Showing posts with label cameras. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cameras. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Samsung Galaxy Note 9 Review from a First Time Smartphone User

Why I Finally Bought a Smartphone 


I have been using a flip phone since the 1990's. I only bought it because  I traveled on business and needed a way to communicate on the road. There weren't any smartphones then. The little phone fit easily in my purse or pocket and I used my landline whenever I was home. I only gave family members and very close friends my cell number -- and, of course, services that insisted I get two-step verification by text message. I don't really text anyone myself -- yet.

Almost everyone I know seems to have a smartphone and  many seem addicted to them. But I didn't want one. I hate typing on tiny keyboards with my arthritic fingers. I like to work on a desktop where I have it all. So I happily blogged on and resisted the smartphone. I processed my photos nicely without one and took a digital camera on my photo walks. Then came Instagram and I couldn't join the party. Unless I got a smartphone. So five days ago I finally got one.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9  Review from a First Time Smartphone User
My Galaxy Note 9 with Accessories


Why I Bought a Samsung Galaxy Note 9 Instead of an iPhone


My brother and many of my friends have iPhones and love them. My husband has a Galaxy S7. I've seen people do amazing things with smartphones and I thought they were using iPhones. One day I was at a winery with a friend and had forgotten to bring my phone. I borrowed hers and it took fantastic photos. I had seen my nephew scan a document by taking a photo with what I thought was an iPhone. I was all set to get an iPhone. But when I double checked with my nephew and my friend, I discovered they both had Galaxy phones. The camera I had borrowed was on a Galaxy Note 8 or 9

I wanted to buy the phone with the best camera. My plan was to start making more videos where I could just talk to people, so I needed a front-facing camera. I also wanted to get great nature and product photos and videos for my blogs and for making Zazzle products. And, of  course, I wanted to be able to post to my Instagram account with my own phone -- not Hubby's. I was using my PC to like and comment on posts from my friends, and I wanted to join the fun and post more. Now I can. If you like nature, books, gardening, or a simple lifestyle, you can follow me on Instagram and see the quality of what I've posted so far from my new phone. I'm barbradis on Instagram.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9  Review from a First Time Smartphone User
Cyclist in Riverbed of Salinas River in Paso Robles Taken with Galaxy Note 9


I decided on the Galaxy Note 9 because it had great cameras. Yes, the iPhone camera is also a good one, but for my purposes, the Galaxy Note 9 tops it. There is also a lesser reason. I have both a Windows PC and an iMac. Both have been sick. While my PC was really sick, I used the Apple almost exclusively, even though it was really slow. I couldn't find anything. I called our local guru to come fix it and he confirmed that Apple just hides things and you have to know the tricks to get around that. I like a clear file path. I think in Windows, not Apple. I understand Google better than Apple. I thought over the long haul I'd be happier with Android.


The Learning Curve


If I had already been a smartphone user just trading up or getting a different brand, I don't think the learning curve would have been as steep for me as it's been these last five days. I'm used to the space and options I have with a desktop. I work with forty tabs open in Chrome, four notepads to cut and paste from, and several Windows Explorer windows open at once. Although the Galaxy Note has a larger screen than many phones, it doesn't come close to the 21 inches my computer monitor has.

The Note 9 lets me open several apps at once and flip between them, but I had some trouble getting an email with a pin I needed to put in a registration form for Verizon or Samsung -- I forget which. Once the email came in through the GMail app, I couldn't get  back to the form where I was supposed to enter it. I think that would have happened on any smartphone. So most of my learning curve is just learning to use a smartphone instead of a PC -- not something unique to the Galaxy smartphone. It's a totally different way of working. It will take time to really get good at this.

The thing that bothered me most was that tiny keyboard. It's hard for me to hit only one key at once -- even though the Galaxy Note 9's keyboard is larger than most. I have two work-arounds for that. First, I use that little microphone on the keyboard and talk instead of type when I can. I also have a small wireless keyboard I bought to use with another device. It plays nicely with my Galaxy Note 9, as would just about any portable Bluetooth keyboard. So if I'm free to talk without disturbing anyone, I make my Instagram captions and hashtags with my voice and correct most of my mistakes using the keyboard. The speech recognition does confuse to with too or two. I have to speak slowly. It mistook my friend Celia's name for silly. But I can live with that as it learns to better understand my voice.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9  Review from a First Time Smartphone User
What Happens if You Hold the Volume Button Down Too Long  While Taking a Photo

