19 May 2011

When Film and Digital Collide

I’m split between two camps at the moment. Photography camps that is. In truth I tend not to be a hardcore fanboy of any one particular brand, movement, product or system which enables me to experience the best of what each has to offer. For that reason my camera bags are full of both digital and film photography equipment.

Although I’m a fan of both mediums I use them for different purposes and almost never together. Digital for example tends to be used when I’ve planned a specific visit to a location to take photographs or have a specific photo in mind. Film on the other hand (following the principles of Lomography) is used more spontaneously and is brought along on the basis I might see something interesting that catches my eye without worrying about perfect exposure and pin sharp focus.

Also whereas my digital workflow is likely to include at least some post processing, when using film the images are simply scanned and saved to disk. I wouldn’t be against editing the photos captured on film outright but in keeping with the principles of Lomography they have up to now remained untouched.

Just recently though after returning from a trip to Warwick Castle I came across one of my 35mm black and white photos and immediately saw potential for it to be edited in the digital realm. I have nothing against the original photo and was very pleased with the performance of the little Fujifilm Silvi F2.8 and Neopan 1600 but it looked perfect for some tilt/shift trickery.

For those who don’t know, a specialist tilt/shift lens (specifically the tilt aspect) can allow selective focus to simulate a miniature scene. It’s a photography technique I have a fondness for but could never afford the prohibitive cost of the lenses required. Fortunately you can replicate the effect in the digital darkroom using tools such as onOne’s FocalPoint 2 software.

Wanting to preserve the “analogue” aspect of the photo as much as possible I made the decision to do no further alterations than the selective focus required to produce the effect. It felt important to keep as much of the original image as possible as it came from the camera. This might seem trivial as once it is altered significantly in my opinion it would no longer qualify as lomography. Yet if i’m to marry the two mediums to produce an image it feels important to me to retain as much of the original as I can.

Here is the original:

Warwick Castle, April '11 (Fujifilm Silvi F2.8 & Neopan 1600)

And with the selective focus applied here is the edit:

Warwick Castle (edit), April '11 (Fujifilm Silvi F2.8 & Neopan 1600)

Overall I’m very, very pleased with the result. It’s my first attempt at creating the effect and as the photo originally came from my fondness for film/lomography it means that little bit more to me. I still concede that with such an edit the resultant photo can no longer be considered true lomography but as an interesting photo that combines the best of two mediums I think it works brilliantly!

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14 May 2011

Price Wars - iMac Vs Windows PC

Having recently made the decision to buy an iMac I was sure to do plenty of research beforehand to make sure it was the right computer for me. It was during this time I came across the usual argument of “Macs are overpriced” which if I I’m honest I also believed to be true. The model I was looking at after all is £1649 before any upgrades or additional software.
What led me to consider the iMac as an option though was the inclusion of a 27” LED 2560x1440 IPS monitor that I craved to aid my photography hobby. When pricing a similar specification monitor for a Windows PC build I was looking at around £740 with the then current pricing. This got me wondering; if the monitor costs that much alone, how much would the rest of the build cost in comparison to an iMac?
Before looking at the hardware specification I feel it’s worth mentioning that although the specifications are close there will always be discrepancies. The keyboard and mouse combination on the PC for example is not as high quality or feature rich as those included with the iMac. Similarly and argument could be said that the ‘laptop’ type components in the iMac aren’t as quick as their ‘desktop’ counterparts in the PC.
Getting down to business let’s look at the specs:

iMac PC (using Bit-Tech Enthusiast base PC)
27” 2560x1440 IPS LED monitor 27" Dell Ultrasharp U2711
3.1GHz Intel Core i5 3.3GHz Intel Core i5
4GB 1333MHz RAM 4GB 1600MHz RAM
ATI 6790M 1GB graphics ATI 6850 1GB graphics
Mac OS X Windows 7 64-bit Pro
Apple Wireless Keyboard/Mouse Logitech Wireless MK520
17w speakers built-in Logitech X-140 2.0 speakers
Thunderbolt connectivity N/A
Airport Wi-Fi Wireless ‘N’ PCI
Facetime 720p camera MS LifeCam 720p
£1649 £1546.69

Looking at those figures there is £100 difference almost to the pound whilst the specifications are very evenly matched. The 6970M graphics card in the iMac for example although a laptop variant is said to be equivalent to the desktop 6850 card. Performance is of course going to depend in part on the operating system but with one or two minor difference the specifications are as close as possible.
So on cost the Windows PC wins the argument – it is cheaper.
Well not quite. Although these two prices are separated by £100 the iMac is built, delivered and supported for a year at no extra charge. The PC on the other hand has to be built and supported by the end user and could be subject to P&P charges. Is this difference worth £100? I guess that’s up to the individual and how hands-on they want to be with their new PC.
There are of course other arguments that could be raised to debate the perceived value of either system with the upgradeability and overclockability of the PC and the highly polished looks and quiet performance of the iMac. This estimation of value comes down to each individual user and how each system best fits their needs but on the topic of purchase price I am surprised to have found that the iMac actually doesn’t cost anything more than an equivalent built PC.
Now that was a surprise.
And that’s why I now have one.

*for simplicity the Windows PC is referred to as "PC"

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