TALKING IMAGES 46 – THOUGHTS ABOUT GETTING A NEW CAMERA – AND IS THIS THE END OF THE DSLR?

 

Although not exactly drowning in cash(!), I’m thinking about getting another camera, and various thoughts/issues arise, which may be worth passing on.  But, amongst all the marketing hype and the genuinely astonishing technology, the one thing I’m certain of is that whatever camera I buy (if I do take the plunge and buy one), it won’t be a DSLR.  (All links in this post will open in separate windows)

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WHICH CAMERAS DO I ALREADY OWN?

So first, if I’m thinking of buying another one, which cameras do I already have?  Well, an old Canon G11 PowerShot, which only goes up to a (grainy!) 3200 ISO and which rarely gets used now, but which is compact, and sports an unbelievably useful and adaptable, fully articulated screen – which is absolutely wonderful in awkward or tight spots eg on buses, in town, etc etc.  It also has a very useful 24-140 zoom range, something which I’ll return to below.

Then two Nikon full frame DSLRs, the D700 and D800, which are heavy and bulky, but which have wonderful autofocus and big AF-ON buttons (back button focus really is the thing), very good layout of controls and, well – they just deliver the goods, excellently, time after time after time.

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The much bulkier, full frame Nikon D800 DSLR beside the APS-C format Fujifilm X-T1 mirrorless camera.  Note the difference between the wonderfully sited and large AE-L/AF-L and AF-ON buttons, to the right of the Nikon’s viewfinder – really ideal positioning and usability – and the smaller, not so well placed AE-L and AF-L buttons on the X-T1.

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Another shot of the mirrorless APS-C format X-T1 and the bulkier full frame format D800 DSLR, with telephoto lenses giving equivalent telephoto magnifications (roughly 70mm-300mm).

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And, more recent acquisitions, Fujifilm X-T1 and X-T2 APS-C format, mirrorless cameras, which are excellent, more compact than the Nikons, and with really excellent Electronic Viewfinders – and which deliver wonderful images with colours to die for.  The X-T1 is somewhat pedestrian in comparison to the X-T2, but still good enough for my wide angle zoom.  The X-T2 is simply wonderful – but in terms of autofocus just doesn’t quite match the Nikons.  And while both of these Fuji cameras have (just about) well sited AE-L and AF-L buttons, these buttons are significantly smaller and more fiddly than those on the Nikons – and far more difficult to use in the cold and/or dark.

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And while I’m talking about DSLRs and mirrorless  cameras, the following.  I subscribe to Amateur Photographer (AP) which is an excellent weekly photographic magazine that is managing to do quite well in these internet and screen-dominated times.  Why do I like AP?  Well, it has an excellent production team that put out really interesting and relevant material (including really in depth product reviews) week after week, which is simply an incredible achievement – and I enjoy having a real magazine in my hands, I enjoy the tactile, real feel of the thing, I scribble notes all over it in red pen, keep pages that teach me things >>> and, quite simply, AP has taught me vast amounts about photography over the years.  And, like many others, I do not for one single moment miss reading it on some device’s illuminated screen!

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THE END OF THE DSLR??? – Anyway, a recent AP article thinks that the rise of full frame mirrorless cameras that we are now seeing spells the end for DSLRs with their optical viewfinders and (somewhat) larger size and, looking at how technology is howling forwards, I can’t see any reason to disagree.  Certainly Electronic Viewfinders (EVF) provide more, highly relevant information to the photographer – as well as eliminating the guesswork/skill involved when overriding the camera’s setting or using the camera manually.  Ah but, you say, such skills are something of value, something to cherish and preserve.  Well, yes they are, but personally I’d rather let the camera do as much of the work as possible so that my mind is as free as possible to concentrate on equally vital factors that the camera does not give information on like viewpoint, composition and pre-capture cropping.  When I look through a (good) EVF, I’m shown the image exactly as it is going to appear – and I can’t ask for more than that!

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Another shot of the less satisfactory AE-L and AF-L buttons, to the right of the viewfinder on the back of the X-T1.

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The Olympus TG-5 (Photo credit: TrustedReviews)

And finally the Olympus TG-5 TOUGH, which is a diminutive speciality camera, and which I’m using on my Outer Suburbs project.

Here are links to this (ongoing) project’s images.  The first image in the Outer Suburbs series, with context, is here: 1 .  Subsequent images are here: 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 53a 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 .  Each will open in a separate window.

 

SO, WHAT ARE MY BASIC REQUIREMENTS IN A NEW CAMERA???

  1. Fast, accurate autofocus, via a (preferably large) AF-ON button (and hopefully for something adjacent and similar to lock exposure – see the D800 in the first of the images here).

  2. An excellent electronic viewfinder (EVF): having used the excellent EVFs in the X-T1 and X-T2, I can see that, for my requirements at least, optical viewfinders (like those in the D700 and D800) are a thing of the past.  The EVFs on the two Fuji cameras are so big, useful and crammed with relevant information that I’m completely persuaded.  The trick is getting a really good EVF on a camera that ALSO has blistering autofocus via AF-ON.

