Category Archives: Gear

Again: “Breakthrough Glasses-Free 3D Technology on Display at CES 2022”

There have been several interesting 3D solutions including glasses-free, over the years. Unfortunately, the public so far has not been real interested in 3D.

MIAMI, Dec. 28, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — IQH3D will be premiering their glasses-free 3D products at CES Las Vegas 2022 in booth #19274. IQH3D has pioneered a new generation of 3D devices through research and development of Glasses-Free 3D products and advanced software applications that will be on display. Experience the highest quality 3D optics ever produced on a consumer device with the featured product SKYY 10.8″ Streaming 3D tablet. All IQH3D’s devices can be used for viewing 3D content and extraordinary NFT Stereoscopic Digital Art. CES 2022 attendees are invited to visit www.IQH3D.com to learn more about IQH3D’s line of products.

Source: Breakthrough Glasses-Free 3D Technology on Display at CES 2022 | National News | kpvi.com

Those that I have seen have looked pretty good, too.

The HP Reverb G2 VR Headset

I just got an HP Reverb G2 VR headset.

I had some difficulties setting it up, plus difficulties getting the controllers paired – and so on. Some of the information at this link will be helpful in overcoming problems you might encounter.

Source: HP Reverb G2 FAQs – Enthusiast Guide | Microsoft Docs

Since I normally use reading glasses, and the G2 has no diopter adjustment, you need to wear your reading glasses or contact lenses when using the system. So far, I have not had success using reading glasses inside the headset – this means I have used it without the reading glass correction – which means a bit much eye strain for now.

I have used the headset in conjunction with MS Flight Simulator in VR mode and this makes an already impressive simulator even better – and yes, it is in 3D then too. For now, the set up each time I launch is a bit time consuming but perhaps I will find some shortcuts.

I expect to have more comments on the G2 in the future. I  have much to learn.

2018 Camera Market at 1985 Levels – Thomas Stirr Photography

Thomas Stirr observes the tremendous changes in unit sales that have hit the camera gear market.

This lengthy article discusses the fact that the 2018 camera market has fallen to 1985 levels and provides thoughts on the impact of this shift.

Source: 2018 Camera Market at 1985 Levels – Thomas Stirr Photography

Thomas ends his post with suggestions for what you might want to do with your existing camera gear: sell, adapt, extend?

  • Push yourself to use your gear more fully. Many of us do not fully utilize all of the capabilities of the gear we currently own. Using it more fully will extend its useful life.

  • Experiment more in post. Every piece of camera gear comes with some kind of trade-off. Spend some time in post to experiment with your current software to learn how you can squeeze more quality out of your current images.

This is spot on. Since last fall I gave much thought and investigation to whether I should move up to “full frame”, due to indirect peer pressure and marketing hype.  I realized I continue to learn how to use my existing 1″ and micro four thirds cameras nearly every time I put them to use – and for what I typically shoot there is little to no advantage to full frame – and actual drawbacks (bigger and heavier). Instead, I’m learning new tricks that make my existing gear deliver expanded capabilities.

Second, I downloaded the DxO PhotoLab 2 trial version and quickly discovered its noise reduction is so good that it was like increasing my camera’s useful ISO range by several stops. I no longer needed a larger sensor to achieve the results I wanted at higher ISOs. This was a far less expensive alternative than buying a new camera and lenses!

Third, I began using various well known techniques such as averaging multiple exposures to reduce noise, and shooting multiple-image panoramas to achieve enormous resolution (typically 80 to 200 megapixels).

Software post processing completely changes how we look at photography – and for us hobbyists, is a practical way to expand our gears’ capabilities.

Simple Photography-do we all need the latest camera gear?

The photography industry – let’s call it the photography industrial complex! – consists of camera manufacturers, distributors, retailers and a host of ancillary functions such as camera review sites and Youtube channels explaining how to use your camera.

All are oriented towards getting you to upgrade to the latest camera gear.

Most web site and Youtube reviewers earn sales commissions through affiliate links to “where to buy” retailers. This is how most web sites and Youtube channels make their living. In effect, everyone is a sales person on behalf of the camera makers and retailers. Some reviewers receive loaned or free gear in hopes there will be a positive review produced.

Everyone in the photo world has become a gear pusher – even the user community! Online forums are filled with posts from users commenting on the intricacies of sensor noise, dynamic range, lens corner sharpness, bokeh – and a host of items that make a difference in specific usage scenarios and typically for those who make money from their photography (which is a smaller subset).

