The untold story of ILM →

May 20, 2015 |

What an amazing story by Alex French and Howie Kahn for Wired, with photography by Dan Winters. Industrial Light & Magic is one of the most iconic companies in movie-making history, and it all started because George Lucas wanted to make a space movie:

As the young director had conceived it, Star Wars was a film that literally couldn’t be made; the technology required to bring the movie’s universe to visual life simply didn’t exist. Eventually 20th Century Fox gave Lucas $25,000 to finish his screenplay—and then, after he garnered a Best Picture Oscar nomination for American Graffiti, green-lit the production of Adventures of Luke Starkiller, as Taken From the Journal of the Whills, Saga I: The Star Wars. However, the studio no longer had a special effects department, so Lucas was on his own. He would adapt, and handily: He not only helped invent a new generation of special effects but launched a legendary company that would change the course of the movie business.

Come to think of it, there’s probably no better origin story than that. Take your time to savor this piece, along with the accompanying images. It is epic in every way.

♤ ♧ ♡ ♢

The MacBook review over at Tools & Toys →

May 20, 2015 |

Awesome review by Nate Barham. I really like that his review is mostly not about the MacBook itself, but why it makes sense, and why it needs to exist:

It is a computer for there rather than here in that if you are always here, then Apple’s lineup likely contains a better machine for you: one that emphasizes power, or screen real estate, or a multitude of ports, or price. But the MacBook is not for here — it is meant to be taken with you: to the bus stations, the parks, the coffee shops, the next-door offices, the weekend cabins and hotel rooms. When you go there, it is meant to go with you, and to hardly be noticed when you do.

And boy, are those pictures gorgeous.

♤ ♧ ♡ ♢

The reciprocal rule in photography, explained →

May 19, 2015 |

Great, informative article by Nasim Mansurov over at Photography Life:

Due to the fact that we as humans cannot be completely still, particularly when hand-holding an object like a camera, the movements caused by our bodies can cause camera shake and introduce blur to images. The basic premise of the reciprocal rule is that the shutter speed of your camera should be at least the reciprocal of the effective focal length of the lens. If you are confused by what this means, don’t worry – it is really easy to understand once you see it in an example.

Really useful and practical advice. I found the Auto ISO section to be particularly interesting, as I had always wondered how the optimum ISO was determined when using this feature.

♤ ♧ ♡ ♢

Panasonic announces new Lumix G7 Micro Four Thirds camera →

May 18, 2015 |

It looks like Fuji is not the only company with big news today, with Panasonic also officially announcing their new Lumix DMC-G7 Micro Four Thirds camera.

Just like the Fuji X-T10, this Panasonic starts at a hair under $800, which places it squarely in serious amateur territory and in direct competition with the aforementioned Fuji camera, as well as with the Olympus OM-D E-M10, which debuted at $699 but is now being sold dirt-cheap on Amazon for $449 body only.

The biggest features of the new G7 camera are, of course, 4K video recording at up to 30 fps and a very handy new mode called 4K Photo, which allows you to select individual frames of any prerecorded 4K video footage, resulting in 8 MP still images. This means you effectively get an 8 MP, 30 fps burst rate, which should ensure you always get the perfect shot. It also includes an electronic shutter option, capable of going up to 1/16,000th of a second.

Physically, the new G7 feels like a carbon copy of the Olympus OM-D E-M1, albeit only cosmetically. Unfortunately, it doesn’t include nearly as many features and its build quality isn’t quite up to the same standard, but that’s understandable.

A bit more disappointing is the fact that this new Lumix camera still fails to address the two biggest long-standing issues I have with most Panasonic bodies:

  • Still no In-Body Image Stabilization (IBIS). Given how much praise the Olympus IBIS technology has received, you’d think Panasonic would take note but alas, not yet. Granted, most Panasonic-designed Micro Four Thirds lenses have IS built in, but the last few Olympus cameras have clearly proven that building IS in the camera body is clearly the best way to go in terms of performance and overall long-term cost of building a system.

