Tag Archives: cameras

The Garden Welcomes the Family

I don’t use it often, but I have one of those trail / hunter cameras that take pictures all by themselves. The other day I placed some bird food in a hanging basket thing and set the camera up upon my even-less-often-used tripod; then awaited developments. I wasn’t surprised when the first ‘guest’ was a resident Robin…

It took him/her about a half-second to make the decision to enter the store…

The camera took rather longer to react – which (for once) was a good thing…

…otherwise all we would have to view is the Robin’s arse hole. He/she was so impressed with the fare that he/she came back later to feast with his/her wife/husband and three kids. Here’s one of them…

All three have grown very tame, and I think it’s a shame that before long they will be driven off to find territories of their own by their parents. Guess I’ll have to content myself with Mr and Mrs Mouse who live in the shed…

…which my pet chug (chihuahua/pug cross) loves to chase all around the shrubbery – along with the lonesome vole…

And, of course, terrorise visiting squirells…

For a tiny postage stamp garden, it certainly is wildlife-friendly. Or at least it would be, if it wasn’t for this monster…

Spy Shot

The place I call Home sits at the bottom of a shallow valley. So if I want to go for a nice walk in the countryside I first have to walk up hill. The same goes for cycling – which is bloody hard work. It is the reason why I bought a motorcycle. But that’s by-the-by. Recently, as I sauntered casually along a narrow path, with my dogs, at the upper edge of the hill, I chanced to notice that (from a very restricted angle) it was just possible to discern my abode from those huddled around it. So, whipping out my X50 zoom Sony, I ‘zoomed’ in on it…

Oh dear, thought I. Any ideas of nude sunbathing next Summer will have to be put on perminent hold. With a really long lens someone will be able to see my willy!

Photography: Compact Cameras: Horses for Courses

I always have a bunch of cameras laying about the house. Their batteries might not always carry a charge, but the cameras are there – almost ready for action. Today I woke up to drizzle, so, naturally I grabbed the first camera that came to hand and wandered out into the garden. Selecting the little flower symbol – I think they call it ‘macro’ – but I prefer ‘little flower symbol’ because I deign  to be different – I began snapping anything that looked attractive. The camera was a Fujifilm T400, which was pretty ‘whoo’ in it’s day, back in 2012. It has a 10X zoom and sixteen megapixels, so it should be pretty good, even on a dark, drizzly day. It took this picture rather well, I thought…

But bedamned if it would capture a dripping Love in the Mist properly. Every shot had at least one area out of focus. So I went back inside to fetch a 8 megapixel 3X zoom Pentax Optio E40, which dates back at least four years farther. It couldn’t capture the feather for love nor money – every shot focussing on the concrete below. But it captured the Love in the Mist just fine…

Which just goes to show that you can never have too many cameras, and that you can’t trust the one you’re using to do the job in every case. Clearly photography, at least for compacts, is a case of horses for courses. You just have to know which horse to back on which course. I suggest you take a minimum of five on any field trip – tucked into the many little pockets you find in a fisherman’s sleeveless jacket. I do – and my neck only aches a little when I get home. Okay, it aches a lot: but I’m old, so I have to accept that. Yes, I suffer for my art.

This fabulously pointless photography lesson was brought to you by Tooty Nolan: Man of Many Talents – some of which are vaguely useful.

Photography: In Praise of Tiny Compacts

When I go a wandering, with only one subject on my mind – that being photo-snapping – I take (at least) one hefty camera along for the ride. Usually my Sony DSC-HX400V. But I have a few others that I give an outing from time to time – which often includes compacts of various brands and ability. But if I’m just doing ‘other stuff’ – like shopping or walking the dogs – I pop a small compact in my top pocket. They vary in size from heavy and chunky (thinking Sony W15) – to others such as the one hiding here behind this credit card-sized travel card…

Sometimes they aren’t always totally wonderful. Some really need perfect photographic conditions to produce an acceptable result. Those, when my patience is exhausted, I tend to move on to charity shops. Others just hang in there because of (for example) their comparatively long zoom lenses. But some are just darned good – no matter what. And often it is the tiniest cameras in my collection that give the most pleasing results. In particular I refer to this little beaut, which I bought in a charity shop…

