Category Archives: Computer Software

The Next Huge Digital Photography & Video Disruption Is Here

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Neither of the top two photos has been edited much.  Not even cropped.

A few days ago I went up to one of my favorite spots in the local mountains with my Sony A7iii, Sony 24-105mm G lens and Apple XS Max.  I wanted to get out of the house for a few hours and I wanted to see how the Sony would compare shooting a few more panoramas against the Sony.  And I shot quite a few other standard shots with the Apple using it’s computational smart HDR compared with the Sony.  This was more of a get-out-of-the-house drive than a photography one.  But after the iPhone vs Sony results I got a few days back I thought I would run a few more comparisons.

The two shots above are, one with the iPhone XS Max and the other with the Sony A7iii and 24-104 G lens.  Can you tell which is which?  At first I compared the Apple panorama shot with the Sony at 24mm.  When I greatly enlarged the panorama from the Apple I could see it was well exposed and it looked a little sharper on distant images than I expected.  I also noticed some HDR effect.  I then compared the iPhone standard photo with the smart HDR photo.  The HDR had way more detail in far distant details.  In the standard shot Apple did it’s typical smudge job which looks good at first glance, but not good when you blow it up.  But here’s the thing, the standard Apple camera app did not smear and smudge the small details in the computational HDR photo.

I then compared it to the Sony shot.  The Sony was way better than the standard iPhone photo.  But the computational iPhone picture was about as sharp on my Apple Thunderbolt 27″ monitor as the Sony shot.

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Apple vertical panorama

The day after I took these shots Olympus introduced their new expensive professional grade camera with some computational capture features a bit like the iPhone.  And then a light bulb went off in my head.  “Stacking files with computational techniques is an alternative to big sensors and big lenses.”  Consider; In the last couple of weeks I have been able to get panoramas, videos, and still shots of about the same quality with my iPhone XS Max as the new Sony A7iii full frame camera with high quality lenses.

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Sony A7iii with 24mm lens

Does the iPhone replace the Sony?  Not if you have about $4,300 to spare for the extra features you get with the Sony.  But if you don’t have or want to spend that kind of money the iPhone XS Max that fits in my pocket is a very good substitute.  All of the Sony shots I used were with raw and edited in Lightroom Classic CC.  All the Apple photos were also done LR too.

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Sony with 24-105 lens.  
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Apple smart HDR 

The iPhone XS Max is not cheap, and you use it every day.  Then again it was 25% of the Sony body and two lenses.

I have not tested carefully using the Adobe camera app in the iPhone with HDR.  I suspect that the Apple computational camera is a bit more advanced than the Adobe one.  The Adobe shoots 3 files for its HDR.  I believe the Apple takes around 25.  I noticed in the Olympus ads that their stacking technology is similar to Apple’s.  I have heard that the Olympus system is not all sorted out.  The Apple system is very good now and getting better with every update.  This fall the new iPhone is supposed to have three cameras on one of its models.  That is likely an improvement on this years camera.

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This is the Apple in panorama mode.  You can tell that this mode adds some HDR to the photo by looking at the grasses on the bottom left.  These are in deep shadow without HDR.  

After spending the last year thinking we all needed to trade in our DSLRs for full frame mirrorless now it looks to me like the changes are going to keep cascading in.  I would guess it would be easy for Sony to add back in built in panorama to their camera bodies.  I believe some of their cameras used to have it.  The A7iii is very good at taking bracket photos fast.  It is pretty easy to merge them with Adobe Lightroom.  Mirrorless cameras tend to be faster in frames per second and have no mirror flapping around to cause problems with mirror shock.  Sony is really the only one of the big camera makers that is into electronics and software.

Olympus has been an innovator in the past and they are the first to jump into computational photography in a big way with a high level type camera.  I would guess that they will be able to fix many or all of their issues with this feature relatively fast if they want to.  And the software should be able to be fitted to their less expensive camera bodies.

I really don’t know how things will shake out.  But for sure things are going to be shaking in the camera imaging industry.

iPhone X Close Up Photography Issues

I have had an iPhone X since last fall.  It has an excellent camera system both hardware and software for most situations.  This time in the area where I live we have a super abundance of flowers and I take lots of shots of my yard flowers, public gardens, and wild flowers.  Using the iPhone X for this can be frustrating.  It is certainly possible to get excellent shots with sharp focus and good color rendition.

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iPhone X using adobe camera app and raw (dng)
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iPhone X using apple’s camera app and jpeg edited in Apple Photos
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iPhone X using Adobe camera app and raw (dng) edited in Lightroom
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iPhone X using Apple’s camera app, jpeg, and Apple Photos to edit.

These were all taken in the late afternoon, but not all on the same day.  When using the Adobe camera app I activated the zebras to avoid any overexposure.  With the Apple camera app you just have to guess on exposure.  I usually turn down the exposure as Apple shows you in their camera videos.  These photos show that things can work out well with this camera.  But I have to say that many times the results are poor.  The Adobe camera app has a much harder time focusing using the longer lens on this camera than with the wide angle.  And the Adobe app has a great deal of difficulty in bright mid day sun.  Why?  I have no idea.

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iPhone X using Adobe camera app with flower bud out of focus.
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iPhone X using Apple Camera

The Apple camera app does seem to have more difficulty during mid day bright sun to focus too, but not as bad as Adobe.  The issue with using the Apple camera app that comes with the phone is that the Apple software sometimes smears the heck out of the finished image file.

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Apple iPhone X using Apple’s camera app and Apple Photos to edit.

This flower was too bright so I turned down the exposure.  When I brought it back up in Apple Photos the computer smeared the image significantly.

