Playstation 4 VR

PlayStation VR is supposed to be the savior of virtual reality, a much-hyped technology yet to find meaningful mainstream acceptance outside of novelty or a neat curiosity.

VR seems to be in an awkward place: a teenage phase where people who aren’t price-conscious have already picked up one of PSVR’s competitors — the Oculus Rift or Valve and HTC’s Vive platform — but a mainstream breakthrough has yet to occur.

Sony wants to change that — to be the first company that finds a large audience for VR.

That’s a lot of weight to carry. If Sony successfully attracts the attention of an entirely new audience to VR and those players have a bad experience with the platform, they may reject the technology as a whole. And PlayStation VR finds itself in the odd position of being a more affordable VR platform than its competitors as well as a very expensive peripheral — or rather, a series of very expensive peripherals, working together to create the VR experience.

To make that hard sell easier, Sony is bringing along one of the better software lineups of any peripheral, and even some consoles, with a suite of titles that juggle name recognition and credibility. Batman is right here next toBattlezone. There is Rez and an includedResident Evil 7 demo. Very few people sawThumper coming, and it’s already one of my favorite games of the year. Combine PlayStation VR’s lower-than-its-competitors price point and a stuffed launch lineup, and one major question remains: Is the PlayStation 4 itself up to the task of powering good VR experiences? And is PlayStation VR user-friendly enough in practice to hold on to the attention of the mainstream?

THE PRICE

Sony’s mainstream push for PlayStation VR starts with its pricing.

PlayStation VR Worlds box art 2

VR Worlds comes bundled with the more expensive package

PlayStation VR is available at two price points. The version most buyers will likely need is $499: It comes with the PlayStation VR headset and Processor Unit, the PlayStation 4’s camera peripheral (which PSVR requires to function — the headset isn’t usable without it), and two PlayStation Move wand controllers. The $499 bundle also contains PlayStation VR Worlds, a surprisingly robust collection of games and experiences designed explicitly for PSVR. That shark demo and London Heist game Sony has shown off for so long? They’re on the Worldsdisc, and there’s a lot more content there. The collection is $39.99 when bought separately.

Sony is also selling a version of the PSVR that contains only the headset and Processor Unit. At $399, this version excludes the camera and the Move controllers, which wouldn’t be so bad. But the $399 version also doesn’t include PlayStation VR Worlds. You’re losing out on $200 worth of hardware and software to save $100.

If by some chance you already own a PlayStation 4 camera, as well as functioning PlayStation Move controllers, you could buy the $399 product. But it’s hard to come away from the whole situation without feeling like Sony couldn’t try harder to make the $399 option look like a bad deal from start to finish. At least both boxes include a physical disc containing demo software of various PSVR games. A physical demo disc! In 2016! It’s a charming touch, and the demos include content from a good selection of games.

Bundle pricing notwithstanding, it’s no exaggeration to say that price could be Sony’s greatest weapon in the war for hearts and minds of consumers looking to enter the VR market. At the most basic point of comparison, the PSVR kit most people will buy is $499, which is $100 less than the Oculus Rift — not including the platform’s Touch controllers, a pair of which costs $200 — and $300 less than the Vive (which does come with a pair of motion controllers).

Apples-to-apples comparisons are a little difficult here, because there are philosophical differences between each platform. The Vive intends to be a solution for “room-scale” VR, whereas the Rift and PSVR are more stationary experiences. But not only is PSVR at least $100 less than its nearest competitor, it requires less of an investment elsewhere. Where the Rift and Vive require dedicated PCs that start in the neighborhood of around $900 (on the conservative side), PSVR works with the PlayStation 4 consoles many people already own, and which currently retail at a starting price of $299.

PS4 Pro details

VR is a core part of the PlayStation 4 Pro’s appeal

This is somewhat complicated by Sony’s introduction of the PlayStation 4 Pro later this year, which is being released in part as a means of running VR titles better than the base system can. But even that system will start at $399. PlayStation VR is the least expensive VR platform by a good margin, while offering more control options at launch than the Rift.

This is still a high price tag on its face — PSVR costs at least $100 more than the console it requires to play it. But if someone is even casually interested in VR, Sony’s ask is a dramatically easier-to-swallow proposition. PSVR games will not look as good as similar titles can on the Rift or Vive, and developers for the system will have to sacrifice details and polygons to hit the minimum frame rate necessary to keep players from becoming ill.

But PSVR offers an enjoyable, effective VR solution at a much lower point of entry. And it does so with what might be the best-made, most comfortable hardware of the bunch.

THE HARDWARE AND CONTROLS

PlayStation VR headset back
PlayStation VR headset profile
PlayStation VR headset profile

PlayStation VR is an entire platform consisting of multiple parts and, as a whole, looks like a finished, thoughtful product without giving off the sense that the head-mounted display is an expensive piece of technology that could be easily broken. It’s approachable, which is a great contrast to the super-serious stylings of other headsets. Sony did its homework. This is a comfortable headset that avoids many of the mistakes of its competitors.

The PlayStation VR display looks like nothing so much as a retro Daft Punk helmet. It’s a charmingly goofy-looking device. There’s a high contrast in materials between the white plastic, the black face, accents and cushions, and the blue lights that allow the PlayStation Camera to track the headset.

The black cushion where the hardware meets your forehead and the back of your head is made from a comfortable, textured plastic material. This material can easily be wiped down between users, a subtle but important luxury you may only appreciate after using a Rift or Vive drenched in someone else’s head sweat.

This seemingly simple forethought on the part of Sony’s engineers is part of what makes the PlayStation VR the most comfortable VR headset ever made. This is in part due to how customizable the headset’s fit is. A button on the back of the strap allows the top section of the headset to accommodate a variety of head sizes. You can also bring the screen closer to your eyes by depressing the button on the bottom of the front portion of the head-mounted display. A dial on the rear of the hardware can further tighten the fit if needed.

