How Important are EXIFs to You?


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Today, I met up with a photography buddy of mine and got onto the subject of EXIFs. In the analog era, many photographers used to take little notebooks with them in order to jot down settings and exposure parameters. This is/was particularly useful for the development (push/pull), error and cause search (how can you get to the bottom of interesting optical effects without knowing the shooting parameters?). Nowadays, this information is automatically included in any photo file. Despite diverse “safety nets” that easy-to-use, digital technology brings in its wake, there is still need for this information from a photographer’s point of view. But what is the advantage for the viewer, if EXIFs are included in the file or captioned under an image?

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Fascinating and bizarre: Anelia Lobuser’s ‘Alienation’


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As the US-American psychotherapist, self-help author and motivational speaker Wayne Dyer once said: “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” Supposedly this very quote gave Loubser the idea to change her approach to portrait photography. The result of this altered perspective are portraits which look like anything (aliens, ninjas, etc.) but captures of human faces. Despite the simple recipe (take a photo of eyes and forehead, rotate by 180 degree and convert to BW), which makes you ask yourself why didn’t you think of that, the Alienation photos have a very complex emotional effect. While viewing them, you feel fascination, amazement, discontent and even disgust at the same time. If you lean back or zoom out in your browser, the upside-down half-portraits look even more like portraits of aliens. Considering the title of the photo project, that is no doubt the underlying intention. ;)

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Sigma News & Rumors: Sigma 150-600mm f5-6.3 OS HSM Sports and 18-300mm f3.5-6.3 OS HSM Contemporary are coming!


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As Sigma-Rumors has reported today, in a few day Sigma is going to announce the weather sealed 150-600mm f/5-6.3 OS HSM Sports super-telephoto and the 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3 OS HSM Contemporary super-zoom. Whether the 14-24mm f/4 OS, 24/1.4 Art und 85/1.4 Art will also be announced during the Photokina show is yet unknown. As you can imagine the two zooms are aimed at Tamron counterparts, but rely on a mixture of more complex optical design, higher weight and larger size.

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Sigma News & Rumors: SPP 6.0.6 and DP2Q Firmware 1.02 are now available!


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Today Sigma has released the SPP Version 6.0.6 and a new Firmware Version 1.02 for the DP2 Quattro. The changelogs look promising. After the update, the camera is supposed to focus more reliably on dark, low-contrast motifs and it is supposed to get a “what you see is what you get” live view mode. SPP 6.0.6 is supposed to no longer have the „Beer Garden“ bug – at least that’s how I’m interpreting the text – resolution and saturation of the red channel are supposedly improved and a bug regarding multiple (external) hard drives has supposedly been fixed.

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Sigma DP2Q vs DP2M Part 1: Noise Performance


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Like I promised a few days ago, I’m now posting the noise performance comparison of the DP2 Quattro and the DP2 Merrill. Before I proceed to analyse the results, I would first like to say some things about in-camera settings as well as SPP and Lightroom settings. I haven’t taken any photos at ISO6400, because neither of the cameras/sensors delivers usable image quality at this sensitivity setting. The photos were made with both cameras set to M mode, in order to eliminate mistakes due to different exposure metering systems and to determine whether one of the cameras/sensor is cheating ISO-wise. I’ve covered the ISO100-3200 sensitivity range with both cameras, the ISO3200 X3Fs however were developed once in color, once in BW with standard settings and once by using the blue channel workflow. Merrill as well as Quattro X3Fs were developed in SPP 6.0.5 and exported as 16bit TIFFs, the setting were all set to 0, except for sharpness (-2) and noise reduction (all sliders set to far left = NR off). Because all Merrill photos had a green color cast, I used Lightroom to correct white balance and to make the colors orange and yellow a bit more reddish. I’ve uploaded the photos in full resolution (Merrill 15MP; Quattro 20MP) to Flickr. Just click on the photos in order to view them large or download them. Let us now turn to the photos:

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Sigma News & Rumors: discontinued lenses and possible replacements


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A few days ago Sigma-Rumors posted a list of recently discontinued lenses and their possible replacements. Unlike the list posted at the beginning of July, this one doesn’t seem to be based on rumors and insider information, but rather on speculation by the SR admin. Some of the mentioned lenses (50-150/2.8 Sports, 70-200/2.8 Sports, 70-300/4-5.6 C, etc.) have, at least to my knowledge, never been mentioned by other rumor sites before. The many question marks and excessive use of subjunctive come therefore as no surprise. ;)

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Do you still shoot film?


