2 weeks from hell!!

I seldom if ever get a cold and up till the end of last month this remained true.

Unfortunately 2 weeks ago I happened to be working on a clients house who had the nastiest cold virus I have ever encountered. I’ve had the flu ( genuine article) in the past and while this didn’t put me in bed for a week it did all but incapacitate me for four days. To make matters worse I had to work as well and that didn’t help.

After starting to feel better on day four my wife started to come down with the virus as well as my daughter and daughter in law. My son moved home to finish his studies at a local poly-tech and his good lady has been incapacitated since last Friday.

Unfortunately my wife still smokes ( only 2 or 3 a day now) but the virus has affected her so badly that she is showing signs of bronchitis and we are off to the doctor today.

Needless to say that not a lot has happened here at the blog for a while, and to make matters worse I’m starting a new job this week and we still don’t have the house reorganised for the extra people here now. So make sure if you have the flu virus vaccine available in your health system you get them. While this wasn’t a full blown flu attack its a very good reminder of why you should get the vaccine shot regardless of your current health status.

On a brighter note, over the coming weeks I will be doing a review of the iPad, iPad2 as well as one of the current Samsung smartphones to see how they compare photographically to your HS20 or other Fuji cameras.

Some of the functionality , features and resolution of the iPad has certainly made me want to take a second look at these pieces of technology.

Site Update

Progress so far.

Although it may not be evident approximately 1/3 of the content has now been shifted here to our new home. On the Main index page all entries under the cameras heading are now done.

All topics under the HS20 are now done. The HS10 & HS20 review sections will be next.

Fuji HS30 & X series are also done.

Camera accessories is done as well.

As well as the two sections mentioned above everything from image series down is still to be transported. At this point I have approx 45% of the old site transferred here. As always all new posts will continue to be posted here at the new site.

Using Macro Lens Filters & The HS20 – Pt1.

For HS10, HS20 And The HS30

Recently I posted  that I had received some Macro Lens Filters courtesy of my daughter when she came back from the UK. I had originally seen these referred to from a forum member at MyFinePix Forums, and I was impressed with the results that he had posted. As I’m a fan of Macro Photography, both mine and other folks as well I ordered some from E-Bay UK, and had then posted to my daughter who was a at Lancaster University at the time, finishing off part of her degree. Macro photography has long been a strength of the Fuji Bridge/super-zoom cameras, and with the advent of the manual zoom/focus lens that many of the better Fuji bridge cameras sport, it makes for some very interesting imagery.

For the first set of images I had the camera set to EXR DR, @3:2 (7mp), Auto ISO 400 and Auto DR 400%. Depending upon angle of light and amount of zoom Ev was adjusted accordingly to ensure proper light levels. This would also require changing the metering to suit.

Other settings used were Velvia for color, noise reduction set to low and sharpness set to low. Ordinarily on a brightly lit subject I would leave sharpness set to hard, but as we are introducing extra lens elements into the system I wanted to get the most from Post Processing for sharpness.

The 7 Mp setting was a brain-fart as I didn’t check the settings initially. All other images are shot in EXR HR @ 16Mp. This is the reason for changing the sharpness setting. I also used ISO100 as well, and while this limits the amount of DR% range it does allow me latitude in the post processing. If I was shooting this sequence in RAW, there would be no changes in settings other than the RAW itself.

I find that the HS20 shot in 4:3 mode at 16Mp with the settings I’ve listed here gives a Jpeg that’s very similar in nature and look to the RAW output of the HS20. The HS10 & HS30 will differ somewhat from these settings given the different sensors and their inherent sensitivities.

So what sort of outcome was achieved? The results were interesting to say the least. All these images were handheld with the Image stabilisation set to full. Normally I have I.S. set to shooting only, but given the large magnification factor I opted for full settings here. To start with we have a standard 24mm wide angle of a leaf from a plant growing by the back door. Interestingly the camera missed focus, as it was set to average for the shot.

That’s the first thing to remember, metering! The focus area when set in average is quite large (approx 1/3 of the image area). Spot is a much better option for this type of work as it narrows the area for the AF to work with considerably.

Click on the images for a full resolution image. Be warned though that they are large and may take a few seconds to load.

Standard 24mm wide angle

Next up is a standard Macro shot taken from approx 9 inches (229mm) distance from the subject. At this point you cant really see the subject, although I could when the sun was in the right spot in relation to where I was sitting. The subject is tiny.

7Mp standard macro

Next up is a standard supermacro both a before & after post processing version.

supermacro @ 7mp-after
7mp-Supermacro- before
+10 lens @7mp – before
+10 @7 Mp – After

Its at this point that a few things become evident rather quickly after viewing the +10 images. In the supermacro image, at ISO400 and after post processing the image is good. No real eveidence of chromatic abberation  shows up (think purple fringing), but the noise level and slight granulation of the image isnt that good. Resolution isnt too bad but an image of this size wont necessarily standup to large print sizes.

