October 21, 2014, 04:33:53 PM

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Topics - jrista

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1
Third Party Manufacturers / iPhone 6 gets an Exmor
« on: September 29, 2014, 02:24:16 PM »
I found this the other day:

http://image-sensors-world.blogspot.com/2014/09/chipworks-iphone-6-plus-teardown-finds.html

Looks like even iPhone has moved to Exmor. Excerpt form Chipworks (their page doesn't seem to be loading at the moment):

Quote
"The iPhone 6 Plus iSight camera chip is housed in a camera module measuring 10.6 mm x 9.3 mm x 5.6 mm thick. Fabricated by Sony, the iSight camera chip is a stacked (Exmor RS), back-illuminated CMOS image sensor (CIS) featuring 1.5 µm generation pixels (introduced for the iPhone 5s). The die size is 4.8 mm x 6.1 mm (29.3 mm2). The phase pixel pairs have all been implemented in the green channel and cover the majority of the active pixel array."

"Our speculation of Sony winning the FaceTime sockets, though, turned out to be correct. We’ve just confirmed the iPhone 6 Plus FaceTime camera is a stacked Sony CIS and will provide more details in a future update."

2
I received my A7r rental from LensRentals today. I've been working, but I took a few minutes to snap some quick shots of my living room, with the goal of preserving the highlights of the bright sunlit outdoors in the front windows. To do that, I had to underexpose the foreground well below the levels that they appeared it my eyes.

I did not try to make any explicit exposure choices here. The goal was simply to expose for the highlights. These were shot from the hip, no tripod, no real planning. The goal was just to create a couple exposures with highlight preservation in mind, and see how the shadows handled some major pushing. I'll leave it up to each person to draw their own conclusions. I have provided a link to the raw files, so you can all download them, play with them yourself, and verify (or refute, if you prefer) the various claims made about DR.

Here are the original exposures:


Canon 5D III


Sony A7r



Here are the exposures lifted to generally mirror what the room looked like to my bare eyes (+4EV, -100 Highlights):


Canon 5D III


Sony A7r



Just to see how far I could push things, here a couple more versions, not particularly "realistic", but still a good demonstration of what's possible and how the raw data reacts. No interpretation of the data needed here...5D III totally falls apart. A7r...noisy...but manageable.

Maximum push (+5EV, -100 Highlights, -100 Whites, +50 Shadows):


Canon 5D III


Sony A7r



Here are full size versions of the +4 stop pushed examples (zoom in on PhotoBucket for full size):

Canon 5D III

Sony A7r


Here are full size versions of the +5 stop pushed examples (zoom in on PhotoBucket for full size):

Canon 5D III

Sony A7r



Histograms

ETTR? Yup. Too much. On both cameras.





You can download the raw files here:

http://1drv.ms/1ol6Km5




Finally got a chance to process one of the sets of images I got with the A7r and 5D III. This particular set of images I did not really expect to show any difference, however I think the subtleties and small push here might actually be best. I saw this rock with a patchwork of different kinds of mosses, frames in the spotty sunlight shining through some pine trees. I thought the light and shadow made for a decent example of DR.

Here are the original shots:


Canon 5D III


Sony A7r

Here are the shots processed to bring up the shadows:


Canon 5D III (+2 EV, -80 Highlights, +100 Shadows)


Sony A7r (+2 EV, -85 Highlights, +100 Shadows, +35 Contrast)



Here is a quick close-up comparison of the two key shadow areas after the 2-stop push.





Raw files pending.

3
http://www.amazon.com/Best-Sellers-Electronics-DSLR-Cameras/zgbs/electronics/3017941/ref=zg_bs_nav_e_4_3109924011

I just found it interesting...this page used to be completely dominated by Canon DSLRs. Earlier in the year/late last year, there were only a couple Nikon cameras on the list, and all of them were below 10th place. Today, I just thought I'd take another gander:

Canon still holds the top spot, with the T3i...however (at the time of writing this...seems the report is updated hourly, so who knows what it will be by the time anyone reads this):

#2: D3300
#4: D5300 Kit Option
#7: D7100
#9: D810
#10: D3100
#15: D5300 Kit Option
#17: D5200

That is seven DSLRs on that list that are now Nikon. Plus a Pentax. Of the cameras on the list, all of the Nikon's except for one held their position or GAINED. ONE Nikon fell. Of the cameras on the list, it was split 50/50 between which FELL and which gained or held their position.

