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Messages - dafrank

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I haven't yet read any other reply, so I don't know if anyone else has touched upon any general ideas about the OP's question. There are two different ideas I would offer, one to suggest a monitor that meets his $1,000.00 limit, and another which discusses the framework for a truly workable PP set-up.

First of all, the way things stand now, you want a monitor which uses an IPS panel. Sometimes it is difficult to find out what type of panel any given monitor uses, as manufacturers don't always disclose this. The differentiating characteristic of the IPS panels is an evenness of illumination when your viewing angle changes from straight center to off-center, either vertically or horizontally, plus IPS panels are capable of displaying a greater color space than most other panel construction types as well. Second, you want a monitor that has been well made with a non-defective panel and superior electronics and adjustability. Third, a monitor for this kind of work should be 24" or larger, if you want to work at convenient image sizes. Last, the best monitors for PP also are capable of displaying a color space near or equal to 100% of either Adobe RGB or at least the sRGB space. Eizo, NEC, Dell, HP, and perhaps some others make several monitors which fit this description, and some of them are under $1,000.00. Look up reviews and tech specs to judge what looks best for yourself.

Keep in mind that what you do with your pictures may be decisive in picking a monitor. For instance, if you will never routinely have any of your pictures published on an offset or other kind of commercial printing press that requires a display color outside of sRGB - like some of the subtractive CMYK-type colors that fall outside it - you will not need a monitor which displays a color space "bigger" than 95% or 100% of sRGB, and these monitors will usually be less expensive than the ones which cover the Adobe RGB space. Last, as with many otherwise good IPS panels sold today, one must be careful to avoid accepting one with color that displays "unevenly" across the screen (if you display a full-screen neutral gray rectangle in Photoshop, does it look like the same color from left-to-right?). Just a small unevenness is inevitable, a really noticeable difference is unacceptable. This is a common manufacturing defect because of how the panels are constructed. Last, you should also purchase a monitor calibration package, consisting of a colorimeter or spectraphotometer and matching software from X-rite or other reputable companies. This is a necessity to get your monitor to display properly so that what you see is actually what your file should really look like.

As for what I use, it is an NEC 30" 3090, complete with the NEC-customized colorimeter and matching Spectravision II software that goes with it. This combination is extremely good, plus it allows me to instantly switch between stored and very accurate monitor profiles like sRGB and Adobe RGB that the software, especially tuned to the monitor, can pretty easily produce. The color consistency is very good across the screen (a first one, returned to the seller, wasn't as good in this regard), evenness of illumination is very good, color accuracy, sharpness, geometry, contrast and brightness range are all excellent.

First of all, I'm now a PC guy who used to be a Mac guy, but Macs are great too, so my example here can be replicated or bettered on either a new PC or a Mac, depending on your own preferences; either one can be a great machine for PP. My computer is an exceptionally good custom made PC (made by highly regarded builder Puget Custom Computers a few years ago). It runs Windows 7 64-bit Ultimate and tons of graphics software. It's got an i7 960 3.2 GHz processor, an Nvidia GTX570 video card (newly added), 24 GB main memory, 4 drives (2 160GB solid state drives plus 2 fast 2TB 7200 rpm disk drives), USB 2 and 3 ports, a Blu-Ray burner, lots of very silent high capacity cooling, and a few other things as well, like an external attached 5-bay 10 TB Drobo for backup. You don't necessarily need something this complex and expensive. However, just remember that if you try to buy one that is just barely adequate, it will be out-dated and ill suited to the future that much faster than a better specified one. Buy the best you can afford, so that you can run it longer without being crippled in your workflow.

The best rule of thumb for most computer components is this: figure out what types of components (by general performance and function characteristics) that you need and, whenever possible - except where it might affect reliability and longevity - buy the second best or fastest, not the very best or fastest, performing component in that category; this method will give you  the longest possible use of your computer at a fairly reasonable price.


