Dowsing My Flickr Flame

I've decided to delete my Flickr account. Over the past few hours, my machine has been dutifully backing up all my Flickr images. I should have copies of everything locally, but there have been a few images that have gone missing over the years. Anyway, I found a shareware utility called DownloadAir that made the job easy.

I'm leaving Flickr because I really dislike what they've done to the site and service over the past couple of years, and I find I'm just never using the service any more, either to add pictures, or browse other peoples' work. It's kind of sad, since I've been on Flickr since its inception back in 2004, before Yahoo! got a hold of it, and had almost 5,500 images there.

Another reason for my leaving Flickr is their connection with Getty Images, who has managed, through legal shenanigans, to make it legal to claim ownership and resell licenses of public domain images held by the Library of Congress.

As soon as I'm finished with deleting my account, I'm going to breakfast. Yeah. That sounds good.

Some People are Missing The Point

There's a prominent podcaster who has been railing against Canon and Nikon recently because, as he says, their mirrorless cameras can't use lenses from their existing DSLR product line. While that's true in the cast of Nikon's mirrorless offerings, it's absolutely not true about Canon's M-series. But, that's not really the point that some people seem to be missing about mirrorless -- including some mirrorless camera manufacturers. Why would anyone want to stick a relatively monstrous DSLR lens on a compact mirrorless camera body, like a Sony A6500 or even a Fujifilm X-T2 body?

Canon M5.jpg

One of the advantages of mirrorless cameras is size. Once freed of the relatively large mirror box of the typical DSLR, manufacturers were able to design new lenses that took advantage of a relatively short flange distance (flange distance is the depth of the camera body, from the lens flange to the sensor). This allows for smaller, lighter lenses that balance well on diminutive camera bodies, like the Olympus Pen-F.

Sticking with our Olympus example, the comparable lens would be Panasonic's 12-35mm f/2.8 (Micro Four Thirds cameras have a 2x "crop factor"). The Panasonic lens weighs a mere 10.8oz (compared to the Canon lens at 1.5+lbs), and is only 2.7"x2.9" (the Canon is about 3.5"x4.5"). In other words, using that huge 24-70mm f/2.8L IS lens on a mirrorless body just isn't ergonomically ideal!

And besides, the point of these mirrorless cameras systems was to come up with a camera that was smaller, lighter, with equal-or-better image quality as compared to DSLRs. Putting that old, big, chunky glass on defeats the purpose.

Now, someone's going to start whining about their investment in all those expensive EF and EF-S mount lenses. Guess what? Canon's got you covered. Go ahead and buy their shiny new M5 body ... and the EF-M Lens Adapter (or a less-expensive third-party alternative). Your old lenses will work perfectly on the M5, at least until Canon gets around to making high-end glass in the EF-M mount. Canon planned for this, and used exactly the same electrical connections for both lens mounts. The adapter only needs to account for the different mount opening and flange depth.

So, you see, that podcaster was dead wrong -- Canon's existing lenses will work fine on their mirrorless bodies.

By the way, there is one camera manufacturer that did decide to make their mirrorless offering use the lenses from their DSLRs without the need for an adapter: Sigma. That's right, if you're one of the few who own a Sigma SD1, with it's SA lens mount, and you want to go mirrorless without having to worry about lenses, you can grab their sd Quattro body. They've incorporated the lens adapter right into the camera body, and pretty much negated the whole advantage of a mirrorless system. I guess it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Sigma sd Quattro mirrorless body compared with their SD1 DLSR. photo courtesy ephotozine.com

Sigma sd Quattro mirrorless body compared with their SD1 DLSR.
photo courtesy ephotozine.com

And, here's another point. Most "experts" agree that the DSLRs days are numbered. They're like the dinosaurs. Start planning now, so you don't miss the boat.

Folks, if you got here from a social media link, and wish to leave a comment, please do so here. It makes it easier for various readers to follow the conversation. Thanks!

Harper's Ferry Fall Color 2016

It's fall here in the eastern US, and that means there's supposed to be lots of colorful orange and yellow and red trees. Especially now that it's late October. But, it's been relatively dry this year, and so colorful trees have been few and far between. Or maybe I just missed them. Anyway ... We decided to wander out to Harper's Ferry, WVa in search of some sort of fall color. That, and Donna's trying out my Sony SLT-A35 to tide her over until we can either get her a new sensor properly cleaned, or possibly even get her an upgraded body.

