Manfrotto Befree tripod

Recently I bought a new tripod and after a bit of looking around, i got a Manfrotto Befree.

This was because of its compactness, its a full sized tripod (but still a little short for me) and it can hold just about anything i wanted to put on it. I would put on the 70-200 f/2.8 with extender but only in the landscape mode, not angle the head to portrait.

I have taken it out for a little bit and i’m happy with the purchase, although it hasn’t been out for an extended run.

I did wish the strap on the bag was a little longer so i could sling it across my back easier (the top over my right shoulder with the bottom sitting at my left waist), but thats nothing that cant be fixed with an aftermarket mod if it bothers me enough.

Olympus OI Share App

edit. I got in contact with olympus support who told me to change the settings in the oi share app to import at original size. All is now good.

I recently picked up an Olympus stylus 1 camera, took some photos on it and then connected my android galaxy note to it via the OIShare App. I had edited the image in camera to crop and adjust the aspect ratio to 3:2. The image was around 2500 pixels wide.

I was surprised after downloading it to see that it was around 2000 pixels wide once it had downloaded. I expected it would be the same size once it had been copied to the phone and was disappointed i’d dropped resolution for no apparent reason.

I ended up taking out the Micro SD Card (in a SD holder) from the camera and putting it into the phone.

I really want those extra 400ish pixels and hope this is fixed in a firmware upgrade, as everything else on it works as expected, and i’m very happy with my minimalist camera setup.

Percyathlon

Last year I was feeling a bit down and Percy helped me out. He picked up i was feeling sad and took it upon himself to do something and make me feel better.

He went into my room, grabbed my runners and put them next to the door, well not exactly next to the door but more blocking the door. Then he went and grabbed a camera and put it on my shoes. Then he went and sat down and just looked at me until i got the hint. We were going outside to take photos.

He took me down to Lake Burley Griffin and made it clear that we’d be going around the lake and I would be taking photos of him.

After we got home i decided to call what we did a Percyathlon. Similar to a Biathlon of going along a course and taking shots. I spoke with him about what camera gear you should have and whether the goal should be do go through a course fast or get some great shots. He sort of shrugged and got across that the purpose of should be to have fun.

From this there are pretty much only two rules to a Percyathlon.

1. You do it to feel better
2. You need to take photos.

Pretty much the rest are just guidelines.

You can write about a course so others can also complete it. Course information should include start / end points and suggested route, points to shoot as part of the course
, any other things to look out for or suggestions.

You can time the event and compete against others or yourself. This should be done using the print day/time function of the camera on the image.

You can go fast and pack a light (maybe a tough) camera, or slow down and take a heavier camera and go for better quality images.

Canon S3

Recently i picked up a new old camera. A Canon S3, for $85, it was considered worth it. Im considering it the same type of investment as a new xbox game.

I’m planning on running through a few of its features in an attempt to explain the various features you’d find on a DSLR camera.

It wont replace my main camera, its not supposed to but I will put to the test the notion of “Its not what you got, its what you do with it**”. I had considered doing such a test on a 3 megapixel camera, but that seems too ambitious for the moment.

**Assumes a maximum print size of 8×12 inches as this doesnt have the resolution to do good prints larger than that.

Nikon camera notes

I recently had a chat with a Nikon camera rep.

Apparently the L820 has a very good macro mode.

The camera she recommended for grandparents is the kid friendly drop / waterproof one. I dont know it model number.

She was impressed with the V3

Printers

This post is just serving as a Note to Self, this evening i was browsing though the technology section of a store and saw two printers

Polaroid Z340 has an SD card and apparently can print photos taken on other cameras.

The Epson workforce wf-7520 looks like an A3 printer which will probably have a payback period at about a dozen 18×12 inch prints at 18.50 each.

Nikon L27 quick review.

Recently i bought a Nikon L27. Well, i had to choose between the L27 and the L29, which is the newer model – alibet with most of the same specifications of the L27. The main reason i chose to review this camera type was that it is a camera takes AA batteries.

The camera is easy to use, put in the batteries, an SD card and turn it on. After doing an initial setup like setting the date and time of day, you can start taking pictures. I would be happy giving this camera to my grandparents knowing they’d be able to take a family picture or holiday snaps with it and they’ll turn out ok.

The camera has mini flash, zoom lense and can be set in several modes such as landscape, sports, night landscape, pets, food, etc. In fully automatic mode, it does try and auto guess the appropriate mode to set the camera in.

My only issue with the camera is that you cant see all of the setting of the camera. I wanted to check and set the ISO value automatically but couldnt.

But my final verdict is if you gave me the camera, and told me to go away on a holiday taking only shots using it, i’ld be pretty happy.

This whole post stems from about 6 months ago when i was op-shopping (shopping in a thrift store), browsing their cameras and one of the older men working there came up to me, sat down beside me and asked about digital cameras, saying that he’d stopped taking photos because film had become so expensive and it wasnt as easy to get these days. Lets say that film costs $8 / roll and processing costs $12, conveniently bringing the total to $20.

The L27, and a 8 gig SD card would cost under $100, so assuming you have an existing camera, the payback period is 120 6×4 prints.

If your requirements are that you want a camera that :-
1. Shoots pictures (i know thats part of a definition of being a camera…).
2. Is easy to use 
3. Takes AA batteries

Then I am happy to recommend the the Nikon L-27 (or 29) to you. I would have recommended the Canon A480 (or its newer models) or the Canon SX-150( Super Zoom , which conveniently included an Easy mode so you could insert AA batteries, an SD card – which you could get thousands of shots on a 8 gig card (there are bigger cards , and you could pick up a 8 gig card for $8 when i bought the camera last week). But Canon seem to have stopped making point and shoot cameras with AA batteries. 

