Sunday, 21 December 2014

whats missing from (psychologists) understanding grief

we all know the phrase "well it depends on where you stand" .. its one of those classic cliches which we utter to explain when we disagree and we feel vaguely that the other person doesn't see our perspective.

At first glance the shot below (which I took near Franz Joseph glacier)  looks like a shot up a mountain pass.

but it becomes quickly apparent that there is something wrong, its framed above with grasses. Its when you make the connection that I've photographed the reflection in a lake and turned it upside down that you see it for what it is. Indeed it becomes clear if you view it upside down.

So what's this got to do with grief?

Well it seems to me that almost nothing written in the 'academic' realm about grief seems to go past the concepts of loss. ... Oh ... loss ... well I'd never thought of it like I'd lost something.

Wow, thanks for clearing that up, I'd thought my nose was just blocked by a flu... Seriously I'm in the wrong game if people can get paid hundreds per hour to write rubbish and dispense rubbish.

To me I feel now that what's missing from the psychobabble on grief is comprehension of love and the enduring ties that love has. Perhaps this failure in identification stems from the possibility that most of these writers have never felt love.

what is love?

Love is probably the most misused word in the English language. Its brought to bear on everything from how much you like an ice-cream on a hot day to feelings of lust. Even having sex is called "making love" when (if literature and the visual arts are much to go by) it really means "getting your rocks off". In contrast I feel that Love is something which grows. Like growing living things it is not always going to grow and it may indeed die. But like all things in life, it is a continuum ... some people have a great capacity for love, others have none.

I think that the love parents feel for their children is an excellent example. Some parents deeply love their children while others simply exploit their children or see them as an extension of their own lives and choose to live vicariously through them.

I reckon that an important and neglected aspect of grief is dealing with something which is still existing - the love you have for your spouse.

run away ...

one of the pieces of advice given to those suffering from grief is to "move on" ... what stupidity is that? Grief over the loss of the one you love is something you can't ignore, runaway from or escape.

If you want to see a bad reaction, take a baby from a woman and tell her to "move on". Would you expect her to just say "oh, yes, its gone now I see that ... well then" or would you expect her to do everything in her power to get her baby back. Probably she won't try to run away from such a thing

The problem with the advice of creating distance from the pain is that it only works for some problems.

For the same reasons you loved the one you lost you can't ignore that they are gone.

The very nature of our fight or flight response is to put distance between us and a problem. However in the case of grief the problem is distance. We are suddenly distanced from the one we love and it is not in the hearts of good and moral humans to simply forget love and walk away from it.

So as I see it, a key failing in the realm of grief counseling is to fail to address this issue.

Some groups try to address it by appealing to the view that the separation of you from your loved one is simply a matter of time. That in the future (after you die) you will be re-united with them (but usually only if you believe X Y or Z).

I can see the benefit of this approach, but feel that its dependent on faith.

No matter of what it promises in the life after, it does however provide nothing to help you here and now. It offers nothing to help you with waking up alone every morning, doing things that you did together alone, having no comfort provided by the one who you were mutually in love with being there to talk to and provide support.


To those of you reading this who are in grief I am sorry that I don't have anything to offer you (or me even) to help with the pain. What I have instead come to see is that like other sufferers of chronic pain all we can do is manage it. So despite the pain there is no choice, no other alternative plan, but to face the loss and work out how to deal with it; because you can never be as you were. "We all started out as something different", life takes us on a journey which (in truth) we only play a minor role in. Part of the shock to the system in grief is seeing this truth.

"Moving On" becomes an act of learning to do things as does a paraplegic need to re-learn. It is not about attempting to forget the one you loved, indeed you should cherish that love and hold it dear to your heart. Eventually the pain becomes something to which you are able to endure, like learning to run a marathon. You can't do it at first but with training you become strong enough to do it.

Why bother? - well I have no answer for that, I wash in and out of that daily myself. But to me if you don't choose to kill yourself then one reason is to try to make your life better. I will never regain the love that I had or be able to live again what we lived, be able to share the adventures we shared and everything that went into our marriage.

Our love lives in this world only in me now. I am the custodian of that (perhaps) ephemeral beauty.

Its a hard lesson to learn. Its a lesson because I believe that its something we have to learn. Unlike almost everything else in life, there is no one to show you the way or how it is done.

A start to learning it is to understand perspectives.

Life Sucks and then you Die...

Seeing the truth of this requires an altered perspective: everything we eat comes from a living thing (sorry to say Vegans but you're still killing something). Something dies so that we can live. Mostly in our lives, its us sucking life.

Seeing this and accepting that the world (solar system, galaxy and universe) does not revolve around you (or me) is perhaps the next lesson that can be learned from our grief.

Turning the perspective around, a baby sucks milk from a nipple. The mother is giving willingly but the baby is still sucking life and nourishment from her (which takes much energy to produce). The time perspectives are longer than we consider normally, but indeed at that moment while she is nourishing her infant she is also on the path to death. She (unlike the child she is feeding) is not growing, only growing older.

