Explain it: ISO

You may have seen this term, ISO, on your camera before, but what exactly does it do? Essentially ISO is the level of sensitivity of the sensor in your camera to the available surrounding light. A lower ISO number means that it is less sensitive to light whilst a higher ISO number increases the sensitivity of your sensor.

How may you use this to your advantage?

Well when shooting in low light conditions, raise the ISO to compensate for the lower light, meaning that the sensor captures more light. Your camera sensor can see more light than your eyes, which is incredible when taking milky way photos. The trade off at higher ISO is that it adds noise to the photo, which is just grain and makes the image look less sharp and crisp. Like those old vintage cameras. Normally you would want to shoot at the lowest possible ISO to reduce this grain and noise, one way to bypass this is to use a flash. Most Cameras have a base ISO of 100 and top out at around 6400. However newer and more expensive cameras can go way higher and lower, which make them really good for low light photography.

What do the ISO numbers mean?

Well the numbers are actually a progression of the power of two. The progressions are 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200 and 6400. Each step is twice as more sensitive as the previous number, so the sensor sensitivity grows exponentially. This also means that we can shoot at a faster shutter speed which is good for lower light indoor sports photography. ISO is very handy for many different reasons, such as keeping your aperture high to keep more things in focus and having a faster shutter speed.

What ISO to use?

It is optimal to use the lowest ISO as possible, this way you will get a sharp, crisp and clear image every time. I would play around with the camera in manual to see how everything affects the photo and remember, practise makes perfect!

Leave a comment below for suggestions on what I should cover next!

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Honest Review: Samsung S8

Samsung was eager to release their S8 after the note 7 debacle and they did not disappoint. Released in April 2017, the Samsung S8 has become the phone of the future, the benchmark for smartphone technology. Let’s take an in depth look at Samsung’s latest flagship.

 

Build Quality

The very first thing you notice about the phone is the screen, it has a whopping 83.6% screen to body ratio, making the phone feel like what we dreamt the future would be like a couple years ago. The screen is an super AMOLED display with amazing colours and brightness, something the iphone 7 lacks. The form factor is very similar to the S7, however the S8 has the screen size of the S7 edge. The resolution is a little out of whack and unusual, however now third party apps have adjusted to this unusual screen resolution and video’s make use of the crop to fit functionality. The overall build quality of the S8 is class leading with its smooth curved screen, glass front and back that seamlessly integrate into the metal side panels. It feels natural to hold in the hand and is very comfortable to use, Samsung really knocked it out of the park with this build. The corning gorilla glass 5 gives the user a sense of ease when dropped, knowing each generation of smartphones become more and more durable. That being said, a case would be recommended to be worn to preserve the beauty of the phone. The phone is also ip68 rated, which is extremely useful in the wet weather as well as taking underwater videos or photos. When applied with force, the phone barely bends which is always a positive. One thing that Samsung didn’t get right with the build is the fingerprint button placement, it’s shocking. I’m not sure who told the engineers to place it on the far side, but the flashlight and scanner should definitely be swapped. The reason I say this is due to the awkward one hand use as the finger stretches over to the other side whilst smudging the back camera. This isn’t a deal breaker but it definitely is something that you need to take time to get use to it. However, it makes sense when you use the phone with two hands. A possible solution for this could be integrating the fingerprint scanner onto the screen in the future.

4.7/5

 

Features

The Samsung S8 is filled with innovative features as well as some completely unnecessary features, I will touch on the ones I think are important. The curved edge for me is more for aesthetic however the edge panels are surprisingly helpful at time. You can customise the edge panels to display apps, people, reminders, weather, sport scores and finance. This can be helpful when you need to quickly check something. With the edge to edge display, Samsung had to introduce onscreen buttons. The buttons are remappable and now with the latest update, you can make the buttons disappear during applications which make the screen feel so much bigger. The S8 features Bluetooth version 5.0 which is leaps and bounds above version 4.0. The feature I personally enjoy the most is the ability to stream your music to two different Bluetooth speaker simultaneously to give a stereo experience. Click here to learn more about Bluetooth 5.0. Furthermore, the S8 has expandable memory and a headphone jack. Samsung has made the switch the USB type C ports, which is the current market trend and is really simple to plug in. A new feature Samsung has introduced is the Iris scanner which operates similar to windows hello where the infrared camera scans your eyes and surrounding face, if there is a match you unlock the phone. What is really useful is the ability to capture gifs, scroll captures screenshots and other clever bits with make the S8 more like what the note7 was meant to be. Also Bixby is shit.

