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"Camera: The Hasselblad X1D-50c Why? For now, this is the only camera that every photographer in the world approves of and covets." Wow, I'm really minority. Until I normalize, and/or that camera becomes real-ware, may I carry my Lytro Illium and pass? (Weird, I told 'ya.) That Hassy/lens combo really looks like an Illium that lost its visual cool by going square. "Fuji joined the XD1 in the category" Typo?
Camera: The Panasonic GX[x, where x > 8]... Why? ...First, note that such a camera doesn't exist yet. That's okay, because the GX8 itself (above) is a splendid sleeper of a camera with the mirrorless world's nicest viewfinder, sez moi." I believe you, but I've always been unusually VF agnostic. The GX7 was more than fine for me. "Tainted by the "shutter shock" controversy with certain lenses, a rap the GX8 doesn't really deserve." Agreed. Use the EFC, and all is well. I used a GX7 in tandem with an E-M5 for a year and a half, 14,000 shots. Lovely camera that I'd still be using, if not for the Focus Bracketing and High-Res Modes of the E-M5 IIs. The GX8 got fat, and couldn't compete photographically with the above features of the E-M5 II. I'd like to have the IS sync with the PLeica 100-400, although the lens IS or body IS are mighty fine.
"Camera: The Olympus Pen-F Why? What do you mean "why?" Are you kidding? What photographer—no, what person—could fail to love this little gem? A handy, pocketable picture-taker with gobs of jewel-like object quality and style out the wazoo, it's a camera everyone likes to look at. [snip further praise of looks]" If you want eye candy, sure. For photographic abilities, the E-M5 II and E-M1 II are clearly superior. "Can't beat the Pen F with a stick." Don't need a stick, just focus Stacking/Bracketing and High-Res Mode. Cameras that add the ability to do things that couldn't be done before, and - at least for me - seriously widen what I can capture, trump pretty every time. Focus Bracketing has solved problems I've fought my whole photographic life. I use High-Res less often, for my photographic proclivities, But there's nothing like it for color accuracy but a Foveon sensor, and nothing like it for moiré free high res short of MF. Sooo, buy a broken Pen-F to put out as art, and use their real cameras for photography. Me? If I had that need, I'd get a broken real rangefinder for show. (Are there show Leica fakes?)
You seem to find the moon far more problematic to photograph than I, and I imagine many others, find to be the case. You have inspired me to collect some of my moon shots in one gallery. I hope the range may inspire you to see that there are many ways to capture the moon. None of these images involve exposure bracketing or HDR software; all done with appropriate exposures and what may be done in PS (sans HDR). One taken with a now ancient Fuji F30 P&S. One uses the OOF moon's brightness as an asset. One is a panorama from two 18 mm eq. shots, so approaching a 180° view. At the other extreme is a 1,600 mm. eq. for a 1.5° -ish AOV (the 2012 Supermoon). One uses focus bracketing to maintain focus on the moon and a near object, but the exposures were the same. Most of the focal lengths used are, I think, outside the range you like, which may in part explain your frustration with 'shooting the moon'?
You have hardly scratched the surface. There are many such services, some, unlike Amazon, with a deep history in printing. (Although they likely bought someone or are acting as agent for someone else.) Without even thinking about it, I knew of four, and there are more. I have used AdoramaPix for 11x14 and 16x20 prints on Kodak and Fuji photographic papers, and been pleased with the results. I've also shown them to the two best pro printers I know, who are very good, and they liked them, too. Shutterfly offers prints; I've only tried 100 free 4x6s from a promo offer. They were good. Others I know from seeing prints of friends' images by them, Bayphoto and Miller's Labs. Both have serious pro users, as well as amateurs, and a vast range of services. I haven't checked today, but suspect prices competitive with Amazon, especially compared to signing up for Prime for printing only. $99 will buy a lot of simple prints. Only mentioning two minor players seems awfully incomplete, and possibly misleading to any tyro who happens by.
