Monday, February 18, 2013

And it's another win to the X100

Well, after a wonderful weekend away up in the Western Ghats with friends and fellow photographers, my opinion of the X100 goes up even further. I used the 5D3 only for Macro’s (more on this later), and needless to say the ergonomics and control make it a pleasure to use for this specific purpose. However when we went out for a trek and to do some birding, it stayed in the guesthouse. What I took was the DP2M (and my RRS tripod) and the X100. In general I found myself using the DP2M/tripod for landscapes, I bracketed both for HDR and so that I would have some different exposures to play with…. India tends to have a wide DR and I have learned that nailing the DP2M exposure is important for ultimate results. The X100 was used for snaps and for macro, or – ‘semi macro’ -  principally flowers.

Water lilly with spider: X100

Acacia flower with ants: X100

 This time of year its extremely dusty and it was a positive pleasure not having to worry about sensor dust spots, even though the 5D3’s sensor shaker thingy works pretty bloody well.
The X100 is a little more ‘quirky’ than the other cameras to be sure but I find that I’m really beginning to find my way around it, although I still take the occasional picture with the lens cap on, lol…..
And when I do the camera goes into a prolonged sulk, which switching it off and on again does not solve. Probably taking the battery out would do the job, but that means taking the half case off which is a bit of a hassle. It’s a good job I have a 16 Gig card and that the battery lasts better than the DP2M. In fact I did not have to change the battery and I took a few hundred pictures. I usually have the rear screen turned off and I do not chimp, which I guess must help.
Unlike the DP2M which usually gives me around 45 pictures!
Back home and in front of my Mac and a number of things are confirmed. Firstly the X100 continues to amaze, it simply takes great pictures, I love how it handles mistiness and subtle tones and it always looks to me like it’s much more than 12 MP in terms of resolution. I still can’t put my finger fully on it but I find myself taking my best photos with this camera.
Also I’m not keen on the average result I’m getting with the DP2M with HDR and tonemapping, not sure what it is, but I’m bored with HDR these days anyway, certainly I don’t miss absence of wide exposure bracketing on the X100. However, once again my jaw drops when I look at the DP2M files in LR. The only thing I’m doing in SPP at the moment is dropping sharpness by 0.5 then exporting to LR4. Reflections, water, detailed foregrounds, and yes, the colours I’m getting are incredible and for that the DP2M seems to trump all comers but I’m more convinced than ever that the X100 gives me the photographs I prefer.

 Water Lilly: EOS 5D3, Sigma 150 mm f2.8 Macro

Water Lillies: Sigma DP2M

Coming back to Macro, I have been comparing photos of water lilies taken with my 5D3 /Sigma 150mm macro combination and the DP2M. And , enlarged the DP2M is almost as good resolution wise and better in overall rendering ( to my eyes anyway). I’m looking forward to seeing some decent user files from the DP3M.
So now I’m thinking, if the X100 is so nice, maybe I should sell all my gear and just get an M9 with a 35 mm and be done with it…..

A Western Ghats Scene: DP2M

Friday, February 15, 2013

I'm sooo fickle....

Took some photo's on my way to work this morning with the X100 and I am reminded of just how fab this little camera really is. Set it up and snap away and the pictures always seem to come out great! ( OMG I'm turning into Ken Rockwell!)
But seriously, I needed reminding that this camera can rival a DSLR for mid aperture 35mm FL, no , actually it does more than that it seems to have a unique colour signature that makes my photos look somehow 'artistic'. It's all so effortless which is in stark contrast to the size and weight  of my 5D3 and the 'precision instrument' aesthetic of the DP2M.
Whatever, I'm taking a run down the coast, South of Mumbai again this weekend and will be looking for Foveonesque images!

Old and new. X100

Monorail: X100

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

I realise that I have said little if anything about my 'other' compact, my Canon Powershot G1X. And it is sitting at the moment is a cupboard in my partners house in the South of France. Not an easy camera to love... BUT a camera that is extremely capable. the very sharp lens and the large ( almost APS-C) sensor work together wonderfully well to produce some fabulous details and colour that I would say are for the most part indistinguishable from an APS-C DSLR. And what is more, if push comes to shove, better overall ( in my opinion) than the files from the X100 ( although it's close).
The G1X is hobbled by a hesitant AF and no macro ability, the less said about the OVF the better...
It is however very decent camera, it has the articulating LCD and a pretty good UI, very good IS, is fantastic for HDR and consistently surprises me with its results.
Is there room for it in my life with a DP2M, an X100 and a 5D3??? Hmm, not sure, but I reckon I'll keep it as resale value is not much and I'd always take it along if I'm not packing the DSLR, its got the zoom and the res for nice landscapes.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

A weekend of photography

I have not been blogging because I have been too busy taking photographs and without further ado I'll give my further thoughts on the DSLR vs compact debate as well as my own preferences for the three camaras I've been using:

Firstly, although the X100 is great, it's much more of a snapshot device, handing to click a few, admittedly high quality snaps and te quality is great but can't stand up to a 5D3 or the DP2M of course. So I can see it will be used for street and when I'm in the act of travelling. But if I'm off out to actually take photographs then it will not be my camera of choice.

