Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Some Tips For Great Screen Shots

I have recently learned how to capture great screen shots from my HT and have decided to post a quick how to here. I am by no means an expert in photography, but would like to share these easy tips so hopefully you too can capture great images [and not just in the HT]. The real beauty of a digital camera is the ability to preview [and delete] all shots in the field so that you only take home the best photos. No more waiting and hoping!!!

I am using a Fujifilm Fine-Pix S5600, so the following is based on using that camera [and may apply to other Fujifilm models]. If your using a different brand, chances are that some of the features will still be labeled the same...

TIP: Always use a Tri-Pod

A tripod is essential for great screen shots as it completely removes the possible human error of hand shake from the shot. Combined with the self timer function, your shots will look like a professional took them as well as give you the opportunity to take several different shots from the same camera angle.

TIP: Use the Single Auto Focus or S-AF function.

When capturing a screen shot, I have found that best results come from centering the paused image in the frame, focusing that image and then capturing that image. Therefore a single focus is all that is required. To assist with this, the rear LCD display has a grid function [found by using "disp/back"] to help align the camera [now mounted to the tripod] to get great shots.

TIP: White Balance the camera for each shot.

This was the hardest part for me to grasp. Not the method, but the term - just what is white in the real world? In video [and other electronic imaging displays], equal amounts of Red Green and Blue equal grey. If that level of grey is 255, then the colour we see is absolute white. But in the real world we seldom see white in such a pure form. General lighting conditions will change our perception of colour. White balance helps restore the colour balance in the camera so that the captured images will appear more natural. Also in video, our test patterns are referenced from PC levels so we know that video white is 235 and that anything above is above video white, but there is no such levels in the real world.

When capturing different aspect ratios on the screen, the amount of light to the CCD will change. This can actually shift the final colour balance of the captured image even if that image is the same paused image. I recently discovered this when capturing screen shots for this site.

Both of the shots [above] are the same paused image. The first shot was captured using "auto" and the second shot was white balanced. Notice the colour of the second shot is much more natural, where the first shot looks as if viewing through a mild blue filter. All the screen shots above were captured from a 720 DLP projector and the first two shots used the AUSSIEMORPHIC LENS. The last shot was generated by my CIH system using a 480 LCD projector.

TIP: You may have to adjust the ISO.

A photo is an image of captured light and the technique applies to both film and digital cameras. ISO refers to the sensitivity of the photographic elements [film or CCD] that captures the image and will greatly effect the quality of the final shots. With film, you are limited to the one type [ISO value] of film stock loaded, but with digital, you can change the ISO value on the fly. I generally start at ISO 400 and change if need be.

Capturing those images.

I change the setting to from "auto" to "P" on the function dial. "P" stands for Program and this allows access to such features as white balance. I always use "custom" white balance which is as simple as scrolling across to the "custom" icon using the compass keys on the back of the camera. To set the white balance on this camera, you simply take a shot of something white. If there is sufficient light, the cameras displays "completed" and you lock that in using the enter key on the back.

The camera then adjusts the colour shift based on the lighting conditions to the levels based on the white balance. The interesting part here is that the white balance is taken from light reflected off the screen. The lights in the room are off, so this is quite reversed to normal white balancing.

Adjusting The Shutter Speed.

Depending on the how the image looks on the LCD display, you may need to adjust the ISO [found using the F key on the back of the camera] and even change both the appature and shutter speed settings which I am still working on perfecting. If you do change the shutter speed, you will have to use the timer.


With most of the screen shots I have captured, I have found that simply shifting the ISO to 800 helps if the "under" warning appears. It may add noise to the image as well as over saturate the whites [blooming or crushing]. However in the case of the shot above, I have actually brought ISO down to 200, and then decreased the shutter speed [using S on the top dial] from 0.6 seconds to 1.6 seconds. This means that the camera must be held perfectly still, so I've used the timer...


