Keeping track of Lensbaby Data

For anyone used to EXIF data, it can be frustrating not having lens and F-stop data from Lensbaby lenses. You can take notes, for instance in the Lensbaby Field Guide, which is great for the purpose, but taking notes can be cumbersome in the field.

My first version of lens tracking was to take a picture of the lens/optic before putting it on the camera, which gets you the information on the lens you are using but can be a little problematic since you might not have the opportunity to, or you can easily forget to, take the image before putting the lens on, and you do not get f-stop data.

My latest version is a card (well, a folded piece of paper) that lists the current (and some out of production) lenses and optics on one side, and the F-stops on the other. At any point, you can take a picture of the card with your thumb on the appropriate lens and flip it over for the f-stop (if you want to record that.) Once you import the images to your editor, you can tag them with the appropriate information (most will not let you edit the EXIF data, so I just use keywords) and delete the photos if you want.

Indicate the lens you are using, and flip the card over for the f-stop

Here is a PDF of the card, feel free to print and use it. The blank spaces can be used to add other lenses or other data you would like to add. Fold the page into thirds along the long lines first, then fold it in half. In this format it also fits perfectly in the top of my favorite case for Optic Swap optics:

The GP-2 Kit Case from the MindShift Gear Gear Pouch Bundle – Small or Medium bundles is perfect for three optics and the card (Purchase from Think Tank with this link and get a free gift with a qualifying purchase of $50 or more. Affiliate link.)

Do you have any tips you would like to share? Drop them in the comments below, and remember to use discount code WHOLDMANN at Lensbaby.com for 10% off.

Are High End Memory Cards Really Worth It?

What is the difference between a $20 SD card, and a $120 UHS-II or XQD card, and are the premium cards worth the extra money? I recently got an XQD card and a Sony Tough Card, a hardened UHS-II SD card, and here’s what I found.

The cards used were (links are Amazon Affiliate):

The 3 test cards, slowest to fastest

To test the cards I am using a D850, shooting full resolution 14-bit compressed RAW files in continuous high. I was shooting high ISO to make sure the shutter speed wasn’t slowing it down, and shot the stopwatch on an iPhone. I then took the first 50 shots from each series, and compiled the times (a few times are estimates since the numbers are changing in the image). The running average is based on the current and previous 2 times.

I did not test exporting to my computer since it seemed to be limited by the speed of my external disk as much as anything.

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More shots of the Milwaukee Art Museum

D850, 24mm PC-E, Platypod MAX, 3 Legged Thing ballhead. Processing in Luminar.

Like almost anyone in Milwaukee, I love shooting at the Milwaukee Art Museum. We have a family membership, so I have more opportunities to shoot inside, too. My son and I went last week, and I set up on my Platypod MAX with a 24mm PC-E tilt/shift.

The Platypod is great for getting super-low angle shots like this. I had envisioned the blurred people, so I was shooting with a 6-stop ND filter, about .7 seconds.

The Final. Processing in Capture One Pro 12.
Reuben helping out.

This building is the gift that keeps giving. What are your go-to places to photograph? Leave it in the comments.

62 Megapixels from a Mavic

One of the features of the Mavic 2 Zoom is the Super Res mode. Super Res creates a multi-row panorama that starts at the wide end of the zoom range to compose, and when you hit the shutter button it zooms in and takes 12 images, stitching them into a panorama that covers the original field of view.

I have not used that much, since it creates a JPEG rather than a RAW file, which among other problems loses too much dynamic range. Unfortunately due to the nature of RAW, it is not really possible to save a panorama in RAW. RAW takes the data directly from the sensor and writes it to a file, and that only really works with one image.

Then, I found buried in the settings: “save originals in RAW|JPEG”

In DJI Go 4, select Camera Settings > General camera Settings > Turn on “Save original panorama”, and then select RAW. 

Eureka!

With this I am able to get access to the full dynamic range of the camera, and really high resolution. 

Super Res image, original is about 62 Megapixels
100% crop, bottom center

So far, my workflow is like this:

Import the images into Capture One (or your favorite editor), and edit one of the images. I usually pick either the image with the most of the main subject in it, or the most contrast to set black and white points.

Once you are happy with this, copy the adjustments to the remaining images. Double check them all to make sure the adjustments look alright across all the images. If any further adjustments need to be made, they need to be copied to all the images. 

I export the images as 16-bit TIFFs, which stores the most data, and gives the final panorama almost RAW-like editing options, but take up more space, so you may want to remove them after the panorama is stitched. 

For stitching, I usually start with Photoshop, which is very good about 80% of the time, and pretty much useless in the other 20%. So far the Super Res panoramas stitch well in Photoshop. 

Once the stitch is done and you are happy with it, crop the image, flatten the it, and do any final color and exposure adjustments in Adobe Camera RAW. 

The final images that I created were around 62 megapixel, since you an get a little more around the edges than the default stitching in-camera.

Having the ability to create high resolution images with reasonable dynamic range in RAW format really adds to the flexibility and value of the Mavic 2 Zoom. 

You can get the Mavic 2 Zoom from DJI or Amazon. (Affiliate links)

What Are Optical Brightening Agents (OBAs)?

As you shop for photo paper, or look at my Paper Finder, you may run into papers claiming to be OBA free, or low OBA. What are OBAs, and why would you want to be free of them (or not)?

