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Thursday, 30 August 2007

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One can understand the desire for this kind of resizing and one can see that it's going to become inevitable, given the proliferation of media interface devices, but it sure does damage to the artistic integrity of the images and is going to go farther than photoshop ever did towards undermining the idea that photographs can be counted on to represent any sort of objective reality.

So JD Power decides to review an entire brand, as opposed to individual cameras?
So why spend $8k on the new Canon 1DsIII when I can pick up the Nikon D40 (which according to reviews is miles better than the Canon EOS series) for less than 1/16 the price? And I get two lenses for free, with the Nikon!

"J.D. Powers' 2007 Digital Camera Ratings seem unaware, ill-informed ("pro-sumer" DSLRs "starting at $1,500?" Huh?) and arbitrary (Nikon 5 stars, Canon 2?). I hope its car ratings are better than this."

The ratings weren't just made up by a reviewer, but were based on a customer survey, as you can read in the actual article:

"The 2007 Digital Camera Usage and Satisfaction Study is based on responses from more than 7,500 consumers who purchased a digital camera between June 2006 and May 2007. "

Man, the article re: Bob Shell is a sad one.

It sounds to me like the police nailed him, and nailed him on some bad stuff. If the clock on his camera is proved to be accurate, that's some pretty sick stuff.

There really needs to be a classification of 'Artist that happens to use a camera' as well as 'Photographer'. I'll grant that Almas' work is art, but photography? Not so much.

And as for the JD Power's ratings, well, you ask consumers what they think of what they already bought, and the results are going to be skewed to the high and low, with very little in between. Either upset that 1500.00$ doesn't, as the article states, make you a photographer, or just so pleased at the 4x6's printed at walgreens.

As to the J.D.Powers' ratings, keep in mind that this is a SURVEY, not any sort of evaluation. Consider the 'picture quality' rating wherein Nikon scores 5 to Canon's 2, this may be due to one or more if the following:

1. Nikon's image quality far surpasses Canon's.

2. Nikon users have far lower expectations than Canon users.

3. Some users are intentionally misrepesenting their experiences.

4. A bunch of total bozos are using Canon equipment and can't figure out how to use it.

Considering that the Nikon vs. Canon debate often falls into the same category as the Ford vs. Chevy, liberal vs. conservative, Democrat vs. Republican debates, this rating isn't worth squat.

"...this rating isn't worth squat."

But I'm betting you're a Canon owner, John, am I right? (g)

Mike

Mike,

I remember a long time ago you said, that all lens review that resorted to single digit rating is meaningless. The JD numbers reminded me of the same thing.

Now let's get those audit offices to check donations made to demoJD by camera manufacturers...

I think it's pretty funny that the only non-Nikon dSLR to score over a 3 on anything is the Pentax K series -- for APPEARANCE. A *five*.

I like my Pentax K100D well enough, and the K10D is a little nicer looking, but neither of them are particularly well styled -- and they're not distinctly different from any of the other generic rounded hunks of black plastic from Nikon or Canon or anyone else.

NIKON, OR CANON.
The hype keeps me away, but some times it just make me want to SCREEEEEM!

"...this rating isn't worth squat."

But I'm betting you're a Canon owner, John, am I right? (g)

Mike

Guilty as charged .

OTOH, I once used Nikon exclusively in the studio (along with Deardorff, and Linhof). I switched to Canon when the EF mount was introduced.) Now I own & use Canons 35 SLRs, Mamiya MF, Gowland view, Leics IIIa, Contax T & Rollei 35.


Quality-wise, aside from FF, I sense the digital systems are very comparable, perhaps Nikon has the edge in wide angles, Canon in telephotos, yadya yada yada...

But 2 to 5 in real-world ratings? no way!

"[Sony's] Digital SLR A series ranks just ahead of Canon’s Digital Eos [sic] series on the strength of its picture quality and appearance."

Having used both cameras, I have to say that this a load of bullplop. In bright conditions there's barely a difference between the two and in very dim conditions the SONY becomes worthless far before any EOS machine. The A100 is much nicer to hold than the XTi, but not nicer than the 20/30D.

