Hi {name},

Welcome to Lenscraft in Focus for April 2023.

Last month, I mentioned that I had shelved my plans to buy a Fuji XT5. I had read reports and watched videos saying that image quality was poor with some lenses. One of these lenses was the Fuji 10-24mm that I rely on, and so I didn’t want to take the risk.

After the newsletter was mailed, several readers got in touch to say that this wasn’t their experience (note to self - stop listening to YouTube “Experts”). Spurred on by the new information, I decided to take a chance and buy an XT5. Here’s one of my first shots taken with my new camera.

Lenscraft in Focus April 2023 Newsletter

I shot this handheld using a 14mm Fuji prime lens. It was a 1/15” exposure at f/5.6 and ISO1600. I then processed the RAW file with DxO PureRAW 3 (which you can read about later in the newsletter).

I must tell you that I’m delighted with this camera. I’m not seeing any of the problems with soft images that others have mentioned. Best of all, the in-body stabilisation is simply amazing, and the camera is a joy to use, especially with the Fuji prime lenses.

I hope you like the shot and I hope you enjoy the rest of this month’s newsletter.


Affinity Universal License Competition

Congratulations to Max Schaefer from Queensland Australia ,who won the March Prize Draw.

If you would like the opportunity to win my third and final license key, you can enter on the Prize Draw page of my website. This is for an Affinity Universal License giving access to all Affinity Products on all platforms.

Please also take a moment to share this competition on Social Media, and with others. The more people who enter, the greater the chance of companies providing me with prizes in the future.

Good luck.

Optusnet Email Address Users

Do you know any photographer using an Optusnet email address? If you do, please share this with them.

For the past two newsletters, any sent to Optusnet addresses have been rejected. I’ve been in touch with Optusnet who say I’m sending too many emails, which is why they are blocking me. Unfortunately, I now have no way of reaching the affected people.

I have pleaded the case with Optusnet that my newsletters are valuable content, but they advise it won’t change their position and my emails will continue to reject. So, if you know someone who may subscribe to this newsletter and has an Optusnet email address, please let them know about the problem.

Thank you.

New Lenscraft Content

Over the past month I’ve focused on publishing new tutorials and updating old ones. Here’s the list of what you can find on Lenscraft.

How To Rotate or Flip an Image Layer in Affinity Photo
Let’s start with the difference between flipping and rotating an image in Affinity Photo. In the following screenshot, you can see two images showing the effect of rotating an image…
How To Rotate an Image in the Affinity Photo Develop Persona
Have you ever opened a RAW file in Affinity Photo and found that it’s in the wrong orientation? If you have, you will probably have noticed that there is something…
How To Rotate an Image in Affinity Photo
When you use the Photo Persona in Affinity Photo, you will find there are several ways to rotate an image. Which is best depends on why you’re wanting to rotate…
How to Use the Photoshop Sky Replacement Tool
I’ve been working on a new Photoshop Layers book which will be out in late October 2021 which included a sky replacement example. That’s when I decided I would write…

From Around the Internet

A selection of interesting photography related resources from the internet.

DxO PureRAW 3 Released

DxO PureRAW 3 Video Review

Did you see that DxO has released PureRAW 3?

I was fortunate to have early access to a beta version of the software and used it to publish a review on YouTube. I’ve now been using the software for a few weeks and I’m finding it excellent. The results of the DeepPRIME XD noise reduction with my Fuji XT cameras are extremely impressive.

Despite this, I still prefer to use DxO PhotoLab 6 for my best image files because it gives the same results but with greater control. Where PureRAW 3 scores highly though, is that it’s workflow is quicker and easier to use.

Please remember, you don’t need both PhotoLab 6 and PureRAW 3 because they do the same thing. It’s also important to check that your camera and lenses are supported, or the software won’t work it’s magic.

One final point to mention is that the DeepPRIME XD processing is now also available in DxO PhotoLab 6. There is a free update for existing DxO PhotoLab 6 users.

On1 Sky Replacement

On1 Sky Replacement Plug-in

On1 Software has recently released “Sky Swap AI”. This is a new Photoshop plug-in which allows you to replace the sky in an image with a new sky. It comes with a couple of hundred high quality replacement sky images, as well as allowing you to import and use your own.

I’ve downloaded a trial version to test it out and noticed a few points that might interest you:

  • The quality of the sky detection was variable, and it struggled with some of my test images. In most cases I had to manually edit the sky mask.
  • The plug-in makes a great job with some images, but it makes others look terrible. You also need to be prepared to spend time using the controls to refine the effect and the mask.
  • If you have the stand-alone version of On1 Photo RAW, you already have this software. You just can’t use that as a Photoshop plug-in. Photoshop users also have access to the Photoshop Sky Replacement feature which competes directly with this plug-in.
  • Strangely, I was able to achieve better results for many images when using the plug-in with Affinity Photo rather than Photoshop.
  • Control of the Reflection feature in the plug-in is limited. It needs to be enhanced to allow more adjustment and refinement.

You can read more about the software on the On1 website. If you’re thinking of purchase it, be sure to download and test the trial version thoroughly first.

Photography News

The latest edition of Photography News is out now and free to read online.


The Argument Against Micro 43

I appear to have started (unintentionally) a bit of a debate about Micro Four Thirds cameras. I recently mentioned on my Lightweight Photographer blog about an image I had shared on Instagram. This attracted “criticism” from someone for being shot with a Micro Four Thirds camera. The thrust of this gentleman’s argument was that I was using an “Amateur” camera and that for “serious work” a full frame camera was necessary.

I completely disagree with his view, but my intention is not to change his mind. The reason I mention this story is that someone then shared a video from Zack Arias with me. I haven’t seen Zack’s videos before but found them enjoyable. I thought this one summed up the full frame argument well https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PHYidejT3KY

The only thing that it didn’t mention is the old trick of having 35mm images duplicated onto medium format film. This made them stand out on the lightbox and helped to make more sales.

Photographers You May Not Know – Mustafa Aydın

Mustafa Aydın website

I’m impressed by many areas of photography, but Astrophotography leaves me in awe. That’s why I want to share the work of Mustafa Aydın this month. You can read about his work on his website where he shares some great images. There are a few interesting blog articles on the subject, and I hope that he finds time to publish more in the future.

To see a larger selection of Mustafa’s work, I recommend subscribing to his Instagram feed.

Books & Course News

Last month, I mentioned that I had resurrected a book project about Photoshop Luminosity Masks and how to use them. The draft of the book is now complete and I’m progressing well with the first revision. There are a few more revisions planned, and I will need a little time to record course content before it’s ready.

If you missed it, my intention is to produce three versions of the book. There will be the usual eBook and paperback editions but I also want to do a multimedia version. This will be a hybrid digital version, with links to lessons in an accompanying course.

I’ll be finalising the book details over the coming weeks and hope to share more in next month’s newsletter.

Until next month, enjoy your photography.

Robin Whalley

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