system 2c

Crazy or sensible? A full-frame sensor in a smaller-sized body.

Same-same-but-different? How about the 5D MkIII's sensor, in a smaller body?

Sometime yesterday, a couple of articles on a rumoured smaller-sized Canon camera with a full-frame sensor popped into my news feed. Most of yesterday was spent writing, not reading, and I didn't get the chance to pay much attention to them until this morning.

The gory details of the camera are themselves interesting: it would be smaller and lighter than a 5D MkIII, with a mostly plastic construction and possibly a pop-up flash. It'd have a 19 point auto-focus system, a sensitivity range of ISO 100 to 51,200, and 22 megapixel full-frame sensor.

But what actually interested me more was F-Stoppers' reaction to this potential new camera:

Canon Rumors has said that an entry level full frame doesn’t make sense, and though affordable access to the 5D MKIII sensor is tantalizing, I kind of agree. A full frame sensor isn’t really necessary for most of the photographers out there and may just be an attempt to move emphasis away from megapixel count and grab a few more of those consumer dollars that drive the company.

Really? You reckon that there are photographers out there who wouldn't be seriously interested in a camera that has a full-frame sensor, but is smaller and lighter than a 5D MkIII. Sure, Canon would have to get this camera absolutely right, but hell, I'd love a full-frame sensor in a body that I didn't need a small trailer to transport.

You see, I like this idea of having choice. My reasons for choosing to use a camera that isn't classically categorised as 'Pro' or 'Prosumer' aren't necessarily dictated by whether or not I'm scared of all the knobs and levers on one, or whether or not I think I need to be able to shoot lots and lots of frames per second, or whether or not I'm wooed by all those extra megapixels. One of them is size and weight. The other is cost. There are certain elements in a camera that I'm prepared to sacrifice for others, but if I'm offered a camera that closer meets my wish-list, then so much the better.

Ideally, I'd like some kind of identi-kit camera, where I could pick and choose the elements that are most important to me. The progressive scale where you have more of everything in each iteration doesn't necessarily meet my needs. Of course, in some respects, it goes with the territory; increase one factor and it automatically increases another. Still, wouldn't it be great to have a camera that meets your specifications? If that's even a possibility, it's a long way off. But until then, Canon offering a variation on a theme is a good thing, in my opinion.

Stop43's IP management ideas

White rose

Stop43, the dudes who took on the Government over the clause 43 of the Digital Economy Bill (the one that would’ve effectively stripped photographers of their rights to their images that were deemed ‘orphan works’), and won, have submitted their proposal to Professor Ian Hargreaves’ consultation on intellectual property. Of course, it focuses mostly on the concept of ‘orphan works’, but it has some pretty interesting things to say.

The idea is to create a free, online machine-searchable metadata registry. They’re calling it a National Cultural Archive. This archive will make work freely available to people for ‘cultural use’, allow ‘orphaned works’ to be re-adopted by their owners, act as a mechanism to aid copyright enforcement, and help people buy and sell licences to use images.

‘But if it’s a free system,’ I can hear you murmuring, ‘how would it be supported?’ They’re proposing a levy system on the sale of licences that it facilitates. It’d be self-supporting, then. They also reckon it’d be easy to set up and are keen to build a model. Easy to set up, if they manage to get people on-side with it.

They’ve also made suggestions that would help to allow the re-formating of work that would otherwise be lost entirely because it’s on decaying traditional media and it can’t be digitised without breaching copyright. That’s pretty important, considering how much crumbling paper and deteriorating tape is sitting in museums and libraries across the country, with no way of legally salvaging it.

They’ve really tapped into the business theme of the consultation, though. They’re very keen to point out how properly attributed work and the sale of licences will contribute to increased tax receipts for the Government and help to drive economic growth. Reckon anyone will listen?

Stop43′s National Cultural Archive: a one-stop shop for all your image licensing needs.

Keeping your photos safe whilst travelling

the Corsair Survivor is a near-bulletproof USB drive. Perfect for backups!

 As some of you will know, I'm currently travelling around the world for a few months, and I'm writing this from a rather lovely balcony outside our hotel in Hoi An, Viet Nam.

As a traveller, I'm worried about many things; I've had a ton of vaccinations, I'm on malaria medication, and you're living with a healthy suspicion of the food you're eating (no problems so far; knock on wood). There is one thing that is a bigger worry to me than any of this, however: Losing my data.

