Tuesday, March 29, 2011

More evidence that Canadians are getting screwed by high charges for bandwidth and data …


I feel ashamed for all Canadians that Netflix was forced to crank up the compression by 66% in order to fit streamed movies into Canadian data caps.

A big fricken raspberry to a government that is more concerned with breaking parliamentary laws than it is with the daily lives of the average Canadian.


Monday, March 28, 2011

The Fuji Spring Launch is Imminent!

I spoke with my contact at MSL today and she says that the spring cameras should arrive next week!

She has prioritized the F series over the HS series, and has put me down for the F550 and F200 so that I can review the whole compact family in one go. The HS20 and HS10 will come once I have reviewed the F series and returned the two compacts.

Awesome …

Note: The fact that the cams arrive next week does not imply that I am first on the list, however it puts a definite time frame to the launch.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

iPhone Repair – Phase 1

For those who read my iPhone disaster piece last weekend:


… you might have seen my update regarding the purchase of a new touch screen:


… and a new battery


… all for about 25 bucks. Well, they both arrived Friday, which I thought was pretty decent for letter mail (free shipping inside Canada uses 1st class letter mail.)

So this evening I started to disassemble the phone to repair it. The first step is to remove the two screws beside the connection slot in the bottom. Here, you see them already removed with the tabs showing that hold the LCD assembly to the body.


Here’s how you lift the top with ease.


But be careful, too rough and you sever the three flat cables connecting the top to the bottom.


Once apart, I can work on each separately.


From here, I proceed to remove 6 tiny screws along the sides of the top part (on the right in the above image) and then I try lifting out the LCD itself in the middle. At this point I misunderstand what I am seeing in the instructions and videos I am watching on my eldest’s old laptop, which I hooked up on the kitchen table in order to see the steps in real time. There are *a ton* of videos and web sites on battery replacement and screen replacement for the 3G and in fact every other phone in existence.

Anyway … back to my world class brain fart. If you remember my last article, the LCD was 100% intact. And once I started trying to lever the LCD out of the top case, it was no longer intact. Frak.


So I went online and ordered a new LCD for $25. My repair cost has now doubled from $25 to $50. Bummer, but that’s the price of brain farts. Watch the whole vid before touching the iPhone! Dumb, dumb, dumb.

Still, $50 is cheap for a new iPhone with a fresh battery. If it works :-)

Meanwhile, I’ll continue this article tomorrow, as I continue to replace the touch screen (requires heating of glue etc.)) and the battery (requires diving to the bottom of all those electronics stuffed into the phone proper. Fingers crossed …

Saturday, March 26, 2011

HS20 – Examining the high ISO again

Well, another person has the camera and has published some images in a review on the MyFinePix site. The images look decent to me, but what I really like is that he shot an ISO ladder. Of course, it was shot in blazing sunlight, so it shows only one side of high ISO shooting, but it is interesting nonetheless.

What I’ve done is to construct an ISO ladder that is presented as a 100% crop that is animated from 100 through 1600 ISO. Interesting enough, in that it is clear that 100, 200 and 400 ISO are all very nice, and the 800 degrades but not too badly. 1600 is a real mess, but again the crops are at 100%. Let’s have a look:

Now, I’ve also downsized all the images so that you can see how well the camera handles small details at web sizes. Quite well I think. The texture of the apple is very obvious at base ISO, as is the water on the rock. I apply sharpening to each of the images, and I can tell you that it makes more and more sharpening to retain decent detail as ISO rises. The 1600 ISO image required a great deal more than the base ISO image.

But I think the camera works very well at web sizes, and it is clear to me that the base ISO images can stand up to a lot of enlargement. I will definitely make big prints when I get one to test later on this spring.

So, without further ado …

100 ISO

Remember to click through to see the 800px images. The sharpening is specifically customized for that size, so you’ll see the highest possible impact of the detail retention without seeing unnecessary artifacts.

200 ISO

See any difference at 200 ISO? I actually consider this a nicer image at web sizes. The exposure is a bit brighter.

400 ISO

Still looks good at 400 ISO, but required more sharpening.

