Feb 282017
 

Radenthein is a small town in Carinthia, in earlier times mostly known for its garnet mine. Today it is a museum and children can pick their own garnets from the stone. Once they have a few, the stones can be brought to the shop, where they are cut and polished. It’s a nice idea and seemingly a big success.

An interesting fact that I learned was, that in the 1500s, the high time of Radenthein’s garnet production, the stones were not cut and polished in town, they were transported to Prague. There the emperor employed the best of Venice’s jewel cutters.

Sounds cool, working as an expert for the emperor? Forget it. They lived miserable lives, had to work lying flat on their bellies, pressing garnet against rotating grindstone. The position was unnatural and crippeling, the dust ruined their lungs. So much for being an expert.

Feb 252017
 

ISO 3200 on an Olympus camera is noisy. It’s not unusably noisy, but if you pixel-peep, you undeniably see noise.

It’s not really worse than the noise of a high-end Nikon or Sony camera with between 30 or 45 megapixels, it’s just that you have only half of the pixels and are more likely to peep.

The current trend is to keep pixel size constant and to produce sensors with the same density and different sizes. After all, in most cases we talk about variations of the same Sony technology.

In the end we look at our images at the same sizes, regardless of the camera they’ve been made with. At least for screen view, we downsize radically. While downsizing, we also downsize the noise. More pixels means more downsizing of noise and therefore less apparent noise. That’s why the essentially same sensors in “full frame” cameras get better noise ratings than their Micro Four Thirds counterparts.

Of course you can also have big sensors with a small number of pixels. Sony tried that with one variation of their A7 line. Theoretically the noise should be lower, but if you look at DxO test results, the high pixel count sensors still lead. After all, downsizing seems to be the better strategy and it is more versatile in any case.

Speaking of DxO, this image has been converted with DxO Optics Pro. The algorithm is much too slow for in-camera processing. For each pixel it looks at 1000 neighboring pixels. I’s applied math and it works extremely well, even with half the pixel count 🙂

Feb 242017
 

Souvenir markets in touristically overloaded places, they’re all the same. But still, from a photographer’s point of view, they are ripe with sights.

By the way, this is out-of-camera white balance at night under very yellowish light. It’s pretty good what Olympus delivers and it has been so for all Olympus cameras that I’ve had. It’s not that I always go with the camera’s choice, but I definitely and consistently could. That’s a lot more than what I could say about my past Nikons.

Feb 232017
 

It’s interesting, the PEN-F has a few really prominent flaws, arguably more so than the E-P5 had, but I love it more than any other camera before. Why?

The built-in view finder is quite OK, but compared to the VF-4 on the E-P5 or the E-M1’s viewfinder it is tiny. It also lacks a proper eyepiece. The result is, that light from the sun in your back is often not blocked out and it reaches the sensor for the automatic switch between viewfinder and LCD. When this happens, the viewfinder turns off. It’s annoying, or at least it should be.

Then there is the mandatory grip. It looks quite good, has excellent ergonomics, but it makes it impossible for me to remove the SD card without resorting to pincers. Really, I have pincers in my photo bag for pulling the SD card out of my camera! How ridiculous is that?

Then there is this function button Fn1. I can assign “Mulit-Function” to it (like on all my other cameras), but in picture review mode, while all my other cameras have “Zoom” in that position, the PEN-F has assigned “Lock Image” to it. I can configure every button’s function in shooting more, but in review mode I can’t change anything. It’s annoying, or at least it should be.

Then there is this useless knob on the front. I could use it to quickly switch between various JPEG modes. Only I don’t. It’s a perfect dial in a perfect position, perfectly wasted.

And it all doesn’t change a thing. I love this camera. Much of it must be connected to its aesthetics. While I hardly cared about the looks of my lenses on a camera before, I almost never use this camera with a plastic lens. Shiny, silvery primes made of metal, that’s what this camera deserves. Crazy, huh?

Feb 222017
 

Not long ago, during the Yugoslavian War, Rovinj was almost empty – shunned by tourists. Yes, this was 25 years ago (really? oh my!), but you wouldn’t believe it when you see it today.

This has been taken a bit off the night tracks. It’s one of the streets leading up to the church, and most people at that time of the evening are busy finding a table in one of the countless but hopelessly overcrowded restaurants.

Feb 202017
 

A lot of people hate science fiction or are at least completely unmoved by it. I keep hearing complaints about sci-fi’s speculative nature and that it does not relate to anything “real”.

That’s true in a way, but when the same people read crime stories and historic novels with gusto, I begin to feel doubt 🙂

Anyway. The Image of the Day strongly reminds me of Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars trilogy. This is what his mars looks like after terraforming 🙂

The Mars trilogy is also a good example for the not-so speculative nature of “Hard Sci-Fi”. It was written in the first half of the 1990s and it is basically the blueprint of all current efforts to reach out for Mars. I’m afraid it’s also a blueprint of what awaits us on our way there politically, and I am not sure that KSR’s resolutions are more than desperate hope. It may turn out much worse.

If you haven’t read the Mars trilogy, and if you do enjoy science-based fiction, and if you are interested in where we go as a society, I can hardly recommend anything better. A mostly optimistic and non-dystopic look into a not so unlikely future.