Tuesday, February 01, 2011

A little weep and camera surprises

Our drinking water filter is installed!  Well, nearly.  There's just a little weep from where the pipe runs from below into the tap.  I hope to put that right on my next visit.  Pete's tank cutter made a very neat mounting hole for the tap, although you have to tighten it so hard it feels like something is going to break before the punch cuts through.  Now we have filtered water we can dispense with the 5 litre bottles we have been filling up at water taps and fill the kettle from Herbie's main water tank.  It'll be interesting in a few months to look at the filter and see what sort of gunge it collects.

Now onto cameras.  A few readers commented on my new camera posting so I thought I'd report on preliminary findings, which are not what I expected.  If you have an up to date SLR you might know these things, but my SLR knowledge was from the good old days of film, so I didn't

1. Does the SLR produce a sharper image than my Lumix compact?

Not so far.  At least the big zoom lens doesn't.  It has to be said that the Leica lens in the Lumix is amazingly sharp. Up until now I have use the SLR only in low light conditions and I have been using a big heavy lens to take handheld shots at long exposure times ( like a tenth of a second) - a recipe for camera shake.  Even then the image stabiliser in the Canon lens is amazing.  At full zoom, looking at a clock face, the clock numbers were dancing about as my hand wavered.  Then as I half depress the shutter button, the image stabiliser comes on (you can just hear it whirring) and it's just like an unseen person has grasped my wrists and steadied my hand.steadied my hand and the image stands still.  I haven't clue how they do it.

2. Does the SLR give better portrait shots?

Oh Yes!  With this biggish lens I do get one of the things I wanted, which is the ability to narrow the depth of field to give nice blurry backgrounds to the subject, which brings out the subject so much better.

3. What about colour and exposure?

This is the biggest surprise because the difference is very striking.  The range and gradation of colour and light tones on the SLR is something I hadn't expected.  Quite dramatic.  It tends to make some shots quite atmospheric, especially in low light.  Maybe this is because I am shooting in RAW format, or maybe its something to do with the lens or the sensor.  I don't know, but I like it.

4.  Does it take ages to set up a shot with manual controls?

Surprisingly not, although it needs practice.  Instead of trawling through menus to set this and that parameter, the main ones have their own button and a little finger wheel selects the level. Most things can be done without taking the camera away from the eye.  I especially like how I can quickly pick the focusing spot from a selection of 9 points on the screen.

5 Anything else?  Something I haven't explored much yet but I know is going to be useful is the rapid firing of multiple shots.  The Canon can rattle off 6 in a second.  If you ever have to photograph a toddler you will know why this is good.  They just won't stand still and the compact takes so long to fire that I always miss the moment.  Now I think I have a sporting chance of getting the shot.

6. Any examples?  Just a couple. Remember these are reduced in quality to make them bloggable.

Well on the first day I wandered round the churchyard behind our house.  The light was fading as I grabbed this shot of an er, unusual grave.  Someone needs a spelling lesson.  Not a sharp picture as it was a slow exposure, but the colours have a richness in the gloom.  Click on it to see it big.

 A quickly snatched shot as we left the boat the other day, showing how easy it is to get a defocussed background.  Kath looks pale but she was 'cos it was flippin' freezing.

Well there are some first impressions.  I hope to have some better examples as I get more skilled and we have more things to shoot at.


Halfie said...

Interesting to read your experiences with an SLR, Neil. Like you, I had (still have) an SLR from the days of film. I had imagined that the only difference would be that a DSLR doesn't record onto film. I had thought that for focus you would rotate a focus ring on the lens - don't you have to do that? I hadn't thought about image stabilisation, but it's been common on video camera for years now, so not that surprising, really.

Yes, my biggest gripe with my compact is that it's difficult/impossible to choose precisely the focus I want - and depth of field, of course.

Isn't the biggest difference that you're much more likely to carry your compact camera with you than a bulky SLR?

Neil Corbett said...

Most, if not all modern SLRs have autofocus lenses with motors in them, although they also have a manual over ride where you rotate the lens yourself. Mine has a number of focusing modes including one which will stay focused on a moving object.

There's a whole load of stuff now that you couldn't do on an old SLR like choosing colour schemes and white balance and ISO for any shot. The flash is also a lot cleverer.

But yes, the size and weight are a disadvantage and that's why I will also keep my compact

Martin said...

Who needs a spelling lesson?