Posts Tagged ‘CX1’

SMALL SENSOR QUALITY : 2009

SMALL SENSOR QUALITY : 2009

Following my ‘AR’-style post of a few days ago, this is in response to a few requests for the ‘saturated’ version of the image, without the posterisation effect from the DxO FilmPack Polachrome simulation.

One great advantage of small-sensor cameras – whether LX3, F200EXR, CX1 or a swathe of others – is that they always exhibit great depth-of-field, even at their largest aperture :

LX3 : f2 at 24mm equivalent

F200EXR  : f3.3 at 28mm equivalent

CX1 : f3.3 at 28mm equivalent

This makes small-sensor cameras absolutely ideal for shooting subjects like architecture & landscapes, or for maintaining decent depth-of-field in night & low-light shots, where the camera’s maximum aperture is needed to let the light in.

Add to this the huge benefit these days of in-built image stabilisation – whether sensor-shift or optical IS – and the result is a very useful photographic tool that supplements an SLR very well. On some occasions, it’s definitely my preference – usually no need for a tripod – and in 2009, the results can be very impressive.

Certainly a far cry from my first Fuji 0.95 Mp (!) digital clunker that was pretty well only able to produce thumbnails through to 6×4 at a push !

The market is maturing well, and 2009 has seen some excellent & innovative compacts, SLRs that are more highly-specced with better high-ISO capabilities than ever before, and more recently, the new ‘Hybrids’ …Micro Four-Thirds cameras such as Panasonic G1/GH1/GF-1, and of course the Olympus E-P1.

So far, I own several compacts and SLRs ….But why no hybrid (yet)?  

See my next post for why I’m holding off (for now!)

Many small- (and large!-)sensor camera images at http://nickbland.zenfolio.com  and much more information for the camera-inquisitive at http://1001noisycameras.com

Advertisements
LONDON COLOUR : AUTUMN IN REGENT'S PARK

LONDON COLOUR : AUTUMN IN REGENT'S PARK

And here’s the colour version – shot on the F200EXR’s ‘Standard’ (Provia) film mode – that I’m pleased with, especially considering that I’ve not yet updated the firmware ….which apparently lends some warmth to the Auto White Balance rendering.

Much more at http://nickbland.zenfolio.com ….images from F200EXR/LX3/CX1/D200/D3 …you get the idea

DOES IT WORK ?

DOES IT WORK ?

(Macro image from Ricoh CX1)

Prompted to post this, following several recent e-mails from readers of my (various!) blogs …. hope this answers some questions for you : 

The LX3 is acknowledged as one of the very best compacts out there, and enjoys a huge fan base, which has perhaps grown further lately as some potential buyers – swayed by the announcement of the Olympus E-P1, Panasonic GF-1, Ricoh GRDIII (and CX2), and Leica X-1 – have more recently decided that this fixed-lens model, producing consistently great-quality images, has to be considered a relative bargain at around £350 …and have bought-up all available free stock. Pretty well globally.

But whilst the LX3 undoubtedly has a huge, die-hard fanbase, there have been a couple of other contenders for buyers’ cash …notably the Ricoh CX1 and Fujifilm’s F200EXR.  Both have proven extremely popular.

For those interested in all of the (potentially boring) technical differences between these three ‘pocket rockets’ – you’ll need to look elsewhere. Life’s too short. But if it’s real-world usability and satisfaction rating you’re more interested in, you’re at the right place. No waffle, here’s how it goes :

 

1/ LX3 : Excellent in very many respects:

  • Stunning lens (of course), starting at 24mm f2 …but ends at 60mm (equiv).
  • White balance dramatically better than it once was – I feel there’s still a little room for improvement. Reds are still oversaturated, even when cooled-off. If you like Canon colour, you’ll like LX3.
  • BW – in ‘Dynamic’ form …very film-like, fantastic high-contrast, highly-detailed results.
  • Multi-film mode – three separate, consecutive images
  • Multi-Aspect mode : very useful. 4:3, 3:2 and 16:9 options
  • Superb Mega O.I.S
  • Slightly ‘hollow’ feel to chassis
  • RAW files – very detailed, but need to use (time-consuming) SilkyPix software to extract quality
  • Separate lens-cap
  • Almost pocketable (!)
  • User interface – a bit fiddly, but ok

 

