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

Introducing the Fuji HS10

Fujifilm Finepix HS10

Fuji’s new top of the line bridge camera. My latest requisition. Is it a good as I had hoped?

In short yes. I wanted a camera that looked and performed as close to a DSLR ( digital single lens reflex ) camera as money could buy given that the ceiling for the budget was $1000.00 NZ.
I wanted as much flexibility as I could get to allow a large range of choices to be used for a varied list of subjects. In this I got pretty much what I wanted. In the main it has everything I would want to find in a good DSLR but at a cheaper price point.
As with all things (Tech)there is a trade off. The major one being that to accommodate such a large zoom range it has necessitated a much smaller sensor than one would find in DSLR.
If one was to read through the Fuji Film Talk forums at DPReview.com there are a lot of happy users about. However the more steadfast DSLR owners on the forums will soon be pointing out all this cameras short comings.
After reading a goodly amount of reviews and reading through the forums it became apparent that despite this cameras perceived short comings, it is capable of some very good photography if one is willing to take some time and learn to use it properly.
I have to say at this point I am still very much learning. More to come later…..

2 comments:

  1. The sellers would have you believe that Mp is important. Not true, major importance is quality of the lens and the person behind it. Ansel Adams did not have many mp.

    ReplyDelete

  2. I would agree that the person is a very important component. You could say that Vivian Maier didn’t have many Mp either, but both photographers used the best technology available at the time, and they both got more from that equipment than the average shutterbug would as well.
    And that’s also true from today’s equipment. I’ve seen woeful images from the HS10 & and truly spectacular ones as well, that’s the difference experience makes.

    Delete

Fuji HS10 versus Fuji’s s1000fd … the image quality debate part 2

After taking a number of photos the last time we were out with the cameras it became apparent that the Fuji s1000fd was not up to par. It was difficult to assess this out in the field from the LCD on the camera but I felt that what I could see was a little off. Next time we plan another photo excursion I will make sure we take the laptop with us so we can check the state of play right there and then. In hindsight we could have done this on the day we just didn’t think to do it. DOH!! After getting back home and viewing the images it was soon apparent that the s1000fd  had some serious flaws. Chromatic aberration was evident, which in a Fujinon lens is a worry as well as AF problems, and odd color . All shots taken with this camera were on a tripod so steadiness should not have been a reason for the AF being off. My wife doesn’t yet have the skills to use the camera manually so she prefers to shoot in Auto or Program modes. It seemed the the images were smeared in some cases as well which made me wonder if the on board electronics are faulty. See what you think.

Image from the HS10
Image from the s1000fd

The photo at right shows a good clean image with good focus. Color is well balanced and natural. Very much like it was when we got to the area. The photo at left is from the s1000fd and shows a blurry blue outline around the handrail of the boat. The big rock at center right shows a lot of red color that shouldn’t be there. The color of the sand/mud around the boat is also the wrong color. The color of the grass is off as well. Focus is poor and the background seems smeared in places. Both these images are straight from the camera with no post processing. Both images are full sized, no reduction was used prior to posting here. In the next set of photos again from the same time and place it is evident that while focus is reasonable in the s1000fd, the color balance and exposure is off although the overall look to the image is not unreasonable and would probably do a 6 x 4 print with no real problem. Indeed my wife has had several hundred photos printed of which most are much better than what we now see. This leads me to think the electronics in the camera is failing. Again the same applies as above with the s1000fd image at left.

From the s1000fd
From the HS10

Even when seen at their smallest settings here the HS10 image displays a huge gain in IQ, color and focus. Neither image has been post processed and the file size is original. While the overall image isnt terrible when seen against the HS10 the s1000fd’s image looks washed out, with less vivid color. Both cameras were set to Fuji’s chrome setting. So whats going on here? Well I surmise that there has been a failure in the cameras control electronics and this is the major contributor to the faults we see here . This s1000fd was always slow in AF and shot to shot times but had good image quality on a shot by shot basis, just using auto settings.

A bit overexposed but not too bad
Good exposure,color and focus.

Here are a couple of examples of how images taken with the s1000fd straight from camera can look. Both shots are pretty much what I would have expected from this camera.

Examing The Competition – The Battle for the long superzoom continues.

Examining The Competition.

