Friday, July 16, 2010

Bionic Legs now an achievable reality

My great uncle Ken was an inventor. Not one you've heard of, like Edison or Dyson, but one of the little guys who invents practical aids for people with disabilities. Unfortunately he died suddenly on the operating table in 2005. That was a shock and a shame at the time, for all the obvious reasons.

Today I discovered something I'm sure uncle Ken would have been very impressed to see: And there's a video of the device in use too:

Robert Irving and Richard Little deserve every success with this device. It may not be fast, but it is clearly a device that has enormous potential, and I'm sure REX 2, when they build it, will be stronger, faster and lighter.

Well done guys.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

How good a photographer are you really?

For my 40th birthday last October, I received sufficient cash to finally indulge one of my minor ambitions of the last 10 years: to go from film SLR to digital SLR photography. So I bought myself a cheap Sony dSLR, an α200K. Then at Christmas, I added a Sigma 70-300 lens. Nothing showy or pricey, just enough to learn the ropes. I already had my tripod so I don't count that as new expenditure, but even so, I've spent over £400 on kit!

I joined, as you can see from the left side-bar. I even paid for a 'pro' account (primarily so that I can upload my photos fullsize), and I don't regret it.

Then I found the Sony α group and started reading their forum. Guess what, about 60% of the posts appear to be 'what new kit should I buy to shoot X' (where X is some broad category of work, like sports, or nature, or sunsets), and most of the answers are: spend £hundreds (at least) to get some specialist lens, filter system, tripod, or even a new camera body, like the α900, at around £2,000 for the body alone - no lens!

Now comes the complete antidote:
Firstly, of course, they're using amazing pro lights (most of the time - except for two $50 floods from Lowes), a studio space, a great model and so on, but at the center of it all is an iPhone 3GS, and an excellent photographer.

You really, really, really don't need all that fancy kit the 'pros' and the shops tell you (sounds like the audio-extremophile stuff I was writing about a few years ago). Yes, you need great conditions, and in a studio, that means loads of light, but it seems that the old adage: "cameras don't take photos, people do" is as accurate as ever, if not more so.