Tag Archives: camera

Product review: Wunder360 C1 camera for 360-degree travel photography

2018-08-27

Wunder360 C1 is a 360-degree camera that can record video and photographs that show everything around the camera (up and down, right and left, front and back). It is an entry-level, budget-friendly camera aimed at people who just want to snap images, perhaps apply a special effect to the image and share it. How does the Wunder360 deal with travel photography? Here is our review.

Wunder360 C1 360-degree camera
In our case, the primary application for a 360-degree camera was travel photography. Especially, taking images in spaces like a room in a castle, filming road trips, recording city or village life, recording events that are difficult to capture with one camera (e.g. Tour of France bicycle race or a parade). Now that we have tried the Wunder360 C1 camera in all these situations, we can analyse the results.

Capturing a space like a room

The camera is good at recording a space around it, especially if there is enough light in the room or in the space. We tested this in a castle, and it is fascinating how much information it is possible to discover when viewing the 360-degree photos or videos afterwards. Also, a section of, for instance, a park with plenty of objects can be easily captured. A tripod is required for the camera.

Filming road trips

We installed the camera on a tripod that was standing on the dashboard. We wanted to take advantage of the image stabilization and camera direction features. The result: not worth it. The stabilization was not good enough for us and directing the camera doesn’t work well when the camera itself is moving with the car.

Recording city or village life

Excellent results. The idea was to leave the camera in a central place, like on a statue, in a large tree or on a bench, and let it film life on the street or on a square. The camera is so small that only few, if any, passing by pedestrian noticed it (we were hiding behind the statue so that we could see the camera).

We also tried walking with the camera, letting it record crowds on a busy street and people in cafes, but it didn’t produce good video in this situation. The image stabilization can’t correct movement caused by walking.

Capturing the motion of an event

Events, like parades, races (bicycle races, motor races, triathlon), and others have a lot of movement as many things are happening at the same time. A 360-degree camera can capture everything, and the Wunder360 has a feature that lets you direct the camera where you want after recording the video. This was exactly what we wanted, and this was exactly what we got. Good results, although the video quality after exporting the material to MP4 is not very good. Also audio sounds strange. The camera was standing still on a tripod in our tests at the Tour of France.

The street price of the Wunder360 C1 varies between 150-190 euros/dollars. It is available at online stores, and also at the vendor’s homepage.

In addition to the camera, you must have a smartphone or tablet that is new and powerful enough so that it can work with those 360 videos.
Wunder360 camcorder 360-degree video recording, edit on smartphone

These are the steps for working with the Wunder360 videos

The way a 360-degree camera works is different from ordinary cameras, and naturally, the resulting images are different from images or videos taken on an ordinary camera. These are the key steps for recording a video on the Wunder360 and sharing it on social media channels.

1. Specify a Wi-Fi name for the Wunder360.
2. Choose the recording mode in Wunder360. We used high-resolution 30fps mode.
3. Download the Wunder app on your smartphone or tablet.
4. Record videos and photos in Wunder360.
5. Connect your smartphone or tablet to the Wunder360 via Wi-Fi.
6. You should see a list of photos and videos on your mobile app that are stored on the camera.
7. You can view the images and download them to your mobile device. All photos and videos are 360-degree images.
8. Downloaded videos can be edited (e.g. camera direction) in the mobile device app and exported as ordinary MP4 files (that can be further edited in a PC video editing software). Exported files are not 360-degree videos, but only show the areas you selected in the camera direction feature.

Conclusion: take it or leave it?

For our travel photography needs, the Wunder360 C1 has just enough functionality so that we will carry it along on our trips. The small and low-cost camera has a specific role in our camera bag.

This is our first 360-degree camera, and it was a surprise how different its usage and output were compared to an ordinary camera. Fortunately, we had a specific need for it, and knew what we were going to do with it. That’s the key for anyone planning to buy one: it is essential to consider the applications for the 360-degree camera and then verify it has those features.

Tour de France road cycling race passes through the village of Bossost in Pyrenees mountains.

