Listening to audio is a subjective experience. But we all have one thing in common: we all want the best listening experience possible. Some of us are music purists and for them cables are an important component of a HiFi sound system. AudioQuest is one of the suppliers of some of the best performing cables available. They also carry digital interconnects in their product range. I tested two USB cables that are supposed to improve sound and open up the soundstage in a digital audio setup: the Cinnamon and Carbon cables. The sceptic that I am, I was in for a surprise.
A couple of weeks ago, I posted a review of the way you can increase the dynamic range of certain film negatives and film such as Kodachrome using SilverFast 8’s Multi-Exposure and a Canoscan 9000F Mk II. Here’s a videocast of the process. And here you can download the ePUB version of the full review.
The GoPro HERO3+ is an improved version of the HERO3. It’s a bit better with low light, has a better lens, and a new even wider view, called SuperView. It also has better audio due to a different placement of the built-in microphones. Together with the new HERO3+, GoPro released new mounting accessories, including a clip (QuickClip), a clamp with flexible mounting pole called Jaws, a new suction cup and a far better tripod mount than the one already available.
The original ExpoDisc was an aluminium disc you mount to the front of your camera lens. ExpoDisc 2.0 has a polycarbonate ring and a spring-load mechanism for mounting. It still has a semi-opaque standardised grey surface through which you can take a white balance shot with your dSLR. It’s still the easiest and most accurate way of setting a white balance in-camera. ExpoDisc 2.0 just improves on the concept without changing the basics. As with the previous version, you can also use the ExpoDisc as an incident light meter.
It has been over five years ago since I last reviewed Photomatix Pro, the gold standard for HDR software. Photomatix Pro 5 and its associated plug-ins are more powerful than ever. Photomatix Pro 5 adds a Contrast Optimizer Tone Mapping method and an Exposure Fusion method for Real Estate, multiple settings in batch operations and the ability to create faux HDR images from one LDR image with Fusion settings.
The human eye can perceive approximately 24 f-stops when considering the pupil opening and closing in relationship to the light coming in. In contrast, the highest dynamic range a digital camera has achieved so far, is 14 f-stops. To span large ranges of greyscale values, you will either need to create a HDR image or use a scanner with a Multi-Exposure algorithm that does the same for film.
The other day, when I was scanning old negatives with a new Canoscan 9000F MK II and SilverFast 8 for my piece on SilverFast’s Multi-Exposure, I kept thinking about the reasons any photographer should want to keep using film and a scanner to digitise his or her images instead of using a digital camera. That made me contemplate some of the disadvantages and benefits of scanning film and those of image sensors…
During the years I had my dark room (the real thing), I remember I had to burn areas to get a better exposure across the photo. It was the analogue version of trying to achieve a high dynamic range — high enough at least to represent most brightness values across a photo based on what the film emulsion was capable of. Today, with a scanner, the dynamic range of any scanned photo is not just limited to capabilities of the film emulsion but also by the dynamic range of the scanner itself. It’s as with digital cameras: there are only as many f-stops available as the sensor will “see”. Just as with digital cameras, you can achieve a higher dynamic range by combining an exposure for highlights and one for shadowy areas. This method works only with scanners that allow this “manipulation” and the right software to work it. SilverFast is by far the best application with which you can apply this technique, having been awarded the European Digital Press Association’s “Best Colour Management software of the Year” prize in 2008 for it.
DxO Labs has once again upgraded its flagship image editor, DxO Optics Pro. Version 9 has a re-designed interface, a unique noise reduction feature, better DxO Smart Lighting capabilities, new visual presets and new and improved export tools. From my own testing, this version could well be the one that makes all others bite the dust.
How much is true of the axiom a broadcast or ENG camera can’t produce a nice depth-of-field, as what you’ll get when shooting with a dSLR or other exchangeable lens camera? It depends.