Thursday, September 20, 2012


I think this is a cool and worthy project. Read more.

Hey, how about this: the Velella, a carnivorous sea creature which lives on the surface and moves by sail!

"Splotch corroboration"

Polaroid Develops a New Instant Camera, NYT article
Going by ratings on Amazon, the $160 camera seems popular indeed. Suspiciously so – [...] Other five-star reviews say: “its’ not so biggie,” and “It needs only 2×3 full color prints splotch corroboration.”
Personally, I was not so impressed with the splotch corroboration.

He's crazy, splotch corroboration is one of the most important features in a printer! 

These might or might not be fake reviews. But would they be *that* weird if they actually were? In any case, faked reviews are becoming a problem, and are much talked about now, not the least in the ebook market. Apparently some people are making a good business from writing them, I heard one guy will write 20 faked reviews for a book for $500 and is raking it in. 

One very successful author makes no secret about how he's bought reviews, and doesn't see the problem. But I think it simply is fraud. People pay money to buy a book based on the belief that the reviews come from other people who actually recommend the book. 
By the way, back to the Polaroid camera:
The hand-held photos I took were a tad blurry. The shutter speed must be glacial; even shots in full sunlight were soft unless I steadied the camera on a wall or used a tripod.

That is singularly weird. Even the lousy digicams back in the nineties could at least take sharp pictures in good light. And sensors have improved tonnes and tonnes since then.  I wonder what the heck Polaroid has done with this camera to accomplish not doing that? My only guess is that to avoid focusing they have chosen a very slow lens/small aperture (so-called "fix-focus", popular with cheap cameras decades ago). But heck, with a medium wideangle lens (which it probably has), it needs not be smaller than around F:8.0, which is more than adequate in sunlight.

Fuji XF1

I'm quite taken by the promise of the new Fuji XF1. (Preview.)
It has the same very good sensor as the Fuji X10, but it's much more compact, it looks really nice, and it's a bit cheaper than the X10, $500. The lens is probably about as good, and has good macro. It's very fast at the wide zoom end, 1.8, but not as fast as the X10 on the long end, 4.9, which is pretty normal. (The X10 has an exceptionally fast 2.8 at the long end.)

I'd hazard that the X10 is a real photographers' camera, with classic camera looks and an optical viewfinder, whereas the XF1 is more of a gentleman-shooter's camera, sleek and pretty and pocketable. (It comes in black, tan, and red.)

(Here's my own X10.) (I made a google search for Fuji X10, and this was in the top row. But I better get one also which is meant to show the camera clearer.)

See what I mean? It's a real man-man's camera (at the compact end), where the XF1 is rather for the more style conscious dude or dudette.  But I think their capabilities are quite similar. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Yosemite Night Skies

[Thanks to TCGirl]

Too see it in HD, click on the YouTube logo.
It is not just time-lapse video, there's also some docu about sky gazers in Yosemite and some cool telescopes.

Apropos the universe, I'm just reading Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything, which is pretty cool.

Forbes Photographs 'Titans of Philanthropy'

Forbes Photographs 'Titans of Philanthropy', article and video.

Monopoly game

Dude, marriage is the 'get out of loneliness free' card in the Monopoly game of life.
           -- Veronica Pare and Ferrett Steinmetz, Home on the Strange, 11-09-07

It seems that it's generally seen so. I don't think I have seen a movie ever, for example, where in the end it's the right decision to not get married. 

I'm sure it can be great if you can stand the knocks and you have found the really right person. But it also seems that many marriages are heck, and don't cure any loneliness. 

Relatedly, I'm amazed at how many people are constantly cheating on their spouse, despite having a nice and faithful spouse. (Is it mostly men, or are women just better at hiding it?) One friend I had like that, I told about a man in my family who was also like that, and who died sick and lonely, and his ex-wife didn't even attend his funeral. 
Actually I wrote it in a letter to him. He thanked me for it, and clearly he'd gotten the message, although it was not clear whether he'd try to change. But OK, you can lead a horse to water...

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

It looks faked, but is a real beauty

Product photography has always been about making the product look as perfect as possible. Not the slightest speck of dust or odd shadow or reflection is allowed. The photo is taken in five minutes, and then retouched for two hours.

This was fine and good... until the advent of computer-generated images. These days, any skilled young graphic artist with an iMac can make up a camera looking as good as this (if he has talent, for this is a gorgeous camera):

... with the result that now we never know if it's an actual product or something dreamed up in a computer. (It's an issue for various reasons, one example is that people often make fake images of the next iPhone and such. Another one is to get a feeling of how close a product is to release.)