It is a 12 megapixel Canon Ixus 100is. Here is the result of a test shot taken just outside my front door…

Its a tricky shot for such a tiny camera. It demands that it handle extremes of light and shade, colour, and texture. And I think it did a good job. I have (supposedly) better cameras that wouldn’t produce this quality of photo. But, I was surprised to discover, I have (supposedly again) inferior cameras that make a pretty good fist of the task too. Look at this…

Not too shabby either, huh? This is the culprit…

Its a mid-2000s 7 megapixel Olympus FE230, which is maybe a couple of millimetres larger than my much-admired Canon – which means its SMALL. But the pictures it takes refute any ideas that small, aging cameras are a waste of a photo-snappers time. To prove this assertion of mine, check out this…

As good as the Canon?

Maybe. But can it (or many other cameras) equal this Canon shot?

Probably not. So now its time to dig out another mini-compact. My bright pink Canon Ixus 130…

Let’s see how this little 14 megapixel bugger makes out!

Photography: How Mauve is Mauve?

From my experience, there are certain colours that digital cameras seem to struggle with. The worst is yellow in bright sunlight. Particularly when shooting shiny flowers. Of the 50+ cameras that I currently keep in the bottom of my wardrobe, only three or four of them can cope at all. Most just flare out. The other problem colour is mauve/purple. I have a Primula in the back garden that not one of my cameras can capture accurately. But that’s another story. We don’t want to talk abject failure here on HamsterBritainDotCom, do we? No, we don’t. I also have a pleasant mauve plant, the name of which eludes me, which comes up every year in a terracotta pot on the patio. And it was to this plant I went when I decided upon  another of my famous comparison tests. Here are the guilty subjects this time…

A 4.0 megapixel Kyocera Finecam 410R. A 9.3 megapixel Ricoh CX2. and a 12 megapixel Kodak EasyShare M550. None of them are even remotely new, but I have been known to snap some quite nice pictures with all three – but never before at the same time. Here are the results of the Mauve Test…

The least mauve camera here is the Kyocera. The medium mauve, you might assume would be the 9.3 mg Ricoh. But you would be wrong. Not unusually it’s the Kodak that lets us down with a half-way-decent effort. And the winner – displaying a picture with remarkable similarity to the actual shade of mauve as seen with these aging eyes, was the Ricoh. And here’s the complete picture in all its glory…

RICOH CX2: Good camera!

In conclusion, it seems that if you want a vibrant, true-to-life shot get a Ricoh. If it’s quick snaps whilst on holiday, the Kodak will do just fine. And if you insist on an ancient Kyocera, do as I do. Just keep it as a curiosity, and maybe bring it out for a walk around the garden once in a while.

Photography: As in Film, So in Digital

Back in the days of my youth, I was, as now, a bit of a happy snapper. Of course then it was all Kodak Instamatics and 110 cartridge cameras. I discovered, quite quickly that there were distinctive differences in film stock. Kodak film gave a bright, colourful print. Fujifilm, conversely, was more subtle, bordering upon clinical. Of the two I favoured the more honest Fujifilm – though looking back through old photos, I wonder if those halcyon days might be better remembered in a more bright and colourful Kodak manner. As I took my daily constitutional today it came to my attention that I was carrying two cameras – made by Kodak and Fujifilm. “Hmmm,” I mused, “I wonder if, in these digital days, the old ways still hold true.” Or, to put it another way, are Kodaks still bright and cheerful, and Fujifilms all clear and sensible? The obvious way to answer my simple question was to pause my route march and take a couple of snaps. So I did. Here are the results. Which one is the Kodak; and which the Fujifilm?

