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Might this all be a tempest in a teapot, at least for most of us? My late brother did some statistical analysis on the Consumer Reports frequency of repair data for cars. He said the the data, while accurate, had no meaning. The rates of failure were so low, that the differences between them weren't significant. He advised ignoring them. From statistics to anecdotal data . . . I followed his advice. My 1995 convertible was on the CR do not buy list that year, for it's "terrible" repair record. At almost 21 years of age, it has been remarkably reliable and continues to please me. Not that it hasn't required repairs, but not often, nor particularly expensive. Because of the CR warning, I bought an extended warranty, which did me no good at all. For most of us, photo gear is not a great expense. For (all too?) many of us, gear is technically obsolete before failure. Many times, a failure may only speed up an inevitable upgrade, anyway. As pointed out above, statistically, self insurance is always cheaper. The Fortune 500 company where I worked most of my life was almost entirely self-insured, even health insurance. So if all of us here go ahead and buy 'dumb', maybe one or two a year will get stuck with an unexpected , but manageable, expense for repair, replacement or early upgrade. Over the course of a photographic lifetime, I'll bet we would all end up ahead. Seems to me there are better ways to spend my time and energy than worrying about this part of life.
OY! Please don't start it while some folks (like, well, me) are off at play (a retreat in the woods) for the Memorial Day weekend, possibly without web access. Thanks
Toggle Commented yesterday on Next Book Sale Alert at The Online Photographer
". . . image quality. That has been significantly improved, and is the leading edge of the wedge as the Fujifilm X-Pro2 garners glowing praise from all over the world." It's easy to rave about a camera, harder to compare them, especially for intangibles, such as, say 'drawing' quality. The standardized studio test subjects at DPR and IR have their weaknesses, but also the strengths of really direct comparisons of a variety of subjects, textures, repeating patterns, etc. Take a close look at the DPR X-Pro2 test, image comparison tool. For starters, select X-Pro2, ISO 200, RAW, and Oly Pen-F*, ISO 200, Normal (as opposed to HiRes). Wander around the image a bit; clicking on a spot brings it into the 100% windows. The 20 MP Oly image is slightly smaller, but almost everywhere I look, I can see slightly more, finer detail than the Fuji. The Fuji wins on the star moire patterns**, but falls behind on the paint brush bristles and the feathery green stuff. Many subjects just seem identical. On resolution and pixel level clarity, I'd call it almost a dead heat, with the Oly edging a bit ahead for doing better on more of the sample subjects. Wander off into other ISOs, different Raw converters, and one may never return.*** Color is tougher, as none of the people are real, just photos of photos, but both they and the feathers, pigments, etc. seem a draw to my eye. I'm not saying that the X-Pro2 isn't a great camera; I'm sure it is. I am suggesting that in the excitement of getting a new camera body, particularly if it's a brand one likes, hyperbole is easy. In the process, phrases like ". . . the leading edge of the wedge . . ." may be , uh, er, um, excessive. * I'm not touting the Pen-F, not a camera for me. It's about the newest µ4/3 sensor in it and the GX8. ** I assume the Fuji has an AA filter. The Oly does not, cannot, to allow the high Res Mode. The AA filter, while controlling moire, may be losing some superfine detail in non-patterned subjects. *** I'm also vaguely aware that X-Trans sensors have had some trouble with Raw conversion in ACR. Is that still a thing? Does it make a difference here?
