YouTube Channel Latest Video Training

My YouTube Channel Latest Photography Video Training.

I’ve been busy this week adding more content to the old YouTube channel.

Adding content is really time-consuming, with recording times taking around twice the length of the final video.

Then there’s the editing, which usually takes around the same time, or a bit longer.  Then encoding and compression and uploading takes around the same again.

So yes, a 25 minute video takes A LOT more than 25 minutes to make and make live for the world to view.

This weeks video training uploads are:

This video deals with the badly overlooked topic of raw file demosaicing.

Next up is:

This video is a refreshed version of getting contrast under control in Lightroom – particularly Lightroom Classic CC.

Then we have:

This video is something of a follow-up to the previous one, where I explain the essential differences between contrast and clarity.

And finally, one from yesterday – which is me, restraining myself from embarking on a full blown ‘rant’, all about the differences between DPI (dots per inch) and PPI (pixels per inch):

Important Note

Viewing these videos is essential for the betterment of your understanding – yes it is!  And all I ask for in terms of repayment from yourselves is that you:

  1. Click the main channel subscribe button HERE
  2. Give the video a ‘like’ by clicking the thumbs up!

YouTube is a funny old thing, but a substantial subscriber base and like videos will bring me closer to laying my hands on latest gear for me to review for you!

If all my blog subscribers would subscribe to my YouTube channel then my subs would more than treble – so go on, what are you waiting for.

I do like creating YouTube free content, but I do have to put food on the table, so I have to do ‘money making stuff’ as well, so I can’t afford to become a full-time YouTuber yet!  But wow, would I like to be in that position.

So that’s that – appeal over.

Watch the videos, and if you have any particular topic you would like me to do a video on, then please just let me know.  Either email me, or you can post in the comments below – no comment goes live here unless I approve it, so if you have a request but don’t want anyone else to see it, then just say.

The Importance of Finished Image Previsualization

The Importance of Finished Image Previsualization

For those of you who haven’t yet subscribed to my YouTube channel, I uploaded a video describing how I shot and processed the Lone Tree at Llyn Padarn in North Wales the other day.

You can view the video here:

Image previsualization is hugely important in all photography, but especially so in landscape photography.

Most of us do it in some way or other.  Looking at images of a location by other photographers is the commonest form of image previsualization that I come across amongst most hobby photographers – and up to a point, there’s nothing intrinsically wrong in that – as long as you put your own ‘slant’ on the shot.

But relying on this method alone has one massive Achilles Heel – nature does not always ‘play nice’ with the light!

You set off for your chosen location with a certain knowledge that the weather forecast is correct, and you are guaranteed to get the perfect light for the shot you have in mind.

Three hours later, you arrive at your destination, and the first thought that enters your head is “how do I blow up the Met Office” – how could they have lied to me so badly?

If you rely solely on ‘other folks images’ for what your shot should look like, then you now have a severe problem.  Nature is railing against your preconceptions, and unless you make some mental modifications then you are deep into a punch-up with nature that you will never win.

Just such an occasion transpired for me the other day at Llyn Padarn in North Wales.

The forecast was for low level cloud with no wind, just perfect for a moody shot of the famous Lone Tree on the south shore of the lake.

So, arriving at the location to be greeted by this was a surprise to say the least:

D8E3652 601x900 The Importance of Finished Image Previsualization

This would have been disastrous for some, simply because the light does not comply with their initial expectations.  I’ve seen many people get a ‘fit of the sulks’ when this happens, and they abandon the location without even getting out of the car.

Alternatively, there are folk who will get their gear set up and make an attempt, but their initial disappointment becomes a festering ‘mental block’, and they cannot see a way to turn this bad situation into something good.

But, here’s the thing – there is no such thing as a bad situation!

There are however, multiple BAD REACTIONS to a situation.

And every adverse reaction has its roots buried in either:

  • Rigid, inflexible preconceptions.
  • Poor understanding of photographic equipment and post-processing.

Or both!

On this occasion, I was expecting a rather heavy, flat-ish light scenario; but was greeted by the exact opposite.

But instead of getting ‘stroppy about it’, experience and knowledge allow me to change my expectation, and come up with a new ‘finished image previsualization’ on the fly so to speak.

D8E3658 Edit 2 EditXX 601x900 The Importance of Finished Image Previsualization

Instead of the futility of trying to produce my original idea – which would never work out – I simply change my image previsualization, based on what’s in front of me.

It’s then up to me to identify what I need to do in order to bring this new idea to fruition.

The capture workflow for both ‘anticipated’ and ‘reality’ would involve bracketing due to excessive subject brightness range, but there the similarity ends.

The ‘anticipated’ capture workflow would only require perhaps 3 or 4 shots – one for the highlights, and the rest for the mid tones and shadow detail.

But the ‘reality’ capture workflow is very different.  The scene has massive contrast and the image looks like crap BECAUSE of that excessive contrast. Exposing for the brightest highlights gives us a very dark image:

D8E3658 2 267x400 The Importance of Finished Image Previsualization

But I know that the contrast can be reduced in post to give me this:

D8E3658 267x400 The Importance of Finished Image Previsualization

So, while I’m shooting I can previz in my head what the image I’ve shot will look like in post.

This then allows me to capture the basic bracket of shots to capture all my shadow and mid tone detail.

If you watch the video, you’ll see that I only use TWO shots from the bracket sequence to produce the basic exposure blend – and they are basically 5 stops apart. The other shots I use are just for patching blown highlights.

Because the clouds are moving, the sun is in and out like a yo-yo.  Obviously, when it’s fully uncovered, it will flare across the lens.  But when it is partially to fully covered, I’m doing shot after shot to try and get the best exposures of the reflected highlights in the water.