Wunder360 key specifications

Wunder360 360-degree video camera

2 lenses. Stitching In-Camera Real-time (when you view a video or photo, it is already one 360-degree image)
Focal length/aperture f=0.94 F2.4
Sensor Type CMOS
Photo resolution 4096 x 2048
Video resolution 3040×1520 at 30fps, or 2176×1088 at 60fps
Camera settings exposure and white balance
Status display 32 x 64 pixels (for battery, Wi-Fi, recording mode info)
Free application for Apple iOS and Android devices (required for viewing, editing, and sharing images)
Livestream to Facebook and YouTube
Important features in the app: image stabilization and ability to direct the camera movement before exporting the video to MP4.
Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n 2.4GHz/5GHz
Micro USB 2.0 port
Tripod mount at the bottom
Microphone
MicroSD memory card slot
Battery 1000mAh
Weight 95g
Dimensions 109.3 x 45 x 35 mm

The best 360-degree consumer cameras to take on the road in 2017

2017-07-15

Someone said that a writer’s most important tool on the road is a camera. What about 360-degree cameras that can capture everything around them? Would they be even better tools for photography and documenting places or events?
360fly 4k camera
Prices of 360 cameras have quickly com down. It was only two or three years ago when I tried a few models, but the prices were between 500 and 1000 euros/dollars then. Now, it is possible to get a 360 camera from a reliable brand for 150 euros. Let’s find out which products are the best if you are in the market for a 360-degree camera in 2017.

High-end 360 cameras

Garmin Virb 360 camera

360FLY 4K is a ball-shaped camera with the lenses on top and screw holes at the bottom for a tripod. The price, around 300 dollars, is unbeatable at the moment in the high-end category.

Garmin Virb 360 is a camera from the successful GPS and sports electronics product manufacturer. The Virb 360 has been acclaimed in many reviews because of its image quality, but the price is on the high side, about 800 dollars.

Budget 360 cameras

LG 360 camera
LG 360 Cam is the winner of the price/value category. At 150 dollars, you get a 360 degree camera that fits in a pocket.

Another product in this category to consider is the Dunkam 360 Camera. It is attached to a smartphone which means that the image processing takes place on the phone and only the special lens sticks out from the other end of the phone. No cables or anything, the camera is plugged directly into the port. The Dunkam is priced at 150 dollars which means they have been able to raise the price after the launch when it was 99.
Dunkam 360 camera for smartphones
Product reviews at Tom’s Guide and Digital Trends were among the sources for this article.

This is a travel writer’s most important tool on the road

2017-06-13

When any professional, for instance, a digital nomad or a remote worker, who is working while traveling, packs for the next assignment or destination, there is always the question if something could be dropped from the travel kit. The number of electronic devices seems to be gradually growing in my travel bag, at least. Which tools are the essential ones to get the job done, if the assignment is to write on the road?
digital nomad working at a terrace near fruit farms of Murcia

Here is the set of key tools for a travel writer according to my experience.

Maps.

Both digital and paper maps are crucial for planning. For navigation on the road I use offline digital maps, but I have good printed map books as a backup.

Laptop.

Most writers type their manuscripts on laptops, and so do I. Nonetheless, it is quite amazing how little laptops have developed if you compare them to tablets and smartphones that have gone so far in such a short time. Where is the touch screen in laptops? Decent battery life? Protective cases for taking them on the road?

Smartphone.

The ultimate communication tool for keeping in touch with collaborators or calling tourist information offices of the world. The camera on the phone is also a very useful and important tool for a writer.

Tablet.

I use tablet a lot for planning (maps, distances between distances, routing) and researching background information on destinations. On the road, it is the in-car navigation device instead of the dashboard GPS. Tablet is probably the first tool that many other travelers drop from their toolset, but in the future, I may even choose tablet and keyboard instead of a laptop.

prepaid SIM cards for internet access
Local prepaid SIM card.

Some travelers rely on Wi-Fi hotspots to get online, but the best way to have Internet access when you need it is to buy a local prepaid SIM card with data plan. Insert the SIM card to your smartphone, 3G/4G Wi-Fi router, tablet or laptop.

Backup disk.