  3. RAW capture; nothing else cuts the mustard if you’re contemplating anything like extensive post-capture processing.

  4. Not too bulky or heavy (I’m not as young as I was!).

  5. Easily accessible controls, so no delving into deep menus for routine requirements – the two Fujifilm cameras in particular are good in this respect.

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WHICH CAMERAS DO I HAVE SPECIFICALLY IN MIND?

Fujifilm X-T3

Nikon Z6

None at all!!!!!!!!!!!

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THE FUJIFILM X-T3

This camera sounds very promising.  Its body is virtually identical to the light and compact X-T2, but it has a new sensor and processor that (apparently!) deliver far better autofocus than the X-T2. The downside is the smaller APS-C sensor but, mostly, I’ve found this sensor size generally fine in the X-T2 – there just isn’t quite the latitude for cropping that full frame sensors give – the X-T3 has rather more pixels than the X-T2, 26MP as against 24MP, so this helps a little – and I’ve found that around 25MP suits my needs just fine.

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Furthermore, Fuji are going to produce a 24-120 (equivalent) zoom lens, which like the Canon 24-140 mentioned above, is to me a very useful and versatile zoom range, covering as it does everything from wide angle up to medium telephoto.  To me, this is the sort of multi purpose lens to take along when the types of images expected during a shoot or day out are uncertain.

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In a nutshell: something externally almost identical to an X-T2, and which works even better than an X-T2 >>> well, that can’t be bad!

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And while I’m talking about mirrorless cameras (and this applies to the Nikon Z6 too), they are heavy on battery use, far heavier than DSLRs.  But to me this is peripheral – when out and about with the X-T2 and/or X-T1, I just take along a spare (Fujifilm) battery or two.  This is certainly not a reason to eschew mirrorless cameras.

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THE NIKON Z6

This is one of two recent models that are Nikon’s initial (and highly impressive) foray into the full frame, mirrorless camera market.  Relevant points are: a huge and excellent EVF; full frame capture; less bulky than Nikon’s DSLRs; fast autofocus; an adaptor (£100) that will enable me to use the Nikon lenses I already have – full frame Nikkors – with full autofocus etc.

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But … yes, there’s always a caveat.  I photograph in three broad settings:

  1. There’s the Outer Suburbs project, walking in south Bristol; and for this the light and diminutive Olympus TG-5 TOUGH camera is ideal – it lacks a viewfinder but shoots RAW, and it sits easily and completely out of sight in my trouser pocket.  And should I get soaked in a storm or whatever, it really is tough, for a start being completely waterproof.

  2. Then I walk in the city centre, with larger cameras, for example with the Going to Work project, and here the relatively light and compact X-T1 and X-T2 cameras have been superb, in fact they really got Going to Work off the ground in the first place.  I have used the Nikons in this environment too and, although heavier, they are superb.

  3. Lastly, I photograph out in the country, most frequently on the Somerset Levels, and, since I’m never too far from the car, camera size becomes less relevant – but for fast moving subjects like birds, I really do need the excellent autofocus and back button (AF-ON) focus activation that the D700 and D800 provide.

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So, the Nikon Z6 sounds good – full frame and fast autofocus in a more compact package – but examining its weight difference from the heavy D800 may suggest otherwise.  The D800 + battery weighs 1,000gm, while the Z6 + battery + lens adaptor weighs around 800gm, so only 200gm difference, which is not a huge amount.  But, OK, the Z6 is more compact than the D800.

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Nikon’s lenses are the other factor.  I’d be using my existing Nikkors, so that there would be no weight difference there.  But, with its new Nikon lens mount, a new series of Nikkors are being developed for these new Z cameras.  These new lenses do not need the adapter, which saves 88gm in weight, BUT in the three new Z lenses looked at so far, they are in fact heavier than their existing Nikkor equivalents!!!  And they are expensive too.  So the Z6 loses some of its charm, and I must think long and deep.

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NONE AT ALL!!!

The third option is not, for the moment at least, to get a new camera, but rather to go using those I already have – especially the X-T2, the D800 (using it more than I do now) and the TG-5.  And to wait and see what new technology and new models the future will bring – and with technology accelerating forward as it is, the wait may not be for too long.

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I hope these points are useful. 🙂

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TALKING IMAGES 45 – SOMETHING THAT REALLY TURNS ME OFF ABOUT THE OLYMPUS TG-5 CAMERA!!!

 

 

Photo credit: TrustedReviews

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LOL!!! the word “TURNS” in this post’s title was actually going to be another word altogether but, well, this is a wholesome, wholemeal, wholeheartedly whole family blog, and so I eased off – but Olympus had just better watch out – and all the more so because this is the company that, all those years ago, produced the truly iconic and wonderful OM-1 film camera, that I loved using and still have.  But, greed is greed, and its everywhere these days, it is a fundamental part of our world’s corporate architecture >>> so what am I getting so worked up about?

