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edgertronic high-speed camera with inexpensive follow focus

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edgertonic high-speed camera with EzFoto Fotasy follow focus and 15mm rail system.

edgertronic high-speed camera with EzFoto Fotasy follow focus and 15mm rail system.

Today, I received and set up a relatively-inexpensive follow focus system for the edgertronic high-speed camera. The follow focus is the EzFoto Fotasy, which includes a follow focus and 15mm rail system for $278.99 shipped on Amazon Prime. The packaging is nothing fancy, but it feels really solid for the price. Also, it has 20 reviews on Amazon averaging 4.5/5 stars, which is a good sign. One thing I really like about the Fotasy system is that both the bottom tripod mount and top quick-release clamp are Arca-Swiss / Really Right Stuff compatible. The RRS B76 Multi-use fore-aft plate fits perfectly on the bottom of the edgertronic and works well with this rail system’s QR clamp.

The Fotasy follow focus adjusts quite a bit for height, but doesn’t quite make it to the edgertronic’s bundled 50mm Nikon lens. (read more »)

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | 2 comments » | Feb 26, 2014 06:51:40

edgertronic high-speed camera configured for field use

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edgertronic high speed camera, configured for field use with 2200 mAH 3S LiPo battery, TP-LINK TL-MR3040 v2 mobile wireless router, L-bracket, tablet tripod adapter, and Apple iPad Mini Retina.

edgertronic high speed camera, configured for field use with 2200 mAH 3S LiPo battery, TP-LINK TL-MR3040 v2 mobile wireless router, L-bracket, tablet tripod adapter, and Apple iPad Mini Retina.

I configured my Edgertronic high speed camera for field use, today, which means attaching portable power and a portable, battery-powered wireless router. Once the edgertronic works directly by using Wi-Fi, the wireless router can be removed. (read more »)

San Diego, CA | link | trackb | 1 comment » | Feb 26, 2014 06:38:36

Olympus OM-D EM-1 first impressions

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First hour of exploring: I’m really impressed with the ergonomics of the Olympus OM-D E-M1 (although Olympus marketing needs a lesson in product naming). If you are the type who loves to customize every button of your camera, you’ll love the E-M1. The defaults are reasonable, though, so you don’t need to customize if you aren’t into that.

I love that I can set shutter and AEL behavior in every focus mode. I can shoot with focus on back button with full manual override w/focus assist (zoom and peaking), and use a single lever that changes to a second focus mode if the environment changes quickly. It also has AF Home registration, a feature I loved on my Canon SLRs. You can set an AF Home point so if you can customize your AF as much as you want and get back home with a single button press. Also, I can set an ISO range for auto-ISO (which can be set to work in every mode, not just P/A/S), and a max shutter time for flash (I find the 1/60 sec to be way too short, in most cameras—I set this to 1/20 sec).

It even has a large grip, now. I don’t see any drawbacks vs. using an SLR, so far, except for lack of an optical finder for really dynamic or dark scenes (EVFs ruin night vision and are slow in low light). I have yet to evaluate AF performance, especially when compared to the excellent AF in the Canon 5D Mark III / 1D series, but the new embedded phase-detect elements in the sensor are supposed to make AF really good.

The EVF is excellent. So far, I’m finding it to be comparable to the Sony. It turns on instantly when you bring the camera up to your eye—no noticeable lag.

Los Altos Hills, CA | link | trackb | 3 comments » | Dec 17, 2013 22:39:15

Go back and reprocess your old pictures!

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(click for full-size version)

I was assembling a collection of underwater images tonight and decided to see what Adobe Lightroom’s 2012 processing engine would do to an old image I took at Roca Partida (Revillagigedos Islands, Mexico) back in 2006. Back then, I used Adobe Photoshop to quickly process the picture from raw to a 2000-pixel JPG image for screen viewing. Tonight, I pulled up the raw file in Adobe Lightroom, chose the 2012 processing engine, and did a few minor tweaks using the Develop module. WOW. It’s like a different picture.

Have you had pictures take on new life when you’ve gone back and reprocessed old raw files using new image-processing software? If you haven’t, it’s time to get started!

