I just saw this, but there’s been plenty of discussion around the new “features” that Adobe has added in Lightroom CC 2015.1 or whatever they’re calling the CC release that corresponded with Lightroom 6.1. Adobe has made some weasily comments about how they’d be in violation of various laws—which they almost certainly wouldn’t—if they added these new “features” to Lightroom 6.1 and blah blah blah. I don’t really want to get into it, instead I want to talk about working around the stupidity that this imparts.
Overall there is one big laugh in this whole matter. Lightroom CC 2015.1, Lightroom 6.1, and the equivalent Adobe Camera RAW (9.1in CS6, I’m not sure what the version is for CC), all use the same code base and rendering engine, all support the same adjustments. If you stop and think about it this make sense for two reasons. First, it allows Adobe to cut costs and maintain one code base. More importantly, it means that there aren’t all kinds of stupid compatibility breaking issues when moving from version to version. That is, you can dehaze an image in LR CC or ACR for PS CC, and send it to someone as a DNG, and they’ll be able to open it in Lightroom 6.1 and see the image rendered properly.
This was of course rapidly discovered by people looking to see what the software supported, and very quickly there was discussions online at DPReview and other sites about this. Of course, it didn’t take long for someone to make the leap and try building develop presets in Lightroom CC for dehaze then copying them to a Lightroom 6.1 installation to see if they worked.
It shouldn’t take a rocket scientist to guess what the results were. Yep, the dehaze presets work just fine in Lightroom.
Since this revelation, several people have jumped out on this revelation offering free dehaze presets for download. The first ones I came across were from a company called ProLost.
I have to make a bit of an aside here on this. ProLost, I’ve nothing against you except for this. You want me to register to download a free zip file containing some text files. I understand it was probably easiest for you to stick them in the same e-commerce platform you use for your other stuff, and I don’t fault you for selling stuff at all, but in this day and age where sites are being hacked left, right, and center, creating an account and providing any information just to get something for free is not what I consider a good idea. Sorry guys, I’m not downloading your dehaze presets, I’ll generate my own.
With that said, if you’ve ever done anything with Lightroom develop presets, you’d know that they’re just text files. And text files are easy enough to generate on their own. So I built my own set of Dehaze presets, which I’m making available here for free—and no you don’t need to register an account or give me any info to download them.
Download and Installation
In the zip file, there are 3 folders, Dehaze 1, Dehaze 5, and Dehaze 10. These correspond with presets that step through the complete dehaze range (–100 to 100) in increments of 1, 5, and 10 step increments. If you don’t want the smaller increments, don’t copy that folder into your Develop preset folder.
To install them, unzip the downloaded zip file and drop one or all of the “Dehaze #” folders into either of the following folders (replace _your_user_name_here_ with your actual username).
Back in May, I went on an Alaska cruise. Admittedly it wasn’t a photography oriented cruise, but it was Alaska, and I had my camera which was good enough for me. Our first port of call was Ketchikan, Alaska, and from there was a short floatplane excursion over to Misty Fjords National Monument in the Tongass National Forrest.
For those who’ve never done this, my understanding of the operation is that the float planes fly from the port in Ketchikan out into the Misty Fjord National Monument, and land on one of a number of lakes. Exactly which lake, appears to depend on which lakes already have a plane landed on it, the range and speed of the planes in question, and the weather conditions at any various lake.
On the day I was there, the weather was extremely good, and we were the first plane in the air (at least as far as I know), ultimately resulting in our plane touching down on Big Goat Lake. Big Goat lake is a high mountain lake, with a surface level at about 1800 feet, and a depth around 800 feet. Or put another way, it’s a long way to the bottom to get your camera back if you drop it.
While I was in Alaska, I jumped at any opportunities I could get to get up in a small plane or helicopter. As a photography, getting into the air is one of the best ways to find a different angle to set your work apart.
Big Goat Lake, Misty Fjords National Monument, Tongass National Forrest, Alaska
Of course there is one caveat to that, to get really good images one needs to be not be shooting through glass or plexi windows, and that’s not what you’re going to be doing when you’re flying on a cruise ship driven excursion. If you’re really serious about this, you need to charter a plane or helicopter, be harnessed in and take the door off. Only then can you insure that your images won’t be ruined by the window you’re shooting through.