Well, its simply that Olympus add the caption “OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA” to every image that the TG-5 captures – and I have a feeling that all modern Olympus cameras do exactly the same.  Why???  I mean, Nikon, Canon and Fujifilm manage to get along just fine not doing this, so why does Olympus have to???

And the thing about this that really gets to me is that if I see an image I particularly like and, brimming with enthusiasm, go at it in Lightroom having forgotten to remove this caption first, and then I export this image from Lightroom as a 16-bit TIFF, which is what I always do, then this caption can be devilishly hard to remove.  I did just this recently and, having processed the image in Silver Efex Pro 2,  managed to remove the caption in the code which underlies these WordPress blog pages – what WordPress calls the “Text”, rather than the “Visual” – I always use WordPress’s old post editor, which still works like a dream.

HOW TO REMOVE THIS CAPTION IN LIGHTROOM (Lr)

Its very simple – and the trick is to make this a rock solid routine part of the way you use Lr – every time!  You simply highlight the image you’re going to work on in Lr’s Library module (or you can enlarge it in the Library module if you wish), and “OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA” appears in the Caption box in the metadata panel on the right on Lr’s screen.  Click onto this caption, which highlights it, press Delete, and it disappears; then go into the Lr’s Develop module and get processing!

These instructions may not apply to all versions of Lr: I use Lightroom Classic CC, and have the right hand Library panel set to show “EXIF and IPTC” metadata.

MY REVIEW OF THE TG-5

This brief review can be found here .

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TALKING IMAGES 44 – HARRIE NIJLAND

 

Before posting an image of my own today, I’d like to draw your attention to the IMAGES I’VE LIKED RECENTLY panel in this blog’s sidebar – the panel is some way down the sidebar, below the Recent Posts listing and the Stats.

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The IMAGES I’VE LIKED RECENTLY panel – logically enough!!! – provides links to other photographers’ posts that I’ve recently added a Like to.  And my hope is that this panel, in its small way, will give more exposure and recognition to other photographers’ work. 

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Harrie Nijland is a blogging colleague based in the Netherlands, and we are often in contact re aspects of photography – we have found that we share many opinions and views about photography, and I both admire his work and find it an inspiration.  You can find his blog here .

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UPDATE:  rather than looking at Harrie’s portfolio via the IMAGES I’VE LIKED RECENTLY panel in my blog’s sidebar, here is the link to take you straight to the portfolio in Harrie’s blog – hold your cursor over the Portfolio 2 title at the top of the page in Harrie’s blog to see the portfolio’s categories

portfolio .

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Yesterday I looked at some portfolios of his earlier work and was very impressed – and so I’m leaving the links to those portfolios in my IMAGES I’VE LIKED RECENTLY panel for a day or two, so that others can look at them too if they’re interested.  I hope you find Harrie’s portfolios interesting, and stimulating too.  And I thank Linda Grashoff at Romancing Reality for giving me the idea of making this post.

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Adrian

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TALKING IMAGES 43 – SOME CORE PHOTOGRAPHIC BELIEFS

 

 

Selfie, probably nude (but try not to think about that, especially if you’re just about to eat), in a hotel room, 28 Apr 2014
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Here are some things that I regard as core to the ways in which I perform and think about photography.  From the outset let’s be very clear: these are my mantras, beliefs, philosophies, ways of working, call them what you will – this is ME, but – and more on this below – it may not be YOU … (clicking onto the images will (mostly!) open larger versions in separate windows)

WE ARE ALL DIFFERENT

To me, the first thing to realise is that we are all different, that we are all individuals, each with his/her likes/dislikes about anything that you care to name – clothes, sausages, cars, furniture, colours, TV programmes, sports, books, etc etc.  I think I realised this before, but seven years of running this blog and talking with all sorts of people have really hammered this home to me.

And, this being the case, it should come as no surprise that we have widely varying visual tastes – so, I hate an image but you love it: nobody is right or wrong here, we are simply different, we are individuals – and that makes for a very interesting (if often turbulent) world.

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Wet flatlands on the Somerset Levels

SUBJECTIVITY

In my view, photography is an art, albeit one that powerfully combines science and technology with the disciplines more usually associated with the arts.  Like all other arts, it is purely subjective and individual.  Hence all photographic “rules” go out the window unless they fit in with – or more correctly, add to –  what I’m doing.  And, in my view, the same applies to all photographic competitions and qualifications (eg RPS), they go out the window too, since judges may well have subjective views that differ from your’s, mine, Great Aunt Maud’s, etc.  So, I don’t enter competitions, I just do my own thing – absolutely revelling in the vast creative opportunities and potential that (for me, digital) photography brings.

