Till last year those upgrading from smartphones, or even compact cameras, would look at entry-level DSLRs to hone their skills. Now, there are some great options available in the mirrorless cameras that are worth their money and in no ways inferior. And a lot of this shift in the segment has to be attributed to Sony which has made mirrorless cameras more acceptable across price points. Now the Sony Alpha 6400 would want to make a significant impact in the same space.
Sony Alpha 6400 price in India: Rs 75,990+
Sony Alpha 6400 specs: 24.2-megapixel Exmor CMOS sensor APS-C type | Sony E-mount lenses | 2.95in (3.0-type) wide type TFT 180 tiltable LCD touchscreen | 425 points (phase-detection AF) | 1/4000 to 30 sec, Bulb shutter speed | ISO 32000 (expanded to ISO 102400 for stills) | Approx. 403 grams
Sony Alpha 6400
The Sony Alpha 6400 is the predecessor of the successful Alpha 6300 which became a popular camera across the world because of its super fast auto-focus. But if the a6300 had was fast at 0.05 second AF, the a6400 takes just 0.02 seconds to lock on to a subject. Along with this, the camera offers professional quality images with its APS-C sensor coupled with E-mount lenses.
In fact, the Sony Alpha 6400 offers all the ease of a point and shoot if that is your calling. I found this convenient when the idea was just to take a regular photo and not really showcase your photography skills. The Sony Alpha 6400 works perfectly well as a quick-draw camera if you put it in auto or in a select a preset scene.
But if you want to push the camera to show your skills as well as its capabilities, it is more than capable of doing so. I used the camera over a fortnight with the 18-135mm lens trying a range of shooting scenarios, both for stills and videos.
I have used Sony Alpha cameras before, so understanding the menu was not a big issue. In fact, even using the memories app to transfer images to the phone for quick uploads to meet stiff targets was easy. However, for first-time users, the menu can be intimidating as there is so much there. There is a spread or tabs and scrolls in the menu and it might be a good idea to favourite everything that you are likely to tweak.
I got the opportunity to shoot in low light for the first look of the Samsung Galaxy S10 range in San Francisco. This is where the low-light performance of the camera really impressed me. Even though the demo area was well lit, it was a cocktail of LED and halogen lights with a smattering of shadows. I shot the first look videos from here using the camera and the results were certainly impressive. Even the still from here came out good.
Then under the super bright California sun, the camera came up with some stunning results that showed how good it was at capturing the colour, the way they should look. Again under the Delhi sun, this performance shone through.
The camera also keeps in mind the requirements of the new, smartphone spoilt, users. The 2.95-inch TFT screen at the back can be tilted to face in the opposite direction too. Why you might ask? Well, the idea is for users to be able to take selfie photos with the Sony Alpha 6400 like they would with a phone, though with the added ability to view what they are shooting. In fact, this feature might make the camera popular among Vloggers who would be able to execute their videos better.
Actually, Sony Alpha 6400 is a great video camera and not because it can shoot in 4K. Every camera does that now. The fast hybrid-AF keeps your subject firmly in focus even if there is a lot of action happening. This takes away a lot of stress when you are shooting certain types of video. Also, the camera offers easy options to time-lapse, slow motion and fast motion though you might need some software help to get to a final result.
For those who want to get to the next level of photography, which could essentially be an upgrade from a camera or a phone, the Sony Alpha 6400 offers a viable option.
It is a camera made for 2019 and offers every feature that you would want.
It might take some time to master all the features, but the beauty of this camera is that it can form into a point and shoot if that’s what the situation demands.
However, the Sony Alpha 6400 is not all that cheap with a Rs 75,990 price tag for just the body — with the 18-135mm lens, the cost is around Rs 1,09,000. But I have to say you will not regret this investment.
No worries, go catch your flight, a robot is parking your car
Many air travelers, whether frequent or infrequent, find that boarding, checking luggage and clearing documents at busy airports are not as stressful as one more experience—trying to find a parking space.
Hopefully, this month’s debut at an airport in France suggests parking at airports will be much less stressful. Congratulate a robot named Stan. Airport Technology quoted the COO of Stanley Robotics, Stéphane Evanno. “It’s a machine that autonomously detects a vehicle, slides under it, lifts it gently by the wheels and moves it to a storage area.”
We are not talking about a biped hero grinning at the blue Mercedes. These Stan robots are what James Vincent in The Verge described as “essentially self-driving forklifts.”
Stan robots made their service debut this month at France’s Lyon-Saint Exupéry airport, in an impressive show of robot valet technology at an airport.
How does the robot system work? The Verge: Customers park their cars in special hangars. The cars are scanned for make and model. Stan enters, “slides a platform underneath the vehicle, lifts it up, and carries it away and parks it.”
Romain Dillet in TechCrunch said the Stan robots will make your car accessible shortly before you land.
“For the first time in the world, Stanley Robotics’ outdoor automated robotic valet system, developed in partnership with Aéroports de Lyon, was presented in operation on Thursday, March 14,” the French company said, in a promotional video.
These are completely autonomous robotic valets. They pick up vehicles at a drop off point and park them for passengers in an outdoor car park.
How easy is that? Airport Technology: “For many passengers, finding a parking space at the airport is the cherry atop the towering wedding cake of stress that comes with air travel.” The Stanley Robotics sounds as if it will remove at least that source of stress.
For those who fly frequently, the minutes saved not having to hunt for a parking space are inviting; more minutes are freed to fulfill any other pre-boarding actions. Environmental impact? Stan gets good marks in being a “green” solution; the battery-driven robots, 100 percent electric, are polluting less than other cars moving around in search of a space.
