Wednesday, November 30, 2022

RODE Video Micro II

The top selling RODE directional mic has gotten an upgrade, it was recently announced.  With an expected release date of December 2nd the Video Micro II promises to supply users with professional level sound recording in an all-metal body at a bargain price of only $79.  Featuring annular line tube technology and a supercardioid polar pattern, it weighs only 39 grams and works without battery power.  It comes complete with a RODE WS12 deluxe windshield, a Helix isolation mount, and TRS adapter cables.

I've been thinking very seriously of vlogging at some time in the near future when I've finished working on my current mixed media project. and I believe the RODE mic would be a great add-on no matter which camera I choose to use.

Monday, November 28, 2022

Stable Diffusion 2.0

Stability AI has announced the release of a new version of its AI imaging app, Stable Diffusion.  While the new version promises better image quality, it also has removed the ability to request images in the style of well known artists, a huge setback for those seeking continuity in the app's output.

While composing this post, I tested the demo model and was first told I was 15th in a queue of 15.  Ten minutes later I was still at the same spot.  Suspecting the app might have frozen since the length of the queue had not changed, I refreshed the web page and tried again.  This time I was 33rd in a queue of 33 and am still at that same position as I write this, leading me to the obvious conclusion that there are bugs in the app that need to be resolved.  (It may simply be that the online app has been so flooded with service requests that it is unable to process them.)  Once the problem has been fixed I will experiment to determine how greatly the results from the new version differ from that obtained under the old when using the same text prompt.

Monday, November 21, 2022

On 1 Updates Photo RAW 2023


I received not one but several emails from On 1 over the past few days notifying me of a free update to Photo RAW 2023 that improves the app's AI masking capabilities.  To be more specific, the update includes the following features:

  • Enhanced masking results and consistency for Super Select AI, Mask AI, Quick Mask AI, and AI adaptive presets;
  • Improved performance for the Mask Refine Brush;
  • Improved opening speed for RAW files;
  • Improved layout of the metadata pane;
  • Additional RAW support for several camera models; and 
  • Additional lens profiles for several manufacturers

I downloaded and installed the update yesterday without problem.  I'm growing more and more impressed with Photo RAW 2023 to the extent that it may soon supplant Luminar Neo as my preferred photo editor.  This is all the more likely as On 1 supplied its customers with a comprehensive user guide immediately upon the app's release while Skylum has instead given out only a scattering of video tutorials over the past few months that users must pore through in hopes of finding answers to their questions.

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Affinity Photo Announces Version 2.0

Affinity Photo has announced Version 2.0 of its popular software.  One should not be fooled by Affinity's very reasonable price.  This is a complete RAW processor and photo editor rolled into one and has everything a professional digital photographer needs to create great images.  As for myself, however, I am currently using DxO PhotoLab, Luminar Neo, and On 1 Photo RAW and these more than satisfy my software needs, at least for now.  After all, there are only so many apps a photographer can use on a regular basis.  But this should not discourage anyone else from purchasing the Affinity app.  It really is a great piece of software as my own experience with Version 1.0 has shown.

All Affinity apps are currently available at a 40% discount.  It has not yet been announced, at least not that I've heard, how long this reduced pricing will last.

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Sale on Luminar Neo Extensions

Through November 17th Skylum is running a $98 three-for-the-price-of-two sale on extensions for its photo editing app Luminar Neo.  I had not previously purchased any myself, mostly because Skylum has been releasing these extensions piecemeal and not announcing them in advance.  There are enough currently available now, however, that I thought it would make sense to take advantage of the sale and so chose Supersharp AI, Noiseless AI, and the Universal Background Remover, all of which I was able to install without problem.  I already own sharpening and noise reduction filters from both Topaz Labs and On One but wanted to have alternatives available.  I'll be testing a number of photos to see which developer's apps work best for me.

Those who purchase the Background Remover extension should be aware that it is not grouped with the other extensions on Neo's Edit menu but is instead to be found after installation on the Masking menu.

Monday, November 14, 2022

Nikon DX 50-250mm Lens

I purchased from B&H last week the Nikon DX 50-250mm lens (equiv. 75-375) and thought it a great add-on for my Zfc at a bargain price of only $376.95.  Though the price is low, Nikon didn't stint on features.  As mentioned on the B&H website, the lens features not only vibration reduction, but also an extra-low dispersion element and superior coating.  When using the lens, I found its autofocus to be superfast with no noticeable lag.  For an APS-C format lens it also provides excellent bokeh effects.

The lens came with a free Chiaro Pro 62mm 98-UVATS UV filter.  Normally, I'm leery of using low cost filters as they almost always degrade image quality and are apt to freeze on the lens, but I thought this one better than most.

One crazy problem I had with the lens that's worth mentioning is that when I took it out of the box I found the rear lens cap was frozen in place and impossible to remove.  Not wanting to use force and possibly damage the lens, I took it back to B&H and showed it to the Nikon rep who works the company's display kiosk.  He was  really great and went out of his way to solve the problem.  Even so, once I returned home I replaced the lens cap with the one that came with my 16-50 kit lens and now only keep the the cap loosely placed when the lens is not actually attached to the camera.  Hopefully, that will keep the problem from recurring.

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

Surreal DALL-E 2 AI Images (1)

For my final series of DALL-E 2 AI images, at least for the time being, I will be showing a series of Surrealist paintings, the original (often cropped) shown at the top of each post, as here, followed by the variations generated by DALL-E 2.  Unfortunately, I have not always been able to located the title of the work shown nor the name of the artist who created it.