Category Archives: Photography

Patiently waiting for EOS 5D Mk II

Canon announced the update to the EOS 5D on September 18th, more than three months ago. Now the holiday season is all over us and there are still no EOS 5D Mk II to be found – at least not here in Sweden.

Canon recently announced some demonstration films showing off the video capability that this camera – together with some good optics – can deliver. The result is absolutely astonishing. I will have to reevaluate my assumption that I wouldn’t use the video feature.

Now I only wish that Canon could learn something from Apple. If they announce something they should have it ready for delivery. I’m getting tired of the waiting and if they don’t start shipping these babies in volumes my allocated budget may be put into use for some other gadget.

Pruning Canon EOS image folders

I have had my Canon EOS 20D since early 2005. The first few weeks I set the camera to save images in JPEG only. After a while I switched over to saving images in both JPEG and RAW and have been doing so up until this year. Up until last year I had been using Windows XP and Windows Vista and having JPEGs around made it easier to look at the photos. However, about a year ago I switched over to Mac and am now using Aperture 2 for my photo cataloging needs. There, the presence of both JPEGs and raw images is nothing but annoying.

Photos with both RAW and JPG files

To avoid the problem with both formats in Aperture I want to import the raw images where available and JPEGs otherwise. But I can’t just remove the JPEG files on a folder level because some images are only available as JPEGs. And with literally tens of thousands of images I just didn’t want to do it manually.

The attached Perl script solves the issue. It takes a source and a target folder as arguments. It then goes through the source directory hierarchy and copies all the image files to the target – but skipping files that are available both as RAW and JPEG. In that case it will pick the RAW file. It uses embedded EXIF tags (the time the photo was taken plus the serial number of the image) to judge if two images are the same. Further, it retains the folder structure but removes certain folders to flatten the target folder structure – I had originally put the RAW files one folder down so that they wouldn’t interfere with the JPEGs when viewing them in Vista’s image viewer.

Please note that I can only vouch that this works on CR2 files and JPEG files from a Canon EOS 20D as that is the only thing I have tested it with. It should be simple to adapt it for other cameras. Also note that the script does not test whether the target folder is empty. You are advised to test the program on some files that you don’t mind losing before you apply it to your entire image library.

I called the script photo_prune, despite the fact that it doesn’t actually prune the source data. To avoid data loss it instead copies the data to a new location.

Download script

For the love of colours

Every new web site, document template or just about any other type of production typically needs a set of matching colours. This can sometimes take too much time from the real work of finishing that prototype or document on time. Wouldn’t it be great if someone had already done the job.

To my joy I found out that someone already had. Or actually, 137,200 people have. They are all using the site www.colourlovers.com. Give it a try!

Colourlovers.com sample

Finally, an update to EOS 5D

Today Canon released the upgrade to the 5D model. Finally! And after all the rumours regarding the name it was as unrevolutionary as ever – EOS 5D Mk II. Who would have guessed?

Canon EOS 5D Mk II pre-release photo

So is it any good? Actually, my first reaction was – so so. The resolution is a great step forward sure – but who really needs 21 MP? What I do like is the increased sensitivity and I hope that it is as good as they say. Another nice thing I found in the specification is the support for micro adjustments of the AF – a problem I have had with my 20D which focuses slightly behind the subject.

One thing I could do without is the live view and the video option. Sounds like a nice-to-have feature that I would use very seldom, if ever. With the 12 minute limit on recorded video (which sounds like it comes from the 4GB limitation on FAT32) I will still carry along my Canon HV10 if I want to record video.

What I would like to have seen is:

  • Built-in GPS. I mean, come on Canon, GPS chipsets are dirt cheap and take no place at all these days.
  • Built-in WiFi to be able to trickle-sync the Images to my Aperture library without the need to physically connect the camera.
  • Bluetooth remote control compatible with any standard phone or computer.

The real problem is that with the image quality at this level I find it difficult to understand why I would upgrade again in the foreseeable future. A resolution of 21 MP craves good glass and until I have filled my bag with even more L optics I don’t think I can justify another camera. Due to that the lack of GPS and WiFi is really troubling because I know that I will have to live without it for quite some time.

So will I buy the 5D Mk II? Yeah, probably.

Warning: Nokia update wrecks Lifeblog

On January 25th Nokia Beta Labs published Share Online 3.0, an update to the media sharing services in the phones. Do not apply this upgrade if you want to use additional service providers than Flickr and Vox, such as lifeblog4wp. After applying the upgrade, the service provider list is back to the default two entries and any additional service providers will be removed. What is worse, there appears to be no way to add them as the entry “Add Service Provider” has been removed from the menu.

The application to watch out for is Share Online ver 3.0.07.51 for Series 60 version 3.1. I seriously hope this is just a mistake on Nokia’s part and that it will be fixed in any upcoming stable release.