This has been a staple ranking for those who tout the market share argument. I think, in general, THIS page is one of the key pages that fuels the market share argument. In addition, so does this page:

http://www.amazon.com/Best-Sellers-Electronics-DSLR-Camera-Bundles/zgbs/electronics/2476680011/ref=zg_bs_nav_e_4_3017941

Where the top two spots are held by Nikon kits now. It should also be pointed out that Nikon and Sony cameras hold the top spot on all the Digital Camera best sellers listings. I don't think that a page that updates hourly is honestly a good gauge of which specific camera is best...however I do believe that the consistency of brands on these pages over time is an indication of market trends. These pages used to be dominated by Canon on a regular basis...today, they seem to be much more diverse. Regardless of who has what rankings, the greater diversity is very intriguing to me.

I started looking at these pages to see what the current state of "the market", in this case, let's just say the whole damn digital camera market, really was. In my additional searches...I have actually not found any recent market share data that's been aggregated into something easily comparable between brands. There are lots of reports, up supposedly through 2012, and some reports published in 2013, however from an actual real data standpoint, most seem to reference data up through 2010 and maybe 2011. I have not actually found any global sales reports, for the DSLR market specifically, but even the digital camera market in general, that was completely through 2012, and nothing at all for 2013. I found some reports that speak about just the Japanese or Asian markets, however the demographics there, and the cameras sold, don't seem to jive with the rest of the world (more mirrorless, for example).

So...the whole market share argument...I'm just curious, honestly curious, where it comes from. When I look around, I see that market share up through 2010 was indeed dominated by Canon. It was still controlled by Canon in 2011, however Sony and Nikon apparently closed the gap. Since then...the most critical years...2012, 2013, 2014...there doesn't actually seem to be any concrete data about the real state of the market. Only bits and pieces of disparate data that aren't directly comparable. Who is dominant, who is selling the most...and of what kind of cameras? How has market share shifted, if it's shifted at all? Which camera types are most popular, and what alternatives are REALLY cutting into what markets and where?

Based on the current Amazon Digital Camera best sellers rankings...Canon, which I do remember held the top spots in pretty much every category...only seems to hold the top spot in ONE category now, and Nikon and Sony cameras are much more prevalent in those categories as well. Overall, those pages contain a greater diversity of brands, and the very strong dominance Canon cameras once held seems to have wavered.

4
Landscape / Within Forests
« on: September 01, 2014, 05:30:39 PM »
I noticed there wasn't a thread dedicated to forest landscapes. The purpose of this thread is to show off your photos where your right there, in a forest, jungle, rainforest, etc. Aspens, Redwoods, Pines...if your surrounded by trees of any kind, it's a forest. ;)

Forest Boke

5D III and 50mm f/1.4







5
For those of you who know me, you know I started doing deep sky astrophotography this February. I know a lot of you have expressed interest in the hobby, so I thought I'd share my latest setup. I've learned a lot in the last seven months, including which way is best for setting up a tracking mount for use with DSLR equipment (particularly with Canon's big L-series telephotos, which double as superb "astrograph" telescopes.)

My first attempt, as far as mounting equipment went, was to purchase ADM Accessories' "Dual Side-by-Side Saddle". This is couple pieces of solid, machined metal configured in such a way that it will allow two pieces of equipment, such as a telescope and a guidescope, to be set up side by side on a tracking mount. It looks something like this:




While this got me started, it ultimately turned out to be heavy, difficult to balance, and overall just clunky. It's a better option if you plan to run two identical scopes side-by-side (which some astrophotographers do...they will run two identical setups side by side to either gather sub light frames (just 'subs' for short) at twice the rate, or they will set up each scope and imager with a different set of filters (such as RGB on one side, and Narrow Band on the other) for highly detailed, colorful imaging with mono CCD cameras.

