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"That butterfly wing is a lovely example of the improvements that Focus mode can make. Thank you for posting it. Out of vague curiosity, did you also try Stabilize mode? If so, how did it compare?" Out of my own curiosity, I did go back and try it. I does give a sightly better result than Focus Mode. Makes sense, as shots of moving critters at really long FLs are likely to have motion blur subtle enough to be mistaken for other causes. That's what it looks like on shots from this camera and the 1" sensor ZS200. What seems like just softness proves to be slight displacement during exposure, and correctable using Sharpen AI. I won't post it, due to the results of the Law of Should Have Been Expected Complications. I grabbed something I'd just done. It happened to be from a tiny, 1/2.3" sensor Panny camera, and PS tends to generate small artifacts in the Raw conversion of Panny files (and possibly Oly). Stabilize Mode makes them even more obvious. OTOH, of course, the DxO module for the ZS80 isn't due until next month. I haven't yet tried it on the smaller sensors; it does avoid the artifacts on MFT Panny bodies. I'm working up another example, partly done already, but we're on the road 'til Nov 2, and about to leave a longer term visit for some shorter ones, so it won't be instantaneous.
I don't understand the work flow. All of the Topaz AI thingies but Gigapixel work well as PS plug-ins. I just create a copy layer, run the AI plug-in, and have a layer with the effect, to flatten or mask, then flatten. This skips writing and reading a TIFF, with exactly the same result.
Welcome back! I'm a fan of Topaz' recent "AI" apps, and use them regularly. "Sharpen does more ordinary sharpening and is recommended for photographs that are otherwise in-focus and un-blurred. The effect is modest, but it's clean." My experience, as well, no better than Focus Magic, in at least some cases. So far, I haven't found an out-of-focus photograph where Focus improves things. Unlike Sharpening, which is understated, Focus seems to go way overboard. Perhaps I haven't found the right image to apply it to, but so far it's been useless. I have found cases where it is quite good. Here's a sample, @ 100%: And after Topaz Sharpen AI Focus, setting 40: YMMV \;~)>
If someone says "I'm a painter" or I'm a sculptor", that doesn't imply, at least to me, that they make money at what they do, nor that they are in some current movement in the Art World that gets then in shows at important galleries and/or museums. I assume they make art, whether for themselves, friends and family, a locality, country or the world. I love TOP, but it seems odd to me that when that Mike fellow who writes on it writes photography or photographer, there is usually an implied adjective or three that leave me out. "For one thing, in order to be a photographer of your time and place . . . To . . . be taken seriously as being in the mix, . . . Sometimes there's a sort of "novelty" quality that sticks to photographers who are deliberately antiquarian or resolutely contrarian,. . . the art world, at least, and I think history as well, respects and honors the leading edge and has little time or regard for the trailing edge." I make pictures. I do it because it's what I like to do, and gives me satisfaction. I believe I an a better photographer in many respects than many photographers who display their work for sale. But I have no desire (or need) to try to sell my photography. Nor do I need, or expect, to be known, let alone important. Non commercial Un important narrowly known soon to be lost to history, photographer Moose
Toggle Commented Sep 7, 2019 on Everything Has Its Arc at The Online Photographer
"It's curious that although the absolute latest and greatest often costs more now, good cameras are getting cheaper—if you have some personal discipline and can make a judicious choice." For me, not so much "personal discipline" as careful matching of features to needs. "the absolute latest and greatest" in µ4/3 means not only the most expensive, but, more to the practical usability point for me, the largest and heaviest. The sweet spot for me these days is the Panny GX9 and the runner-up GX85. Amazing performance in so many aspects of IQ and features, light, compact, and inexpensive. In addition to the named features, they reach a level of ISO invariance that's amazing, and allows me to make photos I otherwise couldn't. I chose GX9s for our trips to Bhutan last spring and So. Utah early summer, and am very pleased with the results. They'll be off with me to New England and Ireland for seven weeks in a few days. (The only thing I seriously dislike about the GX9 is the flip up EVF that you love so much. An endless PitA in the field. Go figure.)
