Category Archives: My Thoughts

PhotoDirector-7

PhotoDirector-7. Latest Camera Format and Lens Support

“PhotoDirector-7 offers an extreme blend of features that goes far beyond what you would normally expect to find in photography software. Simplified photo management tools combine with powerfully easy-to-use yet sophisticated adjustment and editing options that offer a complete, end-to-end photo editing and management solution.”

PhotoDirector_a_03

Skin ToneAdjustments

PhotoDirector_a_04

Body Shaping Tools

Face Beautification Tools

Face Beautification Tools

This program by Cyberlink was another image editing program that came on my radar in my search for a new and hopefully good image editor. I downloaded the 30 day trial from Cyberlink  here. (Available for Windows and OS X)

Installation was straightforward and presented no problems.

Organising and Importing Photo’s

The software offers several ways to import your photos, whether they are located on your camera, removable media or your hard drive. The application does not

allow you to import images  straight from your scanner.
You can batch edit your photos as you import them,  the program also checks for duplicate photos so you don’t finish up with  multiples of images taking up space.

Before you import the images you also can add tags, preset filters or rename your image files.

Under the Library tab, you can customize how you want to organize your photos. Whether you organize your photos by keyword, category, calendar date or rating, the software displays thumbnails of your images. The metadata for your photos, including EXIF and IPTC information, displays along the left side of the screen.

Here you can gather information about a photo’s dimensions, shutter speed, aperture, exposure bias, exposure program, metering mode and focal length.

The application also helps you organize photos by tagging the people in them using faces.

The CyberLink PhotoDirector-7 contains a wide array of new features, which demonstrate significant PhotoDirector-7 improvements from the previous version of the software.

 Photo Director 7  now has blur tools that will make it easier to blur backgrounds and  have a focal point in your image.

It also has new  beautification tools, such as Face Sharper, Eye Bag Removal, Shine Removal, and Eye Enlarger,all very useful tools, including the body reshaping tool.

These new tools will provide you with more freedom in editing photos.

All this having been said is Photodirector-7 the new killer software for image editing.

Well for people who have never used other software I think it can be a very useful tool,

the content aware removal tool was a bit laggy on my machine as well as a few of the other tools I used in my testing of PhotoDirector-7,

but that could be down to my machine.

I did find the raw editor to have  a good interface and all the required tools in place, such as noise reduction,adjustment and selection brushes.

you can also use the EXIF data from your shots to instantly and accurately fix common lens flaws, such as  barrel distortion, vignetting and chromatic aberration. If there is no profile for the lens used

it may be  possible to download it from Cyberlink’s Director Zone.

PhotoDirector-7 also has one click presets similar to Photoshop actions, you can use the built in presets,create your own or download them from  within the program, you can also share your own presets also within PhotoDirector-7.

All in all a very good image editing solution from image organising to editing images end to end right from a well supported array of cameras.

The full list of supported raw files can be found here

 

Affinity Photo Editor

Affinity Photo

Affinity Photo

Affinity Photo Startup

So after reading all the hype placed and found all over the internet, statements including “Photoshop Killer” and “Pro photo editing app” I decided to buy Affinity Photo MAS (Mac App Store) version.

I have to admit that I was not as struck as everyone else by Affinity Photo capabilities. The raw development module is seriously lacking and seems to produce very flat and lacklustre images. I am not the only one who has noticed this.

The noise reduction is far from any good as is also most of the raw module.

I will continue to use Phase One Capture Pro 8 for my raw editing.

Affinity Photo Raw Module

Affinity Photo Raw Module

The user interface is ok and quite intuitive but the results in my opinion are not yet up to speed or offer anything like the results of Photoshops raw module.

Camera profiles have a place slot in the bottom right hand corner but are as yet are not implemented  (Beta 1.3.5).

I could go on about the things that hold this program back for me  but seriously I do not (as yet) beleive it rates a full review.

Things that are taken for granted in Photoshop and other programs take some working around in Affinity Photo, things such as saving for the web offer no preview image before saving by no means being the one of major missing functions.

Serif offer support and help through their forums at  Affinity Photo Forum where users can report bugs and give feature requests, and get answers from the Serif team and other users.

