A very brave photographer…

A very brave photographer with his Linhof Super Technika III 4x5 View Camera hangs on to a small ledge on the north side of the Cataract Gorge Launceston Tasmania

A very brave photographer risks life, limb and his beautiful Linhof Super Technika III 4×5 View Camera. I kid you not this is dangerous. The rock ledge he is perched on is about a metre wide and maybe one and a half metres long, but it is wet because every so often it gets splashed by that raging torrent that is flowing past him. The path that hangs on the north side of the gorge was closed up until the day before this image was made because it was totally flooded!

Memory and the XPro2…

Fuji XPro 2

Alik Griffin has written a really interesting article about flash card memory. Its interesting because the XPro2 turns out to be the fastest camera on the market when it comes to recording your images once the shutter has been pressed.

Alik has prepared a comparative table which gives ample information for thought on this most basic component of digital photography.

The takeaway from my own sixteen years of experience of flash or memory cards goes like this. “The larger the capacity the shorter the life”
This was true in 2002 when the first large capacity CF card with a staggering (at the time) 8Gb capacity card died after a bit over 12 months of usage it was a Sandisk. A few years later a 16 Gb card died. That was a Silicon Memory card very popular in Asia at the time. About five years later a couple 32Gb cards died with in a few months of each other. One was a Sandisk extreme and I remembered I paid what I thought was a lot at the time. Get the pattern!!! There are two elements in this equation, the period between failure and the size of the card both more or less double over time. I’m not complaining about this and rubbishing one brand over another as all cards were well used and I am pretty sure I have never lost any images. I recall that when each started to fail they popped a write error at which point I removed the card and replaced it with a spare.  I did this at all times having had years of experience with floppy drives (another blast from the past) and then once at home I extracted the files with a card reader mostly a San Disk branded unit.
Only once did I have to resort to recovery software. The cards were then reformatted and only used for studio work. invariably they failed again and were tossed in the tech recycling bin.
After pondering on the third cards death I remembered reading a description about the layering of microcircuitry in the RAM manufacturing process from years previous, I had an Apple ][ at the time! So as thoughts go I did more research on the production of flash cards and sure enough there were similarities. The following read write figures may not be correct and I’m not that bothered about accuracy for this purpose. However it seems that once 8Gb cards had been produced they had an expected write life of say 100,000 read write cycles then when another 8Gb layer was added to increase the capacity to 16Gb the read /write cycles reduced by I think half.  It then repeted again another layer of silicon adder to make a 32Gb and so on. The same pattern as my own CF card failure experience! So, with this knowledge I have continued to use nothing but 8Gb cards for every day work and I have not had a single failure since. Of all the brands that I have had multiple cards of  the only one that has never had a failure is Lexar. Now all of this may be down to a mixture of statistics, coincidence and perhaps even luck but that is my sort of ‘rule’ and I’m sticking to it!
As another qualifier I have a 1Gb CF card that is used in a Canon sureshot it dates from 2003 It gets used very little now but I take it out every so often and use it with its handy IR remote to photograph timid creatures in the garden…

 

 

De noise more or less…

DeNoise and Define

A few weeks NIK became free Topaz had an offer so I decided to test De Noise and DeFine On the left is the NIK and the right is De-Noise. NIK is about five years old and on that basis it stands up very well. De-noise certainly reduces the colour noise, smoothes out the interpolated constituent colours and increases the contrast at the same time. The result is greater definition overall.
NIK on the other hand seems to just extract selective colour noise and then goes no further… If the strength of noise reduction is increased much beyond moderate in De-Noise it gets smudgy and changes the look of the image. NIK tends to maintain the look and feel albeit with colour noise. I like NIK it has served well and seems to be more effective on higher key images than in this example which was shot at ISO 1600 at ten o’clock at night. Topaz De-Noise is obviously a huge advance in the programmes art and I feel will live up to Topaz’s claims to eliminate high ISO noise.
I need to use De Noise more and under varying conditions with my Olympus EM1. This image was shot on a Fuji XPro1. That said from less demanding images worked on and shot with the EM1 I feel that the results will be very similar. This was an extreme shot hence its use as an illustration of the softwares capabilities.

NIK software collection – now a free download!

NIKS Free

Google just announced that the NIK collection is now a free download https://www.google.com/nikcollection/
I seem to recall I paid USD 350 when our Australian $ was about 10% higher. Not too phased about it it has been used a lot all except Efx most of which did not appeal or could be done better with actions in Photoshop.
Personally I would have preferred that the googs update a few of the modules. Define & Sharpen are looking a tad long in the tooth. Vivesa which is sort of like quick mask on steroids, Silver Efx and to a lesser extent HDR will have a lasting place in the tool box. Especially for folks like me who are not prepared to sub scribe to Adobe’s Greed cloud…

 

The X Pro 2…

Fuji X Pro 2 Camera

The announcement from Fuji regarding the X Pro 2 has come and gone and unfortunately I didn’t get to see the official launch which apparently had it humerous moments.
The new main feature are as follows:
New X-Trans™* CMOS III sensor & X Processor Pro
New Advanced Hybrid Multi Viewfinder
New 1/8000 sec. Mechanical Shutter
New Film Simulation “ACROS”
New 7×7 Phase Detection AF Area
New Compressed RAW file format
Weather resistant structure
This is all wonderful especially the larger sensor and the improved autofocus. With regards to the film simulation ACROS is good I think I still have a few rolls in my freezer but the negative film that I have not seen digitally synthisized is Reala. It was bullit proof,  for me it was perhaps the best colour negative film ever made. It was almost impossible to do anything wrong with it, the colour render was as ‘Reala’ as it was possible to be. It could be pushed a full  stop and providing the process chemistry was fresh one could hardly tell the difference!

