Monday, 12 December 2011

Kobo Touch eReader -it's not a Kindle!

Touch Me!
I decided that it is time to join the 21st century and get myself an eReader. I  read a lot, often on the commute, and if  go on holiday half the weight is books so it makes sense to look for a smaller and lighter solution. Earlier readers were generally pretty ugly, but the latest ones, like the Kobo and the Kindle look pretty good. So what to buy? I did a bit of research and ruled out a tablet straight away, although they are more versatile devices the screens aren't as good for reading and they are considerably heavier and pricier.

The major player is the Kindle, it's small, light and decent looking -but at the time of writing has no touch screen in the UK. Other drawbacks are the closed format and the fact that Amazon get enough of my money anyway, a market is only a market if there is competition, otherwise it is a monopoly. There's the Sony, but that's expensive, at £129 when compared to the Kobo Touch at under £100.

The Kobo Touch is less then a ton -a mere tenner more than the non-touch Kindle, looks pretty decent -especially in the matt black, and can be picked up in the high street from Smiths or Argos. The spec is much the same as the Sony and the Kindle, With a 6 inch Pearl E-ink display, battery life around a month and 1 GB of free storage, although on the Kobe you can insert a microSD card to increase this.

The Kobe, unlike the Kindle, reads E-PUB books, so you are not restricted to the Kobo shop. I haven't had a good poke around the shop yet -but it looks well enough stocked. Kobo also supports DRM locked books via Adobe Digital Editions, which means that I can read books from the county library, I've downloaded Flashman on the March to try it out.

It will also cope with PDFs -so I have copied the G3 manual onto it,, and it displays well enough. This is a bit of a boon as the manual comes as a PDF, which means either printing it out or lugging a laptop if you want to refer to it away from home.

In use -it hasn't had a real test yet, but so far so good. The display is clear and pleasant, the touch screen works well, although it can be a little slow compared to the phone. The Kobo Touch is light and easy to hold in the hand, the quilting on the back is solid and feels quite pleasant. My eyes are still adjusting to it, probably because I'm holding it at a different distance and angle than I would a book, but he font, size and spacing are all selectable. It strikes me that these devices might be good for older readers (which I am rapidly becoming one of) as they are a lot lighter and handier than large print books.

The software works well and the device is pretty intuitive, for someone who hasn't used a reader before, as it should be -there isn't much to it. It is easy to bring up the table of contents for a book and navigate around it, I was half way through 'The Castle of Otranto' on my android phone, and I'm now at the same place on the eReader. If you use the Kobo Reader software on your devices, then what you're reading should be kept in sync, but I haven't tried this. Words can be checked in a dictionary and highlighted, pages can be annotated -you can even browse the web if you are desperate enough. I'd advise sticking to what the Kobo does best just read books on it, it's very good at that.

In conclusion -right now, this Christmas, in the UK- the Kobo is a Kindle killer, when Amazon ship us the Touch and open up their shop in the same way that they have in the States then it won't be, except that the Touch may well be 30% more expensive, and that's a good few books.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Zuiko Your Way -Old Lenses On New Bodies.

The time has come, the walrus said,
to speak of many things,
of shoes and ships and sealing-wax,
of OM adaper rings.

Couldn't resist the rhyme, so now I'll have to write a post about it. One of the isuues with switching camera makers is that you are left with all the old kit. One thing to do with all the old glass is to reuse it, and Olympus OM fit Zuiko lenses are supposed to be good for this, and especially so for the micro 4/3 format of the Panasonic G3 . There are two reasons for this, firstly the lenses are quick, due to the width of the OM fitting, and secondly they are light -it was part of the OM way- and so should put less strain on the mounting ring of the G3.

One thing to consider though, is that the focal length of the lens will double when used with the 4/3 system, so the 50mm standard lens becomes a 100mm portrait lens. The 500mm mirror lens is now a 1000mm bird spotters delight (maybe).

Another thing to note is that you can pay more or less what you want for the adapter, this one was fourteen quid from eBay, best price on Amazon seemed to be double this, the official Olympus MF-2 is £130! So far this one seems to be well manufactured and it came from a UK supplier (all the Hong Kong wanted more).

Finally, these lenses won't integrate the camera's electronics, unsurprisingly as the OM lenses don't have any. This means that there is no auto-focus and you have to put the G3 into 'shoot without lens' mode and use Aperture priority (A) on the top dial to shoot. When you do that the camera seems to work pretty well, although at high focal lengths it seems to over-expose, but maybe I need to read the manual.

I'll perhaps talk about the individual lenses later -but for now here'a a shot from the Sirius mirror lens.

Birdie -watch me!

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Panasonic G3 -a walk in the country.

Will you lot get away from that tree!

This is the first time I have taken the new camera out to play, and it's done pretty well. I was a bit worried that colours would be too cool, this wasn't the best day to prove it one way or another, it was getting near to sunset and the mist was rising, but all in all I am pretty pleased. I did play around with the camera settings a little, but I wasn't organised enough to write down what I used.


Mister friendly poses for the Panasonic

Generally I used the viewfinder, rather than the  screen, it has a dioptre adjuster so that you can compensate for any optical shortcomings that you have and bring the menu in focus. It's all pretty intuitive -which is just as well as I have yet to open up the CD with the manual in it. The viewfinder is good enough that I'm pleased that I chose this camera rather than, say, the Olympus without one.
I think I used the flash

One problem that I did have was with the buttons on the back of the camera by the screen, which I found myself hitting by accident, sending the camera into some strange modes. Another is that the touch screen, whilst usable, isn't the most responsive -it's quite a bit worse than the one on my LG Optimus phone.

Colours look pretty good here

Moody Views