800 ISO

Pretty hard to complain about that image. I think the rock is starting to lose some of its edge, but it still looks fine for any web purposes.

1600 ISO

And again, nothing really wrong with this image at web sizes. But I did have to run the output sharpener twice to pull out this detail. It was really soft, as you can see above in the animated crops.


Free pass at 100 and 200. 400 is fine at web sizes and can probably be used for enlargements to 8x10 with processing. Be careful at 800, and use 1600 only when you have to. Although I was able to pull out a lot of details at 1600 at web sizes, animal fur or feathers is another thing entirely.

Of course, there is always RAW.

Now, for a bit of fun, I’ll leave you with a version that includes processing. I would prefer the base ISO image with a bit more punch. YMMV of course.

Back to Virtue … what virtue?

Peter Kreeft published this book back in 1986, and it contains a quote that I discovered on a blog, of all places :-)


The blog is called Musings and Meanderings and is written by Steven James, mystery author of the Patrick Bowers Files, a great series of four books with an FBI Geoprofiler as the star.

Anyway, back to the book. It is a book I plan to read one day, but I think the quote the Steven James isolated is very telling … and completely depressing because of the inherent truth.

So here it is … don’t blame me if you feel the funk afterwards, you’ve been warned.

Anyone whose common sense has not been dulled by familiarity should be able to see the blindingly obvious truth that there is something radically wrong with a civilization in which millions devote their lives to pointless luxuries that do not even make them happy, while millions of others are starving; a civilization where no hand, voluntary or involuntary, moves money from luxury yachts to starving babies fast enough to save the babies.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Late March and Winter Reasserts Itself – F300EXR

Woke up this morning to a lot of snow. Yesterday was sunny and warm and I was seeing a lot of open grass and much of my patio. This morning things are rather bleak …

Sunday, March 20, 2011

D7000 thumb grip – Why Nikon, Why?

I’ve been pondering the sale of my D300 and L-Bracket to get a D7000 for my travel kit. One problem though … the grip where the thumb goes just plain sucks! Seriously.

If you look at the back of most Nikon bodies, you will see a beautifully sculpted grip for the thumb. Most can be held in one hand with perfect comfort.

So what happened with the D7000? Where’s the lovely curved thumb grip? I’ve always been a huge fan of Nikon’s ergonomics and I just cannot understand how they could have such a world class brain fart. I’ve tried it in the stores a couple of times and just cannot get used to the lack of support for the thumb. Dang …

I wonder if someone will make a good aftermarket thumb grip for this body …

State of the Art PC for Photo Editing

When you edit images, you are dealing with huge files and even bigger memory footprints. A typical 16MP image these days in 8bit color jpeg is going to have 3 bytes per pixel times 16 million pixel (I’m being lazy here and not giving exact numbers, but this will be close enough) for a memory footprint around 48MB at a minimum. Of course, you will want to edit in 16-bit color, do double that to what is essentially 100MB per image.

Now, once you know how to edit the odds are that you will be using layers. And maybe smart objects and so on. This leaves your edits fully available for tweaking for variations later on. Add 5 layers and you hit half a GB per image in memory very quickly.

With 32-bit PCs, memory is limited to 3GB by Windows. If you take the memory footprints of the OS and Photoshop and Bridge plus whatever else you have running in the background, there really is no room for you to put this much data in memory. And heaven forbid that you want to edit a series of images together.

So today we are looking at a state of the art PC for editing as built from parts purchased at Newegg.com. This is just an example of the incredible deals available at any online retailer these days.


Let me comment on each part I’ve added here so you know why it was selected. I’ll also suggest alternatives for gaming.

Sparkle GT 440

This is a fast video card with more than enough GPU power for CS5. I have good performance with a 9600GT, a much less powerful card. A gamer would probably choose a 460 or better. That would add $125 or so. State of the art is another $200 on top of that.

UBISOFT Brothers in Arms

Newegg stuck that in probably with the video card without me noticing. Watch for that. I would just delete it, but a gamer might take the deal.

