Friday, April 22, 2011

Photojojo iPhone Telephoto Lens

I love to take photos with my iPhone – and I've taken thousands. One thing that I really wish the iPhone could do better is zoom. In photography, there are two types of zoom: digital zoom and optical zoom.

Digital zoom simply blows up pixels. If you've ever "overzoomed" into a photo then you've seen how blocky it is when it's pixilated. It looks terrible.

Optical zoom, on the other hand, uses lens optics to "magnify" the subject – it's as if you were physically closer to the subject when you took the photo. A 10x optical zoom will appear as if you were ten times closer.

In photographer lingo, they don't actually refer to telephoto lenses as "10x" – instead, they refer to a lens by its focal length, i.e. 400 mm, since that indicates the distance to the focal point, behind the lens, where the light rays will converge.

Optical zoom is always better than digital zoom. But, it's also more expensive, due to the added lenses, plus it's bulkier.

On Tuesday, Jeff Leon, a high school classmate of mine, showed me an ad for Photojojo's iPhone Telephoto Lens which is an 8x telephoto lens that's made specifically for the iPhone 3 or iPhone 4. Priced at $35.00, it was an offer that I couldn't resist. Plus, the more that I dug into this product's offerings, the more that I was impressed.

Not only does 35 bucks buy you an 8x zoom lens, which attaches to your iPhone with a simple snap on case, but it also comes with a tripod to hold your iPhone. Do you know how long I've been looking for a simple iPhone tripod? Answer: a long time!

Ordering the Telephoto Lens
I placed my order on Tuesday and I received the new zoom lens this afternoon. The entire process of ordering and waiting for my telephoto lens to arrive was more fun than I expected when I received e-mails from Photojojo like:
We just wanted to let you know that we got your order. You've got this online shopping thing down pat!

The next day, when my order shipped, I received an e-mail with a subject line that read:

Yay! Your Photojojo Order Shipped!

And, the best part was the way they signed off this e-mail:
We hope our box of photo goodies brightens your day and brings you super photo happiness!

Photojojo was just as excited about my order as I was!

When I opened the shipping box, I immediately noticed that the telephoto lens box had the same form factor as the iPhone 3 box. And, in the packing materials, I saw that they also included a green toy dinosaur tchotchke.

As I showed the triceratops to my wife, we got a huge laugh when our beagle jumped up and sank his teeth into the plastic dinosaur as he tried, unsuccessfully, to snatch it from my hand and eat it thinking that it was a yummy Greenie.

Included in the box:
  • Telephoto lens
  • Universal holder
  • iPhone case
  • Mini tripod
  • Carrying case
  • Cleaning cloth

Critical Assessment
I can sum up this product in one word: Fantastic!

It's well worth $35 – I would have happily paid more. The plastic case easily snaps onto my iPhone and then the zoom lens screws into the threads on the case. You can manually focus the lens, depending how faraway the subject it. The minimum focal distance is about ten feet.

The tripod mount also rotates a full 90° so that you can take photos in either portrait or landscape (or anywhere in between).

I took my iPhone 4 with the telephoto lens outside to snap a couple photos of the birds of paradise on my lawn using the Photojojo tripod. You can click on these two images to compare the details and see the difference. Both photos were taken from the exact same vantage point. It obvious that I'm a happy camper with this product.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Tweeting and Meeting the McCains

I saw that Cindy McCain (Senator John McCain's wife) was fairly active on Twitter so I began following her. Around lunchtime, today, she mentioned that Senator McCain was cooking.

Brats for lunch. John is the grill master!less than a minute ago via Twitter for BlackBerry® Favorite Retweet Reply

So, I asked her to tweet out a photo:

@CindyhM1 You should tweet out a photo of the Senator grilling. Does he wear a "Kiss the cook" apron? ;^Dless than a minute ago via Twitter for iPhone Favorite Retweet Reply

Well, a few minutes later, she posted a picture of Senator McCain:

Here's the photo she took:

Of course, I thanked her:

Meeting The McCains
My wife and I got a chance to meet the McCains about a year and a half ago. Senator McCain, who gave the commencement address when I graduated from the Naval Academy in 1993, was back in Annapolis for his 50 year reunion in 2008 - which coincided with my class' 15 year reunion.

After a parade, that reunion weekend in 2008, we met at the Superintendent's house for a garden party reception. Cindy was at the reception with her son, Jack, who was a "firstie" (senior) at the Academy, and her daughter, Meghan.

I spoke with Jack, for a short time, and I mentioned to him that his father gave my class' commencement address. I'm guessing that Jack must have been about seven or eight years old in 1993. I was surprised when Jack told me that he clearly remembered his father's commencement address to our class and he said that it had a big impact on him. Jack then introduced my wife and I to Cindy and we chatted for a little bit – but not too long, Cindy was a busy women with only six or seven weeks to go until the presidential election.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Where to turn to when you're sick?

I've had a sore throat for the past week. It came on the day after I went to the San Diego Padres home game season opener, last Tuesday. No doubt that I caught something after being exposed to the crowds and eating the stadium food.

I feel fine and it doesn't feel too sore. However, my voice sounds like I've smoked a carton of cigarettes every day for the past 80 years.

Since it hasn't gotten any better (nor has it gotten worse), I left a message with my doctor's office, this morning, to see if they could recommend some over-the-counter medication. An assistant called me back a few hours later and she recommenced Mucinex.

The funny part of the phone call was when the doctor's assistant said, "I was just looking at WebMD and it says..." As she mentioned that, it conjured up the brilliant advice that my sister once gave me, "When you're sick, you go to the doctor, not the Internet."