[Online adventures] #11 – Konica Hexanon AR 50mm F1.8

Nifty fifty of the 80’s

How did I end up with this?

I’ve been shooting around with this monstrosity that I bought a while ago – the Konica Hexanon Zoom 80-200mm F3.5 (link)

…and have gotten really good results with it!

However, with such a long focal length all portraits must be shot really far away (which is a good thing in the case of a raging fire). Also carrying this lens is a bit of a workout as it has a combined weight of a laptop > <!

So I thought, what if I had something that had a shorter focal length, smaller, lighter and took great portraits too?

Sounds like I need a nifty fifty!

Okay, I need a nifty fifty, but I also need a lower price… (living the Sony E-Mount life also means paying more for native lenses that cost more than any other ecosystem…)

So I thought, why not grab another Konica Hexanon given their reputation great image quality for its era?

Why not grab a Konica Hexanon nifty fifty?

Wow! The lens + shipping is only 24usd (~32CAD 2017), mint and no bidding required. Done, sold!

Konica Hexanon Zoom 80-200mm F3.5 (left) Konica Hexanon AR 50mm F1.8 (right)

We definitely solved the size and weight issue, combined weight is now less than 500g. How’s the image quality?

When shot at f 8? Excellent for a glass of this vintage, punchy colors, good sharpness. But who buys a nifty fifty to shoot stopped down at f8? Show me the f1.8 bokeh!

Here you go! f 1.8~ W.O.W for something that costs 32CAD, this image quality is a.m.a.z.i.n.g. What about corner sharpness? Something that cheap CCTV lens do very poorly in? (link)

Not tack sharp, even in this downsized image you can see a bit of “motion blur” effect on the words in the sign. However, very usable! 🙂

Final thoughts

Just like the Zoom 80-200mm, this lens is very well built, almost full-metal. In fact, I wiped out on my bicycle and landed on the camera, the lens is ok, but I took a chunk off my plastic built camera.

Many would consider the 50mm f1.8 to be the defacto first lens to own if one were to get into photography as it is very versatile and affordable. Well, affordable if you live in any other ecosystem other than Sony 😛

However, once again, because the E-mount has one of the shorter flange focal distances, it makes using third-party lenses as easy as getting a simple adapter ring. At 32CAD, this makes the affordable argument even stronger.

Verdict? If you see a Konica Hexanon AR 50mm F1.8 in mint condition, go for it! You’ll fall in love with the image quality just like I have.

Dollar store showdown – Earphones

Jacky, have you not learnt your lesson? 😛

The last dollar store earphone has really pushed me away from buying dollar store earphones ever again. (link)

However, as I was strolling down dollar store, this caught my attention. Clean reusable packaging, nice and simple design and seemingly very good build quality. I am still on my journey to find the ultimate pair of “burner” earphones, so I took a leap of faith 😛

I present to you, the uber sound earphones!

Let’s be real though…

Just like last time. For three dollars, I don’t expect spectacular performance out of these. Remember, I am looking for a pair of good burner earphones. All I am asking for is acceptable audio quality.

That’s it.

Wow o.O

Oh wow, these feel really nice! The matte black finish gives it both a clean look and great premium feel

The logo is not too tacky either. Visually this can definitely pass off as a premium product.

What it is competing against

Electra Earphones

Also from dollar store, these costed 1.25CAD. However, please avoid these at all costs as described in my previous showdown. (link)

The approach

Just like four months ago, I am still not an audiophile so I will continue to use terms that will make them cringe. I apologize again.

Evaluation will be based on the same stuff as last time so we can compare: High, mids, bass, sound stage, pleasantness, design and build quality. Rating each area out of 10.

I am blown away, seriously. Let this graph speak for itself

That’s right, I am so blown away by these earphones that I think it will compete well in the branded earphone market. So I decided to throw in the Klipsch S4 with Comply Active S100 (80CAD) and Denon AH-C50 (50CAD)

Highs: This is the only part of the earphone that still screams cheapo. That signature super harsh high gets it a 3/10 here

Mids: They are definitely there! Much better than the Electra where this is completed removed like a karaoke machine. These are much more comparable to the Denon but only slightly more muted. 5/10

Bass: The bass is definitely there. Again, an area where it completely rolls the Electra as it had lacking or modified bass. However, just like the Denon, it is very overwhelming and boomy. Therefore, it gets the same score as it 7/10

Soundstage: There is definitely a soundstage. It sounds like the song is being performed in a small room. Meaning I still kind of feel that the sound is concentrated and being pushed into my ears. Very similar to the Denon, so same score 6/10

Pleasantness: The Electra almost made me pass out by the end of a three minute song. I am three hours in with these uber sound earphones and I am still alive. In fact I am somewhat enjoying my music even. I am ranking it two points lower than the Denon here because of the harsh highs, 6/10.

