Archive for the ‘cameras’ Category

It Wasn’t My Eyes!

December 30, 2009

I found out why I could not focus properly on the moon last night. My Canon EOS-30D’s viewfinder was not adjusted properly.

It was obvious when I looked through the viewfinder at a passing helicopter the next day. I must have moved the adjustment wheel inadvertently. I’d forgotten it was there.

Here’s the page from the Canon EOS-30D User Guide:

Canon EOS-30D Dioptric Adjustment

Canon EOS-30D Dioptric Adjustment

Another thing I liked about my old Canon A-1 was that it had a little shutter to close the viewfinder window. It was good for tripod work. Canon have done away with it on their consumer cameras. I think the EOS-1D has one.

Dying Battery?

December 30, 2009

The batteries on my Nikon Coolpix P6000 have developed an annoying habit. They both die without warning. Up until last week the camera showed a “low battery” icon on its screen when the battery was about 75% discharged. then it shut down gracefully at maybe 1% charge with a message on the screen “The battery is exhausted”.

I guess the batteries have aged and they go to zero without enough time for the camera’s firmware to react.

I still get about 300 shots per battery. That’s with the LCD on all the time and the GPS active. So it is annoying and not disabling.

I wish Nikon put a battery status indicator on the display all the time – not only when the charge is depleted.

A Little Bit Out of Focus

December 29, 2009

Last night I made a second set of test shots of the Thai moon over Bangkok. This time I tried manually focusing on the moon with my Canon 75-300mm lens set at 300mm.

Although the pictures looked all right in the viewfinder and on the LCD display, when I got them into Lightroom they were unacceptably blurred.

Moon Out of Focus

Moon Out of Focus

My first attempts when I let the camera auto-focus were much better. I was surprised that it could focus, but it did and it did a better job than my 53-year-old eyeballs.

I remember my Canon A-1 film SLR camera had two optical devices in the viewfinder to help you focus. (This was the 1980s before auto-focus was available).

The first were micro-prizms. They disappeared when the picture was correctly focused. The second was a split prism. This worked better in low light. You adjusted focus until the top and bottom half of the picture was aligned. This article talks about them and this article explains the optical theory.

I don’t think there’s a technical reason cameras no longer have these aids. They are available on professional cameras like the Canon EOS-1 series. I suppose manufacturers believe that autofocus works 99% of the time so they are no longer necessary for amateurs.

Moon Shots

December 28, 2009

I asked my online mentor, Michael Willems, a question that’s been bothering me for a while:

We’re having some lovely clear nights in Bangkok now it is the cool season. The moon often looks great but I have had limited success photographing it. Do you have any tips for good lunar photography?

He responded here with some useful tips.

The moon wasn’t very interesting tonight and it wasn’t full but I thought I’d try his suggestions.

I set up the Canon EOS-30D on a tripod with a cable release. My longest lens is the Canon 75-300mm F3.5-5.6 so I used that at 300mm.

I set the camera to 100 ASA to get the best quality from the sensor. I set a manual exposure of 1/125 at F11.

The moon was high in the sky so I got a crink in my neck trying to focus manually. It was not very bright so I tried some longer exposures.

I converted them to greyscale in Lightroom – the images looked better that way.

Here’s a single sheet with four pictures, courtesy of Lightroom’s “Print to File” feature:

Moon Shots

Moon Shots

I also put some larger pictures on Flickr:

1. Moon Shots

2. Moon Shots

3. Moon Shots

4. Moon Shots

My reaction? They are okay and better than I have achieved in the past. They don’t have the sharpness I was hoping for. I think that’s a function of my inexpensive consumer-grade lens. The camera is capable of better pictures.

Photographing the Sunset

December 21, 2009

Red Bangkok Sunset
We are getting some beautiful sunsets in the cool season.

I fiddled with the camera settings a lot to persuade it to display what I saw. I don’t have time as the sun sets fast in the tropics and the shades of the sky change quickly. I found 2/3 of a stop under-exposure worked well with a minimum of post-processing in Lightroom.

I put the camera on my monopod to take this shot. I used the Canon EOS-30D’s highest ISO – 1600 and it selected 1/30 second at F3.5. I did not see any point at stopping the lens down to get a better depth-of-field (DOF) as there is not much detail available in this light.

I’d love to see what the Canon EOS-7D would make of this scene with its maximum ISO of 12800. That is three stops extra sensitivity so an equivalent exposure would be 1/125 second.

A Trip to the River

December 21, 2009

I got up too late to go to the seaside on Sunday. I did the next best thing and took the Skytrain to the river. The Chao Phraya River runs through Bangkok and is the coolest place to be on a hot day. Today wasn’t especially hot but the river breezes were still welcome.

I took the best river bargain available – a 3 Baht (about ten US cents) passenger ferry ride from Central Pier (Saphan Taksin Skytrain Station) to Thonburi side. I got great views of the river and the hi-so hotels on both sides. I’d forgotten how big the Shangri-La Hotel is.

The light was fading when I came back on the ferry. I was going to walk back over the bridge but I was lazy. I got this shot of one of the Chao Phraya River Express boats docking at the pier next to ours. My little Nikon Coolpix P6000 did a nice job and I think it is good example of “filling the frame”.

Chao Phraya River Ferry
I like the warm tones.

Here We Go Again – Lightroom 2.6 Available

December 18, 2009

Adobe Photoshop LightroomAdobe Photoshop Lightroom 2.6 and its required DNG Converter (5.6) are now available for download from http://www.adobe.com/downloads/updates/. That’s a month since the 2.5 update came out.

