Olloclip 4-in-1 Lens for Samsung Galaxy Review

Olloclip LogoFor the “point’n’shoot” photographer, smartphones and their built-in cameras have almost completely replaced the compact camera which has seen a huge drop in sales over the past few years. Despite the handiness of the smartphone camera and the myriad of post-processing effects beloved by Instagram, there are times where the problem is getting the right image in the first place. Smartphones with macro or wide-angle lenses aren’t common.

This is where Olloclip saw a gap in the market and via a Kickstarter campaign back in 2011, developed a selection of clip-on lenses for the iPhone and iPad, including macro, fisheye and wide-angle lenses. These have become fairly well-known and I’ve even seen a few people using Olloclips on their iPhone in real life. Not content with Apple owners having all the fun, Olloclip have launched a version of the 4-in-1 lens for the Samsung Galaxy S4 and S5. Let’s take a look.

The 4-in-1 lens system for the Galaxy S4 consists of a mounting bracket that holds two macro lenses and two additional feature lenses that screw in on top of the macro lenses. One of the lenses is a fisheye and the other wide-angle. The bracket is well-made, with metal inserts to hold the screw-in lenses and the lenses are glass; by using different threads on the bracket, it’s not possible screw in the wrong lens. The bracket can be attached from the left or the right to get the correct lens in front of the phones camera. Take a look at the pictures of the Olloclip below to see how it all works.

Olloclip with Lenses

Olloclip with Lenses Removed

Samsung with Olloclip

In use, the Olloclip is straightforward – clip on the bracket with the lens you want to use in front of the camera and then start taking pictures using your favourite camera app. Simples!

To test out the Olloclip 4-in-1, I used a Samsung Galaxy S4 borrowed from a colleague and got snapping. Here are a few macro pictures that I took of a coin and the detail is impressive.

Olloclip Macro

Olloclip Macro

Olloclip Macro

And here are a few photos of a local landmark using the normal S4 camera, the wide-angle lens and the fisheye lens. I’m no Ansel Adams, that’s for sure.

Native S4 Camera

Olloclip Wide-Angle

Olloclip Fisheye

I was impressed with the Olloclip and with more interesting subject matter, I could have a lot of fun. I particularly liked the macro capabilities and the fisheye was fun too; I was quite surprised at the width of the field of view. Overall, the 4-in-1 was easy to use, clipping on and off in seconds, and significantly increased the photographic possibilities of the Galaxy S4. . On the downside, you do have to remember to bring the Olloclip with you, and the on/off and volume buttons are obstructed by the bracket when in use. The other problem can be with Samsung cases, which often replace the smartphone’s back. If you have one of these cases, you’ll find that the Olloclip won’t clip on and you’ll need to revert to the original case.

The Olloclip 4-in-1 for the Samsung Galaxy S4 or S5 is available direct from the website or through other on-line retailers. Priced at a penny under US$70 or GB£60, it’s more than an impulse purchase but if you are photographer or want to get more from your camera, it’s worth forking out for. Hopefully enough Galaxy owners will purchase to persuade Olloclip to look at other popular Android smartphones as well.

Thanks to Olloclip for the review 4-in-1 lens and to Jacinta for the loan of the Galaxy S4.

DJI Multirotor Copters at The Gadget Show

Quadcopters and multi-rotor copters were very much in evidence at the Gadget Show, from the Parrot AR.Drone to tiny nano quadcopters. DJI had one of the most impressive ranges at the show, along with a flight demonstration area on the stand.

The newly launched Phantom 2 Vision+ is a quadcopter with a digital video camera payload and the capabilities are impressive. It can stream video from the camera to your smartphone while in flight using wi-fi, record 1080p HD video to a microSD card, hold position above the ground in winds up to 25 mph and fly for around 25 minutes. The batteries can easily be swapped, so a spare battery will get the quadcopter flying again immediately. The remote control unit lets you clip your smartphone to the handset so you easily see what the camera is recording while flying the aircraft. What you get for your money is incredible – an entry level model is GB£349 and the Vision+ is £915.

DJI Phantom

Four rotors not enough? DJI has six and eight rotor variants for professional users.

Six Rotor Copter

Eight Rotor Copter

Andy takes me through the features of the new Phantom 2 Vision+ at the Gadget Show. I want one!

Samsung Reveals New Cameras for CES

Ahead of Samsung’s CES event on Monday, the Korean company has announced two new cameras to get the show on the road, the NX30 and the Galaxy Camera 2.

