EXR con and pro

A few more experiments with my ‘new’ Fujica F80 EXR. Let’s get right to the bad parts.

Cons:

There aren’t many. The body is a bit slick to hold on to and there’s no really good place to put your left hand. The mode control dial would be better placed on the top, and it’s a bit flimsy. The LCD screen is, as with all of them, difficult to see in bright daylight. The start-up is a bit sluggish (wait for the red light to stop flashing). The zoom control is not good for small changes. There is no adjustment for contrast or colour saturation (other than choosing a film simulation).

Um … that’s about it. Shall we add that the different film simulations for colour don’t have a huge variation between them? How about that it’s not a good low-light (night) camera? Not really issues. It does tend to underexpose in certain circumstances, but again not to the severity that causes problems – about -1/3 stop. Most everything else I’ve tried on it has worked well.

Pros:

Small enough to fit in a shirt pocket. Works well under average conditions, and even under some trying ones. If you were just going to use this for normal snapshots it would be a killer camera. Definitely up to and beyond the abilities of the venerable Kodak V1003, with a bit better automatic function, and far easier to get up and running than the Lumix ZS60.

So let’s look at some results.

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You go ahead; I’ll just wait here

Snapshot of Marley being lazy. Colour rendition is perfect (standard setting), of course it helps to have a mass of gray house to get the exposure right. All cameras want us to only take pictures of flat, 18% reflective gray surfaces you know.

DSCF1033
Raven flying

Slight underexposure, a little low on contrast, but good colour rendition. The CCD sensor provides excellent tonal range under most conditions.

Exposure corrected by +1/3 stop, and there’s nothing wrong with colour or contrast.

But just how good of a picture can we make with this camera? Let’s see:

bootsB&W
Boots being cute in B&W

This was done in B&W, not cropped (I actually bothered to frame & compose) just resized for the Internet (the original is 2816 x 2112 pixels), shot with flash in auto EXR mode. The monochrome setting is a little low on contrast, as are the colour offerings. This may be due to the age of the sensor. Here’s the original before I removed some rubbish and tweaked the contrast:

boots1

Now there are a lot more settings to try on this, including many menu adjustments. The menu is fairly sensible and easy to access, as are the other controls. The EXR function has four settings itself: auto, hi-definition, hi-dynamic, and hi-ISO/lo-noise. I’m looking forward to shooting with every combination I can figure out, before I settle down to what settings work best for me. It is already an amazingly competent camera, and convenient to carry too.

It’s a keeper.

It’s trite, I know

I had been thinking about doing this post to the point where I’d selected almost all the photos for it. There was some hesitancy because it’s such a “year end” thing to do and I find those rather annoying for the most part. Further to that I started seeing other people doing the same thing. Oh boy, it’s the legendary “Obligatory Marble Shot” situation all over again. Nevertheless and despite my own reservations I went ahead and constructed the post on December 17. Will it get published? Only time will tell. (If you’re reading this either it did or you have magical powers.)

Selections were made on three criteria; the technical quality, the artistic value, and the wholly subjective “because I like it” factor.

First up, two from the Kodak V1003, the cheapest camera in my arsenal:

yelonly
Yellow
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Vice

“Yellow” and “Vice” show how artistic you can be with a very simple camera. Something I like to demonstrate for the benefit of new photographers or those just looking to find their way.

Now two from the Kodak P850, as we move up in camera value:

stickC
Candlestick Colour
WB850
Walkin’ Blues

Here we have the original colour version of the candlestick photo series and the P850’s rendition from the “Walkin’ Blues” series. The richness of this camera’s captures with its CCD sensor never ceases to amaze me.

Shifting up in price again to the Nikon P610. Oddly enough even though this is still my “main” camera I had a hard time choosing from its photos, because a lot of what I take with it is not done for artistic reasons.

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Hannibal
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Lonely Stranger

These two show the P610 at its artistic best, I think. “Hannibal” radiates warmth and fuzziness, just like the actual cat. “Lonely Stranger” is not only poignant but also personal, as it is a self-portrait. Usually the Nikon is shooting pictures of the moon or wildlife, because one of its main attributes is the fantastic zoom lens. I just didn’t think those pictures were top-of-the-class for technical or artistic merit.

Now for the most expensive camera, the Canon T100, we have a couple of shots that show for a camera that spends most of its time doing weird photographic experiments it can do some great art if given a chance.

