Exercising the Nikon P610

Every camera needs to be picked up and used now and again. It’s just good practice. In the case of this particular one, it also means I get a selection of good shots without even trying hard. No having to¬† post-process to make up for bad exposure here! Truly a fine piece of machinery.

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Cloud Stream
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The sunlight is over there
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Raven in the Aspen
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That is Venus
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Raven silhouette
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Frozen in ice

 

IlLumixated

Some shots from the Panasonic Lumix ZS60.

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Dime Moon
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From Under Snow
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Stalactice
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Snow’s off the high ground
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Random Patterns
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Ice-lens-ic

That last one is, I think, one of the best photos I’ve taken in a long time. It may be hard for some people to make out, as it is quite complex, but that’s actually light coming through a cylinder of ice (icicle segment). This despite the fact the Lumix has the worst lens of any of my cameras. This is the best image I’ve ever taken with it.

 

Elysium Fields

Some more old prints I found. The pictures were taken in Perry, Upstate New York, and are at least 25 years old. Beyond that I don’t know the exact location, date, or what camera and film were used. They had suffered a bit from the passing years, so I cleaned up the worst of the damage after scanning. But not too much because I don’t want to lose the “old film look”.

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Certain this is “the old Mlyniec farm” on Myers Road
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Possibly on Page Road
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Unknown
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Unknown
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Probably on Page Road
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Could be Simmons Road
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Unknown, probably Page Road
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Page Road near Simmons Road

It’s kind of fun finding the old photos, but it emphasizes the overwhelming number that have gone missing and makes me wish all the more that they hadn’t. There may have been some great pictures in there.

I’ve found more prints, slides, and negatives to scan and will be doing so as there’s not much chance of taking new pictures under the current circumstances. I did not find what I was looking for, of course!

 

Film Finis

In one of the unusual circumstances that are so usual in my life, I came across the prints of the last roll of film I ever shot. I know it must be the last because the images start at the old house, ‘visit’ the cabin, and finish at the ‘new’ home, meaning they were taken in the time period of 2009-2010. Yes, the film sat in the camera for almost a year. No doubt something to do with someone having an automobile accident and breaking her back, resulting in a lot of confusion and changes to our lives.

Anyway, I scanned the images such as they were and worked them a bit because the prints had faded in the ensuing 10 years despite being kept in the dark. Possibly not the best photo finishing service either; the prints are a bit grainy. But the camera they were taken with was the Pentax Spotmatic and its Super Takumar lenses shine out.

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Our Friend Peter

Taken at the old house, the kind of picture I don’t usually take: a people shot. He doesn’t look amused, but really he had a great sense of humour. You can see the usual chaos of my over-active life all around him. The vehicle to the left is the gray ’98 4Runner that would end up on its roof in October with Brenda trapped inside.

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The Stony Shore

Here we are at the lake, then. The terror of the future yet to be revealed. This is not the sharpest picture I’ve ever taken of that lake. It might have been hazy that day or … well who knows. No sense speculating about it, really, as it’s past.

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Denim Pine

The pine bark beetle epidemic was in full swing then. This shows the end of a pine log cut, with the characteristic blueish staining cause by the tree trying to defend itself against the beetles. This would have been cabin fire wood, as we didn’t heat our main residence with wood until we bought the ‘new’ place.

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Daisy Bug

Even then I liked to take pictures of bugs on flowers. The newer cameras have better macro ability, I must say. Even so, not a bad effort.

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Sun on the Water

A decidedly artistic shot. The vignetting is on purpose, the rampant chroma is not. Therein lies one of the faults with film: you don’t really know what you’ve got until the prints are done. With digital, I could look at this in a second and try a different approach – or even afford to take the shot several different ways right off the bat.

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The Clearing

This is one side of the property of the ‘new’ place as it appeared in the Spring after we bought it. The stumps everywhere were infected pine trees that had been cut down and sliced up for firewood. Yes, the house came with the first two years’ heating free, so to speak. I would reproduce the shot as it appears now, only I’d have to trudge through 10″ of hard packed snow and I don’t fancy breaking an ankle.

