Lensmate Adapter for Sony RX100

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I'm finally able to use ND Grads with my Sony RX100
I’m finally able to use ND Grads with my Sony RX100

Looking back a couple of months when I first purchased my Sony RX100 I said that I needed some form of adapter in order to use ND Graduate filters with this camera. As most of my work is shot in the landscape, ND graduate filters are an essential accessory for me and I just can’t work without them.

If I compare my LX5 I have an adapter tube that I can screw onto a threaded ring at the base of the lens. The RX100 however has nothing like this which is why after some searching I found the Lensmate solution. I have to admit that this is not a cheap solution and having incurred £12.50 in duty charges when it was shipment into the UK, it borders on being extortionate.

Well the adapter has arrived and it looks like just a couple of small pieces of metal and plastic. Basically there is a ring that sticks to the front of the lens using 3M double sided adhesive tape. Once in place there is a second threaded adapter that mounts onto the ring and clicks into place. This allows you to easily remove any filters with a small 90 degree twist of the adapter.

Now I have to admit that I was a little worried sticking a ring to the front of my new camera. I thought that it looks fiddly and troublesome to mount correctly. The kit does however come with a simple tool that aligns the ring e3xactly. There is a supporting video on the website and having watched this it took me less than 1 minute to attach the adapter and it was perfect first time.

So despite my complaints over price this is a very good design that works very well indeed. I have used the adapter out in the field and it’s perfect. It’s also very light and small enough so that the camera still fits inside the Sony case. If you need a filter adapter for an RX100 then this is worth looking at but beware the price is high.

LX5 Book Launched

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LX5 Worked Example from my book
LX5 Worked Example from my book

After my previous post, I am no longer feeling sorry for myself and am well on the road to recovery. In fact I am feeling quite satisfied as I have finally completed my book “The Panasonic LX5: How to Achieve Exceptional Image Quality” which has been on the go since November last year.

As the title suggests then book is about how to create exceptional image quality with the LX5. It is supported by a worked example turning a standard LX5 image into a highly detailed 30” print. If you are a member of my Lenscraft web site you can download the full resolution 30” image for a closer look. The only rule is that you can’t sell it, change it or pass it off as your own work.

If you want to find out more about the book you can find the details here.

Hopefully normal blogging resumes from next week.

Feeling Sorry For Myself

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Newlands Horseshoe
Newlands Horseshoe

You may have noticed (I hope you have) that I haven’t posted to the blog this week. That’s because I’m feeling sorry for myself. I shot the picture above at the weekend from the summit of Cat Bells in the Lake District. The mountains ahead are one side of the Newlands Horseshoe which was my target for the day. It’s a wonderful circuit that I have done many times and the recent snow flurries made me all the more excited.

On this occasion it wasn’t to be however as my wife started to feel unwell. Turns out she had the flu which I then caught. I thought I could work through it on Monday but I couldn’t and I have spent the last few days laid up in bed feeling dreadful (I can’t remember ever having felt worse). I will have to cut this post short as I need to get some rest again. I can’t wait to feel better and get out with the camera.

Lightroom Profile for Sony RX100

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RX100 in Wales
RX100 in Wales

I have been trying to create a new camera profile for my Sony RX100 in Lightroom for a few weeks but had been unable to get the software for my Passport Color Checker to work properly. I have now traced the problem to the new version of DNG files that Lightroom 4.3 creates (Lightroom 4.2 seemed to work fine). I resolved the problem by saving my DNG files in the old DNG version 6.6 format.

Don’t worry if the above doesn’t mean much to you, if you have a Sony RX100 and use Lightroom you might want to download and try the profile I created. I found the profile improves the reds and blues (particularly) over the standard Adobe profile.

You can download my profile for free from the Members Area of my Lenscraft. You will need to have signed up as a member but that gives you free access to everything on the site and I don’t pester people with emails other than a quarterly newsletter and the odd announcement.

If you use Lightroom and have an LX5 or GX1 you will also find my profiles for these cameras in the same location.

I hope you find this useful.

Missing the Obvious Again

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Infrared GX1 image of Lindisfarne Castle on Holy Island, Northumberland.
Infrared GX1 image of Lindisfarne Castle on Holy Island, Northumberland.

I have just answered a question posted on yesterdays blog and it made me realise I am missing the obvious again. This time it was that most people reading my blog have probably never seen a direct conversion from a RAW infrared file. Neither will you probably know what all this problem is with white balance and why I was so concerned. Here then are some examples that hopefully will put this right. All are created from the same RAW file used for the image at the top of the page and I have done no other adjustments to the files beyond what I explain below.

This first example is what you get in Lightroom when you set the camera white balance to AWB and all the other sliders are at 0.

