We have nearly all these game consoles (xBox, PS3, Wii) and for some reason, I have to say, these new announcements (xBox One, PS4, Wii U) just don’t sound all that interesting. I had not realized it has been *seven years* since the release of the xBox. As Calvin said, when you have a late model PC (ok ours is a little more than late model, more like insane), the graphicas advancements on the PC happen every six months. While having a eight-core processor in the xBox sounds pretty cool, you have to wonder how well it will age and the very cool Kinect gesture and other recognition sound like nice potential features. It will be interesting to see how they work. Certainly, I’ve been lost in xBox menus as they’ve evolved the interface so much.
In all these reviews, these things feel more and more like a PC and we’ve noticed that most folks are doing PS3, xBox and PC releases pretty much simultaneously now (Bioshock Infinite) is a good example, so perhaps the SteamBox is a better idea. Stay on the open side of PCs, have the ability to slam in new graphics cards for games and that works better.
On the other side are the integration with social networks and television. That is really a mess today mainly because of all the licensing issues. It is maddening that you can’t see all your content in one place, but right now, we have to surf Netflix, online sites, Xfinity and regular television. What a mess of rights. Plus we are watching more and more content on a tablet anyway, so it feels sometimes like the grand unification of interfaces to just *one* TV ( no pun intended) is kind of a day late. What is really needed is this watch anything anywhere and have one way to find (where is superman anyway?!!) in a single app. The fact that apps like Can I Stream it? and Matcha are pretty much vital to the “watch TV workflow” is kind of sad
Well time to lust for bikes too…here is a list from Bicycling.com:
Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL4 Red. Won last year. $8K, 12.6 lb if you can believe it! But let’s face it the real lust starts with the $12K (?!!) Tarm SL4 Di2 which has Shimano’s electronic shifting components. You can also get this as just a frame and build it up yourself.
Cervelo R3 Ultegra. $3K which seems cheap when you compare it to the new car above 15.4 pounds, which makes my home built Trek from 2001 look pretty good at 13.5 pounds
Here were some others that did well in user ratings:
Cannondale SuperSix EVO Team; 13 lbs, 3.2 oz, $10K MSRP! Very compliant and a good climber (May-2013)
Giant TCR Advanced SL1. $7K MSRP, 14lb. Aluminum wheels gave a little more weight. Stiff frame that is great for corners. (May 2013)
Pinarello Dogma 64.1 Think2. $13.5K. Has Duar-Ace Di2, great in sprints but needs more attention on descents. 14lb, 4.8 oz (May 2013)
Diamondback Podium 7. $6.7K, 14 lb, 1.6 oz. They mainly make mountain bikes, but this is pretty inexpensive ($1.5K less than the equivalent Tarmac SL4). Accell Group also own s Raleigh and Redline and they are doing this online only. Comes in Campagnolo 11 and SRAM 10 only.
Was also interesting to look at Bicycling Magazine 2012 recommendations:
BH Ultralight Red/Reynolds 32. $10K. How can they make a 740 gram frame (the first carbon frame I got had just hit 1kg and that was amazing) and have it be stiff. Apparently this can happen. It has Reynolds 32 carbon clinchers as well. How cool is that.
BMC Team Machine SLR01. The bike that won the 2011 Tour de France. Just need Di2 on it
Wow, this is the first full frame camera that can produce raw footage. Something the Canon folks are trying to keep to their $30K high end cameras (you could really dislike Canon for crippling its mirrorless EOS-M and locking out video output with their prosumer cameras in favor of their C line). But their lenses are just incredible (the new 24-70 II and 70-200 II).
But the folks at Magic Lantern have hacked the Canon firmware to allow it to produce RAW video (vs compressed H.264) as Alex says on EOSHD:
Magic Lantern have done the seemingly impossible and given us a continuous raw recording mode on the Canon 5D Mark III. Once activated in the menus the 5D Mark III becomes essentially a full frame Blackmagic Cinema Camera and amazingly mine has not yet exploded. No more short bursts of raw, this is the real thing.
The image is leaps and bounds ahead of any other DSLR. We’re talking Alexa / Red league here, yet full frame. The first ever raw video shooting full frame camera at that. I’m getting continuous recording at a data rate to the card of 90MB/s and the camera hardly breaks into a sweat.
