Saturday, October 29, 2011

All About the Image Sensor

A fascinating lecture on digital image sensors.  Well worth watching if you have any interest at all in the physics and engineering that makes your camera work.

Image sensor engineer and primary inventor of the CMOS sensor, Eric Fossum, covers a wide range of subjects in his lecture titled, 'Photons to Bits and Beyond: The Science & Technology of Digital Image Sensors'

Thursday, October 27, 2011

New Leica and Zeiss Glass

Leica has announced the Elmarit-S 30mm f/2.8 ASPH wide-angle lens for its S-system medium format DSLR. The lens, which offers a 24mm equivalent field of view, can focus down to 0.5m.

The lens will be available beginning December 2011. Prior to this announcement, Leica's widest S lens was the 35mm f2.5 ASPH.

More info :

And from Carl Zeiss comes the just announced Distagon T* 25mm f2.0 wide-angle lens in ZE (Canon) and ZF.2 (Nikon) versions. The manual focus lens includes a CPU to provide aperture information to the camera, allowing the use of automatic exposure modes and the recording of EXIF data.

More info :

ISO 51,200 on a Canon 1DX

Former New York Times Photographer and Pulitzer Prize winner Vincent Laforet had his hands on the new Canon 1Dx and tweeted this photo showing an lcd image on the back of the 1Dx shot at ISO 51,200 and enlarged to 100%.

Pretty impressive!

Laforet by the way is now a DP and shot the famous "Reverie" video short after convincing Canon to let him borrow a preproduction Canon 5D Mark II to try out the video mode on it. Check out the video here :

Also check out Laforet's excellent blog :

Monday, October 24, 2011

Leica Akademie North America - Expanded Workshops

Leica Akademie North America continues Leica's long tradition of photographic education through experiential workshops offered in cities across North America.
 The Akademie's goal is to increase the fun and enjoyment of photography, expand photography knowledge and bring the total Leica experience to a new generation of photographers.
 Whether you are an experienced Leica photographer or a novice, there is no better way to learn Leica, than the Leica Akademie. The Akademie offers a wide range of programs throughout the year. Listed below are those Workshops close to Camera West in Rancho Mirage or Walnut Creek.

Leica Travel Photography with Lonely Planet
January 21, 2012
Los Angeles, CA

Leica M9 Owners
January 20, 2012
Los Angeles, CA
May 10, 2012
San Francisco, CA

Leica M9 Shooting Experience
February 17, 2012
San Francisco, CA

Leica Compact Camera Photography
March 9, 2012
San Francisco, CA
March 25, 2012
Los Angeles, CA

Leica Street Photography
August 24-24, 2012
San Francisco, CA

Leica Digital Black & White Photography
March 24, 2012
Los Angeles, CA
July 14, 2012
San Francisco, CA

Leica Weekends
February 24-26, 2012
Las Vegas, NV
March 30 - April 01, 2012
Palm Springs, CA
July 20-22, 2012
Los Angeles, CA

Leica Destination
April 23-26, 2012
Big Sur & Monterey, CA

Leica Available Light Photography
June 22, 2012
San Francisco, CA

Contact the Leica Akademie for more information
Phone: 201-995-0051

One Heavy Leica

Artist Liao Yibai with his 771 lb Leica

A 771 pound stainless steel Leica camera, created by the Chinese artist Liao Yibai is now on display at the Foto Henny Hoogeveen Leica store in Lisse, the Netherlands. There are only three copies of this “Fake Leica”: Leica Camera AG has the second one and a distributor has the third copy.


Saturday, October 22, 2011

Have a Ball with your Camera!

Jonas Pfeil, a student at the Technical University of Berlin, has invented a device that takes a complete spherical, panoramic photograph - something not possible before due to the camera tripod or mount. Even if you had enough cameras and the right software, you would still have the problem of a tripod or camera mount blocking one angle. His solution? A rubber ball camera which you just toss in the air as it snaps 36 photos simultaneously.

From his website :

Our camera uses 36 fixed-focus 2 megapixel mobile phone camera modules. The camera modules are mounted in a robust, 3D-printed, ball-shaped enclosure that is padded with foam and handles just like a ball. Our camera contains an accelerometer which we use to measure launch acceleration. Integration lets us predict rise time to the highest point, where we trigger the exposure. After catching the ball camera, pictures are downloaded in seconds using USB and automatically shown in our spherical panoramic viewer. This lets users interactively explore a full representation of the captured environment.

We used the camera to capture full spherical panoramas at scenic spots, in a crowded city square and in the middle of a group of people taking turns in throwing the camera. Above all we found that it is a very enjoyable, playful way to take pictures.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Lytro : Shoot First, Focus Later

There has been a lot of buzz about this revolutionary camera during it's development the last few years. Well, now it's here for you to purchase. Lytro, a Silicon Valley company has just released their unique camera which takes what the company calls "living photos".  

Unlike a conventional camera that captures a single plane of light, the Lytro camera captures the entire light field, which is all the light traveling in every direction in every point in space. 

Since you'll capture the color, intensity, and direction of all the light, you can focus after the fact. Focus and re-focus, anywhere in the picture at anytime, after the fact.

And focusing after the fact, means no auto-focus motor which means no shutter delay.

Price for the 1.61 in x 1.61 in x 4.41 in, 7.55 oz camera goes from $399. to $499. depending on hard drive capacity.