The next backup disk I am going to get is a portable, wireless SSD disk. In the office, I can continue using USB hard drives that can store terabytes worth of data.

Camera.

I write and take photos for books, but even if you wouldn’t take pictures to be published in an upcoming book, camera is a vital tool for a writer. Photographs have many functions: they show how a place looks like, they help a writer to remember details of a place, and they can document objects.

I just realized that paper and pen are not included in the list of key tools. It is very rare that I use the trusted and reliable note taking technology, but occasionally I do. Pen and paper are usually somewhere near to make notes, for instance, during a phone conversation, but they are not vital tools anymore. Another thing I realized is that occasionally I need help. Hubstaff Talent is a service for finding remote talent.

mirrorless SLR digital camera with zoom lens
If I had to choose only one tool from the list above, which one would be the most important for a travel writer? Camera.

Yes, a camera. I am slightly surprised by my choice, but if I had to select only one thing I can take along for the next trip, it would be a camera. By taking a photo, I can document details of things I would have to write down. Overview photos of landscapes and city streets help me remember how a place really was. I can quickly document information boards that highlight the key points of a sight or a protected park. Video clips of local markets, main squares and pedestrian districts remind me of the buzz and feel of the place. A camera is also a handy note taking aid: I can record a video clip with a note to myself. If it is my job to take the photos for a book or an article, those images have to be taken as well.

Naturally, when the time comes to start actually writing, a camera won’t help anymore. But the photos and videos will.

The best smartphone for travel photography

2017-05-27

Smartphones, especially high-end models, come with so good cameras that even some professional photographers admit they use camera phones for photography. It is, after all, the one camera that is always with you when traveling, commuting or visiting friends. Different phone manufacturers use different camera components, and most importantly, different software algorithms that create an image from the captured bits of light. So, there are differences, but which smartphone camera is the best?
Google Pixel XL smartphone
Android Authority ran a test for high-end smartphones in order to find out the best camera. This time, they did not ask the experts, or measure the various aspects of digital images, but they asked the public. Anyone could vote for the pictures taken on each camera. The pictures can still be viewed on this web page.

The pictures of a camera that received the most votes was the winner. If professional photographers and camera experts had evaluated the sample images and chosen the best camera, the results would have been different. The public and the experts simply look for different things in images.

I remember when Sony was the number one television manufacturer in the era of CRT tubes, and everyone competed against Sony telling how natural the colors on their TV sets were. Many tests were organized where the public could choose the TV set whose colors they liked the best. Usually, the TV set with the brightest colors won. Having the brightest colors doesn’t have anything to do with image quality, but if that is what the public wants, that is what the public will get.

Anyhow, this is a refreshing way to rank cameras. High-end LG and Samsung camera phones have done well in all types of tests, and this test confirms it hasn’t been for nothing. The Apple iPhone didn’t participate in the test because it was meant for Android phones alone.

The results – the best smartphone camera is:

1. The winner was Google Pixel XL
2. Samsung Galaxy S8
3. LG G6
4. Sony Xpera Xzs
5. OnePlus 3T
6. Huawei P10

Google Pixel XL smartphone by HTC
View the test images and detailed results on the test page.

It would have been wonderful to have Nokia in this camera test as well. Recently, the company has introduced Android phones, and it had the best cameras when it was still the king of mobile phones in the 2000s.

Here is how you can turn your smartphone into a 360-degree camera

2017-01-20

Often, the best ideas are so simple that you ponder why didn’t I think of it. Dunkam 360-degree camera is exactly like that: a small, low cost product that you attach to your smartphone and start shooting 360 photos and videos.
Dunkam 360 degree camera
This is how the Dunkam 360 works:
– Download Dunkam application to your smartphone
– Plug the Dunkam camera into the USB port on your smartphone
– Open the app and take 360 photos or shoot 360 video.
– You can share your videos directly from the app to YouTube and social media.
– The app also features some special effects if you want to spice up your videos.

When you are done, unplug the Dunkam camera and continue using your smartphone as usual. The Dunkam camera is so small that it is quite easy to carry it in a pocket or purse – even just in case you would happen to need it.

