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Messages - jrista

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1171
Landscape / Re: jrista et al, Why Astrophotography?
« on: May 10, 2014, 06:31:03 PM »
I do have PHD and an autoguider. That only gets you so far. Especially with the Orion SSAG cam you shared. I have that, and it just isn't very sensitive. Better guidecams with enough sensitivity to really do better cost about $500-700. :P

What autoguider do you own?  :D

See my previous reply. :P

Weight is also an important factor, especially when you add up the counterweights/all other stuff. But I think most new astro-photographers aren't going to get telescopes that large/heavy.  :o

Not new astrophotographers, no. But if your serious about getting good images, the sweet spot seems to be between 16-20" apertures, to maximize quality and detail. Things just get expensive because getting a mount that can handle that kind of capacity is just expensive. If your going to spend $10k-$20k on a mount, you might as well get a high end scope as well.

So a telescope like this Astro-Tech 406mm f/8 OTA?

The AT16RC Truss is a good place to start. That sucker still costs $7000, but I'm thinking more of something like this PlaneWave 20" CDK (which is on an Astro-Physics 3600 GTO, which is designed to handle scopes up to 24" or so....I think an AP1600GTO or a 10Micron GM2000HPS are both sufficient to handle the 16/20" RCs and 17/20" PlaneWaves, though):



These 20" scopes (RCOS and PlaneWave ones) seem to hit the sweet spot for deep sky imaging quality, star spot size, field flatness, imaging circle size which are up to 70mm. (When you spend $20k on a mount and $35k on a scope, you then can't spend $2000 on a 22mm diagonal imager, now, can you! :P) The nice 37x37mm 4096x4096 9µm pixel imagers have a 52mm diagonal, and need larger image circles. Astro-Tech scopes, when fitted with a proper field flattener and focal reducer (they do not have a flat field intrinsically like an RCOS or PlaneWave), you get about a 40mm image circle. That isn't even large enough for a FF DSLR sensor, let alone a nice larger format square imager. The new generation of astro imagers coming out to the market have 65mm diagonals, and apparently even larger ones with 70mm diagonals are on the horizon.

A 16" Astro-Tech Truss on a Losmandy Titan (the mount in your picture, which is still $7000 in and of itself) is kind of like the low end of the higher quality scopes. It would certainly suffice for a lot of people, but your still talking about at least $14,000 of investment for just the mount and the scope in your picture. The Losmandy mounts must still be guided as well, and to actually maximize the image quality potential of a longer, 16" scope like that, you need really good guiding that isn't prone to differential flexure problems. So, now were talking about OAG (off-axis guiding), which means adding a quality OAG device with adjustable pick-off mirror to your imager (that's about another $800-$1000), a high sensitivity guide camera (so that it can find dimmer stars in the very narrow circular band of the field of view that a pickoff mirror can pull stars out of), and there is really only one: The Lodestar X2, which is another $700. You don't just twiddle your thumbs with an OSC imager when you get up to even AT16RC level scopes...so you want a mono imager with a filter wheel and some appropriately high quality filters. The mono imager is another $2000 at least, the filter wheel is another $1500-$2000, a set of LRGB filters is about $800-$1000 and a set of narrow band filters is another $1000. You probably want to upgrade the Losmandy mount with the higher quality worm gear and do some hypertuning, so another $500.

So, assuming we go with the low end 16" scope setup with an Astro-Tech 16" RC Truss and a Losmandy Titan, your grand total cost is still over $20,000. :\ Losmandy mounts are nice, but they are a pretty old design that hasn't been updated in quite some time. They are pretty pricey for $7000 (or so, depends on what accessories and counterweights you end up choosing at the time of purchase). The Losmandy mounts don't use any kind of high resolution absolute encoding, either...but absolute encoding is becoming a core feature of most of the higher end mounts. That makes their $7000 price even more difficult to swallow.

You can pick up the Astro-Physics Mach 1 GTO with high resolution encoding and PPEC (not quite as good as absolute encoding, but a hell of a lot better than what the Losmandy Titan offers), which is capable of doing unguided imaging up to 15-20 minutes, for $6000. The 10Micron GM1000HPS is about $9000, and it not only uses high res absolute encouders mounted directly on the axis (extremely precise for both tracking and pointing accuracy), it also embeds full blown sky modeling functionality right in the mount. Combining high res encoding with built in sky modeling via plate solving, and you have a mount that quite literally CAN NOT lose it's place.

The inability to lose it's "place", or to lose what it's pointing at in the sky, is a feature that becomes increasingly important the more you move into LRGB and narrow band imaging with a mono imager...you usually have to expose for long enough that at the very least, you run into a meridian flip each night (you image on both the eastern and western sides of the meridian), but you also usually need to image over multiple nights to get all the various channels. Without absolute encoding and plate solving, recentering your subject exactly as it was centered previously can be a very difficult process. It's not impossible to image over multiple nights without absolute encoding/plate solving, but once you integrate everything, you end up having to crop a fairly significant amount of sky around the center of your image because the alignment of each set of frame is offset relative to prior sets.