The X Pro 2 rear sid
Looking at the camera on the Australian Fuji film web site its the back side that has me intested the most here there are real improvements the elegance and simplicity of the new design is very evident. I found with the XPro1 that the three buttons on the left hand side got in the way and are often inadvertantly pressed in error.
These fumbled finger errors of mine ocurre because of cervical spinal damage. It generally happens far less with the XPro1 than they do with my Olympus Micro Four Thirds EM1 which happens almost every time I pick it up. The only reason why I have not sold off the Olympus kit is that it happens to have a touch screen which helps greatly particularly when shooting macro or at any time with a tripod. The Fuji on the other hand it has a shutter that is threaded for a traditional cable release which means one can use a ‘Soft Shutter’ button.  I tried several of these from Ebay sellers but the threading varies, some are very slack and fall out after the XPro1 is turned off and on a few times, I lost two within the space of a month. The best soft shutter button available by far is a Fotasy dilivered in 4 different coloured buttons for USD16 not only a good price but its the largest available being 15mm in diameter. With this shutter button I am able to work all most as if I did not have this wretched disability. Sadly not all Fuji cameras have a threaded shutter feature. I would have likely bought a Fuji T1 if it had a threaded shutter. I note that the new Olympus Pen F has a threaded shutter, Praise be for Retro!!! So on that basis alone and contrary to my first thoughts its enough to prompt to likely buy an XPro2. The T10, XE2 and most recently the EE2s all seem a bit small. However to be fair I haven’t had the oportunity to test drive either, peculiarly its almost all the budget X cameras that have this threaded shutter feature and almost essential for this photographer.

On the subject of retro another little feature thatcould be useful is the ISO selection. While its fine to make the ISO selection in software a quick glance at a dial is much faster. Wether its faster to change is another matter which comes back the the fumble finger issue…

Fuji XPro2 Top view 1

If the manual dial has user settings which that ‘H’ could indicate then it might be even better and more flexible than software control alone. I like these manual controls but with automation of any sort of any sort its the interface that makes or breaks it. A few camera manufactures get it right to barely passible. Fuji get an A from me in this department, think Sony Nex or even Canon and they fall into the E+ to F category. This can be argued ad nauseum but lets face it who ever picked up an instruction sheet for the iPad or iPhone that changed everything. On the very first relaease day of the iPhone or was it the iPod touch (even earlier I think) I said out loud why isn’t my camera interface like this!  Camera interfaces have gotten better but not by much… To be continued 

A short review of the XPro 2 from A gentleman word

A basket full of needlepoint… The original pixel art!!!

A basket full of needle point, the original pixel art, methinks
Fuji X One Pro ƒ8 1/220s ISO320 18-55mm
From the first time I entered our parish church as a young child I noticed the needle point kneelers that were made by the ladies of the congregation. Generally the decoration was of symbols that fitted into the context of the angelican church or just colourful repeted patterns and designs not too dissimilar to these in this basket. These kneelers were picked up as one entered the church and taken to the pew where each parishioner would spend the next hour or so participating in the service. I was always fascinated by the colorfull simplicity of these functional items of honest craft work. Most were made to a very high standard but I remember one week a stack of newly crafted kneelers were stacked in the vestibule. I followed my mother into church ahead of a friend, his sisters and parents followed, we all picked up a brand spanking new kneeler then made our way to the pew where we sat almost every week. Once seated there was a hinged shelf attached to the pew in front this was lowered on to the floor and the kneelers were then placed upon it. One then knelt and said a prayer about being humble and thankful for the opportunity to be in church for the service. A sentiment never completly understood by children of fifties! Then it happened, my friends sister started to giggle, she got a nudge from the parent she then serupticiously eye gestured to the kneeler and in turn four children started to smile and giggle even my mother developed a curled grin. One of the freshly minted kneelers had an image of Mary holding a baby Jesus, nothing funny about that. The problem was the maker of this kneeler had got Mary’s bare bussom proportions completely out of scale with the rest of the kneeler. Fact was these bare bussoms ocupied a full third of the kneeler. The children giggled through the first couple of hymns then as everyone sat for the lesson a parent notice the offending kneeler which was promptly turned over. That kneeler was never seen again. But for several weeks after, it was giggled and talked about and even looked for by all the children who learned of the wayward kneeler with the enormous bussoms…