The Dunkam 360 camera requires two things: you must have an Android smartphone (Apple version should be available later), and the USB port on your phone must be OTG (On-The-Go) capable. If you don’t know if the USB port can act as a host device for the camera, there is an app for that in the Play Store.

Since the image processing takes place on the smartphone – using the memory and processor of the phone – it is a good idea to clean the phone from unnecessary apps and data so that there is as much free RAM and storage space for the 360 images as possible.

The Dunkam camera is a beta product at the moment, but it can be purchased for 99 Euros/USD directly from the company that is behind it.

A tech reporter of El Pais met with the inventor of the product Julián Beltrán who demonstrated how it works. Here is a video (in Spanish) where you can see the Dunkam camera in action.
Dunkam 360 camera for smartphone

Technical specifications for Dunkam 360

– Two 8 megapixel cameras
– For smartphones with USB OTG connection
– Android only at the moment, Apple version under development.
– Resolution 1920×960
– Streaming HD 1080p
– Filters, tiny planet mode, exposure control
– Size 2.6 x 2.2 inches
– Weight 63 grams.


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Quick and easy tips for street photography

2016-11-17

After I saw a large exhibition of works of Henri Cartier-Bresson two years ago, I realized that there are so many techniques for taking photos on city streets. It looked like Cartier-Bresson had agreed with some people that they are being photographed. They should continue whatever they were doing without having to pose, the photographer may have told them. It was obvious, however, that Cartier-Bresson had taken many pictures without subjects noticing what was going on.

That’s the art of street photography – snapping frames without disturbing the flow of life and work on the streets.
tavira, portugal
Crowded places, sights, any places with lots of activity tend to be the easiest places to take authentic photos of people minding their own business. Experienced street photographers, like Eric Kim, have learned a few tricks how to take candid shots almost anywhere. He has shared 10 tips for street photographers in his blog here.

For instance, the video camera technique is something that I never thought of, but is an excellent tip. The idea is to move with the camera (for instance, rotate yourself like you were taking a 360 degree video) as many tourist camcorder shooters do. You, of course, only need to frame the true subject that you want to frame.

I have also noticed that taking photos with a smartphone is less intrusive than pointing a large lens of a SLR to a subject. When you frame someone with a smartphone, the subject tends to believe that he or she is not the centerpiece of your picture but it is something behind, above, or near him or her. It is also quicker to point and shoot with a smartphone – assuming you have the camera app already on, and you are looking at the screen like you were reading messages or looking at a map. From that position, it is very quick to raise the phone and snap a photo.

What about the situation when the photographer becomes the subject? Last year, in Lapland, I was being photographed from a distance. I noticed it because it was a noisy group of Chinese tourists, and at least one cameraman wanted to capture someone hiking. I posed, and other Chinese photographers joined the fun. As I walked closer, the photographer who started the whole thing wanted to take a selfie with me. It was an honor I couldn’t refuse.

sao bras de alportel, PortugalSao Bras de Alportel, Portugal.

The best camera apps for smartphone travel photography

2016-07-12

Many smartphone owners are happy with the camera application the phone manufacturer has installed on the device in the factory. In general, the factory-installed camera apps get the job done, but may lack an extra feature photographers maybe looking for. Fortunately, this is exactly where smartphones are strong: you can install another camera application on your phone. But which one is the best for travel photography?
samsung, smartphone, open camera app
Many camera apps are available both for Apple devices and for Android phones and tablets, but in this article we focus on Android camera applications. Joe Hindy on AndroidAuthority wrote brief reviews of popular camera apps for Android. First, let’s list the best apps, and then, we make our recommendation for the best apps.

samsung, open camera

Open Camera can show if you are holding the camera at level.