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Seascape, Cornwall

THE IMPORTANCE OF THE FINAL IMAGE

To me, all that matters in photography is the final image, completely irrespective of how it was captured (camera, pinhole, phone, anything).  And completely irrespective of how much or little it has been subsequently processed.  The resulting image is in the here and now, it is what we are looking at, it is all that matters.

Others hold different views.  For example, never cropping, only using film or digital, only using black and white, never doing any post-capture processing etc etc.  All of these ways forward, and all others, are valid.  What is certainly not valid is the opinion that, unless we use certain photographic equipment or techniques,  we am not practising photography “properly” and that, in some way, our images are invalid, inferior or unworthy of consideration for that reason.

Another real no-no here, in my view, is to try to pass off something that has been highly processed post-capture as something that is straight out of the camera at point of capture.  That is plain dishonesty.

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Going to work, on the early morning bus

CONTENT AND EMOTION COME FIRST

Finally, for me, technicalities, and especially technical perfection, always come some way second to the content of an image – the subject matter, emotions, atmosphere, narrative, and so on.  And that rather than looking for perfect overall sharpness, I definitely think that blurred detail can be of value in many images.

Which leads on to the point that its always worth trying to take a photo, no matter how poor the light and other conditions (although I do draw the line at getting my cameras soaked in the rain).  In particular here, I always use high ISOs where light conditions require it.  The basic tenet, for me, is that its always better to have an imperfect image, rather than no image at all.

So, for better or for worse, this is me. What do you think?  Do you agree???  Views?????????

Adrian

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On a farm in the far west of Kenya

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TALKING IMAGES 42 – ARE FULL-FRAME MIRRORLESS NIKONS ON THE WAY? YES, I’VE JUST FOUND OUT!!!

 

 

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Well, this is indeed A LAUGH!!! >>>  I was just finishing off this short post, when I went over to Amateur Photographer’s website in order to give the web reference to it, below.  >>> And when I got to the AP website, I found that it answers all of the questions I’ve asked below – and more!

So, yes, such a mirrorless Nikon is on the way >>> and you can read all (or at least, some) of the details by following the link given in the next paragraph – scroll down on AP’s page when you get there, and the article is down on the left.  Maybe I’m just losing the race with the Modern World! … 🙂 🙂 🙂 ……………..

Amateur Photographer magazine reports that all Nikon 1 mirrorless cameras have been officially discontinued by the company.  All is shrouded in secrecy of course, but rumours abound that this move precedes the announcement of one or more full frame Nikon mirrorless cameras at the Photokina 2018 show in September.

Well, who knows?  But the fact remains that Nikon is now being assailed on two fronts – by the very popular Sony full-frame mirrorless cameras, and also by the far more portable and compact, quality offerings from Fujifilm (see the X-T1 above, next to Nikon’s D800 DSLR), Olympus and Panasonic.  Continuing to produce heavy, bulky, full frame DSLRs just doesn’t seem a good business model for Nikon, at least for the bulk of the market.

I most probably won’t be able to afford whatever Nikon comes up with but, quite aside from price, a key question for me is whether these new cameras will be able to use Nikon’s vast, existing array of interchangeable Nikkor lenses – even if an adaptor has to be used.  Because, quite aside from the cost of the actual cameras, having to set oneself up with another range of Nikkors is not going to be a cheap business!

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TALKING IMAGES 41 – ADDITIONAL PRESETS FOR SILVER EFEX PRO 2: 2

 

 

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I have been enthusiastically extolling the virtues of plug-in software called Silver Efex Pro 2 (SEP2), which I use for the production of nearly all of my black and white images.  Sometime back, I put out at a post detailing SEP2 presets that were obtainable long ago, but which are not so now: that post, which contains some of these “lost” presets and much context, can be found here.

Then, more recently, I put out a post talking about a new (2018) version of SEP2: that post can be found here.

This post contains details of more of the “lost” presets.

General things to know about SEP2 presets are below:

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THE SEP2 PRESET DATA

Ok, points are:

  1. Each preset has a name.

  2. I’ll list each preset’s SEP2 settings, which you can then replicate in SEP2 and save as your own custom preset (method given below); I’m only going to list non-default settings, leave all the rest of the settings at their defaults.

  3. Most of these presets will simply be percentages or (on a few cases) numbers or degrees. But SEP2’s interface also has two Tonality Protection sliders that lack numerical values, but which have the words “Shadows” and “Highlights” above the sliders – where necessary, I’ll say which letter in these two words that the relevant slider is under.  This is unclear? – well looking at the small Tonality Protection part of SEP2’s manual adjustments panel (to the right of the image being processed) ought to clarify things.

  4. It can be difficult to use the various sliders to exact values, but in most if not all cases you can click onto the sliders’ value box with you mouse and input the exact value straight into the box.  This is extremely handy.

  5. The headings like “Colour Filter”, “Sensitivity” etc refer to headings in the manual adjustments on the SEP2 interface on the far right of the screen.

