Miracles of digital


Paris, Pont Royal  © P J Croft 2008, 2014

In the photo above, there is significant chromatic aberration (CA) around the chimneys at upper left and the cupolas. It’s not so visible at this small size, but it’s not nice in the full size image.  Red and green fringing on high contrast edges.  It’s a defect of the lens.  In film days there was nothing you could do about it. Low CA was one of the hallmarks of a good lens, but it cost big dollars to make lenses free of CA.  This camera is a mid priced electronic marvel, but not free of defects.

Now it can be fixed digitally, automatically!

Before:  Image



This was one click automatic, although it can be tweaked manually too.  An entire folder of images can be processed automatically.

This means digital cameras can be sold with less than perfect lenses now, and many have this defect plus very visible barrel and pincushion distortion.  But you don’t see it because it’s corrected in the camera for you.  That’s why we can have such extreme zoom ranges.  To have a range of 20mm – 1200mm was near impossible in the past, except at very high prices – see below. Now it can be done as routine, almost.

Interestingly,  TV camera zoom lenses had zoom ranges of up to 48x or even 60x in the 1970s to 1990s, way beyond still camera lenses.  But it was because the TV sensor was only about 25mm diagonally, the same as some of the small cameras today.  And the resolution of TV is actually very poor, so defects are not very noticeable.  The resolution of standard definition (640 x 480 – we don’t see it in Australia) is only 307,200 pixels.  So called HD (720 x 576) is only 414,720 pixels.  And even Full HD (1920 x 1080 pixels) is only 2,073,600 pixels. Yes, that’s right, Full HD is only 2Mp!  A reasonable pocket digital still camera now is 12Mp.

That’s why those old big camera lenses could be made – because they didn’t need to be very good.  They still cost around $60,000 though, on top of the $50,000 for the TV camera (lens extra).


Fujinon 55x


Fujinon 17x – a tiddler.

Note that the Sony camera in the upper picture cost around $65,000, lens extra, but these cameras had to be scrapped in the late 1990s.  Why? Because they used Plumbicon tubes, i.e. vacuum tubes as sensors, three per camera for R, G & B.

But all vacuum tubes wore out and needed replacement periodically.  At a cost of around $10,000 per Plumbicon, it became uneconomic to replace them. So the cameras were replaced by CCD sensor types at another cost of nearly $50,000 plus lens!  That’s what you’re seeing today. See the Skyworks on Monday night?  Modern CCD cameras with fantastic low light (night) performance and beautiful pictures.  No alignment, no warmup, and much more robust.

Btw, when cameras still used vacuum tube sensors (Vidicons, Plumbicons) one of our tests was to take one to the trots at Gloucester Park.  If the camera could perform OK in that night-time-under-lights situation, it was a contender.  Many failed because they left trails behind the horses, or even worse, coloured trails.  This was a defect of the tube quality of the 80s and needed years of development before it was overcome (anti-comet-tail tubes). No such problem with CCDs and CMOS sensors.  But we put out some pretty poor pictures in the 1980s!


I’ve just sent Photobook number five off for printing – I should have the results in a week.  They’re printed in KL.




Sample pages.  It takes around three weeks of pretty solid sessions to produce each book – choosing images, making sure I’m using the best quality, reducing noise and grain, improving contrast and colour, arranging on the pages, and writing the captions etc etc.  And checking!  Proof reading over and over and over again. It’s amazing how small errors go unnoticed.

Two copies this time.  I got caught last week — my parcel arrived with only one copy when I thought I’d bought two.  Then I noticed the price I paid – $153 for one copy!

I realised I’d bought vouchers for two books, but they were image wrap cover types at $48 each, not the hard cover one I produced.  My mistake, and an expensive one. Check the fine print!

This time I got my revenge by rejoining their customer database and getting a two-for-the-price-of-one offer.  This one cost $133 so I saved $133 on an order for two. Free postage too.

This is immensely satisfying stuff.  After all those years of not being able to show my work, now I have books of it on the shelf.  People will look at a book where they won’t look at any other form of display. A book looks impressive even if it isn’t opened. The reproduction is pretty damn good too, if a bit darker than I see on this screen.  Must work on that.  I have a screen calibrator and I’m using it.


I bought a small frozen yoghurt yesterday and asked for a chocolate one.

“What kind of chocolate?”

“Huh?  Chocolate. What other kind is there?”

“Well, there’s one with a Flake in it, and one with Smarties on it.”

Stunned, I hesitated.  “I just want the chocolate sauce!”  Oh.  $2 please.


On the way home at 5pm the freeway was walking pace or less for the last 2Km, whereas being the end of the freeway, it’s usually clear even at 5pm.  Cause?  The right lane was closed off for the last 200m before the lights!  Was any work being done? Not that I could see.  This is unnecessary and infuriating – the work knocks off at 5pm but the cones stay. Grrr.  It might not be so bad if people would just let you merge easily, but drivers always want to force their way in front and prevent me from merging.  Double grrr!  I even had one guy come up the emergency lane from behind to get in front of me a few weeks ago. Amazing.


I said I was going to have the drastic-gastric surgery done, but I can’t escape the feeling that there’ll be a breakthrough in weight reduction without surgery about a week after I’ve lost 90% of my stomach.

I think I’ll go for this 5:2 diet for a while.  Eat normally but sensibly, very carefully for 5 days of the week, but for two days, allow only 600 cals.  I reckon I can do that.  The Optifast was 400 cals per day every day.  I reckon I could buy the Optifast packs and use them for the two day “fasts”, adding fruit etc to add up to 600 cals and ease the pangs.  I’ve stopped the beer, so …  I’ll talk to the doc.  I have an appointment with the gastric guy on 12 Feb so I’ll check with him too.


That appointment is at 9am at The Mount on a Wednesday.  I’m working out how to do it.  It’s 45 mins drive as long as there are no traffic problems, but on a workday I might have to set off at 7am (which is quite OK, actually).  I’m tempted to do bus/train/Cat bus, but it will take a long time.  I might have to test this.


My Pioneer BluRay player seems to have failed!  It’s only about six weeks old.  Can’t get vision out of it, although audio comes through.  It should be a clear cut swap over replacement, a test for JB HiFi.  I have another BluRay player though. Heh heh.  I’ve got everything.


Ha!  I’ve just heard the AFP Asst Commissioner talking about a Lebanese “desporia”.  He meant diaspora, dee-ass-porah, emphasis on ass, meaning an overseas ethnic population group. Must be Police Talk.


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