The footbridge at Karnala: X100

Yesterday I did a trek in a local jungle reserve and took the DP2M and the X100, it was fantastic not
being encumbered whilst hiking but the X100 tended to stay in my shoulder bag. The DP2M acquitted it'self well hand held so long as the shutter speed was kept over 125th. Aperture wise, the pundits are correct, it's very sharp wide open so no issues ( except  DOF of coure) there.

Banyan trees: DP2M

Today I took the whole kit: 5D3 and a heap of lenses, tripod, DP2M, X100 and asked my driver to take me to Gardeshwar for some Western Ghats landscapes.  Had a great morning and came back and spent a happy couple of hours going through the files. Straight away, the 5D3 came good and I must say I was great to use, I do like a 'big' camera....

'That' hill, Gardeshwar early morning light: 5D3. 24-105L 

However, using the tripod I did have the chance to compare the 5D3's output with the DP2M and sure enough, the '15' MP DP2M ( to my eyes) clearly out-resolves the 5D3. I also tried some HDR and some three vertical frame stitched panos. The Panos are astonishing, and I do quite like the 'hyper-reality effect that HDR/Foveon produces if the light is right. Here's the thing however, and this is a general remark about the DP2M's output: If you want to see the full, jaw dropping rez of the DP2M you need to see the whole file on a big screen or ( and I'm looking forward to this) printed large. On a small screen it's very nice but you just don't get the really Foveon experience. Of course you can crop as I have alluded to earlier and thats very nice and quite handy but the viewer has not idea that they are looking at a small crop from a much bigger picture...

Early morning at Gardeshwar: DP2M tight crop

So, I'm really enjoying the DP2M experience and absolutely cannot wait to get it to the South of France in a couple of weeks time and I think I'm going to have to make some 20x30 prints as soon as I can. Whoo-Hoo!

The place next door: DP2M

I've just posted this on my Flickr site at:

The full size jpeg shows of the 'Foveon' look very nicely, unfortunately Flickr won't let me upload the 90 MB TIFF!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Work! It gets in the way of photography

A problem with working in Mumbai is that during the week, if it is light, I’m at work and at work the photo opportunities are limited to say the least. This means that I am forced to go as much as five days in a row with out taking a picture.  I’ve photographed the crap out of my apartment, macro, pano, HDR, abstract and combinations of  all of the above and so all I can do of an evening is browse Flickr, check out the forums, write my blogs and plan the weekends photographic outings. This weekend I want to find some high ground for Foveon landscapes if the smog lifts a little and I think I may take a trip down into South Mumbai to check out some camera stores as I want to get some filters for the DP2M and X100, a CP and an ND grad at least. While there I may try some street with the X100. I really cannot imagine using the DP2M for street and as I have the X100 so why bother anyway, having said that my previous Mumbai street sessions have been with the 5D3 and Sigma 50….
Reading the forums does tend to irritate my GAS and all this talk of NEX’s and OMD’s does pique my interest but I am absolutely determined to be strong and to resist, there are even times when I think that a Leica M10 is maybe the way to go, you know, sell everything and just have an M10 and a ‘lux. And then there’s the certainty that if I did succumb and actually bought an OMD there would be a new and better version out the next day so I must make myself wait for a while ( a couple of months at least, lol)
Get thee behind me GAS!
Anyway there’s a breeze this morning and a chill wind which has all my Indian colleagues complaining about the cold and the local newspapers giving advice about eating ‘hearty’ food and dressing up warm to keep colds and flu at bay ( it’s actually a balmy 17 or 18 C and by midday will be 28 or so). But I digress, the breeze is clearing the smog which  has been making landscape photography difficult the last couple of weeks. Back in France my partner is telling me that the air is cold and clear, the sky is blue and that the mountains are covered in pure white snow that glistens in the sunlight. Agh! The curse of the landscape photographer seems to be that conditions are always perfect somewhere else.
But work I must and anyway, three weeks today I fly to France for five weeks so mustn’t complain. The DP2M in the South of France has my mouth watering I have to say.