  6. Further batches of these presets will be featured in due course.

  7. MOST IMPORTANT!!! >>> any questions, any difficulties >>> just ask, and I’ll do my best to help things along 🙂

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HOW TO SAVE A CUSTOM PRESET IN SEP2

  1. Open an image (preferably a colour image) in whatever application you use the SEP2 plug-in with.

  2. Open SEP2: your image appears in black and white within SEP2.

  3. Make the manual adjustments for whatever preset you want to construct eg Faux Infrared.

  4. Locate the CUSTOM tab of the Preset Library in the panel on the left of SEP2’s interface, and click onto its + button – if you hover your mouse over this button, you will see the message Create a new custom preset based off of the state of the current photo.  Clicking onto this + button opens a small dialogue in which you insert the name of your new preset, eg Faux Infrared.  Click OK, and hey presto! the new preset appears in the custom preset panel and can be used at any time.

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THE ARCHITECTURAL PRESET

Contrast 53%.

Structure 68%.

Colour Filter: Hue 120 degrees; Strength 100%.

Toning 1.

Strength 10%.

Silver hue 38 degrees.

Silver toning 10%.

Balance -50%.

Paper hue 50 degrees.

Paper toning 4%.

THE DRAMATIC PRESET

Brightness -7%.

Contrast 34%.

Structure 46%.

Tonality Protection: Shadows slider under the “a” of Shadows; Highlights slider under the “l” of Highlights.

Color Filter: 240 degrees, 62%.

THE FLORAL STYLE PRESET

Brightness 5%.

Contrast 34%.

Structure -53%.

Color Filter: 120 degrees, 50%.

Strength: 8%.

Silver hue: 16 degrees.

Silver toning: 8%.

Balance: 0%.

Paper hue: 50 degrees.

Paper toning: 0%.

Vignette: Off.

Amount 14%.

Circle/Rectangle: Circle.

Size: 49%.

THE LANDSCAPE PRESET

Brightness: -12%.

Contrast: -16%.

Structure 52%.

Color Filter 120 degrees, 100%.

THE SEPIA LANDSCAPE PRESET

Brightness 12%.

Contrast 15%.

Structure 25%.

Sensitivity: Red -7%; Yellow 19%; Green 31%; Cyan -19%; Blue -30%; Violet -21%.

Toning: 1.

Strength: 41%.

Silver hue: 30 degrees.

Silver toning: 41%.

Balance: 0%.

Paper hue: 50 degrees.

Paper toning: 0%.

Vignette: Off.

Amount: -25%.

Circle/Rectangle: under T of Rectangle.

Size: 75%.

 

THE HIGH CONTRAST GREEN FILTER PRESET

Brightness: -10%.

Contrast: 30%.

Structure: 20%.

Tonality Protection: Shadows slider under “d” of Shadows only.

Color Filter: 120 degrees; Strength 150%.

 

THE HIGH CONTRAST ORANGE FILTER PRESET

Brightness: -10%.

Contrast: 30%.

Structure: 20%.

Tonality Protection: Shadows slider under “S” of Shadows and “H” of Highlights.

Color Filter: 30 degrees; Strength 133%.

 

THE HIGH CONTRAST RED FILTER PRESET

Brightness: -10%.

Contrast: 20%.

Structure: 20%.

Tonality Protection: Shadows slider under “S” of Shadows and “H” of Highlights.

Color Filter: 0 degrees; Strength 90%.

 

THE HIGH CONTRAST YELLOW FILTER PRESET

Brightness: -10%.

Contrast: 30%.

Structure: 20%.

Color Filter: 70 degrees; Strength 133%.

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TALKING IMAGES 40 – NEWS: DxO PHOTOLAB 1.2 AND THE NIK COLLECTION 2018

 

 


I’m a great fan of image processing programmes called Silver Efex Pro 2 (which I use for all my black and white images and Color Efex Pro 4. (There are some SEP2 images here – some using its original colour restoration facility, which can be effective) These programmes, which are a part of the Nik Collection, were originally developed by Nik Software, a Nikon company. Then they were bought by Google, which did a little more development – but then Google started giving them away, and many devotees (certainly including me!) had a very nasty feeling that the Nik Collection was simply going to be discontinued by Google, and hence disappear forever. However, the Nik Collection was acquired by DxO last year and, I see two items of good news in Amateur Photographer magazine .

