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søndag 28. august 2011

The micro FT proff' camera?

Olympus seem to be spitting out new PEN models faster than a sausage machine so god knows how their product & project managers cope with endless change-? Panasonic too, have a fairly meteoric rate of upgrades to both G and GF cameras.

But when will there be a higher end micro four thirds camera from these two?

Olympus stole the limelight again with the faster((sub f2) fixed focal legnth lenses, then Panasonic came out with a super thin kit zoom, optimised for size and actuall HD video uptake.

Crystal Balling First over the Line

I would think Olympus will beat panny because they will coincide the launch of their pro "short" zoom, starting at 12mm and ending somewhere 40 to 60mm, f2.8-4 I dare say. They would then launch this with a pro level body if you ask me, and thus beat panasonics two "fast" 12-35 and 35-14x mm .

At this time then olympus will have the two fast primes, the walk around 14.150 and perhaps a fixed telefoto (200 f 2.8) : anyway we would expect them perhaps to make a grip extension body to be able to handle up to this size from the ZD shg range in full four thirds: remember compared to DSLR APSC and NEX lenses, these are still quite compact and fast enough for most anyone who doesn't want silicon wafer layer thin depth of field.

SO basically they will have all the lenses, and just need to decide to take on board all the e1, e3 and e5 users with a body which will take the big lenses of FT.

Form and Fucntion

In effect, if they choose this route, the camera will NOT be a PEN PRo but rather a camera between E620 and E5. THis will probably be about the size of the samsung NXs but with something special ergonomically, either out the box or with the "strap on" approach which has now reared is potentialy ugly head on the PEN EP3.

In fact though, if it is to be a pro level camera, with a value-added electronic view finder (EVF) I don't seen any need for it to be smaller than the current E520.

Wish list
14 mpx -16 mpx
better Sensor with Extended Dynamic range
10 fps std. - 20 fps @10mpx
2 CF cards, 2 SD cards
Repixilated Monotone shots to 24mpx
Inbuilt iR laser range finding / focus alternative
Enhanced CDAF
Focal range lock, focal distance display, focal bracketing
Focal target selection OLED and EVF
OLED 1 mpx ( 960,000 dots) touch screen
Multiple bracketing
In built blue tooth
Information rich, large EVF with extended functionality
In camera DR extended processing option
Curve adjustment in camera by touch dndrag
User definable programmed modes ( eg sports, bracketing etc)
Internet optimised blue tooth/3G/Wifi file transfer
RAW + thumbnail jpeg with option for "process jpeg on idle"
Battery life indicator (frames, minutes, %)
Option for powered zooms from on camera control
Light intensifying slow refresh live view and EVF for low light / night

14 mpx -16 mpx...perhaps with a G3 style extended aspect with target tracking on outside the frame


Instead of a high refresh rate which everyone really wants, what about a light collecting slow refresh allowing you to see a night or low light, or very high contrast scene to be able to compose the frame before you shoot.

That and instant monotone view for example, or as with the high contrast situation above, a composite shot refreshing to the extremes of the tonal curve thus fooling the eye with a hyper DR view to help compose long exposures with ND filters----for example!!

Infact you can go beyond the OVF, into showing detail the human eye can't capture TTL!!!

Also, as with sony, you can have an in EVF "spirit level" which would dfo help me anyway!

The grip extension: additional battery in built. An SSD drive with SATA cable. In build 3G and WiFi FTP, swing out side flash mount.

more on layers

Layer for extended dynamic range, colour correcion, sky/background adjustments are the next exeriment for me.

Brikk333 presents the following quick fix for a washed out sky

okay, at the risk of being too technical:

1. Duplicated the original layer, and then on top of it created a bright luminance mask (which masks out everything but the brighter areas of the photo.

2. picked a cyan/blue that seemed pleasing to my eye in terms of a blue sky, and painted over the unmasked areas.

3. That also obliterated the clouds, so on top of the painted area I added a gradient mask that removed the mask from the bottom and gradually less and less going up to the blue sky. And then on the underlying layer, in blending options, I played with the white blend if slider until it brought out all of the whte clouds.

Entire process - about 5 minutes.

søndag 21. august 2011

Work Flow: Take End Point for your Image First!

Sasuo Writes on DP Review about his Work flow and I have to question some things about this:

Firstly- in your initial run where will the image be going? These days, for me it will be facebook and the processing will be on a little super portable netbook (eventually a tablet when the software and processors are up to it).

So I would actually reduce SIZe first then work on the smaller JPEG at even VGA size: this is all you need for FB and probably flickr but even then it may get compressed further and shown in about 500x 400 maximum anyway!

Why FB , why not eleswhere? SOme of my pals are really talented photographers and everyone appreciates a nice album amongst the "brushing my teeth and mega late for work" posts. The best shots will get worked up elsewhere and to 10mpx, comparing a RAW processed image once I like the worked up jpeg at full size, just to see if there is more detail and nuances ( very rareley: Olympus has a fantastic JPEG engine built in which would be one reason for a photo journalist to get an E5 or PEN 3- no POST required!)