Not a lot of colour here, but those greens in photo number one sure look…er…green . So, yep, judging by this test, it’s the same as it ever was. Maybe I’ll conduct a few more tests, just to make sure. After all – any excuse to show off my photos…

Photography: Sony, Time and Megapixels

It’s generally thought (or should that be, it’s thought generally?) that as time passes, and megapixel numbers increase, cameras (and therefore photograph quality) improve – particularly if those cameras are made by the same company. Well, whilst out and about on one of my country rambles recently, I discovered that the cameras that I’d selected at random just happened to be made by Sony, but two years apart. One was a 7.2 megapixel S730; the other a 12.1 megapixel S2100. The former was released in 2008: the latter in 2010. So, I surmised, the S2100 would produce better shots, and duly chose it for my first photograph. But doubt crept in when I started snapping in a wood near my home. The S2100 pictures just didn’t accurately represent what my eyes were seeing. With no options (except brightness) to change settings in the menu, I withdrew the S730 from my shirt pocket, and gave it free range.

“Was the resulting image better?” I hear you ask eloquently. Well take a look at a series of comparison shots, and you tell me. In each comparison the S730 appears in the top section…

It’s close; but next time I take a solitary camera out with me, it’ll probably be the older model.    

Photography: Girth – the Great Debate

In my earlier post, Photography; Zoom Wars, I discussed the merits of greater length. In this post I propose to debate the significance of girth. Simply put, is fat better than thin? Is dumpy better than lithe? I refer, of course, to the camera lens. Little weedy things like this Samsung ES74…

…take quite nice pictures (though it can’t handle the colour yellow very well)…

Note it has (what is technically known as) a thin lens. Now compare that with this chunky lensed Ricoh CX2…

Almost as wide as a London bus, which lets in lots of light. The same clematis taken with the Ricoh looks like this…

Er…I think they call that a ‘no contest’. Clearly a fat one is better than a thin one, which I think we probably already suspected.  But look back at the photo of the Samsung. It was taken with the Ricoh. And the photo of the Ricoh was taken with the Samsung. Now the latter was uploaded with zero adjustment to the exposure. But the former needed brightening and a tweak in the contrast – just to allow you to see the much-maligned ‘thin’ lens at all. So which camera is better now? Oh, photography: it’s all so confusing. Fat – thin? Long – short? It’s almost as bad as a penis.

Photography: Zoom Wars

Recently I was watching a squirell fart-arsing about in my garden, when I got the idea to snap it’s image for posterity. But, I asked myself, which of the four cameras sitting on the kitchen table should I choose? Silly question: I chose the Sony HX400v – my best camera. This is one of the results…

Now, every so often (on this blog) I do a comparison between some of my cameras. It’s an opportunity to use seldom-used pieces of kit that, otherwise, tend to sit around in the bottom of my wardrobe enjoying slow degenerative entropy. As I peered into the camera’s screen and studied the resultant portraits of cheeky rodentia, I thought: “Did I really need a X 50 zoom to snap a critter little more than four metres distant?” Answering my silent question, I replied: “Nah – a X 25 would have done.” But would it? I needed to find out. So, grabbing a X 25 Kodak Pixpro, I dashed into the garden, which, annoyingly, was now entirely rodent-free. Then my photographer’s eye alighted upon a nicely-lit bunch of pear blossom – which I proceeded to photograph…

I then reached for the Sony again. This is the result…

I had my answer: long beats short every time. But then I thought: “But what if the problem is that the 16 megapixel Kodak is just a piss-poor camera?” Time to check it against something else. Dashing back inside the kitchen I snatched a Sony compact off the table. But finding the battery depleted, I swapped it for a little, mid-noughties, 7 megapixel  X 3 Casio Exilim compact. Then, squatting in the dappled shadows thrown by the emerging leaves of the pear tree, I took this photo of fallen blossom…

I then repeated the act with the Kodak…

And I realised that the Zoom War would need to continue – only with different combatents. Clearly the Pixpro wasn’t up to the task: it is – to use the technical term – a shit camera. But that’s fine: it’ll give me a chance to snap happily, and show off nice photos of my abode.

Photography: Sometimes It Really Doesn’t Matter Which Camera You Choose

I like cameras. I like cameras so much that I have more than fifty of the little bleeders. And the problem with owning so many is, which one (or five) do I choose to take on my snapping trips. It’s a problem. Or is it? Because sometimes a scene is so nice and simple, and the lighting so right, that it really doesn’t matter which one I choose to capture it. Here is a case in point. Yup, it’s another of my damned camera comparison posts. Well sort of.

