Archives for category: DSLR

So I’m in need of a computer fast enough to edit video and have been looking around… So, I was surprised to find that the AoP Apple Store discount isn’t quite the good deal that I thought it was.

I looked on the AoP Apple Store and found this

Screen Shot 2016-05-09 at 09.13.26

which at first looks reasonable… But then after a bit more searching and a regular email from Jigsaw24 I looked to find this

Screen Shot 2016-05-09 at 09.14.11

I think the spec looks the same, so I can’t work out why we wouldn’t be getting a better deal from the AoP discount…?


Lightroom has no obvious signal to say that a camera has been tethered. Consequently, you need to connect the camera and then goto:

File>Tethered Capture>Start Tethered Capture.


This will then open up a window allowing Lightroom to see the images that are shot from the camera.

The following frames are available to any members free if they collect from the AoP offices.

They are used, and some have no glass, but on the whole they are in good shape.

Donations will be gratefully received, but it would be nice to see them go to a good home!

Just before Christmas my 2 year old Apple iMac 27″ i7 computer was starting to slow down. Now this is a computer that was ranked faster that a Mac Pro tower when it came out, so I was a little disappointed that I was no longer getting the speed that I had enjoyed since it arrived.

Very suddenly I was getting messages from SMART reporter that it was detecting I/O errors on the drive. SMART reporter was still showing the drive as ‘green’ OK, but the errors gradually increased over a week. Looking in Disk Utility equally showed the hard disk S.M.A.R.T. status to be ‘Verified’.

For some reason, after you have been working with computers for some years, you just get a feeling for their health. You know. When they’re about to crash, when they need a re-boot and when something more sinister is going on. Maybe it’s just that one day I fixed someones computer and they told someone else, so gradually folk would seek me out to look at their ailing machines.

This does have some useful spin offs. The more ‘ill’ machines you see, the more of an expert you become. I guess it’s kinda the same thing with doctors? Anyway the outcome of this is that eventually you get to know computers more intimately than you imagined possible. With this experience comes some real world physical delving. You know, taking screws out, replacing hardware. I’ll never forget the way to open a Mac Mini with 3 thin spatulas or paint scrapers – that has got to be the scariest repair I ever did. Pulling off the glossy screen of an iMac is actually a walk in the park compared.

Anyway, back to hard drives and my 27″ iMac.

Apart from having trouble with the hard disk, we also had a clouding / discolouration in the top corners of the screen which I have mentioned in the past but not received any feed back about. Here’s a shot of one of our machines with a lesser clouding problem.

The combination of the two issues made a trip to the Apple store a must. I’d delayed dragging the iMac up to the Apple store in London just because it is so heavy (19Kg)… So like I said, after a full back-up, we set off before the Christmas break to have the machine looked at.

Arriving at the Apple store, our genius immediately acknowledged the screen problem and said he had seen it before. He did mention that it was sometimes apparent with customers who were smokers and held cigarettes under the body of the iMac while typing… I can imaging this, but clearly it didn’t explain our situation. He said they would replace the screen free of charge. I thanked my lucky stars for taking out a 3-year extended warranty; the machine was now 2 years old, even though the screen problem started after we had been using it for 3 months.

As for the failing hard drive, that was a bit more of a problem. The OS reported the hard drive as ‘verified’. The additional software at the Apple store – they booted our machine from their ‘Triage’ disk – reported that it was OK, but we insisted that SMART reporter had reported I/O errors. 2 further tests eventually reported the SMART status of the drive and showed exactly how many bad sectors had been re-allocated. The drive was shot.

Our genius said they would swap it out and do the screen. It would be ready after Christmas.

All this talk about SMART reporting got me thinking about hard drives and what SMART reporting actually is.

So here is what I found:

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
This article is about the hardware monitoring system. For the mnemonic used in setting goals, see SMART criteria.
S.M.A.R.T. (Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology; often written as SMART) is a monitoring system for computer hard disk drives to detect and report on various indicators of reliability, in the hope of anticipating failures.
When a failure is anticipated by S.M.A.R.T., the user may choose to replace the drive to avoid unexpected outage and data loss. The manufacturer may be able to use the S.M.A.R.T. data to discover where faults lie and prevent them from recurring in future drive designs.

So hard drives have intelligence!

