More landscape trials

Canon 1Ds evaluation continues. First two with the 50mm Super Takumar, second two with the 135mm Vivitar (which is not as sharp but is no slouch either).

Down the lake.
Across the lake.
Neighbors’ cabins.
Del & Diane’s.

Around the towns

Some things spotted here in 100 Mile and there in Williams Lake. All pictures taken with the Canon G11.

1949/50 Mercury M-47
Com tower
Study in Orange and Gray
Why fly when you can take the train?
Land and sky
Nectar of the gods

Other than these photos the day didn’t go very well. I’m heading back to the cabin to resume work soon.

Spring tries

The weather here keeps shifting between seasons, often in the same day.

More of that white stuff.

Nevertheless, the seasonal birds are trying to come in. I spotted Canada geese flying north as well as a couple of snow geese. Plus this little fellow has returned:

Varied thrush.

The skies can be dramatic at times.

Boiling clouds.

And sometimes serene:

Eagles into the sunset.

And sometimes fluffy:

Cotton clouds.

Meanwhile I wait. For better weather, for clear road to the cabin, for vaccine inoculation, and for the arrival of my latest photo equipment acquisition.

And because these pictures were all taken with the Nikon P610 (best choice for when you’re trying to get bird pictures), another picture of the moon:

Mandatory moon.

One scene seen six ways

Manual images are fine, but sometimes need some post-processing to make them just right. Or maybe not.

The original. Underexposed, moody. Or is that ‘muddy’?
Automatic equalization applied in GIMP. Better exposure, odd colours.
Auto white balance correction applied in GIMP. Most people would say this is ‘right’.
Exposure corrected using brightness and contrast controls in GIMP. This is the most accurate to life.
Getting artistic: white balance correction with colours “toned down” by ‘fading’.
When all else fails try turning the colour off. Or even if the colour is good it doesn’t hurt to see what the monochrome version looks like.

I, eagle

Tracking a bald eagle on a gray afternoon with the Pentax K100DS and Vivitar 135mm f2.8 lens (202mm equivalent). “Full manual” with focus, aperture, and shutter speed pre-set. Except for the last two images, each picture is a 640×426 crop of the full size. Processing included sharpening, +10 contrast (dull day, old sensor), and smudging the flaw spots if they appeared in the image. This is a 6MP camera; these frames are basically 1/16 full size. That is a lot of digital zooming for such a low resolution imager. Notice the sky colour changes as the bird moves from being front-lit to back-lit flying into the light.

Olympus Serendipitous

The camera: Olympus E-410 (aka Evolt 410).

The lens: Olympus Zuiko Digital 14-42mm f 3.5-6.5.

The other lens: Olympus Zuiko Digital 40-150mm f 3.5-4.5.

The cost: camera and ‘short’ zoom lens $108.80 CDN; ‘long’ zoom lens $29.16 CDN. (I’m not joking).

Olympus E-410 and lenses.

Why did I buy it? You got me there. Perhaps I got confused. I was looking for the E-300 model, which was the last with a CCD sensor. But they command a premium price it seems. Then along came this and well … It’s bad if I’m bored. I made the purchase over a month ago but thanks to the seasonal shipping slowdown it has only just recently arrived.

A couple of things to point out: this is not the “Mystery Camera” used in two prior posts. Also, this is a four-thirds camera not a micro four-thirds. The difference being in the distance between the sensor and the lens flange; a micro four-thirds does not have a reflex mirror to take up space, and as such there is much more flexibility in the design for adapting other lenses. For the four-thirds cameras (which came first) there are less 50 different lenses available and adapting others is unlikely. As it is I got the two zooms which cover the most range. The ‘standard’ prime lens for this unit is a 25mm, which when found for sale tends to cost 3 to 5 times what I paid for the camera & short zoom. I don’t think I’ll be buying one.

So how does it work? Amazingly good. After getting over some minor ‘teething troubles’ having to do with getting images on to and off of the only compact flash card I have (64 megabytes) results are pleasing indeed. Lacking sufficient storage space for full-size images (I got 12 before the “card full” warning came up), I ‘dialed down’ the resolution to get more trial shots. Also had to download pictures by putting the card in the Canon PSA70 because I don’t have a USB cord for the Olympus. Nevertheless, we have images.

Obligatory lens sharpness test. It’s sharp.

The main reason for my going after any four-thirds camera was to see how that particular format compares to others. I’d say it does so favourably, with expected shortcomings and advantages. For example it is lousy in low-light conditions, as would be normal for a small sensor (APS-C sensors are bad in low light, anything smaller is even worse). On the up side it produces better pictures than, say, a 2.3 sensor. It is a good “compromise” camera, which is both its strength and its downfall: if you could have only one camera and needed it to shoot good pictures and take old lenses and be reasonably sized to carry about and have good wide-to-telephoto capacity (crop factor of 2X on this, so the 150mm focal length is 300mm equivalent) … well I can see where a modern micro four-thirds like the Olympus OM-D series would be a great choice. I would not recommend one of these older four-thirds cameras to anyone because they are truly dead-end devices.

Obligatory raven in the sky image. It’s raven.

Subjectively, using this camera is excellent. It handles very well indeed. Okay the focusing is a tad slow, but that is typical of cameras this old. On the whole the controls are in the right places and it passed the all-important test of producing acceptable photos on ‘automatic’ right out of the box (as it were).

Obligatory dog photo. It’s dog.

