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Please help before I self-harm
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Koorosh



Joined: 20 Jun 2014
Posts: 215
Location: London

PostPosted: Sat Jul 18, 2015 2:29 pm    Post subject: Please help before I self-harm Reply with quote

Hi everyone,

so the wait is finally over and I finally have a macro rig sorted! However, I am suffering the most ridiculous teething problems and it is driving me bezerk. Firstly, I had read on here that somebody could get an Android emulator coupled with playmemories to run as a workaround for Live view, but for the life of me I cannot work out how they've managed to do that because my laptop just will not recognise the camera. Instead, I'm borrowing my girlfriend's Kindle Fire, which I quickly learned I couldn't download Playmemories to because it was on Google Play. Many hours later I found a solution and it works as a monitor.

Having used a Canon set-up before, I am also having issues with my work flow and how to do things. Any Sony users who can steer me in the right direction would be of great help Smile

I have two main issues: one is that for some reason, the images are saving sometimes in landscape and sometimes in Portrait onto my card. No real issue, or so I thought, although no idea why it's doing that. Secondly, stacking in Zerene has come across two odd issues when attempting the stack.

The output appeared muddled up, and it seems that the images are coming into Zerene in any orientation that it fancies, despite my having orientated them all in the same direction. 'Maybe that's just an artifact in the processing output window and not how it will ultimately look' is what I thought, but having done a smaller stack afterwards to check, no, that isn't the case.

In the first stack, I was then prompted with 'this image is not the same size as the previous. Would you like to discard it and continue or abort the whole thing?' I honestly don't know if it is supposed to be so, but I thought images didn't save as the exact same size anyway? It was all from the same session, and so unless my camera is being wild and doing something strange intermittently, I have no idea what is going on.

As stated, the second stack continued fairly normally right until the last few images when it decided that the images weren't oriented in the same direction again. I tried the second time round to check the box in preferences marked as 'assume images are already oriented.' Same issue. What gives? Have I had a haemorrhage from the excitement of having a macro rig?

On another side note, out of interest, Rik, could you run by me what features are available in Zerene for the student licence? I'm on a trial at the moment but I have a stacker and all that jazz so I could really do with the pro features, and I'm a poor student!

I just want to image! Of the tiny portion that did stack I am honestly so excited at the beautiful resolution, and suspect it may get better once my sorbothane hemispheres arrive! I may ultimately end up on flash because I definitely have a rickety bench to work with, but hopefully it won't be too much of a problem. See below for the set-up. MY girlfriend's dad made the rostrum for me. Let me know what you think of it. Doubtlessly there are improvements that need making!

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Charles Krebs



Joined: 01 Aug 2006
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Location: Issaquah, WA USA

PostPosted: Sat Jul 18, 2015 3:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It would be helpful to know what camera you are using, otherwise all we can do is guess.

Many digital cameras have an orientation sensor that can "write" the camera orientation into the EXIF data ("normal" horizontal, or some amount of rotation to orient it to the camera position when image was taken). If the camera is pointed straight down or straight up it sometimes seems to "confuse" the orientation sensor, and the images can get "tagged" with differing orientations even though the camera has not changed position at all. In some cameras you can turn this orientation tagging "off" if desired.
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Last edited by Charles Krebs on Sat Jul 18, 2015 3:33 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Koorosh



Joined: 20 Jun 2014
Posts: 215
Location: London

PostPosted: Sat Jul 18, 2015 3:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Charles, my apologies, it's a Sony a6000 body.
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fergus



Joined: 25 Jan 2014
Posts: 24
Location: Sydney

PostPosted: Sat Jul 18, 2015 7:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

For the remote control to work you need the Sony app "smart remote control" installed in the camera and "playmemories mobile" in the tablet or device. Run the app on the camera first and then the device will spot the camera.

From memory there's a default setting for the transferred images to be small (2mb?) but this can be changed.

Your google device should work, I use my camera like this with both an iPad and an android phone (separately).

