Archive for October, 2009

Saturday, October 31st 2009

Firefox 3.6 beta 1

Firefox 3.6 beta 1 has just been released. Read all about it here. Get it here.

Three small improvements that I really like:

  1. When you fill out a form in a web page, the autocomplete suggestions are now ranked based on how recently and how frequently you use the different words (aka frecency).
  2. If you middle-click or Ctrl+click a link to open it in a new tab, the new tab will be created directly to the right of the current tab instead of at the far end. This makes it easier to switch to, and related tabs are kept together.
  3. Videos embedded in a page with the <video> tag can now be shown fullscreen.

Wednesday, October 28th 2009

Ubiquity – Whoa!

I just tried the Ubiquity add-on for Firefox for the first time. This thing is incredible! I just typed in weather and somehow it already knows where I am?! Almost scary!

Screenshot of Ubiquity with the weather command.

Wednesday, October 28th 2009

How Mozilla Sees the Future of the Web

Just found an extremely interesting video where Mozilla’s Aza Raskin explains how they are thinking of the future of the web.

Saturday, October 24th 2009

More about Lightroom 3 beta

Here are a few more things I’ve noticed about Adobe’s new Lightroom 3 beta.

  • Keyboard shortcuts for +/- exposure have been fixed, which I really like. Previously, hitting the + key would increase exposure by 0.33 steps and the – key would decrease it by 0.10. Now they both change exposure by 0.10, and holding shift gives you 0.33 steps. The way it was meant to be!
  • The spot removal tool is still laggy, as I showed in a previous blog post. It seems to be related to having two monitors active (in Windows, not Lightroom).
  • The White Balance picker still only picks one pixel. It would be much more accurate (and less affected by colour noise) if it would average at least a 9×9 sqaure of pixels.
  • This has nothing to do with the new beta, but I’ve just discovered how the Masking slider (under Detail) can help keep smooth areas smooth when you increase sharpness in the image. My new settings for the details panel will probably be 40 – 1.0 – 40 – 40.

Thursday, October 22nd 2009

Lightroom 3 beta Review

Edit: Want to read about the new Lightroom 3 beta 2?

I woke up this morning to the news of Lighroom 3 beta having been released to the masses. Now, after work, I’ve downloaded it and run it through some tests. Here’s what I’ve found so far. (If you want a full list of improvements, check out the Lightroom Journal.)

Image Quality

Now, many know-it-all photographers complain about other photographers pixel-peeping. Looking at your photos at 1:1 or 100% is the worst thing you can do, according to these people!

Since photos are made up of pixels, there is no other way of checking image quality than looking at the pixels – peep away! And that’s what we’re going to do here. Otherwise we wouldn’t see any differences at all. So basically all the anti-peepers need not worry about Lightroom 3 beta.

Lightroom 3 beta is much better at dealing with purple fringing than version 2. This is without any de-fringing turned on in the Lens Corrections panel. As you can see the difference is pretty clear:

Comparison of purple fringing in Lightroom 2 and 3 beta.

Here’s another 100% comparison, where I think you can see that Lightroom 3 beta makes the yellow leaves less blotchy and more detailed. That’s how I see it anyway, and the branches are clearly sharper. (This is at my fairly aggressive default sharpness settings: 40 – 1.0 – 40.)

Comparison between Lightroom 2 and 3 beta.

The above comparison becomes clearer if we zoom in to 300%. The leaves look like oats in a porridge to the left – ugly blotches – and I’d say there is more detail to the right:

Comparison between Lightroom 2 and 3 beta.

If you pull the sharpness slider down to 0 though, the difference between the two versions is pretty much nil. So I draw the conclusion that the sharpness algorithms have changed more than the underlying de-mosaicing algorithms.

As for the noise reduction, I’m not sure what all the fuss is about. The reviews I’ve read/seen this morning have hailed it as something almost revolutionizing. I’d say colour noise reduction always has been very good in Lightroom, and I can’t see that 3 beta makes it any better (or worse):

Comparison of noise reduction in Lightroom 2 and 3 beta.

NR on in the comparison above means colour noise reduction set to 10. Sharpness settings were now at Lightroom defaults, 25 – 1.0 – 25.

Of course, they haven’t yet implemented luminance noise reduction, let’s see what they can do there. In Lightroom 2 I never use the luminance slider because it just takes away so much detail.

CPU usage and responsiveness

I imported (added to a new catalogue) two folders containing a total of 295 photos from my Canon EOS 30D. I chose to render 1:1 previews at the same time. This took just over six minutes in Lightroom 2, but almost three times as long in Lightroom 3 beta!

The actual import though (minus the 1:1 rendering) took roughly half as long in 3 beta as in 2.

I kept an eye on CPU usage while doing this. There isn’t much difference, but Lightroom 3 beta seems to be slightly worse than v2 at using all the power in our quad core AMD Phenom II CPU.

Lightroom 2 (ignore the right third of the four graphs):

CPU usage when importing photos in Lightroom 2

Lightroom 3 beta:

CPU usage when importing photos in Lightroom 3 beta

I also tried exporting 82 photos to full-size JPEGs. This took 95% longer in 3 beta, even though it was using roughly 80% of the CPU compared to around 63% for v2.

I read somewhere that you don’t get the blurry thumbnails in 3 beta that you got in v1 and v2. That’s not entirely true. You maybe won’t see them as often because scrolling is slower (see below) but you can definitely still get to see blurry thumbnails.