Recently I had the opportunity to be a nipple for someone. I provided advice and suggestions to someone who with that advice was able to avoid having another open heart surgery and instead undergo a treatment which solved the problem for her valve. As one who has had 3 open heart surgeries , I felt very grateful to be able to use what I know to help another person avoid that particular road.

If I do no more than this from time to time then I'm doing something good. I'm helping life go on (even if its not my life) by being a supply of something for someone else.

Perhaps that can help you to feel better about living with grief, living with the loss and remaining in love with the one you lost.

I've seen gods bleeding.
I've seen worlds burn.
I've seen stars falling.
And I've seen the 'Dead Son Rising'!

We are 'The Lost' ---
Without you we are all that was wrong.
We are 'The Lost' ---
Without you we are the sigh in the wind.
Gary Numan

Best Wishes

Friday, 19 December 2014

One Man Sawmill

The other weekend I was up visiting a mate, and visited this amazing sawmill made by one guy from scrounged bits.

Simply stunning stuff.
Since words are just not enough (and I didn't video it) I'll leave you with this slideshow

fantastic stuff.

All shot with my GF-1 and the 14mm + GWC-1 wide adapter (and boy did I need wide)

Sunday, 7 December 2014

brief follow up on the GWC-1 wide adapter (checking to see if its the same as my earlier one)

I have already reviewed and compared my last 14mm and GWC-1 wide adapter here, however as I sold both those (the 14mm and the GWC .. don't ask) I thought while I was out walking around that a quick snap of a landscape with them would be in order.

I find them unchanged (suggesting that inter-copy variation is low). So just briefly:


+ GWC-1

note: obviously the details are smaller because being wider it squeezes more into the same frame (obviously).

right hand edge

right hand edge (GWC-1)

left hand edge

left hand edge (GWC-1)

As usual, the images were converted from RAW using dcraw so as to avoid any "in camera" corrections performed on the 14mm (which will be invalid as the camera does not know of the existence of the GWC). Presented at 100% crops with no sharpening.

Hand held at about 3000th of a sec @ f4 (f2.5 was a bit of a washout)

not bad if you ask me ... you'd really need to print these at 68.0 x 45.5 cm (that's 27 x 18 inches) and have a close look  at the edges to be seeing this ... and really ... is that what you do to a print?

Value for money and compact light weight not withstanding this is a good result if you ask me ...

Sound recorders - Zoom H1 vs Sony PCM M10 (a brief review)

One of my hobbies (apart from photography) is to record the sounds in nature. The advent of high quality compact personal recorders has really enabled me to do more with this in the last few years than in the years previously (where such things were prohibitively expensive)

Just the Facts M'am

I started using a Zoom H1 recorder in about 2010 and really liked it. Its a low cost high quality device that is
  • light
  • simple to use
  • low power drain (read long on battery life)
hard to go wrong really. However there exists on the Web much discussion as to the benefits of the Sony PCM-M10 , and so not really knowing if the grass was greener over on the other side of the fence I didn't know what to think. I've read some reviews and found few which were good at comparing the two. This will NOT be a typical internet review, as in my view many of them just regurgitate the specs and brochures. What I'll present here is the core facts which determine its suitablity for my (and maybe your) use.

While they are both small, as you can see the Zoom is significantly smaller than the Sony. It uses a single AA battery while the Sony requires two.

The Sony has a button fest for operation which helps those who have a need for that to emotionally connect with the machine being somehow more powerful. It has peak levels for each channel and a -12dB notification indicator too ... the Zoom in contrast just has a simple twin VU scale on the screen and a red peak indicator (blinks when clipping occurs) which also doubles as a "recording is happening" indicator light.

The assortment of buttons, lights and menu features on the Sony is a little of what I call "King Wang", because if you have a digital recorder then you most certainly will be processing your captures on a computer later.  As it happens I frequently find I've moved the recording levels dial on the side of the Sony, but have never bumped the recording levels on the Zoom (press buttons on the RHS). Essentially what I believe you really need on the recorder are:
  • start / stop the recording
  • set levels (perhaps even consistently)
  • removable media (and or USB mass storage compatibility)
  • ability to adjust the fundamentals such as
    • recording format
    • low frequency cut (handy to filter out wind)
    • auto leveling (if you wanted it)

Both have this set, although on the Sony some are annoyingly dug into multiple nested menu and the Zoom has simple switches for the basics on the back.

Having said that, things like changing the MP3 bitrate is annoying dug into "button dancing" on the Zoom (press this while you power up stuff).  However I don't usually change any of that once its set (the exception being the clock). This photo also shows that the Zoom also has a tripod mount (I use a gorilla-pod) and the Sony has one too.

One of the things which first shat me about the Sony was that when you press record it fucking doesn't! It just sits there blinking at you till you hit pause to "un pause" it ... great if you were using tape and wanted to avoid that ramp up in tape speed as the tape transport mechanism sped up to the right RPM ... but this is a digital recorder FFS.