BIOSTAR Intel 1155 P67 Motherboard

Standard socket 155 for the Sandy Bridge processors. This one has some nice features, the primary one being 4 memory slots. Don’t buy a board with 2 slots. No need to cheap out for 25 bucks.

Western Digital Caviar Black 2TB

A very fast hard drive, suitable for programs and data and with tons of storage capacity. I’d augment with a green drive version of this for under $100 with external USB 3 case in order to back up my images and other data regularly.

Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit

Excellent operating system. Really. Get the OEM version since you are building a complete system from scratch. Saves you 50 bucks.

NEC EA232WMi 23” LED Backlit e-IPS Monitor

This is an excellent monitor for image editing. Even better if you buy a Huey pro or Spyder Express calibrator. A gamer can get away with a cheap TN panel with slightly faster refresh but less accurate colors.

Intel Core-i7 2600

Super fast quad core i7 processor. A gamer would probably get the 2600K version as it can be overclocked for even faster performance. These things have crossed the 4ghz barrier with standard air cooling.


I use G-Skill memory in all my machines. Never had a problem. Great price for 16GB.


I use Gamma cases in all my new builds. It is easy to use with lots of room for hard drives and a bottom mounted power supply unit. It has a huge fan in it that is near silent. It is black and is drilled everywhere for excellent air flow. I love this case and it is cheap to boot.

Corsair Enthusiast Series 65oW PSU

I buy big and heavy power supplies. I recently got burned by an OCZ power supply that croaked out of nowhere, and I shun them now. I use Thermaltake, Corsair, or any other high brand except OCZ. (Note: I checked various sites and many people had the same problem I did with OCZ.)


I’ve had a lot of failures over the years with the super cheap Lite-On and LG drives and a store recommended I move up to Samsung for better reliability. So far I love this brand so for the 20 extra bucks I always buy it instead of the dirt cheap stuff.


This is one amazing system for under $1500. Seriously powerful. Enjoy.

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Great iPhone Disaster – And Rogers tries to screw me one last time – is it time to switch to Bell, lock, stock and barrel?

Disaster Part 1 – The Fumble



Took it out of my pocket to check the time, my grip was not firm enough and it squirted through my fingers like a bar of soap. Was 6 feet from me and arching down before I realized what was happening. And when it hit, I heard the crunch.

Disaster Part 2 – The Attempted Robbery

Stopped by the Rogers store after dinner and asked if I was eligible for a hardware upgrade. He said yes, it looks like I can get any phone I want. I asked about the cheapest iPhone 4 model and he said that all they had was the 32GB model. Kaching! Their hands are wiggling into my pockets already.

I say how much? He says $269. I’m surprised, that rather a reasonable price for an iPhone with that capacity. And then says. But you need to put data on that phone for that price. I told him that I already have a data plan. And he says “It looks like you have the wrong data plan, because it is coming up $469.” Kaching! The rip-off machine in full swing.

So I say “How about the Android phones?” And those turned out to be even more expensive at $499 … apparently again because I have the wrong data plan.

Disaster Part 3 – The Realization and the Consequences

Canadians apparently continue to pay the highest fees for media (phone, data, cable etc.) in the western world. We do this because our governing body (that’s not meant as a joke), the CRTC, allows such monopolistic pricing.

Bell is no better. However, there always comes a time when you can get a great price break on all sorts of things by switching carriers, and I think the time has arrived. Rogers always has all sorts of promotions for newcomers and so does Bell. And neither gives their long term customers the same breaks without a lot of begging, which I find truly patronizing and insulting.

So I think it’s time to switch to cross the aisle, as it were. This is way overdue, Rogers has been milking a great customer for far too long. And when I switch, it’s always the whole nine yards … the savings per month will quickly have me way ahead of all the penalties.

The penalties by the way are another rip-off as they are not capped at any reasonable amount. You can get out of a mortgage for 3 months’ interest, but heaven forbid that you try to cancel a cell phone. There you have to pay for any and all time you chose not to use. Not a whole lot of competition with predatory rules like that.

