… And now I’m right to ditch Topaz AI denoise

This post does not need lengthy explanation, but DxO Deep Prime denoising is simply better.

It conserves details in a more natural way, but more importantly its denoising is not “Imma leave some crap traces of noise I confused with details here, and smooth that area slicker than a baby’s ass there”.

There is a tiny bit of perfectly regular and even noise left, which is great, while the important details are brought back to life. This is the denoising you were looking for.

… And now I’m right to ditch Topaz AI denoise

I was using Topaz Denoise “wrong” (for some shots)

I’ve been an early adopter of Topaz Denoise, when it was called AI Clear, which was already mind-blowingly efficient, despite a tendency to fatten small details a bit much to my taste. The result was still impressive in term of noise reduction, or should I say, noise removal.

I naturally upgraded to Topaz Denoise AI, which was and still is significantly better at preserving good looking details.

Looking back, one of the thing that was pretty evident with AI Clear is that it performed much better on raw files directly (or leaving the color noise reduction slider to 0 in ACR/LR). The algorithm was probably trained on raw images that included the color noise left by demosaicing. So I was using AI Clear on my raw files, outputing a 8bit TIF or even directly a JPG. This was far from ideal: The noise was gone but so was the raw file editing latitude. Better have you exposure very right in-camera.

When Denoise AI came, it was kind of the opposite, it seemed particularly at ease with pre-processed files out of your favorite raw processing tool, free of color noise and with all your edits baked-in. And although it’s always been possible to directly load a raw file inside Denoise AI (at least my Canon CR2 files, but for those more modern raw files it does not support converting to DNG works just fine), I kind of let go of that workflow and forgot about it.

Until now! There’s been a few pictures I took this summer of a kingfisher that, unfortunately, had to be shot in the shade at low shutter speed, higher than would have liked ISO and all that on a non-stabilized lens. The amount of keepers was not great, but I had quite a few anyway.
I decided to give the raws a spin again but this time loading them directly in Denoise AI, then saving a DNG. And I don’t regret doing that. Yes, that’s a lot more space on your hard drive, having the original raw and the denoised DNG, but the result is far better. For the 2 folks eventually reading my blog now and then who are interested in photography, give it a try, you probably won’t be disappointed.

PS: This method has the great advantage also, in my opinion, to get rid of the mushy noise Denoise AI tend to leave in defocused areas of pre-processed raw that have seen their shadows, highlights, contrast, blacks and whites torn appart.

In the end the only downside of denoising the raw to save a DNG before editing, is that you lose you camera color profile presets, so it requires a little more ACR/LR work to recover the “look”. Nothing that represents too much work for you best-best shots.

I was using Topaz Denoise “wrong” (for some shots)

Canon, canon, canon…

As a 7D Mark II user, and long time Canon user simply because once you have some lenses it’s hard to ditch them all for a new system, I was quite in despair for Canon to come up with a something that remotely looked like a good idea.

After the EOS R joke, the announcement of the 100-500 f/4.5-7.1 that, let’s face it, was a bit disappointing (I guess everyone hopped they’d keep the 5.6 max aperture regardless of the final lens size), followed by the 600 and 800 f/11 absurdities (regardless of what reviewers say), I have to admit that my guts are craving an EOS R5 (which I cannot afford).

But why? After all, the EOS R5 is not much more than a Nikon 850D and quite a bit less than a Sony A7RIV… Well for the AF that is finally on par with Sony, much better than Nikon’s mirrorless offering and quite a bit better than any of Canon DSLR counterpart.

At the end of the day, you can adapt to every camera flaw you want, the final word is said by the autofocus. You can whine as much as you want about ergonomics, what you want on your memory card are sharp photos.

My guts also tell me the only brand worthy of my hypothetic money is Nikon. Not Sony, not Canon. Fuji is they were taking seriously the world of wildlife photography could be a good contender but I think that sooner or later, I might want a full frame camera.

Money-wise I hope Canon is not going to wait another year to release the rumored EOS R7, now that they have the tech working and shining in the EOS R5 as great as it can. I suppose there will be an EOS R1 before the also hypothetic olympics and we’ll have to wait after that body so the R7 is not casting any shadow on the already crippled sales of non-toy cameras.

So kudos Canon, despite all my hate for your commercial practices, I want an EOS R5 even more than I want an A7RIV. Nah kidding. Still want an A7R IV.

Canon, canon, canon…

The vegan [whatever] scam

I came across this company producing “vegan” leather from cactus: https://www.facebook.com/desserto.pelle

Their presentation video is typical of a scam to me. It does not really present the quality of their product, but green-bash another industry to buy themselves an environmentally sound image.

But it’s lies, only lies.

No industry ever that used leather in a way or another (fashion, cars…) has any farmer grow animals for their skin only. First of all, there is the meat and milk industry, which raises animals for alimentation. The skin is what is left of the animal once it has been consumed.
Second is the (very few comparatively) farms where animals are raised specifically for their skin, but you can be sure the meat is not thrown away and is joining the food chain as well, because that would otherwise be a waste of income, a waste period.

So what this company is proposing, is to just leave the meat/milk industry continue to grow steadily as they have been for quite long now, and using extra land to produce leather from plants.

So not only this vegan leather scam increases the farming land used overall, but if successful it will take away a market for meat/milk farmers to make the best use of all the byproducts of their activity, actually increasing their environmental impact as they will be left with more waste, less income and overall a less efficient business that does not make the most out of their “products” with the unsold skins for the leather industry.

