August 25th, 2010

A whole bunch of reading

It’s amazing how much passes you by when you go away for a few weeks. Just now managing to catch up on some links I saved for reading later, which may be of interest:

The LA Times launched a new photo blog called Framework

5DtoRGB – A free professional transcoding application for Mac that claims to do better quality transcoding than Canon’s E1 plugin, albeit slower I think

Came across an old post on the ProLost blog about the advantages of using a flat, low-contrast, low-sharpness picture style for video-shooting on the Canon 5D MkII

Stuart Freedman wrote an interesting piece on the EPUK site about the state of photojournalism and professional ethics

Reporters without Borders updated its Handbook for Journalists – “for those going to dangerous parts of the world, listing international norms protecting them and containing practical advice on how to stay alive and safe”

VTZilla – a useful Firefox plugin that can be used to scan files on the internet against viruses and malware – before you download them

The Planet5D site launched an HDSLR news aggregator page showing lots of links to DSLR news from other sites on a single page

10,000 words published a list of 11 top news photoblogs

Photojournalist Zed Nelson gave a fascinating interview about his life and work to the UK’s Professional Photographer magazine

The Plymouth Herald in the UK came up with a clever strategic response to a ban on all media photographers at their local football club. Also see here

The Camera+ iPhone app introduced a great feature to use the volume button as a shutter button to take pictures on your iPhone, and was swiftly followed by Apple pulling the app for potentially “resulting in user confusion”. Jeez… Does anyone know a currently-working way to have this function, without jailbreaking?

Norwegian cameraman/journalist Paul Refsdal wrote an interesting article on the NYTimes Lede blog about embedding with the Taliban – a one-stop shop for converting audio, videos, images, documents, & ebooks between different formats without the need to install software

For those interested in Egypt, the Economist wrote a whole bunch of special features examining the current state of the country:
Thank you and goodbye – For good or ill, change is coming to Egypt and Saudi Arabia soon
America’s lieutenant – But Egypt’s role as a regional peacekeeper is getting harder to sustain
A slow learning curve – A rotten education system lets the country down
No paradise – Most Egyptians put up with a lot
Saving faith – Islam seems to be fading as a revolutionary force
After Mubarak -Change is bound to come, but when?

The last NCTJ photojournalism course in the UK closed down. I did this course in Sheffield before starting my career, and it’s a sad day. I wish the course’s head Paul Delmar – the source and subject of some legendary stories surely known to all who passed through there, all the best for his retirement.

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.

December 4th, 2009

5DtoFCP freeware workflow


Interesting new piece of freeware for Canon 5D MkII / 7D / 1D MkIV users looking to improve their workflow, called 5DtoFCP from idustrial revolution.
I’ve not had a chance to try it out yet, but this is the blurb from the creators:

“A complete FCS workflow package to get footage from a Canon5DmkII/7D/1D into Final Cut Pro at 25fps. Custom droplets, correctly configured sequence settings and flow chart included to make getting the HD H264 files into FCP easier & quicker.”

If you do try it out, let me know how it goes….

[Update 27/01/10] New version 1.1 out, is said to add “New set of droplets & timelines to work with Final Cut Studio 3” and “support for FCS3 Compressor 3.5”

5DtoFCP Homepage
5DtoFCP Cinema5D discussion thread
5DtoFCP DVInfo discussion thread
5DtoFCP Versiontracker page

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.

September 27th, 2009

DSLR News Shooter website


Guardian photographer/videographer Dan Chung has set up a new website DSLR News Shooter aimed at those shooting news video on the new generation of DSLR cameras such as the Canon 5DmkII.

With the recent release of the Canon 7D and unconfirmed rumors that Nikon’s new flagship camera the D3s will feature full-frame 1080P video and 14fps stills shooting, the DSLR video race is starting to heat up.

Other good places to look for information and discussion of DSLR video issues are the Cinema5D forum, the DVInfo 5DmkII forum, the Planet5D blog, Canon 5D Tips, and filmmakers such as Phillip Bloom and Vincent Laforet.

What I’ve found with many of those sites though, is that most of the people there are using the cameras for what I’d categorise as a “slow” working environment i.e. documentaries, feature films, editorial work, etc.

Trying to shoot and edit video with DSLRs in a live news scenario is a heck of a lot different, so am hoping Dan’s new site will live up to its name and cater more to this field.

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]

May 18th, 2009

TiltShift Generator

Posted by Ben in Imaging, Macintosh, Windows

TiltShift Generator

If you like the Tilt-Shift lens effect but don’t have any Tilt-Shift lenses, you can now recreate the effect via a new application called, appropriately, TiltShift Generator.

Written by Takayuki Fukatsu, it can be used as an online application direct from the webpage or downloaded to your computer to run as a standalone program and since it’s built from Adobe Air it will run on Windows, Mac or Linux.

Designed for use with low-resolution cameraphone pictures such as those from the iPhone it does choke a little when you throw it a high-end DSLR image but eventually it does produce a result. Quite a fun application to play with, just bear in mind that using this would be considered image-manipulation, so it’s not at all suitable for journalistic photos.

If you do happen to have an iPhone, check out some of Takayuki’s other photography-related applications for the iPhone.

April 9th, 2009

Searching for Sonny – using 5DmkII

Posted by Ben in General, Imaging, Multimedia

Interesting blog posts by the filmmakers behind Searching for Sonny – a feature film shot entirely on the Canon 5D Mark II camera, discussing the technical details and methods they are using.

March 17th, 2009


Posted by Ben in Imaging, Software, Windows


Professional photographers have their needs taken care of by Photoshop, Photo Mechanic, etc when they have to resize/recompress photos. However when you are dealing with amateurs or other people who have no training in image-editing, there is often a need to explain in very simple terms how to resize an image appropriately for emailing or sending via FTP, often over a slow internet connection.

This happens frequently when dealing with members of the public who have photos of newsworthy events, or indeed inexperienced stringers, and in such cases I have frequently advised them to download and use JpegCompress – which used to be free, but is now commercial software.

As an alternative, I recently came across PhotoRazor. It is a free and very easy-to-use piece of software that’s only 934kb to download, and can both resize and recompress single images, or indeed a whole folder of images. It’s Windows-only I’m afraid – if you know of similar software for Mac, or indeed other such software for Windows, please leave a comment. I also understand there are a number of online image editors available now, but I wonder whether to resize you have to upload the full-size image first, which defeats the point for those on slow connections.

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