Saturday, September 20, 2008

Sweet story.

Sweet story.

5D samples

Oddly, good Canon 5D image samples are appearing before good 50D samples. Anyway, despite the high rez, they are very impressive. The 1600 samples are smooth as a baby bottom. Which means that for general use, 1600 ISO can be the new standard setting for many photographers. Who'd have thought.
I know I’ve said it before, but: imagine what they could do with a 12MP full frame sensor. I'll bet it could gain a full stop over the 21MP one.

... It's true though that the 800 sample is sharper than the 1600 one (amazingly sharp actually). Perhaps it would be different if one turned off in-camera noise reduction, it often does a poor job.

By the way, talking about high resolution: I wish that some of the new super-sharp lenses that Canon and Nikon are bringing out would be slower and have stabilization. Sure, 2.8 is better than 4.0 all other things being equal, but all other things are never equal. A professional 2.8 zoom lens is very big, very heavy, and very expensive. 4.0 would make a lot more sense. And to release any new lenses at all without stabilization is just daft, so long as they don't even have any bodies with it built in.

The Y-strap for cameras

I haven't received my own copy yet, but Sean Reid's word is as good as gold with me, so I trust the Y-strap will be a really cool product. I've been struggling for years to find just the right camera strap.
His Wrist Wonder and No Pod also seem promising.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Let's make a new bubble

"Let's make an investment bubble of photographs", including sound insight on what value is. Article by Ctein.

On the same site, good SLR deals right now.

Street photographer down

Botany porn

(Tech note: Nikon D200, Micro-Nikkor 60mm F:2.8.)

Maybe I got too inside-jokey with the title there. I think it's usable, because it's enjoyment of pretty botany. But also it was a reference to a post from yesterday called Camera Porn. Closeups of cameras.

A Tale Of Two Loaves

This picture, like the camera picture below, exists for several reasons:
  1. To play with my new studio light. Real kool.
  2. To play with depth of focus software. Even at F:22 you don't get all of a subject like this all in focus, and apertures smaller than around 11 sacrifice sharpness. But you can combine exposures in software. Also amazing.
  3. Because I like the subject. This is a home-baked white/wholewheat bread with raisins and a wholewheat/rye bread. (You can see a dent from the breadmachine's kneader.)

Coined a phrase

Desire is a clinically insane taskmaster.


It was my answer to one of my friends saying to me: "The trouble with being fifty is that even the girls who are too young for me aren't young enough for me."

Fine Art or Camera Porn?

Well, if it was camera porn, I'd have dusted off the camera, so it has to be Fine Art. You can spell that with quotes, "art", if you're feeling contrarian.
It's an early experiment, but I sorta like it meself.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Image samples

Canon 5D2 image samples one and two. Lovely quality, lovely bokeh, lovely models.

Man, 21 megapixels is huge! Even on my 30-inch screen I have to scroooooll around in the picture.

There are some interesting internal-reflection artefacts on the first picture, especially just to the right of her face (her left). I wonder what it is.

Too many megapixels

Just what I've been saying!
"The [Canon] employee told Tech Digest that Canon have the technology to "blow the competition away" in terms of image sensors, but are instead being asked to focus on headline figures like the number of megapixels a camera has."

Trois Millions de pixels

(Obviously an old ad.) Only in France could this be seen. Anywhere else, the feminists would tear down the publisher's building.

I want to see how she looks now, with the 14-megapixel cameras...

New Stobblehouse art

Green Swirl and Yellow Checkers.

Old lenses on new cameras

Old lenses on new cameras, NYT article.
But like shooting with a manual lens, buying them can be complicated. For mechanical and optical reasons, some brands of D.S.L.R.’s work with a wider array of vintage lenses than others. Nikon D.S.L.R.’s can take scores of vintage Nikon lenses without adapters. But the Nikon cameras don’t work well, if at all, with the majority of vintage lenses from makers like Olympus, Pentax and Zeiss.
Canon cameras have the opposite characteristic. They are incompatible with most vintage Canon lenses, but with cheap adapters can mount dozens of brands of third-party vintage lenses.

Headset for iPod Shuffle

I've ordered one of these.

White on black hard to read

I dislike reading white text on a black background, it blurs on me, even with glasses. Years ago I had a discussion with Mike Reichman of Luminous-Landscape (which has that color scheme). He did not budge on his claim that white on black is easier to read than black on white, apparently dismissing my experience. But I looked it up, and it is real for many people, and it seems to be related to astigmatism of the eye. Funny enough, white on dark blue (like ole time WordPerfect) is no problem.

