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It’s been 3 years! Who’d have known? 3 years since my replacement of the groundbreaking and unbelievably irritating A7r with the even better and *far* more pleasant A7r2, in my bag. While the A7r3 brought with it the promise of even more fixed glitches and the unbelievably cool on paper pixel shift, it somehow failed to stir me enough to get the credit card to smoke. That doesn’t mean an itch hasn’t been at the back of my head and that I haven’t been given my dream camera some thought. Not very Zen of me, right ?

The core problem at the heart of my upgrade reluctance is a dislike of Sony’s technology above all path to market domination. Not that Sony know of my reservations, care about them or would be right to even acknowledge them, mind you. If sales prove anything it’s the very astute reasoning of the minds behind that strategy. I just don’t feel part of the target and that’s irritating because (1) no one likes to feel excluded (2) there is so much to love about those cameras, that what feels off kilter is all the more a pain in the butt.

My gripe with Sony is that they focus on faster AF and more frames per second – both completely irrelevant to me, when colours and ergonomics could be so vastly improved. To me, making a few excellent photographs is far more satisfying than making metric sh.t-tons thanks to a vast shooting envelope, all of which are damaged (sometimes beyond repair) by baffling colour inaccuracies. And, no, I don’t care what labs tests say about Sony’s colour accuracy. In the real world, with harsh contrasts and variable white balance from one zone of the image to the other, some of my A7r2 files suck big time and take ages to correct, when they even can be (ever notice how many B&W photos there are in my posts?)

A company like Hasselblad takes a much more rigorous approach to sensor calibration and that’s reflected in the AF speed (not a priority), price (time-consuming tasks are expensive tasks, small series are expensive series) and gorgeous++ IQ. A company like Sony take a much broader slice of the population as their target and so, push the limits on many, many fronts – almost exclusively through new technology. And what technology isn’t able to fix without human intervention simply doesn’t get fixed.

But here’s the thing. Could there be great hope with that strategy? Hope for the masses? I seriously think so!!

Hope because Sony have patents in every imaginable niche of photography, R&D that would probably make NASA blush and pro partners / customers such as Phase One, Fuji and Hasselblad to keep them on their toes at all times.

As Philippe recently pointed out to me, the Trichromatic back on new Phase One cameras is Sony tech. It appears to bring a purely technical solution (Bayer filters that do not allow individual primary colours to overlap) to a problem that Hasselblad (for instance) would handle more labour-intensively. So, it’s entirely possible (at least in my hopeful inner kid’s mind) that the future camera in my bag may have highly beautiful / corrected colours without having required painstaking manual labour.

What I’m saying is that Sony, through their relentless R&D efforts, may well be able to push their boundaries on a qualitative (colours, mainly) level and not just a quantitative (AF speed, FPS, Dynamic Range, megapixels …) one. To me, the A7r3 was a big let down in that respect, but nothing’s to say the replacement won’t be stellar.

So yes, in spite of past doubts and serious lust for other – more expensive – brands, I’m hoping my next camera will be a Sony. And this is my spec list for it.

  • A Trichromatic sensor, or whatever technology brings beautiful (I didn’t say accurate) colours to the table.
  • A rear screen that’s not made out of recycled plastic bottles. Seriously. How can you sell a camera for 3+ grand and serve up a screen that gets deteriorated so rapidly? Phones, I mean cheap phones, have been doing much better for a decade. Gorilla glass, coating that doesn’t wipe off with a tissue … you know … (although, having paid even more for a MacBook Pro that’s coated equally poorly, I’m guessing there must have been a massive clearance sale at CrapCoatings Inc. in the past few years). That level of screen quality at that price point is simply outrageous. When you’ve used the screen on a recent smartphone and have to return to that dreary piece of go se, it’s a sinking feeling.
  • I’d really like a better shutter release button. This one works. It’s efficient, fast and predictable. But it feels so mushy and fly-by-wire … Come on, simply because we’re in digital years doesn’t mean we have to give up everything that was so tactile and pleasant in the analog days. Photographers have a soul, you know …

The baffling thing is that Japan loves luxury. Can you imagine a Vuitton bag with a buckle that turns to poop like that rear screen or feels soggy like that shutter release ?

And that’s it, really. Not a long list. So much about this camera is excellent, it would be so great if these 3 flaws received the attention they truly deserve.

Yup, I’d like a better finish (that faux-leather peels off faster than a drunk cheerleader at spring break), I’d like better weather sealing, I’d like a menu page that’s dedicated only to the most common actions (so as not to click 15 times to format a card), a review/zoom system that makes sense (C3 is an unfathomable label for Zoom in), a maintenance plan for amateurs that ensures all is working (pretty sure my IBIS is set to shake, not prevent shake, right now, and my metering occasionally seems set to randomize), I’d love it if the rear screen didn’t have a mind of its own, even when I’ve done my very, very best to clean that pesky eye-detect sensor a gazillion times. I’d love a real grip, that’s not made for telletuby fingers. I’d love lower noise at base ISO so that open shadows contain more detail. But that’s all nice to have stuff. Nothing really critical.