It took a few tries to learn which buttons I had to press and hold to adjust the headset’s fit, and to learn how Sony wanted me to put the headset on and take it off. But the result is a headset that carries all its weight on the hard plastic strap, without sacrificing ease of adjustment. This is a large step up from the Velcro on the Rift and the elastic on the Vive.

PlayStation VR headset guide
PlayStation VR headset guide
PlayStation VR headset guide

The PlayStation VR also fits around glasses much more comfortably than its contemporaries, and you can adjust the headset to fit someone’s head very quickly, which makes it easier to pass from person to person. Once you learn what you’re doing, you learn to slide the screen all the way out, depress the rear button, pull the headset over your head, and then bring the screen in via the bottom button under the front of the hardware. It’s a two-step process that feels easy rather than fiddly, and leads to a good fit every time.

If you slide the front of the hardware out all the way — and this is very important — it also gives you enough room to drink a soda while in VR.

In terms of children, my older kids had little trouble save my 7-year-old, who found it a bit large, although he was ultimately still able to play comfortably. Sony itself warns against letting children under the age of 12 use PlayStation VR, and I both supervise and limit the time my younger kids spend in VR.

The PlayStation VR is also, strangely enough, the heaviest of the non-portable VR headsets. Sony even pointed out that it added weights to the rear strap to balance the system. It’s all a matter of where the weight is distributed, and how the hardware touches your face. You adjust the strap’s size and then slide the screen toward your eyes, which is a system that allows the optics and screen to be supported by the circular strap, not your nose or forehead. Sony moved the weight of the hardware to the strap itself, which allows the front of the hardware to almost hang in front of your eyes. It’s an incredibly comfortable design.

PlayStation VR inline remote

The PSVR’s inline remote

The soft plastic mask found around the headset itself — what Sony calls “The Scope” — is easy on your skin, but there’s a slightly disappointing amount of light let in from your environment. This is one of the reasons the PlayStation VR is best played in a dark room, but more on that later.

The headset’s cable also includes a small inline remote that includes the power button, a mute option for the built-in microphone, and buttons for increasing or decreasing the volume. The volume-up control includes a small nub so you can find it by touch, while the power button is sunken a bit to avoid accidental presses. The PSVR comes with wired earbuds, which are as good as you’d expect for included earbuds, but any wired headphones can be plugged into the remote for 3D audio. Sony warns that wireless headphones will only output in stereo, but considering you already have a large VR headset hanging in front of your eyes, connecting wired headphones to the cable that’s already running to the processor unit doesn’t seem like a big ask.

One of the most immediately striking features of the PlayStation VR while in use is that, unlike the Rift and Vive, the PSVR does not use Fresnel lenses. That means that white text on a black background doesn’t streak, nor do bright colors in general emit the so-called “god rays” that can be so annoying on other headsets. It’s a sharp display, and seeing vibrant whites floating in the black without the smearing effect is better than the Rift or Vive. There is still a bit of bloom and ghosting on bright colors, but this is a big step up from the competition.

PlayStation VR lenses (Polygon shot)

PlayStation VR doesn’t use the Fresnel lenses found in Rift and Vive

While bright colors on black backgrounds look better on the PSVR than they do on other headsets, you still get a similar sense of there being a kind of texture on deep blacks, as if there were cheesecloth lying under the image. It’s more noticeable in very dark scenes, and can be distracting if you’re used to the velvet blacks of more traditional, high-quality displays.

The PlayStation VR also differs from the Rift and Vive in that it uses a single 5.7-inch 1080p display, which offers an effective resolution of 960 x 1080 pixels per eye. This is a slight decrease from the per-eye 1080 x 1200 resolution of the Rift and the Vive, which offer a single screen for each eye; the difference in design explains why Rift and Vive offer a physical adjustment for interpupillary distance, while the PSVR allows you to adjust the IPD via software. The Rift and Vive headsets offer a field of view of 110 degrees, versus the “approximately” 100-degree field of view of the PSVR. These are modest trade-offs for the creation of a headset that comes in at such a lower cost.

PlayStation VR Oculus Rift HTC Vive
Resolution 960 x 1080 per eye 1080 x 1200 per eye 1080 x 1200 per eye
Field of view 100 degrees 110 degrees 110 degrees

The lower resolution, and the effort the PlayStation 4 must be expending to run PSVR games at the high frame rates necessary to make the player comfortable in VR, leads to some very aliased text and images; there simply isn’t that much power left to process the image after the demands of comfortable VR are met. To Sony’s credit — and this is a testament to the optimization work of developers — I struggled to find instances where games dropped frame rates and made me queasy. There are some games that are more intense than others, but that intensity was due to being on a frickin’ haunted roller coaster in Until Dawn: Rush of Blood, not dropped frames.

PlayStation VR maps your position in 3D space by tracking the blue lights on the front, sides and rear of the headset with the PlayStation Camera, while gyro sensors in the set help track your head’s rotation as you look around the virtual world. This is where things get a bit floaty.

The PlayStation Camera just doesn’t seem quite as reliable as the sensor on the Oculus Rift or the Lighthouse sensors of the Vive. I had issues during the first hour of my testing due to the fact the camera could see the sliding glass door behind me and to the left; the light from outside seemed to confuse the device. My advice? Dim the lights as much as possible in your play space.

There is also a noticeable but usually subtle and limited effect I call “warble.” If you sit perfectly still, or try to hold your hand with the Move controller as still as possible, there is still often a small wiggle to your movement in 3D space.

This warble can be decreased somewhat by dimming the lights in your room, which also helps with tracking issues involving the PlayStation Camera. But this problem was present in most situations during my testing, even though you usually have to look for it to know it’s there.

