iPad Pro and RAW files

November 14, 2015  •  1 Comment

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This is vey much 'breaking news' so please bear with the updates. 

This week I got hold of an iPad Pro, and as I've written about before the biggest iPad yet appears to have a big bottleneck - getting stuff IN and working on it.

It's all very well having the power and the screen size to work on but as a professional photographer and video-maker I'd love to be able to review my images and footage and cull some files before I get back to my main Mac, and also whilst I'm in the field, So I don't have to take my laptop. 

So in a little experiment I decided to see if I could get past this 'injest' issue. This isn't going to be a review of the iPad Pro (iPP) but more a rolling review that i will add to as I make more discoveries. I want to get my images into Adobe Lightroom Mobile and ultimately back to my iMac. 

 

TEST 1

First test was to use the lighting to USB adapter, plug in a mini USB cable and connect directly to my 1DX SLR. 

The iPad immediately opened up the photos app and started to build thumbnails. I selected some images and they appeared to import quite fast.

On looking in the photos app, they also started to appear on my desktop. I could see the images on the iPad and they also started to populate into my iCloud photos account, as well as reflecting any edits made on the iPad. 

I plugged in the iPad and examined the files using image capture on my Mac and can conform that the files are indeed the RAW files NOT the JPEG renders.

The files all now on my iPad, I turned to Lightroom Mobile to import them. Lightroom Mobile shows there are files 'there' in the file count but can't see the actual images to import. It can see the JPEG files if I've shot JPEG+RAW but any editing done on the JPEG will not change the RAW file. 

You can of course use the iPad to cull images and then import them back into Lightroom using the lightning cable.

CONCLUSION

It appears that RAW files can be imported, viewed AND edited but at the moment only using the Photos app. Lightroom Mobile will not access the file. You can play around with the photo on the iPad and then this will be reflected in the Photos app on the Mac.

Shooting as RAW+JPEG will obviously show (and allow you to import) the JPEG into Lightroom but leaves the RAW untouched on the iPad. 

If you don't use Lightroom and only use the Photos app on the Mac - then you're in luck!

 

TEST 2

SD card reader using Leica M240 DNG files. 

As before the iPad opened up the photos app, and imported the files. HOWEVER the images were the tiny JPEG's that the camera renders for it's LCD rear screen. I was upset with this - obviously I could shoot RAW+JPEG, which would give me a bigger file to work with on the iPad. BUT then..

I opened Lightroom Mobile and is SAW the RAW files on the iPad. Unlike with CR2 files from the Canon, it actually saw the raw files. I could then import then into LR mobile and edit them. At the same time my iMac was showing the files after they were synced. I checked the file on my iMac 'reveal in finder' and it does appear that the RAW DNG file has been synced back to the mac. 

CONCLUSION

iPad Pro with lighting to SD card reader does import DNG RAW files and then LR Mobile can see the raw files (even though the stock Photos app can't) and then they can be worked on and synced. VERY promising news. 

 

TEST 3

Not quite still images but thought I'd try importing some video. The video came in through the SD card reader, and then was able to be used in iMovie. The video was MP4 shot on a Canon C100mkii so I have high hopes that this would work for pretty much most mp4 files. 

 

More to follow...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Gear: Leica D-lux (Typ 109) six months on

October 02, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

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Current price around £780
Leica Website

It’s been a good 6 months since I bought my D-Lux, so I thought it would be a good time to write a review based on long-term use of the camera. 


As well as their legendary rangefinder cameras, Leica also have a decent offering when it comes to compact cameras. It’s no secret that for their compact camera range, they team up with Panasonic. Leica supply the lenses and Panasonic the innards, but with some cosmetic changes and some tweaks to the camera firmware/software. 

Many years ago I owned an older D-Lux camera and loved it, since then my ambitions and overdraft have grown somewhat and I now own a decent collection of Leica kit, mainly the M and a plethora of lenses. 

Sometimes though, even a professional photographer like myself needs a camera that they can grab and go with. I like to call this a ‘waiter cam’. One that I can hand to a waiter in a restaurant and they will get a semi-decent photo of the group, in full automatic mode. I also would like to be able to flick it back to manual when I’m ready for some more hands-on control. 

