Upgrading new gadgets (late 2018)

My wife is an advocate iPhone user. She loves her phone and she will never consider switching to any Android phones. Maybe it is her familiarity. She never had an Android phone so she doesn’t want to change to any new tech that she is not familiar with. She prefers using her iPhone 7 plus.

On the other hand, I am using Google Pixel 2 XL. I think this phone is better than any new iPhones that came out this year – iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR. The cameras in these new iPhones are outstanding. There are so many comparison videos on YouTube how the new ones are so much better than the last year’s models – iPhone X, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 plus. Overall, Apple makes great products and people love using their products, including my wife.

We are not upgrading our phone this year though.

The phones have become such a necessity in our lives and we love playing with it. However, the phone manufacturers are increasing the price of the phones significantly. Last year was the first year that we saw the cell phone prices hitting $1,000.

I cannot simply justify the price. I do not use Apple products because I think it is too expensive. Now the newest and biggest iPhone can cost up to $1,500, I really don’t see how anyone can justify that price. Google, too, has very expensive phones – Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL cost up to $1,100. However, the difference is in the software. Google Photo, for instance, is a free app that can store unlimited storage for your photos. If you want to keep all your photos in your iPhone, you will have to pay a hefty price on the storage each month. Also, Google makes a lot of their apps free whereas Apple makes everything paid apps.

I cannot tell people what to buy or judge people based on their preferred electronic products, but I think we need to pause and stop how many times we ‘upgrade’ our phones every year. Google Pixel 2 XL works great even after 1 year later. It’s smooth and all apps work fine. The photos come out great – there was a Google Camera update in October, and it takes awesome clean photos. Thus I cannot justify buying a new phone this year. My wife thinks the same way too. She loves her ‘old’ iPhone taking great photos and everything works fine. We both agree that these new gadgets do not have awesome technologies to justify the price. They all do the same thing.

This is where I guess my thought process is little different than many people. I am considering spending money on buying a really nice camera. I have several film cameras I play around with. Whenever I do not have my cell phone, I usually bring my film camera to take photos. Most times, I actually prefer the film camera photography because the colors on the camera bring out various color dynamic. I am waiting for the annual Black Friday sale and I’m going to try to find the best deal for the camera.

Polaroid Snap Instant Digital Camera

My daughter had a party with her school friends this past weekend. The kids were celebrating one of the friend birthdays. The party was held in this crazy loud playroom with slides, air tents, jumping spots, and games. While kids were having a blast, the parents dreaded being at the place, spending time doing nothing on their previous weekend. However, things got a little bit interesting when one parent brought a new instant camera to the group. Kids and parents took photos and were able to keep cherishable moments together.

The instant camera was Polaroid Snap Instant Digital Camera. I asked the parent about the camera and it appears it is a good investment for people with little kids like myself. Here are the top features that I heard worth mentioning in my blog. The parent mentioned that there are other Polaroid brand instant cameras and other brand ones, but he thought this camera fitted the budget and easy to use functions. I really liked the design of the camera as well.

First and utmost, the quick snap and print feature. This instant camera makes taking a photo experience super fun. Yes, you can take photos with your smartphones and digital cameras now these days. I use these techs all the time. However, the instant camera changes the experience of the moment. You are actually engaging with your family and friends. This is very important to me. When I see people taking photos with their smartphones, usually the people who are taking photos miss the opportunity to be part of the fun. The instant camera prints out the photo immediately and the photographer can engage in the conversation with their loved ones. Like I mentioned earlier in my paragraph, people were just standing and not talking to each other – this can be changed with the instant camera because everyone wants to see the image on a printed film. The printed photos are high-quality photos and you don’t need any extra wires or copy machines to get the photos.

Polaroid Snap Instant Digital Camera has a unique feature that uses zero ink and toner. This Zink printing technology enables you to quickly print 2×3 inches photo automatically without ink and toner. This is another reason why I think this instant camera is worth buying because you spend so much money on ink if you try to print high-quality photos from your home printer. You don’t have to buy extra items and cartridges for the photos. You can simply use the camera and the film packs. Of course, you would need to buy the film packs but it’s worth the money because you get to use them and share with your friends. Plus you aren’t wasting to buy a photo printer at home.

