June 23rd, 2010

Two new backup workflows

Posted by Ben in Gear, Imaging, Macintosh, Windows

RAID drives

I wrote previously about my fairly modest workflow for image-archiving and backup in the following two articles, and while I continue to use this method, some of the aspects may be a little outdated, or inadequate for those with large storage requirements:

Archiving Photos workflow
RAID for photographers

For an updated look at some quite high-end backup strategies for stills and video as used by Chase Jarvis and Vincent Laforet, check out these excellent two new articles:

Chase Jarvis: Complete Workflow and Backup for Photo + Video (includes a video explanation)

Vincent Laforet: Video & Post Workflow and Backup Strategy

I still wish Apple hadn’t dropped its plans to incorporate the ZFS filesystem into Mac OS X. If it had done, all this would be one heck of a lot easier. Very few backup systems – ZFS being one that does – are actually capable of dealing with the not-inconsiderable problem of bit-rot.

Update: Some constructive criticism on the Chase Jarvis workflow here at Canon5Dtips, including a suggestion to use GIT for real-time versioning backups.

May 6th, 2010

Apple iPad for Photographers

Photographer Dan Carr has written a very interesting post summarizing the uses, or not, that the Apple iPad might have for professional photographers.

For more on this subject see Rob Galbraith’s review of Shuttersnitch iPhone/iPad software, discussion of the iPad in the Photo Mechanic forums, and some posts here, here, here and here in the Cinema5D forums.

May 3rd, 2010

DSLR video a fad?

Posted by Ben in Gear, Videojournalism

With so much material on the net raving about DSLR video, and this site has been somewhat guilty, it’s refreshing to take a step back and hear some arguments against using DSLRs to shoot video, in favour of traditional video cameras….

I’m calling it as I see it, DSLR video is a fad” – Cliff Etzel

David Dunkley Gyimah’s thoughts on video cameras

[via duckrabbit blog]

April 18th, 2010

IsatPhone Pro

Posted by Ben in Communications, Gear, Satphones

Inmarsat have announced a new handheld satphone seemingly designed to compete with Thuraya’s handheld offerings, such as the Thuraya XT and other such robust weather and dust resistant devices.

The IsatPhone Pro offers features such as satellite telephony, voicemail, text/email messaging, GPS location data, a claimed up to 8 hours talk time and up to 100 hours standby time, Bluetooth, and worldwide coverage.

Bear in mind that both Inmarsat and Thuraya’s handheld models are geared for voice, not data, capability. Inmarsat says the IsatPhone Pro will not initially offer a real data connection, although it does say it can receive SMS and short emails on the phone itself, and that “a circuit-switched data service at 2.4kbps is expected to be available … by Q1 2011”. The Thuraya XT on the other hand does offer data capability but only at the still-relatively-slow 15/60 kbps upload/download.

So if you’re looking for a robust and weatherproof satphone (both are IP54 rated) to use for voice calls in remote areas, then these models look good. If however, you’re looking for a satphone to use for photo transmission and/or general internet use, then you will probably want to be looking at a BGAN instead, which are capable of up to 492kbps (send and receive).

A full brochure of the IsatPhone Pro is available to download here as is a Q&A document

December 10th, 2009

Cameras 101

Posted by Ben in Gear, General

As a photographer, I often get asked by friends and other non-professionals which compact camera they should buy. Apart from the top-end compacts, I don’t really keep track of what the latest models are – there are so many and they get replaced so quickly.

So if you get asked to explain the basics, here is a rather useful primer to send to amateurs on what features to look out for and some basic explanations as to photo terminology and technology.

Gizmodo explains: What everyone should know about cameras

November 19th, 2009

Adobe Camera Raw 5.6

Posted by Ben in Gear, Imaging, Macintosh, Software, Windows

Adobe has posted a new release candidate version of its raw-conversion Photoshop plugin Camera Raw.
Version 5.6 adds support for a bunch of new cameras including the very nice Canon Powershot S90 (see Luminous Landscape review) that I’ve recently acquired and have been quite impressed with. It’s the first point-and-shoot I’ve had that I feel comfortable using at 800 ASA, the noise is very low.
Other cameras of note that it adds support for are the Canon EOS 7D, Canon PowerShot G11, Nikon D3s, and Olympus E-P2.

