Saturday, 27 December 2008


What do we computer/photo geeks people need most, beside time? Disk space of course!
Man, it's that time of the year again, doing the cleanup on my drives and discovering I'm in a desperate need of MORE DISK SPACE! :S There's never enough, NEVER!
So, a visit to the local PC store, got me more bills to pay and two brand new 1TB WD Green drives. Since I plan to use them as external drives, I got two external hard disk enclosures from Thermaltake as well. Since they hava eSata connection, speed shouldn't be that much of a problem.

Drives installed, all I need is to connect them to PC. No problems there, XP finds the drive straight away, I format the drive (have to mention, out of 1TB of space, you get 931GB, so 93GB lost in a second (1TB = 1024GB - 931GB = 93GB) SUCKS!!), put some data on and that was that. Until I restarted the PC that is. After reboot drive was nowhere to be found. I checked the cables, everything was ok. Run "find new hardware" from Control Panel and XP reported it found the drive. Phew, I though.. only for a second though. Drive was found, XP also installed it, but it showed up as 32MB (yes, 32MB, MB) drive and unformatted as well. My pulse went through the roof at that moment. What the?!? How the?!? Safely removed the hardware, rebooted, again, same problem. Tried USB cables, same thing. Drive wasn't found, when it found and installed it, only 32MB of space was reported and unformatted as well.
So it was time for uncle google. It found a few identical problems with the same drive and same motherboard. It appears mobo only sees the drives memory (this is a 1TB drive with 32MB cache), and not the drive itself. Some said it was/is a XP SP3 problem. Anyhow, spend 3 days doing the research, posting on half a dozen computer forums, tried a bunch of ideas, bios setting, chip drivers, etc, etc, nothing worked. I connected the drive to my laptop, same thing. That showed me there was something wrong with the drive itself, not my XP or Gigabyte mobo. So more research, bunch of programs that reset factory size on the drive (few people posted this fixed their problem), and on and on, NOTHING worked. Was it the MBR? Should I connect the second drive and hope it would work the first time like the first drive did? Copy the MBR from that onto the first one? Man was I desperate, I almost gave up and looked up the warranty.
Then I simply rebooted the PC and something new happened. CheckDisk found the drive prior to XP boot and it started to scan it. After an hour or so and a bunch of problems, it got into windows. Windows found a new drive straight away, with all 931GB of space and all my data intact! Problem solved! How? No idea :D
Was it the drive, was it SP3 or something else? Who cares really, as long as it works, right, but I do think SP3 has some bugs. I keep having a redraw problems in my Photoshop, and monitor settings keep changing after reboot. I use 2 monitors and after some reboots second monitor doesn't even show up in the settings. But that's another story..

Be safe and have multiple backups, internal as well as external.

Monday, 22 December 2008


This is one of many overdue post I was planning to put up a while ago, but you know how it goes, tempus fugit and all that.. There's never enough time. Anyhow, some folks bugged me about this one, so here it is.

What do you do when you have a few black straws?

Yes, you could have a drink, true.
What do you do when you have more then a "few"? Think in 100's, even thousands?

If you're a photo enthusiast, total Strobist, a bit of a technical person and a bit of a geek, you could make one of these:

What's that, I hear you ask? Here, from another side:

Got it now? No? You must be on the wrong blog ;)
Yes, it's a grid spot or simply grid for you speedlight.

Since we PHOTO GEEKS have loads of speedlights all different sizes of course, you might need a few. Size matters as well, in this case at least. Long for narrowed spot, short for wider.

So, there you go, homemade grid spots. I won't write about how to make them, ask uncle google or better yet, check It's quite easy to make them, the main thing you need is TIME! Some straws, paper, glue, tape and you're set.
I have 6 now, for my 4 speedlights and am planning to make 2 more. With the stock of straws I got, I might even open a production line ;)

Keep it tight ;)

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Tamron 10-24 compared to Sigma 10-20

I did some quick test shots yesterday, indoors as weather sucked. Before I say anything, I have to say, I know I got a good copy of Sigma. Probably the best one there is in stock. I got it straight from the distributer here in Slovenia and he told me himself he checked it.
As for the Tamron, I got the only copy available in the country.
We all know that quality control is not that great with "3rd party lenses" as we like to call them, so margin for error in this kind of comparison test is wide. I'd probably have to compare 3 or more same lenses to get some accurate/average results.
But anyhow, first comparison done, to put it in one sentence: Sigma wins in sharpness hands down.
Sun is out, I'm packing my gear, so check back in few hours for comparison shots and final words.

Update #1:

Ok, I did manage to get some shots, despite the fact the weather is against me and it started to rain again.
All shots done on D300, aperiture mode & matrix metering. Shot in NEF, imported into Lightroom, comparison view for same show of both lenses, screenshot, saved in Photoshop CS3, quality level 10. It's for show, not trying to get the best out of the images. Same process for all of them, so post process in not a factor.

