Wednesday, April 29, 2009

+1, +2, +4, +10

The G9 does macro! OK, in the current use of the term “macro”, all cameras seem to have macro capabilities. A previous post, showed how to get even closer closeups (should that be closer macros?) by using reverse mounted lenses or a +4X diopter attachment on the G9. A key consideration is to getting enough distance between camera and subject to adequately light the subject. Closeup lenses are much smaller and easier to use than reverse mounted 35mm lenses. This post compares four lenses: +1, +2, +4 and +10 diopters; each lens looks like a thick filter and is simply screwed into the Lensmate adapter.

The G9 was set at ISO 80, tungsten white balance, Av mode, maximum zoom, small Flexizone focus frame, auto focus , evaluative metering, raw+jpeg with color saturation turned slightly down for the jpeg, and mounted on a tripod. (To digress a moment, just think about all those options!). The Franiec cable release was used to minimize camera movement. The scene is lit from each side with continuous lighting at roughly a 45 degree angle. The camera is also angled at roughly 45 degrees to the scene. The camera and tripod were manually moved and realigned for each shot by trial and error to obtain a minimum focus distance to the mid point of the scene (the 3” label on the scale).

Knowing that limited depth of field is a problem with close-ups, the G9 was set for f5.6 – even though diffraction would not be minimized.

The image below is the basic scene as photographed with the G9 without any attachments. The front of the G9 camera body is about 20 inches from the scene. This image (and all images in this post) is uncropped but reduced in size from the in-camera jpeg.

Next, the +1 diopter lens was screwed into the Lensmate adapter and the camera moved closer. In the image below, the front of the camera is about 15 inches from the scene.

For the shot below, the +1 diopter lens was removed and replaced with a +2 diopter lens. At this distance, the G9 exposure system was tricked a bit by the black scale so I dialed in an exposure compensation of -2/3. The camera was 12 inches from the scene.

Next, the +2 was replaced by a +4 diopter lens. For the image below, the camera was moved to about 10 inches from the scene and exposure compensation changed to -1.

Next, the +4 diopter lens was replaced by the +10 lens. The camera was moved to 6 inches from the scene and exposure compensation was changed to minus 1-1/3. The two shots below were taken by moving the scene. Notice the extremely short depth of field. In fact, by moving the scene around a bit and playing with manual focus, I found that the subject must be within a distance of 6 to 7 inches when the G9 is at max zoom and fitted with the +10 diopter lens.

For the last shot, I returned to the +1 diopter lens but decreased the zoom. Placing the G9 in macro focus mode, I zoomed in until the “flower” (focus icon on the G9 LCD) turned gray (just short of the yellow line on the zoom display). Then the camera was placed as close as possible to the scene while still obtaining focus. This distance was about 10 inches (had been 15 inches at max zoom).

The built-in macro feature of the G9 is very useful but a simple set of screw-in close-up lenses can improve macro capability and flexibility significantly – and are easy to use. Try it!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

First Easter Lily

This is the first Easter Lily of the season for my house. Traditionally, the Easter Lily is supposed to blossom at Easter; however, this is largely controlled by commercial growers who use greenhouses to match the variations of the Easter schedule. This particular Easter Lily was transplanted last year from three potted plants placed in our garden three years ago. Those three plants produced lots of bulbs and I moved many of them to other places. Surprisingly (I don't have a green thumb, to say the least), every bit of a bulb that I transplanted has survived. The original site is probably overpopulated but we'll soon have many more Easter Lilies.

This picture was taken with the Canon G9 and converted from the raw file using Adobe Camera Raw in a rather straightforward process.


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Visual Science Lab

I just added Kirk Tuck's "Visual Science Lab" blog to my list of favorite blogs. Kirk Tuck is a professional photographer -- among other things -- and the author of "Minimalist Lighting" which I found helpful and a good read as well for flash photography. Not to mention that he enjoys using a G9 and G10 as needed or just for the challenge of compact camera photography. His blog is a bit different and thought provoking as well.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Craftsman

This is the Craftsman Swiss Army Knife that I gave my dad some years ago. It was an appropriate gift because my dad was also a craftsman. The Craftsman knife is posed on my dad’s heavy workbench in his shop.

