ShutterCount is Available on Windows

ShutterCount is still very popular: it’s in the top 10 of the Mac App Store’s photo category in over 20 countries. So here’s the big news: ShutterCount is now available on Windows!

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It looks and works the same way the Mac version does, except that history logging is not (yet) available in the Windows version. It runs on Windows 7 SP1, Windows 8 and Windows 8.1.

Pricing also matches the Mac version’s (€2.69 / $2.99 / £1.99). You can activate each license on two computers simultaneously, and there’s no limit on the number of cameras you can read, nor the number of readings you can perform on a camera.

Camera compatibility is detailed on the ShutterCount web page.

Simulating a Sony RX100 with Artist’s Viewfinder

In the past months I got a few requests to add support for large-sensor compacts to the Mark II Artist’s Viewfinder app.  I’m still not convinced to go this direction, however. Partly because I see little advantage in simulating a camera where you can’t really see what focal length you are using but can easily zoom as you wish. And partly because it takes more than a new camera in the database.

But the app is flexible enough to do it for yourself, without the need to convince me to add these cameras. It takes only three simple steps described below.

Note: if you are not sure how to complete any of the steps, please refer to the Artist’s Viewfinder Handbook for detailed coverage on basic concepts.

But let’s begin! The first step is to create a custom camera. Shown below are the settings for the RX100 III.

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Sensor size comes from the camera’s documentation. It’s the same for all three generations. What looks a little odd here is the lens mount – as the RX100 doesn’t support interchangeable lenses. But the app requires to select one, so we use something that’s close to the 1″ sensor size: the Generic 4/3″ mount. Save the camera and proceed to selecting lenses.

I see no point in selecting focal lengths as you can’t really match them with the camera, but you can do that if you wish. Marking the ends of the zoom range gives you the bounds to operate within, however.

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You can add these ends using custom focal lengths, as they are not present on the default focal length list. Note that you must use the physical focal lengths here – not the 35mm equivalent ones. Shown above are the values for the Mark III, for the Mark I and II use 10.4mm and 37.1mm as the end points. Going back to the virtual camera configuration screen brings us to the last step.

And this is activating ZoomFrame. I’ll turn this on to see the frame bound at the correct aspect ratio at every focal length between the end points.

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That’s it. Save the virtual camera and we’re done.

One last comment though. The RX100 III’s widest angle of view is wider than that of the iPhone’s camera, so you may need a wide converter to be able simulate the wide end of the zoom.

Artist’s Viewfinder 3.3 Available on the App Store

avf2iconThe latest release of the Mark II Artist’s Viewfinder went online yesterday. This version adds several enhancements to the album, including Dropbox uploads. I wrote about these features in detail in my previous posts (album enhancements, Dropbox uploads).

It also adds support for a couple of new cameras:

  • AJA CION
  • Blackmagic Studio Camera (4K/HD), URSA (EF/PL/Broadcast)
  • Leica T Typ 701
  • Nikon D810, J4, S2, V3
  • Pentax 645Z
  • Samsung NX-3000
  • Sony A7S, SLT-A77 II

The Viewfinder Handbook had been revised and updated for the new features.

This is a free update for Mark II Artist’s Viewfinder owners. New users can purchase it from the App Store for €21.99 / $24.99 / £17.49.

If you are not familiar with what this app can do for you, I’d recommend checking out the new Features in Depth page on the app’s microsite.

Viewfinder, Please Meet Dropbox

In my previous post I wrote about the enhancements coming to the Mark II Artist’s Viewfinder’s album. But there’s one more thing. Something that wasn’t ready for prime time then. And this is uploading to Dropbox.

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There’s a new icon on the album’s share sheet, which (after getting authorization to use your Dropbox) brings up the Dropbox upload screen.

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There are a couple of important things here. First of all, uploads are going under the app’s own folder in your Dropbox: Apps/Mark II Artist’s Viewfinder. Each upload goes into its own folder. These folders can be named as you wish, or left at the default, which is your device’s name followed by an upload sequence number. The default is what you see on the above scree shot.

You also have a couple of options controlling what will be uploaded. By default (all three options in the on position) everything from the views are uploaded. But you can leave parts out to save upload time and bandwidth.

Keep View Folders controls whether each view is placed in its own folder. This way you have all parts – preview, full resolution image and metadata – grouped together. But if you want just all these in a flat folder to be able to browse them faster, then flip this switch off.

The other two are pretty much self explanatory. Turn off Full Resolution Images to avoid uploading these large JPEGs. And you can even skip uploading the Metadata part of the views.

There’s also a new menu item that opens up the Dropbox account management screen.

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Here you can see the status of your account (together with available space) as well as the aforementioned upload options. You can also sign out from your Dropbox account here (and of course you can sign back in).

This is uploading views to Dropbox. Pretty straightforward but powerful feature. It will be available in version 3.3, scheduled for release in July. The update will be free for existing Mark II Artist’s Viewfinder users.

What’s Coming in Artist’s Viewfinder 3.3

Version 3.3 of my Mark II Artist’s Viewfinder app is nearing completion, so I thought I’ll show you some of it’s exciting new features.

Besides the usual slew of new cameras, this release revolves around enhancements to the album.

Full Resolution Images Are Now Optional

You can save space and time by not storing the full resolution images if you don’t need them. The album browser also indicates which views have a full resolution image with a little camera badge.

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When you export views from the album with no full resolution images, the app will export them immediately. When at least one selected view have a full resolution image, then you’ll get the usual prompt.

