DxO and their completely ridiculous licensing

I’m using Previously I used DxO Optics pro to adjust and correct some of my images. But because of their stupid licensing system I’ve been forced to use other solutions lately.

And my conclusion is that you probably don’t need DxO.

The licensing

I’m using several professional software packages. Adobe Lightroom, Photoshop, Final Cut Pro, iStopMotion Pro. Elgato Turbo HD, Apple Keynote etc. Pretty expensive and professional software.

I’m working on several different computers. But my main workstations are:
1. My MacBook Pro (on the road)
2. My 24″ iMac (at home)
3. My MacMini (for time consuming batch jobs)

I would guess that laptop + desktop machine is pretty usual. But because I’m working on huge amounts of large files I also use my MacMini from time to time. Simply because that’s the computer that is running 24/7.

And all my professional software is installed on all these computers. I use the same license key on all of them because I never use the computers at the same time.

But this won’t work for DxO. When you buy their 299 Euro Elite license you’re only allowed to install the software on two computers.

I’ve run into trouble several times because of this.

Here is one scenario: installed on iMac and MacBook pro. Then my MacBook pro died. I get a new machine and get a message that I’m not allowed to install on an extra computer. My two installs are already used.

The result is that I have to send an email to DxO and wait for an answer and then after explaining the problem I’m granted access to another install.

Currently I’m running DxO on my laptop and my iMac. A couple of days ago I returned from a holliday and wanted to start a huge batch job of DxO processing on my MacMini. When I tried to install it I got the usual message: not allowed.

I email DxO and explain the problem. I’ve paid for the license. I don’t want to run it on several computers at the same time, but I want to be able to run it on the computer in my house that is running 24/7 so it can do the processing while I’m sleeping. Yes, I could set my iMac to run all night, but that wouldn’t be very environmentally friendly, and it is the MacMini that is placed in our home in a way where it can run all night without disturbing us with noise etc.

In total I had to wait for more than a week for this answer from DxO.:

“Hello Eirik,
Thank you. The license agreement limits installation and activation to two systems at the same time. If you do need a third activation, that will require the purchase of an additional license.

regards,
Jeff
DxO Support Team
DxO Labs”

Well, I don’t have to buy several licenses of Lightroom, Photoshop, Keynote, iStopMotion and all the other packages I use just because I want to install them on the three computers I use.

Fortunately the latest version of Lightroom have included lens correction. And my quick tests show that for me, I really don’t need DxO anymore. This is not a scientific test and I really, really hope that the DxO correction is way better than the Lightroom correction. Or, at least 299 Euro worth of pure quality… But for me, the benefits of using Lightroom exceeds the extra hassle and probably slightly better quality of DxO:

– Lightroom doesn’t have that stupid licensing system
– Lightroom is much faster
– Keeping all my work inside of Lightroom gives a much simpler workflow
– For me, the quality is good enough

Here is my quick test. Using a fisheye image shot with my Canon 5D Mark II and my Canon 15mm f2.8 fisheye:

Original image:

Defished with Lightroom:

Defished with DxO:

Comparison from a corner of the image. No defish but all lens corrections (click the image for full size):

DxO and their completely ridiculous licensing

Quick test of some flashlights

I needed some flashlights for use in water this summer and gave dealextreme a chance.

After some reading I ended up with an UltraFire W200 and a Diving Cree SSC-P7. My conclusion so far is like most people that have done some flashlight research. The way the vendors measure Lumen must be completely different from each other. The 175 Lumen UltraFire is extremely bright and much brighter than my existing 100 Lumen LED Lenser T5. And the Diving Cree SSC-P7 that is supposed to be 900 Lumen is by far the brightest, but not at all 900 Lumen if they measure the way UltraFire ends up with 175 Lumen for the W200.

But anyway: both the Diving Cree SSC-P7 and the UltraFire seems very sturdy. They’re very bright and I look forward to some real life testing in water. The Diving Cree SSC-P7 has a very nice power switch based on magnets. Making the device completely sealed when in use.

I made a quick video and an image for you to compare the two new flashlights with some of my old ones.

Quick test of some flashlights

Test images from my current cameras

My available cameras today (shot with my 5D2, so it's not in the image)

As part of some experiments I’m running I snapped more or less the same image with all the cameras available to me today. The devices you see in the image above in addition to my 5D Mark II (that I used to snap that image…). Simply because I wanted to be able to compare some details.

And my conclusion? Once you go full frame you never go back. If I’m shooting anything even remotely serious I’ll bring my 5D2. Now if someone could give me a full frame digital compact with the size and weight of my old analog (and indeed full frame) Olympus XA

By clicking on the image you get through to flickr where you can have a look at the original full size image.

Canon 5D Mark II
Test - Canon 5D MkII

Canon SX200 IS
Test - Canon SX200 IS

Nokia N95
Test - Nokia N95

Canon 400D
Test - Canon 400D

Canon Powershot S50
Test - Canon Powershot S50

Apple iPhone 3G
Test - iPhone

Test images from my current cameras

DXO Optics Pro Rocks!

I have written about how to correct Fisheye images in this blog before. Now the team behind DXO Optics Pro have built support for the combination of Canon 5D MarkII and my Canon 15 mm f2.8 Fisheye.

And look no further. The best fisheye correction you can get is here. DXO analyze the different lenses in detail. On the specified camera. So you need to check if they have a module for your lens / camera combination. But if they have, DXO does the best corrections possible.