EOS Bodies - For Stills / Re: Working with film
« on: September 29, 2012, 09:23:21 PM »
My recommendation is to find a good clean EOS 620. Takes all EOS EF lenses, has autofocus, sturdy metal body, large contrasty viewfinder and simple controls, with easily replaceable battery and lots and lots of old examples around - try Craigs List or Ebay, if not local camera shops used departments, camera shows and thrift shops. A very nice clean one will fetch between $30.00 to $120.00, depending on who is selling it and where it's selling. This was a high mid-end enthusiast camera when it came out. See" http://kenrockwell.com/canon/film-bodies/eos620.htm to learn more specific details. Generally, it's going to sell for much less than any of the pro EOS cameras of its era, or the ones from a bit later, and be almost as good performing and rugged in use as the pro models, except in autofocus performance, which you should probably not really be using very often anyway, if you really want to learn to master photography, rather than learn to pilot an auto-function camera. They don't make mid-level cameras with construction like the 620 anymore. I bought my son this camera with a new cheap "normal" zoom to go with it for his introductory photo class about 5 years ago  and the thing is still going strong. The camera body was $75.00 from a good local camera store and the less than stellar 3rd party zoom lens was another $75.00 or so. Your experience will vary. And don't be afraid of getting a used beat-up looking and now discontinued model Canon EOS lens (I coundn't find one when when my son needed it); if it works properly, the bad cosmetics are only acting in your favor, lowering the price for you because many others would be too worried to take a chance on the bad cosmetics.

If you want even better construction, can live without autofocus and don't mind digging around for some older FD lenses later on, get an even older top-of-the-line professional Canon F-1 - or the second series "new" F-1 - with a lens or three in a kit for sale on Ebay, or from the same sources mentioned above. That was a great camera and using it as an all manual camera (both focus and exposure) is very very easy and a great experience for anyone trying to learn the actual craft of photography for the first time.

Whatever you do, don't buy one of the later, flimsy plastic EOS Rebels, which were comparatively poorly constructed and not as nice in many other ways.


Third Party Manufacturers / Re: Why Hasselblad?
« on: September 27, 2012, 11:43:24 AM »

You're very welcome. It's very nice when people acknowledge one's contribution; sometimes it does take a while to craft a real and thoughtful answer to a sincere question.

By the way, I love "Enter!" on your website. I've shot things that are similar (not on my website), but your's is better still. I'm not sure that if I did "enter," that I'd be headed for Elysian Fields, Hades or just a nice swim. Could be any, or even all.


Third Party Manufacturers / Re: Why Hasselblad?
« on: September 26, 2012, 01:13:55 PM »

@jondave, you make an interesting case on how the agency/adagency world actually works, but the reasoning that you recognize is partly to other attributes than IQ and the need for higher resolution, and,- or, IQ.

I think you may have mistakenly attributed elements of my post to @jondave instead of me, "dafrank." As for your point about agency behavior being rooted in the reality of medium format digital's image quality advantage, here I have to conclude, from many years experience, that that is only very very slightly true and has much more to do with unexamined prejudices plus both the already explained ease of selection and attraction to the idea of expensive tools for expensive jobs.

I am speaking as a photographer who has owned and used medium format backs and all the related gear for many years, and, one who, before digital capture matured, often shot with 8x10 and predominantly shot 4x5 and large medium format - all to be scanned on my own drum scanners. I do know from direct experience that medium format digital yields better images than the equivalent shot on 35mm sized sensors, just like images from medium format film are technically better than those from 35mm film - and for much the same reasons. However, what I also know is that the uses to which these images are most often put are so much less demanding of the images "technical" quality than one might assume, that the superiority of medium format digital, as it is, is very unlikely to evidence any visible improvement in the agency's final product. When one sits slack-jawed at a 30 inch monitor, or in front of a gorgeous 40" x 60" inkjet print, staring at the output from an 80 MB PhaseOne back, it is indeed, a great thing to behold. But the cold fact of the matter is that in the latest fashion or car advertising campaign, the effect of all those extra beautiful pixels will be somewhere between extraordinarily hard and impossible to actually see with the human eye. Commercial print reproduction and web display practicalities are such that the advantages of the medium format IQ, as compared to the best of current 35-sized DSLR technology is just not likely to show up - period. That is what I meant in my previous post when I said that the real question is just how much the medium format advantage is really worth, and I figure, I think persuasively so, that the advantage to a working photographer - with the exception of "fine art" types who print very very big - lies much more in enhancing photographer's personal image rather than the quality of the images he or she may produce with their cameras.