This is the release many have been waiting for to support the Canon EOS-7D and Nikon D3s. I don’t know if they made any changes from the Release Candidate that has been available for almost a month.

What if for Lightroom 3 Adobe said that the product will only support DNG files? Then they’d only have to release a new DNG converter to support new cameras. I wonder if the photography community has enough confidence in DNG that they’d accept it. DNG is a mature technology: Adobe introduced it in 2004. DNG has immense advantages over a multitude of proprietary RAW formats. DNG is an open specification so it isn’t dependent on Adobe’s continued prosperity or whims.

Surely if DNG is good enough for Leica it is good enough for the rest of us.

Moreover Adobe could surely make the DNG converter more modular so users do not have to download the full product every time. They could release a new DLL (or the equivalent for the Mac).

This is a bigger concern for users on slower internet connections. I guess it isn’t on the radar screen for the Adobe team as they assume everybody has fast connections for their work machines.

I looked at the list of other defects fixed in Lightroom 2.6:

  • The crop tool would unlock a locked aspect ratio after a rotation adjustment
  • For Mac OS X 10.6 customers, visual artifacts could appear when panning an image viewed at 1:1 in the Develop module.
  • For Mac OS X 10.6 customers, the 10.6.2 update included a correction that prevented Lightroom 2 from opening more than two files using the Edit-in-Photoshop functionality.
  • Lightroom 2.6 provides a fix for an issue affecting PowerPC customers using the final Lightroom 2.5 update on the Mac. The issue, introduced in the demosaic change to address sensors with unequal green response, has the potential to create artifacts in highlight areas when processing raw files from Sony, Olympus, Panasonic and various medium format digital camera backs.
  • Lightroom 2.5 and earlier did not support the updated Panasonic DMC-LX3 aspect ratio modes added with the camera’s latest version 2.0 firmware.

From http://www.adobe.com/special/photoshop/Lightroom_26_ReadMe.pdf.

The Crop Tool fix is the only one that affects me and I have never noticed the issue. Again I wonder how Adobe decides what to include in a point-release.

By-the-by, there is something wrong with the Adobe Support Forums I’ve been accessing to ask and answer Lightroom questions. For the past few days the site has been impossibly slow. Other sites are fine with the new Asia America Gateway so it must be something up with the Adobe infrastructure.

My Wonder Wish

December 16, 2009

My Wonder Wish at Amarin Wonderland
I was very amused to see a Hasselblad camera around the neck of this bear enticing shoppers to visit one of the many expensive centres on Ploen Chit Road, Bangkok.

I guess the artist obtained a stock photo. Is it authentic? I wonder if Hasselblad would be amused.

[picapp align=”none” wrap=”false” link=”term=hasselblad&iid=4400885″ src=”1/2/e/5/Tim_Graham_c61d.jpg?adImageId=8325142&imageId=4400885″ width=”234″ height=”329″ /]
8th December 1969: Press photographer Tim Graham with the Hasselblad camera he used to take some of his award-winning pictures. (Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)
Content © 2009 Getty Images All rights reserved.

Asoke Market, Bangkok

December 15, 2009

When I wrote about the Terminal 21 construction project on Sukhumvit Road, Bangkok I mentioned that there’s still an old market that has not been demolished to make way for the development.

Asoke Market could disappear at any time. So I stopped by on Monday afternoon to take some pictures.

Asoke Market

Asoke Market Sign in Thai, English & Chinese

Asoke Market

Inside Asoke Market. Note the cat

Asoke Market

Fruit Shop

Asoke Market

Dry Goods

Asoke Market

Hardware

I decided they looked best in black & white so I used Lightroom’s tools to render what I think is a pleasing, high contrast picture.The Nikon Coolpix P6000 did a good job with the lens set at its widest setting.

This is one of the few spots in “new” Bangkok where Buddhist monks come in the early morning to receive alms from devout people. Vendors set up to sell food for the gifts. All sorts of people including sleepy bar girls, taxi drivers and businesspeople on their way to work stop here. They receive a few words of blessing in return for their donation. I don’t think the monks will come when there’s a Starbucks on the corner. In the afternoon the market is quieter – the monks return to their temple before noon.

I have not taken pictures of the alms-giving. I am very cautious about taking pictures of monks and the donation is a spiritual moment. I don’t think my lens would be welcome, although Thai people would be too polite to say anything.

Canon EOS-7D Price in Thailand

December 14, 2009

I saw the Canon EOS-7D camera for sale in Bangkok at the Emporium Shopping Centre, near Phrom Phong Skytrain Station. It was in the window of Eastbourne Camera.

The price is 72,900 Baht with the Canon EF-S 18-135 mm lens. That’s about US$2,188.

I checked Amazon.com. They offer it today for US$1,899: 13% more in Thailand.

Prices in Thailand include 7% Value Added Tax (VAT). If you are a tourist you can arrange to have the VAT refunded when you leave Thailand. Unfortunately I do not qualify because I am classed as a resident for tax purposes.

Hi-so shopping malls like Emporium aren’t the cheapest places to buy cameras. But you can be sure this is a legitimate import and will be covered by a Canon (Thailand) warranty. Prices will be lower at places like Panthip Plaza and Fortune Town Mall. But the cameras may be grey imports. If you have a problem Canon (Thailand) won’t help you.

Eastbourne Camera helpfully list their Canon camera prices on their web site here. When I looked the EOS-7D was not included.

Given the complexity of the camera I think it is wise to have the peace-of-mind (an overused phrase) of warranty support.

Not that I intend to buy one. Oh no, I am a Frugal Photographer.