Friday, December 31, 2010

PESO 2010 #68 - Sandy rain

When it dried out, everywhere a drop fell, a little pile of sand remained...

I absolutely cannot choose between these two renderings...

PESO 2010 #67 - King David of Jerusalem

PESO 2010 #66 - Tram ways

Tram lines are practically ready to start operating in Jerusalem...

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Thursday, December 02, 2010

PESO 2010 #58 - Rokach House

Rokach House Museum is one of the older buildings in Tel Aviv. Recently it celebrated 120th anniversary.

PESO 2010 #57 - Happy Hannukah

Happy holidays, everyone!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Monday, November 22, 2010

Saturday, November 20, 2010

PESO 2010 #52 - Evening walk

I admit, the low light photography really grows on me...

Friday, November 19, 2010

PESO 2010 #51 - Miserere

I met Miserere (*) back in May 2010 in Chicago. He's incredibly nice and astoundingly smart guy. Therefore if you hear him decline the above compliment, just don't believe him :-). Here is him doing seemingly his usual two cameras-one guy trick...

(*) Miserere has another web site - right here.

P.S. A bit of techno-babble... The above image was processed with Topaz Noise. Initially I thought it had too much noise which made me hesitate to publish it. As it is now, it seems more or less acceptable...

PESO 2010 #50 - Moshe Aviv Tower

A co-worker of mine is living on the 59th floor of the tallest building in Israel - the Moshe Aviv Tower. Recently I chanced to pay him a visit and even get up on the roof which is approximately 70 stories above the ground. Unfortunately I did not have my camera gear with me, but I had my cell phone :-).

Sunday, November 07, 2010

PESO 2010 #49 - Cormorant

After all these years I still don't know why, but cormorants are PDML birds... So, in a manner of speaking, Galia has become more PDMLer than before...

Saturday, November 06, 2010

PESO 2010 #48 - Pizza

Among other extracurricular activities, Galia studies cooking. This pizza was really delicious, and I am saying it not because I am Galia's dad, but because it was tasty.

Friday, November 05, 2010

PESO 2010 #47.1

I have been asked to provide comparison images for my Topaz Cat PESO.

First, completely unprocessed crops:

Then, my attempt to LightRoom 3.2 noise reduction:

Sans the minor difference in brightness between these four and the Topaz Cat images due to my general post processing of the full image for presentation it seems that LightRoom does really good job at noise reduction. I still prefer Topaz but it is of course influenced by the fact that I recently paid money for it.

Finally, as Miserere rightfully requested to show him some prints, all this pixel peeping is of very specific and limited value, but I had to have my portion of "fun", hadn't I?

PESO 2010 #48 - Ralli Museum Caesarea

Two more from my cell phone photography series. I wholeheartedly recommend you visit Ralli Museum Caesarea if you happen to visit Israel.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

PESO 2010 #47 - Topaz Cat

It seems everyone in Pentax land is getting excited about noise performance of K-5 and K-r - two most recent and most up to date offerings from Pentax. It goes without argument that noise performance of K-5 has improved significantly on K-7. However K-7 is no slouch. At this moment I see no particularly strong reason to shell yet another 4 figures in USD for the new camera. Rather, I bought Topaz Denoise for approximately 1/20th of the price of brand new K-5. Here is a picture I took not long ago and processed it with Topaz Denoise. It was shot at ISO 1600, f/2.5, 1/50 sec with FA 77/1.8 Limited.

Two 100% crops for your inspection:

It seems to me that I can actually shoot safely at ISO 3200 now, although previously I limited auto ISO to ISO 1600. Of course this is not wondrous ISO 25600 or even ISO 51200 of K-5, but it will satisfy my needs quite nicely.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Ten thousand clicks

Just recently I've hit 10K clicks mark on my K-7. It took me approximately one year and two months. It turns out that many (gear head) ideas crossed my mind, and it would seem interesting to step back and have a bit of an introspect.


Here are some interesting data pieces that my LightRoom is telling me:

I have kept 7400 shots. This is too many. I have shot 1400 frames for family album. I have traveled several times, mostly on business and shot 900 frames during my travels. I still have 900 shots that I need to keyword. Finally, I shot 740 frames for Galia's school which is my ongoing project ever since she started going there.

I have shot 2000 frames with A 50/1.2, which is by far my most used and favorite lens. Second most used lens is FA 43/1.9 Limited with 1100 frames. Next is Pentax FA 20/2.8 with 750 frames. In zoom department the title goes to Tamron 28-75/2.8 with 660 frames with recently acquired Sigma 24-60/2.8 not far behind with 500 frames.

Most of my shots are made at ISO 100 and ISO 200 with 2250 and 3100 frames respectively. Exactly 81 frames are shot at ISO above 1600, only one of which is at ISO 6400.