View Selection

You can now select all the views in the album with just one tap of the Select All button. Well, this feature topped our feature request list, so here it goes! :)

Auto Export

This feature lets you to automatically export the preview or the full resolution image (or both) to the Camera Roll while a view package is created.

What is pretty neat is that you can separate the storage of previews from full resolution images (like shooting to different cards in a real camera).

While previews are always stored in the app’s album (you can’t turn it off), you can auto export full resolution images to the Camera Roll with no need to duplicate them in the album. Settings for configuring this are shown below.

New menu settings

This is exactly how I use the app now, and it replaced the built-in Camera app in my daily usage.

Selectable Map Type

Previously the album’s map used a hybrid type – overlaying a street map to satellite imagery. While this looks great, it may consume lots of Internet bandwidth.

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Starting with this release, the default map type is the standard, low bandwidth, street map. But you can switch it to satellite and hybrid if you prefer those.

While we are at GPS and mapping functionality…

New Track Logging Default

To better honor user privacy, track logging is now turned off by default. It affects only new installations, this setting will not be changed for existing users.

We have also changed the way the app starts for the first time, delaying the location services prompt until the first virtual camera is configured.

When?

The above features are already available in internal beta builds. But we are working on a few more!

If everything goes well, the new version will be on the App Store in July. It will be free for existing users. So if you became interested in the app because of these new features, don’t hesitate! Grab your copy today!

Leica Monovid 8×20 Review

I have been using a small rubberized 10×25 Canon binocular since I began photographing birds. As part of my ongoing camera bag weight reduction project I wanted something to replace the Canon – something that’s smaller, lighter and optically better.

Why a monocular?

Well, for two reasons, which are the following three: weight, size and because there’s no need for constant diopter adjustment that drives me crazy with most binoculars. I can work much faster with a monocular than with a bino – and speed is important to me because I use these kind of instruments for quick glances. It is a bit trickier to hold monoculars steady, and you need to look through them perfectly on-axis (like a riflescope) to avoid “blacking out”.

Why Leica?

I spent an entire weekend on researching the subject of monoculars. Man, there are tons of cheap monos out there! But they were ruled out pretty fast as I wanted something that’s small, light and has great optics.

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Leica Monovid with the optional neck strap

This left only two choices: Zeiss and Leica. I’m not a huge fan on push-pull focusing used on Zeiss monos, so I bought a Lecia Monovid three months ago. For about $500 it’s definitely not a cheap one, but lives up to my high expectations.

In use

Build quality is first class. The focusing ring is smooth but have enough resistance to allow precise and quick focusing. Unfortunately focusing ring rotation is just the opposite of my Canon lenses (have to turn counter-clockwise to focus closer). You can easily grip both the tube and the focusing ring.

While we are at focusing. My preferred holding method that provides both steady image and easy focusing is the following: hold the Monovid in my left hand, between the tips of my index/middle/ring fingers (above the tube) and thumb (below the tube), and rest my hand on my forehead and nose. And focus with my right hand.

It is waterproof, nitrogen filled to prevent fogging and lenses have dirt and water repellent coating. But you get only an eyepiece cup. I would like to have a front lens cover too (actually it’s not a big deal as it usually hangs from my neck). Well, another missing thing is a neck strap. You receive a hand strap in the package, but I found the neck strap to be invaluable.

Most importantly, it is very good optically. The image is bright and with high contrast. My Canon produces a bit hazy view, and the Leica is much better. Colors are rich and deep. On the negative side, it has pronounced pincushion distortion and slight chromatic aberration towards the edges. All in all, it is a pleasure to look through the Monovid.

Minimum focusing distance is 1.8m – which is more than enough for me. But there’s a close-up lens in the box which reduces the MFD to 25cm. This lens (along with the supplied leather case) usually sits in the drawer. For those interested, the case has a belt loop and you can screw in the close-up lens into the case’s lid.

Conclusion

The Monovid weighs about 1/3 of my former Canon bino, for 3x the price… But it definitely worth the steeper price. It’s compact, lightweight, has superb image quality, and built in a way that lasts generations. Highly recommended.

Fixing OS X Server Log Trashing

Recently noticed that something on my OS X server box trashes the system log with the following messages repeated every 10 seconds:

com.apple.launchd[1]:
(org.calendarserver.agent[7102]) Exited with code: 1
com.apple.launchd[1]:
(org.calendarserver.agent) Throttling respawn: Will start in 9 seconds

Another issue was that the Server app hanged when I clicked on the Calendar service. After a few hours of debugging, I found that disabling the calendar agent service cures the problem. You can do it from Terminal:

sudo serverctl disable service=org.calendarserver.agent

You can verify that the service is disabled with:

sudo serverctl list

Some people mention on the net that this problem is caused by moving the data store location from its default. I don’t need calendar services (not even the agent), so this fix is OK for me even if it happens to break the calendar service later on.

While I noticed and fixed the problem under OS X Server 3.1.1 first, installing the recent 3.1.2 update brought it back. So I had to disable the agent again…

ShutterCount 1.2 Brings History Logging

Version 1.2 of my ShutterCount app is now available on the Mac App Store.

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New features:

  • History logging allows you to track camera usage. Logs are stored in CSV format that can be imported into Apple’s Numbers or Microsoft Excel for further processing.
  • Easily share your camera’s shutter count with your friends or a potential buyer (requires OS X 10.8 or later).

Added support for:

  • Canon EOS-1D C
  • Canon EOS 500D / Rebel T1i / Kiss X3
  • Canon EOS 1000D / Rebel XS / Kiss F
  • Canon EOS 1200D / Rebel T5 / Kiss X70

The upgrade is free for existing ShutterCount users. New users can download the app for $2.99 from the Mac App Store.