"Iain Blake's 100 Strangers" seems to me a bit like going to the zoo. The subjects are all seen in only one, largely uncharacteristic situation. It's all about their interactions with a stranger with a camera. It's not bad, but of limited interest to me. My preference, obvious in most of my pictures of "people in the wild", is to capture them as they are in their interaction with their world, unaffected by knowing they are being photographed. In a comment on an earlier post about Street Photography, someone noted that they didn't like the perspective of faces taken with longer lenses. I can see how that could be true for someone else, but it isn't for me.
Nice essay! Seems to me you've hit the nail on the head, fleshing out Gladwell's thesis so that it makes actual sense to me. I am bemused by those writers, like Ann Patchett, who prescribe regimens of so many hours and/or so many words at the same time each day as the only way one may write successfully. One of the things I did in my business career was write software. I was not in IT; I wrote to accomplish my goals in other areas. Although I did some special purpose, short term programs. I did a couple that lasted decades. One, in particular, has lasted over 30 years, used by the top management of a Fortune 500 company. It even survived an acquisition, being adopted by the acquiring company. I think that qualifies as a success. I wrote code when the Muse struck (not Erato?). I could force myself to work on it during work hours, or under deadline, but all my best work was done at odd times, and not in nicely organized times and lengths. I would often work for hours, often in what most folks would call the middle of the night. Getting to bed at 4 am was generally the sign of a particularly creative and productive, hours long session. Breakthrough ideas tended to come in the shower. Now, to my great surprise, I seem to be writing a book. I think it's shaping up to be good. But that's not the reason I'm doing it. I'm doing it because that's what shows up. I may not write for days, even 2-3 weeks. Then, Blam!, I can hardly tear myself away from the keyboard. Yup, got to bed at 4:15 am, night before last. It was 15,000 words, midday yesterday, 16k by bed time. There's enough floating around randomly in my head to easily double that, and new material emerges as I write, so length shouldn't be a problem. I've been reading Natalie Goldberg's Long Quiet Highway. She, too thinks, early in her life, that there's a magic formula of practice that makes good writing possible. She's been teaching that idea to thousands of would be writers for decades. What works for one writer may not work for another. Following religiously the formula that works for someone else may, in fact, stifle the creativity of another. I wonder what harm Goldberg may have done to potentially good writers with different temperments than hers. Ah, well, the really good, or better, ones have likely been writing, not going to workshops. "So the question becomes, what exactly is it that you can practice endlessly and have it make you happier rather than driving you crazy? That's the thing you should do." I may be a writer. Well, at the moment, I certainly am. Whether I will be successful, by my own standards, a finished book, or the commercials standard of being published and selling, remains to be seen. Based on this criterion of yours, which I love, I should be a Photoshop worker. I have way more than the magic 10,000 hours in doing that. I can work in PS for hours, hunched over keyboard and mouse, peering closely at a screen, in violation of all the wisdom of how to avoid ill effects from doing those things without breaks. And I emerge energized, happy, not enervated or worn. I'm not stiff, sore, etc. at all. What the wet darkroom was to you, the digital darkroom is for me.
Toggle Commented Aug 23, 2019 on The Appetite for Work at The Online Photographer
We care about Amelia, because she was attractive and quixotic. The Pacific has swallowed many others. Consider the late, largely unlamented Brigadier General Joseph Warren Stilwell Jr. "He was lost at sea on July 25, 1966, when flying a C-47 to Hawaii with longtime friend and pilot Hal Grimes of Air Ferry International. Harold Fossum was the navigator. The C-47 was to continue on to Thailand; however, Stilwell was only intending to travel as far as Hawaii to increase his instrument rating qualification. The Coast Guard, USAF and US Navy (including three destroyers and the USS Yorktown) searched an area of 105,000 square miles without finding any trace of the aircraft." I was a radarman on USCG Cutter Dexter in that search. We spent a week participating in an inventory of every piece of flotsam or jetsam in the Pacific between SF and Hawaii, looking for an idiot. The story we heard is that Stillwell and his buddies were borrowing a Royal Thai Airforce plane. They revved up once to take off from Alameda Naval Airstation, but couldn't get up enough power for lift off, and went back to have the engines tinkered with. Second try, they got airborne, but turned back after a few miles, for more engine work. Third time the charm? They disappeared over the Pacific. The only hint they went down there was a weak signal that may have been a Mayday picked up by a commercial airliner.