They log things and they monitor stuff – Yeah, like temperature, how long they’ve been on, all the way down to bad sectors and how they’ve re-allocated them. The wealth of information that they log was actually quite a surprise. Obviously this information is useful to manufacturers for warranty purposes, but equally it allows the OS to know when something is awry.

It is important to note that every manufacturer logs SMART data for their drives in a proprietary format so the actual physical values often carry little meaning. Having said that many of the values can be inferred and things like temperature and bad sectors are often easy to spot and interpret. It is exactly this data that many utilities use to report on the health and impending failure of drives.

Now I’ve always been a fan of SMART reporter – having installed it on more than 30 machines – but I was beginning to feel a little let down by it. Why had it not reported the problem as severe, which it clearly was. The answer to this lies in the fact that all hard drives can fix a lot of problems as they grow old. The problem is that too many manufacturers don’t want to alert or worry you until things are really bad. So the search was on for an app / utility that would monitor my hard drives more attentively.

This was how I found SMART Utility – I know it sounds the same, but trust me it isn’t.

SMART Utility is not free at $25 but it is good. There is a free trial which allows you to open it 5 times before paying. Frankly this might be enough for most people.

I immediately took to checking all of our machines with it (all of the machines have SMART reporter loaded and all of the drives were reporting as ‘GREEN’ OK).

I was a little surprised that out of our 4 main machines – 6 hard drives – SMART utility showed 4 hard drives as ‘Failing’; and that was when the penny dropped.

Some of the older machines had been running very slow for a long time and had been relegated to the ‘for email only’ category. SMART utility had shown me why. I did a quick swap out of all the ‘failing’ drives and suddenly all the machines came back to life.

Here’s an example of SMART utility showing one of the machines with a good drive installed…

SMART utility is not an app that constantly monitors your hard drive’s status, but it is a good utility to run if you think you’re having trouble with your drives. It revealed one of our new drives from our DROBO (a Western Digital – Caviar Green that the DROBO had rejected) was completely knackered.

Entering the serial number on the Western Digital website, showed it was still under warrantee and they took it back and sent us a new one! So, SMART utility has already saved me the $25 that it cost. Surprising as the WD Caviar Green was heading to the bin without any further checks…

Things to bear in mind about SMART utility

• It only works with internally connected drives.
• It is dubious if it can read and interpret SSD drive info correctly (I’m sure this will come eventually).
• The SMART data isn’t always useful, although the PASSED / FAILING / FAILED info is reliable.

I’ll be continuing to use SMART utility over the next year and will monitor it’s performance.

So having got all excited about looking into my hard drives I’ve now found an app that will test your RAM thoroughly… more on that later…

For too long now a sense of paranoia has been propagated amongst the photographic community, in part by those within the community and mostly by those that stand to profit from selling ‘solutions’ to that community.

CMYK file delivery is something that every photographer can offer and should offer. It enables us as photographers to stay in touch with our images further down the supply chain. It is also a very useful skill to understand and equally is an exciting addition to our knowledge.

The days when huge mistakes were made when converting from RGB to CMYK are long gone. There really is not that much that you can do nowadays that is going to render your images irretrievably unusable. In the early days of digital file supply there were many a printer who – when waking up one day to realise that their revenue stream was suddenly no longer going to include scanning (which accounted for some 40% of the litho costs on a photographically heavy project) and the RGB to CMYK conversions (some 20% of the litho cost if done and supplied with Cromalin’s), tried to make life difficult for the poor photographers who dared to supply ‘press-ready’ files.

Not only was there no open-loop colour management control, just about all presses operated a closed loop (within the building of the printing press) system of judging colour and the stability of the press conditions.

So, for any photographer to deliver press-ready files in those days was only going to cause trouble. Not only were we unlikely to generate a useful CMYK conversion for the press, but the printers weren’t interested in giving us the chance. Consequently many horror stories of photographers making unforgivable mistakes which ended up printed on millions of items of packaging that were then stored in warehouses until blame could be attributed and a solution found, were rife.

The fact is, that with the release of Photoshop 6.0 in September 2000, colour management came to the fore and started to allow us to dabble with it. This single event gave photographers the power to test, predict and control their images through various colour spaces – namely CMYK conversion and hugely accurate proofing using inkjet printers.

This was the beginning of the demise of C-type and R-type printing as we could now print our own images quicker, better and cheaper than using a lab.

So back to CMYK.

There are 2 proviso’s regarding anyone who ventures along this path.