By shooting through a polarizer AND a 6 stop ND, I’m getting relatively smooth water in all these shots – with the added bonus of blurring out the damn canoeists!

And it’s the ‘washed out colour, low contrast previsualization’ of the finished image that is driving me to take all the shots – I’m gathering enough pixel data to enable me to create the finished image without too much effort in Lightroom or Photoshop.

Anyway, go and watch the video as it will give you a much better idea of what I’m talking about!

But remember, always take your time and try reappraise what’s in front of you when the lighting conditions differ from what you were expecting.  You will often be amazed at the awesome images you can ‘pull’ from what ostensibly appears to be a right-off situation.



November News

November News

I realise that some of you don’t subscribe to my YouTube channel or get notifications from my Facebook page – so you might not have seen the latest videos I’ve put up for your edification and delight!

So, first things first – here they are (if you are reading this on a subscribers email PLEASE go to the blog page, as videos don’t always embed in the emails properly).

First up is a super-simple way to remove halos and white edges from exposure blends:

Next up is a demo of what CAN SOMETIMES happen when you opt to shoot LOSSLESS compressed raw, as opposed to UNCOMPRESSED – I do stress the ‘sometimes’ bit:

If you’ve not yet tried Lightroom Classic CC, then here’s the sensible way to install it on your machine, without removing the older version:

And finally, a demo of how unsharp mask sharpening works, and how we used to use it in the ‘pre digital’ days:

The moral here folks is to SUBSCRIBE to my YouTube channel by clicking HERE then hit the subscribe button – and while you’re there click the notifications bell icon!  Subscribing to the channel costs YOU “bugger all” but it certainly helps me out – so do it!

Other News

Well, Calumet have cancelled all workshops until the new year, so I’ve now got the time to concentrate on recording a new retail Training Video set.  So I’m going to do a full training title about Image Sharpening.

I get asked about this A LOT, so I’m going to ‘go to town’ on these videos, drilling down into the sharpening permutations for Lightroom and Photoshop – the good, the bad and the plain indifferent.  I’ll also be discussing just how ‘lightweight’ Lightroom and Photoshop sharpening is when it comes to sharpening perfection, and how we can utilise the sharpening power of other third party applications – namely Raw Therapee.

Raw Therapee – ahh, everyone should get some!

You can get it here – it’s FREE!  But be warned – if you think Lightroom is complex, well, think again!  It’s something of a hostile working environment is Raw Therapee!

Anyway, hopefully I’ll have the new training finished before Christmas.

OpenGL Support for Lightroom Classic CC on Mac

OpenGL Support for Lightroom Classic CC on Mac

lrclassic marquee 1440x660 900x413 OpenGL Support for Lightroom Classic CC on Mac

Okay, so I’ve been ‘banging on’ about the problem that quite a few people have been suffering from with the new Lightroom Classic CC and GPU acceleration since Adobe launched the new application.

I must stress that this problem does NOT seem to effect anyone using MBP or iMac, or indeed any Mac Pro that runs a factory-fitted GPU.  But if you can remember, I fitted my Mac Pro with an nVidia GTX 970 4Gb GPU a while back – mainly to help Photoshop CC with the heavy lifting in ‘Refine Edge’ and other masking/channel masking procedures.

But I’m now pleased to report that the problem is FIXED – and, as I suspected, the fix is simple, and the ‘fix’ is a tiny 28 byte file.  Yes, that’s right, 28 BYTES!

It’s an API Thing

Now I’m totally rubbish with computer jargon, but API is the acronym for Application Programming Interface, and with regard to GPU/Graphics Cards there a 4 main APIs:

  • OpenGL
  • Direct Ex – in other words Microsoft
  • Metal – in other words Apple
  • Vulcan – don’t ask/no idea

For some reason, on certain Mac systems, Lightroom Classic CC is not finding OpenGL, and is instead being forced into trying to use the OSX API ‘metal’.

The forums have been rife with Lightroom Classic CC problems for the last few days – this one included.  On one of these forums, Adobes Simon Chen, had been attempting to field questions over this problem.

I asked Simon if there was any way to ‘force’ Lightroom Classic CC to ignore the OSX API and default to OpenGL – which was obviously there on the system, because the previous iteration of Lightroom had been using it quite happily.

Simon suggested the installation of this tiny 28 byte ‘config.lua’ file into Lightrooms’ Application Support root folder – and would you believe it, it works!

You can download the config.lua file from here.

Below is a short video I’ve made this morning on how to download and install this tiny file which will re-instate Lightroom Classic CCs ability to use the OpenGL API.

So now I’m a happy bunny; and if you have the problem then just follow the video instructions and you’ll be a happy bunny too!

Big thanks to Simon Chen, Principle Scientist at Adobe for helping sort this irritating niggle out.

Adobe Lightroom Classic and Photoshop CC 2018 tips

Adobe Lightroom Classic and Photoshop CC 2018 tips – part 1

So, you’ve either upgraded to Lightroom Classic CC and Photoshop CC 2018, or you are thinking doing so.

Well, here are a couple of things I’ve found – I’ve called this part1, because I’m sure there will be other problems/irritations!

Lightroom Classic CC GPU Acceleration problem

If you are having problems with shadow areas appearing too dark and somewhat ‘chocked’ in the develop module – but things look fine in the Library module – then just follow the simple steps in the video above and TURN OFF GPU Acceleration in the Lightroom preferences panel under the performance tab.

Screen Shot 2017 10 19 at 12.06.49 1 900x506 Adobe Lightroom Classic and Photoshop CC 2018 tips

Turn OFF GPU Acceleration

UPDATE: I have subsequently done another video on this topic that illustrates the fact that the problem did not exist in Lr CC 2015 v.12/Camera Raw v.9.12

In the new Photoshop CC 2018 there is an irritation/annoyance with the brush tool, and something called the ‘brush leash’.