I recently found some better parts, ones that gave me the option of creating a much tighter, much lighter, more compact, easier to balance and more stable means of mounting my lens to my tracking mount. This setup looks like the following:












The equipment in the pictures is the Canon 5D III, Canon EF 600mm f/4 L II (with RealTree4 LensCoat, no hood),  Orion Atlas EQ-G equatorial tracking mount, Orion 50mm Mini Gidescope, QHY5L-II Mono guide and planetary imager (uses a Aptina MT9M034 CMOS sensor, extremely high 74% Q.E.), an ADM Accessories 15" D-type Universal Dovetail, and a couple of Cradle-type Clamshell Scope Rings from ScopeStuff.

I also used various bits of super cheap hardware from Lowes and/or Home Depot, including large washers, and some long hex-cap 1/4-20 screws to level out the center axis of the scope rings, and attach them to the dovetail. Grand total cost here was maybe ten bucks.

The total cost of these items (excluding the Canon pieces) was less than $2000 (maybe a little more if you don't find the Atlas on sale), which in the grand scheme of things is extremely cheap for astrophotograpy gear. To really get any better than this, you need to spend more than $2000 on just the mount (and more like $8000 to $25,000), you need to spend several thousand on a good astrograph (a good refracting telescope, one that doesn't even have as large an aperture as the 600/4, is going to run you several thousand at least, and for something with a 130-150mm aperture like the 600/4 is going to run you anywhere from $10,000 to $15,000 anyway; a good RC or CDK astrograph is going to cost you at east a few thousand, if you get something from Astro-Tech...and as much as twenty to eighty thousand for a 12-24" RCOS or PlaneWave).

If you already have Canon equipment, such as a DSLR and say a 200, 300, or 400mm lens (doesn't necessarily have to be a big L-series telephoto...just any long lens will usually do), then for $2000 or less, you could get yourself a pretty accurate tracking mount and all the other necessary equipment to reliably mount your camera and lens to that mount, with a high quality guiding setup (Orion 50mm mini guidescope and QHY5L-II CMOS camera), which, when set up and handled properly, is good enough for 600 second (10 minute) exposures (which is enough for f/8 telescopes, and more than enough for lenses with f/6.3 or faster apertures.

Now, I personally HIGHLY recommend the Orion Atlas mount, or the SkyWatcher EQ6 (which is the same thing, even manufactured by the same company in China, just a different company). The key benefit with these mounts is the ability to use EQMOD with them, which is very powerful, flexible software that runs on a computer (laptop or windows tablet) and replaces the hand controller. The use of an Atlas/EQ6 is not a requirement, however. If you are not using a large Canon L-series telephoto (the 300, 400, 500, 600, or 800), then you do not necessarily need the capacity this mount has to offer. You could get something like the iOptron ZEQ25, which runs around $800 ($500 cheaper than the Atlas...which in and of itself is enough to cover the QHY5L-II and Orion 50mm Mini Guidescope). The ZEQ25 is a capable mount, it just doesn't have the carrying capacity nor the compatibility with EQMOD. It is more than enough for a DSLR with a smaller telephoto lens up to 400-500mm (say a Canon 100-400, 400mm f/5.6 prime, or maybe a Sigma lens that goes up to 500mm...possibly even the 150-600.)

So, if you really want to get started with deep sky/planetary/lunar/solar astrophotography, you can do so for less than $1500. That may sound like a lot, and for some of you it may be...but it's actually ludicrously cheap as far as astrophotography equipment goes. If you spend the money, don't regret it. Astrophotography is a complex hobby, and certainly not for everyone...but for those of you who are really interested in getting into it, it is really money VERY well spent.

