Good customer relationship management

A few months ago I wrote about the re-organization of my workspace. I purchased an electrically actuated desk, assembled it by myself and re-arranged the messy wiring I had produced over time.

Shortly after New Year’s Eve I received an email from the company which produces these desks, Inwerk. It was a standard email asking if I was satisfied with the product, if I had any questions etc. I replied with a few lines saying everything is ok. I also gave them the link to the article I wrote, which also contains a video.

Nothing happened for two weeks. One day my wife called me at work. “A package has been delivered, it is quite heavy and a sticker reads ‘caution, glass’. What did you order ?” I was baffled, because I did not expect anything. The package turned out to contain a bottle of wine and a short note from the sales agent at Inwerk. He told me that they enjoyed the video and wanted to say thank you with the bottle of wine.

That is an oustandingly kind gesture and made my day. Very good customer relationship management, thank you Inwerk !

Here is the video I sent them, enjoy !

Lumenatic on NikonRumors.com with a review of the 12 mm fish-eye lens

Dear readers,

NikonRumors has just published a guest post I have written. I did an extended version of the Walimex 12 mm f2.8 fish-eye review. Feeling a little bit proudly.

You can read the article here on nikonrumors.com (The shorter version I have published here on my own blog can be found here).

Cheers,

Julian

Less is more: Sifting through your gear

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Between Christmas and New Year’s Eve I took some time to look at my gear and re-arrange my photo shelf. As I went through the lenses, flashes and other items I came to realize that some items were just collecting dust. I have the unpleasant habit of hastily buying stuff and then not having enough time to use it to its full extent. Some kind of hunter-gatherer disorder if you like to say so. After realizing that some impulse purchases might not be as vital to my photographic survival as initially perceived I opted to put some stuff on eBay.

Sifting through your gear can have several effects: You might discover that some items are rarely used and therefore not really necessary for your needs (as explained above). Time to make some cash. But you can also look at it the other way around. Unused equipment can also be regarded as a source for inspiration. You might create a project based on that item. Found a neutral density filter ? Long exposure is a keyword that springs to my mind. Remote camera trigger – some goofy self-portraits are always funny.

Of course you also might discover that you don’t have any “surplus” photography gear. In that case: Congratulations ! You can focus on what you really need. This leaves more time to do what we love most: Taking photos.

Bottom line. From time to time, think about the gear you have. How much of the gear have you used in the past month / three months / six months / 12 months ? You might be surprised to find out that some items are not as necessary as they appeared in the first place when you bought them.

Lumenatorial: The golden fruit

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In the last months I have been struggling to deliver content on a weekly basis. Time is short and blogging takes time. So I decided to start a series of shorter entries called “Lumenatorials”. In these posts I will show a photo I made and deliver some background information on how it has been made. I have made such posts before. Lumenatorials will be short and deliver enough information to enable you to re-enact the shot if you like.

This first Lumenatorial is titled “The golden fruit”. What you see is a gold coin (a Kruger Rand) nested between the shells of a walnut. Now that’s a tree I would like to own…

The setting for this shot consisted of black cloth, draped over our diaper changing table. A black glossy tile from the hardware store served as a reflective underground. I have used this tile before in my model car photos, e.g. this shot of a Lamborghini Aventador. I mounted the camera on a tripod and pointed my 105mm macro lens at the setting. After arranging the shells and the gold coin (and blowing away some dust) the action could start.20150122-Golden-Fruit-002I set the exposure to 5 sec, f/16, ISO 100 and released the shutter. Then I used an SB-800 flash with a self-made snoot to illuminate the scene manually. The snoot gives you very directional lighting, the light is concentrated in one spot. With the flashgun seet to 1/32 manual power I popped it twice. The first flash went from the bottom left corner to illuminate the side of the shell and the rim of the coin, the second flash came straight from above. It took some tries to avoid nasty reflections from the coin.

Post processing involved heavy use of the brush and stamping tool to remove dust, blacken the background and enhance the appearance of the coin.

 

Low-cost LED background light for your computer

20150115-LED-Backlight-Title-001When working at a computer it is advisable to have some sort of background lighting. It is less strennous for your eyes if the contrast between the screen and the surroundings is not too big. I used to have a lamp on a boom arm which shone behind my iMac. But the lamp tended to get in the way when I moved my electric desk uü and down (read my post about my workspace re-organization here).

