Tag Archive for 'Review'

LEAP Motion From a Photographers Perspective – A Leap into REALITY!

PinExt LEAP Motion From a Photographers Perspective   A Leap into REALITY!

by Gavin Seim:

Day One: I’m going to get brutal with the reality of how the new LEAP Motion handled REAL WORK. If you want to save time here’s my initial impression.

LEAP does NOT leap out of the box and work well – Maybe that will change in time, but this feels like pre-beta and does not make my work easier.

leap 600x502 LEAP Motion From a Photographers Perspective   A Leap into REALITY!I pre-ordered early and my LEAP finally came today after what must have been more than a year. It had been so long it was almost like magic just to hold the box. WOW, I thought. I can now control my computer just by waving my hands. Minority Report, here I come.. I’ve not actually seen that movie. Is it good?

Anyways that a little voice inside said “Gavin! Though shalt not count thy leaps before they hath jumped” But I still rushed to my studio to try it out. “The waiting will pay off” I thought.

Well, LEAP worked. Sort of. It reminds me of many an encounter with voice recognition software. It looks great in the promos. Then you use it.

I could talk like a hot shot and say how amazing it is and how high tech I am. Because the idea really is cool. But the reality seems to be that LEAP is mostly useless for me right now.  The first thing I realized was how they made it look really pretty, but barely indicated what I needed to do actually use it in the real world. Perhaps that was because there was little practical use. The goofy games hold little interest for me. I want to get something done.

On my production studio desk nothing gets real estate that does not do it’s job. From my precision corded laser mouse to my Medium Wacom tablet. A device has to do something well, or it goes in a drawer.

Once I finally got calibration to work (not pretty on my Mac), I Installed Better Touch (an app that allows for custom commands). Sadly I could not even make it “practical” for the simplest of movements.

First Test: I started with a hand gesture for right and left arrow keys, thinking it might be useful for sorting images in Lightroom. Nope. Unless I held my fingers just right it did not even see the gesture. Trying to think about your hand, while also holding it in the air becomes very tiring VERY fast. It’s mentally and physically frustrating. In practice I ended up waving my hand slowly, then furiously over the device just to browse images with poor results. Not a good sign. Back to the keyboard.

Next Test: I wanted to control the mouse in hopes of using Leap’s touted precision to do things I do with my Wacom, or even basic Finder work without my mouse. Since Leap gave no indication during setup that this was even possible, it took a few minutes to realize that I needed a free app called Touchless. I installed that from Airspace (the app store for Leap) ran orientation and it started to look good. Reality soon set in.

Again I started simple, hoping to use Leap to control the mouse for simple but precise painting, burning and dodging in Photoshop. I got little functionality in Basic Mode so I switched to advanced and got a working curser where I could touch and engage the click – Sometimes. That was when it was not doing random zooming, window switching and the like. I even managed some basic painting and burning. But it was totally unreliable. Sometimes the click would engage and the tool would work, sometimes not. Sometimes it would change the window or do something else. Sound like something else? Here’s looking at you Voice Control.

I know it’s new and I will spend more time with it. But the truth is a great device usually works from the start. If they had simply given us solid reliable mouse/touch integration it would have been a GREAT start. But the reality is this is not even comparable to a mouse or a tablet in ANY practical sense. Since it lacks that, it’s little more than a gimmick with a few games and trinkets attached. So far.

After a year of waiting. Leap is essentially useless for me in any practical sense - I hope this changes, but if they could not give us BASIC functionality after all this time, I fear we’re in trouble.

I know I’m being harsh. But it’s the reality of it for today. I’m trying to be a beta tester. I paid for this. The potential seems real. But I waited, hoping they would get it right. They did not. This looks like another piece that will end up in the drawer. That said I will keep trying for awhile and see if it gets better. If I have a new revelation, I will update this article.

ad ss slim LEAP Motion From a Photographers Perspective   A Leap into REALITY!

Lightroom 4 Is Officially Here

PinExt Lightroom 4 Is Officially Here

lightroom 4 review Lightroom 4 Is Officially Hereby Gavin Seim: Adobe wasted no time getting out of the beta phase. It seems they wanted cha’ching sounds a ringing.

Lightroom 4 is hitting desktops as we speak. Thankfully Adobe did drop the price a good bit to $149 ($79 for upgrades). Something we can probably credit to the Aperture price drop in 2011. Thanks Apple.

All told. LR4 looks pretty good. Not Earth shattering. But good. Sadly there seems to have been few changes from the beta. There were areas some were hoping would get more features. But LR4 has some new develop tools, some refinements and some new modules that will keep us busy.