Just shows how much you, like me, but in quite different ways, are out of the mainstream of camera buyers. All cameras these days, except, perhaps, true Pro models, are made in batches. If demand has been mis-estimated, one of two things happens. Underestimated, they run out before everyone who might want one has one. If the follow-on model doesn't happen, or is late, sales are lost. The Panny GM5 is an example. Clean used ones are very hard to find, and much more expensive than one would expect of a used digicam. Overestimated, they need to find a way to minimize the losses of profits from sale prices. In the case of this fire sale, I'd guess that sales of the camera were under what they planned for, and nobody was buying the vertical grip. They could let them molder, slowly selling off, but carrying inventory costs money, too, or bite the bullet. A bargain is only a bargain if you actually want it.
Toggle Commented Aug 19, 2019 on Fuji Fire Sale at The Online Photographer
Welcome to the Longfellows Club! "That's probably not the best picture you ever saw of the surface of the moon," Those who shoot celestial objects know post processing is required. This is one way your shot looks after some post. ". . . otherwise this might not amaze me so much. And I'm grateful to be amazed. Just blows me away, as we used to say back in the 20th." OK, you are new to the long world, so being blown away makes sense. But it may also have temporarliy blinded you to the further possibilities. I've illustrated one above. Another is to take two exposures, one for the moon, and one for the sky, then combine them. that's the easy way to balance exposures. ". . . but once again, that's at 600mm-e, handheld." As a long time Longfellow, it's no surprise to me. I was looking for subjects lit by dusk light, when I looked up, saw the moon, and grabbed a shot. Oly E-M5 II, PLeica 100-400, 800mm-e, handheld. At 100% (Click on any of the above eensy images to see larger.)
Toggle Commented Aug 18, 2019 on Lunatic at The Online Photographer
Thoughts abot this charger: 1. I wonder about its effect on longevity/health of the batteries. The Panny charger that came with my GX7 has an output spec of 430 mA. They have since've cut costs by only including an AC to USB adapter and charging in camera, at least with mine. The adapter outputs 1.0 A @ 5 V. If all delivered to the battery, that would be about 600 mA. My guess is that losses in the process and power to the camera reduce that to under 500 mA. Diddling around with specs from other chargers for these batteries that I have, it appears that the Hähnel ProCube2 must deliver something between 1000 and 1250 mA. The uncertainty is due to lack of info about the energy remaining in the battery when the camera shuts off. The question in my mind is why Panny limits charging current. Why would they make charging any slower than needed for battery health and life? 2. The Watson Duo LCD Charger with Two Battery Plates does much the same thing, for the same price. Depending on what cameras and batteries one has, it could be more useful than the Hähnel, as its plates are individual, not dual, so one could be charging a Nikon xyz2 battery ast the same time as a Sony abc3 battery. Watson is also far more familiar to me as a quality brand. Although the Watson specs pre battery output of 1000 mA, it also gives minimum charging time of two hours. Perhaps it's actually smart, and varies charge current, depending on level of charge? 3. I can't find a size spec for the Hähnel, nor clear weight. If I did most of my battery charging at home, it wouldn't matter. As it is, I do more on the road than at home. The Hähnel is clearly much larger and heavier than I want to be hauling about the world. I've taken an Oaproda dual battery charger around New England, Bhutan and Ireland, and been very pleased with its performance. It's tiny, weighs nothing, is powered by a 2.4A USB outlet, via AC or 12V adapter. I've not timed it, but it's MUCH faster than the Panny charger, less than twice the time for the Hähnel, I'd guess. It's also MUCH less expensive that either Hähnel or Watson.