Design: Nice, clean, simple, unobtrusive logo and available in multiple fun colors. Matte finish is great as it doesn’t attract finger prints and gunk like the Klipsch and Denon do. So not only do they look better, they do a good job of looking good when in use outside!

Build Quality: Feels very solid, they feel like they will last. The simple design helps as there isn’t much that can break. (Klipsch’s rubber decoration is falling off)


For three dollars, these are great burner earphones. I plan on stocking some up myself as well!

Shortcomings of a centralized media server

Realizing the hard way

This is when everything is working, all is good. I have access to all my media everywhere around the house!

When the power goes out, my media goes with it. Despite most of my portable devices have battery power, I have no access to any of my media since the network and the server are not battery powered.

Pros of a centralized media server: One copy for all devices

Cons of a centralized media server: One copy for all devices

Earphone showdown – Dollar store to brand name stuff!

The contestants

Klipsch S4 with Comply Active S100 foam tips

These are my primary earphones. They stay at home and are either connected to my computer or my Cowon X9 DAP, which also, stays at home.

Bought them on boxing day but if one were to buy them on amazon, it would be 70CAD. Comply foam tips are typically 10CAD for three pairs, but I got them for 2CAD for three pairs.

These are by no means the most expensive earphones on the planet. What they do represent is my limit in both the ability to tell the difference in audio quality and student budget.

These earphones will represent the 80CAD price-range

Denon AH-C50

These are my current “burner” earphones. I use them when I am outside connected to my Galaxy S4 or iPod Touch. The reason why I have another pair of earphones for outdoors is because I need it to be cheap, but yet deliver acceptable audio quality. Why cheap? Edmonton weather + typical on-the-go wear means any earphone that goes outdoor is automatically assigned a one year life span. I can’t afford to burn expensive earphones when they get chewed through like candy.

But Jacky, these are 50CAD earphones? Yup, however, I got mine on clearance and the box was damaged so I got them for 10CAD at a local BestBuy, value!

For the intent of this review, they will represent the 50CAD price range.

Cowon SE2

These are my backup earphone #1. They came with my Cowon X9 DAP; however, they are also avalible seperately. They are fairly inexpensive coming in at 15CAD.

They will represent the 15CAD price range.

Apple Earphones

These are my backup earphone #2. They came with my iPod Shuffle; however, they are also avalible seperately. Due to the fact they are the “last generation” design, you can find them on the internet for around 10CAD.

They will represent the 10CAD price range.

Electra Earphones

Probably the star of this review. These came from Dollarama (A Canadaian “dollar store”). They can be had for 1.25CAD. I bought them to see what kind audio quality can they deliver for the price. I don’t expect spetacular performance out of these, but as long as they deliver acceptable audio quality, I will place them accordingly in my list of earphones.

They will represent the 1.25CAD price range.

The approach

I am not an audiophile, so I will use words that will make any of them cringe. Sorry. Here we go:

Evaluation will be based on: Highs, mids, bass, sound stage, pleasantness, design and build quality. Rating each area out of 10.

Highs, mids and bass is fairly self explanitory. Sound stage will mean seperation between instruments and how much do I feel like I am “surrounded” by the music. Pleasantness will mean if the audio is harsh or not, basically can I tolerate the sound that they generate. Design will mean how it looks asthetically and how it fits physically in ears.
Build quality is how well it is built.

A picture, or should I say a graph, paints a thousand words

I think it is fairly self explainatory for most of the earphones. As we move down in price range, we see lower scores. But what happened to the electra earphones…?

