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Digital Camera Stuff

October 19, 2005

A few items I’ve found recently related to digital cameras and digital photography. (In case you were wondering what I ended up doing after looking for SLR pointers in the summer, wonder no more.)

Aperture
Apple announced some (expected) hardware updates today, but from the left field comes news of Apple’s new high-end photo processing software. Looking through the product overview and videos, it’s definitely not a Photoshop competitor for most people. There are overlapping features, but it feels far more like a complementary tool than a replacement.
CCD Flaws
Own a point and shoot digital camera from Canon, Sony, Konica Minolta, or Fuji? Bad news; it might be defective.
Why Focus-Recompose Sucks
After discovering that the middle auto-focus point on most SLRs is the most sensitive, I wondered why I needed to bother with the rest of them? Why not just focus-recompose every time? And so that’s what I did. And now thanks to this article, I realize why my last month of shooting has been abnormally out of focus. Oh well.

1
October 19, 01h

Good to know about the focus/recompose. Luckily EOS cameras make changing the focus point really easy. I thought the problem he was going to mention had to do with the light balance, which can be easily locked on most SLR cameras.

BTW, Aperture looks like a nice companion to Photoshop. I hope it works with DNG files, though.

2
October 19, 03h

Congrats on your 20D! Good luck, hope you like it as much as I like mine.

3
Dan says:
October 19, 05h

>After discovering that the middle auto-focus point on most SLRs is the
>most sensitive, I wondered why I needed to bother with the rest of them?
>Why not just focus-recompose every time? And so that’s what I did. And
>now thanks to this article, I realize why my last month of shooting has
>been abnormally out of focus. Oh well.

Focus-recompose (FR) defiantly sucks when shooting with a wide aperture but is not much of a problem is you’re stopped down. Of course it depends on what you’re shooting and how you frame it but I find that when I’m stopped down to f/3.8 or more and am shooting people it’s not much of a real problem. Again, YMMV.

It’s fun when there’s enough light you can stop down to f/16 and not need to focus at all with a 50mm…

Also, the issue of FR is almost a non-issue with point and shoots. Even at wide apertures of f/1.8 they have fare more DOF than any DSLR has. This is due to the size of the format (itsy-bitsy).

On Aperture (software):

I just finished checking it out. Man, there are a lot of functions in there that I want Photoshop to have. Mainly in management of files. One thing I don’t like is the fact that it appears it will manage files in the same way iPoto does. As in no understandable directory structure. I like the ability to easily locate images without depending upon a software program.

No demo? They’ll have a hard time convincing people to plunk down $500 for this new and untested software. On that note, $500 is a tad steep for what it is. $250 would be much more reasonable especially since it lacks some basic functions (curves/levels) and is more of a complement to the $500 photoshop.

Then again, maybe it is worth $500. I wouldn’t know; there’s no demo.

At the very least this will put some pressure on Adobe to streamline their software. Only good things for us users!

4
Paul D says:
October 19, 08h

“One thing I don’t like is the fact that it appears it will manage files in the same way iPoto does.”

If you watch the product demonstration clips on Apple’s website, you’ll see that Aperture has a wide variety of import options and will preserve your own folder structures for the photos you import.

5
Dan says:
October 19, 10h

>If you watch the product demonstration clips on Apple’s website, you’ll
>see that Aperture has a wide variety of import options and will preserve
>your own folder structures for the photos you import.

Yes I watched all the videos. Notice that those are import options. Not actually storing/using. The video specifically says you will not have to rebuild a library of images. it will preserve your files on your hard drive “creating an identical structure in Aperture’s Projects Panel.” This is vague.

It makes no mention if Aperture works with the directory of images being imported or if it makes a copy of them into Apertures own system. Considering how iTunes and iPhoto work and all the mentions of exporting photos, I doubt it will be the former.

Regardless, there isn’t enough information to say definably either way. Since there is no demo, we’ll have to wait for independent reviews.

Have I mentioned that there is no demo? Yeah, that bugs me.

6
October 19, 12h

The point made in that article is a good one, and can cause unavoidable problems in point-and-shoot digicams, but if you’re doing such sensitive near-field wide-aperture portraiture with a DSLR or prosumer digicam, you really should be setting your focus manually, like back in the old days.