So, back to my original estimate. If your going to spend tens of thousands of dollars on equipment, it's best to spend the tens of thousands of dollars properly. Instead of a Losmandy Titan, get a 10Micron or maybe an ASA mount. It's more expensive, but the expense is WELL worth it, as those mounts are so good they effectively eliminate all hassles related to mount performance. They can also easily be used right up to their capacity limits, where as a Titan or CGE or other lower end mounts usually need to be used at half capacity for imaging work.

You could still start with an Astro-Tech 16" RC Truss. Personally, that's my plan, but over the long term, I think I'd ultimately move up to a PlaneWave 17" or 20" and a larger format CCD imager. Even assuming you stuck with the Astro-Tech scope, your cost is still up around $25,000-$27,000. The mount is really the centerpiece, the most important thing. Once you have the mount, you can slap on any number of scopes with a variety of different focal lengths, apertures, and fields of view to do all sorts of imaging. But even the $7000 Losmandy Titan, or for that matter the $500-$6000 Celestron CGE Pro or Meade LX200 mounts, you are spending a TON of money on a mount that MIGHT get an arcsecond better tracking once you PEC and guide vs. a "low end" mount like the highly popular Orion Atlas. Personally, my guiding performance with the Atlas is already within the limits of seeing:



This is an image of my PHD guiding graph around the last time I did some imaging (we've had clouds here for nearly a month, haven't done any imaging since). My total RMS is 0.81", and my P2P performance is around 2" (my seeing, or atmospheric turbulence here in Colorado, tends to produce stars around 3" - 3.5".) My mount, unguided, has a 15" P2P periodic error...I've been able to guide that out almost entirely. The $5000 Celestron CGE Pro has a 5" P2P periodic error, however even THAT expensive mount can only do about 2" P2P with it's PPEC and guiding. If you happen to get an excellent copy, you might get 1.5" P2P. The Losmandy Titan doesn't get much below about 2" either. Guiding is a little easier with the $5000-7000 mounts, because of their lower periodic error, but they all still suffer from high frequency PE, which is why you can't really get any better than 2" regardless of whether you spend $1400 or $7000. All of them have to be guided...and once you throw guiding into the mix, it isn't worth it to spend thousands of dollars on a mount just for more capacity.

A 10Micron or ASA mount gets 0.1" P2P tracking or better with PEC, and they can usually track unguided for at least 20 minutes, and many higher end imagers get them to track up to 30 minutes without guiding (20-30 minute exposures are pretty common for narrow band imaging). Even guided, you couldn't get 20-30 minute exposures with a Titan, CGE Pro, or Atlas.

No, you don't have to spend $20k or more. A lot of people get some pretty good results with only a couple thousand invested. But you can see a VERY clear difference in results between people who image with the lower end equipment, and people who, at the very least, invested in a true high end mount. You can take a Tak FSQ-106 (very popular APO refractor) and put it on an Orion Atlas and a 10Micron. Let the same guy do some imaging with both setups, and given his consistent skill, the images produced with the 10Micron will be superior. The effects of the poorer tracking (2" P2P or so vs. 0.1" P2P, a factor of 200x!) with the Atlas shows up quite readily in the quality of the stars and sharpness of detail. An arcsecond is only a fraction of the diameter of your average medium-sized star...but it's still enough to really kill off your star roundness, sharpness, and eat away at detail in nebula and galaxies. Swap out the $5000 Tak 106 with a $20,000 PlaneWave 17" CDK, and suddenly all the optical aberrations (for as good as the Tak is, it's still a refractor, and all refractors suffer from some abberations that show up in star fringes and flares and such...even my $13,000 600mm lens, which is as good as $10,000 to $20,000 APO refracting telescopes, still suffers from poor star shapes even when I stop down a bit) are gone and your star spots are simply sublime.

If quality is your goal, it's pretty tough to achieve it without spending at least $20,000.

1172
Lenses / Re: New Canon Tilt-Shift Lenses at Photokina [CR1]
« on: May 10, 2014, 05:31:22 PM »
Your up-front refusal to provide any evidence to back up your claims only gives me immediate cause to doubt you. So sorry, but I cannot trust your evaluation. There is no reason to trust your evaluation. You can't simply say "I'm 'through' with backing up my assertions with evidence." and expect that to win you any awards.
...
 The back side of the head is immaterial, you can't see it anyway

First of all: Let me thank you for mentioning the back of the head is not in need of being in focus. ;)

I was referring to the visible part of the front and back respectively, speaking anatomically.