I’m not going to write a huge technical review of the camera and it’s features because the camera has been out long enough for the web to be full of them. This is intended to be a more of a ‘real world’ user experience and how it fairs from when I bought the camera to now, with a few images thrown in for good measure. 

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The camera is indeed largely based on the Panasonic LX100, an equally very capable camera. There are cosmetic differences and also differences in the firmware, but there’s a school of thought that will say there’s no difference. There is a price difference however, the Leica coming in a little more expensive. There’s a few benefits of the Leica version. It comes with a copy of Adobe Lightroom which is now pretty much widely accepted as the de-facto platform for editing and sorting images and of course hooks in very nicely to the rest of the Adobe suite of software. Coupled with a longer warranty the Leica D-Lux seems like a pretty balanced offering compared to the Panasonic. Plus, in my opinion it looks lovely too.

I was an avid Apple Aperture power user, but when Apple canned the development I was pretty much pushed to Lightroom. Almost a year on I am very happy and settled and can honestly say that Lightroom is pretty good. Even for the amateur it’s streets ahead of the stock photo apps on Mac and Windows computers. Apples new ‘Photos’ app is quite basic, and although it has tight integration with iCloud I think it’s still lacking in features and power. This could of course change in time as it becomes more developed but if you’re wanting some longevity then I’d plump for Lightroom. Chances are it will be still be in use a lot long after the current range of native photo apps are gone. 

So back to the camera.

I was a massive fan of the Sony RX100 range (I’ve reviewed it in my blog) and currently they have yet another new model and the specs are impressive, but over my years with it I found it a little ‘fiddly’ to operate. Whilst a truly pocketable camera it was just a bit to menu driven for my liking. The D-Lux though, whilst not truly 'pocketable', it does go into a jacket pocket but you can’t cram it into your jeans. The trade off though in my opinion is you are getting a much better lens and sensor than the RX range. For me I’d rather have the more manual-friendly settings than the ability to carry the camera in my pocket. 

There are some days where I just want to take a light, compact camera out with me and not worry about lenses and so on. It’s always a difficult choice for any photographer though. Do we take the better quality camera out with us, or one which will enable us to snap some decent shots and not concern ourselves with changing lenses and so on. 

The D-Lux really comes close to my other cameras in terms of image quality. Sure it’s not full frame (it’s actually micro 4/3) so you’re getting a superb sensor but with a fixed lens, and a lens that is tuned to the body perfectly. After 6 months I’m confident to leave my other kit at home and only take the d-lux out with me. Not always, but sometimes. 

I also purchased the leather case. I did try using others but they just didn’t quite look as nice or fit as well. I feel this is now a complete system. Grab and go, knowing you’re going to get very very good quality images.

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I do like the way you flick between modes. It’s a little odd at first but it’s actually quite logical. If you want it all automatic you can either push the ‘A’ button, or use ‘P’ (program) mode by turning the lens ring to A and the top dial to A. For Aperture priority leave the top dial on A and just adjust the aperture. For Shutter speed priority, leave the aperture ring on A and then twiddle the top dial around to whatever shutter speed you like. 

The exposure compensation dial is very useful too - I do have a tendency to knock it though so perhaps it could be a tad stiffer BUT it’s very handy and even with video shooting works well. 

The ability to actually use an aperture ring is a big selling point for me. I’m not a fan of ‘fly by wire’ systems, I like to feel the physical controls when I’m shooting. 

The EVF is wonderful too. I use this way more than the equally nice rear LCD. The refresh rate is amazing, very little lag and it most useful for shooting in sunshine or when you don't want people to see the shot appear on the screen. 

The battery seems to run and run. I’ve never managed to get through a full battery in a full day shooting. Using the screen and shooting video will eat more power but grab a spare battery and I think you’ll be safe for a long weekend of shooting without taking the charger. 