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First, that DxO has updated the seven plug-ins in the Nik Collection, and that they are available right now – AND at a bargain price of £39.99 until 1 July. You can also have a 30-day free trial of this software. AP talks of these being plug-ins for Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop, which they undoubtedly are. I’ve been using this software, probably from its Nikon days, and I use it as a plug-in for an old version of Photoshop Elements, version 11. Whether they can be used standalone I don’t know.
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To say that I recommend this software – and especially SEP2 and CEP4 – is vast understatement, I use these programmes – and especially SEP2 – all the time. I don’t know how (if) DxO has improved them, but I’m pretty sure that they are continuing using Nik’s absolutely wonderful U Point technology which, in my view, simply leaves Lightroom’s radial filters far, far behind. You can find out more here .
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The other news concerns an update to DxO’s much praised raw and jpeg processing software, which is now available for £99 as DxO Photolab 1.2 – and which uses Nik’s U Point technology too. I’ve never used this software. At the moment, for just under £10/month, I’m using Adobe Lightroom. I find it slick, it does all I need to do – I have no need to get involved with Photoshop itself – and as long as Adobe don’t get greedy and increase the monthly fee, I’ll probably stick with it – although not at all being convinced by its Catalogue method of working. But I have a feeling that DxO’s Photolab 1.2 is good – you can get further details here .

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But two caveats to make about Photolab. First, one benefit of subscribing to Lightroom is that it is updated for new cameras’ raw files soon after the cameras appear, whereas I’m not sure this is the case with Photolab – so, especially if you’ve just bought a new camera and you shoot raw, check which cameras’ raw files 1.2 is good for – the DxO link given in the previous sentence includes the facility to see whether the software covers your camera’s raw files >>> and, for me, the second, vast caveat is that Photolab does NOT process raw files generated by Fujifilm cameras which use their unique X-Trans sensors >>> like my X-T1 and X-T2. So, not much use for me!!! But I certainly stand by my views on Silver Efex Pro 2 and Color Efex Pro 4 – they’re excellent.

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TALKING IMAGES 39 – FOUR THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND

 

 

In birding mode, with Leica 10×42 BA’s – solid, heavy, bulky (bit like me, really) and waterproof, and giving very good quality images.

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This is by no means a hard core photographic technique / hardware blog, its more about the images themselves, but I do read and digest Amateur Photographer magazine every week, and accumulate useful snippets of information both from there and from my own photographic experience.

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And four quite basic things have come to mind, which may be worth mentioning – LOL!!! apologies in advance, this is quite a dry read – but hopefully something in it somewhere may be useful or informative!

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My first camera, given to me 60 or more years ago, by my parents.

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LIMITATION OF IN-CAMERA IMAGE STABILISATION

Image stabilisation (IS) is that reasonably recent innovation that counteracts camera shake – which is the softening/blurring of handheld photos, due to unsteady holding of the camera.  IS can be situated within individual lenses, or within the body of the camera itself, or both.

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I had thought that in-camera IS would be the answer with any lens but, at the current state of technology, this is apparently true only up to telephoto lengths of about 300mm (full-frame equivalent).  At or above this focal length, in-camera IS cannot keep the image perfectly still.  But this may not be too much of a problem, as many longer telephotos these days have their own, inbuilt IS – although whether such an inbuilt lens system will always cooperate with in-camera IS I don’t know – I can only affirm this for Fujifilm’s latest flagship camera, the X-H1.

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The changing face of photography – on the right, a full-frame “traditional” DSLR, the Nikon D800: like the Leica binoculars, large, heavy and giving wonderful performance.  On the left, an APS-C compact system camera, the mirrorless Fujifilm X-T1: far easier to carry around, and also giving excellent performance in all but one or two quite specialised areas. (And read more about the D800 below)

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“SAFE” SHUTTER SPEEDS FOR DIGITAL CAMERAS WITH HIGH NUMBERS OF PIXELS

Here is another, very basic fact about obtaining sharp digital images.  For 35mm film, the minimum shutter speed for use with a handheld camera that would ensure sharp shots was traditionally the reciprocal of the focal length of the lens in use.  So, if I’m using a 50mm lens – commonly known as a standard lens, because it is near to the field of view as seen by human eyes – then the lowest shutter speed that I can use to guarantee sharp images is 1/50th of a second.  This is quite a low speed, but then a 50 is quite a small lens that does not magnify the image much if at all.

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BUT, if I then change to a 500mm telephoto, well this is a heavy and hulking great beast, which magnifies the image 10 times – so, heave this beast up handheld and look through the camera’s viewfinder, and the image will most probably be jumping all over the place >>> so that a higher shutter speed is needed to steady it >>> which equals 1/500th of a second.

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All well and good, and this very simple rule of thumb works in many instances for 35mm film cameras.  But then along came digital photography.  And in the beginning there were few problems because early digital sensors had relatively few light-sensitive sites, known as pixels, on their sensors.  My (then) state of the art Nikon D700 DSLR from 2008 has only 12MP, that is, (roughly) 12 million pixels – on a sensor the size of a 35mm film negative or colour slide.  And that is a very forgiving combination.  And forgiveness is what this is all about.

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Because I know that I can take the D700 into all sorts of difficult photographic situations and use low shutter speeds – and get away with it!  By which I mean that, because the camera has relatively few megapixels, it won’t show up my sloppy photographic technique – even if I don’t hold the camera perfectly steady, the resulting images will still look ok.