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I haven’t thought about analog photography in a very long time. Only after it was reported four weeks ago, that some large Hollywood studios want to rescue Kodak’s motion picture film business by committing to buy fixed quantities of film in the following years, did I begin to ponder about the good old medium again. Nevertheless I was surprised by the announcement that Italian film manufacturer Ferrania is intending to resume production. I’m aware that film is by no means dead. Relatively new companies like Lomo and Impossible Project appear to be making good money by selling analog cameras and film, those are however small companies that have specialized in a market niche. I’m dying to know, who the people are who buy film nowadays, and who keep Fuji’s film division alive and give Ferrania hope for a profitable future? Does one of you still shoot film?

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Additional DP2Q insights and many cat photos


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After my last blog post regarding the Quattro I’ve had time to investigate the noise reduction, sharpening and to Sigma users well-known BW blue channel workflow in SPP 6.0.5. As of yet I have no presentable test samples. By the end of this week I will do a noise performance comparison of the DP2Q and DP2M and use that opportunity to upload some photos, which will reinforce my following statements.

The BW workflow, in which one could use only the blue channel information in order to reduce noise, is definitely a thing of the past. By converting Merrill X3Fs in BW in such a manner, noise could be reduced by 1-2 stops. Applied to Quattro X3Fs, the workflow shows no effect whatsoever.

The chroma noise reduction in SPP 6.0.5 seems to be working completely differently than in 5.5.3. At least up to the middle value – I would advise against bumping NR any further, since it could lead to photos looking completely desaturated. Chroma NR no longer has the effect known from the clarity slider in Lightroom.

In my last blog post, I said that the sharpness slider in SPP 6.0.5, applied to Quattro X3Fs, appeared to be much more sensitive. Now I can confirm this. If you set sharpness to -2 Quattro X3Fs appear considerably less sharp than those of Merrills set to the same sharpness value in SPP 5.5.3. In order for Quattro X3Fs to appear as sharp as Merrill X3Fs with sharpness set to -2 in 5.5.3, one has to set sharpness in 6.0.5 to a value between -1 and -1.3.

Now we come to the images, the cat pics. Those of you who can’t stomach cat photos any longer, should not scroll down. I’ve warned you. ;)
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Can humans see infrared? With a special diet they can!


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A typical human eye can detect light in a wavelength range of 380 to 700nm. As is well known freshwater fish are able to see in the near infrared range (NIR), by transforming Vitamin A2 into the visual pigment porphyropsin (or something along those lines). Science for the Masses, a group of individuals dedicated to open source science, wanted to conduct an experiment to prove that humans can also obtain NIR vision, by limiting Vitamin A1 consumption and instead supplementing their diet with Vitamin A2. In October last year the group applied on Experiment, a crowd-funding platform for scientists and researchers, to obtain the necessary financial resources. The experiment began two weeks ago and is already delivering its first results.

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U.S.Copyright Office: Monkey Selfies Can’t Be Copyrighted


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Hardly three weeks after the monkey business revolving around the monkey selfie ensued, the US Copyright Office made a comment on the issue in its 1,222-page long document “Compendium of US Copyright Office Practices, Third Edition“. Just as a quick reminder: 2011 a crested black macaque took the said monkey selfie, which you can view below, with a camera belonging to the British nature photographer David Slater. Since the photo wasn’t captured by a human and since not a single copyright law in the world recognizes animals as creators/authors, Wikimedia declared it public domain, added it to its commons library and subsequently refused Slater’s take-down request. According to latest interviews Slater was intent of taking legal action against Wikipedia, but before this could take place, the US Copyright Office released the above-mentioned document.

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 Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

© nameless crested black macaque (taken with David Slater‘s camera)

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