Update Saturday, 19 March

Bought a new touch screen on eBay for under 11 bucks with free shipping. Bought a battery from a different seller for the same price. When they both get here I will dive into the phone repair business. Note: I’ve successfully ripped apart several iPods of different generations and revived them. Also a few Razor phones. So this is no big deal for me … I just had not realized how easy it was, assuming that the iPhone was somehow sophisticated :-)

Interesting video of what happens to standing water in an earthquake …

Thursday, March 17, 2011

What Camera to Buy – Mk 12467

Yes, that’s a joke. There have been thousands of iterations of this debate, and my advice has pretty much always been the same:


But Paul Till on the Fuji Talk Forum has thrown down his parting insult with the following text – repeated from his last volley in a discussion we were having about vacation lenses, dSLRs et al … that discussion was removed by the moderators but he felt compelled to repeat it so I feel compelled to answer.

Kim you are a die hard Nikon freak, I don't know why when you don't own any decent glass to keep you with them either!

Your criteria is holiday snaps, shooting concerts and 5x4cm blog pictures! Why do you need a D700 for any of those? In fact with your criteria you only need a P&S or bridge cam. I think it's a status thing with you Kim, you can deny it if you like but you will only be kidding yourself.

Paul has a very checkered history at the forums and in private emails, yet these comments, taken on their own, lead one to examine some interesting issues with dSLR ownership. Let’s take each comment and examine the inherent issue:

Kim you are a die hard Nikon freak, I don't know why when you don't own any decent glass to keep you with them either!

This is, of course, the lens lust issue. dSLR ownership drives one to get better and better lenses as the lust builds from seeing incredible results. I own several lenses that can do that for me and so have passed through the collector phase. Paul has not, buying cameras, lenses and brands indiscriminately. 

I like Nikon as a system. I consider it the best overall system and the camera system that best qualifies as being for shooters. Pentax would be #2 in that area but with a much weaker system.

As for the glass I own, it is just fine. Tamron’s 28-75 2.8 is an amazing value for 1/6 to 1/8 the cost of the Nikon equivalent, because it does not give up all that much. The 70-300VR is recommended as an alternative to the hugely expensive and heavy 70-200VR and is again an amazing value for 1/5 to 1/6 the cost of the bigger lens. I also enjoy the 85 1.8D and 50 1.8D as low light lenses and a very nice 105mm 2.8 macro lens. For vacationing and some travel, I have the 18-200VR, which is a great lens on a more compact body. Decent lenses are available on a budget. Period.

Your criteria is holiday snaps, shooting concerts and 5x4cm blog pictures! Why do you need a D700 for any of those?

This is back to which camera to buy or own and why shoot a particular camera.

My criteria when discussing vacation lenses is holiday snaps. And I have the D300 for when I travel with that lens. The D700 is for travel with the better lenses or for shooting other sessions. The compacts -- F300 et al -- are for concerts. The blog pictures are just one place to display my image when I write.

I also own the D700 for the sheer joy of shooting it. It’s an absolutely stunning camera in the hands and people who own it never grow tired of it.

“In fact with your criteria you only need a P&S or bridge cam.”

Performance and image quality are at the heart of the bridge versus dSLR debate.

I use compacts a lot for carrying in a pocket for the odd grab shot and for concerts, where no other camera can be snuck in.

As for bridge cameras, once I am at that size of camera, I am after image quality, and bridge cameras are 4 or 5 stops behind entry dSLRs in that area. So no, I have no desire for a bridge camera. Unless I win one someday, I can never see myself buying one.

“I think it's a status thing with you Kim, you can deny it if you like but you will only be kidding yourself.”

This is where the debate really rages. The status thing.

Bridge cameras are a tiny step above compact cameras and their image quality has begun seriously lagging as sensor sizes have shrunk. They are no longer trying to compete with dSLRs on performance or image quality, but rather on lens range and gimmicky features such as high speed filming and sweep panorama. So there is no status to owning compacts and bridge cams any more …. everybody got one or the other – and some own them to supplement a more serious camera.

