As some regular readers may be aware, I have recently added to my equipment with a Sony A7r. It’s an impressive piece of equipment and is capable of resolving an amazing amount of detail with the right lenses. If you’re not aware of the specification, the sensor is 36Mpixels and it has no antialiasing filter so that you can achieve optimal sharpness. The image you see at the top of this post was captured using the Sony.
Of course, all this resolution places huge demands on your lenses so that any softness will become immediately evident. I’m sure if you are a Canon or a Nikon user you will have heard the comments that with the top of the range cameras you need top class professional lenses. I recall when I bought a Canon 5D MKII a number of years back it was deemed necessary to use L series lenses. With the Nikon D800, I read similar comments about needing the best Nikkor lenses.
Now take a look at the image below. Be sure to click the image to review it at full resolution. It’s of a section of the above image viewed at 100% magnification. There is also a second image shown, also magnified to the same location. Before reading on I would like you to decide which image has resolved the best.
Both images have been sharpened and processed similarly. The one on the left was shot using a Canon 24-70L f/4.0 at f/11 mounted onto the Sony (zoomed to 35mm). The full retail price of this lens is £1,100. The other image was shot using a Canon 35mm FD lens bought on ebay for less than £35. This isn’t even a late version of the lens. It’s an early example and it’s only single coated.
Now you might be thinking surely this is a fluke but we repeated the experiment using an old 24mm FD prime and also a 70-210 zoom. The results are all similar. Even the zoom lens matched up to the 70-200L zoom.
So, what was that line we were all being fed about needing top of the range lenses.
It’s strange how a negative experience whilst taking photographs can compel us to dislike an image. It’s only when the emotion of the day has been dulled by time that we can see the image for what it is. But when the emotion was strong, its effect can linger.
The image I’m sharing today is one I shot during my ill-fated Nikon D800 experiment last year. When I shot this I was suffering from a trapped nerve in my neck which caused a searing pain in my back. The pain took around 3 months to subside and prevented me from sleeping. It also caused damage to the nerve controlling the triceps muscle down my right arm. Even now, some 12 months later, I can’t flex this muscle in my right arm.
I tell you this detail so that you can appreciate the strong negative emotion I had when I captured the image. This negative emotion is probably why I don’t like this image. In fact, I actually feel a little ill when I look at it. It’s only when I momentarily catch a glimpse, before I can connect it with the events of that day that I thinks it’s a nice shot.
I therefore share this with interest to see how others feel about it.
As many of the regular readers of this blog know, I am a diehard Micro 43 user and think these cameras (especially the Olympus EM5) are superb. Last year I conducted an experiment (a very expensive one) in which I purchased a Nikon D800 to compare performance. The D800 was a fantastically capable camera from which the results were excellent. The only problem was that it limited my shooting freedom hugely and the results were barely distinguishable from the EM5 for most purposes. I found that I could shoot all day with the D800 to achieve perhaps 1 or 2 OK images and as a result was always returning to the EM5. The ill-fated experiment end up with me selling the Nikon a couple of months later in frustration.
But now the EM5 is growing old and I haven’t seen anything much to replace it in the Micro 43 world (yet). It’s still an incredibly capable camera but I find myself wanting to refresh my equipment and inject something new into my work. I will stress though that I’m not abandoning Micro 43 – it’s simply too good a system.
Recently I have been shooting quite a bit with the Sony RX10. I really like this camera in terms of its handling and the image quality is generally very good (but not on a par with the EM5). What makes this camera stand out for me though is not the pixel count or the flexibility and usability (although impressive), it’s the colour handling. This is something that I have found with every Sony camera I have owned. The colour capture is so natural when used in Landscape photography, especially in the greens and blues. I simply love this. In fact I am so impressed that I have decided to make a Sony my next camera purchase.
I am now using a Sony A7r which has an uncannily familiar feel to it. It handles very much like the Olympus EM5 (with grip) in terms of its size and feel except that it’s just a little larger and chunkier. In fact I would go as far as to say that it feels just as flexible and enjoyable to use.
Where it does differ significantly from the EM5 is in the lenses. With the exception of the Sony R1 and more recent RX10, I have experienced issues with the Sony lenses. The lens line-up has been too limiting for landscape work and the image quality has been lacking, especially into the corners. For this camera I have therefore opted to buy Canon L Series lenses as I have always been very happy with their performance. These I am using via a cheap adapter that I purchased on Amazon for £50. Remarkably the adapter not only maintains the aperture control from the camera but also maintains the image stabilisation features built into the Canon lenses – wow!