Honeymoon Period Syndrome

‘Honeymoon Period Syndrome’, henceforth known as HPS is I suspect a sister to the well-known ‘Gear Acquisition Syndrome’ which I know some of us suffer from.
We are all well aware of all the wise statements about it not being the camera but the photographer I am sure, but there is just something very inspiring about a new piece of kit. That said there have been cameras that I simply have not got on with, the EOS 7D springs to mind as a camera I didn’t like particularly, well, not the camera as such but more the photographs I took, so perhaps it was me, whatever…
I loved my old EOS 1D2n, with it’s mighty 8.2 MP, it enabled me to take some of my all time favorite action shots. But it is a difficult thing to quantify. Perhaps because there are so many reasons to love or hate a piece of kit.  I amplified the honeymoon period with the X100 by taking it to France and leaving the DSLR in India, forcing me to use it all the time, and I fell in love with it. In fact, if I could only have one camera it would be the X100.
Then the DP2M arrived on the scene. At first our relationship was tentative, I was in love with the X100 and the DP2M is hardly a loveable creature, all austere and boxy. But then I saw the output and frankly, now it’s honeymoon time again!

Like many other users have commented, it’s when you get home and in front of the computer that the real excitement starts and opening up the freshly converted TIFFs in LR4 almost always makes me smile and sometimes even gasp…
Not that using the camera in the field is exactly horrid, in fact there are a number of things that I enjoy about using it:

-       It has a very nice and simple, easy to navigate UI
-       It is almost comically understated and to the casual observer looks like a $50 Chinese knock off made for people who cannot afford a ‘proper’ camera
o   It does not look intimidating
o   It looks hilarious mounted on my RRS BH 55 ballhead
-       The AF is reasonably quick and very accurate
-       It is solidly built and nicely metallic feeling

So I’m in the honeymoon period with the DP2M, I wonder how long it will last? There is one particular threat looming on the horizon, however, and that’s the thought of mounting my canon 400 f5.6L on an Olympus OMD. I really must put that thought out of my mind; it’s the photographer not the camera dammit

Forums discussing Foveon, you’ve got to laugh!

Firstly, I am utterly amazed at the number of people who like to post to forums simply to argue the toss. People who are happy to admit that they have not actually tried a camera ( insert any other high tech device/car/etc)  but however, are happy to rant on about it’s shortcomings. What an utter joke!
Then there are those people who get all steamed up and start ranting and making accusations, getting their facts mixed up and generally making complete prats of themselves, great fun to read I have to say and long may it continue, I love it. FM and DP review are just such good value in this respect.

Then there are the Fanboys, they’ve bought a camera ( doubtless after much forum lurking and review reading) and now they are going to defend their position, their glossy new purchase can do no wrong, it’s as laughable as the trolls who claim that the camera in question is ‘junk’.

It’s not uncommon when down the pub of an evening, particularly as the evening draws on, to hear sports pundits droning on and on about how a team manager,  is an complete idiot and how he or she could not manage a ‘piss up in a brewery’ etc, You know the type… Well the forums are also full of these clowns who reckon that they could run a multi billion dollar business/develop ultra high technology devices better than the highly experienced and skilled people who actually do the job and have to cope with the day to day realities of the economy/the laws of physics/supply and demand etc etc.

And of course all of the above applies in spades when it comes to Sigma/Foveon.

I have to say that it’s great working with a device that creates so much hot air!

For the record, I’ve now owned my DP2M for three weeks and have taken around 400 shots with it and as many commentators have stated:

11)   It has no Zoom, well duh… It’s like the engineers who designed it somehow ‘forgot’ that that’s what sells cameras… Idiots! Sack the lot of ‘em. My X100 and my GRD3 don’t have zooms either and yes, they’re ‘junk’ too!
22)   Non interchangeable lens! What were you thinking Sigma? I mean no other camera company has ever made such an elementary mistake. Sigma will obviously be bankrupt very soon.
33)   No viewfinder. Well, I hadn’t noticed that before I bought mine. I think I might put the camera in the trash now. No viewfinder, whatever next?
44)   No flash! OMG No flash. What ,you mean like a 1DX?
55)   Boxy. Yes, like a Volvo, and they’re ‘junk’ too.
66)  Low ISO, you have to use on a tripod. What can I say! A tripod! Why those engineers at Sigma have not been strung up for this most horrendous of design failures I’ll never know. I mean, who ever uses tripods these days?
77)   Slow auto focus. Yes, I mean it takes what, at least a second, I just get so bored waiting for that       whole second to pass, I think I’ll have to kill myself.
88)           Slow lens. F2.8! Imagine! Completely risable compared to the fast f2 of the X100.
99)          No built in image stabilization… When was this camera designed? 1950?
110)     Less than optimal software. Anybody tried using iTunes lately?
111)     Strange colours. Sometimes, yes, I agree.

So…. Clearly this camera is such a heap of rubbish that anybody actually foolish enough to part with the cash is either an idiot, an employee of Sigma, or somebody who has been ‘duped’ by the advertising. And anybody who dares to say anything positive must clearly be a rabid Sigma fanboy or an incompetent photographer.

Oh yes, the photographs it takes, most of the time, are utterly incredible but I don’t suppose this is important…..