As I glance over these I wonder about the thousands of images I have taken which have simply disappeared to who-knows-where, never to be seen again. I also wonder about how well digital images might be preserved in their magnetic form. I know I’ve already lost a few to hard drive failure, and since have taken extra measures to back up anything I feel is really worthwhile.

Even so, I will stick with digital. It’s certainly cheaper than film these days, and easier to manipulate. Plus there is the added advantage of not being ‘stuck with one type of film for a whole roll’. If you load your camera with Kodachrome 64, you must shoot the whole roll before changing film types – or spring for numerous cameras to handle different films. With digital, you can alter ISO, colour intensity, even ratio and resolution from one shot to the next if you so desire. Personally I try to go for a “base universal setting” which not only produces the kind of results I like right out of the camera most of the time, but also allows me a lot of latitude to post-process into different forms if I feel a particular shot needs the change.

PowerShot in black & white

Our ever-unpredictable weather has made photography a gamble lately. One day we have bright sunshine, the next thick overcast. Temperatures go above freezing in the day, then plummet well below at night. Tuesday a big wind blew in and changed the atmosphere from dry and warm to cold and snow and now the sun is out. It’s ridiculous!

Anyway in the past couple of weeks I have been ‘lugging’ the Canon PowerShot A70 around, set to monochrome, in hopes of trying out its in-camera B&W abilities. I would be trying the other settings, but the indicators on the LCD are so small that I can’t make out what they are. This means setting aperture and/or shutter speed is too difficult for me. So right now it will do colour on “Auto” and B&W on “Program” and at that I’m not sure I know what the ‘fine tuning’ is at; I need reading glasses and a magnifier to see the tiny symbols! There are newer versions of this camera which retain the nifty eye-level optical zoom finder but have a larger LCD for seeing the settings (and images). Maybe one day I’ll come across one. Until then …

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Marley, of course

This is a crop from the full-size image, so it isn’t reduced. Not bad for a 3MP camera, eh? I did have to fix the exposure as the gray day was giving very flat light to work with. Still an acceptable “snap shot quality” image.

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Rounds winding down

Taken in a rare moment of actual sunshine, I was surprised that the camera got the exposure right on this one. Considering the shot consists of bright light and deep shadow, the dynamic range is pretty good with just some washout in the highlights. There’s no editing been done to this, just size adjustment.

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Cloudy

Full image reduced in size. You can see the ‘sensor streak’ at the top, although it is less intrusive in monochrome. This is the kind of sky I was dealing with for most of these shots! Here the contrast has been turned up a little as it was just too flat.

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The Red Coach Inn

Monochrome doing the old building a favour, as it looks far worse in colour. Seriously this historic landmark needs millions in renovation and repair, and it is unlikely to get it. One of the few structures in town that isn’t some pre-fab quick-build utilitarian monster. It still isn’t very interesting.

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O Canada!

This would look better in colour. In fact it would look better in ‘red only’ colour, higher resolution, and closer zoom. This is a segment of the full frame. Quite grainy and gray despite contrast tweaking, looking like some ‘pushed’ Tri-X. I don’t like the effect.

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Raven

Cropped out of a full view, not shrunk. Contrast increased slightly to make up for the flat light. This is at full zoom, panning to follow the bird as it flew because the shutter activation on the A70 is slow. Same ‘feel’ as the flag picture, but perhaps it works better here? Perhaps not. This kind of picture is what the Nikon P610 is for: that camera would not give us fuzzy feathers.

Although the PowerShot A70 is a capable performer for such a cheap camera, I don’t think I’ll be keeping it because it’s difficult for me to use it to its full advantage. This is a fault with eyes in their seventh decade, not the camera. I’ll probably donate it back to the thrift store I bought it from.

Full circle?

My very first 35mm film (aka size 135) camera was a “Willoughby’s Classic IV” made by Fujica (Fuji Camera, now known as Fujifilm – which is ironic given the state of film photography these days). It looked very much like this:

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Internet image

When it comes to modern day digital Cameras, Fujifilm still makes “classics”; great performance and magnificent retro styling, like this X-Pro3:

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Fujifilm promo image

I’d love to have one, but can not in any way justify the price (in the case of this model about $2,400 CDN). There are many ‘cheaper’ Fujifilm cameras, but when you get down to my price range they don’t have the ‘classic’ styling and the eye-level finder I’m so fond of.

