All posts in Technology

Review of SIGMA 70-300mm 4.0-5.6

When I decided to purchase a new lens a couple of months ago, I wanted a lens with zoom. It was one of those features I lacked on my D40 kitlens (which is only 18-55mm). I wanted to try new techniques within photography, and I wanted a tele-zoom lens at a cheap price. I was out of luck until I, by chance, stumbled upon a SIGMA 70-300mm lens on a trip to Japan.

Appearance, feel and weight

The outer parts of the lens are coated in a black, rubber-ish material with a special feel to it. It has a definite touch of quality and style, and besides being rather good to look at, it comes very much in handy when zooming or focusing (as it provides good grip). The filter-size of 58mm means many lenshoods and filters will fit – many of them making the lens look very professional when viewed at a distance. Weighing around 550g it’s neither clumsy nor difficult to handle, and it feels very good when resting in one’s hand.

Features and quality of image

As I lack different lenses to test, I can’t really comment on the quality of it. All I can say is that I am happy with the quality – it’s enough for my needs. At maximum zoom a tripod is mandatory as the lowest aperture one can shoot at it 5.6. Also, due to its lack of Vibration Reduction (VR) (Nikon’s stabilizing engine), hand-shot images can sometimes be slightly blurry if taken in low lighting-conditions. It has a built-in auto-focus engine that does its job – however if you let it work too much it will consume a lot of battery!
The reason the lens is called a macro-lens is because of its ability to focus at objects at a mere 1.5 meters distance! If you select the special “macro-mode” this distance is even lower – 95cm! This means one can come very close to subjects and still get a crisp, clear image – very handy to say the least.

Conclusion

The SIGMA 70-300mm lens is a great lens for amateur photographers looking for some serious zoom. Shooting at 300mm is fun and interesting – this lens will unlock the door to a whole new world of detailed photography. Examples of areas of use are during sports-events, wildlife photography and portrait photography. Considering its very low price, a minimum of around $200, it is an excellent addition to your collection of lenses if you’re lacking tele-zoom abilities.

  • Pros
    • Price
    • Quality and feel
    • Appearance
    • Zoom capabilities
  • Cons
    • Lack of Vibration Reduction (VR)
    • Small aperture
    • Badly optimized auto-focus engine

Early Review of the Sony Ericsson XPERIA X5

UPDATE: It seems the phone has finally been released, under the name of Sony Ericsson Pureness. Looks cool!

The display

The first thing about the new Sony Ericsson XPERIA X5 (just X5 in short) you will notice is the display. Not only does it sport the usual you’d expect from Sony Ericsson – high resolution and crisp, clear pixels – but the display itself is transparent! It’s like looking through a piece of tinted glass, except for the fact that the piece of glass can display text, images, videos and even games! The only major downside to it is the lack of colors, although I personally am not missing it too much.
image

The outside

The rest of the phone consists of a glossy black keypad, all in one piece except for the lines dividing the numbers and the Call, the center and the Cancel buttons. When lit up, the three mentioned buttons glow with a green, white and red light respectively. The + and – volume buttons are placed one on each side, in line with the three main buttons. On the sides there is also the power input and the SIM-card slot. On the back side of the phone the back side of the display is visible (which you of course can see through) and the small power button.

Built-in battery

What’s interesting about the XPERIA X5, apart from the display, is the way it handles battery and storage. The X5 features a built-in media-storage module of up to 2GB’s – enough to fit more than 500 standard-sized MP3’s – and a built-in regular storage of around 100MB’s. It also has, in contrast to most other phones, a built-in battery. I suspect the reason Sony Ericsson chose to build the battery inside of the phone was to avoid the extra cost and vulnerability of a battery cover.

Light-weight

Although the X5 lacks a camera, it’s a great mobile phone. The design of the outside, not to forget the design of the menus inside the phone (!) gives a very luxurious impression and modern impression. Most, if not all, standard features are there (such as Bluetooth, radio, synchronization, music player and fast 3G internet). Thanks to its design, the X5 is very light weight and small, it can be used by a lot of different people with different lifestyles.

