Technology

Nikon is coming…

An ever-so-slightly dubious name-choice for Nikon’s countdown timer:

http://www.iamcomings.com/

Ummm?

But jokes aside, the question is of course WHAT might be coming. In slightly more than 24 hours (at time of writing) we’ll know.

In Nikon’s marketing-speak: “I am curious”!

All rumours seem to point to a new mirrorless system camera, also known as EVIL, MILC, etc. This means that you can exchange lenses like on a DSLR. However it does without a mechanical mirror meaning it will be much smaller, lighter and quieter.

A picture from one of Nikon's "EVIL" patents

This new camera is rumoured to have a sensor that falls between current high-end compacts and the micro 4/3 system. Meaning it won’t be a viable option for pros, but might be very cool for the general enthusiast public.

The new camera is expected to try and fill a new niche in the sensor sizes available on the market

Alternatively the announcement could refer to the successor to the ageing full frame D700, D3s or D3x models, although I’m not expecting it.

Microsoft camera raw codec pack interferes with Lightroom?

Does Microsoft's Camera Codec break lightroom?

On Wednesday 26 July 2011 Microsoft added “raw” image support to Windows 7 in the form of the Microsoft Camera Codec Pack. This 8MB download will enable Windows users to decode vendor-specific “raw” files (a.k.a. digital negatives) directly from Windows Explorer, or from any application using Windows Imaging Codecs (WIC).

I wrote in a previous post why it is a good idea to “shoot in raw”. Problem is just that the raw files are large and clunky, and require special software to decode. For this reason some photographers (including Ken Rockwell) decide to shoot JPG, despite all the disadvantages of their approach. So this is great news because Microsoft just made it easier to live with raw files. Good job, Microsoft!

But… I downloaded and installed this codec, and immediately noticed something curious. It seems like the Microsoft Codec Pack interferes with the decoding of my Nikon’s D7000’s raw files in Adobe Lightroom 3.4.1. In Lightroom’s Library module the images are displayed as preview images but then remain at low resolution, even when zooming in. Only after switching to Lightroom’s Develop module are the files properly decoded at full resolution. I have only observed this for my specific camera (Nikon D7000) using my version of Lightroom (3.4.1 64-bit) running on my home PC (Windows7 64-bit SP1). But, tellingly, Lightroom resumed working normally as soon as I uninstalled the codec pack.

Not sure if this is a coincidence on my specific machine or a real wide-spread bug. Please comment on this post if you can confirm or debunk this issue.

Half a SLR

Ever wonder how a top of the line professional digital SLR would look if you sawed it in half?

Now you don’t have to do it yourself (what a relief!). The guys at Nikon were friendly enough to halve a Nikon D3 with attached 14-24mm F2.8 lens.

Half of a very expensive camera.

Note the huge chunk of glass in the viewfinder – that’s the full-frame pentaprism.

Moby gets (partially) electrocuted

Seems like Moby’s electric problems go the other way too. In 2008 I blogged about how his laser show fried my camera’s sensor (video), and now the tables turned when he was partially electrocuted at a performance in Amsterdam!

However I’m baffled by how (what looks like) a 12V DC light fixture could have caused him any harm. Methinks this a publicity stunt. But maybe Moby is a robot after all…

Youch… What would Eminem say about this?

Auto ISO and flash on the Nikon D7000, D5100, D3100 etc.

Summary: Newer Nikon DSLR cameras seem to choose unnecessarily high ISO values when using a flash in combination with auto-ISO – specifically in “P”, “A” and “S” mode. I have verified this issue for the Nikon D7000 and the D3100, and from forums I deduce that it also goes for the D5000, D3000, D5100 and D300s.

