25 april 2010, Sun damage to your sensor?
I told you yesterday that I was shooting a landscape when I heard the ducklings in a ditch. I still owe you the landscape. Every once in a while you have to take a risk in life. I faintly remembered having read somewhere that I should not point the camera in the direction of the sun. After taking several shots I slowly started to realize the probable reason for that. The Panasonic Lumix G1 is a mirrorless camera. The viewfinder image doesn't come via the mirror, but directly from the sensor. The shutterspeed was 1/1300 sec. if I remember it correctly. That's not very long. But with a mirrorless camera if I take half a minute to compose the image, the lens functions as a loupe burning a hole in the sensor (a bit like what kids do when they use a loupe to burne a hole in a piece of paper). I took four shots in about two minutes. Fortunately, the bit about burning a hole in your sensor is just a theory. I took a shot of the wall of my interior just a few minutes ago. Both ISO 100 and ISO 1600, two stops underexposed. There are no particularly noisy areas on the images where I exposed the sensor to the sun. Well, at ISO 1600, two stops underexposed, there is noise everywhere frankly. But for the rest there's nothing unusual, no loss of detail or whatever in the images I took after this one.
I am not going to recommend putting your camera on a tripod, pointing it in the direction of the sun and then take fifteen minutes or so to compose an image. But no more than a few seconds, shooting handheld; I doubt that will cause any damage. I cannot be held responsible if you do this yourself! If your camera manufacturer warns you in the manual not to do this, it is you responsibility if you choose to ignore it. NEVER point a DSLR in the direction of the sun (especially if you are using a tele) while you are looking through the viewfinder!
Cherry trees in spring, Amelisweerd Estate, Utrecht, the Netherlands
Panasonic Lumix G1, Lumix G Vario f4/7-14mm at 7mm, 1/1300 at f5.6, ISO 100, handheld
24 april 2010, Ducklings
I couldn't keep this one from you. A sure sign of spring. Finally!! We had a long winter with a lot of snow this year. Everything is a few weeks later than it normally is. I was shooting a landscape when I heard some strange sounds in the ditch to my right. Using the articulated screen of the G1 I could shoot the 45-200 zoom at 150mm (300mm equiv.) stretching my arm to get the camera close to the water and still see what I was shooting. The contrast detection AF of the mirrorless G1 worked flawlessly and is pretty fast. It may not be good enough yet for fast action but it is good enough for a situation like this. The sharpness of this lens is quite Ok up to 150mm but it gets a bit soft beyond that. We could use an F4/120-300mm or an F4/300mm. It is a pity the Olympus f2.8-f3.5/50-200mm doesn't autofocus on the G1.
Ducklings (Anas platyrhynchos) "Amelisweerd", Utrecht
Panasonic Lumix G1, Lumix G Vario 45-200mm at 150mm, 1/500 at f5.6, ISO 100, handheld
Ducklings (Anas platyrhynchos) "Amelisweerd", Utrecht
22 april 2010, Marsh Marigold
Another image I shot using the G1 and the standard 14-45mm zoom that comes with it. I don't know wether it is my raw converter (Bibble5 Pro for Linux) or the camera, but I keep getting blown out highlights in this type of scene (sunshine, very bright subject). The version I am showing here was exposed at -1.3. I used the A(perture)-mode and multimetering. If in that mode the focusing area is on the yellow flowers in the foreground (as it was in this case) you'd assume that the camera would correct exposure rather strongly for that. But it does not! It completely blows out the yellow flowers (particularly the red channel) if you do not correct exposure. And the strangest part of it is that it doesn't show up in the separate red histogram when you review the image on the LCD. I shoot raw only, but the histograms during review on the LCD apply to a jpg that is temporarily generated by the camera. So I have to assume that this jpg does not really represent what is in the raw file. Perhaps I should try shooting raw + jpg to see what the camera jpegs look like. Anyway, apart from this I am still very satisfied with the camera and the 14-45 kit lens. Incredible resolution for a sensor this small, incredible lens with stabilizer (Mega OIS) and a silent built-in AF-motor for what is basically just a few dollars (compare that to Nikon!).
