Wednesday, February 29, 2012

CEO Compensation Revisited

An interesting article in USA Today discusses the incredible difference between Japanese executive compensation and its American counterpart. Basically 809,000 versus more than 11 million. Sheesh.

This article goes into it in depth:

http://www.usatoday.com/money/companies/management/2009-04-05-japan-executive-pay_N.htm

But I want to draw your attention to a quote that defines the whole situation for me …

But other experts say there's a reason the Japanese management model fell from favor after Japan entered a long economic slump at the beginning of the 1990s: Japanese compensation packages don't give CEOs much incentive to look out for shareholders — the people who own the firm. No wonder Japanese firms are typically about half as profitable as U.S. firms, according to the Japanese government.

"I emphatically don't think U.S. firms should adopt Japanese-style compensation plans," says Brian Heywood, whose firm invests in Japanese companies. "In general, I do not believe that the current Japanese compensation system aligns management with shareholders effectively."

This extreme emphasis on shareholder value started in the 1980’s and has continued until today. The article discusses the short term thinking that this breeds and I have mentioned in the past that I consider the shareholder value thing to be in some small part a clever ploy to pander to the people who vote on executive compensation. It becomes a circle jerk that results in unreasonable excesses for the executive class, basically increasing the wealth of a tiny percentage of participants at the direct expense of those below.

But here is the real kicker … to say that it is a huge flaw that Japanese companies are less profitable than their American counterparts is, of course, focused only on the concerns of the rich. Those who benefit from excess compensation. Yet we as consumers buy Japanese cars, Japanese cameras, and Japanese electronics in preference to American equivalents (if they even exist any more) by a huge margin. If the Japanese started making everything, I suspect there would be no manufacturing left in North America in a decade or two …

It’s about quality and longevity … the corporatist way has proven to be hugely flawed where both are concerned …

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Spring was fighting to break through for a while there …

I really enjoyed the melting we got for a few days this week. The temperature got pretty high one day, close to +8 I think. I quite enjoy how the water starts to find places to go as it collects.

f550exr  100iso  f/8  1/550  -1/3ev

f550exr  100iso  f/5.1  1/400  -1/3ev

My neighbor's downspout for the garage.

f550exr  100iso  f/13  1/13  +1/3ev

So there I chose to cut the aperture to f/13 in order to slow the shutter a bit and get a hint of the flow effect on the water. It worked out well.

This next shot really makes me think of spring. As the wet pavement glows in the sun … mmmm.

f550exr  100iso  f/3.5  1/950  +1/3ev

I popped out to the local mall, and found that the weather was just beautiful. Here, a few carts gather to pass the time while basking in the glory of the coming of the spring …

f550exr  100iso  f/5.4  1/70  +1/3ev

And then it all went to shit …

Nikon d7000  Tamron 28-75 2.8d  6400iso  f/2.8  1/50

Yup … we got pounded.

F550EXR – Heat sensitivity?

The other day, I wrote a post showing that the F550EXR seems to have unusual blue channel sensitivity to the heat coming off of my new glass top range. The evidence was absolutely crystal clear that other cameras, including older EXR SCCD cameras, has no problems capturing the red elements as red.

A comment from “jim r-pdx” asked the question if other heat sources would also show this. So I shot a candle in the dark to see. Since the color of the light is on the orange side, even setting white balance to normal against the black candle base should leave things white, not blue.

But …

F550EXR  1600iso  f/3.5  1/13  +2ev

The tea light wax comes out looking about perfect. The black metal of the candle holder looks good. But what is that blue glow around the flame and the tea light? I suppose that’s the F550’s classic reaction to heat. How interesting …

Also note: I shot at +2EV to capture the shadows with really nice details. I relied upon the DR400 setting to save the flame for me and it did!

I don’t know about you, but that’s a pretty excellent performance for dynamic range compression in my book.