6
Well, I said for a long time that once I got a 5D III, I'd do some comparison shots. I've long held the opinion that crop sensor cameras, like the 7D, do have value in certain circumstances. The most significant use case where a camera like the 7D really shows it's edge over full frame cameras is in reach-limited situations. A reach limited situation is one in which you cannot get physically closer to your subject, and your subject does not fill the frame. The likely case is that you are using your longest lens, and will likely crop in post.

In the past, others have made the argument that a camera like the 5D III or 1D X has so much more image quality than a camera like the 7D that the 7D could never compare. The argument was made that an upsampled 5D III or 1D X image (or even, for that matter, D800/E, D600, etc. image) would be just as good.

I'd like to prove my case. I've taken the most reach-limited scenario possible...photographing the moon, with a 1200mm lens (Canon EF 600mm f/4 L II w/ Canon EF 2x TC III). I used a Canon EOS 7D and a Canon EOS 5D Mark III for imaging. The lens and camera were attached to an Orion Atlas EQ-G equatorial tracking mount, operating in Lunar tracking mode, to minimize any other factors that might affect image quality. Seeing (atmospheric turbulence measure) was average.



Above is a GIF image of the 7D and 5D III images scaled to the same size, overlaid directly on top of each other using Photoshop's layer difference blending mode for best possible alignment. Both images were created exactly the same way, by initially focusing with BackyardEOS' focus module for optimum focus (BYEOS is like having a 2560x1600 live view screen...it's awesome!) The image exposures for both cameras are 1/100s f/8 ISO 200. Five images for both cameras were taken, the best frame from each set was chosen for comparison. Both images were maximally cropped simply by choosing 1:1 in Lightroom. Both images had identical processing applied in Lightroom (one image was processed, it's settings were copied and pasted onto the other.) Both images were initially scaled to approximately 1/4 their original size (770x770 pixels, to be exact).

The 5D III image was then layered onto the 7D image, and upsampled in Photoshop by a scale factor of exactly 161.32359522807342533660887502944%. This scale factor was derived by computing the sensor diagonals of both cameras:

Code: [Select]
ffDiag = SQRT(36^2 + 24^2) = 43.266615305567871517430655209646
apscDiag = SQRT(22.3^2 + 14.9^2) = 26.819768828235637870277777227866

Then dividing the FF diagonal over the APS-C diagonal:

Code: [Select]
43.266615305567871517430655209646/26.819768828235637870277777227866 = 1.6132359522807342533660887502944x
Then finally multiplying by 100% (to get a relative scale factor that I could directly apply with Photoshop's layer scaling tool.)

I believe the GIF above speaks for itself. The larger pixel size of the 5D III clearly does not resolve as much detail as the 7D does. Not only is the 7D image sharper, but there is a significant increase in fine details, small craters, nuances of color, etc. Here is another GIF, this time the images are only 1/2 original size (any larger, and the effects of seeing diminish any real benefit...I've had days where seeing is excellent, and more detail can be resolved, but sadly tonight was not one of those days):



The 7D's smaller pixels, despite being a generation prior to the 5D III's, are still resolving more detail, especially fine edges to crater rims (some of which don't even show up at all in the FF image), and are extracting a finer and more nuanced level of color. Many smaller craters, especially those that are inside larger craters, as well as the central mounds of many craters, are either difficult to make out or simply don't appear in the 5D III image, where as they show up clearly in the 7D image.

A common reach-limited use case is bird photography. Similar to the moon, it can be difficult to get close to and fully extract all the detail from a small songbird, shorebirds, and shy waders or waterfowl. One either needs a significantly longer lens on the full frame (I am still experimenting with the 5D III, but I'll probably be using 840mm and 1200mm a lot more than 600mm), or you need the skill to get much closer to your subjects, in order to fully take advantage of the benefits the larger frame has to offer.