10mm, Tamron f3.5 vs Sigma f4, border

10mm, Tamron f5.6 vs Sigma f5.6, border

10mm, Tamron f8 vs Sigma f8, border

10mm, Tamron f11 vs Sigma f11, border

I guess no comment needed, right?

10mm, Tamron f3.5 vs Sigma f4, center

10mm, Tamron f5.6 vs Sigma f5.6, center

10mm, Tamron f8 vs Sigma f8, center

10mm, Tamron f11 vs Sigma f11, center

20mm, Tamron f5.6 vs Sigma f5.6, border

20mm, Tamron f8 vs Sigma f8, border

20mm, Tamron f5.6 vs Sigma f5.6, center

20mm, Tamron f8 vs Sigma f8, center

I noticed that on almost all the shots Tamron appears to be one stop brighter. Just did a quick controlled test in a closed environment and this is not the case at it appears. Both lenses produced virtually the same exposure data on all apertures and focal lenghts. So it must have been the weather again..

Close up shots..
Tried some shots from the minimum focusing distance.

10mm, Tamron f4 vs Sigma f4, border

10mm, Tamron f5.6 vs Sigma f5.6, border

10mm, Tamron f8 vs Sigma f8, border

10mm, Tamron f4 vs Sigma f4, center

10mm, Tamron f5.6 vs Sigma f5.6, center

10mm, Tamron f8 vs Sigma f8, center

Some CA tests. All 1:1 crops from the edge of the images.

Tamron f5.6 CA sample:

Sigma f5.6 CA sample:

Tamron f8 CA sample:

Sigma f8 CA sample:

Update #2:

Vignette test shots:

Another handling observation: Sigma has about 1.5cm space between the rings (plus some extruded lines on both sides), so it's easy to get a good grip when you're replacing lenses. Tamron has only around 0.5cm and it's a lot harder to hold it and replace it. Especially if you're in a hurry.

Judging by my two copies, Sigma is a clear winner. It's overall sharpness is better then Tamrons, far better on corners and better in the center. CA appears to be similar, but Sigma is still ahead slightly. Tamron is brighter, has less vignette and has easier distortion to fix. Tamron has a bit longer range, is a bit brighter, costs less, weights less, but I'm not sure those factors overpower the clear image quality advantage Sigma showed? Not for me anyhow.. If you're thinking about buying one of these wide lenses, or any lens for that matter, try to test and compare your copies yourself if you can. One copy can really be totally different then another.

UPDATE (03.12.2008):
I've received some images from a friend overseas, who has tested his copy of the Tamron lens. His results were A LOT better. I talked with our distributer and we have concluded the copy they got is a really bad one. So, I'm awaiting a new copy and as soon as it arrives I'll do another test and comparison with Sigma. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Tamron 10-24 3.5-4.5, day 2..

Got some more shots done today, all posted in original size, shoot on D300 NEF, exported from Lightroom to tiff and saved as JPG in Photoshop CS3, quality setting 10. Size are from 2.5 - 5.5MB, so bare that in mind while downloading.

I'm not a fan of those "lab test" shots, so I didn't make them. You're not going to use the lens in a lab, are?!? Yes, ok, ok, 0.00000000001% of you probably are, for the rest of us, it's the real life shots that count.

Overall I'm still happy with this lens. There appears to be less CA then with Sigma 10-20, which was my main concern. Even that can be mostly fixed in post process. Same with all the distortions, Photoshop makes that an easy fix. Compared to Nikons.. well, let's not go there.
My widest lens that I used on a day-to-day basis was 14mm, so this 10mm is a BIG difference. It's a lot "harder" to frame a shot and does take some time to get used to. Corner sharpness is not that great wide open, but what did you expect at 10mm?

10mm @ f3,5

10mm @ f4,5

10mm @ f5,6

10mm @ f8

10mm @ f11

Set 2

10mm @ f4,5

10mm @ f5,6

10mm @ f8

10mm @ f11

10mm @ f16

Some closeup shots and bokeh preview.. kinda..
All shot from around 30cm (1 feet) distance, central focus point.

10mm @ f3,5

10mm @ f4,5

10mm @ f5,6

10mm @ f8

24mm @ f4,5

24mm @ f5,6

24mm @ f8

24mm @ f11

I have lots more shots, might upload a few more during the day. If not, tomorrow's another day.

Update #1
Some random shots:

14mm, f7.1, 1/640, ISO200

21mm, f8, 1/320, ISO200

10mm, f3,5, 1/40, ISO800

Update #2:

Some 1200px images.

10mm, f4,5, 1/200, ISO200

10mm, f4, 1/50, ISO500

10mm, f4,5, 1/160, ISO200

10mm, f5,6, 1/320, ISO200