Why 28 mm is the best focal length for travel photography?

2022/02/07

If you have no other focal lengths available or have to choose one only

Note: 28 mm is for Full Frame camera. For APSC sensors it is 19 mm and for Micro Four Third [MFT] sensor it is 14 mm.

First let us define what is meant by travel photography. This include different styles of photography like [but not limited to]:

⦁ Landscape [in clear day light, cloudy/overcast, rain etc.]
⦁ Street / city life
⦁ Indoor [museum, underground etc.]
⦁ Fast action [when shooting from moving vehicle/train etc.]
⦁ Night life at city
⦁ Environmental Portrait

Before going into debate of which focal length is best, let us first examine how human eyes see. Scientists say that human eyes’ focal length varies from 35 mm to 50 mm [in full frame camera terms]. Unlike a camera, human eyes see clearly things at the center of our vision and objects in our peripheral vision is blurred. It is important to understand we are talking of what our brain interprets of what our eyes see. To test this, raise your hand so that it is parallel to you ear and then wave your hand. Your eyes can detect the hand movement in your peripheral vision but you can’t see it clearly. This is also why we often can’t find things in our homes unless it falls into our hands or just in front of us.

Online camera forum users often discard lenses because those are not sharp at corners, yet in real life, when humans see photos, people hardly examine sharpness at the corners.

Anyway, coming back to the travel photography. You may think that 50 mm would be ideal for lens. But no – while 50 mm is considered good focal length for portraits, it is too narrow for general travel photography.

In travel photos, we want to capture the surroundings as much as possible. So we need a wide field of vision – but not necessarily an ultra wide angle lens because an ultra wide angle lenses distort perspective, especially at the periphery.

So we need a focal length which is wide enough yet does not distort things – especially human faces because people shoot lots of family photos in holidays.

Most mobile phone cameras have 27-28 mm [full frame equivalent] focal length for their primary cameras. However, you may have noticed, if you shoot selfie while holding phone too near to your face, your face looks bit distorted compared to if someone takes the photo of you holding camera bit far away from you.

Mobile phone manufacturers did lot of research to find out which focal length would keep most consumers happy. Many people now buys smartphones for shooting photos as primary purpose, other than sending messages in chat apps. So having offering a good camera is utmost important for mobile phone manufacturers.

Thus, for most travel shots we want to fit more things in our photos. 28 mm is a focal length which can fit things without distorting them. Go over 28 and it becomes difficult to fit things especially in places where you can’t move backward due to physical barriers or obstacles. Go below 28 and it starts to become too wide angle and thus things start to become distorted at the corners.

There are other advantages of this slightly wide angle focal lengths. Not all consumer cameras have in body image stabilizer or lens stabilizers. In day time, it is comparatively easier to keep hands steady with a short shutter speed, which results in sharp photos. Higher the focal length, more difficult it is to keep hands steady without shaking. Typical thumb rule is that if focal length of lens is f mm, then shutter speed must be less than 1/(f * crop factor). So for a MFT camera with 14 mm lens, the slowest shutter speed you can go is 1/(2*14) or 1/28 or typically 1/25 s to 1/30 s. This is good for night shots because usually in bright day light photos you keep shutter speed 1/125 s to 1/250 s depending on light intensity.

Of course there are special circumstances where you do need telephoto lenses like when you cannot physically reach nearer to your subject – like birds, wild life/safari etc.

However, many cameras offer some kind of built-in zoom features. This could be either digital zoom or tele-converter. With digital zoom, the camera computationally interpolates values so there is a chance of slight fall in image quality. Some proper cameras offer extended tele-converter feature, where effectively you get an in camera crop which does not reduce image quality – though it may reduce the resolution by a little bit due to cropping.

Sometimes you may find even 28 mm is not wide enough to capture the vista of a landscape. Usually you can use panorama feature in your phone or camera. If no such feature available in your camera, you can still achieve it albeit with few steps. Use [AE-L] or Auto Exposure Lock facility in your camera. Turn it on and make you exposure remains the same while you take few shots by panning your camera. Then on your computer you can stitch those photos to produce a stunning panorama.

If you shoot with a zoom lens in your camera then having an ideal focal length is less of an issue. Though, depending on camera and lens set up, such combination can be quite big and heavy to carry on. Hence, a small camera with a prime lens (which has single focal length) reduces the burden of camera gears to a great extent.

If you travel with interchangeable lens camera [ILC] then 28 mm [or equivalent] prime lenses often have large apertures, allowing you to capture enough light for night/low light photos. Tpically kit zoom lenses don’t have such large apertures [barring few pro lenses, which are usually heavy and expensive].