Marsh Marigold, Caltha palustris
De Veenhoop, Friesland, The Netherlands
Panasonic Lumix G1, Lumix G Vario 14-45mm at 18mm, 1/125 at f11, ISO 100, polarizer, beanbag
19 april 2010, No contrails for a change
We are experiencing something unique here. For something like four or five days now air traffic has come to a halt over most of Europe because ashes from an icelandic vulcano linger high in the atmosphere. Contrails (short for "condensation trails") or vapour trails are basically artificial clouds that are the visible trails of condensed water vapour made by the exhaust of aircraft engines (source: Wikipedia). Contrails are the worst nightmare of landscape photographers. They spoil blue skies and sunsets and they always show up where you don't want them: in remote places where the influences of civilization ought to be absent. And in the past few days I have not seen a single one of them. I haven't been in a remote place in the past few days, but I do have a blue sky without contrails shot this afternoon.
Marsh Marigold, Caltha palustris
De Veenhoop, Friesland, The Netherlands
Panasonic Lumix G1, Lumix G Vario 14-45mm at 30mm, 1/320 at f5.6, ISO 100, polarizer, beanbag
15 april 2010, spring flowers
Lesser Celandine / Speenkruid Ranunculus ficaria
Panasonic Lumix G1, Lumix G Vario 14-45mm at 45mm, 1/640 at f5.6, ISO 100, beanbag
I had some spare time in between two meetings in Utrecht yesterday. The Amelisweerd Estate just outside Utrecht dates back to at least the 14th Century. Early in spring Lesser Celandine (Ranunculus ficaria) and the European Wood Anemone (Anemone nemorosa) can be found in the surrounding wood lands and meadows. Both species are very common, especially the Lesser Celandine.
I used the Panasonic G1 with the 14-45 standard zoom. The articulated LCD makes shooting at ground level very easy. Additionally the small micro four thirds sensor gives me some extra depth of field. I used the A-setting and multimetering and corrected the exposure with one stop (-2/3 and -1 stop) in both cases. Checking the histograms for the individual colors afterwards. Being able to check the histograms is an essential feature if you have to cope with difficult light and very bright subjects in the field. The yellow flowers were shot in the sun. With flowers like that it is very hard to avoid blown highlights on the yellow flower leaves (they are very reflective in some spots). Despite the fact that I underexposed considerably and checked the histograms there were still some blown, specular highlights that did not show up in the histograms. I cloned away the most distracting spots.
The white anemones were shot when there was a cloud in front of the sun. I saw the clouds coming and decided to wait in order to avoid distracting shadows and blown out detail in the white flowers. Bright white clouds are a bit like giant diffusers.
Shooting flowers (almost) in close up with the G1 requires the use of manual focus. You cannot be sure exacly where the camera focuses if you use AF because the AF area on the screen is larger than the subject. So I focused manually on the first two white flowers in the foreground and stopped the lens down to f11 for some extra depth of field. The flowers directly behind the two in the foreground may look sharp at this resolution, but at 100% they are not. Unfortunately the Lumix lenses lack a depth of field scale.
Wood Anemone / Bosanemoon, Anemone nemorosa
Panasonic Lumix G1, Lumix G Vario 14-45mm at 21mm, 1/30 at f11, ISO 100, tripod
Two of the largest European lizards. The Ocellated Lizard is the largest of the two. It can be up to 80 centimeters (a little less than 3 feet) from the head to the end of its tail. This individual was about 60 centimeters, very fast and very aware of what was happening. A Tokina ATX-AF 2.8/300mm was pointed in its direction and I was on my belly behind it in a rather awkward position between some rocks. The Tokina 2.8/300mm is one of the sharpest lenses I have ever owned and I still sometimes regret the day I traded it for my Nikkor 80-400 VR.