I think I should explain what happened to the electra earphones…

Highs: They are there, but it is super harsh so 3/10
Mids: Its like a karaoke where the vocals are removed but there is a slight hint of it. Hence the -5/10
Bass: The bass is non-existent and potrayed by a snare like sound that bears no resemblence to the original track. -3/10
Soundstage: It’s like I am in a hollow cave and there is some music playing deep down in the cave somewhere. So I am justing going to say there is no soundstage? 0/10
Pleasantness: Listening to it for two minutes gives me a headache, by time a song is done (so 3~4 minutes) I want to pass out. I consider an earphone that makes a person pass out to exhibt negative pleasantness. -10/10
Design: Looks like they took a page out of Apple’s early earphone design and they did a pretty good job. 6/10
Build Quality: Non-existent, earphones feel like there’s nothing in them, the plug requires some fussing around before full contact 0/10


Some music is always better than no music? Not dollar store earphones.

Do not buy dollar store earphones, they provide negative utility.

Galaxy S4 i9505 running official CyanogenMod 13 for jfltexx

So, I’ve made the jump to CM13 after a month since the nightly builds started to rollout. So here’s how it went!

CyanogenMod 13, Nightly build, February 1st.

(The whites are yellow because I have Live Display activated to not mess with my sleep cycles as much)

Live Display deactivated for those who are concerned with the yellow tint.

The upgrade

I did a dirty flash, also known as an in place upgrade. On CyanogenMod, they heavily emphasized that you need to immediately update your GApps and other 3rd party applications you might have installed in one go. I did that, but I am not sure what happens if you don’t heed that advice.

Start = CM 12.1 SNAPSHOT from November 17th, 2015
Turn off phone
Boot into ClockWorkMod Recovery
Clear cache
Clear dalvik
Flash zip file containing CM13 NIGHTLY from February 1st, 2016
Flash zip file containing OpenGApps for Marshmallow (I used nano)
End = CM 13 NIGHTLY from February 1st, 2016

What seems to work completely

Phone calls – Sending and receiving
SMS – Sending and receiving
Data – Only tested HSPA, the i9505 does not have the LTE bands transmitted in Edmonton
WiFi – Wireless N and G seem to be OK
GPS – A little slower maybe? But accurate once lock is acquired
Display – LiveDisplay as seen above works (it’s night, so the screen gets a warmer tone), hover touches also work
LED notification light – As seen above, the red light means I have a text message
Sound – Speaker, earpiece, headphone jack, all OK
Sensors – Proximity, IR sensor (for gestures), Accelerometer, Magnetic, Gyroscope, Temperature, Barometer, RGB, Humidity, Gravity, Orientation all OK
Buttons – Power, Home, Volume up and down work

What seems to work partially

Bluetooth – I was able pair with my stereo Bluetooth speakers OK, but attempts at pairing with a Pebble has caused a soft reboot.

What seems to not work

So far none that I’ve discovered

What seems to be missing when coming from CM12.1 Nightly

– Ring targets when you drag up from the home button. Right now it is still the standard Google Now
– Quick setting tile customization. It kept the layout that I had from CM12.1 but I cannot configure it

So, how is it?

Overall very smooth. Noticeable speed / smoothness improvement when juggling between applications. There is hardly any lag when switching between things. Marshmallow is an “incremental” update from lollipop so the phone feels more refined but not “oh it feels like a new phone”.

Battery life is the same as CM12.1. That means I can get through a day as usual.

I don’t use Bluetooth nor do I have it turned on so the fact that it only works partially did not bother me.

Currently I have no problems in using it as my primary phone.

[Bike] – GT Avalanche 2014 Review

It’s been a month since I bought it and now it’s time for an official review 🙂


As some may notice…

This is the women’s version of the GT Avalanche, so really, the real name is GTW Avalanche.

There is nothing wrong with a guy riding a women’s bike. The difference is usually a dropped top tube and a smaller bike at the same size rating.

Dropped top tube – Historically speaking, this is done so that women can wear skirts on bikes. For me on a mountain bike, maneuverability is always welcome. Having a dropped top tube means I can get into more positions without smashing my crotch. Yup, I definitely don’t want to smash my crotch, therefore I conclude this as feature for guys too. The guy version of the GT Avalanche also features a dropped top tube, but not sure if it is as aggressively dropped as the women’s version though.

Smaller sizing – Just buy a larger size. I am probably a size S on guy bikes, but nothing wrong with going with a size M on women bikes. (Might be a problem if one is sized XL as there is no XXL to move up to)

Clean of stickers

Edmonton has a bike theft problem. Having all these fancy stickers on the bike just screams “oh, sexy eyes, sexy nose, sexy mouth, don’t you know?” (Bonus points for knowing what song this came from!) To me this bike already screams sexy in its sticker-less natural beauty form, so I took them all off.

