Archive: ‘equipment’

NEW! Photography Classes

Monday, October 10th, 2011

We are expanding and will begin to offer photography classes. The first class is this Friday, October 14th 9:30am – 10:30am. Be sure to sign up space is limited per group. Click the links below for full class information. Stay tuned for future dates!



Camera Color Profiles

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

color checker

Colors are important in photography. But with digital photography, it is a long path from the light of this world to the computer. At the heart of the digital camera is the image sensor which records the image. Almost all digital cameras actually record image data with a complicated array of colored filters over tiny light-sensitive photosensors (more detailed information on Bayer filters is on wikipedia. Foveon sensors use a different technology but they have their own set of issues). At this point, more advanced models of cameras allow this image to be recorded in this “raw” format (we recommend always shooting in raw format over jpeg, but that’s another discussion).

Now, in its raw format, a photo would be unrecognizable. Complicated algorithms can process—the digital equivalent of darkroom developing—the raw file to create a jpeg file which is viewable by web browsers and printers alike. Part of the raw processing is determining the colors of individual pixels, or points, in the picture. Although engineers at companies such as Adobe have camera color profiles for most models of cameras, each specific camera may handle colors a little differently due to manufacturing tolerances. To ensure the best accuracy in the colors coming out of the camera, a standard color chart can be used. A popular color chart is the X-Rite ColorChecker Passport, which a friend generously let me use on a recent shoot. This contains a number of colors which are very accurately printed.

After taking a picture of this chart, you have to tell the computer to analyze these colors. In the past, people used slow, complicated Photoshop scripts. I found that Adobe now provides a DNG Profile editor which will create a camera profile. I followed the directions on their tutorial, though I had to convert my Canon raw file to a DNG file (Adobe also provides a free converter program but you can also do this when importing photos with Lightroom).  This quickly and easily created a profile for my camera.  The last step was to move this profile into a location for Adobe programs to use, which on a mac is /Library/Application Support/Adobe/CameraRaw/CameraProfiles . That’s it! Now you can use the new profile in Lightroom or Photoshop as a starting point for your editing.

Video and the House Finale

Sunday, May 16th, 2010

DSLR cameras, having entered the world of popular consumer electronics a few years ago, have been changing at an amazing pace.  Many of these changes are impressive improvements, though sometimes they lead to features that might be useful to only a small segment of the population.

One of the currently hyped features is video.  Since one of our cameras, the 5D Mark II, offers HD video recording, I felt compelled to at least explore this feature.  It is also interesting to note Canon has provided multiple feature updates for the video recording (including manual exposure control, manual audio control, 24fps frame rates, and improved audio quality), which is rare for a camera that has already been released.  Normally, companies only fix bugs in the camera.  They don’t include new features, because they would prefer you buy a new camera for those new features!  So it appears that companies are putting more resources into developing the video capabilities of their dSLR cameras.

First, the good of the video feature: the image quality rivals that of video cameras that cost over $10,000; it can record in as low light as candlelight; and there’s a wide selection of lenses available.  Done right, it looks spectacular.  You might have seen some video clips online that have already been using dSLR systems.  One TV show that we enjoy watching, House, has traditionally been recording all their shows on film cameras.  However, the filmmaking world is all abuzz that this season’s finale (airing tomorrow, May 17) has been filmed completely with Canon 5D mk II cameras!  Watch this episode to get an idea of what a dSLR can do.

However, it is not without drawbacks.  Here are a few:  the autofocus during video recording is slow an inaccurate. There’s no option to view high resolution (HDMI) output as you’re recording.  Videos show a jello effect when the camera pans, due to the nature of the sensor.  In fact, a much cheaper camcorder will be easier to use and provide better results for most home users.

I’ve concluded that while a dSLR is a powerful tool for a filmmaker, it’s not as ideal for home movies.  And when I started looking into filmmaking, I realized it’s a world apart from photography.  Films work much better when a team is involved, and the equipment costs skyrocket with additional gear for focusing, stabilization, lighting, and audio recording to start.  Video is nice to have as an additional feature for those times when you want to record a video; just remember that the dSLR is primarily a tool for recording still images now.


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