Recent Camera and Photography Articles

This page points to all recent articles published on dslrbodies.com, sansmirror.com, gearophile.com, and filmbodies.com, and is updated as new articles appear (most recent on top). For articles from previous months, check the Articles Index Archive. 


Note: byThom is closed in August. Thom takes the month of August off each year, and that means that he also takes a break from the Internet during that time. Thom will catch up on the news, commentary, reviews, and emails when he returns in September. 


Today’s Articles (Thursday July 31, 2014):


btoschool.jpg

Back to School, Video Style. Bonus last minute addition!  
A recent request from B&H to do something for Back to School got me to thinking. What if I were headed off to college to get my Communications degree today? What would I really want to know? These days, students in the video programs at most universities have opportunities that are far easier in one respect than what I had: their smartphone probably does perfectly decent HD video. Still, B&H’s request got me thinking about what I’d do today if I were a Communications major trying to get as far as I can as fast as I can these days. Article on dslrbodies.com.

ACR 8.6 and Lightroom 5.6 Released. The two-week-old issue with D810 raw file workflow is over for some. Or is it? Article on dslrbodies.com.

Wow, Those Lens Rebates are Transparent. NikonUSA announced their bundle rebates for August. Yes, you can now bundle your D810 with a lens and get a rebate. Article on dslrbodies.com.

The D7000 Guide is back as a download. After wrestling with Adobe Acrobat and struggling to a draw, the Complete Guide to the Nikon D7000 is back. Other books will have to wait until September to get their wrestling match with Acrobat resolved, sorry. Order on dslrbodies.com.


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July 30, 2014           

The Photokina Prognosis. I’ll be off line in August when most of the pre-Photokina announcements start flooding in. So what’s likely to show up? Let’s take it category by category. But be forewarned, these are predictions, not certainties. Article on dslrbodies.com

July 26, 2014           

Cine200 Tungsten Film. Article on filmbodies.com

Missed Opportunities. I’ve been reading financial analysts’ opinions recently on Nikon’s announced plans for the future, particularly about acquisitions in the medical area. This got me to thinking about the acquisitions they didn’t make. Article on dslrbodies.com.

Day 12 of D810 Workflow Wait. Now that the D810 is showing up as “in stock” everywhere, Nikon might be wondering why the camera isn’t selling out. Can I suggest one possibility? The software to support it isn’t there. How many people need a 36mp JPEG camera? Article on dslrbodies.com.

July 25, 2014           

Nikon D810 Initial Impressions. So far I’ve documented over 50 differences between the D800 and D810. And that’s before we get to image quality, focus performance, battery performance, and a few other things that have to be measured and compared carefully. Article on dslrbodies.com

Canon Reports Quarterly Results Article on dslrbodies.com

July 23, 2014           

Every Choice is a Problem. 
A reader sent me a response to one of my articles yesterday, and I was struck by a line in it: “all [choices] have some nearly disqualifying problem.” Article on dslrbodies.com.

July 21, 2014           

The Corollary Position on More Pixels. 
Last week I posted an article on sansmirror.com about why 16mp might be enough resolution for most people. A corollary position to that exists, and I’ll discuss today. Article on dslrbodies.com.

July 17, 2014           

Almost Four Months Later. Registered D600 owners in the US received an email from NikonUSA this week. The email? Essentially an update of Nikon's service advisory for the camera, dated March 28, 2014. Article on dslrbodies.com.

Warning About D810 Comparisons. You can already find them all over the Internet: D800 versus D810 comparisons. These come in two forms, both of which have some implicit problems you need to consider. Article on dslrbodies.com.

The sRaw Myth. Too bad that sRaw has the word “raw” in it ;~). That seems to be causing all the problems with people understanding what it is. Article on dslrbodies.com.

July 16, 2014           

How Many Megapixels? A few years back an Olympus executive made the statement that digital cameras really only needed 12mp and implied that Olympus wouldn’t go further than that with m4/3. Of course, we’re at 16mp now with m4/3, so that didn’t exactly work out as expected, did it? Article on sansmirror.com.