Razer Lycosa – Amazing gaming keyboard with a very short life span … replaced by the excellent Microsoft Comfort Curve Keyboard 3000

Update: I have a couple of newer articles with more backlit keyboards that I have tried: http://kimletkeman.blogspot.ca/2014/03/a-tale-of-three-keyboards.html
I have ended up once again on a Razer keyboard: http://kimletkeman.blogspot.ca/2014_03_01_archive.html

image

I quite enjoyed the action on this keyboard, as it was a good compromise between the spongy action of some of modern keyboards and the super clicky action of an IBM / Lenovo keyboard. And it was back lit in blue, which I liked a lot as well.

All was not perfect though. The keyboard would lose its mind now and again and I’d have to relight the keypad using the touch pad. The molding and lighting were not perfect, so the asterisk on top of the 8 was forever obscured. Other keys were hard to read as well. Since I am not a touch typist, this was not convenient.

This image is shot late at night in a dark room. Which is why it sucks Smile

F550EXR  3200iso  f/3.5  1/4  +1EV

But the other day, the space bar suddenly stopped working. I eventually took it off and found that the keyboard had five points at which it could be anchored, but the plastic space bar only had three anchors. And apparently the two side anchors were flimsy enough that they no longer grabbed the mount point so the space bar simply tilted when I would hit it anywhere but dead center. Since I do that a lot, I became completely unproductive at that point.

Here, you can see the lean if you look closely.

F550EXR  3200iso  f/3.5  1/4  +1ev

So while I was out yesterday at Future Shop, I shopped for a keyboard. Nothing appealed to me, so I went to Staples afterwards. There, I saw an inexpensive keyboard that looked like it might do the trick. And it sure does.

The Microsoft Comfort Curve Keyboard 3000 is a $24.95 wonder. It is wired, but so is the Lycosa. It is not backlit, but I’ve been pondering going back for a while. And the curve is perfect. Just enough to allow your hands and wrists to fall naturally but not enough to ruin lifelong hunt and peck habits.

F550EXR  400iso  f/3.5  1/8  +1ev  Flash

The action is very good, as with all Microsoft keyboards. Not the long throw of the IBM / Lenovo, but the click is satisfying and the softness is perfect for me. A great keyboard for a song. If you have been pondering a new keyboard, check this one out.

A final view of this by ambient light, which is bright blue coming from the twin monitors.

Nikon D7000  50mm 1.8D  3200iso  f/2  1/125

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Is it actually possible that Canada has fallen victim to Election fraud at the Federal level? Shame on us if true …

image

Click on the above to go to the article on the CBC web site.

I was a conservative while young … but have been finding it difficult to support this government as it smashes and bashes its way through the constitution. They seem to feel entitled to run this country using whatever tactics they see fit.

The proroguing of parliament a couple of times was sleazy …

The crime bill with its minimum sentences that even Texas says won’t work …

The removal of the gun registry …

The destruction of the Wheat Board while ignoring legal obligations to allow farmers a voice …

The wasteful spending on super prisons and expensive fighter jets …

But all that will pale if these allegations prove true. Then they will have brought great shame onto themselves and onto a great country.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Rogers Extreme Internet – What is going on?

Jon downloaded a game demo last night and ran down the stairs to tell me that he was getting insane sustained speeds on the Internet. He said he was going to run a speed test (http://speedtest.net) so I asked him to email it to me.

Wow. Rogers is pushing some very impressive technology these days …

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

And the Luddites Speak

Last week I railed against the Catholic School Teachers’ attack on WiFi in schools as a lack of critical thinking.

This week, some mothers in the Ottawa school board have been inspired to show off their own lack of critical thinking and are speaking out against it. Apparently, their children are being put at risk by the plans to put WiFi into all schools.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/story/2012/02/21/ottawa-wifi-parents-concern.html

One presumes that they therefore have no devices in their homes that emit these frequencies, and of course that they have no cell phones in the house, as those emit far stronger signals on these same frequencies. And of course that their children forbidden to walk about in the real world, where you can turn on your cell in any shopping mall and find a half dozen WiFi signals at any one place.

Face it … WiFi is ubiquitous, and all the whinging in the world is not going to make it go away. But what can happen, is for a few Luddites to stifle progress, thus putting Canada on the road to dropping in the world’s educational standings and thus securing our future as a second rate power … or at least Ontario. Perhaps the rest of Canada is not quite so Puritan in their approach to progress.