What I love about the Galaxy Note 9

  • The large 6.4" screen
  • The ability to type with my voice instead of my fingers
  • The quality of the front and back cameras
  • The way the phone camera handles lighting differences -- what's in the shade shows better than it does in my Canon PowerShot photos if the photo subject is partially shaded. 
  • When I shoot videos while walking, they are less shaky than the ones I shoot with my Canon PowerShot SX410 IS. I'll show you one of my photo walks below.
  • Easy updates for software
  • Ease of installing the apps I want
  • Easy flipping between apps
  • The ability to take multiple photos in quick succession by holding down the volume button. I learned this accidentally. 
  • Clear voice reception on calls. I called my landline and my husband just to make sure.
  •  Easy contact management, but I confess that I used my little bluetooth keyboard to help enter the names and numbers.
  • Fast charging and long battery life.
  • Flaps that cover the ports for the charger and headphones to help keep them safe from water and dust during everyday use. 
  • The S-Pen with its many amazing features, only some of which I've tried so far. I can't do it all in five days. So far I've found it very handy when I have to use the keyboard since I can better control what I click. A video I watched showed many more pen features I have yet to try. The S-Pen can even control some phone features remotely. 
  • The ability to make a monitor act like a PC if you have the right cable, monitor, and the S-pen. It will work with your monitor if it has an HDMI port and you have an HDMI to USB Type C cable 
  • I can use the Do Not Disturb setting to keep away all notification sounds during the hours I sleep. While I'm trying to fall asleep I can play relaxing music for as long as I set the timer for -- all while my phone is charging.  


A Video of a Photo Walk I Made Yesterday

I made this video with the Galaxy Note 9 in the morning during a lull between rainstorms. 


Here's the Camera and Accessories I Use With It

This is my phone color. I also bought the case and screen protector to keep my investment safe. I already had a portable keyboard to use.



What I Didn't Love as Much

Much as I love my new phone, there are some things I don't love as much.


  • The phone is somewhat heavy because of its size.
  • The shape of the phone, though similar in shape to most other smartphones, is harder for my arthritic hands to hold while trying to take a photo than a camera is.
  • If I want to take a horizontal photo, it's really easy to press the button that will make the phone take multiple shots in a row as long as the button is held down. I'm learning to be careful how I hold the phone. 

Selfies

I have never yet found a camera that made selfies I liked. I'm afraid the problem is not the camera but the subject. Nevertheless, I made a selfie so I could photograph the screen for you. The weird colors are the result of the artificial lighting in the room that my Canon couldn't handle well. Flashes leave light bursts I didn't want. You do see the editing icons here. I don't normally edit photos except to crop them or add text, but I think I'll learn to use some of those available apps that remove wrinkles, etc. 

Since I haven't learned to use those apps yet, I'm hiding behind the camera. The editing icons are above the circle-shaped camera icons. The bottom row of icons are for the whole phone. The quality of this photo has nothing to do with the smartphone camera, since I didn't know how to use the Note 9 to take a photo of itself. It probably would have done a better job with the lighting. I think I  did use one filter and kept it because it changed my hair from gray to the blond I was born with.

Apps

Once I got my Note 9 smartphone, I started adding more apps. It's almost impossible not to when you see all that's available to play with. The thing that's hard is organizing those apps so you can find them again. The Note 9 gives me the Apps Edge. Most of the time it sits almost invisibly on the right edge of my screen, but I can slide it out whenever I need it. I can choose ten apps to put there, so I included what I use most. I guess they are also put in files. If I click the files icon (far left under open apps screen below) it will show me every app that's currently open and I can go back to working in it. Handy! I love both these features. Perhaps other smartphones also have them, but I only have experience on this phone.

So far my favorite free app besides Instagram is Relaxio. It gives me a choice of sixteen kinds of white noise I can listen to alone or combine with other sounds. I can choose from city traffic noises, falling rain, ocean waves, birds, crackling fire, wind, a flowing brook, night nature sounds, coffee shop, and a few other white noise sounds I haven't figured out. I love this app for falling asleep, since I can set a timer for how long it will play. I let it play beside my bed while the phone charges at night. 




