This was taken back in 2009 with a Nikon Coolpix L11 at ISO 800.
I don’t remember exactly what the scene looked like, but I’m sure there is a huge color shift in the image.
I’ve always liked it though.
Thanks for looking.
This was taken back in 2009 with a Nikon Coolpix L11 at ISO 800.
I don’t remember exactly what the scene looked like, but I’m sure there is a huge color shift in the image.
I’ve always liked it though.
Thanks for looking.
For a while now I have been looking for a truly mobile editing (and computing) solution, preferably in the form of a tablet. Mostly because I prefer the size and form factor of a tablet to a laptop as I’ve always been a fan of a smaller form factor when it comes to portable computing and technology. In the past, I’ve had a preference for smaller laptops in the 11”-13” category over their larger brethren, and, as laptops and notebooks have increased in size, my enthusiasm for owning them has decreased proportionately.
I’ve previously tried a couple of different tablets running various Android and Windows systems, but there always seemed to be obstacles for my application that, while not insurmountable were, at least, annoying. Most of these issues involved getting images from the camera to the tablet. As far as other tasks, like word processing and email, well those were no problem. I just couldn’t get to where I needed to be with images.
Up until recently, I was running an old Toshiba notebook with a 15” screen as my primary computer. It was barely powerful enough to run Lightroom and Photoshop. When I bought it on clearance in 2014 it was already a little out of date, and I knew it, but I kept it for nearly five more years until the hard drive began to fail. Fortunately, I was able to save all of my documents and images before it went to the great blue screen in the sky.
I started thinking about portability and tablets again.
Which eventually led me down the Apple rabbit hole to the iPad. After a lot of research, and “tech specing” I settled on the iPad. I found a decent deal (unfortunately I had to buy new because of my preferred specs) on a 10.5” 2017 256GB iPad Pro. I also bought an overpriced “camera connector” dongle and figured out that this set up would, indeed, make a pretty good mobile editing solution, and I was right.
As far as editing software. I already had an Adobe CC subscription and use Lightroom Classic CC on the desktop. In this case Lightroom Mobile seems to be the best solution for me, and seems to work well enough.
After a little practice learning a new OS, the first real test came back in January when my wife and I took a road trip to visit my daughter and son-in-law in Georgia. As they had asked if I would take some family shots while we were there, I took what camera gear I thought I would use and my iPad.
With very little effort, I was able to shoot in RAW, transfer the selected images to the iPad, process them in Lightroom Mobile, then upload them to a local website and order prints. The prints were decent enough quality and ready in less than an hour.
So, from a morning shoot to prints in about 3 hours – that smells a lot like success!
What are the drawbacks?
What are the positives?
The positives far outweigh the drawbacks – at least for me.
This has provided me with a completely mobile solution that is very useable and I would not hesitate to rely on it completely if I had to.
By the way, this entire post was written, then uploaded, formatted, and edited on my iPad Pro, as were the images.
I’ll go into more detail about the exact process in the near future – stay tuned!
Thanks for reading.
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“I don’t trust words. I trust pictures”
The Canon EF-S 55-250mm f/4-5.6 is considered by many to be, arguably, the best budget zoom lens in Canon’s catalog for their APS-C cameras. Many experts have even stated that the image quality is close to Canon’s fabled L series lenses.
There have been three iterations of this lens: the original version released in April 2008, the IS II version announced in June 2011, and the most recent STM version announced in 2013. The first and second versions are very similar while the STM’s main difference is adding a stepping motor to increase autofocus speed and reduce focus motor noise (especially important in video use where focus racking can be picked up on internal audio).
I recently picked up a used version of the IS II mostly to see if it lived up to its reputation and to see if it had a place in my workflow.
So let’s take a look at the specs.
When I started as a photographer, the long lens was the benchmark standard. If you wanted to be taken seriously, you needed a long lens. The most popular and basic option at the time was some version of the ubiquitous 70-210mm f/4-5.6 – this is the lens you absolutely had to have, and I had a couple of them over the years in both native versions and third party examples.