OBAs are Optical Brightening Agents, also known as Optical Brighteners, Ultraviolet brighteners, or artificial whiteners. When hit with ultraviolet light, they fluoresce, emitting a blueish light that makes the paper look brighter and whiter.

Brighter and whiter are two things we want from our paper, so what’s the problem? The main problem is that the OBAs degrade over time, becoming less effective. This makes the paper look less bright over time, and since the light that the OBA emit has a bluish tint, the apparent color can shift as the OBAs degrade.

If you are unsure of the OBA content of a specific paper, looking at it under a blacklight is the fastest way to check. Papers with OBAs will glow a bright bluish white, while OBA-free papers look a dull purple or pink.

Three different papers under a blacklight, Left to right: Canon Pro Luster, (High OBA), Red River San Gabriel Baryta 2.0 (“Low” OBA), and Breathing Color Signa Smooth 270, an OBA free fine art paper.

The same papers under normal light.

So, should you always avoid OBAs? Probably not. With normal prints the trade off is probably worth it to get the bright white that we expect with a photo paper. Most “photo” papers contain OBAs, so other than a few high-end baryta papers you are going to have OBAs if you want a classic photo look. Photos in an album are probably not going to degrade enough to notice, photos that are properly displayed under glass should look good for many years, and photos displayed in less than ideal conditions can be reprinted in the future. Even fine art prints on archival papers need to be displayed correctly to get the full archival benefits of the materials used.

I have also seen it recommended to display prints under UV blocking glass, since it is the UV light that not only fluoresces the OBAs, but also degrades them. Based on my understanding it seems like this would just make the print look like the OBAs had burned out, since no UV light will fluoresce them. If you are looking for archival permanence, you are probably better off starting OBA free, but if you have a print you want to protect this is probably the best way. Incidentally, even OBA free prints will last longer displayed under UV glass.

In fine art prints, longevity is of paramount importance. This is especially true with limited edition prints, where the photographer commits to only print a certain number of prints, so reprinting is not an option. In the case of selling prints, the buyer should also be considered. Fine Art buyers frequently know exactly what they want, and may demand OBA-free papers. On the other end, people buying postcards or greeting cards may want a photo look, and not expect archival permanence.

Test some different papers (Amazon list, affiliate link), and see what results you like, or check out my paper finder, where you can filter based on OBA content.

MGIC Headquarters Building

 

Designed by Fitzhug Scott-Architects, Inc. of Milwaukee and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill of Chicago, and completed in 1973, the four story MGIC headquarters building is constructed in a unique inverted pyramid design, with each floor extending fifteen feet out from the floor beneath. It is one of several buildings on the MGIC Plaza overlooking Red Arrow park in downtown Milwaukee. 

This photograph was a single ten second exposure, taken on a Nikon D850 at ISO 100, 24mm PC-E tilt shift lens at f/8, and processed in Capture One Pro 11 and Adobe Photoshop (removed a security camera near the roof). Using the color editor in Capture One I was able to tone down the yellow cast in the building from the lights.

Gear and software mentioned (some affiliate links):

Camera: Nikon D850
Lens: PC-E NIKKOR 24mm F3.5D ED
Tripod: 3 Legged Thing Winston
Software: Phase One Capture One Pro

Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church

Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Wauwatosa, WI.
Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Wauwatosa, WI.

Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Wauwatosa, WI. The church was designed by Wright in 1956, and finished in 1961, about two years after Wright’s death. While departing from the traditional Byzantine architecture common in Greek Orthodox churches, Wright incorporated the domed structure and traditional colors into his design.

More information about the church is available on their website, http://www.annunciationwi.org/.

This photograph was taken well into nautical twilight, about 45 minutes after the sun set. It was taken with a Nikon D850 at ISO 100, a 24mm PC-E lens at f/5.6,  on a 3 Legged Thing Winston tripod. It is 3 exposures, 1.6, 6, and 25 seconds, and processed with Aurora HDR 2018.

Gear and software mentioned (some affiliate links):

Camera: Nikon D850
Lens: PC-E NIKKOR 24mm F3.5D ED
Tripod: 3 Legged Thing Winston
Software: Aurora HDR 2018

Tips to Clean Your Own Sensor

Few things are scarier to the average photographer than the idea of cleaning your own DSLR sensor, but if you are careful it is not difficult to do safely and successfully. That said, it is possible to damage your camera, so be slow and careful, and I am not responsible for any damage that you do to your equipment. Read any instructions on cleaning supplies and tools, and follow them over this post.
Sensors need to be cleaned when dust, oil, or other residue is left on in. It is natural for this to occur, and needing to clean the sensor occasionally should not be considered a malfunction. Junk on your sensor is most visible against even backgrounds, like a blue sky, and at higher apertures, although in some cases it will be visible even against busier backgrounds.

dust spots on an image.
A sensor that needs a cleaning.

If you see dust spots on your images, it is time to clean your sensor. If you can see the spots in your viewfinder, the problem isn’t in your sensor, it is ether in the viewfinder or the lens.

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D850 Early Review

I stopped in to the local camera shop over the weekend to put my name on the list for a Nikon D850 (affiliate link), but they actually had one in stock, so I got to take it home immediately. I am normally not on the constant need for the latest and greatest bandwagon, but there were a lot of improvements compared to my D610, and I felt it was worth the upgrade. So far that has definitely been the case.
The headline is the 45.7 megapixel images, but there are a lot of features beyond that to make this a compelling camera.

Continue reading “D850 Early Review”