BestMe Selfie Camera
– as the name implies, the app has been designed for selfie photography
Camera FV-5
– manual control over images, including RAW format
Camera JB+
– simple photo shooting
Camera MX
– in addition to capturing photos, the app lets you edit images
Camera Zoom FX
– manual controls, RAW, 360 panorama
Candy Camera
– lots of filters
Cardboard Camera
– 360 photos for Google Cardboard
Cymera
– filters, stickers, photo editing
DSLR Camera Pro
– manual controls, histogram display, volume button as a shutter
Go Camera
– simple photo framing with filters
Google Camera
– HDR mode, slow motion video capture, wide angle mode, burst mode
Manual Camera
– strictly for taking photos exactly the way want with manual controls
Open Camera
– an open source, free, app with plenty of features
Snap Camera HDR
– plenty of features: 4K video, RAW, manual controls

You can read more about the camera apps introduced above here. What is our recommendation? Of course, it depends on what your requirements are. If you only want filters and don’t want to learn to use manual settings, download a simple app that can automatically snap decent pictures and has plenty of filters. If you know how to shoot on an SLR camera, you probably want more control over your images, and you should get an app with manual controls.

Settings in Open Camera app.

Settings in Open Camera app.


Our favourite for travel photography is Open Camera. It is a free app, and comes with features that have proven handy on the road and at home:

– an indicator that shows if the camera is at level with the horizon,
– burst mode,
– and burst interval.

Used together, the burst mode and burst interval features let you shoot timelapse picture sequences. You need a tripod or something else to hold the phone steady during the photo shoot, which can be as long as you want. For instance, we have created a timelapse from photos shot with Open Camera that has pictures taken at one minute interval for 24 hours. Open Camera won’t create the timelapse video for you, but you have to create the final timelapse on a PC.

Ebook news digest: exciting new travel cameras, mobile security, history of writing tools

2016-07-08

Ebook News Digest July 8th, 2016

freewrite typewriter, word processor, woman
This Pocketable Camera Gear Will Change the Way You Take Travel Photos (The Wall Street Journal)

Wall Street Journal’s traveling reporter tests three new small cameras that are designed to change the way you photograph. The reviewed cameras are the LG 360 CAM (a 360 degree camera that can shoot photos and video), Narrative Clip 2 (a tiny camera that can document everything you see), and Moment (a set of lenses for the iPhone).

Executive’s guide to mobile security (free ebook) (Zdnet)

Scary news of a new virus that can invade Android-powered phones and tablets is the latest proof that all Internet-connected computing devices must always be protected from malware. If your phone doesn’t work, you have lost a camera, and if your tablet doesn’t work, you have lost a valuable writing and reading platform. Zdnet wants you email address, but you get a free ebook download.

How to Write a History of Writing Software (The Atlantic)

First, a mechanical typewriter was invented to help writers write, and a century later, computers were equipped with word processing software. Science fiction writers were among the first to adopt modern technology because they realized it made them more productive. Fascinating stories on the history of writing.

Auroras Make Weird Noises, and Now We Know Why (National Geographic)

Many people who have seen a strong display of the Northern Lights claim that the lights made sounds. So far, science hasn’t been sure if that is really the case, but now a group of Finnish researchers believe they have discovered that the sounds are real and what causes them. Once you have read about the sounds, here is a guide to finding, viewing and photographing the Northern Lights.

National Geographic travel photography contest winners unveiled (BBC)

An image of a horseman in Inner Mongolia wins first place in this year’s National Geographic travel photography contest. View the amazing winning photos – our favorite: the Chinese school dormitory. More travel photography from Klaava Media here.

Low-cost 360-degree cameras are here – why do you need one?

2016-02-22

Wide-angle and macro lenses for cameras – even for smartphones and tablets – are useful in many situations when the photographer has to be close to the subject, but must get everything that matters into the frame. 360-degree cameras are a step further from that. The new generation of lenses can capture fairly high-quality images that cover everything around the lens. Now, the prices of 360-degree cameras have dropped to an affordable level. We took a look at a few low-cost models that are available today globally.

First, let’s take a look at a 360-degree camera in action. Here is a promo video by 360fly:

Who needs a 360-degree camera? Some photographers will buy a 360-degree camera just because it is a novelty, and soon forget about it. A 360-degree camera is another device that you have to carry along in addition to your smartphone camera. More likely use cases for 360-degree cameras are sports and action photography. Also, travel photography will benefit from 360-degree cameras, because travel writers/photographers often have to capture or document something in a small space, like in a room. Another common problem in travel photography is to frame a large object, like a building or statue, but it is impossible to move so far from it that it would fit into a frame.

