The Canon 650D six months on..

The 650D after a few months & some gripes.

The Canon 650D after a few months has become very familiar to my hand. Primarily it has the EF-S 55-250 lens mounted ( almost ) permanently, and with the Canon 1000D riding along with us with the EF-S 18-55 mm lens attached we have a nice dual rig setup for when we go adventuring out of the house.

My wife is still getting used to the versatility of the 1000D when compared to her previous point and shoot style cameras, and is finding her new Note9 fills the snapshot and video roll quite well for now.

But how does the 650D perform in day to day use? Pretty well to be honest. Is it as good as our XA2 was or the XT10? In some areas yes but in most it doesn’t quite have the same sense of style and build quality as the Fuji’s. In this area the entry level Fuji’s are definitely a step up.

Image quality is very good although I would have to give the nod to the Fujis when comparing the two systems, crispness, colour and film simulations all help with the look of the final images. That being said the RAW files from the Canons are very easy to edit and with a little work the end result is almost identical to the images from the Fuji’s. I will say however that the Fuji images once imported require in many instances a lot less Post Production work the the Canon files.

One of the great strengths of the Canons is the very long battery life when compared to the Fuji cameras, with the Fujis typically giving 400+ the Canons both seem to be able to go up to 800 – 1000 images as in the case of the 1000D. Video on the 650D does dramatically shorten the battery life, but OEM additional batteries are very in expensive and last almost as well as genuine Canon batteries.

I’ve included some edited images from the 650D with this article. They were all edited with Photoscape V3.7, using KDE Neon operating system on my main computer. I will be doing some more in depth reports on this excellent Linux operating system in future articles.

In using the 650D as my daily shooter I have come across one ( to me ) major issue that irritated me almost every time I used the camera, and to be honest its a major design flaw. One I note that carries over from the 600D, 650D, 700D, 750D and now the 800D, which in my opinion is even worse than the earlier models.

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Canon 650D Button location.

I am referring to the placement of the buttons on the grip side of the camera. Specifically the placement of the Av & Q menu buttons. It was of course done to allow the recess for the opening of the flip out screen. I’m not sure what the thinking was here but as we have seen from other manufacturers there are better ways to implement this.

The result is that for any one wanting to change the Ev setting for a particular image, you have to press the Av button and hold it down while rotating the command wheel by the shutter button. This is a two step process. Now imagine you have, like me, large digits and you are trying to press the Av button and change your settings while trying to keep the subject in frame. Almost without fail I hit the the Ave button first and as I depress and hold this button it contacts the “Q” menu button and the next thing you know is its changed settings in the “Q”menu options and just like that your shot is gone. Its even worse when using gloves.

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Canon 800D with additional Wi-Fi button

On the 800D you have the inclusion of the “Wi-Fi” button, as well as the previous buttons I have just mentioned. While I haven’t had the chance to seriously use the 800D I would not be surprised to find this was also a problem. If you own a Canon 800D it would be good to hear from users as to just what their thoughts and experience was with this situation.

There is however a way to work around this.I happened upon this purely by accident but it works well and to date I haven’t had the issues I outlined above.

Press your “Q” menu button and move through the options until it comes to the Ev settings. You will note that it is highlighted which is what you want. Now simply half press the shutter button to exit the menu. Next time you press the “Q” button it should take you straight to the Ev settings as seen in the photo. To change your Ev setting simply rotate the the sub command wheel by the shutter button until you have the setting required. Job done!!. It should be noted that this method eliminates the need to press and hold the Av button when changing Ev settings so it makes it a far more fluid process. Is this ideal, well no but it is better than what you may experience otherwise as in my case.

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Ev highlighted via “Q” menu . Note I have set the EV increments to 1/2 stop per graduation rather than the standard 1/3 stop setting. I find the half stop setting to be more beneficial.

The best implementation for Ev settings that I have used to date are those found on the Fuji X series cameras. All the XA, XM, XE, Xt, Xpro, Xt-100 & X100 series Fuji cameras simply require you to rotate the command dial at the top of the camera. Some of the other manufacturers also include this ability, so you would think that Canon could find a way to implement something a lot more straight forward that what they currently offer.

Canon have in their range of mid tier mirrorless cameras ( Canon m5 & m6 ) included the Ev function in the same manner as Fuji cameras, and yet in their immensely popular EOS M50 its not included and this holds to for the New EOS-R as well. Canon still arent really listening to their customers, something Fuji and Sony have done much better.

So which camera system is better?

Having used the 650D for a number of months now I’m happy with how it performs. Given the price at which I was able to pick up a lightly used camera and some equally well priced lenses and other bits its hard to go past a good unit like this. Do I wish it had Wi-Fi connectivity, yes but its just as easy to pop the SD card into a reader and download to my PC for editing. If I want to share images, that can be done later. Video is okay but the Fujis beat the Canon in ease of use when doing video for minor projects.