Conclusion

I love this phone. Sure, the lack of colors can be annoying at times and it sure would be fun to have a built-in GPS and WiFi internet. But for anyone, ranging from businessmen to simply every-day users, the Sony Ericsson XPERIA X5 is a great phone. Just wait until it reaches the markets, I guess!

New XBOX Blog Launched

A couple of weeks ago I decided to start publishing XBOX-related articles on a new blog I created. For this purpose, I uploaded an installation of WordPress and started writing.

The XBOX is Microsoft’s old gaming console – it was good at the time and it still is. My goal is to educate people about everything there is to know in and around the XBOX. I’ve written content about connecting the XBOX to a TV, changing the harddrive in the XBOX and a lot more!

For this purpose, I’ve started Thy Old XBOX. Please, visit the site and read some of the articles and do comment on the content if you wish!

How To Remove Spotify Ads Without Premium

This guide, in its entirety, is taken from SmexDesign. Credits goes to him for finding this!

#1

Open Spotify and log in with your credentials. Click Edit in the top-hand menu and then press Preferences….

#2

Set the Proxy to HTTPS and enter these details as your host and port:
Host: 213.203.241.210
Port: 80

Make sure your settings look like mine:
spotify proxy settings https

Now, play your favorite music without ads interrupting! Comment back if this works for you!

Other notes

A reader by the name Christoffer had an idea about how this fix works. Here’s what he said:

But I’m pretty sure that I understand why it did work before. They seem to have targeted the ads to the countries in which it was possible to register for spotify only, so if you used a proxy from a country with no ads, you wouldn’t get any at all.

Sounds like a reasonable explanation, does it not?

The AutoISO Feature – How Does It Work?

The AutoISO-feature, available on most modern DSLR cameras (digital system cameras), enables the camera to set its own ISO-values. The user selects a shutter speed as the “minimum speed”, telling the camera that it should attempt to keep the shutter-speed at this level or faster. Based on the amount of light in the picture, the size of the aperture (the f-stop) and the selected minimum shutter-speed, the camera carefully chooses a custom ISO-sensitivity. By “custom ISO-sensitivity” I mean a value that’s not limited to ISO200, ISO400, ISO800 or ISO1600 but a value that can be set anywhere on the scale (ISO240, ISO530, ISO670). The maximum ISO-sensitivity can also be defined to lower noise, meaning that the camera never goes past this ISO-value but instead lowers the shutter speed.

How does AutoISO help you then? Well, imagine you’re shooting indoors. The lighting conditions can change rapidly and you need to take well-exposed shots all the time. Keeping a firm ISO is not flexible enough whilst constantly changing the ISO-sensitivity is not time-efficient. The AutoISO-feature keeps you shooting at a fast shutter speed all the time by making much faster and more accurate changes to the ISO-sensitivity on-the-fly.

All-in-all the AutoISO-feature is a great tool and is well worth the time to try it out!
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Canon logo
Olympus logo
Sony logo

Interesting New Anti-Virus Software – VIPRE

Recently, the company behind a host of security- and storage-related programs, Sunbelt Software, released its Antivirus Software called VIPRE.
The software has been designed to efficiently cure and prevent viruses, spywares, trojans, etc. But the interesting part here is that it has been built to be faster than Norton, McAffee, NOD32 and other currently popular antiviruses.

VIPRE Antivirus features, other than its very intuitive and sleek design, advanced anti-rootkit technology, real-time monitoring with its Active Protection™ and a unique and very resource-friendly anti-virus and spyware engine.
VIPRE is highly worth a try, whether you’re satisfied with your current antivirus or not, and you can now download the free working 15-day trial to do so now!

Mac MSN Messenger Loses Focus – Solved!

The problem with MSN losing focus after sending a message derives from the latest beta of Safari, believe it or not. Safari Beta 4 installed a version of WebKit which apparently caused the text-area inside MSN Messenger to behave erratically.
Just uninstalling Safari from Applications does not resolve the problem, nor does an uninstall of WebKit nightly builds do the trick. What you need to do is download the Safari .dmg file and run the uninstaller – here’s how:

#1

Download the Safari Beta from Apple’s homepage and mount it or unpack it anywhere.

