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June 2007 News
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New Baby Ryan Rockwell. Cute photos with tech data.


30 June 2007, Saturday

Addition: I finally ran down the batteries in my Fujinon Techno-Stabi 14x40 Binoculars after six months and thus added battery life observations to my report.

29 June 2007, Friday

NEW: I added another source of replacement bellows, especially for Agfa/Ansco folding cameras.

28 June 2007, Tursday

NEW: I added Nigel Jackson's D200 Menu Guide. Thanks Nigel!

Observation: I updated to Mac OS 10.4.10 (free and automatic as usual) and everything on my Quad G5 and 800MHz 12" iBook seem AOK.

NEW: Polish Translation of Why Pros Share All They Know. We're up to fourteen languages for this article.

22 June 2007, Friday night

Observation: I see Amazon offering the Nikon 18-200mm in stock for about $780 via Calumet, an excellent store I've also used before.

18 June 2007, Monday

Observation: I just got an ad-mail from Adorama's Lab advertising 16x20" prints for $4.95, 8x10" prints for 99¢ and 4x6" prints for 10¢ each, no limit. (The cents ¢ key is option+4 on Mac.) Use coupon code PXBGSM07 for the 4x6," good through 25 June 2007.

Observation: I keep telling everyone that my 1980s DOS computer ran word processing faster than Microsoft Word on any Windows machine I've ever had, and now someone tested a 21-year-old Mac against another hot brand new Windows machine, and of course the simpler machine worked better.

For people who just want to communicate and do what personal computers have been doing since the 1970s, older, simpler software often works better, especially on newer hardware. All the hot new stuff is for people like me who use my computer to earn a living 24/7 doing advanced things, not for normal people wanting to communicate.

I used the same copy PFS Professional Write (DOS) for all my word processing from 1985 - 2004 (19 years). It works perfectly and screams through a spell check faster than anything else today. This is one of the reasons I can't accept that my copy of Microsoft Word would bog down trying to redraw pages as I scrolled through documents, and then draw some incorrectly!

For the zillions of people stuck in offices banging away at MS applications in Windows, it's sad because overall they don't work as fast as they used to 20 years ago in DOS. That's my personal experience, and of course today I work only in Mac and everything runs great.

15 June 2007, Friday

NEW: Canon 1D Mk III. I was going to wait until I had more time with one, but a reader sent me some images (after asking first) from his Mk III that tell the whole story. The Mk III's quality sets a new benchmark at ISO 6,400. It's perfectly usable with no apologies, better than most other cameras at ISO 1,600. You folks who need the 10 FPS, ISO 6,400 Mk III know who you are, so this image ought to help you make your choice if you were wavering.

News: Kodak has developed a more efficient color mosaic filter. Read that link, which is the official release from Kodak, not something re-written by a layman which everyone else is forwarding me. The lay press is pimping it as if it's God's gift to photography, and thus bumped up Kodak's stock for a short while. Kodak says it "will help make dark, blurry digital photos a thing of the past."

In the press release, this new color mosaic only adds one or two stops of sensitivity, which is great, but not life-changing. That's why the release uses the weasel word "help," as in "will help make," instead of saying "will make" blurry photos a thing of the past.

As I read it, this new color mosaic is simply the Bayer mosaic with a bunch of extra unfiltered (Y or Luma) pixels replacing some of the colored ones. We'll have to see the results for ourselves, but my take on this is that we're trading sensitivity for reduced resolution (there probably aren't as many Y pixels as there were green ones) and reduced chroma resolution (the Y pixels can't see color, thus fine, colored, details may lose saturation).

We'll see: the BS stops when the green flag drops, so let's wait until a camera that we care about comes out and we'll see. Since Sony and Canon make all the sensors used in the cameras I buy, I don't know if I'll care. Foveon was a great idea, but doesn't come in any cameras that matter to me.

Kodak has always been a world leader in sensors, and makes the very expensive commercial and military and orange-bordered top-secret ones used in America's peace-keeping satellites and space exploration. Kodak's sensors are too good and expensive for use in the cameras I buy. Now if Kodak really has something and licenses it that's great, but we'll see. Striped-color-matrix CCDs are always a compromise.

What the world needs are three-CCD systems. Professional color TV cameras have always used a prism to split colors to three monochrome sensors. No one in video would ever use a single-chip camera for anything serious, yet that's all we get in still photography. A three-chip (3CCD) video camera has three full-resolution, full sensitivity CCDs glued to a color-splitting prism, which would give double the real resolution of today's still cameras by using three CCDs, each with no color matrix.

Anyway, this goes beyond the scope of what I can write about before I head out for dinner, just rest assured that I never get excited about this stuff from a practical standpoint until I can buy it in a camera about which I care and which offers real improvement. I'm sure Dr. Bayer also considered this system back in 1976, and had a reason not to use it. Of course if that reason was lack of computing power for demosaicing, Kodak may have something here. I'll need to read the engineering documents.

14 June 2007, Thursday

News: I'm listed as a resource in an article by Spencer Wynn in today’s Toronto Star, eh! The author found my article on Panoramic Stitching Software helpful.

NEW: Nikonos IV-A

Shuttle Launch: We (the USA) had another successful launch on June 8th. It was the 250th time a manned spacecraft reached orbit successfully. I was afraid that one would need a 2,000mm lens and even more luck to shoot it. Dr. Eric S. Ackerman made these great shots of the STS-117 Atlantis launch with his D80 and 18-200mm VR. I eat my hat about needing a 2,000mm lens, and reinforces the seemingly limitless versatility of the 18-200mm VR. See also NASA's next flight schedule.