Next off the Sony shat me by needing me to decide if I wanted to use internal memory or the SD card (yes, I know I should have read the fukcing manual) and so I hit limits there (wondering why it was reporting full when the card was empty).

Having used the Sony for about a year now what I can say is this:
The Sony feels better built, solid in the hand and the many physical adjustments are reasonably laid out. The Zoom feels like a cheap light plastic toy and its looks will not pull chicks or scream out "Sound Engineer".

So if look and feel are your criteria go grab the Sony its a bargain at the current prices. Although for under $100 the Zoom is a bargain at about half the price of the Sony ...


However if your audio quality is of any concern to you then perhaps you need to stop looking at it and start listening to it ... after all who cares what it looks like when you are listening to the recordings?

The microphone sensitivity is good on both, and being able to set levels far up enough to get good captures of subtle creatures in the rain forest is neck and neck if you ask me. What isn't neck and neck is the codec used by each machine in producing an MP3 recording.

You see, I like to record to MP3 so that I can set up the recorder in the forest and get some hours worth on a card. To me 320Kbps is quite adequate and when importing into Audacity for processing seems to allow simple cleanups (removals of things like cars, reduction in wind, compression to reduce dynamic range...) without any observable artifacts (and I'm confident that I'm good enough at identifying them).

To my ears (on Bose headphones) I can't really tell them apart. Both sound good when recording to MP3, but its when you examine the recordings in a spectral analysis you see which one is which. The Zoom has a reasonable attenuation of the spectrum, while the Sony has a nasty cliff that belies a scruffy MP3 encoder was used. To demonstrate I recorded this tinkly little bell at close range and got the following results:



which shows a cliff type roll off at about 17KHz while the Zoom shows recording data all the way to about  19KHz .... interesting.

Setting both onto PCM 44.1Khz 24bit we see this


Which suggests that (at the higher frequencies at least) the mic responses of both are ballpark with the Sony Mic leading ... but if you are recording to MP3 then the Sony knobbles your data and essentially removes the possible advantages the mics have.

Sony seems to have a habit of shitty signal processing ideas, with similar experiences continuing today with their data formats in the Alpha range of cameras, see this post and my post if interested.

To make it worse for a field recorder, battery life drops off on both recorders when recording to PCM rather than recording to MP3 - which makes  for a two strikes hit against the Sony if you value either of these aspects.


I said this was going to be brief and so it is. To me the bottom line is that I have totally no beef with a light plastic case that the Zoom has, indeed its been stuffed into backpacks and rolled around on the floor of the 4WD with only its windsock on (I bought one of those fuzzy hairy covers for both my recorders, these are essential if there will be even the slightest air movement {remember I'm using these in the field}). In 4 years of use it still works like the day I bought even if there are some marks on the plastic screen.

I'm not totally convinced yet (more trials are needed) but so far I'm thinking that I'll sell the Sony PCM M-10 to someone who is into look and feel rather than just audio quality.

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Thank you Panasonic

Frequently overlooked in todays rush for bigger-better-newer-faster items that is common in the "who's dumping XXX for YYY"-zombie consumer crowd {Wangers seeking gear to make them better photographers} are the small iterative development touches which turn good products into better ones.

I've already written of my fondness of the combination of the Panasonic GWC-1 0.79x adapter which fitted to the Panasonic 14mm f2.5 gives you an upgrade path to what amounts to an 11mm f2 lens for essentially fuck all additional money (assuming you already have the 14mm).

Back in that post I wrote the following:
Fortunately its really quick and simple to take the lens on and off the front but brings with it a small issue. You can't just put the lens cap back on the 14mm because the plastic adapter is in the way.

As it happens I don't find that a big problem because the plastic adapter is itself a functional protector of the lens, as the front of the 14mm lens is recessed back in there a little way. It almost acts as a sort of lens hood anyway.
With a please develop note to Panasonic

it would be a simple thing for Panasonic to make another plastic cap to include with the kit, that attached to the lens side of the adapter to click on and click off, giving you a lens cap to use when you leave the adapter ring on the 14mm lens.
Well either someone was listening or its a coincidence but they now are doing exactly that.

I just recently bought another GWC1-1 (don't ask, its a long story) and this was sourced new. It came with exactly such a lens cap.

So to "recap" on the system, you have the compact little 14mm pancake on your  compact m43 body of choice and the light weight GWC1 along with it:

Note that the GWC-1 comes with  front and rear caps, the bayonet adapter flange, and now the between use lends cap.

So you pop off your lens cap, and screw the bayonet mounting flange onto the thread of the 14mm...

and then you can choose to mount the GWC-1 ...

or when you don't want as wide (or want to stuff it back into your pack) you can pop it off quickly and put the cap on ...

Thus keeping your front element protected with a cap and making it easy to switch between you having an 11mm and a 14mm on your camera.

