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The Photography Thread

Postby Tom on Wed May 29, 2013 10:23 am

I searched. There was a Street Photography thread, a Guerilla thread, but no F&M general photography thread. So I'm starting one.

I bought a Sony Nex3 a few months ago and am slowly learning how to take pictures. Still getting the interface down and some of the basic concepts down. Aside from a photography class in high school, I have no experience.
I've been having a lot of fun doing long exposures in the early evening - weird shadows from street lights, flowing water, that sort of thing.

I have a question regarding file formats though. I'm currently saving them as high resolution JPG, but would like to switch to RAW. I'd like to do this for two reasons: First I would prefer to have the images saved as a "lossless" format, but I would also like to learn what the computer is doing when it processes the RAW information into a usable image.
Does anyone know of a good tutorial they would recommend on image processing using RAW?
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Re: The Photography Thread

Postby nihil on Wed May 29, 2013 10:32 am

This is great. I've been meaning to start a general photography thread for a while.
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Re: The Photography Thread

Postby Tommy on Wed May 29, 2013 12:13 pm

krs wrote:But any foray into photography should begin with learning the three legs of the stool you are about the sit on: Shutter Speed, ISO (film speed), and Aperture. This should come ahead of learning any specific processing technique. Are we there yet?


The gf just bought a really nice DSLR. Help me understand what ISO means to digital photography. Obviously the higher the ISO the less light is needed but does it also translate to tightness of grain in the way film did? Does it exist so you can still "push the film" by correcting lightness/darkness with slower shutter speeds? If so, does it accomplish something different than simply adjusting levels in post?
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Re: The Photography Thread

Postby cerebralheadtrip on Wed May 29, 2013 12:29 pm

Tommy wrote:The gf just bought a really nice DSLR. Help me understand what ISO means to digital photography. Obviously the higher the ISO the less light is needed but does it also translate to tightness of grain in the way film did? Does it exist so you can still "push the film" by correcting lightness/darkness with slower shutter speeds? If so, does it accomplish something different than simply adjusting levels in post?


Increased digital "noise" (equivalent of film grain) will always be the drawback to shooting higher ISOs. The usability of higher ISO settings is mostly dependent on the quality of the sensor and its constantly improving; some of the better modern bodies can shoot 6400 and look buttery smooth, others its going to be completely unusable.

As far as what youre proposing, Id usually just rather shoot at a higher ISO if the situation calls for it (and its within the realm of what I know my camera can handle adequately). Also, the noise reduction features in LightRoom are actually pretty good now and can remove a lot of it, although like most things you dont want to completely over do it and a little grain isnt necessarily a bad thing (if you crank the reduction all the way, the image has a tendency to take on a fake plastic-y sort of appearance because youve essentially eliminated a lot of detail).
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Re: The Photography Thread

Postby Tom on Wed May 29, 2013 12:35 pm

cerebralheadtrip wrote:The usability of higher ISO settings is mostly dependent on the quality of the sensor and its constantly improving; some of the better modern bodies can shoot 6400 and look buttery smooth, others its going to be completely unusable.


Mine tops at 16000, but I haven't found a usable application for it. Fun to play around with, but I can't imagine ever getting a good picture from it. I've had moderate success in the 6400 range, but I wouldn't call it buttery smooth by any stretch.
Last edited by Tom on Wed May 29, 2013 12:41 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: The Photography Thread

Postby cerebralheadtrip on Wed May 29, 2013 12:38 pm

Tom wrote:
cerebralheadtrip wrote:The usability of higher ISO settings is mostly dependent on the quality of the sensor and its constantly improving; some of the better modern bodies can shoot 6400 and look buttery smooth, others its going to be completely unusable.


Mine tops at 16000, but I haven't found a usable application for it.


This is really a marketing trick by the manufacturers. They include it to tout the range of the body but in reality most of these extreme upper settings are worthless.
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Re: The Photography Thread

Postby Tom on Wed May 29, 2013 12:44 pm

cerebralheadtrip wrote:
Tom wrote:
cerebralheadtrip wrote:The usability of higher ISO settings is mostly dependent on the quality of the sensor and its constantly improving; some of the better modern bodies can shoot 6400 and look buttery smooth, others its going to be completely unusable.


Mine tops at 16000, but I haven't found a usable application for it.


This is really a marketing trick by the manufacturers. They include it to tout the "range" of the body but in reality most of these extreme upper settings are worthless.