Rely on your cameras auto white balance and Lightroom and this is what you get
Rely on your cameras auto white balance and Lightroom and this is what you get

The next example shows what you get in Lightroom when you set the camera white balance correctly for infrared light. Better but still not correct.

Set the camer white balance correctly for infrared and Lightroom makes a better job but still not right
Set the camer white balance correctly for infrared and Lightroom makes a better job but still not right

Here is the same RAW file in SilkyPix using the correct Infrared white balance. Notice the difference in colour from the Lightroom image. In this image there is much more information in all three colour channels and it makes for a better conversion to black and white.

The correct white balance converted in SilkyPix is much better and almost right
The correct white balance converted in SilkyPix is much better and almost right

The next example shows what happens in SilkyPix when you set the white balance using the white balance picker on the grass near to the castle. This is how the file should look before converting to black and white. This gives a nice spread of information in all the channels and makes for a high quality conversion. Even though a lot of the information in the B and G channels is probably interpolated by the RAW converter, it still appears to be a better conversion and that’s what I am interested in.

Use the white balance tool in SilkyPix to target the grass and you get the correct result
Use the white balance tool in SilkyPix to target the grass and you get the correct result

In this final example, I have done a channel swap between the Red and Blue channels to create a false colour. Not to everyone’s taste but it can be quite effective.

False colour created by a Red, Blue Channel swap. Interesting.
False colour created by a Red, Blue Channel swap. Interesting.

Missing the Obvious

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Old Church Ruin in Infrared
Old Church Ruin in Infrared

I am always on the hunt for new ways to do things that can improve my photography. You only need to achieve a few small quality improvements and it can quickly add up to dramatic improvements in your work. One area that I had been exploring was RAW converters and some of you might have seen an earlier post I made about Photo Ninja which looked very promising but was quite expensive. My decision was therefore to stick with Lightroom which performs well.

More recently with my new found passion for Infrared photography, I have identified that Lightroom isn’t good for processing RAW files from my converted GX1. The quick explanation of this is that Lightroom can’t set a white point for the infrared image and you end up with an image which is red. This then prevents you from using a technique called channel swapping to produce false colour but it also appears to detract from the quality of the final image when working in black and white. My search was on then for a RAW converter to use with my infrared images.

I returned initially to Photo Ninja which did a good job and allowed me to set a correct white balance. Unfortunately the cost put me off although I did come close to making a purchase and probably would have if it wasn’t for RAW Therapee.  This is a free RAW converter which performs well and has some nice features such as allowing me to do a channel swap during the RAW conversion. The only problem is that it’s tricky to use.

I moved on to search for another free RAW converter “Bibble” which it seems has been purchased by Corel and is now sold as Corel Aftershot. This works well enough and is good price. I just had a niggling feeling that I shouldn’t make a purchase just yet.

After a lot of searching and experimentation I remembered that Panasonic Cameras capable of shooting RAW images are packaged with a special version of the SilkyPix RAW converter. This is version 3 of the SilkyPix Developer Studio that has been limited to only working with Panasonic cameras. Whilst it won’t convert my Canon and Sony files it will process my GX1 and LX5 images fine.

After initial experimentation with the latest version I found the images to be super quality, containing lots of detail, appearing nice and sharp, with good colour and being free from noise. They are in my opinion better than those from Lightroom (both traditional and infrared images). Here is a section of the image above at 100% (click the image to zoom in).

100% sample from infrared GX1 file
100% sample from infrared GX1 file

The real decision maker for me is when I received an email the day after offering an upgrade to version 5 developer Studio (still limited to Panasonic cameras) for JPY3800 (about £24). Decision made!

I am now therefore using SilkyPix for my infrared RAW conversions and am extremely pleased with the results.

Something Was Missing

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GX1 Infrared image with Olympus 9-18 lens
GX1 Infrared image with Olympus 9-18 lens

Not a lengthy discussion this time as I have such a backlog of work and more importantly things I want to experiment with. I thought however that I would share the above image with you. This is Dunstanburgh Castle in Northumberland.

I took the shot on the GX1 I had converted to Infrared and used an Olympus 9-18 lens. I processed the image into the familiar black and white from RAW, using SilkyPix (more on that in a future blog). Initially however it looked to be lacking something. I couldn’t put my finger on the problem but the image just didn’t have appeal.

It was then I realised a problem with digital IR. It doesn’t have either the grain or the glow of the traditional infrared films which is in fact for me a large part of the appeal from IR images. My solution was to add a new layer to the image in Photoshop and then add a glow to this with a filter. A mask was then used to restrict the glow to the lightest parts of the image.

Hope you like the results