Here are five 360-degree cameras for you to explore: 360fly, Bublcam, Giroptic 360cam, Kodak Pixpro SP360 4K, and Ricoh Theta S.
360fly, 360-degree camera
360fly
360fly wants to become the GoPro of 360-degree cameras. The black, round camera looks cool and comes with several optional accessories for mounting it on sports gear. It is waterproof and shock-resistant. Video resolution is 1504 x 1504 at 30fps. List price $399. New model, 360fly 4K is scheduled to be available in 2q2016 with a price tag of $500. The new camera can record video in 2880 x 2880 resolution.

bublcam, 360-degree camera
Bublcam
Most 360-degree cameras can capture the surroundings around the lens horizontally, but not vertically. It means that when you view the image, you can’t see what is above or below the camera. The Bublcam can capture everything, also the vertical dimension. Photos are captured in 14 megapixel resolution. In multiplex video mode, the Bublcam can record 1440p x 1440p (30 fps) or 1920p x 1920p (15 fps). In equirectangular mode, the camera can capture 1984p x 992p (30 fps) or 2688p x 1344p (15 fps). Price $799.
View images captured by Bublcam users at the Bubl Cloud site.
giroptic 360cam, 360-degree camera
Giroptic 360cam
The Giroptic 360cam is waterproof down to 10 meters for up to 30 minutes. Giroptic has a unique solution for battery: the standard base packs a removable rechargeable battery. The company was financed at Kickstarter, and had a long delay in getting the product out, but it is now available. Price $499.
kodak pixpro sp360 4k, 360 degree camera
Kodak Pixpro SP360 4K
Kodak has positioned the Pixpro SP360 4K as an action camera, and has made available a range of accessories required for mounting the camera on different types of equipment. The camera can capture 2880 x 2880-pixel-resolution video or widescreen video at 4K UHD (3 840 x 2160 pixels). Prices start from $449.
ricoh theta s, 360 degrees camera
Ricoh Theta S
The camera comes with two 12-megapixel lenses. The images captured via the lenses are merged into one 5,376×2,688-pixel-resolution photo that shows 360 degrees of the surroundings. The Rich Theta S can record spherical video in full HD (1080p) at 30 frames per second. Competitively priced at $350, the product is available globally.

Ricoh’s concept video:

Manage your action camera photo and video shots remotely from the Apple Watch

2015-12-19

GoPro action cameras are popular among adventure travelers, explorers and adrenaline junkies. GoPro is also the default add-on camera for many drone models that don’t come with a camera of their own. Controlling the camera can sometimes be difficult if it is attached, for instance, to a helmet and hands are not free to hold a smartphone that is connected to the camera. To solve this problem, GoPro has developed an app for the Apple Watch.
gopro camera app on apple watch
Once you have downloaded the GoPro application to the Apple Watch, you can see what the camera sees on the smartwatch display. You can tap the watch screen to take a photo or start video recording.

The configuration is not as straightforward as using the watch as a remote camera controller. The setup requires an iPhone where the GoPro app is connected to the GoPro camera via Wi-Fi. Once that connection is working, you connect the Apple Watch to the iPhone and gain control over the camera from the smartwatch.

Digital Trends tried it out and created a video that shows the Apple Watch GoPro camera in action.

Close-up photography on smartphone is fun and easy with an affordable clip-on macro lens

2015-12-13

The image quality on smartphone cameras has developed so high that even professional photographers take pictures with their smartphones, because it is always at hand. Obvious limitations in camera phone photography – lack of manual controls and a fixed lens – simply have to be overcome through creativity. There are, however, some useful accessories that can help anyone take new kind of images on a smartphone, such as clip-on lenses.
clip-on macro lens on LG smartphone
We accidentally discovered a macro lens kit for camera phones at an electronics store. The price was low enough (10 euros) to justify trying it out even if it proved to be a useless piece of plastics. After testing the two lenses included in the kit, our conclusion is that the low-cost clip-on lenses are useful and definitely good value for the money. Image quality suffers a little, but the fun factor is so high that it justifies the slight loss in quality.
macro lens kit with fisheye lens
The lens kit we happened to find includes a macro lens and a fisheye lens. Protective caps for both lenses, a tiny pouch, and the clip comprise the kit.

