Saturday, November 29, 2008

Adobe camera RAW and DNG converter update

Adobe has released the 5.2 update for camera RAW (only works in CS4) and an update for DNG converter. Contrary to what it says on the camera raw download webpage, the camera RAW and DNG converter are now separate installers (use the popup to find them or use the links further in my post), which is a good idea. If you have Lightroom 2.1 and CS3, only get the DNG converter installer. If you have LR 2.1 and CS4 install both. The separate DNG converter installer is here for Mac and Windows. Installing DNG converter will also give you the final release version of Adobe's new camera matching profiles. What's great about DNG converter is that it will allow you to convert RAW files from cameras not currently supported (at least until December) in Lightroom 2.1 to dng such as the Canon G10 and the 5D mk II. You can load the dng files in LR 2.1 and they will be fully supported.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Gallery of stitched images

I put together a quick gallery of images that I stitched from multiple images from simple DSLRs to get a high resolution landscape for an upcoming howto article. The gallery can be found here. Enjoy!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Very interesting collection of clips on the economic crisis

Found this on Salon's excellent "How the world works blog". It's a collection of characteristically clueless comments from Fox talking heads sparring with a tireless and prescient Peter Schiff. It is very instructive especially with what should be obvious to everybody by now. I started reading about this impending crash many years ago. Partly because of HTWW but the signs were obvious quite a while ago. Think about this when you listen to any commentator on TV but especially the FOX folks. This also reminds me of an excellent treatise on the failed ideology of supply-side economics in the book "the night is large" by Martin Gardner. Highly recommended if you want to understand many of the current debates on tax policy and such.

New tool for pixelpeepers

There is an interesting new website called dxomark that has a very comprehensive database of measurements on the performance of different digital cameras. This allow you to do quantitative comparisons between cameras from different manufacturers. Of course, you have to take these things with a grain of salt as invariably you'll find that the most expensive camera is by far the best in these measurements considering noise at high ISO, dynamic range and such. However, if you go out in the field and shoot an image at ISO 100 of a landscape with the camera you would not see any difference to your much cheaper one. And of course, if in such a situation you would shoot using a 4x5 camera with ISO 50 velvia or so, you would get far higher quality images than even the most expensive Canon 1Ds MkIII or Nikon D3. That said, I was curious for a while about what the actual IQ difference is between my D300 and the very yummy D700. Well, here it is. One example is the signal to noise ratio:

which is a full 4 dB better for the D700 at 200 nominal ISO, which corresponds to over a factor of 2 more noise in the D300. This certainly squares with my observation of noise at low ISOs in the D300. If on the DxOmark website, you roll your mouse over the scalebar on the right, you will see what this means for the image. Giving a very similar image to my examples.
Here is the dynamic range:

As you can see, apart from the base ISO, the dynamic range of the D700 is more than a stop better at every setting. That is impressive!

Now if any of this matters to you enough to spend thousands of bucks extra depends on your priorities. I wish I had the financial means to get a D700 and full-frame lenses but right now it is just lusting. I wish it had better resolution though, as from everything I have seen, the D700 gives exactly the same sharpness as a D300. The full-frame advantage doesn't hold up at all in that parameter. For that, use a 5D mkII, or a film camera I guess.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Evening in London

I recently spent an afternoon and evening in London coming back from a conference. I shot a few pictures that are best characterized as "grabshots". As always, London was rainy and cloudy. The links go to flickr pages where you can see bigger versions. Here is a typical wet street:


Around the corner from Imperial college I believe. Which is around the corner from the Royal Albert hall.

Royal Albert hall

I like the color in both. Here is the same wet street

London wet sunset

iPhone at Waterloo station
iPhone rising at Waterloo

The old Vic, one of many theaters in London
The old Vic

No nightly trash pickup:
London street scene

Nelson looking at the moon
Nelson and the moon

Reflection in the water at the river Thames
Thames river reflection

The London eye
The London eye at night

Panorama on the river Thames. 8 or so images stitched together.
Thames panorama

Bridge light and reflections in my lens
Bridge light

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Very interesting new camera(s) from Red

See here for the new RED DSMC system. Far out of my budget, but revolutionary for what it can do. Enormous sensors, still capability that is no compromise and amazing video. These are going to be big!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Some bikeride pictures

Just a few pictures from a recent sunset bikeride. Nothing special.

Golden avenue
Golden avenue



My bike

Streamer sunset
Sunset streamer

Another reason why the US made the right choice

As if we needed another reason. Obama set up this extraordinary website detailing the transition. It's very well done. Watch his acceptance speech too, which is superb. The part about the 100+ years lady that went from not being allowed to vote for multiple reasons to touching her finger to a screen to cast a ballot is fantastic. I am a pro-democracy nut and whenever I am allowed to vote for anything I do. I do agree with Churchill's many remarks about democracy - paraphrased: "Democracy is the worst political system in the world - safe for all the other ones." On the other hand, he also made the great remark "The best argument against democracy is five minutes with the average voter." Indeed Bush was somehow reelected four years ago. the first time around OK, but reelect the worst president of modern times?

Although I don't like to talk politics in this place (or in general), I would like to say that this election represents a sea change and a much-needed return to reason instead of the highly dogmatic thinking that marked the last 8 years - a dark period for the US and the world for sure. Following the election being streamed live over the internet into our hospital room where we were recovering from the recent birth was an amazing experience of renewal. The moment NPR started calling the election brought tears to my eyes. This country has turned a new page in many ways and has returned to being that shining beacon. Lastly, I would like to say that the concession speech by McCain was superb. If only that McCain had shown up during the election!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008