3645 – All Along the Wall

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Oct 112016

I write this on Saturday, October 8. Trump has not yet given up and the Republican Party has not yet distanced itself from him. When this post is published on October 11, we may know more.

Isn’t that puzzling and altogether a worrying state of democracy? In Donald Trump we have someone who is probably the most obviously unfit-for-politics politician from his growing peer group. Nobody even in his own party wanted him, and nevertheless he got voted into candidacy, acclaimed by a diverse public, that is only united by a strong, common disgust of politics.

It must be a hard time to be a Republican. What can you possibly do? Change horses? Yes, that could be an honest thing to do, but seemingly they wait until they clearly see that their chances on the presidency are over. But are they? Scott Adams clearly doesn’t think so, and he may well have a point. At least I think that everybody who is disgusted now, would likely have been disgusted already.

Lots and lots of people don’t agree with Political Correctness, but they don’t say so, because it’s not politically correct. It’s even understandable, because ideals and real behavior are rarely in tune. Political Correctness is frequently pure lip service, and in face of that, someone like Trump may be seen as refreshingly different.

In an ideal world Trump wouldn’t have been able to come even near candidacy. In an ideal world Trump wouldn’t even have become a media star. An ideal world would punish his behavior and his business methods. The world is far from ideal though. The outcome of the election will tell us a lot about how far.

3644 – Strong Colors in Waning Light

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Oct 102016

I’ve processed this image the day that I had taken it, approximately four months ago. When I saw it now, I felt that the upper half could use a little more saturation and contrast. I went back, applied a sharp gradient along the shadow line, increased contrast, saturation, added a little light, and altough I changed the image exactly like I had intended to … it didn’t improve anything at all. Back I went 🙂

3643 – When We Were Young

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Oct 092016

Graffiti are a dated cliché. The current visual language of Street Art always reminds me of album covers of the early 1970s. Not much has changed in mainstream graffiti since then. Sometimes I ask myself who makes them today. Still young people? People of my age?

It’s a visual language from the time when I was young, and it’s a time that has influenced my aesthetics and my mentality. My whole conception of freedom dates from that time.

And speaking of time: A few days ago I saw the image in the first driver’s license of my father. 1967. He was a young, good looking man of 32 years, a boy relative to my current age, yet already father to my three year old self. Today he is 81, fighting cancer, tired and old. Time is not kind.

3642 – Some Like It, Some Don’t

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Oct 082016

In general I like it. You may call it Graffiti, you may call it Street Art, although in most cases the word “Art” is a little bit far fetched. In many cases it’s not more than vandalism, and I admit that my relaxed stance is probably best explained by the fact that I am not a house owner.

My interest in Graffiti is that of a photographer and it is in details. Graffiti are colorful landscapes projected onto our urban canvas. Most of the time their weakness is in the way their totality lacks definition. Amorphically they are clustered around a strong, colorful signal, but towards the borders they run out into nothingness. That’s why I always frame them tightly.

3641 – Nice Place to Live

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Oct 072016

There are a few pretty nice places to live in Vienna. Actually I have no idea what we’re looking at here, an old building with a modern annex or an old building in front of a modern one? Hard to say, but I’d like to live in all three versions.

The big roof terrace is looking down on “Donaukanal”, a side arm of river Danube and probably the part of the river that is most integrated with the city. That view alone must be literally priceless.

If it’s really two buildings here, then I’d still like to have a room in that round tower at the corner. It’s lovely.

And, of course, if we look at some kind of architectural fusion, my envy is boundless 😀

3635 – A Fashionable Robot

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Oct 012016

When I read Isaac Asimov’s robot novels last year, I found them almost comically outdated. It’s not that I didn’t like the stories, but robots had turned out to be a direction that humanity had not taken. They had been a remote possibility when Asimov wrote the books, but in the end we had focused on other efforts.

Or so I thought.

Now I am not so sure any more. Some things are just harder than others, and while I don’t see much evidence of Robot Laws or full-fledged artificial intelligence, the idea of using robots as perfect killers seems to be pervasive. Seems we’re leaning more to the Terminator side 🙂

But anyway, as I said, some things are hard and just take their time. Look for example at Elon Musk’s announcements of his planned Mars transfer ship. The ship, the project of transporting a hundred people as a first colony, that’s almost exactly what Kim Stanley Robinson proposed in his “Mars Trilogy”. It was not possible when KSR wrote it, it may not be possible yet, but we’re definitely getting near.

I wouldn’t rule out fully autonomous robots any more. It may just take a little longer than Asimov expected.

