Saturday, February 25, 2012

A little night set. Spoooky.

Again: the camera of course attempts to even things out and get details all over the frame, so it takes deliberate "violence" to the pictures to make them look like they looked to the eye when I photographed, meaning very dark indeed. They were incredibly drab coming out of the camera.

(All clickable.)

(Fuji X10 on EXR auto. EXR combines pixels in this camera's special sensor to gain sensitivity or dynamic range, trading against a bit of loss of resolution.)

The last one with no editing: 

Panasonic GX1, low light progress (vs Fuji X10)

One of the few heart-breaking things about the Micro Four Thirds format has been that neither Olympus nor Panasonic has until recently exactly been leaders when it came to low-light quality. In fact they have been behind the times for the size of the format and camera.

But now Panasonic, with the new GX1 (following the the GF1 and GF2 line, not sure what the X is doing there) has made remarkable progress. See below cropped images shot at ISO 3200 at GF2 and GX1:





Like I said, remarkable. This goes straight from "not really usable at this setting" to "very usable at this setting". And this progress is made while at the same time upping the resolution from 12MP to 16MP.
Get the full size images here: GF2 and GX1.
These I got via the very ingenious Camera Comparison page at Imaging Resource.

I must say though, that perhaps I will just keep my current favorite, Fuji X10. As you see here, despite the smaller sensor, it has the same image quality as the Pana GX1! Damnable impressive. And its lens is 1.5 stops faster than the compact zoom which comes with the GX1. It's a very impressive all-round semi-compact camera. So unless you need exchangeable lenses, the choice is hard.

I should note that the GH2, a bulkier and more expensive camera, but highly capable especially for video, has about the same quality again, maybe even a notch better. The GF2 and GH2 came out at the same time about, and I was not aware that there was such a large gap between them in this respect. Usually sensors of the same size from the same time and manufacturer has comparable quality.

In defense of weird

Get full-sized version. (Your browser may scale it down to fit in the window, if so you can click on it to get non-scaled version.)

Friday, February 24, 2012


This is the Gizmon Leica-inspired "rangefinder" camera, a real conversation starter. In the present configuration, a 5-megapixel small-sensor camera, which can email photos to yourself or various services with additional software.

Mastered for iTunes

Mastered for iTunes: how audio engineers tweak music for the iPod age, article.

How to Remove Your Google Search History

[Thanks to Tom]
How to Remove Your Google Search History Before Google's New Privacy Policy Takes Effect, article.
On March 1st, Google will implement its new, unified privacy policy, which will affect data Google has collected on you prior to March 1st as well as data it collects on you in the future. Until now, your Google Web History (your Google searches and sites visited) was cordoned off from Google's other products.

Mix and match

With the Micro Four Thirds system (though we had hoped more makers would join), you can mix and match lenses and cameras. Like this hilaaaarious mix. A Panasonic GH2 with an Olympus 45mm F:1.8 portrait lens, and an Olympus Pen Lite (E-PL3) with a Panasonic 14-140mm zoom. The latter is perhaps the only longish zoom lens which has not disappointed me with corner performance. And the latter is an outstanding lens despite its small size, so that inspired me to put it on the 16MP Panasonic instead of the 12MP Pana. Doesn't it look good on the large camera though?

Now, though, Olympus went for in-body stabilization, and Panasonic (sadly I think) went for in-lens stabilization (which many of their lenses don't have). So now we have the Pana without any stabilization at all here, and the Olympus with both body and lens stabilization. It's probably a good idea to turn off one of them so you don't get the "too many cooks" situation.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Filmmaking with the Olympus PEN

[Thanks to Bert]

With the tiny PEN E-P3 cameras they could get right up in the horses' face at full racing speed, 60km/hour. Brilliant.
The Micro Four Thirds footage held its own against full-frame 35mm sized sensor video. (Or 35mm film cameras, it's a bit fuzzy which he's talking about.)
(I wonder why they didn't include any footage they shot with it though, an odd omission. This seems to be an Olympus commercial, so perhaps they couldn't get the rights.) 

Like Mike Johnston, I want to lament Japanese camera-makers' inability to make sensible names for cameras. Who the heck can remember the differences between an "E-PL2", an "E-P3", an "E-PM1" etc? Now, a "PEN Lite", that makes sense, but that's not its official name, no-no, it's an E-PL3!
And of course the brand new OM-camera "resurrection" couldn't just be called the "OM-5", it had to be called the "OM-D EM5", for lord knows what reasons. Maybe so, here in 2012, we are reassured that in fact it is both electronic and digital!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Camino browser

I'm just trying out the Camino browser on Mac. It seems very nice and user-friendly, and, surprise: it seems markedly faster than both Safari and Chrome, both of which have made big deals out of how fast they are.

Hurrah: unlike Chrome but like Safari, it has simple keyboard shortcuts to the nine first bookmarks in the bookmarks bar. I use those constantly. (And you can import your Safari bookmarks, though you have to drag the bar bookmarks to the bar in Camino to have them show up there.)

Rendering seems perfect too. Sometimes with a new browser, the rendering of pages is off. For example, for months there was no way you could change the font size in Google's Chrome browser (of all the stupid things). Of course Camino is only new to me, it's a 2.1 release.
(Chrome, like many Google projects, seems to have a looong beta-ish phase. For example I still can't find any setting to get new tabs to open on top, which just bugs me since it's the way I use tabs 90% of the time.)

The Front Fell Off!

It's not real as circulating emails claim, but still very funny.
By John Clarke and Brian Dawe.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


Apparently this is Microsoft attacking Google Docs. It's pretty weird.