For a great print, the image needs to be in excellent condition. If the pop-up version of the above is accurate, there appears to be a bright halo along the left skyline. Common enough from sharpening, and some other PS tools. Not everyone would notice; it would drive me crazy. Could be an artifact of down sampling for the web, too? [No bright halo in the print--. --Mike]
“A beautiful thing is never perfect.” - Egyptian Proverb
Toggle Commented Sep 28, 2016 on The Perfect Lens at The Online Photographer
'The image-forming light goes through the mirror, eliminating the need for the mirror to flip out of the way—as well as eliminating the "reflex" part of the term "digital single lens reflex."' I believe you have this wrong. The SLTs are still "reflex" cameras. Reflex refers to the use of a mirror to "reflect" the viewfinder image onto a ground glass/matte plastic screen. A Twin Lens Reflex uses a mirror to reflect an image from a lens next to the taking lens onto a screen that the user views directly. Early Single Lens Reflexes and many MF SLRs use a mirror that flips up and down* to reflect an image from the taking lens up onto a screen. This was really poor on 35mm; I could hardly see a thing on my dad's Praktica. Addition of a pentaprism and lenses made it work very well. Repeating all this stuff you know is only to point out that "reflex" refers not to a flipping mirror, but to the use of any mirror at all to deflect the light from a lens to produce an image on a screen outside the image path to film/sensor. Thus, I believe that the SLTs, using a single lens, with a mirror to direct all or part of the image making light to form a viewing image on a screen, are SLRs. * Or, rarely, sideways.
These delays, and those from other makers, may be aftershocks from the Kumamoto earthquake in April. Whaddya do when the protoypes work, the production line is ready - and you can't get enough sensors? Sit back and have folks like Mike (with the E-M1) defect, or do a big glitzy announcement, in hopes of convincing many to wait for the coming wonder? Looks like the 12-100 Pro lens will be released just after I return from a major shooting trip. C'est La Vie
"I guess most of why I think a big camera is an advantage is not resolution but the "malleability" of the files." I've heard that word used to describe files before, and not just from you. I wish I knew what they mean. I really don't. I've edited an awful lot of files from digital cameras, starting with a 1.9 MP Canon S110 in mid 2001, through many mid to fancy compacts, Canon 5D for five years, various µ4/3 bodies and now E-M5 II and Sony A7. I'm not a LR gunslinger, working the sliders to see what happens (nor implying that you are.) I edit in PS, using many tools, including several plug-ins and lots of masking of multiple layers. The only big things I find to hamper my ability to massage the images in the way I want are noise, in particular the way it can destroy fine detail, and DR, in particular how the files respond to underexposure of midtones and shadows to retain highlight tonal detail and how much highight recovery is possible in Raw conversion. Shoot the tiny 1/2.3" (6.17 x 4.55 mm) sensor of the Pany ZS50, Raw, at base ISO in good light, and the files are a cinch to process and play with. So they are malleable? Shoot fine, repeating patterns, as in fabric and ink drawings on a Nikon 810, and moire makes false colors and can kill detail. Not malleable at all. Might it be that you are looking for a pixel pitch that works with the current state of the art of sensor design/manufacture to optimize noise and DR, more than for a particular sensor size and/or # of MPs? The 5D nailed that for mid-decade, with 13 MP on FF. The 16 MP sensor systems of the OM-Ds to date seem to me to hit a good balance, as do the 16 MP Fujis.
". . . an optimum balance between quality and convenience, which to me right now means Micro 4/3 or APS-C ILCs.. . . a medium-format camera or high-megapixel FF camera as the other?" You might consider the possibility that the yearning for MF or HR FF may be rooted more in GAS than reality. Big gear with big numbers is definitely cool, but does it add any practical capabilities? One of my touchstones is the $19.95 print by Ctein that TOP sold in 2012 With a 15x20" image area (29x) from a 12 MP Olympus E-P1, the first µ4/3 camera, it's a pretty spectacular example of how much clear detail is actually available from a modest size sensor and a moderate number of MPs. One thing you don't mention above is what you would do with the resulting image files. Other than pixel peeping and posting 100% samples to prove mine is bigger than yours, how would anyone display images to others in a way that would show a difference from the very high MP sensors? It would take enormous prints, or perhaps some sort of array of display monitors. These are not idle thoughts, but things I investigate for my own understanding, and to temper my own GAS. I have done comparisons of normal to HR. HR captures more detail and better color. Interestingly, its image files also hold more detail when down sampled to the size of the sensor. This means that the lens is delivering more detail than the sensor is capable of capturing in normal use, the result of a combination of lens quality and the poor, ~50%, efficiency of Bayer array demosaicing in capturing detail. Moving forward to today, the E-M5 II's HR mode captures images that are in some ways equal to and better than the Nikon 810 and the Pentax 645Z Then forward to tomorrow morning; Oly's announcement when the HR Mode* firmware upgrade was released, and the many rumors, suggest that the E-M1 II will have a "hand held" HR mode. Oly originally said this would allow capture of the eight frames in 1/60 sec. or less (assuming a short enough shutter speed.) For my own photography, the focus bracketing added in the same firmware update has been far more useful than the HR Mode. The truth is that 16 MP is more than enough at least through 12x18" prints I have of my files, and I've seen much larger ones with fine detail even peered at very closely. Absent some killer feature beyond what's been rumored, I believe I'll pass on the E-M1 II, and wait for the E-M5 III. * Oly provided a converter plug-in for ACR, supposedly to take full advantage of the HR files. My own testing has revealed that it is little more than USM sharpening, and can leave obvious artifacts, bright, hard halos on contrast edges, on some subjects. Opening the files directly in ACR, DxO, etc. and applying either USM tuned to subject, or, better yet, deconvolution "sharpening" (Focus Magic, Topaz InFocus, etc.) results in better images.