Video too is quite wonderful. I set the camera to shoot in 4k (but I edit in HD) just so it gives me more pixels to play with. For a compact camera the quality is lovely. I do dial down all the settings to make the image as ‘flat’ as possible so I can then tweak it more in edit, but then I’m doing this for al living. For most users the default settings are perfect. Shooting video is a breeze, point the camera and press the record button. The codec seems pretty robust and some say it’s on a par with the legendary Panasonic GH4 which isn’t surprising seeing as the innards are very similar. 
i’d be happy to use this camera instead of a Go-Pro mounted somewhere to capture as a second or third camera on a video shoot. 

As with all modern kit, the camera has NFC which I can’t test because I own an iPhone. It also has wifi and this seems pretty good and the free app works well with it. You can see the live feed from the camera, as well as control various settings and recall images and save to the camera roll. 

The only downside with this is with RAW files, they can’t be saved or viewed on your smartphone. You can thought shoot as RAW+JPEG and then the JPEG image will be the one you can play with on your mobile device. The app and connectivity isn’t a deal breaker for me but a nice addition. it’s good for those who want to seed to social media and want to use a much, much better camera than your smartphone.

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My first big trip with the D-lux was to Thailand. I’d barely had the camera a week, so it was all new. the Learning curve is pretty small. There are a LOT of settings on there but you can pretty much ignore most of them if you want manual control. Even for those who hate reading manuals you wont have too much trouble getting your head around it.

I have to confess that on many days I did leave my M kit behind and just took the D-Lux. It felt ‘wrong’ at first but then soon I realised that when I was back in my hotel and looked at the images they just looked great. It’s a great camera for stealthy shots too, totally silent (if you want it to be) and you can shoot from the hip too. An articulating screen would have been nice for this purpose but I think it would add to the bulk. I had a flip out screen on my last Sony and it drove me mad when I took it out of it’s case it would flip up somehow. 

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I do tend to edit most of my photos, not massively but I tweak the basics. Occasionally I will apply a film type of preset to the shot. I am still amazed about how much detail i can pull from these images. The RAW files are very robust. 

Although you get a little clip on flash in the package I didn’t really use it. I’d say you can get away with shooting at ISO 6400 but things tend to get a little mushy after that. The flash is handy as a ‘fill’ but with the decent ISO and fast lens it’s actually not really needed. I have considered getting a beefier flash for it but then I think it would take away the portability of the camera. I invested in the automatic lens cap, so I don't have to worry about losing the cap that comes with the camera.

At it’s widest the lens is a fabulous f1.7, but even zoomed it’s f2.8 so you’re not losing much. This is really impressive for a camera this small. The equivalent focal range is 24mm-70mm which is the same as the lens I have on my DSLR bodies 90% of the time. It can also focus down as low as 3cm giving you the option for getting some nice detailed shots very close up. 

If you like the background blur and lots of booked then it’s rather nice with this camera. Wide open and 1.7 and putting the subject nice and close will give you decent results. 

On some of the trips I made in Thailand I actually used the D-lux alongside my M rangefinder. There wasn’t always time to change lenses, so I tended to keep a wide on the M and then used the D-Lux tog get closer, and get some macro shots. Overall I felt it was a good combo and my shots sit perfectly well together in my library. 

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Recently I was working in Milan for 24 hours. I debated heavily if I should take my full rangefinder kit. I had booked myself on a later flight to get around Milan for a few hours and shoot some stuff. I had my roller bag crammed with my DSLR bodies and lenses, and had planned on taking my M240 and 3 or 4 lenses but the night before I decided  take the D-Lux in the leather case. Of course there were moments where I wished I’d have had my M with me but I had one camera, on my shoulder and that was all I took out with me. After spending the night before dragging my DSLR’s around with me this felt so good, freedom!

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Also, with Leica you are getting access to their support and customer service which I have found to be fantastic. I had some dust on the sensor, not a common issue but I'd used it extensively.  The unit was cleaned and ready within 24 hours. In London this can be done In-house in Mayfair, so if you're local you can drop it in and hopefully they will be able to do it quickly for you. I'm sure it's a similar setup in other countries too. 