I never could get the remote feature to work with my laptop (mac) so I settled for the ipad. I control with the ipad, live view, etc., and transfer from the camera card to the computer later. I suspect the playmemories app for computers is quite different to the playmemories mobile app.

Hope this helps.
Cheers...
Fergus
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Chris S.
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Joined: 05 Apr 2009
Posts: 2990
Location: Ohio, USA

PostPosted: Sat Jul 18, 2015 9:59 pm    Post subject: Re: Please help before I self-harm Reply with quote

Hi Koorosh,

Congrats on your new rig! Smile Sorry to hear about the issues you're having, but on the bright side, they sound like things you can fix pretty easily.

Koorosh wrote:
. . .for some reason, the images are saving sometimes in landscape and sometimes in Portrait onto my card.

(snip) The output appeared muddled up, and it seems that the images are coming into Zerene in any orientation that it fancies, despite my having orientated them all in the same direction.

(snip) I was then prompted with 'this image is not the same size as the previous. Would you like to discard it and continue or abort the whole thing?' I honestly don't know if it is supposed to be so, but I thought images didn't save as the exact same size anyway? It was all from the same session. . .

I agree with Charlie. Many camera bodies have a sensor that tells the camera whether portrait or landscape orientation is being used. The camera uses the output of this sensor to write the data into one of these orientations. But in my experience, these sensors work well only when the camera is held horizontally. When the camera is shooting vertically, as in your configuration, models I've used get confused and assign orientation somewhat randomly. So if your camera has, somewhere within its menu system, a means to turn this feature off, you probably want to do so.

For the stacks you've already taken, you want to rotate all the images to the same orientation, either portrait or landscape. But you indicate that you already have done this, so it appears to me that the adjustment didn't "take" permanently, for some reason. I've seen this myself in a few situations, and it seemed to be that the tool I used for image rotation did not, in these cases, actually rotate the image, but simply recorded a note to display the image in rotated form. So outside of that particular image viewer, the image would appear unrotated. Could you be experiencing some form of this? Or conversely, you might want to double-check that you didn't miss an image or two, when correcting orientation.

I know little about the inside workings of Zerene Stacker, but could easily see why a stack of mixed-orientation images would cause the problems you've described here.

Your Sony a6000 camera outputs 24-megapixel images. One might think of 24 megapixels as the "image size"--a number that remains constant no matter whether the image is portrait or landscape. But consider it another way: In landscape orientation, the image size is 6,000 pixels wide x 4,000 pixels high; in portrait orientation, the image is 4,000 pixels wide x 6,000 pixels high. A big difference!

Zerene Stacker warns the user about this issue, but leaves it to the user to solve it. This strikes me as a sound approach, as the user is in a better position to choose a wise solution than is Zerene Stacker. You can choose between rotating errant images clockwise or counterclockwise, for example. Or check to see if a thumbnail or other a stray image was accidentally included in your stack.

Including even a single errant image in your stack can produce disastrous results. This makes sense, when one considers that the job of an image stacking program is to create a superset of sharp bits from all the input images. An errant image may appear to contain quite a few sharp bits in areas that contain none, in the appropriate input images.

So if you go through your input image collection, and rotate--in a way that "keeps"--any incorrectly-rotated images, I suspect your problem will go away.

Quote:
. . . what features are available in Zerene for the student license? I'm on a trial at the moment. . .

You might check out Zerene Systems' FAQ: What are the differences between Personal, Prosumer, and Professional?, which covers this pretty thoroughly.

