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Thread dedicated to tips and tricks.
To get the ball rolling.
If you're interested in IR photography and don't want to spend a fortune modifying your camera and buying a bunch of lens mounted IR-cut off filters which cost a fortune, buy a used
Minolta Dimage 7
(make sure it's the 7 not 7Hi or 7i) and for example Hoya R72 filter with 49mm diameter. Dimage 7 is very sensitive to near IR range light unmodified and since it was announced in 2001 you can get one for mere pennies. I'm getting one used for 66€.
Despite of it's age it's quite capable camera for it's age overall maximum sensitivity is ISO 800 (well sort of, it's fairly unusable because of the insane amount of noise but is there), saves in uncompressed TIFF and RAW. Image quality is a bit so and so but for IR use it's pretty much irrelevant anyway.
If you're buying a DSLR anyway and you want to work with IR images, I'd recommend checking out Sigma SD14, it has an easily removable filter and better yet it can be reinstalled just as easily, on the fly.
Don't be put off by the 4 and a bit megapixels either. Sigma uses Foveon sensor making the images insanely sharp. In terms of sharpness it's actually quite hard to tell an image taken with a 10mpxl conventional sensor and scaled up to size Foveon image apart. SD14 is going out of market and it's very cheap at the moment. As a big minus there are really no basic lenses. All Sigma mount lenses are mid range stuff so expect to pay 350 bucks or more for every single one. No nice primes available either. (theoretically Sigma's mount and Canon's EF-mount are interchangeable but it requires taking the whole camera apart)
While in normal photography it's drawbacks (poor colors, awful high sensitivity noise, expensive lenses, unbelievably horrible long exposure time performance) usually overwhelm the advantages if an IR capable camera is what you're after it's worth checking out.
Posted a basic look into RAW format in my thread, read it
Found a better alternative for a RAW conversion software than Lightroom.
Phase One's Capture One
. The amount of detail it's capable of extracting from a raw file is quite astonishing. Highly recommended. Basic version costs $129 and Pro $399. You need to get the Pro version to get the same functionality as with Lightroom so it's a bit more expensive.
A comparison image:
Note that these are exported with default settings so there's no luminance noise reduction in the Lightroom sample but there's moderate in Capture One and still it's capable of extracting more detail out of the original RAW.
Adobe has released a public beta of Lightroom 3 for Windows and Mac. It's available as a free download from Adobe labs. It's fully functional and the beta expires on April 30, 2010 so if you don't have a license already you'll get half a year of free Lightroom usage.
So definitely worth giving a try.
Sharing a Lightroom catalog between two computers
Adobe allows two Lightroom installations with a single key with a limitation that the software isn't used simultaneously on both computers. So here's a little tip for you Lightroom users like me who mostly use desktop computer but a laptop when on the go.
First of all copy or move your Lightroom archive to an external drive. Lightroom doesn't use a whole lot of bandwith when editing photos so pretty much the only thing affected is the import speed from hard drive since memory cards rarely exceed the transfer speed of even USB 2.0. Access times are slightly more critical and since USB interface increases the latency of the system I would recommend using a SSD-drive even if you don't really gain from increased transfer speeds. There's also an additional benefit of using a SSD-drive. SSD's rarely fail in a manner that causes a loss of data. The most common type of failure on a SSD is that it becomes unwriteable. USB 3.0, eSATA or Thunderbolt pretty much remove all the speed impact of using an external drive causes so if you have that option use it.
If your Lightroom catalog is large its probably beneficial to split it into an archival catalog (which you can store on the computer with more free storage space) and an active one. The speed gain of decreasing your catalog size is far more significant than the impact of using a USB-drive for your photos. This can be done easily with Lightroom's "Export as Catalog" feature. You can access your older photos simply by opening the other catalog file in Lighroom. If you're using a SSD-drive decreasing your archive size is beneficial because you can make do with a smaller SSD and save money.
If you have multiple drives or volumes on either of your computers the chances are that the drive letter that gets automatically assigned to your external drive is not the same on both the computers you use. You can assign the drive letter manually in "Control Panel -> Administrative Tools -> Computer Management -> Disk Management". Left click on the volume on your external drive and select "Change Drive Letter and Paths...". Assign a letter for your drive that is not previously used on either of your computers and you're golden. This has to be done on both your computers.
Next step is to move the catalog file (the file with .lrcat extension) to a cloud storage service that allows automatic synchronizing to your local drive. I personally had some issues with Google Drive so I opted for Dropbox which works like a charm. It's better to not keep the catalog file on the external drive because it gets a lot of read and write operations and the USB bandwidth and latency really has a big impact on performance. Using a cloud storage service is smart because otherwise you'd have to copy and paste the .lrcat file back and forth manually and that's just a bit more of an hassle than I'm willing to accept.
The folder location is stored in the .lrcat file and there's a good chance that after the "Export as Catalog" it's location is marked as relative to the .lrcat file thus rendering the archive unaccessible from Lighroom. Right click on the folder in the Library view's folder list and select Find missing folder (or something like that) and select the folder you created on your external drive. Now the folder location is absolute and you should be able to access all your full resolution photos. If you configured your PCs correctly you shouldn't need to do anything else. On Mac this is a bit easier because the path is based on volume label not drive letter and that is specified on the external drive and not by operating system.
Export settings are unique to the computer you're using so you need to set them up separately. This includes watermarks. As for import settings I'm actually not sure. I'm pretty sure they are stored in the .lrcat file. I've been using both Mac and PC and these import destination needs to be set up each time you move from system to another.
Using both PC and Mac
Now if you're a bit of a weirdo like me and you use both a PC and a Mac this causes a little bit of extra hassle. You need to do the "Find the missing folder" step each time you move from a system to another and setup the import's destination folder as well each time you move from system to another. Otherwise your imports will go to the pictures folder on the system you're using and are thus unaccessible on your other system. But since this has to be done only once when moving from system to another it's not really that much of an issue. Remembering to do the damn thing when you import photos might be. I've forgotten way more than once.
One more thing. The file system is an issue as well when using both Mac and PC. NTFS support in Mac OS is terrible and HFS+ support in Windows terrifying. So you're basically stuck with either FAT32 or exFAT. If you're using Mac OS X Snow Leopard 10.6.5 or later exFAT is strongly recommended since it supports file sizes larger than 4GB unlike FAT32. This is very handy if you work with exremely high resolution images such as large panoramas in Lightroom. exFAT is also more robust file system than FAT32 but neither can really match NTFS or HSF+ in terms of error correction and reliability but exFAT comes close.
One more thing. If you have a Catalog of reasonable size something like 2GB of storage Dropbox gives you should be plenty for your Catalog but you need to watch for the size of your previews folder. In this case Lightroom stores full resolution previews of your photos to your cloud storage so it can quite easily grow rather large. To negate this effect you should setup Lighroom to discard 1:1 previews for example after one week. This can be done by "Edit -> Catalog Settings... -> File Handling".
I've found this very handy since I have access to most of my photos where ever I may be, as long as I have my photo drive and a laptop with me and as an added bonus I don't end up clogging up my Macbook Air's drive with loads of photos.
If you don't have a Dropbox account and you wish to get one, you can get one with 500MB bonus on top of the 2GB default by clicking
Hope you guys find this useful.
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