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iPad Mini Retina Review

Note: This review, isn’t going to go into detail about the iPad and its apps, this post merely serves to illustrate why I bought a new iPad Mini over the iPad Air.

Last year I bought the iPad 4, I would have bought the mini if it wasn’t for the fact the mini’s screen wasn’t a retina screen. I didn’t even give the mini much thought back then, other than to say that I would have bought one if the screen didn’t show those now out of fashion, computer pixels.

I already own an iPhone 4S and the MacBook Pro with retina screen. I had gotten use to this type of screen so why take a step back?

Jump ahead one year into the tail end of 2013 and Apple release the updated mini, but they love to give us, the consumer, some choice. They did this by updating the larger endowed iPad, cutting down its size and making it thinner and lighter. The weight reduction is quite significant.

While both tablets were out of stock, I played with the demo units in the Apple store. My arms still got tired holding both iPads while reading the web. This was something I didn’t think would still happen, obviously the arms weren’t as quick to tire while using the Mini. I remember holding the iPad 4 and then having to lean on one side or switch to the other during long sessions. I didn’t want a repeat of that.

My biggest worry though was screen size if I purchased the Mini, I felt like I couldn’t give up the 9.7 inch screen, would I miss out by going with the 7.9 inch option? Would Paper feel awkward to draw with? Would Baldur’s Gate be as immersive on the iPad 4? What about the smaller keyboard?

In the end, my thoughts switched to the discontinued Apple iBook line of laptops.

Back then there were two sizes of laptop and I remember owning the 12 inch version. It was cheaper, held the same amount of storage (with the right upgrade option), the 14 inch was always slightly faster than the 12 inch and to top it off, there was no advantage with the larger screen, they both had the same number of pixels, with the same resolution! Okay, the 14″ had a larger battery, but was it worth the extra weight?

The iPads today can almost be compared in the same way, in fact Apple markets the capabilities of the Mini as being equal to the Air, but just with a smaller screen. If you can deal with that, I would say splurge for the smaller one and opt for more storage.

I did exactly what I’m recommending to you and I can’t believe the iPad Mini has twice the processing power and there is 64GB inside this, (that’s double compared to my iPad 4) the combination of storage, size and the power present in my hand is simply awesome.

I’m also happy to say I definitely made the right choice, I can’t think why I was considering it so much. My gut feeling paid off and this one feels right for what I want to do. Both tablets overall are very portable, but the Mini more so, the experience is just more intimate. The screen on the Air feels slightly more awkward now, awkward in the way you can carry it in your hand, place it around the home or buying an accessory for it that will add even more weight and girth.

The product designer Dieter Rams once said, “less is more” and it certainly feels that way with the iPad Mini.

Written by jonathanjk

November 24, 2013 at 12:17

Posted in photography

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JPG Podcast – Episode Eleven: Bumming it to Death.

After a massive break, Adam and myself have got together for a catchup episode on nearly all the current superhero movies, we discuss, the X-men series, Superman vs Batman and our differing impressions on Iron Man 3.

Hit the link below to listen and subscribe: link.


Written by jonathanjk

August 3, 2013 at 14:59

Ignore the Climate Change Discussion.

Let’s sidestep the argument as to wether climate change is happening. Let’s sidestep the research saying it’s going to happen and let’s remove ourselves from the contradictory opinions.

Instead think for a moment as to whether it’s right for me to use a water filter on my tap so I can have clean drinking water. Think for a moment as to whether is it right for me to wear a face mask that absorbs the various chemicals from traffic and coal fired powered stations in the air before my lungs do. Think for a moment if it is right that I have to buy organic food just so I can support farmers who farm with a method that promotes wildlife diversity.

I don’t think it is it right. It’s stupid, I shouldn’t need to do it.

Pollution isn’t natural and it isn’t what I call progress if we lose so much in return. If we stopped spoiling up the very environment we live in, we wouldn’t be having this discussion as to whether we are heating up the earth or not.

It also saddens me that we are constantly arguing over who or what is turning up the heat instead of talking about the beautiful and important things we are losing.

Written by jonathanjk

February 27, 2013 at 12:24

File types in iMovie

Recently I’ve had to make use of iMovie to create a few videos where I’m employed. I’m not really a video guy, all I have ever produced for myself are audio slideshows; putting still images together with audio. It seems however that if you’re a photographer then you’re also a videographer where I work.

Having very recently started from scratch with creating my own workflow and coming across a problems, they are still fresh in my mind and I would like to share them with anybody else interested.

Immediately the biggest problem for me were MOD files. iMovie doesn’t read them and the cameras at my work sometimes create these types of files depending on what quality setting I find them on. Since my employer has a Windows based setup I’m out on my own with regard to gaining help from colleagues. It’s my fault that I bring my Mac into work, but there’s no way I’m using a networked Windows setup that has been setup in Cantonese. The various cameras they employ here are also setup up in Cantonese!