With my refusal I only meant to say I am not inclined to run yet another test series of tilted macros just so to be able to post the outcome and win anyone's "award". I did my testing, I am good. I never did feel any need to proove my point to you. But I thought you might be smart enough to tell between the lines, that there is a likelihood my experience to be better funded than your assumptions.

Let me be clearer then. What experience? What better funding? You've provided zero evidence to support your claims that you have more experience or have better funded your equipment. By refusing to supply any evidence of any kind, because you feel no need to prove your point, makes me question your points all the more. You have given no one here ANY reason to trust that you have more experience of have higher quality, more expensive equipment that would allow you to prove the point anyway.

Perhaps you do have more experience, perhaps your a TS lens collector and you've spent tens of thousands of dollars buying all of the ones available on the market. Why should I believe that? It's just your naked word, a word you've already stated you have no intention of backing up with any evidence. An up-front insistence that you aren't interested in proving your points, when proving your point with actual evidence would easily give me cause to reevaluate my own, eliminates any reason for me, or for that matter anyone else, to trust anything you say.

Just to be clear about WHY I don't trust your word. If you hadn't preemptively stated you refuse to provide any evidence of any kind to back up your claims (which still fundamentally miss the point I'm trying to make), I wouldn't be so insistent about my reasons for not trusting you...I wouldn't have a clearly and well defined reason NOT to trust you, and quite possibly the opposite. Only those who are afraid their own assertions may not be valid are willing to state ahead of time that evidence doesn't matter. :P

Your theorie is right, but the effect and possible benefit of tilting is so little at this distance (and with a three dimensional subject), that it approaches negligible.

Based on what theory? Your own personal anecdotal "experience"? Or can you lay down the math for me, and for everyone else, to prove the point? How negligible? Were talking about a few millimeters of DOF here...a few degrees of tilt could have a significant impact on how that few millimeters envelops your subject. It doesn't have to be significant, because were talking about insignificant distances and sizes in the first place.

Yes, you will be able to make the focal plain say more level with the right eye-portion of the fly (minimally, 4 degrees of tilt might be right for that). But the DOF will remain to be so shallow that you will find yourself stopping down to an f-stop where you will hardly see any difference to the untilted version.  And you will still have difraction. After all, this head isn't much less three-dimensional than a ball. Where do you want to slice it?

I don't need to make the DOF deeper. I just need to change the relationship of DOF to my subject. A few degrees of tilt WILL do that. I think everyone is thinking I just want to create a giant wedge like you do with landscape photography, to make everything from the foreground to infinity "in focus". That's NOT what I am talking about. The DOF doesn't need to be "infinitely" thick. It just needs to be reoriented to conform to the orientation of the subject, that's it. As for where to slice...well, perhaps a picture:



Details in the image. Everything is to scale. I calculated G based on f (Scheimpflug Principal), which is assumed to be 100mm. Tilt angle of the lens is 8°. All other terms were derived from G and f, and everything is to scale assuming 1 pixel represents two millimeters. Subject distance is 10" (254mm). For a 20mm ball (i.e. fly head), the effective gain in focus on the top of the ball is about 6mm farther back. You also lose about the same 6mm forward on the bottom of the ball. The loss of focus on the bottom of the ball/fly head doesn't matter, because it cannot be seen (it's underneath, given the position of the sensor/vantage point of the viewer.)

So, 6mm. That isn't much. It's quite trivial. Unless your subject is a freakin fly! :P Now, if I had a full 20° of tilt in the lens, instead of just a mere 8°, the actual change in the plane of focus on the subject would be even more significant, despite still being in terms of mere millimeters.

1173
Landscape / Re: jrista et al, Why Astrophotography?
« on: May 10, 2014, 02:31:21 PM »
I do have PHD and an autoguider. That only gets you so far. Especially with the Orion SSAG cam you shared. I have that, and it just isn't very sensitive. Better guidecams with enough sensitivity to really do better cost about $500-700. :P

What autoguider do you own?  :D

See my previous reply. :P

Weight is also an important factor, especially when you add up the counterweights/all other stuff. But I think most new astro-photographers aren't going to get telescopes that large/heavy.  :o

Not new astrophotographers, no. But if your serious about getting good images, the sweet spot seems to be between 16-20" apertures, to maximize quality and detail. Things just get expensive because getting a mount that can handle that kind of capacity is just expensive. If your going to spend $10k-$20k on a mount, you might as well get a high end scope as well.

1174
Landscape / Re: jrista et al, Why Astrophotography?
« on: May 10, 2014, 01:32:34 PM »
I do have PHD and an autoguider. That only gets you so far. Especially with the Orion SSAG cam you shared. I have that, and it just isn't very sensitive. Better guidecams with enough sensitivity to really do better cost about $500-700. :P

The point of a high end mount isn't really just about tracking performance, though. It's fundamentally about weight capacity. You can get up to around 8" scopes with lower end/midrange mounts that can handle 40-60lb. But to really be able to track properly, guided or otherwise, with larger scopes (12"+), you need a mount that can handle much larger capacities. Such as 90-110lb for 12-14" scopes, and around 130-200lb for 16-20" scopes. Larger scopes (larger physical apertures) are necessary to resolve more detail and resolve dimmer details.