Affinity Photo may have been five years in the making but in my opinion is not yet ready for serious editing and output in volume, it may well serve to fill a gap in the market for Photographers who are not having to work to a deadline or work quickly to produce a volume of images for clients in a rushing doesn’t deserve the hype it is being given.

Affinity Photo also has a Photoshop Plugins function that works not very well or not at all. Plugins such as the Nik/Google collection do not work unless they have the effex prefix in their title, even these work very slowly and do not save the image back into Affinity as a layer on top of the image as in Photoshop.

Photoshop actions have no place either, although Serif say that a macro Persona will be added for users to save frequently used editing steps.

These of course are just my thoughts and opinions and I am sure others will have different views, maybe mine will change over time as the App progresses.

The price of Affinity Photo App is £39.99 which is cheap, but to use the updated beta programs the MAS. version must be installed. I can’t help thinking that in a way for your money you are paying to test out the new features implemented in the Beta versions and give bug reports back to    Serif.

My reccomendation for now at least would be to continue the search for a polished photo editing app.

 

 

Last Day for Half Price Topaz Restyle

Not my cup of tea but plenty of people seem to use Topaz plugins so I suppose topaz restyle will be no different.

I was actually going to review the program but found it ran so slow and and crashed a few times on my machine so  I didn’t bother.

Here’s the link at Topaz.

Apparently Pro Photographers use this all the time now, “can’t live without it ” and “revolutionised my photography” are comments widely used about Topaz Restyle and nearly every other new addition of programs and plugins to hit the market.

I always compare of these type of plugins to fishermen who always buy the latest bait,lure,or fly. The only thing that they catch is the fisherman……

How often do you use this type of plugin?

Do You Find These Plugins Useful

 

Nikon D800E focus problems

Nikon D800E Focus Problems

Nikon D800 Front View

My Nikon D800E has some serious focusing flaws

After having used my Nikon D800E for the better part of a year and persevering with a camera that failed to be able to deliver well focused images 50% of the time I decided to do some tests.

My 4 most used lenses are the Nikon 14-24mm 2.8 Nikon 24-70mm 2.8, Nikon 70-200mm 2.8 and a Nikon 85mm 1.8 prime.

I stopped using my 14-24mm 2.8 a while ago because no amount of AF fine tuning would coax this lens to give an acceptable amount of sharpnesss at any focal length with my D800/E.

As I don’t don’t make a lot of images at very wide angles it kinda got put away and forgotten about.

I got up early this Sunny Sunday morning with no plans in mind for the day, so I decided to gather my lenses together and try and get all things camera and lens wise into some kind of working order. First I set up a test shoot with Reiken Focal a piece of software allegedly to simplify and streamline AF fine tuning.

After a good hour trying to get it to give me an AF tuning setting for my 24-70mm 2.8 lens I gave up.

Next I tried it with my 14-24mm lens same thing no go,no results no use.

I then tried multiple shots of a car number plate at varying AF settings and found the sharpest setting for the 24-70mm was -13. Ok at 2.8 at 24mm this gave me a sharp image. Next I tried the using the lens at different focal lengths.

I found that the more I extended the focal length the further back the point of focus moved. So focusing on a number plate at 70mm moved the actual point of focus a couple of yards back from where the actual focusing brackets were aimed. This was the case for all the lenses I fine tuned and tested except the 85mm of course which as a fixed prime has no other focal length settings.

I did find that everything I tried focusing on  with Live View was in focus and perfectly acceptable at all focal lengths.

After trawling the internet and searching for related posts I did find other people who have commented on the same thing happening to them so this is not a unique problem. The interesting thing is that all the focus points (far left far right etc)

produce the same sharpness as each other so the left focusing point problem which seems to be a to be a hot topic among D800/E owners is not in the equation here at all.

So now I am pretty sure I have a lemon of a camera and I am also convinced I am not the only one. I have been lucky in the past, having used Nikon equipment since the F4 film camera and only ever having needed Nikon service once in all that time (which was for a D100 LCD).