1. The majority of photoshop installations that I have come across in this industry are set-up as North American + Web default.

This is obviously wrong, but is unfortunately how Photoshop chose to install itself by default for too long. No one realised that once you got Photoshop onto your computer you then had to look in the settings and set it up according to the jobs that you required Photoshop to perform. An obvious mistake which has been rectified in the recent releases of Photoshop where the application will ask you what settings you want to use for the application before installing.

This is how your Photoshop Color Settings should look:

2. You do not make your RGB to CMYK conversions in Photoshop by using IMAGE>MODE>CMYK color…

This is a ‘blind’ conversion. You cannot see what RGB Colour Space you are coming from NOR what CMYK Colour Space you are converting to OR how the conversion is being made. That is bad.

To convert to CMYK you need to use EDIT>CONVERT TO PROFILE
Check your RGB space is correct
Select the CMYK space you want
Use the Adobe ACE engine
Use Relative Colorimetric intent
Use Black Point Compensation
Use Dither

and here is what that should look like:


So long as you select a Fogra CMYK profile for Coated / Uncoated stock as necessary for the printing of the document, you will get a very useable result. This method will work for 90% of all images that relate to ‘normal’ photography.

The problems only start when you have images with particularly ‘difficult’ colours (out of CMYK gamut) or ‘extreme’ RGB photographs (i.e. over saturated, over contrasty, over retouched).

Nowadays, printers are more interested in getting paid by their clients than making photographers look like amateurs. They have also adopted a more forgiving file delivery method whereby they can receive a diverse range of image data and control the variance in house on their systems.

So, where does that leave us?

We can do an RGB to CMYK conversion with a high degree of confidence, but we would still like to ‘proof’ it.

Easy. All you need is an Epson.

For years Epson printers have been more than capable of reproducing the full gamut of CMYK. SO all we need is a way to get the Epson to ’emulate’ a CMYK press.

I’ll deal with this in a separate post.


If you were wondering what to do with your old Sinar gear, worry no more!

This guy in Italy who obviously still owns his Sinar Lab Coat, has found possibly the most expensive DSLR rig ever…

I trust you are all sitting down.

…to think these things are funny?

I just couldn’t help myself…

so here it is…

So how about pooling our knowledge and test the true transfer rates to our connected Hard Disks?

Using Xbench is easy and FREE! Download it, Install it, and test the speed of your drives!

Take the poll…

OOPS! Xbench results MUST BE WHOLE NUMBERS – This is an issue with SurveyMonkey…

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey, the world’s leading questionnaire tool.

I was recently questioned about my opinion that the Canon ix9000 and ix9500 were difficult to profile and might not produce as accurate colour as some of the Epson printers. This led me to thinking about why it was that my gut instinct felt that these Canon printers were not as capable. I have for some time questioned the lack of functionality of the Canon drivers, but if the printers are capable of good prints, why would the functionality of the driver matter?

I know for a fact that a couple of years ago I had significant problems profiling a Canon ix9500 for a client. It left me with a bitter memory, but didn’t stop me using or recommending the Canon printers to others since. Then, earlier this year, I recommended the ix9000 to someone and after buying it was told that they were never happy with the colour that it produced. I guess this just compounded my previous experiences.

So this week, I set out to look at the issue from a scientific point of view.

I chose to use an application called PatchTool by BabelColor.

I used the following method for checking the ability of each of the various printer/paper/ink combinations and here are the results.

Epson 7900 (12 colour printer) using Kodak Lustre-E semi gloss paper.

HP Z-3100 using HP Premium Plus Satin Photo Paper Q5491A (thanks to Rene van der Hulst who supplied the Z3100 data)

Canon IP9000mkII with Ilford Galerie Smooth Lustre Duo (Data provided by Ilford UK website)

Canon IP9500mkII with Ilford Galerie Smooth Lustre Duo (Data provided by Ilford UK website)

In respect of the colour accuracy the printers all perform very competently.

However, if you are looking for a printer to cope with saturated colours, or indeed a printer to produce fine art reproduction prints the order of preference would be:

EPSON 7900 – best overall

Canon IP9500mkII – 2nd best overall but suffers in the dark areas

HP Z3100 – 3rd best overall but suffers delivering detailed colour information in the dark areas (similar to the Canon IP9000mkII)

Canon IP9000mkII – best at Blues, suffers significantly in delivering detailed colour information in the dark areas