Just this weekend I was out at a fantastic 1 man sawmill shed and found the 11mm to be very handy to take in all the stuff there.

So thanks again Panasonic ... you made buying another of your GWC-1 adapters for my 14mm (yes I bought another of them, really ... don't ask) well worth it.

I like it when a good thing gets better.

King Wang unleashes his weapons against the truth

As I've written about before, Wang is King of the internet, and we all know that in the land of the blind the one one eyed man is king. As I mentioned in that previous article Wang (who was blind) killed his father Wu (who was merely one eyed) so as to replace him as king. Since all others in the kingdom were blind no body could see what happened or that Wang was no longer a one eye king but now a blind King.

Once upon a time a place called USENET was the domain of educated people (being military, education and government) but was beset upon by AOL (who came to be known as Assholes On Line) who flooded into these forums with opinion based often enough only on Wang King views. Perhaps this occured at about the time of the death of King Wu?

I have discovered that Wang King has a new biological weapon ... let me tell you about that via an anecdote..

Recently it has come to my attention that there exists some anxiety about the effects of windex on chromatic coatings on surfaces (such as lenses, filters and probably the filters covering camera sensors) there exists some threads out there on the internet on the topic, which are usually devoid of any actual facts and logic is substituted with fear and ignorance.

While being unclear as to how to even identify the coatings these folks were quite certain that windex would destroy them. Knowledge based on ignorance ...this reveals the threat ...

These are the Zombies of Mornity, they dress as those with knowledge on many an internet fora and you should beware of them lest you be sucked into their realm. They are the new weapons of the Kindom of Wang and they should be ignored or avoided.

As the internet is a digital domain these zombies can only be represented digitally, for the actual personas behind them are even more frightful.

So I issue you with this warning: when you encounter them deluding some poor innocent, remember that engaging them will only make things worse (even if you didn't say Jehova). Remember that these creatures are attracted to noise.

In contrast, a logical person may ask if there is any harm in Windex-alike products to a lens coating and if so what would that be from? Of course that requires a little examination of its own.

But first, I started using windex after I read years ago a whitepaper written by a lens making company called Schneider, I will link to it here (but who knows if it ever shifts). That paper gives the guidelines for lens cleaning:
First, use a soft camel's hair brush or air to remove any solid particles from the lens surface. This will prevent scratching during subsequent cleaning steps.

Next, you need to select a cleaning solution and tissue. Use Kimwipes, Kodak lens tissues, or a clean soft lintless cloth (there are some made for the purpose). Never use Kleenex or paper towels as they can contain abrasives. It is always best to start with the most benign cleaning fluid and progress to stronger solvents if necessary. Glass cleaner, such as Windex or Kodak lens fluid, is a good starting point.

The underline is mine, it is to demonstrate that Schneider suggest windex and list it as "most benign".

They then go on to make some important points on technique:
It is important to remember to apply the lens cleaner to the lens cleaning tissue before use. Never wipe a lens with a dry cloth!
I can only assume this applies to crap devices like lensPens (sees people circling and circling with them in attempt to clean : shudder) or anything like a microfiber cloth. It won't erase your coating instantly (only a Wanger would think that) but it will polish it off and erode the quality of it over time.

They go on to clarify directions and say:
Take your moist cleaning tissue and, starting at the center, wipe in a circular motion around the lens. Do this in one direction only. Do not back up. Discard the lens tissue frequently, usually after each wipe of the lens. You want to discard any dust or grit that the tissue has picked up rather than scratching the lens with it on your next wipe. Cleaning should be done gently and quickly. It should take no more than 30 seconds to clean one lens surface. If it takes you longer than this, you are probably working too hard and may be damaging your lens in the long run.
So don't spray your lens directly (who knows where the fluid will run to) and instead apply it to the cleaning tool (as I have said above).

But what about ammonia...

As it happens I don't use windex, but a windex-alike product called Glitz. I had assumed that it contained some ammonia (as I had the impression that windex did too). It turns out that the product I use does not contain ammonia, but instead (according to the Materials Safety Data Sheet for it) contains Ethanol and 2-Butoxyethanol (as well as some other trace elements not detailed).

Of course many compounds (you know, like the chromatic coatings) have some level solubility and thus could be dissolved by a solvent. Each compound has its own solvent, some are dissolved in water, some are dissolved in benzene, some in alcohol ... the list goes on.

So while my windex-alike product does not even contain ammonia, the Zombies of Moronity still sledge it and look to a product by Kodak called Lens Cleaner. Seems a worthwhile suggestion but when you look up the Material Safety Data Sheet of Kodak Lens Cleaner something interesting emerges:
============= Composition/Information on Ingredients =============
Ingred Name:WATER
RTECS #:ZC0110000
Fraction by Wt: > 99%

RTECS #:BP1925000
Fraction by Wt: < 1%

Oops ... looks like while Wangers are saying windex is bad because it contains Ammonia (except as I'll show in a moment it doesn't always contain ammonia) and will rip the coatings off (oh, but they don't know how to see a coating anyway so you'll just have to worry about that), and Kodak Lens cleaner is good ... tragically it seems that Kodak product does contain Ammonia.

