Helping You Define Your Lifestyle

How to Choose the Right Digital Camera

Make no mistake about it, the state of cellphone camera technology right now is insane.

In fact, it’s fair to say that the premium digital cameras which we saw on sale ten years ago would have a hard time keeping up with something like the Google Pixel XL or Samsung Galaxy S8‘s image-taking capabilities. However, serious photographers will most likely want to invest in something a little more capable. Whether you’re just looking for a point and shoot model, or you want to go full-SLR, today we’re going to walk you through a few types of camera and help you to decide which is best for you.

Standard Compact Cameras

The first thing you need to do is decide why you need a camera. If you’re just looking for a way to capture better images from your day-to-day life, consider something like a standard compact camera. The majority of these cost less than $300, feature lithium-ion batteries, LCD screens, substantial zooming capabilities, and some of them even have handy Wi-Fi connectivity features so you don’t need to back up using a PC.

Likewise, a lot of them present the user with auto-intelligence features, meaning that they’ll automatically adjust their settings to provide you with the best image possible. Something like the Sony Cyber-Shot range, or the Canon IXUS line tend to fall into the decent entry-level standard compact camera range, while providing a variety of options depending on your own specific needs.

Enthusiast Models

If you’re wanting to find a camera with the same form factor as the standard compacts, but would like to achieve something a little closer to SLR-like quality, then opting for an enthusiast model is probably a wise choice. In low-light environments, they’ll struggle to produce that same kind of sharpness, but in any other case—so long as there’s a somewhat decent source of light—you’ll likely be stunned by the output of them.

Additionally, budding photographers will be pleased to know that these units provide a more affordable way to record in the RAW format. You can also, in some cases, attach proprietary accessories as well, such as viewfinders and flash guns. However, compatibility largely depends on the camera itself.

Something like the Canon G9X will set you back somewhere between $400 and $600; this will vary depending on which retailer you go to, and which options you decide to purchase alongside the camera. However, it’s a fantastic model, having received a five-star rating from ExpertReviews, and seven out of 10 from Trusted Reviews.

DSLR Cameras

While the term “DSLR” is thrown around a lot these days, no one can blame you for not knowing what that actually means. While they did—at one time—rule the roost in terms of image quality, Digital Single-Lens Reflex models have largely been caught-up with. However, they do offer some enticing options for photography enthusiasts, not least of which is their superior quality with lenses and peripherals; the vast majority of viewfinders, additional lights, wide-angle lenses, macro lenses, and even microphones are going to work with any major-brand DSLR you pick up.

You can also expect HD video-recording capabilities to be built into the vast majority of DSLRs now available on the market, while their APS-C sensors provide them with a much-better reach than their smaller-bodied counterparts (like the above-mentioned Compact or Enthusiast Models).

In fact, full-frame cameras such as the Canon EOS 6D and Nikon D610 both offer semi-affordable ways to start taking some stunning images. With each model costing around $1,400 and $1,200 respectively (depending largely on where you look), newbie photo-bugs can now start improving their portfolios without needing to make too large an investment.

These are just a few of the options that you can consider when investing in a new digital camera. While some of them may seem to have a hefty price-tag, it’s worth remembering that you’ll get what you pay for here. Serious photographers who want to start picking up work should really start off by capturing professional-looking shots to begin attracting prospective clients. However, hobbyists will likely find very little to complain about with the lower-end models mentioned in the earlier sections of the post.

How to Use Poker as a Mindfulness Practice

Most common mindfulness practices are fundamentally simple. Things like deep breathing, counted breaths, and short breaks and walks can help to calm us, clear our minds, and generate simultaneous states of relaxation and awareness. As much purpose as these small, simple practices have though, there are also some more involved activities that can assist with the development of greater mindfulness. And it may surprise some to learn that the game of poker is among them.

Gaming and Meditation

It is first important to understand that a link has been established between gaming and meditation in general. For a long time there were a lot of misconceptions about gaming as an active, almost violent practice meant solely for young people. But perceptions have changed over time. We now understand that people in all age groups play games of all kinds, and we further accept that a lot of these games have meditative qualities. Gamer testaments and a few scientific studies alike have indicated that the right game can have a soothing effect on one’s mental state.