Now why on earth you need your brush on a leash God ONLY KNOWS!

But the brush leash manifests itself as a purple/magenta line that follows your brush tool everywhere.

You have a smoothness slider for your brush – it’s default setting is 10%.  If we increase that value then the leash line gets even longer, and even more bloody irritating.

And why we would need an indicator (which is what the leash is) of smoothness amount and direction for our brush strokes is a bit beyond me – because we can see it anyway.

So, if you want to change the leash length, use the smoothing slider.

If you want to change the leash colour just go to Photoshop>Preferences>Cursors

Screen Shot 2017 10 19 at 12.23.50 900x704 Adobe Lightroom Classic and Photoshop CC 2018 tips

Here, you can change the colour, or better still, get rid of it completely by unticking the “show brush leash while smoothing” option.

So there are a couple of tips from my first 24 hours with the latest 2018 ransom ware versions from Adobe!

But I’m sure there will be more, so stay tuned, and consider heading over to my YouTube channel and hitting the subscribe button, and hit the ‘notifications bell’ while you’re at it!



Irix Edge Filters

Irix Edge Filters

A few weeks ago, Irix dropped me a set of their Edge 95mm screw-in filters to try on their fabulous 15mm Blackstone lens.

Irix Edge CPL ND UV logo white 900x506 Irix Edge Filters

Now before we go any further, I have to say, that filters for landscape photography can represent something of a bottomless pit of expenditure in your photography gear.

I see folk with vast numbers of filters; NDs, grad NDs, tint and temp grads, fogs and soft focus filters and all sorts of exotic bits of glass and acrylic to stick on the front of their superb (and sometimes not so superb) landscape lenses.

Some of those same folk then look inside my bag in horror when they see that I only carry 3 filters – a 10 stop ND, 6 stop ND and polarizer.

I gave up using ND grads years ago, simply because they are time-consuming, and because if your horizon is not perfectly flat they will always effect the exposure of your middle to far foreground in some way or other.

For me, I find it far faster to shoot a bracketed sequence.

When your are shooting under very transient light conditions, such as sunset and twilight, time spent choosing and lining up a grad ND is time lost.

Followers of this blog will know that I have Lee SW150 and Lee 100 systems, both with 10 stop and 6 stop NDs and a polariser – the SW150 a circular, and the 100 system is a linear.  I’d have linear for the 150 system if they made one, simply on the grounds that they are normally cheaper – and I’m a tight-ass cheapskate!

When Irix sent the 15mm Blackstone for review, I purchased the Lee SW150 adapter ring for 95mm thread lenses – it works well and I can’t fault it.

But, I had the insanely expensive SW150 system holder and glass filters ALREADY, because I used them on the 14-24mm f2.8 Nikkor, and sometimes on my beloved Zeiss 21mm.

When I originally reviewed the 15mm Irix Blackstone there was really no other option for filtration.

But this new range of 95mm Irix Edge Filters now means that landscape photographers can have the necessary filtration without having to go with any form of 150mm filter system.

The 95mm Irix Edge Filters range.

Irix Edge CPL ND UV box 1 900x768 Irix Edge Filters

The packaging is robust and keeps the filters safe.  The card outer sleeve tells you what filter is inside,  though if you remove/loose it then you have to open the case and examine the edge of the filter to see the same information – it’s the only niggle I have, and it’s a minor one and certainly not a deal-breaker.

Though our Richard might argue that point after sprinting along the side of Howden reservoir after one that blew away in the wind yesterday!

But it would be nice of Irix to put the information inside the case so you could see it without faffing around – it all saves time, and time can be of the essence!

The filter range consists of:

A UV/Lens Protect – you all know my attitude to these by now!

Circular Polariser – this is mounted in a low profile 5mm frame with knurled edges, and has a double-sided anti-reflective nano coating.  AND – it is front-threaded to allow for a certain amount of stacking with other filters in the range – more on that shortly.

ND 8, 32, 128 & 1000 Neutral Density – these ND filters are all built in a 3.5mm metal frame, so are super low-profile.  They are all front-threaded and have the Irix double-sided anti reflective coatings.

ND filter terminology:

This seems to confuse a lot of people, which I suppose is understandable because different manufacturers persist in using different, and in the case of Lee for instance, MIXED terminologies.

So let’s try and break this down for you.

A one stop drop in exposure results in HALF the amount of light reaching the sensor/film plane.

A half is represented by the fraction ‘1/2’.

Irix, and others, take the denominator (bottom number of the fraction), stick the letters N & D in front of the said denominator, and now we have the filter value of ND2.

So, an ND2 neutral density filter is a ONE STOPPER – to use one particular Lee parlance!

If we reduce our exposure by 3 stops (that’s half of a half of a half, in other words 1/8th) then an ND8 filter is a THREE STOPPER!

An ND32 is a FIVE STOPPER, and ND128 is a SEVEN STOPPER.

And finally, an ND1000 (which is actually an ND1024!) is a TEN STOPPER – of Lee Big Stopper fame.

However, an ND1000 (ND1024) can also be classed in the ‘X.Y’ system as ND3.0 – oh dear!

The ‘X.Y’ (x point y) system is most commonly encountered with ND Grads – for example the Lee Soft-edged ND Grad set featuring 0.3, 0.6 & 0.9 ND Grads.

A 0.3 ND is the same as an ND2 – a ONE STOPPER, a 0.6ND is a two stop or ND4 and a 0.9ND is a 3 stop or ND8 – don’t you just love it!!

