Friday, January 31, 2014

Are reduced-frame DSLRs dead or just very sick?

What the heck is going on with professional/high-end DSLRs in the reduced-frame space?
The top Canon, the 7D, is from 2009!
And even worse, the Nikon D300 is from 2007!

Then compare this Canon 7D ISO 6400 frame with this one from Olympus E-M5. The Olympus one is much better, sharper, less noise, better colors... despite having a smaller sensor and being much more compact and half the weight.
Holy cow. Nikon and Canon are really falling behind, outside the full-frame arena.

Grain and sharpness comparison, above, Olympus E-M5, below, Canon 7D.

Despite the Olympus being about half the size and weight:

I should add that despite the compactness, the E-M5 (and even more so the E-M1) is a professional camera, it has all the bells, it's fast (10 frames per second and quick AF) it is splash proof, etc.

Color comparison, above, Olympus E-M5, below, Canon 7D.

The Nikon D300S falls somewhere in between, a bit better color and noise than the 7D, but still not as good as the Olympus on any count. 

Another issue is that many experts agree that neither Nikon nor Canon has come out with really good lenses for the APS-C lines. The excellent lenses were made for full-frame. That says to me that they never took the reduced-frame lines seriously for whatever reason. I don't know why, because the cameras were very good indeed. 

Small Format Professionalism

Small Format Professionalism, excellent article by Ctein about how bigger is not always that much better, and how small can be better than you think.
It's [the idea] that small format digital cameras are not suited to really serious professional photography, certainly not the kind that results in portfolio prints. Oh yes, maybe screenshots. But the hard stuff? You need a big sensor for that!
Nonsense. Balderdash. Hogwash. Bunkum.
Why can't we stamp this one out? Honestly and truly, real-world results just don't support it. They haven't for years. Not even by highly demanding aesthetic standards.

There is also this interesting discussion.
I seem to recall Olympus saying, back when their first 4/3 DSLRs came out, they expected 4/3 sensors to some day equal medium format film.
Seems to me they are pretty much there. My prints from m4/3 pretty well beat anything I have from 645 medium format and match all but my best from 6x7 cm.

Luck, and engineering

Bert found these cool items:
How lucky can you get?! (Amazing pictures.)

What engineers can do these days.
"The ship is not big enough? Nooo problemo"

High school selections

Here's another one about high school. (Don't blame me, if you believe Hollywood, most Americans do what they do to impress their high school pals, even 20 years later.)

It's clear that in the US, geeks and artists and such have a hard time in high school, and are not "popular" (a concept I never really understood. It seems you can be "popular" even though nobody likes you?).

My experience was opposite, I found it far easier to fit in when I went to high school, because only those who didn't hate school too much, went. I think less than thirty percent at a rough estimate went on to high school. So while the environment was perhaps not exactly "intellectual", it was a lot closer, and I didn't see anybody get hassled.

I wonder, in the US, is there another system, so that most everybody goes to high school, no matter their desire or aptitude for learning? That would explain that difference.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Unusual watercolors by Lora Zombie

Unusual watercolors.
Art by Lora Zombie.
I think it's nice to see watercolor used, for once, to do something else than the pleasant, nostalgic landcapes it's always used for. 
That goes actually for most media: very few artists have the guts and imagination to step outside the genres the medium has proved itself good at, and popular in. 

Monday, January 27, 2014

State of the art pop in the seventies

[Thanks to Signalroom]

"Oh, you're absolutely fine, your lips are taste of wine, I'd like to think you're mine." 
That must be the finest lyrics ever, after Eddie Grant's "Oh, the feeling is bad, the feeling is bad."

I loooove the keyboardist! How manly can you get?! "Real men have hips on ball bearings."

Duran Duran - Lay, Lady, Lay

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Pogue on sensor size (updated)

David also has a review of the Sony A7. I think it's cool that he is not afraid to talk about pro equipment on his new Yahoo Tech site. (I wish him luck with it. I've been reading him since 1995, and he is tops in popularizing tech.)
It seems reviewers agree that:
The new Sony's are a great step forward in compactness. And the lenses and image quality is amazing, as good as the big, heavy cameras. But: autofocus is slow, and the shutter is very noisy, for some reason.
But that'll get fixed. The important thing is that somebody is actually doing something to take the mirrorless revolution to full frame, and I hope this will put pressure on the pro field. For sports photographers, it will still be a CaNikon world for a while, but for many others, landscape photographers for example, minimal size and weight for maximum image quality is very important, so I have no doubt this will at least grab some market share.

David Pogue has a big article on something which (and that's a good thing) has been a hobby-horse of his for a while: getting big sensors into small cameras.
The challenge is not physics, Sony says, but cost and difficulty. Nobody puts big sensors into small cameras because the price would be too high for consumers and because it would involve redesigning everything: body, lenses, processor and so on.

(And the 5D series was even known as the "relatively compact" full-frame cameras! 
This is another big blow for what they can achieve with going mirrorless. 

Of course, nothing is perfect. For example, there's currently no way that Olympus's exemplary 5-axis stabilization system could be built into the Sony A7 body. It requires much more space around the sensor.
Oh, and another thing is that there are hardly any lenses yet for the durn thing. And a good lens system is not trivial, it takes years and years, if not decades to build up.
(That's one of the reasons I like Micro Four Thirds so much: over the past several years, Olympus and Panasonic have built up a delicious stable of excellent lenses, covering basically anything you may want.)

Chivalry ain't dead


I need to pay a tiny import tax from a nice portable keyboard I bought from the US.

I look over their various payment options. After I get it sorted, one thing is clear: I can't pay them online! And after I look around a bit on their site, this is confirmed, they even say it directly: "Please note: We currently cannot process payments online, so please choose from one of the options above."

As the kids say: WTF? I had online, automated payments in my one-man business in 1998! And apparently FedEx either can't figure this out, or they choose to let thousands of their customer have to wait til business hours and sit in a phone cue, or other less attractive options. Sigh.

I like UPS better. They just ask for cash when they come with the parcel. Bleep-bup-done.

Macroscope effect

Apart from darkening 2/3 of the picture to make it look more like it does to the eye, I did not make any special effects for this photo. The orange ring is how the Macroscope front lens looks just sitting on a table. Neato. (The colors you sometimes see in lenses are due to the anti-reflex coating letting some colors through more than others.)