Anyway, there you have it. The 5D III is an excellent camera, and when you have the option of framing identically (i.e. filling the frame with your subject), the larger frame trounces the 7D in terms of image quality. It gathers 2.6002949408613476991603214253469x more light:

Code: [Select]
(36 * 24) / (22.3 * 14.9) = 864 / 332.27 =  2.6002949408613476991603214253469
With more than two and a half times more light, it's two and a half times better. Like using two and a half stops lower ISO on the cropped sensor. However if you don't have the option of either getting closer to your subject, or using a super long lens (not everyone has the option of spending $13,800 ($12,800+$500+$500) on a 600mm f/4 II and both of Canon's Mark III TCs), then there is no question that a camera like the 7D, or currently the better option the 70D, is going to give you the option of creating more detailed photos.

UPDATES:

Ok, here are a few updates, as per requested.

The first image here is the 7D and 5D III at "native" size. To further clarify my procedure from above. These images were "cropped", however they were cropped such that 100% of the sensor height was used. The only parts of the image that were discarded were the empty black sky areas to the left and right of the moon. That means, from a technical standpoint, these are 1:1 crops. They are then downsampled, but since I used 100% of the sensor height, these crops are directly indicative of the relative size difference of the moon in both frames.



You'll notice the 5D III image is sharp. Both images were sharp, or at least, as sharp as I could get them. I basically used a live view method of focusing, however one that is much more advanced. I used the program BackyardEOS, which is an astrophotography imaging tool that is specifically designed for Canon EOS cameras (which are endemic in the astrophotography world for budget imagers...the T3, T3i, 60Da and 6D are pretty much the top cameras you'll find in astrophotographers kits...those that don't use dedicated astrophotography CCDs.)



BYEOS has a brilliant frame and focus wizard. It takes the live view feed from the camera, and renders it on a computer screen. I can maximize the program and basically get 2560x1600 live view (minus a bit program panels and border).

I use these tools to focus:



I use coarse and medium to get focus close, then step with fine. The fine focusing arrows are extremely fine...they are designed to focus stars, so they move the focus group in the lens by the smallest possible amount. I spent about five minutes with these tools with both cameras to find the best focus possible. It isn't as easy as it sounds...you don't just end up with a crisp, sharp moon. The moon, at that size, looks more like it was dropped into a vat of boiling water, and every few seconds you have a moment where the "water" (atmospheric turbulence or "seeing") clears, and in that moment you have to gauge whether to focus forward or back to get it better.

So, the images are focused as best as I could get them.

The next image here is a noise comparison. It has three frames...a 7D crop that is unscaled, a 5D III crop that is unscaled, and a 7D crop that mirrors the 5D III crop that IS scaled. The 7D, at native size, definitely has more noise. It also looks almost as soft as the 5D III image.



When the 7D image is downsampled to the same size as the 5D III image...any advantage the 5D III had in terms of noise disappears. The 7D image clears up a bit, and appears a little sharper. Fine details pop a little bit more than they do with the 5D III.

Why? Because the moon covered the same absolute sensor area. There is a difference in pixel count between the two images, but overall, both sensors gathered exactly the same amount of light! That's the key there. There is no advantage to a larger sensor if you are not utilizing that increase in sensor area. If your using the same exact absolute sensor area between both cameras...there is no difference. If the 7D had 6.25µm pixels, then the two cameras, in this kind of situation, would perform IDENTICALLY.

In a reach-limited scenario, you want smaller pixels. It really doesn't matter if your using a full frame sensor, a medium format sensor, a micro 4/3rds sensor, or an APS-C sensor. If the pixels are all the same size, and you put the same number of pixels on your subject...assuming all four of those sensors use the same technology, there is literally no difference. That is usually not the case, though. Smaller sensors generally tend to use smaller pixels. The 7D still has smaller pixels than the D800 and D810. Smaller pixels trump bigger pixels when you are reach-limited.

7
Just a little rant. I was going through some of the gallery forums and...I'm appalled. More than half the thumbnails are ULTRA TINY!!! Worse, you have to click each one, which opens up in a new window, to see it full size. Which you have to close, to click another one. Incredibly tedious. What's with that?!

  :'( :'( :'( :'( :'( :'( :'( :'( :'( :'( :'( :'( :'( :'( :'( :'( :'( :'( :'( :'(

Those are photography forums, and it was really quite convenient to just be able to see all the images uploaded at the full width of the forum. I never had to click anything to see what people were uploading.

