Funny Photographic Stuff Of The Day

First thing - I am guilty of venting some of my minor frustrations with my Nikon D7000 without at all demonstrating what the hell I am talking about. The reason this is an issue is that it leaves people having to imagine and interpret my diatribe with no point of reference. This causes an issue that is built in to the photographic endeavor to be worse than it has to be. The issue that I am referring to is the fact that none of us can ever agree on anything. My words could be interpreted as nitpicking a minor nit that has no bearing on actually making photographs - they could be taken at face value - they could be overblown in making the assumption the D7000 is a worthless piece of trash that belongs in the garbage.

For your viewing displeasure let me show you a couple of examples. Yes what I am going to show you can reproduced on demand - over and over and over again. For this session of funny stuff let's take the green dot method of manually focusing AI and AIS lenses. Let's choose something not so stressfull. How about my trusty old 18mm AIS f3.5. This would be sorta like a 27mm on FX. So a 28mm with slow max aperture and enhanced DOF relative to full frame. This should be an easy one.

Ooops, it seems the green dot is solid on confirming focus for quite a large range of near-far focus. Okay, okay, I guess that means that everything is okay it will be fine because the DOF is huge for 18mm lenses right? Lets just see what happens if I take a shot at both ends of "solid green okayness" - not talking about flickering back and forth - I mean solid green. Here is the one at the "far" end…

WTF? Okay let us see what the other end looks like - the "close end"…

Hmmm, not so good. In fact fairly horrible. Well that "close end" seems to be a bit better but wait for it… The punch line here is both those shots were at f8. Yep it's this bad even showing the focus system f3.5 and giving it some major wiggle room by showing you f8 DOF. Yea I know that SLR's are not fantastic at focusing really wide lenses close up but this is at 4 feet - not really close up. No I am not expecting Leica RF wide angle focus perfection. Is this worse than I can do myself with an F2 or even an F3HP? Yep. Worse than My D2's? Yep. Worse than my D3's - hmmmm Yes, way way worse. I don't get it.

Why is this funny? It's funny when you take a look at wide open results - wide open at a giant f3.5. Here take a look at this hilariousness.

If you didn't know any better you may think that I made this lens myself out of melted down 2-litre soda bottles and some toilet paper rolls. You may even think that the 18mm AIS is a "bad" lens. Maybe I have a "bad" copy. No. In fact most people interpret focus issues as some how a lens issue - wrong. Here I will prove it - even though both ends of the "green dot" are fairly bad, I wasted some of my morning coffee time to do just a couple of brakets inbetween. By no means is this perfect focus but here is a better one at f3.5.

Now - all these are center crops for illustration. They are not optimized. They are not even exactly "100%". I just wanted to clarify that I am not splitting hairs here. I was merely clarifying the hilariouly bad focus performance in a lot of circumstances. Proof that it's a focus issue? Take a look at the background concrete in some of the examples - it's in better focus. We are not talking about a millimeter or so here - we are talking feet. Does this behavior manifest itself on every photo, with every focal length, at ever distance? No but it is so funny-bad compared to my other cameras it's worth complaining about.

The other funny part is how often this particular issue amungst other focus related things are discussed around the web and how all over the map those disccussion are. The conversations without fail end up nowhere. The topic opener based on a rough feel for the clarity of his/her articulation of the problem is 90% likely to have the problem I am describing. Six hundred people chime in and tell him 352 completely different things anywhere from he has no issue, to a "bad copy" of the lens, to a "bad copy" of the camera, to the impossiblility of knowing anything without using a tripod.

The rapid disemination of of opinion and information on the internet can be a good thing. Equally it can be a bad thing. I have said it a million times but it's worth saying again. You have to evaluate things for yourself - question everything - if what you are reading makes no sense to you there is a good chance it is complete crap or has no applicablity to you and your circumstances. Dismiss it but please do not propogate it unless you have actual personal experience to share that can shed some light on things.

That brings us to funny photography thing number two for today. Photography Experts and web-inars. Unfortunately I have to slog through a bunch of these things to prepare for an endeavor that I may be embarking on later this year that will inlude some webinar production for a couple of different photography product companies. I swear I may go crazy sitting through these things. Yesterday I sat through one sponsored by a big name company and listened. I don't know if it is some sort of mental illness setting in or just me being punch drunk with a lot of this drivel but I could not help but to just laugh at about 80% of the things that the instructor was saying. What made it even more funny was the question that came up from the audience or more accuately did not come up.

I hope you find this as funny as I did. I am strange I find a lot of ironic things funny. I find it especially amusing when I find the metaphorical source of dis-information that is disturbing mob-echo-chamber kind of non-sense and thought process. You know things like "removing color profiles when posting to the web" and such non-sense stuff that just propigates and grows and people do it and repeat it without any thought process…

Without going into a lot of details let's just set the scene. Expert web-in-ar on color, color management, RAW, workflow-y, photoshop manipluations kind of stuff. Dozens if not a few hundred interested souls in the virtual audience. The instructor without fail on every single solitary example image ratched up the image saturation in photoshop to a fairly large degree. Now let's not argue taste or intent or right and wrong. I could care less about his particular aesthetic no matter if it is one I share or not.

Every single time he did this saturation ramp up he dutifully explained why he was doing this. The why was not that he liked it that way, or adjusted based on his vision, or anything remotely similar. Stand by for the revolutionary secret technical reason why this was nessesary, you are about to learn something. The reason for doing this according to the instructor was that he shoots video with his DSLR and has the saturation set way way low (cause that's what you have to do) and this causes the RAW files (processed through ACR) to have "too low a saturation". Hmmmm. Really?

Have I found out why 90% of digital images I see on the internet look like cartoons? Maybe. Probably not but you get my point here. So dozens or hundreds of photographers listening to this same explaination at least 10 times and not one question about the whole low saturation camera setting / ACR thing? But wait - there's more.

Immediately after this he demonstrated how to use Photoshop's color proofing to evaluate the conversion from Adobe 1998 to sRGB for sending to the lab. Mind you that he was using a MacBookPro to edit and view this Adobe 1998 image. He explained that when you set the proof setup to sRGB and turned gamut warning on you could see that some of the colors were out of gamut but there was nothing you could really do about it, it's just "good to know".

I will bet you dollars to doughnuts that those colors are probably out of gamut on screen as well considering that the a lot of current MacBook screens are pretty close to sRGB as well. He really didn't look at that though. I will also bet that his saturation rampup cause the vast majority of those gamut issues. Does this guy have the slightest clue? Does he have any idea that the "screen" he is looking at has NOTHING to do with the actuall gamut of the colors in the image if they are outside of it? I swear - not one single question about this. Not one.

You have to laugh - the only other choice is to cry. Don't get me wrong there are some fantastic instructors out there. I will name one and tell you why he is really good tomorrow.

RB

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