A few nice high laptop images I found:
Solara, Simga DP2s
Image by soelin
This is RAW straight out of camera processed with default settings in Sigma Pro Photo 4.1 software.
Every year, I go to Burma/Myanmar and I only take a carry on and a hand bag. Taking a large camera like the 5DMk2 (even a T2i size camera) with a lens or two is not an option for me since I like to go travel light (especially to Myanmar). I wanted a small camera that could produce great quality images, good bokeh when needed, and good colors; l knew not to prioritize it based on high ISO quality. I'll have to give that up for a small camera.
I bought/sold/tried shooting with several cameras--from small, point and shoot size sensor to micro-four thirds. Among the ones I tried, my favorite was the E-PL1 with Panasonic 20/1.7. I wanted to see if I could find something even SMALLER than the Oly/Panny combo without giving up too much on image quality.
I debated between the Samsung TL500 / EX1 and the Leica Dlux4. I was impressed with the quality of Samsung's images I saw on the web (and also the cheaper price). But, I ended up getting the Dlux4 because it had been around longer (RAW files supported by most software), and knew I could get good quality images out of it.
By the time I got the Dlux4, I was already inflicted with Gear Acquisition Syndrome (GAS)--I wanted another camera of that size that could produce images with even BETTER image quality. Since I couldn't afford a Leica X1, I wanted to try out the Sigma DP2s.
The user interface isn't bad, but not as intuitive as others I have tried. I got used it in a couple of days and I find no issues.
LCD screen is so-so. I can still view images on the LCD under a bright sun--better than E-P2. Image quality could be better, but with low-res screen, it's hard to see whether I've nailed the focus point. I also have the external optical viewfinder. It's small, with nice bright frame lines, but it's not really that accurate. If the camera could auto focus well, it'd be more useful.
The build seems fine. It's similar in size to the DLux4 but a little thicker but lighter. The battery life is average for small cameras (not great but not bad).
Performance-wise, it's a hit or miss. In good light, focus is quick but not instant-quick. In lower light, it takes its time locking focus--I'd say average of about a second or sometimes even two. As a range finder camera user, I don't mind taking a little time to shoot since I'm just looking for a good composition and good image quality. This is perfectly fine for stills but not the best for fast paced kids in action. These days, I shoot mostly my kids but I still find DP2s more than usable. I accept and forgive all the quirkiness of the camera since I know I'll get a few really good shots with it. Maybe it's a personal thing--I prefer it over the Oly E-PL1 because it's a little more "challenging" to use and the reward is much more satisfying.
The software that came with it works amazingly well. In fact, if I try to process the DP2s RAW files in Lightroom, my results won't be as good--or at least, it would take me a lot of time to get it right like SIGMA Pro Photo 4.1 software. Simga Pro Photo processing speed is fast--about 3-4 seconds on my 17" Macbook Pro 2.8Ghz Core 2 Duo, 4GB RAM laptop. I can see why many people go goo goo over the FOVEON sensor. The colors are, indeed, rich and the POP of the focused subject is quite similar to what I would get with a Leica Summicron 50/2 lens.
All in all, I'm glad I found the DP2s.
Natural Fire building partnership 091010ra3
Image by US Army Africa
Team building underway during run up to Natural Fire 10
By Rick Scavetta, U.S. Army Africa
ENTEBBE, Uganda – While the kickoff of Natural Fire 10 is still a few days away, Soldiers from several East African nations are flowing into this resort town near Lake Victoria.
Already, friendships are building among participants of the multi-national military partnership exercise – bonds that will carry them through the coming weeks’ challenges and beyond.
“As we prepare for the upcoming training, we are working together and learning from each other,” said Staff Sgt. Joshua Sweeton, a U.S. Army Africa operations NCO. “We’re looking forward to putting our team to the test.”
The trials ahead include a tabletop exercise in Entebbe and Kampala that will challenge staff officers in their response to a simulated disaster scenario. Supporting the effort, Sweeton and a crew of U.S. Army Africa Soldiers toiled long hours in the recent days to establish a mobile command post at Entebbe airfield.
“We’ve trained hard to establish a DJC2, a deployable joint command and control center, at U.S. Army Africa headquarters in Vicenza, Italy,” Sweeton said. “There’s a lot of hard work that goes into this.”
At the airfield, Sgt. Lucky Tagaloa, 33, a motor pool sergeant from American Samoa, calls out directions Staff Sgt. Lowell Passon, 24, of Middletown, Conn., who sits behind the wheel of a Humvee. Passon’s vehicle tows a trailer full of gear that a CH-47 Chinook helicopter will transport to Kitgum.
Nearby, U.S. Army Sgt. Greg Childers, 28, of Port Saint Lucie, Fla., and U.S. Air Force Tech Sgt. Demtrius Harris, 29, of Warren , Ark., both from the 290th Joint Communication Support Squadron, MacDill Air Force Base, Tampa, Fla., set up phone and internet connectivity using the latest technology. They search for a clear signal from a satellite orbiting high above the planet. Establishing that connection is key for U.S. Army Africa staff to have phone and internet capabilities within the mobile command center nearby, he said.
“When everyone rolls in, they want this system tested and fully operational,” Harris said.
Operating in Africa poses unique challenges with high-tech equipment, with the humidity and unique geography, not to mention using a different satellite than in other parts of the world, Harris said, as he checks data on his laptop computer.
Nearby, Army Staff Sgt. Chris Donahue, 31, of Tampa, Fla., is testing more communication gear.
“This is a rapid response kit, an initial entry setup that we will move forward and use in Kitgum,” Donahue said.
Soldiers from the five East African partner nations are moving toward Kitgum, to join U.S. troops in the northern region of Uganda.
“Through our interaction we gain a mutual understanding of how our militaries operate,” said Lt. Col. David Konop, U.S. Army Africa’s spokesman. “We learn from them, and they learn from us.”
U.S. Army Africa is committed to a long-term partnership that builds capacity within African partner nations, Konop said.
While preparations are underway for operations in Kitgum, troops began arriving this week in Uganda. The roots of Natural Fire exercise goes back more than a decade, scheduled every two years. This year, Natural Fire 10 offers and opportunity for East African Community (EAC) Partner Nations and the U.S. military to work together on a humanitarian assistance mission.
Roughly, 550 U.S. personnel will take part in the exercise, which begins in mid-October and lasts 10 days. The East African and U.S. troops will then depart Uganda for their home stations.
U.S. Army Africa was invited by the Ugandan government to take part, Konop said. All of the preparations were carried out in close coordination with officials from Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, and Tanzania, he said.
“This exercise is an example of the U.S. Government’s commitment to strengthening our relationship and increasing our ability to operate together to promote security, stability and peace in Africa,” Konop said.
CAPTION: Capt. Gabrielle Caldara, a preventative medicine officer with U.S. Army Africa inspects a portable toilet for sanitary conditions prior to Natural Fire 10 at Entebbe, Uganda.
Cleared for public release.
Photos by Rick Scavetta, U.S. Army Africa
To learn more about U.S. Army Africa visit our official website at www.usaraf.army.mil
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3D Look at Cerro Ballena Fossil Whales
Image by CSUF Photos
Adam Metallo and Vince Rossi, on the far left and far right, from the Smithsonian's Digitization Program Office 3D Lab, use a high-resolution laser arm and medium-range laser scanners to document one of the most complete fossil whales from Cerro Ballena discovered in 2011. In the background, Smithsonian paleontologist Nicholas D. Pyenson reviews data on his laptop while the group works at night in a temporary tent next to the Pan-American Highway. Photo by Smithsonian Institution