Friday, October 25, 2013

Bruno Mars' Unorthodox Jukebox Review

English: Bruno Mars performing in Houston, Tex...
English: Bruno Mars performing in Houston, Texas on November 24, 2010 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Simply put, Bruno Mars' Unorthodox Jukebox is an excellent album. Bruno stays true to his pop/soul style while showing that his voice is capable of numerous styles.

Personally I don't always listen to pop music, but Bruno Mars' voice seems to have a huge range, he's gritty, smooth, soulful, sharp, and gentle when it's called upon. He does all of this while maintaining a relaxed timbre and cool about his voice. It just a joy to listen to! In fact his style reminds me a bit of Michael and even some of the old Motown stuff like Smokey Robinson.

Although Bruno definitely excels at what are sure to be hits like "Locked out of Heaven" of which sounds a bit like The Police, my favorite songs on this album are when his voice is unaltered. "When I was your man" is a beautiful ballad that really shows his vocal range and is a really sweet song about a man who looks back on his younger days when he should have bought his love flowers and danced with her. It's just a great tune and makes me wonder if I should have this song played at my wedding which is next year...not that I haven't bought her flowers...or for that matter danced with her...I swear I have, but maybe not enough!

Other favorites of mine are "Natalie", "If I Knew" (which is especially old-timey), "Young Girls" and "Treasure".

Overall this is a great album, definitely recommended if you like Bruno's first album, "Doo - Wops & Hooligans." He doesn't stray from his style while he definitely adds some tricks to his toolbox. As usual his voice is easy and brilliant to listen to! I also love that this music isn't overly mixed and lets his voice shine through. Yeah Bruno!

UPDATE: DAY 2 of listening

After giving this album an extended listen through headphones I can truly attest that Bruno's voice is not overly compressed or mixed to sound "fake" like on many other pop albums. I really appreciate this especially when half the time I turn on the radio and every other song is auto-tune. This is part of what draws me to Bruno so much.

Secondly, this really is a throwback album. I have read that others don't like how this album crosses genre's quite a bit. Personally I like this, especially when Bruno pays homage to 50's, 60's and 80's music. He does it justice, and I really enjoy hearing him do his own take by making some modern classics. This album has an analog, refreshing feel to the way it was recorded and performed. It's great to have a modern artist like Bruno doing this!

UPDATE 3: A month later

This is one of those albums that has songs on it that you hear the first time and you have that "yeah...okay...pretty good" kind of thought. But then for some reason the melodies get stuck in your head. I'll find myself getting a ditty in my head and then hours later I'll realize I've had one of these songs trapped in my mind all day. It's annoying, but makes me realize how catchy this crap is...! Then I just have to listen to the song/album and it goes away. Anyways...still highly recommended.!

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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Review: Panasonic LUMIX GX7 16.0 MP DSLM Camera with LUMIX G VARIO 14-42mm II Lens and Tilt-Live Viewfinder (Silver)

Panasonic LUMIX GX7 via
I love this camera. I even love the fact that Panasonic didn't choose to make it retro like Olympus or Fujifilm. It is what it is and doesn't try to be anything else. Since Panasonic first came out with a micro 4/3 camera in 2008 I've been waiting for this camera. It fits my wants perfectly. It's not the best in any category but it's almost there in almost every one. The Sony NEX offers better dynamic range and Fujifilm X-trans models offers better low light performance. The GH3 offers better video with jacks for microphone and headset. The Olympus EM-1 offers weather proofing and better in camera stabilization. None of them give me the exact package that the GX7 does when it comes to external controls, portability and ergonomics. That's not to say that other cameras wouldn't fit you better. There are some excellent choices out there.

*In body image stabilization.
*Super fast focus.
*Wi-Fi (It has NFC for supposedly easy connection. My iPhone won't do that so I can't comment on ease)
*Will focus in very dark conditions. (not quite as quickly but very accurately)
*Good video quality (try the black and white setting at 24 FPS for an old time movie look!)
*Lots of external controls.
*Very good image quality, as good as the EM-5 or GH3.
*Built in EVF and a good one that tilts up.
*Tilting LCD screen.
*Excellent build.
*Excellent hand grip.
*Flash shoe.
*3 User programmable settings on mode dial.
****It just feels good in the hands!!