Don’t be a stupid fool believing that everything labelled vegan is better for the environment. It’s not. Vegetables uses a lot more land for a lot less calories. They uses a lot more pesticides than any meat or milk farm, which can in fact perfectly go with none at all (althouh many still boost their meadows for higher productivity). Animals farms can keep their meadows trees, it does not prevent grass from growing. Veggies farms usually cut everything down, lowering CO2 absorption capacity further more. Veggies farms uses a fuckton of greenhouses to grow crops sooner in the season, or crops not doing so well for the local climate, and they’re made of either plastic (ha-ha) or glass (which is, let me remind you, need to be melted and consume a lot of gaz and reject a lot of CO2, not to mention raw material extraction….).

Animal farms are not perfect, far from it, but their environmental impact is not as huge as some lobbying vegans are keen to pretend. In most case there is just meadows and one barn construction. Most of the pollution from these farms could easily be lowered, if people just accepted that the very low price they pay for food is not realistic and the reason animal raising is polluting.

Buy local, from small organic farms, at the real price of food. Lower your meat intake a bit. That’s all there is to do to tackle the farming pollution issue, meat or vegetables.

The vegan [whatever] scam

Canon RF 100-500mm f/4.5-7.1L IS USM

They did it, they did it! AGAIN! Cripple hammer!

when it’s not the body, it’s the lens. Anything consumer/prosumer grade is bound to be crippled. This is the Canon way and now more than ever it’s clear it’s not going to change.

When people like me expected something to compete with Sony’s FE 200–600 mm F5.6–6.3 G OSS or Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR, Canon puts a crippled f/7.1 (!!) lens on the market. One that doesn’t look anywhere near sexy, additionally.

Sure f/7.1 is “just” 1/3 stop less light than f/6.3, but f/6.3 was already a compromise that not anybody liked, but a necessary compromise in term of price. But at least that gave you 600mm! not 500… But f/7.1 means a lot of things, too many things to my taste:

  • another 33% less light gathering ability on top of the f/6.3 of the Sony lens.
  • 66% less light gathering ability compared to the EF 100-400 or the Nikon 200-500
  • Even busier backgrounds. For wildlife it’s already difficult to get close enough to smooth out backgrounds at f/6.3 or even f/5.6.
  • Early mornings, late evenings and woods photography will be increasingly demanding on the camera’s ISO performance. I don’t doubt the latest R bodies are better in this regards due to the new sensor, but it’s still one more problem to the mix.
  • The lens is not sexy at all. What do people who cannot afford a 500 or 600mm prime but are passionate about wildlife photography want? A lens that does not look like a toy. This one looks like a toy.It’ll look ridiculous on a tripod. I really don’t care about carrying big and heavy lenses.

I’m sure the lens will be very sharp, very fast to focus and up to the L standards.But it still represents too many compromise for me.

Definitely moving on. I’ll wait for Nikon to announce and show its 200-600 to decide Sony or Nikon.

Canon RF 100-500mm f/4.5-7.1L IS USM

Lwan sells photos

Yeah right. Photography is expensive and time consuming. It’s my hobby, my passion. It makes me feel good, even when I return from the field empty-handed but had the chance to witness some wildlife behavior.

Now, when I say expensive, I mean EXPENSIVE. My current crappy gear has cost me near 2500€ and it’s definitely way outdated (also, I don’t like it all that much).

If you wanna help, BUY PRINTS. Any euro counts toward renewing my photography equipment to something more 2020.

PicFaire is awesome, it lets me upload my images and it lets you order prints without me having to lift a finger. No matter what, I get my preferred price cut (15€). If you think ordering a framed 40×30 print is expensive (I think it’s around 50-60€), remember that every photo is I’ve put up for sale is the result of hundreds of hours stuck in the cold or excessive heat, fully static waiting for the animal to appear where I expect it to.

It’s hundreds of hours or learning about animal behavior and habbits, it’s dozen of hours of lazy google map planing of my next hide.

It’s time consuming and expensive. I need (want) to upgrade my gear to something around 3500€. Please help. Don’t be a pussy, I’m not asking for a donation. Buy yourself a print! And tell you kids: hey this is a [name of animal here] and the photo was taken by someone I know (even if you don’t know me I endorse you saying it).



Lwan sells photos

PicFair: Photographer’s graal?

After reluctantly get the visa out to pay for a basic subscription to Flickr pro after the mailing asking for users to subscribe to save the service, I was a little disappointed that this wouldn’t allow friends and family to order prints themselves.

I looked at alternative, like SmugSmuh (which owns Flickr…) that offers that service, but quite frankly for casual prints the cost is too high. I don’t have that many people interested in buying my photos. At around 25€/month as a minimum (I think) to have users order prints themselves, it’s a bit much. And I didn’t want the hassle of ordering myself, wait for reception and then give/ship back, adding to the overall time and cost.

And then I stumbled on PicFair, which is exactly what a website offering photo storage and printing should be at first sight: very reasonable fee (20% which is added to your price automatically), your personal shop is all provided and ready to go, and most importantly: you don’t pay a subscription to gain access to printing service for any visitor including yourself! You visitors place their own orders and are charged the 20% fee on top of your price. Fantastic.

PicFair: Photographer’s graal?

Camera brand thought

I may not follow my own advice and think short-term benefits instead, because photography is a hobby, costs a fortune and money is tight, but with Canon and Sony having many more markets to get money from, maybe Nikon or Fuji which are mostly producing cameras/optical devices is the sensible bet. At least they have nothing else to worry about than getting desirable cameras and lenses on the market.

Camera brand thought

Canon mirrorless APS-C

The users (and probably Canon too, long ago): Having a full-frame compatible mount for the APS-C cameras has greatly helped Canon DSLR sales by allowing to enter the DSLR world by the affordable APS-C door, then buy full-frame lenses and eventually upgrade to full-frame bodies.

Canon with mirrorless system: I’ve always wondered what shooting yourself in the foot would feel like.

Canon mirrorless APS-C