Because I was visiting a river location, I’d decided to take along my sole underwater camera – a simple Aquapix W1024-Y. Here is it’s ( surprisingly huge) 6.12 megabyte effort…

I suppose, for a camera that works better submerged, this open air shot isn’t bad. It certainly compares favourably with this 5.97 megabyte shot from an Olympus D720…

Moving on down the megapixel league, sample this 4.31 megabyte picture from a Sony S2100…

Or this Pentax E40’s 3.77 megabyte shot…

And, finally, compare the first picture with this (supposedly) paltry 1.21 MB excuse produced by a Kodak C533…

Any significant difference? If there is, I’m buggered if I could see much. Certainly not enough to make camera selection that important. So, on this evidence, from now on I’m going to chuck all my cameras in a bucket and select them purely at random. In future all I will need to check is that the chosen one (or five) contains a memory card and a charged battery. You’d be surprised at how many times I’ve failed to do that!

 

Three Cameras, a Shade, and a Potted Plant

Funny (innit?) how different cameras see the same thing…er…differently. Take, for example, the lamp that stands, beside a pot plant, in the corner of my sitting room. I often use it to test a newly acquired camera. Surely three pictures, taken within seconds of each other, would appear identical. You’d think so, wouldn’t you? So let’s see. Picture Number One was snapped with a tatty old Fujifilm J10 boasting 8.2 megapixels…

Notice how the autofocus had concentrated upon the pot plant? Well, with me standing in the exact same spot, it would be reasonable to assume that the second shot, via a 14.1 megapixel Canon Ixus 130, would look pretty much the same – only clearer. Well I thought so anyway…  

No, I wasn’t standing over by the door honest.  But what about a camera that falls roughly half way between the two megapixel extremes? How would that compare? I tried a 10.2 megapixel Samsung D1070. The result…

…was not what I expected. Which, I think, just proves that it isn’t the eye behind the camera that selects how a picture will look: it’s the sodding software. How very disappointing – even if the pictures aren’t.

Photography: Dark Light: When Dead Cameras Return to Life

I collect old digital cameras. Recently I came across an Olympus FE4000. With no battery inside it, I had no idea if it worked; but I bought it anyway. Two weeks later a battery arrived from Germany. Cheering, as the camera sprang into cybernetic life, my joy was dampened when I took one of my usual camera test shots and discovered that the White Balance was stuck on Minus 2…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This feeling was tempered by the thought that this is still an excellent picture. And it was extinguished entirely when I discovered that I could adjust the non-functioning WB facility by the simple expedient of doing a factory restart in the setting program. I’ve found that buying old cameras is a bit of a gamble; but so far it has paid off handsomely. Ebay and my local charity shops must adore me. Now to see if I can get that old Fuji F455 working…

Photography: Why Auto Isn’t Always the Way Ahead

WARNING: Technobabble-free post!

As you’ve probably ascertained from my earlier posts on the subject of photography, I’m a point-and-shoot merchant. If the picture on the screen looks like the thing I’ve just photographed, I’m happy. Auto is king. But not always. Sometimes you have to fiddle with your knob and twiddle your doo-dah. For example here is the picture of some Michaelmas Daisies that my Sony HX400 decided was true and accurate…

“Pretty,” thought I, “but that’s not what it looks like.”

So I fiddled with my knob. This is the result…

“Close,” I said to the Sony, “but no banana.”

So I twiddled my doo-dah. Here is the result…

This is what the garden just outside my kitchen window actually looks like.

So the moral of this tale is: a photographer should never be afraid to fiddle with his/her knob. And as regards to his/her doo-dah: well it’s just gagging for a good twiddle.

Tooty  

Photography: How Much Must You Pay to Get Good Pictures?