Comparing Photos


This morning I decided to photograph some books in a bookcase in my office. The only light source was across the room and partially blocked with my iMac monitor. I made the shots as identical as I could except I used a flash for the shot from my Canon PowerShot SX410 IS. The phone, of course, needed no flash. I didn't guess accurately the number of books included in each shot, but I think it's close enough for you to get the idea. Except to crop and size these for Instagram and add a background color in PicMonkey, I did no photo editing to change tone, lighting or anything else. I added no effects. Here are the shots, as I will post them to Instagram later.

Samsung Galaxy Note 9  Review from a First Time Smartphone User


Samsung Galaxy Note 9  Review from a First Time Smartphone User

As you can see, I didn't edit as much extraneous stuff out of the phone shot as I did the Canon shot. I'd never tried putting backgrounds on before in PicMonkey and I wound up using FotoJet to crop the photos when I hadn't gotten the images the right size for the background. I've never used layers before and PicMonkey just added them to their app. In the end I put the wrong photo in the shot above, not the one that trimmed the lower shelf out. I think you still have a fair comparison between the Canon and the Note 9 cameras.

My Recommendation


If you need a phone with an outstanding camera, I can't think of a better one than the Samsung Galaxy Note 9. I bought it for the camera, but also love the pen and the ability to use it to  turn my phone into something very much like a PC should I ever need to. Just tonight I downloaded the Amazon Music app and discovered I also get great sound quality for the songs I love when I play them on the Note 9.

Now if my Note 9 could only take a selfie! There's probably an app for that, but I still need to find it. My advice? Get yourself or someone you love a Galaxy Note 9.


Don't miss our other contributor's reviews of electronic products on this site. 



Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Photographing the Salinas River: A Review

Watching the Salinas River Go By


The Salinas River was not part of my life until 1995, when my mother moved to a part of Paso Robles California only three blocks from river access. It was the first time I had lived near a real river. I grew up in Los Angeles County, and the only rivers I saw were mostly empty cement waterways that only filled after heavy rains. When we lived near Seattle for four months I was delighted to see some real rivers. I had always wanted to live near one, and now I live in Mom's house where the Salinas River is a short walk away. I love to watch it.

Photographing the Salinas River: A Review
An Ideal Place to Sit and Watch the Salinas River in Paso Robles, taken with Nikon Coolpix S9300

Getting to Know and Photograph the River


Once I had such easy access to the Salinas River, I began to study it and observe and photograph it on a regular basis. The Salinas is a subterranean river. That means I don't see it most of the year because it's flowing underground. If we get heavy rains, it becomes visible again for a few weeks and then disappears from sight. I try to make the most of the weeks when I'm able to photograph the flowing river. I have put many of my Salinas River photographs on puzzles, greeting cards, posters, postcards, and other print-on-demand products at Zazzle. You can see most of those products here. Among them are a poster and greeting card of the bench photo above.

I just made a new poster of my favorite river shot. The river always makes me feel peaceful as it flows by me. So I added a bit of text that reminds me of one of my favorite hymns: "Like a River Glorious"

Here is my new poster. For ordering information, please click the photo. If you'd prefer to have the poster without the words or if you want to change the words, it's easy to do once you click through to Zazzle and click to customize.



You can listen to the hymn here. Sample the many digital professional recordings of the hymn on Amazon.




The Day the Salinas River Came to Me


One January day I had been walking in the dry riverbed after some recent rains, hoping the river was visible again. I didn't see much more than a few puddles. I was walking away with my camera to return to the riverbank when suddenly the river first trickled and then rushed toward me. I was able to capture it on video. I also got some still shots. You can see the video and the photographs I was able to capture that day and also learn more about the river in this article: The Salinas River: Now You See It. Some of my products also feature photos you will see on that page.

What I Like about Photographing the Salinas River


Access to the river from Larry Moore Park is easy. It's also easy to find a parking place beside or very near this neighborhood park. I get some interesting sunset shots over the river if I walk the river trail at dusk. Here are a couple of them.

Photographing the Salinas River: A Review
Taken with my Canon PowerShot SX410 IS



Photographing the Salinas River: A Review
Taken with my Canon PowerShot SX410 IS

I can also find a wide variety of native plants, weeds, and trees to photograph beside or even in the river. I also see a lot of driftwood. I especially like this shot of a log in the river.