That's what I assumed. I don't remember ever seeing a traditional film ISO over 2000 (though I'm sure they existed), so 16000 seemed silly. Again, you might be able to do some neat experimental funny pictures or something, but beyond that, I can't see it.

Maybe using it for a trail camera where you wanted to use a fast shutter speed and didn't care about picture quality, just needed to capture the presence of something? Ghost Hunters maybe?
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Re: The Photography Thread

Postby cerebralheadtrip on Wed May 29, 2013 1:06 pm

.
Last edited by cerebralheadtrip on Mon Apr 04, 2016 4:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Photography Thread

Postby newberry on Wed May 29, 2013 10:56 pm

I'm currently saving them as high resolution JPG, but would like to switch to RAW.


Good idea. I would recommend shooting RAW 100% of the time. It's lossless as you pointed out, plus you can't accidentally reduce the file size or convert to grayscale or whatever without saving a copy. And you won't confuse your original files with derivatives, which is easy to do with jpgs. You'll get much more latitude in terms of adjusting brightness, contrast, color, etc.

Regarding super high ISOs, that's not necessarily just a marketing tactic. With better DSLRs you can go beyond 16,000 ISO without the image looking like crap. Kodak used to make a 3200 ISO film that could be pushed even higher.

eta: I shot this at 25,600 ISO. As the photo is now, it looks much brighter than it did in person--it was a very dimly lit booth.

cerebralheadtrip: nice shot--is that the Besnard Lakes guy?
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Re: The Photography Thread

Postby cerebralheadtrip on Thu May 30, 2013 11:20 am

As good a place to dump this as any, but the Sun Times just laid off their entire photo staff

http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ ... 1142.story

The death knell for photojournalism as a viable career (if it ever was one) continues. Of course some of these people will be hired back as freelancers....with more work, less pay, and no benefits.
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Re: The Photography Thread

Postby newberry on Thu May 30, 2013 1:37 pm

cerebralheadtrip wrote:As good a place to dump this as any, but the Sun Times just laid off their entire photo staff

http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ ... 1142.story

The death knell for photojournalism as a viable career (if it ever was one) continues. Of course some of these people will be hired back as freelancers....with more work, less pay, and no benefits.


Yeah, it's brutal out there for all kinds of photographers who are trying to make a living at it.
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Re: The Photography Thread

Postby Matt_Rees on Thu May 30, 2013 3:56 pm

krs wrote:To take advantage of the widest color gamuts and most editing possibilities, set the camera to shoot in Adobe RGB colorspace (this will be for JPEGs), and export your RAW files using PhotoPro RGB at a 16-bit color depth.


I would cautiously disagree with this as most normal monitors can only just about reproduce SRGB, my laptop can only do about 92% of SRGB and anything going on to the internet has to be taken down to SRGB anyway.
Although the exception would be if you had a nice calibrated wide gamut monitor and you were printing to a really good inkjet printer then it would be worth going up to AdobeRGB but anything over is pointless.
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Re: The Photography Thread

Postby Wood Goblin on Sun Apr 03, 2016 9:46 am

So I've been interested in learning proper photography for a while and am now considering taking the plunge on a DSLR. I'm seeking recommendations. What's a good starter "kit," as far as DSLRs go? Any recommended models/brands? Is it possible to get a good camera and lens (or two) for a reasonable price, without losing too much in quality? Does a higher price necessarily get you a better camera, or are you paying for bells and whistles?
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Re: The Photography Thread

Postby bishopdante on Sun Apr 03, 2016 10:26 am

Well worth getting your head round the bayer filter to understand how the majority of digital camera sensors work (there are some exceptions, such as the Foveon X3).

http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tutori ... ensors.htm

One can get much higher quality images out of a sensor by employing smarter de-bayerisation, double the default resolution is easily achievable.

One inescapable problem with pixel-based image sensors is interference patterns, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moir%C3%A9_pattern a problem that you don't get with traditional emulsion film processed and enlarged with nothing digital in the way.

(NB: a word of warning: It's very very hard to find analogue enlargement these days. A modern mini-lab is a digital scanner & printer, rather than an all-analogue device, and you're better off just scanning the negs / trannies using a high quality drum scanner, then loading the files back into the minilab if you want wet prints, or just use Lambda. Wet prints have been digital since the '80s, so a lot of the quality and detail of analogue film is lost by doing that).

There are also complex differences in performance between different sensor technologies: photomultiplier, CCD, CMOS, photodiode etc.

