Sunday, August 16, 2009

Digital Camera Specifications-I would Love to Have

I want to buy an advanced compact digital camera ! I don't want it to be bulky with lengthy lenses and kilogram weights to weigh vegetables. It should have a SLR (Single Lens Reflector) look and feature sets, but should work as a point and shoot digital camera.

(photo from: Canon )

But i have my own list of specification that must be fulfilled by Camera model which i am finding myself very difficult to satisfy !

Let me list it myself...

Camera effective pixels should have at least 10 Million Pixels with respect to CCD (Charge Coupled Device). I know, there are several articles, views, critics about million pixel myth, but you know it makes me happy to have more pixel numbers ! After all we do everything in our life to be happy..right? Why should i loose it?? So this is about image sensor resolution requirement. I don't bother which image sensing processor is used. After all i have to believe whatever camera manufacturer say.

Another integral part of the Camera is lens itself. Forget of detachable lenses. All those mounting capability issues, costlier prices. Let it be fixed with camera itself. Any way, i don't want just a SLR body. Talking in terms of 35mm film equivalent, focal length of the camera should range from wide angle 35mm to a minimum of 400mm telephoto capability. This means to say, i expect at lest 12x to 15x zoom considering 35m as basic reference value. I would be really glad to have telephoto range extended to 600mm, wide angle coverage widened by up to 28mm ! I wish even to incorporate a fish eye lens, but i know, i may be asking too much ! What is wrong in demanding a damn good photography feature? Considering current trend in advanced compact cameras, time being i am ready to sacrifice fish eye lens feature, anyway ! But listen Canon, Ricoh, Kodak, Olympus, Sony, Panasonic, FujiFilm, Samsung, Nikon, Pentax and many must develop it for my sake !!

(photo from: Panasonic)

Digital zoom, I almost hate it ! While it zooms by double distance, it kills your photo with the same dividing factor. Most of the common user of the digital camera go crazy over digital zoom, without noticing about loosing quality of picture. I have decided i don't want digital zoom ! Optical zoom is the one which really matters.

It is not over yet, without Macro shooting capability how can i shoot small insets, beautiful butterflies, running ants, greenish leaves, water droplets, colorful flowers? If i buy a SLR i must buy a Macro lens to accomplish these macro photography. Hence i am going for an advanced compact camera, which must provide super macro shooting mode as well, starting from near zero distance to infinity !

To summarise this when lens is in macro mode it should be able to take photos from near zero cm distance to something around 100cm. From 100cm to infinity should be covered in normal mode of lens operation. Again, practically i could not find a single camera which has this feature, rather we have some brands comes close to this.

When you talk about lens, focusing of the subject using these naturally comes in to picture. So auto focus feature must essential. If auto focus engine can detect smiles, then i think it can really helpful to photograph human beings who really likes to smile ! Personally i am not bothered about this feature as my interest lies in candid photography where i want to catch natural mood of the society, nature and bird photography, physically i can't recognize them smiling, even if they do !

How can i loose control over my camera without manual focusing capability? So manual and auto focus, both are must as part of specification. How this focusing is achieved, i am rather less concerned about it. In the case of video recording faster auto focus would enhance total video experience.

(photo from: Nikon )

What i need with respect to flash? Integrated flash almost common in compact cameras. What i need to inspect is the effective range of the light that is produced by the flash. If i get a range up to 7ft to 9ft i am glad ! If i need still higher range for still photography i know how to achieve with the help of higher ISO setting ! If intensity of integrated flash can be controlled as per the requirement of Macro mode, then it can be extra bonus feature anybody would love to have that !

Let us look into the shutter speed, aperture and metering system that when integrated decides exposure control of the photo.

As per shutter speed is concerned, manual full opening option is essential for night photography. Normally Camera metering won't help in judging the exposure value for night photography requirement such as fire works, light illumination of buildings etc. then 2sec to 1/2000 of a second speed of shutter speed can suffice for normal speed photography including bird and wild animal movement at telephoto range.

An Aperture f stop of 2.8 to 8 is a must for normal mode of operation of the camera and lens. It is desirable to have same range for telephoto mode as well. I must find a camera which can give me lower f stop setting at telephoto mode to capture distant subjects, such as birds, with greater depth of field.