A camera that goes click rather than squish when you press it, creates a lovely looking colour photographs even in difficult light, and lets you review them on a screen that’s both larger and neater than a racoon’s rectum. I’d buy that.

Sony mirrorless cameras have conquered the market through our wallets, isn’t it time they conquered our hearts as well?

Philippe’s wish list follows and, immediately, you can see Sony’s problem as some of our requests overlap (come on, that shameful rear screen, Sony, really ????) but many others go in completely opposite directions

Philippe adds

Christmas is just around the corner. Here’s what I’d love Sony Santa to bring us, in no particular order :

  • A flippy / tilty rear screen. I often see subjects that are incompatible with the configuration of my back and knees. And this also helps a lot on tripods.
  • A nicer shutter release, as in the RX1 (a Sony camera, I believe).
  • More reliable light and white balance measurement in mixed lighting conditions.
  • More reassuring weather sealing, not necessarily full on weatherproofing.
  • A rear screen made of glass that doesn’t degrade faster than GAFA stock valuations.
  • The A9’s blackout-free and roll-free silent shutter.
  • A locking mechanism on the eyeglass of the EVF. It’s too easy to upset the setting on the little wheel.
  • A plate with higher friction under the camera so that it doesn’t constantly rotate on a tripod.
  • A blinkie for each colour to let us know when we are blowing out one of the channels.
  • Manual switching from EVF to rear screen.
  • Frame lines in the EVF for alternative formats (4:3, square …)
  • Finer focus peaking. It’s sometimes still difficult to focus a fast lens without systematically zooming in (and losing your composition)
  • Mini PP in camera, prior to making the shot (b&w simulation, contrast editing …) so as to optimise the shot based on our visualisation.
  • In camera crop, using a joystick.

(c) Philber

In conclusion: in defense of beneficial complexity

Manufacturers have structured their ranges in various ways. Some (Canikon, in particular) have created top of the line cameras from which they arbitrarily remove more and more features as you move further down the range. Others (Sony) segment users along technological lines : speed vs resolution, for instance. And it’s quite obvious that every user has a different set of requirement, all of which can never be met by the manufacturer.

This leads to two types of complexity :

  1. A terrible ode to entropy when the manufacturer tries to be all things to all people and ends up serving a camera that’s so full of buttons and menu options that no one really recognises their workflow in it.
  2. A wonderful ode to intelligence when the manufacturer understands the common ground behind the various shooting scenarios they want to serve and creates a design that serves those as well as possible.

To us (Philippe and Pascal), there are two main uses for a camera that are distinctly at odds : grabbing (street, …) and what can be construed as studio work on location (landscape, …). Pascal wishes for features of the first type (simplicity and logic of flow) while Philippe’s asks are more in line with the second : essentially, being able to create the photograph by exploring all crop, format and PP options before clicking (rather than in actual PP). What we both agree on is that the sloppiness of the rear screen is unacceptable in that price category.

Do our different requirements warrant two different cameras (at a distinct cost for Sony)? Possibly. But not necessarily. Again (we’ve written about this numerous times), smartphones and tablets exist for a reason. And tethering is a thing. By scrapping the lousy rear screen and tethering a phone, a manufacturer could design a Janus camera:

  • extremely simple and devoid of custom buttons, wheels, joysticks, and other catastrophic evidence of design schizophrenia (and an unhealthy lust for tools of torture) without the phone/tablet attached
  • über powerful, the natural progeny of large format cameras and digital editing, with the phone / tablet tethered (and a good app running on it).

Thoughts?

Posted on DearSusan by pascaljappy.

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This could end up being a devastatingly short post. During my last trip (to Japan, as you might have guessed from the dominantly Japanese photographs of my recent posts …) all my (non smartphone) shots were made with one lens, the Zeiss Loxia 25. All 1400 of them, without a single exception.

This probably makes me the worst possible person to write a “what’s in my bag” post. But hey, that doesn’t disqualify me as a photographer, so let me speak in the name of all others out there who prefer simplicity (do I hear lazy bugger ?) to envelope. Also, I feel my bags will give you a better perspective on my photographic preferences than will the rest of my gear.

So, lets begins with my most used  bag.