Of course, this is based off the responses of users. Considering that the EOS series is advertised everywhere and available much more widely than the SONYs, I have to imagine more people own the Canons. The SONY you have to pretty much search out, and you'd probably be doing so based on a love of Konica-Minolta. So we're left with a comparison based not on two cameras, but on two classes of user: a class made up of many neophytes and patzers, buying Canons because that's what they know about and that's what's available, and a class made up mostly of people who bought cameras they carefully researched and sought out.

Your comment "I suppose that technology does make sense for Photoshop, but it makes me wish I'd started out with LightZone and nothing but LightZone." Intrigued me and I would like to hear more as I just walkedby PS CS3 in favor of LightZone. I find a most the pain and dread of an editing session have been elimated.

Although I think I got your point of refrence re the Adobe personnel additions I would like to hear you amplify you the thoughts behind the above quote.

David

I also would like to hear why Lightzone, as I try to decide what post processing software to buy in a state of pretty much total ignorance.

I'm totally biased, because LightZone is TOP's biggest advertiser and supporter.

But if I were starting photography today, I would use LightZone and nothing else. LightZone gets criticized for being processor-intensive, which is like criticizing a Porsche for having too large an engine for such a small car. LightZone is actually a high-power image editor (in some important ways it is more powerful than Photoshop), that people mistake for a limited one because it's relatively easy to learn and relatively simple to use, with a basic-looking UI. It's actually not limited at all. The simplicity is because it's designed to be used entirely visually, and to do only what photographers need done to photographs, as opposed to all the other image editors which are buried under mountains of junk features by comparison. From a UI standpoint it treats all image formats the same; it extracts the MAXIMUM amount of image information from every kind of file; it does so in the most non-destructive way possible, by applying edits in linear 16-bit mode and by ALWAYS automating a layers function; and it gives you back the kind of interpretive creativity that photographers always had in the darkroom. I don't *think* that there's anything you can do to a picture in LightZone that you absolutely CAN'T accomplish in Photoshop, but I think LightZone comes closest to a natural and sensible workflow that has visual and artistic integrity.

I personally feel sort of "stuck" with Photoshop, simply because that's the program I had to start out with many years ago and so that's the program I've mastered (well...) over the years, over hundreds and hundreds of hours of use and experimentation. But LightZone is a lot closer to my own ideal, which is something that does everything I really need it to do and nothing I don't. I have this ambition to switch over to it, but I just have a much deeper knowledge of Photoshop so that I miss all my Photoshop "tricks" when I'm in LightZone (or other editors, including ACR). I end up just puttering with it. But if I were starting with digital now, I would master LightZone and never bother with anything else.

Mike

LightZone is great and I use it all the time, but some adjustments are just easier with Curves and I usually finish up in Photoshop. If LighZone had a Curve facility I wouldn't have to do that.

—Mitch/Bangkpk

I found out about John Coffer after reading this article

http://digitaljournalist.org/issue0511/cowboy.html

I found Peter Howe's portraits absolutely sublime and they really encouraged me to persevere with alternative processes.

I sat for Mr. Coffer about 19 years ago, near Gettysburg, PA. Over the years, I gave all my tintypes away to girlfriends. Sigh.

Whew. I read the article about Bob Shell. Creepy. And to think he was just one of the "guys".

Apropos that FStop article...

How much is _that_ photography? The guy is great with Photoshop, the final image is terrific, but...

Mike, while LightZone offers some features unparallelled in other image editors, it still suffers from some annoying little thingies and bugs. Like the Zoom In shortcut of Ctrl plus =. Come on, guys, not everybody's using an American keyboard. If you used Ctrl plus - for zooming out, why couldn't you use Ctrl plus + for zooming in? And version 3 can still disappear from your screen without any notification. OTOH, they at least added a global exposure adjustment tool in version 3. :-)

But: Java is slow and a resource hog. There's no way around it. On the same computer, it takes more time to open the same photo in Lightzone than in Photoshop, Silkypix, Capture One or Bibble. The only program noticeably slower is the free RAW Therapee.

Being a Scot, I'd never heard of Bob Shell but, being a newspaper reporter, I can tell that's a great story.