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WHEREAS – and this is the thing – one of the marketing trends in digital photography has been the ever increasing numbers of pixels in cameras – because the more pixels you have, the sharper your pictures will be, right?  Well, yes, right – as long as you are either using a tripod, or have impeccable handholding skills.  Because 24MP cameras are common now (e.g. my X-T2) and 35mm format digital sensors have reached 50MP – and those photographic babies are anything but forgiving with sloppy photographic technique – so that if your camera handholding skills are not good with a 24 (or higher) megapixel camera, your pictures will show clear evidence of the fact.

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I can well remember suffering this.  I’d bought the full frame Nikon D700 because, for the first time, here was a camera that would apparently give me the same photographic quality as my really wonderful Nikon F6 film camera.  And, because the D700 only has 12MP, I blasted away and got good quality.  BUT, later, I bought Nikon’s D800 DSLR (see image above), which has 36MP >>> and then used it at low shutter speeds the D700 would be fine at – and got a very nasty surprise!  Many of my images were at best “soft”, at worst downright blurred.  And this was because, with 3x the number of pixels the D700 has, the D800 demands much more care with photographic technique in order to keep the images sharp – which translates into either mounting it on a tripod (something I find very inhibiting and cumbersome), or using higher than usual shutter speeds.

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And of course camera manufacturers and retailers are not going to mention this aspect of high MP cameras, they are going to lay it on thick about the great image quality that can be achieved, together with the increased potential for image cropping – the potential for making more than one image from a single frame.

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So, something to remember, at 24MP or above, keep shutter speeds higher for handheld exposures – Amateur Photographer suggests twice the focal length of the lens – so, whereas 1/50th of a second was formerly used for a 50mm lens, now think of 1/100th of a second instead.

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And finally, of course, don’t forget that image stabilisation facilitates the safe use of slower shutter speeds than this “rule” indicates.

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Photographer
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ADVANTAGES AND LIMITATIONS OF SMALL DIGITAL SENSORS

Firstly – and very obviously – the smaller the digital sensor a camera has, the less image information it will collect, and the less suitable the resulting pictures will be for big enlargements and/or significant cropping of their content.  Having said this, sensor technology is improving by leaps and bounds, and smaller sensors are far more capable than they were in the past.  But, still, the basic rule applies – if you want big enlargements or the ability to significantly crop your images, then full frame (i.e. 35mm format) cameras, or cameras with still larger sensors, are best.

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Secondly, the smaller the digital sensor, the smaller and more portable the camera housing it can be.  I have been using full-frame Nikon DSLRs, and they really do the business – wonderful cameras –  but, they are bulky and heavy. And I now more enjoy using the lighter and more compact Fujifilm X-T2.  This camera has a smaller APS-C sized sensor which produces really beautiful images – but, there have been instances where I’ve missed the size (and, to a rather lesser extent) the quality of the Nikons’ larger sensors.

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A young girl’s very first written words.  She could write individual letters but had never attempted writing words before, but then some encouragement from her parents – and words suddenly flowed unceasingly across the paper – and I had a camera to hand.

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But now two other points.  I started this post by discussing image stabilisation, and the fact is that smaller sensors lend themselves more to this than larger sensors – which, again, is quite logical.  I’ve read quite astounding reports of the image stabilisation feats achieved with the small Micro Four Thirds sensors mounted in recent Olympus cameras, and this is the reason.  So, if you’re looking for ultra-reliable stabilisation in low light conditions, smaller sensors are the thing (although, for low light, larger sensors are better at light-gathering – you pays your money and you takes your choice!).

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But, finally, a far less obvious point.  The smaller sensors get, the larger are the depths of focus (aka depths of field) that they produce at any focal length.  Which means that full-frame cameras produce slimmer depths of focus, which is wonderful if you’re after lovely out of focus effects (bokeh) in, for example, portraits.  But its more difficult or impossible to get such effects with smaller sensors – I can get nice out of focus effects using the APS-C sensor of the X-T2, but this is with a 300mm (equivalent) telephoto used close in to subjects, as below here:

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Conversely, if you’re wanting to take images with everything or most things in focus (e.g. abstracts), then smaller sensors are for you.

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People laughing

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DIFFERENCES BETWEEN RAW AND JPEG FILES

Raw files collect all of the information from your camera’s sensor and, because of this, they can be used to extensively post-process images – for example, to rescue technique failures made at the point of capture, or to turn an image into something radically different from the scene that was originally photographed.  For these reasons, Raw format is the one to use if you are contemplating significant post-capture processing.  I never shoot any format except Raw, but that’s just my personal choice.