Centre weighed and Spot metering systems are well accepted by the industry with great success. I don't want to loose it as well. But there are several other metering topologies have emerged to produce super quality pictures. Camera manufacturers call it in different names, grid metering, honey comb metering etc. All does the same job, split the frame into pieces, take light reading from each frame, then general adopted procedure is to average it. Sometime i just feel it is old wine in new bottle. I want to mention one essential requirement of this metering result. The exposure value judged by the metering system must be indicated both in viewfinder and digital display. Traditional photography lovers may find it more exciting to see the metering value through viewfinder. I think i am one among them, as i own Olympus OM2000 with spot metering, i has to peep through small world of viewfinder to see the world !! I love that !!!

Rest of the control information can be viewed through LCD panel. Since LCD quality won't decide the quality of picture, again i am not much bothered about it. Let camera manufacturer do all technical circus to make it more attractive !

There is a word of caution,though, brighter the LCD more it consumes power from the battery. Hence i won't forget to have at least one look at this aspect of the camera !

When it comes to traditional film photography we generally used ISO rating of either 100 or 200. Even in digital cameras i can find ISO settings options which decides sensitivity of the output photo generated. Even though, manual and auto ISO setting option is a must feature, i would opt for manual ISO setting my photography. A range of ISO setting from 100 to 400 is sufficient in my personal view as i am not much interested into action or sports photography.

Those who are into it will disagree with me as higher ISO will help them to achieve higher shutter speed with low aperture opening to achieve more depth of field of the subject. With increased ISO setting you are more prone to pixel binning effect (photo looks creamy, blurred) and pixels becomes more visible lowering sharpness of the image, which i can't accept in my photos. So i my interest lies into finding a camera which gives best result for ISO settings of 100, 200 and 400, and that's enough. At the same time, if i don't have a higher ISO setting option, i must agree the fact that i may become handicapped with low lighting condition, while doing wild life photography ! I may need to struggle to balance the exposure value with full open aperture. Since the available light has low intensity, i have to open aperture more, if i need to maintain higher shutter speed. Wild animals are never as lazy as me. Hence i have to settle for higher shutter speed with telephoto mode. With aperture opened more i am compromising on depth which may ultimately produce a failed picture. This is where higher ISO speed comes to help with a compromise on quality of picture, but not a failed one. By increasing ISO rating by one step I can achieve same balanced exposure with one stop lesser opening of the shutter ! So camera must have another two ISO steps 800 and 1600. I will learn to live with visible or binning pixels !

Usually we can observe barrel distortion effect at wide angles. Some time it yields good 3-D effect, but most of the time it irritates me ! It is good to higher wide angle capability in the lens. If this produces higher barrel distortion it is almost useless to have wider angle lens. probably i can settle with a camera having lens range starting from 35mm.

One can't completely avoid barrel distortion, but i have to look to those cameras which produce minimum distortion. How can one change the laws of optics?

There is one more natural enemy called Chromatic Aberration, again i can't avoid it completely. This is part and parcel of optics. Remember basic physics theories? Light has 7 color spectrum. When you pass through the prism each color bends in different angle. Same happens within the lens as well. Each color gets focused in different focal points causing the effect called "Chromatic Aberration". Achromatic lens elements are inserted in the lens to minimize this effect. I must find a camera which can produce lesser chromatic aberration for a lesser price !! There is one way to minimize aperture less! Now i understand the benefits of small apertures...less chromatic aberration and more depth of field.

What else i want?
Red eye effect must not be there. Exposure value setting must have basic three options: manual, Shutter priority, Aperture priority. With three setting options, i have better control over quality of the picture i take.

What about shooting modes? I am not much crazy about it. All these modes are helpful to those who doesn't have much idea of shutter speed, aperture and exposure value system. Different shooting modes have predefined set of exposure value. If camera decides on the quality of the photo what i have a job as a creative photographer? But, as a common man who is interested in buying good camera, i wish to have more and more shooting modes...portrait, night, landscape, sports, nature, cloudy, outdoor, indoor, still, panoramic and many more.

I would love to have multiple exposure mode of operation which i feel, enhance my creative freedom.

Certainly my camera must support video shooting, preferably in High Definition (HD) mode. VGA quality video is boring to watch. I must agree, though, that video shooting doesn't excite me as much as a simple photo. But, as a family person, my camera must have HD video mode to capture good moments of life.

