Tuesday, May 18, 2010

DIY Beauty Dish

There’s just something about the soft, glowy light from a beauty dish that is simply irresistible. I had to have one, but the most affordable one I could find was around $100+. Way too pricey for an item that wouldn’t be used very often so going the do-it-yourself route was the only way to go. I found this tutorial to be the most accessible.

Now that link above (and another link from within that article) provide most everything you need to know, but I ran into obstacles that forced me to alter things a bit.

First change, no epoxy glue. I’m not a fan of using it unless there is a project that absolutely requires it, especially with a super curious toddler in the house. I tried some super glue, which was a disaster.

The solution then was to use leftover screws from my “extra things from Ikea” bag. That worked like a charm and they were protectively covered with the little plastic studs you usually place inside of walls. It looked funky, but the paint would make it all nice in the end.

The convex mirror I found did not cover the entire end of the CD spindle so painting it was necessary. I decided on white since that’s what the inner dish would be colored. To make it neat, you must use some sort of painters tape. It’s a good idea to use keep the tape handy when painting the actual dish for a neat separation of the outer black and inner white.

I just have to add some Velcro to the back which will happen on the next run to Wal-mart or the 99 cent store, the supply HQ of affordable Velcro.

Here’s a quick snap with the beauty dish. The effect looks even better on people.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Sony NEX cameras

Last night Sony officially unveiled the NEX5 and NEX3 cameras, their first shots in the semi-compact mirrorless camera market currently occupied by Olympus, Panasonic, and Samsung. It's been a hot segment for folks like myself who have longed for better quality photos, but in bodies smaller than traditional DSLRs. I currently own the Olympus E-PL1 and Panasonic GH1. Why two cameras? I'll get to that later. All photos on this page are from Impress Watch.

Above is the higher end NEX5 model with the "pancake" 16mm f2.8 lens. The camera will come in several colors with my favorite being the silver body since it matches nicely with the metal lenses.

This photo illustrates where things get complicated or should I say, less attractive. The whole point of mirrorless cameras is to have smaller and lighter things to carry around. While this combo above with the 18-55mm lens is indeed much more diminutive than a similarly capable DLSR, it's not exactly compact. Even though it looks unbalanced, I still kind of think it looks swell. This is mainly because I had a huge crush on F7 series (originally released 8-10 years ago), but didn't have a spare $1000 bill lying around.

The large lenses will also work a new line of camcorders. I prefer to use just one camera to take photos and video, but creates an interesting alternative should I be interested.

So why do I have two cameras? The E-PL1 takes AMAZING digital photos that come out looking great right out of the camera. You do not have to mess around with photoshop or anything like it for tweaks. Skin tones look pleasing, trees look lushly detailed, and the colors just pop in the most pleasing way possible without looking overcooked or unnatural. Unfortunately the 720p 30fps video is just ok.

On the opposite side, the GH1 takes some of the best looking video I've ever seen in super smooth 720p 60fps or I can go 1080p 24fps if I want that cinematic look. The photos can look as good as the E-PL1, but that is only if I take it in the RAW format and process them. This can take a while. Even then I like the color renditions better on the E-PL1 so I'm sort of stuck with both cameras for a while.

Will the NEX5 be able to replace either of my current cameras? I'll have to wait till late June or July when the camera is released to find out. Just looking at the specs and reading the initial impressions, it has a chance on the video side of things for sure. You can read more here.