In the end, the sheer talent, discipline, hard work and quality of the imagination of the photographer counts for exponentially more than the differences in image quality from one format to another that we've been discussing here.

And, by the way, the allusion I made previously to how the bigger files from medium format backs are best for even billboards is itself not entirely true. The crux of file suitability in that case goes to how far away the viewer will be to the billboard itslef when it is its installed position. It is true that a current high-end 35mm DSLR file that is well interpolated by a very good printer driver can easily suffice to make a great billboard if the subject and viewing distance is taken into consideration. Only if a billboard might be viewed at unusually close distance would the larger medium format file start to look significantly better.


Third Party Manufacturers / Re: Why Hasselblad?
« on: September 25, 2012, 11:55:12 PM »
I think I can answer this. First of all, the quality of images created by the upper-end (60-80MP) Hasselblad digital (Hasselblad camera + formerly Imacon digital backs) cameras, the Pentax and Mamiya cams, and PhaseOne produced backs with their open adaptability to many medium format cameras, is very, very good - superior to any 35mm sized sensor based camera. (DXO is smoking crack here as their rating system scores Nikony sensors ridiculously higher than most medium format digital because of the value placed on qualities not demanded by the market for medium format backs, like high ISO value performance). However, despite what I just said, the real question one should ask, with the Nikon D800E already here and the much rumored Canon 46 MP monster just around the corner, is just how much better are those MF images, and is the price differential worth it. For 97% of commercial shooters, and even for the vast majority of status seeking and well heeled photo-hobby-crazed orthodontists, the answer is probably a strong "no." The system lenses, ease of use, autofocus, environmental sealing, frames per second, shutter speed variation, accessories, auto exposure options, adequate to very good HD video output, and even the huge number of menu driven control options - not to mention image quality that is steadily creeping up to within a few histogram humps of reaching medium format territory - means never having to say you're sorry that you bought into a smaller format system.

When you can produce a great looking 3-page pullout in an offset magazine ad, create a standard-size poster, and inkjet output a great looking 20"x30" color print, all with a 35mm format digital camera (already do-able with the D800 Nikon for sure and, probably, with a Canon 5D3 as well), what real rationalization, except billboards and even bigger inkjet prints, is there for medium format? Well, there are at least two I can think of - one obvious, the other less so. The obvious one is much mentioned and, unfortunately, rings very true in my experience. It is that medium format, like a Hasselblad, is a very expensive status symbol, and the more expensive something is, the more status that can be attached to it. $40,000.00 and change buys a lot of status. And, that status can be used, if the model for this behavior holds, to impress the people who might want to spend great gobs of money on you taking some sort of pictures for them. In their minds, the more expensive are my photographer's tools, the better he (she) must be, and therefore, the more discerning that I, the client, must be. Plus, there is  a plethora of new kinds of assistants whose jobs also depend on the obscure software that attaches to these less popular cameras - the digital assistants - who will swear and attest to the wonderfulness of these very expensive tools that, as the keepers of their esoteric flames, guarantee them some much needed income. The less obvious reason for a commercial shooter to own one of these medium format devices is a matter of convenience to their clients. When one has a very lucrative photo job to let out, the universe of potential photographers who can actually do the job well is rather large - too large for the AD's, Creative Directors, Art Buyers, and Picture Editors to comfortably wade through with their complex bids and explanations. If they really considered the available talent pool, no job could ever get awarded in a timely matter - too much time spent away from the more pleasurable aspects of their jobs and just plain too slow a process. So, as in all such circumstances (think admissions directors at Ivy League colleges and Universities using 4.0 gradepoints and stratospheric SAT scores to weed out the students who could matriculate, but can't possibly all fit in the freshman class), it's very much easier and faster for them to, consciously or not, simply weed out those whose gear doesn't "measure up." This is not always how it works, but, unfortunately, it is how it mostly works. So, again, if you're angling after some really big buck jobs, medium format digital is a potential aid to help you catch some of them, and possibly a neceesity for entre into the pool from which the actual job winners are chosen.



