WWDC Wrap-up

I haven’t had a chance to write any blog posts last week while I was at WWDC, but I had a great time and learned a lot. This may have been the most important WWDC in recent years.

While last year’s WWDC focused primarily on iOS, this year’s conference was about equally split between iOS 5 and Mac OS X Lion. Both systems share some major enhancements including iCloud storage and Objective C runtime improvements that make memory management easier and a lot faster. I can’t write about much of what I saw, since everything except the keynote is under NDA. I will say that I’m running iOS 5 on my iPad and Lion on my MacBook Air and I’m very happy with both and find them stable enough for regular use. I haven’t installed iOS 5 on my iPhone, though.

On Sunday I went on the annual bus Pilgrimage to Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino. As always, the only thing we were able to see was the Apple company store. I took advantage of it to pick up a USB Ethernet adapter for my MacBook Air, since large downloads aren’t allowed over wireless connections during WWDC. I was pleasantly surprised by how fast the MacBook Air USB adapter is and how it just works without any fuss, unlike USB ethernet adapters I’ve used in the past.

1 Infinite Loop

WWDC isn’t all work. There are also a few fun events, starting with Tuesday night’s Apple Design Awards and Stump The Experts. One highlight of the conference is always the Thursday night WWDC Bash. Since the Bash moved from Apple’s campus in previous years to Yerba Buena Garden across from Moscone Center, Apple has been getting major bands to perform at the Bash. In previous years they had Ozomotli, Barenaked Ladies, Cake, and OK Go. This year they got Michael Franti & Spearhead for a great show.

The conference ended at noon on Friday, so I took advantage of the rest of the day to enjoy San Francisco. I walked from Moscone to the Ferry Building & took lots of pictures, which you can see here. I only brought my Canon G12, since I didn’t feel like lugging the D90. I’m very happy with the results, both for still photos & videos.

Canon G12

After my last trip to San Francisco, when I was sore from carrying around the D90, I started looking around for a compact alternative. I did a lot of research and decided on the Canon G12. It’s bigger than the average point & shoot camera, but still a lot smaller & lighter than the D90. Although the picture quality isn’t quite as good as the D90, it’s still excellent. This one is definitely coming on my next trip (WWDC) instead of the D90.

The G12 is in a class of high-end point & shoot cameras that include manual controls, has good high ISO quality, and can shoot raw. It features a movable screen and a hot shoe for external flashes.

Here are the two cameras next to each other:

D90 vs. G12

I took this shot of a gardenia flower with the G12:

Gardenia Flower

Here’s the same shot, taken with the D90:

Gardenia Flower (D90)

Although the D90 is definitely crisper, the G12 still looks excellent for a point & shoot camera.

Here are details of the G12 version:

G12 Detail

And the D90 version:

D90 Detail

You can help support this blog by clicking here to buy your G12 from Amazon.

Hipstamatic 170 is here

My favorite iPhone app, Hipstamatic, got a major update today. Hipstamatic 170 fixes several crashes & freezes in iOS 4, adds more sharing options including Tumblr, and a new service to buy analog prints of your photos. They also released a new lens & film package. I love the new Bettie XL Lens, which gives the effect of a plastic Diana camera with light leaks.


Nikon's new D7000

Nikon announced their new D90 replacement, the D7000 today. It looks like an awesome camera, with a 17.2 MP sensor, two SD card slots, a 39 point AF system, a more rugged magnesium-alloy body, and improved video capabilities. Rather than the D90’s 5 minutes of 720p video with manual focus only, the D7000 can record a full 20 minutes of 1020p video using autofocus. I’m not ready to replace my D90 yet, but when I do, the D7000 seems like a nice step up.

Eye-Fi Pro X2

I have been using Eye-Fi cards since they released the original version, although when I switched to a DSLR I had stopped using them due to their limited capacity. That changed with the Eye-Fi Pro card, which doubled the capacity to 4GB, which made it usable with my D90.

The 4GB capacity of the original Eye-Fi Pro card still seemed tight when shooting a lot of raw images & video, and it’s slower than most standard SD cards, which limited the number of shots you can take in burst mode. I found that limitation very frustrating when I was trying to shoot dance & martial arts demos at Youth Day when it stopped letting me shoot in burst mode for several seconds while it finished writing.

The new Eye-Fi Pro x2 solves both limitations by doubling the capacity again to 8GB and increasing the write speed to match Class 6 SDHC cards. It also adds 802.11n support and an “Endless Memory” feature which automatically deletes older photos that have been successfully transferred, so you never have to manually delete anything.

Like all Eye-Fi cards, setup is quick & easy. As soon as you insert the card, it will launch Eye-Fi Center and step you through the initial steps of adding a network and setting the upload destinations.

The Eye-Fi Pro X2 card is a perfect match for the D90. The 8GB capacity lets you shoot in raw mode and capture video without running out of space, and the enhanced speed lets you shoot in burst mode without overrunning it.

Nikkor 18-200mm VR lens

For a long time I avoided the Nikkor 18-200mm VR lens after reading a few less than glowing reviews, but after Michael Mistretta told me he was happy with it and I saw several people using them at the last photo walk, I decided to get one. I find the quality to be very similar to the D90’s 18-105mm kit lens, which is an excellent general purpose lens.

In the past, I’ve missed several photo opportunities when I had the wrong lens on my camera and rushed to change it, only to find the subject was gone. With this lens, it should happen a lot less often.

The first thing I noticed when I got this lens is that it’s only slightly larger than the 18-105mm, although it’s quite noticeably heavier. Fully extended, it’s only a little less than an inch longer than the 18-105mm

18-200mm Vs. 18-105mm

This lens feels very solid & well made. Zoom action is very smooth with no slippage. Rather than the Auto & Manual focus modes of the 18-105mm, it has a M/A mode (auto focus with manual override), which lets you use auto focus and fine tune it using the focus ring.

As an example of the image quality, this shot was taken at 18mm.

Front of clubhouse

This shot was taken from the same spot, zoomed in to 200mm on the purple flowers.

Purple Flowers

The 18-200mm VR seems to be a perfect lens for traveling or photo walks when you don’t want to carry extra lenses.