Posts Tagged ‘LUMIX’

PANORAMA FROM M43 (E-P1) FILES

(Click for XXXXL version …19MB file …OK, compressed for web use)

I’ve already stated before that files from my E-P1, at its lowest ISO setting, are not a million miles away from those of my Nikon D3 – as was, now sold because of that very fact ! I still use a pair of D200s, which produce fine results for any DSLR- type shooting …weddings/sport … anything where very fast AF is essential for static or moving objects/subjects !

Shooting with my Olympus E-P1 yesterday, in very bright sunlight (yes, I could see what I was doing with that lowly 230k res screen, and from heights & angles I couldn’t easily have achieved with a DSLR), I took six individual shots for this example.

Stitched from these six images, this panoramic could be successfully produced as a huge high-resolution print, with great colour accuracy and sharp detail. Using the E-P1 in this way enables its already great 12.3 MP output to knock at the door of medium-format in terms of quality and image size …but there are caveats :

  • MF offers greater dynamic range, with less shadow noise … although multiple m43 files can get close with careful software usage
  • MF offers smoother output, from that relatively huge sensor …  combined m43 files can approach the look, again with careful setup
  • MF requires a very substantial investment : from c£12k to £25k, plus lenses from around £3k each …m43 is affordable for most
  • MF currently has a relatively low ISO capture range, typically topping-out at 1600
  • MF is hefty & unwieldy to cart around for long

Medium Format has so far been the choice of many high-end published architectural &  fashion photographers – where the commissions are often consistently & suitably lucrative to make the investment in MF worthwhile, and editors are extremely demanding relative to output quality and fine detail.

Continuing from my last post, the relevance here is that the next generation of cameras with a Four-Thirds sensor – the new Panasonics about to be formally announced, and the inevitable Olympus versions that will follow – will also enable very many keen photographers to attain a breathtaking standard of very large output quality … where of course the subject & lighting lend themselves to being photographed with multiple files, to then be stitched.

If you’ve not tried image stitching yet, with your own m43 setup, try three vertical shots – or three horizontals – allowing around 20-30% overlap on each image. These can be stitched in software : PS, Arcsoft (which I use myself), or one of many others out there. These days, this software has been developed to the point where little if any manual intervention is required, even without close attention to tripod use/nodal point etc at time of capture. A final crop is often all that’s needed to complete your own masterpiece.

PS : For optimal quality, whereas these were six very quick, hand-held shots, one should always use a tripod for ultimate quality (don’t forget to turn off the IS !). It’s also then preferable to work from TIFF files (these were o.o.c. jpegs), and to set your camera to manual, to choose optimal aperture & exposure settings. These do all count, none of which I did for the example here. The final large image has also been compressed for web use. But you get the idea ….

RAW CONVERSION

Chatting to a friend yesterday, he mentioned to me how he’s still enjoying his LX3 – bought on my recommendation – and, knowing I’d sold mine “Do you miss it at all ?”   Made me think – sharp Leica wide aperture lens, 24-60mm range, selectable aspect ratios including 16:9, dynamic BW setting …stunning camera, no doubt.  What also came to mind immediately was how the white balance was still ‘out’ as at the last firmware update, bringing back the dreary memory of ages spent on clunky SilkyPix raw conversions, which seemed a long, S-L-O-W process – because it was. I know many aren’t as fussy about colour as I am…but it did drive me to distraction eventually.

I’ve since replaced my LX3 with another compact camera, that happens to be smaller this time, that also shoots RAW, and has brilliant colour rendition, as well as a superb – and really fast & intuitive – RAW converter bundled with the camera. Example above. This is my ‘everyday’ pocket camera, with a 28-105mm (equiv) focal range, no lens cap, fast startup, superb 3″ LCD, and razor-sharp lens (as has the LX3). It’s a Canon S90, capable of unbelievable results from such a tiny package.

With recent rumour (again!) of an LX3 replacement from Panasonic, and a publisher waiting on me getting my hands on it for a forthcoming book, I again wondered how useful an improved, LX3-style but up-specced Panasonic may be to me….Answer : hugely !