12 april 2010, Lizards in the Sierra de Gredos, Spain
Ocellated lizard, Lacerta lepida or Timon lepidus
Nikon F100, Tokina ATX-AF 2.8/300mm, Scanned from Fuji Velvia, beanbag
The other one is a little smaller (up to 40-50 centimeters snout to tail end). It's a Schreibers Green Lizard (Lacerta schreiberi). What's remarkable about it are its colors (it has a brown, regenerated tail, yellow-green body and bright blue head). This was shot in May in the mating season at an altitude of 1800 meters above sealevel in the Sierra de Gredos in Spain. That is at the absolute outer edge of what is considered a suitable habitat for it. I saw several other individuals that day, all with a similar colordistribution. My Collins Field Guide mentions blue sides of the head in the mating season, but not this. If you search for images in Google, however, you wil find images of individuals with a similar color pattern. By the way, the Nikkor 2.8/80-200mm that I used for this shot is not nearly as sharp (at 200mm) as the Tokina ATX AF 2.8/300mm.
Schreibers Green Lizard, Lacerta schreiberi
Nikon F100, Nikkor AF 2.8/80-200mm at 200mm, Scanned from Fuji Velvia, tripod
It's not the right time of year for cornflowers. That will take two more months or so. But I noticed that my website gets 10-20 hits every month from people typing "korenbloemen" (the Dutch word for cornflowers) as a search word in Google. I didn't even know there were cornflowers on my site. But it turned out that somewhere, in an old menu structure there is a page showing images that I once used for an exhibition of my work. This is an image that you should see as a 13 x 19 inch print. The cornflowers are all out of focus. They are just heavenly blue "blobs". The "corn" on the other hand is sharp and detailed. I kept the flowers out of focus using the Nikkor 80-400 VR at 340mm and f5.6, resulting in a shallow depth of field. For all those people searching for cornflowers or korenbloemen, here they are!
8 april 2010, Cornflowers
Korenbloemen / Cornflowers
Nikon D100, Nikkor 4.0-5.6/80-400 at 340mm, 1/500 sec at f5.6, tripod
I've been playing around with a narcissus against a bright white background (you've got to do something when it's raining). I used the Panasonic G1 and the lumix G Vario 45-200mm zoom, a tripod, a small reflector and a bright white background. For "studioshots" like this I almost always use available light coming in through the window. If I need any fill lights I simply use a reflector. The remaining bit of shadow makes it a more natural looking image. You often get long shutterspeeds this way, but since there's no wind indoors and I use a tripod the chances of unsharp images are minimal. The lens was at 115mm and stopped down to f10. With the 4/3 sensor that's the equivalent of f20 on a full frame camera. So depth of field is quite large. I selected the background and filled it with pure white (ffffff) afterwards in the software. Even if you use a bright white background, with a bright yellow flower it is not easy to burn the background without overexposing the flower in camera.
27 March 2010, Daffodil (Narcissus)
Panasonic Lumix G1, Lumix G Vario 4.0-5.6/45-200 at 115mm, 1.6 sec at f10, tripod
24 March 2010, Architecture with the Panasonic Lumix G Vario 4.0/7-14mm
There's wide and there's very, very wide. The Lumix G Vario 4.0/7-14mm at 7 mm is the equivalent of a 14mm wide angle on a full frame camera. Yesterday I used the first sunny spells and blue skies of this spring to shoot some buildings with it. I am not going to call it architecture photography, because that's simply not something that I've ever really tried to master. I just wanted to get an idea of what it would look like if I used it for a subject like this.
I think I've mentioned it here before: this Panasonic wide angle zoom for micro four thirds is ridiculously sharp, especially in the center of the frame. If you move your mouse over the first image you will get a 100% crop of the lower left part of the wooden building. You can see the nails in the wood (their size is only 1-2 pixels!). It's not a piramid shaped building, by the way. The falling lines are caused by the extreme wide angle.
Megahout, Drachten, the Netherlands
Panasonic Lumix G1, Lumix G Vario 4.0/7-14mm at 7mm, 1/800sec at f5.6 (-2/3), handheld
Liudger School Building, Drachten, the Netherlands
Panasonic Lumix G1, Lumix G Vario 4.0/7-14mm at 7mm, 1/500sec at f5.6, handheld