That said, just getting aloft provides an amazing perspective on the Alaskan wilderness, even if you’re not photographing it.
Needless to say, there was little of value in the few images I shot on the flight, and in many respects I think I would have been better off not shooting at all and simply enjoying the flight.
On the other hand, once we got to the lake, we had the opportunity to get out and stand on the floats, and take pictures or just take in the sites. Which is where I mad the two images in this post.
Shooting from the floats was also an interesting challenge. There isn’t much in the way of standing space, and like I said, it’s a long way to the bottom of the lake. Never mind, even though there’s non-slip coatings over almost every surface you can stand on, it’s still wet from the landing and still somewhat slippery even if it’s mostly in your head. Suffice to say one having a heavy pro camera and zoom lens while holding on to the wing strut and trying to compose and focus an image is an interesting experience that everyone should try once.
Big Goat Lake, Misty Fjords National Monument, Tongass National Forrest, Alaska
I couldn’t write about an experience like this without at least giving a cursory thought to what I’d do differently if I did it again. My biggest complaint was the quality of the lens I brought, and I’d really would have liked to have had something considerably better, especially in the corners. Something like the EF 24–70mm f/2.8L II USM would have been a great choice in the image quality department. I had considered the viability of a prime while I was considering this, however, in looking at the metadata for the images I shot, I’m all over the zoom range from 24mm to 105mm. So while a 50mm f/1.8 or 24mm f/2.8 would have been a much lighter option, it wouldn’t have been nearly as flexible.
What I probably would have changed was the strap I had. I was using my ThinkTank camera straps, which I really like for pretty much everything. However, they’re not quite long enough to wear across one’s chest and over a shoulder. Getting in and out of the plane somewhat necessitated having the camera behind me, and I could do that with the strap I had, but getting it into position to shoot required some serious adjustment while out on the float. In some ways I think something like a Black Rapid might have been a better solution strap wise.
In any event, getting up in the air and especially down on the lake netted two of my favorite pictures from my trip to Alaska.
The last time I posted to the blog, I was just getting started with measuring the capacities of my AA NiMH rechargeable batteries. With twenty-four 2000 mAh Eneloops and sixteen 2500 man Amazon Basic batteries, the process was almost painfully slow.
The Lacrosse Tech BC–700 charger I got can discharge at no better than 350mA, and charge at no better than 700mA. That means for a 2000 mAh battery, that’s almost 6 hours for each discharge and 3 hours to fully charge. On top of that, before the charger discharges the battery it fully tops it up, so there’s a further charge cycle—though a much shorter one than a full charge—that has to complete as well. At 9–12 hours per 4 batteries, I averaged about somewhere just under 2 sets a day for the duration.
The good news is that time has been pretty kind to my first generation eneloops. I looked at both the percent of the typical and minimum capacities, anything lower than the minimum I’ve pulled from photographic usage but I’ll probably keep them for remote controls and computer mice since they’re low power applications.
Eight of my 24 Eneloops I’ve deemed unworthy to continue as part of my photographic energy reserve. All of these batteries tested at less than the published 2000 mAh minimum capacity for the Eneloops. The worst of these measure at a dismal 1583 mAh, the best at 1863 mAh, with most in the 1700 mAh range. I’ll probably keep these for the time being and stick them in IR remotes or something low power.
Prior to heading to Alaska last May I had a chance opportunity to photograph a couple of warblers (including the male Blackpoll Warbler at the top of this post), and a Spot-breasted Oriole in my yard. Being later in the afternoon I also grabbed my flash and better beamer for some fill, only to go 5 frames and have my flash start taking 30-second or longer to recycle—not good.
For as long as I’ve been using flashes, I’ve been a big fan of low self-discharge NiMH batteries, specifically Sanyo’s Eneloops. The deck is really stacked in their favor.
To start with they last and last. I have 24 first generation Eneloops, all of which are 5 years old or older. I can’t even begin to count the number of recharges they’ve gone through, but it’s certainly more than the 7–10 needed to break even on costs compared to alkalines. Moreover, NiMH batteries work better in flashes than alkaline anyway; thanks to the chemistry, you get more flashes and faster recycle times. Finally, the low self discharge type insure that if I go for a couple of months without needing my flashes, my batteries won’t have self-discharged into unrecoverable death. Compounding the last point, my first generation Enloops are rated to keep 75% of their change a year after charging. That means not only will they not be dead after a couple of months of disuse, but I probably won’t have to charge before I use them either.
