photoblogography - Just some stuff about photography

telling it like it isn’t

, Wednesday, June 16, 2004

I usually let a lot of what passes for "fact" but is in fact ill-informed opinion on the web to wash over me. But recently a debate has been sparked over an article on a site I link to, maintained by Ken Rockwell. I say on my photo links page that Ken's site has a healthy mixture of satire and sarcasm. But this was two years ago. He seems to have got a bigger head along with the huge lens (what a big one) he struggles to hand hold (!) on his index page (actually in many cases I'd assume that THAT was satire, now, well, probably not). The article that has got many people a bit upset here is this: Ken's learned essay on the futility of RAW. Now, Ken is entitled to his opinions, and even to hold the strange view that not exploiting the full potential of your DSLR is a good thing. But it seems he really does not understand that what he is passing himself off as an authority on. One big problem is his hang-up on "getting it right in the camera". I wonder what he means by this... he seems to think it is only an issue with digital, but, surely, when somebody like Ansell Adams exposed his black & white film to capture shadow, and balanced the overall exposure with complex, time consuming masking in the darkroom - was this because he got it wrong in the first place ? The camera is only part of the picture making process. A well informed DSLR user will deliberately over expose (within clipping limits) in order to get as much detail as possible in shadows. An in-camera JPG of such a capture will indeed look wrong. But in many cases a post processed version, adjust for exposure, will have the same balance as a "nominally" exposed in-camera JPG, but with extended shadow detail. Why does Ken have a problem with this ? I could go on, but finally, since Ken is happy to spray insults at random (e.g landscape photographers using DSLRs are amateurs), I don't feel too bad in saying that Ken's basic problems are down to laziness. Too lazy to understand digital, and too lazy to work on his photography (which, based on some of his hideously garish shots on his website is sorely needed). Why write this ? Not because I have anything particularly against Ken, I'm sure he's a nice guy, but the more people who counter his (in this case) seriously misinformed and biased views, the better. A lot of people are confused about RAW, and are seeking help from experts. They don't deserve this sort of rubbish masquerafing as wisdom. What they DO need is a balanced view with carefully checked facts explained to them, for them to base their own decision on. Such as here, or indeed here.

noise reduction

in Olympus E-System , Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Since Noise Ninja 2.0 has been released as a public Beta for Mac OS X, I've been trying it out on some ISO 3200 photos, and comparing with the Olympus post-processing tools (not in-camera noise reduction). The following sequence of 100% screenshots shows various combinations: nf_off.jpg This is the raw image, no noise reduction of any type nf_on.jpg This has Olympus Studio RAW Noise Filter turned on. nf_on_nr_on.jpg This has both Olympus Studio RAW Noise Filter turned on and Olympus Studio Image Editor Raw Noise Reduction on, set to auto. Note things are getting a bit plasticky nn_only.jpg This has Noise Ninja's supplied ISO 3200 profile applied to an otherwise untreated image. nf_nn.jpg This has Noise Ninja's supplied ISO 3200 profile applied to an image with Noise Filter turned on. nf_nr_nn.jpg This has got everything on - Noise Ninja's supplied ISO 3200 profile applied to an image with Noise Filter on and Noise Reduction set to auto. To my eyes, the best result is to go direct from the raw image to Noise Ninja, without applying any Olympus tools. This may be because the Noise Ninja default profiles are built with this in mind. Note, they're also intended for "average" JPG images, whereas I'm creating 16 bit TIFF from RAW. There is probably quite a lot of scope for improving things by creating profiles for this scenario. It seems to be a fairly straightforward process. It may also be because Noise Ninja produces a more "photographic" rendering, which is more pleasing to the eye. Either way, Noise Ninja is impressive, and makes E-1 ISO 3200 genuinely usable.