Los Altos Hills, CA | link | trackb | 1 comment » | Jun 4, 2013 06:45:53

Another day, another copyright infringement (this time, by Greenpeace)

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Greenpeace uses my screaming turtle picture without permission

Greenpeace International is using my screaming turtle picture without permission nor credit. Most of their feed, for the past couple of days, consists of pictures ripped from the internet and modified with text, uploaded directly to their Facebook timeline. (read more »)

San Diego, CA | link | trackb | no comments » | May 24, 2013 17:45:10

Northern Lights / Aurora Borealis in Alaska, March 2013 (Timelapse)

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Timelapse video of the Northern Lights / Aurora Borealis taken during the evenings of March 18 and 19, 2013. Canon 5D Mark III and Canon 14mm f/2.8L USM II lens. Shutter speeds from 5s to 15s at ISOs between 2500 and 6400. Music courtesy mobygratis.com.

Special thanks to Mike Knott for his company, and to Ronn Murray, Casey Thompson and Marketa Stanczykova Murray for their incredible, local hospitality!

Fairbanks, Alaska | link | trackb | 2 comments » | Mar 26, 2013 01:39:18

Pictures of Death Valley

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I went on a fantastic whirlwind of a photography trip to Death Valley at the end of January, 2013, with my friend, Dan Kitchens (of Kozyndan). We spent 2.5 days seeing all of the big sites. I’m an ocean and city person, so I was fascinated and took pictures of pretty much everything. Special thanks to everyone who gave me advice before and during the trip: Alice Kao, Andy Biggs, Phil Colla, Eric Hanauer, Curtis Leo, Mark Braden, James Moskito, Dave Hunsinger, Angela Filose, Merlin W. Phillips Jr., Kelly Raymond Bracken, George Vincent, Jane Call, John Moore, and Phil Sokol. Thanks also to Sue Chen for the use of her car and home, and to Dan Kitchens for his company and ability to act as a catalyst for great imagery.

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | no comments » | Feb 4, 2013 08:53:26

How to disable Getty licensing in your Flickr account

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Last year, I watched Craig Peters, a SVP at Getty Images, nearly get booed off of the stage during his talk at Luminance 2012. He said that Getty was focused on creating the best return for their stock holders, and most photographers I spoke to after the talk were really upset at some of the numbers Peters claimed during the talk, which they believed to be fabrications.

On December 6, Google Drive announced that “5,000 new photos of nature, weather, animals, sports, food, education, technology, music and 8 other categories are now available for your use in Docs, Sheets, and Slides.” A couple weeks ago, an iStockphoto forum post started an avalanche of negative articles after an iStockphoto contributor said that he received $12 for the Google Drive platform licensing deal mentioned in the announcement.

Photographers are hoping that Getty, who owns iStockphoto, and Google release full details about what is actually going on, but photographers are already starting to remove pictures from iStockphoto, in protest. Personally, I’m glad that I never licensed my pictures through Getty. Don’t get me wrong—I give away plenty of pictures to NGOs that I support; licensing your pictures for free is something only you can decide you want to do.

echeng Flickr Getty
My Flickr pictures that Getty editors are interested in licensing

If you don’t want to support Getty and are a Flickr user, you can opt out from the entire process by logging in to Flickr, going to your account’s “Privacy & Permissions” page, and changing the settings for “Make your photos eligible for invitation by Getty Images?” to “No thanks…”.

Opt out of Getty
Select “No thanks” at the “Eligibility for Getty Images invitations” page to opt out

San Francisco | link | trackb | 2 comments » | Jan 28, 2013 02:41:34

File storage and backup for photographers

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Eric Cheng Pictures

I spend way too much time thinking about data storage and backup. I’ve been a professional photographer for nearly 10 years, and have accumulated over 10 terabytes of pictures, video, and project data. I have finally implemented a storage and backup scheme that I’m happy with. It took a long time to set up, but I have direct access to all of my media now, and have comfort in knowing that it is securely backed up. (read more »)

San Francisco | link | trackb | 76 comments » | Jan 6, 2013 02:53:39

Photoshelter Luminance talk about Lytro light field cameras

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Eric Cheng speaks at Luminance 2012 from PhotoShelter.com on Vimeo.

In September, I went to New York to give a talk at Luminance, a fantastic event organized by Photoshelter to celebrate and explore the intersection of business, technology, culture and photography. The talks were almost all really interesting, and the discussions that happened in the break area between the talks were equally as interesting. I hope Photoshelter puts on another event next year. If you’re interested, please let them know!

Also, Photoshelter is running a Lytro camera giveaway through the end of November. All you have to do is sign up for their newsletter to be in the running to receive an 8GB Graphite Lytro camera.

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | 5 comments » | Nov 19, 2012 19:04:03

Exposure: A Weekend of Workshops

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Photo: Dan Burkholder

I will be on a panel about the future of photography at the Center of Photography Art in Carmel, California, at 10am on Sunday, November 4, 2012. More information at Exposure: A Weekend of Workshops, or on the flyer. Hope to see you there!

