Archive for May, 2007

Photoshop Lightroom 1.0 Bug Review

Thursday, May 24th, 2007

Note: this article was first posted on 24th May, 2007, and discusses version 1.0. Adobe has fixed most of the bugs in later versions. The current version is 1.4.1. Should you encounter any problems with Lightroom, please make sure that you are indeed using the latest version. If you are running an outdated version, I strongly recommend to download the free update from Adobe.

OK, folks, as promised I would like to summarize my experience with Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 1.0.

I found a number of bugs in the 1.0 version that hopefully will be fixed by Adobe with a maintenance release. Rumours say that the next release will be 1.1 and should be out this summer. Well, hopefully they will fix also these bugs:

Bugs

  1. Lr freezes occasionally upon logon to Windows after previous sleep mode
    You leave Lr open, go away for a coffee, and Windows XP goes to sleep mode. You return, enter your password, and Lr about 50% of the time freezes (or does something that takes a lot of performance). Ctrl-Alt-Del can not shoot Lr down, because the task manager won’t open.
    Workaround: Hard reset of computer.
    Severity: A (major problem)
  2. Undo function does not work properly
    Occasionally, using the Undo function will undo a number of commands, not just the last command. Unfortunately, you do not exactly see which commands were undone, so it remains guesswork.
    Workaround: If this problem occurs, try to undo the undo command and manually correct the respective image.
    Severity: A (major problem)
  3. Lr freezes occasionally after a large number of images has been edited
    Exactly as the title says. You work happily on a large set of images, and suddenly Lr decides that something has to be done. This takes so much processor performance that the system basically freezes. Ctrl-Alt-Del can not shoot Lr down, because the task manager won’t open.
    Workaround: Hard reset of computer.
    Severity: A (major problem)
  4. Lr does not import all files from a CF card
    Upon import, Lr does not read all files from a CF card. At the end of the import, some files are reported unable to be read. A list of file names is given. Apparently, this problem occurs when Lr is used to perform other tasks during the import process.
    Workaround: Leave Lr alone during import.
    Severity: B (minor problem)
  5. Entering a long caption triggers “save”
    When entering captions for more than one image using the IPTC editor, every few seconds the entry is saved, and the text entry field loses its focus. You have to use the mouse to click the text entry field again in order to continue entering texts. However, the problem occurs again after a few seconds. This seems to happen only with the Caption field.
    Workaround: Prepare caption in text editor, then use copy and paste to paste it into the Caption field.
    Severity: B (minor problem)
  6. Behaviour of Tab key in Development Mode
    In almost all Windows programs, the Tab key is used to move between entry fields in a logical fashion. When in Lr’s Develop mode, not all fields seem to not be connected to each other, e.g. under Detail, entering an amount to the “Sharpening”, then using the Tab key will not move to the next entry field below (Noise Reduction, Luminance).
    Workaround: Use mouse to navigate to the next field.
    Severity: C (issue)
  7. Use settings from previous image does not always work
    In Develop mode, sometimes the Ctrl-Alt-V command (use settings from previous image) seems to not work.
    Workaround: Navigate to the previous image by clicking in the photostream, then navigate back and try again.
    Severity: C (issue)
  8. Navigating to the next image applies the settings of the previous image
    In Develop Mode, if you enter a value into one of the fields (e.g. Exposure) and then navigate to the next image, e.g. by clicking into the photostream, the value you just entered is also applied to the next image.
    Workaround: Before navigating to the next image, make sure that the entry field is not active any longer.
    Severity: C (issue)
  9. Help does not work
    On a German Windows XP, trying to use the Help (F1) function does not work. An error message is displayed instead.
    Workaround: Open help file manually from disk.
    Severity: C (issue)
  10. Lr does not support Photoshop 7.0
    Photoshop 7 is not recognized as valid Photoshop version upon installation. Hence, Lr refuses to interact with Photoshop.
    Workaround: Export file, then open in Photoshop 7.0
    Severity: C (issue)

Feature Requests / Improvement Suggestions / Annoyances

  1. “Remove Dust” can not be applied intelligently to a batch of photos
    While Lr allows to copy and paste the “Remove Dust” settings, it does so in a stupid way. Instead of just remembering the location of the dust spot and then inidividually (i.e. for each photo of the batch) auto-correct the issue with suitable content calculated individually for each respective image, it just takes the original settings (i.e. source of replacement) and applies them to each photo. This may lead to damaged pictures as some image elements may change from picture to picture.
  2. Right Scrollbar in Develop Mode
    In Develop mode, the scrollbar for the develop settings in the panel is too close to the scrollbar for “Hide Panel”. This may lead to the panel being accidently hidden even if the user just wanted to scroll the panel up and down.
  3. Pasted Actions should be listed
    When pasting settings from other images, all that shows up in the “History” is “Paste Settings” with no information which settings have been pasted from which image. As a result, the user may get confused over which settings have been altered. The history should list the origin of the paste, as well as details on the pasted settings.
  4. Lr does not show physical size in Loupe view
    While filename, date, time, pixel size, exposure time, f-stop, ISO, and lens settings are shown in Loupe view, the physical file size is missing. This may be important for some pro users.
  5. Entering constrained sizes for export
    Currently, Lr allows you to specify constrained maximum sizes for images upon export. The values are given individually for Width and Height. In order to reduce a set of images to a maximum, of say, 2500 pixels on the longest side, you have to enter the value 2500 twice. Some users are confused about this. It might be helpful to have a checkbox, like, “Constrain longest side to…” and then just one value (as alternative to entering two values).