PlayStation Move controller (alpha PNG)

In more normal lighting conditions, things sometimes got weird when the Move controllers’ tracking failed, like seeing my virtual hand or arm in VR do something impossible. It’s a strange situation; it always makes me uncomfortable to watch my wrist suddenly snap backward. The tracking seemed to fail on PlayStation VR more often than with the Vive. Sony’s tracking technology may be less expensive to implement and sell, but it can’t quite match the competition.

Don’t get me wrong: I’ve had wonderful sessions of Tumble where the tracking felt next to perfect and I was able to complete touchy moves in the game, even with a tiny bit of the aforementioned warble. But I had a terrible time during a round of London Heist where I was trying to aim at the game’s thugs and the controllers lost tracking again and again.

Not every PSVR game requires the Move controllers. Many launch games can use either two Move controllers or a single DualShock 4, thanks to Sony’s foresight in adding a light to the front of the gamepad. Many games actually show a DualShock 4 floating in space so you can look down at it, in virtual reality, to see the buttons, which is a neat touch and adds to the sense of actually being there. You may not be able to see your hands in these games, but you can see what your hands are holding, and that’s almost as good, not to mention a huge step up from the standard wireless Xbox One controller of the Oculus Rift.

Games like Batman: Arkham VR and Until Dawn: Rush of Blood aren’t quite as good with the standard controller, but they work. But other games require Move, such as Job Simulator and some of the experiences inHarmonix Music VR. If you skip the Move controllers, be very careful about what you buy, and maybe wait for reviews to see how well the DualShock 4 works in the games you care about.

SETUP

Sony is selling the PlayStation VR platform as a less expensive alternative to other headsets, but its setup complexity sits somewhere between the Rift (easy) and the Vive (do I attach these sensors to the walls?).

However you decide to buy all the hardware, be advised that there is a lot of it. The $499 bundle comes with:

  • PlayStation VR Core Bundle
  • VR headset
  • Processor Unit
  • VR headset connection cable
  • HDMI cable
  • USB cable
  • stereo earbuds
  • AC power cord
  • AC adaptor
  • PlayStation VR Demo Disc
  • PlayStation Camera
  • two PlayStation Move motion controllers
  • PlayStation VR Worlds

The large instruction manual packed on top of the PlayStation VR hardware walks you through setup as if you were putting together a piece of Ikea furniture, and it feels like there are just as many steps. Luckily, the system was even boxed with care, with the large, image-heavy instructions on the very top, and then the cables, and then the PlayStation VR headset itself, nestled in a surprisingly hardy cardboard box surrounded with foam padding. The cables even include small, numbered tags wrapped around them to help in following the instructions to see what plugs in where, and how it all comes together.

PlayStation VR so many wires

Things get … complicated

First, the PS4 connects to the Processor Unit via USB and an HDMI cable. The Processor Unit (which has its own AC adapter) in turn snakes out a cable to the PSVR headset, which connects to that cable using its own cable with an HDMI and AUX connection. The Processor Unit also sends an HDMI cable to your television. As mentioned before, PlayStation VR also requires the use of the PlayStation Camera, which plugs into the back of your PlayStation 4.

If that seems hard to follow, you’re right. It’s a bit hard to follow. There’s a lot going on here. The good news is that Sony took a lot of care in packing all the equipment, and they’ve done a great job of explaining how it all fits together.

PlayStation VR isn’t tricky to set up as long as you follow the included instructions and don’t mind a bit of prep before you get started. The downside is that you’ll be left with a mess of cables around your home theater unless you plan ahead and manage things as you go; this is easily the most complex peripheral I’ve ever attached to a console.

Sony’s Camera Offers A Massive Zoom With Great Image Quality But At A Price

Why would you spend the best part of £1500 for a bridge camera when you could get a full-frame DSLR with the ability to use interchangeable lenses for the same kind of money? And why would you buy a camera that’s almost as big and as heavy as a conventional DSLR camera? Well you probably wouldn’t… unless the camera you were considering happened to be the Sony RX10 III.

On the face of it this is a camera that defies all the odds. It’s much more expensive than its competitors from Panasonic Lumix and Canon. It’s not especially light and neither is it sleek or pretty. To be honest you probably wouldn’t give it a second glance if you were browsing around a camera store. However, that would be a huge mistake because, as bridge cameras go, this monster from Sony is probably one of the best out there at the moment.

Instead of employing a conventional APS-C size sensor that you find in most DSLRs, the Sony RX10 III has been fitted with a smaller 1-inch CMOS chip with 20.1 megapixels.On paper a smaller sensor like really should struggle to compete with a conventional DSLR image sensor, but the Sony RX10 III is no normal camera.

This camera’s secret weapon is its lens which ’s a Zeiss T* zoom that goes from a 24mm wide-angle all the way up to a stunning 600mm telephoto. At its widest opening it offers an aperture of f2.4, which is really good for this kind of camera. A wider aperture lets more light through the lens, and that means you can shoot at higher shutter speeds or at lower sensitivity levels. Even at the long end of the lens the aperture is still a really wide impressive F4. That’s quite a feat and it makes all the difference when you’re shooting at the long-end of the lens. Couple the wider aperture with Sony’s SteadyShot image-stabilisation technology and you stand a far better chance of getting sharp telephoto shots. The 1-inch sensor also helps to reduce the magnification of any camera shake. All in all, it makes for an excellent all-in-one camera for wildlife photographers who want to get up close to their prey without carting around a case full of lenses, some of which would need to be the size of a sewer pipe.