At the moment I have only had a brief outing with the camera and the weather wasn’t very good so I can’t share very much work. Once I have had chance to use the camera properly I will share some more images and thoughts.
A recent image shot with the Olympus EM5 I had converted to infrared. The post processing is using Nik Silver Efex Pro. Selecting the highlights and then reducing the contrast whilst increasing the structure gives a kind of Halation effect.
Have a great weekend everyone.
I have mentioned in this blog previously that there are some areas of the UK which should be good for photography but when I go there they seldom reward my efforts. The Peak District is one such area; on paper it should be good but for me it’s always a bit of a let-down. This is very disappointing as it’s possibly the nearest landscape area to where I live with many locations being within easy reach.
But my view of the area might have begun to change. I can’t put my finger on specifically why but I’m seeing many more possibilities when I visit or research possible locations. This last weekend is one particular example. The idea was to take a short walk above Ladybower reservoir using a route I found in a walking book. The book promised a dramatic and impressive view half way round but I have learned over the years that many of these can be a bit of a disappointment for the photographer.
On this particular day though, I was actually taken aback by just how good the scene that greeted me was (the image above). I have tried to do it justice with the image but I don’t think that I can.
The image was shot with the Sony RX10 and exhibits the wonderful Greens and Blues that Sony seem to capture so well with their cameras. A 0.3 ND grad was used on the sky to help prevent the clouds from over exposing. The image is in fact 9 vertical images stitched together in Lightroom. At 300dpi it measures approximately 36” x 16” and has excellent detail. The only mistake I made was to have knocked my camera into Auto ISO mode causing the images to be exposed at ISO 125. There is therefore slightly more noise in the image than there should have been but this can easily be corrected with noise reduction software.
The key points from this rambling are:
- Don’t write off locations because of a few poor experiences
- Keep exploring new locations in an area but don’t just restrict yourself to the locations in the photography mags – use other sources of information
- Sony colours are great
Finally, did anyone notice that I changed my camera a few weeks back (and I don’t mean the Canon G7X). I’m officially a Sony user for my main camera (but I’m not giving up the Olympus).
Ever since I published my book “Essential Photoshop” I have received regular requests for a follow up book. The original book was designed to give the Photoshop beginner all the essential skills required to be able to enhance their photography. It’s been a great success and many people have given good reviews on Amazon. What people have been asking for is a follow up book providing guidance on using more advanced techniques. I’m now very happy to be able to announce the new book is ready.
This latest book is “Photoshop Layers: Professional strength image editing” and is designed to advance Photoshop skills to the next level.
The book is structured into three sections:
- Section 1 explains how to work with layers and how you can combine these into your Photoshop editing.
- Section 2 looks at using masks to target specific areas of your images with adjustments. It covers how to create both simple and complex masks using fast, easy to apply techniques.
- Section 3 examines blending modes for layers and how these can be used creatively in photography.
Accompanying the book is a collection of image files which support the many exercises and examples so that you can follow on your own computer.
The book is available on all Amazon sites and I believe this is the lowest priced, best value book of its kind.
I’m currently working my way through part of my image backlog and suspect this will be an ongoing challenge for at least the next few years. I have fallen badly behind in the processing of images and now need to catch up. I will continue to share some of these through the blog as my work progresses but you will find they have been shot with all manner of cameras depending on how far back I am working.
This particular image is a daytime long exposure captured with the Nikon D800 I owned for a couple of months last year. The camera didn’t work out for me and at the time I didn’t think the image quality was anything exceptional. It’s strange how a little distance from the time of shooting can change your perceptions. I now find these RAW files quite flexible and easy to work with. And when I apply a reasonable amount of sharpening the images really pop. In the end I don’t think I acted too quickly as I really didn’t enjoy shooting with the camera.
The shot here was tripod mounted and used a Lee 10 stop filter to create the long exposure. The location is Penmon on the Anglesey Coast (North Wales). The image was a little blue due to the colour cast of the filter but this was easily corrected in Nik Color Efex Pro using the colour correction slider in the Pro Contrast filter. This filter is incredibly useful and I tend to use it with many of my images to adjust contrast and colour balance.