I officially request the old image attachments viewing mode be brought back, as there is no way I'm going to click fifty times to view the images attached every time I go through the gallery forums. That's just...asking way too much.  :o

8
Landscape / Total Lunar Eclipse - #1 of 4 - April 2014
« on: April 14, 2014, 11:54:29 PM »
There are FOUR total lunar eclipses occurring over the next two years. Tonight is the first of the four. It starts at 1:58pm ET, 11:58 MT, and 10:58 PT. If you are planning on photographing the first lunar eclipse this year, share your photos here!

I'm aiming to get a full sequence of the entire eclipse, from the first penumbral dimming through totality and ending at the point the moon moves out of the penumbra (for me, that's from 11:58pm through 3:30am.)

For more details, see here: http://www.mreclipse.com/LEdata/TLE2014Apr15/TLE2014Apr15.html
For exposure tips, see here: http://www.mreclipse.com/LEphoto/LEphoto.html

9
Landscape / Deep Sky Astrophotography
« on: April 08, 2014, 12:17:35 AM »
The other thread ended up with a bit too much discussion on the topic of astrophotography and the related gear. Figured a new, clean one, dedicated just to the imagery, would be good.

Please, feel free to share your own images as well! (If you already shared some in the old thread, maybe re-share them here, hopefully we can keep this topic free of astrophotography gear and technique related discussion, and just keep it on the images.)

Here are some of my images, produced with some dedicated astrophotography equipment (german equatorial tracking mount, or GEM, guiding telescope and camera, etc.) All of these were created from mid Feb. 2014 through the end of March. 2014.

Star Clusters
The Pleiades (Seven Sisters), in Taurus:

Original Attempt


Second Attempt (deeper exposures, softer detail due to tracking issues)

M35 and NGC2158, in Gemini


Nebula
Horse Head and Flame Nebulas, In Orion:


Orion Nebula (M42 & M43) and Running Man, in Orion:


Rosette Nebula, in Monoceros (Unicorn):

Original Processing


Reprocessed in PixInsight

Galaxies
M101 (Pinwheel Galaxy), in Ursa Major:


M81, M82 and NGC3077, in Ursa Major:


M51, in Canes Venatici:


Leo Triplet (NGC3628, M65, M66) & NGC3593, in Leo:

10
Reviews / 6D Noise Levels and Comparison Tests
« on: February 28, 2014, 09:25:33 PM »
Someone from CloudyNights forum performed some useful tests of the 6D noise levels at different temperatures at astrophotography exposure lengths. Very interesting stuff, for those who are interested. You can find the images here at the original thread:

http://www.cloudynights.com/ubbthreads/showflat.php?Cat=0&Number=6402677&page=0&view=collapsed&sb=5&o=all&fpart=1&vc=#Post6402677

One of the very interesting things is you can see how much temperature affects read noise levels. The images are taken at +21°C, +7°C, and -7°C, with exposure times of 300 seconds.


11
EOS Bodies / Canon Dual-Scale Column-Parallel ADC Patent
« on: December 11, 2013, 02:33:01 AM »
It's been a while since I last scanned through Image Sensors World blog. Around the beginning of August, as a matter of fact. Since that time, they noted that Canon filed for a "Dual Scale" CPADC patent:

http://image-sensors-world.blogspot.com.es/2013/08/canon-files-for-dual-range-column.html

If I understand the diagrams and the patent correctly, and I am no CMOS engineer, it sounds like Canon is maybe following ML's lead in using a dual gain (i.e. Dual ISO) approach to achieving higher dynamic range. Given how long it takes to produce technology viable enough for a patent, I suspect Canon had this idea long before ML...perhaps it was simply that ML got wind of this patent, and looked for a way to achieve the same thing with current Canon sensors...either way, interesting.