Recently I sold a Canon 70-200mm f/4 L IS II because, surprisingly, the focal lengths didn’t work for me anymore. On a crop sensor camera, the short end was often too long, and, more often than not, the long end was never long enough. I kept it for awhile, mostly because of the cachet of owning a white canon lens with a red ring, but it was rarely used.
I still have the idea, for some reason, that I need a long lens of some sort so, I already own a Canon 75-300mm f/4-5.6 III. This lens has never been very well regarded (at least according to most of the various online reviews). Really the only faults that I have found with it are that it’s not very contrasty and in some situations it exhibits significant amounts of chromatic aberration (CA). That last point is one of the major faults mentioned in most of the reviews. On the plus side it is an EF lens, so it’s a full frame compatible lens, not an EF-S lens which is specifically designed for the APS-C sensor like the 55-250 is. On APS-C sensors, also, full frame lenses can show some edge softness, reducing image quality in some cases. Having muddled through all of that though it seemed to fit my limited needs for a long zoom lens.
To keep things as fair as possible all of the following pictures were taken with a Canon EOS Rebel T3i set to neutral picture style and are straight out of camera “fine” JPEGs at 18 MP.
The images below were shot minutes apart with the 75-300mm f/4.5-5.6 III at 300mm. Note the CA – in the form of purple fringing on the tree branch to the right side of the Cardinal – and the absence of significant or notable chromatic aberration in the squirrel shot. Typically, as in this case CA occurs at its worst in backlit, light background situations.
Both of these images are completely acceptable and the CA can be completely removed (even from a JPEG) in Photoshop.
So, then, why buy the 55-250mm ? Well, because most of the reviews tout it as being a much better option than the 75-300mm III, especially regarding image quality and, based on that, the price was really right for a used copy at $60.00 USD out the door and, probably, a little FOMO.
Also, it’s worth mentioning that if you combine it with the EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-5.6 and the EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens (in any of its iterations), you have the APS-C version of the “Holy Trinity” of zooms with continuous focal length coverage from 10mm to 250mm (16-400mm full frame equivalent).
The following images are examples made with the 55-250mm f/4.5-5.6 IS II. The same camera and the same picture style (for consistency’s sake as mentioned earlier). Again photos a few minutes apart, but at varying focal lengths.
I found it reasonably sharp and contrasty with no obvious fringing, but image quality was nothing really that special, at least not really approaching L glass standards. Granted the subject matter was not exceptional and it was mid-day with really flat light, but the results were still a bit underwhelming compared to this lens’ reputation, in my opinion.
So, what do I think, overall, regarding the 55-250mm?
Well, for one the build quality does seem on the cheap side, and its not just the plastic lens mount either. I own the EF-S 10-18mm f/4.5-4.6 STM with a plastic mount that seems more substantial and better built, if not by much. The 55-250mm IS II seems kind of flimsy. Whereas the 75-300 III seems a little more substantial in the hand.
On both lenses, the front element rotates during focusing, which is not ideal, and can be problematic when using certain filters like circular polarizers. I believe this issue has been resolved on the STM version of the 55-250mm, but I’m not certain.
The 55-250mm f/4.5-5.6 IS II seems to have a significant amount of focus breathing. This is especially apparent at the short end of the focal range when attempting focus at minimum distances; the image becomes large enough in the viewfinder that you have to recompose for close shots. I have not noticed this on the 75-300mm III, to this extent at least.
The 55-250mm IS II is somewhat shorter and lighter overall, making it a slightly more compact package than the 75-300mm III.
Lastly, I have a first generation Commlite adapter for my Sony A6000 and both of these lenses work with it, even if focusing is very slow – so there’s that.
I am kind of conflicted. I definitely do not need both of these lenses and one has to go. The 75-300mm III gives me a little more reach on the long end, but the 55-250mm IS II focal lengths fit well in the general order of things.
I just wasn’t really “wowed” by either lens.
Truth be told, I may just sell both. One of my favorite APS-C lenses is the Canon 18-135mm f3.5-5.6 IS STM. It has great image quality, good build quality, feels substantial in the hand, comes with a metal lens mount, and with the crop factor gives a 28.8-216mm full frame equivalency.
Is the 55-250mm f4.5-5.6 IS II lens relevant in 2019?
