Posts Tagged ‘RICOH’

HDR IMAGE FROM A P&S JPEG

Well, here’s an HDR-processed image from a camera that I’ve recently made a return to. The original was a jpeg – there’s no option, as this camera doesn’t support RAW files – and I’ve really enjoyed the convenience of not having to spend ages on a pc, processing RAW files from those cameras from manufacturers that seem to rely on their models’ RAW capability to get away with dreadful in-cam jpeg processing.

One notable exception is the Olympus E-P1 ….although RAW-capable, I seem to always be very pleased with its jpeg output, needing little in the way of post-processing to get the results I’m after. As you know, I’m taken with its colour output as well – exceptional is the word. Just not pocketable.

This camera I’ve recently returned to is also able to offer exceptional colour output – but it’s certainly not OOC (‘out-of-camera), and the files need a little work to achieve their potential.

And the camera – it’s the Fujifilm F200EXR.  

Why ? Simple.  Just great dynamic range capture that rivals that of some DSLRs, in a single exposure without any fuss. I thought I’d look elsewhere – mainly in seeking great colour output from a pocketable compact – and managed that with the Canon S90…no doubt, a great piece. But not-so-great DR is noticeable, and even the RAWs don’t enable quite the DR of the F200EXR with such clean images. That’s quite something, as we’re comparing in-cam jpegs with pc-processed RAW files. Hmmmm.

So, one should never assume that the latest, greatest RAW-enabled compact is gonna do it everytime. Progress with caution – because sometimes, it’s not necessarily ‘progress’.

MICRO FOUR-THIRDS - A NEW STANDARD ?

MICRO FOUR-THIRDS - A NEW STANDARD ?

It of course could be construed as either :

‘Fallen for It ?’ … head-over-heels with these new, high quality cameras (& lenses) that offer SLR quality in miniature Or : 

‘Fallen for It ?’ … the Penny/Doris marketing (wrong !) of a system solution to a non-existent problem

There are certainly at least two schools of thought on the arrival of m43, now that both Olympus & Panasonic have truly small bodies, along with a few m43lenses. I definitely lean towards the former, although, in my last post, I indicated that I already have several compacts & DSLRs …but, so far, no Micro Four-Thirds camera (or lenses) …and here’s why :

1/ There’s so far a distinct shortage of available lenses in the m43 format …although there are several potentially useful 43 lenses  eg one that caught my eye today, the Olympus 12-60  ie 24-120mm equivalent – but it’s a fairly large lens, relative to m43 body size, and it pretty well negates the point of a useful, truly miniaturised system.

2/ The end of October sees a likely New Product announcement from Olympus – and the general concensus is that this will be something along the lines of ‘E-P2’ …probably with the inclusion of an in-built viewfinder, and possibly on-board flash.

3/ I learned today that following at least one major Ricoh Japan/Ricoh UK staff meeting last year, Ricoh will definitely be in the ‘small body/interchangeable lenses’ game …and some product is likely fairly soon

4/ Nikon are apparently developing a ‘2.5x’ small system …so, for example, a 10mm lens will be equivalent to 25mm (in 35mm terms) …and surely so must Canon and, by implication, Sony ?

5/ Fujifilm are known also to have taken great interest in the early succes of m43, and are rumoured to have products of a ‘similar’ nature in development.

6/ Samsung NX models are likely soon …not m43 standard, but a miniatuised system along the same lines

7/ Additional to the existing E-P1, I also have reliable confirmation that Olympus will launch a total of three new m43 bodies, planned to see the light of day over the next six months … although my source expects that this may more likely stretch over 9/12 months …but that’s still an ambitious output, and Olympus are ‘very seriously comitted’ to m43.

8/ Based on that last statement, we should see the introduction of several new m43 lenses …hopefully sooner rather than later.

Given that m43 is really just in its infancy, and already seems to offer superb performance …albeit with a few fixable deficiencies so far …this is, from what was expected to be niche, fast becoming a type of product range seen by the major (& smaller) players as critical to their ongoing survival – let alone their ongoing success and increased market share & profitability. 

Extrapolate accordingly, and if the consumer-led, and pro-led, revolution really gets under way, we’ll really be spoilt for choice. That has to be a great situation for all of us absolute enthusiasts, and marks a truly interesting era in digital imaging. I’m observing all of this in some detail, and will step in when I feel the time’s right…and that doesn’t necessarily mean waiting for too long – but there really is so much on its way AND SOON.

In the meantime, if you’re already using, or considering a DSLR, you may find some interesting reading at http://nikonpro.wordpress.com

For more, see also http://1001noisycameras.com

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 !

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

PANASONIC GF1 ...BUT IS IT REAL ?

PANASONIC GF1 ...BUT IS IT REAL ?

(This image courtesy of  http://www.xitek.com)

Given that there’s been so much new camera activity lately – both in DSLR and compact market areas, as well as the recent launch of the Olympus E-P1, this is apparently some detail on a forthcoming LX3 replacement.

Rumours have been rife for a while – perhaps what we see above will be the reality, and with so many reported LX3 global stock shortages, maybe it’ll be here sooner than we think.

So, for those not quite enamoured of the E-P1 …is the GF1 the Holy Grail ? 

Just maybe.

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

CARBON-FIBRE KUN VOCE

CARBON-FIBRE KUN VOCE

Something a little different this time : in the last six months, my LX3 has proven to be a fantastic camera for product images, and much of this is to do with – again – that f2-2.8 Leica lens, often in ‘macro’ mode, in combination with relatively larger pixels on a 10MP sensor, and a successful in-camera processing engine.

I was taking these shots this morning, and decided to try capturing the product against both white and black backgrounds. So What ?

Here’s a thought … take a look at the two images, taken with pretty well the same LX3 settings. If you ignore the background colour in each, and then take a look at the different colour rendering and detail between the two…

 Although the product is made of carbon-fibre, and is carbon grey in colour, with a satin but reflective finish, notice how the white-background version on the left has reflected right around the product, diminishing contrast. There’s also a warmth to the image, which was not my aim, and which I could have corrected in post-processing. 

The dark background – by far my preference for this image – has not added extra light, and the result seems much closer to the look I was after. The background has a huge effect on any image, rather than just the obvious, and some images of course suit high-key, and some low-key, against whichever background. It’s certainly an area worth thinking about in your own images, safe in the knowledge that the LX3 will perform very well, whatever your choice for the final ‘look’.

If you’re into product/macro subjects, you’ll find more LX3 galleries that relate at http://nickbland.zenfolio.com … and don’t forget that the LX3 is less expensive in itself than even some ‘average’ DSLR macro lens (only) … also, with its proven light-gathering capability and superb image stabilisation, you’re likely to get way better-than-average results every time !