*Stabilization doesn't work in video mode (unless you have a stabilized lens).
*The strap rings are too low on the side and get in the way of hands, especially the left one.
*No auto ISO in manual mode. (Fuji has it. Sony doesn't.)
*No microphone jack for use in video, though the stereo built in mics are pretty good for casual vids.
*No weatherproofing, though no other rangefinder competitor has it either.
*All the programmable buttons may overwhelm the less experienced.
*Not good for sports shooting, though I don't know anyone who has used a rangefinder style camera for sports anyway.

I listed a number of minuses but don't consider any of them a big deal. Your mileage may vary. Bottom line, this is the camera I've been waiting for and I'm not disappointed in any way.

P.S. A more personal take.
The camera's grip is shaped such that I hold my right elbow closer to my chest than with the squarish grip on my NEX camera, which tends to push my elbow out and up. With a camera this light that's probably not a big deal but may make for a more stable shot.

I'm not particularly impressed with the stabilization. It's a step in the right direction and does help but it is nowhere near as nice as Olympus OM-D, which I've rented. Since I haven't shot it for about 4 years all I can do is guess, but I'd say it's about as effective as a Pentax K20D, which is 3 generations old. It's better than nothing and helps when using an old model Panasonic 20mm. I'm glad to have it. I wouldn't count on it for handholding a long lens. Since I don't have one, again, that's a guess.

The buttons have a nice positive feel and are sufficiently far apart that I can hit the right one without worrying about it. I've been playing with the buttons while watching videos, which is how I normally learn a camera. Since I've only had this for 4 days I don't have the layout worked into muscle memory.

It's the same with the menu system. I have a Nikon D600 and a Sony NEX 6. I'm going to sell the NEX as it does much the same thing as I intend for the GX7. The menus make more sense than Sony's which can require multiple dips into them to change some things like using extended dynamic range. Also, compared to the NEX, I'd say that the Panasonic has better jpegs and a better metering system. That said, there are a lot of potential ways to program the many function buttons and I'm going to be a while getting the camera set up just the way I want.

I also like the GX7s ability to use a phone as a Wi-Fi remote. Sony does that too but requires the purchase of separate apps for different functions. The Sony is also slower when using the phone as a remote. It takes longer to focus and has a shutter lag. I haven't noticed that with the GX7.

I like shooting a small camera with primes and Sony has a lack of focal length equivalents lower than 50mm. There are some Zeiss ones that are good but they are bulky and expensive. The M43 choices are much more extensive and the lenses are much smaller and less costly, so the total package is smaller and lighter and less expensive. I've been shooting mostly with the Panny 20mm, which seems made for this camera. Next up is the Olympus 12mm, but that's expensive and I'll have to save for it.

What more can I say? This camera is fun to shoot. It just feels right in my hands. That's such a subjective point and may be totally different for others. Everything is fast. It turns on fast, focuses fast, allows me to shoot a number of shots in quick succession and doesn't bog down. I don't use the burst mode. I wish the GX7 had a true 100 ISO mode as I sometimes to take longer exposures in daylight. I'll just need a stronger ND filter to to so than I have.

I've printed a couple of photos from the GX7 at 13X19. That's as big as my printer will go. I can't tell any difference at that size between the GX7 and the NEX 6 at ISO 200 or 800. I do prefer the 4x3 format rather than the 3x2 of an APS sensor. It's closer in shape to the 11x14 inch or 16x20 inch frames that are easy to pick up at Michael's or Target.

One thing I didn't mention in the review is how the camera is totally silent when using the electronic shutter. Turn that off and the camera turns off all other sounds. I think of it as stealth mode. Us that with the touch shutter on the view screen and it's possible to take photos and nobody has a clue. I do mostly street or documentary shooting and I love that ability. Even when people know you're photographing them a shutter can be distracting.

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Monday, March 4, 2013

Need a hotel in Las Vegas?

