Friday Image No. 050

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This is North Wales. Nikon D800. Processing in Lightroom and Topaz Detail.
This is North Wales. Nikon D800. Processing in Lightroom and Topaz Detail.

Regular readers of this blog may well remember my experiment with the Nikon D800 which I eventually sold. At the time I had a number of outings where I struggled to get the best out of the camera. Isn’t it interesting how time and distance from an event help change your perception.

Don’t worry, I am not about to reverse my decision but some of the images that I shot now appeal to me. I did post an image very similar to this one when I was trying to compare the D800 to the EM5. At the time I didn’t spend a great deal of time looking through the images but now I have almost 6 months distance to the shoot, I managed to see this one. The D800 RAW file is pretty dull and lifeless but when you start processing it the image comes to life.

I really like this shot now and think it has a rather painterly feel to it.

Hmm! Did I act too quickly?

A Little Crazy

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Wells Cathedral, XPan with 45mm lens and Kodak TMAX400
Wells Cathedral, XPan with 45mm lens and Kodak TMAX400

I have done something a little crazy. Since talking to my friend about scanning and having done a few scans myself recently, I have had the bug to shoot some film again. In particular I want to shoot Infrared but I might even start shooting some slide film again. Whilst I have around 50 rolls of Fuji Velvia in the Freezer and a similar amount of B&W negative film, I only had 3 rolls of Infrared.

You probably won’t have noticed but Infrared film is in fairly short supply these days. I did finally find and purchase 12 rolls but in doing so I also spotted a 30mm XPan lens for sale second hand. This is a lens that I have longed for ever since I bought my XPan and it has reached almost mythical levels amongst XPan users. I don’t know what came over me but I bought it.

So that’s the proceeds of the D800 sale spent.

Hybrid Workflow

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This is the XPan Neg that I was using for the test scans.
This is the XPan Neg that I was using for the test scans.

On a recent photo outing with a friend we got talking about film photography. He had recent returned to film photography (but also uses a digital camera) and was now using a hybrid workflow with his film. This involved shooting film which he then scanned using an Epson V700 flatbed scanner. The resulting scans were then processed using Lightroom and Photoshop before printing.

Having looked at a number of his prints at sizes up to A2, I had to admit they were fantastic. The images whilst not as sharp as digital looked somehow more lifelike. They seemed to pop off the paper and have a depth to them. Most of all the colours were amazing.

The result of this is that I ended up digging out some old XPan B&W negatives and scanning them using my V700. I had always been a little underwhelmed by the results with the scans looking too soft. This time I changed my workflow to produce a RAW file which I then processed using Adobe Camera RAW. The image sharpened up well but not quite as well as I wanted so I decided to throw in a little grain. When I did this it’s as though the image just snapped into focus.

If you want to know more about the workflow and tools I used you can find a tutorial on my Lenscraft website (

Spring Has Arrived

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Sony RX10, ISO80, 1/100" at f/5.6
Sony RX10, ISO80, 1/100″ at f/5.6

I didn’t have to walk far for this shot. These crocus were in the pot outside my back door. Lovely colours from the RX10 again.

Friday Image No.049

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Sony RX10, ISO80, f/5.6, 1/200". Lee 0.6 ND Grad
Sony RX10, ISO80, f/5.6, 1/200″. Lee 0.6 ND Grad. Processing in Photoshop and Exposure 7.

This week’s Friday Image is yet another picture from my Sony RX10. I must apologise to anyone who feels this is becoming a Sony RX10. It isn’t, it’s just that I am finding myself reaching for the RX10 increasingly often, especially when a walk is involved. I don’t need to remember to take additional lenses and accessories. The battery life is excellent. In fact I just pick up the camera an ND Grad/holder and off I go.

There is an interesting story with this image though. The walk in question was up a hill named Black Hill, which you reach on the Woodhead Pass in the Peak District. It’s around 40 minutes drive from my house in order to arrive at the parking. It was only as I got to the top of the first ridge that I realised I was familiar with the area. In fact I have walked up Black Hill in the past from my home, without having to drive anywhere. You can actually reach Black Hill by walking across Saddleworth Moore which is the opposite direction to the one I had taken.

Despite this, the walk did provide a new outlook that I hadn’t seen before and allowed me to capture some wide scale landscapes.

Have a great weekend everyone.

Could my RX10 be “Wired Wrong”

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Sony RX10, f5.0, 8 seconds exposure. Lee 6 stop ND filter.
Sony RX10, f5.0, 8 seconds exposure. Lee 6 stop ND filter.

I know that it seems far fetched but this is the question I find myself asking given some of my recent experiences. It started with the image you see above. This was a long exposure shot on a tripod using a Lee 6 Stop ND filter.

To arrive at this image I had to make a few exposures. The first few were all soft or exhibited camera shake. I reasoned that the wind at the time was part of the problem and so I shielded the camera and pushed down on the tripod. The results improved but there was still a softness to the shot that shouldn’t have been present. My next step to improve the image quality was to switch off the Image Stabilization. When I did this the images suddenly became that much sharper and seemed to snap into focus.

