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ONA Union Street and Bowery Review

Union Street and Bowery

Union Street and Bowery

If you’ve ever found yourself bored with your local camera store bag selection and wish for a day you can be seen lugging around a non-nylon-hey-look-at-me-camera-bag, then you might want to check out ONA.

ONA is going after the idea that Camera bags and Accessories can be stylish and well made. By well made, I mean seriously well made. The two bags I picked up are the Union Street Ranger Tan and the Bowery Field Tan. Each bag is made of canvas, leather accents and brass hardware. The shoulder straps are essentially seat-belts, but in a good way, however not quite as wide. The Union Street, along with a leather bottom has extra padding on the strap to help with comfort and weight. Fully loaded, the Union will start pulling on your shoulder after a while and I’m a big guy so that saying something.

Bowery - Field Tan

Bowery – Field Tan

As for the Canvas used, its waxed to help with weatherizing the bags. It gives them a welcomed rustic look. I’m not going to convey this well in writing but the feel of this is also something to experience. Very well done.

The Bowery

The Bowery is designed to double as a bag insert and It does this by allowing for the shoulder straps to be un-clipped from the bag. The idea being that this makes it easier for the Bowery to fit in a larger bag. While this may be ONA’s intent I don’t see this as a realistic one as you would need quite a large and cumbersome bag to accommodate the Bowery as an insert. But hey that’s just my opinion, I’m sure someone out there is proving me wrong as I type. While I’m not crazy about the clips I found that the ability for them to swivel was a nice surprise. This helped kept the shoulder strap from awkwardly twisting. The Bowery Always seems to lay just right across the side because of this.

My main concern with the Bowery before it arrived was its size. I wanted a bag that would accommodate an SLR and one or two walk around lenses. I was not disappointed. Not only did this bag fit my 6D but I was also able to squeeze in a 17-40mm, 50mm 1.4, charger and extra battery. Now because I intend to use this as just a day bag I don’t plan on configuring it this way but instead, was just interested in how I could organize it.

Canon 6D with 50mm 1.4, 17-40mm, Charger and extra battery.

Canon 6D with 50mm 1.4, 17-40mm, Charger and extra battery.

It should be noted that to do this I use an extra insert I didn’t have use for from the Union Street bag and packed the Bowery with the 50mm attached, not the 17-40mm. I see myself normally using this bag with 17-40mm attached. So far I’ve found the Bowery extremely comfortable to carry around. And even though my wife gives me a hard time about it looking like a Man Purse, I don’t mind. This is one sexy bag.

The Union Street

The Union Street is a large (but not too large) messenger bag with room to spare. It’s tall enough for a 13″ mac book pro/air, 70-200 f4 and a flash like the 580ex. Its also tall enough for a mark 3 with the 24-105 attached. Storage is in abundance on the Union as well. The front pocket has room enough for a plethora of accessories, car keys, cell phone, etc. But even fully loaded the Union sits up right very well. The leather base is designed in such a way the bag does not want to tip over easily. Even the rear pocket has a nice design to it, a magnetic clasp to keep the pocket closed, something I would liked to have seen on the Bowery. But all in not perfect. I do have one complaint, after repeated use the insert material under the Velcro strap securing the laptop compartment is wearing a bit quickly. A minor issue on an other wise great set of camera bags and a welcome addition to my camera gear.

In all I’m very pleased with both bags and believe anyone looking for stye without sacrificing function just may find a bag in ONA. I’ll quit rambling on…Below are some more pictures to give you a better Idea and, hopefully help you decide for yourself.

 

Bowery

Bowery

Bowery with Canon 50D with attached 17-40mm and 40mm pancake

Bowery with Canon 50D with attached 17-40mm and 40mm pancake

Union Street

Union Street

Inseart wear from velcro

Insert wear from Velcro

Union Street Packed with an iPad, Flash, 17-40mm, 50D/40mm prime, light meter

Union Street Packed with an iPad, Flash, 17-40mm, 50D/40mm prime, light meter, Phone, blah blah blah yada yada yada it holds a bunch of camera crap

Union Street

Union Street

Union Stret

Union Street

 

Are Consumer Camcorders Becoming Obsolete?

Now days you’d be hard pressed to find a point and shoot camera that doesn’t capture movies as well as pictures. A few years back, digital cameras started introducing the feature but only to a limited degree. Giving you a cool, but basically useless feature by not including sound, limiting the time you could record, and all had terrible video quality. Now, not only is video recording found on cell phones, point and shoot cameras, some high-end SLRs and even the iPod Nano, but all are even getting into the game of quality movie capture. Lets face it, products tend to not sell unless the “HD” logo is somewhere on it. Sure you could get a camcorder like the Flip Video Slide HD, which is a cool video camera by the way, but for about the same price you could get yourself into a nice point and shoot camera with arguably better video. Cameras like the Sony Cyber-shot WX1/B or Canon’s SD3500 IS, cameras that not only give you great video, but amazing picture quality as well considering the price. So I have to ask the questions. Are we seeing the era of consumer grade camcorders coming to its inevitable end? Or at the very least, is the line blurred between personal electronic devices, especially in the $200-500 price range? Or do camcorders still have a few advantages up their collective sleeves?