Looking back over some of my LX3 output of 2009, I do have a lot of fond memories, and realised that mine got very heavily used – not that you’d know it from its appearance. It was sold in ‘as new’ condition, because it literally did look ‘as new’, and the guy that bought it obviously felt that that was accurate. So, add great build quality to the LX3’s many attributes.

I do think we’ll learn more about the LX5 shortly, and I’ll be up for one, no doubt. There’s still that certain ‘something’ from the LX3 that makes its images special, and I could even be tempted to just get another anyway ….if I can find a supporting RAW converter that I can live with, and that’s fast.

Regardless, when the LX5 does appear, I share the hope of many on aspects such as reduced noise, wider focal length coverage (say 24-80) whilst maintaining quality, improved colour rendition for o.o.c. jpegs, and improved controls & handling. Immediate availability of a suitable case would also be appreciated.

Not long to wait now for an ‘official’ announcement from Panasonic – likely in the next couple of weeks – and I suspect that the camera will be available fairly soon afterwards. Why ? Because competition continues to intensify, and especially in this climate, every sale counts.

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 !

FUJIFILM FINEPIX F30

Well, after over 67,000 visits to the lx3 imaging site in only a couple of months, from scratch, and somehow deciding to also try to keep my other site, ricohimaging, up-to-date and of continuous interest to followers … I’ve decided to combine them into an all-encompassing new site in the same favoured format, with all of the same intentions. There’s also the opportunity to include coverage on models like the F30 above, that were the forerunners to today’s exciting models.

So, on the new site – http://nickbland.wordpress.com – there’ll be regular updates, latest news, commentary, photography aspects in general, and proven ideas to maximise quality from – and usability of – many of the leading ‘serious’ compact cameras in today’s market – those that a normally DSLR-toting pro would be happy to have with them at all times.

We know that many of these pocket shooters are capable of great results – I’d like to continue to focus (ouch!) on how to get the very best from them, before, during, and after capture. I’ll be sharing some pro tips which I hope will help you to improve your own photography, while at the same time hopefully also expanding my own knowledge by looking at new angles & techniques !

Thanks very much for your support so far … makes it worthwhile knowing that this is useful to you. For much more, please in future visit & bookmark the NEW site :

http://nickbland.wordpress.com

There will of course be many new additions to my zenfolio site, which remains at :

http://nickbland.zenfolio.com

Don’t forget also that the content from the previous sites can all be found in the ARCHIVE section (accessed at the top right of each page) …and enjoy !

Cheers,

Nick

16th August 2009

ULLSWATER, LAKE DISTRICT

ULLSWATER, LAKE DISTRICT

Another image from our recent trip, taken from an Ullswater steamer that took us around the lake for a couple of hours (doesn’t move very quickly !) …the Lake District is well worth another visit soon, hopefully in drier weather, although the ever-changing light in this part of England makes it always a pleasure for landscapes.

Notably on the boat were several with cameras – one guy with a Canon 1D, photographing the punters (probably for a promo leaflet/web photo (!)), a girl taking an odd snap – without much care – with a Sony DSLR, and a few with Panasonic FZs of various vintages. In each case, they had something quite cumbersome to deal with, in less than ideal conditions – so pleased to have had my LX3 with us, with the D3 nowhere to be seen on this trip – way too heavy !

More as usual at http://nickbland.zenfolio.com … enjoy

INGLETON, YORKSHIRE DALES

INGLETON, YORKSHIRE DALES

Took a few compact cameras with us on a recent trip to Yorkshire & the lakes …LX3 (of course), Ricoh CX1, Panasonic TZ-3 and Fuji F100fd.

Needless to say, it was the LX3 that gave the smoothest, sharpest & most detailed images of the lot, although I used it less than I would have liked as I needed a longer focal range for many shots. However, I was really pleased with the ones I did shoot with the LX3, and the quality amazes me every time – even now, after 8 months of continuous use.

This image was taken in Ingleton, on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park … a stunning location for landscape photography. Just don’t expect dry weather too often, even in July !

Many more LX3 images as usual at http://nickbland.zenfolio.com