28 posts

Metabones Fuji X to Nikon F Adapter

As I had mentioned in my write-up on the Fuji X-T1, I intended to order a lens adapter to use my Nikon lenses on the Fuji. After doing some research, I settled on the Metabones version. This is not the SpeedBooster, just the regular mount adapter so it has no glass element.  Continue reading

Fuji X-T1, My Thoughts

There are several articles and videos on the interwebs about the Fuji X-T1, Fuji’s new flagship in its wonderful X-Trans sensor line of cameras. This isn’t going to be a hardcore, pixel-peeping, measurbating, test-bench jockey review like some of the others. I will go through some of the performance aspects of the camera but I’m also going to discuss some of the user-related aspects. I’m more concerned with how the camera operates in actual shooting conditions. At 16 megapixels, the pixel pitch, or size, is the same as on the full-frame Nikon D800.
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PowerTrip by PowerStick

In my ongoing research for the new book project, I began looking for portable power options that could help in situations where phone or tablet batteries are running low and you’re not close to a wall outlet. There are a few such options out there. Mophie makes a line of portable travel chargers as does Veho. A little more digging and I found a Canadian company called Ecosol with a unique product. Being Canadian, the idea of a product from a Canadian company is, of course, appealing. What sets this one apart though is that it also can be configured with storage and has a unique charging feature. Thank you to the folks at Ecosol for agreeing to send me one to evaluate. Continue reading

The RAW Goods – Nokia 1020 Raw Capture

If you read my write-up on the camera in the Nokia 1020 from back in November, you’ll know that I found a number of shortcomings with it.  At that time, I noted that there would be a firmware update coming that would give RAW capture to the phone in the form of DNG.  It was called the Lumia Black update. Continue reading

Nokia Lumia 1020 – Does it Live Up to the Hype?

In a word:  No.

EDIT:  I’ve received comments that are critical of this review.  I’ve been told that it was written as a ‘gotcha’ piece to try and attack Nokia.  I’ve been asked why I even wrote the review when I knew the RAW update was coming out.  Continue reading

Patriot Gauntlet WiFi Hard Drive

As I noted in my last article reviewing the RAM Mount Universal X-Grip system, mobile is advancing at a very rapid pace in the photography world. Not just taking pictures with a mobile device but the use of mobile devices in workflows.

As I continue to research and experiment with different mobile options for my new book project, I’m pretty much at a point where I think a laptop on the road is unnecessary, probably, 90% of the time or more. Really, the only time I think I might need a laptop is if I were doing a live software demonstration.  And even then, quite possibly not. Continue reading

RAM Mount X-Grip

The world of mobile photography continues to grow. And I’m not talking about taking pictures with a smartphone or tablet. I’m talking about the ability to use mobile technology to help in the workflow. Using tablets or smartphones and associated apps to help make photos or videos with a DSLR.

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GeoTagging for Android

I wrote a couple articles back in 2010 about geocoding (or geotagging) photos using an app for Blackberry phones.  Having recently switched to the Android platform, I was looking to do the same thing with the new Android phone.

There are a number of apps that come up when searching the Android Market for geotagging or gps tracking.  The one I’ve started with is GPSLogger.  I chose it because (a) it’s free and (b) because it natively creates track logs in the .gpx format which is what the syncing software GPicSync uses. Continue reading

Android App Review – Photo Enhance Pro HD

Applications or ‘apps’ are the things that make smartphones and tablets more fun and more useful.  In an earlier article, I looked at the camera in the new Samsung Galaxy S II LTE.  In this article, I’m going to walk you through an app to go along with the camera – Photo Enhance Pro HD.  This is a paid app but there is a slightly stripped down free version as well.  The phone comes with a stock photo editor app but often third party apps have enhanced functionality or more features. Continue reading

Quick Overview of Photomatix 4.1

The folks at HDRSoft released a new version of their HDR software recently. As a beta tester for the software I got to see some of the new features during development and there’s some really good stuff in this update.