This list might suggest that I am not very satisfied with the product. However, this is not the case. I am quite satisfied, and I am well aware that this is a 1.0 version. I hope that Adobe fixes the above mentioned problems with the next release.

Despite the bugs I found, this software still is a real productivity tool, fully suitable for todays digital image needs. Where in the past you had to deal with very few files (dozens, maybe low hundreds), you can now manage and edit thousands of files. I still recommend this software to anyone seriously interested in digital photography.

Update 29-JUN-07: Adobe has released Lightroom 1.1 which fixed a good deal of the bugs mentioned above. More…

Update 19-SEP-07: Adobe has released Lightroom 1.2 which fixed a few additional bugs. More…

Update 24-NOV-07: Adobe has released Lightroom 1.3 which fixed some more bugs. More…

Update 23-APR-08: Adobe has released Lightroom 1.4.1 (after a bad release of version 1.4) which fixed some more bugs. The nasty “undo” bug described above is still present. More…

Tripod vs. Monopod

Monday, May 21st, 2007

The other day there was a question over at one of the Flickr forums, asking: What is the best method to keep the camera steady – tripod or monopod?

The answer depends, as always, on your suggested use for the pod. (It’s not that monopods are for poor people who can’t afford a tripod.)

When to shoot from hand?

This is the first question to be answered when discussing monopods or tripods. In general, you can shoot anything from hand that follows the golden rule of “1/(focal length) sec”. An example to illustrate this rule: if the focal length is 100 mm, camera shake typically occurs at exposure times longer than 1/100 sec, e.g. at 1/80 sec or 1/50 sec or 1/40 sec.

When you are using a crop sensor, you’ll need to work with the corrected focal length, e.g. 1.3 crop factor on a 100 mm lens = 130 mm, i.e. anything below 1/130 might be affected to camera shake.

Finally, an image stabilizer on the lens or the camera improves this value by the factor of about 3 to 4. Let’s stay on the safe side here, and assume it’s just 3. So, when you are shooting with a 100 mm image stabilizer lens on a 1.3 crop body, you should at least use an exposure time of (1/(100*1.3))*3 = (1/130)*3 = 3/130 = 1/43. In other words: you should be fine with an exposure time of 1/40 sec or 1/50 sec or shorter.

Please keep this in mind when evaluating the options for monopods and tripods.

Monopod

I use a monopod only for situations where I need to make a compromise between “freedom to move” and “rock steady camera”, i.e. when I have to use the available light in a dynamic environment, preventing the use of a (more solid!) tripod.

Examples

1) Weddings. Often, flashlights are not allowed in churches, as they disturb the ceremony. Also, available light usually results in very natural and emotional pictures capturing the mood much better. No problem with a monopod. I can move around quickly without annoying anybody, and shoot from a distance, usually with either the 70-200 mm or the 100-400 mm image stabilizer lens.

2) Sports. Most sports are made of dynamic situations requiring quick decisions, i.e. someone is moving, and you are following him closely with your telephoto lens, say anywhere between 200 and 600 mm. You can hardly hold these heavy focal lengths steady enough to do one shot from hand (unless it has a built-in image stabilizer), let alone over a longer time. The monopod provides the freedom to move and takes off the weight from the photographer while at the same time reducing camera shake.

Tripod

I use a tripod for all other situations where the available light prevents shots from hand but you have enough time to prepare the shot. It is usually more cumbersome to build up, but offers better stability compared to the monopod.

Examples

1) Long time exposures. Clearly, anything beyond 1 sec exposure time can not be shot from hand and should not be shot with a monopod. You’ll always need a solid tripod or something to put the camera on (if you want the photo to be sharp).

2) Portraits at available light at superb image quality. You typically would use a portrait lens (135 mm) at ISO 100 and, say f 5.6, with a flashlight as filler. Even under good light conditions, this quickly brings you into a situation where the camera suggests 1/80 sec or 1/100 sec exposure time. So there is the risk of having too much camera shake. A tripod gets rid of this risk.

Happy ‘podding everybody!

Dachau Memorial Site

Tuesday, May 15th, 2007

A few weeks ago, I was asked to do a photo essay on the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site, and today I am happy to present some of the photos on my site.

Main Entrance to Dachau Concentration Camp: The Jourhaus
Mark Zanzig/zettpress

You know, at school I learned a lot about World War II, the Nazi regime, and the terror brought by them upon the world. However, this was all quite theoretical. Our class never went for a Concentration Camp Memorial Site. Also, I admit that a part of me has never actively seeked further information on this topic. It all happened long before I was born. And so I had a blank spot on my mind.