Our location was just below the Rte 340 bridge crossing Shenandoah River. I found a red tree and a yellow tree, and a few other colorful scenes. I thought I might share them. As always, click for a better view.

All images hand-held with the Fujifilm X-E2. Lenses used include XF18-55mm f/2.8-4, XF14mm f/2.8, and XC50-230mm f/4.5-6.7. Most used a circular polarizer. All post processing in On1 Photo 10.5.

Photo Plus Expo 2016 - After Show Report

Yesterday, I made my annual pilgrimage to NYC to attend at least a little bit of this year's Photo Plus Expo. As usual, there was much to see. Unfortunately, I only had about five hours to cover the entire show floor. I do think that I did pretty well. Honestly, it wasn't as much fun as it has been the past couple of years because I was just there for the day, and wasn't able to attend any of the workshops or classes. Although I took along my Fujifilm X-E2 with the 18-55mm lens, I didn't take as many pictures as I usually do, largely because I was rushing around, to and fro.

Of course, I did visit the Fujifilm booth, which was crowded with people who wanted to get to see all the latest cameras and lenses. I spent some time playing with the X-T2, and have to say that it's an amazing camera. As usual, I won't bore you with all the tech specs. You can find that at the Fujifilm digital camera web pages. What I will say is that the camera is lightening fast, and that for me, every control and component falls into place exactly as it should, and that I absolutely want one. Someday.

Fujifilm GFX 50S with six new system lenses

Fujifilm GFX 50S with six new system lenses

One thing I had really wanted to see was the new GFX medium format system. I was able to see it. Under glass. It sure looked pretty. Unfortunately, there were none to play with.

I think a lot of people were disappointed in not being of this camera, especially after knowing that there have been a few people playing with them in the real world after Photokina. I guess us mere mortals will have to wait just a little bit longer...

While I have no picture, I was able to have a bit of play with Hasselblad's new X1d mirrorless medium format camera. And, while its firmware is definitely not ready for prime time yet, the camera is definitely something pretty special. It handles superbly, the touch-screen-based user interface is incredibly well thought out, and the image quality appears to be excellent. It's amazingly usable for a big camera, and generally feels good in the hand. There will be three lenses specifically for the X1d at product launch (a 30mm f/3.5, a 45mm f/3.5, and a 90mm f/3.2), and an adapter to allow use of a select group of H-series lenses. For the price of a nice car, you too can be a Hasselblad shooter, once the system ships.

A more traditional (and more affordable) digital medium format is still the Pentax 645Z. I'd never bothered to pick on up before, because I've never really been interested in making any move to a larger system. But, I thought that since I had time, and I was there, I might as well take a look. Plus, I wanted to see what excited my friend Bill Wadman so much that he decided to sell off all is Canon gear and buy one. I have to say that for such a large camera, it was surprisingly agile, and the pricing is pretty competitive, especially if you pick up a used on in good shape like Bill did. Firing the shutter causes the camera to make a really pleasing sound as it records what seems to be a stellar 50MP image. You can get a nice "comprehensive starter set" from B&H that includes three lenses for less than the price of a compact car. If you go used, you can be well set for less than the price of a Canon 5Ds setup.

I also made the rounds of all of the rest of the mirrorless camera manufacturers. That meant venturing into the Canon displays to see their new M5. Having had the little (tiny) beast in my hand, I can quite certainly say that there's absolutely nothing for anyone to complain about with this camera, except maybe the price. $980 for the body is, in my opinion, a little steep. But, it does have a lot to offer -- wickedly fast and accurate autofocus, 9fps burst shooting, a big tilting touch screen, 5-axis image stabilization in-camera, Canon's latest Digic 7 image processor, and a lot more. For a Canon user heavily invested in glass, it actually looks like a pretty good way to move to mirrorless.

While there are only a handful of "consumer-oriented" lenses available now, Canon are probably planning some better glass down the line. In the mean time, an adapter offers full compatibility with all Canon EF and EF-S mount lenses (and probably those of Tamron and Sigma as well). Canon, it seems, smartly chose to keep the lens contacts and communications protocols the same when developing the new EF-M lenses.

