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09/20/14 Surface Pro 3 update (after replacement by Microsoft)

My original Surface Pro 3, was having major issues with the battery and a full charge.  Several times, I would power off, (via Shut down) the Pro 3 with 35% of the battery remaining, only to power it back on the day and find it totally drained.

I had also found that when my original Surface Pro 3 was running at less than 20% of battery remaining, many times it would just shut down and not give me any warning.  Having owned many different laptops over the years, this pointed to me that something was wrong on my Surface 3.

I contacted Microsoft Surface Support.  They had me run a “battery report”, which showed a few abnormalities, but nothing glaring.  After this, Microsoft support asked that I reload the OS on the Surface back to the original load.  This is an easy process, which I did.  The battery issues remained after this and if anything they got worse.

Microsoft then agreed to send me a replacement unit.  I choose the option where Microsoft can place a soft hold on my credit card so that a new unit can ship immediately.  The replacement arrived in about 3 days via Federal Express Ground.  I was a bit shocked at how it was packed,  in that the unit was just placed in a padded envelop then in the box, with no extra padding.   The new unit came up fine, with no apparent issues, so I kept it and returned my first Pro 3.

I have been using the new machine now for 2 full weeks, and can report that it runs much better than the first one.  I was having temperature spikes also with the first unit.  My machine is the 256GB i5 with 8GB of ram, probably the most common of the Pro 3 units shipped.

I have since taken the new unit down to under 2% on the battery and it was worked fine.  I did receive a warning telling me that my battery was getting low when I reache3d 10% and then again at 5%.  I have shut down the replacement Pro 3 at least 20 times now with the battery level at 30% or lower and each time the machine has powered up the next day with no drain.

I feel that it’s clear that my first machine had some form of a full time power drain going on.  This replacement unit also seems to run cooler.  I have had instances where the fan does come on but when it does it’s not as loud.  The only time I have found where you can get the fan to run on full is when the unit is installing updates and attached to the AC adapter.  If you install updates on the battery, (something I will do if my charge is over 50%), the fan is not an issue and the unit does not get hot.  During updates with the AC adapter plugged in, back of the Pro on the upper right gets pretty warm to the touch, which implies to me that is where the processor is installed.

So far the the replacement Surface 3 has been a much more reliable PC and I am starting to regain confidence in it as much as I had with my Surface Pro 2.  This is just another example of not running out to be the first in line to purchase a new technology as there tend to be quite a few bugs that have to be ironed out.

I also wanted to add that so far I have been impressed with the phone support for both the Surface Pro 2 and 3.  Microsoft has stepped up to a very good level of support.  Every time I have called in my issue has been resolved on the first call.  I will also state that the tech support individual has had a very good technical understanding of the Surface product line.

 

 

 

 

09/18/14 Phase One Announcements from Photokina 2014

Phase One Silver Fleet

Phase One Corporation

As the big show starts to wind down, I though it would be good write about what Phase One considered to be significant announcements during the Photokina Photo Expo, current being held in Germany.

You can list out the major announcements here:

  1. The new IQ150
  2. Capture 1 version 8
  3. Enhanced trade in for P65+ backs (an additional 6K)
  4. Phase One & Alpa Strategic Alliance
  5. Major Change in the Value Add Warranty for IQ2 Digital Backs Value add only now, no classic 1 year.

What was not announced was a new medium format camera body, one to replace the aging Phase One DF+.  Many photographers felt that Phase One would at least talk about the progress on this.  The DF+ body is a good solid body, but at a list price of approximately 5K, it’s a bit overpriced for the feature set that it contains.  From reading between the lines, I feel that the new camera body is something that will made by Sony and when it does come out, will be revolutionary.  Many are looking for mirror-less, but I don’t see that, but possibly the first Medium Format  body with an EVF would be something to talk about.  But for now that’s all speculation.  Lets look at what was announced.