Museum exhibit at Dachau Camp
Mark Zanzig/zettpress

Now, when the job came in, I was excited. First, I never had been to Dachau, and second, I did not know what to expect. I had absolutely no pre-defined pictures in my mind, other than some blurry black and white photos with prisoners in striped uniforms. I found this to be very helpful for this job (often enough, I have a clear set of pictures in mind prior to attending an event, be it a soccer match, a press conference or a red carpet event). I could let the emotions and photos come in from an unbiased view point. I could see the Concentration Camp Site with my own eyes.

I took my time on a Monday morning, where the site is closed, to get some impressions without being disturbed by other visitors. That was a breathtaking experience, literally. It almost took my breath to be at a place where 65 years ago utter terror and cynism was daily business. A place where innocent victims of a cruel regime were terrorized, tortured, and murdered. Even as I write this, that scary feeling creeps in again.

Bedroom at Dachau Concentration Camp
Mark Zanzig/zettpress

The next morning, the tranquility was gone. Hundreds of pupils populated the Memorial Site (it is mandatory for classes in Bavaria to visit Dachau at least once). It was good to see that they apparently were interested in the topic, even if it took them some time to understand the horror of this place.

I talked to one of the guides, and she confirmed that “most people are like that – once they have seen just a few rooms, their chatty behaviour is gone, and the thinking process starts”. She smiled, and then asked me: “Do you know what hurts most?” – I shook my head ‘no’. – “Most people link the name Dachau with the horror of the Concentration Camp. But that’s long gone. Dachau has changed. It’s not like 1945 any longer. It has so many beautiful locations in town, just take the city hall. It just hurts to be associated with the Camp forever, even now, 62 years after the liberation.” – For obvious reasons, she asked me to not publish her name.

Jewish Monument at Dachau Camp
Mark Zanzig/zettpress

While I went to Dachau with a blank mind, I looked at other photographers’ sites later on. Many colleagues use black and white to illustrate the emotions and feelings caused by this place. I can understand this, but I came to the conclusion that -for the gallery presented on my site- using B&W photos would be a distortion of the reality, even if it’s a very small distortion. My reality is that I am shooting in color with a digital camera. If there are no colors, fine, then there are no colors. But I resist to artificially “enhance” the images by putting them to B&W, just for the effect.

I am more than happy to share my impressions with you, as they were so gripping. And so I invite you to my tiny gallery of Dachau Concentration Camp Photos. I really appreciate your feedback. Please feel free to contact me with your questions and comments, either via email or as a comment on this blog post.

Oh, and should you be in Munich, I strongly recommend to visit the Dachau Memorial Site if your schedule permits. It definitely is an important experience and a lesson for all of us. Just let’s hope that it will happen never again.

Never Again!
Mark Zanzig/zettpress

Creative Commons Nonsense

Thursday, May 10th, 2007

As I told you already, I recently joined Flickr and have been pretty active since then. One of the reasons was to find out what, exactly, Flickr is, and what it can be used for.

That much is clear: Flickr is a fantastic, truly unique environment to present your own work and to see the work of others. Certainly, there is a lot of crap on Flickr, but the sheer amount of excellent shots, i.e. photos that are well crafted and brilliantly executed, has blown me away. And the Flickr community is usually quite helpful and relaxed. If you look for specific advice concerning photography, chances are high that you will find an answer there. So – if you are a photographer and have not looked at Flickr, please give it a try. It’s free and will probably help you becoming a better photographer.

But I also found a spreading nonsense on Flickr: the attribution of the Creative Commons Licence to photos. Flickr allows you to assign certain licences to your photos. I use “© all rights reserved” because it’s my work, and I want to control how it is being used. Full stop. It costs time and money to take a photograph, and I am not giving that away for free. In fact, by displaying images on Flickr, I am already giving images away to a certain extend. But I do not care if a teenager in Murphy, Idaho, likes my photos so much that she prints a copy to cover a crack in the wall. But I do care, whether a newspaper with 100,000s of daily copies uses my work to earn money.

Just one example, an excellent photo titled “Road to Sydney”.

Road to Sydney
Joseph Younis/flickr – some rights reserved

This photo by Joseph Younis is available free of charge. Yes, that’s true: it costs nothing. Now, Joseph is a friendly guy and provides the high-res file to the Flickr community, so I could grab the original file (3888 x 2592 pixel) and create the smaller version above. I could have published it in a newspaper. For free. No cost. Joseph requires just an “attribution” for his work, i.e. I have to mention his name. OK, I have done that. And now? Nothing. If I were a newspaper, I could place ads around the photo and give a good, healthy laugh at Joseph, before I get back to counting the money.

Personally, I feel that this Creative Commons Nonsense should stop. Giving stuff away for free de-values your work and the efforts that have been put into the creation of the work. It hurts the global market in return for nothing (well, for just a by-line). It may affect your market and your ability to sell photographs for a living, even if you are working on another continent. Have you got a nice photo similar to Joe’s shot? Then forget about selling that photo. The Creative Commons Licence attached to Joe’s work has made it worthless.

So, when uploading photos, please please please make sure that you assign the “© all rights reserved” licence to your photos. Never assign anything else than that, ever! Professional photographers around the world will thank you for this. :-)

Creative Commons (official site)