Laugh? ... I nearly shat.

Dad, whats a solvent?

Next lets look quickly at solvents. To act, a solvent requires both concentration and time. Lets give an example, such as alcohol being a solvent for something. Putting neat alcohol onto a cloth you can see the effect when you wipe a ink-jet print - it strips the dye off fast.

If you were to water the alcohol down (not using it neat) it will have less effect. If for example you were to put a thimble full of alcohol into a liter of water it would essentially have no effect at all.

So what is the concentration of Ammonia in windex? Well hard to be sure, but according to Wikipedia its quite small: 0.05% of 28% ammonia.

So less than a thimble of a dillute ammonia in a bucket.

So even if ammonia was a solvent for the compounds in lens coatings, when a small amount of very dilute solution is added to moisten a paper cleaner (and facilitate the oil from a fingerprint being absorbed away) there is pretty much bugger all risk (and perhaps zero) to your lens coatings.

It gets worse for the anti-windex wangers as it turns out that there are three windex products for glass, of which only one contains ammonia. From the product FAQ:
The following products do not contain ammonia. They can be used in cases where ammonia is not recommended for use on surface. Windex® Crystal Rain™ ...

Which would mean that the screaming hysteria of don't use windex has pretty much got no substance to it at all.

This has got to be the Emperors New Clothes of lens cleaning.

The King is dead, long live the King! King Wang King Wang King WangKing WangKing Wanking wanking


Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Portrait lenses - native vs legacy

Since my entry into micro 43, over 5 years ago, I have been interested in the fact that I can take advantage of a pool of very well priced 35mm lenses which perform fantastically on micro 43. To me back then m43 was what 35mm was to Medium Format: lighter and smaller but with good image quality. For exactly the same reasons as 35mm had advantage over medium format too. You see a "standard" lens for medium format is 100mm but a standard lens for 35mm is 50mm and needs to cover a fraction of the area (making it cheaper to make optically good).


In the past I have been a user of legacy lenses on m43 simply because when (in 2009) the system was launched there were no alternatives. My G1 came with a 14-45mm zoom and that about rounds out what was available then too. Wanting to have a bit more telephoto and a more shallow DoF I turned to the ready supply of 35mm lenses to "test the water" ... my first purchase was an nFD 50mm f1.8, soon to be followed by an OM 50mm f1.8 ... I wasn't satisfied with the FD image quality. I picked the OM because in the past I'd had OM gear and loved the image quality.

Since then I've tried and tested many 35mm legacy lenses and often been left wondering what the native alternative would be like (where it existed) but was reticent to drop the money onto it.

Reticent because (despite how it seems) I don't have GAS and because the prices of the native lenses were just more than I felt they would yeild in benefits.

Having compared the FD 50 f1.4 (note that's not the first one mentioned above) to my OM 50 f1.8 quite favorably , and compared my FD 50mm f1.4 to a OM 100mm f2.8 on a full frame (because they are equivalent) I have always wondered how well the relatively new native 45mm f1.8 would compare to my OM 50mm f1.8

A recent drop in prices for a sale made me decide to put $300 into this question and see if I'll keep a valuable lens or learn that I'll just sell it again (as I did with my Sigma 30mm).

Quick Summary

I have not made a decision on this yet, but I'll probably keep the 45mm because it works so well on my GF series camera in helping it be a compact system. I have a GH1 and a GF1 which while similar, perform entirely different roles for me. There really is nothing like this sort of lens on the GF (or say a GM if I was inclined) to give me a compact and excellent camera system.

Were I to have just an SLR-alike body (such as my GH or an OM-D) then I would simply sell this as to me the 45mm offers so little benefit as to be pointless. If you are hopeless at manual focus and unwilling to learn then the 45mm fills that role, but if you engage with your subject and are a photographer (not a snapper) then the legacy OM lens (at 1/10th of the price) offers equal quality.

The contrast and bokeh of the 45 is not significantly better than my OM, which I know is almost as good as using a 100mm on a full frame.

The Lenses

Ok, so below is my OM 50mm f1.8 beside the Olympus 45mm f1.8. I think there is not much in it for size between them. Certainly when mounted on a SLR style body ...

You can see that they are both compact lenses and for manual focus work to be honest the OM lens is nicer to use. The only benefit that the Oly 45 has is that it activates the focus by wire viewfinder zooming as soon as you turn the focus ring (assuming you don't have the camera in AF mode ...)

The fact that you have to put the camera into MF mode to do this is a drag because you need to remember to do that when you change back to another lens (or want it to AF when you pass it to your wife / husband or friend).

Neither has a substantial advantage over the other in terms of carrying in a pocket or backpack.
While the Oly 45 has integrated Aperture control (its a native electronic mount right), if you are going to dial in anything less than f2.8 then the differences between it and the kit 14-45mm zoom rapidly vanish. Seriously don't under estimate how good the 14-45 is at the 45 end. When you compare the Oly at f5.6 its no longer at its "DxO" best anymore.

