Ubuntu 11.10 – week one

Well I have screwed up my ubuntu 3D and I am using 2d version only. I have no Idea what I did. Can’t find the terminal code to access Compiz settings in Ubuntu 3d and so far haven’t been able to resetit some how. This happened a few times in 11.04 but I could always get it back somehow. Still haven’t found out how to engage the Icc profile for my screen but on a happier note I really like the chances being made in 11.10. specially the 3d look (which I can’t use at the time).

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Ubuntu 11.10 update

Well I upgraded to 11.10 and so far the change has been good. My computer however seams to be working harder for the graphics and animation in the new unity. At least my fan is blowing a bit more and moving windows around has a slight delay if I work fast. But the most annoying thing so far is I can’t seam to install the icc profile for the screen. It says it is loaded but I see no chance and can’t find the screen profiling settings. very annoying. Wonder if other people have the same problem?

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Ubuntu – How was the Switch

At first I tried Ubuntu by installing it on an old laptop I have to test out application and function of the system. After trying everything on the old Laptop and made up my mind whether I wanted Kubuntu or Ubuntu, went for Ubuntu, I installed it on my main computer. The first thing that surprised me on my main computer is the look of Ubuntu is slightly different. Function is the same just more fancy you, which is the difference between Unity, could say. In short I was really surprised how easy everything is in Ubuntu. I didn’t need to install any drivers, my Epson 1270 Printer install by it self, my ethernet card installed by it self and basically everything was just easy. Also I noticed my computer ran cooler (the cooling fan runs a lot slower) and it is faster booting and turning off, not that that is so important maybe. However there is some kind of conflict between the Blue-tooth and standby function. My computer will not standby unless I turn off bluetooth.

But what about important application like Raw converter.

Raw converter
Since I use Sigma SD cameras and have been a Foveon user since 2003 I need a good quality raw converter and so far Sigma hasn’t made the Sigma Photo Pro Raw converter for Linux. Wish they would. There are a few open source raw converter which can open Sigma X3F files. I tried two, the RawStudio and Raw Therapee. Unfortunately RawTherapee couldn’t for some reason open the Sigma Raw files but Rawstudio did and so far I have been using it.

Sigma Photo Pro (SPP) has always been rather sluggish for my taste but it is a powerfull converter for the Sigma raw files and I prefer using it than many of the other ones available like Adobe and Silky pix. Actually I would wish SPP would make there program like Silky pix which is the best one I have used but I always preferred the SPP output to Silky pix (after you fix the color cast). I once processed a bunch of photos with Silky pix and for some reason I got all the colors wrong so I always go back to SPP. Rawstudio is fast opening Sigma files and all adjustments happen quickly. Genaraly I would say I like how Rawstudio arrange there adjustments and layout. I have been using SPP for so long the question was would I be able to adjust to Rawstudio but most importantly would the quality of the photos be the same. Below you can see a photo I took of my son sleeping last year. One processed to my liking in Rawstudio and the other in SPP. I did try installing SPP via Wine in Ubuntu and it worked but If the raw files were more then 10 the program crashed, but I am still working on making it work. I still hope to see it it will work one day. Generally it took more time to get similar pictures from the RawStudio compared to the SPP output. But in the end it looked like this. Rawstudio first and SPP to the right.

RawStudio VersionSigma Photo Pro Version

I prefer the result I get from SPP and couldn’t get the RawStudio picture to look the same. So I have to hope I can get the Wine SPP to work but so far I am going still use SPP via XP.

Color Profiling
Ubuntu comes with icc color profiling program which allows me to create a profile via Spyder Profiling program in XP and use it on the Ubuntu side. I would like to be able to use the color profiling spyder in Ubuntu but so for no luck and still have to use xp.
Everything else
Well what about everything else. Well In short I love Ubuntu. My wife however finds it annoying but I think it is mostly because a few things work differently than in XP. For exemple when you click the address bar in Firefox (on the XP side) you only have to click once to have everything selected to insert a new web address. In Firefox (on the Ubuntu side) you have to click twice to do the same. But the thing that is most annoying is the touch-pad on my Asus laptop. For some reason when I put my finger on it and stay very still the mouse on screen moves left and right a bit.

Next:
Is the Gimp a replacement for Photoshop?

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A Linux / Ubuntu experiment for a photographer

Sigma SD14 photo of a somethingCan I switch?

Recently after trying Open Office I have found out that there is a huge community of people making Open Source programs that quite frankly I was astonished. To think that so many people are working together to create open source programs that everybody can download and use free of charge and for the better of man kind and computer. Yes I was surprised. So I started to look into programs that could work as well or as good as the programs I have access to today. Therefor I have decided to start an experiment on my self and my computer habits. I do admit I have in the early days used stolen programs but I never felt comfortable doing so. No matte what I thought about the company it still was a product that they put money and effort in to making good so they should receive some payment for having built fine programs that help me do my work. But using opens source I am not stealing. I can even make a donation to help them make a even better program. Why should I ever have to steal a program if I am not willing to pay the, sometimes hefty, price when there are many excellent Open Source programs that can work (often) just as well.

