Correcting Barrel Distortion

Posted in Uncategorized on May 20, 2009 by Richard

Because my 17-85mm is not particularly great at the wide end, I will usually have to deal with barrel distortion. My research indicates that there’s only one good and common way to correct barrel distortion:  using the open source Panorama Tools. Plugins that employ Panorama Tools are available for Photoshop and GIMP. There’s also a standalone program that uses Panorama Tools — it’s called hugins (don’t ask me where the name came from).

Panorama Tools is extremely user-unfriendly. (This reminds me of my experience with the open source FFmpeg utility for performing video format conversions. Why are such common power tools such frakking bitches to use???) Open source developers are archetypical geeks who have zero understanding or concern for user-friendliness. A pox on them.

Anyway, I have my work cut out for me to learn how to correct for barrel distortions. (Don’t think the problem goes away if I buy a $2,800 EF 14mm f/2.8 L lens.)


Going Full Frame

Posted in Uncategorized on May 15, 2009 by Richard

Okay, here’s some pleasurable day-dreaming…

At some future date, Canon is going to come out with a consumer-priced full-frame DSLR. (“Consumer-priced” means less than $2,000, kit lens included.) Certainly within the next 5 years.

And I shall pounce on it.

What lenses should I buy for this camera? Well, I can take my cue from Vistek!

One of the really nice things about the Vistek website is that they show product lists in order of popularity. And since a lot of photographers of all stripes shop at Vistek, these product lists are very representative of what’s considered best overall for most consumers.

So here is a list of lenses I would get for my full-frame beauty:

  1. Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM – $2,149
  2. Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM – $1,569
  3. Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM – $480
  4. Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM – $780 (I already have this lens)
  5. Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM – $1,849
  6. Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM – $1,949

Frak! That’s $8,800 worth of high-quality glass!

Protective Filters

Posted in Uncategorized on May 13, 2009 by Richard

I’ve been doing some research into protective filters for your lenses. Here’s a fine discussion:

The one comment that sold me on Hoya Standard protective filters was from Gareth Harper:

Mr Volkoff, I’ve never had any problems with the standard Hoya filters. I think they have a single coating on each side and are very good.

Brands of filters I’ve used. Hoya, Kood, Hamma, B+W, Mamiya, Jessops, Lee, Tokina, Tiffen to name a few. Can’t tell the difference between any of them. Probably got just over half of them second hand.

The only coatings I’ve had hassle with are the HMC ones. Despite the premature damage to the outer coatings that two have suffered I still use them, doesn’t seem to have any effect.

Hoods offer very little protection. Minor impact protection at best. Some times in lively situations they can just be a nuisance, hood comes flying off and you have fart about trying to recover it before somebody stands on it.

Another thing I don’t get is this idea that filters degrade the image. I use solid colour filters for b&w work, skylights to warm colour film up a bit, polarisers for saturated colour and to remove reflections and grads at times to control contrast.

So filters can not only protect your precious lens and mean you never ever have to clean that precious front element but they can also enhance your photographs.

I shall continue to use my Hoya Standard filters. I see no need to buy better ones.

Macro Ring Flash

Posted in Uncategorized on May 8, 2009 by Richard

It would appear that the Cameron DRF14 is essentially the same product as the Marumi DRF14. The following reviews are fairly positive about the product:

Since I’m mostly interested in macro work as far as a ring flash is concerned, the Cameron DRF14 is likely my final choice.

(Important Caveat: this device will only attach to lenses with filter sizes 52mm, 55mm, 58mm, 62mm, and 67mm. Fortunately, all my lenses are 58mm or 67mm size.)

Photoshop Alternatives

Posted in Uncategorized on May 7, 2009 by Richard

As a Cheap Bastard, I refuse to spend over CAD$800 for Photoshop. This image editing program is way overpriced, extremely bloated, and difficult to learn and use. Only professionals need it. Amateur photographers like myself would do better to look at cheaper alternatives. And since I’m really cheap, I’ll be looking at FREE alternatives.

There are two classes of Photoshop alternatives. The first is desktop apps that run directly on your PC or Mac. I shall be looking at:

  1. Paint.NET
  2. GIMP
  3. PhotoFiltre

The second class is online photo editors such as:

  1. Picnik
  2. FotoFlexer
  3. Splashup
  4. the Aviary suite, esp. Phoenix

I shall evaluate these online apps, as well. There are literally tons of free apps for image editing. It is impossible for me to examine all of them, so I shall limit myself to the above sampling. Stay tuned for my mini-reviews of these software.

Cheap Bastard

Posted in Uncategorized on May 3, 2009 by Richard

As a Cheap Bastard, it makes absolutely no sense that I spent $1,200 on my Canon 40D. A Cheap Bastard would’ve bought the XS/XSi or Nikon D40/D60.

But being a true Cheap Bastard is an easy way to torpedo your photographic hobby — I understood this from the very beginning. I needed a good basic camera, emphasis on basic.

However, ‘basic’ does not mean ignoring important usability and practicality issues. My good basic camera also needed to meet the following requirements:

  1. Solid build quality. The camera has to be rugged for outdoor photography, and that means an all-magnesium construction. No plastic shit for me.
  2. Good comfort and handling. *None* of the entry-level cameras are comfortable in my hands, not even the more upscale Nikon D90.
  3. Large bright viewfinder and LCD screen. My failing eyesight makes me appreciate the value of a bright viewfinder, and the 40D’s viewfinder impresses the heck out of me.

It turns out that these requirements cost me $1,200. Otherwise, the 40D is a fairly basic camera with a fairly basic feature set.

Also, how can I resist a bargain? I bought a 40D for not a whole lot more than the XSi. As a matter of practicality, this is vital. When you spot a bargain, you should avail yourself of it. I may never have another opportunity to buy this calibre of camera…

(And, indeed, this is true. I notice that Aden no longer sells the 40D, and indicates that the cheapest deal is at Vistek for $1,449. So if any of you were thinking of getting a great camera for a song, you are now shit-out-of-luck.)

Yes, my Canon 40D is a basic camera. It’s a wonderful entry-level camera. Don’t let the $1,200 price tag fool you.

Ken Rockwell on the Megapixel Myth

Posted in Uncategorized on April 29, 2009 by Richard

Ken Rockwell further explains:

I am incensed at vendors such as Best Buy who push this myth:

Frakking unethical, lying bastards!!!

Frakking marketing whores!!!

I think people get confused by image resolution vs print resolution. There is NO CORRELATION between the two!