As a professional who has shot cars and trucks for car makers and their agencies for over 25 years, let me say that it is highly unlikely that there would be much if any difference in the color rendition of the two cameras had the color of the lighting been identical. As others have already pointed out, the color of the cloud bank reflected in the windshield of the 5D3 is obviously hugely warmer than the clouds reflected in the windshield of the 1DX. There is no question in my mind that this accounts for the vast majority, if not 100%, of the color difference.

At sunset, when clouds across the horizon are moving quickly, dissapating due to weather front movement or, more likely, atmospheric cooling that reduces the amount of evaporated water vapor in the air, the sky color often changes very rapidly as the very warm (low color temperatrure expressed in Kelvin degrees) source of light from the low-sky direct sunlight may be revealed as it peeks out between low hanging cumulus clouds, or is revealed as the clouds covering it are thinned out or disappear entirely. If you look at the reflection in the 5D3 windshield, one can see this effect in the reflected clouds which have obviously been lit by much warmer light from the setting sun. This is all very clear from the examples.

As to the color noise, it was also very much affected by the color temperature. The "grain" size and frequency of the noise was obviously affected by the warmer color light; because the subject was much warmer (redder) in the 5D3 shot, it was recorded much more heavily in the red channel, the channel which always reproduces much more noise than either the blue or green channels. This is the same reason why images lit by low light tungsten lighting are always noisier than those lit by low light daylight-colored light sources. You can easily see this by the vastly greater number of red noise clumps in the 5D3 shot, making the image look more "noisy" than the image from the cooler (less red, more blue and green) lit 1DX shot.

To summarize, the color rendition issue is probably due entirely to ambient color temperatures at the time of each shot, and the noise differences are probably almost as much due to the same influence; without the color change, the 1DX probably would still have had less noise, but only a tiny fraction less, and the noise evident on the 5D3 would have been of the same general color range as visible in the shot taken with the 1DX.


Lenses / Re: How to complete my lens lineup? Help!
« on: September 01, 2012, 12:27:17 PM »
A couple more ideas, based on my own experience.

If you go for the pricey 85mm f/1.2 and 35mm f/1.4, but still want a 50mm for some reason, then you might want to consider the old but cheap 50mm f/2.5 macro. I have one and it is wonderfully sharp from about f/4.0 and up, while still being pretty good in the middle wide open. It is made cheaply - but not as poorly as the 50mm f/1.8 - and it has held up well for a long time in my bag. The manual focus ring is too narrow and feels pretty wobbly, but it works just fine. It also focuses down to a 1:2 mag. ratio without attachments and is quite sharp and flat-focused in close-ups. I doubt this lens will be made much longer, so, if you want a new one, you'd be better off to buy one pretty soon.

I can't pay as many compliments to Sigma as they deserve for their last generation 150 f/2.8 macro (focuses to 1:1 without adapters), the one without the IS, but with an ultrasonic focus motor. It is sharper than the newer design and just plain sharp all over the full frame format, from wide open to at least f/11.0. It feels good in hand, and the focus helicoid travel is very long - a good thing for accurate manual focusing, but it slows down autofocus to a leisurely pace. The construction is very good for a 3rd party lens - not as good as a Canon L, but it feels better than most of the non-L Canons. Yes, it's sharp wide open at 150mm, and killer sharp at f/4.0. And it costs way less than the Canon 180 or the even the newer Sigma replaceemnt with IS. This, like the Canon 50mm macro above, is probably not going to be in production much longer, so if you're interested, go for it soon.

Last, I'll state the obvious. If you make money with the 24mm TSE lens shooting anything vaguely architectural, or if you're a wealthy enthusiast who does the same stuff for yourself, get the companion lens to your 24mm TSE - the 17mm TSE - as well. It's an almost miraculous performer considering its incredibly wide coverage and complex construction; simply put, it can do what no other lens from anyone else can do.

Without knowing more about your "work," I can't think of any other good advice on the subject for you.

Again, good luck.


