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06/29/12 Alpa finally announces their ability to tilt shift, well sort of !!

With this announcement on their newsletter, Alpa of Switzerland has announced that they will now offer a solution for photographers using various Alpa cameras that will let them have tilt/swing on lenses shorter than 70mm.  Here is the link to the Alpa newsletter:

http://www.alpa.ch/en/news/2012/newsletter-june.html?year=&num=

As I understand it, you will be able to get tilt or swing, but not both at the same time, as only Cambo has that ability.  Maximum tilt or swing will be 5 degrees.  Current camera bodies will have to be retrofit for the adapter.  The following lens range will now work:

Schneider:  no wider than 60mm
Rodenstock: no wider than 32mm

This means that the Schneider 28XL, 35XL, 43XL, 47XL, will not work with the adapter and the Rodenstock 28mm and 23mm.  OK, lets look at this a little more.

  1. From my use, the ability to have tilt is more important on a wide than on medium telephoto.
  2. Alpa has left out 4 of the best Schneider wides and 2 of the best Rodenstocks.
  3. If want to use 1 of these 6 wides, you will have to take the tilt/swing adapter off the Alpa camera body, and mount the lens.
  4. From the pictures on Alpa’s site, I can’t see if there are any guides to show you how far you have tilted up or down.  They must have something for this, it just doesn’t show in the pictures.
  5. It appears that if you want to tilt up, you would have to take the adapter out and rotate it 180 degrees and placing the knob at the bottom or turn the whole rig upside down.
  6. The knob to me looks very smallish and depending on where it’s located with a lens attached may be hard to get to.

Overall, in the land of tech cameras, there are 3 real players, Alpa, Arca and Cambo.  When I was looking to make a decision and realized that each of these has their own unique lens mounts I realized that I really needed to make the right decision as there would be no going back or switching brands without a big loss. [Read more…]

06/27/12 Media type is very important when working with custom paper profiles and the Epson 9900

Since mid 2011, I have been working with the i1 Publish profiling solution.  This included the i1 software, now at version 1.3.2 and the i1 spectrometer for scanning the printed test charts.  The process is very straight forward.  You pick the total number of color swatches you want to print which in my case is 1323.  Then save the chart and open it in Photoshop making sure you have all color management turned off.  Select the paper you wish to profile and the ink type, either Matte or Photo ink, then print off the test charts.  After they have dried for a day, then you use the i1 spectrometer to scan the colors off the test charts and then use the i1 Publish software to create your new icc profile based on the paper, ink type, and media used.

Note, I highlighted media.  The media you choose with an Epson printer has a definite correlation to the amount of ink that is laid down on the paper.  With Epson printers you have a large number of media settings both for Photo and Matte ink.  With thick matte papers, like Optica 1 from Breathing Color, the recommended media setting is water color radiant white, or WCRW.  When I printed my test charts, I used the WCRW media setting.  Note, it’s very important to write down on the printed charts the media setting you used and incorporate that into the icc profile name later on.

I had tested this new profile on a couple of sample prints, but for some reason I had forgotten to check the media setting I used when I created the test charts.  When I made the prints, I used the media setting Epson Ultrasmooth fine art instead of the WCRW setting.  I had been printing on the Ultrasmooth fine art paper the other day, and just left the media setting the same as I felt it would not make a big difference.  When I made a print with some deep blacks, I was really very disappointed.  The colors were all great except the areas that had deep blacks, mainly shadow areas.  Instead of a nice gradation, my black were all blotchy and just very harsh, no graduation.  It was like the printer had just laid down too much black in these certain areas.  The prints were not any good and I was really pulling my hair.  My first thought was that the profile I had generated had some errors, so I went back to the printed test charts and noticed the fact that I had printed with the media setting of WCRW not Epson Ultrasmooth fine art.  OOPs!

[Read more…]

06/24/12 Why I won’t be purchasing a New Macbookpro 15″ with Retina Display==for a while :-)

After really looking over the new Apple macbookpro 15″ laptop, with the retina display, I have decided to wait on my purchase.  I have read over 12 reviews of the new machine and they are all very positive, however I am starting to see a pattern of possible issues with the new technology.  I have listed a few of these here.