If you have installed the upgrade it does not appear to be enough just to remove the application from the Application Manager. So to get back to the previous functionality the phone must be restored to factory settings by typing *#7370# and entering the security code (default 12345). You will lose all your settings and content.

If you despite of this want to get this upgrade it can be downloaded from here. You have been warned.

Nokia releases geo-tagging software

Both Nokia N95 and N82 have built-in GPS receivers but until now Nokia has not integrated that function with the camera. Yesterday, Nokia released an application called Location Tagger through its Beta Labs that does precisely that.

Once installed, the application icon turns up in the application folder. The application is very simple and by just running it and putting it in the background. The status of the GPS reception is shown by a small icon at the top of the display. The application will maintain its location through the GPS receiver and automatically store the position as EXIF data in the image files. Other applications can then use that information for different purposes, e.g. to show where the images were taken on a map.

The GPS receiver in the phone is known to be quite good at draining the battery in no time. Luckily, the Nokia developers have thought of this and the application automatically turns off the GPS receiver after a couple of minutes after the last picture is taken. By default, this period is set to five minutes.

Below is a dump of EXIF tags on a picture taken by my Nokia N82 with Location Tagger.

Location Tagger

Location Tagger can be downloaded from here.

Now, I just have to adapt my WordPress photoblog to be able to show the position and link to Google Maps.

Moblogging with WordPress and Nokia N82

OK, so despite its flaws, Nokia N82 does have its bright sides. The camera is actually quite good when there is sufficient ambient light around as can be seen in the picture of downtown Dallas below. My point of reference is my normal camera which is a Canon EOS 20D so I have been utterly disappointed by earlier phones with camera function. In low light, however, the supposedly fantastic Xenon flash on the N82 is no match to a proper flash. Ahhh, all these compromises…

Downtown Dallas

The phone also comes with Nokia’s Lifeblog feature and the camera is preconfigured to use the Flickr or Vox online services. That may be very well for most people out there but I am the kind of guy that wants to set up the system myself. So I just had to find a blogging platform that could be interfaced by the Lifeblog application in the phone.

One of the blogging platforms I tried to make work was of course WordPress and I quickly found the lifeblog4wp project and tried it out on various releases of the software but just couldn’t get it to work. Then, early January an update to lifeblog4wp was uploaded to the project’s web page on SourceForge and I tried it out on a clean installation of the latest version of WordPress. Lo and behold – it worked!

So for anyone out there who has, like me, been frustrated about the problems of moblogging from Nokia N82 using lifeblog4wp – use WordPress 2.3.2 and the version of the script uploaded on 2008-01-05. Then just follow the instructions within the lifeblog.php file.

Image resizer freeware

resizer_drag.jpg

Every now and then I find myself in the situation where I want to resize images to a defined size. To speed up the workflow I have created this simple application that supports drag-and-drop resizing. Just drag an image file onto the application icon and the image will be resized according to the settings.

The application requires .NET Framework 2.0. There is no installer. Just put the executable file wherever you want.

If the application is launched by itself it present the setting dialog, shown below.

resizer_gui.gif

The bounding box is the largest possible image that will be the result of the operation. If the “crop to box” option is set, the source image will be cropped to leave an image of the exact size of the bounding box. If, on the other hand, the “fit within box” option is selected the image will be made as large as possible with retained aspect ratio and still fit within the bounding box. The bounding box can be of any size and the cropping, if required, will be done from the centre.

A watermark text can be added to the finished image by enabling the watermark option and typing a suitable string in the edit box. The font or position of the watermark text can not be changed.

Images can be saved to the same folder as the source image or to a defined target folder and will be given a suffix of “_resized”. The application will add extra numbers at the end to avoid overwriting existing files. If required, the metadata associated with the source image can be copied over to the resulting image.

To avoid having to keep the application on the desktop or somewhere else where it is readily available you can do the following:

  • Put the application (resizer.exe) anywhere you want on your hard drive
  • Right-click on any image file and select “Open with…” followed by “Choose program…”
  • Make sure the “Always use the selected program…” checkbox is unchecked and browse for the application file
  • Press OK

Windows will remember the application you selected for the jpeg files and will include the Resizer application on the “Open with…” submenu. The next time you want to resize a file you just have to pick the Resizer option from the “Open with…” submenu.

The resizing is done using bicubic with the highest quality setting. If I get around to it I will implement support for “unsharp mask”.

License

This application is provided free of charge for personal use. If you like it I would appreciate if you would link to my web site (http://www.spotwise.com).

Uninstallation

Just remove the EXE file and all registry settings under HKCU\Software\Bergek\Resizer.

If you added the application as a short cut under the right-click context menu you can remove the application in the registry under the key HKEY_CURRENT_USER \ Software \ Microsoft \ Windows \ CurrentVersion \ Explorer \ FileExts \ .jpg \ OpenWithList. As always, be careful when editing the registry.

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