Two ravens. Canon T100 & 50mm f1.8 EF

I was wading through HyperboleTube and came across a claim I hadn’t heard before: apparently we’ve all been lied too, having been told that we must use only ISO 100 … or else!

Hmm. That’s odd. Never heard that one before. It’s almost as stupid as the unfounded claim made by an infamous and allegedly professional photographer couple that ISO doesn’t matter.

Please tell me the majority of photographers in this world aren’t stupid enough to believe either claim!

Anyone who does has utterly failed to learn the underlying basic mechanics of photography.

Now personally I’m an old (very old) film-trained photographer and I like to use digital cameras as though they were film cameras. This means I tend to fix the ISO setting, usually at some standard film rating like 100 (as per the first claim). I have a couple of cameras that won’t go below 200 (which I often use even on the ones that do) and one that goes down to 80. There are not many times I’ve ever cranked it past 1600, except when experimenting.

So here’s the thing: ISO set too low means; 1). you may find yourself having to shoot at a large aperture and thus lose some depth of field sharpness; 2). the aperture needed may not be the best for sharpness;  3). you may find yourself having to slow down the shutter speed to where the image blurs even with stabilization; 4). you may not have enough light to get the shot at all. Whereas ISO set too high means; 1). you may need to use too small of an aperture to control the depth of field the way you want; 2). the aperture may not be the best for sharpness (which falls off in both directions from the optimum one for any given lens); 3). you may find the shutter speed ‘maxed out’; 4). you may have too much light to get the shot at all.

Okay, that’s the basics. The ol’ ISO/Aperture/Time business you probably already knew. Ergo ISO does matter, and only a moron thinks otherwise.

Now let’s look at the trickier aspect of it: how ISO relates to a particular camera.

First up, my almost dead Nikon P610. Great camera. Great lens. Tiny 1/2.3 16MP sensor. At ISO 400 the image noise is already noticeable. At 800 it becomes, for me, unbearable. Keep in mind that ‘noise’ is not the same as ‘grain’; an image can be grainy without being peppered with incorrect coloured dots in the field. Second up, my Canon T100. Great camera. Acceptable lenses from Canon, great if I stick an old manual Super Takumar on. Medium-sized APS-C 18MP sensor. It can manage ISO 800 without too much objectionable noise. Go above that and … not so good. Third, my Sony a6000. Great camera, aside from the tiny-size-accidental-button-pushing problem. Kit lens sucks, but I mostly use it with manual lenses anyway as it adapts them so easily. Again medium-sized APS-C 24MP sensor. This one can handle quite outrageously high ISO without the noise being a big problem. Why? Partly the pixels, but mostly a different sensor/processor/programming that handles the image information.

Three different cameras with three different abilities on ISO handling.

So, low ISO? High ISO? Let the camera choose? Which to use?

That depends on you; your shooting style, your camera, and the results you want/will accept. Just because I turn AWB off and fix ISO at 200 to shoot mostly telephoto images of wildlife in Program mode doesn’t mean you have to. Use P, A, T, or M as you see fit. Let the ISO and white balance go on automatic if you prefer. The reason why cameras have all these different setting is to get different results under the same conditions*.

Learn the rules, then learn when and how to ignore them. But don’t let any so-called ‘professionals’ tell you what you ‘must’ do, because that’s bovine fertilizer in a bag.

*I realize this is very close to the definition of insanity; repeating an action and expecting different results. But it is photography, after all, and it is an art form: some craziness is to be expected.

What a month, eh?

January. Oh boy. Big expenses, difficult journeys, unpleasant occurrences, and a few good things.

A devil or a deer?

The weather was just plain weird, with many days above freezing and some severely below. This included a snowstorm just before the trip to Kam to pick up the Mrs. from the airport. Fortunately I’d just spent Big Money on new tyres. This past weekend, the last of the month, featured another return to -20 which figured largely in the ‘final event’.

Small box, tiny contents, big price tag.

Happy Anniversary to Us was the highlight of the month for sure, even if it wasn’t any big celebration. I don’t like big celebrations anyway. The milestone was the important part. The whole story of ‘Us’ is an odd one, and one day I may tell it. But not today.

Inflamed sky.

There were many pictures taken as I continued to try and adapt my photography to my failing eyesight. I’ve got sort of a plan out of it, and none too soon as the Nikon has come up with a new failing of not focusing except in ‘flower’ (macro) or ‘mountain’ (distant) modes. Usually. Sometimes it does. Sometimes it hunts past ‘in focus’ and can’t get a lock. In a way it would be better if it just locked up completely, instead of continually enticing me to use its fine lens and then not being able to deliver an image.

Have a squid sandwich (bacon butty).

The ‘final event’ (I hope) of the month came on the coldest night (-20C) when my body decided it wanted a trip to the ER in an ambulance. Oh that pain again. You know how when you’re in agony and it seems like eternity is passing but it’s really just a few minutes? I hope you don’t. In fact the pain started at about 10:00 PM, the morphine didn’t touch it, and I was in the hospital before 2:00 AM. So it really was eternity. At least this time I got a good doctor (it’s a roulette game what ER doctor you get these days). There was much discussion about the possible cause, a review of the testing so far, and some question as to why things hadn’t been followed up on. Yeah, I was wondering about that too.

Squeak doesn’t object to Marley using her as a pillow. I can’t imagine why not.

At any rate, January is done and dusted. Now it’s time for February, which I hope will have more positive things in it. Or at least less bad weather? Regardless of that, I have more pictures to post and more to take and plans for many things.

Now if only something catastrophic doesn’t happen and spoil it all. Again.