With the images of the +10 filter it clearly evident that chromatic abberation is an issue and is evidenced very clearly in the processed image. Resolution isn’t terribly great at this point and depth of field is quite shallow. At first glance you may wonder why you would bother with this type of Macro Filter. A lot of the image quality problems associated with these images arent in fact due to the filter, but the fact that the camera is choosing too high an ISO, isn’t producing good resolution and image quality is suffering. Setting the camera to 8Mp in Dr had little or no effect. This is one of the clearest indicators I’ve seen to date that show how much resolution is lost when using EXR DR.

At this point you may be wondering what I mean in regard to resolution, but thats precisely what HR mode is all about. EXR HR is the mode you use when you want to record every possible detail the sensor is capable of for a given set of settings. It goes without saying that the HS20 is best at ISO100, and thats where things change considerably, and will be the focus of the next part of this article.

Oh and the target subject hasn’t yet been resolved in these images. One thing however that will be instantly clear to the sharp eyed among us is just how good these filters are at creating really nice Bokeh. By comparison the backgrounds in the standard macros were very busy. This can be improved by altering zoom and distance from the camera to your subject.

In the next part of this article I will repeat the process but with optimal settings.

Google Chrome Users – Error

You may experience a error in the latest version of Chrome. When mousing over the menus you sometimes can’t access the sub-menus. This appears to be a chrome only fault as I have tested IE9, Firefox & Opera and the error doesn’t occur. The latest version of Chrome is 20.0.1132.57 m

I have asked tech support to investigate and will post any results here. Should you experience this intermittent fault please let me know and include the browser version of Chrome you were using.

Menus for this site

Please note that for the short term this post is “Sticky” and all others posts are below.

Just a quick note for those looking for specific information.When you click on the “Main Index” menu tab you see a drop down list. Moving the mouse down the list will activate the sub menus as with the HS20 menu, which then pops up further sub menus which show posts of interest based on peoples search patterns.

Continue reading “Menus for this site”

Offical Launch Day

Today is the offical launch day for the new look “kiwi”. Its my hope that this will be a more user friendly experience. We had tried some of the newer Google templates but they met with limited success.

We are now rehomed with WordPress, and this gives us the ability to expand the site, add more content and arrangeing it in a more logical way, with the end result being a more rewarding stay for our readers.

Jump on the Readers Poll and let us know what you think, as always we value your feedback.

Readers who may like to contribute an article can contact us here or use the email address in the “About” menu.

As always feel free to add comments and feedback.

Pentax K30 Review.

For those who like to keep a handle on the new models of DSLR’s, here’s a very good review of the new Pentax K30.

If I had a wish list for cameras this one would be at the top. In part because I already own a range of good quality glass for these cameras and the fact that its weather sealed. Its specification is only a minor step down from the much esteemed Pentax K5.

While Canon and Nikon are also bringing to market some serious new or heavily updated models , the new Pentax K30 is nicely positioned against the Nikon d7000 and has a slightly more useful lens in the single lens kit version. In terms of megapixels there’s nothing in it between these two and in fact the Canon 60d is the third option in this level of camera. All are classed as entry/mid level cameras and all will give you excellent results. All have their weaknesses and strengths.

My choice is the K30 not just because I’m already a Pentax owner but because the weather seal, Vastly improved Contrast detect/AF, AA battery option and general ergonomic layout is just that little bit above the competition.

In terms of price there is little to separate the cameras so it comes down to what features you like best and what you may already have in the cupboard.

You can view the K30’s review here. Its one of the most in-depth and non biased reports I’ve seen in a while from a camera review site.

Current NZ pricing for the cameras mentioned here :

Pentax K30 from Photo & Video Warehouse

Canon 60D  from Photo & Video Warehouse

Nikon D7000 from Photo & Video Warehouse

Creating Bokeh With The HS20

There has been much talk at the FujiFilm Talk forum at Dpreview and several other forums stating that Superzoom cameras such as the HS20 or the Sony HX100v are not capable of creating pleasing levels of “Bokeh”.
For those new to the term this reference from Wikipedia is a good place to start. Essentially the word refers to the amount of background that is blurred out to help isolate a foreground subject. Some people like a little. Some people like a lot. I tend to sit somewhere in the middle ground for most images.
For a little more “How To” visit Rob Donovan’s website for a hands on style tutorial using a DSLR. I cite this reference as it gives us a good comparative yardstick to work from.

A lot of the DSLR owners among us like a large creamy area with little discernible background information. For some shots this can be a very nice way of displaying just the subject on its own. I tend to feel that if you remove to much detail in the background, an image can lose its impact, becoming so isolated that it hasn’t any real relationship with its environment. Where this total isolation style comes into its own is well seen in macro photography and micro photography where the subject is itself the only thing that matters. Think about stunning insect photos with detail almost down to the cellular level, truly astonishing images.

