photoblogography - Just some stuff about photography

40 x 30 printing

in Olympus E-System , Saturday, February 07, 2004

Just a quick note today. I've just printed my first full A3 borderless print from an E-1 photo. This was the big test... ...well it is certainly up to 35mm 4800dpi scan standards. I simply enlarged to 30 x 40cm at 200dpi in Photoshop CS, using one step with Bicubic Smoother. The photo itself was probably not the best example. Tomorrow, hopefully, I'll try something more challenging. But so far everything looks good!

At Last!

in Olympus E-System , Friday, February 06, 2004

Finally I managed to get out to take a few photos. I hoped that the weather would work for me, but finally it was a bit bland. Anyway, I got a bit of real-world experience using the E-1 in evening light. _2060100.jpg This photo was taken using the 14-54mm lens with 1.4 teleconvertor, at ASA 200. I'm impressed with the colour rendition, although I quickly discovered two things: in this sort of light, it pays to underexpose by about 2/3 when using ESP. Second, the LCD screen is of very limited use in judging colour. One annoyance: it is a great pity that when the screen displays a shot after it is taken, that you can't press INFO to bring up the histogram. This is weird. If I start pressing appropriate buttons at this point the camera should realise I want to go into review mode and just let me. One bit of user stupidity: I had real trouble with the AF, and was constantly correcting it. Im some cases I found it impossible to focus even in manual mode. Later, when showing the camera to a guy in the shop I bought it from, who hadn't seen an E-1 yet, he pointed out that the diopter was way off. I must have moved it when changing the eyecup.... oops.

Hello ? Anybody here ?

in Olympus E-System , Thursday, February 05, 2004

I've been a bit quieter than planned this week. Unfortunately the aftermath of a mega-party last weekend (not that I'm complaining) and a workload from hell this week (yes, here I am complaining) has kept the E-1 very unused.

However, one small development: I ordered the Studio software (I can't wait for Photoshop CS to maybe support the E-1 forever) and the EP-2 Eye Cup. The EP-2 is really worth it. It helps cut out external distractions when looking through the viewfinder and really rounds off the handling. I paid about 30 CHF for it (20 Euros, so $20 give or take).

Oh, and the software and EP-2 took under 2 days to arrive at my dealer after I placed the order, so here in Switzerland anyway there doesn't seem to be any problem getting Studio.

We shouldn't have to pay for it though...

Photos soon - PROMISE!


Changing the focusing screen

in Olympus E-System , Friday, January 30, 2004

...well it may just be me, but this is far from easy. Olympus supply a really bizarre tweezer tool which seems to be mainly designed to make life difficult. First of all, if you're going to try this, read the instructions. But not too carefully, because they're not very helpful. The trick is that everything is actually far less tactile than you'd expect. To start with, there is talk of a tab that needs to be pulled down using the tweezers. Well, first the aperture that gives access to this tab is too small to get the tweezers into. What actually seems to happen is that somehow you sort of brush the tweezers against the tab (certainly you do not "pull it down" as the instructions say) and then the screen swings down. Although "swings" is again too strong a word. Collapses is better. Then you've got to remove the screen by grabbing a protruding tab with the bloody tweezers. The thing is, this would be much easier if this tab was the same size as is illustrated on the instructions. It isn't, it's tiny, and again the tweezers seem to be designed to thwart you. By this point one starts to wonder if all this poking around in $1700's worth of camera is such a good idea. Anyway, once you've grabbed it the old screen doesn't so much slide out as (you've guessed it) fall out, although by some miracle it didn't (a) jam itself behind the mirror or (b) fall on the carpet. So, next step, grab the new screen and insert it. Well getting it out its bag is challenge #1. It obviously liked it in there. Then, using aforementioned tweezers, one simply places it on the holder. Now this is really where I lost the plot for a while. I expected to slide into some locating grooves or something, and much head scratching ensued. In fact, as it turns out you sort of balance it on the holder and push the holder back up. Somehow everything stays where you put it. It all feels a bit flimsy but it seems to work. Next, remove the grid screen, very carefully blow air on it to remove the dust that somehow went along for the ride, and put it back in again - at least you'll know how to do it by now! Is it all worth it ? I think so. I found with the standard screen, in what is after all a very small (albeit very nice) viewfinder, you need all the help you can get to keep horizons horizontal and so forth. But the instructions on such a delicate operation could be a bit clearer. And those tweezers should go back to the medical lab they came from...

Feeding frenzy

The annual PMA show is due, where the photographic industry will display its latest offerings. The net is going crazy with speculation on what will Canon do, what will Nikon bring, etc etc, and it is verging on hysteria. What are people getting excited about ? Well, we have the new Nikon D70, which is Nikon's answer to Canon's mass-market (sort of) 300D DSLR. It actually looks like a fairly bland box, if you peel away the hype. A 6Mpix DSLR in a so-so housing, with, admittedly, some nice features which to a neutral observer gives it a slight edge over the 300D - which of course has been on the market for 6 months, a lifetime in the new world of digital photography. But, finally, the D70 is a capable and relatively economic tool for taking photos. Yep, that's it. And yet some people seem to be investing all their waking hours in furious debate over this thing that so far nobody has even seen. And the Canon-Nikon thing is really bizarre - far worse than the old Mac-PC wars. WHY ? Any Canon, and Nikon is probably capable of better results than 99% of photographers are ever going to achieve. They do more or less exactly the same things, and yet people are prepared to scream at each other endlessly about trivial technical details rather working out how to get out of that 99%.

But it gets worse, because at least up until recently these religious wars have been fought over existing devices. Now they're fought over marketing and press releases.

As a recent DSLR purchaser, delighted by the radical new workflow, I can understand that people get emotionally attached to their new toys - but I can't understand this urge to rubbish everything else. Clearly it is in the interest of all the manufacturers to collude in stirring this up. And to feed the frenzy by releasing new models every 6 months, hyped up with elaborate "leaks" and other guerilla marketing tactics. They're laughing all the way to the bank.

And meanwhile, how long will it take for people to remember that a camera - any camera - is just a box designed to capture light, and to get back to the basics of better photography. I suspect never in fact - the digital revolution has spawned a new type of customer, a mutation of the computer nerd, who's idea of photography is midday shots of Disneyworld taken with a $3000 camera and has no idea what those A, S & M settings are for.

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