Photo and Video
Best Cameras for Travel in 2015
Spring is just around the corner, in some parts even it’s in full swing, and it’s the time when most people start to plan out their summer. If you have already have your summer mapped out, then one thing you might not have considered is what camera to take. We have a few tips and suggestions as to which might be the best cameras for travel for 2015. A few preliminary requirements are: small size, ease of use, great picture quality and a decent wide angle. Obviously size and weight are the most important because whenever you travel you need a lot of stuff, and the more you need the more compact and portable you want them to be. What does this mean for your travel camera? Don’t be the guy with the Canon 1Ds and the 2 pound lens attached to it, all hanging by your neck. Trust us, climbing into the cathedral tower, onto the hilltop or even the motel stairs, you don’t want to lug 10 pounds of gear. First banned items from the travel cameras are: Canon 1D series, Nikon D3 and D4 series. These cameras weigh over 3 pounds each with their batteries inside. Any zoom lens for them will be at least 1 pound and around 2 pounds for the f/2.8 zoom, or more for the serious telephoto lenses.
If you make the mistake of lugging 10 pounds of gear in your vacation you will return more tired than before you left. Also disqualified are the Canon 5D series and Nikon D800 and D750. We haven’t rulled out all the full frame cameras, you might notice. In fact there are 3 cameras that are light enough and can be paired with small lenses and are worth taking along your trip. The Canon 6D with the 24-105 f/3.5-5.6 IS STM, the Nikon D600 with the 24-85 VR II are two of the major players in the full-frame entry level choices. They each weigh in at under 2.5 with the lenses. That’s not too bad considering you get a full-frame snapper on your trip. Another strong contender is the Sony A7 series with the Sony 28-70mm lens. This kit is by far the lightest, weighing in at just over 1.5 pounds. Pricewise, the Sony A7 with the lens is the cheapest, whereas the Canon and Nikon have better lenses (bigger range, from wider to tighter and both have image stabilization).
The only full-frame camera we really recommend for travel is in fact the Sony A7, A7R, A7s and A7 II. They are all essentially the same camera. The A7 is the cheaper older camera, the A7R is the resolution monster, the A7S is the low light super-hero, and the A7 II is the newer model, with fancier dials and a 5-axis sensor stabilizer. The Sony A7 series cameras and their lenses are very light due to the lack of a mirror. Having the lens closer to the sensor makes it easier to design smaller lenses (just eliminating the gap between sensor and first lens element reduces a lot of weight from big chunky lens elements that would be needed to project the light trough that distance). At this weight the Sony is even lighter than some of its micro four thirds competitors like Olympus OM-D E-M1.
A new but very successful system is the Fujifilm X interchangeable mirrorless camera. They’ve really hit the mark with the color reproduction as well as very sharp lenses, some of them with f/1.4 and even f/1.2. Ranging from the pro level X-T1 to the entry level X-A2, all their cameras have just about the same sensor, with different capabilities though. It’s the operation that makes the difference between the $400 and $1200 body. The lenses also range from affordable to professional, ensuring you invest in a system, not just a few products put together.
Between Sony and Fuji, it seems Fuji have thought more about a logical succession and road map for the lenses. For example Sony has been working with sensor stabilization since 2008 with the Alpha 900. They did this because Zeiss, who made most of the lenses, didn’t do image stabilization. Since then Sony invested a lot of money into research and made their own lenses, without Zeiss branding, that have OSS – or Optical Steady Shot. After launching 3 cameras (the A7, A7R and A7s) they launch one with stabilization built into the sensor. So now you can get stabilization in your 28-70 lens and your sensor. It seems a bit redundant. However, if you do crave the full-frame feeling, the smallest package to quench your needs is the Sony A7 series.
Photo and Video
8K video may now be captured using Sony’s high-resolution A7R V mirrorless camera
It also makes use of a brand-new “human pose estimation” AI-powered focusing mechanism.
The $3,900 A7R V, Sony’s newest mirrorless camera, is intended to capture portraits, landscapes, and other subjects that call for the highest level of clarity. The new model features the same 61-megapixel resolution as the A7R IV but a considerably more potent new Bionz XR engine that supports 8K 24p video, superior AI autofocus, and shake reduction.