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | no comments » | Oct 19, 2012 05:21:52

How not to approach me (or, anybody)

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Today, the general manager of a camera store in Thailand rudely interrupted me as I was introducing the Lytro camera to a few of our Photokina photo walk attendees. He literally walked in between me and the group; the very first thing he asked was, “Where is your manager?” I assume he said this because he is an older Asian guy and I look like a young-ish Asian guy. He must be very traditional. I can respect experience and wisdom, but the automatic assumption of hierarchy due to age is barbaric. Also, I’m American, and I am just not into that sort of implicit relationship (Ren, the founder of Lytro, is even younger than I am). After the rude introduction, he proceeded to brag about himself for a few minutes, making a few demands. I won’t go into the details.

I did my duty and referred him to our sales team, but I can’t say that I was overly enthusiastic in my recommendation to follow up.

Cologne, Germany | link | trackb | 3 comments » | Sep 21, 2012 21:30:57

Co-hosting TWiP #273

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The night I arrived in Cologne, I woke up at 3am to get on a Skype call to co-host This Week in Photo with Frederick Van Johnson, Nicole Young, and Steve Simon. I really enjoyed getting to chat with them about the photography news of the week!

I listen to TWiP every week during my commute from San Francisco to Lytro HQ in Mountain View. If you are interested in photography, I highly recommend subscribing to the podcast.

Cologne, Germany | link | trackb | no comments » | Sep 21, 2012 21:25:13

LIFE Through the Lens with Eric Cheng

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On August 28, 2012, I was featured in an OnAir (live) Google Hangout series called Life Through the Lens, which was described to me as “sort of like ‘The View’, but for photography.” I really enjoyed the interview—I got to blather on about some of my favorite pictures for over an hour.

San Francisco | link | trackb | no comments » | Sep 3, 2012 22:01:31

Help me and Lytro get to SXSW

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Hello, everyone. Lytro’s SXSW 2012 panel pages are online for public voting. Please help us get our panels selected for next year’s conference! To vote, login to (or create) your SXSW account (free—easy to register), and then click on the thumbs up button at each of the following panel pages:

Thank you!

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | 2 comments » | Aug 13, 2012 22:02:00

Lytro vs iPhone vs Lizard vs Joe

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I was in Monterey earlier this week and took a Lytro shot of Joe Platko with a tiny little lizard on his hand. Immediately after, Jason Bradley took a shot with his iPhone. Here are the two shots.

Joe Platko with lizard (photo: Jason Bradley)

Monterey, CA | link | trackb | no comments » | Aug 10, 2012 01:01:45

The perfect request for free pictures

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My contact page is a little scary. The message is basically, “Don’t email me if you haven’t done your own research, and don’t ask for free pictures if you don’t ask the right way.”

Many photographers get really angry when they are asked for free pictures, but I do not. Instead, I evaluate each request, and decide based on the information the requestor gives me. I received an email from Todd S. the other day for a request to use a sperm whale picture on a new website for the Cape Lookout Studies Program in North Carolina. It’s the PERFECT request—it gave me enough information to be able to quickly decide whether or not I was interested in donating a picture (I was, and I did). Thank you, Todd!

I may use Todd’s email as a template for a new “free image license request form” of some kind.

Thanks for your willingness to offer usage of photography for free to non-profits (under the right circumstances). I’m hoping my request qualifies! I am a designer building a new website for the Cape Lookout Studies Program in North Carolina ( http://www.capelookoutstudies.org ). I am interested in using one of your images on the website.

  1. image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/echeng/4315292806/

  2. The image will be used on a page dedicated to a recent project of the program. They have rearticulated a sperm whale skeleton (now hanging in the NC Maritime Museum in Beaufort, NC). I want to use the photo in a slideshow/animation to be featured on the page. The animation will fade from your image, to the image of the skeleton shot at the same angle as your whale image.

  3. Size of the image will be roughly 900×500 pixels.

  4. The image will not be used in any print materials!

  5. There’s not quite enough funding in the program to cover all the website work that’s needed. They haven’t updated the site in over 10 years! They do great work to encourage conservation, educate the public, help whales as part of the NC marine mammal stranding network, and they work to prevent injury to marine animals by creating and sustaining North Carolina’s Fishing Line Recycling Program. All good stuff!

I work with photographers on many commercial projects and understand the work, dedication, and artistry that goes in to a great shot. Photography has real value and I appreciate your willingness to entertain my request.