July 15, 2014           

Is Capture NX-D Good Enough? Capture NX-D 1.0.0 is now released. Article on dslrbodies.com.

Why Sunny 16 is Still Important. Before we had light meters in cameras, we had Sunny 16: set the aperture to f/16 and the shutter speed to 1/ISO in mid-day sunlight. Article on sansmirror.com.

July 14, 2014          

Latest Software UpdatesArticle on dslrbodies.com.

Window, Mirror, or at Other Cars? Let me try an analogy for you. When you’re in a competitive market, where are your designers looking? Article on dslrbodies.com.

Nikon Surveys. While wandering around the NikonUSA site the other day trying to find a specific piece of information, I noted something that’s been in place for awhile, but is now starting to become a bit clearer. I’m talking about the “Take the Nikon X survey” links. Article on dslrbodies.com.

July 10, 2014          

A Simple Software Proposal. Updated. Not a single camera company has really managed to get workflow of traditional cameras right for the Internet age, particularly with WiFi. Article on dslrbodies.com.

Is Pursuit of High ISO a Fool’s Errand? Someone asked me why I haven’t picked up a Sony A7s yet. My answer startled them: I see really high ISO values as mostly useless. Article on dslrbodies.com.

July 9, 2014          

Nikon V3 Review. The V3 is the third generation high-end camera in the Nikon 1 lineup. As with the V2, it is quite different than the camera that preceded it, which seems to indicate that Nikon is still scrambling to figure out what sticks and will resonate with consumers.  Article on sansmirror.com.

Nikon View NX2 UpdatedArticle on dslrbodies.com.

July 8, 2014          

Is the Nikon Flagship Model Broken? Since the F3 (and maybe even the F2 with a few caveats), Nikon’s modus operandi has been to iterate the high end pro camera on a fixed schedule and then trickle down the new technology it introduced to the lower models. In the film world, those flagship iterations came on 8 year boundaries; in digital the timeframe has been 4 years. In both cases, the goal was to have a new technologically-evolved top end camera available sometime in the year before the Summer Olympics. Article on dslrbodies.com.

July 7, 2014          

The Photos are Dead Myth. A pair of articles that appeared last week brought to the fore two competing thoughts that seem to be making the rounds. Article on dslrbodies.com.

The Canon/Nikon Problem. Many have commented about the inability of Canon and Nikon to dominate mirrorless cameras. But it’s not an inability, it’s a dilemma. Article on sansmirror.com

July 3, 2014          

So Which Camera? We had a spurt of high-end mirrorless cameras in the last year: Fujifilm X-T1, Olympus E-M1, Panasonic GH4, Sony A7s/A7/A7r. To those, some might add the Nikon V3 and the Sony A6000. The quick operative question is this: which one do you pick? Article on sansmirror.com.

Leica M (Type 240) Firmware Update. Leica made a fairly extensive update of the Leica M (Type 240) camera firmware. Article on sansmirror.com.

July 2, 2014          

CIPA Numbers Still Trending Down. If the camera companies didn’t already realize that the tailspin is continuing unabated, they should now. Plus a discussion of what Nikon should do about itArticle on dslrbodies.com.

July 1, 2014          

Buy and Buy More. NikonUSA has already leaked it’s upcoming “Switch and Save” promo for the D810, though it’s much more like Buy and Buy More. Article on dslrbodies.com.

D810 Questions and Answers.  Question: why did Nikon change the filter used over the sensor in the D800E to a different one in the D810? Article on dslrbodies.com.

Subscription versus Standalone. A lot of photography users are balking at the move from packaged software to subscriptions. Article on dslrbodies.com.


Previous articles can be found in the Articles Index.


Thom's Monthly Teaching Point — Stitching Tip

Rather than talk about a processed image, this time around we’re going to talk a bit about processing an image. In particular, I’m going to take a simple panorama set of shots and show you one interesting trick that I did with it to produce the final result. 

