Monday, December 19, 2011

And So It Begins - New Cameras

I'm not surprised to read this morning that a rumoured D800 is coming and the predictions are for a 36 mp sensor, with or without low pass filter. Once an official announcement is made, we can anticipate that Canon won't be far behind with something.

The 5D2 has been notoriously "un" waterproof though I must say I have had no diff. using it in the rain and snow. If Canon is to no longer make a high megapixel 1Ds series camera for the most demanding landscape shooters, one would hope they'd do something to toughen the 5D series.

Of course, there were lots of rumours the 1Dx was going to be 40+ megapixels so who really knows. I'm a little relieved I didn't get the 645D - for a functional lifetime of only a year or so (until a 5D2 replacement not only is announced but released and reviewed and found to be suitable).


a wish list for the 5D2 replacement (this is my list, yours might be different for totally valid reasons).

1) lots of pixels - given that doubling the pixels only increases linear print size by 1.41, at least double is what I'd want.
2) no fuzzy (low pass) filter - I can deal with moire as needed. Interestingly, the colour image I showed in the last blog entry, of Horton Cantracting shows sig. moire in the print but not on screen, due to the lines in the asphalt siding. I once before had this problem photographing some lathed metal objects in which the lines from the cutting tool drove the print driver crazy. A slight blurring of the image solved he problem nicely and didn't affect print quality. Again, there was nothing wrong with the image at 100% mag. on screen.
3) tilting LCD screen - to enable high shots and make low shots more comfortable (no more belly to the ground).

Now, if I really had carte blanche for the design, how about a focus blending  routine that could move focus between two predetermined points, amount a function of the lens and distance and f stop, with enough time between exposures to settle any shutter shake - ok, I know, not likely any time soon, but a guy can dream, can`t he.

Which reminds me. A long time user of Helicon Focus, it hasn`t been working for me for about three months - resulting in double and tripple images in places as it struggles to resize the image properly.

Unfortunately, at the same time, since switching to Photoshop CS5, I keep getting ``can`t find the javascript`` errors for many of my automate routines, and since going to cs5, I have also lost the ability in Bridge to access photomerge etc. - probably the same problem.

I was however able to use the auto align and auto blend features under edit in photoshop to properly focus blend the images. I don`t know why Helicon isn`t working for me any more - presumably one of the many updates has somehow changed things or lost a setting. Im using the default settings and the Lanczos 3X3 processing method as before.

If anyone has any brilliant suggestsions for these three problems, I`m listening.



franzamador said...

I'm having trouble finding it, but I remember reading an article claiming that for a full-frame 35mm sensor, 20-ish megapixels is near the theoretical limit of image quality, due to quantum-mechanical noise limits and diffraction.

Do I believe that? Not sure. It seems like tiling the area of a full-frame sensor with a bunch of APS-C sensors ought to work and give lots of high-quality pixels...

Royce Howland said...

I admit I'm a little surprised at the turn events on the 645D choice. :) It's interesting how each of us carve out our own plateaus on the slope of price vs. performance, and what's available now vs. what we hope will become available later. Like you, I heavily used the Live View feature on my 5D Mk II for nailing focus, and that feature remains my most highly rated request should Pentax produce a 645D Mk II or whatever.

However, lack of Live View (or IS, or other similar modern conveniences) so far has not cost me any photos with the 645D if I really wanted to get them. I've lost some convenience, but less than I expected. There are some shots that I can't readily get because they relate to fundamental design issues -- such as lack of tilt-shift lenses in particular. But on my particular journey up the price/performance slope, the 645D occupies a niche I'm quite happy to accept & work with. I can't imagine going back to the 5D Mk II for much of what I've been shooting with the 645D. I've already had a functional life of 1 year out of the Pentax, and fully expect it to last much longer than that. Heck, I still have my original 5D; I occasionally pull it out for something and still think "those images don't look so bad"... for such an "old" DSLR with "only" 12MP. :)

Re: your Photoshop errors, corrupted preferences and corrupted installations seem to account for 99.9% of all PS issues I see. I'd try to reset the prefs first using the magic keystrokes when launching PS. (On Windows, press & hold Alt+Control+Shift while launching the app.) If that doesn't work, you'll probably have to attempt a full uninstall / reinstall cycle.

Re: focus stacking, I can't recommend how to cure the issue with Helicon. I will note that when I evaluated focus stackers, I found Helicon would seem to lose the plot on some projects and I just couldn't get clean results from it. I went with Zerene Stacker Pro instead, and have been super impressed with the job it does on full automatic almost all the time. I rarely need to retouch any output from it, and when I do it's almost always because of subject motion between the frames. I know recommending an alternate product doesn't fix the issue with Helicon, but perhaps it's worth looking into Zerene since focus stacking is a significant part of your workflow.

I'm with you, I dream of fully digital-embracing cameras that can do things like RAW focus stacking and native HDR (not toned JPEG's) in camera. The state of software on the PC is just about to the point where the common cases can be done fully automatically. Now it just needs optimization to pack the software down into something that can run in-camera... from a vendor that doesn't see a digital camera just as a film camera with a sensor instead of film. Stitching has been tackled in-camera with some success (though only in JPEG), I think it's just a matter of time that the frame-blending operations go native & RAW in digital cameras...