New player in town, Xencelabs

If you have used a pen tablet, you have probably heard of Wacom or even used some of their products. Xencelabs on the other hand is much more unknown and younger company started by former Wacom employees. Some time ago I was so lucky to try their Medium Bundle and the experience was very positive. To be Xencelabs first pen tablet, it doesn’t stand anything behind Wacom Intuos Pro. In fact my better half, a long time Intuos Pro user, said the Xencelabs tablet was even better in use for her light handed drawings. One ting to notice compared to the Intous, is that Xencelabs has the key pad beside the tablet, and not integrated. This makes it easier to position according to your preferences and it also holds more options than the Intuos. Connectivity is either with a cable, or remotely via Blue Tooth dongle. All in all, I was very impressed with Xencelabs fist pen tablet Bundle. The biggest drawback for me was the size of the medium tablet, I really prefer the smaller tablet as it will give much less hand movement. But reliable rumors say that Xencelabs is not only working with a Pen Display but also on a smaller Pen Tablet. I see a bright future for Xenselabs, and Wacom needs to make sure they are not falling behind.

A comparison between Wacom Intuos Pro Medium (previous generation), Wacom Intuos Pro Small (previous generation), Wacom Intuos Pro Small (current generation) and the Xencelabs Medium Pen Tablet Bundle.
Xencelabs Medium and Wacom Intuos Pro Medium
The complete Xencelabs Pen Tablet bundle
Old Intuos Pro Pen, Newest Intuos Pro Pen and the two Xencelabs pens
Same order as above, Xencelabs doesn’t provide stand for their pens.

https://www.xencelabs.com/

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Nikon to release NX Studio software

For those who have followed Nikon for some years, may remember that Nikon releases completely new versions of their software, not only updates, some years between. This time the new free NX Studio will replace both View NX-i and Capture NX-D.

Nikon software has always been my preferred programs to edit and convert RAW/NEF-files because of the perfect reading of the proprietary image files.

I’ve been playing a little bit with the new software, and those who have used Capture in any form before will feel at home as not much has changed with the user interface.

Color Control Points (U-point technology) that came back in previous version is still here and the whole experience feels very smooth and responsive overall.

The only thing I’ve been missing from any Capture version is a vibrancy slider, saturation slider is not always what you want to use.

Copied from Nikon:

Primary features

  • The viewing, processing, and editing of still images and video can be completed seamlessly.
  • Features a menu structure categorized by workflow, and a functional yet simple design.
  • Features a variety of display options, such as filmstrip with both horizontal and vertical preview options, as well as a 2/4 screen comparison option, in addition to a simple and easy-to-read shooting information display.
  • Supports the precise editing of images with detailed editing functions such as color control points that enable the adjustment of colors within a specified area, and a retouch brush for the removal of dust and scratches in the image.
  • Easy-to-understand user interface with menu items and terminology that match those of Nikon cameras.
  • Users are able to choose how adjustment information is saved, whether in a separate file using the sidecar file format or directly to the image file itself.
  • Includes XMP/IPTC information editing and preset management functions.
  • Works with other software such as Nikon Transfer 2 and Camera Control Pro 2.

All photos are taken from Nikon official websites.

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Reikan FoCal 2021 is available

After just a few months of Focal 2020 out, there is a new version 2021 available. Unfortunately I never came around to even try the 2020 version, but I’ve spent some days playing with the 2021 release candidate around Christmas. For everybody that comes from version 2 and straight into 2021 version, there is a lot of new cool stuff to talk about. If you’ve read about my experience with version 2, you may remember that I had quite a few complains and wishes for improvements. Without going through all of those, I think most on my list has been enhanced or fixed if technically possible, although I see that calculated focus distance is still way off from the real distance.

One of my biggest wishes from version 2, was a more smooth and easy way of checking focus at different apertures, not only one at the time. On this point Reikan has come through with a very nice solution where you can test at all apertures at once, like here my Nikkor 24-120 f/4 at 24mm:

If you where familiar with version 2, you could only test one aperture at the time and get one best point for each one. Here each point on the chart above is the same as having run version 2 at all apertures and joining the best points all together in the end. It’s amazing! It also makes it easy to see the focus shift. The downside is that it takes about 100 photos to get the result on the chart above.