Toggle Commented 4 days ago on Best Cameras at The Online Photographer
It seems to me that current copyright law, while clear, is wrong headed. I have bought several low $ pieces of art at co-op galleries over the last several years, including work by friends. In no case was the gallery apparently aware of how copyright law works. No documents to sell the copyright with the physical work were available, nor did the gallery folks know what I was talking about. In the case of my friend Bob Whitmire's gorgeous prints, things are as they should be. He owns the rights and I own prints for my own enjoyment. In the case of Marilyn's small oil painting, I thing it's wrong. I purchased the original work and there are no copies, with her or anywhere. I believe that, absent any documentation to the contrary, original art works should carry with purchase of the physical object, the IP rights. In other words, unless the sale includes my agreement that I am not buying the IP rights, they are mine. Of course, the vast majority of these modest sales at co-ops, small galleries, house and garage sales, etc. won't lead to any trouble. But one of these days, such an object will end up being worth a great deal of money. The original intent of buyer and seller will be overturned by the law. Presumption in law that the vast majority of such sales include the IP rights, would legitimize millions of transactions. Only the relative few that involve larger values and knowledgeable sellers who have the buyer sign the appropriate document would not include IP rights. It's a cleaner approach. Digital photographs would likely be an exception to the above, as a unique, physical original doesn't exist. Just sayin'
"Here's a camera that actual photographer moms might like." The TG-4 is a camera with a split personality. As a rugged P&S, IQ is far superior to their TG-8x0 series. Then, after a quick trip to the phone booth . . . Raw output. I know, some folks say that's of no consequence with tiny, high pixel count sensors. With both of my 1/2.3" cameras, TG-4 and Panny ZS40, the Raw files make a huge difference in the quality I get out of the camera. The post processed version may seem overdone to some, but that's the point; these Raw files stand up to serious manipulation. Microscope Mode, super close focus - with focus stacking in camera. With the accessory ring light pipe, it will shoot Microscope Mode and focus stack in complete darkness. A very capable and useful camrea in a small, rugged package/ I imagine there are some moms who would like it.
"But there's now a lens that really is the King of Bokeh." Tastes vary. I do not consider most of what I see in the samples to be excellent bokeh. I generally don't like hard, visible edges in OoF parts of images. I particularly dislike it when lines of tiny specular highlights are turned into lines of overlapping rings of light. I did this simulation some time ago, to allow me to describe visually what I am talking about when I talk bokeh. I consider the top two to be excellent and very good bokeh, the bottom two bad and awful. The samples in your link seem to me to range from OK to fairly bad. I've been working off and on on a process by which to convert hard edged bokeh into soft edged bokeh with brighter center than edges. This is a recent example of the results of a PS Action I've been developing. ================= For the moment adopting your definition, at least as shown in the samples from this lens, would not this image from the Oly 45/1.8 qualify? Bokeh looks very much like the last of the samples to me. Another example, perhaps even closer to what I like, again from the Oly 45/1.8. The Oly is the same price as the Panny, and very much liked by many more people than just me. It seems to me that what this new Panny really offers of value is not any optical superiority, but the OIS. I'm a fan of the GM1 and 5, but the above portraits were taken with Oly Pen bodies, for the IBIS. I think the reviewer is right, that GM5 and 42.5/1.7 lens are a great combo, but primarily for the addition of IS. My GM5 and Oly 45/1.8 would be essentially the same, but for the lack of IS.
"True?" No
Toggle Commented Apr 21, 2016 on Humor! at The Online Photographer
This is, or has become over the years, a two layer question. 1. - RAW conversion. How does it perform at the limited task of converting the Raw formats into generalized formats with three color values for each pixel and gamma corrected luminance? Of all the various tabs and sliders, I would only include the first tab and only the color temp choices, Exposure, Highlight and Shadow sliders. Adobe test new cameras to allow them to produce default colors in ACR conversions that meet their idea of correct WB - and may different considerably from the camera makers' own ideas. Thus they tend to be similar for different makes. I have generally found that I prefer ACR's WB/colors to those of Canon's own conversion software, Oly's Viewer, SilkyPix for Panny and DxO Pro. But that's just my eye. 2. - Editing ACR has also become a powerful editor in it's own right. Although LR has been adding local area effects, its editing functions are still really a fancy GUI on top of ACR. I know people who use ACR as their only, or primary, editor. The two functions are separable. One may, as I do, use ACR for RAW conversion and pass that result on to one's favorite editor for the rest of Post. Or, if there is a converter that does a better job of X-Trans Raw conversion, use that just for that, and pass the image on to your fave editor, ACR. ACR may be set to open JPEGs, too.
"Buy the glass that you need, and use whatever body the company is offering." One interesting result of the High Res Mode of the E-M5 II is discovering that µ3/4 lenses are considerably out resolving the 16 MP sensors. Nice to know my menagerie won't be outdated anytime soon.