K-7 introduced a number of new features over K10D. Here is the brief shopping list based on K-7 review that I wrote last year in this blog.
  • 100% Viewfinder This is by far the most useful improvement offered by K-7. Indeed, I cannot take a shot without looking into viewfinder, so I effectively use it all time :-). Yet, I am aware of the offered coverage and take advantage of this over and over.
  • Quiet shutter It is really nice to have. Originally I thought of it as a big plus, but now I don't hold this particular feature in such high an esteem. It is useful, but only just.
  • 77 segment matrix metering Another pretty valuable improvement. I cannot say that it is spot on. It is good enough that I can hardly recall times when I had to issue exposure correction. Since K-7 RAW files excel in shadows headroom, I take it from there. It is good though that I don't have to worry about the metering like I used to do on K10D.
  • Autofocus It is pretty much the same as it was withK10D. I don't feel any significant boost of confidence or the opposite. It is just there and I just use it just like I used it on my previous cameras. Notably the little AF point selection switch is extremely awkward. Nine times out of ten, if I flick it with my thumb without taking the camera away from my eye, it switches to live view mode.
  • Electronic level This is second most useful addition to K-7. Most valuable is the fact that the level is shown in the viewfinder and it benefits my (lack of) style of shooting greatly.
  • Live view I used it only once for prolonged period of time. It wasn't too successful. For fine precision focusing I still use Katz Eye split focusing screen. Recent firmware upgrade made CDAF speed barely tolerable but I still don't use it, likely due to its previous abysmal performance.
  • Video mode I shot about a dozen short clips for my family album and another half dozen clips for the heck of it. Initially I thought it would be a useful feature. Well, it is, but I just don't use as often as I thought I would.
  • High speed shutter This is third most useful feature of my K-7. I often shoot at very large apertures (f 1.2, f 1.4) in rather bright light, so it comes in handy.
This is it, folks. Whatever else K-7 has to offer I don't use it. Be it fancy sensor movement control system, in camera HDR or fancy cross process filter. In all seriousness, I feel like I paid for a number of development efforts that have no benefit for me whatsoever. I much rather Pentax invested in bettering their P-TTL flash system or dealing with infamous SDM problems than developing yet another art filter in camera firmware.

So, to summarize this section - I actively use 2.5 features out of so many K-7 has to offer. Both are improvements over K10D but they are not deal makers or deal breakers - they are more of a convenience features. Realization of this was a bit of a revelation for me. More on that later.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

PESO 2010 #45 - Alma Mater

Continuing my cell phone photography project... As a matter of fact Weizmann Institute of Science is my Alma Step Mater as I started my higher education in Moscow Oil and Gas Institute.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

PESO 2010 #44 - Chairs study

I thought these plastic chairs in the middle of ancient amphitheater were fascinating...

PESO 2010 #43 - Wave study

Galia studies the waves...

I did the processing of both shots, but Galia was by my side and she approved of my actions.

PESO 2010 #42 - Two armies

We spent today's morning in Caesaria. Accidentally Galia and I were shooting the same view unbeknown to another another.

I am hoping that really soon Galia will completely outdo me in all things photography...

From technical stand point, although processed, these photos seem to illustrate the difference between color rendering of K10D with FA 50/1.4 (Galia's shot) versus K-7 with Sigma EX 24-60/2.8 (my shot).

Saturday, September 25, 2010

PESO 2010 #41 - Smoking hand

PESO 2010 #40 - Hot afternoon

PESO 2010 #39 - Place for meat

Place for meat is by far our favorite restaurant in Tel Aviv. We keep coming there and these guys never disappoint.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Exciting times (or not?)

Photokina 2010 is coming up. This year it seems everybody or at least every reasonably big player in this game is making an announcement and introducing new products. Canon 60D, Nikon D7000, Olympus E-5, Sony E-55, Pentax K-r to name a few. I am deliberately not giving any links as the web is full of them and whatever I might give you might not fancy.

The question that I'd like to discuss here is that of comparison. Does it make sense to compare these announcements and if so, how to do it best. So let us get started.

Every manufacturer has their own marketing outlook. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses. Say, Pentax has rather narrow set of options and they don't offer a full frame(*) camera to compete with likes of Canon 5D Mk2 or Nikon D700, however they seem to be building up on the success of their K-x model that was greatly praised for its high ISO performance and won some acclaim for colorful marketing. Sony made very interesting announcement of the camera with semi-transparent mirror and hence 10fps rapid fire rate. Nikon seems to have outdone everyone so far by offering a camera that has mechanical aperture coupling thereby giving a mid-level camera the compatibility of its higher level siblings. The list goes on.

As you can see, there is no direct comparison between all these points. Everyone is moving in their own direction that they think is the correct one from their technical and marketing perspective.

Here is the idea for you to consider: it makes no sense to compare camera bodies across the brands. Let us consider an example. On paper Olympus E-5 (labeled professional by Olympus themselves) is almost everything that Pentax K-7 has been a year go. Obviously people who are busy making cross-brand comparisons would say that Olympus sky has already fallen. People who for whatever reason choose Olympus system to shoot would have none of this nonsense. I am with the latter.

Unless you are sitting on a fence considering switching systems or starting in photography, it really makes very little sense (in my opinion, of course) to do these comparisons.

(*) Some call it "fool frame", but I digress.

Monday, September 13, 2010

On Dark Frame Subtraction

Some criticize K-7 and other cameras for Dark Frame Subtraction (DFS) during extremely long exposures (1/2 hour and longer). Effectively, DFS shortens the night by half.

What if it were possible to pre-perform the DFS exposure say by opening the shutter for an hour and saving a special DFS image file every 5 or 10 minutes. Then, during the actual shoot the photographer wouldn't have to wait for DFS, but rather camera will take the ready image from the card. The pre-shoot DFS exposure could be an option from the camera menu that will greatly improve the usability of the camera. The regular DFS can be retained of course.

Such a mechanism may mean somewhat weaker noise reduction performance but it will be the photographer's call to make.

Friday, September 10, 2010