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iPhone X using Apple Camera app, import into Lightroom CC

You can tone down the noise reduction smearing some by importing the photo into Lightroom CC and doing the edit there.  But there is still some of the smearing issue, just less.

So what is my solution?  Right now the most reliable solution is to use my DSLR during the day for better focus and raw output.  That camera has no problems with getting good focus in any sun conditions.  I am also thinking about finding another raw camera app for the iPhone X and giving that a try.  I suspect that the reason the Adobe app does not focus as well as it should is that Adobe has just not tweaked their software as well as they should have for the iPhone X.

Lightroom Upgrades To CC Classic

This is a user report.  Lightroom seems to be most serious photographers default post capture editing software.  It is mine too.

When Adobe introduced Lightroom CC a few months back I installed it to see how it compared to the traditional version.  Like a lot of people I liked some of the features of Lightroom CC but could not give up the older style software for a number of reasons.

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Taken with Nikon D5500 and 18-55 lens using RAW & Lightroom CC Classic 

In the last few days Adobe has sent out a major update to traditional Lightroom CC Classic.  The changes have made it much easier for me to get photographs I like.  The most significant changes are adding a large set of profiles on the right side of the develop screen, and many additional presets on the left side of the develop screen.  Plus you can see a preview of what will happen to your image by mousing over the profile or preview.  I have edited about 100 images since this update and I have to say that this is the most significant upgrade to make LR CC Classic easier and faster to use ever.

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Taken with Nikon D5500 with 18-55 lens and LR CC Classic 

The profiles and presets so far have not replaced the auto setting and sliders, but much of the time using a profile as a starting point you do not have to manually adjust settings nearly as much as before.  I also have to say that Adobe did a very good job in making profiles and some of the presets that are useful.  The profiles are mostly new and very good.  The presets are all from the Lightroom CC on line and mobile system.  They are also quite good, but not as much so as the profiles.  At least to my taste and eyes.

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Taken with Nikon D5500 and 18-55 lens using LR CC Classic

I have been shooting a mix of digital and film over the last few years.  The biggest reason I still shoot film is I like the color and black and white profiles of some of the films that are available.  Kodak Ektar and Fuji Velvia are two landscape films I love to use for their colors.  I have many times taken film shots and then some digital shots of the same subject and picked the film ones in the end as better due to the way they handle the color or B&W rendition.  I would guess that these changes making Lightroom much easier to use will lessen my film use.  I do like some of the simplicity of my Olympus and Voightlander cameras.  And the Minoltas are also a pleasure to use with their simple controls and both good manual focus plus auto focus when you want to use it.  And some of the legacy glass is just super and gives beautiful results.  But there is no doubt at all that my digital cameras are better at difficult exposures and give immediate results.

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Shot with Nikon D5500 & 18-55 lens edited in LR CC Classic

If you use an older version of Lightroom it might be a good time to upgrade.  If you don’t use Lightroom give it a try.  This new version is much easier to learn than the older ones.

Windows OS vs MAC OS – July 2017

I have been using Microsoft operating systems since DOS.  I’ve used every one of Microsoft’s OS’s except Windows 8.  This morning I read a tech news piece saying Windows is 90% of the current laptop market.  After owning a MacBook Pro for a little over 4 years you have to just roll your eyes at this statistic.  Yes there are some things about Windows that are better than MacOS, but the Mac is so much more reliable than any of our Windows computers.  And this includes the fact that I am part of the Mac Beta software program.  I am now running Mac OS 11 beta. Apple’s beta is far more reliable than regular non beta Windows.

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As I’m writing this blog post I am also looking at our newest Windows laptop that was bought earlier this year for my wife.  It is updating.  It has been updating since yesterday morning.  Maybe it will finish updating by the end of the week.  I am very computer literate and do things like have the automatic-update setting on.  I thought when I first installed Windows 10 a little over a year ago that Redmond had cleaned up their act.  I put Windows 10 on two of my few-year-old high-end Windows 7 laptops and they were way improved.  They booted up faster and everything on them ran better.  Then I started thinking, “wow, MS is going to be as good as Mac”, wrong.  Now a year later we are back to the old “update hell” that was the Microsoft of old.  I take back all the good things said a year ago about Windows 10 OS being a great system.  It is not if you use it like a Mac.

About that percentage of users that Microsoft has with PC’s.  90%.  The misleading part of that statistic is it does not take into account the use of IOS and Android (including Chrome OS).  Apple is doing an end run on MicroSoft with IOS.  When IOS 11 is standard this fall it will turn an iPad into a laptop computer and then some.  It will still not be as full featured as Mac OS, but from what I have seen of the previews it looks like it is going to work for most people as a laptop or regular computer.  And then there is the Google system of putting everything on line in Google Docs and other on line services.  If you compare the use of computer “systems” adding mobile phones and tablets the likely Microsoft percentage is much lower than 90%.  I would speculate that it is more like under 50%.  Most likely way under.

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Google’s system online is very well sorted out.  I have used Gmail for years and I am very happy with it.  Google docs works just fine and I never spend any time updating it.  I will say I am not happy with Google getting rid of Picasa and Motorola, both of which I used.  But overall Google does a very good job just like Apple.  Microsoft has been trying to use one system for computers, tablets, and smartphones.  That only works if your one system is near perfect.  In my opinion MS has a ways to go.  So does Apple with Mac OS.  But on the other hand with Apple you have more than one system and I can tell you that IOS is very easy to keep updated.  And Mac OS is far more perfected than Windows.

Many of the applications that run on Windows work well.  This includes Word, Excel, and the newest Photos app.  In addition, one drive works for me without issues.  But by sticking with the same basic cranky old general operating system MS has had for years it in turn makes me cranky.  Microsoft needs to get better.

My laptop is still updating BTW.