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Photography in Hollywood

April 6th, 2013 - 01:28:32 PM:

Note: I've written the following years ago, but have never published it. So why not now?

Photography and Hollywood is usually a bad mix. And by that I don't mean the paparazzi problems, but how photography is presented in a typical Hollywood movie. A lot of really nice movies are made in Hollywood, but whenever it comes to science and technology, many movies fail. Whenever someone operates a computer in a movie, you involuntarily think “hmm, it never looks anything like this on my computer”. When movies touch topics like physics, they almost never get it right. Even if you allow for some stretch, often they are even ridiculously far from reality. You can't help but wonder what they meant when they said they had help from experts. These certainly didn't help to get the facts straight…

Photography is no different. Whenever you see someone handling a camera or working with film or video in a movie, half of the time you wonder if the actor ever held a camera before shooting the movie. Even if you're only a half-serious amateur, you know what you're shown is either plain wrong or far from reality, and you like to scream “hey, get a clue before shooting such a movie!”.

I bet you have seen all of the following at least once in a movie or TV show.

Note: I've written the following years ago, but have never published it. So why not now? Photography and Hollywood is usually a bad mix. And by that I don't mean the paparazzi problems, but how photography is presented in a typical Hollywood movie. A lot of really nice movies are made in Hollywood, but whenever it comes to science and technology, many movies fail. Whenever someone operates a computer in a movie, you involuntarily think “hmm, it never looks anything like this on my computer”. When movies touch topics like physics, they almost never get it right. Even if you allow for some stretch, often they are even ridiculously far from reality. You can't help but wonder what they meant when they said they had help from experts. These certainly didn't help to get the facts straight… Photography is no different. Whenever you see someone handling a camera or working with film or video in a movie, half of the time you wonder if the actor ever held a camera before shooting the movie. Even if you're only a half-serious amateur, you know what you're shown is either plain wrong or far from reality, and you like to scream “hey, get a clue before shooting such a movie!”. I bet you have seen all of the following at least once in a movie or TV show.

The hidden improvements of firmware 1.07 for the SLT-A77

February 6th, 2013 - 08:03:21 AM:

Firmware 1.07 for the SLT-A77 officially added only lens compensation support for a few extra lenses. But Sony has the unfortunate habit of including other improvements without announcing them. Improvements are always welcome, but I don't quite understand why these are not made official. This might be a false sense of pride to not admit mistakes.

Anyway, back to hidden improvements of the new firmware: With firmware 1.06 I got quite inconsistent flash exposure. Exposure varied within about ± 1 stop around correct exposure. This happend with the Minolta 3600HS (D) mounted on the camera, but was also reported for other flashes. After some experiments I finally found that this was connected with the Electronic Front Curtain. When you turned the EFCS off and used the mechanical front curtain, flash exposure was back to normal.

Now with firmware 1.07 installed, flash exposure with the same flash is very consistent. There's no longer a difference when the EFCS is on.

Unfortunately, the Macro Flash Controller MFC-1000 with the Ring Flash mounted still does not work with the EFCS: the flash does not sync correctly with the camera, and no light from the flash ends up in the picture. With this setup you still need to turn off the EFCS, and only then you get a working Ring Flash.

Firmware 1.07 for the SLT-A77 officially added only lens compensation support for a few extra lenses. But Sony has the unfortunate habit of including other improvements without announcing them. Improvements are always welcome, but I don't quite understand why these are not made official. This might be a false sense of pride to not admit mistakes. Anyway, back to hidden improvements of the new firmware: With firmware 1.06 I got quite inconsistent flash exposure. Exposure varied within about ± 1 stop around correct exposure. This happend with the Minolta 3600HS (D) mounted on the camera, but was also reported for other flashes. After some experiments I finally found that this was connected with the Electronic Front Curtain. When you turned the EFCS off and used the mechanical front curtain, flash exposure was back to normal. Now with firmware 1.07 installed, flash exposure with the same flash is very consistent. There's no longer a difference when the EFCS is on. Unfortunately, the Macro Flash Controller MFC-1000 with the Ring Flash mounted still does not work with the EFCS: the flash does not sync correctly with the camera, and no light from the flash ends up in the picture. With this setup you still need to turn off the EFCS, and only then you get a working Ring Flash.


Please be patient with August 29th announcements

August 28th, 2012 - 08:04:29 AM:

The rumors for big Sony announcements on August 29th have been out for a while now, and it seems they are not unfounded. Unfortunately I'm practically on my way to Norway at the same time, with limited Internet access. So I will not be able to add the new Sony hardware to my tech tables before I'm back in two weeks. Please be patient that this site is not as up-to-date as it usually is.

The rumors for big Sony announcements on August 29th have been out for a while now, and it seems they are not unfounded. Unfortunately I'm practically on my way to Norway at the same time, with limited Internet access. So I will not be able to add the new Sony hardware to my tech tables before I'm back in two weeks. Please be patient that this site is not as up-to-date as it usually is.

