Tuesday, June 29, 2010

More Picture Styles


As I posted the comparative crops from my swamp tour, I realized that the differences between Picture Styles were made insignificant by the downsizing process -- even for the cropped versions.  Here's a larger image view and another picture style as well as adding sharpness to the Faithful Picture Style.

Standard Picture Style

Faithful Picture Style with +5 Sharpness

Kodachrome Picture Style with +5 Sharpness

My preference is the Faithful style with + 5 sharpness so I'll be using it for a while.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Picture Styles for the 7D


The 7D “Picture Styles” are selectable sets of adjustments to sharpness, contrast, saturation and color tone that are applied to JPEG images. In a way, the Picture Styles are canned RAW conversion and post processing procedures that are applied to RAW image files in-camera. Picture Styles were not available on my 20D or G9 as such so are new to me and I’m trying to learn more about them.

The photos above are crops from one of my swamp tour pictures and compare four of the preset Picture Styles.  As often seems the case, the differences are not so obvious in the cropped blog version.

Instead of Picture Styles, the 20D has Processing Parameter 1 and Parameter 2 options but, in truth, I did not learn to use them. According to the 20D manual, Parameter 1 boosts contrast, saturation and sharpness by +1 as compared to Parameter 2. In the Basic Zone modes, the in-camera JPEG is processed according to Parameter 1; in the Creative Zone modes, an in-camera JPEG is processed according to Parameter 2. In RAW mode, the Parameter setting does not apply so I did not concern myself with it. In addition to the preset Parameters 1 and 2, the 20D has a Black and White parameter as well as customizable Sets 1, 2, 3. Sets 1, 2 and 3 provide for independent adjustments of contrast, saturation, sharpness and color tone.

To be fair, the G9 has a “Scene” mode (SCN on the top right hand dial) that makes adjustments for typical situations such as portraits, landscapes, snow, fireworks, etc. I’ve rarely used the Scene mode because I prefer to shoot in RAW and post process in Photoshop. But I must admit to being sorely tempted by the in-camera JPEG – especially when I’m taking many snapshots at family events. In those situations, I usually shoot RAW+JPEG. With the G9, I can make an adjustment to the JPEG through the “My Colors” function. My Colors includes settings for Vivid, Neutral, Sepia, Black and White and many others. My Colors also has a Custom Color selection in which contrast, sharpness, saturation, red, green, blue and skin tone can be independently tweaked. My normal practice is to turn down the contrast, saturation and red adjustments one notch each. Custom Color settings do not apply to the RAW image but do apply to the JPEG when shooting in RAW+JPEG mode.

“Picture Styles” for the 7D are: Standard, Portrait, Landscape, Neutral, Faithful and Monochrome (Black and White). In addition to these six pre-set styles, there are three User Defined Styles. Also, each pre-set style can be tweaked with respect to contrast, saturation, sharpness and color tone. Tweaked styles remain tweaked until reset to the default values. A tweaked preset style can be saved as a User Defined Style and then the preset returned to its defaults. Canon also provides software, Picture Style Editor, for further customization of Picture Style.

Picture Styles are much more versatile than the Processing Parameter of the 20D and the Custom Color of the G9. For example, there are additional styles available for download from Canon. The Canon RAW conversion program, Digital Photo Professional (DPP), can load Picture Style files and apply the style during RAW conversion. Although I don’t really intend to use DPP, it seems that I should be taking advantage of Picture Styles for my in-camera JPEGs.

In an early post, I switched from the new camera default of "Standard" Picture Style to "Landscape" but I'll be trying "Faithful" with a bit of added sharpness for a while.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Swamp Tour


Although yesterday was another very hot day in south Louisiana, we'd already planned a family get-together that included a swamp tour near Morgan City. I used my Canon 7D with the cheap battery (which worked fine). We were shaded in the pontoon tour boat so I added a bit of fill flash for most of the family shots. I was really more interested in the family shots so my main lens was the Canon 15-85mm zoom. This nice lens has become my main lens for the 7D.

In addition to being hot, the lighting was really too bright and harsh for getting good swamp shots but I tried a few anyway.

The water hyacinth is pretty when in bloom but is actually a major problem because it grows so well and so fast. As result, the water hyacinth is choking our major waterways.

Not much wildlife was stirring and no alligators were seen. In this type of commercial tour, most photographs are grab shots as the boat does by the scene.


Thursday, June 10, 2010

More 7D Batteries

After writing about my new Canon battery I checked availability of the LP-E6 again and found an unbelieveably low price of not quite $14 for two!  I could not resist even while fully expecting to write about how bad they were, etc., etc.  When the batteries arrived, I was surprised to find that the price included not one but two chargers.  I also noticed that the boxes had come apart in shipping; however, all items were in good condition.   In the picture above, the new batteries are on the left. I immediately plugged in both chargers; some 45 minutes later both batteries were fully charged.

Both batteries fit my 7D and seem to work.  I've not really exercised them -- just casual snaps around the house, maybe 50 shots on each battery.  But they do work and have held a charge for several days now.

I don't expect much from these cheap batteries but they do work -- for now anyway.

Sunday, June 6, 2010


It's time to make my annual prediction about the next camera in the Canon PowerShot G series. Last year, I was a bit off but perhaps this is the year I get it right.

Every year since 2000 with the exception of 2005, Canon has introduced a new G series camera. The launching of the next G model is usually in August, September or October (although the G5 was launched in June). When there was no new G series introduced in 2005, the G6 was widely believed to be the last of the breed but the G7 came along to give the G series new life. The last two models, G10 and G11, were launched in October. For 2010, Photokina will be in September so that seems a safe bet for the announcement of the next PowerShot G.

Because there was no G4 or G8, some believe that there will be no G12; however, I believe that the next in the G series will indeed be named G12.

So, what about the new G12? Although the wish lists will soon begin to flow into the discussion forums, I believe that the G12 will simply be a G11 with full HD video. HD video means a new sensor but then every new G series camera has had a new sensor. Even though Canon credited improved high ISO performance to the reduced pixel count (10MP) of the G11, I expect that the G12 will have, uh, 12MP – convenient, eh? To get full HD video, Canon may choose to use a CMOS sensor of its own manufacture instead of buying a CCD from Sony.

As for my own wish list, I'd sure like further improvements in shutter delay. I don't understand why there is any delay at all when a camera is in full manual mode. I'd also like for the G12 to have flash modes and controls like Canon's DSLRs and especially to have the G12 internal flash trigger an external flash (like my 7D).

Although I don't expect a new lens, no doubt the G12 will have a few additional tweaks. Canon always seems to add a few software implemented features and also to drop a few. That Digic chip must be just about fully loaded.

I also expect an updated S90 based on the G12 sensor and including full HD video.

My PowerShot camera system stopped with the G9 but I'd be greatly tempted to update to such a “G12”.

… and Canon's answer to Micro Four Thirds? My bet is that Canon will compete with an APS-C sized CMOS based camera. This camera will not be part of the PowerShot series but let's hope that Canon uses what they've learned from their PowerShot experience. Look for this completely new camera about this time next year or perhaps at PMA in September 2011.