I shot clips in 1920×1280 mode. I also have some 3.6K clips (3592×1320) too unfortunately they are glitchy with some drop frames, but 3K or 2.5K might be doable, especially with a narrower vertical crop… 3000×1000 maybe. That is approximately Micro Four Thirds area of the sensor at 1:1. The quality is the same as a raw photo. 14 bit, 12 stops dynamic range.
The 1080p raw file sizes are similar to 2.5K on the Blackmagic Cinema Camera. Around 4MB per frame for 1920×1280 (great aspect ratio for anamorphic lenses, utilising a higher than full HD vertical res) or a much more space efficient 2MB for 1920×720 (2.66:1).
I’m one of those outliers who use DxO instead of Adobe Lightroom and one of the reasons has been the way they automatically correct lens imperfections because they test each camera body and each lense. For instance, they say they correct vignetting because they know at every aperture and speed what is the darkness at corners and correct for it. I don’t know if that is true, but it seems to work pretty well.
But I’ve never really played with their lens softness parameters. I normally leave it on default. Sometimes when I have some motion blur, I will add some unsharp mask, but this isn’t too analytic. So given all the discussion about lenses and their resolution, I thought that I would learn more about exactly what is going on. There marketing says that they can recovery details and also microcontrast (that is sharpen the transition between dark and light. What they do is that they know where a lens is sharpest and have a “blur map” which takes that into account. They basically apply more sharpening at the corners than in the center.
Lense can also have astigmatism which means that the software is worst in a certain direction. That is softness might be worse at the lower left and better towars the upper right. And blur can be different for different colors so you want to apply different correction based on color. Finally darker regions have more noise, so you want to do less sharpening when it is darker. So given all this, how do you use DxO?
Here is their tutorial:
First some definitions:
- Sharpness. This is the ability to reproduce fine details and micro-contrasts.
- Focus. If you misfocus the lense itself.
Here are the steps
- Global. This is the amount of overall sharpness. It is set to -0.50. In the example, they move it to as much 0.8, so it is unclear what the normal range is
- Details. After you adjust the global, then you go to details and extracts fine detail (that is the microcontrast). In the example, they move it from 50 to 70 (no idea what the numbers mean). This is good for landscapes and architectural but on portraits, it will bring out small skin defacts.
- Bokeh. One problem with sharpenting is that it creates artifacts in the blurred backgrounds (called bokeh), so the Boken slige helps protect against that. So you need to look at the blurred background make sure there isn’t noise in the dark to light transitions and trun up Boken to make that disappear
In looking on the web for the correct values, there is quite a discussion about what appropriate values are:
- Fotomatti says that he uses 0 to 0.5 most of the time instead of -0.5 for global. Most of my photos just use the default, but I’ve been doing more pixel peeping at 1:1 and it does seem to help to go to at least 0. As Robgo2 says this is not USM, but is instead deconvolution and deblurring which is the same process as Photoshop Smart Sharpen, Focus Magic and InFocus but it takes into account lense specific distortions.
If you have a camera or lense not supported by DxO then you are back to using the unsharp mask features. Here is how to do it:
- Set the intensity to something like 200 to make everything generally have high contrast between light and dark. If you make it too high, you will get “halos” long the edges) and they leave the radius of sharpening and threshold to start sharpening at 4. These are standard USM parameters with a well known tutorial that basically says start at 100% and 1 pixel radius. The theory of USM is actually pretty interesting but basically, it works by blurring a image and applying it against it to find edges, then create overshoot around the edges to make things look sharper. 100% means that you do a 100% overshoot compared with the actual edge. Radius means how much you blur the original, so the smaller the radius, the smaller the size of the edge. And threshold means you set the darkest color you leave unenhanced. The negative is that you can see halos around edges if you apply too much, because the overshoot on the light side is so high it makes a bright white around the edge. The solution is either less amount or shrink the radius (so the halo is smalller)
- Sharpen the edges using edge offset, in the example, they set it to 200 and this will help even more along the edges
Now I also have Adobe and they have Adobe Camera Raw which also does lens correction in a preprocessing step before going to Photoshop for detailed editing or Lightroom to manage photos. Like DxO, they also distortion correction with a quick tutorial and you can also create custom profiels as well, but here are the values:
- Distortion. 100 means 100% of the correction. Seems like this makes sense
- Chromatic Aberration. 100% means all of the correction
- Vignetting means 100% of the profile
Also it looks like Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) does the same deconvolution/deblurring when you move the detail slider from 0 to 100 which moves from USM to deconvolution, but they do it based on lense characteristics.
