Posted by & filed under Photography. 3,724 views

I just got a Sigma DP1 last week. I was lucky enough to get my hand on one of the very limited supply of DP1s in the US (as of this post, DP1 are out of stock at Amazon, BHPhotoVideo and Adorama).

But I just sold it on ebay. Why ?

I really wanted to love the camera. I went out and bought a gorgeous Voigtlander Brightline Finder for it, as well as the Sigma Hood. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a very unique camera and many will like it but it’s just not for me.

Looking for a camera I could take with me everywhere (which I cannot do with my Canon 5D and its multiple lenses), a camera that would give me a picture quality approaching DSLR (approaching, I am not naive), a versatile RAWsumer, I bought the Canon G9.
The G9 had some really annoying quirks but all in all, it was a pretty good camera. But I lost it after a few weeks (duh…). Since I couldn’t bear buying a camera which albeit good, I knew was not perfect (I know, naive), I started to look at the Ricoh and the upcoming Sigma DP1.

Sigma DP1 with Voigtlander ViewFinder and Sigma Hood

So what’s wrong with it then ?

While the image quality is outstanding and the solid construction shines, there are a few things that really bugged me about the DP1, but I have to mention that the camera performs equally or better than most compacts, however:

  • f/4 is just not open enough. I know it’s comparable to many compacts and that the high quality of high ISO should compensate for it but in my 10 days of experimenting with the camera, I found it most capable during bright days.
  • Many aspects of the camera make it too slow for candid, quick street photography. Even with an Extreme III Sandisk card, RAW files take too long to write. The AF is just not quick enough and the fact that the camera locks while trying to find focus is quite painful. Due to the write speed, you can’t really take a photo after another if you want to alter the settings any. I think one thing that compounds the slowness of the AF is the fact that the display freezes when it happens, which makes it look even slower because you can’t see what’s happening. Also, after taking a photo, you’re presented with a black screen and an hourglass and have to wait a few seconds for the camera to be ready to take another picture.
  • Access to a few key features (it’s a simple camera) through the menu is awkward and slow. I am thinking about ISO change and burst modes. On the G9, I was able to change ISO very quickly.
  • Also and here, I might be dreaming but if I recall, the G9 gave me an idea on the LCD on whether the photo would be overexposed or underexposed. With the DP1, regardless of the exposure, the image looks fine and while it tells you if you are with numerical values, it doesn’t show you what I’d really call a live preview. Does this sound right to you ?
  • My main gripe is the Sigma software. While I am quite sure that it can extract amazing image quality from the camera, it is a bit slow and it’s UI just not what I am used to. My current workflow consist of importing in Aperture, sorting and organizing all photos, adjusting RAW parameters for the best photos and then touching them up in Photoshop. Adding the Sigma photo software as Step 0 of my workflow just doesn’t seem to work for me.

It’s not you, it’s me

I think I failed to understand how to take photos the way this camera is good at. If you take a quick look at my Photo Gallery, you can check out my style and maybe see what I couldn’t. I think the cameras gives you a lot of control over the photo taking process but I find the G9 does it more effectively with different wheels (ISO, exposure, f-stop) than the DP1 (manual focus). With a wide angle camera and candid street photography or even taking time making sure everything is right, it seems to me that being able to access those three parameters (again, ISO/Exposure/f-stop) quickly and reliable AF is more important than a manual focus.

I think a lot of those issues can be fixed in firmware and software and am quite confident they will. Today though, the camera is just not for me. Mind you, neither is the G9, no camera is perfect. The G9 just worked a little better for me and I wish I hadn’t lost my first body. I will re-examine the DP1 in a few months, once the initial issues have been worked out.

Posted by & filed under Boston. 1,780 views

After you watch the following clip, I’d like you to imagine looking up a hill, the sun is in your eyes, and seeing three of those quadrupeds walk down towards you…

Quadruped, gun mounted Terminators centaurs anyone ?