2/ Ricoh CX1 : vastly underrated

  • Some say it’s a far cry from ‘GRD output’ – I disagree (unless you want to pixel-peep… but why would you?)
  • White balance – superb. Multi-awb is a useful extra. Great colour rendition, and fantastic ‘Outdoor’ setting
  • Electronic level …excellent, should be standard on all cameras 
  • Very flexible 7x zoom focal range – 28-200mm(equiv), capturing images that the LX3 is simply incapable of
  • Image stabilisation very effective – and this camera is capable of surprisingly good low-light images
  • Rapid response …focus, image display, scrolling, changing options ….CMOS etc means very fast all ’round
  • Reliable exposures, and wide dynamic range (without the inhibiting DR Double-Shot mode)
  • As advertised, not prone to sky ‘whiteout’  …more useful and more impressive than I expected
  • Multi-film (Colour, BW, sepia) works brilliantly – exactly same image processed three ways
  • Multi-Aspect – but only one at a time : 4:3, 3:2, 1:1  (needs addition of 16:9!)
  • Stunning 920k screen – looks like the image you download and view on pc screen
  • Amazing 1cm macro capability
  • User interface – as good as it gets – intuitive, fast, logical, reliable
  • Great build quality exceeds all other compacts I’ve ever used
  • Very recently superceded by the new CX2,  with even greater 28-300mm(equiv) focal range

 

3/ Fujifilm F200EXR : useful award-winner

  • EXR sensor promises much, delivers some (sometimes)
  • Sensor option (three in total) has to be manually selected for best results
  • Some strange metering/exposure reactions, so inconsistent results …even in fairly ‘normal’ shooting conditions
  • Irritating real-world aspect : the high-contrast (but fairly lo-res) screen makes you wonder what you’ve captured … or not
  • Images often – but not always – look far better on computer display, once downloaded (thank heavens !)
  • Multi-Aspect modes : can select one at a time from 4:3, 3:2 and 16:9
  • 5x zoom range : 28-140mm (equiv) …again, captures some images that LX3 just can’t
  • Image stabilisation ok, but definitely not as effective as CX1’s
  • Some blackout after image capture, as if processor working really hard
  • Feels ‘lightweight’ and small in the hand, compared with bulletproof CX1 build and solid feel 
  • 12MP files (jpeg only) are very detailed …although images not quite as responsive to processing as CX1 jpegs, in my experience
  • New F70EXR has wider focal range, and is less expensive – but its sensor is more highly pixel-packed
  • Overall – great camera, hoped for more than it has delivered (so far, at least)

 

Hope this helps you draw your own conclusions on usability for your own needs – because that’s all that really matters.

Without doubt, all three are very high-quality cameras, and all are capable of great results much of the time, even under very difficult conditions.

Images in separate galleries from all three models at http://nickbland.zenfolio.com – enjoy !

LG CHEN CARBON FIBRE

LG CHEN CARBON FIBRE

One of the real challenges in photography is to make the very best of the (day)light. The angle of light, its strength, its quality …warm, cold, harsh, subdued etc. Then add to this the varying climate we have here in the UK, along with the speed with which light can change, and daylight photography is not always as straightforward as may be anticipated.

This shot was one I wanted to make in daylight, with the sun streaming in through an open back door at the time. I chose to use this as creatively as I could – you can see the highlights on the card background I was using. Very careful positioning allowed the detail and highlights to be captured pretty accurately, and this image is from an LX3 RAW file, processed as usual in SilkyPix, then further in Capture NX.  The blown highlight on the right is entirely intentional, in this instance, although could have been easily edited further in post-processing. This keeps it ‘real’ and far less artificial-looking, and is exactly how it looks to the human eye when strong sunlight hits !

This is a feature which I notice is becoming far more prevalent these days in the commercial images used in very many ‘quality’ publications, whether it’s the Sunday Times supplement,  MBR (Mountain Bike Rider), or any other that’s produced in a modern style, for a readership with relatively high expectations in both photographic and print quality. Unless you’re aiming for a surreal ‘concept’ shot … Realism is the key. That’s not to say it can’t look stunning.

Daylight variables can often make for more interesting images than those captured in the totally-controlled ‘studio’ environment … although that’s an area that also still remains dear to my heart, with a radio trigger going into the hotshoe on my LX3, firing either Elinchrom studio lights, or, much more conveniently, my Nikon SB-800s for location shoots where there’s no nearby mains supply – more of which to follow in an upcoming feature.

For many more LX3 images, check out http://nickbland.zenfolio.com where you’ll find many new and updated LX3 photography galleries …and for more on the LX3 and cameras in general, I recommend a regular visit also to http://1001noisycameras.com

web1067x600-P1120811NX

In a way, I’m revisiting here a couple of recent posts with new comment below added in the light of news over the last week or so … three hot topics as the title of this entry.