The future however looks like it is in smart deblur. These are pretty sophisticated algorithms that basically assume that the image itself is in motion and tries to figure out the motion (eg the blur) and reverse it. Quite different that unsharp mask which is trying to make edges rink and be sharper. You can use the same idea to remove user shake because you can make some assumptions about how the image was shaken and then reverse it. You estimate or guess the blur kernel. This is the actual shake and then reverse it. The algorithm described in the last paper is actually pretty cool. Shows that you can estimate the motion of the camera pretty well by heuristics looking at edges. Dgrin.com has a pointer to smartdeblur.net which implements this as does focus magic (Windows only though!) including smartdeblur.net or Focus Magic which are probably good reasons to crank up my Windows VirtualBox or run wine on the Mac. As an aside I have a license to Focus Magic, but they are way behind on the Mac version, but are starting beta testing now.
This would be a big move on Sony’s part, wish that their lenses were better (thanks to Scott for explaining that lenses are as important as bodies!)
Matrix agent’s would say…It was inevitable MR-Anderson! Panasonic and Samsung dropped the DSLR world, Olympus will do it soon. So, what is Sony going to do? According to very reliable sources Sony is going to transform their A-mount cameras in pure mirrorless by getting rid of both the classic mirror and their unique semitransparent (or translucent) mirror tech. Some of you may wonder why at that point Sony is not going the E-mount route only. Apparently the A-mount mirrorless will keep the DSLR form size while E-mount cameras will focus on compact size. Plus, A-mount camera have on sensor stabilization while the E-mount has not.
The first A-mount mirrorless cameras will come in early 2014. Now let’s see how long it takes until Canon and Nikon will get “serious” with mirrorless too!
A great analysis by Roger over at Lensrental.com trying to decide what dSLR to buy. Inreresting thing was to compare Nikon D800 and Canon 5D Mark III at 24-70. The new Canon 24-70 II is amazingly sharp and of course the Nikon D800 is 36 megapixel vs Canon at 22, so would seem to be no contest.
In reality, these high resolution sensors mean that the quality of the glass make a huge difference. Here is what he learned:
- As expected, the Nikon D800 with the Nikon 24-70 is the best performing with average MTF50 (that is where the contrast of black and white bars falls to 50%) is 1000lph at F/4 so it is the best resolving
- The Canon with the Canon 24-70 II is 910lp/Ih. So about 10% less, which shows how much a difference a lense makes (the Nikon has 30% more pixels, so should be about the (36/22)^(1/2) more lines per height or about 28% better. You’d need to print an 11×26 b
- They also tried a Tamon 24-70 and found that it was $1,000 cheaper so a Tamron on a Nikon D800 has the same resolution as the Canon/Canon
- All of these are really high resolutions and are as good as a terrific Zeiss F/2 50mm!
Just got this and had an hour to use. Man it is a nice product but the opposite of Apple. Literally nothing is in the box. Here is what you need
- Extra battery. The thing charges from the camera itself and with 300 or so shots, it needs an extra battery as the thing isn’t usable while charging. It is nice that it is just micro USB though so funky chargers needed. If you are willing to go with third party batteries, you can get two for $20 plus a charger vs. $40 for a single Sony battery. Bower batteries actualy have 1800 mAh compared with the 1240 of Sony. The charger by the way is just a USB charger, so not really super valuable. The Bower battery is $8.80 each. As an aside I try to buy what I can from Newegg.com, those guys are my heroes (fighting patent trolls!).
- Aegis costs $28 but is an actual piece of glass vs. plastic, so seems like a smarter idea.
- Clear Viewer. It is $58 and probably not really needed, but I find the position of the camera is just so washed out in the bright sunlight.
- Really Right Stuff BPnS-S plate. This is a small Arca-Swiss compatible plate for those times when you need a tripod (for taking videos for instance).
I’ve been trying this thing for a while and wow, it has pretty amazing quality. The dpreview.com benchmarks show that it has about 2600 lph with a maximum of 3600. This is about 70% of the maximum, so it delivers effectively 10 megapixels in a good high light scenario. That is pretty good quality given that a micro-4/3 is giving about 12 megapixels in the average case. I can see why people like it. Also, the jpeg processing isn’t bad although it does do RAW as well.