  1. All or nothing, you have to get what you want when you purchase it, as there are no possible upgrades.  In the past, you were able to upgrade: memory and hard drives after the purchase.  So for a machine of this caliber, I would have to order it with at least a 500GB hard drive and 16GB of ram which takes the price point to over 3K, before sales tax. (note, with Apple, you can’t purchase from the Apple website or local Apple store without paying sales tax)  There are other options like BH photo, but for this class of machine I wanted to purchase it from Apple mainly for support after the sale.
  2. Cost, did I mention this already?  You are looking at $3,400.00 for a machine that will work for a good imaging processor (16GB of ram, 500GB hard drive)
  3. There is no way to have a 2nd hard drive installed now.  In my current 15″ macbookpro which was the last generation, I have a 256 SSD as my boot drive and moved the stock 765GB hard drive to where the optical drive was installed.  I like this as I run both Win7 and Mac OS on this machine. You need a common drive, so you can easily move data between the two environments (BTW this is true even you have Parallels or VM ware running).  I have the 765GB drive formatted as FAT 32 which allows me to move the data easily between the two.
  4. Resolution of the 15″ at 2880 x 1800, is going to cause some issues for my 53 year old eyes.  Plus is seems for some reason that many current applications are not friendly with the highest resolution setting.  This causes scaling and other issues.  Most external monitors like the NEC 3090 30″ or NEC PA271w only support 2560 x 1600 so this high setting will not be used.
  5. I have realized that for my workflow, a 15″ monitor is not enough real estate for me.  The 17″ screen gives me just enough space to get things done, but I still prefer at least a 27″ screen.

[Read more…]

06/19/12 Mountain Lions Exist in Arkansas!!, Finally the Arkansas State Game and Fish admits that the big cats are out there

In an article titled “Cougars moving toward Midwest” in the 06/18/12 Arkansas Democrat, it was reported that at least 8 mountain lions have been reported in Arkansas.  Most of these appeared in game cameras that were set out by deer hunters in various parts of Arkansas.  For years, I have been hearing reports by local Arkansas residents that they had either heard or seen a mountain lion.  The southwest corner of Arkansas up to Hot Springs seemed to be the main location for sightings, however more recently the northwest part of the state has reported sightings.

In 35 years of hiking throughout Arkansas, I have only seen what I would call actual evidence 1 time and that was very clear paw print on a hiking trail along the Ozark Highlands trail.  In all my night photography trips, I have not heard any cries from a mountain lion, but still at night you do start to really think that one may be near by.  Of course everything seems closer at night!

[Read more…]

06/16/12 Popular Photography May have Missed the Key Point in their D800 Review

I have always enjoyed reading Popular Photography’s lab reviews on new cameras.  Over the years I have always found their reviews to be very accurate and straight to the point.  In fact many purchasing decisions I have made have been influenced by reading a review of the product in Popular Photography, so I was surprised after reading the reviews of both the Canon 5D MKIII and Nikon D800 in the July 2012 magazine.   I should also preface this by stating that I have been a 100% satisfied Canon shooter since 1999, and have used their Digital solutions since 2003.  However with the release of the Nikon D800, I have begun a long process of moving back to Nikon.

In the review of the Nikon D800, I felt that Popular Photography missed one key point, and this is very key, the Dynamic Range of the sensor.  The D800 scored 95 in the Dxomark tests, which is the highest score of any Digital Camera ever produced, including the highly placed Phase One IQ180.  The fact that you can underexposed the D800 by as much as 4 stops and still pull up the shadows is an amazing feat.  Where as if you try this with a Canon %D MKIII, you will just get an extreme amount of noise in those same shadows.  To me this capability means that you have so much more leeway when shooting,  You can go ahead and expose for your highlights, (which if you blowout will be always gone) and then pull up your shadows for amazing details.   Again try this with the Canon 5D MKIII, I have and the results are terrible.   The Dxomark score of the Canon 5D MKIII is 81, basically the same as the 5D MKII.  This is very telling in regards to the dynamic range you can expect from the 5D MKIII

Popular Photography seems to be more focused on two aspects of the Canon 5D MKIII which are:

[Read more…]

06/12/12 Apple announces new line up of Macbookpro laptops

Well of course right after I purchased a new 15″ macbookpro, Apple has announced a totally new lineup in their laptop brand.  Here are the main points that I can delve from the announcements.