Photographing the Salinas River: A Review
Taken with Nikon Coolpix S8200


The sand on the bank also provides some interesting shots. In the photo below, you see footprints leading down to the river.

Photographing the Salinas River: A Review
Taken with my Canon PowerShot SX410 IS


Sometimes one may see some unexpected wildlife. Birds are common, but hard for me to shoot. Rabbits, though,  appear quite often at dusk. I almost didn't see this one. Do you see it?

Photographing the Salinas River: A Review
Rabbit Blending with River Sand, taken with my Canon PowerShot SX410 IS

After the winter rains, the riverbank can come alive with color, as in the shot below. I was looking down from the trail when I took this photo.

Photographing the Salinas River: A Review
Taken with my Canon PowerShot SX410 IS

No matter when I visit the river, whether it's flowing or dry, there is always something new to discover and photograph. My shots aren't as professional as my friend Mary Beth Granger's who gives us some tips in Challenge Yourself to Take Better Photographs, but I have fun.

My Photography Equipment


Photography is my hobby, and I get along fine with a point and shoot camera. My favorite was a Nikon Coolpix that fit in my purse or pocket, but somehow I lost it when I went out one day with friends and we made a number of stops.

Some of these photos were  taken with my Canon PowerShot, another point and shoot. It has a longer zoom than the Nikon did. The zoom helped me capture that almost hidden rabbit above. The Canon won't fit in my pocket, but I got a nifty case for it that will also hold my cell phone and extra battery packs and San Disks. Nothing is worse than finding out that your battery is dead just as you find the perfect shot you'd been searching for.

The case below is the one I chose to go with my Canon PowerShot SX410 IS. It's light and the strap is so comfortable that I don't mind having to carry the larger camera. When I still  had my Nikon, I could even fit it in the slot next to my Canon, though I think it was really meant for a lens. Now the PowerShot and the case go with me everywhere because every time I leave them home I find a shot I wanted to take and couldn't.

Did You Enjoy this Brief Look at the Salinas River?

If you would like to photograph the Salinas River from Larry Moore Park, here's a map to help you find it. My directions are from the Paso Robles Walmart parking lot. You can drive to the park from the southeast exit and park along Riverbank Lane. Or you can park just west of J. C. Penny, that white building on the map closest to the river. That diagonal path you see next to Penny's leads to a park entrance. When you reach that entrance, go straight toward the river. You can't miss it. 



I'll leave you with one last photo with a bit of wildlife. I couldn't get close enough, even with my zoom, to bring the ducks closer, but occasionally they do get to the river. This shot was taken with my Coolpix S8200 and it didn't have as long a zoom as my Canon,  which I did not yet own back in 2013 when this was taken. I didn't want to crop the photo to make the ducks show up better because it would diminish the view of the river.

Ducks Swimming in Salinas River





Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Review of Canon PowerShot SX 130 IS~Best Point and Shoot Digital Camera!

Canon PowerShot photo of Venice
Basilica in Venice, Italy

My Review of the Canon PowerShot SX 130 IS Point and Shoot Camera

I used to hate taking photos because it was so hard and most of the time my pictures didn't come out that well. In fact out of a roll of film I would keep only one or two. I solved the problem years ago by buying postcards everywhere I traveled. After all, a photographer already got the perfect shot and it was cheaper than developing all that film and then throwing away most of the photos anyway.  So I would just buy the coolest postcards everywhere I went and always have great photos. But none of the photos had me or my family in them and that's a problem when you are doing scrapbooks.

Canon PowerShot photo of building in Rome, Italy
Old building by the Colosseum, Rome, Italy

So a few years ago when digital cameras came out, I thought maybe I could try again, because now when the photos are bad I can just delete them! No more wasted film and money. So I took the plunge. What I did was ask some of my photographer friends for suggestions and based on those, and my preference for a point and shoot camera,  I bought a Canon PowerShot SX 130 IS and I couldn't be happier!


Canon PowerShot photo of Hong Kong
Hong Kong, from Victoria Peak on a Misty morning

Now if you are a technical person who wants all the specs and that kind of stuff, you might not want to read my review of this awesome camera because what I love about it is that even someone like me who hates all that stuff and doesn't even know where to begin to talk about that can use it and take great photos! But I will say a few things about it anyway, for the non techie crowd.