Lastly, the camera has a MicroSD card slide where you can expand the memory up to 32gb. This is important because you are able to store some precious moments digitally as well. If you want to simply take photos and print them later, you have the option to do that. You can still take amazing photos like any other digital cameras but you can print them instantly whenever you want. You can’t do that with smartphones or digital camera photos. I personally think the memory space should be a little bit higher, but you can’t expect something more than what it can already do under $100 budget camera.

The instant cameras are better than digital cameras or smartphone cameras because you have that option to print the photos immediately. This sounds like nothing special or a big deal, but it is! You get to experience the moment with the loved ones and you are sharing the priceless photos. The events like birthday party, wedding, engagement party, baby shower, and graduations are the most important days of people’s lives. You are spending the time to share and celebrate each other. Use the instant camera to be part of it and keep the photos that reflect your lifetime memories.

Classic Items

Yesterday, Apple has introduced the new iPhones. The iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR were introduced. And oh boy they are expensive. The newest and the largest iPhone is also the most expensive iPhone (yet). It will cost you $1,500 if you want the best of the best. This will have a 512g storage. I apologize. I got carried away with this ridiculous price. Anyway, the reason why I mentioned the new tech is that I can’t help myself to think about the days when the tech stuff wasn’t costing more than $1K. I feel like the tech things that we buy now these days are all over $1k. Like phones (again), TVs, computers, digital cameras, laptops, and even earphones (some of them are now costing more than $200). I understand that these tech equipment have features that everyone wants but I am not sure if I can justify the price. This brings to my point. The classic items are better. Do you agree?

Okay. Let me explain. The classic items like the flip phones and analog cameras (35mm film cameras) don’t cost arms and legs yet they work. What is the point of using the phone? To make a call right? Why do you need to spend $1k to make a phone call? The flip phone used to be pricey don’t get me wrong, but it didn’t go over $100. You could receive a text message and make calls without any problems. Yeah yeah, it’s not a smartphone so you can’t check emails or browse the internet. However, people still had a computer. People still have computers and they can do the same thing.

Another example is the camera. I get that these new DSLR cameras are awesome. It has high-resolution mega-pixels and different lens that you can use to take photos. The photos come out much bigger without any distortion. But some of these cameras cost over $5k. $5k!!! Check one out here.
Back in the day, people used film cameras. Remember the ones that you have to put film rolls and can take only 36 shots? You also had to develop the films and wait for the photos. Yes, it may not have the best pixels to shoot the images and the features weren’t there for people to take some photos. However, let’s not forget why we use the camera. The reason is that you take the photo to remember and keep the history/memory of the things in the past. Ironically, we are now avoiding the classic items and moving onto the newest gadgets.

My final thoughts – people are looking back and regretting that the world has changed like this. Now these days, people complain that the tech items are so expensive. Also, the smartphone has changed people’s lives. People are shackled and slaved to the phone. Families are broken because husbands are spending hours on the work emails during the family vacations, moms are always on social media and not spending time with kids, kids are now looking bad things and refusing to interact with other peers. In addition, I hear that people are looking to purchase film cameras more and more in modern days because they are missing that classic photos. They miss that authentic feel for the photos. Let us not forget the old things. We will have more regrets down the road.

Samsung NSCHU680 Convoy 3 Feature Cell Phone, GrayLAMINATED POSTER Optical Film Camera Pentax 35mm Asahi Slr Japan Poster Print 24 x 36

Selfie

The definition of a selfie is simply a self-portrait photograph by the person. It’s amazing how this selfie word came into our lives and took over the social media platforms in recent years. We see many celebrities and athletes take a selfie with their friends, family, and fans. The selfie photo is personable, fun, entertaining, and even cherishable because you can make great memories of that moment with your loved ones. However, this was not the case a few years ago.

