Tuesday, June 22, 2010
I never thought I’d say this – not ever, but my favorite camera company also makes televisions. No, it’s not Sony. It’s Panasonic. The other day the company announced additional details of the first of its forthcoming AVCCAM HD series camera recorders, the AG-AF100. We now know for sure that it will feature a micro 4/3 size sensor and lens mount. It will be able to use any micro 4/3 lens, including the 20mm f/1.7 that has developed a cult-like following. Using adapters it will also take a variety of other 35mm lenses. The AG-AF100 uses the AVCHD video codec and can record in 1080i or 720p. If you haven’t read it already, I refer you to Michael Reichmann’s excellent video primer here. The AG-AF100 has two SD card slots and will take SD, SDHC and SDXC cards. You can download the preliminary brochure here.
Elsewhere on the Panasonic micro 4/3 front, 4/3 Rumors.has some tidbits about the GF2 and GH2. Will the GF2 have a built-in viewfinder? Will the GH2 be announced at photokina? Will the GH2 be shutterless? Stay tuned Little Orphan Annie fans.
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Once I had picked my print software, loaded some ICC profiles and created some pre-sets I was excited to see how the Canon would stack up against a custom lab print. Using Easy-Print Pro I created three samples; one using Harman FB AI, one using Canson Infinity Baryta Photographique and one using HP Advanced Photo Paper. Although each paper has different qualities, the print quality was the same. As they say “Pick your poison”. I personally liked the Canson Infinity Baryta Photographique, but if you want high gloss use the Harman FB AI.
Next I took my file to a very good local lab, Linhoff. In ordering my print I erroneously asked for the wrong size (8x10 vs. 8.5x11) so when I got it back it was clear which one of the four was the Linhoff print. Darn, since I wanted to do a blind test. Nevertheless, the print quality from the Canon was almost indistinguishable from the lab print. The lab used Fujicolor Crystal Archive which is about the same weight as HP Advanced Photo Paper. Although, for the price, this was not a “custom” print, it was clear that the lab had done some color correction which I set about trying to replicate in Lightroom. That’s when things started to go wrong.
I first tried to make a revised print with Canson Infinity Baryta Photographique using Easy-Print Pro. For some reason it would now crash every time I hit the print button. Although I could still print from Photoshop, the resulting image had an ugly gray border, not at all right. I went back to the drawing board. I re-installed the Canson ICC profile and Easy-Print Pro (which I was starting to refer to as Not-So-Easy-Print Pro). I read Canon’s Art Paper Printing Guide for Photoshop CS4 thoroughly. I created step by step instructions from scratch. I double checked every setting in every pre-set. I went through the process very slowly and carefully. Despite my efforts, Easy-Print Pro was still crashing so that would mean a call to Canon tech support if I insisted on using it. I made one print using Canon Photo Paper Glossy and Photoshop which looked fine. I made a second print with Canson Infinity Baryta Photographique using Photoshop and letting the printer do the color management. That looked fine too. The third print using the Canson paper, Photoshop, letting Photoshop do the color management and the Canson profile looked awful. The gray border was back and now the image had a washed out look.
So, as of this writing here’s where I stand. I have taken every print made, including the Linhoff print, and reconstructed the print data as best I could. I put that data on labels and labeled each print on the back. I have not yet had the time to call Canon, but I will do that very soon. In the meantime, apropos of this article, I have asked print guru, Ctein, to look at all of them when he is here in Minneapolis later this month. After that, Part 3 and maybe an interview with Ctein himself. Stay tuned.