This is the case with poker as well. A passion for many around the world, it’s a unique game that doesn’t necessarily fall under the umbrella of traditional “gaming” as we tend to think of the term. It is nonetheless similar with regard to mindfulness, however. Approached with intention, it can be a calming, almost meditative hobby for players.

Mental and Emotional Calm

When considering the game of poker specifically, one tends to think first of strategy, luck, and mathematics. In some sense, these are the building blocks of any given game of poker, and it will of course be important for any aspiring player to learn how they all factor in. However, what really helps successful players to win at poker is a sound mindset. The manifestation of a sound overall poker game requires that players learn to accept defeat and to avoid getting too high from a win. It demands reasonable approaches to betting and competition, clear-eyed social interaction, and the ability to operate without ego.

Add those factors up, and what success in poker really demands is mental and emotional calm. Players need skill and strategy to be sure, but above all else they need to be able to clear their minds of various pressures and shut out hasty impulses. This in and of itself is nearly a form of meditation, and certainly serves as a sort of training for mindfulness practice.

Focused Meditation

Beyond helping players to establish a general sense of mental and emotional calm, poker also leads to an ability to focus that, in its own way, is meditative. Generally, a focused meditation is described as the practice of focusing on something intently as a way of staying in the present moment and slowing down inner dialogue. It more or less means zeroing in on one subject to the exclusion of all else for the purpose of clearing one’s head — which is pretty much exactly what one has to do in poker! Even the slightest distraction can be a problem, and while the game demands a lot of attention it still makes for such narrow focus that one can clear one’s mind in a useful and soothing way.

Even given all of these benefits, poker does not comprise an entire mindfulness or meditation routine. For those interested in working on these aspects of personal wellness though, it’s always good to have one more option! Some will find this simple, popular card game to be legitimately beneficial.

If you enjoyed this article, you might also like our piece on how to boost your energy, especially useful as we enter a new year and search for fresh motivations!

Earfree Nitebuds: For Better Sleep

Earfree Nitebuds, the two-in-one speaker and pillow that plays calming music, improving the quality of your sleep, is launching on Indiegogo.

The idea for the Nitebuds sleep pillow came from people who used to sleep with earphones in. Many of us who have trouble sleeping at night use earphones to listen to calming sleep music, but sleeping with earphones in is just too uncomfortable. Using earphones while you sleep can cause pain and inflammation in the ear; plus, earphones tend to fall out in the middle of the night. But the adverse effects of earphones on ear health is undoubtedly the most critical of these issues.

Nitebuds puts music IN the pillow to solve the problems caused by conventional earbuds. All you have to do is lay your head down on the pillow to be serenated with lovely music. There’s no earbuds involved – so you can roll around in bed all you like without having to worry about damage to your ears or earbuds falling out.

Nitebuds are simple to use. Just place the speakers in the special sleep-aid pillow, then use Bluetooth to pair your smartphone and begin your music therapy. Once your music is playing, Nitebuds’ crater-shaped design enhances the acoustics, making you feel like you’re listening in on a concert hall performance. This design also prevents the sound from leaking out, giving you the same quality of sound at a 30% lower volume, so as not to bother whoever’s sleeping next to you.

The Nitebuds app also provides free ASMR music and ambience, soothing the brain and easing any anxiety. This white noise works has great benefits on mental health and attentiveness, making the sleep music from the Nitebuds app particularly effective at inducing a natural sleep.

Nitebuds uses 3D mesh material for full, fluffy comfort. The mesh also helps the music play through the pillow without getting muffled, plus high-quality microfiber cotton is also used to give the perfect amount of depth and coziness. The microfiber cotton is also a renewable, biodegradable material, which means Nitebuds is eco-friendly, too.

Even though Nitebuds is electronic, the speaker and pillow are fully separable, meaning the pillow can be washed without issue. If you want, you can even use the pillow by itself without the speakers, or even place other items inside the pillow to help you sleep.

For instance, if you find yourself sweating a lot in those hot summer nights, you can place ice-packs in the pillow to help cool off. Or, when you’re stressed out and in the mood for aromatherapy, the CYPRESS insert can be used for some phytoncide healing.

Also, if you have a preference for a specific pillow height, just use the COTTON insert to adjust the pillow’s height to your preference.

You can back Earfree Nitebuds – the high-tech pillow that serenades you to sleep – by finding their campaign on Indiegogo.