Further Website Frustrations

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RX10, ISO80, f/4.0, 1/25"
RX10, ISO80, f/4.0, 1/25″

So, I have to start this post with yet another apology. I was feeling quite pleased with myself after the flurry of activity last weekend and a few nights this week. Security on the Lenscraft website was much tighter and the response speeds were very good.

How things have changed.

Last night I received an email from my hosting company advising that they were doing some maintenance on their infrastructure and that there may be a short outage on my web site of 10-60 minutes. The site has been down almost 24 hours.

If you try to access the Lenscraft site at present all you get is the message “Error Establishing Database Connection”. This is made worse by the fact that I can’t access the control centre for the website where I do all the maintenance.

I reported this some 14 hours back and all I received was an email telling me support will be a minimum 24 hours response. I am now sat on an instant message session with the support team who have identified the database server has stopped and are now trying to reboot it.

I just want to be a photographer!!!!!

Further update (2 minutes after posting this). The fault was traced to the database server which has now been restarted. Lenscraft is back on air. I think I deserve a glass of wine!

Running the Lenscraft Website

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Win Hill, The Peak District
Win Hill in the Peak District, Sony RX10, f/5.0, 1/100″

Firstly an apology for not posting a Friday image yesterday but there is a very good reason. Over this past week I have been hit by all sorts of broadband problems. I don’t know if it’s related to the snow and cold weather but I lost my connection on Thursday and have only just recovered it. During this time I have been reduced to trying to run things with my mobile phone but this has also been frustrated by the adverse weather.

Then today I received a spam email which appeared to come from my email account “robin@lenscraft.co.uk”. With a little investigation I could see this was a spoof email but it looked like it was me sending it.

This as you can imagine made me nervous. In fact it made me very nervous as earlier in the week I was receiving an increasing number of new subscribers coming from Hungary and Russia which were clear automated attacks from robots. To counter this I introduced a CAPTCHA code to the registration screen so that any registration would need to come from a person who is able to read and enter the CAPTCHA code. This reduced the number of fake registrations but a few are still coming in.

So, I have tightened up all the security on the Lenscraft website. I’m not going to list the steps here in case someone with malicious intent can use them but I will say that the entire site now uses SSL with 256bit encryption. If you now browse over to the Lenscraft site you will see in the address window of your browser that you are being served by https:// rather than the standard http:// server. There may be a few gremlins over the next 24 hours whilst the DNS changes propagate around the internet but then everything should be stable and secure.

If you haven’t understood all the technical mumbo jumbo I have spouted above a rough translation is that the Lenscraft site is now as secure as I can make it. Oh yes, I also made a few performance enhancements so everything should be even faster than before.

As for the image, this is another RX10 image which I captured on my walk last weekend. Everything somehow seemed much easier back then.

Sony RX10 Problem and Frustration

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Sony RX10, f/5.0, 1/100" at ISO80
Sony RX10, f/5.0, 1/100″ at ISO80
Sony RX10, ISO80, f/5.0, 1/125"
Sony RX10, ISO80, f/5.0, 1/125″

Regular readers of this blog may have noticed that I didn’t post the usual Friday Image on Friday. My apologies for this but I am still battling with too much to do and too little time. I have fallen some way behind in responding to emails and queries as the numbers have shot up recently. I love replying to everyone but it takes time.

Anyway, I set out on a walk in the Peak District today with a camera. I was going to take the new G16 but in the end I went for the RX10. I really do love this camera but it’s been somewhat of a frustrating relationship. My first ever outing found that the white writing around the edge of the lens reflected onto my filters when the sun was at certain angles. The other major frustration I have is that the image stabilisation is poor. Sometimes I find myself keep checking if it is actually on.

It’s very easy to find the shutter speed has dropped below 1/25″ as I like to shoot at the base ISO of 80. I find that 1/25″ is pretty much as slow as I can risk, even at the wide end of the focal range (the camera has a 24-200mm f/2.8 constant lens). Below this and camera shake is evident and ruins pretty much every shot unless you are lucky. That’s one of the problems with a sharp lens, you notice the smallest of movement.

More recently I have become attuned to this problem and now push the ISO to 200 or 400. This goes against the grain with me as I always want to shoot at the lowest ISO and I hate noise. But you know what, even at ISO400 you can barely notice it and the image quality is that much better.