I did some looks at the raw output with DxO and there is definitely lots of lense distortion at 28mm effective which the jpegs are processing out. All and all a nice point and shoot and it does fit (barely) into my pocket.
We just upgraded our aging late 2008 MacBooks with SSDs ($120) and did an Apple refurbish ($300). I know this seems like a crazy amount of money to spend when you can buy a new Macbook Air for $1K, but somehow it feels good to keep things going (reduce, reuse, recycle). Even the really slow original MacBook Air mid 2008 is really a very good email and web surfing machine with an SSD drive installed (man was that hard to do!). With the Macbook mid 2008, this was super easy since it just has a latch for the removable battery, but with the mid 2010 MacBook Pro, you do have to remove the back cover, but then everything is right there. Corsair says you can just use a standard SSD and you just need a #00 phillips and t6 torx driver. The process is pretty simple:
- Remove all the back cover screws with your phillips
- The SSD is held in with some more phillips
- Take off the size screws on the drive that is in there with the torx
- Put them on your SSD and put it all back together!
In terms of SSDs, I’ve been buying them pretty steadily for a year and the technological advances are mind boggling. One big question is how well will an SSD work in an older machine at just 3GBps. In our other machines the hard disk was just slow it wasn’t about throughout but just about less disk thrashing. Worked really well to put a budget SSD into a older Macbook from 2009. The Crucial m4 and Samsung 830 have been great. Tom’s Hardware did a good analysis of this. They put an 840 Pro into an older machine. On their benchmark in a 6GBps Sata 3 machine you get to the wire limit of 450-522 MBps while you get 250-260GBps on Sata 2. With a high speed 10k Raptor it can do 210MBps in sequential reads and writes. Read another way a very ordinary SSD can saturate an older machines. So there isn’t any need to get the latest high performance SSD. Also turns out not surprisingly that random access is 20-50x faster than a hard drive regardless of 3 or 6 GBps. And that in real world startup apps benchmarks they are 2x faster than the fastest hard drive regardless of Sata speed.
So a value oriented drive is wonderful. Get a value oriented previous generation one instead.
The second use has been a very fast drive for a home brew PC. We put two Samsung 840 in a RAID-0 configuration at 1Gbps which is pretty cool and that machine is wicked fast with 6Gbps and an overocked Core i5. Although Tomshardware has shown that for most workstation scenarios you can’t get enough reads to actually use this extra bandwidth unless you have high queue deaths. So most of the time one big SSD is better than two small ones in rAID-0
A good value oriented drive would be: There are lots of strange technical things to know about (like TRIM and the fact they get slower as they get fragmented and you need to worry about write-leveling). But a quick review of current SSDs from Anandtech shows that there are simple SSDs and then the new class of hybrid drives with an SSD cache and then a big hard disk called SSHD
- Crucial m500.This supports encryption on Windows 8 (yawn :-0)
- Western Digital WD500MPVX. This is a hard disk with a small amount of flash. The Seagate Momentum XT has the same approach, these are cheaper but slower than an all flash SSD for a custom OEM product.
- Seagate 600. Anandtechs latest benchmarks which check for both performance consistency and it is very fast. Main issue is high idle power consumption. Not good for notebooks.
- OCZ Vector 512. Performs remarkably well
This is a SATA-2 machine, so you don’t need a super fast SSD (3Gbps is what it can sustain). But it should run quieter and faster.
Well like the Ricoh GR, this is a APS-C sensor with a fixed F/2.8 lense. DXOMark just tested it and found that it produced a 13P-Mpix which is pretty amazingly good for a 16M APS-C sensor. It is fixed focus, so really a carry around for someone who wants a wide angle fixed focus.
If you have the cash ($3K!), you can get the Sony RX-1 which is a full frame 24MP sensor with a 18P-Mpix rating on a fixed lenses. That is pretty incredible dSLR full frame quality. But of course, it costs as much as a D600 plus a great lense, so I’m not sure it is an obvious buy, but it is cool and small. Would go great with your Rolex
Well don’t u know it sometimes the tech support folks are right. This morning we lost Internet access from Comcast and this reboot procedure actually worked
- unplug the modem and remove the battery
- wait a minute and plug it in
- if this doesn’t work remove the cable and u should see just two lights
- turn it on and u should jist see the two lights on and power it down again
- if this doesn’t work power down and press reset
Usually none of this works but in our case removing the cable and rebooting did the trick. Not sure why?