Myself, I haven't seen large-format photo-emulsion transparency film and photomultiplier drum-scanning beaten by a digital camera in terms of quality. In fact, even the most expensive digital capture gear is substantially inferior to the detail and noise-free smoothness that is possible with photoemulsion. I've only seen one digital camera that gets even slightly close, and it's a DIY mod-job of putting a flat-bed scanner on the back of a large-format plate camera, requiring a several-minute rolling-shutter capture. http://www.popsci.com/diy/article/2009- ... el-scancam < resolution is good, but the grey & noisy colour response really does show how much trouble CCD sensors can be, honestly I've seen drum scanners & medium-format film outright thrash that level of detail.

The advantage of conventional digital is the convenience, cost, media-portability, speed, and low-light performance.

Certainly don't miss people getting dust on their images by storing the media in their pocket. That used to be a headache, resulting damages requiring a lot of digital retouching.

_____

Matt_Rees wrote:
krs wrote:To take advantage of the widest color gamuts and most editing possibilities, set the camera to shoot in Adobe RGB colorspace (this will be for JPEGs), and export your RAW files using PhotoPro RGB at a 16-bit color depth.


I would cautiously disagree with this as most normal monitors can only just about reproduce SRGB, my laptop can only do about 92% of SRGB and anything going on to the internet has to be taken down to SRGB anyway.
Although the exception would be if you had a nice calibrated wide gamut monitor and you were printing to a really good inkjet printer then it would be worth going up to AdobeRGB but anything over is pointless.


Even if you're just planning on looking at the images on screen, destroying future editability isn't something I'd recommend.

Certainly 8 bit sRGB is visibly inferior quality, and not an editable format. You need far, far more detail if performing colour correction or photomontage techniques. 16 bit isn't even that good, but 8 bit goes stripy the second you touch it. JPEG blockies are a nightmare. Have no use for JPEG previews generated by the camera, myself, just switch it off if possible.

Highly recommend storing processed 16 bit files as PSD, Tif with LZW, or PNG. They are lossless.

Just because you can't see the additional quality on a horrible LCD screen — often the drive unit of those runs a 6 bit per channel colour resolution —, poor quality output doesn't mean one should chuck away the detail by default. NB: the horrible colour performance of most LCDs is why I still use CRT monitors for image work. Have to say that Christie 3LCD projectors have pretty good colour, as well, those can be used with a backlight film and compete with daylight. Presumably the OLED tech in the fiendishly expensive Sony BVM gear will become mainstream, and at that point decent colour rendition off a flatscreen will be possible. It's a shame that quality seems to be low on the list of priorities, and that electron-gun + phosphor flatscreen technologies such as SED https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surface-c ... er_display and FED https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Field_emission_display haven't made it out of research.

Certainly a proper 12-colour inkjet printer at this point has a much wider colour space than a CMYK machine from the '90s, and arguably a wider range of colour than a photoemulsion Lambda / C print.

Certainly sRGB is visibly inferior, it crops off detail within any brightly coloured area — it's got no headroom.

There's also the resampling error when converting from one colour space to another, which is not often talked about but substantially craps on the quality.

Only reason to use sRGB is outputting images for the web, since most web browsers assume that all images use an sRGB space and will display a wide-gamut image as a very desaturated image rendered as sRGB data in an sRGB colour space.

______

Wood Goblin wrote:So I've been interested in learning proper photography for a while and am now considering taking the plunge on a DSLR. I'm seeking recommendations. What's a good starter "kit," as far as DSLRs go? Any recommended models/brands? Is it possible to get a good camera and lens (or two) for a reasonable price, without losing too much in quality? Does a higher price necessarily get you a better camera, or are you paying for bells and whistles?


Rather than buying a new digital back, would highly recommend a second-hand Hasselblad H3D, with the proviso that it hasn't been dropped / knackered. Those are quite cheap now, and the optics of medium-format offer many advantages.

Of the 35mm type DSLRs, the Nikons have the best colour rendition, but the user interface takes some getting used to.

Canon seems to turn everything bright orange (rubbish blue).

______

If you individually inspect the RGB colour channels of a digital camera, and look at the blue channel, that's where one can usually see stark differences in quality. On a cheap or inferior camera, there will be huge amounts of noise, grimey digital artefacts and excessive contrast.
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Re: The Photography Thread

Postby Superking on Sun Apr 03, 2016 8:21 pm

Oh! There he is!
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Re: The Photography Thread

Postby blackmarket on Mon Apr 04, 2016 10:53 am

bishopdante wrote:Canon seems to turn everything bright orange (rubbish blue).


