The racism of photography


True story: modern cameras are racist. Most slide film, with it’s high contrast, was as well. “Kodachrome has great skin tones” was only true for white folks. Digital has actually been better at this for at least 10 years. But not at high sensitivities, and not always with video. And video is tougher to correct in post.

Phone photography

So I happened upon an amazing piece of software for basic adjustments and manipulation of photos on Android devices, called Photomate R2.  It’s a lot like the ACR/LR engine, perhaps with a little less refinement.  But it handles true raw files, and it’s the only Android app I’m aware of that does so.


So I’ve got that wrapped up.


What I haven’t figured out yet, is an app that will allow me quick manual controls of the camera actually in my phone.  Something that will simple direct control of things like exposure/ISO/aperture/WB.


Does such an app exist?


Want lens flare and bokeh like the last Star Trek Movie?  This is the single piece of gear you need to accomplish that:


Seems like their lenses have been pretty solid for video work, so this may be worth checking out.  Of course there’s always the old budget versions kicking around too.


Edit: looks like some folks have a sample vid up already:

Is your lens busted?

I’ve just had my first absolutely awesome experience with the Nikon USA repair department (all previous ones having been abysmal). They did a bang up job (for a price!) of bringing my many times dropped 70-200mm VR (V1.0) lens back to spec. And the proof is in the images!


This was shot with the 70-200mm, a TC14E, and a crappy Tamron 2x extender, on a D7100 (for a grand total of 840mm equivalent in 35mm) and it STILL looks good (in my opinion)


I’ve never personally sent a lens in for repair to Nikon–only bodies. And we all know how bad that went!


So with my first decent Nikon repair in hand, I was surprised to read this article by the venerable Roger Cicala over at Imaging Resource:


Perhaps I got lucky? Or they do a bang up job when it’s on my dime? Or maybe Nikon actually has some good test gear for lenses, but not bodies? Time will tell, since I still need to send my 17-55mm lens in!

a trick to clean your mirror

I just discovered something awesome. Maybe this was obvious and everybody else knows about it, but just in case you don’t: I used a sensor swab to clean a DSLR mirror.* Really wet, really gentle. And now REALLY clean! AF even improved!

*Try at your own risk! I am not responsible for any damages to your camera.

A win for DSLRs and people who enjoy concerts!

— Micah (@photomicah) July 9, 2013

I’ve been complaining about being hassled at concerts for a long time.  Especially when they’re expensive ones.  I’m incredibly discreet with a DSLR, and others are taking pictures with their phones anyway…why bother me?

More here at Imaging Resource.

Olympus Stylus not so Tough

The “Olympus Stylus Tough 3000″ is not so tough inside. The zoom buttons are held together with some really flimsy plastic springs (highlighted and currently covered in a drop of crazy glue). I sure hope the OM-D is constructed better than this, because I want one someday.


The part that broke off is the round black thing that’s highlighted in the image.  For reference those are about 2mm across.  The plastic springs that both locate and return the round part are towards the middle.  The spring to the right is what broke, allowing the round part to flop around under the rubber button panel.  It could have destroyed other buttons too.

In fact, every button on the back of the camera is supported by a flimsy piece of plastic. Picture all the buttons being supported inside the way parts in a plastic model kit are attached to a big plastic ring. Yeah, like that, only 1/10th the size of that.  Kinda disappointing to see this type of design/construction.  I really think this is designed to wear out and break.  This could break flopping around in a jeans pocket.

The only thing pleasant about taking this apart was discovering that the built in memory was just a microSD card in a slot.P1030050

See it there?  It’s just right of center towards the bottom with a sharpie mark on it (from the factory, not me).  There’s a plastic tab attached to the board, so that even if you take the whole board out, you’re discouraged from replacing the card.  Well, an exacto fixed that!  The card didn’t appear to have any important software on it, but it did appear to have some auto-run software that will give you a manual in your language.  Copy that to a new bigger card and you can upgrade the internal memory!  My guess is that it’ll take at least micro SDHC, which is good up to 32gb.  I wouldn’t get too excited though, because the internal memory is accessed through an internal controller, which tends to be really slow.  So it’s a good emergency thing, but of limited daily use.

Still, neat to know you can upgrade, huh?  If you want to upgrade a camera that isn’t made to last.  C’est la vie.

Oh, and yes, I did put this back together and it works fine now.  I’m good like that.

D7100 practical bit-depth

More test results from this past week.  I already know that 14-bit isn’t any better than 12-bit at base ISO on the D700.  Well, let’s just make sure things haven’t changed with new gear.

There is (quite wisely) no “uncompressed” raw on the D7100.  But if you’re foolish enough to want to waste space, there are “losslessly compressed” and “compressed” modes, in addition to being able to select between 12 and 14 bit files.  My preference is the smallest file, since that helps the buffer dump to the card faster.  Lets see if I lose anything choosing 12-bit compressed (allegedly lossy) vs 14-bit lossless, first just comparing the overall scene before manipulation:


There’s a pretty good hot spot in between those trees.  Let’s dial down the exposure and see if one setting is capturing more in the highlights:

12 bit lossy14-bit lossless

Can you tell the difference?  There’s no posterization.  Now you can complain that the highlights didn’t blow, however, the point is that even in the 12-bit lossy version, there’s more highlight than I need.  Unless you’re doing something wrong, you probably don’t need 14-bit for highlights with the D7100.

Now let’s look at the shadows (artificially pulled up in post):


Not seeing anything different here.

Now the point is not that there’s no difference.  The point is that for actual real world shooting, there is no appreciable difference.  Don’t waste your time or card space on 14-bit files.  If the review sites were smarter or more honest, they’d tell you the same.

Of course, if you want to come up with a reproducible test with real world repercussions, please, by all means do so.  And share your results like I have!

Here’s my original raw files if you want to play with them yourself.