Tag Archives: camera

Fuji XP70 Waterproof Camera – refunded

I am going to Hawaii for a family vacation, so I need a waterproof camera to capture the beach moment of Marcus. I already borrowed one from my cousin, but I saw the Fuji XP70 on sales at Bestbuy for $180. Why don’t I give it a try, it’s always handy to have a waterproof camera when you have a little kid.

The spec of this camera is pretty good, on paper at least, waterproof up to 10m, shock proof up to drop of 5m, 16M pixel, 5x optical zoom and image stabilization. Long story short, after I used it for a week in Hawaii, I already refunded it. It is an OK camera and it is waterproof as advertised, but the image quality is worse than my 2 years old Canon S-100. It has much smaller aperture, so shooting under the sun on the beach is fine, but indoor photos all look blurry without using the flash. The most annoying thing about this camera is the long shutter lag, it feels like forever between I press the shutter and the camera actually takes a snapshot. I think it is even slower than my phone (Nexus 5). A camera is pretty useless if you can’t capture the right moment of the little kid.

There are other little things that I don’t like about this camera is the user interface is quite inconvenient. It is understandable that all the body has to be waterproof, so it limited the functions of the button. I am so used to the ring and dial interface of my S-100, I find it very tedious to pressing buttons many times just to navigate through the menu options. I end up putting the camera in auto mode most of the time because it is too much trouble change the setting back and forth. The waterproof button itself is not responsive, sometime I have to press twice to get camera going. I can avoid most of the buttons by staying with auto mode but I just can’t avoid the zoom buttons.

I don’t need two compact DC and I will have to get rid of one of them. I am happy with my old S-100 and it does not worth much selling it second hand anyway. I am not very happy with the XP70, I can refund for full price and I don’t really shoot photos in water that often. It is pretty obvious which camera should I keep. Maybe I will just buy another waterproof camera if I am going to Hawaii again. Alternatively, I can simply borrow the waterproof camera from my friends. It seems I know many friends also have a waterproof camera just sitting around and collecting dust 99% of the time.

Canon PowerShot S100

My trust old Canon SD-500 is not good enough to take baby photos. I desperately need a new pocket size camera. A large DSLR is not very convenient to carry around while you have to take care of a baby. I have been waiting for the price drop of Canon S100, which was its flag-ship pocket size camera. It has large 2.0 aperture at 2.0, high ISO 16000 and fast focusing and shutter speed, which is important to capture the moment in all lighting conditions.

The new S110 came out and the S100 drops to $330. The S110 is a newer model, but the image capturing hardware is identical to S100, same aperture size, same sensor, same image processor. The only difference is S110 comes with new useless feature such as wi-fi and touch screen and takes out old useless feature in S100 such as GPS.

The initial batch of S100 has lens retraction problem that the lens may stuck in cold weather due to poor QC. The problem is fixed in newer S100, so I am not too worry about this problem. Although it had affected my friend’s S100 and it’s a pretty bad experience.

The control is pretty much the same canon standard camera pocket size controls. It has two extra ring control that makes selection faster. The most important of all is it can take decent picture without using flash in normal indoor lighting condition at night. The fast focus and shutter response time works almost as well as my big DSLR camera. Perfect to capture the interesting moment of the baby. As usual, there are tons of useless capture mode and filters built-in to the camera, like color shift, fish eye effects, winkle to shoot etc. However there is a few features that I actually found useful, such as high dynamic range, auto facial detection. It also support taking HD video, which is good enough to replace a standalone video camera.

In general, the S100 is a very good camera. Highly recommended. S110 is newer and may have more useless features, but it is also $100 more expensive. Although S100 is no longer the flag-ship pocket camera from Canon, but it definitely gives the best value for the money.

Wansview NC541W Wireless IP Camera

I was looking for a baby monitor, but most of full feature baby monitor are quite expensive. Good one with infrared night vision easily costs over $200 and it only comes with one screen, each extra screen costs at least $100.

When I was at the Richmond Night Market the other day, one stall caught my attention. It was selling generic made-in-China wireless IP camera. What a perfect baby monitor, it comes with everything I need. It has infrared night vision, remote control of the camera angle, two way audio and it only costs $80. I am sure I can find it cheaper at eBay, but for that price, why don’t I just give it a try.

It works like charm. The IP camera is very easy to setup, just plug it in, setup the WiFi password and it is good to go. The IP camera comes with software for PC and MAC that support multiple cameras at the same time and recording of the video. For extra screen, the IP camera also function as a mini webserver, so I can log into the IP camera and view the video feed from any computer or smartphone. If I set up the port routing in my modem, I can even see the video when I am away from home.