Crumpler 4 Million Dollar Home Camera Bag Review - YouTube

I love it dearly, to bits. It’s a Crumpler 4 million dollar home (such as the one shown in the video above). It was a gift from my wife in 2008 and it feels almost as good as new. This is wonderful bag, that feels utterly indestructible. I’m pretty sure it is bullet proof and could be worn as tactical garnment. Over the years and many, many days of use, it’s velcro hasn’t worn off, not a single stitch has been torn, the fabric is grubby but as good a new, the buckle to close / open is as snappy as on day 1. The sling is super comfortable, even after ten hours of walking. Fabulous. Unfortunately, Crumpler has a separate line of bags for Europe and they are nowhere near as inconspicuous and interesting. Mine was bought in Perth, during one of our visits.

Inside, two separators define 3 spaces in the main compartment. I use this bag exclusively with my M-mount lenses. One goes on either side and the third fits in the middle compartment, fitted on the camera. The 3 lenses in question are the Distagon 35/1.4 ZM, the C-Sonnar 50/1.5 ZM and the Elmarit-M 90/2.8, a trio that nothing I’ve tested before or since can dislodge from my heart. The Loxia 25 was a tight squeeze in the middle compartment, but the 35/1.4 ZM fits perfectly.

A front pouch compartment is large enough to hold my wallet, some keys a pen …

A zipper compartment under the top flap is great for small items such as an SD card “wallet” and change.

On either side of the lenses, outside the padded main compartment but inside the exterior fabric, two narrow but deep extra ares are perfect for 4 batteries.

All filled up, the bags looks like me after an unlimited refill afternoon tea. Slightly bloated. And surprisingly heavy given the size of the package.

This Crumpler is no longer a bag. It’s a companion I really wouldn’t want to be without. It’s a real feel good item and possibly the only think in my kit I wouldn’t want to give up for something new !

When bigger lenses are in order, my Go To bag is a black Think Tank retrospective 7. And it is more or less the exact opposite of the Crumpler : instead of a bomb-proof shelter, it is an organiser that maximises available inside space through the use of thin walls and separators. It’s an elegant urban bag that can carry a lot (large DSLR + 2 lenses + iPad + notebook + a book to read + chargers + … See below, the smaller Retrospective 5, in the hands of Steve Huff.

Think Tank Retrospective 5 - Camera Bag Review - YouTube

It is also silent, giving you the option of velcro silencers so that you can open the bag quietly in a sensitive (churches, theater …) environment (although using the A7r2 makes that kinduv a moot point ).

The fabric of the bag is actually very sturdy and the stitches are still perfect after several years (although it gets nowhere near as much use as the Crumpler).

Where this Think Tank falls is on comfort. The strap, although large and padded, has buckles that somehow always end up on my shoulder and becomes painful after only a few hours. So the bag is great for an afternoon strool through a city but it will only come with me on holiday if there is the need to carry stuff in cabine luggage and the extra room is needed.

Inside the bag, you’d often find my Otus 85, Distagon 25/2 ZE.2 and (before I so stupidly sold it), Summicron-R 50/2, all in Nikon mount, therefore requiring the same adapter. Batteries and charger, a notepad, pens, paperwork and a paperback book to read. In that configuration, the weight is significant and the pain rapidly follows suit.

Another bugaboo is that the velcro wore out very rapidly and now serves as a vague reminder that I’m opening the bag, should my brain be on holiday while my hand is at work. Since the bag’s flat shape makes it uncomfortable for carrying on the side, it is more often flat on my back. And the thought of carrying precious kit, with a top flap that can be lifted without me noticing the pressure or noise, is unsettling. The Think Tank is getting less and less use.

Even further down my pareto curve of bag usage are two others. One is a lowepro backpack with a horizontal separation in the middle, a very sturdy and protective bottom and a very light and roomy top, with solid zippers that can hold passports and other precious items out of reach of even Linus Caldwell. It’s a really lovely bag that’s been with me for more than 20 years and looks like it’s fresh out of the shop. It’s been on hikes that ended the lives of Vibram soles and always feels comfortable and balanced. But the need for so much carrying space has vanished and it now functions more as a hamper than a photo companion. Oh, the humanity.

The final bag is a square old-school bunker also made by lowepro. I’m pretty sure I can safely live in it when Donald, Nigel and friends finally succeed in turning the planet into a global war zone. It’s large, solid beyond reason, and unlike my current photo process in every conceivable way.

It was a gift from colleagues and so remains a treasured possession but is such a remnant of my dark ages of photography (you know: that big, fat digital camera with big fat white zooms. That naive and ill-considered transition from the elegant and focused years of Mamiya 7 usage to the “I can do anything & tackle any subject” folly of (my) early digital depression) that it’s been gathering dust for the past 15 years. Inside are other traces of that hurtful transition, other items with vestigial tails and evidence of a thought process driven by technological evolution rather than personal introspection : ballheads that can handle gun turrets, plates, filters galore … you name it.

