New Hobby

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Re: New Hobby

Postby Alan » Sat May 21, 2011 5:07 am

WIth laughter comes a lot of motion in the subject, and thus you'll require a fast shutter speed (probably something like 1/100) which I think can only be achieved in three ways in low light:

1) An extremely fast lens, which results in very thin depth of field and therefore zero margin for error in focusing,
2) A camera body capable of relatively low noise images at very high ISO (1600 or even 3200), or
3) Flash

I think the cheapest way to do it is with flash. The on-camera flash that comes with DSLRs can be pretty unflattering, but getting a flash unit can help things:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/eninala/23 ... 4185020479
http://www.flickr.com/photos/eninala/23 ... 4185020479

This one if I had shot at ISO 400 with flash instead of ISO 100 with flash, could have gotten 1/240 instead of 1/60 and would've frozen the girl standing up
http://www.flickr.com/photos/eninala/23 ... 4185020479
Last edited by Alan on Sat May 21, 2011 5:13 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: New Hobby

Postby Alan » Sat May 21, 2011 5:12 am

Jonathan wrote:Blah, leechblock ate my post. I shoot down a third or two usually (but not at that wedding, which was dumb), I don't have IS and maybe need to rethink that, but I do want to be able to get a sharp picture of laughter, like Eleanor or me. Also babies.


I think the photo of Eleanor is soft because you had your aperture at f/1.8 and your autofocus misfocused. That's probably more responsible for the lack of sharpness than the 1/50 shutter speed, which possibly could have been fast enough to freeze laughter (looking through my archive I see some photos using flash in which people are frozen in laughter at 1/50 or 1/60). I don't think there is a problem with camera shake in that photo.

The photo of you is sharp because it's outdoors, the aperture is f/8, and the autofocus did it's job. The 1/250 shutter is gravy, really.

That's something else to keep in mind - that in low light frequently autofocus fails or takes several tries.
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Re: New Hobby

Postby Alan » Sat May 21, 2011 5:26 am

Also, ISO does affect sharpness independent of the whole interaction with aperture and shutter speed. High ISO generally negatively impacts sharpness except on high end camera bodies. There is a limit to what the sensor can do with the available light (in terms of signal vs noise), which is a separate issue from what the optics can do. At some point the noise does affect the sharpness, and sharpness tools in post-processing can't fully recover what's lost.

I didn't notice before that the photos were all shot at 1600 ISO. It might just be an autofocus problem (since they were shot at f/1.8), but after thinking about it some more and how all three images are plagued by the same problem I'm more inclined to blame the high ISO and need for a lot of noise reduction as the primary culprit.
Last edited by Alan on Sat May 21, 2011 5:39 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: New Hobby

Postby Alan » Sat May 21, 2011 5:33 am

So with your setup I'd probably recommend not exceeding ISO 800 except if you want to, in post processing, go for a retro grainy feel. You probably do need to use either flash or a tripod when shooting in those lighting conditions. An IS lens could help somewhat, because it would let you shoot at f/1.8, 1/15, ISO 400, which is not ideal but is passable (for a still subject).

With a flash unit, you could get something like f/4.5, 1/120, ISO 200 which would result in an much much sharper image.

There's really a limit for how much you can do without flash when you're indoors. If you're shooting outdoors primarily there's no need for flash, but if you do a lot of indoors stuff flash really, really helps.
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Re: New Hobby

Postby Jonathan » Sun May 22, 2011 12:52 am

Oh, in the post that got ate I said an IL A mount camera sounds pretty damn sweet. What was the crop factor on that sensor?
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Re: New Hobby

Postby Jonathan » Mon May 23, 2011 4:41 pm

I barely keep up with new Nikon bodies, much less Sony or Canon, so I don't really know what is happening. I do know the consumer-size sensors are showing great image quality at 6400, though, which is hot.

I do usually shoot burst. My highest priority is to practice my technique, I think. It's hard to get good feedback for practice.

In-camera flash has never appealed to me, aesthetically. Other kinds of flash are nice but currently a bit more than I really go for.

Those three pictures I linked at the end of my post were all shot at 1600 and denoised using wavelet denoising, which is OK but does tend towards the plasticky pretty quickly. Hmm.
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Re: New Hobby

Postby Jonathan » Fri Jul 27, 2012 10:54 pm

I am taking a lighting course at a local studio. So far, we've gone over basic lighting patterns and lighting modifiers. I still have four more classes to go. When I get some studio lit image I am happy with, I'll post them.
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Re: New Hobby

Postby Alan » Mon Jul 30, 2012 7:52 pm

My update is that my camera body is unusable now (not just a nonworking IS problem anymore) but that I still don't have enough money set aside to get a new one because I'm going on like 3 trips in the next six months. Plus getting married in April.
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Re: New Hobby