Posted by & filed under Mac OS X. 11,762 views

This could very well be the geekiest post and endeavor I ever did. I don’t even play Rockband much nor am I a musician (other than playing the bass guitar very occasionally). While Rockband and Guitar Hero probably do nothing to encourage kids to pick up a real instrument, I thought it’d be fun to play actual music with them.

It’s actually fairly easy to do. The Rockband instruments (drum & guitar) are actually fairly standard USB XBox controllers but they’re not seen by Mac OS X as HID devices. Installing a Mac OS X driver for Xbox 360 controllers worked well on Leopard with me. Using Controllermate which I think is a must have for anyone tinkering with strange USB devices on Mac OS X, I was able to map the different buttons (and levers and direction pads and drum pads) to a different keystrokes. After that, fire up GarageBand, use the keyboard mode to record music and off you go !

From what I read Controllermate will soon interface with MIDI events which might open up even more possibilities. Keep in mind that you can use Controllermate to fine tune repeat, key combinations, the effect of some levers, etc…

PS: “A,S,D, F,G,H,J,K,L ” are good examples of mapping for Garageband and the drums

Posted by & filed under Personal. 5,476 views

A while ago, again, I wrote a few haiku and so did my parents. They’re probably not in the right form but it didn’t matter then and it doesn’t really matter now.

An automatic english translation follows which I had initially intended to correct then but decided not to, since I felt it added to more than detracted from the writing. Here are a few of them, from me.

Une cigale bleue est entrée dans ma chambre.
Partira-t-elle un jour ?
Son chant m’a convaincu.

Mécanismes arachnéens, mers démontées,
Vents de folie, cataclysmes, apocalypse,
J’ai fini mes puzzles.

A blue cicada entered my room.
Will it leave one day?
Its song has convinced me.

Gossamer-like mechanisms, dismounted seas,
Winds of madness, cataclysms, apocalypse,
I finished my puzzles.

Posted by & filed under France, French, Personal. 2,032 views

Bored at the airport, waiting for my flight home to Boston, ego-searching, I stumbled on an old web site of mine. I can’t remember why but sometime in the late nineties, I decided to write an additional chapter to Saint Exupery The Little Prince. And so here it is, in French for now:

Created then
– Regarde, il neige, s’écria le Petit Prince.

J’avais la tête dans mon moteur depuis le debut de la journée. Celui-ci se refusait à démarrer. Sans prendre la peine d’abandonner ma tâche pendant quelques instants, je lui répondit :

– Allons, nous sommes dans le desert. Il ne neige pas dans le desert.
Il ne pleut pas plus qu’il ne neige d’ailleurs.

Le petit prince, tout confus, se tût, et s’assit, derrière moi. Le sable crissa à peine sous son poids.

– Moi, j’ai vu des planetes où il neige dans le desert, dit-il soudain.

Et il me raconta ces endroits qu’il avait exploré au début de son voyage loin de sa petite planete. Il me décrit ces déserts de glace où une rose ne survivrait pas, même avec un globe de verre et deux rangées d’épines; ces endroits plus déserts encore que cette vaste étendue de sable Africain dans laquelle je m’était égaré et l’avait rencontré.

– Je te demande pardon de n’avoir pas cru à des deserts de neige.
Je vois maintenant que j’ai été stupide.”

– Les grandes personnes sont parfois stupides, dit le Petit Prince

Ma clé à molette tomba sur le sable, lorsque excédé par cette réparation impossible, je sortais la tête de la carlingue. Je frissonait.

Il neigeait.

( écrit pour une grande personne qui ne le mérite pas le 17/12/97 )

Posted by & filed under Boston, Photography. 1,607 views

Nothing out of the ordinary lately, as the first snow settles on the streets of Boston. I went to the Boston Auto Show recently and snapped a few pictures of the Nissan GT-R, the Dodge Challenger SRT and the Audi R8 (highlight of the show but bleh, IMHO):

Dodge Challenger SRT - Front