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Posts tagged compare

Corel PaintShop Photo Pro X3’s noise removal process

marble buddha in kyoto japan gion

I recently purchased an HP Laptop (Pavilion HDX18T 18.4-Inch Screen) which came with Corel PaintShop Photo Pro X3 preinstalled. I haven’t used (what was then known as) Paint Shop Pro since it was shareware back in the early to mid-1990s. It seems to be more of a resource hog than the more popular Photoshop, but one thing I really like about it is the noise removal.

Today’s top photo I took several years ago in Kyoto and posted early last year here.

The version below has had PaintShop Photo Pro’s “Noise Removal” applied to it. You may not notice much viewing them at only 800 pixels wide, but if you have a decent screen and can view them in something more like 1700×1050 then click on the images and compare. The noise removal really cleans things up in higher resolution.

kyoto buddhist japan

Japanese cell phone plan results

Before going to Japan I mentioned my research on the various Japanese cell phone plans. Now that we have actually experienced a year with Japanese cell phones I’ll give you a review.

Getting the phones was more complicated than I imagined. We couldn’t get them as soon as we got to Japan because the providers require a gaijin card which may take a few days to obtain–especially if you arrive in Japan on a Friday or Saturday. A passport is not good enough. Once we had the gaijin cards (gaikokujin-tourokushou or 外国人登録証) we visited several different Softbank stores. They all quoted us different offers. We ended up going with the Harajuku store for two phones for a year on the White Plan Family. We were expecting about 800 yen a month per phone, the seemingly low price due to the fact that we only planned to use them to call each other. The first few bills came in at more than double these amounts so we went in, they made some adjustments, and the bills dropped to about 2,000 yen a month–not the 1,600 yen we were hoping for but with taxes and whatever we didn’t push it.

We had to pay with a credit card which meant the bills were even higher as the currency translation for our US credit cards always stuck us with a few more bucks. Most monthly bills ended up being about $28 after all of the fees.

When we went to cancel we had to pay 20,000 yen (again, credit card only–no cash) so we got stuck with a final bill of over $250 with the strong yen. Ouch!

If I had it to do over again I would have purchased cheap phones and a prepaid option. With the amount we called I probably could have saved a few hundred bucks during the year.

LX3 or ZS3/TZ7 – photo comparison

As promised in the prior entry, here are some photo comparisons I did on the first day after purchasing a Panasonic DMC-TZ7 to go along with my LX3.

I set both cameras to ia mode (which is what I use 99% of the time), 5 MP, and self timer. I placed both cameras side-by-side on my balcony ledge. Placement plus the self timer does away with any shaking that could sway the results. I have done nothing with the pictures after taking of them. They haven’t been cropped or adjusted in any way with a program like Photoshop. Nor was either camera set to something like vibrant mode. For the first set of pictures I went with maximum wide angle and received the following results.

zs3 tz7 wide angle comparison review compare photos cameras panasonic

dmc-lx3 wide angle comparison review compare photos cameras panasonic

You can click on the above images to get a better, larger view. Which one do you like better?

I like the second one better, especially the green tree in the lower right. The slightly wider angle is also nice. The differences aren’t huge however. The LX3 took the second picture.

lx3 maximum zoom comparison review compare photos cameras panasonic

zs3 tz7 comparison review compare photos cameras panasonic

Next I put the LX3 on maximum zoom and zoomed the TZ7 to approximate the LX3 zoom. Which do you like better of these two?

If you are biased toward the LX3 and immediately said the second image then no points for you. I swapped these images and put the LX3 image on top. I do think the top image is ever-so-slightly better.

zs3 tz7 12x zoom comparison review compare photos camera panasonic

Finally, I zoomed the TZ7 to maximum and took the final shot. The LX3 can’t take this shot at all.

In some other situations, where lighting is a bigger issue and zooming is not, I bet the LX3 wins in a landslide. The LX3 has never let me down on people pictures. To date I haven’t had the LX3 deliver a single red-eye photo. The TZ7 appears to be far inferior with respect to the flash, but I haven’t taken any people pictures yet with it to see if it avoids the dreaded red-eye results. The sensor in the TZ7 is smaller than the LX3’s so it really isn’t possible for it to take better or even the same level quality in poor lighting.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3 versus TZ7 (ZS3 in the U.S.)

I’m going to interrupt the normal daily post about Japan for one about cameras. Until February of 2009 nearly all of the pics on this blog were taken with my old Canon S3. A few had been captured with a crappy, little Kodak camera that was my daughter’s that I used in a pinch or when I didn’t want to carry the large S3 around. I loved that S3 camera, but its time had come. I sold it soon thereafter and have been using only the LX3 since (although many older pictures that I have posted on the blog since February were taken with the S3).

The LX3 takes great pictures, and I love the wide angle lens (24 mm), but a few things about it bug me. The cap is a hassle to take on and off manually for every time a picture is taken. Although not nearly as big and heavy as the S3 was, it still isn’t a camera I like to have in my pocket the entire day. But most of all, the 2.5x maximum zoom came to be a problem in a number of situations. 60 mm is simply not enough to photograph sports or to get some good people shots without the subject knowing you are photographing them.

Now let me introduce you to my latest purchase, the TZ7 (sold as the DMC-ZS3 in parts of the world including the USA). The TZ7 doesn’t take as high of quality of pictures in low light or indoors, the wide angle isn’t quite as wide (25mm instead of 24mm), and you can’t control your shots (setting exposure length, etc.) quite as much. But there are many reasons to possibly opt for the TZ7/ZS3 over the LX3. It weighs 229 grams instead of the LX3’s 265 grams. 36 grams may not sound like much, but the 16% lighter factor can be felt immediately. After a day of it in your pocket you’ll notice the difference even more.

panasonic dmc-lx3
panasonic dmc-tz7 dmc-zs3

The published dimensions for these two cameras are incorrect. One of the main reasons I purchased the LX3 was because of the dimensions I read on the internet. They are false. From back to front the LX3 is supposed to be only 27.1 mm. My measurements give a reading of 46 mm, and that is before taking the lens cap off and turning the camera on. The TZ7 has a published depth of 32.8 mm. My reading gives only 28 mm. In other words, the TZ7 is barely more than half as thick (due to the LX3’s protruding lens). This makes a huge difference in your pocket if you are carrying it around all day. The heights are the same and the TZ7’s width is a little more than 5 mm smaller. So, for portability, the TZ7 is much better.

The TZ7 takes much better video in most conditions. The LX3 can take great video too, but you can’t zoom in and out when recording video on the LX3. I’ll show you some sample videos with the TZ7 soon.

The TZ7 can cost anywhere from $100 to $200 less than the LX3 (assuming you can even find the LX3 in stock).

But the biggest reason why I purchased the TZ7 was not the lens cap annoyance, the better price, the better video, or the improved portability, it was the zoom. The TZ7 has 12x zoom. Cropping can only yield so much with the LX3, and I found myself cropping nearly everything I took with the LX3. Now I can zoom to 300mm and not be stuck at 60mm and a large crop.

I don’t plan on selling my LX3. I’ll use it for sunsets (and other low-light conditions), indoor pictures, and in some other situations where it may result in a substantially better picture. But given the portability and the zoom possibilities with the TZ7 I think it will be brought along more often. Have I completely sold you on the TZ7 over the LX3? I hope not, as my initial testing and photo comparisons indicate that the quality of pictures is generally better with the LX3. I’ll show you my first set of tests in my next entry.

Another reason I purchased the TZ7 is we only had one camera in Japan. My kids are going to Cambodia and Miyajima on field trips during the same week. Sending only one of them off with a camera didn’t sound so hot to me.