1175
Landscape / Re: Waterscapes
« on: May 10, 2014, 12:26:04 PM »
Wonderful shot, ckwaller!

Wish I could see a larger version without that massively intrusive watermark, though. I know people like to protect their work, but when the watermark totally kills the image, I honestly wonder what the point is. ;P

Thanks, jrista! Believe me, I would have preferred to post the shot without my watermark. However, I've done this in the past (on other forums/sites) and wound up finding my photos being used by other people/companies without my permission. That's never any fun, haha!

Now, I link directly from my site which automatically stamps my watermark on all images to deter any theft.

I understand, but there are ways of doing watermarks that don't deaden the photo. The way your doing it now, it really does just...kill any real viewing pleasure. I mean, I know the photo is truly amazing, but...it's not...not the way it's currently presented.

You can still watermark, you just don't need to do it in a photo-deadening way like you have now. Studies have been done that show that even a very small watermark, just an artists or company name relatively near the center (doesn't even have to be AT the dead center) of a photo is enough to kill off over 90% of potential "thieves". Thieves are in quotes because the vast majority of this kind of theft is just people sharing photos they like, without the notion that they are actually stealing entering their heads. The other ~10% are those who might be real thieves. Real thieves may be smart enough to remove a watermark from the very peripheral edge of a photo, but most won't bother if the watermark is even relatively centered. It's just too much work, so it cuts out the majority of potential theft.

Then there are the top 1-2% of viewers who are dedicated thieves. Those are the ones you would really have to worry about...except that it really doesn't matter what you do, because if they are intent on stealing your work, they are going to find a way to steal your work. These days, it isn't all that difficult to entirely eliminate semi-translucent watermarks like you have. There are even actions and plugins for photoshop that can automate the process, automatically identify watermarks and automatically "scrub" them out of the image while leaving behind no obviously visible artifacts of their prior presence. There are also other tools, like EXIFTool, which allow hardcore thieves to either obliterate the exif data, or change any of it to whatever they want...exif is the "hard coded" details about the camera used and all that, as well as photographer copyright and the like, so a clever thief could change the photographer name and copyright and even change information about what camera was used to take the shot. The top 1-2% of thieves who are hell bent on taking your work and presenting it as their own WILL figure out how to do this. It's been done. One of the worst places on the net for this kind of thing is DeviantArt.com, a place where I used to hang out for over a decade...I saw a lot of theft like that, there were countless forum threads on the subject, people discussed the means by which they tried to protect their work with watermarks, etc. and most fail.

There is also the point where you consider theft of a photo posted online to be an actual issue. If you were sharing very large scale versions, say wallpaper sizes (1280x720, 1920x1200, etc.) then watermarking is definitely more meaningful. Given the size you've shared your photo here...I honestly don't see the point of watermarking at all. As mentioned before, and by others...it really just kills any viewing pleasure for the photo, the watermark is INCREDIBLY intrusive, and it just screams "DON'T YOU EVEN THINK ABOUT THINKING ABOUT STEALING MY TINY LITTLE PHOTO!!!! AAARGGG!! BACK! BACK! NOOO, STOP THINKING IT!" That's what a lot of people are going to see when they see photos with giant watermarks right in the center. It's just an unpleasant thing for someone who wants to admire it for it's beauty (and honestly, it's one of the best waterscapes shared here so far! It's amazing! I want to see more of your work!), and who could care less about stealing it period, let alone an itsy bitsy 300x450 pixel image.  ;) So, it boils down to...are you really so hell bent on protecting even tiny replications of your work that you insist on putting such a huge watermark over it? Or might it just be worth reducing the watermark to a small, less intrusive size that is still primarily as effective (according to studies) against the vast majority of theft as a large watermark, so that your viewers can truly appreciate your photographic eye and the amazing scenes you photograph?

I don't mean for this to sound harsh, I simply wanted to offer my honest opinion of what your watermarks do to your work, and maybe offer you an option for keeping your watermarks without deadening the impact of your work to viewers. Without really opening the door to tons of theft (assuming that the "theft" of a tiny 300x450 pixel version is even something to worry about in the first place. ;P)

1176
EOS Bodies / Re: DxOMark Sensor Performance: Nikon vs. Canon
« on: May 10, 2014, 11:42:51 AM »
Speaking of TL;DR, let me explain...no, there is too much, let me sum up:

DxOMark Scores = Biased Scores = BS.

'Nuff said.