1. The New IQ150

Not too much to talk about here, expect it appears that Phase One is a bit concerned about the Pentax 645z and Hasselblad 50c.  Both of these solutions list for much less than the Phase One IQ250 (at around 34K US).  The new IQ150 is the same chip, same case as the IQ250, but no WiFi.  It appears to have all the other features like focus mask, built in level, high end LCD touch, etc.  However looking on the Phase One site, it’s really hard to tell.  The IQ150 ships with a 1 year warranty, that also appears to be non value add and the IQ150 lists for $29.990, lets say 30K.  So all Phase One did, is take off WiFi, lower the price by 4 K, but if you purchase the IQ150 and add the 4K value add, (which is what the cost has been in the past), you are right back to the base price of the IWQ250.   It’s also not clear if you can purchase a value add warranty for the IQ150.  You would have to talk to your dealer on that.  It will also be interesting to see how the new “lower” priced model has any effect of the Hasselblad 50c or Pentax 645z cameras, both of which are less expensive.

2. Capture One Vr 8.

Everything good here.  Phase One has taken an already excellent software to a new level.  They added a lot of new features and re-worked the processing engine.  If you are a current user of Capture One Vr7, the upgrade is still 99.00.  If you are new to Capture One, you can opt for a monthly subscription service or wait until Phase One sees the need to sell the base licenses for $150.00 as they recently did for Vr7.  Hope if you recently purchased Vr7 you are able to get a grace period to move to vr8 as it’s a much better software.  The advances that Phase One made to the Local Adjustment layers alone to me are worth the cost to upgrade.  You can still download the software for a 60 day trial.  I believe there is also a pro version if you want to just use the software with a Phase One Digital back, which in the past has been free.  Capture One Digital Back, not Pro.  Pro allows you work with other camera platforms like Nikon, Canon, and Sony.

3.  Enhanced trade in for P65+ upgrades to IQ280

If you are looking for a upgrade, this is great deal.  Currently it appears that the trade in is 21K for a used P65+, and now you can add an extra 6K to that, so 27K.  That is a great offer if you are looking to upgrade.  This would bring the cost of the IQ280 to about 25K or so.  You would still have to add in the cost of the Value Add Warranty.  Phase One is now claiming that the value add warranty is cheaper than before. so that is also a good thing.  In the past I have been quoted between 4.5K and 4K for various Value Add Warranties from Phase One, back dependent.

4. Phase One and Alpa Strategic Alliance

From 50 thousand feet, Phase One has decided to partner with Alpa Camera.  Alpa, based in Switzerland, is one of 3 major players in the technical camera (pancake) market.   It’s safe to assume that soon there will be a Phase One branded tech camera made by Alpa on the market.  Not sure yet what this means for the rest of the tech world, namely Cambo and Arca, but this move by Phase One may have  them looking to partner with Hasselblad.  It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the future.  I do hope that any improvements to the LCC processing that Phase One develops with Alpa can be passed down to users of non Alpa tech cameras, like myself.

5. Major Change in the Value Add Warranty for IQ2 back.

From what I have been able to pick up from the dealer community in the US, if you purchase a IQ2 back, (250,260 260 achromatic, 280), the value add warranty is now included in the purchase price.  THIS IS BIG DEAL, as before a value add warranty was always an additional purchase feature, in the range of 4 to 5K.  The value add warranty includes the use of a loaner back while your back in for repair.  The photographer is still responsible to pay for the shipping of their back to Phase One.

If you purchase a IQ140, 150, 160 or 180, the 1 year classic warranty is still included with the purchase price.  I assume that you can purchase a 5 year value add if you prefer.  However if you are looking at either an upgrade from an older back or purchase of a new IQ back, the purchase of the IQ2 should be a better alternative.  Kudo’s to Phase One for changing this policy.

 

 

 

 

09/17/14 Arca FP (Modular Focal Plane Shutter) and R cameras has full wide lens support

I just heard this morning from Rod Klukas, the U.S. Arca representative, that the new Arca FP  will work with the wider lenses, Rodenstock 23mm and 28mm, and possibly the 28XL Schneider.  This is very good new for me as I did not want to have to break my current system into two parts.  My widest lens is the 28mm HR Rodenstock and it’s a great lens on my IQ260 Phase back.

I will still need to purchase a new lens tube for the 28mm as with all of my other lenses, but I can have come to grips with that now.  My temper is sated as I now can use this wonderful lens, the Rodenstock 28mm HR.

I look forward to taking delivery of an Arca FP sooner than later and will report back once I get one and the other equipment needed to operate it.

rm3di focal plane shutter

New Arca Swiss Focal Plane Shutter for R series Cameras

Here is another picture of the Arca FP, showing where the back will mount and the various connection ports to the side.

