reflectedPixel.com

Photography by Jon Adams

Sony

Infrared Light in the Forest

Beam

This time of year I sometimes have a chance to go through some of my past images. Sometimes an image jumps out at you and you wonder why you didn’t see it the first time you went through the images after the shoot. This is one of those images. I think the feeling evoked by this image is what it’s all about.

reflectedpixel: Landscapes &emdash; Beam
Link to the gallery Click Here

Sony AVCHD video in Lightroom 4 Beta

Problems Solved!

I have had one enduring problem with certain video files for the last several years. I've been carrying a little panasonic indestructible point and shoot camera. First it was the TS1 and now I have the TS3. As of late, I'm loving the Sony Nex-5n and I have a Nex-7 on order, I hope it gets here soon! Now these cameras are fantastic cameras and they have the ability to shoot very nice video too. However, the video they shoot is in the AVCHD format and that hasn't always played nicely with Aperture and Lightroom. So in order to see the videos you shot in the AVCHD format you'd have to bring in the files through some translating program.

What I did and What I want.

I want to keep my video and still images together, for the most part. Aside from specific projects. So what i've had to do is save the original files manually from the camera card. Then convert the files into a format viewable by the software programs I use. Import the converted video with the stills. Then later if I want to do much with the video, I'd have to convert the video specifically for the output, unless the small videos I converted were sufficient for the project or slideshow. Often I just would like all my media to import and let me look through it to decide what I want to do with it.

Enter Lightroom 4 Beta, I didn't know it would be so wonderful, I put in a card from my Sony Nex camera, and the Lightroom import window popped up as usual. I imported my images, and to my surprise, video files were showing up in the library. Are these my movie files? I thought to my self, Are they in their original format?… Why yes, Lightroom 4 is reading my native video files right off the card and bringing everything in. Just as it should be. I no longer have to remember if I shot video on the card and check for it separately. I can just pop in the card and let everything come into Lightroom. Fantastic!

Here is a quick video so you can see.
Thanks for visiting today!
rPix
















Sony Nex-5n Studio Camera?



Maybe you want to play with flashes a little more, but don't feel like buying a different camera. Perhaps you just want to have a way to shoot with it in a pinch if some of your other equipment breaks down. Whatever the reason, you can sync your Sony Nex-5n with studio strobes. You just need a Digital Slave. An optical slave that ignores the pre flashes the camera emits. This video shows one model that works well.
Thanks
rPix.














HDR Photography Basics




Many people are often let down by camera companies who don't include bracketing options in their cameras. The three frame up to two stop bracketing just doesn't cut it for me. My very high end Nikons could do a 9 frame bracket which is usually sufficient (Not Always) but even my D7000 couldn't do this. Sony has what seems to be the worlds worst bracketing features. you can bracket .3 or
.7 stops for three frames. Does that do any good in any way? Not really, I have that much latitude with a raw file. Why is it even there? Anyway, maybe they think their build in HDR jpg rendering is what everyone in the world wants or that there isn't anyone who really wants bracketing. In any case, you're mostly going to have to bract your shots yourself.

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What is HDR?
HDR stands for High Dynamic Range. Your eyes see in High dynamic range, at least when compared to cameras. Even the most expensive cameras don't see detail in the highlights and shadows like your brain does. Photographers have been trying to keep detail in bright clouds and deep shadows since photography began. This is just where the tech has taken us. This technique is one way to extend the range of detail your camera can capture. Actually, you capture different exposures of the same scene. This technique doesn't work well for moving subjects. Landscapes and Architecture are where this works. So if you've ever taken a shot of a landscape or sunset and wished there was a way to get more detail in the shadowy areas, this is for you.