Here I just thought it was interesting that Moose and Ken were saying such opposite things. Without context, it's hard to tell if we are really far apart. When I'm traveling and taking pictures, I'm carrying two cameras around my neck and one clipped to my belt. Those, and a fisheye in a pocket or vest, give me a focal length range of 14-800 mm -e, plus the ~150º AoV of the fisheye. Yup, use it all. In those circumstances, an RX or LX model is less capable in both sensor and lens. In the case of someone using an ILC with primes or a fast, short FL range zoom, and where light is decent, I can easily imagine how one of these compacts would add significantly to the photographic possibilities. When compared to no camera, or a 'phone camera, one of these would be marvelously better, esp. for those for whom the FLs of 'phone cameras are insufficient (as for me.) My light/non-serious kit is a GM5 with 14-140/2.5-5.6. Again, one of these super compacts would fall short for all but widest angle. Pano stitching takes care of 24 mm -e and much wider. With a real lens, with front filter threads, I can, and do, also use an achromatic close-up lens to get far closer. Remember, I am not trying to sell, or un-sell, anything, only responding to the idea that '. . . this new Sony will pretty much do it all, for any sane definition of "all."', when that's not true for me. As I am addicted to long FLs, I also have a Panny ZS50, 2/3" sensor, 24-720 mm -e. Remarkably capable in daylight. That comes closer for me to the role of pocketable camera I can always have with me.
'But we have to admit that this new Sony will pretty much do it all, for any sane definition of "all." ' Popular definitions of sanity are vastly over-rated. This camera doesn't even come close to my personal definition of "all", a definition grounded in my photographic practice. Leaving aside any factors from difference in sensor size, and based on focal length alone, a quick check shows that less than 60% of the photos in my galleries over the last year from Bhutan, So. Utah and Ireland could have been made with this camera. Circumstances vary, of course. In the countryside outside of Duvall, WA, 26%; in Dublin, 90%. Although I'd have missed a handful of shots I like, I could have done Dublin with the RX100 VII with only moderate frustration. (But why?)
From my grandfather's extremely brief autobiography: "I was born in a log house in the little town of Woodland, Utah. [Aug 6, 1889] My twin brother and I were the eight and ninth of a family of eleven children. We grew up on a ranch which later became almost a cattle ranch. I went to a grade school in Woodland, Summit County in which one teacher taught all eight grades. After finishing the eighth grade, I went to Provo, Utah for my high school and college work." He likely didn't see a car until hitting his teens. He saw men land on the moon eleven years before his death.
Toggle Commented Jul 19, 2019 on I Feel Old at The Online Photographer
"Given all its features, and its lens range, and given all the comps, the new Sony A7R IV is reasonably priced and likely to be a good buy for those who buy it. Wouldn't you agree?" Uh, OK, if you put it that way. OTOH, my original A7 does everything I want from a FF mirrorless, so the A7R IV is meaningless to me. Hence, of course, I won't buy it, and your circle of logic is complete. "I also continue to think the Fuji X-H1 with the "free" vertical grip battery pack for $1,300 is the best buy among new cameras right now, at least if you have any use for the vertical grip." Well, I hate vertical grips, but, moving on . . . It's not about the cost of the body for me, and I imagine, for at least many of us - Cost is about the lenses. Even more important is what the body can do. Even if I had the lenses available on a swap, the X-H1 would not suit my needs. If one only needs a couple of not too fast primes, or a moderate zoom, it's not too bad. In my case, I have about a dozen µ4/3 lenses in active status, omitting duplicates and stuff waiting to be sold. Replicating just my most used lenses, covering fisheye and 14-800 mm -e, would cost far more than whatever body is involved.