About a decade ago, selfie was a silly thing to do. It was not common for a person to stand in front of his/her smartphone camera and take a photo of themselves. Not only it looked odd, but also there weren’t that many digital cameras out there to take photos facing front. Over recent years, the camera and photography software in the smartphones improved so much that you can take excellent selfies.

The marketing played a big part as the selfie became popular in our society. There are many different products out there encouraging people to take selfies. One of them is a selfie stick.

The selfie stick looks like a long stick with a little phone mount on the top of the stick. You can place your smartphone on the mount and use a Bluetooth feature or a headphone jack, it allows you to click a button to take a photo on your smartphone without reaching for that camera button on the phone. This product became very popular because people want to take a wider angle selfie photos and capture the nice background with their face in front of it. It’s great. The stick is height adjustable so you can tweak the smartphone angle the way you like.

Many slim digital camera (I mean their smartphone). Some YouTubers are now actually making their video contents using their selfie camera on their phone. This is absolutely amazing and a game changer. People are now not buying these heavy, bulky, and expensive digital cameras to enjoy their photo hobby or work.

This trend will not stop anytime soon. The phone makers are going to make this feature superior and overcome their challenge to satisfy their customers. So my question is what about the regular digital camera and film cameras. Will people use the old analog cameras anymore? There are tones of the best cameras for filming but would they be replaced by smartphone cameras? In case if you are into taking portraits of people, we think it is still the best to use a 35mm film camera for the portraits. What would you do? Do you take a selfie with your family and friends? Will this trend change your way that you use your digital and film cameras?

Real Estate Photography

My friend came over the past weekend, and we were catching up with life. He seemed a little bit stressed over something, and I asked if I can help. Then he shared that his work is sending him to relocate to Canada by later this year. When I heard the news I was super sad. He has been a good friend since I moved my neighborhood. He said everything would be okay except his house. He wasn’t sure if he wanted to sell the property or rent it to someone for until the work is completed. Regardless of the decision, I told him that he needs to post his house on a website like Zillow and have a Real Estate Agent to help him to get clients.

One of the essential things to do during this transition is to take amazing photos of the property. Here are my top photography 101 lists of what to do (don’t) for Real Estate photos.

Rule number 1. Do not take photos with your smartphone camera. For the best result, I highly recommend using a DSLR camera. Some people say that the best camera is the one you carry all the time – but this does not apply to the real estate photos. This is just not going to show off the home. Any cell phone (no matter how good they are) or simple point & shoot camera cannot give you the quality and detail shots you need for house photos that you are trying to sell. A DSLR can have a broader lens to take a broader picture of your rooms. Remember, you are trying to show your house as possible than it is. The DSLR camera shoots at a 4:3 ratio while the cellphone cameras can shoot at 3:2 ratio. All it comes to make your photos wider.

Rule number 2. Use a wider angle lens. Like I mentioned above, any DSLR cameras can replace the lens with a wider lens. Look, I am not trying to say misrepresent your home. No, not. You have to be honest with your sq.ft of the house and present everything to the buyer. What I am trying to say is that you can make your rooms bigger so that the wide angles can let viewers see what to expect when they visit the house. The wider angle lens can make your home pleasing in people’s eyes than your competitors.

Rule number 3. Choose right angles that show the connection between two rooms. Whether it’s a kitchen to a living or a bathroom to a bedroom can make the buyers interested in the house more since the house appears to be opened. Now these days, people love a modern concept for their next house. A potential buyer can see the house photos and can be amazed by the architecture of the room.

Rule number 4. Try to remove your furniture as much as possible. In the light of discussing taking great photos for your house, I want to mention to all home sellers one thing. Remove your stuff. I mean your STUFF like furniture, items that belong to you, and I expect the things that you know you aren’t selling along with the house. It may be something special to you, and you may want to show off your stuff to everyone, but this may not attract a potential buyer. Trust me. Having a nice clean room and taking photos of the clean room is much better than the cluttered room. Plus it makes the room bigger.

Rule number 5. Try to take photos during daylight time. Natural lights should be used as much as possible during your shots. The rooms will look brighter, and the house will bring out its unique character through the well-reflected photos. In-direct light is the best. Anything that has direct lights will be washed out.