As well as offering very high-resolution images, with great image quality, all the way to the top of the ISO scale, there’s a super fast shutter on this camera that goes up to 1/32,000th of a second. This is a camera that can freeze action no matter how fast the subject is moving. And when it comes to video, it’s no slouch either; the Sony RX10 III offers 4K video resolution and full HD 1080. There’s even a slow-motion function of up to 1000 frames per second which makes it perfect for all kinds of sports photography or simply analysing your golf swing.

What if the home button breaks – Hack

The new home button on the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus has divided opinion. Apple has replaced the traditional, clicky button with one that doesn’t actually move. Instead, a haptic engine, which Apple calls the Taptic Engine, responds to touches with subtle vibrations, giving the experience of movement.

Some social media users are complaining about the new Home button’s weirdness.
 But there are some advantages to the new feature which aren’t immediately obvious, as one forum user found out. When the home button on his iPhone 7 stopped working, the device displayed an error message and a virtual home button to use instead of the actual one.

“The Home Button May Need Service. In the meantime, you can use the onscreen Home button below,” the message said.

CuzXDByVYAAli3Q.jpg

 

This doesn’t change the fact that the original home button no longer works and the phone needs to be replaced. But at least you’re offered a temporary alternative.

On the other hand, since it has no moving parts, the new home button is supposed to be sturdier and less prone to failure than the old one. Obviously it’s not 100% fool-proof.

Rumors have it that next year’s iPhone will be a radical departure from the current design and that it will have no physical buttons at all. This home button feature is another (tiny) indication that Apple might be looking in that direction.

Bonus: Yes, the iPhone 7 can survive being dropped in water

MICROSOFT HOLO LENS

Thanks to the people at Datacom some people were able to get a tech demo of the very new Microsoft HoloLens. They played with other virtual reality headsets but this was the first that was augmented reality. Which means you’re seeing the real world environment but with computer generated 3D holograms that have been overlaid on top. It’s truly freaky.

The headset itself has fantastic build quality and is surprisingly light considering it’s a full blown PC with great speakers and dozens of sensors strapped to your head. The headset somehow maps the room and understands where the walls, ceiling, tables and chairs are. Now you can place, float or stick holograms anywhere. Because HoloLens runs windows 10 people were able to place a 100 inch Microsoft Excel spreadsheet on the wall. Also put the M2 website on the dining table. I played a video on the far wall.

The HoloLens remembers the locations so when I come back they will still be there waiting for me. That’s just nuts! I can only imagine in 10 years’ time we won’t have TV’s anymore. We’ll just put on some glasses/contact lenses and stick a 100 inch TV somewhere. Seeing these holographic elements added to your furniture and walls makes it feel that much more real. That was flat objects ticked off so I placed a life sized virtual car in front of me. It didn’t look like a real car more like a car from a video game but to be able to walk around it fully tricks your mind into thinking it really is there. Unfortunately people weren’t able to just use their hands on the handle to open the door. Instead they had to use the voice command “open doors” but still…wow. It felt like they were in the beta version of Minority Report.

 

If you’re not using voice commands to control HoloLens you can use a one-fingered swipe in front of your face. It was a bit rough but maybe it needs getting used to the controls. People also played games. UFO’s smashed through the wall and started shooting at them. As they tried to shoot them with my one finger swipe they would fly away and circle me. The sound got louder as it approached a UFO and faded as it moved away. It added another dimension to the HoloLens experience, making it that much more immersive.

The only thing that really disappointed was the field of view. Draw an imaginary square roughly 40cm’s by 40cm’s that is arm’s length away from your face. That’s where you can see the holograms so if I move my head the objects disappear. Seeing distance is fine but when they got close to the car half the car just disappeared. HoloLens software and hardware is not perfect but if Microsoft can keep on pushing this forward it’s going to be a world changer for all sorts of different applications that I can’t even imagine.

Best Lens for Nikon D5500

This is an attempt to find out the best lens for the Nikon D5500. But, instead of zeroing in on just a single lens we shall be looking at 5 lenses, just to give you a few options to choose from.

The Nikon D5500 is an entry-level APS-C DSLR camera. It is built around a 24.2 megapixel CMOS sensor with a Multi-CAM 4800 DX 39-point TTL phase-detection autofocusing system.  It has no built-in auto-focusing motor.

That means older D lenses or any lens that does not have a built-in auto-focusing motor will not auto-focus with this camera. Most recent lenses will, however, work, including anything that is marked as ‘G’.

AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G AF-S Nikkor DX 35mm f/1.8G AF-S Nikkor 85mm f/1.8G AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED VR
Best Usage Portraits & Low Light Every Day Use Portraits & Wildlife Photography Sports, Wildlife, Travel, Portait Photography Landscape
Focal Length 50 mm 35 mm 85 mm 70-200 mm 16-35 mm
1.5 Crop Factor on Nikon DX DSLR 75 mm 52.5 mm 127.5 mm 105-300 mm 24-52.5
Maximum Aperture f/1.8 f/1.8 f/1.8 f/2.8 f/4
Minimum Aperture f/16 f/22 f/16 f/22 f/22
Minimum Focus Distance 17.71 inch
0.45 m
11.81 inch
0.30 m
31.50 inch
0.80 m
55.2 inch
1.40 m
11.02 inch
0.28 m
Autofocus Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Weight 0.41 pounds
186 grams
0.44 pounds
200 grams
0.77 pounds
349 grams
3.4 pounds
1,542 grams
1.5 pounds
680 grams
 Let’s look at the best Nikon D5500 lenses in detail:

1. The Nikkor AF-S 50mm f/1.8G

A true gem of a lens, this 50mm f/1.8 G, that is.

When mounted on a Nikon D5500 it gives a 35mm focal length equivalent of 75mm due to the 1.5x crop factor. 50mm is widely considered to be a standard focal length. So is this lens, when it is mounted on a full-frame camera. But on a crop camera like the D5500, the focal length becomes the equivalent of a medium telelens.