I’m not sure there’s been any real improvement when it comes to leafing through photos in loupe view either. There can still be a delay before you see the photo nice and sharp, depending on how much time you allow for the next image to pre-load.

Scrolling made worse

The scrolling in the Library was changed from Lightroom 1 to 2, for the better. It was made much faster. Now it has been made worse again.

Adobe have implemented scroll acceleration, so you need to scroll fast to get anywhere. I liked the old way, in 2, where you could scroll a notch or two and still get somewhere. This new implementation is much more hard work for my index finger.

Grain effect and watermark

Lightroom 3 beta lets you apply a grain effect, and I suspect this will be a somewhat overused look in the coming months:

Lightroom 3 beta grain effect and watermark.

Here the grain is combined with a split toning, which is possible in version 2 as well.

Library filters are lockable!

In Lightroom 2, any filter you make in the Library will remain active in the folder or collection where you created it even when you moved to another folder and back. But it wouldn’t remain active from one folder to another.

This is done much more intuitively in Lightroom 3 beta, if you ask me. Now, by default, the filter will be forgotten if you switch from one folder to another. But you can choose to lock it with a padlock icon, and it will remain active for any folder or collection you browse to.

In Lightroom 3 beta you can lock filters with the padlock icon.

Wish-list

There are still a few things on my feature wish-list for Lightroom 3 final.

  • Plug-ins for the develop-module.
  • Automatic lens correction. (Barrel/pincushion distortion, chromatic aberration, vignetting.)

Conclusion

Quite a lot of nice improvements! Some may seem insignificant to others while making a huge difference for me.

The best part is that the Lightroom developers are still hard at work, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed for the two things above!

Tuesday, October 20th 2009

Foggy morning in Eskilstuna

Woke up to some great fog. Sadly it lifted slightly before I got out with my camera on my way to work.

Tunafors Fabriker i dis, Eskilstuna

Fors kyrka reflekterad i Eskilstunaån, Eskilstuna

Autumn trees reflected in water, Eskilstuna

Saturday, October 17th 2009

Spot removal tool in Lightroom 2 jumps and stutters

My mother in law had ~1500 scanned photos where she wanted dust spots removing. No problem I thought, that’s a pretty quick job in Lightroom.

I imported the photos, and got going with the Spot removal/clone/heal tool. It didn’t take long before I noticed that it stutters, jumps and lags endlessly, which makes it extremely frustrating and basically impossible to use.

I really think this should be considered a bug for the Lightroom team to fix.

I made a screencast to show you the issue:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TtMX2zcLwmw&hl=sv&fs=1&color1=0x3a3a3a&color2=0x999999&hd=1]

All that jumping and stuttering you saw there was in Lightroom, not just because of the video/recording.

I’ve tried to find more information about this on the internet but without any real success. I guess it’s not a very common problem, or more people would be complaining. So I decided to post something about it, hoping to get responses from people who’ve noticed this too.

If you have seen this, leave a comment!

Edit: I seem to have found what’s causing this bug, and hence a workaround. The stuttering of the Spot Removal tool only appears when I have two monitors active in Windows. (The setting in Lightroom though makes no difference.)

Actually, that’s not quite true. Here’s what I should say: The stuttering goes away when I disable my second monitor in Windows. I have found the stuttering to reappear after a reboot, even though only one monitor is active. Really weird!!

Thursday, October 15th 2009

Horrible? No.

Came home from work at quarter past five. This is the sight that greeted me in our garden.

Yellow autumn birches in the setting sun.

Wednesday, October 14th 2009

DN.se drops support for IE6

Another of the main Swedish news sites, Dagens Nyheter, is dropping support for IE6. This isn’t a day too early. Back in February, Aftonbladet did the same thing.

Visitors using IE6 are shown a pretty box at the top of the page, suggesting the visitor upgrades to IE8 or installs Firefox, Chrome or Safari. As usual, poor Opera are left out of the fun.

Opera is still among the supported browsers though:

  • Internet Explorer 7
  • Internet Explorer 8
  • Firefox 3 and up
  • Safari 4 and up
  • Google Chrome
  • Opera

We should do something similar at ekuriren.se. Heard my boss thinking aloud about perhaps suggesting Firefox, but then I believe IE6 is already as low as one or two percent!

Sunday, October 11th 2009

Near Enköping

Drove to Uppsala this weekend, in the new car.

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It is slow, but you can get great milage out of it if you think when you drive. This time I averaged 5.5 l/100 km, or 43 mpg if you like. That’s not bad considering it’s a plain vanilla petrol engine.

The lack of power is compensated by a great stereo. So I burnt a cd with various Röyksopp tracks and headed off.

Coming back I found these two beautiful roads near Enköping with autumn coloured trees along the sides.

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Thursday, October 8th 2009

Swedish Colours

Working 6 am – 2 pm is great. Loads of time in the afternoon for random stuff. Decided to check out BBC’s Spooks.

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Friday, October 2nd 2009

Rowan Berries

Got a photo itch this morning so I headed outside with my camera + 50 mm lens. For some of these shots I also used my 500D screw-on close-up lens.

I decided to try and overcome my obsession with sharpness and shoot wide open at f/1.4. So some of these are pretty mushy. 🙂

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