Enthusiast Photographer – 2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

(I need to get busy and post more!)

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 26,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 10 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Updated China and Japan Summer 2012


As summer approaches, I’m planning another trip to China and Japan. Since my switch to LightRoom 4 over the holidays, I’ve been watching the Lightroom Channel on YouTube, trying to improve my skills.

I thought it would be fun to see what last Summer’s photos could look like. Here are some my favorites. I realize that I didn’t post many photos from my trip to Europe (that started one week after this work trip), so I’ll go do the same thing for those and post them, too.

Like any photography tool, the better you know it, the more effective you can be – Lightroom is no different, though I have to say I’m getting a slow start with it. Guess I need to spend more time with Kelby! 🙂

Card Test: X’s aren’t the only thing that matters…

[UPDATE: If a search engine has brought you here, I found an error in my testing – a quick scan might be useful here, but the final information is found in the “oops!” update.

I recently posted about the benefits of “X’s” – one measure for measuring the performance of our digital film cards, both SDHC and Compact Flash.

Now that I have the 1000X Lexar Professional Compact Flash cards in-hand to go along with my 400X Lexar Professional SD cards and both USB 2.0 and 3.0 card readers, I figured I’d test the combinations and see how things turned out.  The results were surprising…

Here was my methodology: I had 2.03GB of JPEG files from shooting the day before.  I would attach the reader with the card and dragged the DCIM folder from the card to a new folder on the drive.  I timed it from the moment I released the mouse button until the moment the copy window disappeared.  After each test, I deleted the folder so the same amount of space remained on my hard drive, which is a 180GB SSD (which is pretty fast, so your times might vary on spinning hard drives).

First up were the cards on the USB 3.0 reader, a Kingston model with good reviews on Amazon, though sometimes I wish I’d bought the Lexar version, which looks smaller and is less cluttered with other card types I don’t care about.  The 400X SD card finished copying in 2:05.4, where the 1000X Compact Flash card took only 1:09.1, not quite twice as fast.

Next I plugged in the much older USB 2.0 reader, which was also a Kingston product.  I bought the USB 3 reader when I thought one of my kids had lost this one.  Since I knew I was soon getting a ThinkPad T430s with USB 3.0, I went ahead and got the latest thing.  Then my wife found the old reader.  Oh well, at least I have my own now.

Anyway, after running the tests, I was a little dumbfounded.  The SD card took 2:31.8, which gives USB 3.0 a decent 26 second advantage.  Since this was only 1/8 of the card capacity, that can really add up.  However, the 1000X card finished in 1:10.7, giving USB 3 a modest 1.6 second advantage.

I heard back from Lexar when I asked about incompatibility issues, and their reply was they were maintaining compatibility and would work with any customers experiencing issues., so I guess this is good news for people with USB 2.0 readers and PC’s with USB only 2.0 slots.  At some point I’ll try to re-run these tests on a USB 2.0-based machine.

The last test surprised me quite a bit.  I copied the same files from the SD card using my built-in SD card reader on my machine.  The 400X SD card was exactly ten seconds faster than the 1000X Compact Flash card!

I’m sure someone can explain the reasons why, but the lesson I take away from it is this:  just like all cards at the same rated speed don’t deliver the same performance, overall performance isn’t limited to the card.  Your reader makes and the machine itself can make a big difference, too…

Knowing what I know now, I’d probably buy 600X SD cards and slower Compact Flash cards as backup – my goal in buying 1000X cards (which are not-quite-twice the price of the 400X cards) was to get faster transfers off the cards.  My guess is 600X cards off the built-in reader would be faster than the 1000X cards for about half the price.

If your PC doesn’t have a built-in reader, the faster CF cards give you a big benefit, but if you do, the SD cards might be a faster an more affordable alternative…

Enthusiast Photographer is Now on Facebok

I’ve set up a Facebook page for Enthusiast Photographer.  I hope it makes it easier to find and follow the blog.  I think it might also allow me to have more conversations that aren’t driven by full-blown posts.

If you’re a Facebook user, please feel free to visit the page and click the “like” button!


D800 Preview Revealed

It drives me crazy that Ken Rockwell has declared the D800 the best camera Nikon has ever made without ever holding one.  At least Thom Hogan and others are circumspect enough to be clear where they are inferring from the specs instead of a lot of hyperbole.  But whatever.

I followed a link from FredMiranda to the blog of a really terrific photographer named Cliff Mautner.  I was thrilled to see what a pro could do with the D800, but it was also great just to see the work of someone as talented as Cliff.  It might not be the camera for me, but it is clearly an amazing tool!

So hop on over and check it out at cmphotography.com.

Continuing Saga of CES: Lenspen

So between a busy day job and being a little under the weather, I’ve fallen behind in finishing up my CES experiences.  I’ve only got a couple left after this: Timbuk2 and my Nikon/Canon visits.  Today’s topic, however is Lenspen.

Ever tried to clean a filter and only have it wind up looking smeared and covered in tiny threads?  I’ve got pretty good microfiber from my auto detailing hobby and side business, and even my best stuff fails for photography filters.  On occasion, difficulty cleaning the filters has made me debate keeping them on the lens.  It sucks.

I’d heard references to Lenspen, but had never taken the time to look them up.  While a co-worker and I were wandering around, I happened to see their booth at CES.  I’m really glad I did.  I watched a demo, and picked up three different models.

LensPen is really simple:  You use the retractable natural-goat-hair brush (these are some hippy goats, that’s all I’m going to say about that…) to remove dust and particles from the lens surface.  Then you open the “pen” end, which is really a small concave rubber tip with a carbon-infused pad on it.  You wipe the lens clean using a steady circular motion and *voila* clean lens.  There is a filter model with a slightly flatter tip.  You re-charge the tip when you put the cap on and twist a bit – there is a reservoir of carbon material in the cap.

They rate each pen for 500 uses, which for me sounds like a years of use.  It works great, and I’m now satisfied that I can keep my filters and lenses clean.  They are probably available at your local camera store (and I mean the real camera store…) or, of course, at B&H.

One less thing to worry about…

Legs or or no legs?

Maybe it is the specter of Scott Kelby telling me the first step to sharp photography is a tripod, the kind of photography I do (lots of landscape/cityscape shots) or just the plain great results I’m getting when I use one, but I’m a pretty big fan of my tripod.  I look for excuses to use it, especially since I got the RRS head and L-bracket (which is still a post for another day).

But what about you?  Do you use one?  I’d love to hear comments on why you do or don’t, if you love it or hate it!