"Tri Tran Signature Fine Art Lens" Well, that's interesting, ". . .a single meniscus lens . . ." of about 62 mm for $1,000-1,500, plus about $1,000 for a diaphragm and a tube to hold them. Single meniscus lenses in that focal length range are commonly sold as a close-up lenses or filters, for waaaayyy less money. One may, of course, vary the surface powers (radii) of the two surfaces. And, indeed, measuring the powers of a couple of different brands shows different choices. One may also vary glass index of diffraction, with appropriate surface radii changes to maintain focal length. But I wonder how much this might change the image. I suspect very little. "Modern lens design and glass formulation allow optimum performance of this Soft Focus Meniscus Lens to be dialed in by precisely controlling the levels of Chromatic Aberration and Spherical Distortion present." How does one do that with a single element lens? With two spherical surfaces and one index of refraction? High end coatings are also possible, but does one want that in a lens intended to come close to the uncoated lenses of yore? There is no mention of coatings in the descriptions. Had I an 8"x10" camera, I'd be trying out my #2 and #3 67 mm C-U lenses. I have various single element lenses for FF, among them a SIMA Soft Focus 100/2. Click on image for a larger version.
Time to pitch the movie Tim's Vermeer again? OK, watch it!
"Hallelujah" indeed! Especially for you, but also for us!
Toggle Commented Jun 28, 2019 on I'm Back at The Online Photographer
DxO Photo Lab (and it's predecessors) are first rate Raw conversion and editing programs in many respects. They are not, however, free. Adobe charges by the month, DxO roughly by the year. Sure, you can use one version forever, but, as with the older Adobe model, that means missing updates for new cameras, lens profiles and feature improvements. DxO does their own lens profiles, apparently including some deconvolution. These are generally better to much better than the ones used by many others. The LensFun profiles used by several other converters are second rate. Adobe uses profiles from Panny and Oly for their µ4/3 lenses, and does not allow one to turn them off. Most of their (S)WA lenses have considerable barrel distortion, corrected either in camera, in their Raw converters and Adobe LR and PS The result is that a fair amount of the wide AoV you paid for is cropped away in distortion correction. Correction actually makes the images wider in pixels, but they are then cropped to fit the standard dimensions of their files. DxO has the option to do that, or to simply save a slightly wider image file. It will do the same thing for other formats, but I don't know what difference that might make, depending on camera and lens. One may also turn all correction off, and see just how much correction is going on, and what effect it may be having on corner resolution and shape distortion. DxO also has class leading NR for raw files. Prime RAW NR is almost always a cut above Adobe and Plug-ins I've tried. It is part of Raw conversion and varies its strength intelligently depending on content. Prime NR is an example of an important improvement that came only with a paid upgrade. Raw conversion often leads to tiny, pixel level artifacts revealed after noise is removed. Until recently, DxO PL with Prime NR and Lens Sharpen was the best combination I could find for avoiding that, giving nice, clean pixel level detail. I say until recently because of the advent of two more of Topaz' AI products, DeNoise AI and Sharpen AI. Sharpen is awfully good and DeNoise is close to magic, esp at minium and higher ISOs, although occasionally mixed magic. I simply don't know enough yet to rate them against DxO PL for NR and sharpening. I've used them, but not on enough files and a wide enough range of subjects, ISOs, etc.
Toggle Commented Jun 2, 2019 on DxO Deal at The Online Photographer
Here's to the perfect outcome, excellent vision for life!