Anyway … perhaps it is also time for them to get moving on that fight against the horseless carriage. These things look like they have a lot of potential for harm to our children through that stuff that comes out the back.

F550EXR – If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen … or perhaps that should read: how’s about a purple nurple?

I’ve complained about the wonky rendering of the elements on my new stove before. And I did again just this morning. So I decided to quickly shoot some images from three cameras just to see if this was as unusual as it seems …

Of course, I was pretty sloppy so the D7000 looks like crap (noisy) at 12,800 ISO, but at least the elements are red :-)

The F300EXR looks reasonable at 1600 ISO, and the elements are also red.

And finally, the F550 at 1600 ISO looks strange and other-worldly. What has happened here is that the blue channel has been pumped up for some reason to about the same levels as the red channel, giving a nice purply colour.

So there you have it … WTF?

I think it is related to heat sensitivity … remember that the soup shot I posted today has this purple steam as well.

One wonders if Fuji’s approach to CMOS EXR technology might have some issues. The strange flare and purple heat of the F550, the ORBs and slight case of strange flare on the X10. It seems that the engineering team needs to pay more attention to their test cases.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Love those government boondoggles …

 

Federal mining agency can't find work

Office spends $1.1M without mediating a case

http://soc.li/SNuYXuR

Some day we’ll look back on government largesse and laugh about the good old days as we are all mired in the post-apocalyptic shit storm …

And by that I do not mean nuclear destruction … I mean the total collapse of everything we have come to expect because of rampant greed. Why else would we allow a tiny agency to waste over a million dollars doing exactly nothing? It is perhaps obvious that someone, somewhere is well connected.

F550EXR – Random images from the last week …

Just a few images shot for no reason …

As we were walking through one of the local grocery stores (we have a minimum of 5 within a 10 minute radius), we saw this image of a juice carton hanging on for dear life. Someone had a sense of humor … and no, we did not fix it.

F550EXR  125ISO  f/5.3  1/60

At another time, I was walking in the local Loblaws, which has an excellent flower department. Quite huge, actually.

F550EXR  500ISO  f/5.6  1/60  –1/3EV

Not an easy color to capture, that deep shade of pink. Lightroom 4 made it pretty easy to get back to a reasonable interpretation.

Cooking my favorite Mennonite chicken soup … one utterly weird thing about the F550EXR is how it captures heat. It always comes out this bright blue, whereas the coils are actually bright red. And since the steam is also blue, I have to wonder what sort of sensitivity this sensor has …

And then there is the squirrel … I saw this little fella trying to get into the house but he was unsuccessful. As you can see from the close crop, Humane Animal Control sealed the house against squirrels in all the typical ingress points. I hope that it is still holding, although I heard some weird sounds in the garage the other day. Might be babies .. in which case I will have to let them leave the nest during the day when they are old enough and then try to seal it up. Assuming I ever find out where they get in …

Sunday, February 19, 2012

F550EXR – Light snow day …

Over night on Valentine’s day we got a dusting of snow. I captured a few images in the early morning of the 15th and processed them in Lightroom. This first one is the usual view of my Lilac bush in the front yard. I made two mistakes with this image, and left them both in so you could see it.

First, I failed to correct the while balance to the snow. So the image is decidedly cool. And second, I failed to click the “remove chromatic aberration” box here:

image

It does not come on by default, which I find weird. By the way, this is the lens profile I downloaded for ACR and LR found it with no problems. Cool …

I remembered the white balance with the next image, but not the CA removal …

You can see that LR has no problems rendering the shadows on the snow and giving it the necessary dimensionality and texture. I really find it much easier to process snow in LR 4.

There, we see the layer of snow that blanketed use. Not thick … an inch or so. And it would soon be long gone as temperatures have risen since then …

The street is a bit slippery but that does not last either …

For those who don’t like the F550 based on reports of bad lenses in the forums … if you get a good one, the camera is really good. Especially if you shoot and process RAW. One place where this really shows up is the distant branches, which are quite clearly legible when you click on the image to see the 800px version …

D70s and 18-200VR – A taste of Chicago …

This is another revisited image in Lightroom 4. And a good chance to remind you that, if you have not yet had the chance to visit Chicago and partake of the unbelievable deep-dish pizza, then get that on your bucket list asap.