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Jpegs contain only the information from your camera’s sensor that relates to the actual image at the point of capture.  And so they can provide excellent images of the scenes that you have photographed as the camera saw them at the point of capture, but they cannot be used to significantly alter those images after capture – they simply do not contain the necessary data.  So you might use the jpeg format if you do not want to subject your photos to significant post-capture processing but are happy with the photos your camera produces – which you can then post straight onto the web, or get printed, etc.  In the past, Raw files were capable of producing much better quality images than jpegs, but this is no longer the case – many cameras can now produce very good jpeg images, Olympus and Fujifilm in particular being notable for this.  There is an earlier post on this here .

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I hope something here, at least, is useful.

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A double exposure photo of the Hazel tree in our garden, with the beautiful yellow leaves that it has in the autumn. The camera was moved slightly between the two exposures.
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ANNIVERSARY – FATMAN PHOTOS IS SEVEN

 

 


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Seven years of FATman Photos.  Once again, WOW!!! >>> where has all the time gone???!  But I like to mark these mileposts – if only to marvel at the fact that I’ve reached them!

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What to talk about?  Well, first thing, as always, thank you very much for looking at this blog over the past year.  I’m grateful for your Likes and the Comments – its always good to be in touch with you all.

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News?  Well, not a lot really.  On the hardware side, having gone mirrorless with the very good X-T1 and (especially the) X-T2 the year before, I’ve now acquired an Olympus TOUGH TG-5 camera – waterproof, shockproof, freezeproof, crushproof, you name it – but I’ve yet to realise its full potential >>> ha ha! which translates into >>> I’ve yet to hurl myself out into the rush hour on an early morning of pouring rain, freezing temperatures and howling wind, to try it out!  And I’m also not fully at one with its lack of a viewfinder and an articulated screen but, well – time will tell!

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And speaking of the morning rush hour, thank you for the good things said about the Going To Work series which, again to my surprise, continues onwards.

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Enough rambling from me – here are some pictures.  Although certainly not a motoring enthusiast, boy racer (except in my dreams …) or petrolhead, I enjoy looking at cars, looking at their shapes and how light plays on them, looking at them in various situations.  Here are a few pictures, many taken some years back – as usual, clicking onto them once or twice will enlarge them.  I hope you enjoy them – thank you again.

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Adrian

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TALKING IMAGES 38 – MAKING PHOTOBOOKS AS HARD COPIES / MEMORIES

 

I think it important to make hard copies of digital photos so as:

  1. not to have to perpetually view them on computer etc screens;

  2. to have them in a format in which they can be enjoyed at leisure, eg in armchair with a nice, civilised cup of English tea or (far, far better!) lots of ravishingly good Belgian beer;

  3. to act as back ups in case said computers / other devices undergo meltdowns / have mid-life crises.

And, in addition to those points, I am certainly NOT willing to print my own copies of my photos due to:

  1. what do I do with all the accumulated prints when all my wall space is taken up?  If putting them into traditional photo albums, why not make a photobook instead???

  2. the truly extortionate price of printer inks, combined with the most probable need to make at least several attempts at printing each photo before I’m at all satisfied with it.

  3. I could send my photos to professional printers, but then I would be have masses of prints – that I’d have to mount in traditional albums.

And so to making photobooks.  Advantages / disadvantages?

  1. not cheap on the scale I (more or less annually) do it (= 100+ images and text) but:

  2. provides a ready made book / album that sits easily on a bookshelf and on my lap

  3. photo reproduction good

  4. other books can be highly personalised and given as (very well received) presents – birthdays, Christmases, full Moons,  etc

  5. provides mountains of long-lasting memories – I compile favourite pictures from my blog for a 12 month period, and have both them and their full blog text (which brings back even more memories) in the photobook (some of the images shown here have brief captions – their full blog text is elsewhere in the photobook).

  6. I use Blurb, but there are many other good providers of such services.

  7. Should you opt to use Blurb, you may have quite different aims / preferences to me.  But, in case they’re useful, these are the Blurb options I standardise on.  Book Size= Large Square 30cmx30cm, because its large, and easily displays both portrait and landscape format images.  High quality paper = Proline Pearl Photo paper = very strong and heavy, good image reproduction. Book cover: Hard Cover with ImageWrap.  Have never tried an image across two pages because of deep central gutter, but there is now a better facility.  NB >>> pay great attention to the Print Safe Areas!!!  I use the new BookWright software which I’ve downloaded.  To me, thinking about double page spreads is very important – do the two (or more) images on a double page spread sit comfortably with each other?  On opening double page spreads, maybe my eyes go straight to the right page, so I have something more striking there, and something less striking but still good on the left – my eyes start on the right, but then realise the left has goodies too – useful???  Or you may experience the exact opposite.  Whatever, this might be something to consider.

So, just to give some idea of the products, here are some pictures from some of my Blurb books.  These pictures are not all well reproduced and some have actually been photographed on my computer screen – they come from the book I’m working on now – but they will give you an idea of what such books look like – and of course far more professional/up market looking layouts etc are possible.  I find Blurb (mostly) intuitive but there are many other providers. Clicking onto these images enlarges them.
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