Editorial

Full Frame Misnomer by Adrian Galli

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Anyone who knows me will tell you Adrian Galli is a rational, logical, creative, scientist, and appreciates intellect and justice over most anything else. In the film production and photography communities, you’ll hear so many gear enthusiast talk about what one “should” shoot with or what one “can’t” shoot with or what one “needs” to be a “real” photography or cinematographer. It is all bunk.

First, just go out and shoot. Have a good time with whatever gear you have. Push it to its limits, learn those limits, and turn those limitations into advantages; you'll be a better photographer for it. I, personally, enjoy such limits or having someone tell me, “you can’t use that camera for that.” I then show them a series of photos and ask them to tell me which photos were shot with my iPhone(s), Four Thirds*, APS-C, or Full Frame. They invariably fail because it isn’t the camera that creates the image, it's the photographer. Perhaps there is no greater example of this than from DigitalRev and their “Cheap Camera Challenge” where they give a professional photographer a “junk” camera and see what they can do with it. A photographer is someone who can consistently produce exemplary work with their camera.

However, this post isn’t really about gear, it is about marketing. Actually, it is about accuracy of language which marketing departments are generally not very good. “Full frame” is a photography misnomer.

In the early 2000’s, companies like Olympus, Nikon, Canon, and all the big photography gear names were stepping into the digital age with “large” sensors. By 'large' I refer to APS-C (similar to super35 in film production) at just shy of 24x18mm and Four Thirds, just a hair over 17x13mm. Up to this point, most digital sensors that anyone could afford were much smaller. Sensor technology was expensive so larger sensors were generally cost prohibitive for most people.

However, many photographers of the film days were shooting 35mm, medium format, and large format. There were some cameras like the acclaimed Olympus Pen-F (recently revived with a digital version) that shot a half frame of 35mm film. But the time came for larger sensors to be lower in cost and 35mm sensors (36x24mm) worked their way into our digital cameras.

I would estimate that you don’t hear people call it 35mm, however. You will hear the term ‘full frame.’ It is shorthand for a sensor that is the size of 35mm film. Personally, I dislike the term. Too frequently it is used to demean any camera technology that does not have a 35mm sensor in it. “You need to shoot full frame to get the quality you really want,” some will say. Or you’ll hear the depth of field arguments being based on sensor size; if you want shallow depth of field, you “need a full frame camera.” And you’ll hear ALLLLL about "crop factor" and “equivalence." Personally, I like smaller sensors in many ways explored in this previous post. Even then, depth of field is really controlled by aperture diameter so the sensor, while seemingly a variable, I'll argue that it is not. 

The 'full frame' is a marketing term. I would argue Canon came up with it to insinuate that one needs it because anything else is not “full” <fill in the blank>. To be fair, I have nothing to support this argument other than intuition from working with many marketing teams around the world. The reason I accuse Canon is simply because they were the first company to make a 35mm sensor mainstream in a digital camera with the Canon 5D. Nikon shortly followed but they refer to their 35mm sensor as FX; APS-C as DX, and their 1-inch sensors as CX. I’ll forgo the naming conventions the many other 35mm sensor camera makers for the moment but this is my argument and I’m stand by it. From this point forward, I will not refer to a sensor in a camera as ‘full frame.” It is a 35mm sensor or digital 35mm.

Why is it a misnomer? All cameras use the full frame of their sensors. A Four Thirds sensors is not a 35mm sensor using only a quarter of the frame. It is simply a sensor with less surface area but still uses the full sensor to capture an image.

On the other hand, there is also medium and large format. Medium format digital cameras have even bigger sensors than 35mm. In the days where film was the only option, some photographers would scoff at the idea of shooting with “small” formats like 35mm. Medium format cameras come is various sizes themselves. The Leica S uses a sensor of 45x30mm†. Mamiya, Hasselblad, and Phase One use sensors that are just under 54x40mm‡. So is the Leica a full frame and a half camera? Or a 1.5x frame camera? Or .8 crop? You can see the issue with the convention of 'full frame.' 

