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

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

Future of “the media”

David Campbell, professor of cultural and political geography at Durham University in the UK and associated with the Durham Centre for Advanced Photography Studies, writes one of the smartest analyses I’ve recently read on the future of the media and photography. His essay titled “Revolutions in the media economy” comes in four parts:

1. The Context of Crisis
2. The Changing Structure of Information
3. Photojournalism’s futures
4. Disturbing the University

If you’re mainly interested in the media you can probably skip part 4, but the rest is well worth a read if you want an idea of the issues currently facing journalism, some of the solutions, and particularly are wondering how the hell it’s all going to be paid for.

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 28th, 2009

JR’s “Women are Heroes” in Kibera

by JR

I’ve written previously about JR’s projects in the Kibera slum of Nairobi. I can’t quite put my finger on what exactly makes his work appealing, but I just think it’s pretty cool. There’s now a rather-nicely shot video clip of his work – make sure you watch it fullscreen and stick with it until after the 2min mark, it all makes sense then.

[via The Click]

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 28th, 2009

Snow Leopard

Posted by Ben in Macintosh, Software

Snow Leopard

So the latest version of Apple’s operating system is out – Snow Leopard 10.6 – and most users should be itching to upgrade. Feature-wise it’s not a major upgrade (except for users with MS Exchange email accounts who now get native support in Apple’s Mail application).
But there’s a LOT of changes under the hood and it should run a lot faster. More importantly it introduces new features for application coders such as Grand Central Dispatch and OpenCL that enable them to make full-use of multiple processors and the power of the machine’s graphics card.
So in the coming months we should see some more nice speed improvements as programmers of resource-intensive application rewrite them to take advantage of the new architecture.
Laptop users will also appreciate that the new OS is said to use up to 7GB less space on the hard disk.

Snow Leopard

One word of warning though – not all applications are compatible. Most are, but there’s a few that are broken by the new OS and if you have any apps you consider essential you might want to take a look at this user-compiled application compatibility list before you do the upgrade. Apple also has a list here.

Oh, and if your machine is a PowerPC – G3,G4,G5 – you can forget it…. Snow Leopard is Intel-only.

Reviews of the new OS:

The Register
Associated Press
NY Times
All Things Digital
Also see Ted Dillard’s Snow Leopard for Photographers blog post

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]

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