So, there you are. My gear is quite minimalist, though perhaps not yet minimalist enough. As such, it doesn’t make much of a conversation piece, let alone an interesting read. I basically own a camera with which I’ve had a love/hate relationship from day 1 and three main lenses, one of which (35/1.4 ZM) gets 90% of mout-time. Not pulitzer prize material. But I hope the description of my bags, items that better describe my attitute towards photography (and it’s evolution), has proven more interesting.

I’ll end with this : my bag for the future ?

Einstein’s definition of madness (repeating the same actions, hoping for different outcomes) paints me in a bad light. I’ve been burnt twice with kickstarters, but am still too close for comfort to falling a third time. This time for a Peak Design bag. They are expensive bag but seem very well thought out and appear to combine the ruggedness of my Crumpler with the elegant and configurable organisation of the Think Tank. One question remains : how comfortable is the strap. It honestly doesn’t look it in the photograph, but reviews are mostly super positive.

(c) Peak Designs

More important is what I’d like to put in it. And this will be a surprise to no one who’s read my ramblings on a regular basis.

Before it became a general “what’s in my bag” for DS contributors, this series was initially conceived as a “dual purpose photography” set of articles : it was meant to assess whether we use different gear for different end uses. Such as client work vs personal work. Travel vs static … For me, the equation is simple : I use my camera when I want to be creative and my phone for everything else (in particular documenting holidays and trips out). That’s because my camera has far greater potential but is far less pleasant to use than the phone (and it’s various underground processes for backup and PP).

One camera has changed this, offering both significantly better IQ and a far more pleasant interface than my Sony : the Hasselblad X1D.  So yeah, the future could look like this : A Peak Designs Messenger containing a Hassy X1D + 30/3.5 + 80/1.9 + C-Sonnar 50/1.5. It could. It probably won’t

Posted on DearSusan by pascaljappy.

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Milvus 50/1.4

How things change in 12 months! I started writing this article in October 2017 and didn’t get around to finishing it. 2018 text is in italics.

Milvus 35/1.4

Whats in my Bag?

Well, that depends greatly on what I’m shooting, which pretty much goes for all of us I presume, I do know a few people who take every piece of gear to every shoot just in case!

Milvus 35/1.4

Milvus 21/2.8

If it’s a street walk the Nikon D4S is my choice. I just love the ergonomics of this camera which are outstanding and usually just one lens, the Zeiss Milvus 1.4/35. 


 

I find now that I notice the weight of gear I carry around more, getting older does have its drawbacks.  The D4s is still a favourite ergonomic’s are outstanding, however now my go to is the Nikon D850 and Zeiss Milvus 1.4/50 it saves about 1 kg.


Milvus 21/2.8

If versatility is required I will use the Nikon 2.8/24 -70. One body and one lens uses a smaller bag, a Lowepro Top Loader Pro 75 AW 11. This is the only bag I have been able to find that is compact and will accommodate a DSLR with battery grip or pro body with built-in grip. Surprisingly it will accommodate either the 2.8/ 70 – 200  or 4.5-5.6/80 – 400 on the body!

D4s with 80 – 400

 

The 2.8/24 -70 is being used less and less these days, I’ve been travelling since late July and have only used it on one occasion for 9 frames! Some will think this is sacrilege but I  find its IQ lacking when compared to the Zeiss primes.

Milvus 35/1.4

A full-blown Landscape/Seascape shoot, the Nikon D810 (with battery grip and Kirk Arco Swiss Bracket, Zeiss Milvus 2.8/21,  the Zeiss Milvus 1.4/35, Zeiss Milvus 1.4/50, Nikon 1.8/85 which I like to use if I do panoramas. Siru Tripod T2205X and Ball Head. NISI Filter kit which includes, Grad Filter (3 and 4 stops) ND 6 Stop and 10 Stop and Circular Polariser, Sunway Foto Pano Rail. Pixel Cordless remote release. All this gear fits nicely into a Lowepro Pro Runner BP 450 AW 11. This is also my bag of choice when I travel as it will also accommodate 15” laptop and Wacom Tablet Medium in addition to the aforementioned body and lens and associated cables, chargers and drives etc. All loaded, it does exceed airlines carry on weight limits! To date I’ve not been challenged. The tripod is light but sturdy it will handle the D4S and the 80-400, it folds down and can be placed in a carry on bag for airline travel.

The Milvus Family

Pano Milvus 135/2

Milvus 21/2.8

Milvus 50/1.4

 

The Nikon 810 has been replaced by the D850 if you are interested you can read #739. An Acute Attack of GAS – Sony A7R111/Nikon D850. The only other change is I have replaced the Nikon 1.8/85 with Milvus 2/135

Milvus 135/2

Milvus 135/2

Usually for a Landscape/Seascape shoot where I’ve been before I’ll only take  the 810 and 2 lens, focal lengths vary depending upon the place. Filters, Tripod and Trigger, these fit nicely into a “ Crumpler 7 Million Dollar Home”

Again the 810 is replaced by the 850.