#2

Safari 4
Open the Safari4.0BetaUninstall.pkg file and complete the steps necessary to uninstall the software. Note that after the uninstall, you will not have a working web browser unless you install another browser!

After these steps and a restart your MSN Messenger should be working fine!

Satellite TV on your PC – Does It Work?

This guide involves acquiring a piece of software (PCSatelliteTV) that is not free – either you buy it or you get hold of it in some other way. I will not be held liable for your choice.

Satellite TV to PC logo

Introduction

This guide will cover just how easy it is to play TV on your computer using nothing but software and internet. I was amazed at how well it worked, and although the quality could have been better the choice of channels makes up for it.
This guide involves, as stated above, an acquisition of PCSatelliteTV and you may choose in which way you do this.

Install

Install the program using custom or standard settings, either way works well. No crucial configuration is needed during the installation process. I found some trouble with NOD32 giving virus warnings however I found that the warnings were only issued to the temporary files that were extracted – not the final product.

Scan for channels (optional)

Before opening the program you may want to scan for channels. This extremely slow process (can take hours) scans a directory for any channel available. I have as of now not fully completed a scan like this, so I can’t tell you whether it’s useful or not.
Scan for channels
To start the scan, open the Scan Channels.exe file in your installation directory (the one you specified during installation), press the Scan For Available Channels and let it sit for a long time. A progress bar will tell you how much is left.

Conclusion

After all of this it’s time to enjoy your TV! Open up the main PCSatelliteTV application and doubleclick on any channel to start playing. The quality could be much better and some channels fail to work entirely, but at least it’s TV – and not only free channels but also paid ones.
It does its job – it works, but of course it can be made much better.

Screenshots

ESPN Nascar
Al Jazeera

Five Reaons Not to use Live View in a Camera

Battery power – why waste it?

Using Live View drastically shortens the time you’re able to use your camera on its batteries, unless you plug it in to a charger. As new images constantly have to be rendered on the screen – many frames per second and often a high brightness – this easily drains your batteries.

Accuracy? – I don’t think so…

What Live View shows cannot in any way reflect what the viewfinder shows, nor how your subject really looks. A lot of times you can be lead into believing that colors, brightness and even sharpness is correctly tuned – after taking the picture you see that none of this corresponds to what was taken.

Unnecessary icons and information

A display is usually cluttered with icons, information and lots of other things that really can disturb when taking photos. A good viewfinder has all the information placed outside the actual image, and only the focus is actually shown.

Stability is lost

Imagine yourself holding your camera so that you can see the Live View. This requires most people to hold the camera away from the body and head to be able to see anything. Although you might be holding with two hands there is still a lack of stability and you will often encounter unsharp images – simply due to shaking. Looking through a viewfinder eliminates this as your head is helping to keep the camera stable.

You have to look cool when taking photos!

Look at someone taking a picture using the Live View and compare it with someone who is using the viewfinder. Go figure, viewfinder is a lot cooler. End of discussion.

Selling a Newly-Built Computer

Specifications

  • Intel Pentium 4, 3.0GHz (15 x 200) dualcore
  • MSI PT8 Neo-V (5 PCI, 1 AGP, 2 DDR DIMM, Audio, LAN) VIA Apollo P4X533
  • 1024 MB (DDR SDRAM)
  • ATI Radeon HD 2400 Series (256 MB)
  • MAXTOR S TM3160211AS (160 GB, 7200 RPM, SATA-II)
  • DVD-RW Drive
  • FireWire-1934 Connections

Description

PC Project
A newly built PC with a fast Intel processor and a robust motherboard from MSI gives you all the performance you need for surfing the web, playing less intense games or watching HD-videos on large screens.
The ATI GPU-card is one of the more modern and faster AGP cards and can handle high resolutions and intense action. FireWire and USB2.0 ports are added for your convenience.
The Operating System installed is an original Windows Vista Ultimate with all updates and drivers pre-installed!

I published this computer on a buy-and-sell-site in Sweden and set the price to about €234, hoping to attract people looking for a cheap alternative to expensive powerhouses – which still can run most games and act as a great media-computer.

And after a few weeks I finally did manage to get it sold – for €234, a very good price if you ask me!

What do you think? Opinions? Suggestions?