With that out of the way, there is more good news in the 2021 version. Apart from support for the latest cameras, you can also use photos taken from cameras without AF-fine tune, like many lower end cameras. As you can’t do any fine tune in-camera, I would guess it is most suited for 3. party lenses like Tamron and Sigma where you can add fine tune in-lens. I haven’t tried this feature.

Further there is a new stabilization test where you can test how many stops you and your in-camera and/or in-lens stabilization are able to get in somewhat real life. I found this test a little bit awkward, but anyway gives you some guideline to work from.

If you found this interesting, read more about it and the new features here: https://blog.reikanfocal.com/2021/01/reikan-focal-2021-stable-released/

Thanks for reading!

Selected photos from our trip in Northern Spain, part II

This is the part II of the Northern Spain trip we had and while part I took us from Barcelona to Cape Finisterre Lighthouse, part II will take us back towards Barcelona on a different route.
Continue reading “Selected photos from our trip in Northern Spain, part II”

The road to Glitterheim, Norway

Glitterheim is the name of a trekking cabin in the end of the valley of Veodalen and was built in 1901, and it’s owned by The Norwegian Trekking Association (DNT). The cabin is located at the foot of Norway’s second tallest mountain, Glittertind.

Because of the ongoing pandemic, we were not allowed to enter the area close to the cabin as we haven’t booked a visit in before hand. Anyway, the view along the way was amazing, enjoy.

Continue reading “The road to Glitterheim, Norway”

Selected photos from our trip in Northern Spain, part I

A couple of years ago we had an astonishing round trip in Northern Spain, starting in Barcelona up to Figueres, to the birthplace of Salvador Dalí and further to the lighthouse at Cabo de Creus. From there we went up to Andorra, unfortunately it was raining most of the driving, so not many photos from this stretch.

Continue reading “Selected photos from our trip in Northern Spain, part I”

Summary, calibrating the Tamron Triple Crown

I’m so lucky to have the complete set of f/2.8 G2 zoom from 15 to 200mm from Tamron, some will call it the Triple Crown. This set includes the SP 15-30 f/2.8 VC G2, SP 24-70 f/2.8 VC G2 and the SP 70-200 f/2.8 VC G2. A triple set of magnificent glass that compete with the 1st party lenses for about half of the price.

Continue reading “Summary, calibrating the Tamron Triple Crown”

New version of Reikan Focal is out (2.9.6)

After lots of beta testing, Reikan Focal version 2.9.6 is out with new looks and increased performance. Focal is a Camera Calibrator and Analysis Software for Nikon and Canon cameras.
Continue reading “New version of Reikan Focal is out (2.9.6)”

Tamron SP 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2, calibrating with the Tap-In Console

After only four years on the market, the “old” Tamron 15-30 f/2.8 VC got replaced with the G2 version last autumn (2018). Not that the old version was performing badly by any means, but think about it, the legendary Nikkor 14-24 f/2.8 was released back in 2007 and there are still no rumors about a replacement or upgrade, but I guess Tamron was eager to get the full set of Holy Trinity of f/2.8 zooms out in “G2” style.

Continue reading “Tamron SP 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2, calibrating with the Tap-In Console”

Santiago de Compostela Cathedral

Santiago de Compostela Cathedral is the reputed burial place of Saint James the Great and is hugely popular among pilgrims who travel, often by foot, from all over Europe and beyond. Many of the pilgrims then continues the journey to Finisterre, the place in Roman time considered to be the end of the world.

The cathedral is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Continue reading “Santiago de Compostela Cathedral”

2018 summary and huge growth

Another year has gone by and our blog has had more growth than we imagined. A year ago, we wished that we could double the views and visitors and also increase comments, and we actually managed to almost quadruple views, visitors and comments. The only thing that has gone down is likes, but that was expected as we have much less visitors from WordPress or people that has a Gravatar that can give likes. I think this growth is satisfying as we still have almost no “advertisements” of our blog on other social media, means more than 80% of our visitors comes via search engines.