Strategy, smategy. My strategy in photography is to enjoy myself, not to minimize its expense. If one of my hobbies were scrimping, saving, making do, and so on, I might enjoy doing photography with greater emphasis on doing it on the cheap. But I don't derive joy from that. So I would do it if I had to, but I don't, for the gear I like. If I derived joy from high status stuff, and could afford it, perhaps I would be using Leica* and other high $ gear. But what really floats my boat is finding gear that I enjoy using, that "fits", and that is capable of producing images that I enjoy having made and enjoy sharing with others. And, truth be told, I simply enjoy taking photographs. I'll see something I've shot many times before, and still derive pleasure out of really paying attention to it and shooting it again. Sheer waste of time, and perhaps a little $, but this is not an exercise in efficiency. So, I drive a 20 year old convertible, 'cause it fits me, and equally elderly low end of the high end audio electronics, albeit with Class A minimotors. I used a 5D for five happy years. OTOH, I upgraded from E-M5 to the Mark II in only 2 1/2 years, paying the early buyer's penalty, for the simple reason that it added functionality that's important to me. I suppose I'm saying (Form of) Strategy follows function. The strategies you propose, all based on minimizing cost, will be useful for some, not for others. * They are making something other than rangefinders, now, no? I really dislike rangefinders.
"[I agree about the turntable point. I use a 1980s Yamaha that lifts the arm and turns itself off at the end of every record. Those are called "semi-automatic" turntables and they're not made any more except in very cheap, inferior products. I find it a basic convenience I'm not willing to do without." I have a little arm lifter gadget labeled Thorens on my Well Tempered Record Player. A tiny bit fussy, but does the most important job of lifting the needle out of the grooves. Seems it was sold as Thorens Q-UP, and someone new is now selling it, with added height thingies, as simply Q-UP. I had to stick it to a weight to mine, to make it stable and consistent in use.
Toggle Commented Apr 11, 2016 on Open Mike: Bestsellers at The Online Photographer
"Love the Kindle concept, and the paperwhite is superb to read but my family have gone through at least 7 Kindles in the last 4 years - not upgrades - the things just break. Some lasted a couple of years, some just 6 months." My wife's Nook Simple Touch died a few days ago. Only our second failure in several years of use. (Actually, the other one sorta works still, and it's the screen on the latest - maybe I can ...) "Anyway, I've been done with Kindle and I've been using a Nook for the last 2 years. Its not as good a reading experience as the paperwhite, but at least it works." When Carol's Nook died, I did a little reading and went down to the local B&N, expecting to buy a Glow+. When I held my Simple Touch next to the latest, greatest, the old one clearly has better contrast, whiter page and is simply more readable. Yet another case of added features actually making a product less perform less well at its primary function. Sure, faster page turns, night lighting, higher resolution and capacitive touch screen are all nice. But at the cost of a less pleasant reading experience in the vast majority of our use, no thanks. I gather that the latest Kindle uses the same screen. The $39 back-up I bought when B&N was closing them out went to Carol and I have one of the remaining new ones coming to replace it.
Toggle Commented Apr 11, 2016 on Open Mike: Bestsellers at The Online Photographer
"What about shutter shock?" AFIK, all µ4/3 cameras when used with mechanical first curtain and no shutter delay suffer from shutter shock. The effect varies with model, shutter speed and lens. "The main things against the E-M5 is . . . that it doesn't have "0 second shutter delay" or whatever it's called." The sensor in the E-M5 doesn't allow electronic first curtain (EFC). Starting with the E-M10, and retroed to the E-M1 in firmware, "0 second shutter delay" is Oly speak for EFC. The 1/8 sec shutter delay setting on all Oly bodies from the E-P1 on is quite effective at suppressing shutter shock. Not perfect, but darn good. On Panny GX7 & 8 and GM1 & 5, the Silent Mode uses both EFC and ESC to eliminate shutter shock. ( I don't know about other models.) It has other effects, which are minor to non-existent for my uses. The recent test of the Oly 300/4 on IR shows that Silent Mode is slightly more effective at such long focal lengths at eliminating shutter shock on the E-M5 II than EFC alone. "The main things against the E-M5 is how it has problems working with my favorite lens, the Panasonic 20mm" How so? I heard about banding issues, but could only find it with mine if I tried to bring deeply underexposed areas up a lot. It's not been a problem for me. Deciding between the 20/1.7 and the Oly 20/1.8 is tougher.