Todd S., designer

San Francisco | link | trackb | no comments » | Aug 3, 2012 02:01:18

The Sony DSC-RX100—the camera I’m most excited about right now

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I’ve been shooting the Sony NEX series APS-C mirrorless cameras for about a year now, and the NEX 7 has practically replaced my Canon 5D Mark III as my default camera. Although I still use SLRs when I need to be practical and productive as a photographer (and, underwater), the NEX 7 is small enough to fit in just about every bag I carry around, which means that I’m more likely to have a NEX on me than I am a SLR1.

I have been enthusiastically recommending mirrorless cameras to my friends for the last year because of their performance to size ratio. A Panasonic GF3 with kit lens can be had for around $300 when there are sales, and an upgrade to a larger sensor can easily be had (for more money) by going Sony NEX (~$600). It takes $400 to buy a Canon S100—the current king of small-sensor point & shoots, and a GF3 will shoot circles around it (but won’t fit in a pocket).

All of this has changed with the release of the Sony DSC-RX100 point & shoot camera. The Sony DSC-RX100 is the single (non-light field) camera I’ve been most excited about in years. A lot of my friends want cameras that produce fantastic pictures, but other than flipping to aperture priority every once in awhile, they don’t really want to think about the camera when taking pictures. The 1″ sensor combined with a wide-open aperture of f/1.8 (at lowest focal length) means clean pictures and the ability to produce a shallow depth of field comparable with what mirrorless cameras can do with their standard kit lenses (the lenses most people buy when they go mirrorless). The RX100′s sensor is smaller than the sensor in a M4/3 or NEX camera, but the lens’ aperture is larger in relation, which makes up for the difference.

What’s huge to me is that the RX100 will fit into my pocket without making my look like a pervert—and, it does this without sacrificing much image quality. The best camera is the camera you have with you, and the RX100 is the first digital camera that performs more-or-less at large-camera image quality while still fitting in your jeans pocket.

The single downside is the price. The RX100 retails at $650, which is more than many M4/3 kits cost, and about the same price as a Sony NEX F3 kit. Most people won’t be used to paying that much for a point & shoot camera, but I think it’s absolutely worth it. I will likely have this camera with me at all times, even when I’m not carrying a bag, and that is worth a premium.

For more opinions about the Sony DSC-RX100, check out these reviews:

My Sony RX100 arrives on Friday; once the box is open, I suspect that my Sony NEX 7 will start to collect dust.

Referral link: check out the Sony DSC-RX100 on Amazon

A quick note for underwater photographers:

I still believe that underwater photography requires the use of a SLR for productive, “normal” underwater photography. A second underwater mirrorless rig (w/tiny dome port) could be very useful for free-diving and strobe-less, wide-angle shooting. If you’re swimming with a pod of dolphins, you will likely be more producive with a tiny housing than will with a large SLR housing. This 2-camera setup is what I would shoot with if I were still traveling 6 months a year for underwater photography. Lytro has forced me into a 6-week a year shooting schedule, so I’m (at the moment) content with a single SLR setup.

Regarding point & shoots underwater: I’m not convinced that any point & shoot on the market right now can work as well as an SLR, underwater (including the Sony RX100). Most of the productivity in underwater photography is afforded by good ergonomics. We shoot primarly manual exposure—and often, manual focus— which can be difficult to accomplish with point & shoot ergonomics, especially when you have 100 sharks around you or are swimming against a strong current. Note also that all of this might change quickly. Mirrorless cameras and point & shoots are getting better very quickly, while SLRs are on a flatter improvement curve. In a few years, we may find that electronic viewfinders are better than optical viewfinders, and that pro-level ergonomics are also available. When this happens, my opinion will likely change.

  1. I have and love my NEX 7, but think I would have been just as happy if I had just kept the 5N. But this is because I have more than one camera. I think the Sony NEX 5N is the perfect second or third camera, but if I were choosing a primary advanced camera, it would be the NEX 7. Does anyone want to trade their 5N for my 7 in exchange for the difference in price? :) 

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | 6 comments » | Jul 18, 2012 23:48:17

Admiral Motti, 35 years later

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“I find your lack of faith disturbing.”

Richard LeParmentier, the actor who played Admiral Motti in Star Wars (who was almost choked to death by Vader’s use of the force), posts with a toy bust of himself at Comic Con 2012.

San Diego, CA | link | trackb | no comments » | Jul 16, 2012 20:21:09

Phil King obeys

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I’ve got him now.

Lytro HQ | link | trackb | no comments » | Jun 19, 2012 21:37:40
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