If you want to buy a prime lens for your camera and confused which focal length to use, hopefully this article will help you decide that.

Majority of single focal length cameras use focal lengths around this value. For example,

⦁ Fuji X100 series camera uses 23 mm lens [35 mm FF eqv.]
⦁ Fuji X70 camera with 19 mm lens [28 mm FF eqv.]
⦁ Rico GR III camera uses 18 mm lens [27 mm FF eqv.]
⦁ Leica M2 camera uses 28 mm lens [FF]
⦁ Sony RX1R camera uses 35 mm lens [FF]

Abbreviations used
FF = Full Frame camera
APSC = APS-C sensor camera
MFT = Micro Four Third camera
FL = Focal Length

Why some energy firms going bust in UK?

2021/09/22

In 2021, some small energy firms went bust in UK. Why did it happen?

These firms were re-sellers meaning they didn’t produce any gas or electric of their own. They bought wholesale gas/electricity from large producers and sold it to customers.

When customers signed up with them, these firms promised a price say £x. They used to buy energy at wholesale rate of £w (where x – w = their profit).

Since wholesale energy price went up suddenly, these firms had to buy energy at a rate W which is more than x, i.e. what customers paying them.

They can’t simply ask customers to pay more because they had contract with customers where customer would pay fixed price £x as previously agreed.

So these energy firms can no longer afford to purchase energy at cost W and in return get only x from their customers. So their business is no longer sustainable and hence they went bust.

Satvizm – between minimalism and consumerism

2021/08/27

The minimalism and consumerism are two extreme end-isms. Satvizm is the middle ground

Satvizm = satisfaction from what you have

CharacteristicsConsumerismSatvizmMinimalism
DefinitionMore materialistic possessions is the goalBeing satisfied with what you have currentlyLive with as fewer possessions as possible
Number of followersBillions – this is what most people believeNew concept May be few million
Material possession numbersHighThere is no high or low. What you have is right.Low
Satisfaction Moving goalpost – you always feel next possession
will give you the happiness you want
Does not require you to increase or decrease your stuff
You have the just right amount of stuff
Take you time to decide whether you want more or less
Reduce stuff to increase happiness,
then crave for same items later
Table: showing where satvizm fits?

Is happiness linked with money?

2021/03/12

In spite of all progress in science and living standards in last 100 years, mankind is still elusive of the answer of what is happiness!

Numerous research has taken place in this subject over long periods of time. While these researches did not invent any universal formula for happiness, they did debunk few myths.

One common myth is that more you earn, more happy you become. Well, it is true up to a certain point. Extreme poverty does make people very unhappy but once the basic necessities (and even few luxuries) are met, further income no longer improves happiness level. This is illustrated by following diagram.

Happiness against monetary earning

There have been studies of at what income level optimum happiness occurs. A study by Princeton University in 2010 pegs the number as $75,000 for USA. If you adjust this number of inflation and geographies, you can calculate this for anywhere in the world. Effectively, it states up to this earning level you happiness will grow almost linearly but after you attain this level of earning, your happiness will rarely grow at same pace. In fact after a certain amount of high earning, you happiness level may even fall. This is because with increased earning people start spending money on luxury items (i.e. depreciating assets), indulges in show offs, make new rich friends and they start to measure themselves against new benchmarks etc.

Very rich individuals (e.g. industrialists, film stars, politicians etc.) have different level of problem like threat of attacks, lawsuits, not being able to lead a life away from public scrutiny, fear of losing (game, election, industry etc.) – which leads to unhappiness.

Can we delink happiness completely from money? Well, why not? Happiness is a state of mind. Money can buy utilities which can buy comfort but happiness is not entirely guaranteed with comfort.

Having a loving family, friends, spare time for hobbies etc. – all contribute to happiness even though these are not something money can always buy.

I have come up with a simple formula for happiness – uses only one parameter – the time!

Happiness index = number of hours you do things you like / number of hours you do things you have to do

So if you spend 2 hours in your hobby which you enjoy but to do that you need to spend 8 hours at work (assuming you don’t enjoy that) and 4 hours at household chores, then your happiness index is = 2 / (8+4) = 0.17

You can discard your sleeping time for a consistent approach. More sleeping reduces denominator value which increases happiness. This matches with our real life observation, unhappy people usually can’t sleep well.

Wish you all the happiness you deserve.

Being Famous

2020/09/08

A person can be of famous under several categories. The first question is when one is considered famous?

In general we can say the following

the person is featured in mainstream media [newspaper, TV] often
the person is best selling author
the person is seen frequently in movies
the person has invented/discovered something big or important
the person owns/leads big business
the person has done excellent for social reform
the person is a maestro i.e. top end performer in his/her field e.g. singer, sportsperson etc.