Over at Olympus, everything was pretty much status quo. And, the new Pen-F is a darling. The Olympus viewfinders are still the best in the world of mirrorless. The little tiny cameras have gotten a sensor boost on some models, to 20MP. But, at higher ISOs, the recorded images still didn't stellar on the back of the camera. Maybe I was expecting too much, but my Fujis always look better.

Panasonic had some nice gear, too, most notably the DMC-GX8, which is the logical upgrade of their DMC-GX7 rangefinder-styled body. I had wanted to try out the DMC-G85, but I couldn't find it. It may have been there, but Panasonic's booth was horribly laid out, and it was nearly impossible to get close to anything.

Sony was showing the new Alpha 6500, and it's a pretty spiffy little camera. It's the camera the 6300 should have been, with 5-axis image stabilization, a touch screen, yada, yada, yada. I also looked, briefly, at the new A99II, the A77II, and the A68 (which I wrote about back in January). I found them all to be pretty run-of-the-mill. Sony's clearly just about giving lip service to folks who want to remain in the A-mount camp. I'd actually buy an A7II and the rather expensive A-to-FE-mount adapter (the one with the AF motor to actuate the autofocus on my old Minolta lenses) before I'd by an A99II.

Back to the world of Fujifilm ... the Rokinon/Samyang folks are now offering all of their manual lenses in Fuji mount. If you don't mind manual focus, and manual or aperture-preferred metering, these lenses offer really nice, inexpensive options. And, they're beginning to make autofocus lenses as well, though they're currently only available for Sony FE-mount.

In the flash world, Metz have quietly made Fuji-specific versions of nearly every flash they make, and they support high-speed-sync on some Fuji models. Nissin also offers several flashes for Fuji now, and most include a built-in receiver for their new 2.4GHz wireless control technology.

Speaking of flash, my favorite item at the show was a new item from the folks at Sunbounce. They've got a very simple gizmo called the Bounce-Wall, and it looks to be fantastic for event photographers who need to be able to grab quick head-shot or upper-body portraits quickly.

The purpose of the Bounce-Wall is to get the effective light source up and away from the lens axis, and also to provide a larger, softer light. It generally places the effective light source at a 45 degree angle above and beside the camera. An advantage to the design is that your flash stays on the camera hot shoe, which makes for much better balance than having the flash out a the end of the arm, like the old-fashioned Stroboframe. The fellow in the picture, an Italian/German wedding and event photographer (whose name has unfortunately escaped me) was in the Sunbounce booth, and showed me how easy it is to use. The result, depending on the reflector you have mounted (there are six different snap-in reflectors available), is not entirely unlike a beauty dish. Unlike a lot of other solutions, switching from horizontal to vertical requires no adjustment. Just tilt the camera, and shoot.

The Bounce-Wall bracket sells for under U$65, and the reflectors run between U$20-$25 each. Or, you can get a the "pro" set with the bracket and all six reflectors for about U$160 at B&H. It's a few dollars more from Adorama. The demonstration was with a Yongnu0 YN560-IV on an Olympus OM-D EM-5 Mark II with the Panasonic Lumix G 25mm f/1.7 lens, and the setup just worked. Of course, being manual, aperture or flash output needed to be adjusted slightly, depending on distance between the camera and the subject.

Here's a really fun video from the Sunbounce web site. It's a time lapse video showing a photographer with one assistant shooting 88 portraits in just about nine-and-a-quarter minutes. The first couple minutes show how the photographs we made, and starting two minutes into the video are the resulting portraits.

88 perfectly lit Portraits shot by LINDA KOEHLER-SANDRING in only 9 minutes and 16 seconds, made possible by THE BOUNCE WALL by SUNBOUNCE.

http://www.sunbounce.com/speedshooting

Obviously, Ms. Koehler-Sandring has had some practice using the Bounce-Wall. But I was able to get good results on a first try (once I got used to the very sensitive shutter button on the Olympus camera). The portable background the assistant was using is a Sun-Mover reflector with a Tight-Fit Screen, also from Sunbounce. Any portable background would work as well.

Otherwise, I had wanted to look at Tenba's new messenger bags, but I never did find their booth. In fact, the expo hall was a bit smaller than last year. Well, it was in the same space, but there seemed to be some exhibitors missing. Or, maybe I just missed them trying to get the whole show done in just a few hours. I was also disappointed that, unlike past years, there were not a lot of smaller-yet-necessary accessories for sale at the show. I specifically needed to buy a sensor cleaning kit to get some schmutz off the sensor in Donna's camera, but there was no place to buy it. Part of that may have been that this years show took place during Sukkos, but usually companies like Hunt's, Unique, and Samy's do have such items for sale.