The whole ‘crop factor’ verbiage is a spot of contention. For the same reason above concerning 35mm vs. Four Thirds, 'crop' sensors are not actually cropping anything. The whole sensors is being used. It is, perhaps, a good reference point that a Four Thirds sensor has a field of view half that of a 35mm sensor, but the image is not cropped. The image that comes out of the camera is the full image. If cropping was taking place, then a 35mm sensor is a crop of a medium format sensor, a medium format sensor a crop of a large format, and so on. 

Certainly, a baseline for comparison is valuable and 35mm is a very common size for both film and sensors. However, to be fair, the most common sensor size is around 1/3 inches which you find on an iPhone and many other mobile device, small video cameras, etc. One might argue that to be the standard by which all other sensors are compared. 

The convention that I prefer to use is simply the field of view; the angle of view spanning the horizon. It is strictly math without any insinuations about the sensor. A 50mm lens on a 35mm sensor will give a field of view of about 40° while a 25mm on Four Third (and Micro Four Thirds) will give you a similar field of view. In other words, one will see essentially the same composition using a 50mm on a 35mm sensor as one would using a 25mm on a Four Thirds sensor.

The purpose of language is to communicate and words can be clumsy. To communicate more effectively is the ultimate achievement.

As always, Accuracy Matters.™

 

 

* Four Thirds is both a sensors size and a type of lens mount. Micro Four Thirds, however, has the same size sensor but a different mount.
 Information from Leica.com
Information from Hasselblad.com

Voyager 1, Four Decades of Exploration by Adrian Galli

The Launch of Voyayer 1 on board Titan IIIE in 1977, photo credit NASA

The Launch of Voyayer 1 on board Titan IIIE in 1977, photo credit NASA

Many people say, “I was born decades too early, I should have been a...” While the past has a certain charm, I’ve always been born of the future. I always say, “I was born 300 years too early, I should have been on the bridge of the Enterprise.” While my life will never take me to distant star systems, encountering the Klingons, or engaging warp drive, at heart, I am explorer and September 5th, 1977 was a date important to humanities exploration of the Universe  

Today, marks forty years since the launch of Voyager 1. Its story is one of exploration and science and to this very moment, it is still transmitting incredible data back to NASA. Not only it this an incredible feet, imagine a car or computer running for four decades with no maintenance, Voyager 1 is the only device made by humanity to have left our solar system and ventured into interstellar space. 

Speeding away from us at 38,000mph (48,000kph) towards a star known as AC +79 3888, about 17.8 lightyears from us. Voyager will lose power long before it reaches that star but the little probe that could will hopefully remain intact.

The Golden Record, photo credit NASA

The Golden Record, photo credit NASA

Aboard Voyager 1 is the Golden Record. Scientist affixed this item to Voyager 1 in hope that one day it would be found by some space fairing life form who could decipher its message. Among the details engraved on the Golden Record is a diagram defining our sun’s location relative to fourteen known pulsars, a binary code to instruct the proper speed by which the record should rotate to play properly, other instruction to play the record, and details about the video portion.

The Golden Record explaination, credit NASA

The Golden Record explaination, credit NASA

One of my favorite features of the record is the inclusion of Uranium-238. With a half-life of 4.51 billion years, measuring the amount of the daughter element would allow an extraterrestrial to calculate the time Voyager 1 has been in space – a true universal clock. 

Today (September 5, 2017), at a distance of about 140 AU, the power from three radioisotope thermoelectric generators dwindles at a rate of 4 watts per year according to NASA. In 2030, the power it generates will be too little and Voyager 1 will power down forever; an end to the lonely space probe. However, not too far behind is Voyager 1’s sister, Voyager 2, which will also enter interstellar space on its own mission to pass near Sirius.

Further, Pioneer 10 and 11 will also leave our system and a more recent probe, launched in 2006, New Horizons, too, but there is certain romanticism to Voyager 1. It was the first and perhaps the most important of all the space probes in an era when space exploration was at the pinnacle of American, and I argue human, interest and accomplishments.

Voyager 1 will perhaps wander our galaxy for eternity, a monument to human ingenuity and curiosity, a legacy adrift in the Universe.

Your Laptop Can't Replace My iPad by Adrian Galli

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I use my iPad more than any other device I own. On a day to day bases, my iPad Pro is my primary computer. I also have an iPhone 7 and MacBook Pro, Apple Watch, and Apple TV. I use my iPhone a lot while out to lunch, taking pictures, reading news, messaging etc. I use my MacBook Pro for editing (Final Cut Pro X), some work on my websites, sometimes some other productivity items such as Pages or Numbers, Billings, and a few others.