With the problems currently plaguing the Fuji X series and the general mediocre improvements with the HS30 where does that leave current or future Fuji purchasers. Is there anything out there that gives as much as you get as Fuji’s HS series does for instance?
Well yes and no. It all depends on what you want or can forego if contemplating an alternative to let us say the HS30. The HS30 is by no means a bad camera, it just doesn’t have a great deal to offer in the way of improvements over its predecessor the HS20. The new improvements are nice but if you are looking for a bargain then the HS20 is a definite buy.
OK, so where does this get us then?The main competitors are:

All of these cameras have long telephoto reach, from the Panas
onic’s 24X to the Nikon’s 42X zoom.
All offer images stabilization and all have an electric zoom, most now sport a second zoom toggle on the lens barrel to control zooming while keeping t
All these cameras use a 1/2.3 type sensor in various forms and all are smaller than the sensor in the HS20/30. While the difference isn’t large in terms of

area it most likely is when considering pixel density.he camera stable.
The SX40 and the FZ-150 as well as the Leica sport 12.1 MP sensors. The P510 comes in at 16.1 the same as the Fuji’s, with the SP-810UZ at 14 MP
 and the DSC-HX200V coming in at an amazing 18.2 Mp on a 1/2.3 sensor. Based on pix
el density you would expect the likes of the Canon  and Panasonic cameras to be the least affected by sensor noise and the Sony would need to employ some fairly sophisticated noise reduction to give good imagery without affecting Image Quality.
We already know that at 16.1 MP on a 1/2 inch sensor as in the Fuji HS20, it does indeed need to employ some fairly serious noise reduction software, and does so with some very good results. This shows that it can be done but at nearly 20MP density on such a small sensor one has to wonder where the upper limit lies for such a small piece of silicon.
Most sport a movable LCD as well as viewfinders of variable usefulness.
Sensors aside, all these cameras boast a plethora of shooting scenes, shooting modes, and video support, not necessarily perfect while others excel in some areas but lack in yet others. Some do these things well. By and large image quality runs from very good to excellent depending upon the camera and the mode of shooting. All will give very good results if the time is taken to learn how to properly get the best from each of these cameras. If you aren’t printing above A4 sizes you wont be disappointed. Printing above these sizes will take some forethought and planning to achieve a really top result. By no means impossible, just a bit harder to do.
Its probably better to check what you are giving up in terms of ergonomics and equipment. This depends of course on manufacturer differences. here are some of the things you will lose if considering other manufactures, not all of the items are lost on every camera. There are however things that the Fuji’s have that none of its competitors have. These are highlighted by the red asterisk.We now return to the original question, is there a really good alternative to the HS series from Fuji. Thats hard to qualify if you judge the cameras on image quality alone as some of them employ very different method for getting a nice crisp image.
  • Weight – the HS series has a nice small DSLR like form factor and weight with good balance and a very good grip.
  • Articulated LCD screen (Olympus)
  • Reduced LCD resolution.
  • Full manual control including full manual focusing ring (Ala DSLR)*
  • Fully manual Zoom Lens*
  • EXR shooting & Jpeg technology*
  • AA Batteries, something I find indespensible when traveling, especially lithium AA’s at 1000 shots or better*(HS20 only). The Nikon’s estimated amount of shots on the standard battery is appalling when matched against the others.
  • Std 58mm screw threaded lens, good for ND filters and polarizes.
  • Large number of external controls (buttons) this is unique to the HS series and the XS-1.*
I’m sure I’ve missed something off this list, so feel free to add yours as well. For me foregoing any of those items really isn’t an option as I regularly employ all these and many other features in my HS20. Thats what makes the Fuji’s such a nice camera to operate, and for those who use a DSLR as well they will quickly appreciate the amount of external controls the the Fuji applies. Theres nothing worse than having to delve through a large number of internal menus to get what you want.
The Fuji’s are not without their flaws and I have said as much when necessary. It now remains to be seen as to what Fuji’s direction will be for the coming year(s). I think the development of their Bridge-cam is a very smart direction to take. They are getting very close to what the more experienced camera user is wanting from these types of camera. It wont be long before the Bridge camera will rival the entry level DSLR if the manufacturers continue to develop this format, which is one that I think should be persued.
Not everyone is able to afford a DSLR but most folks are willing to stretch a bit if they can have a similar quality product that does just as well.
There is one caveat to this list and it concerns Panasonic’s FZ-150 & the Leica V-Lux. They are one in the same camera, the only difference is cosmetic as the Leica version has all the Leica badging, and cost 30% more the the Panasonic/Lumix FZ-150. Heres an interesting comparison/report well worth reading.
Posted by R. McKenzie at 1:54 PM  

12 comments:

  1. I have to say that’s one of the better reviews I’ve seen for the HS30 although its not particularly accurate and doesn’t include decent image test comparisons.

