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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
"I use almost none of the complex offerings, though I will say that eye-autofocus on the Sony A9 is a game changer." JOHN GILLOOLY And there you have it: eye-autofocus means nothing to me, but focus stacking has been a game changer, a whole new world of photographic possibilities. Poll your readers on game changers, and you'll end up with a camera with all the "excess" features and complexity you complain about. As others have already have pointed out, choosing options on the camera isn't economically feasible. However, choosing at what level of automation to use it, which features to use and which to turn off/ignore is a set of options, all for far less $$ than custom optioned cameras would cost.
Dennis hit the nail on the head in this household. "As an aside, I truly believe that many people do not think that their phone is a 'good enough' camera (how many times do you read that phones are good enough for most people)—it's just that the ease of use/sharing is worth the compromise. I think a lot of people who shoot phones as their primary camera would love a better camera in their phone" My wife is bugging me for a new phone before our trip to Bhutan. Why? For better camera(s). She's perfectly happy with all the other functions. Why not the photographically far superior high end P&S I offer? It doesn't allow quality viewing and/or sending to others. Some newer bodies allow saving JPEGs to the phone/tablet connected via WiFi or BT - but it's just too klugy/non-transparent for her.
I've got a simple, possibly silly, question, Mike. Have you ever gone out for a day's shooting with a camera set on full Automatic? My Oly and Panny* cameras call it iAuto, Sony and Canon, simply Auto, generally highlighted relative to the other Mode settings. These Modes look to be very sophisticated in analyzing the subject and optimizing the settings. Well, of course you have, that's way your iPhone works; that's why it's so easy to operate. You need to download special apps to get more control. But have you done it on a real camera? ". . . the darn things got more challenging than they are rewarding." My assumption is that the Auto modes are meant to be the antidote to the complexity offered to folks like me in return for the flexibility to take photos I otherwise could not. I freely admit I've not tried them, but they weren't meant for me. Perhaps the Mode dials should be hidden, or act like keys, removable; maybe require a password to activate for anything but Auto? I wonder what proportion of these cameras are never used with any other settings? And perhaps how many more should be. \;~)> * Panny adds an iA+ Mode option.
Apples to Oranges. Like comparing a crop sensor camera to an MF camera. Wildly different sizes and "horsepower". Put all the special features you want on a µ4/3 or APS-C camera, and it still doesn't have a big sensor, if that's what one needs/wants. The comparable Toyota is (or was?) the Land Cruiser. There are also smaller Land Rover models, possibly more comparable to the RAV4. I know no details about either, other than seeing them on the road. I did check out an RAV4 years ago. It was quite a small vehicle. I have no knowledge, nor wish to have any, about the details of SUVs. (What I DO know is that Hertz tried like crazy to put us in an SUV for a month in New England, in spite of our reservation for a large sedan. But, they take the cargo area covers off, so all our stuff would be in view as, for example, when parked at some obscure trailhead. The eventual Chevy Impala was the perfect rental for us.)
I'm very happy with less gear, more pictures and discussion/thoughts about photography. One problem with gear posts is that any one of them will only be of interest to some portion. probably less than a majority, of readers. Posts about DSLRs, mirrorless Fujis, Canon's and Nikons, digital MF may get scanned, if I'm eager for photography stuff, but then they just go straight into the mental bit bucket here. Another, from my viewpoint, is that cameras are currently complex enough that giving a review that's really complete is essentially impossible. For example, none of the reviews I've seen, and I was looking, of the recent Panny G and GX bodies even mention that they have added focus stacking, let alone that they have added an option to it beyond what the originator, Oly, provides; an option that so far appears to make a big positive difference to me. Other things that are of great importance to me are how Fn buttons function and how Custom Settings work. When I read something more like an Appreciation than a Review, that focuses on how it looks, how it feels in the hand, and how it works for a little straightforward photography, it's some combination of boring and frustrating. But if you want to know how Panny's three Custom Settings may be used, in effect, as four, I'm your man. (I think I can even explain why . . .)
"... but for variety and pure photogeek fun I don't think anything out there beats Micro 4/3." You'd be talking about me. \;~)> I Own, or have owned, 28 of these lenses, plus a Laowa and a 25/1.4 CCTV lens that does swirly bokeh wonderfully on µ4/3. I can attest to how nice it is to have such a variety available. The one thing I miss is a fast prime ultra wide that provides EXIF info to the cameras. AF would be nice, too. I sold my Laowa 7.5/2 because of my experience with it in Bhutan. Neither time nor inclination to take manual notes in fast moving situations, and (sigh), I too often forgot to focus. This time I'll use a Panny 7-14/4. It's a testimony to lens variety that I could choose from four UWA zooms. Then again, I'm just as much a photogeek with old and odd lenses, glassless options and LensBabies for FF Alt photography. The new-to-me Spiratone Portragon 100/4 and my old SIMA Soft Focus 100/2 single element lenses render SO differently @ f4! BTW typo; pg 22 of the catalog, which is macro and 3D lenses, repeats the title "PRIME LENSES - TELEPHOTO" from the prior page.