Having used Fuji cameras for a number of years I would say that if your budget can tolerate the considerably higher price point, then I would opt for Fuji system, or some other mirrorless as an option if you dont need or want the heft and weight of a DSLR.

If you want an affordable, generally easy to use, no nonsense camera, at budget prices either new or used, then the DSLR is the way to go. As far as imagery goes you dont give up much if you were thinking mirrorless, even our humble 1000D at 10 mp still provides a very nice image and when coupled with some fast glass, gives images easily as good as more modern cameras.

No matter which way you go its more important to enjoy your craft than worry about what you might be missing out on because your budget doesn’t stretch quite far enough. For the frugal photographer the sheer number of well priced used and new options is welcome.

As always

Happy Snappin’

2018 in review..

 

Its been a while…. we look back at 2018 & say goodbye to a YouTube legend.

2018 has been an interesting year for those of us who like new things to play with. I shant delve into all of the things that have been brought to the consumer, theres just too many, however their have been a few highlights:

Some of the most notable of these has to be the arrival of the XT3, EOS R, Z6 & Z7, Panasonic’s announcement of a 3 way collaboration in equipment design and manufacture as well as their announcement that they too are getting on board the Full Frame Mirrorless train.

On another front we have seen the Sony “Star Eater” issue, I’ve questioned the pricing of some camera equipment, continued to delve into the used camera gear market, done some comparison work with older gear, looked at some of the reasons for printing your images, looked at what a frugal photographer can do on a very limited budget, and a host of other smaller issues.

On a somewhat more sombre note I learned, as a good many of us did in the past few days of the passing of Matt Ballard. Some of you will doubtless be aware of Matt’s You Tube channel “Art of the Image”, its also in my Favourite Channel list in the sidebar. It appears that, like so many others Matt fell victim to an insidious condition, which saw him leave behind a world thats so much the poorer because of his passing. It is not for me to comment on the why and wherefore of events that lead Matt down this path, suffice to say his good friend Peter Gregg, says it eloquently.  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VHmtMTlyi3c&t=139s

So whats left to do as we hurtle towards Xmas 2018 in a little over a week from now?  Well firstly , look after one another and spend some quality time with friends or family, get out in this summer weather and take lots of images, or if you are having a white Xmas take lots of photos too.

In today’s extremely busy world still images and video are possibly the best way we have to record and remember past events. Memory doesn’t always work so well as the years roll on and past recollections can become muddy or completely forgotten. 

As to 2019 and Akiwiretrospective, well I’m not entirely sure at this point whether to continue with the current format, or to stop further work here. I have thought about doing some collaborative work with other local photographers. However I hold down a full time job, which as I approach retirement (couple of years to go ) I find to be ever more taxing on energy and effort levels, and that the time required to keep this blog going is becoming increasingly burdensome. With that in mind I may for the next few months at least reduce to one article a month. If you have a specific topic or item you would like to contribute or an idea for upcoming articles I would be pleased to hear from our readers, so put in a comment, or email me direct if you have ideas that are of interest.

Until the Xmas break is over , take care, have an excellent holiday period and I will see you all in the New Year in some form or other.

 

Printing images…

Understanding the terms DPI & PPI and what they really mean. Rather than try to re-invent the wheel so to speak, for those wanting more clarification on what printing resolutions they need and how to achieve good quality print have a look at Ken Watson’s web site for how to go about editing photos for printing.

Once you have a grasp of the basic process its really quite easy to select the right image size and resolutions you need for good prints. There will be a permanent link in the sidebar if you need to reference this info at a later time.

Heres the link,  All about digital photos.

DPI & the Pixel Peeping saga

Ever wondered why so many “technophobes” within the photography world scream and rant about images not being perfect and why the big hubbub about resolution?

There has been a huge amount of techno babble about cameras needing more resolution for some time if you want highly detailed images, that are crisp, accurate, well focused etc.  No doubt you heard the arguments. Most likely you’ve heard people say that pixel peeping is a fools errand. And you know what, by and large they are right.

And right about now I can see all the naysayers heads shaking and plans being made to burn me at the stake for speaking such heresy.

So just what do I mean by this statement? Consider my Canon 650D. It has an 18 million pixel sensor. Thats a lot of pixels collecting light. But how does my Canon 1000D compare with just its measly 10 million pixels? Pretty good actually.

Many camera owners have noted that attached to their images in the Exif data is a supposedly native DPI setting, which one is led to believe to be the resolution of the image needed for printing. Its a false reading, that is supplied for reference for printing. We will get to this shortly.

My Canon 650D with its 18 million pixels outputs a file that is 5184 x 3456 as its maximum file size. This is what the camera measures, not DPI or any other mythical information. Cameras work in pixels and thats it. Lets see how this translates to image size, and this is where things can get pear shaped.

screenshot_20181104_093455.png

The image above is the RAW image from the camera imported into RawTherapee. The Exif data is shown with the sensor resolution shown at right (highlighted). There is no inclusion of DPI data as it has nothing to do with the RAW file data.

