Beginner Digital Photography: Mirrorless 2017

Last week I covered the traditional DSLR cameras, today I will cover the mirrorless camera options that are available to you as a beginner entering the scene of photography. The biggest difference between a DSLR and a mirrorless camera is the size. They are a breeze to carry around and are very compact even with the lens on. Many entry-level mirrorless cameras will easily fit into your coat pockets, handbags and small bags. With the smaller size also comes the reduced weight, making it easy to lug around your neck or bag. Furthermore, since mirrorless cameras are an improving technology, many older but still good models are becoming cheaper and the capabilities are forever increasing.

To quickly understand how mirrorless cameras work, instead of having a mirror that reflects the light coming into the lens into the viewfinder, the light goes straight onto the image sensor which the user previews through the electronic viewfinder or screen. Therefore, there are fewer moving parts in the camera, meaning a greater shooting speed. There are many advantages of mirrorless cameras, such as a lot more autofocus points, better image stabilization (for price point) and a much better video quality. Referring to ISO levels in last weeks post, mirrorless cameras have a much higher ISO point, making them ideal for low light photography. Keep an eye out for a head to head comparison between mirrorless cameras and DSLRs.

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Today we will be looking at some of the mirrorless cameras that are on the current market which I consider to be the best for beginner photographers.

1. Sony A6000

The sony A6000 is a fantastic mirrorless camera that is pure bang for the buck. You can find these cameras constantly on sale and are fantastic little units. Inside they have an APS-C sensor, 11 frames per second shooting and some of the best low-light photography at the price point with its max ISO being 25600. The A6000 is essentially a striped back version of its older brother the A6300. The electronic eyepiece is definitely usable where a DSLR shooter would be able to use. The earlier you start with using the eyepiece, the more comfortable you will be with it.

It has a 24MP sensor, 3 inch tilting screen, 11FPS shooting, 1080p video and uses Sony’s E-mounts. I would highly recommend this camera for anyone entering the mirrorless scene.

2. Panasonic Lumix GX85/GX80

The panasonic Lumix GX80, GX85 for the USA, is another bang for the buck mirrorless camera, however with more options over the A6000. This time the sensor is a micro four thirds sensor, which is similar to the APS-C sensor where it crops the image compared to full frame, however the cropper is more significant. This generation of camera incorporates 4K video, which is a huge positivity for crisp videos and can capture 8MP stills from recorded video. The Autofocus is very fast and has a 5 axis image stabilization, which is incredibly helpful to obtain sharp shots. The shutter shock is also reduced, which was a problem in the previous generations. Panasonic has stepped up its game with this camera, If you want the next step up, look into the Panasonic GX8, however it is pricier.

It has a 16MP sensor, 3.0 inch tilting touch screen display, 8FPS shooting and 4K video. I would highly recommend this camera if you also want 4K video.

3. Sony A6300

The Sony A6300 is a beast of a camera, though it is a lot pricier than its competition. It has a much improved sensor over previous generations and also offers 4K video. With a microphone jack, this camera becomes a viable option for those who also want to get into cinematography. The build quality of this camera is better than the A6000 and also contains weather sealing and a higher ISO range. Sony opted for a sharper OLED viewfinder, however the LCD panel is not touchscreen. The camera is dropping in price which makes it perfect for a beginner who wants to start off with an more advanced mirrorless camera.

It has a 24MP sensor, 3.0 inch tilting display, 11FPS shooting and 4K video. I would highly recommend this camera if you are interested in having some of the most advanced features.

4. Olympus OM-D E-M10 II

This camera is sort of an underdog, it is fantastic value for money, looks great and has loads of features. This new generation includes a 5 axis image stabilization like the panasonic and the shooting speed has increased to 8.5FPS. The only major let back of this camera would have to be the micro four thirds sensor, which by the way is half a typical APS-C sensor. It has a max 1080P and has a really high shutter speed of 1/16000s. This camera excels in street photography as well as portraits. With the retro looks, the camera sure looks fantastic around your neck.

It has a 16MP sensor, 3.0 inch tilting display, 8.5FPS and 1080p video. Being one of the cheapest and powerful contenders on this list, I would definitely recommend this camera.