But these stickers look good though, throwing them away is a bit of a waste…

So I stuck some of them on to my Microsoft Surface Pro 2 tablet. Because you know, “oh, sexy eyes, sexy nose, sexy mouth, don’t you know?” 😛

The drive train

This is definitely an area of concern. Snow, slush and salt is just all bad for the drive train.

How I take care of it:

Every day after the commute is done, I rinse it down with water.
Every week I wipe the chain, lube it, run it through the drive train and wipe off the excess

So far the rear is looking good, no visible rusting. In combination with the Shimano Deore, the shifting is as smooth as I can imagine it to be.

The front is looking good too, no visible rusting as well. Even though the Shimano Acera is a lower-end part, there is no problem with it so far.


I have to angle the shifters down quite a bit in order for my thumb to have full access to the rapid fire mechanism. This is a slight design problem as the “window” that shows which gear I am in is now completely facing forward, or away from me.

Yeah, because it’s facing forward, everyone can see the gear I am in except me. Not a big problem for me as I am pretty good at remembering what gear I’m in. Design flaw? Maybe. Or maybe I just have short thumbs.

Can be quite convenient though, here I’ve managed to slip the bell closer to my grip. A more accessible bell is always a plus on a commuter bike.


This is almost critical in Edmonton given the amount of snow that we have. They can lock the wheel way better than a v-brake system since the braking mechanism is much further away from the elements of the road.

The system is hydraulic based so it is very responsive. The reach is adjustable, I like it further away so that I can have my fingers (with gloves) under it even with it pressed down.

To those who are v-brake believers, this is why they don’t work well in Edmonton. This is my other bike, the NEXT Challenger. Yes, it has a cheap v-brake system but physics don’t play nice. No amount of money will buy you a v-brake that works well when Edmonton turns them into ice.


Not especially wide, so you are not going to be getting crazy controls out of it. That slope between the grip and the middle will make mounting a pain or impossible unless it’s rubber band based. Which is why I have nothing mounted at those points.

Suspension fork

A Rock Shox 30 Silver TK. I have the rebound set to “turtle” mode, aka slower rebounds. Mostly a commuter bike, so smoothing out the occasional bump is all I ask of it. I can’t speak for what happens to it when it compresses to the maximum 100mm as I’ve never had it go that far. I have had it go down to 50~60mm and no problems there. One thing about suspension forks on snow/ice is the extra movement sometimes makes you think you slipped when it is just the suspension moving. So sometimes I make some corrective maneuvers when it’s not necessary. Not a big deal, but might give some people a scare.


Features GT’s triple triangle design. Supposedly gives you a stiffer frame. This looks like it has some bmx DNA to it and kind of rides like it has some bmx DNA to it. I think it makes sense on a mountain bike.


I mostly ride off saddle, so not very important to me. The slim shape is good, gets out of my way. The nose is long enough for my thighs to grip on to it while riding out of saddle for extra control. For the times that I do sit on it, feels ok, nothing special. Cosmetically, I like how it has some purple highlights to match with the frame, nice touch.

The accessories

These are not part of the bike purchase, but they do add to the experience. Since I am reviewing the bike as a whole as it is setup, these will be included here.

CATEYE Velo 9. Was debating on either this or the Sigma BC 5.12. Friend has it and said it worked reliably for years so I got it too. The quick release mechanism is slide based. Not a big fan of it as it looks like it might break one day, but we will see. Other than that, very typical wired bicycle computer. Current speed (with comparison to average indicator), average speed, max speed, total time, total distance, CO2 offset, calories burnt and time.

Planet Bike – Blaze 500 XLR. Given the name, it outputs 500 lumens for 2.5 hours, a low mode at 250 lumens for 4.5 hours and a blinky mode. I bike at night in ok-lit areas (like I could technically see without a flashlight), running this in low mode (250 lumens) was plenty for me. At 500 lumens it can light up around five meters of road, plenty for me to react. When it comes to lighting up street signs (which are reflective) the range is stupid far. It lights up signs that are beyond the resolving capabilities of my eyes. Mini-usb rechargeable means I need a separate cable because everything like smartphone nowadays use micro-usb ports.

Knog Blinder 4 – Rear version. Four red LEDs, 44 lumens and claims 50 hours on eco-flash. In eco-flash, only two LEDs come on at once, alternating creating the flashing pattern. I personally use the flash mode where it flashes all four LEDs at once. Battery life is closer to 4~5 hours in this mode.