More info here :

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Canon EOS 1D X

Canon has just announced the launch of the EOS-1D X, an 18 MP camera built around a full-frame sensor capable of shooting at up to 14 frames per second (12fps with AF). The 1D X won't be available until March 2012, and will be priced at an estimated body only retail of $6,800.

More details here :

Monday, October 17, 2011

For Sale : A Leica Gun

This rare Leica Telephoto Assembly Rifle, also known as “the Leica Gun” or, in Germany, as the “Leica Gewehr,” will be auctioned off at the Tamarkin Rare Camera Auction on October 30th. This camera was originally made for the 1936 Olympics in Berlin and was a favorite among wildlife and sports photographers. Very few of these were made and even fewer have survived the last seventy years.

The starting bid is listed at $65,000, but given the rarity of this piece, and the collectability of Leica gear, it’s probably going to sell for well beyond that.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

From Dust to Dust : 2011 Burning Man Time Lapse

Check out this cool time lapse by Matthew Goodman of this years Burning Man shot over a period of 5 weeks. Every second of video is equal to 3 hours of real time.

Goodman explains how he made the time-lapse here :

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Why You Cannot Work for Free

I'm sure this has happened at least once to most of you who share your photos online. Someone sees your work and contacts you praising you for your great photos. They want to use them for a commercial purpose, but here's the catch...they have no budget. They will however give you credit and supply a link to your website. Sound familiar?

Check out the following excerpt from an informative article on why photographers should not work for free.

Getting “Credit” Doesn’t Mean Much

Part and parcel with requests for free images premised on budgetary constraints is often the promise of providing “credit” and “exposure”, in the form or a watermark, link, or perhaps even a specific mention, as a form of compensation in lieu of commercial remuneration.

There are two major problems with this.

First, getting credit isn’t compensation. We did, after all, create the images concerned, so credit is automatic. It is not something that we hope a third party will be kind enough to grant us.

Second, credit doesn’t pay bills. As we hopefully made clear above, we work hard to make the money required to reinvest in our photographic equipment and to cover related business expenses. On top of that, we need to make enough to pay for basic necessities like food, housing, transportation, etc.

In short, receiving credit for an image we created is a given, not compensation, and credit is not a substitute for payment.

For the entire article :

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

New Leica M9 Firmware Update to Fix SD Card Compatibility

Leica it seems has isolated the problem with the M9 and various SD cards. A new firmware for the Leica M9 will be released for testing in a few weeks.

The following is from Leica :

STATUS 11.10.2011 (Update of the report from 8.8.2011)
Thanks to the close collaboration with SD card manufacturers, Leica has now managed to rectify the fault by making adjustments to the firmware. To ensure compatibility with as many cards as possible and to ensure that all the related processes remain fault-free and are not compromised, comprehensive testing must be carried out in the development phase.
In the coming weeks we will test a beta version of the firmware in practice in cooperation with affected and selected customers.

As soon as the firmware solution is proven in practice, we will name a date for the release of the update.

For background on the compatibility issues, go to our earlier blog post :

Highway 395 Workshop Pics

Hal and Tom led another great Camera West workshop, this one along scenic Highway 395 in the eastern Sierras. They picked a great time to go as you will see in the photos below, including one unexpected early season snowfall! Hope you enjoy these photos from Hal and Tom.

Entrance to Bodie State Park
Tom Brichta at Bodie
Hal Kam at Alabama Hills

Archway to Mt Whitney

Bristlecone at 12,000 ft elevation

Bruce Wahlberg packing 3 Leicas

Dennis Sasaki uses a graduated ND filter

Fall color against granite

Photo op at Alabama Hills

Rob Thomas and his Leica M9

Early morning light on tufa formations at Mono Lake

Thursday, October 6, 2011

An Hour with Steve Jobs

Apple posted this simple, striking image of Steve Jobs on their homepage and I was curious to know who made the portrait. Turns out to be Albert Watson who was hired a few years ago by Fortune Magazine to photograph Jobs along with a number of other business leaders. Watson used a 4x5 view camera and was lucky enough to be given nearly an hour with Jobs - something that is unheard of these days. You're lucky to get 5 minutes with most movers and shakers in business, entertainment and political circles.

Here is what Watson had to say about his session with Jobs.

“I had wanted to do the shot in a minimalistic way because I knew that was going to suit him very well. Jobs said, ‘What do you want me to do?’ I said I would like 95 percent, almost 100 percent of eye contact with the camera, and I said, ‘Think about the next project you have on the table,’ and I asked him also to think about instances where people have challenged him.

“If you look at that shot, you can see the intensity. It was my intention that by looking at him, that you knew this guy was smart,” Watson says, adding, “I heard later that it was his favorite photograph of all time.”

For more on Watson's shoot and other photographers experiences with Steve Jobs, check out this Photo District News article :

Vivian Maier, Street Photographer

A few months back, we blogged an amazing portfolio of never published images by the late street photographer Vivian Maier. The man who found the images and acquired all the rights to them has just produced a book on Maier, now available to buy.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Bodie in the Snow

Hal sent us this iPhone photo from the entrance to Bodie State Park on the eastern side of the Sierras. Seems our Camera West Highway 395 Workshop participants got a little bit of snow over night. Don't know if they were able to actually get into the ghost town due to the inclement weather, but if they did, I'm sure we'll be seeing some incredible images from them!