Just a little reminder to all you Photoshop users out there. This weekend my book “Essential Photoshop” is free to download from Amazon. Just go to your local Amazon website and search for “Essential Photoshop” or “Robin Whalley” in the Kindle store. On Saturday and Sunday you will find the book is available for free.
I hope you enjoy and have a great weekend.
I’m excited. I have bought a second EM5 body given the recent drop in prices. It’s second hand but has a low shutter count. In fact I didn’t want a new EM5 as I am going to get this one converted to Infrared.
When I had the GX1 converted I used a company called ACS. They did a good job but took an age to do the conversion. This time I have spoken to a company called ProTech who a friend has used for a few conversions.
I hope to take delivery of the camera this weekend and then it’s off for the conversion. I hope to be able to report back in a few weeks time and make some comparisons regarding image quality.
A couple of weeks back I was in the Lake District enjoying some walking and photography. It was during this time that I came across a rather high contrast scene so reached for my filter kit. Regular readers may know that I am a huge fan of the Lee Seven 5 series of filters which are ideal for Micro 43 cameras. The filters may be expensive but the kit is very well engineered with high quality materials.
Anyway, I pulled out my filter holder and tried to slot in one of the ND grads. At first it seemed to fit but then I noticed it was lose. On closer inspection I found out that one of the screws which secures the blades into which the filters slow was missing. Now the blades were lose and so was the filter.
Back home I decided to email Lee Filters to see where I could find a replacement screw as I have never seen these being sold. Result! There was a very fast response from the Lee Customer Service team asking for my address so they could post me a replacement screw.
What I didn’t mention in all this is that I left it quite late to contact Lee Filters and was now facing my next trip without a usable filter holder. Fortunately Lee acted on the email very quickly and the day after my sending my postal address an envelope arrived containing not 1 but 4 of the screws together with the 4 plastic spacers which are also used in the filter holder. What great customer service.
A big thank you to the team at Lee for acting so quickly. You saved my trip.
Since Olympus announced the EM5 MK II I seem to have been asked repeatedly will I be buying the new camera. My answer is “not yet” and “probably not” (although I reserve the right to change my mind).
The spec for the EM5 MK II is very enticing. There is the 40MP RAW image size which looks ideal for Landscapes and indeed this is why a lot of people think I might buy one. My response to this is quite easy as the recent experience with the Nikon D800 reminded me that the additional pixels don’t matter all that much unless you are making a huge print (something I don’t do very often).
The thing that I don’t really like about the 40MP image size is that it requires the sensor to move around very quickly. Apparently this can take a couple of seconds to take the required number of images to stitch into the finished RAW file. If there is movement in the scene it can lead to image quality issues. I would like to see this in operation before I embrace it. It also worries me that the sensor moving around could be prone to mechanical failure and even possible vibration which could also impact image quality. In any case, if I want to create a large print I can always use enlargement software (more on this in a later blog post)
The other improvements to the camera aren’t really that attention grabbing. Sure there is the improved sensor and image processing that might clean up the camera noise by a stop or two, but the EM5 was always great on image noise anyway. In fact the only thing that I think is a huge advance is the articulated rear screen which will move in any direction. That is the only feature that genuinely tempts me to move to the EM5 MK II but that doesn’t really justify the expenditure.
Now if anyone out there who reads this has the new MK II and previously owned an EM5, I would be very interested to learn if you think the new camera is a big step up and why.
I have decided to give away my bestselling book in March. On the 14th and 15th March 2015 you will be able to download “Essential Photoshop” for FREE on Amazon (here is the link for Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk). It’s intended to take you from knowing very little to having a good grounding in the key adjustment skills every photographer needs. So if you don’t already have this book grab yourself a free copy on one of these two days (depending on your country or time zone you may need to be patient as there can be some variation in the exact time the book becomes free).
Now I do want to ask a favour in return but it’s not a tough one – please share this blog post with every photographer you know so that they can also take advantage of the free download. Let people know in any way you can that the book will be free on the 14th and 15 March. Post the news on facebook, tweet it, share it on forums, send an email, perhaps even resort to just telling people.
Thanks and I hope you enjoy the book.
This week’s Friday image comes from my recent trip to the UK Lake District. I post this not because it’s a great image but because I started playing around with the RX10 image to see how much detail I could pull out of the image and also how much I could enlarge it by. The results have surprised me but I will save them for another time.
In the course of this processing “play time” I applied Topaz Detail to emphasise the detail in the grass and rocks. It made an amazing difference to the image detail but it also allowed me to make some adjustments to the colour that really lifted the image. I then went on to convert the image to black and white, first using Alien Skin Exposure 7 and the my old favourite, Nik Silver Efex Pro. Sometimes it just great to play with some of the wonderful software tools we now have.
I hope you like the images and have a great weekend everyone.
I mentioned in my last blog that I had been using the Sony RX10 exclusively over the last week and in doing so I noticed a few things about how to get a good exposure. Here is what I learned:
When the highlights clip they literally fall of a cliff. This can make the areas around the blown highlights appear very ugly. The Olympus EM5 highlights by contrast seem to behave much more like film, which seem to be more gradual.
One of the features of the RX10 is that you can display “zebras” in the live view. These “zebras” show you where the scene is exceeding the dynamic range of the sensor and the highlights are blown. You can also set the level of this so that you see a warning before the damage is done. For my camera I have this set at 100%+ so that if I see zebras I know there is clipping which as mentioned above can look quite ugly. I do this because I shoot RAW and can usually recover some of the damage.
What I have found is that there just isn’t much headroom in the RAW files beyond the zebras so you need to take care. With most cameras I have found I can expose to the right (deliberately overexpose the image) and then correct this by careful processing of the RAW file. This typically results in a higher quality image with less shadow noise and more detail. With the Sony RX10 this doesn’t seem to be the case and leaving the camera to calculate the exposure without any compensation seems to render very good images.
So how much can I over expose the image by? Well it seems to be only 2/3 of a stop. BUT a nice feature I have noticed is that the histogram that you can display whilst taking the image seems to reflect what is being captured in the RAW file whilst the zebras seem to indicate where the JPEG file will blow the highlights. I have noticed that I can be showing the warning zebras (set at 100%) but the histogram shows no clipping. The JPEG will show clipping but when I get the RAW file into Lightroom I can fully recover the problem areas.
Hope this helps other Sony RX10 owners out there.