It does seem to have decent image quality, focuses reasonably quickly, and is relatively compact while giving you a good range of focal lengths at a reasonable price. So if these are your parameters, then yes.
On the other hand, if I hadn’t acquired it, I don’t think that I would have missed all that much.
Thanks for reading
“There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer”
– Ansel Adams
Here are some photography related news highlights from the last few days.
Leica – The venerable German camera manufacturer from Wetzlar just announced the new Q2, a second generation digital fixed lens compact camera with a full frame 47.3 megapixel sensor, a fixed 28mm f/1.7 Summilux lens, and a top ISO of 50,000. All for the low price of nearly $5K US.
Click here to view the Leica press release.
Nikon – Some of the rumor sites are showing what are, supposedly, leaked images of what might be the Nikon Z 1 – a more entry level oriented Nikon mirrorless Z series camera that is, evidently, aimed at the EOS RP market segment and it might have a DX (APS-C) sensor.
Flickr – Photo storage and social networking site Flickr (which was recently acquired by SmugMug) just announced that Creative Commons photos will be exempt from the recently imposed 1,000 image limit for free accounts.
Click here for the Creative Commons post.
Also, deceased members are eligible for an “in memoriam” account that preserves their images, regardless of number, in perpetuity at no charge, even if they were a paying Pro member.
Click here for info on “in memoriam” accounts.
Meike – Chinese budget lens manufacturer Meike just announced an 85mm f/1.8 manual focus lens for the Sony E-mount APS-C. It looks, physically, as if aperture is controlled through the camera instead of the more traditional aperture adjustment ring normally found on manual focus lenses. According to early pre-release press coverage it should retail for under $200.00 USD.
Yongnuo- Another Chinese manufacturer, who for the last several years, has made a name for themselves offering copies of Canon EF lenses at highly affordable prices, recently announced an Android powered camera with a Micro Four Thirds sensor and, a Canon EF lens mount. It may sound odd, but running an Android operating system, if it has full connectivity, may be the next big thing that pulls people from their phones and into a camera system with an interchangeable lens mount. No word yet on pricing or a press release from the company.
In the Internet Drama Department – Recently, YouTuber Tony Northrup posted a video involving National Geographic photographer Steve McCurry’s iconic Afghan Girl cover portrait from the 1980’s
In the video, Northrup mentions some interesting points possibly surrounding the circumstances under which the image was made.
The general internet consensus seems to be that Northrup’s video crossed a significant line and a few other YouTubers posted videos questioning his motives.
Northrup then took his original video down and reposted it a few days later with an additional explanation video.
Other than that the Northrup channel has been fairly quiet, and thus far McCurry’s team has remained mute on the subject, at least publicly.
That’s it until next week.
Please comment, like, and follow.
Thanks for reading.
Sometimes things don’t go the way you plan, even on the spur of the moment. At the last minute they can fall apart. Sometimes the unexpected becomes the better result and finally as someone once said, “luck favors the prepared mind”.
So this is how I blew it.
During a visit to the Amon Carter Museum of American Art in Ft. Worth, Texas, a trip I’ve wanted to make for some time as they have a very large curated photography collection, I almost caught a reasonably good photo, but due to my lack of mental preparedness, it became, let’s say, less than average.
First a note about photography in the museum. When I visit a museum or gallery I try to check their website to see if they actually have a photography policy. As it turns out this particular museum does. It is not really extensive but you definitely get the impression they would prefer no cameras at all. They do not seem to have a problem with smart phone photography though. It seems they just want to do everything to prohibit any type of commercial photography, which is understandable and they do encourage you to share any photos on social media using the #amoncartermuseum hashtag.
So, I thought this would be a good time to work on my iPhone photography skills (I have an iPhone for this very reason).
As my wife and I are walking around the museum (they really do have some nice pieces in the collection), I became interested in the hallway that currently goes through the photography exhibit. It has some nice squared off passages, and if you are in the front lobby, the opposite end is a sort of great room affair with lots of marble and a statue as the centerpiece on the end wall (sorry, I didn’t get the name of the piece). I was looking at the whole situation as frames with leading lines and a center focal point -you know, from a photographic perspective.