Anyway … the image as I originally processed it in CS3 with process engine 2003. A rather blunt instrument. This whole series was shot in JPEG … back when I was going through my “listen to Ken Rockwell” phase. I smartened up after a while and switched to RAW … permanently as it turned out. Sheesh …

And here is what I processed today. Some of you will inevitably find it a lot drier and cooler. C’est la vie … can’t please everyone, and if you are not running a hardware calibrated IPS panel, please don’t even bother commenting on the color, because you have no idea what is in there. (I don’t either, but for other reasons :-)

The details in the pizza are spectacular by comparison. Take a closer look …

Seriously … that taste is to die for.

The bottom line is that I am enjoying the way Lightroom presents my images to me. And editing in Lightroom is fun, especially with such a sophisticated process engine.

A not eon the D70s. This image is only 6Mp, yet the clarity at 400ISO is excellent. There is little noise, and despite being shot with a kit megazoom at f/8, there is nice and smooth bokeh at a relatively short focal length.

When people talk about value for money, they invariably talk about super zooms like the new XS-1. But the XS-1 cannot capture this image … you have to walk way back and shoot a longer focal length or you have to accept an in focus background competing with the subject. And the clarity and noise at 400ISO are not going to be as good. Not even close. And this is a 7 year old design that can be purchased for about 225 for the body and 400 or so for the lens (first generation, this one is.)

There are very good reasons for buying a super zoom. But don’t be fooled into thinking you will be able to shoot in the street with one. The X10 can do it because of the very fast lens, but the XS-1 cannot. Of course, the X10 stills carries the ORB tax.

Stupid is as stupid does …

Right wing speeches are like a box of chocolates … filled with blobs of brown stuff …

My friend Petra from the Netherlands confirms that this speech is moronic Smile

For those who need some corroboration, here’s Phil waxing eloquent, asking the question “is he disingenuous or just stupid?” It’s in the second quarter of the video.

 

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The WiFi issue has galvanized one group to reveal a stunning lack of critical thinking …

I have no bone to pick with the Catholic Teachers. Well, perhaps the fact that we are still having a little trouble separating church and state is an issue, but hey … it’s been there a long time.

But when they want to stifle progress with an unbelievably slack bit of logic, well …

image

If you click on it and read the paper, you will see that they are calling for a stoppage of the installation of WiFi in the classroom in order to protect the children from the negative effects of radiation.

They cite cell phone regulations as the primary radiation source quoted by the World Health Organization in a paper on carcinogens and they cite the fact that many countries have stricter guidelines than we do about exposure to this radiation. That being 15 minutes a day. However, what the teachers fail to discuss is the fact that cell phone radiation is transmitted directly into the user’s skull from an effective distance of zero.

This is not at all the same thing as sitting in a room where WiFi is running between devices. Most of those devices are on the floor (computers), on the desk (laptops) or on the ceilings (routers) and thus the distances are dramatically higher. Radiation effects drop rapidly with distance. And I quote:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acute_radiation_syndrome#Distance

Distance
Increasing distance from the radiation source reduces the dose according to the
inverse-square law for a point source. Distance can sometimes be effectively increased by means as simple as handling a source with forceps rather than fingers.

But here’s the kicker. Virtually every child in school today comes from a home with tons of the same wireless radiation from multiple devices.

That is … these children all have a wireless router in the home and they all have one or more computers, cell phones, iPods or iPads. Add to that one or more wireless phones at one of three bands (900Mhz, 2.4 Ghz or 5Ghz), the last two bands overlapping those on the router and computers. They might often have laptops or iPads on their laps every evening, possibly all evening.

In other words, every home is already flooded with this radiation, and no one talks about that because there is nothing much to talk about.

Basically, the cry to take it out of the classroom appears to be utter nonsense from the get-go. The same lack of critical thinking that has the stupidest of celebrities campaigning against vaccines.