Toggle Commented Mar 7, 2019 on Two Catalogs at The Online Photographer
Not to Worry! Honored - and Un Concerned Moose
For a more detailed, and nuanced, take, Thom Hogan has weighed in.
Toggle Commented Feb 1, 2019 on Dire Predictions at The Online Photographer
If you change the question slightly "Do Professionals Use Pro Gear?", the language problem comes clearer. "Pro" may at one time have simply been shorthand for "Professional". But practical usage has moved on. "Pro" means something like "as good as a professional", when applied to practitioners, "what professionals use and/or of the level of quality they use, or that we imagine they use", when applied to gear and materials. When I did the exercises in PS from PopPhoto "Expert" column and got obviously better results*, I was not a professional, the journalist/expert was, because he/she got paid, albeit for shoddy work. Thus, I might claim to be more "Pro" than the professional. There's a guy in Bar Harbor, Maine with a storefront on the main street. He's a good photographer and printer, and indefatigable. Yet, my friend Bob, who for a few years sold "pretty pictures to tourists", too, is at least as good a photographer, and a better fine printer. He recently gave up that business as not worth the effort and embraced retirement. Bob was more "Pro", in terms of the final prints, and the other guy more "Professional", in that he makes a living at it. * Doesn't matter to the writer, job long ago done, paid for and the one for two or three issues in the future in process. Pleasant brush offs.
Toggle Commented Jan 31, 2019 on Do Pros Use Pro Gear? at The Online Photographer
Apropos many, many previous comments, it's possible that a narrow view of an international market misunderstands what Oly is trying. Ctein wrote: "One thing neither of us knows is what the world market looks like for those huge boat anchor cameras with bottom battery packs. It could well be that they are a lot more popular than either of us know. I gave up trying to figure out what the market wanted a decade ago, when it became clear that foreign markets, about which I knew nothing, were often very different. To give two examples, Leica [SL] and Pentax's [D645] super-SLRs, which turned out to have very big followings among the upper classes in China and India, respectively. As percentages of their population, their upper classes are much smaller than in the Western world, but a small percentage of a billion people is a very large number of people. . . . it may turn out that we are not the audience." I'm certainly not the audience, and am moving away from Oly bodies, but I'm only my story, not the international market.
Toggle Commented Jan 28, 2019 on 4-Cylinder Ferrari? at The Online Photographer
The perfect camera bag exists - then it doesn't, then, perhaps after a long hiatus, another one does. It's not that the bags go bad. It's not my fickle taste, it's the equipment that changes. Latest of a long line for me . . . I had the perfect camera bag (a Tenba, no longer made, of course.) Then a PLeica 100-400 replaced my Oly 75-300, and the combination was too tall. Now, I have another Tenba, and it's close, but getting the height gave me width I don't need. Fortunately, Tenba makes the camera holder a separate thing, so I removed it from the first bag, and it's now my favorite second carry-on item. Do you live in striking distance of a real camera store? Bags are one of those things best found with gear in hand from a wide selection in person. BTW, I don't understand Domkes. What is with those metal clips? They pinch my fingers and scratch furniture. And, like LowePro, big name labels, some removable with mild violence, some not. Why not put on a label that says "I'm a camera bag, steal me!"
Toggle Commented Jan 14, 2019 on Lowepro and the 'T' Bags at The Online Photographer
". . . my bread-and-butter 12–35mm ƒ/2.8 II. Again, the Oly version might have a bit of an edge, but I like my Panasonic lens." I too would choose that over the Oly for the G9. Turn on the OIS on the lens body, IBIS in the body and enjoy the even greater IS of what Panny calls "Dual IS".
Whom Standards! Even better, To whom . . .