  1. New Macbook Air models that now offer up to 8GB of ram, which was a gross oversight on the recent refresh of the 11″ and 13″ models
  2. Macbookpro 17″ appears to be gone, most interesting
  3. Macbookpro 15″ now has a slimmer design, and you can purchase a Retina display on the 15″ machine
  4. Finally USB3 (2) ports
  5. No more installed Super drive on the Retina models of the 15″, I wonder how bootcamp will install?
  6. No more anti-glare screen on the 15″ inch.

[Read more…]

06/11/12 Nikon D800 creates a massive sell off of Medium Format Digital Equipment

As the Nikon D800 has started to ship in mass, I have noticed that more and more established Medium Format Digital users are selling off most of or all of their equipment and making a permanent move to the Nikon D800.  Many of these users have a Phase One IQ180 and either several of the Schneider leaf shutter lenses or they have a tech camera with Rodenstock or Schneider lenses. I am seeing this mass exodus with many of the landscape shooters that I have maintained contact with over the years.

I have used the D800, and have seen results from the D800e and I will be the first to admit that this the Nikon has definitely allowed the gap between Medium Format Digital to get smaller, but I still feel that the results obtained when shooting a Tech Camera/medium format digital back solution will be superior.   Of course if you are using one of the older digital backs, say over 3 years old, this may not be the case, however if you have a Phase One P65+ or newer, the results should still be be in favor of the Digital Back.  Here are some considerations I have discovered. [Read more…]

06/02/12 Arkansas is drying up in a hurry!

After driving up to the Buffalo National River yesterday, I was made very aware of just how dry the state has become.  The entire Ozark Mountain area is now a tinderbox just waiting for a lightening strike or a errant cigarette butt.  My gauge for the dryness was looking at the road side grasses and wildflowers, or lack of.  The grass is now totally yellow and there is hardly any green along the roads.  You can even start to see a hit a stress showing on the trees, but they probably have one more month before things get really bad.

The Buffalo National River, near Steel Creek is so low that it really doesn’t look like a river now.  You can cross it at Steel creek without getting your feet wet.  The flow is more like what one should see in late August, not the 1st of June.  If you are planning to float the river, I would not consider putting on anything higher than Gilbert. [Read more…]

05/31/12 Nikon MB-D12 to grip or not to Grip

I spent sometime today at my local dealer, and got to look/feel the Nikon MB-D12 grip. Strange design IMO coming from Canon.  I just find it strange, that such a well designed grip doesn’t allow the user to have (2) EL-EN15 batteries running in the grip at the same time, instead to have (2) installed, you have to keep one in the camera and to get that battery out to charge/change everything has to come back off.

Pro:

Well made, good feel. When added to the camera it gives you a very nice addition in both balance and weight. However:

Cons:

1. You can only add (1) EN-EL15 within the grip. This struck me as a bit strange as the conventional design of most vertical grips is that you remove the battery from the camera body, and then double them up in the grip. (At least the Canon grips I have used in the past). Here you can leave one battery in the camera body, and then have your 2nd battery in the grip. Which means of course each time you need to charge the battery in the camera body, off comes the grip. 😡

2. Even if you don’t mind taking it off, I use an L bracket. Currently RRS is not shipping the L bracket for the D800 and has no pics gets on their site, however I am hoping that it will allow you to slide out the tray that holds the batteries. I am using an older RRS generic L bracket and the only way it mounts is to block the battery tray from opening. Long term not where I want to go.

[Read more…]