Sunday, 25 February 2018

Google Plus for Newcomers (2018)

It's been quite a few years since Google Plus (G+) was launched into the world. That's a long time on the internet. For G+, a whole lot of priorities and directions have changed, articles and FAQ about it, written a few years ago, now have distortions in relevance. Here's a new rundown, from my point of view.

What is G+ ?

G+ is a social network. There are lots of social networks now, catering to different audiences. Facebook was and still is the dominant social network. Why does the world need so many social networks? Because each person is different and each group of people is different.

+Robert Wallis has a humorous diagram about a doughnut which caricatures the different social networks.

Why makes G+ special and worthwhile? 

  • G+ encourages public posting and allows you to discover birds of a feather. The spirit of G+ is that you make public posts so that others who have similar interests or hobbies can see your posts and you can see theirs. In this way, you do not have to ask to be friends nor reciprocate friendships to engage with other members of this network.
  • Initially, you may encounter a person's Collection of posts that interest you. You can choose to follow that Collection. When you do that, any new post to the Collection will appear in your home stream. You may alternatively decide to follow that Person. If you do that, you may see posts in your home stream that are not relevant to your initial interest. Most people don't restrict themselves to only one topic of interest when they write a post.
  • If you find that you eventually do not like subsequent posts in that Collection, simply unfollow that Collection. If you don't like subsequent content from the Person you are following, simply unfollow that Person.
  • It is likely that your school friends and family will be on G+

Comparison to Facebook

  • Facebook encourages private posting. You can make public posts on Facebook especially for celebrity accounts and business accounts but most Facebook people make private posts limited to friends. 
  • You admit people into your circle of friends - usually, you only friend people you have met - the friendship has to be two way. If you have not personally encountered people who ask to befriend you, the tendency is to decline. 
  • Once you friend each other, your friend's posts appear in your stream unless you take some action to suppress them. Since there is no Collections concept on Facebook, you might be only interested in artistic photography but your friend posts endlessly about politics, jokes, Candy Crush etc...  You could unfriend them but that feels like a miss in etiquette and relationships.
  • Facebook is the dominant social network with lots of business accounts. Your old school friends and family are likely to be on it and demand to be friends

Comparison to Instagram

  • Instagram encourages public posting.
  • Instagram does not have Collections so you have to follow the person or the business entity. Once you follow that person, subsequent photos, regardless of whether they are of interest to you or might be NSFW, are displayed on your home stream.
  • Instagram following can be one way. There is no need to reciprocate.

Other features of G+


  • G+ has Communities. The Communities can be Private or Public.
  • A G+ Community allows you to have prolific discussions with members of the same Community without flooding your home stream with such posts.
  • Each G+ Community has separate Notification and other settings.
  • Facebook Groups work in a similar way. In fact, this is the way that people in Facebook can engage without friending each other.


  • G+ Circles are similar to Facebook's Friends Lists - Circles was envisioned as an important feature when G+ was launched, they have now been downplayed.
  • You can create a Circle and add people to it. Each Circle has separate settings.
  • Circles can be used for input. Posts from each member of a Circle will appear in your home stream if you set the Notification setting to other than None.
  • Circles can be used for output. When you make a post, you can choose to target
    • Public
    • A Community
    • One or more people
    • Your Circle(s) containing people.

Getting started with G+ 

  1. You need a Google Account. Usually intending users will already have a Gmail account - the Google empire of products includes Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Suite (including Google Drive), Blogger, Youtube, Google Photos, Google Analytics and significantly, those who own an Android mobile phone. Once you have a Google account, you can simply opt in to G+
  2. Before you get busy with G+, take the time to understand the entries in your G+ Settings - it is a long page full of choices - 

3. Have a look around G+ - the Discover page is not my favourite page, but it presents some Collections and Posts that might be interesting. 

4. If you have been recommended to join a Community, search for that Community or look for one 

5. When ready, follow one or more Collections or People - subsequent posts by these entities will appear in you home stream. If you do not specify a specific Circle to add these entities to, they will be assigned to the typical Following Circle that you will have.

6. Make your first post. Type the text to your post. To mention a person use prefix that person's account name with a plus sign ( + ).  Facebook and Instagram use the ( @ ) sign as a prefix. You can optionally add a photo.