Data point - I've made over 2,800 shots with my GX7. I would be surprised if 3 (0.1%) were made with the EVF tilted above horizontal. We are all different. It does prevent straps on other gear from catching on the rear protrusion and pulling the GX7 out of the bag in error, though. (I don't believe I've used tilt with my Oly VF-3 aux. EVF, either.)
"Not a small camera, it is however very right-sized: although decently portable" Hands and bodies differ. I found my GX7 only slightly larger than "right sized". The GX8 is significantly larger. That's one of the reasons I'm not interested in the GX8. (The much superior IBIS and various aspects of the latest firmware upgrade of the E-M5 II are the others.) "Love the noises and the razor-sharp shutter-button feel." OK, but to avoid shutter shock, ya gotta shoot in silent mode. "The irony here is that Panasonic already had this feature perfected...on the GF1. That camera's battery/card door was just right. " The GX7 battery/card door works properly, as well. I wonder if you have an example flaw?
'To which my immediate thought is, no, no—not or. And. I've long been a fan of having a zoom and also a much smaller lens of a focal length from the middle of the zoom's range somewhere. It's perfect. The big zoom for when you're concentrating solely on photography, the little pancake for when you're doing something else and just have the camera with you "in case."' Well, I agree, in general. In this case there is another option, the 12-32/3.5-5.6. It is smaller in diameter, 55.5 vs. 63 mm, lighter, 70 vs. 87 g., and when collapsed, shorter, than the 20/1.7, while still giving a nice range of focal lengths. I have both, and would only choose the 20/1.7 where it's dark, for the speed. BUT WAIT, as they say on TV, the prime doesn't have IS, and the zoom does. So for still subjects, the zoom is about the same "speed" @ 20 mm as the prime, while offering more flexibility. No obvious perfect choice, to my mind. Now if you want a small pancake, the Panny 14/2.5 really is tiny, light (and cute!)
The Diana lives on, as the Diana F, from Lomography. As far as I can tell, mine is just like the original, but with the addition of a pinhole function, with or without lens. It makes suitably "crappy" pictures, especially the unintentional multiple exposures - one of which is my best shot with it so far. My Holga lens mounted for EF didn't do much for me on the 5D. I think it may need the full 6x6 format to do its best work?
'I think it was Peter Galassi, the former Curator of Photography at the MoMA in NYC, who said: "Photography always transforms what it describes. The art of photography is to control that transformation."' Nothing new: "Many consider my photographs to be in the "realistic" category. Actually, what reality they have is in their optical-image accuracy; their values are definitely "departures from reality." The viewer may accept them as realistic because the visual effect may be plausible, but if it were possible to make direct visual comparison with the subjects, the differences would be startling." —Ansel Adams, The Negative, from the Introduction
"Actually there are no Vermeer sketches extant and we don't know how he worked, but I take your point." It's possible, likely, even, that he was the world's first photographer. Thus, there simply were no preliminary sketches, any marks on the canvas to guide the painting, nor any painted over false starts. I won't try to explain. Watch the documentary movie Tim's Vermeer, fascinating.
"What's the Purpose of Taking More Photographs?" 'Cause it's fun. (Sure, I could stop - I think - maybe . . .)
"[But Moose...are you saying you're NOT a tech whiz?!? I'm just sayin'.... --Mike]" Well, yes, and no. I'm pretty capable at a fair amount of tech stuff, some even about photography. \;~)> And yet, more often than I would like, when I'm totally absorbed in my surroundings and photographing much of what I see, I don't think of something that I should change, or change back, don't notice a wrong setting, and so forth, thus losing some images I would have liked to have or to have done differently. Recently, I installed a FW upgrade, and simply forgot that that resets all the menu settings. I got a day's shooting with the shots taken with that body all as JPEGs, with IBIS off. Not a disaster (a few otherwise good shots unusable) but less than I would like, or would expect of a full scale "tech whiz" You'd think I would notice images @ 600 mm eq. unsteady in the VF. But I just see through the VF to the subject, tending not to notice its shortcomings. Thus my preference for cameras that have less to screw up in use. Where's the iMAuto Mode?