Thankfully I found a free app which converts video files from one format to another. It can be found on the Mac App Store here. It’s a great app and the developer has been kind enough to make it free for download (thank you). It took me a while to find it online because most other software titles are demo versions or cost $30 and all of them are for Windows anyway! So it’s not just Mac users who have to fiddle with these things.

The MTS M2TS Converter says its designed for Sony, Canon, Panasonic and JVC cameras. I can say it does work when it comes to MTS files, so if you’ve had issues with these file types your problems are almost over. The aforementioned cameras seem to change their file type when you change the shooting quality, I was in a situation where some files would work and others didn’t. But as I mentioned earlier, depending on the shooting quality, the file type changes. Here I find good old Handbrake conquers everything and I will get mp4 files from it.

My other problem has more to do with iMovie and how my Macbook Retina work together. I have the current top of the line quad core version with 16GB of Ram. There is plenty of processing power for me to make use of. But, what’s frustrating is how iMovie can’t multitask; allowing the user to import and edit movies at the same time. I checked my CPU usage and it’s nowhere near maxing out my laptop. So it’s frustrating to wait for iMovie because of the way it has been designed.

So it magnifies my next problem. It was only recently that I came across my next problem with iMovie, I was importing a mp4 movie which iMovie had no trouble with in the past. Processing took two hours and then nothing, nothing showed up in my project library, I didn’t realise, went to work, couldn’t find it and imported it again thinking it was an oversight on my part. This time I remembered importing it and nothing showed up! What’s worse than a locked up iMovie taking two hours to process a movie? A movie that doesn’t show up in the library after you’ve processed it!

Another google search brought me to a discussion about the same issue that others were having. It seems not all MP4 files weren’t created equal, those with the H.264 work fine, others without it as I understand it don’t. The next piece of software to download is MPEG Streamclip from Again it’s a free download and again I want to thank the developer for making it so.

The best bit with this software? You can process your files into MOV format in the background with Streamclip while working with your movies in iMovie. Processing time regardless of which app you use still takes two hours, but the flexibility with separating both time consuming tasks into two is very welcoming. Also once your files have been converted in MOV files, iMovie takes about one minute to process again. So there are other benefits beyond file conversion.

Written by jonathanjk

February 3, 2013 at 02:37

Photography App: Marksta

There is a nifty, new app on the App Store for those of us who want a way to create a watermark directly from our iOS devices (not universal, but you can of course use it on the iPad in x2 mode). It is free for a limited time and can be found here. The app itself is called Marksta and was conceived by another photographer looking for an effortless way to add his watermark to his imagess directly from his phone. The British Journal of Photography (BJP) interview him in more detail here.

For me, at the moment, this app is ideal as I only have an iPhone for my photography and I can’t be bothered to import the images into Pixelmator and work on them from there in order to then upload them to another location online. Now everything can be done on my telephone, on my commute even! The app is very intuitive; you just run along the options offered along the bottom of the app and inside a minute you have an watermark for your iPhone photography.

If there is one complaint I have, it is because of the pedant in me, not actually because of the app. John D McHugh states he made Marksta because his work was being stolen online. The thing is you can’t steal images online, you can only copy them, hence the term ‘copyright infringement’. If McHugh’s images were actually being ‘stolen’, a nifty watermark won’t actually be of much use.

Written by jonathanjk

January 4, 2013 at 14:03

The Guardian: Join Instagram, join a collective act of self-delusion

Jonathan Jones writing for the Guardian:

I speak as a recovered digital photography addict. I more or less stopped taking photographs at all once I realised I was subscribing to a cheap self-deception about the originality, beauty and meaning of my tens of thousands of pictures. An enthusiam has frozen into revulsion. I love the convenience of digital cameras and their potential to create beauty – but I hate it, too.

When did my photophobia begin? When I realised that I was buying into the same delusion of grandeur as everyone else. I have a decent camera and it can take lovely pictures. It has a close-up focus that can capture perfectly crisp images of a flower petal or a bee up close. So I think the moment it all went wrong was on a visit to Kew Gardens. There I was, having fun snapping water lilies, when I realised that about a hundred people were doing the same thing. Grannies, kids, babies, all with cameras and a sense of being artists. I am waiting for dogs and cats to get their own photo-sharing site for their genuinely beautiful snaps.

I think the main problem immediately lies with Jonathan Jones’ perspective on photography, not with the behaviour of Instagram, in his decision to take lovely pictures of flowers and bees; the same, accessible, non-taboo, subject material that everybody else points their camera at and has done since the Kodak box brownie. Instagram quite rightly lets us share these images, but it certainly isn’t digital photography or Instagram that’s at fault here. Guns don’t kill people, people kill people!