 

 

 

09/16/14 Capture One Vr 8 is announced and is now available for download

Capture One Version 8

Capture One Version 8 is out

Well, one bit of good news from Photokina, Phase One has released Capture One Version 8.  This is a major update to the software with some very nice enhancements.  As a long time user of Capture One, I welcome this update and find it well worth the price of admission, $99.00 to upgrade from Vr 7.  You can still download the full version for Phase One digital backs, (non Pro) for no charge as I understand it.

Here is a list of new features and or improvements from Version 7.

  • New Capture One 8 processing engine
  • Improved image quality for HDR
  • Improved image quality for local moiré suppression
  • Improved image quality for luminance noise reduction
  • Improved black and white conversion quality especially for aggressive adjustments
  • New clarity method called Natural
  • Live view focus meter for Phase One IQ250
  • Live view direct capture
  • Live view depth of field button
  • Live view force orientation
  • Customizable tools and tabs in the live view windows
  • Repair tool for cloning and healing
  • Film grain tool
  • Target colors and other curve tool improvements
  • New crop ratio “Original”
  • Freehand rotation with the crop cursor by grabbing just outside the corners of the crop frame
  • Double-click thumbnail to show viewer and entry in the keyboard shortcut editor for toggling the viewer on/off
  • Batch chromatic aberration analysis
  • Local white balance
  • Local HDR
  • Local noise reduction
  • Local purple fringing
  • Layer selection points in the viewer
  • Hierarchical keywords
  • Metadata terms editing in the filters tool
  • Synchronize folders for catalogs
  • Split importer settings for sessions and catalogs
  • Export collection as catalog
  • Import sub-catalog
  • Session and catalog templates
  • Refined metadata editing

I was a member of the beta testing for the software.  From version 7, I see a totally new look and feel, the background now is pure black by default instead of the grey it has been in version 7.  Phase One claims there is a new processing engine and so far I have found that the processing speed does seem faster.  I am running a i7 Win 7 64 bit machine with 32GB of ram.  All the mention of open GL, I believe is only for the Mac side.  Phase One always seems to give the Mac side just a bit more.  One of these days, they may realize that there are way more windows users out there than Mac.  So if you want to increase your user base, take a hint.

For me the single greatest improvement is that Capture One 8 has greatly increase the support for Local adjustments.  Unlike Lightroom, Capture One allows for the user to create up to 10 local adjustment layers.  In the past color adjustment in these layers was very limited.  Now you can have White Balance adjustment in each local adjustment.  You also have local adjustment control over highlights and shadows and noise reduction, something that was missing totally in version 7.

However there still is no history, just the old undo switch.  I guess Phase One doesn’t feel this to be very important.  Sad as it’s one huge strength for Lightroom.  Both Lightroom and Capture One offer so much capability for raw conversion and image correction, not having a history of adjustments is really a handicap.

 

 

09/16/14 Arca FPS (Focal Plane Shutter) lens issues clarified

Yesterday, I was very excited by Arca’s announcement of the new FP (Focal Plane Shutter).  I knew that this device was in the works well over 10 months but had been asked to keep all mention of it off the web.  Arca  is a small company based in France, with basically no website, so getting information about current and future products can be very difficult.  The FP shutter was the one single item that Arca was working on that really had my excitement and interest.  The main reason being:

  1. It was going to “fit” into the current r cameras rm3di or rm3dl in a modular fashion
  2. All existing lenses with R mounts would work
  3. Price point was going to be around $1,800.00 for the shutter and all electronics needed to run it.
  4. Focal plane shutter would allow shutter settings of 1/3, 1/2 and 1/10 of a stop.

With the actual announcement, unfortunately, a few of these previous statements did not come true.

The FP is a real item, and it will be a modular attachment to the current R series cameras, see my previous post for more information.  Here is a picture of the FP

rm3di focal plane shutter

New Arca Swiss Focal Plane Shutter for R series Cameras

Knowing the Arca does excellent design and that they make very good products in regards to quality, I have no doubt that this FP will work as designed.  There are just a few issues to be concerned with that I see.