What you are talking about here is a white balance issue and most likely user error. Half of the art of photography is knowing how to properly use the tools necessary. I have been using various Canon cameras for years and have never seen this issue in my own work or others'.

Wood Goblin wrote:So I've been interested in learning proper photography for a while and am now considering taking the plunge on a DSLR. I'm seeking recommendations. What's a good starter "kit," as far as DSLRs go? Any recommended models/brands? Is it possible to get a good camera and lens (or two) for a reasonable price, without losing too much in quality? Does a higher price necessarily get you a better camera, or are you paying for bells and whistles?


As a student-hobbyist, you obviously aren't looking to spend thousands of dollars on a camera body and even more for lenses, so I would ignore anyone who suggests Hasselblad as your first bit of serious equipment.

With SLRs you are buying into a system of bodies and lenses. Each manufacturer uses it's own proprietary lens mount. The five brands you probably want to look at are Canon, Nikon, Sony, Pentax, and Olympus, in an APS-C or micro four thirds mirrorless sensor size. An APS-C SLR is usually going to be a classic mirror box camera, with viewing through the lens. Some mirrorless bodies use this sensor size. Others use the smaller micro four thirds sensor. Smaller usually means less dynamic range and always wider depth of field (less blurring possible to the background). Mirrorless will use the back LCD screen or an electronic viewfinder for composition and focusing. As we all know, using the back panel for composition can be difficult in bright daylight. Electronic viewfinders can run the gamut, and I don't know enough here to recommend anything. Mirrorless can be less expensive and are definitely smaller than an SLR.

Each camera brand has its own advantages, disadvantages, and quirks. Nikon, I think, accepts any autofocus lens they ever produced to fit on the current bodies. Canon switched over to the "EF" mount around 1987, and will not accept it's own older lenses without a lensed mount (reducing quality). Canon does have a mount-to-mirror distance that will allow almost any other older manual lens to be used with the appropriate (non-lensed) adapter. You can buy these lenses used for anywhere from ten dollars to a few hundred. It can be fun to experiment and have a few lenses you don't really care about knocking around. Sony has in-body image stabilization, which allows the lenses to cost less, but this system of IS is probably not as good as stabilization designed as lens-specific. Pluses and minuses for each.

Bodies depreciate very quickly, sensors are improved every few years, and new features are added periodically, so this piece of equipment may not be the most important consideration. You will keep lenses for years and years. Maybe decades. This is where things can begin to become complex and the different variables reveal themselves.

I bought into the Canon system. Canon may not make the absolute best sensors (this a highly debatable topic), but I feel like they do make some of the highest-quality, most widely available lenses. Even very inexpensive Canon lenses can produce great results, now that most include image stabilization. Canon has a very good image stabilization system and auto-focus accuracy is tight. They have been putting out some really great stuff in the mid-range with the new f/4 lenses and in the low end with the STM series in recent years. If you don't mind buying used, I think you can get a pretty good starter body and kit lens (18-55mm IS, 18-135mm IS) for under $600. Something in the "T" (T5i, T6i) or xxD series (60D, 70D). Combine that with the new 10-18 IS STM and 55-250mm IS, and you have a wide range of quality student equipment. In more advanced days, look into the Magic Lantern open source firmware, which adds indispensable focus aids for photography and video. This is a sort of "hack" available only for Canon cameras. It's a hack, but well-tested. I have used ML for years.
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Re: The Photography Thread

Postby Superking on Mon Apr 04, 2016 11:15 am

Wood Goblin wrote:So I've been interested in learning proper photography for a while and am now considering taking the plunge on a DSLR. I'm seeking recommendations. What's a good starter "kit," as far as DSLRs go? Any recommended models/brands? Is it possible to get a good camera and lens (or two) for a reasonable price, without losing too much in quality? Does a higher price necessarily get you a better camera, or are you paying for bells and whistles?


I would also recommend starting with a used body from a recent generation of whatever brand you end up going with. You can get a used Nikon D300 for a few hundred bucks these days, which is a pretty great camera. If you're not interested in shooting video, a camera like that is a great place to start.
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Re: The Photography Thread

Postby bishopdante on Mon Apr 04, 2016 1:55 pm

blackmarket wrote:
bishopdante wrote:Canon seems to turn everything bright orange (rubbish blue).


What you are talking about here is a white balance issue and most likely user error.


Surely I would be talking about raw, where all the white balance is done in post, no? Canon loves orange and hates lilac. Every camera they make has that canon look, whether stills or video, the cheaper the model the worse it gets.