Monday, February 20, 2012

To Infinity and Beyond!: The Story of Pixar Animation Studios

To Infinity and Beyond!: The Story of Pixar Animation Studios, hardcover book.
[High sticker price, but notice you can get it much cheaper, even new.]

I couldn't find this book as paperback or ebook, but when you get it, you understand why: it's a gorgeous and huge hardcover, big in every way, including page count. And it's beautifully produced, big color pictures everywhere, high-rez renders from Pixar films, sketches, and photos.

I warmly recommend it if you like Pixar movies or you're curious about how an animation movie studio is run, or at least can be run if it's done by these people.
This is a company I'd love to work for. People there work very hard*, but they are inspired to do so, and they are supported from every side by a company who loves fun and cooperation, and does everything it can to make both happen. For example, their third home was built from the ground up to have all the communal facilities in the middle, so everybody would get to see everybody else daily, instead of being cut off into segments by roads and separate buildings.

Fun fact: the bulk of Steve Job's fortune actually came from Pixar, not Apple. And also, when he bought Pixar in the eighties (and he supported it through a whole decade of running in the red), he thought he'd bought a computer company, which it was, with a small animation department which very few people thought was very important.

*Toy Story II was finished under such enormous time pressure (a lot had to be remade if the film were to be really good) that a number of people ended up with actual health damage from it. And Pixar took big and permanent steps to prevent this kind of thing happening again, both with scheduling of films, and with in-house ergonomics experts and such. 

A Gallery of the Most Accurate Female Video Game Costumes

A Gallery of the Most Accurate Female Video Game Costumes, picture post.

"Failure notice" spam (updated)

In the past week or so, I seem to be getting great amounts of those "failure notice" type mails you get from a mail server when an email could not be delivered. But they are not answers to any mails I've ever sent. I think they are some kind of spam (which is sometimes confirmed in the middle of all the code and tech-talk, "spam likelihood 99%" or such). But they don't have links to any sales pages, so I don't know how they are supposed to work.

Does anybody else notice a rise in this phenomenon?
Know how it works?

Thanks to commentors. Indeed it seems related to an old email address of mine ( having been used as fake return address on spam. Not long ago I took an old main address off a spam filter service, and I'd forgotten that the other email address was forwarded to that one for filtering.

Mr. Inappropriate

Well, we all do that, although we can hope for more subtle endings.
And she didn't even show anything much. But then Danish princesses tend to be beautiful. 

Women usually don't understand this kind of behavior. I think they don't have that kind of addiction, not to that degree. For us men, it's like living in starvation and then finding yourself in a room with a huge, luxurious free buffet which only opens in 20 minutes. It's inhumane to expect you to just ignore it.

The odd thing, and little known fact, is that "eating" (if you catch my subtle metaphor here) really never satisfies, though one continues to believe it will. It's a no-win game.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Michael Reno Harrell - Southern Suggestions

[Thanks to Lou]

SLR camera simulator

Thanks to Ray for pointing to this: DSLR camera simulator.

It simulates the effects of various settings of an advanced cameras. Some of the results you only see after pressing the shutter button.
This one for instance was "taken" at 1/10 second, and got shaken.

(I should say that shake-safe shutter speeds vary a lot with the person, the lens, any built-in stabilizor mechanism, and not the least luck (take several pictures if you're in doubt and it's an important picture).

King, not the King

I can't understand why a person will take a year to write a novel when he can easily buy one for a few dollars.
  -- Fred Allen

I can't understand why anybody would pay to get a novel, when he can write one himself and earn a million doing it. 
  -- Stephen King

(OK, King didn't say that, so far as I know, I made it up, but I thought it a nice counterpoint.) 

Nothing mad doing

To obtain a man's opinion of you, make him mad.
           -- Oliver Wendell Holmes

I think that's a quite pessimistic and cynical view. I've occasionally been mad at a good friend of mine, and then I've seen her as a controlling bitch. But when I'm in a good mood, I see her as a lovely person with a good sense of humor. Which view is true? Perhaps neither, or both. But if I have to choose, I'd take the latter. Not only is it more pleasant and fun, but I do think it's more likely to be the truth, since anger is such a strong emotion that it tends to skew one's view of anything. 

Bar side wall at night


Fuji X10. Taken around midnight hand-held, just one street light, quite dark. I'm a bit amazed I got detail in the black-painted door and window. In fact I could have lifted the detail up quite a bit more in Photoshop, but then I lost much of the "midnight feel" of it, so I gave that up. 

I think it has a peculiar atmosphere to it, the formality of the composition gives a strength to the spooky, scruffy, lonely street/house. It has life to it, the building is being used every day, but it's a sort of twisted, neglected life. Or at least it seems to to an immigrant from Denmark, where you have to go very far to the edge of things to find any buildings in this kind of bad repair. Here in Northern UK they are everywhere. 

Tiny Robotic Bee doesn't work?

Tiny Robotic Bee Assembles Itself Like Pop-Up Book, article and video.

This is interesting, but unfortunately it also exemplifies what's rampant these days: unclear, sloppy, and inconclusive "reporting".
I wrote in their comments:

It's a *bit* of a flaw in the article that it does not state whether this little robot works in any way yet. I guess not. But it would be nice to have some statements about how far it is from working. I see it needs an external power-source to flap the wings, that's not promising, and the video does not show it flying. 
"...have been working on bio-inspired robots that are about the same size as a bee, can fly and can work autonomously as a robotic colony." ... sounds like it is working. Not clear writing, folks.

This is from Wired, one of the largest tech-oriented publications we have, both on paper and digitally. Shouldn't there be a minimum standard for completeness of articles in such a publication? Surely the question of whether the technology they report on actually works yet or not, is one of the most essential elements to make clear.