Toggle Commented Jun 1, 2019 on Pre-Op Blog Note at The Online Photographer
A View From Another World Just returned from six days in S. Utah, mostly Zion and Capitol Reef NPs. My gear was two µ4/3 cameras around my neck, one with 12-60 and one with 100-400, one clipped on my belt with 7-14 and an 8mm fisheye in a pocket of my vest. That's 14-800 mm -e, or 3-180º AoV. I came back with 1,246 shots. LR says at 76 focal lengths. Other than in the 60-100 mm gap*, it was always subject and composition that dictated AoV, not some arbitrary set of prime FLs. Does that sound nuts? Perhaps, but I could switch from shooting a WA landscape to shooting a Golden Eagle overhead in seconds. Looking at my results, as I loaded them on the portable and now, loaded into the LR Library, I'm very pleased; lots of excellent images. I can't imagine shooting those locations with a handful of primes. The results would be very limited. (And I would have been out of my mind with frustration.) Back in '69, I took my Nikon Ftn and 50/2 Nikkor (all I could afford) down into Havasu Canyon. Yes, I have some nice photos, but they don't come close what I would have with what I shoot today. I was frustrated then, but had no inkling what would be possible later. You recently "talked" about Fun in photography. Well, for me, it's FUN to pull over in the middle of nowhere, grab a camera from the floor below my knees, select a Custom Setting with central focus points, continuous focus and burst mode, and catch some American White Pelicans wheeling above a lake. Also Fun are the many other photos (macros, focus stacks, etc.) that I can make with my too complicated cameras and zooms. * Yes, there's a 12-100 that leaves no gap, but I don't like it.
Pulling for a perfect outcome out here on the Left Coast!
Toggle Commented May 24, 2019 on Bad PR at The Online Photographer
'Only one wee little thing: they're no fun. They have everything you could possibly want, except that. Fun is the missing "feature."' Not universally true. I'm having all sorts of fun using my digital cameras. More fun than in film days. True! Overly complex, to you. Amazingly flexible and powerful, to me. No, I don't read the manuals through. They are PDF, not paper. That means they are on my phone and tablet, available anywhere, even in the dark. Even if the Table of Contents and/or index are insufficient, I can use Search to find what I want. Case in point. We're off Saturday to Southern Utah; part of the trip is to shoot night skies. I've not done that before, and had no idea whether my Gx9s have a built-in intervalometer. A few moments in the PDF manual, and I know that they do, and how to operate it. Is it possible that you are making it un-fun by personal rules about things like needing to know everything it can do, even the things you will never use? Yes, I've heard you 'talk' about the time it takes to wholly "know" a camera, and how important that is. What if it isn't, anymore? What if I only need to know the functions I use? Read the whole manual, for a test? Yuck! There are whole areas of my cameras (and PS, BTW) that I've never used, know nothing about and don't expect to use. There are settings on the Mode dial that I've never used. Peering at them, I think I've figured out what they are for - things I don't need, so I don't need to know about them. So what? I learn and use what I need. And that is so much more than my film cameras, even my earlier digital cameras could do. What Fun!
Let's see, would I prefer a Wrangler Rubicon, Ford F150 crew cab or Mercedes S-class? None of the above. Same for these cameras. They don't do the things I want a camera to do.
Toggle Commented May 3, 2019 on Which Would Win? at The Online Photographer
"In RAID 1, two identical drives are linked together in the same volume, which are often placed in the same enclosure." Therein lies the rub; whatever external thing happens to one disk happens to them all. Randomly Accessed Moose Disks is a system which also uses two identical disks. One lives in the computer, the other lives in a fire resistant little safe - at the other end of the house. No, not automatically up-to-the-instant. Yup, requires me to manually plug the backups into the "toaster" and run the backup. Yes, I could lose some work, although not originals, as I make sure to back-up before formatting any full flash card. Also, the B-U disk has never run for more than a v. few hours, by the time it is replaced with a larger one. In RAID arrays, the disks wear/age identically. I do this for four different disks, including an SSD clone of the SSD boot drive. So far, AFAIR, the photography pairs have been 750GB, 1.5 TB, 3 TB and now 6 TB. With each upgrade in capacity, the old set has moved down the totem pole to the next category of stuff, with the hardly used B-U becoming primary.
Toggle Commented Mar 29, 2019 on RAID!!! at The Online Photographer