Postby Jonathan » Mon Jul 30, 2012 7:55 pm

I actually have misplaced my D90 body (+ a friend's lens!) and have been shooting my other body, which is film. Either someone stole the stupid thing right out of my apartment, I took it on a mysterious shoot without the bag or battery recharger and blacked out afterwards, or I stuffed it into the most secure hiding hole of all time in my apartment.
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Re: New Hobby

Postby Jonathan » Mon Jul 30, 2012 8:00 pm

Alan wrote:I think the photo of Eleanor is soft because you had your aperture at f/1.8 and your autofocus misfocused. That's probably more responsible for the lack of sharpness than the 1/50 shutter speed, which possibly could have been fast enough to freeze laughter (looking through my archive I see some photos using flash in which people are frozen in laughter at 1/50 or 1/60). I don't think there is a problem with camera shake in that photo.
.


Just wanted to point out that the flash pulse is much faster than 1/60. If flash is the predominant light source, then it will stop motion despite a relatively low shutter speed. If you are just using the flash for fill, supplementing the ambient light, then the shutter speed is relevant.
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Re: New Hobby

Postby Alan » Thu Aug 02, 2012 11:39 am

Ah, that makes much more sense.
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Re: New Hobby

Postby Jonathan » Fri Aug 03, 2012 9:58 pm

Jonathan wrote:I actually have misplaced my D90 body (+ a friend's lens!)

And now that same friend offered to lend me his D60 body. The guy just can't take a hint!

My first night in the studio I didn't know the flash sync speed of my N65 body and everything came out with shutter in it. Also, for some reason, overexposed. So good start, basically. Hopefully with a digital body my next studio session will go better.

On the plus side, I am shooting my friend Lindsay, and she is a really good model. That helps.
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Re: New Hobby

Postby Jonathan » Mon Aug 06, 2012 4:46 am

http://jonathan.pearce.name/gallery/v/p ... x.jpg.html

The only thing I got from the first go.
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Re: New Hobby

Postby Jonathan » Mon Aug 06, 2012 8:51 pm

I have written off my D90 body as a lost cause, which means I am in the market for a new body. I probably will buy something when I get my annual bonus in the winter. Between then and now, Nikon is expected to make several product launches, to say nothing of the other manufacturers. Rather than shop for bodies now, I'm going to figure out my requirements and see what best satisfies them in 2013.

Requirements:
Catriona-approved. I suspect this means primarily quality glass with a manual focus ring with decent throw attached to a body that isn't uncomfortable for her to grip. Perhaps the manual focus ring requirements goes away if she can be persuaded the AF system is usable. Anyway, TBD.
At least 11-point AF which works in low light. Preferably something which fills up more of the frame than the AF system on the D90, and which is usable for real stress cases (probably verified through Trial By Indoor Cat Shoot). Having an AF system which just works fast and reliably is a key to repeatable results. Being able to control the AF easily is important. Good continuous tracking performance is important, too. Reviews will help, but just taking the camera home and shooting for an afternoon will be crucial. This is definitely the area where Implementation Matters.
f2.8, 1/100s @ ISO 6400, ~100mm film equivalent focal length. f4 at ISO 12800 would also be acceptable.
f5.6, 1/50s @ ISO 6400, 50mm film equivalent focal length with IS/VR. I would like IS/VR around that 80mm-125mm range, too, but it isn't a requirement. Probably 1/100s @ ISO 12800 without IS/VR would work, too.
Hot shoe for triggering speedlights or strobes. I think this is the only thing that would stop me from considering EVIL systems. As I understand it, they have a shoe for adding external accessories, but it isn't compatible with anything in the SLR universe. Perhaps if someone has an especially well-stocked EVIL accessory lineup, EVIL systems would be useful.

Considerations:
Price. I have about $200 of working Nikon lenses and all my friends who are willing to lend me equipment shoot Nikon. I am not committed to Nikon but there is definitely black in the ledger for Nikon. There's also some consideration about what lenses are available once I have the body for a while. However, these are more tiebreakers than not. Fundamentally, I am looking for the cheapest way to meet my requirements.
Image type. I prefer not to shoot jpg, both because of the color depth and the compression/processing artifacts. White balance is nice to tweak later, but one can get pretty decent results on jpgs. Exposure is much more difficult to adjust later on jpgs. I wind up adjusting exposure on a lot of photos. I tend to view all of those as failures, more or less, and wish I could just meter correctly. For now, though, I have been shooting RAW exclusively. I am somewhat concerned about the file size of some of these really high pixel count sensors. Even using a compressed RAW format, there's going to be a lot of data lying around on my storage media. I haven't seen any mention of an intermediate format with minimal processing and fewer pixels, but I would totally shoot that in most situations if it existed.
Connectivity. It will be 2013 when I buy the stupid thing. Why don't they talk Bluetooth or WiFi or WiDi or something useful?
Weight. Lighter is better. Yeah, sturdy things are heavier and can take getting dropped. I have yet to actually damage any camera equipment, only lose it.
Fps. I would peg this as "I need more than 2 fps." Probably everything I consider will meet this requirement. I would prefer a higher framerate to a lower framerate, but I am willing to make some tradeoffs here for price and other reasons.
Metering. Don't suck, please.
Lens outside the normal range. I'm not going to buy any lens apart from my requirements in 2013. Having some good choices available won't hurt a manufacturer's chances, though.