 ;D ;D ;D SUPERB summary! My thoughts in a nutshell.  :P

1177
Lenses / Re: New Canon Tilt-Shift Lenses at Photokina [CR1]
« on: May 10, 2014, 11:41:44 AM »
a) I absolutely do believe a TS Macro lens would allow me to get the whole head in focus.

b) It doesn't matter the degree of the additional capabilities. Having them at all, limited or extremely capable, is better than NOT having them. That's all my argument is.


Your letter argument b) is certainly valid. However, having worked with various medium- and large-Format Macro-lenses tilted on FF, including the 80mm Apo-Rodagon allowing for 20 degree tilt, I can assure you tilting would have caused very little gain of DOF with the Fly's head. You are making wrong assumtions. Even tilted to 20 degrees, you would not be able to bring the focal plane parallel with the front of the head. And if you did, not even f32 would allow you to have both the front and the back of the head in focus. Tilting is of relatively little effect in the Macro range, DOF when stopping down remains limited as always. Lets just say: You might be able to slightly rearrange what is NOT in focus, but you will hardly create visibly more DOF.  But even for isolating at open aperture, Tilting in the macro-range has probably much less effect than you might assume.

As was said before, tilting is great for product photography, especially of flat subjects. SD-Cards, Cigarette-Packs etc. It can also help photographing large dragonflys or Camera-lens-combinations front-sideways with max. DOF in a single shot (no stacking). But it will not help DOF in the shot you posted. I will not post examples. I am through with that matter. Please trust my evaluation.

If you definately need this extra bit of freedom, even though it is not very often of practical use and will be a bit clumsy in the outdoors (though leight-weight), I can recommend the APO-Rodagon 80mm with the Zörk-joint (see Zörk Munich). Personally, because I agree with your latter argument b), I am using the Pentax 67 100mm Macro with a tilt adapter allowing for 10 degrees of tilt. But I hardly ever waste time tilting with subjects as close as your fly. For me it is mainly a way of having two lenses in one (regular 100mm Tilt plus a regular Macro). In addition, it has the abilty to shift or to be used with digital medium-format. The APO-Rodagon I will only take along when I know I will have plain+little subjects to photograph that need perfection. I will always use it at f11 to 16 then, after that, diffraction becomes too visible. As far as flies' heads are concerned, fumbling with tilting will only wear down the animal's tolerance.

Your up-front refusal to provide any evidence to back up your claims only gives me immediate cause to doubt you. So sorry, but I cannot trust your evaluation. There is no reason to trust your evaluation. You can't simply say "I'm 'through' with backing up my assertions with evidence." and expect that to win you any awards. :P

Again, the point is not to get the fly's head from front to back within the DOF. The back side of the head is immaterial, you can't see it anyway. All that matters is that you change the focal plane such that it aligns with, or at least aligns BETTER with, the primary angle of the key part of your subject that you want in focus. Aligning your focal plane at all is an improvement, and gives you more freedom to possibly reduce your DOF and gain back some of the resolution lost to a super narrow aperture.

In the case of my fly, which BTW was shot hand-held at f/5.6 with a mere 1/100th second shutter, that means angling the plane closer on the right to farther on the left, and with a certain amount of rotation such that it also angles across the top part of the fly's head. Stop down a bit more, say to f/11, drop the camera onto a tripod/focusing rail, and I absolutely have no doubt that even the SLIGHT movements allowed by a current Canon TS lens would allow me to maximize my use of DOF to improve the amount of my fly's head that was in focus, without necessitating stopping down to the minimum aperture.

If Canon's new line of TS lenses offer greater freedom in the adjustments they offer, it doesn't matter if a 20° movement in macro space isn't as good as the same movement for landscapes. It's still better to have the option of tilt than not. It will give you some degree of control over adjusting your focal plane around your subject. It does not magically increase your DOF, of course not. However it lets you control your focal plane such that more of your DOF envelops more of your subject without forcing you to lose resolution to more diffraction by stopping down to obscene levels.

1178
EOS Bodies / Re: DxOMark Sensor Performance: Nikon vs. Canon
« on: May 09, 2014, 11:27:37 PM »
Hey Sarangiman, welcome back. Way to dig up an OOOLD thread, man! :P This was years ago...

Before I dive in...which "original post" of yours are you referring to? This is such a long thread, and it went through so many phases...

The point stands: +4 EV shifts are not unreasonable. It's the difference btwn ISO 100 and ISO 1600. If such pushes were unreasonable, why would Magic Lantern have implemented a dual ISO feature that people use to shoot ISO 100 and ISO 1600 simultaneously?

Well, first...I wasn't so much arguing against the use of 4 EV shifts "period". It was more an argument against Mikael's persistent use of particularly extreme "examples" to push is consistently extreme ideas about how uncompetitively bad Canon cameras and sensors are and (at least in his mind) would always be. Now that Mikael is gone, I think we can have a far more reasonable discussion on this subject. I fully agree that more DR is not a bad thing, and in many circumstances (sunsets being an ideal one) potentially extremely useful.