English: Hotel / Casino New York-New York in L...
English: Hotel / Casino New York-New York in Las Vegas. Français : L'hôtel-Casino New York-New York à Las Vegas, dans le Nevada. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Las Vegas is a Strange Place, Normally when we go away on Holiday, we use Hotels to Maybe eat, sleep, shower and rest, then get out of the hotels ASAP to see the local Attractions, here in Vegas...the Hotels ARE the Attractions, almost all have mind blowing rides, or are fully themed, have stunning Theater shows (Phantom of the Opera, Blue Man Group and 7 different Cirque du Soliel Shows, The Rat Pack (Frank, Dean and Sammy) The Beatles). Some have Zoo's and Aquariums, others fabulous headline acts (Cher, Celine Dion, Elton John, David Copperfield and Chris Angel). Then of course there are the Casinos. Others have Free outside shows (The Bellagio Fountains, The Mirage Volcano, The Treasure Island Pirate show). For other Hotels it is the design of the Hotel itself which is the attraction,(The Venice themed Venician, New York New York, The Pyramid of the Luxor, the Eiffel Tower at Paris LV or the Greco-Roman Caesers Palace) A Magnificent City.

Need a hotel in Las Vegas? Choose from over 210 Las Vegas hotels with huge savings. Whatever your budget, compare prices and read reviews for all our Las Vegas hotels.
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Friday, January 25, 2013

Easy Video Suite Marketing Software is LIVE!

Video marketing had to evolve. It was inevitable.
It was becoming much too complicated. And if it isn't too complicated for some people, it's still definitely too time consuming.

You had to worry about the following:
  • Redoing videos over and over again to make sure you got everything right in one take or face the daunting task of loading your raw video into Camtasia or another editor to make everything perfect.
  • Making sure your videos were optimized for the web (So they looked good and didn't take too long to start playing).
  • Having a different mobile version of your videos to show users of iPhone, iPad, Android and other mobile devices (More and more people are doing most of the web viewing from their smart phones and other mobile devices).
  • Basically using "duct-tape" to try and put all the pieces together with Camtasia, Screenflow, Jing, Handbrake while continually looking for the "perfect" solution to make it all easier or less time consuming.
  • Uploading large files to your own server, Youtube, Amazon S3 or other video hosting service.
  • Getting the proper code in place to display your videos with the hope that mobile devices would be able to see the mobile version of your video.
Well, someone has finally done something about it.

Josh Bartlett, the creator of the industries leading video player called Easy Video Player, has truly done something innovative in video marketing. His Easy Video Player software had game-changing features two years ago that other video marketing solutions have just recently tried to introduce.
And on top of that, Josh could boast about the following:
  • Tens of thousands of satisfied customers.
  • The lowest refund rate in the industry for Clickbank (Only 2%).
  • More top marketers and 6 to 7 figure launches use Easy Video Player than anything else. (Mike Filsaime, Chris Farrel, Ryan Deiss, Jason Moffatt, Maria Andros, Justin Brooke to name a few).
Rather than throw in a few, new and "cool" features and re-launch his product simply for the money, he listened to his customers and did something else. He took over two years and hundreds of thousands of his own dollars to create something that will change the way you market your business with videos.

You'll now be able to record, edit, publish, market and track all your videos with one, easy-to-use solution.
Josh is releasing this all-in-one video marketing solution on January 15th, 2013 with a free video series leading up to the launch.

Watch the first video here.

He's going to reveal the story about his journey and passion that led him to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars from his own pocket to create the ultimate video marketing solution.
And how you can now do the following:
  • Drag and drop your video into a desktop application (Mac and Pc Compatible) that will optimize and convert your video for the web, let you edit if needed, upload it and give you the code to copy and paste to your website.
  • Record your screen or face camera from within this application and even draw on the screen.
  • Never worry about whether users on mobile devices can see your videos (It creates and displays a mobile version of your videos for you).
  • Split test your videos to see which ones are shared the most, have the most engagement and which versions make the most money.
That's just scratching the surface...
What all this ultimately means for you is that marketing your business with videos is going to be much, much easier. And you'll make a ton more money while having more time to do what you love.

Anyways...Josh is also going to demonstrate the amazing power of his creation in this series.
So go see how video marketing has evolved.

Talk soon,
Social Network Asia

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