I use my iPad all the time for reading news, curating a couple of Flipboard magazine, writing for my website, research, design, referencing Evernote, web browsing, photo editing, playing games, productivity, taking notes, social media (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.), and so much more.

I do all of those things on all of my devices but no doubt my iPad Pro receives the majority of the attention. It has the ergonomics to be held, the screen size to view almost any content, a touch screen, a beautiful screen, plenty of storage, Apple Pencil support, and with iOS 11 (beta at the moment this entry was written), takes my iPad experience to a new level.

There seems to be an obsession within the tech industry to tell you what your device can't do or can’t be. "iiPad Pro won't replace your laptop," says The Verge. They then go onto list a bunch of red herrings, false assumptions, personal insecurities, and other myopic presumptions to reenforce their lack of vision.

A lot of their points are valid except for one thing: they are wrong.

Articles, like the one from The Verge, all have the same sanctimonious undertone with the assumption, one might even say the ordinance, that all people use or need their computer the same way by virtue of an ancient definition of what a computer is or should be. Or somehow tech pundits think they know exactly what your computer use already is; that all roads lead to a notebook. If an iPad was a laptop replacement, it would be a laptop.

In other words, they aren't arguing the point they believe, they are arguing a point of definition concerning computers. If one has, in fact, replaced their daily computer, be it a notebook or desktop, with an iPad, it must, therefore, be able to replace a laptop or desktop.

The beauty of all these devices is they operate like a vin diagram, overlapping in so many areas but all having their unique talents. Using such services as iCloud gives one the opportunity to access data from any many different devices. They all work in concert.

Technology is like the clothing industry. Not because some things are fashionable and others not, although that may be a facet, but technology for personal use is like buying shoes; one person will need more arch support, another will buy shoes just because they look cool, some will need a size 12 running shoe, while others prefer a size 7.5 minimalist shoe.

If your needs do not put you in the marketplace for a MacBook Pro, then don’t get one. If you want a touchscreen computer, productivity, design, photography, Netflix/YouTube/iTunes playing, super portable, Apple Pencil supporting device, the iPad Pro is going to be a great choice.

People have similar sentiments about taking photos with your a mobile phone. “A real photographer doesn’t take pictures with a phone,” they fired off. But then, 2010, I left my Nikon at home taking my iPhone 4 to London and proved them wrong. National Geographic photographer, Jim Richardson, left his Nikon behind taking his iPhone 5s to Ireland and proved them wrong. ESPN shot the cover of their 9th annual 'Body Issue' magazine with iPhone 7 Plus and proved them wrong.  

Technology history is riddled with pedestrian opinions, visionless jibber, and pundits and CEO’s who said ‘can’t,’ ‘won’t,’ ‘couldn’t,’ 'don't,' and more negatives, simply revealing, from the beginning, they never understood the industry they were discussing.  

Get the device that works for you. Don’t worry about what people think YOU can or can not do with something. Go out and make it happen with whatever you have or whatever you want.

But, at the end of the day, your laptop can't replace my iPad Pro.

P.S. Apple Pencil is not a stylus. Accuracy Matters.™ 

RED Hydrogen One by Adrian Galli

Red Hydrogen One, Image courtesy RED.com Inc.

Red Hydrogen One, Image courtesy RED.com Inc.

RED, founded in 2005, took the digital cinema camera industry by storm releasing a relatively affordable 4K system in 2007; the RED One. Having used many of their cameras for cinema, I can attest they have made some very powerful devices over the past decade. Today they are major players in the camera industry with their Dragon, Epic, Scarlet, and other cameras but a few days ago they announced a smartphone, powered by Android, made from aluminum or titanium, and will feature an industry first holographic display. I don’t know exactly what that means or how it will look but very interesting nonetheless. 

However, that I am not writing about the phone and specifications really. I'm writing about the tech blogging industry.

BGR.com, a.k.a. Boy Genius Report, a long standing tech blog I have followed for years, like so many others, are frequently so overtly negative and catty about their reviews and discussion of new technology that one might consider them luddites. They so quickly cast judgement or make unwarranted claims about technology that it is no surprise that many people aren't excited about new technology but complain, scold, judge, or ever fear it.