I have not found a solution to Mike's site apart from just enlarging the text to ridiculous levels. But I just stumbled over one: at the bottom of pages is a "print" link. If I click that and dismiss the printing dialogue, I get a nice white page to read. (I've set the pages in my email program to be light grey, I find this the easiest on the eyes.)

Some people even get headaches from white/black pages.
This page has this statement: "Note: People with astigmatism (aproximately 50% of the population) find it harder to read white text on black than black text on white."

Fast month

I like NeutralDay's tongue-in-cheek reporting. Referring to the whirlwind of exciting camera releases this month, he writes: "Remember way back yesterday when the Nikon D90 was the darling of all things photography?"

It's true, it's getting silly. Canon 50D, Nikon D90, Sony A900, Panasonic G1, Canon 5D II... these are all important camera releases, and it's still a week until Photokina starts. Rumor has it we still can expect an announcement about some completely new multi-format camera system from Nikon.

Quotes, Burns, Willard

Remember that fear always lurks behind perfectionism. Confronting your fears and allowing yourself the right to be human can, paradoxically, make you a far happier and more productive person.
-- Dr. David M. Burns

The world is wide, and I will not waste my life in friction when it could be turned into momentum.
-- Frances Willard

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


I got one of these mails. There's no indication of a scam, but why would anybody want to advertise on a personal art web site like

Red leaves/green leaves

Pictures from today.

Light strobe kit

I have received the Calumet Genesis strobe kit I talked about. Because it's so much more reasonably priced than most studio gear, I'd half expected that for example the stand would be crap quality, like a cheap microphone stand. But it's really not, it's solid quality, and even air dampened so the strobe does not drop like a bomb if you loosen a wingnut too suddenly. Great stuff.
I have to admit, I'm a quality-gear fetichist.

Canon 5D mark II (update 3)

Canon has announced the successor to the "venerable" (at three years, that's like 21 years in digital time) 5D. They are continuing the tradition they started in the seventies with the Canon F1, to not update the name of the camera, but instead add a Mark number. (Apple started a similar practice, so you had the silly situation of owning a "Powerbook G3 (Bronze Keyboard)" or a "PowerMac G4 (Mirrored Drive Doors)" (wow, that was a lot of "quotes" and (brackets) in one sentence).) So it's the 5D mark II. It has HD video and is priced at around $2,700.

They've also gone with the big megapixel numbers, it's 21MP. I'd have counceled agin that, but they also have ISO settings up to 6400 plus two levels of boost, so it seems they are confident it can deliver despite the tightly packed pixels. We'll see how that turns out.
"It was described to us as offering the highest image quality of any EOS DSLR to date, with noise levels significantly lower than the original 5D."
(news item.)

I've gone with the Nikon D90 for now, due to good performance and compact size, but it's good to know that if and when I want higher rez, I have a reasonably priced and sized option. I'm still concerned about lenses though. It seems to me that if most available lenses are out-resolved by a 12MP camera, then a 21MP camera needs really friggin' good lenses to be worthwhile. And that means buying new lenses, and big/heavy ones and expensive ones. The lenses designed up until a few years ago were designed for 35mm film, and that resolution is nowhere near these levels.

And it seems both Canon and Nikon are realizing this, both are slowly releasing new high-performance lenses to match the new big cameras. Like the newly announced Canon 24mm F:1.4. Thirteen elements including two aspherical ones in a prime lens! Impressive I'm sure, but I'd rather have a smaller and cheaper, but equally sharp F:2.0 lens. But nobody seems interested in 2.0 lenses these days, sadly.

By the way, I'm not sure why everybody and his dog is so excited about the convergence of still cameras and video cameras. If you need professional quality of either, you'll always need a dedicated camera. And if you don't, then either camera will fit in your breast pocket and can be bought for peanuts now, so what's the bother of carrying one of each?

Update: Dave of Imaging-Resource tells me:

Thanks for the link! We just (finally) got a mess of images and illustrations from Canon, we'll be updating our 5D Mark II page for the next day or two.