There must be USB interface facility. I would appreciate if i can get Bluetooth as well ! Camera must have minimum 2GB SD or SDHC or miniSD memory card support. If it can be upgradable to 8GB that can be wonderful ! Must save picture, audio and video in different resolutions in different standard formats such as JPEG, RAW, MP3, WAVE etc.

What about the material used for the camera body? It is really good to have full proof metallic body finish. We can live with plastic body as well as they are providing rock solid strength, thanks to good material research ! Common factor for me it should be strong enough to tolerate common wear and tear of the world ! It should not happen so that it breaks into pieces if it slips first time from your hand. If it is slipping from my hand 10th time and then it breaks, that is acceptable !!

Of course, i don't expect weight of the camera to be more than half kilogram. Where buttons are fixed, whether it has a side grip or not etc won't matter as long as all above mentioned must requirements are satisfied. And finally price tag, i must get everything within 20000 Indian bucks, maximum i can go up to 25000. Do i have cameras with all these features within this price tag? Yes...there are available...and that's the reason behind all these screaming about cameras.

Models to name a few include:

Canon Powershot SX 10 IS
Canon PowerShot SX110 IS
Canon PowerShot SX200 IS
Kodak EasyShare Z980
Fujifilm FinePix S1000fd
Fujifilm FinePix S2000HD
Fujifilm FinePix S8100fd
Nikon CoolPix P80
Nikon CoolPix P90
Olympus SP-590UZ
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H50/B
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX1
Panasonic Lumix DMC FZ28

All cameras are best in some or the other features, and all cameras are not best in all features. I finding it difficult to select one which satisfy my requirements. Anyways, let me dig deeper !

Monday, August 3, 2009

Birla Mandir-Modern Temple

Birla Mandir is probably an exhibit of modern day temple structure. Most of the key temple architecture is built with marble.
It is atop of small hill, nearby famous Husain sagar.
Surrounding area of the temple is crowded residential cum business hub.
In simple terms, it is a city temple. Lord Venkateswara is worshipped.
You need not take, flower or coconut or anything to the temple.
Even if you buy it it has to be dropped in a particular place.
Good disciplinery measure to control cleanness of the temple.

Road leading to the Birla mandir from bottom of the hill.
You can park your vehicles on the right side of this place.

Place is well maintained. Neat. Clean. No mobiles are allowed. There is a counter wherein you can safely deposit your mobiles. No fee for anything !

It has become almost night when i decided to return from the temple.

Don't worry about cops, they are common in Hyderabad !!

You can find metal detectors even in small park entrances !

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Chaar-minar to Karachi !!

Chaar-minar is iconic building of Hyderabad. I have mixed feelings about pathetic glory of it.It looks grand when we look into it with its minar facing blue sky. Though, no way it is comparable to patronas tower or Taipei building of modern world. It is situated as junction or circle where four roads come and join together. Big open walls welcomes us from nearly 50m distance before Chaar-minar. Those who can remember Bangalore city market area, for them imagining Chaar-minar locality is very easy ! It is fully crowded almost all the day of the week, busy with all kinds of business. Burning sun , smoking vehicles, huge crawling raffic, population surrounding the area and tourist who write their names on each and every brick of chaarmeenar are ruining the legacy of Chaar-minar.
It was around 3.30PM when we headed towards Chaar-minar after having visited NTR memorial. Chaar-minar seems to be entrance of old city, possibly then known as Secunderabad. Hyderabad and Secunderabad are twin cities. New areas of the city are known as Hyderabad. These cities roughly divided by a river wherein i couldn't find much water flow anyways.

I don't want to explain the architectural beauty of the building. History, may be good or bad, is
always charming ! But i can't stop myself writing about our mentality of treating historical monuments. Look at any wall of Chaar-minar, you can find some Laila-Majnu's name scripted on
it! This is the story of each and every historical monument in India. I have no words to condemn
such a great level of indecency.

No doubt, beauty and grandeur of Chaar-minar is deteriorating everyday. If it has to be saved for some more years then swift action is necessary . There are two options: First one is relocate everything surrounding Chaar-minar including people, traffic, shops, business, schools, masjid. Considering the ground realities of communal harmony and political favoritism this can be a highly uphill task for the administrators.

Second option is to move Chaar-minar itself ! I mean to say replicate Chaar-minar in some other
place. This may be the best solution even though original monument is not preserved, but legacy of history can be remembered for some more generations.