Sample Images

Ok, I went over to my neighbors place and took a bunch of shots of him working in his shed on some task. I didn't focus on his face, because I'd like to preserve his privacy. Howver these are about the sort of distance where a f1.8 setting will set a 45mm aside from a f5.6 setting on a zoom. Further away and the DoF differences shrink, closer and the DoF will be too shallow to be useful on the f1.8 (a point often ignored or simply not understood)

So, lets look at the thumbnails from the images without telling you which is which ..
all look similar to you? Yep me too ... So this will tell you straight up that unless there is some major issue in 'fine details' that when it comes to making an image these lenses are in the same ballpark.


Ok ... lets pick two images, one from the 45 and one from the 50. The images were shot hand held and I was standing more or less in the same spot (moved a little to the left or right as one may do when doing a portrait shoot).

The overview:

and then a 50% magnification (because I've found that at 50% pixel view it translates to just about what you'd see on a print).

Now another image from the other lens:

and the 50% pixel view...

So which was which?

I used the Oly 45 exclusively on AF because I wanted to test also how well the camera picks its focus location. That's a critical point when considering the 45, because one of the key selling points for me is AF ... I mean what else am I paying that extra $250 for? How it feels in my hand?

I found that while the Oly 45 was good, it picked focus slightly differently to where I exactly wanted it to be. That caused the point of human interest to be softer for me than I wished it. If you look at the screen grabs of the 50% pixel view (at 100% which means you'll need to open the image in a new tab) you can see that evident in the shots here.

Well perhaps knowing that you can see it, but in case you still can't I'll tell you that image p1110278.jpg was from the 45mm and p1110281.jpg was from the OM 50


Well to me this makes clear that I'd already been standing in the field with the greener grass. The OM50mm f1.8 has given me many great keepers (and almost no duds) in the years I've already been using it for. The image quality is undifferentiable from the 45 and to be honest the 45 AF speed is vin ordinair, quite to contrary to what people seem to Wang on about....

You'll have to make your own decision about the relative merits of even having AF, but for me (and my eyesight) to use this lens on my GF means I can get AF (and I need it on a compact) but if I wasn't going to use the lens there and was only using it on my GH body I would perhaps not bother.

To me the combination of:
  • 14mm f2.5 + GWC-1 wide adapter
  • 20mm f1.7
  • and this 45mm f1.8
makes the GF (or similar compact) into a great light and compact travel outfit. I had a GF which I sold and soon then rebought another GF because I realised that its nice to have both. In the world of second hand stuff the $100 that I paid for the GF body makes it irresistible for what it provides. So I'll probably be keeping the 45 ... however if I had (as one of my friends does) an OM-D body I'd likely be selling the 45 as the OM50mm f1.8 is just so bloody good.

Lastly, the only other similar comparison I've found is this one over at Tyson Robichaud's site. I think I've known Tyson for some time (assuming its the same Tyson who commented on a post some years ago) and its been interesting to see his development too.

I find that Tyson has summed up (in a slightly different manner to me) well with these comments:
The ease and usefulness of auto focus is something that many of us may take for granted.  It isn’t until I remove that feature that I begin to realize how differently I tend to shoot, compose and interact with subjects. I often enjoy shooting with a manual focus lens as it tends to slow me down and add an air of intentionality in my shooting that often gets overlooked when I’m out and about firing away.
 Indeed, and I'd add to that the by having "stop down" view engaged "automatically" in the manual focus lens you can see immediately the changes in DoF and look of the image which you may forget to do when blazing away with an AF lens.
Either way, and depending on how you look at it, one could be “better” than the other depending on personal taste.  To me, both are good, but different showing that different lenses at the same focal length can indeed produce two very different looking pictures.
 although with my lens comparison I'd change that to "produce slightly different looking images"

Its also a good post and provides many other comparisons of static identical targets (where the subject does not move nor the position does not move unlike here) for those who would like to see things done that way. I recommend reading his post if you have are considering the Oly 45.

Hope that Helps

Friday, 21 November 2014

Hare Brained

I was reading in New Scientist today about Snowshoe Hares and how they are becoming increasingly out of step with the environment in which they live.

Snowshoe Hare (image by©)
Climate change is meaning that snow melts sooner and the hares white coats cease to be camouflage and become instead "target identification" for some predators.

So while the white stands the Hare in good stead in the snow time, by it being white during the early melt changes this attribute from a survival attribute to an early death attribute.

I thought it interesting that the researchers identified that the Hares seemed to not be aware of this coat coloring and did not alter their behavior in response to the changed environmental conditions.
Snowshoe hares appear to be oblivious to whether or not they are camouflaged. "They do not act in any way to reduce colour mismatch, or to reduce the negative consequences of mismatch," says Zimova. When mismatched with their environment, they don't hide more, flee more or hang out in areas that match their coat. In short, these hare-brained creatures don't seem very smart.