Lenses / Re: How to complete my lens lineup? Help!
« on: August 31, 2012, 06:59:03 PM »
Well, of course it's nearly impossible to recommend lenses when I don't know what and how you intend to shoot with them. To just guess (kind of an exercise in futility), I'd say that you probably want to shoot some longer range action at some point, because you purchased an 1D3 camera which is mostly made for action/sports photography. If I'm guessing right, then finding an older used Canon 300 f?2.8 IS (the new one is better, but even more outrageously expensive) and at least a version II 1.4x extender would be a great addition to your kit. If you don't have a need for shooting distant sports subjects, then your own idea of a 35mm f/1.4 and an 85mm f/1.2 is a very good one. These give you great speed (as in lens aperture, not focusing speed), portrait bokeh in the 85mm that is wonderful and, in the 35mm, a near-perfect 50mm replacement for the 1D3, and the perfect "walking around" lens for your future full frame camera. Don't bother with the 85mm f/1.8 - it's a great very sharp lens, but it just isn't in the same league as the f/1.2. With those two, you could, arguably, shoot just about anything you would need to, using your own foot-powered "pedi-zoom" for all but the most extreme purposes. Good Luck!


Lenses / Re: 17 ts-e vs 24 ts-e
« on: August 22, 2012, 12:21:04 PM »

Please can you link me those sites because I didnt exactly find what you said.

Thank you!

As to other expensive choices, there's: Hartblei's solution at http://hcam.de/en/canon-tse-collar.htm . RRS is Really Right Stuff, and although I don't know the specific parts, I think you can cobble a few of their items together to do the same things: http://reallyrightstuff.com/Index.aspx?code=46&key=fr . As to Matthews, they are a very old and reputable maker of studio stands and grip equipment, probably the most favored in the higher end of the industry, and I don't know exactly what they have that might work, but they've got a lot; just to let you know that their online site may or may not have every item they sell from their enormous collection that might exist in their paper catalog, but here's tyheir URL: http://www.msegrip.com/product.html .


Lenses / Re: 17 ts-e vs 24 ts-e
« on: August 20, 2012, 10:47:26 PM »
Yes, this is one solution, but, as with a couple of others like it, it is very expensive. If you want to save some cash, there are a few commercial solutions that are a little cheaper (I think RRS has something like this, out of two separate contraptions), or, for even less, just improvise something from the Matthews grip equipment catalogue which may or may not also require a few extra non-photo-purposed parts to be thrown in as well.

Again, good luck.


Lenses / Re: 17 ts-e vs 24 ts-e
« on: August 20, 2012, 09:54:08 AM »
A few things that might be of interest to you.

If you had ever used a view camera, you would know that, shiifting the image was almost always done with the camera back, not the front (as with TSE lenses), because front shifting, even that done in the perfectly parallel way that the TSE operates, in effect, subtly tilts the image plane, so that you must compensate in post if you want to use front shift to stitch two or more images together. Granted, the amount you have to work in post varies and is rarely a huge amount. But, front-shifted images will never stitch properly without some image manipulation. If you use grip equipment to hold the camera and lens in place by grasping the lens, rather than the camera body, then, relative to the image you are shooting, when you shift the TSE lens, you will actually be shifting the body (camera "back"), rather than the lens (camera "front") itself, thereby eliminating the problem and making stitching in post completely idiot-proof. All of this is to say that, if you use the 24mm to stitch two or more images together in place of using the 17mm, you can simulate the 17mm to a degree, but be aware that you may want to buy some exttra grip gear to make that process easier and faster. Furthermore, be aware that, depending on the camera orientation when shifting for stitch, you may reproduce the general angle of view of the 17mm, but not the same format shape. Finally, you can always use the same stitching techniques with the 17mm, so that you could create a still wider angle  image that would still not be reproducable with the 24mm using the same technique. Taking all of this into account, the 17mm is a better choice if you often need a lens wider than 24mm for your work.

As to filtering the lenses, of course the 24mm is the obvious choice. For very long exposures with the 17mm, if only the effect of graduated ND's is required, one can use a black card to variably dodge a lighter portion of the top of the image area, by rapidly waving the card in and out of the optical path of the lens in front of the camera. This technique requires practice, but works just fine, if the exposure is at least a few seconds long. The same technique, but using one or more stationary black cards or manufactured cloth gobos (flags, fingers dots, etc.) mounted on stands in front of the camera, can be used to cut off light which would otherwise shine directly on the lens, thereby taking the place of a really good lens shade. For other filtering uses, expensive large and cumbersome adapters are, or will be, availbale for the 17mm, but the cost, and the cost of the then necessary very large filters, will be very high.