The movie Tim's Vermeer absolutely fascinated me. It's about one obsessive man with money and time and a techie mind and his search to discover how Vermeer painted. I ended up convinced that Vermeer was, in a sense, the world's first photographer. As to a book, it shouldn't require more than one volume, as there are only 34 paintings attributed to him today. Not all that many pages, either, as not much is known about him. He fell from being slightly known during his lifetime into two centuries of obscurity after his death. Watch the movie!!
Toggle Commented Sep 11, 2016 on Vermeer at The Online Photographer
I hope this hood is part of a trend that continues. On the advice of a friend, I bought one designed for the Panny 20/1.7. For whatever reason(s), Panny doesn't make hoods for the 20/1.7 and 14/2.5. The couple of third party conventional hoods I've tried worked OK, but are enormous and obtrusive on these small to tiny lenses. This reverse/snoot style hood works as well, and slips easily into a pocket with camera and lens. A one person effort that was expensive, although very nicely made. It seems the designer was cautious with opening size (to fit a 30 mm filter thread) and hood depth. As a result, it also works with the 14/2.5, without vignetting. Taking a couple of $ flier, I found that a generic 37=>30 mm step down ring, while less elegant looking, works well as a hood for the 20/1.7.
"I think I'll hang that quote on my wall. Love it." The most obvious and easily read thing above my desk, whenever I look up from my efforts to create beauty in images, is the ancient Egyptian proverb: "A beautiful thing is never perfect" _______________________ Next to it at the moment is a photograph I recently bought in which the photographer has somehow used a form of unsharpness that I would usually dislike to make an otherwise pleasant, but ordinary, land/seascape painterly and beguiling. I don't even know whether the result is intentional.
Is this before or after I have to call an ambulance for the poor guy why injured himself trying to carry all that crap away? Or maybe I should help him? I can't imagine I'd do anything but replace the stuff I use regularly, and let the rest go. I might buy only one E-M5 II at first, and wait to see what the E-M1 II really offers. Even harder would be to hold off replacing the Oly 12-50 to see what the coming 12-100/4 Pro offers. It would be nice to think of the lenses and bodies that have become jilted closet queens finding new homes where they are appreciated. Hey!, maybe I should be that burglar! \;¬)>
Toggle Commented Aug 9, 2016 on Start Over, Begin Again at The Online Photographer
"I guess I'm just not curious enough about Foveon to put up with the possible downsides." You might consider seeing what Oly delivers in the E-M1 II. Although what noise there is about the High Res Mode added to the E-M5 II in a firmware update focuses, as usual, on resolution numbers, there is another side to it. The tiny sensor movements that allow increased resolution are also used to expose each pixel location with a sensel of each color. So, no Bayer interpolation. Imaging Resource did some nice comparisons that show the color resolution advantage. While not the same tech as Foveon, it accomplishes the same thing; each pixel has data for each color. Oly's original announcement of the feature and current rumors suggest that the E-M1 II will have a much faster HR mode, suitable for hand held shooting.
Toggle Commented Aug 9, 2016 on Start Over, Begin Again at The Online Photographer
In case anyone would like to know when: “Who Shot Sports: A Photographic History, 1843 to the Present” runs through Jan. 8 at the Brooklyn Museum . . ." We do visit Brooklyn occasionally, but will likely miss this exhibit. The Brooklyn is, BTW, a great museum.
