Archive for February, 2009

Tuesday, February 24th 2009

New Toy: Phottix Cleon C8

As I wrote a week ago I’ve bought a few camera gadgets with some birthday money I got. Now I have received all three that I’ve ordered so far. (I’ve already written about the cleaning kit I got.)

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The Phottix Cleon C8 is a wireless shutter release compatible with many of Canon’s digital SLRs. Mine arrived today so obviously I had to try it out.

All the necessary batteries were supplied so it was just a matter of putting them in place.

The button on the remote has a half pressed and a fully pressed state which work just as the shutter release on the camera. Halfway down for focusing, all the way down for taking the shot.

It seems to work fine for the most part, but in high speed drive mode it always takes at least three frames. No matter how quickly I press the remote it will click through three shots.

This is a fun thing to have and allows you to do some weird stuff that isn’t possible with a normal wired remote.

Jumping cat

Jumping cat

I’ll write something about the Seagull Right Angle Finder when I receive the adapters for it (which weren’t included when I first got it). As it is now it won’t fit my 30D.

Tuesday, February 24th 2009

Begriplig Svenska Fail

DN.se vid 14-tiden i dag:

Skärmdump från DN.se med det underskattade ordet eklatera.

Eller var det bara jag som inte visste vad eklatera betyder?

Friday, February 20th 2009

Good stuff

Aftonbladet, the largest online news site in Sweden, is reminding IE6 users to upgrade to something better:

Screenshot of Aftonbladet.se IE6 warning note.

This couldn’t have happened too soon. Apparently, this is a campaign that started in Norway.

Friday, February 20th 2009

Tempted

I just checked how big a print I could get of my recent Stockholm panorama from Crimson.se. Turns out they can make anything up to 3 meters.

Screenshot of Crimson.se

A 165 x 58 cm, 200 dpi print would cost just under 500 SEK (about $56 at the moment). Quite tempting actually.

Now if only we had a big enough wall to put it on …

If there’s anyone in Stockholm (or anywhere else for that matter) who does have a huge empty wall and would like to have this on it I’d happily sell them one for 1000 SEK. Obviously you could have a smaller one if you want …

Friday, February 20th 2009

Future Camera Wishlist

I bought my Canon EOS 30D in the spring 2006 and the shutter still has about 80% of its expected lifetime left, so don’t get me wrong, I really don’t have any plans on upgrading any time soon.

My thinking is that spending $1200 on a new camera won’t get me significantly better pictures. Challenging myself and setting up more difficult photo projects might. And that’s more or less free.

Canon EOS ?0D, X0D

Anyway, when my 30D finally does give in, I will be well prepared. Pretty soon after I got my 30D I started jotting down stuff I thought would be nice for my next camera. Just so I don’t forget anything when the time comes.

So here is my list of stuff that I will try to get on my next camera:

  1. Dust reduction. Not sure how effective the current systems are, but most cameras on the market already have this to some degree.
  2. Front/back focus adjustment. Again, Canon has already added this to the 50D. Could be useful if the camera auto focus is slightly off.
  3. High resolution screen. Three inch, 640×480 screens already seem to be the default so this shouldn’t be a problem.
  4. 100% viewfinder coverage. It is so annoying when you think you’ve nailed the composition only to find a twig or some other distraction sticking into the edge of the frame. Remains to be seen if Canon will add this to the cameras in the x0D series. The Nikon D300 already has this so if Canon want to stay in the game they should.
  5. Live view with good AF. The current live view systems are so-so. Having to lift the mirror (and black out the live view) to engage the auto-focus is not good enough.
  6. HDMI output. Another feature which seems to have become a standard thing.
  7. Multiple shot bracketing. For HDR photography, I want to be able to set the camera to bracket at least 5 or 7 shots. The Nikon D300 can do up to 9, and since this is only a software thing there really is no reason for Canon’s cameras not to have this.
  8. Auto ISO. My 30D has this in green square fully automatic mode. I want to be able to use Auto ISO in aperture priority, shutter priority and manual mode. The idea being that the camera chooses an ISO setting which will make the shutter speed short enough to avoid camera shake. Thankfully, the 50D can do this. (The 40D had this feature too, but it doesn’t work as it should.)
  9. RAW in full auto mode. When my wife uses my camera she sets it to full auto mode. This means photos will be saved as JPEGs and not RAWs, which is stupid. I want to be able to adjust white balance and stuff just as much for the photos she takes as I want for my own shots. And again, this is something the 50D now has.
  10. 9-10 megapixel small RAW size. The megapixel race doesn’t seem to be ending any time soon. This means huge RAW files every time you want to take a photo. And more noise per pixel. Which in turn increases the file size since it won’t compress as well. So instead of the reasonable ~7 MB per photo that my 30D produces, the 50D for instance produces ~20 MB RAW files. So if Canon wants to keep increasing the resolution, fine, but give us a more reasonable small RAW setting. The 50D offers a 7 megapixel option, but that’s a bit on the small side. Around 10 should be about right.
  11. Video mode. I want video recording with good, fast AF and the option of 1080p or 720p.