More improvements with firmware 1.05 of SLT-A77/A65

March 31st, 2012 - 08:22:07 AM:

The Firmware update to version 1.05 for the SLT-A77 and SLT-A65 contains more than was announced. The Japanese announcement mentions “other improvements”, without going into detail. Further testing and reports from the community reveal what these other improvements are:

  1. There were some problems with Minolta TCs and the Minolta 300/2.8 and 600/4 APO telephoto lenses. After some minutes of use, the camera would only hunt for focus. Firmware 1.05 reportedly has fixed this issue.

If you find other improvements, please comment below, and I'll update this posting.

The Firmware update to version 1.05 for the SLT-A77 and SLT-A65 contains more than was announced. The Japanese announcement mentions “other improvements”, without going into detail. Further testing and reports from the community reveal what these other improvements are: There were some problems with Minolta TCs and the Minolta 300/2.8 and 600/4 APO telephoto lenses. After some minutes of use, the camera would only hunt for focus. Firmware 1.05 reportedly has fixed this issue. If you find other improvements, please comment below, and I'll update this posting.

SLT-A77/A65 Firmware 1.05

March 29th, 2012 - 07:18:25 AM:

Rumor had it for some time, and today Sony has released firmware version 1.05 for the SLT-A77 and SLT-A65.

The new changes are:

  1. Added more lenses supported by the in-camera auto-correction features:
    In total, the A77 and A65 now can auto-correct a total of 12 lenses.
  2. Improved response time for camera shutdown, auto-review, front and rear dials and playback.
  3. Improved AF response for the Sony Alpha 500/4 G SSM.
  4. Improved AF accuracy for high-contrast targets.

Unfortunately, the restrictions of many features to JPEG-only mode (and in particular, the necessity to manually switch to JPEG-only to access these features) were still not lifted. Other improvements of usability, e. g. the ability to remote-start movie recording or the ability to customize more buttons, are also lacking.

Rumor had it for some time, and today Sony has released firmware version 1.05 for the SLT-A77 and SLT-A65. The new changes are: Added more lenses supported by the in-camera auto-correction features: Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 24/2 ZA SSM Carl Zeiss Planar T* 85/1.4 ZA Sony Alpha DT 35/1.8 SAM Sony Alpha DT 50/1.8 SAM Carl Zeiss Sonnar T* 135/1.8 ZA Sony Alpha 70-300/4.5-5.6 G SSM In total, the A77 and A65 now can auto-correct a total of 12 lenses. Improved response time for camera shutdown, auto-review, front and rear dials and playback. Improved AF response for the Sony Alpha 500/4 G SSM. Improved AF accuracy for high-contrast targets. Unfortunately, the restrictions of many features to JPEG-only mode (and in particular, the necessity to manually switch to JPEG-only to access these features) were still not lifted. Other improvements of usability, e. g. the ability to remote-start movie recording or the ability to customize more buttons, are also lacking.

Sony announces AF 500/4 G SSM lens

February 8th, 2012 - 08:44:29 AM:

Sony has today announced their long-awaited AF 500/4 G SSM lens for release in March 2012.

Sony Alpha 500/4 G SSM

Little has changed compared to the last version that Sony has shown. Most obvious is the change of the finish. Sony seems to move away from their silver-colored lenses again. The final version of the 500/4 is painted plain white, with no shiny patches of orange. The lens in its official finish fits well into the line of earlier G lenses, like the 70-200/2.8 and the 300/2.8, with only the 70-400 sticking out like a sore thumb.

Sony has also released the final technical data. There are also few surprises there. The lens is officially sealed against moisture and dust, and a new lens element coating technology promises to cut flare to a new low.

Also as expected, the lens is compatible with the 1.4× and 2× teleconverters. AF is maintained with the 1.4×, with the 2× only manual focus is possible.

Also see:


Sony has today announced their long-awaited AF 500/4 G SSM lens for release in March 2012. Sony Alpha 500/4 G SSM Little has changed compared to the last version that Sony has shown. Most obvious is the change of the finish. Sony seems to move away from their silver-colored lenses again. The final version of the 500/4 is painted plain white, with no shiny patches of orange. The lens in its official finish fits well into the line of earlier G lenses, like the 70-200/2.8 and the 300/2.8, with only the 70-400 sticking out like a sore thumb. Sony has also released the final technical data. There are also few surprises there. The lens is officially sealed against moisture and dust, and a new lens element coating technology promises to cut flare to a new low. Also as expected, the lens is compatible with the 1.4× and 2× teleconverters. AF is maintained with the 1.4×, with the 2× only manual focus is possible. Also see: Lens tech data for Sony Alpha 500/4 G SSM

SLT-A77/A65 Firmware 1.04 Upgrade

November 29th, 2011 - 01:09:49 PM:

Sony has just released firmware 1.04 for the Sony SLT-A77/A65 (for example, click here and here to download). As usual, this is a common upgrade that can be installed on all regional models. Of course, you will still get only the languages and features of that regional model.