Cheers,

--Chris
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Koorosh



Joined: 20 Jun 2014
Posts: 215
Location: London

PostPosted: Sun Jul 19, 2015 9:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Fergus, yeah I downloaded the pc and the mobile app on my laptop using an android emulator but I guess it just doesn't send the signal out in the emulator version, so no luck there unfortunately. I got it to work on my phone but it doesn't serve as much of a screen really. The kindle works now too, but again it isn't a huge screen and the resolution on the app is pretty poor even with the higher quality setting, and it's quite slow but useable. I'm thinking of getting a small monitor and trying a hdmi connection although I'm not sure if that actually works. Do you know by any chance?
Hi Chris, ok I will have another look at the images in fastone and see if the orientation held in that. I just selected them all in windows file explorer and right clicked for quick orientation en masse.
As for the licences, I did check that but didn't see about the student licence unfortunately.
I will have another go at stacking later and report back!
Thank you for all the help as always.
Oh and one more question: is there a way of turning off the output preview during stacking and will it speed up the process?
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Koorosh



Joined: 20 Jun 2014
Posts: 215
Location: London

PostPosted: Sun Jul 19, 2015 2:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So here's the update with the images: for some reason I can't work out, my set of images changed size from 6000x4000 to 6000x3376 mid session. Can anybody work out why that might be?
As far as the camera settings go, I can't find much to do with the gravity sensor, and near as I could go was to change a setting that orients portrait photos in the right direction when displaying on the camera. Not sure that will change how it saves them though. The other thing I turned off was steadyshot, under the (probably false) premise that it requires the gravity sensor in order for it to work. I don't think I actually have a steadyshot lens and was also under the impression that image stabilising wasn't inbuilt to the a6000. Nevertheless, I've switched it off in case something in the programming treats the camera as if it does have a lens with steadyshot.
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rjlittlefield
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Joined: 01 Aug 2006
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 19, 2015 2:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Koorosh, you've run into a couple of classic problems with orientation.

Let me explain...

First, when the camera is pointed straight down (or straight up), the notion of "landscape" versus "portrait" really doesn't make any sense. Nonetheless, the camera has to do something. We might hope that the camera would remember the last orientation it detected when the notion clearly did make sense, and just continue to use that. Unfortunately, what usually happens is that the camera has no such memory, and if its direction of view is too close to vertical, the camera just picks "landscape" versus "portrait" based on noise from its orientation sensor.

The best cure for this problem, as others have suggested, is to turn off the camera's use of its built-in orientation sensor.

Unfortunately, when I search a downloaded manual for the a6000 (ILCE-6000), I can't find anything about this. Searching on "landscape", "portrait", "horizontal", and "orientation" gives me nothing, and "vertical" only tells me what type of shutter they're using.

If you do find a control for this, please let me know.

Second, given that the camera has somehow decided portrait versus landscape for a particular image, there's the issue of how it encodes that information. Some cameras simply rearrange the pixels. Other cameras leave the pixel arrangement unchanged, and set one or another flag in the image header specifying what orientation that arrangement is supposed to describe.

Third, it turns out that there's no good agreement about how those orientation bits in the header are interpreted in practice. For a particularly depressing account of the variation, see http://www.daveperrett.com/articles/2012/07/28/exif-orientation-handling-is-a-ghetto/.

It sounds to me that in your case the camera is making a random decision about orientation, and rearranging the pixels to match. The image-reading libraries used by Zerene Stacker usually (always?) ignore orientation bits specified in the file header. Instead, they rely entirely on the order of pixels as they are stored in the file. As a result, Zerene Stacker sees your camera's random orientation as, well, random.

Then, in a promising attempt to fix that problem, you used Windows right-click to make all the images look the same. Unfortunately, it seems that that facility does not rearrange the pixels, it just changes the header bits. This results in the images looking consistent to Windows Explorer, and to any other viewer that honors the orientation bits, but to Zerene Stacker the pixel order still reflects random orientation.

It happens that right now I'm exploring a new feature in Zerene Stacker that would provide the option of honoring at least the most common orientation bits. That would probably solve your problem.

However, until that option becomes available, the only way that you can process these random orientation stacks is to run them through some process that actually rearranges the pixels. In Photoshop, something like select-all, copy, paste to new image, save as new file, should do the job. If you're not already familiar with batch actions, now would be a good time to learn.