I don’t really know why I bought it, but I’m glad I did. Is it a ‘keeper’? It shouldn’t be, because it doesn’t fit the criteria for any of my kind of photography nor does it open up any new avenue as the G11 did. Will I get rid of it? No. For one thing it isn’t valuable enough to be worth making the effort to sell. For another … I’m invoking the Eric L. Woods Defense: “I like it. Leave me alone.”

Obligatory cloud picture. It’s cloud.

Experimenting with the Mystery Camera!

This was a nightmare of trying to get things working. To start with, there’s nothing but overcast skies here – and high winds. Then try to use a camera which not only am I unfamiliar with, but clearly some aspects of it don’t work! Like the autofocus, which I am dependent on. Its automatic settings aren’t very good either, and half of these pictures got quite a bit of rework to make them presentable. Half I left as-is. Oh and just to make things more confusing, it was set on ‘RAW’ to begin with which cost a few frames as well. I really hate having to process from RAW!

At this point I won’t tell you what the camera is.

Widest angle.
Maximum telephoto.
Marley the Model.
It was a dark and stormy morning …
Everything about this picture is wrong – except the moodiness.
This one it got right all on its own.

I need better weather and more experimentation before I discuss this device any further. So far it is not terribly impressive.

Seeing out the year

While most people are engaged in reviewing the past year and reiterating how awful it was or trying to pretend it really wasn’t that awful, I’m going to be different as usual and just go forward with some more new pictures instead. (And my late brother the English major would give me an award for constructing such a wonderfully awful run-on sentence as that one.)

The camera is, of course, the new-to-me “Zen Canon” PowerShot G11. Truly a fine quality device which I’m still ‘experimenting’ with. I would have taken more street shots when I went to town Tuesday, but it was all of -10˚C and also totally overcast – so no good for taking pictures or even being outside. Instead I had to sneak some shots in whenever I could to come up with the latest batch.

Lens testing. Wide-angle and close up, full automatic. The result is excellent.
A couple of the resident ravens.
Glacé. This is a segment of a shot which contains many potential images. I liked this bit best.

This camera looks and works like an old but automatic 35mm rangefinder. It has lots of controls on it, most of which I’ve tried and now ignore. For functioning on ‘automatic’ the G11 is second-to-none. I rarely even flip the LCD out and make use of that, much less dive into the menus and change settings. It’s like … using a film camera. So are the results.

It’s all about colour tonal range: CCD sensors!
Although not ideally suited to such extreme photography, the G11 performs well in skilled hands.
And away we go!

As you can see the G11 does a fine job as an ‘artistic’ camera, even though that’s not why I bought it. This is what the infamous ZS-60 was supposed to be capable of. Aside from the extreme difference in zoom capacity, the Canon is absolutely superior in every way to the Panasonic. Never mind the difference in price. The bargain PowerShot makes up for the waste-of-money Lumix. I’ll just pretend the prices were the other way around; that would make the cameras fit their costs. (For those who can’t follow my convoluted reasoning, I paid $12 for the used Canon PowerShot G11 and $300 for the brand new Panasonic Lumix ZS-60. In terms of performance the value is completely the other way around.)

Footnote: there is an optional ‘lens adapter’ for these cameras which twists on around the lens once you remove the protective base ring. It is a tube that sticks out and has a 58mm thread in front of the extended lens. To it you can affix filters or ‘accessory’ wide-tele lenses. The cheapest one I’ve located so far is 3X the price I paid for the camera. I don’t really think it would add much to the functionality so I won’t bother with the expense. Besides those add-on-to-the-front lenses don’t work very well, since the base lens was never designed to have the extra element stuck in front of it. A thin filter is one thing; a thick chunk of glass is quite another.

The Zen Canon G11: what’s wrong with it?

Frankly, not much.

We’re having more of our usual bad weather with lots of clouds and some snow and a glimpse of sun, the sort of thing that makes it difficult to take pictures of any kind with any camera. Still I have managed to tease a few decent shots out of this latest addition to the tool box.

Sunlight catches the trees.

But it does have some flaws. For one thing, I find I hardly ever take it off “Auto-Auto” (ISO-expsoure) setting, if that can be called a flaw. Sure I had to try out everything else, including the +/-2 EV compensation and the various colour settings and so forth. They seem somewhat superfluous on a camera the can do automatic so well.

The Standard.

What doesn’t it do well? Focus. It’s noticeably slow and inaccurate under certain circumstances such as low light (to be expected) or ‘fuzzy subject’ like a sky full of clouds. It makes mistakes, but they are ‘honest’ mistakes – not the function failures that keep cropping up on the Nikon. The only other downside is that the shutter has an obvious lag between button press and image capture. Hey, that was pretty much normal back when this camera was made. For stationary subjects it isn’t an issue, but the G11 would not be good at sports or wildlife photography.

On stage now.

In fact one area where it seems to unexpectedly shine is the “art photography” category. For one thing the image quality is a very nice film-like rendition with a wide tonal range and grain structure rather than low-resolution blurring. I do wish it had slightly higher zoom capacity, but c’est la vie. I have made several successful shots from cropping a 640 x 480 segment out of the full frame image.

You have to look close.

Speaking of my infamous image sizing (640 x 480/427), I was musing on whether I should adjust this to some other dimensions. Upon measuring the size on my ‘typical’ 15″ laptop 16:9 screen I find it’s slightly larger than a ‘standard’ 4″ x 6″ 35mm print … so I guess I’ll stick with it except in those instances where the picture requires the dimensions be altered.

Across the sky.

There may be more moments of sunlight ahead, but it’s not exactly good for getting about in even if there is. This is Winter in the Cariboo, and you have to make the best you can of it.