Archive for the 'photography' Category

Balancing Act 0

Here’s a replacement lens cap that purports to help you set the perfect white balance on your DSLR every time, without carrying around a gray card. Interesting idea and tempting, sure, but the $45 price tag (at the low end) has me thinking up some home-grown alternatives — a spare lens cap and a piece of milk jug, perhaps?

Psuedo-update: Amazon carries several cheaper versions of the same idea. Cheap enough that a ghetto hack might not even be worth it.

Hack a camera 0

Seems that someone has made the Canon 40D to record movies. From the forum postings, it sounds like they’ve modified the CHDK firmware (which runs on a bunch of Canon cameras) to dump the live-view buffer on the 40D to the CF card. Unfortunately, that means that it’s probably not HD (the D90 does 720p; the 5D II 1080p), but interesting nonetheless.

Anyways, I’m still waiting for Olympus to release their Micro Four-Thirds body (that is, more than a few images of a prototype) before sending money anywhere.

Micro Four-Thirds 4

Panasonic has announced the first Micro Four-Thirds camera. Unfortunately, it’s not exactly what I was hoping for (I want a point & shoot that’s more SLR, not an SLR that’s more point & shoot), but there’s still Olympus. As promised, it’s compatible with existing Normal Four-Thirds lenses, even the big ones. (Autofocus, however, only works with specific lenses.)

Smaller, Better, Faster. 3

Well, perhaps not the second two, but the first for sure — Olympus and Panasonic have jointly announced the new Micro Four-Thirds format. Basically, they took a standard Four-Thirds sized sensor, shrunk the lens mount, removed some old mechanical fluff holdovers from the film days (mirror and prism), and left with a small, interchangeable lens camera design that seems poised to make us rethink our digital SLRs.

You may not remember or be familiar with the Sigma DP-1, announced way back in 2006 (though it didn’t make it to market until this year), but it met with considerable excitement and was heralded as the first pocketable camera with the image quality of a DSLR. That’s because the largest contributing factor to the difference in image quality between that monster hanging around your neck and the sleek compact in your pocket is the physical size of the sensor: bigger pixels make better pictures. Unfortunately, while the DP-1 did feature a large sensor, many found it lacking in just about every other area — it was slow, focused poorly, and for all the sensor hype, the images really didn’t pop. Widespread disappointment ensued.

But now we have a second chance at the holy grail — and that alone is exciting — but Olympus has already upped the ante before they’re even out of the gate. Not only will the cameras be small, but they’ll feature interchangeable lenses, and you can even use your existing Four-Thirds lenses (if you have any; with an adapter). In addition, they’ve hinted at a movie mode in future models, which will put them a step beyond current DSLRs and level the playing field with existing compact digital cameras. (Personally, I know of people who have staved off a DSLR purchase for that very reason.)

And while the camera is all theory for now, what’s not is that Olympus, with their existing Four-Thirds lineup, has proven themselves a competent digital camera manufacturer, was the first to bring “Live View” to the DSLR market (which these new cameras are sure to rely on), and has shown that they can get good, if not great, image quality from their sensor format. Looks to me like the Micro version has a lot more than a fighting chance.

Doin’ it Right 0

Anyone attempting to do RAW conversion under Linux (in GIMP, specifically) is probably using DCRaw, as it appears to be the only guy in town. In which case, you owe it to yourself to check out UFRaw — it’s another GIMP plugin that’s a much better front-end for DCRaw (read: one that actually has options).

“High-Def” Webcams 3

(The term High-Definition appears to be able to be applied to anything these days, so why not webcams?)

For the past few days I’ve been obsessing watching this webcam over at the Red Rock visitor center, and just now I wrote a quick script to fetch the latest image and update my desktop background with it. It’s almost like having my desk near the window back. (OK, not even close.) But, truth is, it makes a pretty crappy background at 1920×1200. Look at this other one in comparison — now that’s a webcam.

Then I remembered. Since buying a used 20D, I have an old D30 just sitting around. With a bit of Canon software magic, that can easily be setup to take a shot at any interval and automatically transfer it to the PC. I just have to write a little plumbing to get it up on the web.

I want to do this!

Recycle Bin FTW 2

(The title rhymes, if you didn’t notice, assuming you expand the acronym.)

Last night I decided that I should finally scrape all of my pictures off my two 4GB cards — I still don’t have my final photo storage solution worked out, so in the meantime I’m never really quite sure where I want to put things — since I had some 971 pictures in the mix. I put them on the largest drive I have; the one I record TV to, the one hooked up to my TV, the one low enough to be within arm range of toddlers and cruising infants alike.

As always, I used Ctrl+A to select everything on the card, then dragged it over, repeating for the other card. Then I turned off the TV and walked away. If you aren’t familiar with this process, it’s worth noting that after the copy operating finishes, all the copied files remain selected. That will be vital information.

This morning, Izzie (our youngest) was playing around on the keyboard connected to said machine, and although I heard a few dings and such, I didn’t worry about it.

Just now, I turned on the LCD and immediately noticed a warning about trying to delete a read only file. Sure enough, Izzie had managed to hit the delete button — with an entire card’s worth of copied files still selected — and sent that entire card’s worth of pictures to purgatory.

So, today, I’m thankful for the recycle bin.

Going Small 3

Here’s an interesting hobby: taking real photos and making them look like they’re photos of a model. I first saw this when a coworker sent me a link to the daily dose of imagery. It was a photo of a parking lot, but I couldn’t tell whether it was real, or whether it was a model.

But apparently this picture is not alone. In fact, there are entire Flickr groups devoted to this. And it’s really rather amazing — the insanely shallow depth of field plays horrible tricks on your brain and can actually convince you that you’re looking at something miniature.

One of my favorites so far.

Outside the Box 3

Not long ago, Canon announced the newest offering in their Digital Rebel lineup, the Rebel XSi. Despite both being aimed at the consumer market, it’s predecessor, the Rebel XTi, has been extremely popular with the so-called “prosumers”, as it’s inherited much of its technology from Canon’s upper echelon of cameras without inheriting their prices.

Consequently, I was disappointed to discover that the XSi had forsaken CompactFlash — currently the de facto standard in all serious DSLRs — for the smaller (both in physical dimension and capacity), slower SD cards. Is there some hidden advantage to SD that Canon is privy to (did they really need the marginal amount of extra space to pack in LiveView?), or is Canon perhaps trying to steer the prosumer market towards their double-digit D line? Or maybe it’s a bid to lure the consumers already using SD cards in their point & shoot digitals into a camera with a heftier price tag.

Either way, I find it unfortunate — looks like the Rebel party may have ended for the prosumer.

The Luxor 2

The Luxor, originally uploaded by imarealgeek.

I had a heck of a time deciding between the mountains and the strip for this morning, but the actual sunrise was a bit of a bust due to some low clouds (go me for lamenting that I’d pay for some weather), so I don’t think I missed anything. Here I tried my hand at a bit of exposure blending to avoid losing the face of the obelisk in complete shadow due to the bright clouds behind it.

Next Page »