Recently I spent rather more than I should have for a very blue Canon point and shoot compact. Today I used it to snap this shot of a clematis bloom in my garden…

“Hmm,” thought I, “that’s very nice, but did I really need a fancy 20 megapixel to photograph a simple flower?” And the reason I had this thought was because earlier in the day, when the sun was a little less forthcoming, I’d spotted the same flower. The first camera that fell to hand was a Sony Cybershot of a mere 3.2 megapixel capability. The resultant picture looked exactly like this…

Okay, the former can stand a whole lot more zooming in before it pixellates; but if you just want an accurate representation of your subject, the latter is actually better. The mauve in the Sony shot is a closer match to the real thing than the Canon shot. And how much did I pay for this wondrous piece of ancient digital technology? Nothing: some silly sod had thrown it away – probably because it was old and out of date. And I picked it up. I wonder how much they paid for its replacement.

 

Photography: Who Needs Anything More Than a Compact?

Generally speaking a half-way decent compact, or even a camera phone, will (pretty much) take care of your photographic needs. I should know, I shoot all my Earplug Adventures on one. And if any proof is needed, check out the following photos. The first is shot with my trusty Fujifilm compact – yes the culprit responsible for the aforementioned earplug-based travesties; the second with a reasonably priced Nikon bridge camera: and the last with one of those half-way to a DSLR things, made by Sony. I adjusted no settings; merely allowing the cameras to select them automatically…

Not a lot in it, I’d say. But what about light and shade? A mixture of interior and exterior photography?

If anything, I think the Nikon is looking a little shabby here. But maybe these shots aren’t demanding enough. Neither of the others could have captured this…

On Sport mode the Nikon fires off a salvo of snaps, one of which is bound to hit the target. And  only the Sony, with its massive zoom, was capable of snagging a high-altitude Rook giving a bird of prey a hard time…

So, in summation, if you insist on using a compact or camera phone, and wouldn’t be seen dead with anything that needed a strap to hang ’round your neck, stick to shooting Earplug Adventures, like me!

DSCN7717

A compact is clever little bugger, and I wouldn’t be without one, or five, or seven, or however many I have.

Photography: Who Sez It’s Not the Quality of the Camera That Matters?

It is often said that it’s not the camera that matters in photography, but the imagination and ‘eye’ of the user. Generally I’d agree with that: but there are exceptions to that vague rule. Those exceptions are things called (to use the technical term) shit cameras. Sometimes it doesn’t matter how gifted the photographer is – if he or she has a shit camera, he or she is gonna produce equally shit photographs. Here’s a case in point. I don’t do landscapes: I prefer smaller, more intimate shots. But sometimes I can’t help myself, and I  grab a snap of some nice rolling downland, seascape, mountain, or some such. On this occasion the fluctuating light thrown by scattered clouds made this shallow English valley look rather pleasant…

I took this with my Sony Cybershot bridge camera. Yes, I’m a point-and-shoot kinda guy: I don’t do clever stuff. The light was a little tricky, so I thought I’d try the 5 megapixel camera on the Huawei cell phone in my pocket as a comparison. The first shot came out looking like this…

Washed out and ghastly, I think you’ll agree. The Huawei looked as though it could be classified as a ‘shit camera’. But a second attempt resulted in this…

Not bad. Let’s call it an ‘erractic camera’, or ‘unreliable’. But definitely not ‘shit’. A photographer could take some nice shots with this. In fact my wife has taken many. Here’s one of me showing off my Do It Yourself skills…

By chance I’d taken my Qilive cell phone along for the ride. It was bought in Spain for use in Spain, for calling people who live in…Spain. Every so often, when I’m not in…Spain, I switch it on, you know, to stop the SIM card from forgetting that it exists. So, as the Orange signal registered, I thought I’d take the same shot yet again. This is the result…

Now that is a SHIT CAMERA. No one could get this sucker to take a decent photo. And just to prove it, here’s a nice middle distance shot of a sunny field with a horse in it…

 

Yes, that’s a horse. I chose this picture because  the other I took, of a grey horse laying down, looked like someone had dumped a huge bowl of oatmeal on the grass. So, if you’re thinking of buying a cheap cell phone for occasional use, don’t bother paying extra for one with a camera: it’ll be shit. Get a proper camera instead.