The AF-S Nikkor 50mm has been designed keeping in mind full frame Nikon cameras. Thus, it has an image circle much larger than the APS-C camera in question.

Resultantly, there is very little vignetting, if any at all. Image sharpness of the AF-S 50mm f/1.8G is also more than satisfactory. There are photographers who would swear by its performance.

What makes this lens special is its maximum wide aperture of f/1.8.

It is 2 stops faster than a traditional f/3.5 – 5.6 kit lens, something like the 18-55mm that we are going to read about below.

In low light situations that translates to up to 2 stops of shutter speed leverage. Meaning, you could shoot at the same shutter speed you would normally shoot with a kit lens and yet get two stops of extra light.

Related Post: 8 Best Mid-Range Zoom Lenses for DX DSLR Cameras

Extra light means better exposure and less noise, even in low-light situations. Alternatively, you can consider having two stops of shutter speed leverage at your disposal.

Meaning you can choose to shoot at a faster shutter speed in a situation where every other photographer is dragging the shutter speed to compensate for the lack of light. That means less image blur and sharper images.

This is an inexpensive lens, retailing at just under $220. It is certainly not the best in the business but is very good given the price tag.

2. Nikkor AF-S DX 35mm f/1.8G

The AF-S DX 35mm f/1.8G is designed exclusively for the smaller crop sensor powered Nikon cameras, like the D5500 in question.

Just like the 50mm f/1.8 discussed above the AF-S DX 35mm f/1.8G also has a fast wide aperture of f/1.8. The focal length becomes the equivalent of a 52mm lens when mounted on a crop camera like the D5500.

The 35mm is just as equally versatile as a 50mm f/1.8. It is widely considered the APS-C format’s standard focal length, given the fact that the angle of view is roughly the equivalent of a 50mm lens when mounted on a full-frame camera.

Personally, I prefer the 35mm more than the 50mm, despite the fact that the 35mm has more barrel distortion and is generally considered unsuitable for portraits.

I love the 35mm lens because of the great environmental portraits that I can shoot with it. The trick is as long as your subject is close to the center of the frame distortion is negligible.

Plus, you can easily correct distortion related issues by using the lens profile correction option in Lightroom and Photoshop. At the end of the day, that isn’t so much of an issue.

The 35mm f/1.8G retails at price lower than the 50mm we discussed above. Thus, the 35mm is a great contender for the title of the best lens for Nikon D5500.

If I had to choose between the first two this would have been my choice. But we have a few more lenses to check out.

3. Nikon AF-S Nikkor 85mm f/1.8G

You would have noticed by now that I am deliberately choosing the f/1.8 G lenses over the 1.4 versions. There are two reasons for that really.

First, the f/1.8 is easier to focus than the f/1.4. Anything faster than f/2 is a real task to auto-focus anyways. The margin of error is really small.

Many times you would think you have nailed focus only to realize that your focus is off when you have returned home and finally had a chance to see your images in full size on your computer. Better the f/1.8 than the more difficult f/1.4.

The AF-S Nikkor 85mm f/1.8G is a full-frame lens, which means it has an image circle larger than that of an APS-C sensor.

On an APS-C sensor powered camera, the lens gives a 35mm equivalent focal length of 127mm. This, as a result, transforms into a medium telelens.

Medium telelenses have the effect of sucking more of the background in. It would appear that the background is closer than it actually is. That means with these lenses your background is going to appear considerably larger than say a 35mm lens.

The 85mm is arguably the best portrait lens for full-frame Nikon cameras. So would I make sense buying this for a crop camera? Well, the 85mm does what it has been designed for, produce ultra-sharp images. 127mm focal length on a DX (Nikon APS-C) camera is a fairly good focal length for portraits.

4. Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II

Now for something that would need a serious budget. The Nikkor AF-S 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II would get a place on any list that features Nikon lenses.

It is that kind of a lens. It’s ultra-sharp and extremely quick. If you are into serious photography this is one lens you must have. It is widely considered as one of the three Nikkor lenses that make up the f/2.8 Nikkor dream team. The other two being the 24-70mm f/2.8 VR and the 14-24mm f/2.8 AF-S.

This lens is designed for the full-frame FX type cameras made by Nikon. It has a wide maximum aperture of f/2.8.

This is a G lens, meaning it would auto-focus without hassles on the D5500. The focal length becomes a 35mm format equivalent of 105 – 300mm. Thus, this is a handy portrait as well as wildlife lens, especially because of the wide f/2.8 aperture.

In many ways, this could easily be the greatest lens for Nikon D5500.

A single lens that covers a wide focal length range and something that you probably shoot the year round, never needing another lens.

Related Post: Surprise! Long Lenses can Produce Great Landscape Photos

Plus, it works with all the Nikon teleconverters giving you better range at a decrease of a stop or two in the maximum aperture. The overall construction is brilliant and performance is extremely sharp.

This lens is the most expensive of all the lenses we have discussed thus far. No doubt a strong contender for the title of the best lens for Nikon D5500.

5. Nikon AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED VR

Some readers would have probably hoped for the 14-24mm f/2.8G ED here. It is undoubtedly a fantastic lens. But for all practical reasons the16-35mm f/4G ED VR is more than enough.

The slight difference in focal length will not make a world of difference to me. I can simply take a couple of steps back. Both these lenses are landscape lenses. So, I don’t need a very wide aperture.

I would rarely be shooting either of these two lenses at their widest aperture. I need a vast depth of field so, I will probably be shooting at f/8 or even f/11 majority of the times. The 16-35mm f/4G ED VR with its vastly cheaper price tag (compared to the 14-24mm f/2.8G ED) is more than sufficient for me.