I was in Victoria Park here in Hong Kong back in November 2012, with plenty of photographers chasing the butterflies, around the greenery. The most professional, seasoned photographers seemed like they were standing at the back, resting their heavy cameras on monopods, almost knowing, instinctively when it was the best time to get the wining shot. In front of them was the closest you could possibly get to a polite scrum, with many younger photographers competing for space amongst themselves and those passing by, who were inspired by the silent commotion to join in for a few shots with their compacts.

Ignore the lack of his originality, something which Jones should be scolded for, but where is the imagination to make images of something more meaningful in that moment of personal crisis? This is instead of assuming ‘grannies, kids, babies’ are deluded artists or to blame Instagram. If one feels photography is cheap, it’s because one is not spending enough time with the photographic medium.

When I saw all these photographers taking pictures of butterflies on my trip to the park, I thought it would be fun and much better to take pictures of the photographers chasing the butterflies instead, it would also be a slight commentary on the spectacle of it all. It seems too simple to  get disgusted with photography. Even what you don’t photograph can and will be a statement on our world.

Has Jonathan Jones stopped to think about why everybody takes pictures of what amounts to being the mundane? Surely he is aware that we the general public are socially discouraged from taking pictures because either they are a photojournalist, weird or viewed as a pedophile. Imagine the variety of photography on our news feeds and timelines if we concentrated our gaze and interest on ourselves or on other people outside of what are still Kodak moments. There is a minority of people who do, it’s a shame many other people don’t do it, you’re not weird or a pedophile if you do and that area of photography isn’t the reserve of the photojournalist.

I wished the Victorians had Instagram because not many people know that the Victorians photographed the dead or the dying. Not in a macabre ways (though by today’s standards it probably would be), but in a way where the dead person looked like they were in-between life and death. Victorians even dressed dead people up so as to look their best for the camera. The Victorians did this with the aim of preserving their deceased relatives beyond the physical with a belief they were capturing their soul in an image. Imagine a Victorian gaze uploaded onto the Internet mushed up with today’s type of photography on your newsfeed/dashboard.

This stems from the larger problem of what we have been conditioned to photograph (just google ‘kodak moments’) and what we have come to think of are supposedly ‘proper pictures’ from other images we see everyday. Now this isn’t a call to action to photograph dead people, more of a polite request to acknowledge there is more for us to photograph out there and to photograph something different within your world.

At the same time, I don’t think it can’t be done with single images, those that make a quick comment and are digested within seconds off a newsfeed, they need to be something longer or viewed under a differing context and not necessarily something complicated either. When I say longer I mean through a photo essay, photo series or a visual diary. Something that anybody can sustain if they spend more time with their camera than Jonathan Jones.

I recently started a visual diary in the summer of 2012; just something to show friends and family (though it’s open to all) back in the UK what I was witnessing here in my new country of residence. I’ve been brought up academically as a photojournalist, working on long term projects, working with and documenting other peoples. How I photographed, has changed when I began photographing in a diary format, I have taken on another awareness of the photographic medium, which makes me think in other creative ways. Again it comes with spending time and developing that awareness, I’m at an advantage to the layman, but it’s a skill I believe anybody can pick up.

That is how we can solve the problem that Jones incorrectly addresses without blaming fashionably unpopular social network ‘x’, until we do, don’t expect anything to change on your respective timeline. Instagram is here to share our photography, not teach us photography.


Written by jonathanjk

January 3, 2013 at 12:29

JPG Podcast – The Land Before I Understood Time Part Three

JPG Design copy 300x300

My calendar says our last episode was in August. Last week I pushed out a new episode.

It’s kind of special in that it’s the first one from Hong Kong, second I’m joined in person by my good friend Jack Barker. Jack helped me get set up in Hong Kong when I first arrived. Jack’s been here for over two years now so I thought it was a good idea have him join me and stay on topic as much as possible about this special region of China.

We discuss how a little about this area’s history, difference between here and the UK and why HK for the most part is seemingly better for us both. We go off track with some mention of the new James Bond film – Skyfall and we argue the difference between land reclamation and building an artificial island (turns out, there is no difference).

There are no real show notes, other than to check out this wiki article on Hong Kong.

The audio quality takes a hit with this one because it’s being recorded straight off the laptop’s mic. I’ll be looking into getting a better setup before my next guest.

The Land Before I Understood Time Part 3 a) and b).

Parts one and two are in the form of blogs posts which can be found further down this site.

Written by jonathanjk

December 16, 2012 at 07:32

Posted in photography

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