I. The lenses that can be used will need a new modified lens tube installed.  The lens tube is the first ring of the R mount, and you can clearly see it in this photo.

Arcs R mount 28mm Rodenstock

Rodenstock 28mm HR in Arca R mount

The first ring, closest to the lens, with the name Sironar Digital HR on it, is the lens tube that will have to be modified.  Modified is not a good word as basically you will replace it with a new one.  The lens will have to be measured, the measurements sent to Arca, and they will make a new ring.  I guess in the future with Arca, if you were to purchase a new lens, they might ship both rings.  OK, now lets add up the cost.  The rings are $350.00 each.  So if you are going to work with say 5 lenses, you will need to spend an additional $1,750.00 just to be able to use the new shutter.  I find this the most unappealing part of the deal, as Arca should consider giving a credit for the current ring as it will not be in use any more and might as well just be a fishing weight.   Plus you need to either drive your lens to an Arca representative or ship them and to ship and insure 10K of glass, I figure that will add about $250.00 to the cost.

II. The shutter is going to be controlled via a wifi attached controller.

The dEx controller.  I have to assume that this is not “part” of the shutter so it’s safe to say add another $1,200.00 to the total cost.  Plus it’s wifi controlled.  This is a new technology to implement, so I hope it’s well thought out.  If the wifi connection fails or disconnects in the field,  it appears you will not be able to fire the shutter.  This means you would have to removed the shutter from the R camera and the new modified lens tube, then reinstall the original lens tube.

Looks like the cost of the FP will also be a bit more than I had anticipated.  Here is an estimated breakout of the cost for using the shutter with 5 lenses.  This is based on pricing that was released late on the 18th of September 2014.  Pricing is much higher than I expected.  This easily approaches the cost of the Alpa FPS.  So competitive advantage based on pricing appears to have possibly gone out the window.  I was also hoping that the lens tube replacement would stay at $350.00, not $490.00.  More information needs to be out on that soon.

  • Cost of Shutter……………………………………………..$2,940.00
  • Cost of 5 lens tubes……………………………………….$2,500.00
  • Cost of mpu for shutter…………………………………..$1,400.00
  • Cost of wireless controller for shutter…………………$1,200.00
  • Total cost for FP shutter………………………………….$8,040.00

One other thought, as it appears that the dEx controller will be making a wifi connection, but to what?  I can’t see the controller depending on a digital back’s wifi (mainly because right now so few of them have it).  So what is the wifi all about.  Do you wifi to the controller with say a iPhone, to make the settings i.e. change shutter speed (that would be about all you could change on a shutter)?  If so, again, I have to wonder about that, as it makes you very dependent on the battery life of your phone and the battery life of the dEx.  To me it would be so much more efficient to have a hard connection to a device that can set the shutter.  It would become serendipitous to carry both lens tubes on any trip so if the shutter fails or can’t make a connection, you could re-install the old lens tube, pull out the shutter and shoot with the copol shutter already in the lens. This would of course only apply to lenses that already had the copol shutter installed.  I wonder if Arca will still sell new lenses with copols.

Even with the extra costs, I believe overall this is a good investment long term for a R camera user, and once a Phase One back comes out with Live View that is full frame and works with movements with minimal crosstalk effects (which create color saturation loss on shifts), the photographer in the field will have quite a system.

 

 

 

 

09/15/14 Big news from Arca Swiss–New FS (Focal Plane) shutter for R series cameras

rm3di focal plane shutter

New Arca Swiss Focal Plane Shutter for Arca Swiss Cameras

##################UPDATE LATE 09/15/14#######################

09/15/14 Final details from Rod Klukas–U.S. Arca Representative

I heard from Rod a while ago, he is out at Photokina.  Here are the missing details.

“The FPA is similar in depth to Rota slide ot mount.  But you will need a new lens tube to use the FPS.
You can send me the lens, for measuring and checking.  I take precision measurements and check out another thing.
Then I can return the lens to you or the customer for use without FPS shutter.  A new tube to be used with the lens and the FPS combo will be custom made
in France.
If using FPS, you use the new FPS tube, if not go back to the old tube to use lens with Rotamount or Centerl/Leaf shutter.
Cost for FPS tube is $350.00 each lens.  Still far cheaper than a whole set of lenses.  And quite compact.
 