My original image

Original Fisheye Image

Corrected with DXO Optics pro

DXO Optics Defish

Corrected with DXO Optics Pro with new aspect

DXO Optics Defish Wide

All sorts of corrections

I’ve just scratched the surface of this program. It does all kinds of advanced corrections. Here is my old test image from the 50mm f1.4.

Original 100% crop at f1.4

dxo_test_500_crop-original

Any chance that DXO can do something with this total mess of optic errors?

100% crop at f1.4 corrected with DXO

dxo_test_500_crop-dxocorrected

Pretty impressive! But before you run out buying crappy lenses thinking that you can save everything in DXO, have a look at the same image snapped at f5.6:

dxo_test_500_crop-f56

Proper optics out there in the field is the best way to go. But so far I’m impressed with DXO. It’s worth the fisheye correction on my 15mm alone!

DXO Optics Pro Rocks!

Aperture and the huge difference

First of all: The Digital Picture.com has an excellent page where you can compare the sharpness of different lenses and different apertures.

But recently I did some quick tests with my 50 mm f1.4 myself. It’s a decent lens and regarded excellent for the price range. And it’s pretty fast, featuring an aperture of 1.4. But lenses loose sharpness and contrast at low apertures, and I wanted to know exactly how much. In this lens the difference is huge. Here are two 100% crops:

50 mm @ f5.6

50mm_at_56_100crop

50 mm @ f1.4

50mm_at_14_100crop

Yes. That’s the same lens, the same camera and the same conditions. Only a different aperture value. But will you see the difference if you snap an image at full resolution and reduce the size down to what you’ll need on a web page? Let’s have a look. 21 megapixels from my Canon 5D MarkII reduced down to an image that is 500 pixels wide.

50 mm @ f5.6

img_6194

50 mm @ f1.4

img_6182

And I guess you’ll need a slightly trained eye to see the difference clearly. First of all you see the vignetting: darker corners. Then you see that the DOF is more shallow and that the cars at the bottom of the image in the f1.4-version is not completely focused. This is how it should be. A shallow depth of field is one of the beauties of a low aperture value.

But if you look closely you’ll see that the overall sharpness and sense of depth in general in the f5.6-image is better. Even when the image is reduced down to this size.

So, if you want the ultimate in technical quality you should plan your aperture. And buy very nice lenses…

Aperture and the huge difference

Quick ISO test of the Canon 5D Mk II

1600vs1600

People keeps asking about test images to show the low light performance of my new Canon 5D Mark II. So far I find it pretty amazing. The image above is a comparison of my old 400D at iso 1600 and the new 5D at iso 1600. Both images shot in RAW and converted with Canon DPP.

Because the 5D looks so good at iso 1600 I also did the same with the 5D at iso 6400.

1600vs6400

In addition to this I have put together a flash animation that shows you the same image at different ISO values. You can click the image to browse through the different values, or choose directly with the buttons.

[kml_flashembed movie=”http://eirikso.com/flash/ISOtest2-500.swf” height=”375″ width=”500″ /]

The example embedded here is small and doesn’t really show the images very well. If you have some patience and wait for the loading, I have also published a bigger version. And no, I’ve not made any fancy “loading-animation”. You just have to wait for the page to finish. And I know: Not very smart to let the camera change the aperture. Apart from the fact that it gives a nice demonstration of how the depth of field change…

Quick ISO test of the Canon 5D Mk II

Test clips from Panasonic HDC-SD5

For the last year or so I have been using my Nokia N95 as my primary video recording device. As you understand, I am currently more serious about stills photography. But I need to do occasional video recordings and the quality of my N95 is great for a mobile phone, but not very good compared to a proper video camera.

So I wanted something better than the N95, but small and portable. I narrowed my possibilities down to two cameras recording straight to solid state memory. The Sony HDR-CX7 or the Panasonic HDC-SD5. After some googling and a quick test in the store I decided to go for the Panasonic. Mostly because I don’t like Sony’s stupid memory stick and because I read that the AVCHD-compression in the Sony camera had some issues with high motion scenes. According to what I have been reading the Panasonic is not as good as the Sony in low light conditions. But a compression that breaks into artifacts in high motion is worse than a problem with some noise in low light.

I also like the navigation on the Panasonic better. Sony rely on a touch screen that force you to use both hands when operating. The Panasonic lets you operate most of the menus with one hand on the back of the unit. In addition to this the Panasonic has a pretty useful pre recording function and good macro possibilities. So far I have only one issue with the camera. A low volume high frequency noise that is captured by the microphone while recording. A well known problem on tape based and HD based cameras, but I thought that wouldn’t be a problem on a solid state camera. Maybe it’s a problem with my camera only. I’ll have to investigate this further. You can hear the noise in the last test clip. Downloads at the bottom of this article.

Both cameras are recording AVCHD, meaning heavy compression and a native format that is not suitable for editing. For the record, the Sony camera can also record standard definition MPEG2 (not very good for editing either), while the Panasonic is AVCHD only. I am not going to use this camera for making hollywood style movies. I am going to make some quick demonstrations for my presentations and for my blog. And the occasional documentation of some events in my family.

When surfing around looking for reviews of these cameras I was disappointed of sites that claim to have a proper review up, but don’t provide any test clips for download.

So to help people that is about to buy a new camcorder I’ll provide you with some test clips and images here.
Continue reading “Test clips from Panasonic HDC-SD5”

Test clips from Panasonic HDC-SD5