So now I have to convince Nikon to look at the camera and not tell me it is within specs or just use all my expensive lenses at F8 to give some degree of sharpness to make useable images with a bigger percentage of keepers.

My personal thoughts about this camera is that it was not ready for release and more research and development was needed before unleashing it on an unsuspecting public.

Anyone else have any thoughts on this problem ? are you having any issues with your cameras? I would like to hear your thoughts on the problems, or if your camera is perfect, maybe we could start a poll ?

As a matter of interest the firmware has been updated and the reports by some users claiming this improved their cameras AF certainly does not apply to my camera.

Sanho Updates iUSBport App

Sanho Updates iUSBport App

iUSBport

iUSBport

Sanho have updated the application for iUSBport camera control to version 1.54. The app now has a redesigned interface and for the short time I could see the App interface, they have also added a histogram.

Unfortunately for me the App crashes whenever I take an image.

Initially when joining the network with my iPad, the firmware on the iUSBport camera control unit (CameraMator) is updated over wifi.

This part went without a hitch.

I then proceeded to test the unit with the IOS App, the live view screen showed up perfectly and touching the screen focused the camera on the part selected, also now a focus rectangle shows exactly where the focus point is (Something that was missing in the previous version)

Taking an image seemed to work initially, with a .Nef image showing up on the film strip.

On trying to load the image for viewing to access sharpness etc, the App crashed.

I then changed the camera settings to take a raw image on the SD card and a basic small jpeg on the secondary CF slot.

On taking a photo the filmstrip showed an image with a raw.jpeg extension which on trying to load said image into the viewer the App again crashed

After restarting everything again I gave it another try and again the App crashed, so as far as I am concerned the IOS app is still unstable and unusable with my Nikon D800E.

The web App on the other hand seems to be a lot more stable and useable, with everything working as advertised. Using the settings for a small basic jpeg on the CF card, only a jpeg loads on the film strip, which can then be loaded to view in the viewer without problems..

I applaud Sanho for taking over the support of the so far ill fated CameraMator, but it seems that more testing is required before releasing applications that simply do not work correctly.

Maybe the problems are camera specific so anybody reading this who has had success with their cameras and the iUSB camera control app  leave a comment, maybe it can be narrowed down to just certain cameras showing problems.

I am sure that eventually they (Sanho) will get it right as they certainly seem to be standing behind the product, but so far for me and my camera the IOS App is still unuseable.

Update.

After contacting Hyper Support, I received a very quick reply explaining the reasons for the crashes.

“Are you using iPad 2?
The reason I ask is because iPad 2 is unable to handle the 36 megapixel image taken by the Nikon D800E, hence the app will crash.
Right now when you record both raw and jpg, we are obtaining the 36 megapixel jpg preview image within the raw file.
The reason why we are using the jpg preview within the raw file instead of the actual jpg is because if both raw and jpeg are shot at the same resolution, the  jpg preview within the raw file has a smaller file size and will transfer faster than the actual jpg.
In the next version 1.6 which will be available in 1-2 weeks, we will set the app to use the actual jpg instead of the jpg preview of the raw file.
In version 2.0 which will be available in 3-4 weeks, we will allow the user to determine whether to use the actual jpg or jpg preview.
Meanwhile for your case, you can either use the iPad 3 or 4 or shoot in jpg/raw that has smaller than 36 megapixel resolution to prevent the crashing issue.”
Sure enough this worked perfectly reducing the raw file size to the 1.2 setting makes the App work perfectly
Now waiting patiently for the next update. I have to say that the support from Hyper is quick and concise, a very unusual trait these days.

iUSBport CameraTM

iUSBport CameraTM

iUSBport

iUSBport

Having got my hands on one of these devices (formerly CamerMator a kickstarter project), I changed the firmware to the Sanho offering from here.

It looked promising as they were offering a web app and also an IOS App (from the Apple App Store). I think it is excellent that Sanho

are offering support for a device that seems to be doomed as far as the original idea is concerned. I have mentioned in previous posts that the app for the original CameraMator is no longer free, also that the original developer (Wooblue) appear to be releasing the unit under a new name of Camnexus with the promise of better,more and new applications.

