Three More Sleeps Till Santa

With Xmas looming large I would like to wish all our readers, past, present and future a very Merry Xmas. Hopefully no matter where you are you have a relaxing holiday break.

Long time readers will no doubt have noticed I haven’t been very proactive of late. After retiring at the end of August this year and going into an immediate Lockdown for 3 months theres been little opportunity to get out and about with the camera.

Add to that a myriad of niggling health issues that have decided that now is a good time to make themselves known has left me with little enthusiasm to get out and about even though we are now out of lockdown ( well kind of anyway), and into the new Traffic Light system that everyone is still trying to come to grips with.

Hopefully once the holiday break is over and we move into a new year things may look a little rosier, the health issues will have abated, the summer weather really kicks in and we have a chance to venture out in a more relaxed fashion.

Until then keep safe & well, enjoy the break, take lots of photos and we will see what the New Year brings.

Happy Snappin’

About Zoom Lenses Pt.3

Having discussed various lenses and uses for them as well as samples ( See PT.1 & PT.2), I have been waiting for an opportunity to crank off a few shots of something a little more interesting than the shed outback.

Compounding the problem is the lack of mobility in the form of another Covid-19 lockdown, now into our third week. With the days getting longer and the weather warming up I was hoping to get out and take a few photos with the zoom lenses previously discussed.

Well as it happened, last week serendipity arrived in an aerial form on two consecutive, and importantly, fine warm days. What do I mean by aerial form?, well the photos below tell the story, with urea the first day and seaweed fertilizer the second day.

The day started out pretty ordinary with a monkey errrr – I mean an arborist swinging in the trees trimming the lower limbs of the neighbors driveway. Approx. 350 meters from my backdoor. It was around this time that I heard the Heli-Ag chopper start up on the neighboring farm to our south. The resulting aerial display shot over the next two days yielded around 650 useable images.

All the images were shot with the EF-S 55-250 STM lens and a Canon 600D. Settings were as follows.

  • ISO 200 & 400.
  • Shot in Jpeg Fine – using P Mode.
  • EV set to +0.5
  • AWB for whitebalance.
  • Continuous Shooting
  • Auto Lighting Optimser – Low ( How to use ALO)
  • Metering = Evaluative ( Best comprise for the shooting conditions)
  • Shutter speed and aperture vis “P Mode”
  • Color profile #1 ( My custom vivid profile  for Jpeg).
  • Focus point – single center focus point.
  • These are the settings I selected for this series of photos and in most cases match the settings I use for 90% of all the images I take with this camera for general photography.

One thing to note here is that shooting in RAW with continuous shooting is a waste of time. The camera is simply too slow to capture and write to the card anywhere near fast enough. I was lucky to get a series of shots with more than 4 frames before the buffer was overloaded and the camera basically ground to a holt. Switching to Jpeg Large/fine images allowed up to 15-20 frames before the buffer overloaded, which allowed me to reliably get nice 5 – 10 shot bursts with no appreciable slow down. The 600D is no frame monster but if you take the time to set it up right it can deliver the goods without you needing to dash off for a coffee while it empties its buffer to the SD card. 

You might be wondering why I used AF Focus rather than AI Servo.  AI Focus doesn’t try to guess where the focus will be based on your subjects movement as it tends to in AI Servo mode, but rather constantly updates what is under the single focus point area and adjusts focus  accordingly. Using the camera set this way gave me a very high percentage of shots in focus. I found that in a ten shot series almost every frame was in focus every time and when this wasn’t the case it dropped to around the 90% percent mark. While Canon suggest that for fast moving targets AI Servo is likely to yield better results, with the 600D I have found the opposite to be true. Other models may vary.

As to the use of the Auto Lighting Optimizer, I usually run this in the Low setting just to help raise the shadows in Jpegs, which helps in post processing. The effect can be very subtle and may seem like its not working, however comparing Jpegs to RAW files using the  different settings definitely shows a small increase in shadow performance. Give it a try, it may well help your images. As I generally prefer to shoot Jpeg for most general photography any improvement to an image is welcome.




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