So hopefully we’ve cleared any confusion over ND stop values, so let’s get back to the Irix Edge Filters and my thoughts on how they perform.

If you click this link HERE you will be taken to page where, if you scroll to the bottom, you can watch a video of me doing a couple of shots at Salford Quays the other day.  I didn’t have my glasses on for the ‘talk to the camera bit’ and so made a slight screw up when talking about the focus scales – watch it and you’ll see!  And I’ve been told that I must apologise for inferring that Salford Quays is in Manchester!

Anyway, here are the two shots we did in the video:

D8E3501 Edit 600x900 Irix Edge Filters

Media City Footbridge, Salford Quays.

D8E3515 Edit 900x506 Irix Edge Filters

Salford Quays, NOT in Manchester! Irix Edge Polariser stacked with the Irix Edge ND1000

The first image (Media City Footbridge) is shot with just the 95mm Irix Edge Filters circular polariser.

Conditions were vile with sun and rain in rapid succession and the shot will never win any prizes, but it does help show that the filter does not effect sharpness in the image, and is a lot more colour-neutral than a lot of CPLs out there on the market.

The second shot is with the ND1000 stacked on top of the CPL – and again there is no noticeable lack of sharpness.

When you stack the filters there IS a SMALL amount of vignetting as seen in the uncropped/unedited raw file below:

D8E3514 900x601 Irix Edge FiltersBut that’s easily taken care with a little bit of content aware fill in Photoshop, so you don’t HAVE to crop it out:

D8E3514 Edit 900x601 Irix Edge Filters

And just for reference, here’s the unfiltered scene:

D8E3516 900x601 Irix Edge Filters

God – how boring!

As a final testament to the stacked CPL + ND1000 Irix Edge Filters combo, here’s a shot from Howden Reservoir in the Peak District, taken yesterday directly into the teeth of ex-hurricane Ophelia:

D8E3562 Edit Edit Edit 601x900 Irix Edge Filters

Howden Reservoir during Ophelia.

If you look at the larger image, considering the fact that this is a 15 second exposure and that everything not nailed down is moving, then this image is plenty sharp enough – check out the fence lines on the hill, and the left tower of the dam in the distance.

Do NOT forget, this is a 15mm lens, not a more conventional 21mm to 24mm lens.

I could not pull this shot off with a Zeiss 15mm – no filters and bad edge performance.  And I couldn’t pull it off as easily with the Nikon 14-24mm because the filters would have been unshaded from the sunlight off to my front right.

I was asked a couple of weeks ago ‘how neutral are the Irix Edge Filters Andy’?

It turns out the person who asked me had just read about some U.S branded CPL and ND filters that are supposed to be the most color-neutral filters on the market.  This is also the same guy who still uses a Mark 1 Lee Big Stopper with its phenomenal blue/green cast.

“Do you ever change the colour balance, hue, saturation or luminance of any of your 8 colour channels in Lightroom, and the Basics Panel vibrance and saturation sliders?” I asked.

“Of course I do” came the reply.

“So why are you asking about filter neutrality then?” asks I.  This was followed by a long silence, then the penny dropped…!

Yes, we all want some degree of filter neutrality because it shortens our workflow; but please remember that we are not shooting archive.  We shoot creative imagery.  We make shots of ice bergs have a blue tint to emphasize the cold atmospheric of the image, and we invariably warm up and saturate certain areas of every sunset image we ever take.

So to a large degree, full neutrality of of our landscape filters is not required, as long as they are neutral enough NOT to exclude certain wavelengths/colours of light from our recorded raw files.

And yes, on the neutrality front, these Irix filters are very good.  The ND1000 is a little brown/warmish, but about 20% less so than the B&W screw in 10 stop I used to use – and no one ever complained about that filter.

I did a very ‘Heath Robinson’ test on the Irix 95mm CPL and got a colour shift of 2,7,5 RGB, but I’m just waiting for Paul Atkins to get back of his holiday so I can use his small colourimeter to check it more accurately – so PLEASE don’t go quoting that value or treating it as hard fact.

I’ll do an colour shift evaluation test on a range of filters at some date in the future, but for now all I can say is that I find the 95mm range of Irix Edge Filters exceptionally easy to work with both in terms of colour rendition and image sharpness.

So much so that I’m going to try and ‘bum’ an 82mm and 77mm step-down rings so I can use them on my Zeiss and Nikon lenses – apart from the 14-24 that is, which is now banished from my landscape and astro gear line-up for ever.

In the meantime, guess what? Irix have asked me to do a talk at Camera World Live on Saturday 28th October!

I’ll be doing my brief talk at 3pm – see here – and I’ll be on the Irix stand all day, so if you are there, just pop along for a chat or any advise you want.

Eagle & Musk Ox Trip Report

Eagle & Musk Ox Trip Report – September 2017

DSC 0627 900x632 Eagle & Musk Ox Trip Report

Class of 2017, left to right – Steve Kaluski, Malcolm Stott, Mohamed Al Ashkar, some Bearded Fat Git, Phil Piper and the best Dovre guide in the business Sigbjorn Frengen.

And the most important member of the team – “Brew Dog”

IMG 2487 900x534 Eagle & Musk Ox Trip Report

The most important team member on a long hike on Dovrefjel – ‘Tell’ the GWP that looks like a GSP, otherwise known as “Brew Dog”.
pic by Steve Kaluski.

KLM  screwed up Malcolms arrival in Trondheim by a few hours, and managed to separate him from his hold luggage for an astonishing 72 hours, but other than that, the trip was hitch-free.

Other than my good pal Mohamed, none of the guys on this trip had really spent much “up close and personal” time with Musk Ox or White-tailed Eagles before – they were in for a few surprises on those two scores. And ‘shock & awe’ at just how much ‘stuff’ Mohamed buys from the Spa shop in Lauvsnes to take home to Cairo!