The 16-35mm f/4G ED VR is a well-built lens. This is an FX format lens, meaning the 1.5x crop factor ultimately makes it a 35mm focal length equivalent of 24 – 52mm.

Plus, it has VR which the other lens does not. Hand-held shooting all of a sudden looks a lot more promising. This is one of the sharpest lenses that Nikon has ever made. Being a zoom lens it is versatile and is sharper than the sharpest of prime lenses in the business.

To round up: Which one is the Best Lens for the Nikon D5500? 

It is hard to tell. It all depends on the type of work that you do, the budget you have and what you expect from a lens. For my money, it would be the AF-S 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II.

The crop factor of the camera extends to the focal length to the equivalent of a proper telephoto. If you wish to shoot with a teleconverter you can always use the latest teleconverters and the lens becomes a super-telephoto, albeit with a drop in maximum aperture.

Share Dropbox files via iMessage and sign PDFs on your iPhone

No longer content simply to be a file repository in the cloud, Dropbox updated its iOS app to help business users get more done on their iPhone or iPad. Dropbox for iOS now has its own Messages app, and it lets you sign PDFs without touching Adobe, among a number of other features.

Let’s take a look at the new things the updated Dropbox app can do.

Share files via Messages

With iOS 10, Apple opened the stock Messages app to third-party developers, and Dropbox has added its own app to the iMessage App Store. With it installed, you can grab Dropbox files without leaving your current text conversation and share them with whomever you are texting.

With the previous version of the Dropbox app, you could sign PDFs, but it was an awkward, two-step process that kicked you out to the Adobe Acrobat Reader app. Now, you can delete that Adobe app and sign PDFs from right within Dropbox itself.

When you open a PDF in Dropbox, tap the pencil button on the bottom of your screen to add text or a signature. You can then drag your entered text or your signature to the appropriate spot on the page. And the app saves your signature to make signing subsequent documents quick and easy.
More actions with the lock-screen widget

Dropbox had a lock screen widget before this update, but all it showed you were your four most recently added files, which you could tap on to open in Dropbox. The updated Dropbox app adds three helpful buttons to the lock-screen widget: Scan Document, Upload Photo and Create File.

dropbox-widget.jpgEnlarge Image
Screenshot by Matt Elliott/CNET
With these buttons, I can now move the Dropbox app off of my home screen to free up a spot for another app there and simply use the lock-screen widget to start a Dropbox task.

Get notified of changes
If you regularly share files on Dropbox, it can be a challenge to keep track of who is making changes and when. The updated Dropbox app now notifies you when a shared document has been updated and by whom. The notification includes a Refresh button so you can quickly and easily view the current version of the file.

Future Tech from IDEO

From a gun that records bullets to the blockchain to a framework for the internet of cities, here are some of Ideo’s most provocative new ideas.

The world is constantly being exposed to new technologies, but how those technologies can be leveraged by designers isn’t always as clear. Take blockchains, for example. The backbone technology of Bitcoin, a blockchain is an encrypted database that inseparably links every Bitcoin transaction to the one that preceded it, making the whole database tamper proof. Useful in finance, true, but it’s a technology that has also been put to good use well-beyond its original cryptocurrency purpose, as a tool for doing everything from verifying web images to protecting sneakers from counterfeiters.

To help get a jump on how new technologies will impact the world beyond their immediate applications, renowned design firm Ideo created the CoLab, which pairs inhouse designers with outside organizations like Citi Ventures, Nasdaq, Target, MIT Media Lab, and more. Headed up by Matt Weiss and Joe Gerber, with the support of technology lead Reid Wlliams, the mission of CoLab is to mash up emerging technologies with problems in the energy, money, mobility, food, and health spaces. The resulting prototypes aren’t ready for primetime, but with some more development, they could end up informing the next transformative, multi-million dollar business.

Last month, Ideo threw open the doors of the CoLab for its Blueprint 2016 event, offering members a chance to explore what they and their partners have been working on over the course of the last 12 months. Here are four of the most intriguing, potentially transformative prototypes.

GLOCKCHAIN

3063993-inline-i-1-glockchain

Since we already mentioned blockchains, we might as well stay there. One of the great things about blockchains is they offer an immutable digital record that is impossible to tamper with. For example, you can tell how many times every individual Bitcoin in the world has been spent, and trace it all the way back to the person who created it.

Ideo’s idea? Why not take blockchain technology and apply it to something else where you want an immutable, tamper-proof public record: police shootings.

“Glockchain was inspired by what’s happening with police violence in this country,” Williams says. “There’s this amazing potential for blockchains to be more than just a ledger for Bitcoin, but to act as a shared record for what’s happening in the world.” And hopefully, dissuade police officers from being so trigger happy.

In the case of Glockchain, Ideo created a (nonfunctioning) firearm capable of automatically recording to a blockchain every time it was unholstered, or fired. “These events are already supposed to be documented by paper-based means, but we wanted to explore what it would take to do it automatically, and what the implications of such technology might mean for police forces, oversight agencies, and local communities.”

NOMAD

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The internet of things has put internet-connected sensors in everything from flower pots to refrigerators. With Nomad, Ideo imagines extending that concept outside of our smart home, where the internet of things becomes the internet of cities.

Inspired by the InterPlanetary File System, a peer-to-peer distributed file system that works like an internet-scale Bittorrent swarm, Nomad is a platform for all IoT sensors to publish information to the web, and subscribe to updates from other sensors.

For example, let’s imagine a city on a sunny day. On one side of town, a bank of fog rolls in. Solar panels on that side of town would publish to Nomad that the amount of sunlight they were converting to energy was dropping. Meanwhile, a nearby power exchange might subscribe to that information, combine it with a weather forecast, and predict that all of the town’s solar panels might be at low efficiency within four hours, thus kicking up some more generators to make sure that they’re ready for the surge.

