Alcatraz Flowers

The entrance to Alcatraz Prison is up a series of steps near these flowers. I love how they catch the light while the background is in the shade of the prison.

After yesterday’s flood of posts it’s nice to get back to the one-a-day habit although I wonder why Technorati hasn’t picked up on my IT@Cork2006 tag yet. Grrr.

It seems that they haven’t looked at my feed or updated their records of my posts yet because if you look under Canon 20d several of the posts I made yesterday show up. Not this one just yet. I guess there are lots of blogs out there!

Temporary Dwelling Prohibited

A Cork County Council warning sign looms overhead at Garretstown Beach, Co. Cork. Luckily I had left the caravan at home and the rubbish was in the bin!

This photo shows one of the disadvantages of shooting in Jpeg – it can’t cope with the subtle shades of blue in the sky, although the ugly bands of colour are made worse by my vignetting of the image afterwards. Oops.

In other news, I ordered Bibble Labs Pro RAW conversion version using a discount code on The Digital Photography Show. The nice thing is, I can use the Pro edition on Linux and the Mac, which will be useful. It’s also a great piece of software and will encourage me to shoot more RAW images.

I also ordered the Canon 50mm f1.8 lens from warehouseexpress.com (via) who were reasonably priced. Hopefully I’ll get that in the next few days and in time to shoot the IT@Cork conference in a week’s time. Eddie Hobbs and various people from the online world will be speaking there and I hope to get some goot shots.

Nikon D40 tips the scales in Canon vs Nikon fight

nikon_d40.jpg The recently announced Nikon D40 could be the camera that wins over the hearts and minds of a whole new generation of DSLR owners and it’s being released right before the Christmas buying season.

Why? For two reasons, price and brand. There are a number of digital SLR cameras in the sub $500 range; the Pentax K100D and Olympus E300 among them but the Nikon brand of digital cameras is better known. Canon don’t have any current camera to compete at this price range, yet.

What camera will parents buy their offspring this Christmas? The more expensive Canon 400D or the Nikon D40? I think it’s a no-brainer which camera they’ll buy. The Nikon is the perfect “starter camera” for junior. It’s relatively cheap, looks professionally black, makes the click sound when you take a photo like “real cameras” do and you can use other Nikon lenses. What is there not to like?

Well, the Nikon D40 is great but for the price there have been compromises made. The DP Review preview of the camera compares it favourably to the Nikon D50, emphasising the extra features the cheaper camera has. The biggest drawback is an issue with lenses. It can’t auto-focus with traditional Nikon lenses because it doesn’t have an internal focus drive motor. This is arguably worse than the Canon limitation on EF-S lenses. At least Canon EF-S cameras can take advantage of proper Canon lenses.

Perhaps the biggest negative on the D40 is that it doesn’t have an internal focus drive motor and hence no mechanical focus drive pin, instead it only has CPU contacts which means it can only Auto Focus with AF-S and AF-I lenses (those with built-in focus motors). Indeed our ‘standard’ lens the Nikkor 50 mm F1.8D (and the F1.4D) are manual focus only on the D40. The images below show the difference between the mount on the D40 and D80, the D80 has a mechanical focus drive pin at about the 7 o’clock position.

Canon need a sub-$500 DSLR to compete. Once you’re hooked on a brand of camera it’s much easier to stick with that brand. The controls will be familiar, you can use the same lenses, you visit the same online discussion boards.

Personally, I think it’s great that DSLR technology is so cheap. It’s not that long ago that the only digital SLR was priced beyond the budgets of anyone but the professionals. Isn’t Moore’s Law great?

Ken Rockwell has a great review of the Nikon D40. I think he likes it:

First impressions are:

Super-duper light weight = too much fun!

No walking stick

It’s a good thing nobody in this picture needs help walking or getting about! Is that sign really saying walking sticks aren’t allowed?
It could be one of the following too, what do you think?

  • No backpackers
  • No mountaineers or hikers
  • No round headed people
  • Or possibly even “people with bags on their back are not allowed to climb over this barrier.” Better leave the bags in town guys!

Picture taken on Alcatraz Island, San Francisco.

The pizzeria and the sign

“Skateboard and bicycle riding prohibited on sidewalk”

We went for pizza one night in this pizzeria with the rest of Automattic. It’s possibly on California but I can’t be sure because I was hungry and it was dark, and did I say I was hungry?

Oh, great pizza too!

Run Photoshop in Linux

It may be possible to get Photoshop to run in Linux but would you want to? As a research project in the interest of informing the dear readers of this blog I attempted the install.

  • First of all I had to search out an illegal copy of Photoshop because frankly I don’t have Photoshop and can’t afford it given the revenue I get from my photography. Bittorrent helpd here but, boy was it a pain. There’s a version of Photoshop floating around called “Portable Photoshop”. It’s a self contained install. Unfortunately I got hopelessly low download rates for the several torrents of this application I tried. Adobe, you have nothing to worry about!
  • While that was downloading I installed wine with a simple apt-get install wine. No surprises there. Apt did it’s job and installed everything properly.
  • Finally, the necessary bits downloaded and I unzipped it into a directory then ran wine Photoshop.exe.

How well does it run? After running Wine, up popped the Adobe loading screen and for what seemed like an age it looked for plugins and other assorted stuff. Finally, after a significant wait the Photoshop user interface appeared and I marvelled at how far Wine has gone since I last tried to run Half Life 2. First thing to do was load an image so I clicked File-Open, selected a file and clicked OK. Then, poof! An out of memory error popped up and Photoshop died!

After closing Firefox and Thunderbird I tried again. This time the image loaded but as soon as I tried any operation on it the same error popped up. After briefly searching for an answer and looking through the winerc, I didn’t bother trying a third time. Even if I didn’t have these memory problems I wouldn’t find myself using it. It doesn’t match the rest of the desktop. It’s dog-ugly actually. Windows apps usually are when they’re running in Wine. Bye bye Photoshop! It’s now deleted off my drive.

Linux users – Ubuntu, Debian, Gentoo, Slackware, Red Hat, whatever you use, just use the GIMP. It’s a great piece of software that’s simply different to Photoshop. That doesn’t make it necessarily worse. If you are really hankering after the Photoshop UI then go play with Gimpshop. You’ll feel right at home in no time and you’ll save the 833 Euro that Adobe charges for their cash-cow. Ouch! How can any non-professional afford that?

Oh, Sven is working on colour management for the GIMP to keep all you printing folk happy!

Another alternative, Krita has come a long way since I looked at it last. I installed it this morning using Edgy’s Apt repository and it looks good. From a photographer’s perspective it’s missing a few necessary tools, although a levels tool is in the works. It does have support for CMYK but I’ve never had a use for that and as Cyrille says, all home and business printers use RGB. Some high end printers use CMYK but your local lab will print from Jpeg files so don’t lose sleep over it! I must post a comparision between the GIMP and Krita when I’ve used it before.