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Get The Word Out

Sometimes bad things happen and you just have to get the word out. I realize that not every contractor can be Mike Holmes but it’s a horrible feeling when you’ve got someone doing work on your house that turns out to be the kind that Master Mike talks about.

To a large degree, there isn’t much you can do about this when it happens other than do your best to let others know about it so that, hopefully, other people don’t suffer through the same. This video is the result of my efforts to that very thing regarding “master carpenter” Terry Bellamy of Higher-Hands Construction. Enjoy!

The Importance of On-Camera Flash

I don’t think I’ll ever buy a camera that doesn’t include a flash on the body itself.  It isn’t that I like flash photography; I abhor it, actually.  On-camera flash photography makes for uneven lighting, weird color mixes, and generally bad images. However, having a flash built into the body means that I’ll never be without a fill flash and this is very important.  Any time you’re photographing something, especially people, on a bright, sunny day, pop up the little thing and let the camera work its magic.  It’s worth it.

Depth of Field

It’s a long-standing “rule of thumb” that f/8 is the sharpest aperture. It’s important to remember, though, that there is exactly one distance from the focal plane that has “perfect sharpness” while distances near are simply “acceptably sharp”.  There is no sharp boundary (if you’ll excuse the pun) between that is in focus and what is not but rather a gradual shift from one to the other.

(click for full-size version)

With the D800’s exceptional resolution, however, the definition of “near” becomes rather small.  The above image is a hedge in bloom and that was approximately 2 meters (1 meter is equal enough to 1 yard for this comparison) away at its closest and 6 meters away at its farthest.  It was shot at f/8 at 68mm and is a full-resolution crop from the center of the image.  As you can see from the full-size image, even at f/8, the range of “acceptable sharpness” covered a depth of probably about a ¼ meter (call it 1 foot).  Down-scaling by a factor of X will of course increase that range by a factor of X.

D800 or D800E

There’s been a lot said about the new Nikon D800 and it’s twin, the D800E.  There’s nothing but a single letter on the outside to tell them apart and not much on the inside, either, with only the anti-aliasing filter cancelled out.

What does an anti-aliasing filter do?  It (nearly) eliminates the effect of “moire” patterns caused by fine, repeating detail.  See the Wikipedia article for more information.  The cost of such a filter is that the resolution is decreased somewhat because the light is “blurred” (high-frequency component is removed) so that it hits more than a single pixel.

What this means is that the D800E without the AA filter will be able to produce an image with more detail than it’s brother.  However, any fine, repeating patterns will likely cause weird color artifacts.  If you’re a nature photographer, such patterns are not common but if you’re going to be photographing anything man-made (including clothes), the lack of an AA filter is going to create problems, problems that are very difficult to remove in post-processing.

I’ve ordered a D800 (no-E) for myself because experience has taught me that too much stress on the best possible performance usually comes back to bite you in many other ways.  Better to have something that works really well in all situations than something that works perfectly in only a few.

Lossy Compression of RAW

There has been some discussion recently thanks to the huge pixel count of Nikon’s D800 regarding the size of the NEF (“raw”) files.  They’re 75MB, 14-bit, uncompressed.  Nikon offers a form of lossy-compressed NEF but a lot of people think this is a Bad Thing™ because they know that JPEG is “lossy” and everybody knows that is bad.

However, it’s not proper to compare the two.  JPEG compression has quality problems because it loses information between pixels causing noise and artifacts around sharp edges (text being the best example), and because it loses some resolution (the number of bits worth of color detail) as well resulting in somewhat less than 8 bits of information per channel.

JPEG loses information you would not normally see.  Nikon’s NEF compression loses information you cannot use.  Let me explain…

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