Regarding my own dSLRs -- millions of people own dSLRs. Many of them own far better dSLRs than I do (e.g. D7000 is better than the D300 in many ways, D3s is better then the D700 in several ways, D3x is better than anything out there.) So I fail to see how there is any extra status attached to mine. What I like is quality, and the D300 and D700 have that. They are a pleasure to shoot. I may even drop down to the D7000 from the D300 in order to reduce the size of my travel kit.

As for that preemptive strike (that I am kidding myself), well, that’s a time-honored technique in the arsenal of the weak debaters. Paul is no master debater, but as a baiter he might qualify. And his last bit of bait is just another tired set of the same old insults and arguments.

Bottom line: the bridge cam is pretty much dead for a serious shooter. Let it go …

Well, Paul has answered on DPReview. His main point is that I don't have any lenses that do the D700 justice. And that's just plain wrong. The D700's pixel density is lower than APS-C sensors and thus does not push lenses nearly as hard. So the lenses I have come out razor sharp on this body. It's a bit silly to associate price with quality that strictly.

His second point is that he cannot answer here, so he answers there. I say bollucks to that, as he already commented on a different post just this morning. Use the comment system Paul, it is threaded just like DPReview.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

DPReview – no more Tilting at Windmills – well, maybe a bit …

To those sent here from an attack post on a certain photographic forum, please read this before proceeding.

A trap was set by a few of the more puerile members on a certain photographic forum and I fell into it. I.e. I took the bait. I got a lifetime ban from the whole site which was later downgraded to just the one forum.

After some months I was invited back by the general manager.

Since then, one nut job constantly embarrasses himself by trying to recruit the weak-minded to his cause. Sad.

Anyway, if you just got here, the original content was deleted as it no longer matters …

F300EXR – EXR DR mode versus P Mode (A-Prio Mode)

There’s a guy on the FTF who has harped incessantly how EXR DR mode makes a mess of images while P shot in DR binned mode (M4:3, DR400) does not …

How can this be? Both are binning – actually blending with a curve – the same data and the same jpeg engine is working the image over … what could be happening?

He has no explanation and no evidence that I have seen, but swears that he sees it all the time.

Well …

I see nothing there. So close as to be near-twins.

Now, I am not a fan of EXR DR myself. You can see that the camera jumped to f/10 and a slow shutter speed in that mode, whereas in A-Prio mode I kept it wide open and had a fast shutter speed.

And before the clever ones suggest that the difference might be diffraction that shows up only sometimes … two points:

  • Diffraction does not show up when it feels like it
  • The second stop on the F300 is implemented by an ND filter, not an actual aperture, so no increase in diffraction

So use EXR DR if you don’t mind its all auto behaviors. But I much prefer A-Prio. We’ll both get the image quality in general terms (except when 1/250s is too slow for the action … then you will wish you had used A-Prio.)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Nick’s newest tattoo …

He's a huge fan of Hunter S. Thompson and his latest tattoo really shows it. He got it done in Leeds by a really funny Spanish fellow called Isra. It’s a rendering of a Ralph Steadman original image of Hunter that is called Up, Up and Up Yours.

Here is the original:


Click the image to see the PDF file from which it comes …

So Nick’s rendering is quite excellent … he sent me two captures from the video camera in his Mac Book Pro, and they look alright.I processed them together in monochrome since the tattoo was already in monochrome:

So that makes three …

Monday, March 14, 2011

Bill Maher’s Real Time – Interesting, Amusing, Depressing …

I really enjoy his show. New Rules is always an absolute hoot. And I love it when he tees off on fundamental injustices.

In the recent episode #205, he dwells a bit on the staggering income differential between CEOs and the average wage earner. He mentions an example where you have 100 people who order a pizza with 100 slices and when it arrives, the top 1 person takes 80 of them.

Audience laughs, but realizes that he’s not really kidding. So I went looking for his source, and found an article that must be where he got a lot of his stats.

That article links to numerous others. It shows that CEOs were making something like 40x the average worker’s pay in the 70s and even as late as 1980. But apparently it was greed’s time to shine from that point on and we have now landed in a position where, as of 2007, the CEOs on the DOW-JONES are making a stunning 550x the average salary!