Correcting a minor glitch in one earlier reply: It is not correct that Zerene Stacker provides the option to rotate errant images. That could be a nice feature, but it's not provided. Instead, Options > Preferences > Pre-rotation applies to all images, leaving you still with a mix of orientations.

Quote:
I tried the second time round to check the box in preferences marked as 'assume images are already oriented.'

Not quite -- no such option exists. There is an option labeled "Add files to existing project as already aligned", but that just serves to force Shift X/Y to zero, Rotation to zero, Scale to 1, and no brightness adjustment. It's designed to be used when you save slab outputs to image file and then re-import them as input for further stacking.

Quote:
could you run by me what features are available in Zerene for the student licence?

For an enumeration, see the list that other people have already pointed you to.

For an explanation, the short version is that Student & Personal have the same technical features, which includes everything that is needed for most applications. Prosumer and Professional, again the same as each other, provide additional features that for the most part only affect convenience and performance, not final results.

You might hope that there's some student-discount version of Prosumer, but there's not, sorry. It's just a matter of policy -- filet mignon is not on the starving-student menu. Sad

--Rik
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Koorosh



Joined: 20 Jun 2014
Posts: 215
Location: London

PostPosted: Sun Jul 19, 2015 3:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you for the input Rik! So yes, I had just discovered to my horror the truth of what you've just said about the pixels orientation, and also the bombshell that it really doesn't look like I will be able to turn off the sensor in the camera and so I'm stuck with the extra headache. I don't have Photoshop installed and I've certainly run out of cash for the time being. I wonder, do you know of any free program that I might be able to use to perform the same task? I certainly do need to learn this batch work!

Also, when you suspect that the images changing orientation are altering the pixel mapping, are you thinking that it is also the cause for losing pixels as well? i.e. 6000x4000 to 6000x3376. If that is the case, I honestly don't know what to do really, because that is utterly ridiculous.

Quote:
There is an option labeled "Add files to existing project as already aligned", but that just serves to force Shift X/Y to zero, Rotation to zero, Scale to 1, and no brightness adjustment. It's designed to be used when you save slab outputs to image file and then re-import them as input for further stacking.


Ah thank you for the info! Probably best I keep that ticked off then for now.

Quote:
You might hope that there's some student-discount version of Prosumer, but there's not, sorry. It's just a matter of policy -- filet mignon is not on the starving-student menu. Sad


Ha ha! I'm absolutely gutted to hear that, although I can see why... Should you change your mind though, let me know Smile

Thank you for the help as always. I just want to stack!
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fergus



Joined: 25 Jan 2014
Posts: 24
Location: Sydney

PostPosted: Sun Jul 19, 2015 3:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Koorosh wrote:
Hi Fergus, yeah I downloaded the pc and the mobile app on my laptop using an android emulator but I guess it just doesn't send the signal out in the emulator version, so no luck there unfortunately. I got it to work on my phone but it doesn't serve as much of a screen really. The kindle works now too, but again it isn't a huge screen and the resolution on the app is pretty poor even with the higher quality setting, and it's quite slow but useable. I'm thinking of getting a small monitor and trying a hdmi connection although I'm not sure if that actually works. Do you know by any chance?


Hi Koorosh, the resolution through the mobile app is not the best but can't be adjusted as far as I know. The quality setting affects the images transferred through the app, not the live view itself.

I am unsure about the mini hdmi output, I don't have the cable to try it. There's a comment in the other thread you posted to ("tethering Sony cameras") from seta666 about live images on the hdmi output so it may indeed be possible.

Cheers...
Fergus
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rjlittlefield
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 19, 2015 3:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Koorosh wrote:
I wonder, do you know of any free program that I might be able to use to perform the same task? I certainly do need to learn this batch work!

GIMP should be able to do this, though from http://www.gimp.org/tutorials/Basic_Batch/ the facility looks more like programming than the graphical interface that Photoshop uses.