If it were me, I'd photograph the products... sitting on a forrest floor, for example. Anything to make it look more real and more interesting.
OK, it could probably still be faked, but it would be a lot harder, and I feel people just wouldn't do it for some reason.

Hey, I just noticed this: click on this and notice the line curving in over the lens from the left, from the slight overhang of the finder box. What an interesting and beautiful detail in this minimalist design.

By the way, just after I mentioned Jonathan Ive (Apple design head) in the post below, I read that he is working with Leica, designing a special edition camera of some sort, for benefit of charity. I look forward to seeing what they come up with.

Hasselblad/Leica lunacy?

I am sorry, Hasselblad, but my first reaction when seeing this edition of the new deluxe mirrorless camera "Lunar" was loud laughter. That just looks really crazy.

It seems it is basically a Sony NEX-7 in a special body. It comes in various special deluxe editions and cost around 5,000 Euros ($6,500). So you pay quite a bit for the name and the deluxe grip.
 They could have chosen worse for the innards though, the Sone NEX system is known for really good quality. (Even though I think they look odd, big lenses on minuscule bodies.)

Update: hokey sheet! this camera design is, uhm, challenging! Other angles of the Lunar:

(Photos: C/Net.)

(I would have posted images of more of the design variants, but my stomach started hurting. Seriously.) I hope Jon Ive doesn't see this, he'll have a nervous breakdown. This is like design done by a committee of summer camp hobbyists. I'm happy I don't have to stand in the Hasselblad stands talking it up. The company must be in dire straits to stoop to a step like this.
Meanwhile, "the other giant name" in luxury cameras, Leica, has the future arrival some time of an "M10", but just named M. Surprised me, there used to be many years between Leica's. But I guess they are finally catching up with the speed of digital.
Sadly Leica is also catching the Kindle and iPad decease and will name all future models simply "M". Oh my gawd. Well, at least it wasn't "X". That would have seriously dated them by next year!
I wonder if it's the new female M, or the old male one, who paints flowers in his spare time?

The M9 will be kept around, again Apple/iPhone style, as a "discount" model. Sort of. Mike is funny:

who... really wants to spend $5,450 on a camera widely understood to be a status symbol but also wants to broadcast to the world the fact that he's too cheap to spend an additional $1,500? [...]
At least Porsche has the decency to charge more for its superlight 911, which has all sorts of parts taken out. That way the buyer can feel good about getting less.

This is trying to make a modern camera out of a Leica M:

... also totally hil. Grip and electronic viewfinder so you can actually use a long lens (which you really can't on an M camera, since the viewfinder doesn't zoom).

As a pure M, it is beautiful though:

Image is from DPreview. It seems like this is an official picture of the next Leica.

Read a lot of tongue-in-cheek commentary about the new Hasselblads and Leicas on Luminous-Landscape.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Lumix GH3 and other new cameras

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH3, article. The GH2 is/was super-respected, especially amongst videographers. And mine certainly bows to no camera re speed and image quality, with still images. And the GH3 is just big for a M4/3 camera, huge. So I expect they have really thrown everything at it to make the ultimate still/video camera chimera.

Note how small the lens mount seems compared to the body. Mama mia!

By the way, the reason for all the camera news right now, is the colossal Photokina expo in Köln, Germany this week. This biannual event has been probably the biggest lynchpin of the photo industri for over 60 years.

... Oooops, Olympus is now competing in the recent high-end compact battles! Stuff is happening there, even Canon's new S110 may be hard pressed to compete, mostly due to the new bigger sensors in other cameras.

Here's another verra kewl-looking announcement: Fuji XF1 (urgh, more X's).

Aaaaand, a full-frame Canon too

My best full-frame lenses (like the 85mm F:1.2) are from Canon. But I really had not dared to hope that Canon would counter Nikon's compact-and-cheaper full frame initiative, and definitely not this soon. But, surpriiiiise!
... Not a lot cheaper, though. $2,900. Sigh.
Update: Oops, body-only it's just $2100, like the Nikon D600. That's more like it.

D6, D600... at the same price... in the same week... I wonder if Nikon's and Canon's R&D departments are in the same room?

It's speculated that these new full-frame cameras are a response to the push from Micro Four Thirds and those systems. Because those are so good now that it's hard to justify the bigger size and weight of normal reduced-frame DSLRs. So I guess they want to push some not-too-huge cameras where you can tell the difference in image quality.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Jodie Kidd, fast woman

[Thanks to Robin]

I can't deny, this is a fascinating girl. A seriously good race driver, funny, almost as tall as me, and beautiful too. If I was a woman I'd hate her.    :-)

Spam is outrageous, part 13

[In my email today]
"PAVPAL"?! Way to go, guy, I fell for it right away.