This graphic is representative of the wealth of information (pun intended) contained in this article … and the level of painful realization as to how screwed we are as a global economy …


Saturday, March 12, 2011

Protectionist Bullshit

Many stations and sites in the US have a good selection of videos available for viewing for free. Yet a good majority of them seem to feel that they need to somehow protect their content from the prying eyes of Canadians …


All I can say is …


A reminder as to what “in a different class” really means … i.e. will the HS20 compete with the D3100?

I see people writing that they want to see the image quality of the new HS20 to see if it can compete with entry level dSLRs. This begs the question of course on what “compete” means. I.e. on what criteria will you judge?

Well, my criteria is always how the camera handles high ISO, because as the light gets dimmer you need to crank ISO up to maintain shutter speeds. Even outdoors in the evening, you are often shooting at 800 or 1600 in order to keep people looking sharp on the image.

So I always compare cameras at 1600 ISO or thereabouts to see how they fare.

The key to understanding that dSLRs are in a different class of image quality is to understand that there is no substitute for sensor real estate. The bigger the sensor, the better the image quality, all other things being equal. So far, comparisons between the HS10 and HS20 have not shown much improvement. But then, the people shooting the HS10 are always shooting it in HR mode, which is not what you do when you want better low light imagery.

Still, there is only so much improvement available, and the fact is that the APS-C dSLRs retain more detail at 1600 ISO than the HS10 does at 100 ISO in low light. So the classes are so far apart as to eliminate any competition at all.


HS20 ISO Ladder – Will the high ISO be a great leap forward?

Again, from that Polish site, we have some images shot of some sort of carving. Not ideal for an ISO ladder in my opinion, but the noise should come through at least …

At 100 ISO, the cam looks quite clean, as it should.


Here is the ISO ladder:

My Analysis

At 200 ISO, some softening is apparent at 100%, but at web sizes you can’t see that yet. Especially when I process it with PKSharpener.

At 400, we see a little more softening and hints of chroma noise starting to appear. Remember that these are all shot in high resolution mode, which is not the mode in which I would shoot an ISO ladder. But that’s what we have so far. Still, at web sizes, the image remains pretty much the same so far.

At 800 ISO, there is a lot of grain and the chroma noise is unmistakable. However, the chroma noise is also of the kind that is fairly easy to handle in ACR – subtle yellow blotching. The really peculiar thing is that the image has suddenly stopped getting soft and looks sharp again. I wonder if the fellows on the site changed settings or if Fuji has decided to add some sharpening at 800 and above to combat the loss of acuity from grain.

At 1600, the influence of chroma noise in the form of yellow blotching is unmistakable. But when I load it into ACR and use chroma noise reduction with some luminance noise reduction and a bit of sharpening, the result is pretty nice.

At 3200 ISO, things are getting pretty soft and noisy. The blue channel has not gone nuts though, and this is a good thing. The yellow blotching, though, is pretty obvious by now. Even more so for those of you with proper color vision :-)

Again, ACR can help. But we are now in territory where NR destroys so much detail that this is only for emergencies. Memories at a party, that kind of thing.

Now, 6400 ISO is a bit comical on a sensor this size, but the fact is that this is not as bad as one might expect. Very noisy of course, but there is definitely a bit of detail left. These are shot at half resolution by the way. But probably not binned. And ACR NR can again improve on this a bit.

12800 is truly comical, but Fuji allows it so here we are. The image is shot at small size, and it is truly abysmal. No real detail, tons of noise. And for the first time we see specs of blue channel blotching.

I tried ACR and it made a dent, but I was not all that excited with the result so I took a different tack. Here, I use Topaz Denoise 5 on the original. It’s not great, but it’s cleaner. Might be tolerable at web sizes.

This sensor looks pretty good. I suspect that it will match the S100fs once properly tested against that camera. That might make this Fuji’s best bridge camera ever. But of course, we’ll have to wait for someone to really test them against each other.