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Preparation.
What you need to get a good HDR capture? First you need to secure your camera. A good solid tripod is very important for best results. Also don't skimp on the tripod head. You should be able to lock down your camera on your tripod and it shouldn't move. If it moves when you let go of the controls, well, your tripod and or head aren't strong enough for your setup. So step 1 Lock down your composition. Second, figure out Where the information is in the scene. My Nex-5n has a live histogram on the screen. This is very nice for HDR shooting. I compose my shot, then set my camera to manual and pick the f-stop I want. Usually F16 ish. It's important to keep your F-Stop constant for the entire series of shots. Now, I go to one extreme of the exposure. You can slow down your shutter speed until you see the dark side of the histogram come into the middle or the shadow areas are all the way opened up. Then you take a shot, if you are concerned about sharpness, use a cable release or remote control. Now turn your shutter speed dial. My camera moves exposure in 1/3 stops, most do this the same. So I count three clicks on my wheel, this is one full stop. Take another shot. Repeat until you've captured all the detail in the highlights, such as the sky or the sun. I love shooting into the sun for HDR shots. When you are shooting directly into the sun and a subject in the shade, you'll end up with 13-15 stops needed. By taking a shot every stop you are able to get a very clean highly detailed HDR image.

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To Recap.
1. Frame your shot and lock down your camera.
2. Pick your F-stop and ISO and lock those down.
3. Set your shutter speed to one end of the exposure. I usually start with the image overexposed.
4. Shoot then change exposure by one stop and shoot again and again until you've captured all of the dynamic range in the image.
5. There is no step 5, you're done. Recompose and make another image.

Process.
Now take your images into the HDR software of your choice. I'll list three that I use. There are many more options and price points available.

1. Nik Software HDR Efex Pro.
2. Photomatix Pro or Photomatix Light
3. Photoshop CS5

Photomatix is the easiest and fastest. Nik HDR Efex is also easy. You get different looking images from each of these software packages. Photoshop for me is the most difficult way to get a pleasing image.

Some people (photographers) are haters of HDR, I'm not sure why. Most non-photographers love the look. You can make an image of a scene that is more realistic than a standard capture. You can of course go very unrealistic too. It's an art form. Make it look pleasing to you and have fun.

Thanks for reading and watching today.

rPix













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Sony Nex-5n Cable Release



Why would I want a Cable Release?
It would seem the people at Sony thought asked the same question when they came up with the Nex series cameras. It also seems they didn't find a reason. However, they did make the wireless remote control quite useful. So back to the question. The first and most important reason is to help with camera shake on long exposures. If you are a landscape photographer you know that to be able to shoot at F16 or F22 to get the depth of field you want the shutter speed is often very long. If you are using your hand to release the shutter there's a chance that you'll shake the camera and your images will come out softer than they otherwise might have been. One other thing I do often is bulb mode exposures. Bulb mode is when you open up your lens for an indefinite amount of time. You might be making star trails, or painting in something with a flashlight. You need to be able to lock open the lens and then close it whenever you decide you want to. I guess the other reason is for you to be in the image yourself.

Remote Control

In many ways I prefer the wireless to the wired. The Sony remote control allows you to use bulb mode. Push once to open and push once to close it. The 2 second button I use all the time to give the camera a little delay before anything inside moves. The only thing missing from the standard remote or inside the camera is a interval timer. I have found an interval timer remote control and it's not he way. I'll let you know how it works when it gets here.

Firstly a good tripod, secondly some way to trigger the camera without touching it.
Quick Tip: If you don't have a cable release or remote control, use your camera's self timer feature. You can often set these to a couple seconds, trust me the default ten seconds sometimes feels like an eternity. Using the self timer will allow you to not be touching the camera when the shutter opens.

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You don't want to be bumping the camera when you are making a 2 or 3 second exposure.

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A light painting of my good friend's pumpkin.














Sony Nex-5n ISO Access

This is a really quick video on how to customize the buttons on your Nex-5n. There is one setting that eluded me for a week or two. It's really easy the way the camera is setup from the factory to change aperture and shutter speed. But the ISO setting was buried deep in the menu structure. I was wishing there was a quick way to get at it. Well, there is. It's in the setup menu call customize buttons. Here's a video.









Sony Nex-7 Accessories

I've been posting some videos about the Sony Nex-7 Compact System Camera sometimes called mirror less cameras. I really am liking this little powerhouse of a camera. I've been getting some questions as to links to where I got my accessories. So I've put together a list of links from mostly amazon. (I really like amazon prime) So here you go. I'll likely update this list as I find more accessories.