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Broken
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Chimney

“Broken” is pure art gallery level snobbery, whereas the “Chimney” is serendipitous colour and form. Besides these I found quite a few taken with the T100 which were suitable, and narrowing it down was difficult. I had to somewhat suppress the “third criterion” to make the choices.

And while we’re on about the Canon’s experimental usage and my “because I like it” qualification, here’s two from the unlikely yet strangely successful Canon + Brownie experiment:

IMG_2131
Vase

This is actually a bad picture, speaking technically. Most of it is out of focus and where it is focused it isn’t sharp. The composition is random and purposeless. Yet I like it. Not just for the odd method used to make it, but because the whole is greater than the parts and it becomes an abstract of slightly blurred shape and colour which could probably hang in MOMA and sell for a million dollars in print form.

IMG_2135
Isetta

From the same experiment series, the Isetta image fails on technical merit and arguably is about as artistic as a mistaken shutter trip. Yet again, I like it. My whimsical nature gave it composition that would ordinarily be found only in a Madison Avenue advertising campaign, although I doubt they’d be accepting of the quality otherwise.

The main reason for all of these pictures remains the same: I’m having fun with my cameras. You should too.

 

What chimp? Where?

Some random words on things photographic because I haven’t got any ‘projects’ at the moment.

People talking about “chimping” – the practice of previewing damn near every shot you take – often say it’s something “old film photographers frown on”. Well, I am that guy.

It is, I suppose, another aspect of the modern digital photographer not learning photography the right way. *Old man voice – ’cause it’s the only one I’ve got* “In my day we couldn’t preview any shot! We had to wait ’til the film was developed!” Now in the digital age we can, and frankly it’s a godsend. You see, it’s not that you should never look to see if you just got the shot, it’s learning when to.

Some personal, anecdotal examples:

The Canon is my experimental camera. So far it’s done over 2000 shots and I don’t think there’s even one I haven’t previewed. Some of them I couldn’t see (night shots), but I had to look and see I couldn’t see them. Er, yes.

The Nikon has the wonderful ability to keep its LCD to itself, turned flat against the back of the camera protected and off. Yet it’s best for self-portraits because you can flip it out and turn it all the way around and see yourself staring back at yourself. This doesn’t count as ‘chimping’, really. The point is I hardly ever preview with the Nikon.

The Kodak P850 has its preview function turned off so it doesn’t waste battery. I did that when I was using it with the old battery to judge if it was worth buying a new one for. Haven’t turned it back on yet. Don’t miss it a bit.

The Kodak V1003 … ah, well. No point, really. Can hardly make out the screen to see what I’m shooting, never mind review it.

The displays are fine for showing you camera setting, although I’d prefer that info indicated by a line pointing at a number on the respective, dedicated control for the function. In all honesty, how much can you see of the image on your screen? They tend to be small and cramped and lacking in resolution. Can you really judge if you got the shot by ‘chimping’? Only in the most minimal of ways. You can see if the framing was good enough or there’s approximately the right exposure, but it isn’t going to look the same when you bring it up on a computer screen.

A cell phone photo is another matter. Since that likely is the final medium of display, you will see what you will be looking at. It’s kind of amazing that many of them have far better screen resolution than most computers, albeit considerably smaller in overall size.

Before you go previewing everything I would suggest you ask yourself one question: what am I looking for? If you think it’s “the final result” don’t bother pushing that button ’cause you’re not going to see it. If you honestly need to check that everything is in the frame or check focus and/or exposure (especially for manual shots) then do it. But don’t get obsessed. In fact I recommend you train yourself to take pictures without checking any of the views. Go through the equivalent of a full roll of film (24 exposures) without looking at any until you’re done. It will require some willpower, but it will make you a better, more confident photographer.

And now here’s my cat Hannibal (aka “Puff-Puff”) being warm and fuzzy:

hannibal

Today I have a couple of “test shots” to make involving some different lens configurations on the Canon. No doubt I will preview them all. Also I want to test a couple of objet d’image shots for a future project. Those I won’t look at until they’re on the computer because that’s the only place where it will matter what they come out like.

Also, a certain company has put a camera I do not need but kind of like on sale at a significant discount and I might buy it. Trouble is, it’s not the really nice one I want which is much more expensive (6X the price). I probably wouldn’t use either enough to justify the expense, with or without ‘chimping’. I’m just bored and looking for some inspiration.