The only problem with the composition was a tour guide (Docent) standing near the statue. I made the image anyway.
After I made the image, with sort of a lackluster attitude, a series of events took place that made me chuckle to myself and still gives me a smile – thinking how I nearly completely blew it.
Here is the first shot.
First the tour guide (Docent) moves out of the frame. Then, as I raised my phone to get the picture, this guy, from somewhere, enters the frame from the right side. As I start to lower my phone because someone’s in the frame again, I realize that this guy is framing himself in the passageway and that he is dressed in all black, wearing a beret, and we’re in an art museum! I quickly raise my phone back up and make the image just before he exits the frame to the left.
Here’s what my thought process was:
Cool there’s no one in the shot.
Crap who’s this guy and why is he in my shot?
CRAP THIS IS COOL! QUICK! SHOOT!
Unfortunately the whole image is about as crooked as can be and no amount of transformation, leveling, or cropping in Lightroom can fix it to my satisfaction.
So here it is in all of its “glory” …. ugh.
So, the lesson here would seem to be the old saying “be prepared” and “expect the unexpected”
For certain, patience is a virtue and if I hadn’t been so impatient, I would have been in a better mental space to take full advantage of the circumstance. Also – know your equipment. If I had been more practiced with my phone, the ensuing fumbling may not have taken place. So, ultimately, I didn’t think – about anything, really.
Lesson learned, and after all, there will be other days and other images so I’ll just chalk this one up as one that got away.
As to the museum itself? They are currently remodeling the second floor so this does limit their display space but they do seem to have quite an extensive collection. I would, of course, like to have seen a larger photography exhibit (duh). So for your enjoyment, here is an original Margaret Bourke-White print from 1927-1928.
Of course they have works from other mediums like this oil on canvas painting by Georgia O’Keefe made during her time in Taos New Mexico.
All in all a worthwhile experience and best of all, admission to the museum and exhibits is free. I highly recommend a visit to the Amon Carter Museum of American Art if you are in the Ft Worth, Texas area. Check their website for hours and policies here.
Thanks for reading.
“The best thing about a picture is that it never changes, even when the people in it do”
– Andy Warhol
The Sony A6000. By some peoples definition, an obsolete camera. Yet it is also a foundational mirrorless camera and I own one.
A couple of years ago, I became interested in mirrorless cameras. Mostly for their smaller size and form factor. So, I shopped around a little bit looking at just about everything on the market and one day while walking around in my local Best Buy, I picked up a Sony A6000 that was on display and fooled around with it a bit.
What I liked was its small size, but more importantly, its heft, especially in relation to its size. It was a solid feeling camera which is somewhat unusual at this kind of price point in today’s “plastic fantastic” era where light weight is prized but often seems to come at the expense of build quality. The first tactile impression was of a solid, well built, and serious camera in a small form factor.
Of course, at the time the photo world was raving over Sony cameras and Sony seemed to be releasing a new model every month.
Then, it was being offered at Best Buy and several online retailers for generally around $550.00 USD with a battery, USB cable/wall charger, and 16-50mm power zoom kit lens.
It took me a couple of months or so to decide that I really wanted one so, I sold a Canon lens that I didn’t use much and began to really consider buying one.
Then, one Saturday morning after dropping my wife off at her favorite local fabric store to do some shopping, I decided to visit one of my favorite local pawn shops to do a little shopping myself. Well you can guess what happened next – they had a Sony A6000 in nearly new condition with the extras, but no box or manual, for $450.00 USD. After a little haggling, I walked out with it for a total of $427.00 USD including tax. I know that prices have dropped since then, but at the time it was a pretty good deal on a nearly new camera.
So being a “Canon guy” and trusting my DSLRs implicitly, it took me a while to begin shooting this little camera seriously. I soon came to accept that Sony’s lens ecosystem is not as developed or, as budget friendly as I would have liked. So after a little shopping around I found some legacy lenses in Minolta and Pentax mounts, bought some adapters on Amazon and began shooting, but always as a second camera, trusting my more serious results to one of my DSLRs. Recently, I’ve also purchased a first generation Commlite adapter that allows me to sort of use some of my EF lenses as well.