Toggle Commented Jul 27, 2016 on Big Words and Sports Fans at The Online Photographer
That bokeh is indeed lovely. If IBIS is the point, I suggest you consider the E-M5 II or wait for the the E-M1 replacement. IBIS on the E-M5 II is even better than on the Mark I. I suspect it's a result of the refinement of the sensor movement mechanism to allow the High Res Mode. Where the early OM-Ds were awfully good, the E-M5 II is spectacular. Does hand held 300 mm, 1/20 sec. sound like a tough test? As someone who shot a lot @ 300 mm, and now shoots a lot @ 400 mm, it's a major improvement. How much difference it will make for you, who mostly use what I would call short lenses, I don't know. One caveat: "A" Mode together with Silent Mode somehow invokes a different exposure algorithm which goes to silly slow shutter speeds before starting to raise ISO. This is only a problem in the liminal range between bright light and very dim light, which is how the above image came about, but I apparently shoot there fairly often. I was apparently the first to document this behavior to Oly service/support. They acknowledged that they duplicated it, but had no cure and couldn't say whether a firmware update might fix it. So far, that hasn't happened. Perhaps the E-M1 replacement will correct it. ------------------ As to setting complexity, I suggest using the menus only to set the camera up to meet your preferences. Then stay out of there and use the easy and powerful Super Control Panel for all immediate settings changes that the buttons and dials don't do. Press the OK button in shooting mode. Up pops lots of detail about settings on the LCD. Apparently some folks see this as just a report, or don't like changing settings on the LCD? I dunno, but it's very quick and powerful. Operate by touch, if you have that on. If, like me, you have touch off, there are two other ways to use it: 1. Use the four way controller buttons to move around and the OK button to select choices. 2. Use the rear wheel to navigate between settings and the front one to change the selected setting.
Toggle Commented Jul 15, 2016 on Sentence: Back to Olympus at The Online Photographer
"The reason I prefer to set my cameras for back-button focus if possible is because I don’t want the camera to re-focus every time I press the shutter button." And I DO want the camera to re-focus every time I press the shutter button. I've tried the other way, and dislike it. Endless missed focus, and I never adapted. "This is important because I generally use the center AF point only. BBF avoids the need to keep the shutter button half-pressed to lock-in focus before I re-compose and shoot. I can focus once, re-frame, then shoot to my heart’s content without worrying that the camera will re-focus between shots. This only applies to still subjects, of course. With moving subjects I use continuous focus, a larger off-center AF area, and keep the focus button depressed while shooting." My preferred use is just the opposite. Most of my shooting is outside in nature, or semi-nature. Everything moves, a little or a lot, except some landscapes. For those, I half-press for AF to set focus, then press the Fn2 button next to the the shutter button, to switch to MF. I may then re-frame, including the many multi frame panoramas I do. A quick press of Fn2 again, and I'm back to normal. I do a lot of close, to really close-up shooting, hand held. The flower is moving, subtly or wildly, in the breeze, I'm not a tripod, and I don't hold perfectly still forward and back, the bugs move, and CF doesn't seem to be for them. So, although I too use the center focus point, set to small, I get the results I need "the other way", using Fn2 to turn half-press AF on and off, as needed, and never use "BBF" I also sometimes use fore and aft camera movement with the shutter half-pressed for fine adjustment at high magnifications, before completing the shutter press - body focus? I don't know how else to get a shot like this little fly, alive and moving, in the "wild", wingspan about 3/8" That's the full frame, BTW. The AF has trouble choosing my subject at 800 mm eq. and this magnification. I'm not a bug guy, though, and shoot anything and everything, at all sorts of distances and magnifications. Not to say that Mr. Lewis is wrong, for himself, just mostly not right for me. "I agree with those who pointed out that the Fn1 button on Olympus OM-D cameras is too small for optimum use as a BBF button. That’s a separate rant for a different time." Out of date generalization. There are more, better placed, Fn buttons on the E-M5 II. Specifically, the Fn1 button is different, and far more accessible to a thumb on the back. There will, inevitably, be those who don't like the placement, but it is a big improvement.
Toggle Commented Jul 14, 2016 on Update at The Online Photographer
When those kind of overly convoluted "solutions" arise in my mind, it is, for me, time to go out and take some photos.