HS20 – Sample image is very good with high contrast detail

Here is another from that Polish web sit. An excellent image showing a fellow coming off of a ski jump. Very crisp details and not too badly blown out at all. I did load it into ACR to recover the highlights and slightly tweak the shadows, but all in all this is an excellent image.


Let’s look closer at the skier, in fact at 100% crop …


That’s pretty good for sure. There is some fringing, but not much. There are some jaggies, but that is the price of the EXR mosaic. All in all, I’d say that this is a pretty decent result at 100%.

By the way, I processed this crop with the clarify filter from dSLR Tools, Topaz InFocus and Topaz Denoise 5.

Fuji HS20 – Sample Image … same quality as the F550EXR?

Looking at images on one of the many sample sites starting to appear in Poland and Japan, it certainly looks like it is the same quality. I don’t see a whole lot of difference. The sensors and jpeg engines are the same, so there is no reason for the image quality to be any different.

There is one image that caught my eye because it is shot in blazing sunlight and shows hair, which is always a superb test of resolution.


Now, this looks like it was shot in HR mode at DR100 setting, which means that the shadows are too dark and the highlights too bright. The snow is blown out all over the place, especially along the bottom. This is a decent shot, but is certainly not floating my boat that much.

I would process such an image by loading it into ACR, recovering the highlights and opening the shadows. It turns out that the output has enough headroom for that.


This is not a particularly appealing version either, but there is lots of detail in the background and in the shadows so we are getting somewhere.

My final version would be something more like this, where I strike a tonal balance between the original out of camera look and the overly flattened look.


Now, let’s take a peek at the hair to see how well it resolves.


That’s a pair of crops from versions 1 and 2. And you can see that the ear muffs resolve better when the highlights are rescued, but nothing can really save the hair. The details that are there are acceptable when the image is displayed at web sizes or in small prints. But looking closely, the clumping of the hair is rampant, as you would have to expect from pixels less than 2 microns in size.

Oh yeah … and once you spike the saturation a touch you start to see some fringing. Not all that bad, but it is definitely there.

Still, this is not a bad effort. I can’t wait to see this sensor shot well.

A quick peek at the hat shows us that higher contrast details are rendered reasonably well.


All in all, I’d say the camera will make a good outdoor shooter. If only someone would show us the output with my standard settings :-)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

F550EXR high ISO … high resolution still a weakness as should be expected …

A new review appeared on a Japanese site and they shot an ISO ladder outdoors. But they shot all images at high resolution which means that the tiny pixels were left to fend for themselves :-)

Pixel peepers will be in agony, so I am not going to bother with crops. The chroma noise is not horrid, but the final results at 3200 ISO are nothing to write home about. Of course, I could have processed it much darker and that might have hidden more of the mess in the sky.

100 ISO


1600 ISO



3200 ISO


You will notice that the processing gets heavier and heavier as ISO goes stratospheric … but that’s what it takes to have presentable images when they are shot at high resolution …

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

OCTranspo not getting it quite right …

Jon came home a moment ago and was furious that he waited from 3:05 to 3:48 to get on a bus home as two 76 buses in a row (3:10 and 3:26) chose to drive by the Campus stop instead of picking up passengers. Lazy or incompetent … who can tell …

All the other buses stopped during that period … just the two 76s chose to give the stop a miss. Very strange coincidence …

He had to walk up to the Laurier stop to catch the next one as this stop is set up so you can wave at the bus to force it to pick you up. Like that should be necessary – sheesh …

Interesting times at DPReview

Two things today …

First, I’ve noticed lately that the DPReview site has had some serious performance issues. Very slow response, getting stuck waiting for its ads, that kind of thing. It goes through such periods now and again, but every time it is a major annoyance. It’s a very busy web page and when things starts to take a while it can seem like walking through hip-deep snow …

A moment ago, it paused on me and I got this error:


Sheesh. I’ve often thought that their software team was a bit weak, but this really sucks.

Second thing … there is a new strategy for dealing with miscreants like, apparently, me. Things have been rocky on the site the last few days with acrimony in many threads. The return of several individuals who are known to be drive-by shooters -- floating through the forum dropping insults -- coincided to a two day period in which amplification of the polarization the forum has suffered since 2008 has skyrocketed again.