7. Some time ago, Google Photos was split off from G+ as a separate product. Google Photos is a gallery of single photos or albums of photos. Uploading photos to Google Photos does not automatically display them in G+. In the Google Photos webpage or app, you choose one or more photos or album and Share to G+

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Using a full frame lens on a cropped sensor body

A Quick FAQ for one of the most sensitive and hottest topics in forums. It stirs controversy not only because people don't fully understand, it causes anguish because people end up supplying answers to different questions.

Q1. Do I dial in a different ISO/shutter speed / f/no with the same lens on bodies with different sized sensors?
Ans: No, You use the same parameters

Q2. Do I get a different image "quality" if I use the same lens on different sensors?
  • It varies depending on some factors but overall, yes, the final image when enlarged from the sensor size to the final size of screen or print will show that the full frame image with less image noise, all things being equal. 
  • It may not be exactly proportional to the sensor size ratios because all things are not always equal. 
  • The increase in noise is due to the fact that the smaller sensor only sees a small part of the full frame image and you have to magnify the image more to fit the final size screen or print. 
  • Some people want to explain it a different way and say that the smaller sensor has "lost" light - in one way, it has, because the smaller sensor cannot see part of the image. In another way, it has not - whatever light that does fall onto the sensor, is the same brightness per area.
  • Also an issue is that people often want X megapixels (let us say 20 Mp) whether they use a cropped sensor camera or a full frame camera. That means that cropped sensor makers have to fit a higher pixel density (more pixels per area) onto a smaller sensor. This makes the pixel smaller on a cropped sensor camera. These are all theoretical design issues. At the end of the day, people compare real, practical cameras with real sensors - due to different technological edge, the superiority may not be proportional as prescribed by theory.

Q3. Will the amount of blur background be different when you use the same lens on different sized sensors for the same subject size in the frame.
  • Yes, there will be different background blur, all things being equal. This is where the notorious phrase - "f/2 on a MFT sensor is equivalent to f/... on a full frame sensor"
  • A simplified visual simulator that you can interact with on the web is here:
  • An Android App that allows you to understand subject dimensions in the parameters of depth of field is the DOF and Hyperfocal Calculator by Cunning Dog.

Q4: If you fit a 50mm full frame lens on a cropped sensor body, what happens to the f/no?
  • The f/no stays the same - it is a property of the lens, not the camera body.
Q5: Isn't background blur the same as depth of field?
Ans: No, they are not the same. 
  • Depth of field depends on camera to subject distance
  • Background blur depends on camera to background distance

Q6. Will the inherent creaminess of a bokeh ball in the centre of the frame be different between the two bodies?
Ans. Likely the bokeh ball will be the same character of wiryness, onion skin, or bokeh ball shape.

Q7: Isn't bokeh the same as background blur?
Ans: Not, they are not the same. The original definition for bokeh is about the creaminess of the blur for the same amount of blur, not how blurred the background is.

Q8. Will the whole frame blur and bokeh effect be different between the two bodies with different sensor size with the same lens?
Ans. Yes, the full frame style of picture will be different because the smaller sensor does not show you the blurry bits and vignetting of the lens that is around the edge of the frame

Q9: If you fit a 50mm full frame lens onto say an MFT sensor body, will it become 100mm?
Ans: No.
  • 50mm focal length is a property of the lens. 
  • When you fit this lens on a cropped sensor body (whether it be MFT or APS-C), part of the image will not be seen by the sensor because the sensor is smaller (hence the name Cropped) than the Circle of Coverage of the full frame lens. 
  • To ensure that you see the full height of the subject using a cropped sensor body, you will have to walk backwards - i.e. increase your camera to subject distance.
  • People will then say that if you stand at the same spot but do not move back, you are using the equivalent of a 100mm lens on a full frame body, when you use a 50mm lens on a MFT body.
Having said all the above, let's look at an entertaining and illustrative video that combines some of these points together and..... potentially (if you didn't read above) fills your head with conflicting information (unless you sit down and calmly deconstruct the impact James is saying point by point)

Oh, Ok, so it wasn't that quick. Did you learn something?

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For ease of access, here is a DOF calculator by PhotoPills