A few major things to look for include…

  • Changes to the Develop settings, including Shadow, Highlight, White Point and more.
  • Video playback and basic editing support.
  • The book maker module (limited but interesting).
  • More control over Brush and Gradient settings, including localized White Balance.
  • Built in maps module.

Of course there’s more. I’ll be back with some thoughts soon. For now go check it out and let us know what you think in the comments.

More detailed review in the works. This post will be updated… Gav

 

Gavin’s Thoughts on Photoshop CS5. The Straight Dope

PinExt Gavins Thoughts on Photoshop CS5. The Straight Dope

Adobe Photoshop CS5 300x284 Gavins Thoughts on Photoshop CS5. The Straight Dopeby Gavin Seim: I’ll keep this brief because Photoshop CS5 has been out for months now and reviews have been floating all over. Rather than get redundant with an ultra in depth review, I’ll just talk a little about what I think. I’ll be frank and you can make your own decision from there.

Photoshop CS5. Full = $699 – $999.
My overall rating 6.5/10.

New features worth noting…

  • Content Aware tools are the big news in CS5. It works when lassoing and deleting sections of an image, using the healing brush and more. Neat tool, but not perfect. More on that below.
  • New “Mixer Brushes” blend color like paint, similar to something like Painter (but less powerful).
  • Crop has a rule of thirds overlay now (finally).
  • Remastered HDR tools and Pseudo HDR with HDR toning. Better, but not perfect.
  • Remastered Refine Edge. Will find more detailed edges for better masking and has automatic edge decontamination.
  • Puppet Warp allows you to modify in a new ways. Move limbs, horizon lines and more by defining control points.
  • New process versions and improved camera RAW.
  • Mini bridge right within PS.

Content aware fill. This feels more like a beta feature. It got hyped a lot prior to release. Probably over hyped. Once we got the product in our hands, reality set in. Content Aware was not the magical tool that Adobe made it out to be in demo videos and they took some flack for it. I think the problem was that they showed it as being so perfected. Erasing entire areas of photos, cleaning out power lines with a single stoke. It looked wonderful in theory.

Continue reading ‘Gavin’s Thoughts on Photoshop CS5. The Straight Dope’

5 Stock Photography Tips & Shooting the Mediterranean with a pocket Leica!

PinExt 5 Stock Photography Tips & Shooting the Mediterranean with a pocket Leica!
MonteCarlo5 5 Stock Photography Tips & Shooting the Mediterranean with a pocket Leica!

Bright lights of Monte Carlo. ISO 400, 2.5 sec. @ f4

by Lawrence Sawyer. First, let me thank Gavin Seim for the invitation to write a piece on my recent experience shooting stock photography in the Mediterranean. This was a dual-purpose trip: anniversary cruise, and a test of my theory that with the right choice, one could actually shoot salable stock with a point-and-shoot pocket camera. Now, a little background…

I’ve been shooting stock photography since my college days in the early 1980′s, and make a living doing it. I have several thousand images on file at four U.S. agencies and dozens of sub-agents worldwide. I have a new book out, entitled  See It, Shoot It, Sell It! -How to Earn a Great Second Income Taking and Shooting Photographs of Virtually Anything. That title embodies the way I work: I shoot “found images” more than anything else. I have learned over the years that there are countless opportunities to shoot highly marketable images all around us, every day… if we just learn to see them.

So when I’m shooting stock, here are the five main criteria I use in evaluating a scene:

1. Is there a message here? There needs to be either a solid piece of information in this shot, or a pure-magic artistic element to something mundane, like beautiful light on a cityscape.

2. Can I pull it off technically? An elk in a shaft of sunlight is killer if it’s 50 yards away and I have 300 f2.8 with me, but pointless if it’s 500 yards out.

3. Does it have enough appeal that it will sell to a broad audience? I worry about this one less and less, because all images are available now to the whole internet-connected world, and somewhere, there is a buyer for darn near anything.

4. Can I shoot it better than it’s likely already been done? If it’s a scenic shot, I’m careful not to be enamored by the place just because it’s my first visit. But if the light is phenomenal, I’ll roll the dice and shoot first, then ask questions later. The more famous the place, the more skeptical I am of my ability to make great stock on my first visit. I try to research how much a place has been shot before I go in with guns a-blazing.

Continue reading ’5 Stock Photography Tips & Shooting the Mediterranean with a pocket Leica!’