The source might be a movie, but this clip is by far the best explanation of this mob mentality that pervades the political landscape these days …

And here is a great article that really debunks this stuff …

http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2012/02/oh_no_school_wi-fi_is_making_our_kids_si.php

Friday, February 17, 2012

B&H Photo shipping to Canada … FAST!!!!

I ordered Lightroom 3 during B&H Photo’s $69 24 hour sale on Wednesday morning, the 15th. They shipped it at 1:36am the next day, the 16th. And it arrived here at noon the day after that, the 17th … today. I was not home at the time, so I’ll just pop over to the local computer store to get the package after work.

Amazing …

image

http://BHPhoto.com offer a customs pre-clearance on the basic Purolator shipping charges, and they collect the taxes and duties (which are tiny.) This is the way to go as your goods will just squirt across the border and arrive at your place within days. If only everyone understood cross border issues the way B&H Photo does.

Proud owner of a new Porsche!

Nikon D7000 & Nikon 85mm 1.8D  400iso  f/2.2  1/250 –2/3ev -- built-in flash at –2/3ev

So I tried it in one of my USB3 ports and …. pfffft. Nothing. Tried it in the other and …. nothing. Strangely, other devices work fine in those ports.

I figured I’d try it in a USB2 port as I could not believe that I had 2 DOA drives in a row. (The crappy Seagate I had did not work in any port.) And sure enough, it fired right up. I immediately loaded up the disk manager and wiped out the auto backup software and its partition so I could format the entire disk as one massive backup drive.

I turned on disk compression as well, since fast CPUs can apparently keep up with the disk, thus improving throughput by shrinking data. Of course, images are already compressed, but every little bit helps.

Anyway … it’s plugging away right now at a snail’s pace, copying over 80,000 files. Should run most of the night but, hey, backups after this are incremental so what do I care. I have to investigate the USB3 mismatch in impedance (figurative, but perhaps for real too :-) but am in no real hurry. With 2 backup drives online I am happy again.

This thing is built like a tank and is a beautiful piece to behold. Well worth ordering from BHPhoto. In fact, it is cheaper than many other models and can only be considered an incredible bargain. BHPhoto shipped it for 12 bucks and it arrived in barely 3 or 4 days, including clearing customs. Most impressive. I can’t recommend B&H Photo highly enough.

I just checked and the damned thing just dropped another 5 bucks. Geeeeeez! Smile

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/793107-REG/LaCie_302002_2TB_F_A_Porsche_Designed.html

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Fuji X-Pro1 – very impressive sample images …

Someone posted a link to the site http://LensTip.com where there are a number of sample images for the new Fuji XPro-1, a pretty amazing interchangeable lens camera with a new sensor that appears to seriously rock.

I’ve seen some of Hugo Poon’s initial images, as he often posts images before cameras are released, such is the respect Fuji accords his excellent photography. Click that link to see just how marvelous his work is with this camera. This is a real step up for him … I like his new images better even than his images with the Fuji S5-Pro. The XPro-1 is a much better camera I think, despite its lack of dynamic range extension tricks.

So … back to Lens Tip’s excellent images. I will examine one of them here, calling on the Fair Use Doctrine to allow me to use one of their images for educational purposes. I will not, of course, post a full sized image, just a smaller version and some crops.

That image is magnificent. At base ISO, there is no noise to speak of, the tones are rich and the gradients are perfectly smooth. The sharpness is magnificent. In fact, I put together a pair of crops to show the extreme high quality of this camera’s lens, sensor and jpeg engine.

Click through on that image to get the larger version. You will see just how outstanding the sharpening tolerance is for this sensor and jpeg engine. A far cry from the weak EXR images from the X10. The X100 competes, but I never got the razor sharp sense from that camera that I see in this one.

And it was shot at f/1.4! With sharpening on soft! Amazing …

One thing I don’t like so much … I’m not fond of lipstick that does not cover the whole lip. I am sure that she must be compensating for a perceived dislike of her very full lips, but I think she should really consider using the entire area to the ridge. Not only does it balance the thickness of the top and bottom lips, but it shows a fullness that many stoop to Botox to achieve. She has it naturally …

Just my opinion of course …

I wrote a joke …

There are synonyms – words that have similar meaning.
There are homonyms – words that sound alike but have different meaning.
There are antonyms – words that have opposite meaning.

