Swimming with the Razorfishes

Thursday, October 06, 2005


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Karen Nakamura mentioned that there was conversation on an EOS mailing list about the new 5Ds vignetting excessively with wide angle lenses. She pointed to an example.

Below is a shot of the profoundly unimaginative courtyard in front of my building shot at 16mm, first at f/2.8, then at f/5.6.



The lens is a Canon 16-35 L. The vignetting is visible, but I'm not sure if it is much different than I'd see on film (I've never shot film with this lens). Very wide zooms do vignette.

Snapshots of Chernobyl.

"It's time to restore honor and dignity to the White House."

   - George W. Bush

How is that going so far?

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

I had a fever when I woke up this morning. Called in sick. Ended up sleeping all day.

Now I'm hoping I manage to get some sleep tonight.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005


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NewsGator did, indeed, acquire NetNewsWire. Greg Reinacker assured me that he'd try not to screw it up.

The NewsGator integration will surely be interesting.

Fuck you, I’m nominating my personal lawyer to the Supreme Court.

Fuck you, I’m nominating her even though she’s never served as a judge and nobody knows where she stands on anything and she’s cool with gays and so on.

Fuck you, she thinks I’m the smartest man she’s ever met and she helped me finesse my DUI rap, so I’m nominating her.

You don’t like that?

Fuck you.

Jason Lefkowitz on President Bush's nomination of Harriet Miers to the supreme court.

Yikes. Rumors are floating around that Newsgator will acquire NetNewsWire. If they do, I hope they don't screw it up.

Monday, October 03, 2005

I was one of the lucky few in New York to snap up one of Canon's new 5D, full-frame digital SLRs on Friday. B&H had a few in stock, and I happened to be there at 9:00 AM.

click for high-res

Below are some thoughts, impressions.

The 5D's body will be immediately familiar to anyone who has used a recent Canon digital SLR. I have given up trying to figure out which body the 5D is based on; someone else will certainly make a positive ID, but the body is pretty close to a 1V without the power booster. Regardless, it is nicely shaped. It seems slightly larger and heavier than a 10D / 20D but feels comfortable in my hands, partially because there is more room for my fingers between the grip and lens.

Unlike the 1V, however, the 5D inherited the 20D's combined power / control dial and joystick nubbin. The power switch has three positions: off, on, and control dial on. More than once, I have only clicked it to the first position, only to wonder why I can't shift the EV. I assume I'll get used to the switch, but I always want the control dial on. I'm not sure why someone who bought this camera would ever want it turned off. Speaking of the control dial, it could be somewhat bigger; maybe 25%. The 5D's control dial is certainly usable, but a larger dial would be easier to hit. The other (odd) addition to the back of the camera is a "direct print" button. Another thing I don't understand. Who buys a $3500 body and wants to direct print?

Moving up from the control dial, the viewfinder is, indeed larger and brighter than the 10D / 20D. All the things you would expect to be visible are, with the notable addition of remaining buffer space; a nice touch. It would be nice to see the ISO sensitivity in the viewfinder, too. This is one of those things I consistently forget to check. The control dial on top of the 5D is mercifully without the "scene" modes like "night portrait" and "sports." The mode dial has a bulb setting (puzzling) but the camera lacks an easily-accessible shutter lock-up setting. Shutter lock-up, though, could be programmed as a "camera user" setting and quickly selected with the "C" mode. Not too difficult.

The 5D uses Canon's "soft touch" shutter release. There is no tactile click when an half-press engages the autofocus. I know that all of Canon's newer bodies use a soft touch release, but I'm not so sure I like it. The mechanical click of the older release gave important feedback.

This is all I noticed about the body and controls. Overall a very comfortable body to use.

Shooting performance, by any standard, is quite good. Rumors of the camera's poor speed have been greatly exaggerated. When Canon announced the 5D, people looked at the 3 frames per second speed and the shutter lag numbers. Soon the DPreview forums were buzzing with claims of a crippled camera. My limited experience with the 5D shows that it is fast and responsive. The shutter responds crisply with little difference in lag between exposures made in AV mode with autofocus active versus manual mode with autofocus off. The RAW buffer holds 17 RAW or 60 JPEG images and clears very quickly. With a 4 gig 80x Lexar CF card, the buffer didn't come close to filling in normal use. The 5D could only be considered slow when compared to a 1Ds mk II, but one would expect an $8000 to be faster.

Like all other Canon DSLR bodies, the 5D will clash a review of each frame on the rear LCD immediately after capture, including a histogram. The 5D, though, can display an RGB histogram, previously available only on the 1Ds. I'm hooked on getting the immediate feedback of the histogram; I'm really happy to finally have an RGB histogram available. Speaking of the rear LCD, the 2.5" screen feels positively luxurious as compared to my old 1.8" display with half the resolution of that on the 5D. Also previously available only on the 1Ds, the 5D's ISO sensitivity can be changed in 1/3 stop increments. I'm not sure why I like this feature as much as I do, but I was positively giddy shooting at ISO 160 this weekend.

Picture quality is excellent, as expected. After shooting for a while with an APS-C sized sensor, the 50mm 1.4 felt strangely wide. In addition to the sensation of all my lenses getting noticeably wider, I'm very impressed with the huge amount of additional information in the images. Moving from 6 to 12.8 million pixels is a big jump. It is a pleasure to zoom around the 14 megabyte photos at 100% magnification. The "grain" is very fine, hardly noticeably below ISO 800. Resolution is huge and very, very impressive.

The DSLR dirty little secret, however, is the low-pass filter. Because of the peculiarities of image sensor arrays, most digital cameras use a low-pass or anti-alias filter to avoid creating moire patterns when capturing certain kinds of patterns. [Sigma's SD10 and Leica's digital back are notable exceptions] The low-pass filter, unfortunately, adds blur to the captured image. The 5D is no different. A certain amount of sharpness is lost to the low-pass filter. I wish Canon would follow Leica's lead and do the moire removal in software. Most digital cameras do some amount of in-camera sharpening to compensate for the low-pass filtering. It took me some time to figure out how to disable this in the 5D. It seems that sharpening is now part of the "picture style" setting; the "neutral" picture style applies no in-camera sharpening. Sharpening necessarily involves some loss of picture quality. I'd rather be in control of degrading my images' quality, thank you very much.

Two final things: thank you Canon for fixing auto white balance (it kind of almost works), and thanks for using the same batteries.

CNN: A Texas grand jury has brought a new charge of money laundering against Rep. Tom DeLay, the former House majority leader indicted last week on conspiracy charges stemming from a campaign finance probe[...]

Sunday, October 02, 2005

The New York Post is reporting that McHales is closing its doors; the building housing the 50 year old bar is being knocked down to put up a 42 story high-rise.

Real estate developers are the most soulless, rapacious, shameless, abhorrent people in the city, just below child molesters and animal torrturers, are possibly the only group of people who can wholesale destroy things that make the city great.

Go to century City in LA, and see what it is like to walk around a real estate developer's wet dream. Is that the kind of place in which you want to live? Go kick some real estate developers in the shin and tell them to get some fucking taste.