4K wallpapers update

Not really in the mood to edit today, or to write too much. So since I’m somehow tired today, let’s do something else. How about few new 4K wallpapers for you to download :)

Here you can also get all the other available wallpapers:

New 4K wallpapers

The theme for today’s wallpapers is Dubai, and you can get them all from the 4K wallpapers page here.

4K wallpapers 3840x2160 HDRshooter
4K wallpapers 3840x2160 HDRshooter
4K wallpapers 3840x2160 HDRshooter
4K wallpapers 3840x2160 HDRshooter

Topaz Labs

Topaz Labs, the makers of many Photoshop plugins and photo editing applications, have been on a roll recently. After releasing two AI powered applications, The JPEG to RAW AI and the AI Gigapixels (which both gave very impressive results), they are releasing a new AI powered application today. The Topaz Sharpener AI. And I think you can deduce what it does from the name. I got to it a bit before today’s release, so I will share my thoughts about it with you today.

As usually, Topaz is also offering an introductory price, same as with other of their products. So from today, the 28th February, until the 15th of March, the price is 20USD off. Head over to the Topaz Labs website to check out more. There is also a trial version available.

Topaz Sharpener AI

While the interface of the Topaz Sharpener AI is very similar to their other AI applications, it provides more options this time. You have three processing modes to chose from here. Sharpen, stabilize and focus. Sharpen tries to distinguish between noise and objects and sharpen only what needs to be sharp. Stabilize will try and remove the motion blur in your photos. Lastly, focus will try to sharpen areas that are out of focus. Let’s have a look at each one here.

Topaz Sharpener AI

In all examples, the original is on the left.

Sharpen

Sharpening is something you have to do on every photo. The results here are quite good, if maybe a bit too strong even on the default settings.

Topaz Sharpener AI

It adds a lot of detail and definition. You can see it very nicely here on this mountain area.

Topaz Sharpener AI

Or on this city photo. I would say the whole shot has more of overall clarity and detail.

Topaz Sharpener AI

Strangely, I noticed one problem. The sharpened version sometimes has less detail in the shadows, that the original photo. It’s like the algorithm just missed the area and just filled it with black.

Stabilize

The Stabilizer processing mode should remove motion blur from the photo. As it often happens that something moves in a shot, this can really be helpful. So I gave it a try on some blurry foliage and boats.

Topaz Sharpener AI

On the foliage, it’s a bit all over the place. Some are almost perfectly defined and sharp. Some look like they weren’t changed at all.

Topaz Sharpener AI

Same on the boats. Probably it depends a lot on how much movement there is. Just look at the two red boats here. one one god it got rid of almost all the movement. Not so much on the other one. Still, the result looks better than the source in both cases.

Focus

The Focus processing mode should sharpen out of focus areas. While this is generally not possible, there is a small range around the sharp area, where this should work. For my example here, I tried it with one handheld shot image. While the main subject, the statue, is generally in focus, few areas like the head are a bit out of focus. So let’s have a look what it can do here.

Topaz Sharpener AI

The results on the statues face are quite nice. Overall it’s more in focus and sharper. It created a bit of artifacts, probably from the texture of the statue, but it still looks fine.

Topaz Sharpener AI

Interestingly, this is what it did with a tower in the background of the statue. Compared to how out of focus it was, it really added some impressive detail.

Topaz Sharpener AI

There is one problem though. I’m not sure if the algorithm splits the image into a grid, but there are many spots where you can see strange effect like this one. It started creating detail in the window and stopped. It sharpened part of the wall, and then stopped. This makes for a very uneven result.

Overall, my impression here is a bit mixed. While some of the results are impressive, some problems are not. Still, using this on parts of a photo, not on one as a whole, can result in a better finished image. I mean, using it for instance to stabilize some moving foliage and blending it into the photo and similar.

It’s possible that some of the issues I found were caused by the pre-release version so you can give the final version a try yourself.  Just go here and get the trial version now.

Tripod replacement

For a while now I needed a new tripod. Recently I have been using a quite horrible one I bought last year in Dubai. I bought it just because during my trip there the airline lost my luggage and my Gitzo tripod was gone. And now one of the feet locks broke on it so I needed a new one.

But I learned one thing from having a cheap tripod the last year. I don’t need a pricey one. For what I need, the difference is not that big. I never shoot in very strong winds and I never use very long lenses. And with a wide angle lens, even a cheaper tripod is stable enough. And if it gets lost again, it will not be such a big problem.

INNOREL stuff

So I thought I give a try with a Chinese brand for a change. I been using few other things from Chinese manufacturers recently, and the quality was really good (I really like Xiaomi products :)), so I though I give one a chance. After searching for a bit, I decided for the INNOREL RT85C tripod. The few reviews I could find were very positive and for the price it was a steal. If it was as described, it would be great.

How much I payed? I did not take only the tripod. The pack I took was the Innorel RT85C tripod + Innorel U44 ball head + Innorel PW50 monopod base/table tripod + Innorel ZH3 Z pan tripod head. I took so many things, as due to promotions they offered, it was cheaper than just taking the tripod with the head. After all the discounts and bundle promotions, I ended up paying only 224 USD for the lot.

The tripod and the ball head arrived on Monday, so let’s look at those now.

INNOREL RT85C tripod & U44 ball head - first impressions

INNOREL RT85C tripod

The RT85C is the second biggest tripod offered from Innorel. It’s a 4 section tripod that goes up to 187cm with the ball head attached. On the other side it can be closed down to only 50cm in length. That all is quite great. One needs a tripod that can go up to the eye level, and this one can do that easily for me. One leg can be detached and used as a mono-pod. You can even switch the attachment screw from 3/8″ to 1/4″ screw. There were even extra steel nails replacements for the rubber feet. In the package they also provide a carrying bag and the hex keys needed to for all the screws on it.