Features of the Canon PowerShot SX 130 IS


 It has an auto setting and I just leave it on there and voila, good shots most of the time. It has a built in zoom, so I just adjust the zoom and it refocuses itself instantly! How cool is that? Now for those of you who understand the F stop settings and the like, it has those available too, but I never use them; I keep it on auto all the time. It has a built in flash and it tells you if you need to activate it! That just means raise the flash. (no light bulbs to buy either) And the thing I really like is that even when it says I need the flash, if I'm in a church or museum where they prohibit flash, I still am able to get a great shot most of the time. More coolness! It also has a huge viewfinder, basically the whole back of the camera is the viewfinder! The photo below was taken in a church where no flash is allowed. Can you believe that?


Canon PowerShot photo of Carcassonne
Rondele, Cathedral in Carcassonne, France

My husband has a Nikon top of the line digital camera and he even thinks some of my shots are better than the ones his camera takes. (He likes to play with the settings though, so that's probably the reason. I tell him to just put it on auto, but no, he has to be all fancy.) I have an iPhone and it has a camera, but the photos from this camera are way better so I will always carry it. ( It's not very heavy.) It was not an expensive camera either considering all its features and the quality of its photos; I got it on sale for less than $200!



Canon PowerShot photo of Sydney Harbor
Sydney Harbor Opera House, Australia


Another thing I like is that it takes regular AA batteries, not those lithium expensive ones that are hard to find. Just pop into any grocery or drug store and you are set to go. Really, it's been so fun to finally take photos that I'm happy to keep and can actually have some fun family shots too. So if you want a camera that takes great shots without having to know all the technical details of cameras, I highly recommend the Canon PowerShot SX 130 IS!

All the photos on this page are from my little digital camera so you can see the variety possible. 

Here are more of the photos I took on my trip around the world, 2014-2015 which I'm still enjoying! You can see more photos and stories at Peace, Love, Travel Light.


Canon Powershot photo of Albi France
Mary and Jesus, St. Cecile Cathedral, Albi, France


Canon Powershot photo of Albi street in France
Lights in Albi, France, Christmas 2014

Canon Powershot photo of Australia
Blue Mountains, Australia


All Photos © Heather Burns, 2014. Please do not copy.









Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

A Camera for Everyone

In today's world most everyone has a camera!  Camera's come in all sizes, shapes and price ranges.  A week or so ago I wrote a lens inviting people to review their favorite camera Review Your Favorite Camera .  On this page I listed 50 different popular cameras and challenged people to write a review on one of the ones I had listed or if their favorite camera was not listed to write a review on it. 

I was delighted to see all the great reviews.  There were a wide variety of reviews on many different cameras.  I read reviews on point and shoots, iphones, SLR's and a wonderful review on an inexpensive film camera.  The reviews below show some of the wide variety of "favorite cameras" that were reviewed.
  • In this lens, Debs tells us why she enjoys using a Holga.  It is an inexpensive film camera.  Discover Lo Fi Slow Photography with a Holga
  • Grammeio loves her Canon point and shoot camera because it is easy to take with your everywhere.  She tells you why it is her favorite in this review One Great Little Camera
  • Paullenton had a favorite Christmas camera this year and reviewed it in this lens Nikon coolpix 1820
  • Shay_Marie finds that her iPhone is the only camera she needs.  Stop by her lens and find out why she thinks it's the best. iPhone Camera
My two favorite cameras right now are a Canon Powershot sx40 and a Sony A57 .  My Canon is a great point and shoot that can be used in both automatic and manual modes.  It also has a 35 times zoom that makes it great for trips when I want the ease of a lightweight camera but with the versatility of a zoom lens. 

My Sony is my workhorse that I use when I am out photographing lighthouses.  Here is a photo I took with it this past summer.


One of the fun features on my Sony is the wonderful picture effects that I can get on some of its automatic settings.  Here is a favorite that I took of our Christmas tree this year setting it on the black and white with a red pop setting.

You can read about some of the other picture effects on this page Camera Picture Effects.


I now have Photo Bug pages on Pinterest.  I hope you will join me there to share ideas about photography.

If you haven't written a review on your favorite camera yet, I'd love to see one from you.  Be sure to tell us what features you enjoy on the camera and why that particular camera is the best one for you.  And of course, be sure to share some of the photos you took with the camera.

Happy Shooting!







Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.