He may have appeared to be "just one of the guys" but who really knows what goes on behind closed doors?

As Billy Joel said:

You may never understand
How the stranger is inspired
But he isn't always evil
And he is not always wrong
Though you drown in good intentions
You will never quench the fire
You'll give in to your desire
When the stranger comes along.

My "stranger" is this guy who has a secret, small "slush fund" for buying photographic bits and pieces without the knowledge of his s.o. ;-)

Bruce


Hey Mike...

I should get to work finishing up that review of Lightzone... Well, the house is almost painted, although the August monsoons put me back a week.

Since I shoot pictures mostly for fun, I never even considered Photoshop at $600+ in Canada. The Elements version was inadequate but on Windows, Picture Window Pro was a steal and did everything I needed and more with an easy learning curve. It's photo-biased so you lose all the non-photo bitmap graphics capability of PS. When I moved to MAC I bought Lightzone and never looked back. Can't even imagine using anything else. They haven't implemented perspective control so I have to occasionally export 16-bit tiffs to my Windows box and use PWP to do that but maybe a future upgrade will change that.

There is one thing that LZ doesn't do, and that is allow easy replacement of pixels based on their value. So you can't replace all blown out pixels in a sky with a blue that you copied from another photo. I thought I would miss that, but instead I just stopped doing it, now I wonder why I ever bothered. A lousy picture is a lousy picture; now I prefer to just go shoot it again.

Something like the case of Hans Reiser in the Open Source community...

LZ is nice -- it's the only photo editor I use on my Windows machine at work.

At home, though, I much prefer Aperture. It also has none of the Photoshop memes (no layers, no filters, curves are there but in a very different capacity). It's got that Apple way of requiring you to surrender your workflow and adjust to what it lets you do, but what it lets you do is pretty streamlined. Interface is kickass, WAY better than LZ, and the DAM features are really nice too. RAW converter is also better but who cares about that, really, as the worst RAW converter is still much better than in camera JPEG.

I agree with commenters. Almas maybe a photographer, but the presented work is an illustration made with photographs, there's no way it can be considered a photo.

JDPowers, pah!

But to the real business: Lightzone. I've been a user for quite some while, it is now my main editor. Still use PS for add-ins, but little else. I used to recommend LZ to a lot of friends & amateurs due to ease and relatively low price. Not any more. It's jumped in price for no appreciable improvement in use. while the tools are easy and intuitive the program is too slow, too memory intensive and has too many quirks and niggles for something at this price. Plus they keep changing the tools and workflow on me.
Testing & deploying software to a large user community are a large part of my job. My experiences with LZ would not have me accepting many of the new versions (I won't call them upgrades). I've stopped at 2.4. I tried 3.x but I don't see any drive to smooth the interface, speed the underlying rendering or tackle the memory issues. It's frustrating as the potential is there for them to wipe the floor with the competition.
I could rant on for sometime about the small things that are making a big (negative) difference to me right now; I'll refrain.

Nobody's mentioned Lightroom, which is what I've been using for a few months now. I never much enjoyed Photoshop so Lightroom was a pleasant improvement (I could say vast improvement but who wants hyperbole). Still, I often feel like I'm chasing a "look" around, never sure if I've acheived the absolute best result.

On Mike's recommendation I downloaded a Lightzone trial this morning. It seems to want to pause and refresh with each command so it feels slow but I do like some of the tools (especially the Zonemapper). I'm sensing that with familiarity a user would only need to use a few simple steps to get a nice result thus mitigating the slowness factor.

I took an image that I recently processed in LR and did a LZ version of that. Then I copied the LZ version and brought it into LR for further adjustment. Then I put all three versions on my website for side-by-side comparison.

The far-from-conclusive verdict: I prefer the LZ by way of LR one. With LZ I got much nicer overall color although LR gives a more accurate skin tone. It's possible, of course, with enough fiddling I could reverse these findings. What I'm looking for is ease-of-use and knowing when to stop.

So that's based on one image from a Lightroom novice who's only been using Lightzone for a couple of hours. Probably not worth much. Any other LR/LZ comparisons out there on the internet?

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