Canon is strangely weak on blue, makes everything curiously amber/brown, with a fair bit of confetti sparkle if you start digging into the blue channel trying to make daylight greys look natural, let alone shooting under tungsten. Canon's 5d is probably the best camera on earth for shooting under sodium street lights, though.

_______

Regarding the obsolete digital hasselblad option, I think people are underestimating the depreciation on a 12 year old top-end digital camera. H3D is the same price as a second hand canon 5d mkiii today. An H1 is now fully cheap, and is a no nonsense 40 megapixel camera.

The medium format optical advantage doesn't change, though. Lens gets more light onto the sensor with less distortion for a wide field of view.

Can probably buy a nikon d1 for next to nothing these days, and those were £12k or something in 2000 and today the specs are worthless. 2.7 megapixel sensor.

________

Best idea when shopping for cameras is to go on Flickr and search by camera.

You'll see what I mean about the hasselblads delivering a sort of quality 35mm dslrs don't do.

Not as cheap as a second hand nikon, no, but the depreciation is savage. New they were about the same price as a lexus, and one can use all the old hasselblad glass for the film cameras, which isn't cheap but is massively depreciated, and the quality is no-nonsense.
Last edited by bishopdante on Mon Apr 04, 2016 2:43 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: The Photography Thread

Postby geiginni on Mon Apr 04, 2016 2:13 pm

The first question to ask, when faced with the "I want an SLR" statement, is: "What subjects do you want to photograph?", and as a follow-up "Why do you feel an SLR would be best for you?"

SLRs are big and bulky, and with the exception of needing zero-lag viewing through the lens (while also being okay with the viewfinder blanking of the mirror flip-up, especially when shooting burst frames), may not be best for what you're trying to shoot.

blackmarket wrote: The five brands you probably want to look at are Canon, Nikon, Sony, Pentax, and Olympus


You missed Fujifilm! :evil:

blackmarket wrote:Electronic viewfinders can run the gamut, and I don't know enough here to recommend anything. Mirrorless can be less expensive and are definitely smaller than an SLR.


Fujifilm, on both counts! :)

blackmarket wrote:Canon does have a mount-to-mirror distance that will allow almost any other older manual lens to be used with the appropriate (non-lensed) adapter. You can buy these lenses used for anywhere from ten dollars to a few hundred. It can be fun to experiment and have a few lenses you don't really care about knocking around.


MILC (mirrorless interchangeable-lens camera) are perfect for this. I use a Minolta MC/MD adaptor with my Fuji X-E2 body. The second generation 58mm f1.4 PG-MC Minolta lens makes a fantastic portrait lens on the Fuji, with the smaller circle of coverage and 88mm equivalent FL with the Fuji's APS-C sensor.

blackmarket wrote:Bodies depreciate very quickly, sensors are improved every few years, and new features are added periodically, so this piece of equipment may not be the most important consideration. You will keep lenses for years and years. Maybe decades.


Again, Fuji lenses are fantastic. Up there with lenses by Zeiss and Voigtlander or better. The lenses are expensive, but the bodies are affordable and offer a range of complexity and features depending on needs and budget. The current generation of 16.3 MP/6400 ISO sensors are giving way to new bodies with 24MP/51,200 ISO sensors, so the upgrade path is there and committed - so no worries about investing in great lenses.

Can't recommend Fuji's X-series enough though. Fantastic optics, low low noise, beautiful color, and great design and handling. Not cheap, but for around $1k you'll get into a dynamite system that will grow and give you lovely results.
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Re: The Photography Thread

Postby blackmarket on Mon Apr 04, 2016 3:03 pm

bishopdante wrote:
blackmarket wrote:
bishopdante wrote:Canon seems to turn everything bright orange (rubbish blue).


What you are talking about here is a white balance issue and most likely user error.


Surely I would be talking about raw, where all the white balance is done in post, no?


Yeah, so what is the problem? You set custom defaults for all imports, and off you go.

I still have never noticed a bias toward orange. I find myself adding amber to warm up my photos and video footage.

bishopdante wrote:Regarding the obsolete digital hasselblad option, I think people are underestimating the depreciation on a 12 year old top-end digital camera. H3D is the same price as a second hand canon 5d mkiii today. An H1 is now fully cheap, and is a no nonsense 40 megapixel camera.


H1 Camera Kit - 1 used from $3,249.00

When we enter into the interchangeable lens game, we are buying into a system. The camera body is only one element in that system. I don't think it is good advice to suggesting that a person learning photography buy very expensive professional equipment.
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