Focus on Better Focus. Lens Align Pro Review & Tips:

PinExt Focus on Better Focus. Lens Align Pro Review & Tips:
The Boys copy 600x428 Focus on Better Focus. Lens Align Pro Review & Tips:

The Crew. Missing in photo, Larry, Steve and Jon

Focus on Focus. A look at micro focus adjustments and the Lens Align Pro calibration system.

by Barry Howell:  Have you ever found a menu option on your camera that made you wonder, “What’s this”? I found such an option on my Nikon D300 called “AF Fine Tune.” My old-school curiosity sent me on a quest to discover its purpose, and how it could improve image quality. With a few quick Google searches, I found multiple forums and discussions about the importance of calibrating lenses to your DSLR camera bodies.

A recurring theme on the ProPhotoShow.com podcasts, and in other various articles, is how to make your images have more impact. There is no bigger buzz kill for photographers than capturing an image we think will be great, only to find that it’s a little soft. There are many variables we can control to ensure optimal sharpness: shutter speed, depth of field, steadying the camera, etc., and I always assumed that if I focused on the right spot, my images would be tack sharp. Guess what? That isn’t always the case, and I was determined to overcome the problem.

Before contacting Michael Tapes at RawWorkflow, I performed a very un-scientific, but effective test of my AF Fine tune option. I was photographing the MN State Boys Hockey Tournament at the Excel Energy Center, a venue that is well lit for television broadcasts. I very carefully focused my Tamron 300 2.8 lens on some helmets lined up on the boards. The scene had great contrast, I was using a monopod, and I figured could get this image dead on. I zoomed in at 100x on the LCD and it looked pretty good. I then went into the menu and made a +5 adjustment, took another shot, and upon inspection realized I had made it worse. Then, I made a -5 adjustment and the image improved noticeably. I knew then and there that I had to calibrate my optics.

Within a week I’d found such a tool; I obtained a Lens Align Pro Focus Calibration System. I invited several photographer friends for a focus calibration party at my studio and we embarked on a journey to make our gear perform better. In our group were five Nikon shooters and one Canon shooter. Between us, we probably had over $50,000 worth of bodies and glass waiting for a checkup. The results were at times sobering, but every lens, once calibrated, focused better than ever before. The calibration method involves the following steps; it took a little trial and error, but they were pretty easy to do reliably.

Continue reading ‘Focus on Better Focus. Lens Align Pro Review & Tips:’

Canon 70-200 2.8L IS II Review. V1 vs V2 Comparison:

PinExt Canon 70 200 2.8L IS II Review. V1 vs V2 Comparison:

by Gavin Seim: Canon just released version II of the 70-200 2.8 IS, which may be their most legendary lens ever. My friends Ben & Molly from Nickles photography just got the new 70-200 2.8 IS II in their hands, so I went over for some tests (thanks for the help Ben). Being that the V1 is such a great lens, many (including myself) have been wondering how much it could be improved. And with a price tag of nearly $2500, it better offer something new. According to Canon the V2 “increases the speed, performance and optical quality of the 70-200, while maintaining all of the characteristics that have made it a legend“.

Well the images are in and so is this lens. I think Canon nailed it. Now granted their can be differences between one lens and another of the same model and my V1 lens is a few years old. It’s still in excellent working order however so I feel the comparison is pretty fair. These examples were all shot in RAW on the 5D MK2 under the same conditions and settings for each sequence. Images were processed in Lightroom 2, but no adjustments were added except that Camera Calibration in was set to Camera Standard.

Aside from the image quality I found a couple of interesting things. The V2 seems to shoot nearly 1/3 stop brighter and with a tad wider view than the V1. I checked this using a tripod for the detail tests to make sure the camera position would be the same. The V2 does indeed seem to be a few mm wider. I don’t know what that would be, I’m just showing what I found. I don’t see this as a big problem however. In fact the V2 letting in more light seems a good thing.

So far I’m impressed. See for yourself below. I’m posting full frames alongside tight details crops of each image. You can click any for a larger view,. You can also download the package of full res JPEG files at the bottom of the post if you want to take a close look. You can find this lens here on B&H or here on Adorama or here on Amazon. OK lets get started.

Image Stabilization Tests.
For each test I hand held 2oomm at 1/20th, supporting the lens barrel with my left and pressing the body firmly against my face. I took 5 consecutive shots for each comparison so I could account for variations in my own steadiness (or lack thereof). The results shown are the sharpest image from each sequence of five images, as well as crop zoomed in view of the same. While the V1 was good, the V2 of the lens was clearly better, producing consistently better IS performance.

PPS 70 200 LR 001 600x400 Canon 70 200 2.8L IS II Review. V1 vs V2 Comparison:

It can't be said that IS is not useful. Even on the V1 it makes a huge difference. But on V2... Well read on.

Continue reading ‘Canon 70-200 2.8L IS II Review. V1 vs V2 Comparison:’