When all these was happening Srini was in his own world. His daughters have called him and demanded dress for them from Hyderabad. We could find hundreds of shops surounding Chaar-minar. He got completely confused, lost. Finally he decided not to buy anything !! Gagan wanted to have some official snaps. He looked very happy after having photo shootout. I believe he wants to show this to somebody !!!

Now our next destination is Karachi biscuits ! Karachi bakery is located somewhere in Abids. Karachy bakery is famous for its mouth watering fruit biscuits and bakery foods. Srini was uttering every half an our from the minute he landed in Hyderabad that he has to buy karachi biscuits !!

Again we got into the auto. Auro driver wanted 50 rupees for a distance of around 3-5kms. Rs. 30 was the adequate charge, but he refused to come for that amount. We are in hurry and stepped into auto. I couldn't resist myself to ask him why the name Karachi?? he quipped shop owner is ancestrally rooted in Karachi and he started business here in Hyderabad, hence the name. He continued "que me khade raho and biscuit khavo" (wait in the que to eat biscuits). After a while he announced: "two things of Hyderabad are famous in the world". I just wondered and asked him what are those? He said it is Karachi biscuit and Hyderabady achar (Pickle) !!. I didn't question anymore. I surprised. He didn't mention Hyderabad Biriyaani.

Bakery was full packed with biscuits, cakes and people to buy it. There was a big que to pay bill. I swiftly moved around the bakery and finally settled with a packet of fruit biscuits costing Rs. 70 for 450 gram pack consisting of 25 biscuits, making aroung 3 rupees each for a biscuit. I just had a look those people surrounding me. I surprised myself that i was the only guy who took one packet biscuit . Everybody else in the que had atleast 5 packets in their hand !

If at all if you feel like having those biscuits just contact them here:

You ask any auto driver, or any by passer they know Karachi bakery ! This tells popularity of those biscuits.

Time being signing off.

Will come up with travelogues of Birla Mandir, Ramoji Rao Film City, Golconda Fort, famous Hyderabad Pearls and some corporate lessons i learned from an auto driver !!! He practicaly
showed me how a service model can be applied on corporate world !!!!

Around India in 28 Years !!

I was preparing write up of my Hyderabad trips. Suddenly i lost myself for a moment thinking the places that i visited in my life time till now. It is not a big list. But, yet i am proud myself that i have seen India little more.

Metro cities:
  • Bangalore: It is my second home. I love Bangalore, probably more than my original house. I love to sleep underneath hot bed sheets in cool Bangalore weather. I love to walk for hours in breezy parks. I enjoy ride in BMTC buses all around the city. I astonish about glamorous grand malls like PVR, lifestyle and many more. Who doesn't love all these??? Let me put a break !
  • Hyderabad: Present love !!!!But i hate to stay here in March, April and May !!!
  • Delhi: How can i forget Red Fort, Dwaraka and CR Park?
  • Mumbai: I would never prefer to travel on those local trains.....its least for me !!!! Neither i could get into the train nor i could get out. It was my friend Sanjeev nayar who pulled me in to the train and pushed out of the train !! He has a strong arm ! I just wanted to have experience of Mumbai local trains and i had it and thats enough. Not any more !! How can one forget hotel Taj and its surrounding area?
  • Chennai: Its sultry....
  • Kolkatha: I remember traffic at Howra bridge, slow journey on cycle rickshaw, city centre mall, salt lake, the real slums and gutters, people leaving those slums and the flooded outskirts of the city. I remember water water everywhere !

Other places based on states:
  • Mangalore
  • Udupi
  • Halebidu
  • Beluru
  • Shravanabelagola
  • Mysore
  • Madikeri
  • Abbi falls
  • Talakaaveri
  • Dharmastala
  • Kolluru
  • Horanaadu
  • Shringeri
  • Maravanthe

  • Thiruvanathapuram
  • Kochi
  • Guruvaayur
  • Trishur
  • Bekal fort

  • Nashik
  • Aurangabad
  • Ajantha
  • Ellora
  • Shani Shinganapur
  • Shirdi

  • Thirupathi
  • Kaalahasti

Some lake ! I have to check with photos to remeber the name !!!

West Bengal:
  • Kharagpur -IIT
Uttara Pradesh:
  • Agra-Taj Mahal, Agra fort
  • Mathura
  • Vrindavan

I think i have not listed several more places. Let me recall all those places..........