, all that’s left to do is to share the post. There are 2 options to choose from or you can do both!

Like it on Facebook

Or share it on Twitter

This giveaway begins now and ends Friday, July 15th at 2100hrs PDT. The winners will be selected at random and informed via email.

Spread the word to your friends and have fun!

We’re Giving Away A Nikon D3000 To A MakeUseOf Reader is a post from: MakeUseOf

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June 15 2011

23:31

Canopy Camera Tools – Create Time-Lapse Movies & Take Better Pictures On The Go [iOS]

time lapse moviesQuality, free and above all useful camera apps are often hard to come by on the iOS platform. Both Instagram and Snapbucket are great for quickly sharing stylised snaps, but they don’t add any genuinely useful features for everyday shots or video.

Canopy Camera Tools is an app designed to help you get the most out of your mobile photography, and much like Joby’s Frame X Frame it has been created with a specific attachment in mind – the Kapok Canopy Case, with tripod mount. You don’t need a tripod to benefit from this one, as there are plenty of features you can use in your hand. You could always fashion something to hold your device steady (I find Blu-Tack works well without leaving a mess) if you fancy creating a time-lapse sequence.

Getting The Basics Right

The iPhone (or any iOS device) camera isn’t the be-all and end-all of mobile photography. Whilst the iPhone is the most popular and oft-used “camera phone” solution; Apple’s in-built app leaves you wanting a bit more control and a few extra features.

Without being overly complicated, Canopy places 6 main buttons on your viewfinder, which can be toggled on and off with a tap. These are persistent in both Camera and Video modes, which are selected at the bottom of the screen, along with quick access to existing photos and app settings.

time lapse movies

The left hand side of the screen allows you to choose between front and rear facing cameras, toggle time-lapse mode and the camera timer which is perfect for group shots and also works with video. On the right hand side of the screen there are buttons for controlling flash behaviour, toggling exposure lock and white balance lock.

The lock buttons are especially useful, and add some genuinely useful functionality to your phone. For example, whilst taking a video by default the camera will adjust exposure as light changes. Should you want to maintain exposure throughout the video, exposure lock allows you to do this and your camera won’t re-balance every time you move.

iphone camera apps

This also goes for white balance, and if you’re really serious you could use a piece of white or grey card to take a perfect white balance reading and lock this for the duration of your video or photo session.

Advanced Features, Better Results

Of course Canopy also includes the aforementioned time-lapse mode, which automatically stitches your photos into a video. It works, though as the handy notification I received pointed out – phone calls will interrupt any sequences you’re working on. The best way around this is to activate Airplane Mode from your device’s Settings.

iphone camera apps

Time-lapse photography takes up a decent wedge of battery (I’ve yet to use an app which is “light” on power for this task) so make sure you’ve got enough battery to complete the sequence and find your way home afterwards. It works well, and doesn’t fill your camera roll with hundreds of images – great news.

The Settings menu afoot the viewfinder is also full of goodies. Much like Frame X Frame there is a spirit level (for that perfectly straight horizon) which – unlike Frame X Frame – does work in landscape mode. There’s also a grid that can be activated for aiding composition.

iphone camera apps

Saving the best till last, it is also possible to use touch gestures to control the camera and this can be customized in the Settings area. As you can see from the screenshot below, the default configuration is pretty intuitive.

time lapse movies

Conclusion

Canopy Camera Tools is probably the best free camera app I have used on the iOS platform. Features like time-lapse, exposure and white balance lock along with well-implemented touch gestures make it a joy to use, and provide some excellent results. You really don’t need a tripod, Kapok case or Gorillamobile to enjoy Canopy. Grab it now and start taking better pictures!

Have you found any similar great tools we’ve yet to feature? Do you like Canopy Camera Tools? Do you own a tripod/mount for your device? Let us know how you shoot on the go in the comments below.


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June 03 2011

23:31

10 Powerful & Useful iPhone Camera Apps To Help You Take Better Pictures

Right behind the Nikon D90, Apple’s iPhone 4 is the most popular camera in terms of pictures taken and uploaded to the photo sharing site, Flickr. While this little camera in your pocket has its limitations, there are hundreds of apps that provide it with some truly professional features and enhancements.