Some of you might now be saying well that’s obvious but it isn’t. You see the RX10 firmware is supposed to detect that it’s mounted on a tripod and not try to stabilize the camera. More importantly though is that I left the stabilization turned off. As the day progressed I found that most of my images were sharp and crisp, even at slower shutter speeds and longer focal lengths.

This weekend I repeated the exercise and made some hand held exposures with the stabilization on and off. When it was turned off I found I could shoot at quite slow speeds to produce crisp images (speeds I could never achieve with the RX10 previously). When the stabilization was turned on I found a lot of my slower shutter speed images became soft and even blurred.

Interesting stuff but at least I am gaining a lot more faith in the capabilities of the RX10.

Reminder to all Photoshop Users

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Sony RX10, ISO80, f/4.0, 0.5" exposure. Tripod mounted.
Sony RX10, ISO80, f/4.0, 0.5″ exposure. Tripod mounted. Processing in Nik, Alien Skin and some dodging and burning with layer blending in Photoshop.

Just a little reminder to all you Photoshop users out there. This weekend my book “Essential Photoshop” is free to download from Amazon. Just go to your local Amazon website and search for “Essential Photoshop” or “Robin Whalley” in the Kindle store. On Saturday and Sunday you will find the book is available for free.

For users of the UK site here is the link on and for the US site its BUT its free on all sites and not just the UK and US.

I hope you enjoy and have a great weekend.

Another EM5 Posting

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Taken with a Panasonic GX1 converted to shoot infrared. Post processing in Alien Skin Exposure 7.
Taken with a Panasonic GX1 converted to shoot infrared. Post processing in Alien Skin Exposure 7.

I’m excited. I have bought a second EM5 body given the recent drop in prices. It’s second hand but has a low shutter count. In fact I didn’t want a new EM5 as I am going to get this one converted to Infrared.

When I had the GX1 converted I used a company called ACS. They did a good job but took an age to do the conversion. This time I have spoken to a company called ProTech who a friend has used for a few conversions.

I hope to take delivery of the camera this weekend and then it’s off for the conversion. I hope to be able to report back in a few weeks time and make some comparisons regarding image quality.

Well Done Lee Filters

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Sony RX10 image with 0.3 Lee ND Grad filter on the sky
Sony RX10 image with 0.3 Lee ND Grad filter on the sky

A couple of weeks back I was in the Lake District enjoying some walking and photography. It was during this time that I came across a rather high contrast scene so reached for my filter kit. Regular readers may know that I am a huge fan of the Lee Seven 5 series of filters which are ideal for Micro 43 cameras. The filters may be expensive but the kit is very well engineered with high quality materials.

Anyway, I pulled out my filter holder and tried to slot in one of the ND grads. At first it seemed to fit but then I noticed it was lose. On closer inspection I found out that one of the screws which secures the blades into which the filters slow was missing. Now the blades were lose and so was the filter.

Back home I decided to email Lee Filters to see where I could find a replacement screw as I have never seen these being sold. Result! There was a very fast response from the Lee Customer Service team asking for my address so they could post me a replacement screw.

What I didn’t mention in all this is that I left it quite late to contact Lee Filters and was now facing my next trip without a usable filter holder. Fortunately Lee acted on the email very quickly and the day after my sending my postal address an envelope arrived containing not 1 but 4 of the screws together with the 4 plastic spacers which are also used in the filter holder. What great customer service.

A big thank you to the team at Lee for acting so quickly. You saved my trip.

And in case your wondering, here is the B&W conversion.
And in case your wondering, here is the B&W conversion.

Would You Buy the Olympus EM5 MK II

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Olympus EM5 MK I. How long would a long exposure such as this (6 seconds) take on the new MK II? I estimate around 100" in the 40MP mode.
Olympus EM5 MK I. How long would a long exposure such as this (6 seconds) take on the new MK II? I estimate around 100″ in the 40MP mode.

Since Olympus announced the EM5 MK II I seem to have been asked repeatedly will I be buying the new camera. My answer is “not yet” and “probably not” (although I reserve the right to change my mind).

The spec for the EM5 MK II is very enticing. There is the 40MP RAW image size which looks ideal for Landscapes and indeed this is why a lot of people think I might buy one. My response to this is quite easy as the recent experience with the Nikon D800 reminded me that the additional pixels don’t matter all that much unless you are making a huge print (something I don’t do very often).

The  thing that I don’t really like about the 40MP image size is that it requires the sensor to move around very quickly. Apparently this can take a couple of seconds to take the required number of images to stitch into the finished RAW file. If there is movement in the scene it can lead to image quality issues. I would like to see this in operation before I embrace it. It also worries me that the sensor moving around could be prone to mechanical failure and even possible vibration which could also impact image quality. In any case, if I want to create a large print I can always use enlargement software (more on this in a later blog post)

The other improvements to the camera aren’t really that attention grabbing. Sure there is the improved sensor and image processing that might clean up the camera noise by a stop or two, but the EM5 was always great on image noise anyway. In fact the only thing that I think is a huge advance is the articulated rear screen which will move in any direction. That is the only feature that genuinely tempts me to move to the EM5 MK II but that doesn’t really justify the expenditure.

Now if anyone out there who reads this has the new MK II and previously owned an EM5, I would be very interested to learn if you think the new camera is a big step up and why.