Some bird photographers also like to isolate the subject to help enhance detail and that too can lead to a very detailed and pleasing image. Portrait photography also employs this technique. These things all tend to be developed as a particular shooting style or photographic discipline. For the more general enthusiast obtaining a nicely balanced photo is most likely going to be the foremost consideration. For a lot of enthusiast photographers, myself included, we are presented with things as we go along that we instantly recognize as a photographic opportunity, but dont have the time or situation to set up a good shot that will produce quality Bokeh. Typically this is due to the camera on hand at the time, for many this is a compact P&S camera or like myself a superzoom bridge camera. Point & Shoot  compacts such as Fuji’s new X10 with manual focus and fast f2-f2.8 lens are now able to create some nice Bokeh effects in the images they take. For those of us who have superzoom cameras such as the HS20, you can also create some nice Bokeh once its understood how to do so with these cameras.
What follows is the two techniques I employ with the HS20 to create this type of image.

In the image at right the small Thrush is seen sitting on a farm fence post and singing in the early morning sun. If the bird was the subject only, this image could be cropped but would yield a poor result. Taken at full zoom (126mm) and at a distance of 30 meters there was never going to be any more detail than what is seen here as resolution falls off at the extreme end of telephoto lenses. What the image does show is the natural background blur that comes about when photographing subjects in this way. My intention in this image was to give it context, by leaving in the background as it is central to how the bird relates to the environment.The leaning posts and the irregular line of the fence wire also adds to the overall context of the image.

Original

In the next series I have an original and edited version. This was a more challenging shot. The flower in this image was being very severely buffeted by the wind making it very difficult to achieve a good focus.
Added to this is the car window I was shooting through which has created a milky look to the image. Extremely fast moving cloud was changing the light in a matter of seconds as evidenced in the next set of images. For this shot I used the camera with the lens zoomed to 71mm (450mm equivalent). This is what I would describe as medium level Bokeh, the subject well isolated , but not extremely so allowing the viewer to get some feeling of where the subject was in relation to the photographer and its immediate environment. This give the image some context. In the mid background fence posts can be seen, with a hedge line and hills in the far background.

Edited Version

The context suggested in this image would be of a rural type environment. This is exactly where this was taken, on the roadside in a flat rural farming area.
In this next series of images the camera was switched to Macro mode and the

Original

zoom extended to the full 126mm focal length. This helps with subject isolation as well as creating a larger image. The camera was held vertically as well for this shot so as to accommodate the increased image size and further helping with subject isolation. Again shot through the vehicle window, and the milky appearance is evident.

As you can see from the two sets of images there was a shift in the natural light at the time.
Both the images were taken within 5 seconds of each other , but in that time the light changed quite markedly. It shows how much things can change in a very short time and why multiple exposures are often a good choice when greeted with these types of shooting conditions.

Original

The distance between you and the subject is one of the most important aspects to creating these types of image. I was no more than 10 meters from the Red Hot Poker flower seen here, with a good range of distant detail out to the horizon, but none of the background objects were closer than 20meters at a minimum.

In the last image you see a completely different environment. Here I was interested in taking images of the bird life in one of our more popular parks and how we interact. The bird in the foreground is no more than 5 meters from me, whereas the elderly couple in the background are approx 100 meters from me with the cafe building a further 20 meters beyond that. It took a little patience as I had to wait for all the elements to line up properly, and I missed several shots because of the bird moving or people in the wrong place at the wrong time. For this image I was intentionally trying to set this shot up, whereas in the images above it was very much a case of grab the camera, a quick check of the settings and fire away. In the images above I have included both the original and the edit, simply to show what can be done with the camera and what can be done from software. I have been able to reduce the milky aspect of the images and create an image that looks more natural, as viewed through a pane of glass. In the last image the PP work was minor as all the elements where there in shot and only needed a small amount of refinement.
No matter what you taste for Bokeh may be, you will find that with a bit of patience and some care and forethought, you can obtain pleasing levels of Bokeh that can be varied with the subject and environment. For those with a DSLR and a good F2.8 prime lens, good quality Bokeh should not be difficult to produce.
No matter what the case may be, enjoy what you are doing, that’s what makes photography fun.

Posted by R. McKenzie at 8:34 AM  
4 comments:
  1. newbee in the hiveMarch 1, 2012 6:41 AM

    Learning so much from you and enjoy your blog.

    ReplyDelete

  2. Good that you are getting something from it. Its a bit of a labour of love doing the Blog.

    ReplyDelete

  3. I have the HS20 for a few months already. I like the camera, it does almost everything I want, except Bokeh photos. I’ve did macro pictures on flowers, birds and insects, but I can’t do it with people. Have you tried that, does it work for you?
    Please let me know!
    Thanks!

    ReplyDelete

  1. The best way if photographing people is to use the same technique as I have described above. Use Macro settings and the full zoom of the lens. Have then standing far enough away from the background to naturally have it blurred out. Experiment with different distances and focal lengths until you know what looks best.

    Cheers
    ralph