Since the A7R V is Sony’s first camera to feature “human position estimation,” the autofocus has significantly improved. The technology can identify the location of the eye by looking at 20 different places on the human body. This enables it to precisely monitor a person who may be moving or turning away from the camera and to continue tracking them even if they temporarily vanish from view. Additionally, it may now select from a variety of topics, including cars, railroads, prairies, animals, and insects.
Although the A7R V is primarily intended for photographers, it is also the best camera ever for video. The A7R V can now shoot 8K video at up to 24 frames per second and 6.2K without line-skipping or pixel binning, whereas the A7R IV was only capable of 8-bit 4K at 30 frames per second with either cropping or line-skipping. It has the same heatsink as the A7S III and supports up to 30 minutes of 8K capture time as well as unlimited 4K recording.
Also supported are supersampled 10-bit 4K videos at up to 30 frames per second using the complete sensor width, or 60 frames per second with a 1.2x cut. Additionally, 16-bit RAW footage can be recorded at up to 4K 60p to external recorders.
The in-body stabilization (IBS) mechanism from Sony has been improved from 5.5 to 8 stops, mirroring what Canon can do with their comparably priced EOS R5. The new model also has a fully articulating screen that makes it more helpful for high-angle shooting, video, and other tasks instead of the tilting display featured in the A7R IV.
It’s impressive that the A7R V can shoot at the same 10 frames per second as previously for such a high-resolution camera. It can now shoot compressed RAW files instead of just uncompressed ones like it could in the past. Additionally, the buffer has a capacity of up to 583 photos, allowing you to shoot continuously for a long period of time.
It offers a long list of additional appealing features, such as a class-leading electronic viewfinder (EVF) with 9.44 million dots and dual card ports that can accommodate either quick (but pricey) CFexpress Type A or UHS-II cards. A second new feature is pixel shift multishot, which uses AI processing to automatically identify and adjust movement between frames to composite 16 photos into a single 240.8-megapixel image (tripod use only).
Along with AI-powered white balance, focus stacking of up to 299 frames for greater depth of field, Sony’s Cinetone color profile for a more film-like appearance, an updated body with dials and controls similar to the A7 IV, USB-C charging with Power Delivery, and native webcam compatibility, the list goes on. The $3,900 Sony A7R V is scheduled to ship in December.
Tech4U Ares Review: A Great Budget Phone
When it comes to smartphones, Tech4u may sound a bit alienating for some of enthusiasts. However, from the research I’ve done regarding the company, they have been around for quite a while.
When I hunted for a new budget smartphone to have lying around because my old phone wasn’t going to work any longer. I’ll admit I was a bit skeptical once I saw the announcement of the phone in the Online Marketplace I was purchasing it.
Once I got the phone with me, I found out that this phone is actually a great alternative for people who are in the same situation as I am. With a cost of $100 USD (Or $1,900 MXN), I found this phone to meet a lot of the standards I had.
Dissecting the inner Workings of the Ares.
Let’s start with the juicy stuff right off the bat for the techies out there. This phone has the Android 6.0 Marshmallow Operative System. With the major features that come with it such as the Memory Manager and the capability of turning your SD Card into Internal Memory.
Of course, we also can’t forget to mention the capabilities of adding messages to the lockscreen, App-by-App Battery optimization and a more refined Volume Control system. This version of the OS is a modified version specifically built for this phone model.
The reason why this is a thing comes down to the rest of the phone’s specifications. This phone has a Quad-Core processor that runs at 1.3 Ghz with 1 GB of RAM. In other words, a lot of base apps had to be cut-off (Minus the Essentials) in order to have this modified OS run properly.
I can say, however, that some of the functions that were cut off won’t really have an impact on the User Experience. This phone also has a QHD 5.5’’ LCD Screen and an Internal Storage capacity of 8 GB. It’s exactly what you’d expect from a budget phone like this.