Film photography hits mainstream attention

Just thought I’d share this while I recover from the latest episode of being me:

Film photography resurgence

You know what that means? It means the already high prices on good ol’ film equipment will be pushed even higher because it’s now ‘pop media’, as it were.

Glad I don’t do film anymore (although the $20/roll cost was enough to stop me as it was).

Hey, maybe I can sell that Praktica LLC I picked up in the big lens deal! It’s probably now ‘worth’ more than the digital cameras I’d like to unload.

And a picture for those who like to see pictures:

Bald eagle, far away, a lot of optical and digital zoom at ISO 400 as well. Quite a bit of post-processing to bring it out; it was a grey day.

More with the Canon T100

I have three more lenses to practise with on the Canon. First of them is the standard ‘kit’ lens; 18-55, which is an unremarkable performer by anyone’s standards.

Chick-a-dee, dee, dee, dee.

On the whole, not awful. But of course mostly shot at the 55mm end as I rarely use wide-angle. Or even short telephoto.

The second lens is the heavily used 75-300mm which is a bit stiff in the zoom and doesn’t render quite as good as we’d want. But it’s still not bad.

Crossed wires, or BC Hydro shouldn’t hire ravens to do line work.
More scenery.

The third lens is the 40mm ‘prime pancake’, which is a very odd focal length for either full frame or APS-C. But the lens itself is quite sharp and a decent performer.

Two ravens overhead. You wouldn’t expect to take bird pictures with a 40mm (64mm on the T100).
Still more scenery. Colour adjusted to get the blue out of the snow.

So … what have I learned from this?

1). The Canon is easier for me to use (even discounting the Nikon’s increasing defects) because I can see the view more easily.

2). The Canon is more difficult to use because of the need to swap lenses to get even close to the Nikon’s range of focal length (due to the difference in sensor sizes).

3). I would need a much longer zoom lens (like 600mm at least) to come close to the range I normally use for wildlife shots, and those cost a lot of money.

4). I would need to slow down my shooting style because the Canon can’t ‘shift modes’ as quickly as the Nikon, and the general use of it requires more time – especially with swapping lenses.

There is no perfect way to go because they don’t make an ‘ideal’ camera design for my needs. A 4/3s camera like the Olympus E410 I have would be close, but there are very few lenses for it. The modern micro 4/3s cameras don’t have optical viewfinders, so they would not be good with my eyesight (even my Sony a6000’s finder is too small and too dim). Since the only choice I have is to use the optical finder cameras I already have, I’ll go with that.

More slowly, more carefully, and more to come.

That last week

Here are some monochrome images from the recent ‘Canon practise’ project.

“I’m not speaking to you.” “I’m not speaking to you either.”

Among events of last week, I got new tyres on Jojo. The old ones had really had it; I kept sliding past the driveway when trying to turn in. The issue was needing to drive to Kamloops to pick up Herself from the airport, and you can’t count on the weather/road conditions around here – except to be bad.

Just thought I’d post this.

The other option was to re-insure and gas up the truck (which would have cost about the same), but it’s rear wheel drive when 2wd and doesn’t shift in to 4 automatically. Also uses more fuel and doesn’t ride as nice. Plus, Jojo still would have needed new tyres.

This stuff.

As it was that was a good idea because it snowed the day before the trip and the roads up here were compacted ice with some more snow and melt on top. On the way back it was all melted slush and we ran out of washer fluid keeping the windshield clear. Jojo actually has a warning that comes on when it gets low. Anyway, she’s filthy now and needs a wash but … guess what? Weather is about to go cold again – and snow more. Welcome home, dear!

Not a partridge, not a pear tree.

So she’s back. This was followed the same day by a call from the eye doctor regarding my specialist appointment. Which will be in May. Good thing it’s not urgent, eh? We all know how it will end up anyway.

A very serious dog.

This past weekend we celebrated yet another wedding anniversary, in the usual style of the elderly. That is to say we stayed home, had a nice dinner, and watched a movie. The movie was the one we went to see in a theater on our first anniversary. No, it wasn’t Muybridge’s The Horse In Motion.

Even ice changes.

Now it’s time to get ready for whatever is next. Like split wood because it’s going to get cold. Also plot and plan purchases and snow clearing against more snow fall. At some point it will be Spring, but not for a few months yet.


I came across a video that wanted to tell me about the vintage lenses I “must” have. Well I’m interested in vintage lenses, so I gave it a watch.

Hmm. Apparently someone doesn’t know the meaning of the word “vintage”. Is it me?

To my mind a “vintage lens” in this age of the digital camera is one originally manufactured for use on a film camera. Perhaps this is wrong?

Maybe they meant “vintage style” lens, such as those manual aperture/manual focus lenses available from certain artisan (*ahem*) manufacturers which can give you that ‘vintage’ look and operation without the expense of actually having to track down a 58mm f1.9 Meyer Gorlitz Primoplan.

But even that does not explain the list consisting entirely of currently-available and mainly automatic lenses, such as the Canon 50mm f1.8 EF. I happen to have one of those, and I would not describe it as “vintage”. Not ever.

On the other hand I, personally, could be described as a “vintage photographer” so maybe the fault lies not within the lenses but within myself.

Oh well.

Here’s a couple of shots of a vintage late ’40s to early ’50s GMC ‘5 window’ pick-up I came across while walking around town. It’s nearly impossible to tell GMC years apart, within certain eras, at a glance as they didn’t change much – unlike their Chevrolet cousins – due to low sales volume.

Somewhere around 1950, give or take three or four years.
Hopefully it will be restored.

Photos taken with the Canon G11, a nice ‘walking around’ camera. Is it vintage digital? You tell me!