Interesting ... I immediately thought that applied to humans  as well. I don't think we are much smarter, in fact as we are aware of the issues we do not change, so we are dumber for it. For instance Urban Development goes on willy nilly , despite great evidence to demonstrate that what we are doing is neither the best nor good for us (even in the medium term) nor good for the environment.

This graph shows the general trends of population growth rates in Australia:


So its fairly clear that our population is increasing at a high rate, yet what is our response to this? Well so far it seems to be "clear more land, increase urban sprawl, and make things worse for every other living creature" (and perhaps even for ourselves).

Back in 2011 I wrote (over here) that the infrastructure supporting our lifestyle was under stress and that (for instance) the roads are unable to sustain our needs (let alone support growth, which in my view is actually the problem).

I happen to live in Southport and commute to a small town for work (the city of Logan). It is 51Km from my door to my work door, which isn't a long commute by modern standards but forces me up and down the highway every day.

The other day an event occurred which  is perhaps a bit more drastic than usual, but as anyone who travels that road knows was only a matter of time.

Yep, you read that right closed for 6 hours.

The population density of this region is not really high by European standards, yet (I would argue) that due to urban sprawl and geography there is really no alternative but to accept that this madness is the only alternative if we want to live in the way we do here.

With a population growth rate that's actually the highest in Australia ...

I don't see that the congestion is going to ease until the population growth does.

I live in an area of the world which was once a beautiful natural haven and has for the last 40 years been fast paced into becoming the most overcrowded and over developed part of Australia (well except for perhaps Sydney). This Google Maps screen shot shows the area, hard to find anywhere now that's natural which will support construction. Indeed the only areas as National Park are swamps, wetlands and tidal sand islands.

In fact not yet appearing on that map is a bunch of new clearing (the last patches of bush) in that bit of green up near Coomera. So more population to be going up and down that highway ... more congestion longer delays and an erosion of lifestyle. It doesn't look good for the environment either.  In fact since I put that graph together the data has emerged that the population here has gone to over 700,000. Which from less than 50,000 is a massive change. Of course water will be the next problem....

Who benefits from this? Its not the people who really have no choice but to live in this "pseudo-planned sprawl" and its sure not the ecology or the wildlife (which we seem to say we love so much). Is it just the greedy few? Or is it that as a society we are just stupid and greedy?

As I wrote back in 2008, its bye bye Koala and hello urban sprawl, roads and cars.
So you tell me ... are we much smarter than the hare?

Sunday, 9 November 2014

fudging figures (and fooling spec sheet gazers)

I know that people don't usually have a head for numbers, and specifications get bandied about with gay (numerically illiterate) abandon by both gear-heads and testers alike. The sad fact is that by fiddling the books, sales departments can pull the wool over the eyes of blind wangers who only read spec sheets (but don't understand them or look into the details). One that I happen to find amusing at the moment is the comparison of latest model digital cameras and the older versions. To explore this I'll discuss three cameras using the specs from DxO:

I happen to like DxO as a site for data, I've already discussed their P-Mpixel metric (and that I find it useful) but their technical camera data is very handy too, especially for seeing through the bullshit. Everyone on the interwebforums will tell you about how good the Olympus OM-D E-M5 is, and if you read the various kool-aide sites they would have you believe that the OM-D was the first proper SLR micro43 and somehow the best micro43 camera.

While it sure is a good camera the reality is that nothing much has really changed in terms of image quality since way back in July 2009 when Panasonic released the GH1 and set the bar. The problem for Panasonic is / was they made a camera which was really too good for the time, and perhaps (to quote a phrase) feeding truffles to the pigs. Who knows, perhaps they needed to (with APS-C religion being what it is). Just quickly, I've tossed the GX7 in here for good measure, I think its clear that what I say about the OM-D applies equally to it.

The first thing of importance when discussing the specs is that Panasonic actually delivered more on their ISO then they claimed. Quite stupid of them from a strategic marketing point of view, but they were facing an uphill battle at the time as people still didn't get the concept. Looking at the DxO ratings this is clear:

The actual measured ISO of the GH1 set to 100 is above the ISO100 level. Comparing this to the OM-D (which doesn't even have a 100ISO setting) we see that when the OM-D is set to 200 its measured ISO is actually about equal to the GH1 set to 100.

This difference in ratings vs measurements continues along the scale, with the measured ISO being better than the next stop up the scale of the OM-D. So much so that at ISO 400 the OM-D needs to be set to 1600 to be as sensitive to light at the sensor on the GH1. Indeed hovering over the GH1 point with the camera set to ISO400 gives a measured ISO = 591 while the OM-D needs to be set to 1600 to be closer to that (in fact its measured at 782 there which is about 1/3rd a stop more, but 800 is still under the GH1 at a measured 394)

Essentially this means you can get a higher shutter speed on the GH1 without going up an ISO step.