Photography: The Value of Taking Pot-Shots Whilst Hanging on To a Pair of Chihuahuas

If, like me, you are an unfortunate author/photographer who is unable to sell sufficient books to afford an expensive DSLR, and who, by extension, must rely upon a stupid little screen (that shows bugger all except a reflection of your own handsome visage in bright sunlight) to see what the camera is pointing at, here is a tip. Aim the camera in roughly the right direction. Start snapping indiscriminately whilst zooming in. Et voila…

jun11a 011

jun11a 013

spotted by sparrow

With the zoom lens maxed out at x34 I was pretty pleased with myself – and my photography angel, whom seldom accompanies me upon my outings. Pissed off with looking at earplugs I expect. 

Photography: Just How Many Million Pixels and How Much Zoom Do You Need On a Bright Sunny Day?

That’s quite a title. Perhaps if I used an acronym… P:jhmmpahmzdynoabsd. No, that’s no better. Well, anyway, to the point of this post…

I’ve posted about megapixels; I’ve posted about zoom length; and I’ve posted about light. Well today I’m posting about all three. The reason for this is because this morning I went on a bloody huge bike ride (by my standards), and I took five cameras along for the ride. At one location I decided to test them against each other in conditions that, I believe, levels the playing field, so-to-speak: bright, BRIGHT, sunlight. First I snapped a picture of a weathered park bench: then I snapped another from the bench itself. Nothing clever; just a point and shoot with each camera without using any of the device’s special features. The first shot is taken just a few paces from the subject bench. The second shot looks across the valley to the opposite hillside. No zoom is used on the former: full zoom is used on the latter. See what you think. I was shooting into the sun, with minimal shade supplied by a large beech tree to the left of shot.

The cameras used in order are:

3.1 megapixel Sony Cybershot

5.1 megapixel Fujifilm A5oo

7.1 megapixel Kodak C743

12.2 megapixel Fujifilm J30

16 megapixel Nikon L830

To the bench…

3.1 Sony

bench by sony

5.1 Fujifilm

bench by a500

7.1 Kodak

bench by c734

12.2 Fujifilm

bench  by j30

16 Nikon

bench  by nikon

Well at first glance there doesn’t seem to be a vast amount of difference between them. When you go in tight the difference in quality is more observable. A certain degree of evening out did occur when I reduced the photo sizes for web use. But it does look odd (to this technological heathen anyway) how it appears that I was standing at different distances from the bench when I took each piccie. Something to do with wide angle shit I expect.

Nice subject though, in a nice place too. Lucky old me.

Now the long shot did surprise me. Perhaps I hadn’t noticed how hazy the air was when I pressed the shutter button; or maybe it was the barely filtered sunlight. I dunno. See what you think. One thing’s for certain though: they’ll never give me a guest slot in Practical Camera!

Same order as last time…

hill by sony

 

hill by a500

 

hill  by c743

 

hill by j30

 

hill by nikon

Well one thing is obvious: neither of the cameras can handle the brilliant white sky on the horizon. Well that’s fair coz neither could my eyes. Another thing is the x34 zoom of the Nikon. BIG ZOOM! But what about the ancient Sony? Where the hell did that zoom come from? It says on the side that it has x3 zoom with an extra x3 digital zoom. I guess the digital zoom kicked in automatically, but without my spectacles on I couldn’t see the icons (or image for that matter) on the tiny LCD screen. But isn’t digital zoom supposed to be utter shit? Not on my sturdy old Japanese Sony it isn’t!

So in summation…well you make up your own mind. Me – I’m strictly a point and shoot genius: I know squat about photography.

One last thing though. I also own a 12 megapixel Kodak that appears to equal the 12.2 Fujifilm in every way. But when I zoom in on a photo produced by it on my computer, it pixellates WAY more than the Fuji. Can someone explain why? Does it have a crappy lens or something?

 

Photography: What the eye doesn’t see…

I was sifting through some old shots from the mid-noughties the other day. One of them was a beach scene of my family. It wasn’t a particularly interesting photo, and quite frankly if it’d been a digital camera, it’s odds-on the piccie would have been deleted. Then I noticed a person in the background that WAS quite interesting. So I scanned it, and isolated the person as best I could. And here it is…

unknown woman with pointy tits

I don’t know who she is, but she could have someone’s eye out with those!