Monday, March 05, 2007

The THOR PS10 "Smart " Power Station

"Every home with a good system needs a good power supply"


I've had a THOR Technologies Surge Shield A1 in my system for over 5 years. The A12 and PS10 is THOR's latest offering and brings a total power filtration system well below the usual costs for such a device.

The following information was supplied by THOR Technologies...

"Hi Fi source components are very sensitive to electrical pollution because the audio signal they produce is at a very low voltage, and this signal must be amplified in order to drive the speakers. Amplification is achieved by using the incoming mains supply to electronically boost the signal, and a polluted mains supply will prevent the electronics within your Hi Fi equipment from operating as intended. This causes a cascade effect within the electronic circuitry, resulting in a polluted amplified signal.

The Smart Power Station (PS10) has been developed to cater for the more sensitive digital technology that is now becoming the standard in our homes. It is designed to ensure constant, pure 240v pristine and unpolluted power to Hi Fi and Home Theatre equipment This technology enhances our movie experience and some enthusiasts try to emulate a concert experience too. Quite often performance is robbed from this type of equipment because of the fluctuating power and the performance from the PS10 has been likened to ‘flicking’ glass to ‘flicking’ crystal glass. The fluctuation can be caused by demands on the supply grid at various times of the day or even by other electrical conveniences we have in our homes like fridges, air-conditioners, washing machines, fluorescent lights and so on. Quite often the motors and compressors switching on and off rapidly can cause “dirty” power and this can diminish performance."


"On the front panel of the PS10 are LED’s showing both incoming power and outgoing power. So anyone will know just by looking what sort of power they are receiving at any time of day or night. There are also an additional 10 indicators which will show if the power becomes abnormal at any time. For instance an over voltage, under voltage, unusual, overall load plus other displays appear on the screen as and when necessary.

The final part of the unit is an 8 way customised power board which allows multiple components to enjoy the power filtering and protection on offer. The power board incorporates an active filter, Dynamic Active Tracking, which automatically self diagnosis any high voltage disturbances and rectifies them in less than a nanosecond so whatever is plugged into the smart board will never know there was a problem. The board has 3 completely separate circuit banks too. This stops components that may generate noise or cross talk from interfering with the enjoyment of the system. The combination of both the Power Station and the board produces a double power management solution not seen in the market before.

Additional Advantages:

  • Soft Start – 6 secs or 120 secs before putting power back into components (eg. Amplifiers hold charge and if power is brought back at the same time as other components the tsunami effect can be damaging).
  • Projectors – estimated 3000hrs for a good DLP at constant 240V. Globe life degrades if not getting constant 240V.
  • PS10 is a 10 amp unit (160V – 270V parameters) – to get the equivalent in a UPS = 3KVA min."
As you can see, the THOR PS10 is a full sized piece of hardware designed to go right into your EQ Rack. It is the same size and weight as my Poineer VSX 1011 AVR sitting on the shelf above it.


The differences between the THOR A1 [still current] and THOR A2 [now discontinued] were the input/output connections for either RJ11 and RJ45 [A1] or RF [A2]. The A12 replaced the A2 and provides all types of connections including an adaptor for F-Type [used in FOXTEL and cable internet installations]. Notice that the three pins of each socket were reversed on the A1, making the new THOR A12 a much more versatile product when used with large power transformers such as the step down units being employed by those with imported HD DVD players. On this board, I could only use 7 of the 8 outlets due to a large tranformers, but with the new A12, I can use all 8.

The true beauty of these products is that they are designed by Australian Electrical Engineers for Australian electrical conditions.

They also come with a full 6 YEARS and up to $500 000 [PS10] connected equipment WARRANTY

The retial prices are as follows:

$1499.00 [PS10]

$299.95 [A12]

$249.95 [A1]

An interesting point I would like to note is that projector's Lamp did not flicker when fed a consistent 240V and based on the reading on the front panel [highest figure was 253V], it is not surprising that flicker is seen when not plugged into this unit. A well engineered product.

EMAIL ME for special Internet pricing


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