This is a bonus. Don’t have any person in the photos. Yes, this includes and reflection of yourself in the mirrors as well. It just looks unprofessional and looks like you took the photo without much care. I may extend this character as a homeowner who doesn’t give f*ck.

I shared these tips with my friend who is selling his house. I am sad, but I want to help him out until the end. I am confident that he will be able to find a renter or buyer without a doubt since this area is a growing community. Of course, with my excellent photo tips in Zillow as well 🙂

Photography Courses

I want to talk about modern photography schools in the United States. Over the years the digital world has changed the way we shop, watch, and learn things. We don’t need to go out to a big retail store to get a TV. We don’t need a cable to watch a movie. You can stream the same video and watch it on the computer. Also, we now don’t have to go to a “school” and cut down on a commute time still get fantastic learning experience right at your home. Here is one of the link where you can get your camera lesson.

You can get college credit through The New York Institute of Photography and learn photography at your own pace with affordable price. Whether it’s their hobby or expanding their knowledge in their working field, I am happy to hear that the photography community is growing larger and faster.

Through the online course, you can take the following courses.
Fundamentals of Digital Photography Course
Portrait Photography Course
Professional Photography Course
Photoshop for Photography Course
Wedding Photography Course
Photojournalism Course
Business Photographers Course

These courses are all under $1,000 which I think it’s reasonable since you are getting the lessons from accredited college institution. Regardless of what photography level you are at, the courses can make you a better photographer. I am very interested in business photographers course since I want to expand my knowledge in making money instead of taking the photos only for my hobby. Now these days, many E-commerce business owners are looking for photographers to take pictures of their items. These owners don’t have stores, so any good photos are essential for them. Let’s think about it. These photos are the only way they can convey the message to their customers to purchase the items they sell. The images are their vital factors in their business. More e-commerce business owners are now finding the importance of photography, and they are spending more budget to expand their business. Those who are looking to get into the photography business, I think you have a lot of potentials going forward.

Let’s talk about the difference between an online class and a typical class setting. First of all, an online course isn’t always the best setting for everyone. Some people may not be motivated to study or do what they are supposed to do if they are home. The key to success is to be self-motivated and disciplined to work when nobody is watching you. If this isn’t you, I recommend that going to a class may be a better fit for you. The reason is that the professor and classmates can encourage you to be motivated and “forcefully” put you in a place where you have to be there to complete your task. Secondly, the photography courses are hands-on experience course. It’s a lot easier if someone is right next to you and guide you through the settings and features while you are taking photos. New modern digital cameras don’t help you either. The cameras have a lot of key settings you’ll need to learn. Lastly, the typical class settings may encourage you to get to know people face to face. I think this is the real benefit of the actual class settings. You get to meet people and interact with them. Your social networking skills will be far higher than you may think. You never know who you are attending and what you can do with these folks. I have a friend who met his wife in a classroom. I have another friend who met his business partner. It can be a life-changing opportunity.

These are my thoughts, and I hope it helps you do determine to take either an online class or a regular class. But either way, keep learning and hope learn new skills of the photography, which is the most important thing to do!

Smartphone Cameras

Everyone has a smartphone now these days. It’s weird if you do not have one. All smartphones have one thing in common. They have a built-in camera. When a smartphone was introduced ten years ago, the camera was not that good. The camera quality was very low, so people went out and purchased an actual camera. Now if you buy the newest smartphone, it’s an entirely different story. The camera on the new smartphones is so good that people don’t take photos with their cameras anymore. Google Pixel, iPhone, Samsung smartphone have amazing cameras. Many YouTube editors and tech reviewers battle these smartphones, and you can hardly tell which is terrible or excellent. The details and vibrant color that the phones can capture are amazing. If you want to hang and print the images, you can print them on a color printer. The megapixels in the smartphone is big enough for you to print the photos and not distort the quality of it. It’s pretty amazing what you can do with your smartphone. These days, the manufacturers add another camera next to the smartphone, so we see the dual lens on the smartphone. You can zoom in closer, and you can take a portrait mode with these dual lenses.