But what about words that sound similar, have different meaning, yet a subtle relationship actually exists if you look hard enough? What should we call these?

Case in point: incompetence versus incontinence.

When you are surrounded by either, everything seems to turn to shit.

Say hello to my little kitty …

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Lightroom 4 Beta 1 Drives me Squirrely

I spent some time exploring my older images. Lots of fun to redo several of them. As I hit the 2007 summer walk around Mud Lake, I recognized a favorite squirrel image. Shot with the fantastic 300 f/4 AFS and TC17e at 510mm, it is a fantastic rendition of the animal. But this was also a 4Mp Nikon D2Hs professional body with a pre-CMOS LBCAST sensor of Nikon’s own design. The camera was amazing when light was added, but shadow noise was always a problem.

I have gone back and reprocessed the image several times over the years and I could not resist another shot at it with Lightroom 4. So starting from the beginning …

My first attempt might have actually been the best attempt. It certainly has very nice long fur on the tail and the shadows are not too obtrusive on my Dell monitor. But on the much brighter acer TN panel, the belly looks rather smudged and noisy.

The EXIF for the image is: 800ISO, f/6.7, 1/30s

Image number 1 was processed in CS3 from RAW.

Attempt number 2 brightens things considerably. Also processed in CS3.

The fur does separate much better from the background, and the overall tones are more pleasant to me. His little hands and feet and the tail are really well defined. But the heavy grain on the belly is unmistakable.The tones are just too open.

The next one is a similar attempt to #2 bit with more attention paid to the belly area.

Now that one is a huge improvement over #2. Mainly because of the more subtle sharpening. The grain is much better controlled. Still CS3 by the way.

Of course, I needed to try one more time … and this one is almost cartoony. The main difference here is an excessive use of the Digital Outback Photo detail plugin. I forget its official name, but it was free and it really sucks detail out.

There is no arguing with its ability to show details. This is actually not bad … but I get a sense of smearing that I cannot shake. It is subtle but my visceral reaction is not all that positive. There are also nasty shadow artifacts around the belly area and the leg creases. I just don’t like this very much.

And finally … Lightroom 4 Beta 1 with the 2012 image process.

Now that’s more like it!

The fur looks like fur … soft and silky, yet detailed. The belly is not grainy and there are no nasty artifacts. The hair of the tail looks very fine. All in all, this is easily the best of the bunch. And what amazes me is how easy tones are to control in Lightroom 4. They say that this version is very “twitchy” … with small movements of the dials making big changes. And they are very right about that.

But what I like about that is the ease with which you can see the changes and back them off. I love that …

So … Lightroom 2012 is going to be a winner in my book …

Monday, February 13, 2012

Seagate® Expansion™ Drives – Serious problems at this time …

This might be a post-Thailand flooding issue. The 2TB drive is a very good price (by today’s standards) at Staples.ca right now … $139 on sale. So I picked one up to augment my older 1TB Seagate FreeAgent™ backup drive. It is down to only 14GB free, which is one serious shoot. So it’s desperate times.

The drive I bought is:

image

That is from the Seagate site, and note the very light printing. This is no longer available. No doubt the cause of the sale.

The drive has an overall user review of:

image

But that is extremely misleading. This year’s reviews are all terrible. Mostly 1 star with a small number of higher ratings. The reason is that these things are fragile. Mine is DOA. It powers up but will not connect on USB 3 or USB 2 ports. This is common, even when it initially connects. Apparently, just unplugging and replugging is often enough to snap the port’s connection.