To conclude, I’m delighted with this camera. It's great on a trip to the seaside, or an adventure somewhere else.I would confidently take this with me and leave my other kit back at home if I wanted to take a weekend trip or a day out or was limited to space. Sure there are new cameras every few months, but this one is great, and I intend to use it for a long time to come. 

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Food Review: The Deli House Borehamwood

October 01, 2015  •  5 Comments

I've decided to put to blog some of my food experiences, A slight departure from photography but hey, we all need to eat. 

Place: The Deli House, 41 Shenley Rd, Borehamwood

https://www.facebook.com/TheDeliHouse

Being freelance, it's become a bit of a mission for me to find places that offer good value, tasty and fresh food when I need a quick, tasty fix. It's all too easy to slip back into the junk-fest of the fast food chains when things are busy.

With great excitement a new deli opened the other week. Today I decided that I'd reward myself with a spot of lunch after hitting a tight deadline, so I popped over to 'The Deli House' in Borehamwood for some food. 

There's a swathe of new eateries opening up on my local high-street. It's a pretty busy place, and it's great to see the old closed-down shops given a new lease of life and opening up as potentially exciting places to eat.

The Deli House actually opened a couple of weeks ago, but was so popular they ran out of food, then closed for a few days whilst they re-evaluated. It was encouraging that there was a heavy demand, but slightly worrying that they couldn't cope with actually having customers. Still, teething problems are part of the learning process and once they had announced they'd sorted them out I was rather excited about a salt beef sandwich. 

I arrived and the sun was shining, the place was packed, always a good sign. The decor is very light and fresh, lots of room to sit inside and a couple of tables on the outside. The whole front was opened up to the outside. The menu boards clear and not too overloaded with information. I liked it. 

So I stood there for around 10 mins, keeping an eye out for a table. I wasn't sure whether I was meant to order then sit down, or sit down and wait. I kind of hung around a bit then went to place my order. I was told to sit down and the staff would serve me. 

The menu is good. New York style, kosher deli style. Decent choice of hot and cold sandwiches, schnitzel and loads of delicious things. The classic Salt Beef, Reuben and all the trimmings, and sides of felafel and chopped herring. There's enough choice to keep you coming back for several visits. Excitedly I sat down, and spotted they'd put the Wifi code on the menu holder on the table. A nice touch, but I didn't see the network so I assume they've not set it up yet. 

The condiments on the table were fairly standard. Some random ketchup (not Heinz) but Heinz mayo. Some tables had salad oil too. Cutlery was sparse but in a tin on the table. Each set wrapped in a paper napkin. 

I'd come for one meat, and one meat only, and this was Salt beef. I ordered my Salt Beef on rye, mustard on the side (£5.95) and a potato latke (£2.25) with a can on mango juice (£1.20). 

I didn't have to wait too long, but the sandwich looked a little disappointing. A little limp and forlorn. On the plate were a couple of tomato and cucumber slices and a little pile of iceberg lettuce. Mustard in a pot on the side. I'd not say the salt beef was piled high, but it wasn't one slice. Somewhere in between, so not great but not terrible. possibly about 3cm thick in the centre. No pickles or other garnish though. 

My latke was on the way (I was told) When it did arrive I was disappointed. They had run out of the large ones so suppled 4 small balls. They were not even luke-warm. I'd say room temperature at best. 

The sandwich was dry. The meat was most definitely not hot. The 'hot sandwich' was tepid. Both in looks and temperature. The meat was 'ok', slightly dry but not the absolute worst I've had. Not a patch on the bagel places in Brick Lane though, where they hand carve thick slices and pile it high. Salt beed should be buttery smooth, break into juicy little glistening pieces and taste fresh and mellow. This wasn't. It felt like it had been delivered in shrink wrap,  pre-cooked and sliced. I don't think it's hand carved on the premises. I thought that over 50p for each little latke ball thing was overpriced too. 

All the time, playing on my mind is the fact that for another pound or so you can get a Salt Beef sandwich from the famous Brass Rail Salt Beef bar in Selfridges, The Deli House prices don't seem to compare for value, especially being in Borehamwood rather than Oxford St, and not, err, Selfridges. 