We had spotted a lone bull Muskie on the way up on the Friday evening.  He was only perhaps 300m from the main E6, but there’s a big cold river and a railway line between the road and the bull, so getting to him would be somewhat indirect.

Sig arrived early on the Saturday morning and said that the bull was pretty much in the same place – great!  But we couldn’t approach him from the shorter, eastern access point because that would have meant approaching him from upwind – not really a good idea all things considered.

So we were left with a much longer hike into what bit of breeze there was:

Screen Shot 2017 09 27 at 13.02.00 749x900 Eagle & Musk Ox Trip Report

The military road heading north east on the aerial shot above has been torn out as part of the re-wilding of the fell – it looks like some freakish giant mole has been though the place, and it’s horrible to walk on.  Thank God there were no midges around; they’d have made the long hike murder!

But wow, was it worth it!

We spent pretty much the whole day in the company of this stunning animal – and being in such an amazing place made the whole experience feel like a real privilege.  Cheers Sig, you did it again…

The underlying theme of the week was getting to grips with the Canon 1DX2 autofocus system, and the different setting requirements for big, semi-static subjects like Musk Ox, and the somewhat closer, fast-moving eagles.  As I frequently demonstrate to folk on training days, one setup will NOT cover both categories of subject efficiently.

11I7244 900x600 Eagle & Musk Ox Trip Report

Canon 1DX MkII & 200-400+tc for 506mm.
1/1000th @ f6.3
MA +5

Now if we take a close look at an unprocessed raw file we can see the surprising amount of depth of field we get even at f6.3 – that’s just 1/3rd of a stop down from wide open with the internal teleconverter engaged.

Without the MA +5 value, with the TC engaged, the camera side of the Muskies head would be at the rear DoF limit – like the unripe berries on the juniper are in this full resolution unprocessed crop below:

11I7238 900x900 Eagle & Musk Ox Trip Report

Click to view at full resolution.
Note the DoF distribution at f6.3

11I7285 900x600 Eagle & Musk Ox Trip Report 11I7629 900x600 Eagle & Musk Ox Trip Report 11I7674 900x600 Eagle & Musk Ox Trip Report 11I7789 900x600 Eagle & Musk Ox Trip Report 11I7963 900x600 Eagle & Musk Ox Trip Report

On the Sunday we drove up into the mountains near Oppdal, close to the Sæterfjellet breeding station, to a location where Arctic Fox had been reported.  Sadly it was full of photographers and the foxes were having none of it, they stayed firmly out of sight.

I found a small quarry and decided to test out the new Irix 11mm:

D8E3372 Edit Edit 900x600 Eagle & Musk Ox Trip Report

And so we began the lengthy drive to Lauvsnes and the awesome eagles….it’s the pedal on the right Ole!

The weather was a bit grey and flat on Monday, but it got the guys used to the manic action that comes with eagle photography from the boat around the Lauvsnes coastline, without the added difficulty of the boat pitching and rolling.

Plus it gave Phil Piper a chance to try some drag shutter Eagle shots:

BF7U9590 900x600 Eagle & Musk Ox Trip Report

“Arty-Farty Eagle” as Ole would say. Photo by Phil Piper

But once we got into Tuesday the wind began to build, and Wednesday/Thursday saw plenty of long swell and the boat heaving a few feet – usually upwards as an eagle is coming down!  The workload was now up to it’s normal degree of severity, and I have to say that all the guys coped with it admirably.

11I4829 900x600 Eagle & Musk Ox Trip Report

11I4830 900x600 Eagle & Musk Ox Trip Report

Super-imposing the two shots above and lining the bait and swell up, clearly shows the distance traveled by the eagle between two successive frames at 10 frames per second. You can think of a mature White-tail as being around 1 metre from end to end, so the speed is around 10 metres per second.

11I4829 Edit 900x689 Eagle & Musk Ox Trip Report

A 1 meter change at 60 or 70 meters is something of a minor change, but at sub 25 meters like these then that same distance change becomes something major than minor.

Tracking Sensitivity and Accel/decel tracking control the system resistance/sensitivity to major and minor changes, but in truth these settings will fall short when a fast subject gets close – that point where minor changes become major ones.

The result will invariably be back-focused images.

But we can help the system be making it focus closer to the camera than it thinks it should do, and we can do this very easily with negative AF MA values – in these cases -3.

Here is a quick sequence of O.J. aka “The Terminator” – big, permanently angry, fearless of close proximity to the boat, ignorer of wind direction, and fast.

11I3261 900x600 Eagle & Musk Ox Trip Report 11I3262 900x600 Eagle & Musk Ox Trip Report

11I3263 900x600 Eagle & Musk Ox Trip Report 11I3264 900x600 Eagle & Musk Ox Trip Report 11I3265 900x600 Eagle & Musk Ox Trip Report 11I3267 900x600 Eagle & Musk Ox Trip Report 11I3269 900x600 Eagle & Musk Ox Trip Report

Every shot tack sharp, and the sequence covers just shy of 1 second because, according to Lightroom, they were all taken at the same second!

Yup, told you he was fast!  Not quite as psychotic as the late lamented Brutus, but not far off.

So all in all, a good trip, with happy clients – I couldn’t ask for more!

Let’s finish with a couple of sunset eagles.

11I4275 900x600 Eagle & Musk Ox Trip Report

11I4321 Edit 900x600 Eagle & Musk Ox Trip Report

FX vs DX

FX versus DX

It amazes me that people still don’t understand the relationship between FX and DX format sensors.