INNOREL RT85C tripod & U44 ball head - first impressions

It’s made from carbon and aluminium, with few rubber parts. There is no plastic on the outside, but I presume the leg locks are plastic on the inside. Not sure if that can be done from a different material at all. It’s relatively light at 1.88kg and feels really sturdy. The leg tubes go up to a 32mm diameter, so that also makes it quite massive. The declared max load is a whopping 25kg.

INNOREL RT85C tripod & U44 ball head - first impressions
INNOREL RT85C tripod & U44 ball head - first impressions

After two days, I’m quite impressed. I would not say it’s on the level of the Gitzo I had, but being only 1/4th of the price, it’s not really that far. The height is great. Without the middle column it’s at my eye level. It’s a bit stiff, but it’s new, so no suprise there. The locking on the legs and the middle column feels solid and the whole tripod stands really sturdy.

INNOREL RT85C tripod & U44 ball head - first impressions

I’m not a huge fan of the spring loaded locks that lock the legs in position. I prefer the pull out style that is on Gitzo and similar brands. Still they work fine, even if it’s a bit harder to use them. The middle column can be taken out, but I have yet to find a way to attach the ball head when it’s not there. I contacted the manufacturer to ask about that, so waiting for an answer. Also I do’t really like the style of the hook at the bottom of the middle column. It stands too much to the side. You can remove it, but that you end up with a hole on the bottom.

INNOREL U44 ball head

The ball head that came with this tripod was the U44. It’s a 44 mm ball head and it looks really nice. Completely made from aluminium in black and silver. It has 4 bubble levels on it, which is a bit of a overkill (I always use the in camera one as you don’t see these in the dark). It has double panoramic rotation, which is great and makes for easier panoramic shots. The release is arca swiss compatible, and I would not take a different one anyway.

INNOREL RT85C tripod & U44 ball head - first impressions
INNOREL RT85C tripod & U44 ball head - first impressions

It feel solid. All rotates nice and firmly, and holds steady once locked down. Still need to try it out with a longer lens, to see if there is any give once there is weight on it. One has to take care when locking the top panoramic rotation, as the difference between locked and unlocked is quite small.

INNOREL RT85C tripod & U44 ball head - first impressions

Overall, I’m pleasantly surprised. The big question is how well it stands over time, but right now I got much more than I expected for the price. I will be using this tripod from now on, so I will do an update in a month or two, to show how it goes. Also, once I get the rest of the delivery, I will make a post about those too.

More wallpapers

Let’s do one more batch of wallpapers for the 4K selection. Now it start’s to look better. Not that I will not add still more, but not that early again :)

Check out all the available wallpapers here:

New wallpapers

The theme this time is mountains, so all these are mostly from Alps. Download them from here right now.

4K wallpapers
4K wallpapers
4K wallpapers
4K wallpapers

Time of day

Sunrise and sunset are the most popular times to take photos at. And it’s not really a surprise. The low sun can give you great color and makes for some wonderful photos. But which one to choose? Let me give you my thought on that :) Btw. most of the points are the same for morning vs. evening blue hour.

Sunrise vs. Sunset

At sunrise you have the place for yourself – Most of the places are empty very early in the morning. No cars, no people, no tourist and mostly not even other photographers. Nobody will stand in you way, nobody will photo-bomb your photos. Even very busy tourist spot (Eiffel tower, Tower bridge and similar) are empty in the morning. Of course there are exceptions. For instance there are always people at the Charles bridge in Prague. At any time.

The sun position is more unique at sunrise – Not many people do photos at sunrise. And there are probably even some that never seen one. As the sun is in a different position as for sunset, this makes for a more unique photo.

Sunrise vs. Sunset

Sunrise in Amsterdam

The air is clearer at sunrise – As it’s usually colder during the night than during the day, the moisture in the air condensates and it results in a more clearer view. Like this you will get more sharper photos. This does not work always and everywhere, but mostly it does.

Better water reflections at sunrise – If you ever been in Budapest, Amsterdam or any other city with a lot of water traffic, you would seen how hard is to get a reflection in a lake that is always being disturbed. But if you go in the morning, there is not traffic, and the water is perfectly calm. Like this you can get the most beautiful reflections.

Sunrise vs. Sunset

Sunrise in Cesky Krumlov

You can use a tripod at more locations during sunrise – There are places where normally you cant use a tripod. But if you are there very there is usually nobody to bother you, so nobody will mind if you use one.

Not everything is accessible at sunrise – This is sometimes a problem when taking sunrise photos. Some areas may be closed off and not accessible at all. A nice example here is a viewing platform in the middle of Cesky Krumlov, that has the best view of the city. It’s not open at all before 8am, so no luck if one wants sunrise photos.

Sunrise vs. Sunset

Sunset in Paris

It’s much easier to be up at sunset – Of course the biggest problem of sunrise is that it’s so early. Especially if you have been taking photos until lat at night. I sometimes don’t even go to sleep, as it easier than waking after only few hours.

Street and decorative lights are mostly on – Street lamps and decorative lights in the cities come on closer to the sunset, and usually turn off quite before the sunrise. So it you want the light in the shot, you are better of with sunset. Most decorative light are turned off in the middle of the night and you will not have them at all in the morning. This can be a positive in few cases too. Some landmarks have very strong lights on them.

Sunrise vs. Sunset

Sunset at the Neusidler See

Either way, you should get great photos at both times, just don’t forget that there are also other times in the day :)

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