Then I have a few maybes:

  1. DNG raw files. It would be nice if Canon and Nikon adopted Adobe’s DNG standard for raw files, to make them more future proof. I don’t want to end up with raw files that I can’t open just because the latest version of Windows doesn’t support the software that came with my camera.
  2. Wireless flash control. I’d love to have built in support for Canon’s IR wireless flash system.
  3. Automatic CA and vignetting correction. Nikon’s D300 analyses the photo and automatically corrects chromatic aberrations. The Canon 50D knows how different (Canon) lenses cause vignetting and can correct this by increasing the brightness of the edges. Both these features would be nice to have in the camera, but most of all I’d like to have them in Lightroom. Does anyone know of any Lightroom plug-ins that can do these things?

Since I have four lenses that are only compatible with Canon I’m hoping that there will be a Canon camera sometime in the future with all these features. Maybe it will be the 60D, 70D or 80D? Or maybe they will have started some whole new naming scheme before all these features end up in one camera. Switching to Nikon isn’t really an option anyway.

Well, I’m in no rush at all to shell out loads and loads of cash. I have all the time in the world. In the meantime I’m going to enjoy my 30D while I marvel at the many features the camera makers think of in the coming years.

Wednesday, February 18th 2009

Sucessfully Cleaned My 30D Sensor

My sensor swabs and cleaning liquid arrived extremely quickly, considering they shipped across the Atlantic. I bought them last Saturday and I picked them up yesterday, only three days later. That’s impressive! The weird thing is that I only paid for slow postage …

Anyway, today when I got home from work I decided to have a go at cleaning the sensor of my beloved Canon 30D.

I took a test shot at f/22 before I started. Quite a few specks of dust as you can see, after almost three years of use, only having cleaned it with a hand blower:

Before cleaning

I also used my hand blower thing to clean the outside of the camera, as well as the sensor before I did the real thing. As you can see, this didn’t do much good at all. Only one tiny speck of dust disappeared in the bottom left corner:

After blowing

Next I cut open the plastic container for a swab and unscrewed the top of the bottle. Then I set my camera in cleaning mode to expose the sensor. I put five drops of Eclipse on the swab and stuck it in the camera.

I did a first swipe, flipped the swab over and did a second swipe in the same direction. I’m quite impressed by how effective this was. All the major dust specks are gone and only a few tiny specks are left on the right side, which is where I lifted the swab. With some practice I will hopefully get even better at this.

After swiping

It struck me as being tighter than I expected to get the swab into the camera. And I was surprised that I didn’t see the cleaning liquid (methanol) drying up in the light reflecting off the sensor. (I didn’t see the liquid at all.)

All in all I’m glad I gave this a go. Finally I can use small apertures without having to do a load of spec-hunting in Lightroom.

Monday, February 16th 2009

More Shots of Stockholm

Kungsholmen

Kungsholmen seen from Skinnarviksberget.

Tyska kyrkan and Storkyrkan

Tyska kyrkan in front of Storkyrkan.

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Rooftops of Södermalm.

Slussen & Södermalm

Slussen, Södermalm and Riddarfjärden.

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Södermalm.

Expressen & Dagens Nyheter neon signs, neonskyltar

Expressen and Dagens Nyheter. Triple shot HDR.

