Nokia N8 – Two Week Photography Review

Nokia N8 includes a 12 megapixel camera and Ziess lens

For a phone, the Nokia N8 offers an incredibly powerful camera and video package in a smartphone about the same size as an Apple iPhone. And for two weeks, I shot several hundred photos and dozens of videos on the smartphone’s 16 Gb of internal memory.

But let me jump back for a moment. About a month ago, a person named Chris reached out to me from WOMWorld.com and offered me the opportunity to try out the Nokia N8. The Nokia N8 boasts a 12 megapixel camera with a Carl Zeiss lens, so I jumped at the chance to do a test and review.
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Nokia N8 Unboxing – Two Week Test

Nokia N8

As a marketer, I am often trying to find ways to connect with key opinion leaders online. We identify them, figure out how to share our brand message, and try to engage with them.

Little did I know that someone was targeting me.

It sounds a little sinister, but it really isn’t. A few weeks ago, I was contacted by someone at Nokia’s WOMWorld, who explained, “We are a Nokia sponsored community resource that, amongst other things, looks to get Nokia devices into the hands of creative types and tech enthusiasts.” Reading a little further, I realized he was talking about ME.

Anyway, I filled out some paperwork and yesterday a Nokia N8 camera phone appeared at my house. So for two weeks, I get to play with someone else’s camera. How cool is that?

The video here is the unboxing of the Nokia N8. Sorry for the blurry video. I am using an old Flip video camera. (Maybe Flip will loan me a better camera, so that my videos don’t look so grainy? I could get used to this!)

Anyway, check back and go to my Flickr to see what kinds of photos I take with the Nokia. I’ll be reopening my photo studio, so I will use the camera to document that.

Aperture from App Store

It's easy to download full applications like Aperture from the Apple App Store.

This weekend, I broke down and bought a copy of Apple’s Aperture software. As a Mac user, I am typically very happy with the core software that comes with iLife, but I just needed something more powerful. And the Apple App Store has been daring me to purchase something from it.

As a published photographer with three photography books in Amazon and Barnes & Nobles, I figured that I needed something slightly more versatile for organizing images. iPhoto is okay, but it’s just not up for the task of organizing a huge library of pictures.

I’d dabbled with Adobe Bridge, which is part of the Adobe Creative Suite, but found it to be a bit slow and clunky. I’ve also tried out the Extensis Portfolio package, which was really quite good for $199. It allowed a lot of flexibility in storage and organizing. But as I moved from my old Mac G5 to my new iMac, I wanted something that would be a little more universal. That is, I’d never met another person who used Extensis Portfolio and I was concerned that, if I had a problem, I would have limited support options.

If I get a new computer, I don’t want to do what I am doing now, which is trying to upgrade multiple files and software packages.

Apple's App Store sells Mac software

Anyway, after doing entirely too much research, I downloaded Apple’s Aperture. In the stores, it costs $199. In the Apple App Store, it’s only $80. That’s the full version, not the upgrade.

The App Store was a pretty smooth and intuitive process. It just billed the purchase to my iTunes account and installed the Aperture application on my computer. I have no idea what will happen if I get a new computer, but for now, I feel pretty good about downloading software and not getting discs and a serial number.

Installing and using Aperture is a standard Apple experience. Everything works, and you feel good about your purchase. No wonder iPhones and iPads are flying off the shelves. People like a good user experience and simplicity goes a long way. Usability is important for end users, even power users and professionals.

Now comes the task of organizing and tagging 70,000 photos.

Additional links:

7 Tips for Better Flickr Traffic

Since I first discovered the analytics features in Flickr, I have been obsessed with my stats. I just can’t help myself. Stats and analytics fascinate me. (Note: Stats are only available to Flickr Pro users.)