DSLR publications – can these be at all relevant to LX3 users ?

On a positive note, in observing a few of the recent/current mag covers I’ve shown above – some from the USA, but mostly UK issues, I still really enjoy learning all I can on photography, and getting different angles (ouch!) on imaging, as well as gaining an insight into maybe some new piece of software, or a different technique, that deserves attention. Sometimes it can be just for inspiration, or can trigger an idea that had been filed away in the grey matter.

The ‘DSLR’ mention – in mag name(s), front cover headlines, and of course inside … well, you know my opinion on that from my June 9th post – but there is something valuable in these issues, that can be very useful to all LX3 users, especially new ones that may have moved up from a standard pre-set point & shoot. No, it’s not a DSLR …there’s no interchangeable lens for starters – although it has a lens spec : f2-2.8, 24-60mm full-frame equivalent – that every SLR user would love if they could afford it. Some might say it’s the perfect range anyway, so no need to change. As a comparison, the lens I use most of the time on my D3 covers 24-70mm, but at f2.8 all the way …and is the best of that range that Nikon makes/has ever made !  Back to LX3, there’s no pentaprism, so reduced weight, no mirror slap, smaller form factor… ok, and a smaller sensor, for now. 

But, LX3 is a fully-manual camera, if you want it to be. That means that apart from all the ‘consumer’ stuff on there, you’ve Aperture Priority and Shutter Priority settings on the dial, as well as the crucial ‘M’ …so you can control lens aperture and shutter speed independantly, exactly as on a DSLR. And record a high-quality RAW file. This means that you may find such mags a great help in getting into the Manual settings on your new LX3 , to get the very best out of it – and I recommend you do that asap for better, & much more creative results. Promise I won’t mention magazines again today.

E-P1 … the first of many new m4/3 models

These designer types – you know, the guys (and girls, no doubt) that we are all deeply appreciative of, for their frankly amazing technological achievements, are extremely talented, but in my own experience are often not very good at communicating with real people.

Olympus is different. Their verbose technical guy/spokesman has seemingly been quoted in the last few days that E-P1 is the first of many m4/3-design cameras that will see the light of day in the relatively near future – for all of us, this could be very good news. Different models, different specs and features, smaller cameras, larger models ….very good news indeed.

Because this means that Panasonic will have to already have their competing range well into the prototype/pre-prod stages if they’re to fight their corner on such cameras, and meet what are now, thanks to LX3, G1, GH1, etc very high global market expectations.

So, you can wait a while … or, you can just buy (or keep on using, if you already have one) the LX3, safe in the knowledge that so far, at anywhere near its price point or form factor, there’s nothing to touch it for the range within which it works. But then, you expected me to say that.

The reality is that the LX3 will remain a totally valid tool even later on … the E-P1/2/3 etc lens line-up so far doesn’t get close to the LX3’s stunning built-in Leica 24mm f2, and that, in combination with the LX3’s 16:9 format, remains a real favourite of mine.

Go to http://nickbland.zenfolio.com for many new & updated LX3 galleries, separated into different subject areas for your ease of use … and enjoy !  Incidentally, they’re pretty well all in 16:9 format, my own preference.

web1067x1898-P1120737NX

From last night, this image is another one that has pleasantly surprised with the level of detail that could be pulled from the LX3’s RAW file.

Exposing for the sunset, the foreground was entirely dark  – in fact, almost black & blocked out. Because there was so little light, there’s a little noise, and I purposely haven’t run this through NR software, so that you’re able to see properly what’s there. I’d say this is an exceptional result under the circumstances.

See many more LX3 images at http://nickbland.zenfolio.com and more photography stuff at http://nickbland.blogspot.com

Just to keep the record straight, as it won’t really receive any other coverage on here – this is for LX3 users – here’s my other compact that sees regular use. It’s a different animal, with strengths in other areas, as compared with LX3 : 28-200mm focal range, medium-format style 1:1 (square) aspect ratio, as well as the usual …oh, and it can shoot at 120 frames per second !

For my review of the Ricoh CX1, visit http://nickbland.blogspot.com. There are also links to galleries featuring images from the CX1 …and of course, many from the LX3 at http://nickbland.zenfolio.com

For those of you just generally obsessed by photographic gear, I also recommend a visit to http://www.1001noisycameras.com  for all of the latest info, rumours, opinion, reviews and more 

WARNING : it can be addictive !

NEW – Update : 16th July 2009

For much more, there’s now also a new dedicated Ricoh site at  http://ricohimaging.wordpress.com

 

RICOH CX1

RICOH CX1