Camcorder Benefits (for now)

Record Time
When it comes to record time camcorders are still the undisputed champ but how much is actually needed? In the days of Beta, VHS, DV, mini DV and the ever frustrating mini CD format you were limited to only an hour or two of realistic record. However with the introduction of the Hard Disc Drives (HDD) and solid stat media like SD cards you can literally get dozens of hours of record time packed into a camcorder smaller than a 12oz soda can. Although, as digital storage becomes smaller and smaller camcorders will not always have the upper hand. For example 32GB SD cards are fairly common now and terabyte drives the size of quarters may be here sooner than you think. Then again, is all that space just a gimmick to get you to buy something you don’t realize you’ll never use? Let’s be honest, do you actually need 80GB of storage in one sitting? Maybe you will on your vacation trip but everyone in your family has to pretend to be interested in the 20 something hours of footage you’re trying to show them. I’m willing to bet most of us only record a few hours at a time, possibly only a few minutes. Maybe, in a way, record time is to camcorders what megapixels are to cameras.

Telephoto Lens
Next is the lens. At 10x, 20x, even 60x and up with image stabilization and fast auto focus there are strong arguments for using a dedicated camcorder. A typical point and shoot will just not cut it at your kids football game or recital. Furthermore, having a lens capable of doing that requires physical limitations to how small it can be made. So, for now, camcorders will still have a home. Last, I would give camcorders the edge in video quality especially in the $800 and up price points, but this is an advantage that is quickly diminishing as image sensors and storage are becoming smaller, more powerful and less expensive, leaving image quality largely up to the strength of the lens itself.

Usability
Finally, let’s not forget the role cell phones play in this, because ease of use and convenience are what win out in the end. Face it, you’re more often going to have your cell with you than your camcorder or camera, and as the image and audio quality keeps improving on these devices the cell phone will become the preferred device. Not only will cell phones have changed the way we communicate and do business, but they will change the way we document our lives as well by reaching and surpassing the “it’s good enough for what I do” threshold. Some would say that this has already happened.

So are camcorders becoming obsolete? In my opinion, for a growing number of us, the answer is yes. In the world of quick, YouTube clips and embedded Facebook videos, the simple one minute clip of the kids swinging or a toast at the club is easily captured with phone or camera. From there it can be quickly shared through text or uploaded with minimal hassle. Is the camcorder worth the extra effort? I think the important thing is to be honest with your true needs, before you end up with another expensive toy sitting on the closet shelf.

NOTE:
Although some SLRs are now starting to come with movie capture capabilities and with the right lenses, making even professional video gear blush, I excluded them in this post. The price points and skill sets needed are asking a bit much for most consumers.

Using the Internet Cloud to store your Pictures and Movies

The Google Chrome OS is betting many of the world’s computer users will let go of the internal hard drive security blanket and embrace the “Cloud”. Imagine that all of your photos, home movies, music, work and even financial information is all kept online. The “Cloud”, as it’s called, describes what a lot of us do already. Most of our time is spent on the net so why not save everything on the net. Now if my laptop is stolen, its not just the machine that was taken, it’s all of my information, my family photos, movies, financial docs, etc. that is also taken. However, if your computer was just the browser to interface with all of your content, all you lost was the laptop because all your files are kept online on secure servers. Replace your laptop and your back where you started, all pictures, movies, banking info, safe and sound. Think about it, we have online banking/retirement sites, social networking sites like Facebook, Myspace and even YouTube, Pandora for music, medical sites like UNHC and BCBS all available at our disposal. Even Apple’s Mobile ME service give users access to 20GB of storage that can be retrieved from virtually anywhere. Making this really, not all that radical of an idea and as web browsers become more powerful, will we even need what we think of as a traditional operating system? About 15 years ago you would have needed a fairly good computer to handle a program like FarmVille on Facebook. Now, just about any web browser is more than capable of running this. So it’s not too far off that web browsers and internet connections will be strong enough to run graphic intensive games, Powerpoint, Photoshop or even video editing programs. In fact Google and others like Piknik already have online apps that are beginning to do just that. The first consumer net-books with Google Chrome OS pre-installed are expected later in 2010. I for one am looking forward to it.