So where does this leave the unfortunate soles who backed the project and haven’t as yet received their units, as yet nobody seems to know. Sanho have promises of updates for both Android,IOS and their web app.

All these Apps seem to have timelines of next week if one reads their blog, these promised updates have in fact exceeded this timeline. The app’s that are available are for me at least buggy and unuseable as the applications crash,refuse to import images or import the same image twice and then crash.

For an item carrying this kind of price tag I for one find it unacceptable, as I am sure do many others who find themselves in the same position.

I have emailed Wooblue with no reply forthcoming, I also have asked about the upcoming applications from Sanho.

Sanho  stated that the Android App due to be released “next week” is actually under development putting it one to two month’s away making it a very long week.

Sanho did say that the IOS app update has been submitted to the app store and is awaiting approval. One can only hope it is a great improvement on the original app.!!

What Is CameraMator

So far it seems that cam ranger  is the clear winner for wireless tethering as from what I have read and seen the software is far more slick ,reliable and better supported at this point in time.

Maybe future updates will change this, I am sure that many people who have these so far failed units live in hope.

Capture One Pro 7

Capture One Pro 7

PhaseOne have updated CaptureOne 6.4 to version 7. I for one am a bit bummed by this payed upgrade as I only bought the software in August. Apparently if you purchased version 6 less than a month ago it is a free upgrade. If not it is a €99.0 upgrade.

It seems the cut of date for the free upgrade to version 7 is 26/Sept/2012, so I expect there will be quite a few put out by this.

I tried version 7 as a trial and found quite a few initial problems, on my machine if I open a folder full of .NEF files it only displays about a 1/3 rd of the folder images, leaving the rest as blank squares with no information about the image showing. I haven’t gone into it any further than that and removed it from my machine.

Update

I tried Capture One Pro 7 again and found that by turning of OpenCL the thumbnails all loaded and also that the program was more responsive on my machine. After comparing the costs of buying say PhotoNinja from PictureCode versus the latest C1 Pro, that I was better of upgrading. The Picturcode purchasing model is for a yearly subscription of $99.00 to continue with updates after a year. I purchased my C1 pro upgrade for €69.00. I have to say that Capture One Pro 7‘s new conversion engine is very good.

So decision made.

I will be using Capture One Pro 7 extensively over the next few weeks and trying out the new features the program offers, not least of which is cataloguing of images

Update 2

It seems there is a Beta version designated 7.02 being tested at the moment offering excellent raw conversion for the Fuji X-Trans sensor. This will be very good news for those with the alleged water-colour effect seen in images coming from Adobe Lightroom and Silkypix to some degree.

 

Reikan FoCal

FoCal Screenshot

FoCal Screenshot

Reikan FoCal

This software from Reikan is an AF microadjustment calibrator and lens performance testing software.

I heard about Reikan FoCal on forums around the web when it was in it’s early stages of production.

When I actually bought the software and tried to calibrate two of my lenses to my Nikon D3 I found it to be less than stellar.

It went through all the testing and after a while came up with an optimum setting for AFMA (Auto Focusing Micro Adjustment). I found that after making the adjustments recommended by FoCal

that my real world shots just didn’t match what the software had decided was the best setting.

I thought to myself no problem this is early stage software maybe later versions would improve the algorithm  used and maybe modified test charts would be released, so I wasn’t too worried.

I have used all the updates released so far and never found it to be of any real use, unless you just like photographing test charts and seeing the results on a computer screen.

I stuck with it though and hoped things would change with the next update.

The latest update for the plus version of the software is 1.6 so I upgraded to the said version to try yet again and see what could be achieved.

Unluckily for me it wouldn’t run at all, nothing,nada,zilch. So I un-installed the program completely  and re-installed it hoping that would cure whatever was stopping the program running, in short it didn’t.

As the program relies on the Microsoft .Net 4 framework to run I thought that maybe this was where the problem may lay, so I uninstalled the .Net 4 and FoCal then re-installed both Focal and .Net 4.

Still I had the same problem so I decided to email Reikan maybe they could help. I sent the email asking if there was a known problem, my reply was from a new helpdesk where a ticket was opened, I was sent login details to see how my help ticket was progressing.