4.5/5  

 

Performance

The S8 is decked out with the latest specifications with the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 for USA and China and the remaining countries with the Exynos 8895 Octa. Both are top of the line processors and the GPUs, Adreno 540, handle all the current smartphone applications like a walk in the part. The phone runs extremely smooth thanks to the inbuilt 4GB of ram as well as the 64GB internal storage. The phone has the same amount of ram as the everyday laptop. The phone performs extremely well, however it does get hot after an hour of strenuous use. The camera is relatively unchanged with its 12MP shooter at f/1.7. It easily can shoot 4K and has optical image stabilization for 1080p shooting. The secondary camera is an 8MP shooter that can shoot 1440p video. The samsung S8 camera is a slight improvement over the S7, however the google pixel and the HTC u11 reign ahead.

4.8/5

 

Battery Life

I consider the battery life to be the most important feature when buying a smartphone. With the increased screen size and resolution, the battery remains the same size as the S7. What? Yes, it’s the same size, but do not fret. From my usage of the phone, the battery life is better than the S7 but not the best. I am able to get a full day use out of the phone and just reach the 15% warning. There are two power saving modes that allow you to extend the battery life, however your notifications do get delayed and sometimes your messages do not get sent straight away. One thing that is positive is the quick charging and wireless charging. This allows you to charge the phone quickly and newer power banks are supporting quick charging both ways. In order to increase the battery life of the phone, remember to close all applications that are not being used, such as Facebook or Messenger and ensure to take your phone off the charger once it’s fully charged, which means avoiding overnight charging.

4/5

 

Complaints

This is the section where I like to highlight everything that isn’t good with the phone, let’s begin with Bixby. There is a complete dedicated button towards something the world doesn’t need, another smart assistant. I personally like to avoid using smart assistants however this time I unfortunately cannot avoid accidentally pressing the button. It is in such a poor placement and I activate the button far too often. What needs to happen is Samsung should allow users to remap the button to something they would like to open, let’s say the camera or the phone application, something that is useful. If anything, I would rather use google now than to use Bixby. The speakers on the S8 need improvement, the down firing speaker is getting really old now with competitors introducing stereo speakers which make use of the earpiece like in the HTC 10 and 11. The screen resolution is also very annoying when watching videos in 1080p as there are thick black bars to the side. The crop to fit functionality does take away certain aspects and can be annoying with hardcoded subtitles. Another complaint has to be the pricing, well this goes towards the entire industry. I’ll save this for another article, also Bixby is shit. The fingerprint scanner really needs to be reevaluated and perhaps making the phone a little thicker to allow a larger battery. I’m sure many consumers would prefer a slightly thicker phone and have an amazing battery life!

 

Overall thoughts

Samsung really nailed this phone, they did nearly everything right and deserve to make huge profits from this phone to invest in future improvements. It takes time for the consumers to adapt to changes such as the loss of the headphone jack and Samsung has made the smart move to leave to port until the market is ready to move. There are many improvements that can be made with this phone, it isn’t perfect, but Samsung really are becoming the market leaders and giving us the phone of the future. I purchased my S8 on an $84 Optus plan using the family and friends 20% discount, bringing the monthly payment to around $67. Make sure to search around for a deal on this phone and you will not regret.

Overall score:  18/20 = 90%

Competitors:

  • Google Pixel
  • HTC U11
  • Iphone 7
  • LG G6

 

Are phone plans getting more expensive?

Is it true that phone plans are becoming increasingly expensive?

Currently at the typing of this article, I have less than a fortnight to pick a new phone plan with Vodafone. Now, when I was younger I couldn’t handle a 24 month plan, this would be the first time I would reach the complete 24 months. Somewhere along the two years, Vodafone removed the option to change phone plans with 2 months remaining, meaning that you were stuck in your contract for the full 24 months. Upon browsing through their phone plans, I noticed that their phone plans appear to be getting absurdly overpriced. Is this true? Let me explain:

Two years ago, I purchase a Samsung Galaxy s6 at a price of $60 a month on their red plans with the phone included, this was around 1-2 months after the release of the s6. Included the phone plan was the typical infinite calls and text as well as 3.5gb of data, the 0.5gb being a free offer.

Last year, A family member purchased a Samsung Galaxy s7 for $70 a month on their red plans with the phone included, now this was yet again 1-2 months after the release of the s7. The plan included the typical stuff but the data had increased to 7.0gb of data, 1.0gb

Now, there are no currently offered phone plans that include the phone, s8, with the plan, the closest plan I could find is a $90 plan, which is an $80 red plan along with $10 for the handset payment. Now you still get the typical stuff but the data has increased yet again, to 13.0 gb of data, this is with 5.0gb of free bonus data offered in a promotional.