WHy? it is a shed load faster. However I do take the best images

Sosua writes on dpreview:

My workflow is process in lightroom, I will often shoot bracketed shots to blend for dynamic range (after years of experience with GNDs, blending is preferable for me), in lightroom I tweak:

Balance individual colour channels (awesome tool)
Lens corrections
Image rotate and crop
Noise reduction and capture sharpening

Then in CS5 (some images will go through PTGUI or exposure fusion):

Local micro contrast adjustments
Dodging and burning as required
Print sharpening and sizing as required

For the record, here are Reuters guidelines for image manipulation (not that I am a documentary journalist anyway):


Interesting reading, and far more liberal than I imagined. I'm seeing more stitched images in Nat Geo these days too.

But really as Ray says, you can do anything you want if you feel it adds to the image.

After all, we are trying to communicate three dimensions, emotion, sound and smell into a two dimensional medium and the camera as a tool is inherently limited to achieve that.

I get everything right in camera, its just how I choose to develop the colour and tone of those images which is my choice, rather than an irreversible decision made by a hunk of metal, silicone and plastic

fredag 19. august 2011

Hyper on Dynamic Range

Even photography itself, in the days of degeurrotype, was a novelty and a little bit of a gimmick.

Many of the gimmicks and fawcets of cameras, films, lenses, filters and now sensors in their path of evolution have come to roost as established styles and techniques.

Probably what is the latest of the emperors-new-clothes to many luddites, is Hyper Dyanamic Range in post processing and the latest enhanced, broad dynamic range nascent in-camera, surpasing that of the human eye even. HDR is here to stay.

DR- dynamic range a measure of the extremities of light intensity which can be captured on the sensor and subsequent image file for the given exposure. This means that the nuances of light and dark extend so far as becoming pure white, or pure black shadow at a given upper and lower level of light intensity.

What is actually equally important to image quality, is tonal depth. Despite modern digital cameras proporting to have the same technical tonal depth in number of bits, different cameras render these better in RAW and in-body jpeg. Combining a wider DR with excellent TD means that more detail and nuances of colour and brightness can be captured.

How does this add up to the pretentious and contentious "IQ" ? Well you can argue a lot about subjectivity in this, but if you are a 10 - 12 mpx Four Thirds / mFT owner then you know all about limited dynamic range. Blown highlights where large blocks of white make a very intrusive presence on photos from scenes with high contrast taken on an average or subject spot exposure.

High or broad DR means you are capturing more tonal depth at the extremes of the intensity of a scene. This can now surpass the ability of the human eye, leading to a slightly surreal or jamais vu feel to especially dawn and dusk images. The additional nuances allow us to see more detail and more texture. This means the eye, sorry brain, picks up on additional qeues for depth and interest in a shot, and basically makes the perception of realism. Alternatively the surreal or the presque vu or jamais vu come through.

Okay now I am getting a little arty and subjective about how good DR and corresponding TD make for a good shot. Essentially good DR also means that more of the scene can be reported as being properly exposed or at least "pleasantly". When combining several images of different exposures as layers in post processing software, the very best of each can be employed in a final image.

Technically you can measure DR and tonal depth as finite, and DR from the various tests is often worth looking up for a camera you want to buy, and comparing to in particular the excellent DR of the Nikon D7000 and the Nikon D3S and then to rival models vying for your hard earned wonga.

But what about doing your own HDR on a four thirds camera? We want to avoid both blow highlights AND heavy shadows with in my case, the Olympus / OEM CMOS "red spotted dabs" syndrome in shadows and highlights.

Here is my next experimental path in The GIMP, starting asap, as expressed by JPMATH on flickr.

jpmatth (70 months ago | reply)

here's the entire process, simplified where possible:

* set the 20D's auto exposure bracketing to 1 stop.
* stand really still, and squeeze the shutter until three shots are taken (that would be 0, +1 stop and -1 stop). try not to move the camera (didn't have a tripod with me).
* developed each RAW file with the same settings (with recipes in DPP), and exported to highest quality jpeg (to retain the EXIF data).
* opened the three jpegs in gimp as three separate layers, with the 0 exposure at bottom, then -1 on top of that, then +1 at the top of the stack.
* moved the layers around until each element of the scene lined up as much as possible (because i was handholding, each exposure was a few pixels off from the others even though they were taken milliseconds apart)
* added transparent (black) layer masks to all but the bottom layer
* painted white on the layer masks where i wanted sections of each layer to show through.
* flattened everything and cropped the edges where the misalignment was obvious.
* a little unsharp masking to hide the slight softness of the misalignment
* saved to a final jpeg with quality at 90, no smoothing, subsampling at 1x1,1x1,1x1 and DCT method at floating point.