No instructions whatsoever on how the kit was designed to be used were included in the package. It took awhile to figure out how the lenses were attached to the clip. The macro lens is directly screwed on to the clip. The fish eye lens is attached to a collar, and the collar is screwed on to the clip.

Once the clip-on lens has been placed on top of the camera phone lens, snapping close-up pictures can begin. The clip-on lens must be carefully positioned at the center of the phone lens. The macro lens fits on any camera phone or tablet. The only problem can be if the phone or tablet lens is so close to the edge that the clip may not stay put. On the Apple iPad, the camera lens is at the edge, but the clip-on lens manages to hold its grip.
Appke iPad, macro lens attached
It is as simple as that. A whole new world opens up to a smartphone photographer who can now get really close to subjects. The macro lens in our kit is handy for photographing many types of subjects. The fisheye lens is a fun way to shoot video and take photos of pets and, of course, selfies.

Pets tend to be difficult to photograph: they move when they should be still and they come too close to the camera. The fisheye lens solves the problem of close-up photos for pets and for selfies.

The image quality slightly degrades when an additional lens is added on top of the existing camera phone lens. The image sensor also needs more light: some images taken on a clip-on lens are not as bright as without it. Blurriness around the edges can be quite strong, but since the whole idea of macro photography is to get close to specific subject, it doesn’t matter that much.

All and all, we are happy on our small investment in the macro lens kit. The only thing we worry is how to carry the lenses with us without losing them.

Here are a few side-by-side comparison pictures. The image on the left was taken with the macro or fisheye lens, and the image on the right without additional lens. Photos were taken so that the camera phone was on the same position for both shots.

snow on table, fisheye lens comparison

Fish eye lens on the left.


old trains, macro lens comparison

Macro lens picture on the left.


stonewall, smartphone lens comparison

A camera that can film your movement on a surf board, horseback or ski slope like a cameraman

2015-12-01

Travelers, selfie-photographers and hobbyist photographers have situations when they would like to be in the frame themselves, but there is no one around who could take the photo. Of course, camera’s self timer can be activated, but how about video recording? If the person who is being filmed moves around, and the camera should follow him or her? Soloshot has designed a new generation camera that can automatically follow the object that is being filmed.

soloshot tag

Soloshot Tag


The Soloshot 3 is a stationary camera attached to a tripod, but the camera lens can follow every move the designated person makes. The person being filmed carries a tag that identifies the target for the camera. The distance between the camera and person can be up to 600 meters / 2000 feet. Constant line of sight is not required, because the tag and the camera communicate via radio waves. The camera can film for three hours.
soloshot 3 base unit

Soloshot3 base unit


The Soloshot 3 camera system consists of three pieces of hardware:
1. Tag. It is a Zippo-lighter size electronic device that a person (or pet, or any moving thing) clips on her or his clothes. The tag transmits a radio signal that the camera follows.
2. Base. This is the intelligent unit that makes the Soloshot unique. The base is attached on a tripod, and a camera is attached to the base. The base follows the tag it has been told to follow.
3. Camera. The camera is attached to the base unit.


Soloshot 3 camera

Soloshot 3 camera


In addition to the hardware, the Soloshot includes a number of applications.
– Live streaming app can transmit live video from a Soloshot camera to the internet.
– Edit application for desktop and mobile devices is for video editing. The app has features that can identify highlights from long recorded sequences, making video editing a bit easier.
– Multimode control lets you monitor and manage multiple tags and base units in one app.

Demos of time lapse videos captured in Soloshot:

The night sky scenes on the demo video indicate that the camera should be able to film Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) as well. If it works, a time lapse of the Northern Lights can be a spectacular sight.

The Soloshot 3 is scheduled to become available in 2Q/2016. The product can be ordered from the manufacturer. The price depends on the ordering date: early orders start from $419.