As I said at the top of this article, I only took a very few pictures at the show. All of them were at the Fujifilm booth. For what it's worth, here they are. All were taken with the X-E2 and the 18-55mm kit lens. All post processing was with On1 Photo 10.5. Click to view larger images.

On The Horizon: On1 Photo RAW

I've been mentioning On1 Software products for some time now, and you may notice that there's now an affiliate link in the sidebar of the site. In fact, I've been using On1 products of some sort longer than any other provider, with the exception of Adobe! So, I thought it was high time to become an affiliate of theirs. This is especially true since they're about to revolutionize the way we think about RAW image processing. You can read about that here: The Future of Raw Photo Editing: On1 Photo RAW.

A brief aside...

Another thing I should mention about the affiliate links and ads on this site: The products and services I'm affiliated with are all things that I actually use. I do rent gear from Borrow Lenses. I do use the educational materials from Digital Photography School. I do use On1 Software. I do use OnSong when I'm playing music. I do print on Red River Paper. And I do purchase ebooks and other materials from Rock Nook Publishing.
And, I believe in these companies, and I think you should too. You can help them (and me) by clicking on those big tiles in the sidebar before you make purchases from them. 

Now, back to Photo RAW.

I'm really excited about this. I've been enjoying the On1 workflow for the past year or so, using On1 Photo 9 and On1 Photo 10. They've been steadily improving the product's capabilities and stability, and even it's RAW processing. Yes, the current versions of the software can work with many RAW files -- I've used Canon, Nikon, Sony, and first-generation Fuji files with great success.

On1 have been teasing that Photo RAW would be released "in the fall" for quite some time, and like a great number of people, I'm really anxious to get my hands on it. And, I have a feeling that's going to be really soon -- from some whisperings I've heard, I'm thinking within the next two weeks. At least, that's what I'm hoping, as moving to Photo RAW is an integral part of me "clean slate" move. Maybe I'll have a more definitive answer on that when I get back from Photo Plus Expo...

UPDATE 10-23-16: On1 were not at Photo Plus Expo. However, I did learn this morning that Photo RAW will be available to Plus members on November 23. So the rumor mill was only off by a couple of weeks.

Geren's Kick-in-the-Ass Taco Meat Recipe

On occasion, I cook. On rare occasions, I write about it.

Tonight, we had some ground beef that wanted cooking, so I cooked it into taco meat. Here's what I did.

  1. Brown 1lb of lean ground beef in a skillet with a couple teaspoons of oil to reduce stickage. Chop it up small while you're doing it. I use a plastic pancake turner to break up the beef while it's browning.
  2. While the meat is still simmering
  3. Drain off any fat and oil, and then put the meat back in the pan.
  4. Dump in an 8oz can of tomato sauce and mix it in to the meat.
  5. Dump in a packet of McCormick Original Taco Seasoning and mix it into the meat. Don't bother with the directions on the packet. Just dump it on in there.
  6. Squish most of the liquid out of half of a small jar of mild salsa (about 8oz) and mix the chunky bits in with the meat.
  7. Let the whole thing simmer about 10-15 minutes, stirring regularly.

Make tacos and eat. This stuff is good!

Blurring the Lines

Donna decided that she wanted to go up to Gettysburg to try to get a particular photograph, and I was wanting to do some fall colors again, so off we went. The colors aren't really ready just yet, so I turned my attention to something else -- some artistic blurs, a la Tony Sweet.

These are all straight out of camera, with the only manipulation being to resize them for the blog using On1 Photo 10.5. Clicking a thumbnail will display the full image.

All of the pictures were made with a hand-held Fujifilm X-E2, and either the XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 or the XC 50-230mm f/4.5-6.7. Exposures on all but one image (the seed pods) are either 1/8 or 1/4 second, at ISO200. The aperture on most of the pictures was around f/22, although some were wider.

I'd never tried doing this before. The results are pretty good, I think, and some are even interesting. I don't know that they signify the start of any particular new direction for me, but it is a new-to-me technique -- something new for my photography tool bag, so to speak.