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Lab Notes Blog

PMA Podcast Interview of Daniel Grotta on What's Important (and Not Important) in Camera Image Quality

November 26, 2014

Tags: Image quality, Daniel Grotta, Cameras

Daniel was recently interviewed by Paul Worthington for the Photo Marketing Association Podcast.

As Paul wrote about the interview, "For more than a decade, Daniel Grotta and Sally Wiener Grotta of DigitalBenchmarks have reviewed and rated digital cameras. But what are the benchmarks for photography today? The Grottas tracked the various quality metrics for cameras for years — and Daniel finds the primary consideration for most people nowadays is simply how quickly can they get the shot, and how fast can they share it. Are other quality considerations obsolete for all but a few shooters? Join us for an interesting discussion of what social, technical, and aesthetic aspects are now affecting imaging."

Click here to listen to the interview.

Best Compact Point-and-Shoot Cameras 2014

June 22, 2014

Tags: camera, review

by Daniel Grotta

Smartphones have made point-and-shoot cameras a highly endangered species. But before you totally abandon the idea of buying a pocket-size camera, think about the things your phone doesn't do well – telephoto, true wide angle and powerful flash photography.

Point-and-shoots also sport a bigger battery that lets you take many more shots and longer videos, plus lots more storage capacity for recording your images. And as sophisticated as smartphones are getting, point-and-shoot cameras usually pack more photo tools and generally produce better image quality.

While the selection of point-and-shoots has shrunk considerably (Kodak's kaput, Casio no longer sells in the U.S., and Canon may be paring back its offerings), the quality, versatility and price of what's available is better than ever. All models come equipped with zoom lenses for wide-angle and telephoto coverage; full-function flashes instead of weak LEDs; and slots for standard SD Cards, which can hold hundreds or even thousands of images. Click here to read our suggestions for the top point-and-shoots for your needs and budget.

Bill Gates & the Digital Lady (Me)

April 18, 2014

Tags: Bill Gates, Photography, Sally Wiener Grotta

by Sally Wiener Grotta

Way back in the day, when most people had never heard of or seen a digital camera, I stopped Bill Gates in the halls of Comdex in Atlanta, and asked him if I could take his picture without film. He smiled and said, that's okay, I'll wait until you load. Paul Allen who was with Bill leaned over to him and explained what I was holding in my hands (one of the very first Kodak DCS cameras -- a 200). They both laughed, and I took my pictures of him. For the rest of the week, whenever Bill saw me, he called me "the Digital Lady."

Sometime between then and now, he has obviously gotten more skittish about cameras. Here's a story from Dan Rosenbaum.

"Bill Gates was awarded a patent recently for a device that detects cameras near you and keeps them from taking a clear picture of you. Used to be that only The Shadow has the power to cloud men's minds."

Finding the Right Solution to Save & Protect Your Photos & Image Files

March 28, 2014

Tags: Photography, Security, Backup, Archive, Arts & Letters Show

We chatted with Patrick Corrigan, the author of "Data Protection for Photographers" (Rocky Nook), about backing up and archiving image files and other data. Here's the recording of that Arts & Letters Show.

eBooks: the NeverEnding Edit

January 13, 2014

Tags: Libraries, eBooks, Digital books, Future tech

”The one who tells the stories rules the world.”
~ Hopi proverb

The above quote comes from The Book by M. Clifford. In that dystopian novel, all “dead-tree” books have been outlawed (in a supposed environmental protection measure), and the powers-that-be (called The Editors) are constantly “updating” all books electronically. In other words, no book is a fixed point. Instead, they are altered frequently and nephariously to shape how the public thinks, feels and acts.

The hero of “The Book” discovers this truth through serendipity, when he happens upon “recycled” sheets from an old printed copy of “The Catcher in the Rye” being used as wallpaper in a men’s room of a bar. He compares his eBook version to the remnants of the printed version, which leads to him into rebellion and a thriller plot designed to intrigue any book lover.

The technology to support the dystopia described by Clifford’s novel exists today and has been in place for a number of years. Any book published digitally can be (more…)

How Many Megapixels Do You Really Need?

December 27, 2013

Tags: Megapixels, Cameras, Image Quality

Megapixels have become the ultimate measure of a camera. If your cousin has a phone with more megapixels than your year-old point-and-shoot camera, clearly he must have the better, higher-quality device. Right?