Millions of people across the planet think still that when they put a DX body on an FX lens and turn the camera on, something magic happens and the lens somehow becomes a different beast.

NO…it doesn’t!

There is so much crap out there on the web, resulting in the blind being led by the stupid – and that is a hardcore fact.  Some of the ‘stuff’ I get sent links to on the likes of ‘diaper review’ (to coin Ken W.’s name for it) and others, leaves me totally aghast at the number of fallacies that are being promoted and perpetuated within the content of these high-traffic websites.

FFS – this has GOT to STOP.

Fallacy 1.  Using a DX crop sensor gives me more magnification.

Oh no it doesn’t!

If we arm an FX and a DX body with identical lenses, let’s say 500mm f4’s, and go and take the same picture, at the same time and from the same subject distance with both setups, we get the following images:

D5A9517 2 900x600 FX vs DX

FX versus DX: FX + 500m f4 image – 36mm x 24mm frame area FoV

D5A9517 900x600 FX vs DX

FX versus DX: DX + 500mm f4 image – 24mm x 16mm frame area FoV

FXvDX 900x411 FX vs DX

FX versus DX: With both cameras at the same distance from the subject, the Field of View of the DX body+500mm f4 combo is SMALLER – but the subject is EXACTLY the SAME SIZE.

Let’s overlay the two images:

FXvDX2 900x600 FX vs DX

FX versus DX: The DX field of view (FoV) is indicated by the black line. HOWEVER, this line only denotes the FoV area. It should NOT be taken as indicative of pixel dimensions.

The subject APPEARS larger in the DX frame because the frame FoV is SMALLER than that of the FX frame.

FXvDX3 900x496 FX vs DX

But I will say it again – the subject is THE SAME DAMN SIZE.  Any FX lens projects an image onto the focal plane that is THE SAME SIZE irrespective of whether the sensor is FX or DX – end of story.

Note: If such a thing existed, a 333mm prime on a DX crop body would give us the same COMPOSITION, at the same subject distance, as our 500mm prime on the FX body.  But at the same aperture and distance, this fictitious 333mm lens would give us MORE DoF due to it being a shorter focal length.

Fallacy 2.  Using a DX crop sensor gives me more Depth of Field for any given aperture.

The other common variant of this fallacy is:

Using a DX crop sensor gives me less Depth of Field for any given aperture.

Oh no it doesn’t – not in either case!

Understand this people – depth of field is, as we all know, governed by the aperture diaphragm – in other words the f number.  Now everyone understands this, surely to God.

But here’s the thing – where’s the damn aperture diaphragm?  Inside the LENS – not the camera!

Depth of field is REAL or TRUE focal length, aperture and subject distance dependent, so our two identical 500mm f4 lenses at say 30 meters subject distance and f8 are going to yield the same DoF.  That’s irrespective of the physical dimensions of the sensor – be they 36mm x 24mm, or 24mm x 16mm.

But, in order for the FX setup to obtain the same COMPOSITION as that of the DX, the FX setup will need to be CLOSER to the subject – and so using the same f number/aperture value will yield an image with LESS DoF than that of the DX, because DoF decreases with decreased distance, for any given f number.

To obtain the same COMPOSITION with the DX as that of the FX, then said DX camera would need to move further away from the subject.  Therefore the same aperture value would yield MORE DoF, because DoF increases with increased distance, for any given f number.

The DX format does NOT change DoF, it’s the pixel pitch/CoC that alters the total DoF in the final image.  In other words it’s total megapixels the alters DoF, and that applies evenly across FX and DX.

Fallacy 3.  An FX format sensor sees more light, or lets more light in, giving me more exposure because it’s a bigger ‘eye’ on the scene.

Oh no it doesn’t!

Now this crap really annoys the hell out of me.

Exposure has nothing to do with sensor size WHAT SO EVER.  The intensity of light falling onto the focal plane is THE SAME, irrespective of sensor size.  Exposure is a function of Intensity x Time, and so for the same intensity (aperture) and time (shutter speed) the resulting exposure will be the SAME.  Total exposure is per unit area, NOT volume.

It’s the buckets full of rain water again:

sensor size exposure 900x297 FX vs DX

The level of water in each bucket is the same, and represents total exposure.  There is no difference in exposure between sensor sizes.

There is a huge difference in volume, but your sensor does not work on total volume – it works per unit area.  Each and every square millimeter, or square micron, of the focal plane sees the same exposure from the image projected into it by the lens, irrespective of the dimensions of the sensor.

The smallest unit area of the sensor is a photosite. And each photosite recieves the same said exposure value, no matter how big the sensor they are embedded in is.

HOWEVER, it is how those individual photosites COPE with that exposure that makes the difference. And that leads us neatly on to the next fallacy.

Fallacy 4.  FX format sensors have better image quality because they are bigger.

Oh no they don’t – well, not because they are just bigger !

It’s all to do with pixel pitch, and pixel pitch governs VOLUME.

pixelpitch 900x302 FX vs DX

FX format sensors usually give a better image because their photosites have a larger diameter, or pitch. You should read HERE  and HERE for more detail.

Larger photosites don’t really ‘see’ more light during an exposure than small ones, but because they are larger, each one has a better potential signal to noise ratio.  This can, turn, allow for greater subtle variation in recorded light values amongst other things, such as low light response.  Think of a photosite as an eyeball, then think of all the animals that mess around in the dark – they all have big eyes!

That’s not the most technological statement I’ve ever made, but it’s fact, and makes for a good analogy at this point.

Everyone wants a camera sensor that sees in the dark, generates zero noise at ISO 1 Million, has zero diffraction at f22, and has twice the resolution of £35Ks worth medium format back.

Well kids, I hate to break it to you, but such a beast does not exist, and nor will it for many a year to come.