Integrated charging solution. The USB port flips out for charging! Quite convenient as that means you can charge practically anywhere anytime.

Zefal Deflector FC50. The most useless front splash guard I’ve ever used. It basically blocks splashes that would otherwise been blocked by the frame already. Basically, you are still going to get splashed in the front with these. I have them put on strictly because it came in as a package with the rear splash guard.

Zefal Deflector RC50. The complete opposite of its frontal counterpart. This is the most effective splash guard I’ve ever used. Never had a single dot of mud or splash on my back with these on. Despite the looks it is very stiff. I can put a wet towel on it and yes it will bend, but not enough to hit the wheels. So don’t worry about it flapping around. The grey part is reflective material, bonus!

A Diadora branded ring ring. I like the tone that it makes. However, the color scheme doesn’t really match my bike.

Oh well 😛


To shorten my review into a sentence? This thing rides like a dream.



[Bike] – NEXT bike gets an upgrade (well more like replace :P)

Just because I have a new one doesn’t mean the old one doesn’t get some love too 😛

Today the shifters I ordered a while ago finally came in the mail.

Shimano Tourney SL-TX30

Low end of the Shimano’s, but hey, anything beats a SunRun. The old shifters were grip shifts which means they are part of the old grip too. Removing the grip shift to a thumb shift meant I needed new grips too. Thankfully, the grips that I separately ordered came in on the same day. Yes, they are purple so it matches the frame color. Here’s the new shift and grip installed:

The left thumb shift is responsible for the front derailleur. It is not indexed so it is a friction shift, this is quite common in cheap or low-end shifters.


Holy crap, these are terrible as they are super stiff. They are only slightly better than grip shifts in the sense that they are not grip shifts. If you are looking for a shifting nirvana, look elsewhere.

The right thumb shift is responsible for the rear derailleur and it is indexed. Blue button upshifts one, and being a thumb shift means you can downshift from 6 to 1 in one thumb push.


These are actually quite the joy to use. The up shift button gives a very similar feel to the much more expensive Alivio (SL-M430). When it comes to down shifting, I reckon that this is even better. The Alivio that I have on the other bike features Shimano’s “Rapidfire” technology. In simple terms, you can down shift three gears at max with a single push. The Tourney here doesn’t feature that, but because it is a thumb shift, you can down shift from 6 to 1 in a single push. Take that “Rapidfire”.

For those who are hardcore about the shifting “feel”, again, these feel similar but are not Alivio’s. Their cheapness does come through as you can feel the lightness.


+ It is nice to have a standard grip now (vs grip shifts which introduce a bulge on the side of the shift)

+ It is not a grip shift (Grip shifts are meh, oh and they also wear your gloves out more)

– As you can see, the button you push is in the middle which is okay and reachable by the thumb. Problem occurs with the lever on the top and your thumb is usually near the bottom.

They shift, they work, they are not grip shifts and they are priced cheaply (13 USD).


* The purple grips fit! They also feel nice!

** Krazy glued the broken mount for the speedometer and it worked!

[Bike] – Cateye Velo 9

Take a step back in time… I bought this:

EBay: 1.99CAD + free shipping (~30 days)

How did it hold up? Surprisingly, rain didn’t kill it, snow didn’t kill it, low temperatures didn’t kill it and drops didn’t kill it. What did break was the mount, which is responsible for connecting the speedometer itself to the sensor. Hmmm.

My NEXT bike (read: Walmart) has definitely taught the lesson where at least in the bike world you get what you pay for. Which eventually led me to buy a nicer bike, the GT Avalanche 2014. So I wondered if this rang true for things like bike accessories.

In comes the Cateye Velo 9. One of the more popular entry-level bike computers next to the Sigma BC 5.12.

Price? 29.99CAD + 5% Alberta Tax + 1 hour of biking in -10C to find a bike shop that has the thing in stock.

Let’s get the shallow stuff out of the way:

Although plain and simple, it looks good when mounted on the stem.


Uhhh yeah… it looks like I mounted a small CRT TV on to my handle bar.


Identical. Okay, the Cateye has one more feature, it tells you how much carbon you have offset for riding a bike instead of a car. But yo, I don’t need a 30 dollar speedometer to tell me that it is more environmentally friendly to ride a bike than a car. I know Cateye, I know.

So what are you expecting out of this at 15x the price?