Ignatiigränd, Gamla stan, Stockholm

Ignatiigränd, Gamla stan, Stockholm

Ignatiigränd, Gamla stan. Five and six shot HDRs.

Stockholms stadshus and Centralbron

Stockholms stadshus and Centralbron. 30 second exposure.

Monday, February 16th 2009

Unbelievable

Microsoft have done it again.

Did anyone really think they had turned good?

Sunday, February 15th 2009

Ordering a Few Camera Toys

I got some money for my birthday and I had a few ideas for things to get for my camera so I’ve been doing a bit of gadget-shopping. Here’s what I’ve got so far.

Photographic Solutions Sensor Swab type 2

Photographic Solution’s Sensor Swabs. I thought I would have a go at really getting the sensor clean. My hand blower can only do so much. Got a bottle of Eclipse cleaning solution too. From Ebay, for $50 including shipping to Sweden. That’s about half of what the Swedish on-line camera shops charge for the same thing.

Phottix Cleon C8

The Phottix Cleon C8. A wireless shutter release which lets you be in your own photos AND decide when the photo is to be taken. Found it (new) on Ebay for $31, including shipping. Should be some fun to play with. 🙂

The receiver fits into the flash hot shoe and is connected to the camera. It uses radio so it will go round corners and through walls to a certain extent.

Seagull Right Angle Finder 1x-2x

The Seagull Right Angle Finder 1x-2x. It can be very difficult to see through the viewfinder when you are shooting really close to the ground. This should make it a lot easier. Also, the 2x magnification will hopefully make it easier to focus more exactly. $43 on Ebay with shipping.

I’m also planning on getting one of these, a Seculine Action Level:

Seculine Action Level

Sometimes it can be hard to tell whether you’re holding your camera straight, especially when shooting in the dark. This little gadget fits into the camera hot shoe and has five LEDs which light up depending on how you tilt the camera. When level, the green LED in the middle lights up. It also works for vertical shots, both left and right.

I’ll be getting this from Amazon UK for about £25 with a gift token I got for Christmas. I’m just waiting for Jenny to decide on what she’s ordering so we can get our things at the same time.

Sunday, February 15th 2009

Making panoramas with Autostitch

Yesterday I went to Stockholm for a photowalk around sunset. I had decided on a few places to go to get a couple of different views I wanted.

Specifically, I wanted to get a view of Kungsholmen from Söder Mälarstrand, Södermalm from Centralbron and Gamla stan from Katarinahissen.

I took the underground train to Zinkensdamm and walked up on Skinnarviksberget. From there there was a great view of Kungsholmen and Gamla stan. I took seven shots for a panorama.

I merged the shots using Autostitch. First I tried using the Photomerge feature in Photoshop, but that was useless and kept leaving several visible, blurry seams. So I went hunting on the web and found Autostitch which is free and much better at finding the overlaps.

The only thing you need to do before you give it the photos for merging is to change the output scale to 100% (otherwise you get a tiny panorama) and set the JPEG quality to 100% (the default of 75 is useless). These settings can be found under Edit -> [Options] and sadly, they need to be set every time you start the program.

I recently read in a photo magazine that you should take vertical shots for panoramas, for higher vertical resolution I guess. My seven shots gave an output of 11,745 x 3,307 pixels, or 39 megapixels. That should make a decent print.

I’ll follow up with more shots from Stockholm.

Sunday, February 15th 2009

Using Stars in Lightroom

For the last couple of weeks I’ve been working on another huge project: giving each of my photos a star rating.

Once again, a huge job, but with a huge advantage now that it is done. For any given month or time period I can easily filter out my best (or worst!) photos. I don’t know why I didn’t do this sooner.

It is interesting to see how the ratings are distributed between the years:

Year 2006 2007 2008
1 star 1% 2% 7%
2 stars 51% 37% 30%
3 stars 38% 47% 50%
4 stars 9% 12% 11%
5 stars   1% 2% 2%

Most notably, the number of 2 star photos has gone down and the number of one star photos went up quite a bit. The latter is because I’ve started trying HDR the last year, which gives many under and overexposed shots, that end up getting one star.