 

This had me thinking, phone companies are always pushing consumers to opt for more expensive plans with all their “bonus” inclusions into the plans, enticing the consumer to opt for the more expensive plan. Once they reach a solid amount of customers on a more expensive plan, it is only sensible to then push up the phone plans to make whatever was pushed to become the norm in phone pricing.

 

Current Day offerings

$60 Red Plan $70 Red Plan $80 Red Plan
Handset fees s8 $26 $18 $10
Data 3.0gb 6.0gb 8.0gb
“Bonus Data” 0.0gb 4.0gb 5.0gb
Total Data 3.0gb 10.0gb 13.0gb
24 month payment $2,064 $2,112 $2,160

 

From this table above, we can definitely see the push for consumers to opt for the higher phone contract option, with only less than $100 difference overall between the $80 dollar phone plan and the $60 dollar phone plan.

 

However, we must factor in the different RRP of each Samsung flagship, perhaps the increase in phone prices have affected the phone pricings.

Phone Size RRP
Samsung Galaxy s6 64 GB $1,149
Samsung Galaxy s7 32 GB $1,149
Samsung Galaxy s8 64 GB $1,199

 

No, not really. Phone pricing has been really stable over the last three years, however 4 to 5 years ago we saw a huge jump in pricing, not looking at anyone (apple). If the handsets aren’t changing too much in pricing, then what are we paying for?

 

Data.

 

Data Add ons $15 $30 $50
Amount of Data 2.0 GB 5.0GB 10.0GB

 

The table above shows the current cost of data add on’s and the amount of data the consumer should expect to receive, they are shocking. The entire premise of paying add on’s each month is to receive more data, this is hardly justifiable. What strikes me is the lack of data offering with the $50 dollar plan, 10GB… These data add on’s aren’t meant for the consumer to buy, these are only there to justify the increase in phone contract pricing with the handset. Which too be fair, $10 for an increase in 6GB of data is justifiable in my opinion, but this won’t appeal to most consumers.

 

The only changes in the phone plans has been data, Vodafone customers once received benefits such as free spotify premium in 2014, which ended on the 7th of December 2016 along with Stan or the Sydney morning herald/The age. How does vodafone expect to maintain their customer base when other telcos are offering cheaper plans and an extensive entertainment bundle. Telstra and optus both reward their customers, what are vodafone exactly offering?

 

Things you don’t need or things you cannot receive.

 

For an ordinary consumer, how do they justify the extra $20 a month after their contract ends, an added extra $480 over 24 months. Phone plans add to the continual scary growth of the cost of living in Australia.

 

Within time, we will see the S8 be able with $0 upfront only on the $80 red plan, each year being a $10 increase in their deals.

 

Verdict

 

In my perspective, Vodafone needs to throw in more and more entertainment deals to justify the increases in pricing. Bring back the spotify premium or strike a deal with Netflix so your customers either can have free few months of netflix or free streaming of Netflix. Moreover, Vodafone needs to maintain its customer loyalty with the emergence of cheaper telcos whom offer much more at a cheaper price, credits to Woolworths mobile with their amazing deals on the samsung s8 where they offered a similar plan to vodafone at ¾ of the price!

 

For consumers who chew through data, these phone plans are suited for you and are not absurdly priced. They offer more than enough data with each plan and will truly keep you going whether you be out and about or stuck with some shitty home internet. These data plans will definitely keep you satisfied and will justify the increase in prices.

 

On the other hand, consumers who do not use 13GB a month and only use around 2 – 3 GB a month, you are looking at a wastage of around 10GB. With compression becoming smarter and faster, less data is constantly being used, thus, you may be thinking these plans are absurdly priced. There are a few options however, that will better tailor your needs.

 

  1. Buying the phone outright and getting a sim only plan with vodafone.
  2. Buying the phone outright and getting a sim only plan with cheaper carriers.
  3. Change carriers to carriers such as Woolworths (whom offer phones).

 

For the sake of it, let’s look into option one.

Samsung S8 price at Jb Hi-fi: $1,199

Kogan sim only : $36.90

Vodafone sim only plan equivalent: $40 / $36 with student discount

Optus sim only plan equivalent: $40 / $36 with student discount

 

Total: $2,159/2,063

There are very minimal savings here, however if you find a plan that suits your needs, you should be looking at a saving from anywhere between $1 to $400. Therefore If you do not need the extra data, there are cheaper ways.

 

Vodafone

Image sourced from: http://www.vodafone.com.au/android/samsung-galaxy-s8