To be fair, BGR has some really great tech articles. Some writers simply miss the mark too frequently. 

'Lead with negativity' must be the new mantra of tech editorials. Christ Smith of BGR.com on the RED Hydrogen One:  "PSA: Do not preorder this $1,200 holographic Android phone."

And more headlines from Chris Smith:

  1. The iPhone 8 design everyone hates just reappeared, and it’s somehow even uglier
  2. Don’t get too excited about the latest Galaxy Note 8 leak
  3. We might’ve finally figured out why the iPhone 8 is delayed

Number three is especially funny because the next generation iPhone hasn't even been announced so I'm not sure how it has been delayed but lets focus on "PSA: Do not preorder this $1,200 holographic Android phone."

Yes, RED is an established name in the camera business. It is, however, not a smartphone maker. And just because it can make great cameras, it doesn’t mean it can also create great phones. Especially considering it has no history in the phone making business.
— Chris Smith, BGR.com

In 2007, similar sentiments were said about Apple and iPhone. While I generally agree that the RED Hydrogen One is likely to a speciality smartphone, especially with a starting price of $1200/$1500 (at least purchased outright at that price), I admonish technology blogs for their lack of research, vision, and precision. And as my life rule #29 goes: Accuracy Matters.™ 

Everything everyone has ever done had to be done for the first time. When the RED One came out, they had no experience making anything and they changed the digital cinema camera industry over night. Don't write off the potential of others so easily.
 

 

Learn more about RED Hydrogen One.

Keep Using Periods, Learn to Assume Positve Intent by Adrian Galli

For years, probably decades, people have been discussing the fact that a period in a text message (iMessage, Instant Messenger, Yahoo Messaenger, etc.) suggests the one you're messaging is mad. There have been articles in the New York Times, Washington Post, Gizmodo, and many other publications surrounding this phenomenon; they've all stuck me as odd. 

While looking through my messages, many of my friends and colleagues, and not just Millenials but ages ranges from 20's to 50's, don't use periods. I still do. Mostly because I'm particular about accuracy, I like proper spelling, punctuation, and such. 

While I may be in the minority concerning periods, I rarely assume someone is mad because of a period. The context of the conversation, as with so many thing, is very important. And equally important, as anyone who knows me will attest, sometimes my disagreement with someone is simply because their argument is not valid.

I will commonly say, "I don't disagree with your conclusion, I disagree with your supporting argument." Or sometimes the argument is sound but the conclusion is not. In the case of the period, I disagree with both because it is your own internal struggle causing the miscommunication rather than then act of someone using a period.  

An old rule I have come to appreciate greatly is 'assume positive intent.' The philosophy behind that statement is most people are good and try to do good things. In other words, innocent until proven guilty. It is a guiding principle of an organization I work for and has served us well for decades. 

From Washington Post: 

Parent: I am waiting for you in the car.

Child: r u mad?

Parent: I am not mad.

Parent: I am telling you I am waiting.

Child: what?????
— Juff Guo, Washington Post

The child assumes the parent is mad. We don't have the whole conversation or context in which this was messaged so it is harder to argue either point. But I can safely say there are other things more glaring than periods that could be interpreted as hostility. For example, the formal text 'I am' versus 'I'm' could be cause for concern. Even with the formal sound of the parent, I would suggest not being overly concerned with the period at the end. 

I tend to use emoji in texts to clarify messages. If we ere to have a face to face conversation, you would pick up on my mood much more easily partly because of tone and facial expressions/body language. The former is hard to convey in a message but the later, through an emoji or two, can greatly enhance the conversation. 

Without a psychologist or sociologist weighing in on the method to our messaging madness, the assumption of negativity in a text from a mere punctuation mark speaks more to our overall sociological state rather than the actual mean of a period which is "end statement." Assuming a person is made is no you, not the peson using the period. If you're messaging me and I am mad, you'll have little doubt in your mind. 

I'm going to keep using periods in my messages and emails but should you be messaging me, know that every single thing I say is not out of anger. That would be a false assumption of epic proportion. Learn to assume positive intent and I really think you'll find the people in your life are much kinder than the period in their text suggests.