Of course, once we head outside of the phone, we’ll see that some of the features make up for some of the phone’s lacking features. Even without knowing about the Camera picture quality this phone’s internal storage capacity is actually better than most Budget Smartphones.
This also expands upon the capabilities of the External Memory. This phone can expand its External Storage capacity up to 32GB (As far as I could test, however I estimate it has a 128 GB Memory Cap), which isn’t all too shabby.
The Best Picture Quality on a Sturdy Phone.
This phone’s design reminds me a lot of the iPhone 7 for some reason or another. Maybe it’s because it has the Home button on the bottom-center part of the screen. This phone also has removable cases which allow easy access to the battery.
The battery is a Li-ion rechargeable battery. The type of battery this phone has the benefit of using a 2,500 mAh battery. I have tested the battery throughout various environments and saw that this baby lasts quite a long time without charging.
The camera isn’t too shabby either, this phone has a 13mpx back camera with a 5mpx frontal camera. It seems like the major focus on the phone’s build was the camera and battery as they are the most prominent features of this budget smartphone.
The picture you see above is a picture I took with the Tech4U Ares on a recent trip to Santo Domingo in Oaxaca, Mexico. Just look at the beauty of the cathedral and tell me if this phone is a marvel to look at.
Another great thing to mention is the capability of surviving tough situations. I am not afraid of admitting I am quite clumsy sometimes and drop my phone from 5’’ of height. However, the worst thing that’s happened to the phone in these drops were a few scrapes.
Ares is certainly durable and can take some punishment. The battery and camera are also quite useful and this phone is pretty much a good budget smartphone to stick around with. But, how does it perform?
Start from Scratch and Go Somewhere New.
Once you boot the Tech4U Ares for the first time. You will see that a lot of default apps (Especially Facebook, Twitter and other social network apps that usually come pre-installed) are gone. Of course, this is a better experience for people who want to start from scratch.
Without having to worry about any sort of preinstalled apps. You can use those 8GB of Internal Storage Capacity to the full extent. Whether you want to use them with apps or use it for storing multiple sorts of data is completely up to you.
Even though the phone is under the recommended specifications for an Android 6.0 Marshmallow build. I haven’t experienced the slightest amount of slowdown in all the time I’ve been using it.
However, the GPS does make the Processor reach overheating temperatures quickly. It’s a big concern especially when using apps like Google Maps and its Live Tracking feature. I wouldn’t suggest using this phone to get from point A to point B.
Regarding Gaming, I tested a few apps on the phone with varying results. Some apps make the processor overheat while some others run flawlessly with little to no problem at all.
The World Ends With You –SOLO REMIX- and BlazBlue: Revolution Reburning are the best examples of fast performance. For some reason games like TETRIS and others actually are harder on the processor than anything else. Probably because of the ads displayed on them.
Concusion: A Great Budget Phone.
I have been using this phone for about 2 months now. And I’ll say that the Tech4U Ares is one of the best choices regarding the budget Smartphone lineup. The Android OS doesn’t feel intrusive to the end user and It’s still an attractive offer.
As far as I could tell, this phone’s firmware also doesn’t throw viruses at me and in performance it has exceeded my expectations. I must say that for $100 USD it’s a great phone to be using in the case of an emergency break in your main phone.
Now, I am going to say that in regards to specifications some users might be thrown off. Especially when it comes to the RAM and Processor, some of the most important components in a phone.
However, I feel like the rest of the phones qualities make up for the defects it has. The batter life is impressive, the OS doesn’t slow down and the Camera takes great quality pictures. It’s an all-around complete phone that should set the standard for future budget phone builds.
The Brony Fandom has an Image Problem
Photography by joeyh3
The brony fandom has been one of the first communities I ever have gotten involved in. The very fact that I respect it enough to even make a Month dedicated to my love for it should speak volumes about how much I love being part of it.
However, one of the things I have noticed on the latest days is a problem that not so many people talk about; or at the very least very few in the multitude of videos discussing the ToonKritic situation.