All told, seeing those kinds of recycle times on batteries that I knew were recharged in the last 60 days or so I was concerned I’d have dead batteries when I needed them in Alaska.
I’m one of the few people in the US that bought an EOS M.
Objectively it wasn’t the best mirrorless camera on the market. It’s AF was slow, it’s image quality was middling at best, and it was quirky and a bit undersized to be really comfortable–especially with a big EF lens on it. Faults and all, though, I still like the camera.
Unfortunately for me, the rest of the US market, who are notoriously not into mirrorless cameras anyway, were even less enthusiastic about the EOS M and sales apparently were below awful. Or at least that’s the story that seems to make most sense. In the US, we got the initial model, a firmware update, and that was it.
Part of the problem with the M in the US was likely that it was a mirrorless and there still seems to be a very strong preference for DLSRs here. The other problem was probably that it was initially very expensive for what it offered. I certainly didn’t buy one when they were released, and almost certainly wouldn’t have had the price not been cut as much as it was. Functionally, Canon was asking entry-level DSLR pricing for what really was a high-end compact camera that just happened to have interchangeable lenses and a big sensor.
The M2 update wasn’t especially interesting from my point of view, even if it had been released in the US. It added wireless and improved the AF performance, but didn’t really change the fundamentals of the camera’s ergonomics and usability.
That brings us to now. Right on the heels of the EOS 5DS series announcements, at least everywhere else in the world but the US, Canon also announced the successor to the EOS M line the EOS M3. Since it won’t be marketed in the US, it’s unlikely we’ll see a tremendous amount of information about it. Even DPReview’s hands on preview is extremely limited at this point.
That said, even just looking through the product literature from Canon UK, it’s hard not to see where Canon has made huge improvements to the camera.
I’m a Canon shooter, and new Canon cameras are always an interesting time for me. On one hand, I’m always somewhat excited about the prospect of cool new hardware. On the other hand, there’s always the grudging feeling that whatever they release, it isn’t going to release something that is as good as it could or should be.
I should note, I don’t have a advanced/prerelese copy of the 5DS or 5DS R, these ramblings are my impressions about the UI and design based on the material that Canon has made publicly available to the press, as well as through interviews with sites like DPReview. My speculation and analysis here may prove to be completely incorrect in many ways.
Canon has now announced their new generation of high resolution cameras, the 5DS and 5DS R. The aim, so far as I can tell, is to plug the hole in Canon’s lineup for a high resolution body left by the discontinuation of the 1Ds mark III and the 5D mark III being only 23MP.
At 50.6 MP the 5DS series pose to provide medium format levels of pixels. Lots of pixels are nice, but what really remains to be seen is whether they can deliver quality, let alone medium format quality, in any of the other areas.
Let me get right to the while elephant in the room, dynamic range.
Please excuse me while I rant for a moment. For almost the entire time I’ve been a photographer I haven’t owned a laptop worth talking about. I have a very distinct memory of sitting in Louis Armstrong Airport outside of New Orleans trying to do some basic editing on some images I had shot while I was there. Before I made it through a single image, I had already given up and turned off the even at that time ancient laptop.
In short, until just recently, I haven’t had any reason to care about getting images between computers in Lightroom. That’s not to say I wasn’t sensitive to the problems, I have friends that run into Lightroom’s piss poor support for multiple computers, it’s just never been something that’s struck home enough to really get my feathers ruffled.
I had the opportunity to spend a bit of time helping a friend setup and test his new Canon Pixma Pro 100. I’ve been printing my own A3+ (13×19 inch) prints for almost 4 years on a Pixma Pro 9000 mark II, so I was interested to see if the Pro 100 was a worth while upgrade to my Pro 9000 mark II; especially given that there’s currently (until Jan 31, 2015) a $250 or more dollar rebate on the current Pixma Pro printers (1, 10, and 100).
While my primary purpose was to help my friend get settled in with his first pro level photo inkjet, I had my own questions. My big question was whether the Pixma Pro 100 would be enough of an upgrade from my Pro 9000 mark II that I should consider getting one while the rebates are running. Beyond that I really wanted to know how the two grays would preform when printing black and whites compared to the single black in my printer.