I think the video feature of this and the D90 are really intended just to let people take "video snapshots" without having to bring a second camera along, rather than being aimed at any sort of professional use. (Although I could imagine (for instance) a wedding photoographer using the 5DmkII's video with sound to record short clips of things like "the kiss", guests wishing the bride and groom well, etc). I know the idea of video snapshots is certainly the reason I'm attracted to the D90. (My own kit is Nikon, else I'd go for the 5DmkII because of its audio input.) Currently, I have to drag a digicam in addition to my D80 along on trips, just so I'll be able to grab the occasional "snapshot" of something involving motion. I think both the D90 and 5DmkII will sell like hotcakes, in many cases pulling people upmarket to buy them rather than cheaper SLRs in each mfr's line, just for the video feature.

You're right about the lenses too, though: A year and a half or so ago, when I asked a senior Canon technical rep what he thought would be the main focus of Canon's technology, or the biggest technical task they had ahead of them, he immediately replied that it was lenses. He made the same point that even then-current DSLRs were out-resolving the current lenses, and future generations would only make matters "worse". From what we've seen so far in our testing, Nikon has a bit of a lead in updating its lens lineup - The 14-24 f/2.8 and 24-70mm f/2.8 are just amazingly good, literally better than most primes falling within their focal length range. Canon has made good progress too, though, a case in point being how dramatically better the 16-35mm II is than the lens it replaces. I think we're going to see a lot of exciting lens releases over the next few years.

The situation with the lenses and resolving power is also confirmed by what I reported maybe two years ago, before the Canon 1Ds model jumped from 16MP to 21MP: that a Canon "underground" representative had visited Annie Leibovitz' studio and demoed a prototype of the 21MP model, and talked about how Canon was "scrambling" to develop lenses which can actually utilize such resolution.

I think we need to face that a 21MP full frame camera (with a top lens) is not like a 35mm camera, it's more like a 6x7 centimeter camera, at least.
I think a Four Thirds camera is the new 35mm quality, and an APS-C camera (most DSLRs) is in between... like a 645 camera, I guess. (Of course the depth of field is different though.)

Update: there's no doubt this will be a very, very hot camera for for art photographers and various kinds of pros and high-end amateurs, who cares about big prints. Like Mike Johnston says about the predecessor: "Virtually everywhere you look you can find good and great photographers using the 5D, and the percentage of the best work that it has been responsible for far outstrips its market share."
I'll bet dollars to donuts that it has much better high-ISO performance than the Sony A900, and in other ways too (except in-body stabilization) is a very tough competitor for this Sony camera, which enjoyed a very brief stint as record holder for cheapest camera over 20 megapixels.
Update: here is an early image sample at 6400 ISO. Looks good. Sadly it's not well exposed, it's very dark which exaggerates the visible noise. But after noise reduction in Photoshop, it looks very promising.
And here is a sample after Noise Ninja, at 12.800 ISO! Very impressive considering the resolution. Imagine what they could do with a 12MP camera! :-)

He was blindfolded going into Canon to see the camera?? What is this, MI5?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Sein and Bill, the Penny Archade comment

Camera drawing

Drawings of cameras? What's next, photos of pencils?
(I don't see why not, after all there was a big book written about pencils, and some people even consider it a masterpiece.)

In case you think me sardonic, I do like this drawing and the others. I may have gone for a cooler camera, though.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Audiobooks, humor, SF and F

I'm looking for audiobooks, any tips?

I want more authors like Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, Douglas Adams... in other words a basically humorous approach to life and writing, and a slant towards SF or fantasy.

Zeiss lenses for Canon

Zeiss has launched a lens line for Canon. For many years they said it couldn't be done because Canon refused to lease the design. I don't know what changed.

Zeiss lenses are said to be very sharp, have high contrast, and a special "three-dimensional" quality.

They are manual focus though. I'm a bit hooked on automaticity. I won't swear that I won't get such a lens ever, but I'm not as amored as I used to be on high fidelity as an important principle, it is more now just one of many factors, including practicality, portability, and price. (These lenses are expensive, but far from as expensive as Leica lenses.)

Here's an interesting comparison though, according to Lloyd, two lenses of similar stats and quality, but one is under half the size and under half the price of the other. Often bigger and more expensive means better, but there are many exceptions, so vigilance may pay off.

Film vs digital

I've been saying for years that digital was now ahead of film in most areas, but I've not seen many direct comparisons and I did not realize how big the difference is. Look at this, holy cow! (Be sure to download the full sized samples.) And we complain now if digital is noisy at 1600 ISO!