We also see some changes in the most visited countries since last year, USA is still at the top, but Norway and UK have switched places. Further we see several countries has left top ten and other countries has entered the list. Quite interesting to see that relatively small countries like the Netherlands, Romania and Italy has been able to push more populated countries out.

For 2019 we will do a couple of changes. One is that the blog will not have regular weekly updates any more, it will be when we feel like adding something interesting and worthy to publish. The other thing is that we will add another section about book recommendations. Notice, this will not be reviews, but short recommendations of books that we think is amazing, that really “speaks” to us in a deeper level. It will be mostly self-improvement and leadership books, as we as humans has so much more to learn at a “human” level that we are never taught at school. Believe this will be a interesting addition to our blog.

In the end we would like to thank all our visitors from all over the world and hope to see you and many more in the year to come. I would not like to come with another wish for the blog other than that we continue to grow in a steady pace, like doubling again?

 

How to photograph fireworks

Photographing fireworks is not difficult, but also not easy, because fireworks don’t happen too often so you can’t practice your skills when you want to. So if you haven’t photographed fireworks before you should try to minimize the possibilities for error. Here is a short list of things to think about with a short explanation.

1. The camera
Camera with manual settings, but also predefined firework setting will do.
When I’m taking a series of photos, I like that they all look similar in exposure and white balance. In automatic or semi automatic setting this will jump around a bit for each photo.

2. Tripod
You could use a big stone or the roof of your car, but the point is that the shutter speed will be way too long to be handhold even with the best image stabilization, so you need a sturdy way to place your camera.

3. Low ISO
Parts of the photo will be dark or even complete black and in those areas it will be easy to see image noise, so you should use the lowest ISO your camera has, or at least as low as it doesn’t have noise in dark parts of the photo.

4. Turn off the flash
Should be obvious, but all of the time we see people using flash in any conditions.

5. Turn off long exposure noise reduction
This feature does a great job of removing noise, but with low ISO it’s not necessary and also it takes the same time as your shutter speed to perform the noise reduction, not something you like to wait for while photographing fireworks.

6. Aperture
The hole in your lens that determines the depth of field should be small so you have mostly everything from just in front of the camera to infinity in focus, like f/9 or f/11 on DSLR (using even smaller aperture will cause diffraction and make you photos blurry).

7. Shutter speed
Adjust your shutter speed so that the background has the brightness you would like. The fireworks are bright so don’t worry too much about that, although you shouldn’t over expose the fireworks too much so you’ll lose the colors in the light. Play with aperture, ISO and shutter speed to get what you want. Intense fireworks need less shutter speed like just a few seconds, while less intense firework could be 15-20 seconds or more (remember to adjust aperture and/or ISO accordingly so your background stays more or less the same).

8. Choose your vantage point
Scout the area before hand so you know where to go and set up your gear early so you are prepared when the action starts. Be aware of the wind if any, and choose a place upwind so you won’t have all the smoke drifting towards you.

9. Choose you focal length
Aim your camera in the direction you will take the photo and adjust the zoom until you get the framing you want. Don’t frame too tight to be able to catch the bursts, it’s better to crop later than miss the action outside the frame.

10. Manual focus
If the camera doesn’t have anything to focus at, the focus will hunt back and forth to try to find focus and you might miss your shot, or the camera takes the photo anyway and it’s all out of focus (may depend on your camera setting). Aim your camera at something bright some distance away and focus, if the camera are not able to lock focus, try to adjust focus manually and then turn off the autofocus and preferably put a tape over the focus ring so it won’t move unintentionally. NB if you need to reframe by adjusting the zoom, you need to refocus again too (in most cases)

11. Remote or delayed release
I see many recommend a remote, but two second delay/self timer do the trick too. The thing is that you shouldn’t touch the camera to avoid camera shake.

If you are photographing fireworks for the first time, try to keep it safe and get as many shots as you can in good exposure and focus. While being more experienced you could experiment with other focal lengths and vantage points to get more spectacular photos. Personally, I use two cameras on tripods pointing in different directions and walk between for each shot using self timer. After some time I point the camera in different direction and/or adjust the focal length to get different photos. Just remember to refocus if you’ve adjusted the zoom!

Thanks for visiting!