Toggle Commented Mar 16, 2016 on The Retro Pen F at The Online Photographer
I did my own summary of the Oly Pens, to keep them straight in my own mind. More informative about actual differences, and non-differences, I hope, than the simple Wiki entry. I haven't added the Pen-F, as it's a different sort of thing. ================ "Somebody in charge at Olympus sure likes complexity, is all I can say. Its cameras, with their florid proliferation of intricate controls, are almost anti-Jobsian in their lack of essential simplicity." Here, I must disagree, at least in part. You seem to have allowed the proliferation of models and your prejudice toward high end models to obscure the actual choices of interface offered. The E-PM2, for example, offers E-M5 IQ in a much smaller body that is the personification of Jobsian simplicity in operation. With no Mode dial, the two Fn buttons set to MF and Magnify and the rear dial disabled*, it is heavenly simplicity for an A Mode shooter. The SCP* and four way controller give me complete control over exposure, ISO, WB, etc. AND - I can stuff it into bag or pocket, pull it out again, and no settings have changed! ================ "You should be a tech whiz to shoot Olympus, at least the higher level ones." I disagree. For the vast majority of users and uses, the menus are "set and forget". Control of virtually anything used in actual shooting is outside the menus. 'If you like the look (form factor) and feel of Olympus micro four thirds digital cameras, the results produced by them, and the price range of the less expensive models, but you're NOT a tech whiz, what's the next best thing?' The next best thing is not to worry about the menus. First of all, the Oly menus are, in my experience, easier to navigate than Panny's. Brave them far enough to set the SCP* on and the other assistants off. Or get a tech savvy friend to walk you through setting the menu options to suit you. Then forget about them!*** The controls, Fn buttons and SCP give very complete control of the camera. The menus are simply not for moment to moment control of the camera. They are so extensive in order to give those who want it far more control of how the camera operates than most other makers. To me, that's a good thing. ================ * Yes, disabling dials and/or touch screens may seem anathema to us control freak techies, but can significantly improve usability for some purposes. ** Super Control Panel, a magical assistant. *** Well, note which you have changed. Firmware upgrades reset everything to default - bad Oly! [But Moose...are you saying you're NOT a tech whiz?!? I'm just sayin'.... --Mike]
Toggle Commented Mar 14, 2016 on The Retro Pen F at The Online Photographer
Don't forget the MF shots that never exist - the ones missed. "So, is it fair to conclude that you choose convenience over quality?" I choose the shot made with small, light, quick camera and lenses over the one not made at all with large, heavy, slow. I might even consider it infinitely better in IQ. \;~)> I have so many, many images I love that I simply could not have captured with MF gear, let alone MF film gear; too far away, too small, moving/evanescent. Take yesterday; we were going to have dinner with friends. I didn't expect much in the way of good photo ops. So I had a GM1, the tiniest µ4/3 camera, with 12-32 mounted and 45-150 in my little bag. As we got out of the car in SF's Cow Hollow neighborhood, I noticed some great architectural detail on the top of a building up the hill. A quick change to the 45-150 lens and a shot did it. (400 g. for the two.) Lest you think this tiny camera, small zoom and µ4/3 sensor short circuited quality, look at this 100% sample. Its size on my screen is equivalent to about a 16x18" print @ 300 dpi. Had I a commission or the personal need, sure, I could have done this with MF, but we are talking extensive and expensive equipment, at least 15 minutes, probably much more, to also check out the view from a couple of blocks up the steep hill, in hopes of a better angle and in hopes of not needing a FF 300 mm eq. lens or a big crop. But there are trees . . . In practice, were I carrying MF gear, I'd have not taken the shot, or perhaps taken it, then been disappointed with the crummy IQ of a huge crop taken without tripod or IS. Most of my more serious photography is made where MF gear either won't work or wouldn't come along without a Sherpa. Context!