Olympus Stylus Tough-8010

If you’re an outdoor enthusiast looking for a new camera that can keep up with you no mater what the elements send your way, you may want to check out the Olympus Stylus Tough-8010. In four words, Waterproof, Shockproof, Freezeproof and Crushproof. Although it’s really “proof” with limitations, but to be fair, the limitations are generous. The Tough-8010 is water resistant down to 33ft, can withstand drops from up to 6.6ft, works in temperatures down to 14°F/-10°C and can withstand up to 220 pounds of pressure thanks to its metal body and reinforced LCD. By the way, yes, this camera does work under water for pictures as well as movies but the Tough-8010 doesn’t stop there.

Tap Control is one of the coolest features on this camera and is a feature carried over from the Tough-8000. Tap Control allows you to control many different settings on the camera without taking your gloves off if you’re out enjoying the winter weather. You do this by using simple tap commands on the sides of the camera. Commands like, one tap to highlight two taps to select. No more cold hands if you need to make an adjustment.


Other features worth noting are:


Wide angle to 5x optical zoom

(28mm-140mm)


In-camera Panorama

The camera will do this automatically. Once enabled, press the shutter and pan the camera. The Tough-8010 will select three pictures to create a single panoramic picture.


2GB Internal Memory

Just know, before you add your own SD card for larger storage capacity, this camera includes a little under 2GB of usable space in-camera for pictures( about 1.6GB ). Pretty generous, although given the Tough-8010 can capture at a 14MP resolution you may want to expand anyway, especially for movie capture.


Beauty Mode

The camera takes advantage of its face detection ability by smoothing skin tones, wrinkles and hiding blemishes. Once the picture is taken, you can also further edit the picture a bit more if you like. Some of you may be thinking, “Beauty Mode…..really” but don’t be quick to shrug your shoulders at this feature, It actually works surprisingly well for portraits.

The Olympus Stylus Tough-8010 will list for $399.99 and is available in two colors: Silver and Black.

You can find the full list of features and specifications at olympusamerica.com

Canon Power Shot SX210 IS

This month Canon will release the new Power Shot SX210 IS replacing the SX200. The 210 places itself just under the very popular SX1 and SX20 Giving you many of the same powerful features but in a smaller more convenient size. However, this camera, unlike the others in the SX line up, will not only be a bit smaller but it will use it’s own rechargeable battery, freeing you up from AA’s. Other than that, there are a few things that stick out about this camera including HD video. Most cameras on the market now include video capture but unlike most cameras on the market this camera will capture in 16×9 HD with stereo sound and give you an HDMI output to boot, very nice. Also the 210 also uses a Smart AUTO feature that not only finds the right setting for you but will also switch between standard and macro mode on the fly. Literally all you do is point and shoot. A very desirable feature among customers becoming frustrated with the growing complexity of digital cameras. Last, but not least, you have a 28mm wide angle to a 14x Optical zoom on a camera not much bigger than a deck of playing cards.


Other features to note are:

Face detection, Blink Detection, Red-eye Correction and improved Image Stabilization.

The SX 210 IS will list at $349.99 and will be available in three different colors: Black, Purple and Gold.

You can find a full list of features and specifications of the Canon SX210 IS at usa.canon.com

iPhoto ’09 Review and What I’d Like to See Updated.

Apple’s well known photo editing and management application called iPhoto has been around for some time now and it’s part of Apple’s iLife software suite. Along with its intuitively laid out management and edit tools iPhoto has a integrated feature that makes it convenient to order Prints, Cards, Books and Calendars. You can even have your orders sent to different addresses, which actually came in handy this year while we were traveling.
Because of its integration with iPhoto’s well laid out themes and templates this system works out great especially for the books which are hardback and can include up to 100 pages. The books are our favorite thing to order and kid-you-not they really do look professional with the new iPhoto ’09 layout. All services have worked out great for us during the Christmas holidays except for the prints. This was the first year we chose to do prints with Apple and it’s not that the prints turned out bad because they didn’t. My trouble with this part of Apple’s ordering service is that you cannot select what type of paper the prints will be on. I suppose in an effort to simplify the process the type of paper is selected for you. You get Basic Glossy for all print except 16×20 and 20×30 which are done with a matte paper. I don’t mind the basic glossy for the 4×6 prints especially at $0.12 Each, however I would like to have the option to pay extra for better paper. A small complaint in the eyes of many I suppose, but never-the-less I’d like the option to choose the type of paper my prints will be on.

Here is a link for the up to date pricing from Apple print products.