Milvus 50/1.4

Milvus 35/1.4

Milvus 35/1.4

Camera straps. Now this will open up the discussion, I use a Peak Design wrist strap for street walks and general use. Black Rapid Sport is kept for when I attach a long lens which is either Nikon 4/70-200 or 4.5 5.6/80 – 400.

I finding I’m using the Sport more often just for a walk around as its very convenient and secure.

Milvus 35/1.4

As an aside I find I’m using the D4s less and less, firstly due to its bulk and secondly because the D850 is not that far behind it in tracking for fast action and you can shoot in crop mode and sill get a 25.6mp file Vs 16.4mp from the D4s. Low light the 4s is still king by a 1-2 stops in my tests. Bird photography which I don’t do seriously, the D4S still has a slight edge for tracking, but not by much.  

Well that’s my gear, more shots below.

Milvus 35/1.4

Milvus 50/1.4

Milvus 50/1.4

Posted on DearSusan by Dallas Thomas.

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Hating Lightroom.

Hoping Luminar’s next release is mainstream usable.

Still having issues with ON1 RAW’s blowsy attitude.

Wanting RAW Power to get yet more traction.

Thinking Capture 1 V12 might be the tipping point.

It’s Sunday afternoon. I’m printing, or at least trying my best. Mirage’s software RIP* has drawn a line under my complete contempt for Lightroom and its iffy output. I’m blowing my way through FotoSpeed linen and Epson’s semi gloss A3s at a rate, to say nothing of hocking my pension on ink cartridges for the Epson 3800 sitting on the table next to me.

It’s been a long process and I won’t bore you with the difficulties of getting decent ink jet papers this far from civilisation. Or the even more ridiculous post-import duty price(s) of ink.

So, I’m calming myself listening to Yellowjacket’s extraordinary “Geraldine” from their 1989 album, “The Spin”. Written by the band’s Russel Ferrante, a short sax and marimba intro oozes into Jimmy Haslip’s bass and six minutes of gentle electric jazz is underway.

I’ve never told anyone this before, but one Saturday in the early 1980s, I drove 400km from Johannesburg to Maseru in Lesotho for a board meeting of (then) Southern Africa’s only Outward Bound school. It was a long drive there and back and Geraldine (re)played every second of the way – almost eight hours in all and I didn’t regret a moment, then or now.

Where was I?

Printing.

More music.

A gentle hit of serendipity now cues Stanley Turrentine’s 1970 album “Sugar”. It is quite possibly, the epitome of the late 20th century jazz. Tight, musical, surprisingly well recorded (at this remove, almost half a century later) and impossibly hard not to want to play again and again. “Sugar” has been a fixture in my listening for probably three decades and at least one track is likely to be on the playlist at my wake.

For me, Jazz doesn’t get much better than this.

Take a look at the line-up; there’s Turrentine on tenor sax, George Benson, Freddie Hubbard, Ron Carter, Hubert Laws, Billy Cobham and Brazilian percussionist Airto Moreira.

Creed Taylor’s mix (the album was issued on Taylor’s CTI label) is very ‘70s, but holds up surprisingly well in today’s age of electronica. This is one of the very few albums I listen to when auditioning new audio equipment – along with Pat Metheny Group’s 1982 “Travels” and Airto Moreira’s “Fingers”, Oscar Peterson’s 1966 “Waltzing is hip/Satin Doll”** from “Exclusively for my friends” (volume 3) and maybe an early Steely Dan album or two. Pass that test and you can live at Flâneur Central for a good long while.

Writing and listening still, Turrentine eases into John Coltrane’s “Impressions”. Better than Trane? I think that depends on your viewpoint. For me, yes, because I like the B3-driven commercial approach, the interplay between the players – this is jazz that has nothing to prove.

Hey! This is supposed to be about photography. And printing.

It is. While I listen to the print head whoosh back and forth, Mirage takes control of Lightroom and won’t let me back in to prep the next image until it’s done. So, I either sit and twiddle my thumbs, or do something else. Today, it’s iTunes and a random play that has chosen two of my favourites, why shouldn’t I share them with you too?

Like last week, this week’s images were shot in the Kruger National Park during the last couple of weeks. I used my Fuji X-H1, X-Pro2, 100-400 zoom and the SBH (16-55 zoom).

* Review on the way
** It doesn’t get better than this – all would-be drummers take note…

Posted on DearSusan by paulperton.

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Image quality is a difficult topic to define or strive for. But I recently asked Hasselblad how they achieve their legendary IQ and got the answers below. Before jumping to them, I’d like to thank Philipe Liljenberg (Brand & Content Manager), Mathias Elmeskog (Image Quality Specialist) and Ove Bengtsson (Product Manager) for making this interview possible and taking the time to answer my questions. It is much appreciated !