I'd offer that more accurate terminology could be used here, though. The difference between ISO 100 and ISO 1600 is four stops of LOST dynamic range. When you set ISO 1600, you lose four stops of DR, or lose 16x the fineness of levels between your black point and white point, and end up with 16x more noise. I understand what your getting at, though, your thinking about what ML is doing with Dual ISO, however I still wouldn't say that's the difference between ISO 100 and ISO 1600. To be most accurate, it would really be the theoretical difference between ISO 100 and ISO 6. :P (If you catch my drift).

Sony Exmor sensors still use analog amplification, BTW. When you set a higher ISO, the same fundamental rules apply to Exmor pixels as apply to Canon pixels. You have some charge level in your pixels, you amplify them BEFORE readout, then read (which at that point introduces the read noise). If you don't amplify before reading, even with the D800, noise levels when lifting an ISO 100 shot by four stops are higher than if you just shot at ISO 1600...the difference just isn't as extreme as when you do the same thing with the 5D III.


As for people who don't run into these problems much - YMMV based on the DR of the scenes you shoot. Posting an example of a scene you think has high DR, but where you didn't see offensive noise in shadows, is not a way to prove a camera has just as much DR as another. It's just a way of showing that it had enough DR for that particular scene.

Totally agree. Anecdotal claims are no substitute for proper controlled testing.

Which is why we have controlled tests, like the ones DXO perform.

TL;DR <RANT> :P

There ARE problems with DXO's results, though. Their direct measures are fine, they are pretty much the only thing of value that DXO produces. The problem with DXO is that not all their "measures" are actually measured, many are derived and extrapolated from actual measures, and they are NOT entirely clear about their exact methodology or formulas. They HAVE been caught on a couple occasions changing their results after the fact when flaws in their methodology were found, without any explanation (at all, not even a blog post or article) of what was changed, how, or why, leaving those who identified or knew about the flaws left to wonder what kind of biased re-weighting or whatever was performed in the black box behind the scenes to "fix" the problems (assuming anything was actually fixed, and that data wasn't simply massaged). DXO has shown considerable bias with their lens reviews, on a very consietent basis, producing very arbitrary results and scores that show certain lenses to be equivalent when they are nothing of the sort, and conversely show other lenses to be inversely related to their actual status (i.e. the EF 50mm f/1.4 lens outscores the EF 600mm f/4 L II lens for the sole reason that it has a wider maximum aperture...results that COMPLETELY undermine the 600mm's vastly superior traits...that clearly indicates poorly balanced lens score weighting that heavily leans towards T-stops as being the most fundamentally important trait as far as DXO is concerned.)

The biggest single issue I think most of the people who complain about them (which does indeed include myself) have with DXO is their often outright and obvious bias, which is exhibited in their scores. If DXO would completely eliminate, drop entirely, the whole notion of linearly scoring the complexity of cameras and camera traits via a single scalar number, I think that would go a very LONG way to improving their reputation among those who hold them in fault. I think that scoring should be eliminated entirely, as I think it is a generally fallacious approach to take when the goal is to produce "scientific" results. When you throw in the fact that many of DXO's scores are weighted, and that some of those same scores are based on "measures" that are not actually measured, they are extrapolated via simple and pure mathematical formulas (and therefor do not actually match reality, when compared with other REAL measures from other testers), DXO is quite simply not as scientific as they claim to be.

That's my core problem with DXO. I like some of their literal measures, ones taken directly from original data. An example would be their Screen DR measure...it's based directly on samples taken from RAW image files. That's a true, honest measure. Print DR, on the other hand, is a purely mathematical EXTRAPOLATION, derived from the Screen DR measure. They call Print DR a "measure", but it is nothing of the sort. Their simplistic and pure mathematic formulas are absolutely no substitute for actually measuring the change in noise levels after actually downsampling a full-sized RAW image to their standardized 8x12" "print" output. The only reason the D800 could possibly score some 14.4 stops of Print DR when downsampled is because the Print DR "measure" is a mathematically computed number, a computation that assumes 100% perfectly ideal circumstances. Reality cannot be ideal, so their formulas are missing aspects of real-world downsampling. If they did actually measure downsampled images, they would very likely produce a less significant difference between the 13.2 stops Screen DR and whatever Print DR ended up being if properly measured, and the differences would shrink as pixel size shrunk (fill factor in FSI sensor designs shrinks with an increase in pixel density, as a greater and greater percentage of sensor die area becomes dedicated to readout wiring and the like...even with reductions in fabrication process, fill factor still shrinks, and when you throw in extra logic onto the sensor die, which is usually the case with smaller processes, fill factor shrinks further).