This of course has an effect on the specs for dynamic range and the Signal to Noise Ratio (SNR) which are dependent on ISO.

When you load the graph (sorry, you need to do that on the DxO link, my graph is just a screen shot) and hover the tooltip over the points you see that there are no equal settings, but the lines make the truth obvious. They are really tight : GH1 at a measured ISO of 137 = SNR of 36.8dB while the OMD @ 214 = 36.2dB

Its confusing that DxO put a 100ISO blob in this graph for the OM-D, but its significant that the lower axis is measured ISO not set ISO ... important. The interesting thing there is that the OM-D would appear to lead the GH1 but that seems to change further down the graph at around 200ISO and onwards.

So while the specs of the OM-D exceed the specs of the GH1, when you equalise back to what the setting actually means they are essentially on par.

The same goes for the the Dynamic Range

Where at the measured ISO point of somewhere around 1000 ISO the now elderly GH1 is performing better than the OM-D

Its certainly not the chalk and cheese that the bleating (you know, the sound sheep make is called bleating) one reads about how good the OM-D is and how much better all the new cameras are ...

As I discovered back in May when comparing my GH1 to my friends OM-D, there really isn't much in the whole upgrade to make it worth doing for me. While the out of camera JPG's from the OM-D seemd much better than the GH1

GH1 on the left OM-D on the right.

The OM-D image just leaps off the screen as being sharper and more contrasty.
However, the raw files processed up to appear almost identical (as indeed the specs would imply they should).

If you happen to like the OM-D physically to hold or (it seems more important now-a-days) how it looks and how it feels in your hand, then by all means the OM-D is a fine camera (I'm not degrading it). But if you just want a tool to do the job and cost benefit means anything to you then at under $200 on the second hand market, to me, the GH1 is still competitive and today represents bargain buying .

Friday, 31 October 2014

tiny beauty

Its easy for us to appreciate what is essentially shoved in our faces for us to see in daily life, however the minuscule and insignificant (to the eye) often conceals a beauty.

My Mum loved "Spanish Moss" ... I grew up knowing it only as "Father Christmases Whiskers", she had it hanging off trees in the back yard (with the orchids). This is it in the picture below.

It is an epiphyte which seems to do well enough out in the backyard without any care or attention from me.

I thought it might be nice to hang some off a hook in the bathroom, where it may do "better" given the daily "air moisture" from having a shower. So I put a bit of it on the hook by the window and went about my business (admiring it occasionally). I noticed a few days ago that it had something I've never seen before growing on it ...

and to my eyes it looked like a flower of some sort. Its quite tiny and putting on my glasses (God I hate getting old, well God, while we're talking I hate a number of the other things you've done too) saw that it was indeed flower like.

So I whacked on my 50mm lens onto my extension tubes and took some shots.

Its quite beautiful when you get in closer isn't it

Sunday, 26 October 2014

the Roulettes

 Yesterday (well and today too) we had the Gold Coast 600 race (because we lost the Indy har ha ha ha) and as part of the circus we also had the Roulettes doing an air show at the start of the "big race".

I happen to live quite close to where the event is (Main Beach , Gold Coast) and so get a great view of it all.

Even better I live on top of a hill in the area and get an excellent "back row grandstand" overview of it.

I have found in the past that my Canon FD 300mm f4 lens does a fantastic job of aircraft at that range. The shot to the left here is "straight out of the camera" with no cropping to make my lens seem to reach further.

Given that its a 70's mechanical camera lens whacked onto the front of my GH1 I'm happy. Actually I've had it for a five years now and remain happy with it.

Just by way of comparison, here is a shot showing 100% pixels (its a 4000x3000 pixel image capture, so naturally it won't fit on a 1200 pixel wide screen right?) that top aircraft.

which all things considered (you know, like atmospheric losses {shimmer and such}, it being hand held...) I've got to say that I don't think that you'd get that much better with any other lens no matter how much you spent on it.

My technique for this is to focus on something about half a mile away (hat tip to the UK and American readers, as I usually use metric. ... and yes you can see the difference in focus on something further away at f4) and lock it down with my "rubber band" technique.

I then set in f5.6 so that I can get a DoF that covers almost everywhere the aircraft will be in (its called Hyperfocal Distance). Eg, from this online calculator.

So you can see that the amount of blur will trail off gently as they get further away (further than 2.6 Km anyway by which time the combination of atmosphere and distance will soften that loss). To put a perspective on that graph's "Blur" (which is the Circle of Confusion, excellent tutorial there) the value of 0.01 is the minimum discernable size in a 8x12 print and I reckon that the combination of this lens and camera will not attain such. So vrom 300 meters to 2km it won't really change the image.

Anyway, there's more to a good picture than just sharpness and maths right?

I liked this shot (even though it was further away)

and when pixel peeping you can see heat shimmer is already eroding the quality (no matter what focus or what lens I had, even if I'd had a SciFi Anopticon)

Anyway, some other shots from the day ...

It was nice to see the Roulettes