5. Fujifilm X-T20

The X-T20 takes the good bits from its older brother and places it in a smaller and much more affordable body. The design is superb and has the similar retro theme like the E-M10 II. The Fuji makes use of an APS-C sensor, being 24MP. It produces extremely rich and detailed images thanks to its sensor. Once again, this mirrorless camera is capable of shooting at 4K with an external microphone port and has a max ISO of 12800. Unfortunately there is no image stabilization which means the user needs to be extra stable when taking photos. This camera excels at landscape photography.

It has a 24MP sensor, 3.0 inch tilting display, 14FPS and 4K video recording. I would definitely recommend to try out this camera as the buttons have a really nice feel to them.

Overall thoughts?

I would recommend all of them, however my top recommendation would be the Olympus OM-D E-M10 II, it is a fantastic camera with excellent image quality, class leading features and is relatively cheap which is fantastic. Not only this, in my opinion the olympus looks the best with its retro theme and the lens selection is relatively large. However, if you were wanting to shoot 4K, I would recommend the Panasonic Lumix GX80/GX85 as the pricing for the camera is incredible, being slightly more expensive than the sony A6000. The kit lens that comes with the camera is more than capable and make sure to invest in spare batteries, mirrorless cameras chew through batteries twice as fast as DSLRs, however most can be powered and charged by external power banks (the ones use to charge phones). This feature makes mirrorless cameras seem like a better investment compared to DSLR cameras.

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Still Alive? Google Chromecast

The Google Chromecast was a revolutionary device that turned any TV or monitor into a smart device. However, with TVs now including better and smarter software, is there still a market for the Chromecast?

 

The first thing to consider is, what exactly is a Chromecast. Well, the Chromecast was designed to revolutionise in home streaming by allowing the ability to wirelessly stream from your phone, desktop or laptop. The $35 dongle turned your TV into a media center with direct streaming from Youtube, Hulu, Netflix and many more region specific services. Four years since the initial release, 3 iterations have emerged, being the Chromecast 2, Chromecast Ultra and Chromecast Audio. Essentially, you would plug your Chromecast into your TV and connect it to power through the micro USB port. Many TVs have extra USB ports for external hard drives and they all provide enough power for this device. Once it’s turned on, it is very straightforward to connect to your phone and your home wifi.

 

The original Chromecast supported up to 1080p streaming and handled it reasonably well, however, streaming from a tab often ended up in audio lag with video sync issues. The newer versions have better wifi connectivity meaning lower lag spikes and a better all round experience of the device. However, many new smart TVs have greater software which has surpassed the capabilities of the Chromecast. Samsung TVs allow casting from Samsung devices and can even stream what’s on TV to the device, which you may find really handy when moving around the house. LG and other brands have incorporated similar technologies to allow users to have a better overall experience. Not only this, devices such as your PS4, XBOX ONE, Roku (Telstra TV) and now DVD players have included streaming capabilities to access Spotify, YouTube, Netflix and other video streaming services.

 

If all these devices can do what the Chromecast can, and do it BETTER, then why are they still around? Well, these devices were initially intended to bridge the gap between ordinary TVs and smart TVs, but now that most TVs have received upgrades in software in internal hardware, the Chromecast has branched off, expanding its capabilities to make it one of the most useful devices for its price.

 

With the Chromecast, you are able to stream from a VR headset to the TV, allowing other users to see what the VR user is viewing and doing. This can be problematic for those who enjoy a different kind of VR experience. The Chromecast can also support presentations, eliminating the need for any cables between the laptop or phone to the presentation device. Just plug in the Chromecast and start presenting! Not only this, the newer Chromecasts allow users to play certain games on the big screen, which is good for the family. Just don’t expect to play high graphic games on the device. Furthermore, though not available for every TV, the Chromecast allows your phone to function as a TV remote.

 

The Chromecast is a very capable device, but the rest of the competition are catching up. Google has been fighting hard to keep up the sales and usage of Chromecast with huge incentives and offers. These offers have been free subscriptions to their services, free movie streaming and Google credit to use on the Play Store. Thus, the Chromecast is very much alive despite being out of sight. For only around 30-40 bucks for the newer versions, it’s a good investment for its functionality. Though I must say, it may only be a matter of time before there is even better competition in the wireless casting market.

Explain it: IP addresses

IP addresses are how all our internet connected devices communicate with each other with great synergy, without these addresses your devices cannot communicate. IP addresses are important for both inside and beyond the firewall.