  • No weather-sealing. Perhaps it’s too much to ask of an entry-level camera but still, it would have been a welcome addition.

Now, if the E-M10 was still being sold for $699, I’d perhaps understand wanting to purchase this new G7 instead, especially if you shoot a lot of video. There’s no doubt the Panasonic camera is the one to get for video, but I’m having quite a bit of trouble thinking of any other good reasons to buy it. And when you factor in the current price of the E-M10 well, the situation doesn’t get any better for the G7.

Honestly, with that kind of a price difference I’m not sure what to think of the G7. If you’re primarily a stills shooter, the E-M10 strikes me as a much better value, offering nearly everything the G7 does — except the electronic shutter and the 4K capabilities — for a little over half the money. Since I have no interest in 4K video or stills, that $350 difference is a pretty hefty premium to pay for an electronic shutter, if you ask me. And this is without mentioning the excellent 3-axis IBIS of the E-M10, which is incredibly useful in everyday shooting.

The landscape in the Micro Four Thirds system right now is incredibly interesting. On one hand, Olympus is making killer bodies every year, and now they’re kicking it up a notch with their PRO line of lenses. On the other hand, Panasonic has released several optical gems in the past few years, like the Nocticron 42.5mm f/1.2 and the Summilux 25mm f/1.4. I find it incredibly funny that one company seems to excel at making awesome prime lenses and the other at making awesome bodies.

If I had to choose today, I’d definitely go with an Olympus body and if money was no object, I’d take a serious look at those Panasonic primes, especially if you’re into fast glass. And if you’re more of a zoom person, the Olympus PRO lenses are definitely a no-brainer. Of course, your mileage may vary. In any case, at the end of the day having two major companies pushing each other and pushing the system forward can only be good for customers.

The Panasonic Lumix G7 will be released on June 15, 2015 for $797.99 body only. If you feel like it could be you cup of tea, you can preorder it on Amazon.

♤ ♧ ♡ ♢

The media’s reaction to Seymour Hersh’s bin Laden scoop has been disgraceful →

May 18, 2015 |

Trevor Timm, writing at Columbia Journalism Review:

Barrels of ink have been spilled ripping apart Hersh’s character, while barely any follow-up reporting has been done to corroborate or refute his claims—even though there’s no doubt that the Obama administration has repeatedly misinformed and misled the public about the incident. Even less attention has been paid to the little follow-up reporting that we did get, which revealed that the CIA likely lied about its role in finding bin Laden, which it used to justify torture to the public.

Hersh has attempted to force the media to ask questions about its role in covering a world-shaping event—but it’s clear the media has trouble asking such questions if the answers are not the ones they want to hear.

Brutal criticism on the media’s coverage of Hersh’s story. The fact that there’s been more talk about Hersh than the actual story is deeply troubling.

As an individual, you may think Hersh is a loon, and maintaining healthy dose of skepticism is always great, but journalists should be held to a higher standard. Going out on a limb and publicly branding Hersh a “conspiracy theorist” simply because you don’t like the guy is not journalism, it’s tantamount to school yard bullying. We expect that from Twitter, but we deserve better from the media.

♤ ♧ ♡ ♢

Fujifilm announces new X-T10 camera →

May 18, 2015 |

If I had to summarize the newly announced Fuji X-T10 camera in one sentence, I’d say it’s Fujifilm’s answer to the Olympus OM-D E-M10: a full-featured, affordable camera in a serious, high-quality body for people who are ready to start getting serious about photography.

The X-T10 has the same X-Trans APS-C sensor as Fuji’s top-shelf camera, the X-T1, so IQ should be stellar. It also has a full array of dedicated manual controls and the new AF modes that were just introduced in the X-T1’s 4.0 firmware update, as well as an electronic shutter than can go up to 1/32,000th of a second.

I’m intrigued. On paper, the new X-T10 gives the X-T1 a heck of a run for its money. With such a compelling feature set, solid body and a relatively affordable entry price, it could very well grow to become Fuji’s next big hit and the most popular X-series camera.