Go get it here for Mac or Windows.

August 19th, 2009

New models, fewer megapixels?

Posted by Ben in Gear, Imaging, Photojournalism

Powershot G11

Canon today announced its latest high-end compact, the 10 megapixel Powershot G11, successor to the G10 which has been fairly popular with photojournalists as a carry-everywhere camera due to its rugged body and full manual controls.

10 megapixel… huh? Wasn’t the older G10 model 14.7 megapixels?

Yep, that’s right, and by all accounts it is good news. Seeing as the sensor size remains the same at 1/1.7-inch, this hopefully means Canon have taken a break from the neverending and rather ridiculous megapixel race for compact cameras, which brings us high-megapixel but high-noise images that are often unuseable over ISO400… and instead has decided to bring out a camera with fewer but larger pixels. This should result in much better overrall image quality, particularly at high ISOs… and DPReview is claiming 2-stop improvement in noise compared wth the G10.

I do find the omission of 720P video rather odd…. 640×480 doesn’t really cut the mustard these days.

Powershot S90

Also of possible interest to PJs is the new Powershot S90 – which seems to share the same sensor as the G11 and have full manual control. I’ve had a few of the S-Series Powershots in the past and liked them a lot, being some of the few genuinely compact cameras that still have manual control.

That said, they now face some stiff competition via the likes of the Panasonic DMC-LX3 etc. DPReview has posted a hands-on article about the S90 including photos comparing the S90 against the LX3.

We’ll have to wait and see for the reviews to come in… but any break from the megapixel madness in order to improve on actual image quality seem like a good thing. Engadget has posted some hands-on pictures of the G11 here.

July 20th, 2009

High-speed shutter, literally

Posted by Ben in Gear, Imaging

This high-speed video shows what actually happens when you take a picture with a digital SLR camera, in this case a Canon 5D. See the full video on SmugMug, along with a couple of other cameras.

The video was shot at 2000 frames-per-second using a specialised Phantom HD camera, as seen below.


[Via Planet5D blog]

July 20th, 2009

Two new audio recorders

Posted by Ben in Gear, Multimedia


Two new audio recorders have been announced. The Sony PCM-M10 (seen at right) aims to be a smaller more portable version of its bigger brother the PCM-D50.
The Samson Q3 on the other hand is a hybrid audio and video recorder – sort of a cross between a Samson H2 and a Flip video camera.
The convergence train never stops.

[Via Brad Linder’s blog]

June 22nd, 2009

Magic Lantern Firmware released

Posted by Ben in Gear, Multimedia, Videojournalism

Magic Lantern firmware introduction from Trammell Hudson on Vimeo.

Firmware guru Tramm Hudson has publicly released the first version of his alternative firmware for the Canon 5D Mark II camera (Note this is the same firmware as the “5D Mark Free” one I wrote about previously, it’s just been renamed). Additional features added to the base Canon firmware include:

– Onscreen stereo audio meters
– Full-time cropmarks
– Zebra stripes for overexposed regions
– Fixed audio gain (+10 dB analog, +12 dB digital) with -NO AGC-
– Live headphone monitoring on A/V jack (without disabling LCD)
– printf() to the bitmap display
– GUI event viewer (press Picture Style button)

Note that the firmware doesn’t operate quite as you might expect. You store the firmware on a compact-flash card, and to run it you have to do a “firmware upgrade” on the camera each time you want to use it, but the alternative firmware does not persist between camera reboots – therefore the base Canon firmware remains untouched.

More info at the links below, the video introduction gives a good idea of the capabilities….

Magic Lantern video introduction on Vimeo
Magic Lantern firmware wiki
Magic Lantern firmware FAQ

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