Everyone piles on – believing they need the latest camera gear – right now! The gear they buy today will be obsolete, by their own definition, when next year’s model comes out. Most of us have little use for the new features – and often do not use the full capabilities of the gear we already own. Instead, we suffer from “Gear Acquisition Syndrome” or GAS.

We live in a “consumer society” where we are flooded with incentives and encouragement to constantly buy more stuff! Even when we are overflowing with stuff in our lives!

As I jog around my neighborhood on the weekends I see a lot of garage doors open and the garages half or entirely filled with “stuff” that people are storing. People have so much stuff they no longer have room to store all of it, let alone use it!

Many of us succumb to the 24 x 7 wall to wall marketing propaganda that surrounds us. The marketing noise is so intense that we often no longer recognize it – its just there, all the time.

We suffer from a fear of being left behind, or being less attractive, or less well thought of if we are using last year’s model. This fear drives people to upgrade their $1,000 smart phones every year, to buy (or lease) new cars every other year, and to spend money on newer stuff. (Such people frequently complain they do not have enough money – gee, wonder why?)

Do we really need to live our lives this way?

When it comes to cameras, do we really need to upgrade that camera body or lens because there’s a new toy on the market?

Great photos are taken by photographers – they are not made by camera bodies (with few exceptions such as landscape and architecture photography which really do depend on very high resolution sensors for some of their work, or certain low light usage scenarios.) I have seen a few professional photographers write that their greatest earning photos were taken users ago with far lesser cameras than we have today.

Another peculiarity is the amount of money consumers are willing to spend on photography. By consumer I mean someone who is not a professional, and is not earning any serious money from their photography. It’s basically a hobby, albeit, a serious hobby with practitioners striving for excellence.

But a $3,500 camera body attached to an assortment of lenses that may run $2,000 to $20,000 is wild. The camera body alone has the value of perhaps 7 notebook computers. With lenses, people are walking around with high value density goods – literally, in a bag they’ve got the equivalent of the value of a car!

The camera makers are moving further up scale as new cameras – even those formerly targeted at consumers with under $1,000 price points – are gradually rising to $2,000 and up.

All of this depends on this broad ecosystem of marketing propaganda to persuade everyone they really do need to move upscale and spend more money.

But do they?

I know I’m a weirdo who is years behind on acquiring stuff. For the most part, this lets me do what I want to do at a fraction of the cost. Recently I noticed the cost of a single camera that would do roughly the features I wanted, starts at $2,000 and goes up from there. Instead, I have a combination of older cameras, each bought typically for $200 to $300, used – that together gives me more features and capabilities for far less than buying a single new camera. (One has better low light capability, another is water proof but not so great at low light-for me, low light is an indoor thing and rain is an outdoor, decent lighting thing so separate used cameras!)

Perhaps this is related to voluntary simplicity – seems like it would be of interest to others. Literally, no one reviews older cameras – yet many older cameras stand the march of time and on many measures continue to compare favorably against the latest and greatest gear. A year ago I met a top ranked, award winning professional photographer from Canada – she shoots with her 16 megapixel Nikon D4 because it delivers the results her clients want. She also had a ton of business sense, in multiple ways, and one is her recognition that the gear is not the #1 way she adds value to her clients. Another Canadian photographer sold his high end “pro” Nikon gear and does all of his work now with “low end” Nikon 1 cameras – finding the small size, and less depth of field, was advantageous to the work he does.

Of course, camera makers and retailers depend on new gear sales – the incentives are to push consumers to buy, buy, buy. This discourages most anyone from reviewing older gear and being heretical by suggesting an older or “lesser” camera might actually be a good deal 🙂

Update from today’s Business News

28 percent of shoppers are entering this holiday season still paying off debt from last year’s [Christmas] festivities, according to NerdWallet.

Wow. 28% are still carrying credit card from Christmas 12 months ago. We presently have a strong economy with very low unemployment. What happens when the next recession or depression hits and all these people are carrying excess debt?

Perhaps people need to live within their means and not succumb to marketing propaganda pressure to buy things they probably do not need.

Lumix GX8/GX-8 IBIS In Body Image Stabilization did not meet my (high) expectations

I bought a used Lumix GX8 camera a month ago. Factors in my decision to buy the GX8 included the 20 megapixel image sensor, water sealing, and the in body image stabilization (IBIS) feature and there are great prices on the now used or refurbished models available; albeit, it is a 3 year old camera at this point. Plus I am familiar with the Lumix user interface.

I also have a used Olympus E-M10 I bought for cheap and I love this camera for still photography. It has an excellent IBIS which set my expectations high for the GX8’s IBIS.