“The setup includes four autonomous robots and 12 cabins for vehicle drop-off and collection. As the vehicles are deposited within a few centimeters of one another, the innovative system will enable more than 500 vehicles to be parked in P5+, a potential space saving of up to 50%,” said Karima Kouidri in Airport Benchmarking.
Stanley Robotics had submitted the Stan system to testing.
Dillet in TechCrunch: “You can’t walk on the parking lot. You just interact with a garage at the gate of the parking. After the door is closed, the startup controls the environment from start to finish.” Stanley Robots is not ignoring the need for human scrutiny, though, should intervention be needed. Airport Technology: The team intends to offer “maintenance personnel that can regularly check the technology on-site and perform fixes.”
They are also talking about “redundancy solutions in case something goes wrong.”
And then there are contingency plans. For the most part, the company has an easy time to predict incoming lows, as passengers need to book ahead for flights and parking, but there always needs to be a proactive “but.” Airport Technology quoted Evanno. “We also plan to have some spare robots just to cope with any unexpected event, [such as] too many planes landing at the same time.”
The robot group can decrease the number of robots that are needed, or the size of the car park could be adjusted for use as for other operations.
On the airport side of the business, one does not have to think very hard as to why there might be a business case for the robot valet parking system. TechCrunch’s Romain Dillet remarked how “many airports don’t have a ton of space. They keep adding new terminals and it is becoming increasingly complicated to build more parking lots.”
The system in operation means the airport can safely park vehicles closer to each other. This in turn could add capacity “in an already full-to-the-rafters car park,” as Airport Technology put it.
The Stanley Robotics site makes a business pitch to airports as a space-creating solution and in “optimizing parking space.” The team said, “An intelligent management software coordinates all of the robots. It also ensures a more pragmatic use of space by arranging more vehicles within a given area.”
What’s next? The service is going live on a large scale for passengers in the coming weeks. This is a strategic partnership with Lyon-Saint Exupéry airport and its owner, Vinci Airports, said Airport Technology.
Reports said the company hopes to expand to more parking spots at the airport soon.
Self-powered, washable textiles may pay way for smart clothing
Scientists have developed a textile-based display technology that is washable and does not require an external power source, paving the way for smart clothes.
When we think about clothes, they are usually formed with textiles and have to be both wearable and washable for daily use. However, smart clothing has had a problem with its power sources and moisture permeability, which causes the devices to malfunction.
To ease out the problem of external power sources and enhance the practicability of wearable displays, Professor Kyung Cheol Choi from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology (KAIST) fabricated their wearing display modules on real textiles that integrated polymer solar cells (PSCs) with organic light emitting diodes (OLEDs).
PSCs have been one of the most promising candidates for a next-generation power source, especially for wearable and optoelectronic applications because they can provide stable power without an external power source, while OLEDs can be driven with milliwatts.
However, the problem was that they are both very vulnerable to external moisture and oxygen. The encapsulation barrier is essential for their reliability.
The conventional encapsulation barrier is sufficient for normal environments. However, it loses its characteristics in aqueous environments, such as water.
It limits the commercialisation of wearing displays that must operate even on rainy days or after washing.
To tackle this issue, the team employed a washable encapsulation barrier that can protect the device without losing its characteristics after washing through atomic layer deposition (ALD) and spin coating.
With this encapsulation technology, the team confirmed that textile-based wearing display modules including PSCs, OLEDs, and the proposed encapsulation barrier exhibited little change in characteristics even after 20 washings with 10-minute cycles.
Moreover, the encapsulated device operated stably with a low curvature radius of three millimetre and boasted high reliability.
Finally, it exhibited no deterioration in properties over 30 days even after being subjected to both bending stress and washing.
Since it uses a less stressful textile, compared to conventional wearable electronic devices that use traditional plastic substrates, this technology can accelerate the commercialization of wearing electronic devices.
Importantly, this wearable electronic device in daily life can save energy through a self-powered system.
“I could say that this research realised a truly washable wearable electronic module in the sense that it uses daily wearable textiles instead of the plastic used in conventional wearable electronic devices,” said Choi.
“Saving energy with PSCs, it can be self-powered, using nature-friendly solar energy, and washed. I believe that it has paved the way for a ‘true-meaning wearable display’ that can be formed on textile, beyond the attachable form of wearable technology,” he said.
Xiaomi to launch Mi Notebook Air in China today: Report
Xiaomi is all set to launch its new Mi Notebook Air in China today. It is expected to be lighter in weight as compared to the MacBook Air, weighing over 1.07 kg, Gizmochina reported.
The smartphone maker had entered the notebook market in 2016 with Mi Notebook Air. After this, it had unveiled various new editions carrying upgraded hardware and features. Likewise, a new Xiaomi Mi Notebook is making its way, the report said citing a new teaser on Xiaomi’s official Weibo Handle.
In the teaser, Xiaomi is highlighting the thinness and lightweight of the new notebook. It is likely to be lighter than Apple MacBook Air weighing 1.25 kg, and Huawei MateBook 12, which weighs 1.3 kg.
Xiaomi will also be upgrading its core specifications along with the lightweight and portability features. However, very limited information regarding its specifications, pricing and availability are available. Like always, the mi Notebook Air will be driving its design language from its predecessors and Apple’s MacBook lineup, the report said.
Xiaomi sells different sized notebooks with a different set of features through its official Mi Store in China. Last year, it had introduced 15.6-inch and 13.3-inch notebooks having Intel i3/i5/i7 processors. Xiaomi’s products share many similarities with Apple products.
So far in this year, Xiaomi has launched three smartphones namely, the Redmi Note 7, Redmi Note 7 Pro and Redmi Go.
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