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Monday, 02 July 2007

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Heavily massaged in Photoshop, Neat Image and Focus Magic as well as cropped but pretty much as the camera saw it. Who are you trying to convince, us or yourself?

I wanted to try Focus Magic but found that it doesn't work with Photoshop CS3.

—Mitch/Potomc, MD

Ctein,

While Mike is not running a "Camera-Shopper Network" show here, you mention your new camera set you back $250. I can't seem to find it online anywhere near that price...where did you get yours?

Also, in response to Dyathink's comment above, some of us view the "out-of-the-camera" file as the beginning of a process to get the final image that satisfies us. Others may prefer to take what their camera provides as the final statement, which is fine, too.

High-end, much acclaimed DSLR's do not offer RAW as a gimmick, but because users demanding the best quality require the ability to "work" the file, and the out-of-the-camera file will rarely suffice.

Shooting with the pocketable Fuji F20, the kid brother to Ctein's s6000, I don't have RAW as an option, but virtually every "staight" shot in my portfolio has had extensive massaging.

Ctein -
The same comment from Joshua that sold you on the Fuji S6000fd sold me. I have been using the Fuji for about a month now and, alas, it is a mixed bag. Fortunately, the image quality trumps the camera's shortcomings for my purposes. Still, the Minolta A2 (with the great EVF) remains my all-time favorite Prosumer P&S for features and functionality. Its problem was a sensor that couldn't make clean, noise-free images above ISO 200. (OK, the lens had some purple fringing....) If only the Fuji's sensor and lens could be melded to the A2's body and features, we'd have a really dandy walk-around camera! By the way, the "H" xD cards write RAW files considerably faster than the standard "M" cards.
BJM

I was going to try Focus Magic but it doesn't sound like it will run on a Mac but thanks for the tip on Neat Image

Dear Mitch,

Oh, that's distressing. Have you emailed the author to find out when an update is supposed to be released?

Focus Magic *can* be used as a standalone program, which provides several filtering options that are not available to the plugin, but it severely limits you in that it only operates on JPEG's. Fine if that's how you normally save your digital photos, not so fine otherwise.

Also, Smart Sharpen in Photoshop does do a kernal deconvolution optimization, which puts it more in the class of Focus Magic than dumb 'sharpeners' like Unsharp Masking. I think that for the slight 1-2 pixel radius sharpening that's appropriate to this kind of a tweak, it will likely work as well as Focus Magic.

pax / Ctein

So how much dynamic range are you getting out of it - before or after all the post processing???

I was confused as to which camera you were describing until I remembered that the S6000 is called the S6500 here in Europe.
The battery door problem is common to that whole family of Fuji's, had to send my wife's back for repair under warranty as it would often just die when the battery door came loose.
Would be interested to hear what software you used for raw conversion - I tried several with the 6500 I had for a few days and was never happy with the unnatural sharpening of small details. An example, a landscape shot with cows 300 metres away - the cows looked like cardboard cut outs!

Horses for courses as they say, the little Fuji is great for people pics and quick snaps of subjects not too far away.

Cheers, Robin

Ernest T.,
FocusFixer (fixerlabs.com) works on Macs.

Mike

"I was going to try Focus Magic but it doesn't sound like it will run on a Mac but thanks for the tip on Neat Image"

Posted by: Ernest Theisen |

Focus magic is available for Mac's Here's the
download link:

http://www.focusmagic.com/download.htm

I don't know what AA rechargeables you are using, but using Uniross Hybrios in my Pentax, I am seriously getting double the life of even the best normal NiMH batteries that I was using previously. And of course, they don't drain when not in use.
The best new battery technology in years IMHO for cost effectiveness and convenience.

Why didn't you like the Panasonic Fz8?

Ctein - you seem to suggest you're deleting on the fly - in-camera.
I've read lots of info (including on this site) that suggests the only thing one should do with a card in a camera is write to it, review images, and format it once it's back in the camera after the images are transferred to the computer.
Don't delete from the card - you leave room for errors. You'll prolong it's reliability and life by only writing and formating the card.
I used to have errors with my cards in my dSLR's when I deleted in-camera. I stopped doing that about 6-7 months ago and haven't had an issue since.

Dear Stephen and Dave,

Sorry for the slow reply. Off partying for four days before 7/4 (and may just get a column out of it, from the night we hacked the hotel computer).

Anyway...

I bought the camera from Beach when there was a $50 rebate going, so the final price was closer to $250 than anything else. Sans that, I think it'll be circa $300.

Regarding dynamic range, just ran some tests and it's somewhat better than I thought. These results are based on importing all RAW with ACR v3.6 with all the control settings (exposure/bright/contrast/etc.) set to zero. After messing a lot with both ACR and Fuji Finepix software, I concluded that ACR did a better job (by my entirely subjective standards) 95% of the time. The noteworthy exception was high ISO photos made under dim/indoor lighting. Fuji did a MUCH better job of suppressing blue channel noise (which was high enough to be objectionable) than anything else I tried. But I don't like how it handles smoothing overall. I may try grafting a Fuji B channel onto ACR red and green channels and see how it looks. But most of the time, I'll just use ACR. I keep conversion sharpening very low. I'd rather deal with that in Photoshop.

Anyway...

At ISO 100, I can argue for a usable 9-stop range, heavily loaded towards the shadow end, with a tendency to go nonlinear (red blows out before green and green before blue) at the extreme highlight end. Memo to self-- ALWAYS expose at -1 stop! For comparison, JPEG has a 7-8 stop usable range.

At ISO 800, RAW's running 7 stops, IMO. The highlight nonlinearity's pretty big-- greens got at least a stop more range than red, blue two stops.

At ISO 3200, RAW's down to a little under 6 stops. It gets harder to estimate the usable range at higher ISO's because the noise goes up. I required at least 1 sigma levels difference between stops to call it a real usable tonal difference.

I didn't check JPEG ranges at higher ISO's because I didn't care.

pax / Ctein

Dear Barry Grant, Bill & Blinder,

Yup, the H card writes RAW about a third faster than the M card does. Worth the modest price difference.

Why should the Uniross 2.5 AH batteries give me significantly longer life than the 2.3 AH Radio Shacks I got? Nothing I could find online indicates they provide more running time, just that they don't self-discharge as fast.

The Panasonic Fz8 has much worse noise and low light performance than the s6000. Good low light behavior was a priority of mine. The s6000 gives me the same image quality at 1-1.5 stops higher ISO than the Fz8.

Yeah, I've been deleting in-camera a lot. This is a serious no-no? Didn't know. Have to see if I can break myself of the habit. Gonna be hard.

pax / Ctein

Hi Ctein,

I'm glad you appreciated my comment and that you are enjoying the camera. Regarding image quality you said the 8*10's are impressive but in my opinion you aren't even pushing the image quality limits at all printing to such a small size. If you want to see what it can do try a 12*16 or bigger and let us know how it goes. Compare it to your old film stuff.
Josh

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