So here is my experimental plan, what started with open office has no spun in to everything I do with the computer and just to name a few programs I am going to try and what I hope to achieve

Gimp: can I use it instead of photoshop and still produce excellent wedding photos and can I produce Fine art landscape photos to my liking. The goal is to become and expert in Gimp and become so good that I could teach and get payed doing it.

Bluefish: HTML coding is my thing althou I am no expert but my web page www.birgir.org will be updated via bluefish.

Ubuntu: I am going to switch to Ubuntu which is a free operating system instead of Windows (or as many Linux fans prefer to call it, Windblows). Problems I have to solve is color profiling and ICC profiles for the computer screen.

Raw processor: Since Sigma does not make the Sigma Photo Pro for Ubuntu I will have to find a replacement for it in Ubuntu, as of now I have already tried Ufraw which you will be able to read in a late blog post. But why doesn’t Sigma make the SPP for Ubuntu? Hmmmm.

So stay tuned and send me a msg or comment if you think I should try something else or add to this list.

2011© Birgir Freyr Birgisson

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Wedding photography with the Sigma SD14 – a user review

I have shoot numerous weddings with both film and digital cameras and upon til last year I used the film camera as the main camera during the ceremony and the digital camera used for almost everything else. This has been my way for some time mainly because of cost and less post processing time for each picture used. But since Blurp.com publication customers are preferring to have a real book instead of a hand made photo album with each picture clued on each page and making it more cost effective for me to switch completely to Digital. This article is a hands on review you could say on how I use the Sigma Sd14 for wedding and how it works out for me. This is not to be read as a professional review of the camera, you can google the camera and find many fine reviews were ISO performance is compared and so forth. I am sure many would recommend other digital cameras and say they were better suited for the task then the SD14. However I find the results I get from the Sigma more appealing than the Canon’s I have used so far and the cost for buying the Nikon d3x is, well.. just overwhelming.

My gear
My gear during weddings is as follows.
Sigma SD14
Sigma 20-40mm F2.8 EX lens (mainly used during the wedding ceremony)
Sigma 28-70mm F2.8 EX
Sigma 50mm F2.8 macro (my portrait lens)
Sigma 28mm F1.8. EX
Two Sigma EF-530 Super DG flash

The lenses that I use the most are the 20-40mm and the macro 50mm.

Handling
I have no complaints about the handling of the camera but I wished the battery grip whould have a extra AF-select knob along with rotary knob and iris/shutter button. shotting portraits using the vertical grip is fine until you have to chance the AF point or adjust the exposure setting then you have to change the grip. The camera is neither heavy or cumbersome but then again I never thought the SD9/10 to be to big, they just looked pro and the SD14 looks also pro just a bit more stylished than the older cameras.

Auto Focus, speed, buffer and the meaning of life
I was a bit worried that AF would be a problem specially the top/bottom and left/right AF points. During my test’s they appeared to be not as reliable as the Center AF point there fore I reliy mostly on the center AF point when lighing is low, like during the wedding ceremony. The AF performance however is adequate and rarly did I get an out of focus photo, Even the AF-C setting worked well. The Af speed does slow down when it gets dark or the object is of low contrast but the Assist AF light on the flash helps a lot. The strange thing about the SD14 is that I cant seam to get a glear and focused image in the viewfinder when manual focusing. I dont know if this is something wrong with the camera since I have seen this in all the SD14 body’s I have tried or maybe just my eyesight. This problem was not on the SD10 but SD14 AF accuracy is better than the SD10 and I relied only on the SD14 Autofocus since I cant trust me manual focusing the camera. The main drawback of the camera is the limited buffer of only six frames to be taken consecutively before the buffer is full (only 5 when the camera is set at ISO 400). This did occasionally create a problem and I had to plan my shooting with this in mind. The SD14 is however quicker to clear the buffer than the SD10 was and I don’t have to wait as long for there to be enough room for another picture. From what I have read the SD15 has solved this problem with a 21 frame buffer which would be more than enough for my needs. And the meaning of life is 42.

Processing
I do process each photo in photoshop, mostly to get rid off the green cast in the photos and some photos get extensive processing to get the style I want (portrait session after the wedding for example). The quality of the photos in regards to color and specially black&white processing is fantastic and the main reason why I use the camera. The Sigma Raw converter is powerfull as far as processing the photos but the program is primitive compared to say the old Rawshooter essential or the newer Silkypix and I would wish Sigma would put more effort in creating a competitive Raw converter to speed up the work flow. For example being able to copy settings between frames without having to wait for the program to process the file is something I really miss. Prints from the Sigma cameras have a special look or flavor to them which I don’t seem to get as easily in the Canon cameras I have used, I doubt the customer would notice any difference but I notice it.

Closing words
One of the best thing about working with X3F pictures is the fact that these files hold alot more information than the 4.7MP they hold and I have made large prints that outperform 15MP cameras in print detail. Also processing 4.7MP files in photoshop is far lighter for the program than a 15MP files. With the introduction of the Sigma SD1 I no longer have to dream of buying Nikon D3x because prints from the SD1 will most likely (I will test it and report it here) have more detail than the Nikon. O so I hope

Birgir Freyr Birgisson

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