• Today, our sensors have quantum efficiencies in the 80%, so it seems they are as efficient as they will ever get. Do you see sensor technology as a major source of improvement for image quality in the future? Or will new sensors simply add more functionality (better AF speed, for example) ?

Mathias: Quantum efficiency (QE) at 80% is not a potential limit for sensor technology so there is effort to increase this number. With that said, QE is one important factor for image quality but there are other qualities for a pixel array to deliver good image quality such as lower noise, larger dynamic range, better analog signal gain, fill factor and reduced fixed pattern noise to give some examples. Different applications have different criteria so functionality, such as on sensor Phase Detection Auto Focus (PDAF), is developed in conjunction with improving raw data output quality.

• How does CMOS compare to CCD? Is the higher sensitivity largely an artificial amplification factor or is there a real advantage to CMOS? Do you feel modern CMOS sensors have bridged the gap with the best CCD sensors of their time, in terms of colours and tonal subtlety?

Mathias: Historically CCD have had the upper hand when it comes to fill factor and bit depth conversion since a CCD traditionally only uses one analog to digital converter (ADC). Due to progression in fabrication processes this is necessarily no longer true. With back illuminated CMOS sensors (BSI) the fill factor is very close to CCD (approx. 100%) and ADC technology enables higher bit depth per pixel. Other techniques for example dual ADC channel is often used to lower the read noise but keeping pixel bit depth. Color in general is independent whether it is CCD or CMOS since they absorb in the same spectral range. Color rendition has more to do with on chip color filters, bit depth and color processing. In short, yes.

• In astronomy and biology, EMCCD and sCMOS are commonly used. Do you see such technologies coming to high end manufacturers such as Hasselblad?

Mathias: At Hasselblad we strive for the best image quality so we look at new technology and make decisions with regards to all parameters what sensors makes most sense for the customer. Scientific CMOS (sCMOS) and EMCCD is just sensor evolution as any other so if the parameters outweigh other competing technologies this will of course be considered. sCMOS for example is not clearly defined but is rather a term used to express an improved raw data output matrices for scientific use with for example very low read out noise with no penalties on readout speed. These types of sensors have many compelling qualities in photography applications as well. EMCCD is more limited and aimed towards more specific types of scientific use such as single photon detection and very short exposure times.

• What can you tell me about camera calibration? Does it have to be an expensive labour to work well? What is its impact on image quality?

Mathias: To optimize image quality per unit camera every sensor goes through calibration processes in production. Doing per unit processing steps will always be considered labour heavy and in our calibration several such steps are taken. Adding to this some of the calibration steps require long exposures adding to production time. Knowing the sensor characteristics compensation can be applied to optimize image quality and per unit consistency. This lowers noise, increasing low contrast detail sharpness and removes the need for black image subtraction during long exposures for example.

• I have found Hasselblad XCD lenses to be extremely neutral. But the recent 80/1.9 seems to bring more “personality”. Is there room for more ‘fun’ lenses in the Hasselblad lineup, now that the brand is entering the high-end amateur market?

Ove: Not sure what you mean with ”fun”. We always try to make our lenses as good as possible. If “fun” means that it has a large aperture and can create a nice shallow DOF, this is not new to Hasselblad. For the V System, we had the f/2-110mm and for the H System, the f/2,2-100mm lenses that produced similar images. In the high-end amateur market, there are of course a high demand for exciting lenses and I am sure we will add lenses to the line-up that will excite this type of customer as well as our professional customers. I cannot reveal what we have for the future, but I can promise that there will be more lenses.

All photographs on this page made with the Hasselblad X1D. Can you hear me pining from afar?

Posted on DearSusan by pascaljappy.

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You wouldn’t really want this in your pocket would you?

An f0.65 lens. WTF?

If you’re a regular DS reader, you’ll know we’ve discussed the new generation of über lenses exhaustively in recent times.

The trend continues and I was hardly surprised to see a report in the photography media, suggesting that Nikon has calculated its new Z mirrorless camera body could use and focus an f0.65 lens. Accompanying the report was the image above. That’s the 52mm f0.95 – just the thing to pop into your pocket for a quick photo walk around the neighbourhood.

I’m guessing that the f0.65 might be even bigger and have even less real world usability. You’ll find it alongside the still impossible to afford 8mm fish eye on eBay in a few years time, no doubt.

I’m reminded the MHz race of the ‘80s and ‘90s, where Intel and their competitors would race out the latest and greatest X86 processor, rated at higher and higher clock speeds. Now it’s about power and battery life and Intel is on the back foot – see Apple rant below for more on this topic.