You’re the photographer, and only you can judge the exact correct spot for precise focus in your composition.

7
October 19, 12h

Oh, and while they haven’t said anything, my own experience indicates that Kodak cameras may also be susceptible to that CCD flaw:

http://www.penmachine.com/2005/09/strange-kodak-digicam-bug.html

8
Doj says:
October 20, 01h

That looks like an awesome camera Dave! So when are we going to starting seeing a bit of a photolog aswell?

9
October 20, 02h

That explains why the Sony Camcorder I just sold on eBay failed just over a week after I sold it. :(

At least I can offer a fix now!

10
Unteins says:
October 20, 04h

I think Aperture is definitely a good companion to Photoshop. For many, it could be a replacement. It does have levels (see the side bar on this page: http://www.apple.com/aperture/process/) and lets you make quite a few adjustments.

Aperture’s main advantage over Photoshop is that it is non-destructive with all of the edits. It doesn’t change the pixels, it simply records the changes that you want and plays them back in real time. This is why the system requirements are high and a top notch graphics board is a big deal.

The “live” nature of Aperture also means significantly less disk storage space. It is bad enough when you have to store a bunch of RAW format files (at 6-16 MB a piece) but then if you have to store the edited version at every step it gets to be a real chore.

For the edits that Aperture can’t do, you can at least export a new file (leaving the original completely, safely untouched) and go into Photoshop. You can even launch Photoshop from Aperture, make edits and then go back to Aperture. Not sure how it handles the destructive edit in the scheme.

11
head zoo keeper says:
October 20, 04h

As a lot of other folks elsewhere have mentioned, Aperture is not really a competitor to Photoshop… at least, not yet. I keep hearing from professional photograhers that, on one hand, the nearest equivalent is the Capture One system and on the other hand, Apple has, once again, made something completely unlike the usual offerings from the competition (i.e., Photoshop and The GIMP). This is a product, unlike any other digital imaging software, that Gets it Right. Kinda soudns familiar, huh? :-)

For anyone curious:
Capture One Software and PhaseOne Digital Backs
www.phaseone.com

…note their sweeeeet 39-megapixel digital backs for Hassleblads and Mamiyas!

12
Sean says:
October 20, 07h

The biggest thing I’ve noticed since switching from 35mm (Canon EOS A2) to digital (Rebel XT) is that sensors are that newer “cheapy” lenses are total crap, or film deals with it better.

It could be with digital’s need to receive the light head on, who knows. All I know is the “kit” lens that comes with the XT is totally unimpressive. I hope to get a 50mm f/1.4 USM soon and a Sigma 18-50 f/2.8, then the real fun begins.

13
Scott Johnson says:
October 20, 11h

That’s a smart article on Focus-Recompose. I do that a lot, and I had never quite thought about it that way. I guess I should start using more than just the one center focus point. I currently have only that point enabled on my camera.

Nice choice for your camera, by the way. How do you like the 20D so far?

14
K says:
October 24, 08h

The best way to build up is to start with great glass. Bodies will come and go, but saving for decent lenses will pay for themselves in beautiful shots and less worry that it’s the fault of the lens (user error is still the most common ;)).

I’m in the process of switching all my gear from 35mm film to d-slr and am looking forward to having an all digital studio.

Enjoy and happy shooting.

15
Mike Lane says:
November 17, 13h

Hey Dave,

I tried to comment on this post a while back and I just now noticed that it didn’t take. Hopefully you get this one.

Excellent choice going with the 20D. It’s an outstanding entry into the world of the dSLR. I absolutely love mine.

Also, I’d like to invite you over to www.smugmug.com and Smugmug’s forums www.dgrin.com. You don’t need to use Smugmug to use dgrin. We’ve got a great community of photographers and we pride ourselves on being an extremely friendly and helpful online community. What’s more there is a forum dedicated to smugmug site customizations and web design - for which I am the moderator. It would be terriffic to have you stop in to chat about that with us.

Anyhow, I hope you’re enjoying your camera!

Mike Lane