Above categories are for famous living people. A person may be famous in one geography but not in other geography. For a person to be globally famous, s/he needs to be recognizable or well known in at least 3 continents.

We can also divide famous people between living and dead categories. Some people are famous even many years after their deaths e.g. Einstein, Shakespeare, Tutankhamen etc.

In the dead famous people category, following professions came out top

Emperors who have built something which still stand today e.g. Khufu’s pyramid or Shajahan’s Taj Mahal
Great Warriors e.g. Shivaji, Taimur Long, Alexander the Great, Julius Caeser, Hitler
Scientists whose inventions we still refer today e.g. Newton, Einstein
Artists or authors e.g. Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Picasso, Charlie Chaplin
Politicians or social reformers e.g. Abraham Lincoln, Gandhi, Nightingle, Mother Teresa, Jesus, Muhammad, Moses, Buddha, Joan of Arc

Please be aware that people can be notorious yet famous. While most famous people touched people’s lives in positive ways there were few evil famous people too.

Sometimes famous is a subjective word. A lot of YouTube stars are famous in today’s world whereas a large number of people don’t consider these people to be famous at all.

Few categories of past famous people have kind of disappeared. We don’t have warriors or emperors any more, they have been replaced by politicians.

We also have some new categories like entrepreneurs and tech stars e.g. Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk

It is to be noted that while some famous people made huge amount of money and wealth, a lot of them did not have much money.

So to summerize, what makes a person famous, we can say
touched several people with their deeds (mostly positively)
convinced and inspired a lot of people to achieve their potential
left heritage even after their death for improving others’ lives e.g. authors, scientists

How one can be famous now?

This might sound an odd question because most famous people so far did something extraordinary which made them famous. So asking the question what I need to do to become famous takes a very different perspective.

My view on this, you can do it in 2 days – by involving other people do achieve something great or do it yourself.

If you need team, you can become an entrepreneur and build a great business. You can also become a politican and get elected. You can build something big like pyramid which will stay years even after your death.

If you want to do it of your own, then easiest option is to write something which will make people want to read it. Writing does not require any special tools. In contrast, to invent something (unless purely theoretical) it is often necessary to do several experiments.

Writing anything on technology is likely to be obsolete in few years. One can build useful software and that may catch on, making one famous – at least for modern times.

Most classical authors, who books are still read by many, years after their death, wrote on something involving human emotions. Since human emotions did not change much in last 5000 years, it is expected that it won’t change much in next 5000 years as well. This is why Geeta written 3500 years back is still relevant today (though many can’t interpret it due to old language which has changed a lot).

How you want to be famous? Let me know your thoughts below.

What if people like the new normal?

2020/07/03

There is now a push everywhere to end the lock down arguing “lets get back to normal“.

But nobody is asking the question whether old normal is the best normal.

So what is the “normal”? Was commuting in packed trains a normal thing? Or getting stuck in rush hour traffic is normal? Rushing to school every morning is the normal?

There is no denying the fact that overall creativity of the population has flourished. I observed this empirically based on how many in friends and family circle started writing poems, stories, paintings, drama and much more.

I myself wrote an app for the masses (download link in the right hand side) of this blog.

All these could have been very difficult, if not impossible, during “old normal” way of working. By no means people are working less productively. In fact, productivity of people have increased because people are wasting less time in office (well they can’t as they are not travelling to offices).

Not all work can be done from home. True but there are plenty of works which can be done remotely.

Those who are advocating loss of productivity when working remotely, are actually fearful of few things:

  • Office based politics – often the perception of hard work is more important than actual metrics of the output. In a physical office, it is much easier to show off your input. This gives an extra advantage for extroverts. Whereas in lock down, introverts are in slightly better position as they can flourish their creativity (both work and personal life) without interruptions.
  • Lack of team building / socialisation with colleagues – yes, this is missing while WFH. But why the assumption is most people actually enjoyed it? After work socialisation is often enjoyed by younger crowed in large towns (e.g. London). There are plenty of online socialisation meetings happening. Though I admit not everyone enjoys online socialization.

Now we must tackle the big issue – the loss of jobs. Corona virus pandemic has led to unprecedented job losses around the world and worst is yet to come.  Some industry segments (like hospitality, travel etc.) are affected more than others.

When a big change happens, there are usually 2 ways to counter it – either adapt or resist. Most people are in resist mode and argue everything should go back to old normal mode.  But the winners would be who are ready to adapt and embed new normal culture.