There are hundreds of paid apps built for the iPhone camera, but there are also some really useful free options. I selected free apps that are both good demos of their counterpart full versions and/or just useful apps for the serious iPhone photo hobbyist. If you know of other good free options, please let us know about them.

Cropping Apps

The iPhone camera doesn’t have a post-shot crop tool, and if you’re serious about iPhone photography, you should have an app that enables you to crop photos. Many paid advanced photo editor apps include a cropping feature, but I found two apps that are devoted to just cropping and resizing images.

The aptly named app, Crop [iTunes Store link], enables you to crop and rotate your images without losing quality to your cropped images. It’s simple to use, and you don’t have to tap several buttons to get what you need.

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Rotate and Crop [iTunes Store link] includes the same features Crop, but it also allows you to make some exposure image adjustments, as well as share and export your edited images to Evernote, Dropbox, and a few other applications.

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Photo Album

The iPhone includes a photo library application for storing photos you import from your computer via iTunes, as well as the Camera Roll of images you snap with iPhone itself. But you should have one or more photo album apps that allow you to create folders of images that you import from your existing camera roll, your photo library, or images you download from the Internet on your iPhone.

iPic Manager [iTunes Store Link] is a good free option. You can quickly add multiple photos from your existing iPhone library as well take a photo and have them instantly added to your selected folder. You can also password protect your images.

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You might also want to have a photo album app that is completely devoted to safeguarding selected photos on your iPhone. Private Photo Vault [iTunes Store Link] is another such option. This app also allows you to password protect individual albums, run a slide show, take photos from within the app, and much more.

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Photo Mashups

If you want to do something fun and creative with your iPhone photos, there are a couple of free options. RealCoverLite [iTunes Store Link] allows you to place a photo inside a magazine cover without having to mess around with layering and masking. The Lite version offers only 6 covers (the full version includes 90), but it’s great for seeing what this app can do.

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Your cover images can be emailed and shared with others. You can also include additional text on template covers.

Creating photo collages is another cool way to show off photos. PhotoMashup [iTunes Store Link] allows you to copy and paste several photos from your iPhone photo library, and save or email them as a collection in one file. The default background for a collage project is gray, but you can double-tap on the background and shoot a new background from within the app, or you can choose an existing photo from your library. From there you can layer photos on top of one another. They can be moved around and rotated.

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Timer Apps

It’s also good to try out one or more time shutter apps on your iPhone. These apps are useful for shooting self-portraits, group and close-up shots. Photo Timer is one of the best options, and it’s free for a limited time. It not only enables you to set a timer for the shutter release, but it also includes a photo composition guide, burst mode, and photo sharing to Facebook, Twitter, MobileMe, Tumblr, and email.

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If and when Photo Timer is no longer free, Auto Shutter is another option, which does exactly what it’s named for.

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Photo Enhancers

The iTunes App store includes hundreds of iPhone camera apps for editing and enhancing your photos. We have published reviews about few good free options, including Adobe’s Photo Express and Instagram, but here are a few more.

The free version of 100 Cameras in 1 is a popular photo editor that includes 20+ photo effects for hardlighting and overlaying photos with various textures and filters. The paid version includes 100 more effects, but this free version is a good demo of what the app can do. You only have to tap once to apply an effect and see the applied effect.

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iQuikDof – Depth of Field Creator is an advanced photo editor that enables you to create a depth of field effect of a selected image. It contains auto presets feature for the DOF effects, or you can manually select an area in which you want to mask and keep in focus, while the unselected area is blurred. This is also a good demo app for the pro version which includes more presets and customizable blur.

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Let us know what you think of these apps and if you find one or more of them useful.

For more about how to use your iPhone camera to take better photos, check out Take Better Pictures With Free Camera Plus and Learn Digital Camera Exposure Settings Using Your iPhone.