Good luck and happy shooting.


Well, I'll be as clear as possible. Most of the time I manual focus whenever possible and use the autofocus assist light to confirm my focus if I am having any diffiiculty - as with eyes getting tired from a long day. This system is about 99.8% effective in bringing home proper focus. On those times when I do autofocus, on my previous 1Ds2 and my current 1Ds3, I have found the cameras to be about equal in getting the job done: a little over 90% with dead-on on static subjects and about 70-80% acccurate on moving follow-focus subjects. My new 5D3 autofocus is about 99% accurate on static subjects. However, I have not yet enough experience to give you a figure for the moving follow-focus, but so far, it looks better than my previous cameras and very promising. Also, on both the 1Ds3 and 5D3, manual live-view focus is 100% accurate when you can take the time to use it.

As for your recent problem witht the group picture, I have no idea what could have caused the specific problem you describe, but here are some possible reasons for the misfocus: light level too low for the autofocus system to work properly without an assist, user error in mis-aiming the focus sensor markings over the subjects, extremely and unusually low subject contrast, lens microadjustment not done or inaccurate, lens or camera focusing systems grossly out of adjustment (needing Canon service repair), accidentally nudging the manual/auto focus switch to "manual" while mistakenly thinking the lens is autofocusing, or even a totally out of alignment glass element from some abuse to the lens. Take your pick.

In my experience, the autofocus capabilities of the higher end Canons, with a few exceptions, are as good as, or better than, the only other autofocus system I'm familiar with - Nikon's. And now - with the 5D3 and 1Dx - Canon's autofcus is at the top of the heap. Do, however, consider the joys of manual focus; it's certainly a technique you could easily use to perfect a group shot of people with very little trouble.

 I'm afraid that, in the end, you'll have to figure this one out for yourself.

Lenses / Re: If you can have ONLY 3 lenses, what would they...???
« on: August 14, 2012, 02:57:27 PM »
24-70  f/2.8L V2
70-200 f2.8L V2
17mm f/4.0L TSE

And, if I could cheat a little, throw in a 1.4X v3 teleconverter, technically not a photo lens itself.

This would cover 95% of whatever I have needed to shoot. Of course, adding back my 16-35L v2, 85 f1.2 v2, 90mm TSE, 24 TSE V2, and maybe a 300 f/4.0 or 400 mm f/5.6 L would certainly round things out a lot better, filling in some gaps better than using my feet to do something similar.

Lenses / Re: Canon EF 35 f/1.4L II [CR2]
« on: August 08, 2012, 12:41:46 PM »
Dolina, +1. Those same two, plus the new 24-70 (replacing my current version) and a 17mm TSE would be my most wanted additions to my current lens line-up that would pretty much hold me over for many years to come. My 5D3 and 85 f/1.2 plus a new 35 f/1.4 would be a great and relatively small but super low light knock-around kit.

Portrait / Re: Need some Photoshop/Editing help
« on: August 07, 2012, 11:05:52 PM »
DB, what you did looks very good for spending just a few minutes applying the very well known multi-layer global adjustments used by many people directly, and indirectly when using independent software programs which try to semi-automate the same techniques. Just about any way you do human face, or any other type of retouching, using multiple layers in many different ways is, of course, standard operating procedure. Just one thing, however; your particular method here, while being quick, lost almost all of the skin texture on this portrait, again rendering him almost as extremely as one would for a head shot of an aspiring female fashion model. This is fine for many applications, but there are also many others where people become slightly offended by replacing their recognizable skin characteristics with what looks like a quite soft and slightly misfocused rendering of the surface texture of their faces. Also, one must try very hard to resist the obvious temptation of overly brightening and evening-out the brightness of the subjects eyes, therefore replacing good photo lighting with a sort of "mystery lighting" variation where eyes pop out of subjects faces. All this stuff works great sometimes - when you're in a hurry, or subjects want to be "improved" rather than be shown in the best way otherwise possible, or just when they don't mind the kind of results that are common on modest 8'x10" model composites.

None of this is to say that you aren't a very good retoucher, which I am quite sure you are; rather that it would be better to let the less practiced of those (like the OP) understand what they're looking at, so they can make the proper choice in their particular working style.

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