Here are a couple of observations regarding Flickr’s chocolaty goodness:

  1. Post consistently. My stats hovered around a depressingly low number for many months. The key to getting more views on photos was to actually upload photos more consistently. Sounds obvious, but the reality is that people in a social community tend to interact more with people who are contributing consistently.
  2. Give the people what they want. If you know what photos get the most traffic, that means there’s an audience for your work. If people like your dog photos and label them as “favorite” then keep posting your dog photos.
  3. Share timely events. My stats skyrocketed recently when I uploaded 388 photos in one batch. (Thank you Flickr Uploader!). I attended the Long Beach Comicon 2009 and uploaded my pictures within two days of the con. My average views went from 500 a day to over 5,000 per day. That’s a HUGE increase in traffic. Not all of it is sustained, but I have definitely increased my daily views significantly.
  4. Include links to your other sites. The traffic from Flickr to my personal website BuddyScalera.com is increasing. The more people look at my Flickr photos the more they go check out my webpage. I saw a pretty nice jump when I uploaded that batch I just mentioned. Flickr users tend to check out my photo reference books, which is good.
  5. Join groups & create groups. I belong to dozens of informal Flickr groups. Plus, I’ve created two Flickr groups, which has increased my overall photo traffic. Since I have particular photography interests, it makes sense for me to contribute to certain groups. But some of my interests didn’t already have a group, so I created Long Beach Comicon – Official Flickr Group and Comic Book Creators & Pros. One complaint: they don’t give administrators much access to group analytics, beyond giving a list of members.
  6. Participate. People are sharing their photos online because they want the world to see their pictures. Give people feedback on their photos. If you share a comment, people will want to see your photos, which will increase your base of viewers.
  7. Contact ’em. There’s a “friending” feature on Flickr called “Contact.” Basically, it’s like friending someone on Facebook, except you get a feed of new photos that is being uploaded by your contacts. If you like someone’s work, you can check out their work in thumbnails as they upload the images. And unlike Facebook, people on Flickr are uploading photos, so you don’t have to wade through dozens of throw-a-sheep and super-poke invitations.

More on Flickr in the future. In the mean time, check out 10 Tips to Boost your Flickr Profile. Very good article about increasing Flickr traffic.

Bad News Travels Fast

Bad news. You wish it would go away. And before the Net, sure, you had a good chance of your bad news getting shuffled away with yesterday’s news.

Now, well, nothing goes away. For better or worse, bad news just lingers.

Right now, the designers who created a recent ad for Ralph Lauren are probably wishing that the Internet would just turn off. Or at least turn attention elsewhere. But for now, they are the bad news celebrities of the day.

An image that was Photoshopped to make a Ralph Lauren model look thinner seems to have gone a bit too far. This photo shows a woman with an impossibly thin waist. Is it a commentary on models? On our obsession with thinness? Well, according to initial reports…no. Apparently, it’s just someone who went too far with their image manipulation.

Now the bad news is everywhere. Ralph Lauren released a statement, but the Net is buzzing with conversation, including on the Photoshop Disasters Blog.

Today, a photo is worth a thousand blogs.

My Berlin Flickr Photo Schmapped

Ever been Schmapped? I just got Schmapped and I’m pretty excited about it.

Schmap is a groovy little application for people to use on their iPhone. It’s a little like YELP, but it’s designed to help people find interesting landmarks as they visit new cities.

The folks over at Schmap selected one of my photos from my trip to Berlin. So the next time someone goes to Berlin, they may see my photo as part of an iPhone-based guided tour. Good stuff. I’m proud in a geeky sort of way. It looks really neat on the iPhone.

Here’s the photo of the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church:
Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church Outside

I’m not sure how they found my pictures, but I’m guessing they did some Flickr searches and it came up. I guess it’s a good thing that I tagged everything.

According to Emma Williams the Managing Editor of Schmap Guides, inclusion in the guide will drive traffic to my photo. They linked back to my photo, so hopefully it gets people to go check out the rest of my pictures.

I just got Schmapped and I can’t wait to be Schmapped again.

My Books Get Three Stars

Two of my photo reference books received a three (out of four) star rating by a reviewer from Comics Buyers Guide (CBG). In the September, 2009 issue of CBG (#1657), the reviewer wrote, “I would recommend these books and photo reference to all prospective artists.”

Whoo! That’s good stuff. CBG is the world’s longest running magazine about comic books, so hopefully it inspires people to check out my books. You can advertise all you want, but a good review from a respected reviewer and publication goes a LONG way.