Quality. I expect this to outlast + give me less downtime than the EBay speedometer.

The question to answer

As you can see the EBay speedometer is back up and running because I Krazy glued the mount back together. Every time I have to do that is a dollar gone to the Krazy glue gods.

This is a question of lower initial cost + high maintenance cost down the road (EBay) or higher initial cost + lower maintenance cost down the road (Brand name stuff)

The test

The EBay speedometer is mounted on to the NEXT bike, my “grocery run” bike (<5km runs)

The Cateye speedometer is mounted on to the GT Avalanche bike, my “commuter” bike (>5km runs)

Let the test of time begin…

[Online adventures] #9 – Pentax Q

“Possibly the cutest mirrorless interchangeable-lens camera”

I use a Sony NEX-5R as my primary camera, an APS-C mirrorless camera. However, even though it is a mirrorless camera, because it uses a larger APS-C sensor, the lenses are correspondingly big. Therefore, I wanted a camera that is small enough to take with me everywhere. However, I wanted to do this without sacrificing DSLR-caliber manual controls.

Essentially, I wanted a camera that satisfies these three goals:

– Small and fun to use casually

– Has manual controls so it can get serious when required

– Cheap as I already have a more expensive setup that I’ve already heavily invested in.

Well, if you want something cheap, EBay has it covered!

EBay: 122.3USD + 10.68USD shipping

For about 150CAD in total (back when CAD was similar to the USD) I got a second hand Pentax Q! Meeting one of our requirements, cheap 😛

On the left, Pentax Q and on the right, my trusted Sony NEX-5R.

Close-up with its flash deployed! Its almost transformer-like.

What is so special? Isn’t this just a normal compact camera? Wrong.

As hinted above, this is an interchangeable-lens camera. Here’s the geeky bits of the sensor:

Sensor size = 1 / 2.3, 4:3 aspect ratio, BSI CMOS, 12MP with sensor shift image stabilization.

It also has a standard hotshoe for external flash

Full control with P/Av/Tv/M modes (in the Sony world they would be called P/A/S/M)

All that packed into a pacakge that is slightly shorter than an IKEA cup

Don’t let the small size or toy-like appearance fool you, this camera has DSLR-level controls. This camera now meets 2/3 of my requirements.

Small but fully loaded

21 scene modes

11 digital filters that can each be adjusted

11 color filters that can each be adjusted

High dynamic range, multiple exposure shots, interval shooting (timelapse) all here.

DSLR-like manual controls + 21 scene modes + 11 adjustable digital filters + 11 adjustable color filters + HDR + ME + time lapse. Fully loaded indeed.

More filters

See that mysterious dial? That is a dial for filters so you can get to them quickly!

Yup, this camera has nine more filters that you can assign exclusively to the front dial.

Theoretically perfect

– Cheap, check.

– Has manual controls, check.

– Small and fun to use casually, check.

But is it practically perfect? Let’s find out in the test shots.

Test shots

1/80 @ f2.8 ISO 125 – Social setting, just put the camera in auto and enjoy the moment.

Deserts at Duchess bake shop with friends. Camera in full auto mode.

1/1250 @ f2.8 ISO 125 – Physical shutter test

At anything slower than 1/2000, it uses a physical shutter.

1/5000 @ f2.8 ISO 400 – Electronic shutter test

At anything faster than 1/2000, it uses an electronic shutter, up to 1/8000.

1/3200 @ f4.5 ISO 500 – Here we want a fast shutter speed to freeze the bee. I chose 1/3200 fairly arbitrarily but it did what it supposed to do. The bee was frozen.

1/4000 @ f2.8 ISO 250 – Here’s the fun part! Filters! This one is called tone expansion.

1/8000 @ f2.8 ISO 250 – Unicolor bold, you can really get creative with these filters.

1/1600 @ f2.8 ISO 125 – Cross process

1/50 @ f4.5 ISO 6400 – Here we can see the limitations of the small sensor; however, combined with a filter (tone expansion here) the shot is actually not bad.


I got what I wanted! This camera is capable of being a compact camera that is fun to use day to day. As in the auto-mode is fine, filters are fun and even better when you have quick access to four of them with the quick dial in front.

When we really need it, the full manual controls are there.

The smaller sensor does become a problem in lower light situations with noticeable image noise after ISO 800.

Overall a great camera that is small and easy to bring with you, yet delivering image quality that is above what you will find in a phone camera.