Then along came Jones, as the song used to go. Just to see if Fujifilm had all the image quality others say it does I looked at some used offerings, and found one I could afford. Not new, but used. No eye-level finder, but cheap. No retro styling, but interesting specifications. Thus I forked over for a Fuji FinePix F80 EXR. It’s that ‘EXR’ part that intrigued me.

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F80 EXR

The ‘EXR’ function is a unique programming mode that does some interesting things. Like it can ‘sacrifice’ pixels in order to improve dynamic range. Now it’s only 12 MP to begin with, but for my shooting that’s more than enough. Even when it shifts itself down to 6 MP to work its image magic that’s more than enough. The weird part about this is seeing that some of the images come out as 4000 x 3000 pixels and others are 2816 x 2112 pixels – without the user doing a thing.

Now, I haven’t had much time to use it yet. I took a couple of walks around the yard taking some snapshots just to try it out. If you’ve read my posts about the nightmare of getting decent images out of the brand new and fairly expensive Lumix ZS60 you’ll understand what I mean when I say the Fujifilm started out gloriously. Charge battery, insert card, turn on, take snaps, get pictures. Right out of the box this camera returned acceptable results under admittedly not-the-best lighting conditions. Such as this:

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Bleached Marley

That is an absolutely dreadful scene to ask an automatic camera to handle: part of the field of view is in deep shadow, part is in glaring sunlight, part is in-between. The EXR ‘shifted down’ to 6 MP to enable a greater dynamic range and came up with a shot the average user would see nothing wrong with. I see Marley is slightly washed out, but only slightly. Typically either you’d get correct exposure on her and the background would be totally black, or it would try to bring up the shadows and the dog would be an utter washout of white.

The other big complaint I had with the Lumix was its disappointing lens sharpness. So let’s see what the Fuji will do:

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A full-frame shot of some trees looks fine when shrunk to ‘Internet size’, but how is it close up? Well here’s a screen shot of a portion of this image (4000 x 3000 resolution) at 100% resolution on a 1366 x 768 screen:

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The lens is sharp. Not extremely sharp or even very sharp, but sharp enough to not disappoint. Admittedly it has ‘only’ 10X zoom capacity, running the equivalent of 27mm to 270mm, whereas the ZS60 is 30X – but how much zoom do you need? Let’s face it; I’ve been spoiled by the Nikon P610 with its stunning 60X optics that are incredibly sharp – and not just ‘for the type of lens it is’.

No initial report on a camera (by me) would be complete without the ubiquitous shed shot:

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You’ll notice some distortion in this wide-angle image, but it’s not awful. You will also notice, despite no effort to correct the colour, the Fuji predilection for green-blue tones; the reds are somewhat muted.

Let’s have one more picture just for fun:

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Conclusion: This Fujica gives decent pictures right from the get-go without a lot of mucking about. I like that in a camera. It fits in my shirt pocket, which is another bonus. The only ‘downside’ is that it is used, which brings up the question of why manufacturers abandon known good products in favour of new and often questionable designs. Well we know why; to trick you into buying the latest set of impressive specification numbers.

I’m looking forward to using this camera on a greater scale as soon as conditions permit. If you want to read more about its technical aspects here’s an excellent review of it at Photography Blog.

 

Canon (snap) shots

These are some photos I took in the rare sunshine the other day, using the Canon T100 and Super Takumar 35mm lens. This is part of testing whether or not that focal length would be a good ‘prime’ for me before I shell out hundreds of dollars on a coupled automatic lens. As it is, with the old lens exposure is ‘guestimated’ and focus is manual – and every shot has to be post-processed to remove the thorium yellowing (which also affects the sharpness and contrast).

You can see that with just using auto white balance correction there is still some colour shift. I found decreasing the yellow in the images all by itself also worked, but at the occasional expense of the actual image tone.

Anyway I need to shoot some more varied scenes before I decide if it’s worth getting a new lens in that range. The old lens looks best in B&W:

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Shadow of the Dog

That’s picture #5, square cropped and desaturated to monochrome.