Toggle Commented Jul 12, 2016 on Crazy... at The Online Photographer
". . . arranging that Gordon and I don't have to configure these absolutely basic settings that all right-thinking photographers will want means other wrong-thinking photographers lose out . . ." ". . . since I already have well-developed camera setting preferences different than what Mr. Lewis has selected." Isn't this the heart of the matter? We have a choice of complex settings choices or limited ways of operation - chosen by someone else. How many of us are happy with the default settings with which the camera came? Really? You only want to change a couple of little things? But Bob only wants to change a couple of things, too, but different ones than you. And I want to change a few, but all different ones than you and Bob. Olympus seems to me to have tried to meet the desire for simpler menus for some, more complete control for others - turn on or off the A-G 'advanced' menus. Then they offer rather complete control of major settings that are not set on the many buttons and wheels - with on screen settings controls. Pressing the OK button when in shooting mode brings up the Super Control Panel on the screen, which allows immediate control, without going into the Menus, of essentially every setting that affects image capture. Even the High Res Mode may be set there. With touch off, as Mr. Lewis and I prefer, the SCP is navigated with the control ring buttons, otherwise it may be operated by touch. Personally, the only reason I need to go into the menus after initial set-up in ordinary use is to set Bracketing (for focus stacking) on and off. Since pressing the Menu button takes me back to where I last was making settings, this isn't a major problem, but I do consider this a shortcoming I hope they correct I've personally been using both Oly and Panny menus for some years. Unlike Mr. Lewis, it's much easier for me to find the settings I want in the Oly menu structure, several menus and submenus, than in the Panny design of only a couple of major menus with endless seeming entires.
"The Biggerstaff photo is still much higher resolution than the Reeves portrait, but it required adroit Photoshopping by an expert to effectively reduce the resolution of the portrait subject's skin." That's a pretty good job. But it's also something anyone reasonably adept at PS and the use of masks shouldn't find hard to do. However, neither a separate Pro to do the work nor all that much expertise are necessary. There are many plug-ins and stand alone aps designed to do exactly this job. We see the results of overuse all the time, plastic faces sans pores, in posted images, even in ads for the aps. The 2 or 3 I've tried have been capable of quite competent, nuanced results, comparable to my eye to what I see in the Pro example.
Toggle Commented Jul 9, 2016 on Just-Right Resolution at The Online Photographer
I'm not rushing it. Enjoyed the Todd Webb book so far. Several images I liked a lot as art. And it was fun seeing kids about my age growing up in such different worlds from my childhood. A good deal I expect to get a lot more enjoyment from.
Lots of nice things said about the E-M1 by owners. Then again, most of them are true of the E-M5 II, sometimes "truer". "The E-M1 is a terrific camera: it can handle long lenses in particular (...e.g; a small, lightweight 300mm behaving as a 600mm...) with ease, as it also has that very effective in-body sensor stabilization, allowing slower shutter speeds than you'd expect to use with 'long' lenses." All true of my E-M5 IIs and continue to be true as I've moved from my beloved and well used 75-300 to the PanLeica 100-400 and IBIS in the newer body is distinctly better. (I assume this may be related to improvements to the sensor shift mechanism to support the HR Mode.) "Probably the best current platform for made-for-digital Zuikos, old and new." True enough, but for those, like me, who skipped the original 4/3 DSLRs, the old don't exist. For me, the E-M5 II is the best current platform for the µ4.3 lenses I have. I saw no point in paying a premium for a function I'd never use. The other big distinguishing feature of the E-M1 is the large grip. Fingers, hands and tastes differ. I dislike huge grips like the one on the E-M1. The big distinguishing feature of the E-M5 II is the HR Mode. For some sorts of photography, it's a huge game changer. The E-M1 at current prices is certainly a bargain, at least for those for whom its combination of pluses and minuses work and for whom the added qualities of the Mark II (or whatever it's called) won't be compelling.
Toggle Commented Jul 5, 2016 on Olympus E-M1 Price Drop at The Online Photographer
"...But that's not the way the world is now. The conventional wisdom has flipped, and everyone wants shallow focus." Smaller sensors and their DoF characteristics happen to play into my most common preferences. So I like them. I've had some great results from the tiny 1/2.3" sensors in the Panny ZS cameras and the Oly TG-4 (which goes even further, with in camera focus stacking.) Yet I can imagine photographers who like shallow DoF for much of their work AND would like to take advantage of the small size and light weight of smaller sensor cameras. Might not the current wailing and gnashing of teeth be only from a subset of all of us folks out there taking pictures — and who know what DoF is? A different subset than were feeling the pain of larger sensors/film? \;~{)> "Ah, the odd vagaries of group taste!" Are "photographers" anywhere near a cohesive enough group that that sort of generalizations are of any meaning or usefulness? ". . . Very often, too shallow." That part, I don't "get" "Oh yeah, I meant to get tip of the nose in focus and the eyes soft." " Sure, it was important to get the traffic behind the subject in focus." When it works, it can be wonderful, but there sure are a lot of misses out there, at least to my eagle eye. And those are the ones that get on the web galleries; imagine the outtakes! When I'm concerned about placement of the plane of focus and DoF, I take brackets of focus.