As for everything else, iPhoto stands out in the iLife line up. You get all your standard editing adjustments as well as straighten and touch-up.

iPhoto Adjust

iPhoto Adjust

The touch-up tool works surpassingly well and having the level adjustment for tightening up the color casts is also nice to have. Also if you shot in RAW ( Yes, iPhoto ’09 does indeed edit RAW ), the RAW format is automatically recognized and you are able to edit in RAW as if you were using JPG, just plug in your camera. The only difference you see will be in the lower corner of the edit window were RAW will be indicated. After importing into iPhoto, If you need to use the RAW file for other programs go to the “originals” folder of your iPhoto’s Library or use the “export command” to pull the RAW file. I’d like to be able to do this inside iPhoto by just dragging the file to the desktop. iPhoto gives you the drag and drop option for tiff and jpeg but RAW is left out. I imagine this is because RAW is not a printable file format so iPhoto simplifies things by just converting the RAW to jpeg for you if dragged it to the desktop. On the other hand, if your going to be using RAW a lot you may want to consider Aperture (in a way, the pro work flow version of iPhoto) or Photoshop Lightroom. Each have free, full-featured 30 day demo option you can download. However, for simple edits and touch-ups iPhoto, 09 will get the job done with surprisingly good results.

Face Book and Flickr
One of my favorite features is iPhoto will link to your Facebook or Flickr account. You can set up a folder to one or both of those accounts and simply drag and drop the photos you want to into them, iPhoto will do the rest. Seriously, this makes it so easy to add photos to Facebook it’s not even funny.

There are a few somewhat questionable features in iPhoto that I’d to see changed. The first is “Faces”. Faces is a built in face detection software that automatically goes through your entire photo library and will “attempt” to assign names with faces. Sounds cool and in a way it is. However in practice it’s a different story. The problem is family, families have this crazy thing going on called DNA that makes us look similar, go figure. Faces has a difficult time with this. Namely Babies, kids and siblings. Friends, cousins, aunts and uncles do however work well in faces. Parents can be hit or miss especially if you look a lot like mom or dad. This feature is definitely something of value, but unless you have spent a lot of time cleaning up the preliminary sort of Faces, then the feature can seem somewhat impractical.

Next is “Places”
Places takes GEO tagging to the next level by incorporating a GPS tagging feature more and more cameras will start having. Cameras that have this feature will imbed GPS data along with the rest of the meta information hidden within your image. Places in iPhoto works one of two ways. It will automatically read the GPS coordinates for you or you can manually tell iPhoto where the photo was taken.
Now someone like wild life photographers and land developers this could easily be a must have feature. I personally have just not found a use for it. Don’t get me wrong this is COOL tech but for me this is a novelty feature. I guess you could say, “have it and not need it than need it and not have it”. I would on the other hand defiantly use this feature more if I had a camera that imbedded GPS information, as I don’t, I have the task of tagging all of the information manually. So for now I’ll pass.

As for the new iPhoto here are a few things I’d like to see added:

1) Ability to add text to you pictures.
2)A basic clone tool.
3)Expanded RAW editing

Wishful thinking would be for…
Layers and HDR

As for what I’d like to see changed:

1) Improved Faces.
2) Ability to select the type of paper to use for ordering prints.

Over all iPhoto is a solid peace of software and one Im very happy to keep using.

One more thing. Other than iTunes I think Apple should make iPhoto available for purchase separately from the other iLife products. I mean why not give the option? For example you could have each for $25 or all 4 for $80. Anyway, just a thought.

Mac Mini hard drive Upgrade

Well I just finished upgrading my new Mac Mini by replacing the somewhat slow 160 GB 5200rpm HD that came with it to a much faster 320 GB 7200rpm Western Digital model. My old Mac Mini had this drive. So I spent last night doing a drive swap between the two computers. I will say upgrading the mac mini is not for the faint of heart. YouTube some tutorials of it if you’d like to find out why. However, after swapping out the drives It was very much plug and play. I just turned the new Mini back on and picked up where I left off.

After I restore it, the old mini is going into the living room for Netflix and Hulu. We did this once before and It does look pretty sweet on a 42 1080p. It will be nice to leave the computer in there.
Its too bad Apple doesn’t offer a 7200rpm Hard Drive upgrade. This really makes a difference when batch editing large numbers of pictures, recording music, editing video or anything that involves working with large files.
Plus now I can use my old LG monitor along with my new 23″ LG. It’s kind of nice the the new Mac Mini included two monitor outs.
Now my new set up is not too shabby for photo editing.

OS X 10.6.2
2.26 GHz intel Core 2 Duo
with 3MB L2 Cache
4 GB 1067 MHz RAM
NVIDIA GeForce 9400 with 256 MB (VRAM)

And my trusty WD 2.5in 320 GB 7200rpm Hard drive

By The way. If you have one of the newer iPhone’s or iPod Touch check out the Air Mouse Pro App it turns the device into a wireless remote. Because Im using my old mac mini as a media PC(mac) connected to our HDTV, having this little gem of an App Rocks! No need for a Keyboard or Mouse!