The Sony QX10 and QX100

Posted by Mark

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The new QX series cameras from Sony are part of their new range of mobile phone cameras.Sony realized that camera phones in general are pretty limited with the majority for example lacking any kind of optical zoom. Phone cameras also have really tiny sensors so the photos aren’t very sharp or detailed neither do they do so well in dimly lit situations. Thats why Sony came up with the idea to create a new line of cameras that would clip onto your current phone giving it a big boost. I picked up both the Sony QX10 and the slightly larger QX100 from the Sony dealer for this review.

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Both the QX10 and QX100 follow the same principle, they both don’t have any screens and other than the power, shoot and zoom buttons, both cameras don’t have any other controls. The Sony QX10 is the smaller and cheaper of the two, it has a sensor delivering 18MP and it has a 10x optical zoom. The QX100 on the other hand has a large size sensor that delivers 20MP as well as an added bonus of having a bright F/1.8 lens. On the downside, the QX100 has only 3.6x optical zoom, it’s double the size of the QX10 and it’s also a lot more expensive.

Lets get something out of the way. Both these cameras perform much better than your mobile phone cameras. Between the two cameras the QX100 was obviously and clearly the better of the two because of the larger sensor and better lens optics. Because of the fact both these cameras easily out perform camera phones I decided this post wouldn’t focus on the quality of the photos but instead I’m going to focus on the practicality of the cameras.

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Because these two cameras lack a screen you need to connect them to your phone. That’s a fairly easy process, you turn on the cameras and then you connect your phone to the cameras wifi. You then need to download the Sony app “PlayMemories” which will allow you to control the camera and take photos. Every time you want to use the camera, you launch the PlayMemories app and turn the camera on and wait for the two to connect. This is where I start having issues.

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When it comes to capturing a quick moment both cameras fail miserably. If the camera isn’t already on and connected to your phone then you’ll most likely miss your shot because turning it on and then connecting it to your phone is a process that can easily take over 10 seconds. By then whatever moment you were trying to capture is long gone.

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My biggest issue is that fact the cameras really aren’t that compact.Between the two the QX10 fits into my pocket but it’s still thick enough to create a bulge, a similar bulge to one I would have if I had a slim full featured point and shoot camera in my pocket. Actually the Sony DSC-TX30 is even slimmer so I would have less of a bulge with that. The QX100 on the other hand won’t even fit into my jeans pocket.

Now both these cameras do have one very cool feature that no regular point and shoot can compete with. The QX series cameras don’t have to be attached to your phone to work. If you’re at a concert you can hold the camera in your hand way above your head and while checking and taking photos from your phone at your eye level like a periscope. You can also set up the camera on a table in front of you and then use the phones screen to setup your selfie. You could even setup the camera in one room while taking photos from another and the reason you can do all this because the cameras work over WiFi. This I think is the coolest thing about these two cameras.

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Which brings me to a question, who would prefer these two cameras over Sony’s other cameras? I honestly don’t know, I guess it’s for people who would take advantage of the fact you don’t have to have the camera connected to your phone. Price wise, both cost nearly the same price as Amazon with the QX10 costing KD69.9 and the the QX100 KD147.9 at the Sony dealer. If I was to choose between the two I would go with the QX10, its cheaper, its smaller and it has the added benefit of a 10X optical zoom.


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Beautiful Destinations chooses local photographers

Posted by Mark

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@BeautifulDestinations is an instagram account in which they post beautiful shots taken by instagrammers from around the world. With over a million followers they’re very popular which is why they just launched a Kickstarter campaign to print a hardcover book of the top 100 liked photos from their account in 2013. From the list of photographers who’s work was chosen, eight photographers are based locally including:

@ajfotoworld
@albanay
@alhashemiphotos
@bu_khaled
@fahadrb
@mashael_39
@s_alroudhan
@salehalrashaid

If you haven’t checked out the accounts above before you should, theres a ton of talent there. Also if you want to support the Kickstarter campaign and help get the book printed, visit the Beautiful Destinations Kickstarter page [Here]


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Printing Digital Photos

Posted by Mark

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There are a number of places to get your digital photos printed but my favorite place is Boushahri in Salmiya. I’ve been going to Boushahri ever since I was a kid when they were THE photography store/studio. Nowadays things are a lot different. They moved from their large location in the old Salmiya Salem Al Mubarek street into a building off of Baghdad street. They’ve even closed down their portrait studio and all that’s left really is a tiny store that sells a few Fuji and Leica cameras and a corner where they print photos.

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I like them cuz they’re conveniently located near my place, they’re not in a mall and they’re fairly quick. If I have a few photos they usually print them out while I wait and if I have a bunch like 30 or more I usually pick them up a few hours later. Their prices are pretty cheap as well, a regular small 10x15cm photo costs just 100fils to print while a larger 10x15inch photo costs KD1.5.

They open every day (except Friday I think) from 9:30AM to 1PM and then again from 4:30PM to 9PM. Here is their location on [Google Maps]


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Old Kuwait Postcards

Posted by Mark

I was searching for random stuff on eBay when I spotted a bunch of different sellers selling old postcards of Kuwait. I saved the most interesting ones to share below. Notice how much greener Kuwait was back in the old days? Also you might notice some of the postcards feature the Kuwait Towers while still under construction. The postcard I decided to highlight above is of “The Yachting Club”. [eBay Link]

There are two images of the back of the postcards with writings. I don’t know what language they’re in (my guess Bulgarian and Italian?) but if anyone can translate them to English that would be fantastic. Also what happened to all the seagulls??

Update: A friend noted the seagulls might have been super imposed on that shot. Looking at it closely I can’t seem to find any shadows of the seagulls so that’s probably the case.