The first thing that’s evident is the speed. The speed increase was introduced with v4.0 a few months ago. PM has never been sluggish but the uptick in the new version is certainly welcomed. Continue reading

Book Review – Practical HDRI, 2nd Ed by Jack Howard

I’ve had an interest in HDR photography for several years. It’s a wonderful innovation for the art of photography but I’ve felt that it could have some terrific application in commercial photography. And it has. An increasing number of photographers have been adding HDR to their arsenal; particularly in the architectural/real estate area. Continue reading

Book Review – Speedliter’s Handbook by Syl Arena

I became aware of this book a few months ago at a time when there was a bit of controversy around a scanned copy that had made its way onto the web. It wasn’t a topic I actually had a great deal of interest in (being a Nikon shooter, albeit former Canon shooter) as I don’t do much studio work and don’t use flash much; but I bought a copy to support the author in light of the situation with the scanned copy.

I’m glad I did. Continue reading

New Photo Mag on the Market

I’ve recently been made aware of a new photography magazine that’s hit the North American market. Jack Howard, author of Practical HDRI and Practical HDRI 2nd Ed let me know about it a few weeks ago. The mag. is c’t Digital Photography. I checked out the website and got in touch with the publisher and they were kind to send me a copy of the latest issue. Continue reading

HDR Software Review Pt XI – Nik HDR Efex Pro

Another new entrant into the HDR software field has been introduced by Nik Software. HDR Efex Pro is the newest in a series of plugins from Nik. The software installs the tonemapping plugin as well as a merge script so you can do both the merging and tonemapping. Nik’s 32 bit flavour is EXR (as opposed to Radiance HDR).

I’ll state upfront that I don’t own any Nik products (I’m using the trial version for this review). I, personally, feel the products are overpriced for what you get and I’m not a fan of ‘canned’ or ‘recipe’ based solutions. I know you can make adjustments after choosing a preset, but I still prefer a more DIY approach. I also know that Nik has a lot of users and a lot of fans and that’s fine. I’m just stating my viewpoint.

To start merging a set of files the command path is File>Automate>Merge to HDR Efex Pro. Very similar to the path for merging to Photoshop’s HDR Pro so there’s some familiarity here for those already using HDR Pro. A dialogue box opens where you choose your source files, choose whether you want to use alignment and deghosting. There are two types of deghosting and three possible strengths for each type. According to Nik, the Adaptive deghosting is best used for things like leaves/branches and the Global deghosting is best used for larger elements that move more through the scene like people or cars. We’ll see how these work later.  You can also choose to open the resulting file as a Smart Object. Continue reading

HDR Software Review Series Pt X – Picturenaut

This is the last instalment in the series of HDR software reviews. If a new application comes along in the future, I may add it to the set and I’m in the process of looking at some new beta versions of a couple previous applications so will likely update those reviews in the future with new information; but for all intents and purposes this is it. What started out as a list of about 5 applications has grown to a 10 part series. From a purely personal standpoint, if I never see the images that have been used in all these reviews again it’ll be too soon. 😀 I hope the thoughts I’ve laid out have been useful for some people and perhaps given some insight from the standpoint of a casual user.

This last instalment will look at Picturenaut. I was initially reluctant to include it because unlike all the other applications in the series, Picturenaut isn’t a commercial product. My feeling is that if someone’s offering a piece of software for sale, it’s open to be reviewed and critiqued but if someone’s offering up a piece of software for free it’s a different matter.

Picturenaut can be downloaded from the HDRLabs website which, as many of you probably know, is owned and maintained by Christian Bloch. Christian is well known in HDR circles and is the author of The HDRI Handbook which is highly recommended as one of the two seminal reads for users of HDR both new and advanced along with Practical HDRI. Continue reading

HDR Software Review Series Pt VIII – Preview of Oloneo Photo Engine

I received an email from the folks behind Photo Engine a few weeks ago telling me they were going to be launching a new software package that did HDR and a whole lot more and asking if I’d be interested in being part of the beta group. Sure, I said.