Auto ISO on Nikon’s DSLRs has gotten confusing

Read More»

Lighting up those surfing shots

It pains me to only repost other people’s blogs, but due to a host of factors I find myself with too little time to write my own full entries. I might add that a recent addition to my camera family, a Nikon D7000, also skews my priorities – I think I’d like to spend more time making photographs, and not only talk about them. :P

But, without further ado – here is an interesting video showcasing how Dave Black uses a monstrously concocted photography nerd’s wet dream to make amazing surf photographs. Thanks to Scott Bryant for blogging about it (click on the picture to reach the full article):

 

How the pros do it: Way rad surfing shots (Click on image!)

Why we *love* Nikon

In a recent post I went on the offensive, criticizing Nikon for their overweight bodies and lenses. And yet, I own a Nikon. And I’m not ready to jump ship just yet. Why?  As Nikon is currently promoting its newest DSLR offerings, the D3100 and the D7000, I’m drooling for an upgrade to my old D80. But, realistically, why would I pay the price premium to continue investing in the Nikon system? Why not Canon, Sony or Pentax?  As we now know, it’s not for saving weight.

Read More»

Nikon's weight problem

Nikon, I hate to be so blunt, but you are fat. And no, it’s not just your lens, it’s your body too.

Nikon, as an honest friend, I should tell you something...

The two biggest players in the Digital SLR market are Canon and Nikon. These two giants offer similar equipment ranges. But how do they weigh up against each other… literally? I’ve handled them, and I’ve looked at the numbers. Nikon, you’ve got a weight problem. Shame on you.

Read More»

The Olympus PEN E-PL1 vs Nikon D3000 paradox

Petavoxel recently bemoaned the fact that the majority of sensors in recent micro four thirds EVIL cameras (or MILCs, if you prefer) perform poorly compared to contemporary APS-C sized sensors in digital SLRs. The only exception was the Panasonic GH1, which put up quite a respectable showing compared to its μ4/3 stablemates.

Yesterday dpreview posted their review of the E-PL1, and they were very happy with its high ISO performance. I quote:

Overall, the E-PL1’s images are the most natural and convincing here – avoiding the D3000’s overly contrasty, noisier images …  Most impressive is the E-PL1’s ability to produce results comparable with the EOS 500D and Pentax K-x, despite its smaller sensor.

But what does DXO Labs have to say? They disagree, showing that the big three leave the E-PL1 gasping for photons with a lowly 487  points in the low-light ISO stakes.

Hence, the paradox.

How do these two $500-ish cameras weigh up against each other?

How can this be? Is either DXO Labs or dpreview writing nonsense? The keen observer will notice that there are two significant differences in the way these two respected websites measure image quality:

Read More»

So, what's so great about "raw" files?

Have you ever heard an enthusiastic photographer saying something like “I shoot everything in raw”? But what is a “raw” file? Sounds like raw meat, doesn’t it? Why do people use these?

Few people think about it twice, but pretty much every photo on the internet is stored as a JPEG file. This also happens to be the kind of file you get out of most digital cameras. In fact, most consumer-grade cameras can give nothing else but JPEG output. This is no coincidence: JPEG’s been around since 1992, and it turns out that it’s a really great file format for photographs. JPEG allows you to store a lot of image information in a reasonably small file, and is quick to decode and write. Unfortunately JPEG is a lossy standard, which means you always lose some image information when creating a JPEG.

Contrary to common belief, this “lossy” property is not the main reason to avoid using JPEG. The JPEG algorithm is actually really clever in the way it loses its information, meaning the human eye often can’t see the difference between a lossy JPEG and its lossless equivalent. Look at the seagull below to see what I mean.

A JPEG file compressed at 95% quality. (click for detail)
File size = 78 KB
Scarcely any degradation artefacts, despite the fact that a losslessly compressed PNG would have required more than 300 KB.
Compressed JPEG at an extremely low 30% quality. (click for detail)
File size = 9 KB.
Compression artefacts are visible (sky, detail in lantern glass), but the image remains perfectly recognizable due to the clever way JPEG works. And this is an extreme example.

No, the reasons why you should be interested in raw files are more subtle…

Read More»