Don't cares:
Sensor size. You know, if a small sensor gets me the performance I want, then I will buy the small sensor and its associated cheap light glass and actually be very happy. I do not need the extra width that full frame sensors give.
Live view & video. I have used both of these features in my D90. They're pretty limited on the D90. On a newer body they'd be much more useful. I still don't think I'd shop for those specifically. If it's there, I'll use it, but I'll accept any compromise in implementation they care to throw at me.
Mount. Like I said, I am willing to look outside the Nikon family for this. I might buy a Nikon simply on the merits, of course.
Megapixels. My mother has printed quite a few of the photos on my website, some of them quite large (16x20 or larger in a couple cases). They look fine at 12MP and frequently look fine at resolutions less than 12MP. I can't see myself needing to print larger than that but maybe once in my life, and I'm not prepared to invest money chasing that once-in-a-lifetime print. I would be perfectly happy with 8MP and could even make do with 6MP, although I do not think anyone will sell me such a sensor any more. (As an aside, 300 dpi screens are supposed to become pretty common over the next ten years, so web quality will catch up with print quality sooner or later for the vast majority of photos I don't print. Thus, I do want at least 8MP on everything I shoot.) I have no interest in chasing pixel counts higher than 8MP. Everything out there is plenty good enough.
In-camera image processor. You know, I put this in the don't care column, but if there was a machine that was more Frankencamera-like, I would care. Hackable systems, such as the WRT54G router, are far more useful than closed systems. If I don't have the option to change the algorithms in the camera, though, I will continue to use my PC and ignore the built-in capabilities.
GPS. Nifty. Don't care.
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Re: New Hobby

Postby Jonathan » Thu Aug 09, 2012 7:33 am

Week 2, a couple new images:
http://jonathan.pearce.name/gallery/v/p ... 6.png.html - photographically everything was working
http://jonathan.pearce.name/gallery/v/p ... 2.png.html - prefer this expression
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Re: New Hobby

Postby Alan » Sun Apr 21, 2013 2:24 am

Got a new toy from Maggie as a wedding present.

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Re: New Hobby

Postby Alan » Sun Apr 21, 2013 4:51 pm

http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/panasonicdmcgx1/

Since my primary lens died along with my camera body, leaving me with approximately $75 worth of lenses in the alpha-mount family, I didn't feel any particular need to stick with Sony DSLRs for my next camera; and in fact decided I wanted something more portable and less intrusive for taking street photos. I still wanted the flexibility of interchangeable lenses, so I narrowed things down to the Sony NEX system vs Micro 4/3.

To be honest, I didn't research as thoroughly for this camera as I had for my previous buy. I knew that image quality wasn't going to be the deciding factor, otherwise I would've stuck with DSLRs. Sony's APS-C sensor is superior to the micro four thirds sensor in pretty much every way, and the NEX system lenses are superior as well (though a smaller selection).

The Lumix's main advantages for me were aesthetics (it's just a good lucking camera, resembling an old timey rangefinder) and the user interface. More buttons/dials and more useful buttons/dials. I think it has a slight advantage in autofocus speed/accuracy, as well as being less expensive. I do like that my lens selection will be quite broad.

It's a 2011 camera, and there's supposedly a gx2 coming out sometime in the near future, so the prices were quite reasonable, with the lens it came out to ~$550 or so when Maggie picked it up.
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Re: New Hobby

Postby Alan » Sun Apr 21, 2013 5:24 pm

This is likely going to be my first lens buy:

http://www.dpreview.com/lensreviews/pan ... 20_1p7_o20

Other than that, I don't anticipate buying anything other than a telephoto at some point in the undefined future.
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Re: New Hobby

Postby Jonathan » Tue Apr 30, 2013 6:58 pm

I'm curious how you find an EVF after shooting OVF for years. Is the AF speed noticeably different or about the same? Is composition tough in sunlight?
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Re: New Hobby

Postby Alan » Thu May 02, 2013 3:13 am

So far, only rainy/cloudy days in Paris so I can't comment on bright sunlight.

I have noticed that the AF is about 3x faster than my old one. It's practically instantaneous in most situations, and generally seems accurate, at least based on the camera screen (haven't uploaded any photos to a computer here). Then again, my old lenses were very slow AF, so it's not exactly a valid comparison.
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