I’ve written about my dad in a number of these posts, including his memoirs , his first hammer and the violin that he made.

Here are the links to other Swiss Army Knife photos posted in this blog and the link to my SmugMug gallery of Swiss Army Knife photos.


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

G10 in TOP 10

Mike Johnston's The Online Photographer is one of the best photography blogs around. I read it every day and provide a link to TOP in this blog. Mike is currently describing his top ten recommended cameras. Today's recommendation is the Canon G10.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Raw or JPEG?

Photography is so useful, so interesting and the new digital cameras so powerful and intriguing that photography forums on the Internet are constantly being visited by newcomers. Naturally, many of these new or upgraded photographers ask the same questions. One such question – especially for those who wish to become a bit more serious about photography – is “Should I shot in JPEG or Raw?” However innocently the question is asked (and it is not always innocently asked), the asking is like poking a stick into a hornet’s nest. Raw vs JPEG is an ongoing debate that is apparently irresolvable to many but obvious to some.

The JPEG delivered by our cameras is post processed from the raw data in-camera. Some of the in-camera post processing parameters can be tweaked a bit to suit personal tastes. Certainly the in-camera JPEG can be a fine picture and it is used by many (most? almost all?) photographers. Just as certainly -- in fact, absolutely -- the JPEG contains less information than the original raw image file because the JPEG is post processed and lossy compressed to an 8 bit basis from that 12 bit (Powershot G series) raw "negative".

Whether an individual can make a "better" picture from raw than the Canon software engineers (as directed by Canon marketing) do from the in-camera JPEG is a function of their own skills and available time. If someone tells me that they can make a better picture from raw than is delivered by the in-camera JPEG then I believe them. But when someone tells me that they cannot improve on the in-camera JPEG then I believe them as well. I even believe those who say that their post processed picture from the in-camera JPEG is better than their post processed picture from raw!

There is a place for both the in-camera JPEG and post processed raw images. Think about how you intend to use the camera and your pictures. For snapshot sized prints, computer monitor sized images and even HD-TV sized images, it probably does not matter a lot whether you use the in-camera JPEG or post process your own from the raw file -- especially if you select the correct white balance, get the exposure right and have tweaked the in-camera adjustments ("My Colors") for the JPEG to your own tastes. On the other hand, if your goal is a large print (say, 12x18 inches), if you've been forced to use a high ISO or if you choose to crop significantly then you should consider shooting in raw. Also, raw image files are somewhat more forgiving because exposure and white balance can be adjusted during conversion of the raw file (I know, I know … get it right the first time, etc., etc.)

I almost always get a raw image file from my G9. Sometimes I shoot in raw only and sometimes using raw+JPEG. I rarely shoot JPEG only. I'm not a pro; there are pros shooting raw and pros shooting JPEG. I'm glad that we have a choice.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

SAK at the Piano


Actually, he's not much of a piano player but, like the others in my collection, enjoys getting out of the box on occasion.


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

April G11 Day

Last fall, I really thought that a “G11” would be launched about now. I’d already made my predictions (not too bad either!) about the G10 but just had a feeling about the G11 coming more quickly than would be expected based on the normal product cycle.

To my way of thinking, the G11 would be a CMOS evolution of the G9/10 with, perhaps, a slightly larger, less dense, sensor. Instead, Canon choose to make the SX1 IS their first CMOS Powershot camera. Unfortunately – actually, to my surprise – the SX1 IS has received a very lukewarm review from DPreview. I can only assume that there are more problems in manufacturing a high quality small CMOS sensor that I (and perhaps Canon as well) anticipated.

But today, April Fool’s Day, is a good day for “reporting” that the G11 has been launched. I bit on the first report (won’t tell you where) and then swore off the rumor and blog sites for a while.

Meanwhile, the (real) “G” camera getting all the publicity is the Panasonic GH1. No doubt the reception to the GH1 will be a contributing factor in the continued evolution of the Canon G series but it looks like we’ll have to wait a while longer for that "G11" -- or whatever it will be called.