Aimed at the prosumer, the NX30 compact system camera extends Samsung’s NX range, though my guess is that it will replace the current NX20 model. The heart of the camera is a 20.3 megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor and combined with Samsung’s NX AF System II, should provide fast and accurate auto-focussing. The shutter speed can be cranked up (down?) to 1/8000 sec and in continuous shooting mode takes 9 frames per second. NX30 has a 3″ Super AMOLED touch screen for a viewfinder which can swivel out and rotate so that it stays in view from difficult angles. Hopefully the AMOLED screen won’t wash out in bright sunlight.

There’s also Remote Viewfinder Pro function that lets the photographer control several functions of the NX30 from a smartphone, including zoom, shutter speed, aperture and taking the photograph. That’s neat and as you might expect in this day and age, the NX30 has advanced sharing capabilities and can transfer images using both wifi and NFC to smartphones and beyond.

Samsung NX30

The NX30 continues the evolution of our award-winning NX series of cameras, bringing with it new and improved features such as a better imaging processor and our advanced SMART Camera offering. Not only does this camera deliver the performance users demand, it is also easy-to-use so that moments are never missed,” said Myoung Sup Han, Executive VP and Head of the Imaging Business Team at Samsung Electronics. “The NX30 allows photographers to shoot with confidence, providing a seamless ability to capture moments and share them immediately, delivering exceptionally beautiful photographs while creating an unmatched photo-sharing experience.

The NX range also saw the introduction of a new premium S Lens, the 16-50 mm F2 – 2.8 S ED OIS and a zoom lens, the 16-50 mm F3.5-5.6 Power Zoom. Both have a focal length of 16 – 50 mm (equivalent to 24.6-77 mm in 35 mm format) but I’m not an expert in photography so I’ll point you in the direction of the press release if you want to know more.

Moving onto the Samsung Galaxy Camera 2, this is an update of the previous Android-powered Galaxy Camera. As you might expect, the focus (sorry) is on the ease of picture-taking followed by easy uploading and sharing of the photos. The camera itself has a 16 megapixel CMOS sensor with a 21x optical zoom and is paired with a 1.6 GHz quad-core processor and 2 GB of RAM. As with the NX30, the Galaxy Camera 2 has wifi and NFC transfer capabilities and 50 GB of cloud storage is provided via the pre-loaded Dropbox app.

For Instagram generation, the Camera 2 comes with Smart Mode, which lets photographers choose from 28 different pre-set modes all designed to address different shooting scenarios and for those unsure which mode they want to select, the Smart Mode Suggest analyses the scene at hand and then recommends the best Smart Mode for a perfect shot. New Smart Mode “Selfie Alarm” takes five consecutive, high resolution images so that narcissists hipsters can select their best view and share immediately on their favourite social media site.

 

Samsung Galaxy Camera 2

From the press shots, it looks like it will be available in both black and white finishes as per the current model. More info on the Galaxy Camera 2 in the press release.

“Consumers love the GALAXY Camera, and this next-generation version was designed to improve on the successful predecessor, with upgraded and new features that will enhance the photography experience,” said Myoung Sup Han, “The result is a more powerful and portable device which continues to embrace the public’s passion for the social features of smartphones, yet also provides superior image control and quality. We are dedicated to making it easier for more people to achieve great results and with the GALAXY Camera 2’s host of creative features, anyone can capture stand out images.

If you want to know more and you are at CES, you’ll find Samsung at booth #12004 in the Central Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center. Pricing was not announced but I imagine it will be inline with the current models.

Showcase Your Summer Photos on RebelMouse

RebelMouseRebelMouse is an aggregator that organizes your online presence into one place, to make it easier for other people to find the things you post. It can be used for free by individuals (or companies or websites) who want to have it showcase certain things that you have posted on Facebook, Google +, Instagram, or Twitter.

I use it as an individual. As such, I receive their newsletter. The most recent one was sent today, and it suggests that people use RebelMouse to showcase their summer photos.

To do it, you will need to create a new sub-page in RebelMouse for your photos. Next, connect your Instagram, Flickr, or a photo RSS feed to it (through the Content & Feeds tab). There is also a way to add other photos to your RebelMouse by dragging them in.

I thought this was interesting for a couple of reasons. One, it appears that RebelMouse wants to get people thinking about using it as their primary way to show other people the photos that they took for a specific event. (Instead of Flickr, Instagram, your Facebook page, or your personal blog). I had not considered this possibility before I read their newsletter.

Two, it looks as though you can add things to your RebelMouse page that are not from the website that you sign into RebelMouse with. For example, you can sign in via Facebook, Twitter, or Google +. You can’t sign in through Flickr, but you can have RebelMouse put your Flickr photos onto your RebelMouse page.