Plenty of businesses have adapted very well. Most desk based jobs are already happening remotely. Many schools have started teaching remotely. While the experience is slightly different, there is no proof that it is worse than old normal.

If in real life people work from home, why not make it mandatory for schools to also teach remote at least 1-2 days per week after life goes back to old normal?

Why people who started to like the new normal should be forced to go back to old normal?

One big issue of accepting new normal is the way we measure well beings. It is roughly on money also known as GDP. But GDP is detached from human wellbeings. One can earn a lot and still be miserable. Many of the high earners actually discovered how they enjoyed being out of rat-race.

I appreciate this is a sensitive and somewhat controversial issue but Darwin said it is not the most intelligent who survives but the most adaptable create survives on the cycle of evolution.

So let us be realistic and assume that life will not fully go back to old normal and better not to force people to go back to old normal. Let us focus on rebuilding our economies and well beings be embracing the new normal.

Everyone should be given a choice of whether they want to go back to old normal or enjoy new normal (or even best of both worlds by mixing old and new normal).

All the best to humanity.

 

 

 

Why A380 failed?

2020/06/15

In spite of being an engineering marvel, the mighty Airbus A380 was a commercial failure.

This is because A380 was designed for hub-and-spoke aviation model. In this scenario, it was envisaged that passengers from smaller airports (= spoke) would fly to larger (= hub) airports and from there they would fly on A380.

But this operating model is no longer popular. Passengers now prefer to fly from point to point directly. Comparatively smaller aircrafts like Boeing B787 or Airbus A350 are suitable for this model.

In fact, the operating cost of A380 is more than two B787 combined operating cost! This makes B787 lot more sensible to run compared to A380.

The aircrafts like B787 has very long range too. This makes long distance point to point flying model commercially profitable.

Work From Home (WFH) – boon or bane?

2020/05/26

Following the pandemic, there has been lot of discussion on remote working. Some are predicting end of office working culture while others are arguing we shall be back to offices once lock down is over.

Let us examine this using an analytical perspective.

In most IT organizations, work from home (WFH) is already common. Many workers work at least 1 day/week from home already (pre-pandemic). So we can say 80-20 office:home culture was already there. Now the big question is, post lockdown whether it would be one of these:

[1] 80-20 i.e. pre-pandemic level commute
[2] 20-80 i.e. 4 day WFH + 1 day office
[3] 0-100 – WFH = current lock down model

There was a pre-lockdown perception that WFH model is not efficient for productive working. However, the forceful adoption of WFH has proven it wrong. More or less people’s productivity remained the same in 100% WFH model. Businesses have adopted very quickly to the new model. IT industry is no stranger to remote working, especially those with large offshore teams for last 20 years.

There is no research showing people work less productively when working remotely. In fact, not having to do a long commute (either driving or using crowded public transport) makes employees more charged up. The 8-hour work day was based on industrial age. In current service based economy, it is the outcome that matters – whether someone produces it in 4 hours or 8 hours is irrelevant.

In fact, WFH may increase productivity. While working in offices, employees often tend to show off work. A lot of time is wasted in schmoozing in kitchen area. People stay late to feign being busy. Hang on too long to submit output even when done, because they don’t want to show it delivering before deadline as next plannings would be based on current delivery timelines.

WFH is very different. Since no one is actively watching employees, if one can finish the work off in 6 hours, s/he would get 2 hours spare time to do his/her own work. As long as output is of professional and acceptable quality, employer has little to complain if workers are working less than 8 hours. This would drive employees to be more productive.

In many cases, one simply wait while waiting for feedback on previous delivery. While sitting at office desk, this time could be hardly used productively. While WFH, employees can do lot their own stuff and then get back to work once the feedback lands on their inbox.

Some employees prefer to work from office because they are better at climbing corporate ladder easier by just being there. Many employees want to be in the forefront of decision makers/higher management so that they are in the front line for promotions. In general, it is harder for remote workers to get appreciations. This is because decision makers tend to believe (not always a logical thing) those whom they can see are working harder. So in short term, this will cause some impact. However, once WFH embeds in culture this issue will diminish over time.

From employers’ point of view, an immediate cost saving is not having to maintain large offices at expensive cities like London. If WFH becomes mainstream, workers do not need to live near to offices as they would not commute during rush hours any more. This can help them moving to country side where they can afford larger homes with gardens – thus improving overall well-being of their families.

Some people might miss the after work hang-around-to-pub culture though – but that varies from person to person.