[Black Friday] 2015 – Logitech C920 HD Pro Webcam

What year is this? Aren’t all webcams built in nowadays? Why would anyone buy an external one?

A little trip down the memory lane… back to 2004

This is an Eagletech webcam as far as I remember… features include:

Resolution: VGA – 640×480 @ 15fps

Focus: Manual (You twist the blue ring to focus :P)

Microphone: Mono

Hardware acceleration: what acceleration?

Interface: USB for video + 3.5mm jack for audio

The last time I had a webcam was 11 years ago… To put it in perspective, this was a time when

– Laptops did not come with webcams

– Windows XP was the newest operating system

– There was a browser called Netscape (which eventually formed the basis of what we know as Firefox today)

Fast forward to now…

This is a Logitech C920 webcam, features include:

Resolution: Full HD – 1920×1080 @ 30fps

Focus: Auto (20-step)

Microphone: Stereo

Hardware acceleration: Yes, H.264

Interface: USB (for both video and audio)

Due to the fact that most laptops now have webcams built in, the market for external webcams have slowed down a fair bit. The lack of interest or competition in this area means this 2012-era webcam is still top of the line in 2015.

In operation

On a Windows machine, it is plug and play.

The sides emit a blue glow when the webcam is in operation. There is no physical switch to stop the camera from watching.

Here’s how it looks on a 22″ LCD screen. IKEA cup for reference.

So… why?

I am an international student, my family is in Hong Kong and my best friend is in London right now.

Edmonton to Hong Kong is 10,400 km

Edmonton to London is 6,700 km

It will be quite some time before I get to meet up with them again… so, I figured the least that I could do is make video chats with them as great as I can.

But webcams are all built-in now no?

Yup, but most of them top out at a resolution of 1280×720, which is what my Surface Pro 2 has. This webcam does Full HD @ 1920×1080.

In two words: Image quality

*Problem specific to my computer* My surface has a built-in microphone, but it is placed right next to the fan. The only thing that the other person hears is wind noise 😛 So this webcam solves that problem too as it has stereo microphones 😀

Test shots

These are shot with the built-in camera app in Windows 10, on full auto.

Surface Pro 2 – Built-in webcam

Logitech C920 Pro

The colors are a bit more saturated in the Logitech

The colors from the built-in camera are a bit more muted, but a lot closer to what it is like in real life.

Let’s look at the details in our 100% crops

Surface Pro 2 – Built-in webcam – 100% crop

Logitech C920 Pro – 100% crop

Here, we see the Logitech shine. The pattern in the green gem is visible in the Logitech, while the built-in camera completely smudges it out.

Image quality wise I would give Logitech the win here simply because saturation levels can be adjusted in software, while lost details from the built-in camera cannot be recovered.

Using it with Skype

It is pretty much plug and play. However, Skype exhibits a “ramp up” behavior. Where it starts off with a low resolution and if the connection can handle it, it will ramp up to a higher resolution. Here are some of my observations:

Edmonton (Telus) >>> London (BT)

@0 sec VGA 480P, uploading at ~1Mbps

@3 sec HD 720p, uploading at ~3Mbps

@5 sec Full HD 1080p, uploading at ~6Mbps

Edmonton (Telus) >>> Hong Kong (PCCW)

@0 sec VGA 480P, uploading at ~1Mbps

@10 sec HD 720P, uploading at ~3Mbps

@15 sec Full HD 1080P, uploading at ~6Mbps

It looks like you need a connection that is capable of uploading at 6Mbps in order to reach the full potential of this webcam. Similarly I would assume you will need a 6Mbps download connection to receive full HD content.

Processor utilization was super low. My processor was basically idling if I was just sending. Intuition tells me that the computer is simply sending the H.264 video stream direct from the camera.

The camera does get a little warm, possibly due to the fact that it is handling the H.264 encoding in hardware.

Final thoughts

+ Hardware acceleration inside the camera frees up your processor to do other stuff

+ Lots of detail @ 1080P

* Color saturation is a bit off out of the box, but I won’t knock it as that is adjustable in software

– Price – This thing is 129CAD original which is really steep for a webcam upgrade. Black Friday pushed it down to 79CAD, which is slightly more manageable.

Overall, video is nice, audio is clear. If you want to video chat with someone far away and both parties have a decent internet connection (6Mbps up and down), this is a pretty solid choice… when it’s on sale 😛