I have since begun to use this camera with confidence and more often.
Recently, when my wife and I went on a weekend trip to the Dallas-Ft. Worth metroplex, I took the Sony and I finally made the commitment to it as a primary camera. Of course I brought a selection of lenses and extra batteries plus chargers etc…
We went to the downtown Dallas historic district on a cold and gloomy Sunday morning.
Starting in Deep Ellum – lots of live music and art venues.
Then took a look around the historic downtown.
Great architectural details almost everywhere.
Of course the Giant Eyeball statue.
Then we met some folks on the street who offered us a mini-tour of their art deco apartment building including a trip to the roof. I won’t mention their names or the building, but the lobby has a wonderful Art Deco ceiling.
Also a pretty spectacular rooftop that was a cool blend of modern style and Art Deco.
You got a pretty good view of the neon Pegasus on top of the Magnolia building too.
Like I said, a dreary day but, well, a great view!
So, as it turns out the only lens that I used was the 16-50mm PZ kit lens and it seemed to hold up pretty well. Unfortunately, I did shoot RAW and edit without thinking that it might be nice to post some straight out of camera JPEGs. Rest assured, the edits are minimal – warmed slightly as it was an incredibly dreary day, slightly straightened and, that’s about it except for maybe tuning up the vibrance and contrast a bit.
The accessories that I used were minimal, I attached a Meike battery grip to help the ergonomics a little and extend the camera’s notoriously short battery life. I also used an adapted metal lens hood and a simple strap.
All in all I think the camera performed quite well and the kit lens seems to be beyond acceptable. I am fairly certain that I will be using this camera more in the future as I begin to purchase more lenses and perhaps even ween myself from DSLRs.
Do you own or shoot any of Sony’s aps-c mirrorless cameras? If so what do you think about them?
Comments and questions are always welcome.
Thanks for reading!
“Essentially what photography is, is life lit up”
– Sam Abell
Computational photography is a term that seems to be coming up more and more often lately in photography related conversations. If you don’t know what it means, it refers to mobile device photography – smart phones in particular, referring to how the app developers are now using programming code to create various effects like shallow depth of field (bokeh) that require knowledge and equipment to create in a camera.
In other words, you select the effect or mode then you just shoot and save the photo instead of choosing a lens, calculating exposure, taking the picture, then refining it in post production.
This seems to have a lot of people upset and they’re talking about the death of photography yet again. It seems that some of the online photography gurus think that somehow their digital camera is substantially different from, and far superior to a smart phone camera. Yes the phone has a much smaller sensor and less exposure control (as a rule), and doesn’t’ have interchangeable lenses, but that’s about it.
Here’s the truth – Most photography is computational, and it doesn’t matter in the least.
I’ll let that sink in for a minute.
You see, If you shoot film, there are some variables but, essentially you are exposing a chemically covered media to light which, after being treated with other chemicals, leaves a latent negative image that can then be printed onto light sensitive paper as a positive image. No computers required. In film’s purest form there is nothing digital or computational about the process, but very few people print traditionally in a dark room anymore. That is the only non-computational form of photography there is, or ever was.
So then if you shoot film and send it to a lab for processing, the lab will likely send you scans of your shots on maybe a disc or thumb drive. They might even upload your images as digital scans to a cloud based service and give you a password or PIN to access them. They may or may not send you your negatives. More and more often, they won’t.
Even film has been pushed (pun intended) into the digital era of computational photography.
This is one of the ironies of shooting film in the digital era – you start with film and, ultimately end up with a digital product that you then process on a computer before sending it to a printer (if you actually print photos instead of just posting them online).
If you shoot digital images instead of film, you are exposing a digital sensor to light. The camera’s internal software and processor then create an image. If you want to print it, you either use a home printer connected to your computer, or you send it to an outside printer (with better equipment) who will create a print from your digital file. Of course you can just view the image on the camera’s screen and call it a day. The process, however, relies on digital, computational technology from front to back.