Unfortunately, the IBIS in my GX8 does not appear to be in the same league as the E-M10. To be fair, the E-M10 mk ii is a newer camera than the GX-8. The following comments are primarily about the IBIS feature of the GX8.

GX8 IBIS  works for me on the following lenses:

  • Lumix 14 mm (I can hear the IBIS internal “clicks” so its doing something)
  • Olympus 9-18mm wide angle lens (sort of works)
  • Olympus 45mm (maybe works)
  • and in conjunction with Panasonic lenses that have optical image stabilization (OIS)

(Update) GX8 IBIS does work on the following:

  • Lumix 20mm f/1.7 (no “clicks” nor evidence it was doing anything)
  • Lumix 25mm f/1.8

I did not hear internal IBIS noise with these lenses, plus the GX8 does not show the stabilization in real-time on the electronic viewfinder as is done on Olympus and other vendors’ cameras with IBIS. Not seeing the stabilized image means we do not have an easy way to know if IBIS is operating for the shot. But apparently IBIS is applied when the shutter is operated.

Some say IBIS operation is restricted to operating above certain shutter speeds such as faster than 1/15th of a second. I took a number of photos at an indoor event using both an E-M10 and the GX8 and the GX8 photos, when enlarged, showed minor pixel blur that was not present on the photos shot with the E-M10. The IBIS may have worked but not as well as the Olympus equivalent, which is said to provide up to 4 stops improvement. Some forums suggest that GX8 IBIS works best if you continue to follow the 1/focal length rule. That is, shoot at a minimum of 1/25th of a second with a 25mm lens. Shoot a 200mm focal length at 1/200s and the IBIS should work very well to improve that shot. Others suggest (and my own experiments seem to confirm) that the GX8’s IBIS combined with Lumix optical stabilized lenses (OIS) is better than OIS alone and is very effective when used on Lumix long zoom lenses.

IBIS does not work with 4k30 video although Panasonic lenses with OIS work great for this. Update: Have since read or watched some Youtube reviews and they confirm IBIS does not work on video.

Discovering this, I looked at online forums and found others with similar issues, although some suggested IBIS worked okay for them, including on one of the lens I tried (above).

I was spoiled with the Olympus IBIS which is excellent. I can mount my 135 mm f/2.8 full frame lens with a focal reducer (effectively about 100mm) on the E-M10 and get rock solid image stabilization in the viewfinder. Can’t do that with the GX8.  Test GX8 shots, outdoors in good light, did produce very sharp images with this lens indicating that IBIS was working for those shots.

On the plus side, the GX8’s 20 megapixel images are very nice when using a tripod or fast shutter speed . The camera shoots real 4K video and includes 4K Photo, including 4K pre-shot mode (takes continuous frames so you can grab images from before you press the shutter) and 4K Post focus modes, which have interesting applications. 4K photo mode is actually a very neat feature.

The GX8 uses the same battery as the Lumix GH-2 and I had a stash of those batteries already on hand.

Used or refurbished GX8s are available for half the price of a new GX9. The GX8 has an anti-alias filter while the GX9 does not. Some prefer AA filters while others prefer the sharper image when AA filters are not used. The E-M10 mk ii does not have an AA filter and produces noticeably sharper images than a similar 16 MP sensor with AA filtering. The E-M10 mk ii, without AA filtering, appears to produce images on par with the sharpness of GX8’s 20 megapixel images – I intend to do some testing on this.

In pixel peeping (which may or may not matter to many), the GX8’s low light performance seems about 1-stop worse than the GH-4. In other words, an ISO 800 image on the GH-4 seem to have about the same noise/grain as an ISO 400 on the GX8. I suspect this is due to the higher pixel density of the 20 megapixel sensor. If the 20 MP image was resized to 16 MP for a direct comparison, they are probably comparable, however.  If you are mostly shooting outdoors this is not a problem, but if you shoot dimly lit scenes, it may be a problem.

The GX8 is a decent camera and it should be noted, is about 3 years old at the time I bought mine, used. The GH5 and the GX9 have both come out since then and are said to have outstanding IBIS. At current market prices, the GX8 is a very good value.

Update: The Lumix G9 has excellent IBIS and even better when used with a compatible Lumix OIS (optical image stabilization) lens. The issues raised above about the GX8 are specific to the GX8. It seems that all of the newer model cameras have much improved IBIS and dual IBIS/OIS. I have since purchased a used Lumix G9 and am extremely pleased with the G9.