I’ve been playing with the software now for a couple weeks. What follows is essentially a review like others in the series but keep in mind that things could change since this is only the first beta of the program.

I’ll say upfront that Photo Engine is a very complex piece of software. It takes a bit of time to get a feel for it. There’s some terrifically complex coding in the background related to the HDR Relight feature to be sure. In general, while what I’ve seen so far is looking like it’s going to be a very good program, there some complexities and features that are superfluous and attention could have been paid elsewhere. More on that as we progress.  I also think that some of what’s in this software is geared toward CG artists and may not be a lot of use to photographers.

There’s a particular feature of Photo Engine that I haven’t tried yet and that won’t be covered in this preview.  It’s the HDR Relight feature.  I’ll state upfront that I’m a bit skeptical as to the applicability of this for photographers – it may be one of those aspects of the software that CG artists will use more – but will keep an open mind and reserve final judgement till I’ve had the chance to try it out. Continue reading

HDR Software Review Series Pt VII – HDR Darkroom

HDR Darkroom is another relative newcomer to the HDR software scene. I say relative newcomer because it came to market after many of the well known apps like Photomatix, Dynamic Photo HDR and FDRTools.  I only became aware of it in the last couple months and decided to add it to the growing list of software apps in this series.

I should state upfront that after sending some questions to the folks who produce HDR Darkroom, they’ve provided me with a full version (sans watermark) and in return, I’m going to provide them with some samples to use on their web gallery at no cost.

Unlike many of the other applications coming out on the market, HDRDR is ‘just’ an HDR application.  It’s not trying to be all things to all people, which is a plus in my book.  They’re concentrating on one thing with HDRDR and concentrating on doing it well.  32 bit files can be saved either as Radiance (.hdr) or OpenEXR (.exr).  When saving JPEG files, there are no quality options.  The file is saved at full size and full quality.  Personally, I prefer this.

On opening the program, the GUI is clean and simple with a menu bar at the top and menu icons down the left.  This allows you to use whatever method you’re comfortable with to work.  Positioning your mouse over an icon brings up a description of what it is so you’re not working blind if you use the icons. Continue reading

HDR Software Review Pt VI – Photomatix Pro 4 Preview

The latest beta of PM 4, b2, came out a few days ago. It’s got some new features and a few tweaks so I’m going to give a bit of a preview-review of some of the new functionality. The folks at HDRSoft know I’m doing this and are fine with it. They’ve asked me not to show any screen shots of the GUI and I won’t. That’s unfortunate though because some of the biggest changes involve the GUI. I will try to describe some of them as best I can.

Part II of this review series discussed the current version of Photomatix.  As I noted there, it’s a terrific piece of software and, until PS CS5 HDR Pro was introduced, has been arguably the ‘gold standard’ of HDR software apps.  With the introduction of the new features in CS5 HDR Pro, there’s (arguably) a bit of a tussle for that title of ‘gold standard’.  Does any of that change with what’s coming in the new version of Photomatix?  Let’s take a look. Continue reading

HDR Software Review Pt V – SNS-HDR Pro

UPDATE:  August 9, 2010 – SNS-HDR continues to be improved.  The latest (v1.2) has improved speed over previous versions.  While still not quite as fast as some others, it’s now fast enough that speed isn’t a concern.  Also, something I had overlooked previously is that at the bottom of the tonemapping panel, to the right of the colour profile dropdown is a small monitor icon.  Clicking on this brings up a dialogue box to select the appropriate display profile.  This is only necessary in WinXP due to limitations on colour management support in that OS.  Later versions of Windows don’t need to do this.

SNS-HDR is a relative newcomer to the game. Since writing the introductory piece for this review series, checking the search stats for my site, SNS has been the single most searched for term that brought people to my blog. It’s obviously getting a fair bit of attention. Based on what I can see tracking a few IP addresses, most of the attention is coming from Europe but it’s likely that the buzz will move across the pond in due course.  The website is in Polish but there’s a Google Translate dropdown in the upper right that will convert to English (or other languages). Continue reading