Cameras and their batteries have long been a point of annoyance for me. I’ve complained about the lack of compatibility options for Canon’s pro batteries and battery grips. However, that’s a complaint to rehash another time, I want to talk today about the other battery we have to deal with, AAs for flashes.
It didn’t take long to discover that NiMH batteries are the way to go for flashes. Their chemistry proves more current which lowers recycle times, and they generally seem to get more pops than alkaline batteries do. Moreover, since they can be recharged 100s times, they’re considerably cheaper than alkalines, not to mention the environmental benefits of reduced waste.
With some of my ’loops coming up on 5 years old, it’s starting be time to think about replacing them as their capacities start to diminish due to age and use. While doing some research on the current state of the art in low self-dischage NiMHs, I cam across the discussion thread that was the catalyst for this idea. It seems, that Sanyo, the makers of Eneloops, was bought by Panasonic and the current ’loops are ’loops in name but not necessarily performance.
That got me thinking about the fundamental premise of powering flashes.
Why do we still use AAs in our flashes?
Why instead, haven’t the flashes switched over to Li-Ion packs? Perhaps even the same ones that are used to power our high end DSLRs.
From a technical perspective, the idea at least passes the sniff test. Four NiMH AAs typically will provide between 9.6 and 13Wh of energy. Comparatively Canon’s LP-E6s or Nikon’s En-EL15s also provide 13Wh of energy plus or minus a bit. At least at first glance, you should get as many pops from the camera batteries as you do from the NiMHs and probably more.
Recycle time is harder to speculate about without a lot more information I don’t have; both on the batteries and the flashes. There are Li-Ion and Li-Polymer packs that can sustain current draws far in excess of anything NiMH batteries can do, but it’s doubtful that Canon or Nikon’s camera batteries are designed for that. On the other hand, if the flash is already limiting the current to what’s reasonable for NiMHs, then there very well could be no different or an improvement in recycle ties with a Li-Ion based solution.
As far as size goes, a LP-E6 pack is longer than an AA cell, but not so much that it’s wider than a Canon 600Ex-RT already is. Likewise, the overall volume and height of a LP-E6 pack is smaller than the quartet of AAs used currently.
Technical points aside, the point that I like the most is the simple elegance of having fewer batteries and type of batteries to worry about. Well at least for users with high end DSLRs.
Okay, I admit this part is entirely personally motivated by my own aesthetic sense of how systems like this should be design. I have a very strong attraction to interoperability for the sake of redundancy and eliminating the necessary extras that come with having to support more parts.
I picked the LP-E6 and EN-EL15 largely because they’re what’s used by the cameras I suspect would be owned by the majority of people interested in a higher end flash. For Canon that includes the 60D, 70D, 7D (mark I and II), and 5D (mark II and III); for Nikon it’s the V1, D7000, D7100, D600, D610, D750, D800, and D810. The really high end users, those with 1Des and D4es, wouldn’t see the reduction in battery types, but they also wouldn’t be any worse off than they are now in that respect either.
All that said, I can see some sticking points. The big one is cost, AA are dirt cheap, even the good rechargeable ones. A single LP-E6 costs more than a 16 pack of good NiMHs. There’s also the fact that you can’t really scrounge the Li-Ion batts like you can AAs. People aren’t going to be keen on lending you a $60–70 battery they might not get back, where they might not care about $5 in AAs. Plus you can’t walk into any number of convenience stores anywhere in the civilized world, and buy a LP-E6; you can do that with AAs.
On the other hand, I’m not sure the disadvantages outweigh the ability to shed AAs and their chargers, or the potential for increased redundancy in spare battery capacity and compatibility that comes from having everything run from one type of battery.
I think this is a good idea, but I’d love to here what you think. If you see some flaw that I missed or think it’s a neat idea too, leave a comment below.
As I understand it, when Panasonic bought Sanyo, due to anti-trust concerns, they got the brand name, but not the manufacturing facilities where the eneloops were made. Instead Panasonic appears to be transitioning the Eneloop brand to their production facilities in China. According to at least one user test these batteries don’t preform like the eneloops of just last year. ↩