Anyway, it went nowhere in the end, just like this ridiculous race to make faster and faster lenses.

“But they are great for surveillance,” you might suggest.

“True, but you’ll have to be very smart to recognise someone by the one eyelash you got in focus. The rest is a sea of bokeh.”

Sorry to our own bokeh-slut, Philippe, but this one just doesn’t fly.

Beobab sunset

Kruger Park sunset

Late afternoon watering hole. Look close and spot the 6m crocodile, waiting for dinner to get just a bit closer…

RAW Power

When Apple binned Aperture, a significant portion of photographers, including several of us at DS, were forced elsewhere and have yet to find an anywhere acceptable replacement. Either Capture 1 or Lightroom being the choix du jour. We were all pretty much uniform in our dislike and resentment.

Then a year or so back, Nik Bhatt – formerly one of the lead developers on Aperture – and his Gentlemen Coders, rolled out RAW Power, a RAW converter, unsurprisingly pretty much like Apple’s now neglected powerhouse.

It worked too, good conversions, ease of use – an all round solution. But, this was a V1.0 and lots was still missing.

A couple of weeks back V2 edged out of the lab and it’s a huge improvement. Lots of the missing tools and functionality is now in place and a file browser has been added. I haven’t had a chance to use it much, but I like what I see. A lot.

Cape buffalo – one of the meanest spirited and dangerous animals in the bush

The jury is out – no agreement whether this is a juvenile Bateleur, or a Tawny Eagle

In contrast, ON1’s release of their 2018 app was hailed in beta and still seeking a split from Lightroom, I ponied-up my US$79 for the new release. I got it a few days ago and it’s pretty much what it says on the tin. New interface, powerful, big, well featured and generally not bad.

It has got itself confused a few times and crashed however. The keywording seems to be pretty flaky and there’s still no geotagging option.

That’s on top of 13 mails I’ve had from ON!, offering plug-ins, conversion kits, training videos, Black Friday offers and the usual sexual enhancements, all for next to nothing if I acted NOW!

Enough already. If you can’t sell your product on its functionality and reputation, a deluge of e-mail isn’t likely to make a difference. ON!’s performance? I’m still not convinced.

Sunset

Setting sun near Talamati

Setting sun near Talamati

Setting sun near Talamati

Lots has been said about Apple in recent times, from new iPhones to the revised Macs and a slew of iPads.

I really wanted to believe the new iPad Pro would finally arrive and make it unnecessary to haul a full-on MacBook Pro notebook with me on my travels. In theory, it should. It has power to spare, lots of memory and an SD card reader, so that I can secure and edit my images as I travel.

Cool.

Not.

On average, I shoot between 50Gb and 75Gb on a trip, all of which would fit easily on my new iPad Pro. I could even send my usual daily image to Flickr, Facebook and wherever.

Once back home, the problems would begin. There is no way to transfer hundreds of image RAW files directly back to my desktop editing, storage and archiving system. The only realistic way is to send everything to iCloud and then download it all again to my Mac.

What?

Yup. Upload everything from the iPad and then download it again to the Mac sitting next to it. I’ve searched the Interwebs for a solution and spoken to some of Apple’s specialists. There. Is. No. Other. Solution.

Apple’s AirDrop functionality in MacOS and iOS sometimes works with single files from iPhone to Mac, or the other way round, but despite several updates, remains flaky and will doubtless baulk at several hundred RAW files.

So, the new iPadPro is off my Xmas shopping list.

Another gripe is the cost of the new MacMini. The previous generation unit have cost well south of £1000. The new one, admittedly with a 2Tb SSD and lots of RAM tops out at £3800! WTF Apple?

It’s inevitable that Apple is going to replace the Intel processors in the Macintosh with the same in-house developed A series processors that power the iPhone, iPad and Apple TV and Apple Watch. It’s smaller, produces more computing power and costs a fraction of the Intel units they would replace. What’s holding Apple back? Aside from the iPhone and iPad not having a conventional file system, not very much as far as I can see and the savings in manufacturing costs and software development/maintenance could be huge.

High tension hyena – this family group of 6/7 animals was squabbling about a hind quarter all that was left of a dead zebra after the alpha predators had had their share

Still life in the bush

Sunrise near Talamati

There’s lots more to grumble about just now, more than enough for another Monday Post ‘ere long.

This week’s images were shot in the Kruger National Park during the last couple of weeks. I used my Fuji X-H1, X-Pro2, 100-400 zoom and the SBH (16-55 zoom).

Posted on DearSusan by paulperton.

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Pascal’s post #755, “In defence of smartphone photography, again” and more recently Adrian’s  post #786 Am I going Crazy? (Using an inexpensive smartphone), speak of “smartphone fun” and I thought I’d add my two penn’orth.