The brony fandom has an image problem, a rather alarming one at that as well. It’s a problem that has been enabling a lot of problematic behavior to happen. Nobody even knows how to react to this situation properly. Much like how the old adage goes:
The Road To Hell is Paved with Good Intentions
But why? Isn’t the brony fandom one of the most welcoming and understanding of them all? We have seen stories of people who have helped other bronies through tough times and other sorts of actions that have defined bronies as helpful.
Well, on the surface, that’s true. You could say that the biggest controversy in the brony fandom is that its adults watching a kids show. This really isn’t the case once we dig deeper into the fandom’s history.
Below the surface, things become murkier, with some of the fandom’s members going out of their way to omit information, silence people and even abuse their popularity. Soon, a lot of people might realize that the brony fandom is controversial but not for having adults who watch MLP.
In fact, the rabbit hole goes down so deep that there are awful things such as impersonators, scammers and other sorts of people who have done a lot of unforgivable things. With the fandom quickly attempting to sweep things under the rug.
Moral for the Sake of Looking Good is not Moral for the sake of Moral.
This is where you can begin to see the problems within the brony fandom itself. The image problem has been the very reason why these incidents have occurred and why many people who have been behind these incidents have gotten away with it.
There is a lot of “Calling out” in the brony community but not much is done to prevent similar situations from happening ever again. As soon as one incident happens, it’s swept under the rug and a lot of people wish for it to not be seen by the Mainstream Media.
It’s a (justified) paranoid behavior that has become pretty toxic to the fandom itself. Sometimes the reactions even extend from trying to downplay an incident or pretending it didn’t happen, to blatant attempts at shielding certain personalities within the community. As such, let’s take a look at the ongoing ToonKritic investigation for an example.
As of this writing, the search for the accused has been going on strong. Meanwhile, there have been a number of comments online that have attempted to defend him from his alleged, pedophiliac actions.
Two prominent figures in the fandom, Dr. Wolf, and Silver Quill, made a video that has met with a lot of backlash from multiple people with multiple perspectives. If you watch the video, it appears as if they are trying to push the fandom to forgive TK for his actions.
Even if (And that’s a big “if” in my opinion) the point of the video is another one. They did the same thing as NBC did and didn’t really get this message across in a correct manner. However, pay attention to the words in the video and you’ll see that they are trying to do the thing that will make the fandom look good.
Bronies Vs. The World
Remember when I said that this paranoid behavior from bronies is justified? Well, for the people who need a crash course the brony community has been having quite a bit of trouble with the rest of the world for some time now.
Though there’s something to be said about how people who criticize a fan base without understanding it aren’t worth paying attention to; the brony fandom has remained a popular punching bag for the mainstream media, despite brony attempts to fight back against this.
Bronies participate in a lot of charity work, prepare and host conventions, publicize the happier moments from them and it’s supposed to push the fandom beyond the widely held view that they are “Basement Dwellers,” or something of the sort.
However, there are quite a few problems with those plans. The main one is the fact that, in order to achieve the desired goal, a lot of voices within the fandom are silenced. Sometimes too, a scandal blows so out of proportion that the mainstream media gets involved and pushes the very viewpoints that the bronies are so scared of and attempting to fight against.
The second problem is, well, a lot of good the community does is negated by the fact that there are a lot of twisted things within the brony fandom. By “twisted,” I mean an abundance of things such as child pornography, rape, and gore in fanart. Strap yourselves in, because there is a lot to be argued about this point.
comic by Veggie55 on YouTube
“Let’s jump off the cliff, the furries did so!”
Some people have brought to my attention while discussing the ToonKritic incident, that these sort of things happen a lot in other communities. There is a lot of truth to this statement, but there are many reasons why this argument is irrelevant.
For one, the fact that other fandoms engage in this activity doesn’t justify bronies doing the exact same thing. In fact, they should be improving upon that and not allowing these sorts of things to happen at all.
In regards to the fan content, there is a dedicated section to child pornography in sites like Derpibooru and FiMFiction. This category is known as “Foalcon” and it’s been quite the topic of discussion among fan creators. I strongly recommend you do not look up what Foalcon is, but it’s enough to say it involves a sexual fetish for horses with pre-teen traits.