I've written about my backup routines when I'm back home in the past, but when you're on the road, you're living with all sorts of other challenges. My internet connection is slow and flakey at best (non-existent at worst), and Vietnam's government has taken to blocking various websites (including blocking Facebook). Given Egypt's most recent insanity (blocking all internet access for the whole country) and the ongoing shenanigans of China's government... Basically, it's not safe to assume that you'll be able to take backups in the cloud whilst travelling.

So, what else is a poor traveller to do? As a writer and photographer, I cannot risk losing all the photos I've taken, and the work on the books I'm currently writing on.

Offsite backups, on-site

My solution goes a little bit like this: Every day, I take a back-up of my stuff, using Apple OS X's built-in backup solution, Time Machine. I take this back-up onto a fantastic little drive, the Iomega eGo Helium. It's a tiny, palm-sized, USB-powered 1TB harddrive, that cost a paltry $130 from Amazon - certainly one of the better investments I've made.

Because of the way Time Machine works, I know I'll have a completely up-do-date copy of my entire system, my software, my writings, pictures, music, and all my financial information (even though I keep my finances and accounts in the cloud using Xero anyway, it's good to know that I have a separate backup, too) on that little big hard drive.

Whenever I leave the hotel, I take the hard drive with me: It lives in my day-pack, which I 'lock' (i.e. use the waist strap to fasten it) to the table, chair, or motorbike wherever I go. This means that my back-up drive is probably safe. It'd better be: I also keep (some of) my travel money and my passport in that backpack. Meanwhile, back at the hotel, I have all my data on my laptop, either hidden in the hotel room, or locked in a hotel safe, if there is one.

The idea is this: If I lose the backup drive, I can buy a new one, and go back to keeping backups. If I lose my computer (i.e. it gets stolen, or it breaks in one way or another), I have to find an Apple store and buy myself a new one. It'd be expensive, but that's what travel insurance is for: And all my data would still be safe on my laptop.

What about when you are with your laptop?

There are times, obviously, where me, the backup drive, and the laptop will necessarily have to be in the same place. When I'm flying, for example, I make sure that the hard drive is in my checked luggage, whilst my laptop is with me.

When I'm sleeping, the Iomega drive lives under my pillow - next to my passport and a spare credit card. The idea is that even if somehow a thief manages to steal every single other thing I own, I still have my data, a way of getting out of the country, and a credit card to help me solve any bad problems.

What about the really important files?

I have a small subset of files that are so important that if I lose them, I'm buggered. It includes the manuscripts to my unpublished books, copies of my passport and credit cards, all that sort of fun stuff.

Those files are about 2GB in size in total, and I back them up religiously: They are automatically backed up to DropBox, an online backup service, whenever I do have an internet connection. In addition, I back it up to a Corsair Survivor, a shock-proof, water-proof, and extremely rugged USB thumb drive. It lives in my pocket, and looks inconspicuous enough that I think I should be able to hang on to it even if I were robbed (knock on wood) in the street.

Finally, I e-mail manuscripts in progress to my Google Mail account whenever I have an internet connection.

Dude, are you paranoid or something?

Probably. But I think this is one of the situations where the phrase "Better safe than sorry" comes in ringing true.

I decided to be paranoid after doing the worst-case-scenario maths: If I were to lose my data and my laptop at the same time, the only way I can continue working and get the books done before deadline, is to get on a plane back to the UK, get my backups from storage, buy a new laptop, restore it all, and head back to Vietnam. It would cost me thousands and thousands of dollars - and probably cost me at least of week of time.

Put simply; if the worst were to happen, I probably wouldn't be able to afford to continue my nomadic lifestyle - which I'm rather enjoying at the moment, and would like to continue for a while!

This article was first published on Small Steps, my travel blog.

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© Kamps Consulting Ltd. This article is licenced for use on Pixiq only. Please do not reproduce wholly or in part without a license. More info.


Photo-streaming from Apple?

Photostream error

Whilst she was testing the iOS 4.3 Beta 2, Gizmodo writer Rosa Golijan stumbled across an error message that told her a bit officiously PHOTOSTREAM_NO_NETWORK_WIFI. Hmm. Interesting. What could it possibly mean? What is Apple planning and is it attempting to take on the social media might of, say, Facebook?

Assisted by the investigatory powers of 9to5 Mac, it seems that it could be about a media streaming service that Apple might be launching. Perhaps.

From the bits and pieces that have been found buried on the system, it looks as if Apple will be enabling iPhone users to set up photo-streams. Users could invite people to view their streams or block those whom they don’t want seeing their pics as they’d be subscribable, too.

This is of course all conjecture and speculation. But it is fun.

(Headsup and picture credit to Gizmodo.)