The official improvements (compared to version 1.03) are:

  • Added more lenses supported by the lens correction feature. The newly supported lenses are: This means the A77 now automatically corrects vignetting, chromatic aberrations and distortion of 6 lenses.
  • Improved usability and response times
  • Improved image quality

I will update my A77 review as soon as I'm back home next weekend.

Update

After installing version 1.04, I found there is no need to update the review. The reason is that none of the problems described there are fixed!

I can confirm that Lens Compensation works with the 16-80/3.5-4.5. Other than that and the version number, I do not find any difference! The control wheels react as sluggishly as before, turning off the camera still takes about 5 seconds, viewfinder switchover has not improved, and none of the problems and bugs described in my review were fixed. I read about the problem that in single shot mode the camera sometimes recorded two images with a single press of the release button. But I never experienced this before, so obviously version 1.04 does not fix this for me. I can not confirm that the shutdown hang was fixed, because I experienced it only once, anyway.

Sony has just released firmware 1.04 for the Sony SLT-A77/A65 (for example, click here and here to download). As usual, this is a common upgrade that can be installed on all regional models. Of course, you will still get only the languages and features of that regional model. The official improvements (compared to version 1.03) are: Added more lenses supported by the lens correction feature. The newly supported lenses are: Vario-Sonnar T* DT 16-80/3.5-4.5 ZA DT 16-105/3.5-5.6 This means the A77 now automatically corrects vignetting, chromatic aberrations and distortion of 6 lenses. Improved usability and response times Improved image quality I will update my A77 review as soon as I'm back home next weekend. Update After installing version 1.04, I found there is no need to update the review. The reason is that none of the problems described there are fixed! I can confirm that Lens Compensation works with the 16-80/3.5-4.5. Other than that and the version number, I do not find any difference! The control wheels react as sluggishly as before, turning off the camera still takes about 5 seconds, viewfinder switchover has not improved, and none of the problems and bugs described in my review were fixed. I read about the problem that in single shot mode the camera sometimes recorded two images with a single press of the release button. But I never experienced this before, so obviously version 1.04 does not fix this for me. I can not confirm that the shutdown hang was fixed, because I experienced it only once, anyway.

Lowepro Inverse 200 AW - short review

November 14th, 2011 - 07:29:23 AM:

When you buy your first SLR, you soon notice that it's not a good idea to let it bang at other objects when you carry it around. So you buy a bag for it, e. g. one of the abundant top-loading bags. Then, if you've been bitten by the SLR bug, you probably add one or two lenses to your set and an external flash, and so you've outgrown your bag. So you sell your top-loader and buy another bag. And then you buy a tripod, or a larger lens, etc. And at this point, you realize: that one ideal bag simply does not exist. A bag that can hold everything you own is just overkill when you only take a walk in the park.

Over the time, I've owned seven camera bags, used another two, and until shortly, I was left with just three. Now I've yet again bought a camera bag (it's impossible to have too many), the Lowepro Inverse 200 AW.

When you buy your first SLR, you soon notice that it's not a good idea to let it bang at other objects when you carry it around. So you buy a bag for it, e. g. one of the abundant top-loading bags. Then, if you've been bitten by the SLR bug, you probably add one or two lenses to your set and an external flash, and so you've outgrown your bag. So you sell your top-loader and buy another bag. And then you buy a tripod, or a larger lens, etc. And at this point, you realize: that one ideal bag simply does not exist. A bag that can hold everything you own is just overkill when you only take a walk in the park. Over the time, I've owned seven camera bags, used another two, and until shortly, I was left with just three. Now I've yet again bought a camera bag (it's impossible to have too many), the Lowepro Inverse 200 AW.

SLT-A77, first impressions

November 12th, 2011 - 03:04:29 PM:

Sony SLT-A77

On August 24th Sony has released the SLT-A77 camera. It took a while before it became available in Europe, but I recently bought one. Here are my first impressions of the camera.

You will not find 100% crops of highest-ISO shots in this review. This is not my shooting style, and it's not my review style. You will also not find detailed descriptions of all features and menu items. What I write about here are my impressions of the camera in real-life use, and other thoughts. Obviously the A77 is compared a lot with its predecessor, the A700, and this review is no exception.

Sony SLT-A77 On August 24th Sony has released the SLT-A77 camera. It took a while before it became available in Europe, but I recently bought one. Here are my first impressions of the camera. You will not find 100% crops of highest-ISO shots in this review. This is not my shooting style, and it's not my review style. You will also not find detailed descriptions of all features and menu items. What I write about here are my impressions of the camera in real-life use, and other thoughts. Obviously the A77 is compared a lot with its predecessor, the A700, and this review is no exception.