The more interesting thing to me than the dial gain, though, is the CP-ADC design. I've long said that Canon needs to modernize their sensor design, get rid of the noise generators (i.e. ADCs) in their DIGIC chips, and bring all that image processing onto the same die as the rest of the sensor. This is what Sony did (although they took it a step farther and converted to a digital readout/CDS approach, whereas as far as I can tell Canon's is still analog CDS and whatnot until it is actually converted to digital), and they achieved some significant DR benefits from the move.

Anyway, personally, I'm glad to hear Canon is investigating these options. CP-ADC is something I've wanted Canon to do for a long time, happy to see they might actually do it. God only knows if/when this technology may actually find it's way into their sensors...I only hope and pray it is soon. And dual-gain to boot...which has the potential to support FAR more than 14 stops of DR. With a 16-bit CP-ADC, we might even see a full 16 stops of DR (and who knows what might come after that...20-bit, 24-bit ADC? Can't imagine the file sizes though...46mp * 24bit...phew, 1.1Gb RAW (uncompressed) data size! Canon will need a DIGIC more than four times as fast as the current DIGIC chip...)

12
Software & Accessories / The Bane of Adobe Creative Cloud
« on: December 10, 2013, 05:17:49 AM »
I've been largely unhappy about Adobe Creative Cloud. Personally, I don't think it is fair to the huge numbers of freelance photographers, graphic designers, web designers, etc. who have effectively built their entire livelihoods on Adobe software. I think that Adobe, with a $50/mo fee for the full CC Master suite and $20/mo per-app fee, is greatly taking advantage of freelancers unmitigated and everlasting dependence.

That said, I decided to give the PS CC + LR5 $10/mo deal a try. It was the first deal that Adobe offered that seemed reasonable (we'll see if it stays that way in a year), and I wanted LR5. I still own PS CS6, and I prefer to use it as my primary editor...with SELECTIVE use of PS CC. Well, I've learned a few things, and I thought I'd warn people.

First off...Adobe CC is infectious. By that, I mean, once it is installed, the CC versions of it's products take over any automatic integrations and file associations. If you double-click a .psd, it opens in CC, rather than CS6. Worse, if you use LR, whenever you open images in Photoshop, it always opens in CC. The worst part is...there seems to be NO WAY to configure LR (either v4.x or v5.x) or other Adobe apps to use the Photoshop version of your choice...your STUCK with CC, unless you uninstall it...and then, you have the hassle of getting CS6 working again. Frustrating, and annoying...Adobe should allow their users to choose which version of Adobe products are used, rather than automatically forcing you to CC.

There is a deeper, more malicious demon lurking within Adobe Creative Cloud, however. I stopped using the .psd format a while ago. I never seemed to need the extra information that .psd stored over and above .tiff, so I switched to .tiff. As such, I NEVER expected that saving .tiff files created with Photoshop CC would not function properly in Photoshop CS6. I thought that since I was using a universal format, they would be compatible with anything that could load .tiff files.

Well, this plain and simply isn't true. An example is using smart objects. I use smart objects with stacked images, along with tweaking the stacking mode (usually mean & median), to do some pretty amazing noise reduction with still frames (macro, landscape) and astrophotography frames. Thanks to the issue described above, some of my recent astro stacks were done in PS CC, rather than PS CS6. I tried to open these .tiff files in PS CS6, and while they opened, they did not render 100% correctly. The issue? The "renderer" for the smart object stacks could not be found. PS CS6 supports exactly the same stacking modes, but Adobe cleverly changed how they store that information in .tiff files...so it is no longer backwards compatible.

So the warning here is, BEWARE! While Adobe says you can open files saved with Creative Cloud apps, they have apparently "tweaked" a few things here and there to make life difficult for those who try to get around their insane monthly fees and use their "bought and paid for" previous versions. Even if you save in universally supported file formats such as TIFF, your file compatibility is NOT guaranteed. You can work around some of these issues, but just beware...there may be some "tweaks" to how CC apps save data that might permanently bind a perfectly normal TIFF file to that CC app, preventing its use in a prior version.