Rumor: Latest rumors confirm the D3X announce date of June 26th, 2007. I'll believe it when I see it.

13 June 2007, Wednesday

NEW: Nikon D200 Drop Test for Wednesday the 13th. Thanks, Travis!

News: Apple unveils a beta of the Safari browser for you folks on Windows. I'm unsure why they'd introduce a beta, which means bugs guaranteed, but hey, it's another option.

Safari is a free upgrade and replacement for Internet Explorer. I use Safari all day. Check out tabbed browsing. I set mine to open new links in tabs, so I can open all the links I want to read from an article and read them after I finish the first article, all in the same window. (Safari > Prefs > Tabs > Enable Tabbed Browsing [I don't check the other two boxes below.]) I spend all day inside the Internet, and Safari makes it much easier and pleasant.

I prefer Safari because it looks and runs so well. Others prefer Firefox. Have fun!

News: 1990s WebVan reincarnated! Amazon just introduced (or I just learned about) Amazon.com Grocery, which offers a slew of grocery items. I need to check them for other brands of magic HE detergent that goes in our new washer. Boring, I know, but I'm so lazy I order everything I can online.

12 June 2007, Tuesday

News: Whoo Hoo! I'm mentioned in The New York Times. See the article at that link. Dave Wyman's Route 66 Workshop, at which I helped instruct, was written up in Sunday, June 10th's edition.

NEW: How Our Eyes See

NEW: French Translation of Is Film Going Away? (merci Alexandre)

Observation: I'm up to 12,622 shots on my Canon SD700, carried all this time in my pants pocket with no case. It's the toughest pocket camera I've owned. I've killed many others whose lens extenders or lens barriers crap out from all the use.

09 June 2007, Saturday

NEW: Lexar 300x UDMA Card Test (and comparison to SanDisk Extreme IV).

07 June 2007, Thursday

News: Adorama again has the Nikon Nikon 18-200mm in stock (click that link to see it). Sorry if the price is higher today - it only cost $670 when I first suggested this and bought mine from them back in November 2005.

06 June 2007, Wednesday

NEW: I added explicit Sharpness Examples and Comparisons to my Sigma 30mm f/1.4 review. I wanted to show how the Nikon 18-55mm II kit lens that comes free with the D40 is sharper than the Sigma in good light, instead of just telling you. The Sigma is for dim light where you need f/1.4.

I also discovered some manual focus compatibility design flaws with the Sigma on my Nikons, and added that to my review.

Now that that's done, I'm going to fire up my copy of Lightroom and see what happens.

News: Mamiya announces the $10,000 22 MP ZD kit. This ought to have much better quality than the Canon 1DS Mk II , the unannounced 22MP 1DS Mk III and certainly any of my Nikons. Why? Simple: the larger sensor of the Mamiya works at lower spatial frequencies for the same image resolution, making lens performance much less of a factor. I've been wanting to try one of these Mamiyas for years since they first started talking about it.

05 June 2007, Tuesday

NEW: Sigma 30mm f/1.4 review.

NEW: Nikon 28mm f/3.5 AI review.

01 June 2007, Friday

News: Adorama had the Nikon Nikon 18-200mm in stock (click that link to see it) yesterday, and of course today sold out of the USA version. They do have the gray market version available, at least as I write this. Sorry if the price is higher today - it only cost $670 when I first suggested this lens and link when I bought mine from them back in November 2005.

Shuttle Launch: We (the USA) have another on June 8th at about 7:40PM. These are a bear to photograph, with the distances, speeds and huge range of brightnesses that change rapidly. My suggestions are to practice working fast, look at your LCD often, correct with exposure compensation and pray!

Lenses are a bear. I'd probably try a used Celestron 8 in the classic 1970s fork mount (8" Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope, a 2,000 mm f/10 mirror lens) and the Celestron camera adapter with a T-mount for Nikon or Canon as needed. I just got one of these scopes used for about $500, and the fork mount is perfect for terrestrial use, and even for tracking if you can get it balanced. I'm still shopping for a counterweight to balance mine with heavy eyepieces or cameras. Get a telecompressor to keep exposures shorter and make it easier to find your target. This stuff gets crazy fast and I'm not the expert, so find a real launch expert. I'm lucky enough to be local to Oceanside Photo and Telescope, where I walked in for good old-fashioned retail help figuring out what stuff to get for my used scope, or of course all this is also available online if you already know what you need.

News: Google keeps doing it. Today I learned that 1.) as I already presumed, Google has been working long and hard to be able to recognize the content of images and Google added facial recognition, and 2.) see the new Street View feature of maps.google.com. Click the Street View icon, then zoom in on the cities with little camera icons. You'll see streets coded in blue, along which, by clicking the little man in a suit, you can see everything on the street as if you were driving by.

Google's stock also hit 500, which is nothing compared to where they are going. (I sold my shares a little while ago because we needed money, so I was hoping the Googlers would take a break until I got back in. Obviously not!)

Eventually I hope Google will be able to recognize image content as well as we can by our own eyes, so I'll be able to use a Google application to sort through all my own JPGs to find my own shots like Pascqual Abaj purely by automated search using better technology than our NSA uses today for identifying who's doing what from spy camera images. Say sayonara to keyword coding!


What Was New in:

May 2007

April 2007

March 2007

January and February 2007

2006 November - December (includes birth of Ryan Rockwell)

2006 October - November (includes photos from a trip to NY)

2006 June - September

2006 Jan - May



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