I received a reply asking what was happening (splash screen showing,program opening then quitting?)

I replied and stated that nothing was happening no start up and no response from the program at all.

The reply from the helpdesk was slow in coming back and stated that my ticket was now closed and they hoped my problem was resolved!!! what?

I logged in and re-opened the ticket as I had not received any help at all, so my ticket was re-opened.

Two days later I received another email stating the same thing my ticket was closed

“Your Ticket #150 – {Problem with FoCal} – Will Not Run –  has been closed.

We hope that the ticket was resolved to your satisfaction. If you feel that the ticket should not be closed or if the ticket has not been resolved, please reply to this email.

Sincerely,
Reikan Technology Support Team”

So not only am I un-impressed with the actual program, but also their help desk it seems leaves a lot to be desired. I haven’t bothered replying and will just have to put my cost of entry to FoCal down  to a loss and move on.

If you want to buy into the FoCal way of fine tuning your autofocus system go here.

As for me I have removed the software from my computer and do not expect to hear from them again even though I paid good money for the software.

Elinchrom Eco Ringflash

Elinchrom Eco Ringflash

Elinchrom Eco Ringflash

The Elinchrom Eco Ringflash

 I decided to buy the Elinchrom Ranger Quadra Eco Ringflash for my Ranger Quadra Kit.

It was a decision I made after a lot of consideration about whether to buy another SB910 or something completely different.

In my opinion a ringflash has a lot more uses than just fashion Photography which is where it seems to have been mainly placed.

Macro photography, and uses for fill flash just being two that spring to mind.

I contacted the Flash centre and asked if they had them in stock, which they didn’t, but the guy on the phone said

I will get one down from London for tomorrow and phone you when it arrives. As with my previous experience with the flash centre they did not phone me next day.

I looked around and found one at WEX.

I ordered it online at 6-23Pm and had it in my hands by 7-30 am the next morning, Excellent service.

The Eco Ringflash costs £357.00, which is not much more than the Nikon SB910

Initial impressions are that this thing is light, the body is a plastic or polycarbonate material.

The way the Ringflash attaches to the camera is by way of a main bracket which attaches to the bottom of the camera

with a thumbscrew wheel onto the tripod socket.

Then two bent metal bars attach to that and the ringflash itself with thumbscrews.

Once attached it seems fairly solid, but the alignment with the lens can be a bit fiddly.

The Eco Flash comes with a plastic white diffuser which attaches by a simple push fit and is held on just by friction mainly,

this is not good and when testing the ringflash around the house, just to make sure it worked it fell off twice, maybe a little Blu Tac will help here.

RQ Ringflash ECO Specs & Features:

  • Flash duration with Quadra RX: Outlet A 100%: 1/1000 s // Outlet B 33%: 1/2500 s
  • 2 pole quality flash tube
  • Detachable 2m flash cable
  • White diffuser cap to soften and spread the light
  • The 9.5 cm inner diameter will  accept a wide range of cameras and lenses
  • 400W/s Flash Tube

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Weight: 1 kg

The flash works well and performs as it should on my Quadra pack.

I will be updating this post as I get more use from the flash unit and actually

use it to make some images but initial impressions are not the best I have had from new equipment.

Long Walk Home

Long-Walk-Home

Long-Walk-Home

Long Walk Home

This image was someone else’s idea, and I assume most photographers will realise that during a photo session

trying to understand exactly what someone wants in an image is to say the least difficult sometimes.

Anyway being an accommodating kind of guy  I tried to follow the on the fly instructions for the requested image as best I could.

There was drama in the sky and the long road ahead over the moors, nice light so after a few images I got back to what the intended shoot was all about.

When I got home I loaded the images onto my computer and began the normal culling of the lousy images such as missed focus, blurry images and just no good images.

I nearly deleted this image but I then remembered the request that had inspired the shot, so I set about editing it.

This is the image I finished up with. It is an image I kinda like, mainly because of the drama in the light and sky.

After I had looked at it for awhile and considered the many meanings the image could have it grew on me.

Most of all the client liked it so that’s all that matters in the end.

This image can be licensed through

Arcangel Images

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