This is the kind of maliciousness that I was afraid Adobe would employ. To my great dismay, it seems my suspicions were correct. The truly frustrating thing is, I cannot afford the extremely hefty upgrade prices for some of the apps I need to upgrade, such as Illustrator and Premier. Even worse, in many cases, my versions for some apps like Premier are too old to upgrade (CS3 era), and I'm required to pay full price. So, my options are to either subscribe to CC, and get locked in forever...or shell out an unholy amount of cash for a product I already own, but for which I simply need an upgrade. Despicable. Adobe is rapidly becoming my most loathed company.

Anyway...BEWARE...

13
Lenses / New Samyang 10mm f/2.8 ultrawide! Looks impressive...
« on: December 05, 2013, 10:13:04 PM »
Samyang 10mm f/2.8 Manual Focus Wide Angle Prime

This looks pretty impressive. Samyang has made excellent wide angle primes for a while, but this is the first time I've seen one with a nano crystaline coating on an internal lens element. Canon and Nikon have been using nanocrystal coatings on internal elements for a while, and it has a truly amazing impact on reducing flare (total transmission loss is in the range of 0.1%, vs. often more than 1% for basic multicoating.

For rectilinear wide field astrophotography, this lens could be a true dream come true...not to mention the applications for high quality ultrawide landscape photography (especially on full frame!)

Curious to see how corner performance is. If it is anything like the 14mm and 24mm Samyang lenses, it should be phenomenal...but 10mm is pretty darn wide...

14
Landscape / Deep Sky Astrophotography (Gear Discussion)
« on: December 04, 2013, 11:45:08 PM »
There is already a stars above thread, but that one seems to be about wide field astrophotography. I've been taking a bunch of photos of the comets flying through the sky lately. Only ones I was able to get a decent shot of was Lovejoy R1 (see the Comets thread).

I discovered an intriguing new technique for stacking very short deep sky frames in photoshop, one which nearly eliminates noise without affecting detail. I've been trying to stack short (i.e. 1-2 second) frames of the Orion nebula for a while, never with satisfactory results...always still too much noise. This new technique resulted in my first fairly decent photo:



  • Body: Canon EOS 7D
  • Lens: Canon EF 100mm f/2.8
  • Exposure: 1s f/2.8 ISO 1600
  • Frames: 30

I stacked the frames in the following way:

  • Import as Layers to Photoshop fron LR
  • Align all layers (did it manually, auto-align freaked out for some reason)
  • Select first 5 layers, Layers->Smart Objects->Create
  • Set stacking mode to mean, Layers->Smart Objects->Stack Mode->Mean
  • Repeat 3-4 for each group of 5
  • Rasterize each smart object
  • Set opacity mode to (from bottom most light frame): 100%, 83%, 66%, 50%, 33%, 16%
  • Set blending mode to Screen for all light frames
  • Add Levels adjustment layer and correct black point, white point, and gray point to bring out most detail
  • Tweak color, levels, curves, etc. to taste

15
Landscape / Comets
« on: November 27, 2013, 09:26:23 AM »
Well, this seems to be the month of comets. In addition to Encke, ISON, and the new Lovejoy, four other comets were discovered this month (C/2013 V1 (BOATTINI),  C/2013 V2 (BORISOV),  C/2013 V3 (NEVSKI), C/2013 V5 (OUKAIMEDEN)). Nevski and Oukaimenden are moving right along. Nevski is passing by the constellation Leo, and Oukaimeden is approaching Jupiter in the sky. Not sure if/when they might put on a show, but currently, we have Encke (a main belt periodic), ISON and Lovejoy sharing the sky and putting on a show for at least binoculars and telescopes.

Given the plethora of cometary beauties moving through the skies right now, I thought it might be worth it to start a Comet thread. I had originally intended to have a Celestron EdgeHD 11" with their DX equatorial tracking mount...but circumstances have left me with only a 600mm f/4 lens. Not particularly ideal, but it allowed me to get a basic shot of Lovejoy:



If you've been photographing comets (especially if you have a tracking mount and a telescope), post em here! Would love to see them!

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