A few frosty pics from 2012

I sometimes think that it will be nice when the girls are older and my shots are not snatched while carrying my camera around my neck, shooting one handed as I trudge through the snow pulling a sled with a 3-year-old on it.

But then I think that I’m mad. How can a day get any better?

Power

The Tate Modern building is an old power station. X100 at night in the dark. Cropped square. I can feel the power.

Occupy St Pauls

I have a lot of sympathy for the sentiment, if not the solutions on offer. I will revisit the location soon. Hopefully the protest will continue for some time.

DXO Optics v7 X100 user review.

Upgrade costs for previous users are very reasonable.

The LR integration looks a lot better too. It can open a LR catalogue and export files straight back into the catalogue as DNG. You then end up with a RAF file and DNG side by side.

If I didn’t have LR at all, it might be that DXO would be a good enough way of organising and ranking files. It doesn’t have the keywording and collection abilities, it doesn’t have local corrections. It doesn’t have LR’s great print engine. But apart from that… you can create projects which can work as proxy for collections, you can just browse the file system. So it’s missing a lot of the cool stuff that LR has. But DXO + Photoshop… maybe.

So for me at this point DXO is not really a replacement for LR. But what about just as a plain old RAW converter alongside LR, doing a LR RAF plus DXO DNG side-by-side in LR? Well that looks pretty good. Only downside is storage and processing time, but storage is cheap.

But it would all be pointless unless DXO showed a significant advantage when it comes to RAW conversion. And I think it does, in most cases.

A couple of examples:
Example 1 @ ISO 200
LR processing is Auto exposure correction, Auto lens correction with the X100 corrections applied, sharpening at 75, Clarity 25, Vibrance 25, Saturation 5. Blue saturation on DXO boosted slightly in LR to give a similar look.

What I see – definitely an edge to DXO, sharper, more detail, better colour, more pop.

Example 2 @ ISO 3200
More less the same treatment as above, but with RAF file sharpening up to 80 and Luminance NR at 40.

What I see – unclear. DXO sharper with more detail, less noise, but more artifacts. LR noise retains more of a film-like grain. It would probably depend on the image, and of course treatment can be adjusted in DXO and LR to improve matters. I’d call this one even.




Conclusion:

I am not an expert in digital image manipulation, but not a complete novice either.

What I’m generally looking to do is get the best IQ possible with the least effort possible. I won’t be getting rid of LR and using DXO instead. But I certainly will be dual-processing some or all of my images from now on in both LR and DXO. At my level of competence with these tools DXO definitely has an edge in the processing of RAW files from the X100, and I see pretty much the same thing with my 5D2 as well.

I would say though that with some images from both the 5D2 and the X100 the LR ACR conversion is just more pleasing. DXO is always a little bit “crunchy”, and that doesn’t suit every image. I wouldn’t completely drop ACR for DXO. DXO = oils, ACR = watercolor if you like.

I found DXO v5 & v6 unconvincing. But my recommendation is that there’s enough in DXO v7 that you might be interested. Certainly worth downloading a trial version and giving it a go. And I do think LR and DXO sit nicely alongside each other.

Victoria & Albert Museum

I had the day off. Two choices – either go to Somerset House to see the Venice Photos, or to the V&A to the photo galleries.

Dithered a bit then decided on the V&A because it was closer and I’d read a review, and it was recommended in Time Out. Will get to the Venice exhibition next week.

The layout of the V&A is very confusing, the photos being split across 2 locations. The temporary one being downstairs in Level 1 and the more permanent upstairs on Level 3.

Apparently the section on Julia Margaret Cameron has been recently revised or included. Interesting. All very and intentionally soft, and quite unsettling for it. As you move towards them from across the room they go from seeming reasonably sharp to getting very soft and ghostly. Obvious metaphors abound and it really is refreshing to see some classic prints that eschew the camera enthusiasts’ obsession for sharpness at any cost. Even in her day this was true, and her pictures were a reaction against that to some extent. No doubt she would be an exponent of Lomography were she alive today.

I also discovered the print room. But that deserves a post of its own.

Took the X100 along of course, made a few random shots. The V&A is a beautiful building crammed full of beautiful objects.

Even managed a self portrait.

How limiting is the fixed lens?

On my trip there were of course occasions where I would have liked a wide angle lens, and some where a telephoto would have been good.

But in lieu of a wide angle lens there is at least the panoramic option. Either manually for stitching in photoshop or in-camera. Most of my in-camera panos didn’t turn out too well but there were a couple I rather liked. In fact I’m getting some canvas prints made.

More holiday pics – Algarve

So this time, in the interest of keeping our entire family luggage down to two hold bags on an Easyjet flight. I decided to just take the X100 to Portugal.

I’m back to shooting RAW. 8Gb + 16Gb with a 4Gb card which I would shoot JPG if I ran out of space on the others. As it turned out I probably used about 12Gb in total.

So sure I missed a few shots; some because the AF system isn’t that great, some because with a fixed 35 equivalent lens there are some things you can’t shoot the way you want to. But what I lost I think I more than gained back because I carried the camera with me everywhere. Quick trip to the supermarket? Take the X100. Trip to the beach? Take the X100. Lounging by the pool? Take the X100. Chatting with the adults while the kids play? X100 to hand. Off to a restaurant for dinner? Take the X100.