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Photoshop is the professional solution – there is really nothing else with the broad industry support, variety of plugin compatibility, and depth of features. That being said, professional solutions usually involve investment both in continuing education as well as dollars.
Right now I am still running CS6 and Lightroom 6 and haven’t gone to Creative Cloud. I will as soon as a few compelling features which directly impact my workflow show up.
There are a lot of good, solid tools out there for less money which make a lot of sense if you are not seeing much income from photography. Those who do begin monetizing their work usually end up with Photoshop, and in those cases time spent learning other tools might go at least partially to waste.
As a hobby and for personal enjoyment – go with anything that has the features you use most. If you intend to sell stuff, I’d say continue with PS.
Bob – that sailboat shot is a strong composition and works really well in B&W. Nicely done.
Jay – Agreed, the battery life on the Lily is not ideal but the tech and the concept is extremely cool. Flight time is relative, too, because it’s about getting the shot you want. I have flown some DJI and Parrot drones, and it feels like 75% of the time you are trying to position them and getting a lot of throw-away footage. The less autonomous the drone the more wasted flight time you get, and the more battery life you need as a consequence.
These pre-programmed functions allow you plan your sequence, launch, and get your footage with less flight time. Just like with hand-held cameras, there are trade offs for being waterproof and the ability to fly in a snow or rain storm could yield some unique imagery as well. At $500, you can also have 2 for the price of one Solo and if you have a GoalZero or anything similar you can charge in the field.
I’m not ready to get either yet, but it’s amazing to me how quickly things are progressing. We’ve reached the point that you can just turn on a drone, tap 2 or 3 buttons, and get footage of moving subjects without touching the controls again.
Some of these autonomous concepts are watch-sized, like the Nixie.
Since this thread got started with the notion that video drones are becoming more feasible, I thought I’d post links to a few products that are advancing the concept:
The solo might be the premier GoPro platform before long. The interface makes it really easy to manipulate the camera’s functions, but there are also some easy autonomous flight controls. At the touch of a button you can cause it to orbit your location at various distances, follow you, or perform a cable cam maneuver. The tech is allowing less and less involvement and worry about the flight of the quad ‘copter so you can focus on what the camera is seeing.
Another interesting and even more simplified concept is the LilyCamera.
This drone is capable of landing in and taking off from water. It also incorporates a highly simplified set of controls that just tell the system to lead, follow, loop, or land coupled with directional arrows that increases or decreases the distances at which it performs those functions.
Sounds like you’ve got a plan – keep at it.
The unsharp mask should be pretty easy to learn when you’re ready to experiment and there are some YouTube tutorials on how to use it in Paintshop Pro. It will do a good job of bringing out fine details like feathers and catchlight in your subject’s eye(s).
Bob – it’s good to see you flexing that new shutter and it looks like you have some nice subject matter to work with.
On the topic of resizing images for the web:
It has been a long time since I used any of the Paintshop Pro versions, but here’s a basic sharpening workflow you might want to toy around with:
1) Open the image
2) Crop to your desired composition
3) Resize the image (Image –> Resize on the menu). A good rule of thumb is to use 800 pixels for the width dimension and let the software auto-scale the length. Most blogs and forums seem to have a preference for images 800px wide or smaller, and some tend to cut off at 600px so you can choose what works best for you. This is also a good size for e-mailing and so forth.
4) Now (AFTER you resize) you will want to play with a feature called the Unsharp Mask. Last time I used PS Pro it was located under Adjust –> Sharpness –> Unsharp Mask. There will probably be 3 fields you can manipulate called Radius, Strength, and Clipping. For web display, try something like Radius: 0.3, Strength: 110%, Clipping: 10.
There’s likely going to be a live preview so you can see what changing these settings does to the mask.
Thanks for sharing.
That is just some straight up sick work Matt.
I think Jason has done a good job covering the nitty gritty. I will just add that a DSLR gives you the flexibility to change lenses as your needs vary.
Another point you should consider along with interchangeable lenses is the option to rent. A trip to Africa will be very memorable and what I can tell you from experience is that every time I’ve gotten my hands on a camera lens with higher magnification, I immediately want…MORE MAGNIFICATION. Even on a crop sensor, I personally would consider a 300mm lens (on top of the 1.6x crop factor) as the minimum for wildlife. You will probably be wishing the whole time that you had 400mm or even 600mm.
The good news is that you don’t have to buy these lenses. They are available to rent from places like http://www.borrowlenses.com for pretty reasonable prices.
As one example, the Canon EF 100-400mm zoom can be rented for $61 bucks per week. They ship the lens to you, along with a pre-paid label for returning it when you’re done. Slick and pretty inexpensive…
I’d love to see some of your shots when you get back – Africa is definitely on my bucket list.
I’d echo Stu as well. RAW file size is mainly a function of the amount of metadata being stored, and not one of color rendition or resolution. The camera’s highest quality .jpg setting captures at the sensor’s maximum resolution. You get more latitude and flexibility in post processing from the RAW, but every lab I work with wants a .jpg or a .tif to print from.
The file you send to the printer, however, does have attributes that are important to the result. Sometimes your editing software will have default values when you save a .jpg (such as 72dpi) where you typically want 300dpi for a good quality print. Many labs also apply color correction to your file unless you specify otherwise, and that can make a big difference in the final product.
If your .jpg files don’t look as good as your RAW files, it probably has something to do with the software you’re viewing them in. Each application has its own defaults and the same photo can look very different depending on if it’s being displayed in a RAW tool, photo editor, browser, image viewer, etc. To get consistency between what you see on-screen and the finished print, monitor calibration using a Spyder4 or similar product is often necessary.