    Its also why I’ve said in previous articles one should never really trust this sort of review. It much better to see how people get on with the camera on a site like Dpreview.com’s Fuji Talk Forum. Theres nothing like real world usage reports to help one make up their mind when buying a new camera.

    Now back to that review. You would think that if they were going to do a review they would get the basics right.
    This off their review features page.

    1.Sensor size is given as 1.2/3. Wrong its 1/2.

    3.Native ISO is given as 3200 when in fact you also have available 6400 if using M sized image files.

    3. Focal length is incorrect and I expect reviewers to get this right.
    Actual focal length is only 680.4mm equivalent which is quite a bit shorter than the HS10 was.
    Heres a link to a calculator for those that wish to check this.
    http://www.digified.net/focallength/

    Thats just 3 things right at the start that aren’t correct. There are other less important items scattered throughout the review. Its just these sorts of inaccuracies that have me saying that most reviews are less than accurate and poorly done and this one is no exception.
    Of all the review sites on the net there are about three that I’m willing to put some faith in, and even then they too make some basic blunders from time to time.

    At the end of the day reviews are just that, reviews. They aren’t anything more than a guide of sorts for us to start assessing a new product.I fervently wish that some of them would get it right a bit more often as this would be beneficial to all of us. Until then just take it all with a grain of salt.
    Cheers
    ralph

    Delete

  2. The above comments are directed at the Trusted Reviews current published review of the HS30.
    After reading that I didn’t bother with any of the other links, given the headings I doubt we would see anything better thats been linked on that page.

    Delete

  3. The test on Fhotonumeric is a good one.I agree DPrev.is the best,but they did not test the Fuji so escape to other side’s ,to pickup some info!! By the way Kim letkeman’s report is a joy to reed!

    Jan Broekema ,Holland

    Delete

  4. Yes Kim did a pretty fair assessment of the HS25 and goes a long way to showing that RAW isn’t always necessary as some would think.
    The extra changes made to the HS30 are nice, I’m thinking EVF and intelligent zoom just by way of a couple of things, but if you own an HS20 there really isn’t much difference, and I would like to have seen a change to the AF before I would give it serious thought.

    That and improved write speeds would be the two things that would really get my attention and to date they haven’t addressed these issues. To make the HS30 a rfeally good camera we need to see similar AF speeds similar to entry level DSLR and writes speeds of the same level, then we really would have a great all round camera.

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  5. Hi Ralph. I am considering purchasing a Fuji HS30 and have been reading numerous reviews on all makes of cameras. The one thing that crops up time and again is the atrocious customer service at Fuji. My question is, is it really as bad as reported? Of course you hope you will never need it.

    ReplyDelete

  6. Good camera choice if its a first time buy.
    Actually my dealings with Fuji to date have been very good. It seems to depend on the country quite a bit as some owners report little or no issues and others (mostly European to date) have experienced all sorts of odd behavior.
    If you are buying from a reputable source that you trust there shouldn’t be too much to worry about.
    There hasn’t been anything serious crop up with the HS30 to date. My HS20 has been reliable from the beginning and its most likely your HS30 would be too.

    If you don’t have any consumer guarantee laws in your location talk to the dealer about the warranties and the extended warranties that are available. It may cost a little more but could well be a very wise choice.

    Cheers
    Ralph.

    Delete

  7. Hi Ralph thanks for your reply. Yes it will be a first time buy and it’s not that much dearer than the hs20 thats why i thought of the 30. After reading owners reviews the slight improvements appeared to be worth the extra as i said not much dearer than the 20

    Cheers

    John

    ReplyDelete

  8. That being the case price wise grab it. Either camera will give you a great deal of enjoyment.

    I checked some prices here yesterday and there is still almost $300 NZD difference between the 20 & the 30. Hopefully by the end of the year that will have come down a bit more and I may grab one as it will have a much better W.A.F (wife approval factor)

    Have Fun.