What about camera RAW files? Well, sorry, it’s still computational. A RAW image isn’t really an image. It is essentially just a string of software code that tells the camera’s processor how to make an image. It just leaves out some of the corrections (and compression) that the camera is programmed to process into a JPEG, and every camera processes the information differently. This is why we get the various arguments about Canon’s color science vs Nikon’s vs Sony’s ad infinitum. Raw is not a photo until it is displayed on a screen.
Most people then use Lightroom or another Adobe product to post process and edit their RAW images – so you don’t really even get to see the real RAW data. You get Adobe’s interpretation of that data. That’s precisely what Adobe Camera RAW is for and Adobe RGB is their own, specific color interpretation.
There’s nothing wrong with Lightroom or Photoshop, I use both for virtually all of my digital post processing and I think they are well suited to the task, but I understand what they are and how to best use them for my personal purpose. (By the way, the same principal applies to any other brand of post processing or image editing software, it’s computational by its very nature.)
The good news is, it doesn’t matter. Really.
Photography has changed over the last hundred or so years by an order of magnitude. We have evolved from the Daguerrotype to the JPEG and from the large format View Camera to the Smart Phone. At each interval, the photographic community has condemned the changes as being the “death of photography” and criticized them as being “not really photography” yet, in retrospect, it didn’t matter and the technological progress actually advanced the art and science of photography. Photography has continued and advanced, and changed, and evolved, but it hasn’t died because of any new technology.
I don’t expect it to die any time soon either, especially just because the process is becoming even easier.
Thanks for reading.
Sony just introduced a new camera! The A6400. Which is kind of surprising. Not surprising that Sony dropped a new camera – they seem to do that with incredible frequency – but they introduced a new APS-C camera. It has seemed, for a very long time that they had all but completely abandoned their APS-C line in favor of their multiple models and frequently released iterations and updates of the A7xx series of full frame cameras.
Not to say that a new APS-C camera hasn’t been expected. The internet has been very busy with rumors of a new Sony APS-C camera for a while now, but most expectations were for an A7000 or A6700. In other words, some form of a successor to the A6500 not only in model designation but in evolution.
So, is the A6400 an evolution? Well, no and yes. It uses the same short life W battery and the same 24.2 megapixel sensor as other members of the Alpha series, specifically the A6300 and A6500. It has the same ergonomics and the same 921,000 dot LED screen as its APS-C brethren. New is the Bionz-X processor along with 11 FPS continuous shooting (with 8 FPS max in silent, electronic shutter mode). For video shooters and vloggers they have added the flip up screen from the old A5100 (not full articulated a’la Canon or Panasonic), and an external mic input (though no headphone jack for audio monitoring). I would not call this camera an evolution as much as an attempt by Sony to address some of their previously perceived shortcomings.
Auto focus claims to be the fastest ever with a purported focus acquisition time of 0.02 seconds. The A6400 also offers the first continuous subject tracking focus (definitely useful for sports and action photographers) made possible with 425 focus points which virtually fill the entire viewfinder from edge to edge and top to bottom.
The coolest new feature on the A6400 seems to be “Auto Eye AF”. It’s pretty much accepted that Sony has the best eye AF in the industry and has traditionally been a feature that was activated via a custom function button. The new “Auto Eye AF” works in conjunction with Sony’s facial recognition. It’s active the entire time a subject is in the frame, and works cooperatively with continuous subject tracking. The new focus modes work for both video and stills which, is some fairly impressive tech.
Coming soon, supposedly, is “Animal eye AF”. I suppose this would be useful for wildlife photographers – if the Sony APS-C line of cameras was well suited to wildlife photography. However, it isn’t, mostly due to the lack of affordable good, fast, long glass for Sony crop sensor cameras. Actually, “Animal Eye AF” is supposed to be in a firmware update that is also applicable to the Alpha series of full frame cameras, including the A9 (which could be a good wildlife shooter).
Overall this isn’t the new camera we were expecting. It does show that Sony still has some interest in supporting their APS-C line and is priced attractively at about $900.00 USD (body only).
My impressions are based on what I’ve seen and read as I’ve not had the opportunity to go hands on with this camera.
So, should you buy it if you already own an A6500 or A6300? Maybe, if the focus features are worth it to you otherwise, I think it’s kind of a non-starter. Me? I’ll pass.