In this case we’ll be dealing with five Olympus E-M5 images taken with a slightly modified RRS pano head kit. You need some way to level the camera (leveling base on my tripod) and some way to rotate the camera around the right point in the lens (the RRS pano kit, where I use a slightly different sliding plate than RRS supplies, mostly because of the small distance of slide needed with the m4/3 camera). You can do shots for pano stitching handheld, but note that you might have issues with getting proper alignment if you have anything close to the camera. Since I tend to have a “near” in my landscape shots, I absolutely need to use a pano kit to get clean alignment.

I believe that panos should have a start and end point when I compose them. I tend to think “bookends”: two things at the ends framing something in the middle. Too many people shoot panos and just have them randomly end. For instance, in Yosemite you might have a pano that has El Capitan at one bookend position, and Half Dome at another (that’s a tougher shot to get than you might think; you’ll wander around a bit to find the spot you can do that well from). Or you could have a pano that goes past the two peaks and includes random amounts of other Yosemite detail. I think the bookend option is usually better.

So how do you find the composition? Use your iPhone (or other smartphone with a pano app). Swing it through the area you’re thinking of to capture a trial pano, then examine it. Look for the natural cropping points (those bookends I just mentioned, or something else that makes for strong ends). Now you know how far you have to swing your camera.

In the images I’m using here, my bookends are subtle: they’re trees at each end of the swing. If I go past that point with more images on the left, I get very nondescript land on the other side of the Snake River; while if I go past the tree on the right, I get a lot of ugly trail next to the shore. Neither add anything useful to the scene at hand. 

Remember that you’re in manual focus, manual white balance, and manual exposure if you’re doing shots for panoramas correctly. One of those shots will generally be “hotter” than the others, though not always. The temptation is to process the shots differently. Nope. Process the hot shot (or the darkest shot) and then apply those same changes to the other shots (right click, Develop Settings/Copy Settings on the image you modified, then select the other images, right click, Develop Settings/Paste Settings). I generally do this in Bridge, but you can easily do it in Lightroom and then send the shots to Photoshop for merging. 

Here are my five source shots in Bridge after developing:

aug14tpbridge.jpg

From here, I just run the Photomerge command in Photoshop (File/Automate/Photomerge).

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I’m not going to get into the details of the dialog here (I’ll expand on that with another project I’m working on), but there was a reason why I turned on vignette removal and geometric distortion control, and it had to do with the lens I was using. Often get a result something like this (especially when you’re using an unprofiled wide angle lens, as I was):

aug14tpstitch.jpg

Note that result isn’t quite rectangular. We’ll deal with that in a moment. However, if the stitching looks good and well aligned, I’ll almost immediately flatten (Layers/Flatten Image) the image at this point. We’ll need to do that before I apply the trick, anyway.  

At this point I’ll create my first, preferred crop, ignoring the white space. As you can see from my selection here, I’m leaving some of the white space in, but in other areas am cropping within the pixels of the stitch:

aug14tpcrop.jpg

You’re probably guessing: he’s going to clone to fill in the missing sky areas at the top, but what is he going to do at the bottom? No, I’m not. Here’s the trick: Select All, Edit/Transform/Warp!

Grab the handles and intersection points as necessary to move the warp around so that your full crop area is covered. One thing to watch for is you don’t mess up the horizon when you do this. In this image I had to gently move one of the one-third intersections to keep the horizon line where I wanted it.

Aug14tpwarp.jpg

The interesting thing is that, given that I’m shooting wide angle to start with, the slight distortion this gives in the corners actually looks about what we’d expect. Obviously, this doesn’t work with architectural shooting, but out there in the randomness of nature, it just looks like I used a really wide lens on my capture. 

From there, do your normal post processing. I added sharpening, some color balancing, a few gradients and contrast touches, and ended up with:

US WY GrandTeton Nov12 EM1 8872.jpg

Not nearly the best pano I’ve done, but it easily prints to 36” with excellent detail and definitely catches the strange, dramatic, yet gentle nature of the light that early winter morning. Plus it stitched easily and the warp trick in the corners is essentially invisible, which kept me from having to do a lot of cloning or more cropping.

If you're wondering where the previous Teaching Points went, they're here.


© Thom Hogan 2014 — All Rights Reserved