3633 – Waiting for a Bus

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Sep 292016

A bus stop below a combined highway and railway bridge. This is a most unpleasant place, but I have to wait there for the bus at least weekly on my way to Carinthia. What can I say, this is the second image that I was able to make there. It’s unlikely that I’ll ever bother you with a third one though 🙂

Sep 282016

Image quality. On the PEN-F we see a moderate increase from 16 Mpx to 20 Mpx. That’s not bad, but most competitors made the jump from 16 to 24. If we take the smaller sensor area into account, we can expect that all current cameras of about the same price segment have about the same pixel sizes with about the same per-pixel quality. I can’t verify my expectation, but the fact, that most of the sensors involved originate with Sony, supports my expectation. Obviously different sensor sizes make for a difference in resolution.

When working with images, I frequently look at them on pixel level. The higher the resolution, the smaller the part of the image that I see, but while I am at pixel level, resolution is not a criterion for image quality. Noise is one. I know how it looks like on pixel level. I know how it looked on the D200, D300, the LX5, E-P2, OMD E-M5 and finally on the twins OM-D E-M1 and PEN E-P5.

There was a distinct quality gain from the D200 up to the D300. There was an even bigger step back to the LX5. The E-P2 was worse than the D300 and maybe about equal to the D200. The OMD E-M5 was a big step over the E-P2 and it also surpassed the D300. The last two didn’t make much of a difference, their advantages were elsewhere.

The PEN-F? Maybe slightly better on pixel level, but it is close. Therefore the relevant difference is again the number of pixels.

Does it count? My logic would say no (or only slightly), but working with the pictures, I’d say the difference is significant. I try to frame precisely, but I still find myself cropping or rotating or skewing. Doing so, I always have to sacrifice a few pixels, and having more of them to begin with, definitely helps.

Is it worth the few annoyances? Yes, I think so. At least I wouldn’t want to go back. The PEN-F is it, and if I find enough common sense, I’ll put the E-P5 up for sale within the next days 🙂

Is it worth the money? Do I recommend you sell your E-P5 + VF-4? That’s a tough question. As a recommendation, I’d say no. At least you should try to look through the PEN-F’s viewfinder first.

And what if you have only the E-P5 without VF-4? Well, I’d probably still recommend buying a used VF-4.

And if all that is like I said it is, why, you ask me, did I buy the PEN-F at all? Good question, I’d say. I suppose it was mostly for the looks and because I could afford it. It also was for the integrated viewfinder, a feature that I like, but if I think of why I like it, it’s probably also mostly for the looks.

Interestingly enough, the most useful feature of this camera over its predecessors is the dedicated exposure compensation wheel. And I guess that’s it.

3631 – The Flash

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Sep 272016

I have not yet sold my E-P5. When the PEN-F arrived, I removed the battery and the SD card, and then I put the camera into a closet. Today I took it out for a comparison.

What can I say? I miss the big viewfinder! Yes, the VF-4 sticks out from the E-P5, it mars the beautiful design, it just doesn’t look that classy. Looking through it makes a world of a difference though 🙂

It’s really like the difference between APS-C and full-frame. You notice the change and it’s a big one.

I’ve tried the same with the E-M1, and of course as it shares viewfinder specs with the VF-4, the result is the same.

Then I noticed something interesting: both the E-M1 and the E-P5 were pretty much off colorwise and they were also darker. The PEN-F on the other hand was incredibly accurate in reproducing what I saw.

There was also another change. Exposure parameters blended into the viewfinder image had some amount of transparency. Or had they? Now that I try to reproduce it, I find that I can’t. That’s funny, because I’ve already noticed it another day. I don’t think I’ve just imagined it.

Yes, indeed, I’ve just checked, there is an slight amount of transparency in the overlay. It’s still fully readable, but it is slightly less intrusive.

Another slight annoyance is, that with the position of the eye sensor on the PEN-F, stray light easier enters the sensor, especially when the sun comes from the back. If that happens, the EVF blanks out. This doesn’t happen when I hold the camera properly to my eye, but sometimes I don’t. I suppose it also may happen when you wear glasses.

Basically this all boils down to the fact that I like the new viewfinder better (if it is indeed the viewfinder and not just changes in metering and white balance accuracy), but that the lower resolution hurts. I’d like to call it a draw, but it isn’t really.

Is this a reason to switch back to the E-P5 and sell the PEN-F? No. If there were no other advantages but the better design and the convenience of the integrated viewfinder, I’d say yes. Fortunately there’s more to this camera. We’ve already discussed the exposure compensation wheel, and tomorrow we’ll talk about image quality.