    ReplyDelete

  9. If you have an HS20 then there’s no real advantage in buying an HS30. Too many are obsessed by the specifications. It’s the person that behind the lens that is the real significance. If you earn your living with camera then you really do need high-end gear but that will not make you a better photographer. On the day that my HS20 was delivered, I was able to take shots of Ladybirds taking some rays and at night the Moon – all without changing any lenses. A big change from my previous Nikon gear. You also need to factor in how your pictures are going to be seen. 12mp sounds so much better that 6mp but that plays on the ignorance of the inverse-square law.

    ReplyDelete

    Replies

    1. And that’s why I bought the HS10 originally, the versatility of the lens.

      I also think that shot with the right settings the HS10 was marginally better in IQ than the HS20 and at ISO400 or lower had a pretty useful sensor.

      Delete

    2. As to the inverse square law as pertaining to photographers. Its been my observation that 99% of camera users are unlikely to even have heard of it or understand it. Most modern camera user have little or no formal photographic training.

      Modern camera users, especially now with live view, rely on their equipment to tell them what the exposure should be. Nothing wrong with this in general as it frees us from one problem to concentrate on others such as composition.
      Where the Law is more likely to be understood is with Pro Photographers, eg: Studio Photographers or specialist photographers.

      When I first started working with the photography studio doing wedding portraiture we would set the lighting accordingly, allowing for highlights etc. In those days we used accurate light meters that matched our Mamiya cameras, so while the Law was a consideration, its application even for studio lighting was subjective at best. And this is from one of the foremost wedding photographers of the time. (1970 -1980’s.

      Delete

The HS20 and Macro Lens – Filters

One of the things that my HS10 had was instant zoom, which could be used at two different settings/levels. Very handy for doing macro work or even long shots.
In the HS20 this was dropped, something that really annoyed me when I discovered that.
In the HS30 its been brought back, but renamed as intelligent zoom and appears to work in a very similar manner to the HS10’s instant zoom.

As most Fuji users know, these cameras are capable of some really nice macros. You can of course get the Raynox DCR-250 with a adapter ring for the Fuji 58mm lens thread from amazon at around $100.00USD if freighted.

There is however another route that the HS20 owner can take and that is to use a closeup lens filter such as these found on E-bay UK.These are the ones I bought. My daughter has just arrived back from the UK and was able to bring them with her. They cost 8.99 British pounds or roughly $16.00 NZD. There are many varieties and suppliers. A quick search on E-bay or Amazon using “Closeup Filter” in the search bar will get you to where you need to be.

I have had a very brief play with these and will do a more in-depth review in the coming days. The Borwin versions seen here are considerably more expensive and I have to wonder if they aren’t one and the same and you are paying simply for the name on the product.
The closeup lenses I have show good fit and finish and come in a pouch, with individual pockets that use Velcro tabs to secure them. Included in the box was a small packet of Q-tips as well as a Pufferbrush for lens cleaning as well a good quality lens cleaning cloth. All in all pretty good value for less than $20.00 NZD.

A New Home for the Kiwi.

Please Read The Following…

Although I have little complaint about the old akiwiretrospective blog site, some of the tools and advanced themes that I would have liked to use just didnt work all that well. The site itself has become quite large and somewhat cluttered and in an effort to better assemble the documentation we  are trialing the newer WordPress site and themes. This site while being developed will run concurrently with the older retrospective site. Hopefully the move will be of benefit to all our readers and I’m looking forward to adding a more practical set of basic camera/photography tutorials over the coming months.

For normal Blog Posts click the “Daily Blog” menu tab, or check the recent posts section in the “Sidebar”. For other information, Index etc.. use the Main Index page or the drop-down menus.

Alll the Images you see on the page headers are my own and taken using the Fuji HS20. From Time to time these will change so that you are not always being presented with boring images. Come in and have a look around. At the moment we are very much in an underconstruction phase.

All new articles however will be posted here, and full links will be available under the Main Index menus to the old site until the migration is finished.

Why am I doing this? Mostly is was tired of the old look, but also I wanted to make navigation to information a little more relevant for our users and the overall aim is to have it be an enjoyable and informative place to visit.