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January 27 2011

15:31

iSpy Turns Your Computer Webcam Into Surveillance Equipment [Windows]

free webcam surveillance softwareCameras are everywhere. It’s likely that you have a few of them in your home and connected to your computer. For the most part, PC webcams are used to chat with friends over Skype or record YouTube drama-bombs, but they’re not necessarily restricted to this. If you’ve ever lived in an environment where you weren’t completely sure who has access to your computer – such as a dorm, for example – you may have wondered how you can use your webcam to keep tabs on your computer while you’re away.

iSpy is an in-depth program that can do just that. It has the ability to record video, record audio, provide online access to video and more. Let’s take a look at how this powerful free webcam surveillance software works.

Recording Video & Audio – The Basics

free webcam surveillance software

Once you have installed iSpy and launched it you’ll be greeted with the main window, which is nothing more than a large black space with some menu options at the top. iSpy is able to record multiple video streams at once, so this launch area is meant to provide the space needed to keep tabs on a large number of cameras. We’ll stick to a single camera in this post, however.

iSpy has a recording window open by default, so you can use that to set up a video stream. Simply right-click on the gray box and then click Edit. You’ll come to the Camera options screen. Click on the [...] button besides the Source label and then select your camera from the Open Local Device drop-down menu. Presto! Your camera is now added and can record. If you’d like, you can also adjust the frame rate and resolution at this time.

freeware webcam surveillance software

Adding a microphone is also easy. Just click the Add Microphone button at the top of the main window and then select the microphone installed on your PC using the same method described above for a camera.

By default, you can start recording by right-clicking on a video or audio stream and selecting Start Recording. Obviously some automation would be handy, however – and iSpy has plenty of support for that.

Recording With Motion Detection

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The depth of iSpy becomes apparent once you start to explore the tabs alongside the Camera tab when you edit a camera. There are in fact too many options to cover in this post, so I’m going to focus on the most important ones.

Motion Detection is likely the most critical. A webcam being used for surveillance doesn’t need to be used all the time – just when things are happening. Motion Detection enables this. You can adjust the sensitivity of the motion detection, the type of detection used, and the frequency with which motion detection is processed. At the highest sensitivity level, even the slightest movement will cause the motion detection to activate. A level of between 50 and 75 is often more manageable.

Once you’ve set the motion detection you should visit the Recording tab. Check the Record on Movement Detection box and then choose the settings you’d prefer. The defaults should be fine, but you can make some adjustments. For example, Inactivity Record will determine how long the camera continues recording once movement stops.

Scheduling & Alerts

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Motion detection is one way to activate surveillance, but it’s not the only way. You can also schedule a camera to record at certain times using the Scheduling tab. The options here are fairly clear. You can schedule recording at any hour of the day, any day of the week, and do the same to stop. This method may prove more effective if you don’t want to hassle with motion detection or you’re concerned about who is near your computer at a specific time of day.

Another handy feature is alerts, which are configured in the Alerts tab. When enabled, an alert can take one of any number of actions when movement is detected. Two included options are a beep sound and the displaying of the iSpy Window, which could be handy if you just want to scare someone off. However, you can also execute a specific file if you have some special alert in mind.

YouTube Uploading

Another nifty feature of iSpy is the ability to upload videos to YouTube automatically. Now, this is a feature that I suggest you use with some caution, because once set up it is indiscriminate. Have you ever taken a shower and then walked over to check an email before getting dressed? Unless you’d like to be on YouTube naked, don’t leave this option enabled 24/7.

However, this option is handy because it enables an easy way to make video files accessible online from any PC. Just enter the YouTube tab, click YouTube Settings, and enter your account information. You can adjust the YouTube category and tags if you’d like, as well. Just be aware that the upload won’t be instantaneous, and I suggest giving it a trial run as well. I had some issues with my firewall blocking the upload.

Conclusion

These are just some of the features found in iSpy. Overall, it seems like great software that could even be suitable for use in a professional environment. While I didn’t go into the details, the free webcam surveillance software also offers support for IP cameras, it can record multiple streams, and video streams can be directly accessed via an Internet connection. If you need basic surveillance, iSpy should fit your needs.


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