As some of you will know, I belong to a U3A camera group, (University of the Third Age) comprising members of a certain age and in varying states of decrepitude and ability. We meet fortnightly and the photographic part of the day is sandwiched between meeting for coffee at 10:00 and, for those that want, reconvening for lunch at 13:00. For many of our intrepid band the comestibles are at least as important as the image creation.  On days of inclement weather we convene in Fishguard Library, in a small room at the far end of the long corridor housing the tapestry celebrating the Last Invasion of Britain and on fine days we  wander about the county exercising our creative powers.

Recently we met at the West Wales Wildlife Centre, as they have a great cafe, before moving on to Cilgerran Castle for some photography.  Just as I was about to set off there was a minor domestic drama causing a few minutes of distraction and as I was driving, later than intended, to the cafe rendezvous I realised in the confusion I had left my waterproof jacket behind and it was looking like rain.

It turned out to be worse than that.  Flinging open the rear doors of the Mini I was confronted by a total lack of camera bag!  !****!, today is going from bad to worse.

Hastening to the cafe I arrive as the cups are being cleared away and I just have time to fess up to being deficient in the camera department to the tune of one but intend to use of my phone instead, before the rest of the group set off for the serious business of image capture, telling me, “by the way, we’re shooting in black and white today”.  I say I’ll grab a quick coffee and visit the gents (toilet facilities are also important to our demographic) and catch them up. In my mind I imagine the sniggering about using a phone on a photo shoot and possibly muttering about the failing memory of some of the group and being glad it wasn’t them.  In fairness to my compatriots I have to say this was entirely in my mind and they were unfailingly civil and supportive.

After said break I wander out into the Wildlife Park with my iPhone SE and start looking for opportunities.  I confess my natural competitiveness had kicked in and I was determined to create a few kickass images to show ‘em “it’s the photographer not the camera,” right?  After about 45 minutes I realise I have seen no-one from the group and it slowly dawns that whilst we were meeting at the Park the actual shoot was at the Castle.  S*1t. I have completely lost the plot today.  Rush to car park, drive to Castle, arrive just as the hungriest are heading to the pub. Never mind, out with phone and carry on.

The point of this ramble (at last, I hear you say) is that out of adversity came FUN!  I had an absolute blast with my phone and produced some images that I am really pleased with.

Photosplit, multi-exposure

ProCamera

When I shared these with Paul Perton his response was, “Yes, Steve (my ageing best mate!), but is it art?”

Photosplit, multi-exposure

My reply, “Art?  You’re asking the wrong person!  What I can tell you is that the images are nothing like anything the rest of the group shot!”

Photosplit, multi-exposure

To me, this style of image is photographic pop music (well what I think of as pop music), they are easy listening with a natty beat and a few have good hooks.  A very few will merit repeated listening in years to come but most will be liked for a while before being largely forgotten to be replaced with this seasons offering. Nothing wrong with that. Impermanence rules.

Photosplit, multi-exposure

The point is I have fun. I see the world differently for a while and engage with it using the tools to hand and what skill I can muster.  And in this instance pull a rabbit out of a hat!

Photosplit, multi-exposure

And a colour one for good measure.

Photosplit, multi-exposure

For anyone still interested, the Photosplit app does all kinds of stuff but I only use it for multiple exposures and it’s limited to square aspect ratio.  Having taken the images as you want there are then a series of blend options providing different effects. It can be a bit hit and miss but after a while you get a feel for which blend mode and intensity is likely to work with what sort of image.  Photosplit stores each of the images shot as well as the final one, all of which can be saved to the Camera Roll which then syncs to Photos on all devices. You may or may not think this is a “good thing”.  I’m told no such app exists for Android.  Sorry.

ProCamera is my favourite app for general purpose use on the iPhone allowing control of focus, exposure, ISO, WB, histograms, low light trickery, HDR, etc. but best of all it shoots RAW and jpg pairs.

Some weeks later we were set a new assignment; “Shoot an image of the Herring in Lower Town.”  On hearing this I groaned inwardly.  The Herring in question is a rather lovely sculpture of a shoal of fish erected in memory the long forgotten herring industry that used to thrive in Fishguard. I have tried to photograph it a number of times but found it impossible to find a point of view that does it justice.  This time I thought I’d try and get the fish in a watery environment rather than silhouetted against the sky which is how you mainly see them.

So out with my phone again in conjunction with an app called Enlight which runs on the iPhone but I prefer to use it on my iPad as it’s way easier to use given the larger screen.  Enlight offers more flexibility than Photosplit in that that aspect ratio can be altered, there are loads more blending options as well as an array of filters and so on.

This is the resultant underwater Herring.

Enlight, multi-exposure

And this is the urban graffiti version!

Enlight, multi-exposure

Posted on DearSusan by Steve Mallett.

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