I admit that I responded to more of the personal garbage than I should have … it’s a little hard to watch someone lie and behave like a creep and just let it go. Despite being from Mennonite stock, I don’t turn the other cheek easily. I watched The Expendables this evening and I tended to agree with their rather direct approach to their problems :-)

DPReview responded today in an entirely unique way. A lot of posts were trimmed from the tree, a thread was wiped out where two long-term members inexplicably used the forum as a private messaging tool and then defended it stridently, and all in all most of the weekend’s worst acrimony disappeared.

After trimming the crap away, they sent out warnings to me and user lloydy and possibly a few others. I’ve never seen this before … they went through several years where they were simply ban-happy … responding to back-channel deals where multiple people got together and hammered complaints in against one or two people by wiping out the unpopular people. Now they have seemingly chosen to avoid unnecessary banning. A very nice change in atmosphere there.

Here’s the message that came to me …


Their comments serve as a reminder to take people on the forum a little less seriously. I have always felt that people who like to trash talk constantly are really just weak thinkers. I’ve seen this time and again on forums and in the work place. People who get way out of their depth tend to get snippy. They lash out, getting personal instead of staying on the topic that upset them in the first place.

Others have a natural tendency to preach and diagnose mental issues when the very act demonstrates that they suffer what they accuse. Some argue the same points ad nauseum, confusing repeated assertions with proof. Several people dodge all technical points, preferring to pretend that they know the answer or worse, just making irrelevant remarks that imply that you are avoiding their clever arguments :-)

The lack of critical thinking can get really tiresome, which is how these acrimonious debates really get rolling. After all, the intelligent side of the arguments is playing too …

So I say bravo to DPReview’s new approach to jar people a bit without the patronizing instant ban. This is how moderation should be done.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Heavy Snow overnight on Saturday -- F300EXR

Kris Kristofferson said it best:

Well I woke up Sunday morning,
With no way to hold my head that didn't hurt.
And the beer I had for breakfast wasn't bad,
So I had one more for dessert.
Then I fumbled through my closet for my clothes,
And found my cleanest dirty shirt.
An' I shaved my face and combed my hair,
An' stumbled down the stairs to meet the day.

Well, my Sunday morning wasn’t that bad, but we got pounded overnight with snow. At some point on Sunday, I drove to a local minimall to pick Jon up as he was freezing while walking home from a friend’s house. It had been +6 Celsius the previous day when he left and his shirt-jack was not up to the task. Plus he had no gloves … in the day of the Internet how is it possible to be uninformed about the weather :-)

As I left the house, I saw the extent of the snow for the first time. Drifts almost two feet high, a huge pile of snow at the end of the driveway from the plow. The usual mess.

Our friendly neighborhood rabbit had paid the usual visit to the front step of my porch … I tend to leave the ferns sticking out of the snow until spring and I suspect that he finds the odd useful morsel there. Else he would not be frequenting the area.

Since there has been a sidewalk there the previous day, its absence was a harbinger of things to come.

I walked through that mess and found that the driveway has also disappeared :-)

That big pile of snow at the end of the driveway looks formidable, but of course the AWD of the CR-V does not really have any problems with such things.

The street view shows you how high this bank was. Not that bad … about up to the spare tire. But it was not made of ice, and that was why I felt I could blow through it as I did last time.

I appear to have forgotten to capture the bank after I blew through it … oops. But here is my driveway fully exposed. There was a bit of ice along the edges as this was the very first time I started my snow blower this year. I tried to make the whole year without clearing snow, but mother nature conspired against me. By the way, my snow blower started on the second pull after adding gasoline to a dry tank. I was rather impressed.

And with the CR-V in place … looking kind of small in the space provided. Wish I could afford a hummer :-)

But then … at a buck twenty per liter, things would get out of hand pretty quickly …

I finish with a quick snap of the night time view of the new snow. I shot this from the front door as I was grabbing my cam from my jacket pocket, where it lives most of the time.