So far, I have published three photo books, which you can check out on my buddyscalera.com website. More to come in the future!

Picasa Goes Mac Desktop

Most dedicated Mac users I know tend to use the iLife applications that come with a new Mac. While not particularly glamorous, these apps work well together. Apple’s integration strategy makes the whole suite hard to resist.

But as the Mac market share increases, we see more companies developing new and interesting applications for OSX. Google just released a Mac desktop version of Picasa, which is designed to appeal to iPhoto users.

Based on this video, Picasa for Mac has some interesting features, particularly the ability to sync your online galleries.

I use Picasa to share pictures, so I’m likely to try the new Picasa for Mac. Picasa is functional, but not as good as Flickr for sharing pictures.

But considering the fact that Flickr is owned by Yahoo, it may be time to explore other picture-sharing networks. Yahoo’s future is pretty hazy, and they are likely to get purchased by another media company. That means networks like Flickr could undergo some significant changes.

Picasa may not be perfect, but knowing that it is backed by Google helps me have more confidence that my pictures will survive online. And the step to embrace the Mac platform just makes me plain ol’ happy.

Flickr & Picasa Your New Photos

I’ve been posting more pictures these days to photo sharing sites. My two current favorites are Flickr and Picasa.

Picasa (owned by Google) offers some nice sharing features, including the ability to embed your photos inside your blog. It makes it easy to share a gallery…except on WordPress. (Unless I pay for a WordPress upgrade.)

At least I can embed a preview image that links to the Picasa gallery:

Random Photos by Buddy Scalera

Flickr (owned by Yahoo) is also a cool service, but it only allows you to insert a link to your gallery. That’s sort of old school, considering all of the cool things you can do with widgets and code.

Flickr has a really vibrant and engaging social network, which is one of the reasons it’s so popular. I can join groups where I can share my photos and I can track photographers I like.  By comparison, Picasa’s social community is a little weak.

On the other hand, Picasa offers many cool features, including the ability to upload video and embed slideshows. For the same features, Flickr requires you to pay $24.95 to get the premium features, which include basics like the ability create multiple galleries.

If one of these sites offered the right package, I’d certainly be willing to pay. Of course, I want to pay according to my needs. So, I’d pay $12 a year for upgraded consumer services on Flickr. And if I wanted pro-level services, I’d be willing to pony up $24.95. With only two choices (free or $24.95), I’m sticking with free.

On the Picasa side, I’d like to see Google do a better job of integrating their other services. I already use many Google services, so I’d pay extra to have them synchronized. Again, give me some pricing thresholds, and I’ll choose the one that makes the most sense.

Flickr & Picasa Your New Photos

I’ve been posting more pictures these days to photo sharing sites. My two current favorites are Flickr and Picasa.

Picasa (owned by Google) offers some nice sharing features, including the ability to embed your photos inside your blog. It makes it easy to share a gallery…except on WordPress. (Unless I pay for a WordPress upgrade.)

At least I can embed a preview image that links to the Picasa gallery:

Random Photos by Buddy Scalera

Flickr (owned by Yahoo) is also a cool service, but it only allows you to insert a link to your gallery. That’s sort of old school, considering all of the cool things you can do with widgets and code.

Flickr has a really vibrant and engaging social network, which is one of the reasons it’s so popular. I can join groups where I can share my photos and I can track photographers I like.  By comparison, Picasa’s social community is a little weak.

On the other hand, Picasa offers many cool features, including the ability to upload video and embed slideshows. For the same features, Flickr requires you to pay $24.95 to get the premium features, which include basics like the ability create multiple galleries.

If one of these sites offered the right package, I’d certainly be willing to pay. Of course, I want to pay according to my needs. So, I’d pay $12 a year for upgraded consumer services on Flickr. And if I wanted pro-level services, I’d be willing to pony up $24.95. With only two choices (free or $24.95), I’m sticking with free.

On the Picasa side, I’d like to see Google do a better job of integrating their other services. I already use many Google services, so I’d pay extra to have them synchronized. Again, give me some pricing thresholds, and I’ll choose the one that makes the most sense.