“The value of the internet of things is when the data it collects is broken free of its silos,” says Williams. “It got us thinking what a living network built upon the IoT might behave like.”

PICKL

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How much do you know about the food you eat? Probably not a lot: the brand, the price, and maybe what it says on the nutritional label—which can also be misleading. The truth is that most of us are pretty blind to what we’re putting into our bodies.

With Pickl, Ideo thinks that augmented reality can be tasked to help solve the problem. The idea is that you should be able to just point your smartphone at some food you want to buy, and have the Pickl app tell you everything you want to know about it.

For Blueprint, Ideo showed off the concept with an apple. When scanned by Pickl, you could learn anything you wanted to know about that fruit. Not just its nutrients, its type, or how many calories it is, but how much energy it took to grow it, the path it took to get to your supermarket, how much CO2 it is responsible for, and even what its specialties are: for example, if it’s a better apple for baking than juicing.

CLAIMBOT

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When you have a car accident, you have to jump through all kinds of hoops to resolve the insurance claim. In some circumstances, insurance companies may need to read police reports, conduct interviews, examine footage, and send investigators to the scene to determine who is at fault.

With Claimbot, Ideo imagined a system that could use AI and crowdsourcing to automate as much of the claims process. When you crash your car, Claimbot leverages data from your car’s sensors to let the insurance company know what happens. Meanwhile, nearby pedestrians are encouraged to pull out their smartphones and use the Claimbot app to upload footage of the accident, where they are digitally paid for their troubles.

The hopeful end result, if something like Claimbot became a real product? A more efficient, profitable, and consumer-friendly insurance industry.

CONCLUSION

Ideo cautions against expecting too much out of its CoLab prototypes. “These are all more intellectual prototyping exercises than product prototypes,” explains Reid. But by employing a cross-disciplinary approach, and mashing up new technologies and industries that don’t seem, at first, like they go together, Ideo hopes that they and their CoLab partners will have a leg up on the competition when it comes to solving tomorrow’s multi-billion dollar problems.

 

The Demand for thinner phones and the Note 7 Explosion.

Samsung’s decision to pull Note 7s off the shelves not only raises fresh doubts about the firm’s quality control but could result in huge financial and reputational costs.

Analysts say a permanent end to Note 7 sales could cost Samsung up to $US17 billion ($A23 billion) and tarnish its other phone products in the minds of consumers and carriers.

Investors wiped nearly $US20 billion off Samsung Electronics’ market value on Tuesday as its shares closed down eight per cent, their biggest daily percentage decline since 2008.

The premium device, launched in August, was supposed to compete with Apple Inc’s latest iPhone for supremacy in the smartphone market. Well received by critics, its first problem was a shortage as pre-orders overwhelmed supply.

But within days of the launch images of charred Note 7s began appearing on social media, in the first sign that something was seriously amiss with the gadget.

‘This has probably killed the Note 7 brand name – who knows if they’ll even be allowed to re-release it,’ Edward Snyder, managing director of Charter Equity Research, said before Samsung announced it was halting production of the smartphone.

The South Korean firm did not comment on whether it had identified the cause of the fires in the replacement devices, although officials in Seoul said it was looking at several possibilities including the batteries.

But why did these phones explode in the first place?

There’s nothing funny about Samsung Galaxy Note7 phones inexplicably exploding and torching cars and burning people. And it’s definitely not a joking matter when their replacements, which are supposed to come with safe batteries, are catching on fire (like on a plane) as well.

Whatever the real reason is — a design flaw, defective batteries from a specific supplier, a process mistake — the Note7 is unsafe to own. Samsung’s permanent halting of Note7 production is basically the final nail in the coffin.

Samsung is still trying to find the exact cause, or causes, of these battery fires. While that investigation continues, it’s worth asking to what extent overall trends in smartphone design contributed to the debacle. Every year the devices in our pockets get new features, bigger batteries and improved — often thinner — form factors.

As anyone who has played Asphalt 8 knows, phones get hot when pushed to their limits. Regardless of which company and phone you’re a fan of, it’s important to understand that anydevice — not just phones — with a lithium-ion battery could explode under certain circumstances.

Of course, that almost never happens, even with Samsung products. So was the Note7 fiasco a unique fluke of poor quality assurance? Or have the demands that we’ve put on today’s smartphones — thin, powerful, waterproof and more — been pushed so far that some kind of crisis was inevitable?

High demands

Designing smartphones is hard. As consumers, we’re not versed in the challenges of building a phone to the precision, performance and features that today’s premium phones pack.

It’s not our job to understand that stuff. That’s for the engineers and designers to figure; we put our safety in their hands.

If you just look at today’s phones, it’s not hard to see how they’ve evolved. Where phones used to be thick slabs made of plastic with small batteries, most cutting-edge phones are now metal, super thin, have huge, energy-dense batteries (many of which are capable of quick charging) and are water-resistant.

It’s incredible that engineers have figured out how to squeeze all of these features into ever-thinning bodies.

These tightly packed, svelte designs leave little room for proper heat dissipation from the increasingly demanding tasks (3D games, live streaming, multitasking, 4K video recording, etc.) we use them for.

Meanwhile, water resistance, though extremely convenient for consumers, also potentially complicates matters. Water-resistant phones are rated with different Ingress Protection ratings (IP), which determine how deep and for how long they can be submerged; they’re more sensitive to pressure than phones that aren’t water-resistant.

Mix the excessive heat generated by the higher-density batteries with the added pressure sensitivity and you’ve got a dangerous environment — at least, more dangerous than a few years ago — should the phone com-bust. That’s why it’s more important than ever to guard against that heat.