Sony Nex-7 Accessories Links

AC Power Adapters


Non Sony Brand
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005JKJA7U/ref=cm_sw_em_r_am_ip_am_us?ie=UTF8

Sony Brand
http://store.sony.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?catalogId=10551&storeId=10151&langId=-1&productId=8198552921666192686

Hotshoe Adapter
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003URJP5Q/ref=oh_o06_s00_i00_details

Digital Slave
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00009UU0Z/ref=oh_o05_s00_i00_details

Semi Hard LCD Cover
http://www.amazon.com/Sony-Semi-hard-plastic-protective-screen/dp/B005K8AUE8/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1330220213&sr=8-3

Sony Hotshoe Flash
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001BRP0UG/ref=oh_o00_s00_i00_details

Sony Nex Lens Mount Adapter
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005K8AUYI/ref=oh_o00_s00_i00_details


Sony Nex-7 Little Known Features

Sony Nex-7 Little Known Features

Perhaps you are just curious about the Sony Nex-7 Ultra Compact System Camera. It's intriguing for sure. I was on the fence for quite a while. While I liked the idea and the size, the image quality and feature set of the compact system cameras on the market just weren't up to par with DSLRs. I think the Sony Nex-7 changes this feeling. It utilizes a fantastic APS-C sensor. Yep, the same size as in most DSLRs. And it has the control and build quality a demanding photographer wants/needs. The Nex-7 gives you quick control of all crucial settings and even things where I'd have to have gone to the menu system on my DSLR to get at. I am falling in love with this little Sony. It's a joy to carry and use. Image quality is superb. I just printed a couple 16x24s and the detail is fantastic. Soon I'll be printing some at 24x36. I'm excited to see where the next crop of Compact System Cameras take us. No doubt they are now going to start putting the pressure on the old school DSLR systems.

Sorry for the tangent. The video shows some of the navigation and control features of the Sony Nex-7. Most of these weren't shown in the video's and reviews I've been reading and watching.
Enjoy

















Nex-7 Adobe Camera RAW Calibration Presets

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Nex-7 Rocks!


It's no secret that I love my Nex-7 from Sony. This little camera has helped re-energize my love of photography. It's paramount in me having a very capable camera with me all the time. (almost all the time) Naturally there are things I wish for and hope for with the next release of this amazing camera. Or even firmware release. But overall I'm in love with this little thing. One pain I've been having is with Lightroom 4 and ACR. Yes, I shoot mostly in RAW. I often shoot in RAW + JPEG mode so I can use the jpeg files instantly with my iPhone or iPad. What happens if you shoot in RAW + JPEG mode when you import into Lightroom? You see your JPEG image at first until Lightroom can process the RAW file and render it's own preview. What happens then is sort of Scary! your image goes from a pretty nice looking file to the raw data and it's not nearly as pretty. See image below.




Screen Shot 2012 05 07 at 7 16 31 AM




So we went from about there to where do I start? With most Nikons or Canons I've used, I'd simply go to develop, Camera Calibration and change profiles. The problem? There are no profiles for this camera from Adobe. With a little coaxing you can bring the sliders to where the image will sing to you. But I really try hard to get my settings close in camera. Well, a quick google search brought me to a website from someone named Maurizio Piraccini who has made a bunch of Calibration Profiles for us, The profiles are exactly what you'd expect and work perfectly! Here's a link. Click Here. Download these and try them out. There are also profiles for the Sony Nex-5n the Sony Nex-C3 along with the Nex-7 and many other Sony Digital Cameras. It's so much nicer to start with what you saw in camera as you made your adjustment or at least close to that. You can then save these as part of a preset and apply that to your images on import. Save a bunch of time and gets you back out shooting fast. I've recorded a little video for you. See Below. Thanks for visiting reflectedpixel.com.























Sony 70-400 G on Sony Nex-7

I recently had a chance to rent the 70-400mm G series Super Telephoto Lens from BorrowLenses.com. I had the lens for a weekend and shot a few kids soccer games with it. I also took the opportunity to make a short video look at the lens, how it focuses and handles. Here they are Part 1 we look at the lens and how it feels. Part 2 is just a look through some of the images and my thoughts after using it for a couple days.