"If you haven't heard of Dual I.S. [sic—Panasonic uses the periods], Panasonic claims to have perfected a method of combining the effects of in-body IS with in-lens IS." Oly is doing this, too, with the latest E-M1 and E-M5 II firmware and the IS in the new 300/4 Pro. ========== Most of my photography is done outdoors, of predominantly natural subjects, most often off the paved ways. When 'serious' I carry two camera bodies around my neck, one with 12-50, the other with 75-300. For almost two years, a GX7 was paired with an E-M5. Before that, I was pairing an E-PM2 with the E-M5. The 2-axis IS of the E-PM2 was failing me in macro, and I didn't even try it for the long lens. OTOH, there was a period when I believed that the GX7 IS was better at 300 mm than the E-M5. More careful looking at some images showed that to be a incorrect judgement, based on quick looks at small portions of frames. When I first got the E-M5, I found that the CDAF was working differently than the PDAF I was used to. With deep subjects with lots of fine detail, it sometimes surprised me at first by focusing at a different depth than I expected from prior experience. It turned out that what I was seeing with E-M5 and GX7 was not a difference in IS, but in focusing. Mount both sequentially on a tripod, Oly 75-300 lens @ 300 mm, AF and shoot - and they focused at slightly different depths of a complex subject. With the shallow DoF of 600 mm eq., each was equally sharp - in different areas of the subject. I was conflating differences in focusing systems with differences in IS effectiveness when off a tripod. Most tests I see of camera bodies with IBIS don't look at long focal lengths. This from a dpreview test, "... It's still a very effective system, reliably giving me 2 extra stops of shutter speed at the long end of the 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 II zoom lens (when comparing the number of steady shots achieved with it turned on and off)." Well, I shoot long - a lot. Of the 2,750 shots I took with the GX7, 629, 23%, were at 300 mm. Forgetting about number of axes, my experience with the GX7 IBIS was that it is on a par with the E-M5 for long telephoto. The E-M5 II is a whole different thing, a serious step up in long tele stabilization. There is a glitch in the "A" Mode exposure program with Silent Mode set*. It will go to very long exposures before starting to raise the ISO. As an unintended consequence, I took some shots of birds, 300 mm (600 eq.) at ridiculously low shutter speeds. I have a shot of a robin taken at 1/20 sec. Head has motion blur from the bird moving; body is sharp. ========= This brings up the subject of shutter shock. The later OM-Ds allow EFC to (almost) entirely eliminate shutter shock. The GX7 & 8 do it only with full electronic shutter. Dpreview dings the GX8 for this. For my particular uses, full e-shutter on the GX7 has been effective and I've not had rolling shutter problems. I do prefer the choice of first curtain only on the Olys, though. But . . . Unexpected, to me, are the results of ImagingResource's test of the 300/4 Pro. Silent Mode (full e-shutter) gave better results than EFC alone. 'We tested all three primary shooting modes with the E-M1 (single-shot, anti-shock and silent modes), and found the Silent mode did indeed provide the sharpest images with the Olympus 300mm. Testing this again handheld with I.S. enabled, we also found similar results, with Silent mode producing better images when using a slower shutter speeds (1/125s for our handheld tests, for example)." Might Panny have known this, in choosing only full e-shutter for the GX 7 & 8? ========= "One last comment about the GX8: seems to me that Panasonic has solved the riddle of size. I found the GX1 to be just too small for comfort for me" Ergonomics are SO personal. The GX7 is on the large side of right sized for me. I haven't held a GX8, but based on camerasize.com and specs., it's obvious that I would find it too large. But then, I Like the eensy GM1. I wouldn't want a 75-300 on it, but it's great with the Panny 45-150. *Confirmed with Oly support. I haven't checked whether the latest firmware upgrade changes this.
Toggle Commented Mar 12, 2016 on Panasonic Dual I.S. at The Online Photographer
"As always, don't count on this illustration to do the print justice. It's a remarkably delicate and finely-detailed photograph." Exactly so. I was just looking closely at it again recently. I was teetering on the edge, and my copy helped me make the jump. Perhaps not clear in this post is that it was taken with the 12 MP E-P1. The 16 MP sensor from the E-M5 forward is not only slightly higher nominal resolution, but a better sensor overall. And now 20 MP has shown up , with the GX8 and Pen-F. 12 to 16 MP is 14% increase in linear resolution, right on the border where a real increase is visible at 100% with ordinary lenses and subjects. 16 to 20 MP is another 13%, for a total of 28%, a very real increase. Of further interest on the resolution front, the 12-50 lens seems fully up to the HD resolution mode of the E-M5 II. It seems most of the µ4/3 lenses have been handily out resolving the sensors. So even future sensor MP increases should not outstrip the existing lenses.