So … avoid at all costs, even on deep discount. They have now brought out the 3TB version (likely wht the 2TB is discontinued) and my guess is that this is one to avoid until the tide turns on the reviews. But we won’t know for months …

Bummer … Seagate is my preferred brand. Now what do I do … LaCie? Much more expensive, but there is almost certainly a reason for that …

Update: I ordered a wonderful LaCie LAHDDP2 2TB F.A. Porsche Designed Desktop Hard Drive from B&H Photo as the price was amazing for a drive of this quality (5 star reviews everywhere and LaCie has always been a high-end manufacturer.) For 150, I get a 2TB drive with USB3. Users say it is truly silent. And reliable. We'll see I suppose. Shipping to Canada only added 10 bucks and taxes and duties were about 2 bucks more than an equivalent price here for taxes alone. Great deal. The other drive that was also inexpensive was the LaCie Minimus, a much smaller drive. I chose the Porsche because it appears to claim slightly higher throughput. Rather high, too.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Nikon E990 versus Fuji F550EXR with Adobe Lightroom 4 Beta 1

Ok, I’m kidding. In fact, I shot a few images at breakfast with the F550 and I went browsing through my historical files for a while this afternoon using Lightroom’s excellent organization of my files. It’s already pretty clear to me that I’ll be buying LR4 when released, but don’t tell Adobe as I’d like to see if they offer discounts to beta users :-)

Anyway … a couple of shots from breaky … first, Nick is chatting while we are waiting for the food. We jumped the queue by 15 minutes because we were willing to take a tall table inside the bar area, which is next to the crowded intake area. The answer is to ignore that and grab the table.

F550EXR  800iso  f/4.5  1/60

And then the wicked breaky arrived … mixed lighting forced me to desaturate some of the blue, which I think made the less toasted bread look a bit wonky. Oh well …

f550exr  640iso  f/3.5  1/30

So the F550 acquit itself rather well. I am really enjoying Lightroom and all the fine grained control I have over the tones and colors. Although ACR is pretty similar, I find this method a bit more approachable. And more importantly, I really like the way their 2012 engine does things over the 2010 engine, which itself was much better than the 2003 engine :-)

So on to the E990 … for those who don’t remember what that was …

cp990.jpg

Browsing along, I stumbled on a set of images that I always liked. These were taken about 12 years ago in the summer of 2000, so they are on very early CCD technology. And my skills as a photographer were really, really, weak. Anyway, I blew this image out completely, yet it works just fine in black and white … or, more accurately, as a split tone (duotone) …

Note the exposure … although the image looks very bright, it was shot in the late evening with an incredibly slow shutter speed.

Nikon E990  242iso f/2.5  1/3 

The following image is part of a short series I called “bug love” at the time. Jon saw me processing it and mentioned that he remembers it vividly. The boys and I used to have our computers together in a pseudo office (my attempt at supervision) and they watched me process these on Photoshop 7 back in the day. I had a print displayed on the wall of the room for years.

Nikon E990  100iso  f/3.3  1/25

That was another late evening shot, hence another slow shutter speed.

Next, I was looking over the photos of the trip my sister “T” and niece “C” took to Ottawa that year. We went up into the peace tower at sunset … a beautiful view … and before the sun actually set, I looked out towards the North (that is Quebec across the river) and shot the beautiful Library of Parliament, the only structure that survived the fire that destroyed the last Parliament buildings during WWI on 3 February 1916.

The tones are surprisingly subtle, something that Lightroom really helped me to exploit.

Nikon E990  100  f/2.6  1/45

Lightroom turns out to be really good at pushing saturation and vibrance to accentuate beautiful subset colors. The following images are much more colorful than they were when captured, yet I did only global changes to them in LR4.

Nikon E990  100iso  f/5.6  1/120 

Nikon E990  100iso  f/7  1/220   Fluorescent WB

The fancy use of fluorescent white balance was in fact a brain fart, I am quite certain. Anyway … I particularly like the last one because the break from blue to orange is real. The cloud bank happened to be sunlit on the bottom and it happened to perfectly divide the sky. So I cranked the color up to 11 …

Conclusion: I know I didn’t call this a test or anything like that, so the conclusion is to what? Well, I found the E990 a bit cumbersome to process because it was jpeg only and they are small. Sharpening is pretty hard, so I really need to take them into Photoshop and add a pixel or two of Gaussian blur to counter that.

But all in all, I find these images very nice. This camera was an excellent image creation tool in its day … people should try to remember that we have had excellent digital cameras for well over a decade now, and it is actually our skills that determine what our images look like no matter which camera we are shooting.