Toggle Commented Jan 7, 2019 on 25 List Done? at The Online Photographer
". . . if some offered you either a brand new Fuji GFX 50R or a Nikon Z7 and two or three lenses to use for free for the next three or four years, which of the two would you say yes to?" Neither, or, if gifts, whichever one I could sell for the most $$. No, not being snarky, just straightforward. The lenses needed for my photography are either not available or far too large and heavy for these systems. I hate changing lenses in the field, slow and clumsy, missed shots, dust, dropped gear, etc. Yet I regularly use FLs from 14-800 mm -e. Here, about to go on a small boat tour of the Essex River Estuary, I am shooting with GM5/7-14 in hand, E-M5 II/12-60 and E-M5 II/100-400 around my neck. That may not fit other's needs, but it's my way. Yes, I have a FF mirrorless, the original A7, which I use for Alt photography with old or alt lenses, such as the 1962 Canon 58/1.2, ~1970 Tamron 28/2.8, Lensbabies, and so on. I can't see how either of those cameras would improve on it for my purposes.
Toggle Commented Dec 30, 2018 on Camera of the Year? at The Online Photographer
[It's not a "monster." It's a medium-sized camera, neither large nor small. It's about the size of a Canon Rebel or a Pentax K-3 II. Your IMO and my IMO differ. In my gear, GM5, GX85, E-M5 IIs, E-PL7 and original A7, it would stand out as huge. And there are certainly lots of small options in Micro 4/3 if that's what one wants. People can choose what suits them...as you did. Are you suggesting that ALL Micro 4/3 bodies MUST be small? I don't see why that should be. --Mike] My complaint is that the smaller µ4/3 cameras seem to be becoming second tier. From my perspective, the E-M5 II gave away nothing in capability to the E-M1 in return for it's smaller, lighter form. Where is the 20MP E-M5 III, with 1/60 sec. HR Mode? I know I'm not the only who's been waiting for it. Why is the GX9 only sold in a kit with their consumer grade 12-60? I am relatively VF agnostic; I can live with the GX85/GX9 EVF. Lack of a wired remote release socket is annoying (the GX7 had one), but I can use the WiFI. For many folks, shortcomings like these will put it in the entry level/toy category, in spite of its equal image quality. From here, it seems that µ4/3 is running away from its original promise - and my many years of happiness with it. In the CameraSize link you shared, look at the front view; look at the sensors. Both cameras have 5-axis sensor shift IS and equal EVFs. What is Panny doing with all that size? Sure, make monsters like the E-M1X, but how about your best tech in smaller bodies, too?
"I actually do prefer a Micro 4/3 or APS-C camera over a 24x36mm. Obviously this is becoming a minority preference." Might you be conflating internet chatter with actual (and potential) sales? Lets see what it looks like after they've all been actually available for a year. You and I may not be the only ones who prefer the smaller formats*. \;~)> * Although for somewhat different reasons.
"My 24–70mm FOV equivalent lens is smaller than a medium-speed Nikkor prime." But - why is the camera larger?? "It makes the whole package much more right-sized IMO." Obviously, opinions vary. A monster, for no discernable technical reason, IMO. For me, right size for µ4/3 is around E-M5 II, GX9 size. The GX9 is, BTW, a Gear of the Year choice @ DPR. Oly is on the bandwagon, too, BIG, PRO, $$$, with the forthcoming E-M1X. I imagine the driving force behind it and the sudden plethora of FF mirrorless bodies is a search for better margins. [It's not a "monster." It's a medium-sized camera, neither large nor small. It's about the size of a Canon Rebel or a Pentax K-3 II. And there are certainly lots of small options in Micro 4/3 if that's what one wants. People can choose what suits them...as you did. Are you suggesting that ALL Micro 4/3 bodies MUST be small? I don't see why that should be. --Mike]
"Easy to toss around turns; more figuratively, easy to drive free and loose." Have you ever driven a 911? From what era? I owned a '71 for several years. You didn't toss those around turns at speed. While not exactly squirrely, it was unlike any front or mid engined car, and it was certainly possible to lose it. Overcooked it into a turn? Don't touch the brakes, unless you want to spin off into the woods! If the rear starts to feel loose, apply just a little power, and feel it tuck back in. More recent models don't do that, of course, with larger tires, better suspensions and electronic stability control. OTOH, they are much larger and heavier; I don't imagine them to be very tossable. The Boxster is tossable, but it felt claustrophobic to me and had much less storage space than even a 911. The 911 has an image as a high performance car that should be fussy. I drove as my day to day car, kid seat in the back sometimes, a big grocery shopping trip of bags fit on the folded down back seats, it ran fine in traffic, and so on. The clutch was very touchy when I got it. when it wore out and I had it replaced, Horst said one part had been in backwards. New clutch, properly installed, and that was smooth, too. [An early '70s 911 almost killed me once...we just missed the tree...and I mean just.... --Mike]