This comparison did use an "amateur film", Kodak Gold. I've no experience with pro films like Velvia, so I don't know how much it would even things out. But for sure you'd be stuck with low ISO (100 I think), and usage costs would be high. The guy has promised to test something like that, this week.
To be frank I don't recall color negative film being this grainy. Perhaps scanning is less forgiving than traditional color printing. Which doesn't help us if we need the pictures in a digital form, and who don't these days.

(BTW, I've started using raw .png screenshot files for some of the illustrations. Does anybody get browser problems or delays because of this?)

That site has a Flickr discussion group which seems good. Better signal/noise ratio than, say, DPreview forums.

And an article about the appeal of the 50mm lens. (Small, fast, cheap, sharp, good backup.)

And many other fun videos, mostly for relative beginners, like this one on grey values and the camera. But even if it's stuff you know, it's often fun to see it spelled out. Like I said before, in this world the basics are almost always assumed to be know and are therefore not taught, which creates an underlying uncertainty when you're learning something.

Studio light

Inspired by this and this, I've decided to get my first studio light ever. I'm probably gonna go with the Calumet Genesis, which seems to be an excellent yet simple system at an affordable price. And this guy agrees (nice tutorial video). (Here's another one about hard/soft light with this kind of unit.)
Hmmm, I'm reminded of many years ago, I was being interviewed for a magazine and needed a good portrait for it. So I went to a professional portraitist in the heart of Copenhagen, I knew she was respected. So we snapped a short series of shots, and I selected one for the mag, the only one I liked because I was looking down thoughtfully, and this disguised the fact that I was squinting on all of the pictures!

I actually called her, and asked about this hard light she had used. She said that she had chosen it to match my "sort of powerful" nature. Which was flattering, but I still think the squinting was unfortunate.

I am reminded of this because I believe that if she had used a flash or strobe unit instead of a continous light source, she could have had the quality of light she desired without me squinting.

But well, that one shot was not bad. A friend later remarked that he had liked it, it was "good, good and mysterious". Sadly it seems I neglected to save a copy.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Mike Johnston consultancy

Mike Johnston has opened a consultancy for photographers, portfolio review or equipment advice. Mike is unusually smart and knowledgable, so I'm very optimistic about the helpfulness of this.


I've gotten a hidden message about Christmas. Who can decode it?

Leica M8.2

The upcoming Leica M8.2 will be four thousand punds sterling?! Gawd damn. I suspect that Leica has realized they cannot compete with the big companies on features or even reliability, so they have decided to go the other way and make their money on those customers willing to pay anything to have a Leica logo on their camera.

Heck, according to that dealer page (which admitted we don't know if we can trust), the upgrades seem mostly cosmetic (many literally so), and yet the price has a big premium. (The M8 is about a thousand pounds less.)

CanonRumors update

CanonRumors can keep their name, seems Canon backed down.

Nikon D90 video

The Nikon D90 is the first DSLR with video. It has some limitations, amongst them what happens when the camera or subject moves, due to the way the shutter functions (I think it's the speed with which it scans over the picture frame which decides this).

Thanks to 1001 Noisy Cameras. This site is on the ball. They have a "diary" for many popular cameras, like the D90.

By the way, can anybody tell me why people (even Guy Kawasaki) do these Unpacking Shoots? I fail to see the interest, and I'm a gearhead in most people's eyes.

Fake Chuck Westfall

Fake Chuck Westfall. Somebody has been inspired by the famous "Fake Steve Jobs" site to make this. Chuck Westfall is a manager at Canon USA. This blog is quite funny if one follows camera news, and not at all, I'm sure, if one doesn't. For example one would have to be aware that Rob Galbraith made Canon very uncomfortable by reporting on focusing problems with the Canon 1D III for months before Canon finally admitted that there was a problem.

Sein and Bill

Seinfeld and Gil Bates in an ad of some kind. I think it's supposed to be funny, but it is supposed to sell something? (Seems to be a follow-up to this one, no less strange.)


Artificial biological pets. How long before artificial humans?

Update: I'd hoped to get a few comments believing it was real, but of course not with my readers.
Apparently many do, though, despite this being so far from what's possible yet. From this page:
"Genpets seem to create a reaction wherever they go. While in the store window of Iodine Toronto, the shop owner began sleeping in the store as many nights, people would bang at the windows furiously. Some in protest of the small bio-genetically engineered creatures trapped in plastic, some wanting to wake them up or buy them. Hordes of teens wanting a bioengineered pet met confused, baffled, or even shocked looks from parents."

Leviathud points to "Cement Cuddlers".