As disturbing as that may sound, it’s not unique to this fandom; anime, for example, has Lolicon, which is a fetish for pre-teen anime girls. So in other words, if somebody is going to go after bronies, they should also go after Otakus, any children’s cartoon show fans, and even, oddly enough sports fans. All of them have their own form of this sexual kink.
Here’s the deal, as long as the person reading, watching, or creating said content is mentally stable enough to be doing so, there’s no evidence to suggest this material is harmful to those brave enough to watch it.
The problem is that some people just aren’t mentally sound enough to handle it. In the case of ToonKritic, for example, he became disconnected with the real world and allegedly started to solicit sexual images and role-playing from people, due to this.
And yes, this sort of disconnection happens quite a lot, especially considering how easy it is to forget that it’s another person involved in your conversation. With no personal contact, the other person can easily turn into words on a screen.
image by mayamermaid
The First Steps Forward are The Hardest to Take
In light of all of this. What is the best solution towards this whole issue? What could bronies do to prevent incidents like this from ever happening again? Does the fandom need to reject its “Open and Welcoming Community” image in order to grow?
In order to understand this, we should first come to terms with a very blunt concept. Being an open community that’s accepting of everyone is undeniably impossible.
For those who need evidence of this, we can turn our sights to Briar Nexus. A case study about how this concept is practically a fool’s errand. There will always be a conflict of interest between certain demographics and creating a safe space for everyone is practically impossible.
If the brony fandom is supposed to be known for being this sort of welcoming place. The people within the fandom shouldn’t be surprised when they get labeled as something bad.
Allowing everyone in means allowing all sorts of twisted people to join in the fun. We’ve seen a lot of toxicity within the brony fandom and not much done about it. As such, it’s impossible to keep a good image without silencing the voices that wish for help and justice to be done.
The Final Decision Belongs to the Fandom.
Over the 15 days of research I have done in order to write this article, the only solutions I’ve seen regarding this situation require a lot of self-analyzing and initiative. These concepts can be very difficult to embrace but are necessary to consider in moving forward.
There are a lot of people who distance themselves from so-called “drama” in the community. Honestly, they are not to blame really, as they don’t want to be involved in interpersonal conflicts for various reasons.
However, if the brony fandom is supposed to be promoted as a welcoming community; the brony fandom needs to accept that this will, in turn, cause them to be labeled in all kinds of ways. Freedom of speech does not mean freedom from consequence, after all.
The way I see it, we should all be held accountable for our actions and be given the freedom to do as we please. One of the solutions could easily be having the brony fandom policing the content much more. This solution could be troublesome in the long run.
Outcries of “censoring” or something of the sort would erupt, and the idea of where to draw the line between “acceptable” and “unacceptable” would be constantly argued. It could, however, find the fandom arriving at a better place morally.
The fandom could just continue with the same steps it’s doing right now, but if this is the way the fandom will go then the last of their concerns will be, “How well does this look to the mainstream media,” because it obviously won’t look good at all.
Conclusion: Why am I still a brony?
Sometimes, I question the reasons why I became a brony in the first place. I have seen a lot of bad things happening within the fandom and then wonder why I love it so much. Ultimately I come to realize, that the reason why I love it is that a lot of good also happens within the fandom.
Whether it’s a charity or other acts of kindness, the brony fandom can be associated with a lot of wonderful efforts and great times. It’s one of the reasons why I love it more than the My Little Pony show nowadays.
The very reason why this article exists is so bronies can learn that if we’re going to step forward, something needs to be done in order to prevent history from repeating. The fact that VidaPony made a petition for Zero Tolerance within the fandom means there’s Tolerance of questionable things, to begin with.
It’s not going to make the fandom look pretty, but is the fact that people within the fandom silence others for the sake of maintaining an image also going to make bronies look good? Obviously not.
This all could fall on deaf ears and be seen as yet another hit piece on bronies, however, I have faith that a lot of bronies will take these criticisms to heart, and work to make things better within the fandom to make it healthier.
I guess all I can do at the moment is wait and see how the fandom will act after this incident blows over. So I’ll do just that with the faith that the fandom will step in the right direction this time.
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