Sorry to dive into the diatribe on DXO again, but the reasons why there are complaints about them are well-founded, and I think it's important to be clear that they aren't just "because DXO is biased against Canon". I don't really care what the brands are, that honestly doesn't matter to me. There are definable problems with the way DXO does things, because the way they do things allows bias, and bias is quite obvious in many of their scores. The day Canon comes out with a 16-bit ADC and scores 17.5 stops of Print DR on DXO, I guarantee you I'll be making the EXACT same argument AGAINST their Canon scores...because it will be the exact same deal as the D800 and it's 14.4 stops of DR with a 14-bit ADC.

DXO's scores suck. The way they score is very unscientific, regardless of whether it is self-consistent. They should just stick to the raw measurements, they should actually literally measure downsampled versions of each image instead of just running a simple mathematical extrapolation, publish clear and concise facts about ALL of their testing methodologies for EVERYTHING (i.e. be completely open, get rid of the black box), and ditch scoring entirely.

They should rebuild their comparison engine to allow people to pick cameras, and let an openly defined algorithm compute comparative differences and highlight them in a meaningful manner. That would eliminate any option for bias, eliminate this whole inane notion of reducing complex products to single numbers, and potentially educate DXO viewers about the cameras they are comparing, without any DXO opinions sitting in the middle. Just share the raw facts.

1179
Lenses / Re: New Canon Tilt-Shift Lenses at Photokina [CR1]
« on: May 09, 2014, 04:02:35 PM »
Tilt+swing = tilt+rotation

Tilt or swing = tilt+rotation

All that matters is that Canon TS lenses have three degrees of freedom:

Tilt
Shift
Rotation

With those, you have the same general controls as any other TS lens, and the same general controls as a lens+bellows in a view/field camera. There aren't any control limitations with Canon lenses. They allow full focal plane control, the only real limitation is how much tilt is allowed. Again, though, in the macro context, that doesn't really matter. It's additional control, control you don't currently have. Those additional adjustments give you the ability to make better use of your focal plane and DOF.

What terms you or anyone else prefers to use to describe the adjustments is irrelevant, all that matters is all three movements are possible with Canon TS lenses.

1180
Lenses / Re: New Canon Tilt-Shift Lenses at Photokina [CR1]
« on: May 09, 2014, 01:08:07 PM »

Canon's TS lenses can be tilted and rotated (as well as shifted, three degrees of freedom). It would be a simple matter to adjust the focal plane such that you get the whole eye in focus without losing the face. These things are quite subtle as well...we aren't talking about the need to tilt 30° here. Fundamentally, ANY amount of tilt would give you control over the focal plane. Also, don't forget, you can still stop the lens down as well. If you need more literal DOF even with tilt, then there is nothing stopping you from doing what you did before with narrow apertures.

Having MORE capabilities is NEVEr useless. It can't be...it's more capabilities.

But the TS-E only tilt in one direction, no tilt and swing. While the rotating mount in nice it won't help in this situation IMO. Tilting and moving the plane of focus will only move the slice of sharp focus to different parts of the fly's eye/head and not bring all the head into sharp focus.

Well, first, in the case of the sample photo I shared, I absolutely do believe a TS Macro lens would allow me to get the whole head in focus. The entire actual head, front to back, would not literally be all within the depth of field, but again, that doesn't matter. All that matters is that the part of the fly's head that is visible is sharp and within the depth of field. It's a fly. The DOF doesn't have to be that thick to achieve that goal. Without T/S, you have to stop the lens down CONSIDERABLY in order to deepen the depth of field enough to encompass enough of the fly's head to make it all appear sharp, however it can never be as sharp at f/32 as it could be at f/11. With a TS lens, just a little bit of tilt and rotation will allow you to adjust the plane of focus such that you can maximize the potential an f/11 DOF has, and not need to stop down to f/32 (which will obliterate a lot of detail due to diffraction.)

More capabilities are more capabilities. It isn't going to magically make it so you can use f/2.8 for macro, but it will give you options you did not have before. It will allow you to utilize the DOF you have at less diffraction limited apertures more effectively. That's the entire point. That's what a bellows in old MF and LF view and field cameras were for, not really for "creative" focus, but to give you more options to maximize your use of the DOF you have at wider (and thus, less diffraction limited and therefor sharper) apertures.

It doesn't matter the degree of the additional capabilities. Having them at all, limited or extremely capable, is better than NOT having them. That's all my argument is.

1181
Lenses / Re: New Canon Tilt-Shift Lenses at Photokina [CR1]
« on: May 09, 2014, 11:49:29 AM »

Here is one of my more recent fly macro shots:



You can clearly see the DOF falloff on the back part of the eye, because the eye is not parallel to the sensor. It wouldn't have taken much tilt to reorient the focal plane to be parallel to the eye, thus solving the problem.

I think if you added tilt to that image you possibly might be able to shift the plane of focus enough to bring the back of the fly's eye into focus but then all the front part of the face would be out of focus.