The Fuji X-T10 will start at $799 body only and will be released in June 2015. It is currently available for preorder on Amazon.

♤ ♧ ♡ ♢

Universal Pictures releases first teaser for upcoming ‘Steve Jobs’ movie starring Michael Fassbender in the lead role →

May 18, 2015 |

Well, it definitely looks… interesting:

I’m of the opinion that, even when his movies are terrible, Michael Fassbender as an actor can do no wrong. That said, I keep struggling to picture him as Steve Jobs, and this teaser has done little to erase my doubts. I just don’t quite see it yet.

This will probably be one of the most challenging roles in Fassbender’s career and considering his history, that’s saying a lot. Given the fiasco that was the first Steve Jobs movie I’m not overly optimistic, but I can’t wait for him to prove me wrong.

Which, time and time again, somehow and against all odds, he invariably does.

♤ ♧ ♡ ♢

Women Making Whiskey: An 800-Year History →

May 15, 2015 |

Fascinating piece by Lindsey Gilpin over at The Atlantic:

Women are credited with the invention of beer around 4,000 B.C., when they fermented barley to make the beverage. Egyptian women, Peruvian women, Dutch women—they were all brewmasters with their own particular, popular recipes. Maria Hebraea, an alchemist who was first written about in the fourth century, has been credited with building an early distilling apparatus. That device, the alembic still, is still used in some parts of Europe for making brandy or whiskey, and is a model for stills used today in the foothills of Appalachia, where people continue to make moonshine.

♤ ♧ ♡ ♢

Australian modeling agencies now require models to have a minimum of 10,000 Instagram followers to book a job →

May 15, 2015 |

Sam Bailey, writing for The Daily Mail Australia:

General manager of Vivien’s Models Catherine McGill told Daily Mail Australia that they launched an ’influencers’ section two months ago because of the growing need to accommodate client demand for social media numbers.

‘Our bookers were giving me feedback that clients wanted models who might be blonde, beachy and had a high social media following,’ she said.

‘Now when we’re booking talent, in negotiation process, we talk about the girls numbers.’ McGill says the average expectation of clients will range anywhere between 10,000 - 300,000 followers.

‘It’s not hard and fast number, but 10,000 is the minimum number clients are asking for,’ she said.

This is the ugly side of the social media-driven world we’ve created.

♤ ♧ ♡ ♢

MirrorLessons reviews the Voigtlander 42.5mm f/0.95 lens →

May 15, 2015 |

MirrorLessons continues their series of reviews of the spectacular Voigtlander primes for the Micro Four Thirds system. This time around it’s the 42.5mm f/0.95 and by the looks of it, it didn’t disappoint.

On one hand, I loved the purely mechanical build of the Voigtlander 42.5mm f/0.95 and the accuracy of the manual focus ring. The 0.95 aperture makes subject isolation a breeze and the bokeh is as creamy as custard. On the other, I’d be reluctant to give up autofocus completely. And with offerings like the M.Zuiko 45mm f/1.8 and Nocticron 42.5mm f/1.2 on the market, it is possible to have a very fast aperture, beautiful bokeh and that razor-like sharpness that is so desirable from a portrait lens.

One thing to keep in mind when considering these specialty lenses is that they’re not about technical perfection, but about character. Clinically sharp lenses can actually have a detrimental effect on certain types of photography, and portraiture is probably the best example of that. Once a lens is so sharp that it starts revealing imperfections, the overall effect may stop being pleasant and cross the line into unflattering territory.

Yes, the Panasonic Nocticron is sharper, especially in the corners, but it’s so clinically perfect that in some cases its images can look a bit artificial. The same thing has been said about the Olympus 75mm f/1.8.

Those lenses may be technically better, and they’re definitely amazing, but none of them can match the character and unique look of the Voigtlander primes.1 Much like in life certain flaws can add to a person’s character, in photography perfection is rarely what makes for an interesting photograph.

  1. In their defense, these lenses have unique looks of their own, and many people even prefer them to the Voigtlanders. It’s largely a matter of personal preference.

♤ ♧ ♡ ♢