The whole FX versus DX format  ‘thing’ is really a meaningless argument, and the DX format has no advantage over the FX format apart from less weight and lower price (perhaps).

Yes, if we shoot a DX format camera using an FX lens we get the ‘illusion’ of a magnified subject – but that’s all it is – an illusion.

Yes, if we shoot the same shot on a 20Mp FX and crop it to look like the shot from a 20Mp DX, then the subject in the DX shot will have twice as many pixels in it, because of the higher translational density – but at what cost.

Cramming more mega pixels into either a 36mm x 24mm or 24mm x 16mm area results in one thing only – smaller photosites.  Smaller photosites come with one single benefit – greater detail resolution.  Every other attribute that comes with smaller photosites is a negative one:

  • Greater susceptibility to subject motion blur – the bane of landscape and astro photographers.
  • Greater susceptibility to diffraction due to lower CoC.
  • Lower CoC also reduces DoF.
  • Lower signal to noise ratio and poorer high ISO performance.

Note: Quite timely this! With the new leaked info about the D850, we see it’s supposed to have a BSI sensor.  This makes it impossible to make a comparison between it and the D500, even though the photosites are nearly pretty much the same size/pitch.  Any comparison is made even more impossible with the different micro-lens tech sported by the D850.  Also, the functionality of the ADC/SNR firmware is bound to be different from the D500 too.

Variations in: AA filter type/properties and micro lens design, wiring substrate thickness, AF system algorithms and performance, ADC/SNR and other things, all go towards making FX versus DX comparisons difficult, because we use our final output images to draw our conclusions; and they are effected by all of the above.

But facts are facts – DX does not generate either greater magnification or greater/less depth of field than FX when used with identical FX lenses at the same distance and aperture.

Sensor format effects nothing other than FoV,  everything else is purely down to pixel pitch.





More Nikon D850 leaks

More leaked specs on the Nikon D850 – and it could be something of an imaging revolution for Nikon users after all.

D850 395x900 More Nikon D850 leaks

Screen grab of the Nikon Italy page that was live for about 5 hours yesterday, click to view full size.

According to the leaked specifications, the camera will be fitted with a back lit sensor and gapless micro lens technology.

If this is true, then all the scathing I gave the Nikon D850 specs last week may need to be ‘dialled down’ a bit – the one thing this camera will NOT BE (again,if the tech leak is true) is a pumped up FX version of the D500.

What is a back lit sensor?

You can regard all Bayer pattern CMOS sensors in your dslr and mirrorless cameras as front lit.

Light leaves the rear element of your lens and strikes the sensor, passing through the micro lenses first, then a wiring/connectivity layer, and finally it strikes the photo diodes/photosites.

sony backlit cmos sensor cross section 02 More Nikon D850 leaks

Front lit (left) and Back lit (right) sensor layout.

Light can scatter within that wiring layer, and the distance between the micro lenses and the photo diodes effectively narrows their viewing angle.

Having the photo diodes directly behind the micro lenses removes the scattering potential, and increases the diode viewing angle – a bit like putting your eye closer to a key hole – you see more.

A back lit tech sensor may well have a 50% or larger diode/photosite ‘view angle’ than its front lit counter part with the same mega pixel count.  Couple that with new micro lens technology to remove the interstitial gaps, and there is a lot of potential for increased performance in terms of:

  • Native gain/light gathering during the exposure
  • Increased Dynamic Range over the Nikon D810
  • Increased Dynamic Range over the Nikon D500
  • Increased high ISO performance over both the D500 and D810
  • Dare I say it, lower diffraction values?  Surely the Circle of Confusion has got to increase in size – I don’t know for certain but it would definitely be interesting to find out.

Back lit/backside illuminated/BSI CMOS sensor tech is out there already – the Sony A7R2 springs to mind.

At the begining of this post I said the D850 could be something of an imaging revolution for Nikon users – and I meant it.

It’ll be the first Nikon FX DSLR (as far as I’m aware!) to be fitted with BSI tech, but if they screw up the ADC/SNR side of things like they did with the D5, then it’ll amount to NOT A LOT.

If however, Nikon do a good job of converting the analogue output of this sensor to a digital file, then we could say that no Nikon FX digital camera has ever been capable of delivering the potential benefits of the D850.

But we are still waiting for the official release of the specs so who knows…!




August News – Nikon D850 Thoughts

 Nikon D850 – Initial Thoughts.

2 900x506 August News   Nikon D850 Thoughts

Before we get into my initial thoughts about the D850 “leaked specs”, Roger Styles read my D5 post from the other week and asks:

“Very interesting…and I wonder if you would care to suggest how the D500 with a 300mm f4 lens would have performed? Similar? Worse? or heaven forbid better?”

Well Roger, all I can say is that I’m not really in a position to comment on how the MultiCam 20K system worked out on the D500/300mmPF combo (I didn’t use it) but I do have  D4S, D5 and D500 7200ISO shots so you can compare the image quality with regard to noise etc:

D501122 900x600 August News   Nikon D850 Thoughts

Nikon D500, 300mm f4 PF, 1/2500th @ f8, ISO 7200. Click to view full size

D5A8309 900x600 August News   Nikon D850 Thoughts

Nikon D5, 500mm 1/2000th @ f8, ISO 7200. Click to view full size

4SB0435 900x599 August News   Nikon D850 Thoughts

Nikon D4S, 400mm f2.8 1/2500th @ f8, ISO 7200. Click to view full size

Bare in mind I’m only illustrating IQ here – so look at the out-of-focus areas and darker tones to see the differences.