Lithium-ion batteries such as the ones in your phone com-bust because of something called thermal runaway. Basically, it’s a temperature chain reaction. Once the temperature of one part of the battery gets too hot, it releases the stored energy suddenly, causing another part to get hot, and another, and another, and before you know it the gadget bursts into flames.

Phones contain a slew of sensors and software that monitor and regulate temperature. When a phone begins overheating, it’ll usually throttle down the processor to allow it to cool down. A battery manager also stops phones from overcharging after they’ve reached 100 percent.

 

Auto-focus and Micro-Adjustment

Personally I like to focus manually. For video, auto-focus in general is not desirable; and in any case with my lenses, most of them from the 60s and 70s, there’s no other option. But the main thing I like about manual focusing is that it makes you work, and think about the image you’re about to take: it is the final touch that makes me the one taking the picture, not the camera.
In any case, it is clear that it is not for everybody, or for every occasion (athletes and children move too fast).

If you’re going to use auto-focus, you have to know a few things about it.

First one: there are two kinds of auto-focus:
* phase detect: used by cameras with a mirror (“reflex”: SLR, SLT, etc)
* contrast detect: used by mirror-less cameras (compacts, even if they have a big sensor and/or use interchangeable lenses)

Contrast detect is usually slower, and doesn’t work well in low light conditions (although it is getting better quite fast).

Phase detect, if it is not well calibrated, will generate systematic errors: unlike contrast detect (which uses the main sensor to focus, and by construction takes lens and camera imperfections into account), phase detect uses separate mini-sensors that have to be placed in a very specific position. But no lens and no camera is perfect: there are error tolerances, and in optical issues often a very small difference can create clearly noticeable issues. If these mini-sensors are farther away or closer, or if the lens is slightly off, the camera will always focus closer (front-focus) or farther away (back-focus) than it should.

perfect

front-focus

back-focus

This issue is usually small on slow lenses, with great depth of field (f/3.5 or slower), but can be a nightmare at f/1.8 or f/1.4. And it will be more noticeable in tight shots taken with long lenses than in wide shots taken with wide angle lenses.

Mid- and high-end SLR/SLT cameras usually have a micro-adjustment function: place three batteries on a table, each one 5cm closer than the previous one; get the camera a couple of meter from them, and take ten pictures of the battery in the middle; check them and see if this combination of camera+lens front-focuses or back-focuses; tell that to the camera, take another 10 pictures, check them, tell the camera how it is doing, etc., until you’re sure the camera is not making systematic errors (it will still make odd errors, sometimes one way, sometimes the other). Get the next lens on, and repeat. Etc. The camera will remember the micro-adjustment setting for each lens.

If you’re going to buy a camera with phase detect auto-focus (SLR or SLT), you have four options:
* get one with micro-adjustment
* get one without micro-adjustment and pray
* decide you don’t care if focus is perfect or not, and get one without micro-adjustment
* get the one you like most, and focus manually

For me, the third option is only a good idea if you’re not going to use lenses faster than f/3.5.

Canon EOS C700 – Aston Martin Advertisement

The Canon EOS C700 was one of the big announcements for this years IBC Show, and it was not surprise why; after all it is Canon’s new flagship 4K high end pro camcorder that takes off where the C500 and C300 Mark II left off aiming at the highest levels of TV, Film and commercial work. It’s big, it’s heavy, you can’t “put it on a 3-axis gimbal” (you  hire a Steadicam op instead, which is what you do with most other big, high-end tanks like the Alexa XT, Sony F65 etc. etc) and it polarized the video oriented blogosphere like no other camera in recent memory. And while the jury is not out yet, because obviously the camera hasn’t even been released yet for most of us to see decent footage, Canon paraded the new C700 at IBC showing off some footage shot on a C700 prototype – namely a new Aston Martin commercial, which you cans see below.

For those not yet familiar with some of the basic specs of the EOS C700, it features a brand new 4.5K CMOS image sensor providing up to 15 stops of dynamic range. 4K up to 60p to CFast 2.0 cards in different flavours of XF-AVC and ProRes along with 4K Raw output to a dedicated Codex Digital Recorder is possible. The Canon C700boasts a radical new shoulder mount design with EF and PL mount versions (and even a Global Shutter version to be released in early 2017), removable user interface control panel (a-la the Varicam LT), built-in V-mount battery plate, dedicated EVF, and high end features such as in-camera grading, multiple dedicated outputs, wide colour space support and plenty more.

 

Canon EOS C700 Highlights – Currently priced at 30 to 35 lakh rupees in Paksitan

  • Super 35mm 4K CMOS Sensor
  • 10-bit or 12-bit 4K RAW up to 120 fps (via Codex raw recorder)
  • 2K RAW up to 240 fps (via Codex Raw recorder)
  • ProRes 4K up to 60 fps (via Codex Raw recorder)
  • EF Cinema Lock Type Mount (PL version available)
  • Global Shutter version in 2017
  • Up to 15 Stops of Dynamic Range
  • Dual Pixel CMOS AF
  • 4K up to 60 fps, 2K/HD up to 240 fps
  • ProRes 4444 in 2K/FHD
  • Proxy Recording to SD Cards
  • Canon Log 2 and Canon Log 3
  • XF-AVC and ProRes Recording to CFast 2.0

Today you can’t judge a camera by the spec sheet, especially a high end one like the C700. I really like the footage above, I think that Aston Martin commercial looks great and given the seamless integration between the various cameras used such as the EOS-1D X II DSLR, and Canon C300 II combined with the excellent Canon cine optics, the C700 can surely produce fantastic images when in the right hands.

Sure, they may be a bit late to the party, and it will surely be an uphill battle for the camera to prove itself in the eyes of producers and directors, but as with all EOS cameras before it – it will take some time to get traction. I for one, am looking forward to see more commercials and dramas shot on the C7oo in the near future.