The performance is better than I had expected. For 320×240 resolution, I get close to 15fps. The frame rate drops down to about 5fps for 640×480 resolution. The frame rate does not drop when I view the video both on my computer and my smart phone at the same time. The audio is clear and the night vision is pretty amazing. For $80, or even cheaper, it beats any baby monitor out there in the market.


I am pretty late to join the DSLR bandwagon. I just bought my first DSLR two months ago. In fact, it’s not even my camera, it’s the birthday present for my wife. When I first got it, I took some snapshot to make sure it works fine. Then camera hide itself behind the boxes when I moved and I just rediscover it this week. So I took some serious photos to explore the function of the new camera.

I am not new to photography, I had a have a film SLR camera lens in high school. I was the photographer with the best camera for the school year book, even better than the teacher adviser’s of the photo club. I was not that interest in photography back then. I got into photography because my best friends got a SLR and taking portrait is a cool excuse to ask the girls out. I didn’t touch the SLR since I got my very first digital camera in university. I always boast to my friends who get into DSLR in recent years that I was using SLR long before them. I know the use of shutter, aperture, ISO and filters and how they can affect the photo. However, it quite a shame that I never truly understand theory of photography.

This time when I pick up the DSLR again, I decide to have a complete understanding of photography. I bought a beginner photography book, read it from cover to cover, but still couldn’t get a very clear understanding. I still get the same fuzzy concept I know since my high school days. At last, I decide to learn it hard way. I log on the internet and read how DSLR works. I get to the root of the problem, understand the physics and optics of a SLR. Vola! Suddenly all the pieces fit together and I can link up all the photography knowledge I already know to form a big picture. The technical part of taking a perfect picture is simple. There is only two things you need to care about: exposure and color.

Exposure is controlled by three parameters, ISO, shutter speed and aperture. Shutter speed is the easier to understanding, it’s how long the shutter stays open. In film camera, ISO is the photo sensitivity of the film. In a digital camera, ISO becomes the signal to noise ratio amplifier. Aperture controls how much light arrive the sensor. Choose the right value of the three parameters allow the the senors collects the right amount of photons, so the image will not be too bright or too dark. The histogram is a handy tool to examine the exposure of your photo. The trade off between these three parameters is the artistic part and each one has its pro and con. The higher the ISO, the nosier the image. The slower the shutter speed, the more ghost in the image. The effect of aperture is the hardest to understand. Knowing how depth of field (DoF) works is some real hard physics. It took me almost two hours to completely grasp how the human eye’s field of confusion (FoC) determine the DoF of a given aperture. Color is not a pure optics effect, it is how the thermo-properties of light source affects the sensor. In a film camera, we use color filter correct the color, so a white object will show up being white in the image or we use the temperature of color to introduce mood to the image. In a digital camera, we can simply tweak the RGB algorithm in the sensor to correct the color of the image.

I found one advantage of DSLR over SLR. It is much easier to learn photography using a DSLR. The camera setting is saved with the photo and the image are ready to review instantly. I can take many pictures with different setting and compare the effects side by side. Most important, take photos is virtually free, so I can practice as much as I like. Unlike in the film camera days, buying film is expensive and you have to wait patiently for the film to develop. No wonder we have so many armature photography these days. DSLR really lower the learn curve to become a decent photographer.

Canon 450D

Canon 450D

I have been resisting the temptation to get a DSLR camera for a long time. Finally I gave up and bought a DSLR camera, Canon 450D. I used to have a film SLR camera when I was in high school, so I am not new to photography. I just have too many other hobbies such that I could not afford to spent any time or money in picking up photography. Well, the camera is not for myself, it’s for my wife. She lost her pocket camera and she want to get a DSLR like her friends, so I buy her a Canon 450D for her birthday present. I compare quite a few of entry level DSLR cameras. I rule out brands other than Canon and Nikon at once. For DSLR camera, there are the top two brands with most support in term of lens and accessories. Then I narrow it down to the choice of Canon 450D and Nikon 90D, since I don’t want to get last year’s model. In the end, Canon is cheaper than Nikon, so I go for the Canon.

I just take a few test shots using the camera. It is quite light. The body is not too big. It fits my wife’s small hand better than the more professional models with bigger body. The kit len is pretty decent. It is a 18-55mm zoom len with image stabilizer. The only complain is the aperture is not big enough, only F3.5. I haven’t take serious photos for many years, so I have forgot most of my photography skills. So I also bought a book on how to become a good photographers using 450D in 7 days. It has lots of illustration on how to use the camera. I guess the only way to become a good photographer is to practice more.

Since the camera is for my wife, I bought her a nice purple camera bag, which is her favorite color. Somehow she think the camera bag is blue, although it says the bag is purple in the tag. I can’t really tell whether the bag is purple or blue, it’s kinda in between. But if the tag says it’s purple, it must be purple.