All the labs I’ve used can accept very large .tif uploads, but in my experience a 300dpi .jpg is all you need for professional results and larger files just take longer to upload.
Have fun with it – printing is an art unto itself.
I’m pretty much with Mike – I think back to fairly recent cameras that I’ve owned such as the D300/D300s generation and still get a facial tick thinking about the ISO limitations I was constantly fighting. I hated to go over 400, and anything over 600 was right out.
The reliability and capability of the modern offerings may not have taken quantum leaps model over model, but digital imaging has vastly improved over, say, the last 5 years.
A shot from 2 days ago, taken under conditions that would have left my cheese hanging in the wind with a D300:
Definitely could have been an Eastern Zach, I know they are year-round residents out that way.
I don’t know if you have a device that runs iOS, but if so check out the free app produced by the Cornell Department of Ornithology called Merlin Bird ID. Via a couple of behavioral questions and dominant colors present, it’s not a bad identification wizard.
That is some great work Mike, the berry in the beak is an awesome touch, as are the yellow tones in the bokeh. Fill flash?
Pretty little Cedar WW.
Image longevity is a good point David, and it’s a topic I have thought quite a bit about. I’d be interested in other people’s take here as well.
Shooting at 36MP when my current customer needs are met by 12MP and nicely exceeded by 16MP can be looked at 2 ways. On one hand it reduces my available frame rate, requires more storage (both primary and backup) and creates post processing overhead as well. The flip side would be to consider these pain points as front-loading a long-term investment in the imagery and it may very well extend the marketable lifespan of a portfolio. It’s probably a substantial consideration for stock photographers and so forth.
What I see over a time period like the 10 years you mention is continuous improvement in equipment and the decreasing cost of better technologies which then become more accessible. For example, in 10 years when the DF and D800e are competing for that piece of business…what if there’s also a guy at the table with the latest Phase One medium format back which 10 years from now will probably cost about what a D4 does today? He will be there not only with an 80MP file, but one that boasts vastly superior IQ due to the advantages of sensor size. Many of these systems today also use leaf shutter mechanisms, which enable native flash sync speeds of 1/1600.
In 10 years I may indeed wish all of my portfolio was shot at 36MP, or the market may have changed and FX could be as outdated and shoddy-looking as your 2004-2008 work is right now. We might all be carrying around 16fps medium format bodies that shoot richly detailed, stunning 100MP captures with which today’s tools don’t compete at all.
I’ve seen the “very expensive for what it is” comment quite a bit in various forums, which I feel is relative to one’s needs and intentions for the tool.
The DF is a very interesting product from my perspective. It’s basically a D4 that loses the premium fast-action components (frame rate and more advanced AF array) as well as HALF the price. So, if you are after certain capabilities of the D4 minus the flagship speed – the DF is very inexpensive for what it is.
So why would you want one? There’s a huge use case for street photography, where the pro SLR form factor draws a lot of attention. Those who focus on still imagery should also benefit from the dial-based approach of the controls. In my mind though, there has always been a balance between resolution, file size, pixel density, and IQ. Speaking personally about my own needs, I have never been happier with a camera sensor than I am with the D4. It produces an output that is balanced – manageable file sizes, sufficient latitude for reasonable cropping, excellent color fidelity, and plenty of resolution for my print/publication needs.
I have a use case for a D800, which is rather narrow and specialized. Overall, I don’t want 75MB 14-bit RAW files for 90% of what I do. A half-price, physically smaller and lighter D4 for scenarios that aren’t fast-action is very appealing to me for everything from a backup with identical IQ to a travel/water body. The DF includes a pro sensor, pro processor, pro menu system, pro weather sealing…etc. without what boils down to a $3000 price premium for stuff that hauls ass. I’ve also been watching with a lot of interest to see if anyone is going to make a housing for the DF because that could yield a less expensive, more compact UW solution with the D4’s image output.
As a D4 shooter, my main consideration is that I already have a D4. I have niche uses for a number of other capabilities, and the business case for those may win out for a while – we’ll see. The question of to DF or not to DF is really about what strengths it brings to the table and whether or not you value them.
Frankly, if it were not for birds in flight, the DF would be my primary. I think it’s a bargain, and will be even more of one on the used market.
Thank you Tim and Jason. The eagle migration through this area of the country is always a high point of the Winter months.
Good stuff man, the smoke rings are a great element. Zach the pup is a GWP.
Thanks David – these were on the Nikon 400mm f/2.8 VR, hand-held.
I’m impartial to the change and see a few ticks in the plus and minus columns with a software rental model.
One of the upsides is constant inflow of new features and functions as opposed to everything at once in a new major release.
Adobe is still selling CS6 for now as well, and they are still providing updates too, so anyone nervous about the change is probably fine to wait a year (or more) and see what happens.
CC makes it easier to use your tools across multiple computers, the cloud storage is a nice feature, and I’ve also noticed that there’s an extensive tutorial library available.
I think the model will stick. It’s becoming more of an industry trend, makes it harder to pirate the IP, and allows for more rapid development cycles.
Mike – if you ask me those shots look solid man. Nice work with the deer. It took me about a decade to finally throw down on a prime and during that time I was able to get plenty of images that I was highly satisfied with from various zooms. As long as you have enough light to work with, the zooms are legit. They also save you from blowing a nut trying to portage your glass to the shoot location.
I’ll be interested to see some future posts about your thoughts here.