Quote:
Also, when you suspect that the images changing orientation are altering the pixel mapping, are you thinking that it is also the cause for losing pixels as well? i.e. 6000x4000 to 6000x3376.

I have no good explanation for losing pixels for some images in a stack. The numbers that you've quoted are aspect ratios 3:2 and 16:9, so perhaps in addition to randomly choosing orientation it's also randomly choosing aspect ratio. In the manual I do see a control for that. Might be worth changing the setting as an experiment.

Quote:
I just want to stack!

One good possibility to try is tip your setup slightly so that the view is no longer straight down. That should stop the randomness.

--Rik
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Chris S.
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 19, 2015 3:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

rjlittlefield wrote:
Correcting a minor glitch in one earlier reply: It is not correct that Zerene Stacker provides the option to rotate errant images. That could be a nice feature, but it's not provided.

What I wrote wasn't a glitch, but might have been unclear enough to give the wrong impression. When I said that Zerene Stacker leaves this up to the user, I meant, "using any appropriate software the users chooses." Zerene Stacker is not such software, at least so far.

But there is a galaxy of other programs to choose from. Here is a list of 86 or 87, for example. I don't know which of these simply change the headers, and which move the pixels; surely, there are some of each on this list. I have seen both approaches used.

One program I would try is Irfanview (also download the free plug-in pack). It's been a while since I've used it, and I don't recall which approach it takes for rotation. But it's highly configurable, and I've at times made it do quite a few varied things by changing its settings. (The menu system, though, was at last look a bit confusing.)

I would not expect you to need anything as sophisticated as Photoshop to perform this simple task.

--Chris
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Charles Krebs



Joined: 01 Aug 2006
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 19, 2015 9:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Hi Chris, ok I will have another look at the images in fastone and see if the orientation held in that

Does this mean you have tried FastStone Image Viewer?

I was going to recommend that as an excellent free program to try and rotate all the images to the same orientation. You can do it quickly in batches. Whether it's method of rotation will solve your problem I don't know.
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Chris S.
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 19, 2015 9:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Charles Krebs wrote:
Does this mean you have tried FastStone Image Viewer?

In case anyone finds this thread confusing, I suspect that several of us were editing our responses at the same time. By peculiarities of the forum software, things became a bit hard to follow. I was engaged in editing when Charlie made his post. After this, my remarks appeared out of order and without sense, so I deleted them. But no matter--I deleted the confusing bits, and this thread appears to continue in a sensible manner.

Charles Krebs wrote:
I was going to recommend that as an excellent free program to try and rotate all the images to the same orientation. You can do it quickly in batches. Whether it's method of rotation will solve your problem I don't know.

Charlie, I have indeed tried FastStone Image Viewer, among the several other freeware FastStone applications. My general impression of these applications has been positive. This said, my experience with these programs is not especially deep. So I would give them only a tentative thumbs-up, subject to more substantial testing.

Cheers,

--Chris
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Charles Krebs



Joined: 01 Aug 2006
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 19, 2015 11:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Chris,

Sorry, maybe I should have made it more clear that my question was for Koorosh since he did mention "fastone" in an earlier post, and I was curious if by that he meant the program FastStone Image Viewer.

I put FastStone Image Viewer through it's paces quit a bit when I was looking at a variety of similar free programs to recommend to the photography classes I taught (for students where budget was a major concern). For photo file management and viewing, and basic tasks such as rotation I find it to be excellent.

So I mentioned it because Koorosh had asked:
Quote:
I wonder, do you know of any free program that I might be able to use to perform the same task?

You can't do the procedure Rik described, but I am curious if he did orient all the images in FastStone and still experienced "orientation" stacking problems. (I'm not really clear on whether he actually did this or only rotated in "windows file explorer"). If he did "correct" the orientation in a program like FastStone, and still had a problem, it might provide some additional clues as to what might or might not work.

(Not talking about the differing image pixel sizes... that one really has me scratching my head... never saw that happen in a stack before )
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