Flickr Offers a Free Terabyte of Space

Flickr LogoFlickr looks a lot different today than how it used to. Yahoo! (which owns Flickr) has given Flickr a makeover that includes a brand new design. What once showed you small thumbnails of photos, with a lot of white, empty, space surrounding them, now features the photos much more prominently.

To me, it seems like Flickr’s new look resembles that of Facebook, or perhaps Pinterest. The photos are bigger, filling up the screen. Users now have a homepage that includes an activity feed that combines your friends’ recent uploads with the activity on the photos that you have uploaded. I wasn’t thrilled with the new design at first, because it takes me a long time to “re-learn” how to use social media when it visually changes. Eventually, I figure the new design will grow on me.

In addition to the very obvious design change, Flickr also announced that users will get a free terabyte of space. Their blog says:

At Flickr, we believe you should share all your images in full resolution, so life’s moments can be relived in their original quality. No limited pixels, no cramped formats, no memories that fall flat. We’re giving your photos room to breathe, and you the space to upload a dizzying number of photos and videos, for free. Just how big is a terabyte? Well, you could take a photo every hour for forty years without filling one.

In December of 2012, Flickr released a Flickr iPhone app. Today, it announces the release of the Flickr app for Android users, which can be found at the Google Play store.

Create Beautiful Photo Collages Free and Without Software

There are numerous apps that you can download and install on your computer to allow you to bring together multiple photos into one single image, known as a collage. But why would you want to junk up your computer with yet another app? These days, web apps can do much of what we need, from file conversion to word processing and image editing.

So you want to create a beautiful collage as a gift for grandma? You can do this, as well, without purchasing expensive software or downloading and installing an app that may or may not work. In fact, you do not even need to pay for the privilege of gaining this capability.

There is more than one source for pulling off this fete, but let’s focus on just one that can do almost whatever you wish, does not force you to open your wallet and has plenty of capability. This web app has the cryptic name of piZap.

piZap does more than just create a collage. The online service is also a more than capable photo editor that is designed with real users in mind. In other words, you do not need a computer science degree here because this is made for every user from advanced to beginner.

Let’s get Started

From the homepage, it is rather hard to miss that large green “Start” button – it is an obvious beginning point. Click it and you will be transported to a Flash-based webpage that presents five options, including “Edit a Photo”, “Timeline Covers”, “Backgrounds”, “WebCam Effects” and our choice – “Make a Collage”.

menu screen

When “Make a collage” is clicked you will be bombarded with options. These are shapes broken down by number of images included and patterns, collages with backgrounds, ones that are framed, even those specially crafted for holidays.

Let’s be rather boring and choose square images. As you can see in the screenshot below, we have numerous options to choose from. Pick a pattern by clicking on the design that suits your tastes.

pizap collage shapes

Add Photos and Effects

Each image space contains an “Add Photo” option, plus there are a number of effects down the right side of the web page. There are also more options presented across the top of the screen, including such gems as text, frames and stickers.

You can upload images from your local computer, or ones stored elsewhere on your network. In addition, the app provides the ability to grab images from Facebook or through your webcam.

add photos

As an illustration of just what piZap is capable of, I elected to use the same image in all four areas of my chosen collage pattern. I then applied a different effect to three of those, while leaving the top left in original form.

The results can be seen in the image below, but this gives only a minor idea of all of the options and effects that are available from this free service.

add effects

Now What?

So now that you have perfected your new collage, what’s next? Well, you could go to the top menu and add one of the many frames available, or perhaps include some text.

However, once you are satisfied with your new masterpiece you can click the green “Save” button that appears at the top right. This will provide options to share the image on Facebook, Twitter or your My piZap account (make it public or private), as well as the more traditional option of simply downloading the collage to your computer.

If you choose to download, and I imagine most customers do, then you can always use traditional desktop apps like Photoshop to make additional refinements. You can then make the image your desktop wallpaper, print the collage yourself or use an online service such as Shutterfly for printing. You could also simply email it to grandma or other interested friends and family members.

Wink to Take a Photo

bigstock-Businessman-winking-at-you-26984798 Taking a photo with Google Glass just got even easier. The hands free device was designed to enable users to take a photo, of whatever they are looking at, by using a simple voice command. “Ok, Glass take a picture.” To me, that sounds pretty easy. That being said, someone has already found a way to improve upon the ease of use for photography through Google Glass.

Mike Giovanni (who works at Roundarch Isobar) has released something called Winky. It allows uses to take a photo through Google Glass by winking. The voice command would no longer be necessary. Just wink, and Google Glass will take a photo. He posted information about Winky on his Google + page, along with the link where you can grab the code.