Lets assume you might be able to get more energy density, better recharge performance and smaller size. But in my mind, this goes out the window compared to the versaility of using AA’s. If your travelling you can get extras in just about any service station, carry extra rechargables, share batteries with friends, and if your in a pinch and forgot to recharge or have drained your usual batteries, you can swap in single use ones.

In short, if you forget to recharge, you can pull some standard batteries out of the kitchen drawer and take pictures when your camera would otherwise stop being a camera and be a paperweight.

Of course i’m not saying that all cameras shall use AA batteries, just that its a nice option to have, and for some people its high on their list of priorities for ease of use, and that an upgrade say from 16 to 18 megapixels is a distant second. Both will print a pretty good A4 print.

Notes to self on shooting sports

On the weekend i was out taking photos at a sporting event. I was without my preferred camera and was using a Canon G15. I had previously bought the camera as a backup and decided at the time that i would be happy to use it for sports.

Last weekend was its “live fire” test. After a short trial and error i settled down into a rhythm and im happy with its results.

If i could do the weekend over id
– make sure i packed my charger and topped up over lunch. I got low battery early in saturday afternoon and turned off the display and shot only looking though the viewfinder.
– had a micro SD card on hand. I shot on a SD card and wished i was able to send some of the team photos out via smartphone on the day.
– I should have shot on Manual mode. I had shot most of the weekend in Aperture (Av) mode and trialled going to f4.0 from f2.8 to make sure i was getting most of the action in focus. On Av with auto ISO the camera used a shutter speed of 1/250th of a second which was a little slow when the players were at speed. I should have had it on Manual with f2.8 and 1/500th or 1/ 1000th of a second. I wouldnt be too worried with ISO values up to 800 or 1600. Most of the weekends shots were recorded on ISO 80 or 125.

– Im pretty sure the cameras lens goes to 140mm (35mm equivalent) and i wanted more reach. Dropping the recorded images resolution to M1 and using some digital zoom out to 10x produced acceptable results.

– I also tried the High speed scene mode which could capture 10 shots a second for one second and that worked well. It did come with a cooldown  penalty lag while it was processing and writing to the card. This meant i was unable to get some potential future action and i left the camera on continuous shooting with no focusing adjust between shots which was adaquate.

Micro sd card
Manual mode.
Medium1 with digital zoom 10x
High speed scene.

Film has been scanned

Today i got back my film after dropping it in to be scanned.

Overall i am happy with the result.

It was on the more expensive side to get the film scanned but i saw it as cheap insurance compared to buying a scanner myself($250ish, more for higher quality).

I had used the Olympus OM-40 and two zuiko prime lenses – 28mm and 135mm.

The scans showed some artefacts, possibly from an issue during the development of the film. The film got stuck partway through it processing and some of the last shots were different – i think overprocessed but im not sure.

Im going to take the film experiment a step further and see about getting some slide film and my own scanner. I am not worried about scan time as final image quality was the key goal.

They were scanned at 2400 dpi. Some images were not terribly sharp and i know that scanning at a higher resolution will not give a better output.

For the next round i will be noting the settings of each shot and maybe even taking a digital camera with me to compare against. I will certainly be using a tripod and mirror lockup where available.

I will also be using a canon eos 30 alongside the om40 and also scan in some of the film i shot last year.

Ive also been contemplating buying 3 x 36 rolls and scanning the results, warts and all. If i do that, i will have a hitlist of shots i want to take…..

More to come.

Exploration into film

On wednesday i dropped off a roll of film to be processed. Kodak ektar100 (C41 process). This morning i got the results back and im pretty happy.

I was using the Olympus OM-40 i picked up for around $15 at a second hand shop and two lenses which although second hand looked in great quality. A 135mm f/3.5 and a 28mm. Both were prime lenses so there was no zoom but i made do.

The first shot was of a cockatoo in a tree which was partially cut off because i hadnt wound the roll on enough before starting and the film was already exposed. The next few were of birds while i was filling in time. This showed what the developer said was camera shake. Im not zurprised because the shutter speed was 1/ 60th or 1/ 125th at fastest. Combined with the 135mm zoom any shake would have been magnified.

The sky turned on a beautiful sunset that eveing and i took a few shots.

Because the 36 shot roll was for test purposes i took a few close up shots to test focussing accuracy and im happy.

After i started to get used to the lens i started to experiment and tried some thing different. I tried to frame a bunch of flowers and put them in focus while blurring out the building behinds notable features. It didnt quite work as expected but its a learning experience.

Shortly after i received my 28mm lens which a friend mailed me and took both lenses for a walk. I came across a gathering of people who were opening a place and doing stuff with the media. The official party posed for a picture and i joined in behind them . Without zoom and not wanting to push in front i had to accept that some photographers were also going to have to be in the shot.  I thought one of the others noticed that my camera had an unusual sound and winder but speaking with him later he hadnt.

After that i decided to shoot off tbe rest of the roll and get it processed so i could forward a copy of the opening photo to one of the official party.

So ive concluded the film experiment is still worthwhile to continue although i will be selective on what i shoot and im happy not to get an instant final product like i would in a digital camera if the end result is better.

I have another roll and im happy to try slide film with this camera setup under the right circumstances because i know that wont be cheap to buy or get processed.

My aims are to be a better photographer and assess whether ive got the skills to use a camera ive been eyeing off for some time and although its not cheap the end results can be fantastic in the right photographers hands.

I will see about putting some thumbs of tbe shots up when i get them scanned in, but that may take some time