I decided to remove the lamp and find something else which would illuminate the wall behind my computer. On eBay I found a USB-powered LED strip. The LEDs are encased in a clear flexible plastic material, the backside of the strip is covered with adhesive tape.

I taped the LED strip to the back of my iMac and plugged the USB – finished. The solution is low-cost (the strip was around 11 €) and quickly installed. There are two minor drawbacks though. Firstly, you lose one USB port obviously. Secondly, when putting the computer in sleep mode (which is what I do, I rarely switch the iMac off) the light stays on since the USB ports stay powered in sleep mode. So you have to unplug the cable every time you call it a day.

WalimexPro (Samyang) 12 mm f2.8 full-frame fish-eye

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Back in September 2014 Samyang announced a new lens – a 12 mm f2.8 fish-eye for full-frame cameras. A prototype was shown at Photokina in Cologne (see picture below) but the lens was not available until now.

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Samyang 12 mm f2.8 as seen at Photokina (Cologne) in September 2014

I already own the Samyang 8 mm f3.5 fish-eye and it is a fun lens. You can see some sample images in my “urban” photo gallery on this website. But it is the version for APS-C sized sensors (Nikon DX cameras). I owned the Samyang back in the days of my D70s/D300s, and as I switched to full format the lens stayed as a full-frame fish-eye was not on the market (at least not a reasonably priced one).

The lens Samyang announced is not broadly available yet (Status: January 2015). It seems to be in the phase of introduction and getting it required some searching. I could have ordered it via eBay directly from Korea, but decided against it due to warranty reasons (although it was considerably cheaper). Finally I found the lens branded as “Walimex Pro”, sold and shipped from Germany for 549 €. WalimexPro is the house-brand of Foto Walser, a large online retailer for photographic equipment. They seem to partner with Samyang, selling their lenses under another branding.

Clicked, ordered, waited impatiently drumming my fingers, doorbell, postman, parcel, woot woot !

The lens is surprisingly similiar in size to the APS-C version, although it is for full format and has a larger aperture. The distortion is quite the same compared to the 8 mm at APS-C, but this is logical. An 8 mm at a crop camera equals 12 mm (x 1.5, which is the crop factor) at a full-frame camera.

In contrast to the 8 mm fish-eye the lens hood is detachable. Due to the bulbous front lens filters can not be attached.

When I mounted the lens there was a little more friction between lens and the camera’s bayonet than expected. Let’s say it is a tight fit, but I do not deem it to be a problem. The fish-eye is manual focus only, but the aperture and exposure information are transmitted. As you can see in the sample images below the lens is quite sharp (well, that’s what a lens is supposed to be). It covers nearly 180 degrees (well, it’s a fish-eye, but never fails to amaze again…). Please excuse the abundance of b/w photos. The weather is quite s#!tty these days and b/w seemed to be the better option.

As I already own a fish-eye lens (the Samyang 8 mm f3.5 for DX cameras, see sample images here, here, and here) I know what it can do. But I found it interesting to compare the three wide-angles I currently own: WalimexPro 12 mm f2.8 / Nikkor 14-24 mm f2.8 / Samyang 8 mm f3.5.

The focal lengths perform as expected. 12 mm gives you a distorted fish-eye look. The 14 mm show less distortion and a slightly smaller area of view (the Nikkor 14-24 is famous for its low distortion considering the 14 mm wide angle by the way). The Samyang 8 mm, being a DX lens, show a black frame around the border since the lightcircle which is projected onto the sensor is designed for a smaller area. After cropping the image to the middle section the field of view is nearly identical to the 12 mm WalimexPro.

That, by the way, is a nice visual proof that any focal length on a crop camera has to be multiplied with the crop factor to receive the same field of view on a full frame sensor (8 x 1.5 = 12).

Bottom line: A sharp and astonishingly wide lens. Image quality is great. A nice deal for all full frame owners out there. Price might drop over the next months. Absolutely recommended.

2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog. Thanks for reading and looking forward to seeing you in 2015 n

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 47,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 17 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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