32mm lens is widest useable lens.”
I am not sure, even though I own and use one, exactly what the lens tube is, but it sounds like it’s part of the various set of rings that come with each R mounted lens.  From Rod’s notes, it’s apparent that if you wan to use the FPS on your existing lenses, you need to send them to Rod, (if in the US) or your Arca dealer to be measured.  Then Arca/France will make a new tube for the lens.  Sounds a bit tedious, and is not what I had expected, but I guess it works.  The cost of 6 tubes @ $350.00 is $2,100.00, the estimated price of the shutter unit itself is $1,800.00, and I can safely assume the electronic module to control it another 1,200.00.  So I guess you would be close to 5K to move to the “shutter”
This is disturbing enough, but the lack of being able to use the 28mm Rodenstock HR is a real killer for me.  Sounds like if you want a wide lens and use the shutter, you will have to upgrade to the 7.5K Rodenstock 32 HR-W.  Not what I really wanted to do.

 

ORIGINAL POST BEGINS HERE:

I opened my email this morning, and I found this link!!  Well all I can say is that it’s about time.  Arca Swiss has been working a new modular shutter for their R series cameras for over a year now.  I first heard rumors about this shutter back in January of 2014,  and was told that users should expect shipments of the Focal Plane version in the May 2014 time frame.  May rolled around, and nothing happened, and then June, July, etc.  Finally now in early September, Arca as taken the bull by the horns and announced what may be one of the most significant single additions to their R camera line since the original R cameras were first announced about 8 years ago.

What is this, well, it’s a Focal Plane shutter, that will fit as a module in a R camera, examples, rm3di, factum, rm3dl.  I also should work in the large scale Acra cameras for 4 x 5 setups.  This could not come at a better time, (well I sure would have liked to see Arca not wait till September) as the Copol manual leaf shutters are no longer being made.  You can read more about that in this article I wrote over a year ago.  If you use a tech camera, with Schneider or Rodenstock lenses with a Medium format back, then the stoppage of the Copols is a big deal.  There are some still left in inventory, but within 2 years, I expect those to dry up.  Which means that all the lenses need some form of a new shutter.

Arca answered this actually two ways:

  • The announcement of the Focal Plane module that fits into the existing cameras ( I would love to see just how the shutter fits in the camera)
  • The announcement of a new leaf shutter that is electronic and fits around the lens.  This is much larger situation and could have some fit problems as all these style shutters do.

Here is a picture of the new Leaf shutter that will fit on the actual lens.

The new Arca electronic leaf shutter

The new Arca electronic leaf shutter

If you have any existing Copol shutter mounted lens, then you will have to send it back to Arca an maybe even Rodenstock or Schneider to have the shutter replaced.  As this will need recolimation and I am not sure if Acra can do that but it’s very critical.

Both of the shutters will be controlled by an controller that is a separate purchase.  I am assuming that it will connect to the back somehow maybe via the PC port or via USB.

If it’s only USB, this can possibly cause a big issue for users like myself who are using Surface Pro computers in the field to tether to.  You only get the one USB connection on the back, and if it’s taken up by the tethering connection, then you would not be able to use the shutter.  Not good.

You can see the controller unit here:

Arca Swiss dEx controller

The Acra Swiss dEx controller

From looking at these pictures the dEx controller has a mini USB port on the right side, which implies to me that it’s going to attached to the back via the USB port, which will eliminate the use of the port for tethered operation.  THIS IS A HUGE SHOW STOPPER FOR ME IF IT ONLY ATTACHES VIA USB, AS IT MEAN, NO MORE TETHERED OPERATION IN THE FIELD.  Being able to shoot tethered in the field with a Surface Pro 2 is major advantage for me.

Looking at this, I am imagining the following.  The control unit is attached to the FP shutter via USB.  But what does the shutter to connect to the back with?  When you look at the shutter, there are several ports with different labels.  Maybe it connects via the flash sync port or the one directly below??

From talking to various Arca reps, I know that this shutter has been in the works now for almost a year or longer.  I am glad to see Arca announce it, and hopefully they will be able to ship it in volume soon.  More pictures are needed maybe even a video!!,  MAYBE EVEN A WEBSITE WITH LINKS!!!!!!  I know that’s too much to ask.