Each Internet connected device has an unique address on the Internet, which can be used to send things to it. This is what we refer to as the IP address. There are actually two IP versions in use on the Internet today, which coexist but vary in the form of the addresses:

  • Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4) is the most common protocol used by Internet connected devices. IPv4 addresses consist of 4 bytes worth of information, i.e., four dot-separated numbers each in the range of 0–255. This makes a total of 232 = 4,294,967,296 unique addresses on the Internet. For example, Yahoo’s server IPv4 address is 206.190.36.45.

 

When IPv4 was created, it was not known how many interconnected devices there would be. Despite the relatively large number of address, we have already exhausted our pool of IPv4 address, click here to learn about one solution.

 

  • Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) is the successor to IPv4. IPv6 uses longer addresses that support 7.9×1028 times as many addresses as IPv4! IPv6 addresses are made up of eight colon-separated groups of four hexadecimal digits per group, where leading zeroes in each group may be omitted for brevity. Yahoo’s server IPv6 address is 2001:4998:c:a06::2:4008

 

Explain it: DDoS attacks

DDoS, denial of service, attacks have been well documented throughout internet history. The basic principles of the attack is flooding and overwhelming an online service by flooding it with traffic from multiple sources. It makes it impossible to stop the attack simply by blocking a single source as it comes from a range of different sources.

 

There are 2000 recorded attacks every day and the average price of an attack costs $150 on the black market. Furthermore a simple DDoS attack can be flooding a small server with emails from like petitioning websites  where hundreds of petitioners sign and the email gets sent to the cause. Thus overwhelming the servers.

 

The first step in creating a DDoS attack is building capacities. Attackers often build huge networks of bot computers, this can be done through creating a virus and malicious software in emails, applications, torrents and social media. Once the device is infected, they are able to remotely control the device without the user’s knowledge to attack a specific online service. They essentially build up an army of computers and devices with many being millions strong.

 

The second step is to generate large amounts of traffic to overwhelm the target, this may be banks, news websites and email exchanges. This could be sending many requests from each device and also sending huge amounts of random data to the server to use up the servers bandwidth. The server cannot handle all this data and requests and then either freezes or shuts down.

 

Attackers often sell their services to people willing to DDoS attack a specific website or company, they are bought through the dark web and online marketplaces. A DDoS attack that can last a week long and can take a small organisation weeklong and cost as little as $150.

 

There are different classes of attacks which include;

  • TCP connection attacks
  • Volumetric attacks
  • Fragmentation attacks
  • Application attacks

 

Nowadays, these attacks can take down DNS servers, which halt internet productivity and internet services. A recent major attack had brought down large services like Spotify and Twitter. With attacks affecting DNS servers, the future of the internet is fragile with more and more bots being created, thus allowing for larger DDoS attacks.

 

Read more about the different types of attacks here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denial-of-service_attack

Explain it: NAT

Network address translation was created due to the exhaustion of IP address, Ipv4. Ipv4 is the standard for current day IP addresses, however it was created sometime around 1981. Back then they did not account for the millions of internet connected devices. Ipv4 is a series of 32 bits, which means there is a physical limitation of 2 to the power of 32 unique IP addresses. With the current growth rate, we would use up all these addresses with new smart phones, fridges and any internet connected device. Two major solutions were used to combat this, Ipv6 and NAT. Ipv6 allows us to have 2 to the power of 128 unique IP addresses.

 

With the limitations of IP addresses, network address translations were used to make better use of the limited addresses. To explain it simply, the router links up all the devices in your home into one public ip address. It is similar to an apartment building. To the outside world, they are one building, but once you go inside you see the different people who live there. The router is the apartment building and the people who live there are the internet devices connected to the router. This means, within the private network, each device is given a unique ip address. Instead of having 6 unique IP addresses, the NAT cuts it down to one. This limits the number of public IP addresses an organisation or household would use. Furthermore NAT’s act as an firewall, lets say you have a printer connected to your router. The NAT only allows private IP addresses access to the printer to ensure no random can print to your printer. This provides a security to the home user or business if they store their files on a NAS (network attached storage).

 

Now, lets say a computer request to visit bkmedia.co, the NAT see’s that this request is not for a device in the private network, the NAT then makes the exact same request using its own public IP address and delivers the response to the computer which requested the resource. This therefore means all your devices would have the same public IP address to an outside organisation.

 

NAT’s are very important, without them, security would be breached, we would run out of IP addresses and the internet would look a lot different.