Part-1



 


Part-2



 


I've been looking at this lens for a while. I really wanted to try it out. I had a coupon code for BorrowLenses.com that was about to expire so I decided to try out this lens for a weekend when both my two little boys had soccer games back to back. I have been shooting them with my 18-200 and it does a decent job on the younger game with it's smaller field. But it falls short with the older boys larger field. You just have to wait for the action to get closer. Also the contrast focus is slow for sports, even at this level. 


This 70-400 lens on the LA-E2 did a good job. The focusing is much faster than the standard contrast detection system due to the phase detect translucent mirror system in the LA-E2. Putting such a large lens on such a little camera was a little strange at first.

















Pixel King Flash Controller for Sony. Nex-7

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Pocket Wizard for Sony Nex-7
I've been wanting a pocket wizard TTL for my Nex-7 for a while now. Well, still waiting for the Wizards. There is an alternative and for me, they work just as good. They are much less expensive too. They're made by a company called Pixel. They are the King wireless transmitters. They make them for Sony, Nikon, and Canon. At first I though the high speed sync didn't work on the Nex-7, but now, thanks to one of my readers, I know that high speed sync does work if everything is setup right. With my Nikon and Wizards it pretty much always worked assuming the camera was in auto FP mode. With the Sony you have to have the flash head forward and you cannot have your camera in rear curtain sync mode. I have always just left my cameras in rear curtain sync mode in case I wanted to slow down the shutter speed. With these you'll have to make the choice, do I want rear sync or fast sync. It does work in slow sync mode which seems maybe a little funny, But I'll have to test this particular camera to see when the flash fires in it's slow mode, front, rear, or in the middle somewhere. If slow fires at the end of the exposure, I'll put my camera in that mode most of the time.

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The King transmitters and receivers seem to be built very well, they feel about the same as the wizards. Both transmitter and receiver take AA batteries, a plus in my opinion. The receiver has a 1/4-20 metal thread in it for easy mounting to stands and monopods. They also come with a small tether, very useful if you're firing non hotshoe strobes. They each have a PC port included for this purpose. You can select channels and groups right on the unit itself. I had to do a firmware update for these to work with the Nex-7, it's a windows only program. I ran it through parallels desktop and didn't have any issues at all. I'm hoping to get one more flash unit soon, we'll see how the groups work.

Overall I'm impressed with the capabilities, build quality, and price of these units. Very much a Pocket Wizard alternative and if you're a Sony shooter, there are no wizards. So a great little product for a good price.

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Sony RX100 Worth the Hype?

The camera to rule them.
Recently the super portable yet amazing Sony RX100 Digital Camera climbed to the very top of all camera sales on Amazon US. Truly this is a camera people want. Tiny footprint, Big sensor, Nice Fast 1.8 glass, Amazing image quality, Huge Megapixel Count, Full 1080p Video, and a good price. I'm somewhat smitten by the little beauty myself.

You can find the technical details anywhere, Here's my take on what's hot with this camera

It's like a Nex camera. It seems like camera manufacturers hold back when putting out the camera. I know I feel this way with my Nex-7 often. Why is the bracketing so dumb? anyway, This camera does more than nearly all the other cameras in it's category.

True Full Manual and pro Modes P,S,A,M – The most amazing hardware in the world becomes useless if you don't have control.

Fast lens – 1.8 when zoomed out shortens depth of field and opens up the world of indoor shooting.

ISO 6400 – Did I mention people want to use their cameras indoors at parties and other events

1080p 60 Video – Don't settle for less, the video looks great from what I've seen.

Megapixels to spare or to crop – Having plenty of room to crop in can make a short lens long

RAW Files – Must have for any serious shooter

Speed – Fast AF and up to 10 Frames Per Second. You don't always need the speed but when you do, it's sure nice to have

Steady Shot – Sony's rendition of stabilization works very well and helps get you sharp shots.

Metal Body – I love the feel of a good solid camera, big or small.




If you're looking for a very portable camera with professional features, this is for you. These will be hard to come by for a while yet with the demand being off the charts.

rPix