Roger – I can’t offer you any real comparisons between the D5 and D500 AF performance,  but from other tests I’ve done with the D500/300PF combo I’d say it performs the same or slightly better than the D5.  But only because you are using a shorter focal length lens with theoretically greater depth of field for any given aperture and distance – therefore more AF errors are masked by DoF.

Why does the D500 image look so crappy?

The answer is simple – too many mega pixels and not enough light!

The more megapixels you squeeze into a fixed area, the smaller each one of those photosites has to be.

There are two main problems with making photosites smaller:

  1. Reduced Dynamic Range
  2. Increased Diffraction

Overall, the sensor becomes more light-hungry.

Let’s put these three sensors on an even playing field with regard to crop factor:

D4/D4S = 16MpFX = 8Mp x1.5 crop

D5 = 20.8MpFX = 10.4Mp x1.5 crop

D500 = 20.9Mp x1.5 crop = 41.8MpFX

The IQ implications of these figures are illustrated in the images above!

And this brings me nicely around to the new Nikon D850.

maxresdefault 900x506 August News   Nikon D850 Thoughts

I got rather excited about the idea of this camera when it was first thought to have a hybrid OVF/EVF – the implications for using the plethora of super-sharp older manual lenses with modern focus-peaking in an EVF made me go all swoony!

But alas, this was not to be, and instead, all we have is a pumped up FX D500 – if the leaked specifications are to be believed.

The D850 is NOT a replacement for the D810 – anyone who thinks that is an idiot.

Let’s look at these leaked specifications:

  • 45.75MP FX full frame CMOS sensor – clipped Dynamic Range then, nice one Nikon
  • 180,000 RGB sensor that’s same as the D5, with better face detection and enhanced scene recognition – really?
  • Native ISO range of 64-25600 (expandable to 32-108400) – meaningless at the top end, and I doubt the base ISO will actually be 64ISO
  • 153-point AF system with 30% more frame coverage than the D5 – a higher resolution sack of angry weasels!
  • Center AF point -4EV, and all others -3EV – same as the D5
  • 8K timelapse shooting – Who in their right mind shoots time lapse and allows the camera to process and assemble it? Oh yeah, that’s right – dickheads!
  • 4K UHD video recording in FX with no crop – pass
  • 51-photo buffer when shooting in 14-bit uncompressed RAW – GOOD. That’s really a data-pushing miracle, to be honest
  • 3.2″, 2.36-million-dot tilting LCD touchscreen with improved gesture control – tilty screens are useful but straight away are a weak point.  But what use is gesture control when you’ve got gloves on ‘cos it’s -30 below?
  • 7fps continuous shooting standard, 6fps with autofocus, 9fps when using a battery grip – here’s where the price tag will go over £4000, because the grip will be £400 plus if I know Nikon!
  • 30fps at 8MP using the electronic shutter – 8Mp raws from a 48Mp sensor – what a spiffingly top notch idea.  And is that 30fps available silently?
  • RAW can be small, medium, and large resolutions – For F***s SAKE WHY would you buy a huge capacity camera and then shoot small files with it?  Has the world gone bloody mad?
  • 0.75x magnification viewfinder, the first for a full-frame DSLR – GREAT, but you can buy an adaptor to do the same thing to the majority of existing Nikons.
  • Focus stacking. The camera can shoot up to 300 photos with 10 levels of bracketed focus from nearest to infinity for software to stack afterwards – I have every confidence that this will turn out to be crap!  It’s a gimmick to get the unskilled to part with their money.  Aimed at macro and landscape photographers who can’t be bothered to tweak their focus manually.
  • Natural Light AWB achieves better white balancing in natural light – stupid gimmick
  • Completely silent electronic shutter while shooting in live view. – could be useful for sports if it works with fast shutter speeds
  • There’s no low-pass filter – GOOD – why couldn’t they do that on the D5?
  • SD + XQD card slots – Jesus Christ – Nikon need to grow up and stop mixing media

So as I’m sure you can tell, the Nikon D850 is not setting my world on fire.

What could Nikon have given us?

A hybrid OVF/EVF with an RGBW sensor and keep the capacity down to 36Mp or a tad less would have made a good impression with me for starters.

You have to have been asleep for months to not have heard something about the Fuji GFX medium format.  That’s running at 51.4Mp on a 1441mm2 sensor, which is roughly 1.67x the area of an FX 35mm camera.

Simple maths tells us that if we trimmed the GFX sensor to fit in a 35mm DSLR then it would be – that’s right, 30Mp.  The world of photography is populated by frigging idiots who just keep clamouring for more megs – and the camera manufacturers give them what they ask for simply because the idiots spend money like it’s going out of fashion.

Listen, if you want 50 megapixels or more, then go and buy a medium format camera and get 50 megs worth of good dynamic range with nominal diffraction.

Do not buy a Nikon D850 then stick a wide angle lens on and stop down to f22 – the image will be unusable at full resolution – and I don’t need to see a raw file to know that; it’s simple physics.

How this camera will stack up on the sports/action/wildlife front remains to be seen, but I don’t see how it can even be as good as a D5 – and that’s not brilliant.

To get the full potential out of the D850 for sports/action/wildlife then you will need the vertical grip AND an ENEL18A battery or two, and a charger, because I don’t think the D850 has USB charging.

An ENEL18A battery at Park Cameras is £169.00 and a genuine MH-26a charger is crazy money anywhere!

So you will be looking at more than £4000 – and I can think of far more sensible ways to spend that lump of cash.

Nikon promised us something really special to celebrate their 100th aniversary – this ain’t special Nikon!  It’s nothing more than the DSLR equivalent of a click-bait video.

But then again, I’m going on “leaked specifications” – and they could all be lies, smoke and mirrors.  We will have to wait and see what the real specs are when Nikon officially announce the D850.