Megapixels vs. pixel size

Like calories, megapixels are a measure of quantity, not quality. You need a certain number of megapixels depending on the way to want to share a photo. But just as the number of calories in a meal doesn't say much about how nutritious it is, the number of pixels in a camera doesn't say much about the quality of the image they can capture.

Quality is a complex issue based upon a camera’s optics, image sensor design, firmware, engineering, and yes, its pixels — but not its megapixel count. At the heart of your camera is the image sensor, which contains the array of pixels. These pixels are like buckets that collect photons (i.e., light).... Click to read the rest of this article on Tom's Guide.

Team Grotta Tech Talk: Finally Eradicating SafeSearch Malware

November 6, 2013

Tags: Computer repair, Malware, SafeSearch, Virus, Jacob Rae

If you don't know what SafeSearch is, you're lucky. Despite it's name, it's anything but Safe. It's a malware program that infects web browsers like Firefox, Chrome and Internet Explorer, and posing as Google, records everything you do, while directing you to websites that you may have no interest in visiting.

Sally's portable workstation became infected (though she is very careful to keep her virus protection up to date and to avoid downloading strange files). No matter what steps and instructions she followed (she found a lot of advice on the Internet), Sally couldn't get rid of it. We were on the verge of completely reformatting the hard drive. But first, we handed the computer over to our assistant Jake Rae, and he got rid of it!

In this video, Jake explains what he did to finally eradicate SafeSearch from Sally's laptop.

8 Tips for Safeguarding the Photos on Your Memory Cards

November 5, 2013

Tags: photography, memory card

David Zimmerman is a man you never want to need, because if you do, you've had a disaster and somehow have lost your photos or data. David's company LC Technology specializes in recovering photos and data from malfunctioning, corrupt or damaged memory cards, hard drives and other devices.

If anyone knows what can go wrong with memory cards -- and how to avoid disaster with them -- it's David. This video is of an interview that we did with David about how to properly handle and use memory cards, so your photos are safe. And what to do when all else fails.

Here are the highlights of his tips:
  1. Handle your memory card carefully.

  2. Keep your cards in their plastic cases.

  3. Don't expose your cards to the elements, such as extreme heat or cold, or moisture.

  4. Don't touch the contacts.

  5. Turn off your camera (or other device), before inserting or removing your memory card.

  6. When moving a card from one camera (or device) to another, first get your photos or data off the card, save it to your computer, then reformat the card in the new device. (Each camera has its own DCIM folder structure.)

  7. Less is more. Use lots of smaller capacity cards rather than one or two high capacity cards.

  8. Don't delete your pictures in the camera. It can fragment your data, and cause problems with retrieval.

Report from the Photo Plus Trade Show

October 30, 2013

Tags: photography, trade show, video, PhotoPlus, tripod, noise suppression, DxO, mirrorless camera, full frame image sensor, image sensor, pixels, low light photography

A discussion of various technologies we saw at PhotoPlus in New York City, and how they apply to the way photographers work and create. Including mirrorless cameras, full-frame image sensors, selecting the right tripod, DxO's software for high noise, low-light photography, and an intelligent business practice of a very successful wedding photographer.

Suggestions for Entry Level and Mid-Range “Bridge” Cameras

October 14, 2013

Tags: Camera, Review, Roundup, Buying advice

How many devices do you have that can take a photograph? There’s your phone, your tablet, your laptop…. And so forth. But what about a camera? We mean a real camera, rather than a multifunction device that happens to have a plastic lens somewhere. If you’re looking to upgrade from your phone to a camera, or are simply ready to replace your current camera, take a look at two roundup articles Daniel Grotta recently wrote for Tom’s Guide.

In Best Compact Point-and-Shoot Cameras 2013 , Daniel suggests “four point-and-shoot cameras [that] take your photography a notch above smartphone cameras while still being easily pocketable.”

As Daniel explains in Best Bridge Cameras 2013, for those who “want a digital camera that's more capable and produces higher-quality images and videos than a smartphone or a point-and-shoot, but is still fairly compact,” a "bridge" camera may be the best choice. Bridge cameras offer “higher quality than point-and-shoots but is smaller and cheaper than mirrorless or DSLR cameras.”

What camera will you be buying for yourself, or for a gift?