If we use the calculator  we find that we have an image that can be printed at 72 x 48 inches at 72 dpi. Thats a pretty big poster. It would intended to be viewed from several feet or meters from the image to get a true feel for the scale of the picture. How likely are you to notice any minor discrepancy in an image of that size when viewed from the correct distance? If I were standing directly in from of this image and was viewing it from two feet away would I see the dots in the image from the printing process? Probably but I shouldn’t be viewing at this distance.

Most printers, commercial print house and your own personal printer at home have a default resolution of 300 DPI (Dots Per Inch) as their base printing resolution. This ensures a good fine quality print with good colour rendition, brightness and accuracy. Some home printers do this very well, others no so much. My Epson L365 Ecotank produces excellent prints, with accurate colour tone and resolution and fine detail.

For higher quality, considered as archival at 600 DPI is also achievable on your home printer depending upon the use of archival photo paper to ensure longevity.

Now lets use the calculator again and this time we will select 300 dpi and see what we get. Remember we haven’t changed the original file size, we are only selecting a DPI rate at which we wish to print. We now see that the recommended print size is only 17.28 x 11.52 which is fractionally bigger than a standard A3 sized print ( A3 = 11.7 x 16.5 inches ). Thats quite a dramatic reduction in size from our original poster size, so what does this mean?  Its really just a recommendation as to the largest  print size at this resolution that retains all the detail in the image. Can you print larger at this DPI? Certainly but you can find that the quality of the image at a larger size does start to show some degradation. Theres a number of factors at play here that can influence the outcome, not the least of which is the cost, which is considerable when printing high dpi images above the recommended size. If you choose to do an archival print the image will be considerably smaller than the  300 dpi print.

The next image is taken off my smartphone from a visit to the local eye-wear shop. The sensor in the camera is 13 Mp and has a file size of 4128 x 3096 pixels.  I wont delve into the differences in resolution between an 18 Mp aps-c sensor and a 13 Mp 1/2.3 tiny smartphone sensor. Suffice to say the detail & resolution is far superior with the aps-c sensor, which is why I never advocate cropping more that about 20% on a smartphone image no matter how good the manufactures like to tell you their cameras are.

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What the calculator does tell us is that this image printed at A4 size at 300 dpi would be fine. In fact printed as a 10 x 12 it would be fine. With some editing the image could be cleaned up, rotated a touch and printed. But you wouldn’t want to crop it, click on the image and try looking at it at different zoom levels. Its pretty obvious that when you start viewing it a 100% or more it degrades very rapidly, in point of fact when viewed at 100% in RawTherapee and you look at the sign in front of the door you can see huge halos around the wording, and the more you look the more image degradation you can see.

IMG_7786-crop

If you apply the same process to the image of the Kingfisher image above you can see that even at 175% view the image holds together very well. Now consider that this image was cropped from an image the same size as the bird image above and you can see that I cropped it to approx 65% in my editor. Thats a huge amount of unused image and yet the image is still very nice and printed at 300 DPI looks even better. Smartphone images just cant match this.

That being the case why does anyone pixel peep? Pixel peeping does serve a purpose although it may not be for what is generally seen as the norm. Its a way of seeing if a sensor has deficiencies in its ability to capture, detail, colour and resolution, useful if you are checking a cameras technical operation but is essentially meaningless for the average photographer, who just wants good prints.

So what can we take from all this?

  • Sensor size does matter when you want prints and not web sized images.
  • Pixel peeping isn’t necessary for producing quality images and prints.
  • Small sensors can produce very good print and screen imagery, just dont crop heavily.
  • Check your camera output file size and print to recommended sizes as a rule of thumb, bigger is not always better.
  • Use a file size & print calculator to help decide your maximum print sizes or speak with your local photography/print-shop for more info.
  • Most images when viewed or printed at correct sizes dont show visual defects unless they are large.

Therefore dont get caught up on the pixel peeping rhetoric, for most occasions it has very little bearing on how your images look, its more important to consider composition, subject, light values and actually getting the image you want. Post Processing in my view is always best done to a minimum unless you have seriously messed up the image in some way.

It follows that you should not read too much into all the DPI mis-information either, DPI is only important to whoever is doing you prints. Once you have done all your editing work just ensure you save the image with the correct DPI setting so the printer can do its or their jobs correctly.

And remember photography is supposed to be a fun and rewarding enterprise no matter your level of skill. The old adage “Keep It Simple” is still very much of the essence.

 

Matt Granger expands on this subject a little in the video below and explains when working at 100% is beneficial for printing, and when you need to pixel peep for a reason.

Happy Snappin’

Next article … DPI and what its used for.