I would have addressed the issues with the staff, but they were totally inattentive. No one came to check up. I was waiting to see if they did. They were all huddled around the till (the same way they were when I arrived) trying to figure out how it worked. I'd have forgiven them for the learning curve, but they'd already opened and closed so I was rather hoping they'd be slick and ready to welcome customers. 

So that was that. I wasn't sure again if I needed to stand up, and go and pay, ask for the bill then take it to the till or sit and pay at the table. No one seemed to know. I went to the counter and waited another 5 or so minutes watching the staff figure out the till. 

Another problem is that the till is sandwiched (pun intended) between the high glass chiller cabinets with the cakes etc in, so you can't actually make any eye contact with the staff behind the counter. There were people paying for take-aways, people waiting to pay who had been sitting down to eat and just no form or organisation at all. I had to wave at the staff through the glass to get their attention and then mime to them what I wanted.  

The bill was just shy of £10 which for a lunch and a can of drink isn't a bad price, but I had a feeling of disappointment. 

The photo on their Facebook page really is not representative of the food they serve. If they'd served me this, it would be a different story. 

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The place is nice, but the food is disappointing. Perhaps my expectations were too high- but there's little excuse for not heating the food properly. A couple wanted to order a pudding. They'd sold out. It was still lunch time. 

I really hope they iron out their issues. People won't give them a third or fourth chance. They opened, failed, closed and re-opened. People will not bother if they can't offer a decent level of good food and good service. On chatting to a couple of friends who've been, they also remarked their soup was cold, the food not hot. 

As I was walking to the car, I actually felt peckish. I don't usually eat massive lunches, but I was feeling totally unsatiated. I went home still hungry. 

There's another Deli type place opening very soon just a little further up the road. The Deli House should really use this time to capture a loyal audience or they could suffer. The other place is a chain too. I want to support my local business but I can't if they don't improve. I really hope they can pull it out of the bag and make this place something great. 

I don't know if I should give them '3 strikes and out' or abandon the place already. 

 

 

 

 

 

 


What the iPad Pro and Apple Pencil could mean for photographers.

September 09, 2015  •  1 Comment

So it’s finally here.. the latest addition to the Apple iPad family. What implications are there for professional photographers with such a powerful unit and now with the extra method of integration via a pressure and tilt sensitive stylus?

 

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After a much talked about product launch the folk in California have announced a slew of new devices but the one which is of most interest to me and possibly other photographers is the iPad Pro.

The new iPad is large - a 13” screen and is very powerful. I don't need to go through all the tech specs, but they are impressive for a tablet and they are all over the web.

The addition of a stylus makes this a very interesting proposition for digital artists, and designers. It won’t be long before developers will fill the App Store with a range of apps all tailored to use the new pencil (or stylus) but what about the photography community?

I’ve used a Wacom tablet for years -I can’t (and won’t) use a mouse anymore, for photo editing the graphics tablet is a must for me. Accurate and fast, once you try it and get used to it you will never go back, the prospect of a large iPad with a pen to help you work is indeed very exciting.

At the moment there’s an app that actually turns the current iPad into a drawing tablet, (like the Wacom Cintiq pictured below) called Astropad. You can use the iPad screen to mirror your desktop/laptop screen and work on it like a graphics tablet - a very clever app, and a heck of a lot cheaper than the Wacom. If this works on the iPad Pro then it could be a killer app and would seal the deal for some people in making their purchasing decision.

cintiqWacom Cintiq

I have had a few iPads over the years and for me the missing link is getting the photos from your camera in to the iPad. I mean the raw files - not small JPEG previews, inevitably it’s just less stressful to use a laptop and have all the connectivity and storage there and then - but these devices are big and heavy and perhaps I don't take the laptop to places I’d take the iPad.

So let’s look at what I would like to do with my workflow. I would imagine it’s very similar to other photographers.

Finish a shoot

Ingest images into iPad whilst still on location

Use Lightroom mobile to perform edits/cull images

Sync back via Adobe Cloud to my main mac

Refine the edits or export and upload to client.

