TWiP #189 – Have Your Cake and Eat It Too

Audio MP3

This week on TWiP: Are Carl Zeiss lenses really better?, Sony opens the E-mount kimono, and Juan Pons and Rick Sammon of the Digital Photography Experience join the fray.

Hosts: Frederick Van Johnson with Alex Lindsay, Juan Pons, and Rick Sammon

Are Nikon and Canon lenses better than Zeiss ones?
DxO, a company known for putting lenses and cameras through a series of tests and publishing the results, has released some benchmark numbers that, judging by data only, shows the Carl Zeiss line of lenses trailing behind their Nikon and Canon counterparts – that cost half as much. Many people absolutely drool when they see or hear about a Zeiss lens because they are tauted as “the best” in the world, so what do these numbers mean? Are we too hung up on brand/status as photographers? Juan says more expensive does not necessarily mean better – he has some “low-end” lenses that produce images that are better than the ones from more expensive lenses, even ones within the same brand. Alex has tested both the Canon 50mm f/1.2 and the f/1.4 and likes the images coming from the 1.4 which is one quarter of the price of the 1.2. He has also had fine results overall with Sigma lenses considering they were half the price of Canon ones in the same focal length, although the Canon lenses are definitely sharper. Rick points out that sharpness, weather sealing, and the lens coating (which affects the color of the image) are more important than a lens brand name. Juan does not use third-party lenses but prefers the consistency of: sharpness, durability, and quality control from on-brand lenses.

Sony releases specifications for E-mount lenses
Sony is giving away the spec for its E-mount lens interchange mechanism in hopes that third-party lens makers will support its NEX cameras (the NEX-5, the NEX-3, and the NEX-VG10), those small compact with the monstrous interchangeable lenses on front. Time will tell if lens manufacturers will embrace this announcement, considering there is such a small group of consumers using these three cameras. Alex doesn’t see this as necessarily a desperation move by Sony to keep up with competitors, but rather sees it as a wise decision by opening the market and giving others a chance to develop novel advances. Juan is more concerned about market fragmentation with so many different mounts out there and therefore doesn’t see many lens manufacturers jumping on E-mount. Alex says perhaps in the future we may see only one mount other than Nikon and Canon, which will continue to dominant the market.

Man awarded $40,000 for having to delete photos he took of police
An Atlanta man has been awarded $40,000 after police confiscated and deleted cell phone photos he took of police activity from a public location. Alex believes he deserves every penny and Frederick says it should’ve been $40k for each photo! Alex says the guy has a lot of guts and deserves the money that he was awarded because people have the right to take these photos. He points out that a lot of the time, police officers and lawmakers themselves are ill-informed of what is protected under the First Amendment. Rick says to just be aware of where you should and really should not be taking photos. Juan wishes the settlement was a lot more to send a clear message to law enforcement that it is not a crime to take photos.

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Every week our producers scour the TWiP forums to find the best questions for us to answer on the show. Here are this week’s questions:

Question #1: Listener “MyNameIsHunter” is going to graduate in May and wants to know how to follow in the path of Tyler Ginter or Frederick to become a military photographer. Frederick says when he decided to join the military many years ago, he lucked out because the Air Force was in need of photographers. For our listener, he recommends to do as much research as possible beforehand, but to realize that enlisted men are put wherever they are needed most, so there are no guarantees on where they will end up or what they will be doing exactly. Alex says to perhaps consider the U.S. Army, which in particular is on the cutting edge of digital photography and videography.

Question #2: Christian from Montreal is an amateur photographer who has been using Photoshop Elements to organize and edit his pictures. He wants to know if he would gain any advantage in also having Lightroom – does it bring anything to the table that Elements doesn’t have? Do these programs complement each other well? Rick says they do, but suspects that once he tries Lightroom, Christian will stick with Lightroom because of its organizing capabilities, speed, and editing abilities – especially noise reduction. Juan has been happily using Lightroom since it first came out and uses Photoshop only about 2% of the time now.

Question #3: BradLentz from Sydney, Australia has been experimenting with time lapses lately, trying to shoot an ice cube melting over a half-hour period on a hot day, having the camera fire every 5 seconds. He says it seemed to work well until about the 10 minute mark when the photos began to get darker and then at the 15 minute mark, the screen was all black. Is this due to the sensor heating up? If so, would it work better to be in cooler settings or is it because the shutter is firing so often? Alex says Brad’s camera (the Canon XTi) does heat up a lot faster than other higher-end Canon bodies, but it does sound odd that the screen fades to black like that after shooting intermittently for only 15 minutes. Alex recommends checking that Brad is on all manual settings to rule out the camera compensating for changing lighting conditions and Rick says to make sure the battery is fully charged because depleting batteries heat up and affect the images that the sensor records.

Juan: Pano Element Package from Really Right Stuff which mounts to your tripod to allow for easy and precise panning when shooting panoramics.

Rick: The Arctic Butterfly sensor-cleaning device from Visible Dust as an alternative to sensor-cleaning fluids or a camera’s built-in sensor-cleaning feature.

Alex: Light: Science and Magic: An Introduction to Photographic Lighting
– a great basic primer on how to light objects, products, and people.

Frederick: this video on Petapixel that shows a fire extinguisher vs. a firethrower, shot at 1000 frames per second.

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Producer: Suzanne Llewellyn
Show notes by Ernest Aguayo: or
Bandwidth provided by Cachefly
Photo above by Frederick Van Johnson
Intro Music by Scott Cannizzaro

3 thoughts on “TWiP #189 – Have Your Cake and Eat It Too”

  1. Guys…
    NINE minutes before you started the first story!
    Please give us a break.
    I know you have to shill for the man but once we get the message, move on please…

  2. Fredrick:

    1. Very good podcast; perhaps the best overall photo podcast out there.

    2. But some constructive criticism, the vast majority of folks on TWIP are so brand centric that it’s frankly kind of embarassing and surprising for being “pros”. In regards to the Zeiss question, if you actually listen to the interaction / dialog, no one actually answered the question in regards to Zeiss. Furthermore, there were all of these odd ball and contradictory statements such as cost isn’t an indicator of quality… but one of the “pros” later stated that all he now uses are the Canon L line etc… Rick Sammon made various negative comments about 3rd party lens, but then went on to state that he hasn’t actually used any of them for quite some time. People, in terms of color rendition, clarity, build quality–> please will you actually go to BH and check out the Zeiss lens (ZF for Nikon, ZE for Canon etc…). The low quality of of discussion and the overt brand centric biases really take away from what is otherwise a good podcast.