Covid19 – potential exit strategy

2020/04/24
Disclaimer:
Please note that things are changing very fast on Corona virus. Scientists are working hard to find a vaccine. Hence, the content of this blog could become out of date very soon. This blog is for information purpose only and does not constitute as medical advise. Always follow the advise from your doctor and relevant medical authority in your country.
How can lock down be lifted?
The key question for most part of the world is now how to end the lock down without a massive risk of life of citizens.

As of this writing, there is no known cure for Covid19.

If nothing is done, entire population will eventually catch the virus and around 1% of them will die.

If we could confirm who are immune to the virus then we can easily identify the vulnerable and ask everyone else to carry on with life as usual. However, the problem is, other than identifying aged people (e.g. those with 65 years and above) and those with existing health conditions (e.g. obesity, cardiac issues, diabetes etc.) there is no finer way to identify the risk group. Even them, some young and healthy people are randomly affected in a serious manner, even resulting to death!

Millions of people around the world have got infected with Covid19. Some have suffered no or mild symptoms only. However, due to very little testing carried out, majority of people who think they have got Covid19 and recovered, have no way to confirm that that is actually the case!

The crux of the problem here is how to identify people who got Covid19, then recovered and thus assumed immune to it. These people can then come out of lock down and start leading a pre-Covid19 life.

So how do you confirm this? This is where the difficulty lies.

Presence of the virus can be confirmed in 2 ways – swab test and antibody test.

The swab test shows if the virus is present at the point in time (when patient is tested).

WhatsApp Image 2020-04-24 at 12.08.57
The antibody test can detect patients who suffered and recovered but up to a certain period of time. The big unknowns are [1] how long antibody will remain in the body [2] whether the antibody is due to Covid19 only or for some other viruses.

Although there are cases for person being affected again after recovery, but in this writing we are assuming subsequent infection would not be fatal .

Now if we take a person A, who got infected by Covid19 but suffered only mild symptoms and recovered after 21 days, then the question remains how to prove it? He can be tested for antibody and if IgG antibody is found, a reasonable conclusion can be drawn that person A is immune from Covid19 going forward.

But this approach has a major hurdle. Firstly, antibody test is not yet available to everyone. Secondly, by the time antibody test is available to everyone, the concerned person may have lost the antibody from his blood stream. In this case, it is back to square one!

WhatsApp Image 2020-04-24 at 12.12.16
This person is now in same position like one who has never caught Covid19 before (say person B).

To the public, person A is having same risk of person B. But in reality person A is possibly immune and carry far less risk than person B. But there is no way to prove it.

For person B, there is a risk that he could suffer mild symptom or sever symptom and could even die.

If the immunity can be proved beyond doubt, then it is a valid exit strategy.

Without proper tests, we have to adopt any of following situations.

[1] Lives saved but economy damaged

Continue lock down indefinitely. If everyone remains isolated, no one will get infected, hence no one is contagious and no new person gets infected. But this will destroy the economy and livelihood of billions of people. This is not acceptable solution to public – even though this is actually best solution for saving maximum amount of lives. After sometime public may revolt and might just start their normal life anyway.

[2] Economy survives but high number of casualties

Allow people to carry on as usual and achieve so called herd immunity. This means allowing everyone to catch the virus and accept 1% death of overall population. Effectively a situation a very large number of random people will die. This scenario does not try to prevent infection, rather relies entirely on individual’s body immunity to tackle the virus.

What is the future then? Well, only time will tell.

Thanks to Dr Somnath Mukherjee and Dr Shyam Das for their inputs.

How life changes pre and post pandemic

2020/04/14

How the world is changing post Corona virus pandemic?

The table below and the attached PDF presentation explains the life before and after the Covid19 pandemic.

View this document on Scribd

Post Pandemic World

Parameter Pre pandemic Post pandemic
Way of working Work from office Work from home
Learning, teaching From school, university etc. Online learning
Meetings Face to face Online
Seeing medics Doctor examines patient physically Doctor examines patient over video conference for basic diagnosis and prescription
Shopping Physically in store (especially for grocery) Online grocery shopping
Commuting Car, public transport – more fuel use Not necessary due to home working – less fuel use
Social visits More Less
Events – concert, sports, movies Mostly physical visits Less physical visits or watch online only
Perception of prestigious professions Celebrities, politicians, high paid jobs Key workers e.g. medics, delivery drivers, supermarket workers etc.
Healthcare Less focus on national healthcare More focus on national healthcare
Healthcare – personal Gym Gym at home, walking, running, cycling
Political beliefs Predominantly capitalistic Shifting towards socialism
Personal freedom More Less – movements could be legally tracked

This blog was written during lock down period and reflected what happened during the lock down period, but some of the trends mentioned below likely to continue once lock down is lifted.