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Kuwait by Brett Jordan

Posted by Mark

For those of you who attended the showing of the short film “Playtime” this past Thursday (a great film btw) will probably recall the director during the Q&A session mentioning Brett Jordan’s photos as being one of his sources of inspiration.

Brett Jordan’s parents lived in Kuwait back in the 60s and he managed to scan a ton of his parents photos and then uploaded them onto Flickr. I’ve already posted about Brett’s photos a number of times over the years but I know many of you haven’t seen them before. Also, Brett keeps adding photos as he finds them so there might be a bunch that weren’t there the last time you saw them.

Check out all the photos on Brett’s Flickr page [Here]


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Boat Trip in London – 1955

Posted by Mark

I saw this picture today and loved it. According to the Instagrammer who posted it:

This photograph was taken on a boat trip in London in 1955. From left to right, His Royal Highness Sheikh Sabah Al-Salim Al-Sabah the former Emir of Kuwait, their British escort, Abdul-Rahman Al-Ateeqi and Sheikh Salem Sabah Al-Salem Al-Sabah the previous Minister of Defense.

via @gurwic


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Review: Eye-Fi, Wireless Memory Card

Posted by Mark

I was looking for ways to breathe new life into my digital camera and while looking at some new lenses for it I realized one great thing I could add to the camera would be WiFi. Memory cards with WiFi built in have been around for some time now but I never saw a need for one until now. Although my iPhone takes some great photos, on more than one occasion I’ve struggled with it and in most cases its because I probably was indoors and the lighting was horrible. By having a digital camera with WiFi, I would be able to take shots with a more capable camera and then send it to my phone wirelessly on the spot so I could upload it onto Instagram.

I checked all the local online stores and found that Blink had two models, one was out of stock while the other available for KD19. It was for only 8GB but I decided to go for it anyway since I was picking up the Mercedes G63 to review that same day and wanted to try out the card while shooting it.

The way the card works is pretty straight forward. You download the Eye-Fi application from the Apple or Android store, and then run it and follow the onscreen instructions. The whole setup process takes a minute and when you’re done you just stick the memory card into the camera and take a photo. While the camera is still on, launch the Eye-Fi app and it will start downloading all the photos from the memory card onto your phone immediately. It works really well and I was able to capture the photo I wanted, send it to my phone, apply my filter and then upload it to Instagram without a hitch.

The memory card I got is an 8GB capacity with a Class 10 read and write speed. The only extra feature it has over regular memory cards is WiFi. It costs KD13 on Amazon without shipping but if you’re in a rush Blink have it for KD19.


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Abu Dhabi: Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

Posted by Mark

Before I arrived to Abu Dhabi I was given a bunch of activities to choose from and one of the available options was a tour of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. Ever since I watched the video of the 3D mapped projections on the mosque two years ago I’ve been fascinated by the mosque. I hadn’t seen or heard of the mosque before that video and after watching it I thought that place looked really beautiful.

I was put up at the Ritz Carlton in Abu Dhabi which was located practically across the street from the mosque and as I drove by on my way to the hotel I realized the place was as big as I imagined it would be. On the second day of my visit I was taken on a private tour of the mosque and I loved it. While still outside the mosque the first thing you’ll realize is that you can see the courtyard inside since the sides of the mosque are open and overlook a pool of water giving the place a very open feel. Once you walk through the main entrance the first area you get to see is the large courtyard. The sky was a nice blue and the mosque was crystal white so I was able to get some beautiful shots of the courtyard before we were led to the other end where we had to take off our shoes before being taken inside the mosque. Once inside I just couldn’t focus anymore, there was so much to see all around with one of the largest chandeliers in the world hanging above my head to the worlds largest carpet below my feet. The walls and ceilings were all intricately designed and I was just wandering around with my jaw dropped while the guide was explaining everything. It’s such a beautiful place and like nothing else I had ever seen before.

If you’re in Abu Dhabi and want a tour of the mosque they do offer public tours a number of times a day. You can find out more about that on the mosques website along with more information [Here]

Since I knew before hand I was going to visit the mosque I ended up borrowing the super wide angle Sigma 12-24mm lens from AAB World. If it wasn’t for this lens I wouldn’t have been able to capture the mosque in the way I did in the photographs above. Especially once I was inside the mosque since a normal lens wouldn’t have been able to fit so much detail and architecture all into one shot. I was planning to have a stand alone review for this lens but while I was getting all the photos ready for this post I realized sharing these photos would be the best review I could give it. It’s definitely not a day to day lens but on occasions like this I wouldn’t want to be stuck without this lens.


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Star Trails Session 8

Posted by Mark

Calling all photographers, if you’re interested in taking part in a group activity then this is for you. Star trails photography involves long exposure shots of either the sky or landscapes where the movement of the stars in the sky form light trails in your shots (similar to the shot above). Not only will you end up with some interesting shots but its also a great way to meet new people.

Here is a list of gear you need to bring:
1. A DSLR
2. A tripod
3. Bring extra batteries or at least fully charge yours
4. A high capacity memory card
5. Shutter release
6. Food
7. Flashlights
8. Mat or chair to sit on

The meet up point will be the exterior 360 Mall parking lot [Map] this Friday November 1st at 4PM. For more informations and to sign up check this [Link]

Photo above taken by Saleh AlRashaid


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Kuwait 1969

Posted by Mark

A combination sand and rain storm batters a lone automobile in Kuwait, May 1969.
PHOTOGRAPH BY DAVID CUPP, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

The cool and eerie photograph above was featured today on the National Geographic Tumblr, Found. [Link]


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