Drobo Cost Calculations

UPDATED 2019-10/31 with link to Google Sheet

At what point is buying a Drobo worth it compared to using single external drives? And what size drives should you buy for the best value? To help a friend with this question and satisfy my curiosity, I created this spreadsheet that you can access on Google Sheet.

Using 8TB drives gives the best value per TB. If you need more than ~21TB (dual drive redundancy), it’s cheaper to buy a second Drobo than it is to use 10TB, 12TB, or 14TB drives. And “upgrading” the drives in an existing DROBO usually isn’t worth it, unless all your drives are so old that they just need replacing anyway.

PRO TIP: Drobo is NOT a backup. It merely makes your master data more resilient to drive failures. A backup is a separate copy on a separate device, and you need two backups. Keep one backup off site to protect agains fire, flood, theft, tornados, hurricanes.

If you are going to buy a Drobo, use my Amazon Affiliate links and I’ll get a small commission:

Drobo 5C

8TB Internal Hard Drive

New Lightweight Tamron Lenses Perfect for Landscape?

Tamron has announced three new lightweight primes in 20mm, 24mm, and 35mm with a weight of about 220g per lens and an unbelievable price of about $350 per lens. As a landscape photographer, I’ve been hoping someone would offer a truly lightweight lens with excellent MTF scores, and it looks like Tamron was first to the punch.

Why and I making a big deal about weight? When you are on long hikes, particularly in rugged terrain or at high altitude, carrying less weight makes the experience far more enjoyable, and leaves you in a better mindset to photograph. I’ve packed for days in the Sierra with 70-80 pound packs and my 4×5 film view camera, and at the end of most days, I was totally thrashed, even in my mid 20s. When hiking, weight sucks, and is an impediment to making great work.

Weight was a big reason I decided to go Sony, because they offered the best range of lightweight high resolution bodies with a good range of lightweight Zeiss lenses.

The last few years have given us a number of superb f/1.4 primes, but at a cost of weight. My Sigma 35mm f/1.4 is a brick. It feels as heavy as my old Nikon 180mm f/2.8, but is even less well balanced. And while I love being able to play with shallow depth of field, for my primary landscape work I’m almost always stopped down to f/11. I don’t need f/1.4 performance on a hike, and I don’t want to pay the weight penalty.

By making these lenses at f/2.8, Tamron is able to make a much lighter design, as well as offering a lower price. And from the MTF charts, they appear to be top performers…as good or even better than other primes in these focal lengths.

These lenses just made it to the top of my wish list. I can’t wait to try one out! Kudos Tamron for seeing an unfilled niche and filling it.

More info on the Tamron website and in their press release:


Time to Make Tracks

Nissan Stadium Parking Lot, Nashville, July 4, 2018

As I walked to my car across the Korean War Veterans Bridge in downtown Nashville, the crazy tire patterns juxtaposed against the orderly parking lines immediately reminded me of the structured disorder of modern artists like Miro and Jackson Pollock, and amused picturing who made these tracks and if the police caught them. I was jealous, because it looked like they had a lot of fun. Through pre-visualization, I knew that I would be able to convert the photo to black and white and bring out the patterns through contrast. It seems like a good fit for my Signs and Wondering series

Limitations of the Contrast Slider in Adobe Camera Raw

Curve equivalents of Contrast Slider in Adobe Camera Raw at +25, +50, +75, and +100.

I’m working on an article, and it turns out the Curves slider in Adobe Camera RAW is very limiting. The graphic above shows the curves required to produce the equivalent of +25, +50, +75, and +100 with the curves slider. The most pronounced curve is the +100, and the least pronounced (from the 1:1 slope baseline) is +25.

I’ve been meaning to do this for a long time, and honestly I’m a little shocked by the results. Even at +100, the curves slider is weak sauce, and doesn’t even begin to harness the power of curves.

What I’ve seen so far makes be glad I bypass the contrast slider and go right to curves. I’m looking forward to running some more experiments and developing a more in depth article.

Why are my B&W prints Purple?

That’s the problem one of my workshop participants was having and asked what could be causing it. This is actually a pretty common problem, but it can be easy to miss until you’ve trained your eyes to see it. 

The prints in question were made with the Epson Stylus Photo R1900, which lacks the Light Gray and Light Light Gray found in some other Epson models. That means when it prints a B&W photo, most shades of gray are being made up from the color inks. 

It’s very difficult to make a neutral gray from color inks, hence the color cast. The 24 and 44 inch epson and Canon printers, as well as some smaller printers, use two shades of light gray in addition to black to solve this. 

Yet even with those extra shades of gray, profiles can be to blame.  You need an accurate profile to get neutral color, and canned profiles (the ones that came with your printer or you downloaded from the paper manufacturer) rarely achieve perfect neutrality. 

In the case of the Epson R1900, if the photographer wants a better result, they will have to print on a printer that has gray inks and a decent profile. 

i1Studio Update Alert

I’ve been having issues with the latest i1Studio software version 1.5 and 1.5.1. It doesn’t let me successfully “save session” which means I loose my work if I close the app or start a new profile , and that interferes with allowing extended drydown time. Till I hear from X-rite, my solution was to roll back to the 1.1.1 version which is working properly and I know produces good profiles.

Finding the right version can be a little complicated because x-rite spreads their content across several URLs, but these links should work for you.



As a side note, this is why typically turn off “auto update” on my software and I don’t install updated unless I have the time to troubleshoot and validate that the software has not changed the behavior of my printing or viewing environment. I’ve been bit too many times by updates messing things up while on deadline projects. This was one of those times, said, what the heck, I’ll update” thinking it would be no big deal, but it turned into a multi-day setback.

Cotton Field and Moonrise

The fields of cotton near my house have been captivating me. I grew up in Ohio when corn was the dominant crop, so this is a totally new visual experience for me.  Besides its visual interest, cotton is an iconic crop, woven into the fabric of the American Experiment. None of us would know who Eli Whitney was without the cotton gin, nor can we forget cotton’s former role in the horrible practice of slavery.

In this present age, it’s planted in neat little rows, with highly bred strains designed for maximum yield and mechanical harvesting. While contemplating the past, I could also be in the present and appreciate the beauty of the plant in the here and now. This photo was taken nearly an hour after sunset, with the light and color provided by the incredible purple volcanic sunsets we’ve been having. I wanted to capture the tranquility of a cloudless Tennessee autumn sky lit by the post-sunset glow and a half moon rising over the fields. The beauty of that night is well conveyed for me in this photograph, and makes me interested in photographing more of the crops of Tennessee.

This photograph was the efforts of nearly 2 hours of working the subject through sunset and changing light. I approached it with my initial preconceptions, but turning 180 degrees from sunset, I saw the beautiful purple sky and moon and raced to a field that would let me show these elements int eh beauty I was seeing. I worked through various angles close to the ground and lenses until finally I settled on this wide view and was able to make three exposures before the color dropped from the sky. I’ve been putting more effort into working the scene when my first attempts aren’t creating the visual impact I want, and this night, the hour I spend on my knees in the dirt were rewarded with a nice frame that captures part of the beauty of Tennessee. 

Sony A7RII with Nikon 20mm f/2.8 lens, exposure 30 seconds f/11 iso 640