Delusions of grandeur

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By simply purchasing a DSLR, I had expected the image quality to go up. While the image quality has gone up, so have the number of bad images. Using the ‘auto’ and ‘pre-defined’ modes on a DSLR are an insult to the underlying technology, while the configurable modes require a lot of dedication and supporting equipment, to get the right result.

‘Give good camera, I will give you great photos’ is simply a case of ‘delusions of grandeur’. The more grand the dream, the more separated from reality the photo ends up being.

Has technology shaped the destiny of nations?

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Recently, after reading a science fiction book, I had a thought and I started pondering about technology and its effect on the fate of nations, over the centuries.

Being Indian, it is fairly common for us to discuss how ‘outsiders’ came and raided / defeated / conquered Indian kingdoms throughout history. In many of these discussions, the reference of ‘how Indians were not united’ comes up many times. Quite a few times, it also gets mentioned how the ruling kings were not up to the task and were cowards, who lost easily, were not brave and were frequently lost in the arms of women and the bottle.

While this may have been true for some kingdoms, it surely was not true for an equally sizable number of other kingdoms, who fought bravely, but still were defeated.

Coming to the point of this post. What the Sci-Fi story got me thinking was, how technology can influence the outcome of a war / battle. I remember reading somewhere that the swords used by the British army / French army was made of steel, while many swords used by the Maratha force were made from iron / inferior steel. In battle, such swords, being more brittle compared to the steel swords, would break easily. If this was true, then in battle, how is a person, however brave, supposed to fight, when his weapons simply refuse to cooperate? Surely, that brave solider is going to be killed by the opponent and may lead to a defeat for the nation.

The same story was highlighted in a couple of books I read regarding the development of the machine gun and automatic rifles like the AK-47. In the initial days, the sword / cavalry / bow and arrow continued to dominate the muskets and early guns. As the gun evolved from a musket to a high caliber sniper rifle, it shaped many a battle. For example, during the First World War, many generals were accustomed to the cavalry charge and insisted on the same, in front of enemy lines who was using machine guns. Obviously, such charges failed, as the soldiers and their charges could be killed from far away, much before they were able to reach the machine guns. In addition to the cavalry charge, generals were prone to lead infantry columns across the battlefield, using their tried and tested tactics. But these tactics were ineffective against the machine gun, which had a long enough range and a rapid rate of fire.

Based on these examples, I have developed the view that simply dismissing soldiers as ‘cowards’ is doing a majority of them a disservice. It is quite likely that technology also played an important role in the defeat faced by the soldiers – the technology used by one side was inferior to the technology used by the other side and it simply did not stand up to the enemy’s better technology.

Link

  • The Generals: American Military Command From World War II to Today by Thomas E Ricks
  • The Gun: The Story of the AK-47 by C J Chivers
  • The Physics of War: From Arrows to Atoms by Barry Parker

The mirrorless camera system

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Each time I read about a new mirrorless camera, I wish I had the money to buy that camera. Having purchased a DSLR (Canon 700D) about one year and four months ago, I cannot afford to invest in a new camera system. To add to the woes, most mirrorless cameras available are pretty expensive. Additionally, the number of lenses available is limited.

Considering the limited number of lenses available, I have wondered why mirrorless camera systems are designed with new lenses. Why not use the ide range of DSLR lenses available?

After much thought, I believe I have an answer. In a DSLR, the lens aperture is kept at the widest while composing the picture. Only when the shutter button is clicked does the aperture size change to the one specified by the photographer or the one chosen by the camera. In a mirrorless camera, the EVF (Electric View Finder / display) shows the true picture. By true picture, I mean that the image captured by the camera is exactly like the one being shown on the screen. (This not the case in a DSLR). To show the true picture, the camera has to set the aperture to the value selected.

The mechanism of managing the aperture is the main difference between a DSLR lens and a mirrorless camera lens. I believe that this feature of the DSLR lenses is what prevents their AS-IS usage on a mirrorless camera system.

Two photo opportunities lost

A few days ago, I was traveling by bus from one town to another town. I had my camera in the bag and I was sitting next to the window.

Traveling by bus turned out to be a disadvantage. Why? Immediately after the bus left after the washroom break, I spotted a few storks in a field. It would have made a nice picture. One opportunity lost.

To add to the sadness, in the next five minutes, while crossing a small river, I saw two grey kingfishers – one was sitting on a wire next the to the river, while the second one was hovering over the river. Another opportunity lost.

If I had been in my own vehicle (being driven by someone else), I could have halted for a few pictures. If I had been driving, I would not have noticed these birds at all, so having seen them is some consolation

RAW to the rescue again

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On getting the Fotodiox extension tube set, I have tried using them on many subjects, with varying results.

Recently, I took pictures of a few bees as they entered and left their hive. As the tubes do not have any electronic control, the aperture is always set to the widest opening and that lets in a lot of light. This time, I was shooting in RAW + JPEG mode and having the RAW photos helped a lot.

The day was quite bright when I took the pictures. Hence man photos suffered from over exposure. But, RAW once again came to my rescue. Using the exposure control setting while editing the RAW file, I was able to retrieve decent images. These images were far better than the default saved by the camera.

Thanks RAW!!

Fotodiox extension tubes

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Recently, I purchased a set of extension tubes made by Fotodiox (non electronic). Initially I was a bit hesitant due to their price – they were three times more costly than another brand. But I decide to order that set after reading in the review that this set is made from metal. And they are made from metal.

The set fits snugly on my Canon 700D and am happy with the results, even though many of the photos are not up to the mark (as I am hand holding the camera during photography). Also I am yet to master the small depth-of-field.

Canon M5 Vs others

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Recently, I read a review of the Canon M5 (their APS-C based mirror-less camera). As is quite common these days, I go to the image comparison page on DPReview (http://www.dpreview.com) and compared it’s image with that generated by multiple cameras. I am happy to note that the image generated by the Canon 700D (the camera I own) is not that bad 😉

Here is a composite of the comparative images

canon-m5-others #1

canon-m5-others #1

canon-m5-others #2

canon-m5-others #2

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