I haven’t quite decided whether or not I am comfortable with the idea of Google Glass. In some ways, I can see where Google Glass is basically a hands free improvement over what people already can do with a smartphone. People take photos with their smartphones all the time.

My best guess is that the majority of photos taken with smartphones are of whatever people had for lunch or dinner, or possibly of cats. There is an abundance of cat photos on the internet! In other words, I figure that most people are taking harmless photos. Somehow, though, the idea of connecting the act of winking (which people typically use to flirt with someone) to the act of taking a photo, just feels creepy.

To be clear, I do not believe that Mike Giovanni designed Winky as something that would be used in sneaky and ethically questionable ways. His post mentions a “lifelog”, and I can see where Winky would make doing that a bit easier and how it would streamline the process.

My concern is not with him, or his intent. Instead, I am worried about what other, morally challenged, people would use Winky for. Is the person over there who is wearing Google Glass winking because he had something irritating his eye, or because he was secretly taking my photo?

Image Stock Photo Businessman Winking At You by BigStock

Red Digital Cinema : Red Dragon is Here

Red Anyone who is interested in working with videos or professional still photography has heard of Red Digital Cinema. When the Red camera was first announced many “experts” said it was vapor ware or a scam.

History has proven that this was far from true. Movies such as Thor: The Dark World and series such as House of Cards were made using the Red Camera. Magazine such as Vogue are using it to shoot their still photos. Well Red Digital Cinema is at it again, introducing Red Dragon at NAB. The new Red Dragon sensor shoots 6K resolution at 100 frames per second. It translate at 9 times the resolution of HD at over 19 megapixel. These upgrades are going be available to Red Epic and Scarlett owners. Coming with the upgrade is REDCINE-X PRO a post-production advance coloring toolset, integrated timeline and post effects collections program. This is one area were being an early adopter definitely has its advantages.

Memoto Selected as Finalist for SXSW Accelerator Competition

MemotoMemoto is a Swedish startup company that began as a Kickstarter project in 2012. They are the creators of the Memoto Lifelogging Camera. It is a tiny device that allows users to not only capture, but also share, whatever special moments of their life that they choose to. The idea was to make a camera that was small enough so that it wouldn’t get in the way. The camera allows people to organically capture the small, but important, moments of their lives.

The Memoto Lifelogging Camera takes 5 megapixel pictures. It comes in Memoto Orange, Graphite Gray, and Arctic White. Clip the camera onto your clothing, and it will start taking pictures for you at a rate of 2 photos per minute. When you want to stop taking photos, just put the camera down or put it into your pocket.

Those photos are then safely stored on Memoto’s storage service. There are Memoto apps for both iPhone and Android that will automatically organize the photos on a timeline for you. The Memoto Lifelogging Camera has GPS and records time data, so you won’t have to remember the name of the restaurant you went to while using the camera. It will have the name recorded for you. From there, you can easily share your photos on Facebook. Memoto is currently in the pre-launch phase. Their first edition is expected to ship in April of 2013.

The Memoto Lifelogging Camera has been selected as a finalist in the Innovative Web Technologies category for the 5th Annual SXSW Accelerator competition. The SXSW event takes place from March 11th – 13th, 2013. On March 12th, judges will announce a winner to each of the categories. Their decision will be revealed on March 13th at 6:00 p.m. in the Austin Convention Center in Room 10A/B. Memoto will be presenting in the Accelerator competition in the Innovative Web Technologies at 3:30 on the fourth floor of the Downtown Austin Hilton.

Olloclip

Olloclip The Olloclip is a three way lens that you clip to the corner of the iPhone or iPod Touch and it goes over the lens of the phone. It works with the iPhone 4/4S, the iPhone 5 and the iPod Touch 4, 4s and the 5th generation iPod Touch. The lens can work as a fish eye, a macro lens or a wide-angle lens. The macro has 10x magnification, the wide-angle doubles your field of view and the fish eye gives you a 180 field of view. It comes in a pouch.

They are going to release a case that works with the Olloclip in March. Currently most people who have a Olloclip either use it without a case or an easily removable case. The new case has a tripod mount in both landscape and portrait mode. It also has an option for cold shoe mount for a light or microphone, It will work with a regular shoe mount. The Olloclip works with any photo application including Instagram, Flicker and Camera+. The Olloclip is available for $70.00, the website, at Best Buy, Amazon and other retail stores.

Interview by Jeffrey Powers of Geekazine and by Scott Ertz of F5 Live.

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