However, is this good for the camera industry? Will we ever need to buy any new analog or digital cameras? What about those professional photographers? Will they have jobs if these smartphones exceed what it can do and take over the industry? The answer is YES! In my opinion, I do not think that film cameras and digital cameras will always be with us. I agree that smartphones are amazing and take great photos. However, it will never be as good as any digital camera or film camera. The reason is that these cameras bring users its unique photography experience. It’s hard to describe in words, but enthusiastic photographers prefer their cameras when it comes to taking the perfect photos in the right moment. The settings and lighting aperture can make a huge difference when they are taking photos. You can change the settings in a smartphone camera, but it’s not nearly as good as the settings in the actual DSRL and SRL cameras. Another big draw for photographers to use smartphone cameras is that you can’t swap the lens. The smartphone camera lens is permanently stuck. You can add two (now three) lenses, but the lenses are not big enough to capture the big moment photos. What I am trying to say is that the smartphone technology will advance far more in next few years but the camera industry will not be impacted by it.

I mentioned about the SRL camera and how these old analog cameras won’t be impacted by the new technology. Don’t get me wrong, many film camera companies suffered a major loss when the digital world of cameras was introduced to the public. Look at Kodak. But the analog cameras are still going strong and they are coming back to younger generations. They love the classic and artistic film photos. There is something about that rustic and old photos that make you so happy.

There are great cameras out there today. Many of these cameras are available for your purchase. Some of them are film cameras and some of them are digital cameras. We can discuss the film camera vs digital camera later but I want to stay on the topic of the smartphone camera and the photography industry. If you are a professional photographer, don’t worry. You will still have a job for awhile.

My thoughts on Lomography Konstruktor F

Ever since I was a young boy, I loved building my own stuff. My parents bought me Legos and blocks for me to keep my creativity flow and experience the joy of “Do It Yourself” – DIY. I still love building things and it reflects on my go-to camera, Lomography Konstruktor F.  I want to introduce you to this awesome unique film camera. Unlike other name brand cameras: Canon, Fujifilm, Konica Minolta, and Olympus, Lomography delivers something that other competitors do not – that is the experience of assembling the camera on your own. How cool is that? Let me explain and share some of the thoughts on this camera. Here are my quick top three points.

#1. The Design
As mentioned earlier, you get multiple plastic parts in a box. Unboxing and setting up can be overwhelming for some folks but it only took me less than two hours start to finish. Once the parts are put together, the camera looks pretty fantastic. It’s a fun design and you can get to play around with some of the exposure settings on the top of right corner. You can also put some stickers to make your camera look different than others. You can interchange the lenses (close-up and macro lens are available in a separate kit).

#2. The Functionality
You can’t compare the developed 35mm film photos with the digital cameras. It won’t be a fair game in terms of the clarity of photos. However, as an amateur photographer, I can say that the camera takes some arty photos that photographers can appreciate. Like I mentioned you can change the exposure settings and that helps you to take some great shots. When I was taking photos, I got some multi-layer shots and it was nice. It was different than the normal analog film photos. Taking the photos with this unique feature is a nice experience. People told me that the photos don’t come out clear and distorted sometimes but I like them a lot. The camera is meant to be used as a simple “point & shoot” without much things to change. For that I think the functionality is there for certain users like myself.

#3. The Price
35mm film cameras are relatively cheaper than the digital cameras, but this one is cheaper than the other analog cameras. It’s in the $30 range so you don’t feel so bad if you break the parts of camera. This will keep you occupied for the day and you can have some fun while building the camera taking photos.

Overall, I think it is a great inexpensive camera. It brings unique features that the other cameras don’t or can’t bring to the table. You may not like the photos that are developed through the 35mm film roles and the images may not be consistent with the shots you take. Maybe this isn’t for you. However, if you are like me – like building your own design camera and you like artsy photos (even though it may look little be distorted), I suggest that you give this camera a try.