Now this process hasn’t changed with the new iPad. For me there is still the missing link of ‘How do I get the photos from my camera into the damn iPad?’

With the new pencil (or stylus as we know them as) there is huge potential to be able to do very fast and accurate photo editing, with the larger screen it would be perfect for on the fly editing, and a heck of a lot more portable than a laptop. As it stands, Adobe Lightroom Mobile is an excellent tool for editing on the go. It will sync your camera roll with the app- and then your main Lightroom App on the Mac or PC.

Getting access to the actual files from your proper camera is still very much a one way thing. You ingest the images into your main PC/Mac, then sync the collection back to your iOS device. It does work very, very well BUT it doesn’t help when the client wants a few shots at the end of the event or shoot. It’s either back to the office or drag the laptop.

Apple has teamed up with Adobe and they showed some very interesting peeks at new software but it does seem to be firmly aimed at the artist rather than the photographer. It will be interesting to see what happens to Wacom, who for years have had the monopoly in professional, pressure sensitive graphics tablets.

I'd like to see Adobe look at something for photographers in the field, a workable workflow! If this could be sorted - this new device is potentially very exciting. Couple it with a data plan and you are ready to shoot, edit and upload anywhere.

The question would be, do you take the plunge now (well, November when it’s released) or sit tight and wait for version 2 where they could have developed the hardware and software to do what you’d like. Apple iPad Pro


Do we really think about what our profile photo says about us?

September 04, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

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We all have them, but some are worse than others. 

In an age where we are mostly all on some form of social media or another, I would think we’ve taken it for granted that a photo can say a lot about a person, and we’ve become rather flippant about what we use and where.

Facebook is where most of us sit and play when we have some time (or when we should be working) and there’s obviously a lot of you out there who are the ‘serial’ profile updater, possibly changing your headshot more than once or twice a week. It’s fine there - but what happens when you cross the line to the ‘professional’ arena of other sites, like LinkedIn.

You can’t apply the same rules there as you do on Facebook.  So, after seeing MANY head shots I’ve put together this handy little guide to help you look your best without looking like a fool. 

Where?

Before you take your photo, think about what your wearing, and think about where you’re standing. You don't need a professional photographer to take the shot, just think about what you’re trying to achieve. You don't want the photo to be boring, so think about perhaps using a wall, or a bit of artwork somewhere, you don't have to be bland to be appropriate. 

The Selfie

A self-portrait has been around for many years, and this is perfectly acceptable, just try to avoid having it look like you’ve actually taken the photo yourself. Don’t have your arm in shot, and please, please don't pout. Use the timer on your camera, or just get someone in the office or a friend to take it. ANYTHING is better than a selfie. 

Lighting

Dont’ try and be ‘moody’ and have something dramatic (half your face in light, the other in shadow) type of thing. If you’re in the performing arts or you’re a magician then it might be acceptable.

Poor Quality

Keep the picture as good a quality as possible. DON’T zoom on your iPhone because it’s not a real zoom. It just does it digitally. Move closer (or get someone to move closer to you). Resize the image once you've uploaded it on whichever platform you want to use. 

Appropriate

I already mentioned in the lighting section that the images should be at lease slightly appropriate to the organisations you want to work for. Whilst we are on the topic of being appropriate, don't use a photo of you off your face at a party. It really wont be a good thing. Even worse with a bottle of booze and a packet of fags in your hand. 

The CropShot

Dont use a photo from your holidays and try and crop our your best friend who’s standing next to you with their arm on your shoulder. It looks rubbish. Actually, don't use a holiday shot at all. Beachwear in profile shots isn’t really recommended on a professional level, regardless of if you have the killer body (and especially if you don’t!)

Animals

Don't pose with your pets. No cats, dogs or hamsters. Unless of course you're a Vet and thats part of your work but no-one cares about how much you love your gerbil. 

Finally...

If in doubt - keep is simple. Whilst you think you look amazing on a beach in Thailand with your new sunglasses on, a potential employer may think otherwise. 

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