Canon's TS lenses can be tilted and rotated (as well as shifted, three degrees of freedom). It would be a simple matter to adjust the focal plane such that you get the whole eye in focus without losing the face. These things are quite subtle as well...we aren't talking about the need to tilt 30° here. Fundamentally, ANY amount of tilt would give you control over the focal plane. Also, don't forget, you can still stop the lens down as well. If you need more literal DOF even with tilt, then there is nothing stopping you from doing what you did before with narrow apertures.

Having MORE capabilities is NEVEr useless. It can't be...it's more capabilities.

1182
EOS Bodies / Re: Thinking about moving from a 1Dx back to 5D MkIII
« on: May 08, 2014, 10:07:36 PM »
I think it's reasonable to downstep to the 5D III. I'm always amazed at the clean creamy smooth quality of OOF backgrounds with the 1D X, but the 5D III's backgrounds are still very good, and it's subject detail is better. I think there is a lot of value to having more pixels, especially with full frame, since it's tougher to get the needed reach sometimes. Cropping is just a necessity.

I also fully understand the negatives of a loud shutter. Just the other day, I was photographing a Black-crowned Night Heron, and the shutter sound of my 7D (which is also relatively loud) spooked some deer that had crept up between shots...I hadn't even known they were there before, and if it wasn't for the shutter sound, I doubt they would have cared that I was there either (I probably looked like some oddly shaped tree with all my camo). After the shutter sound, the deer refused to cross this little rise I was standing on to get to the water...and I love photographing the deer drinking and splashing about.

Personally, I use evaluative metering in manual mode and a fixed white balance setting (I don't like my WB changing shot to shot with minor changes in the light), and I manually compensate, so not having AF-point linked metering  or AWB wouldn't be a big deal for me. I use Art Morris' approach to exposure, which is actually pretty awesome. A lot of the time, so long as the lighting and angle of light doesn't change, once you set exposure, you can just keep shooting until something does change (i.e. cloud, angle changes too much, etc.)

The only real serious drawback of the 5D III vs. the 1D X is having half the frame rate. I consider 6fps rock bottom for action shooting, especially for birds. I would much prefer to have 8fps, and 12fps would be perfect (not too many frames, but not too little either.) Assuming you frame the same, there really isn't that much of a difference in real sensitivity (the 1D X has 44% Q.E. while the 5D III has 49%...the smaller pixels means more readout wiring in the 5D III, which reduces total light sensitive area a bit, so in identically framed situations, there really isn't a significant sensitivity benefit for the 1D X, and better cropping ability.)

I've considered what full frame camera to buy on many occasions. I'm using a 7D now, and I like the small pixels/high spatial resolution. I'd like 12fps, but seeing is that is the one significant benefit to the 1D X for me (there are certainly other benefits, but none as significant as that relative to the 5D III), I've decided to get the 5D III. The savings will allow me to invest in my astrophotography (probably a cooled mono CCD camera, which will suck up most of the extra funds I'd save by not getting the 1D X), and the 5D III is an excellent general purpose body (good enough for birds/wildlife and has the best Canon AF system, better for landscapes than pretty much any other Canon camera (large frame and the most pixels of any Canon camera), larger frame so better for low light shooting, will work quite well as an astro cam until I buy the mono CCD, etc.)

1183
Animal Kingdom / Re: Show your Bird Portraits
« on: May 08, 2014, 09:44:37 PM »
Round goes the Teal

Captured this shot shortly after sunset. ISO was cranked up to 3200, which is really high for the 7D, but I had to try to get a shot regardless, as still, reflective water is extremely rare in Colorado (there is always some kind of breeze). This little teal was just doing his evening rounds....round, and round, and round he went around the little tiny pond. ;P

Blue-wing Teal
Cottonwood Creek Wetland
Cherry Creek, Colorado

Canon EOS 7D
Canon EF 600mm f/4 L II
Hand Held


1184
Landscape / Re: Waterscapes
« on: May 08, 2014, 06:48:33 PM »
Wonderful shot, ckwaller!

Wish I could see a larger version without that massively intrusive watermark, though. I know people like to protect their work, but when the watermark totally kills the image, I honestly wonder what the point is. ;P

1185
Lenses / Re: New Canon Tilt-Shift Lenses at Photokina [CR1]
« on: May 08, 2014, 02:46:11 PM »
The question still remains, how much tilting you can achieve with an SLR camera where you have to account for the mirror box. Even in medium format T&S is mostly seen as toy, only large format cameras give you the flexibility to take full advantage of the Scheimpflug principle.

Well, if private's information is correct, Canon currently allows up to 8° of tilt freedom. If all your really doing is slightly shifting the focal plane to align with the primary plane of your subject, I think most of the time you'll be quite fine with 8°. That assumes Canon doesn't find a way to improve that range. There are always going to be certain circumstances where TS just doesn't and cannot offer you the flexibility you might potentially need, however having TS capabilities with macro at all is still an improvement over not having it.

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