So this has been a bit of me rambling (pun intended) to tell you that the RX10 is one of the most enjoyable cameras I have and the one that I increasingly turn to when I just want to walk and can’t be bothered with different lenses.

More from the Canon G16

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Canon G16, F/4.0, 1/200"
Canon G16, F/4.0, 1/200″

In my previous blog post I shared some of my first impressions about the Canon G16 compact camera I had purchased. Today I would like to share a little more about my thoughts about the image quality. Of course these revolve around my approach to photography so may differ from how you would use the camera. None the less, it may prove useful to some of you out there.

First, how I like to use the camera…

Where possible I shoot at the cameras base ISO. You may be tempted to think this is the lowest ISO but this is not always the case. With the canon G16 the base ISO is ISO80. This should give the combination of least image noise and highest dynamic range.

I tend to use the wide angle end of lens a lot.

Many of my compositions need good depth of field because there are elements in the foreground and distance.

Whilst I need good depth of field it’s the foreground elements that need to be at their sharpest. I therefore tend to use an aperture range of f/4.0 to f/5.6. I feel this allows the lens to perform well whilst giving me good depth of field.

Selecting the right point of focus is important to me as this helps with the depth of field but also ensures the key foreground elements are sharp.

Keeping all this in mind, I have included the full sized image for you to examine. This was from a capture made in RAW format which was then converted to TIFF in Lightroom. A small amount of capture sharpening was applied and a little processing was done in Viveza. The image was then saved as a JPEG. Enjoy.

 

 

Canon G16 First Thoughts

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G16 Test Shot on Helm Crag, f/4.0, 1/500"
G16 Test Shot on Helm Crag, f/4.0, 1/500″

In Friday’s blog post I mentioned that I was heading up to the Lake District for some photography. To be honest, I wasn’t particularly hopeful as the plan was to climb some of the hills there and see what took our fancy. The weather forecast in the area was for snow/rain showers at sea level so I expected snow showers on the hills – I wasn’t disappointed.

In the end the weather forecast was pretty much spot on although the snow shower on the decent felt as though it has set in for the day and was quite heavy. Despite this we managed some reasonable photography and I managed to get a feel for the new Canon G16 compact camera that I had in my pocket.

My first thoughts on the G16 are as follows:

  • Image quality is really quite good. Noise is well controlled even when shooting at ISO800. It appears on the face of it to be better than the LX7 in this respect.
  • Image sharpness is good although it tends to go a little soft in the corners and is not as sharp as the LX7. I suspect the image circle of the G16 is smaller than the LX7 which means the lens corners are softer. They are though perfectly acceptable and the centre of the image is very good.
  • I found the 28mm end of the lens frustrating and really wanted to go to 24mm. At the other end of the zoom range the extra reach in comparison to the LX7 was most welcome and I found myself using it quite a lot to isolate areas of the distant hills. I can’t say that Preferred one over the other but would like someone to make a 24-140mm lens (my RX10 is perfect but large).
  • The filter adapter that fits around the lens takes the same approach as the LX5 (a lens tube surrounding the lens) where the LX7 attaches to the front of the lens. This makes the G16 quite bulky when the adapter is attached but it is quick and easy to remove using a bayonet style attachment rather than a regular screw thread. All things considered I prefer the LX7 method for the reason in the next bullet.
  • I had been looking forward to using the optical viewfinder on the G16 rather than an EVF but in the field I found 2 big drawbacks. First the viewfinder is quite small which made it difficult to use. Secondly, the lens adapter tube got in the way because the viewfinder was centred over the lens. In fact the adapter tube made the optical viewfinder almost completely useless because you can’t see the image. When will manufacturers learn to field test equipment with real photographers?
  • The colours rendered by the G16 are very nice but they are also a little on the warm side.
  • I found the button combinations on the G16 a little tricky, less intuitive and more frustrating than the LX7. This could in part be my lack of familiarity with the G16 although I wasn’t making mistakes, just having to go through menus and multiple button presses to get it to do what I wanted. I may be able to fix this when I read the manual on how to programme the buttons.
  • It may sound daft but I found that I liked working with the Canon RAW files in post production. Some RAW files just feel more flexible and forgiving than others.
  • When I was out in the field I found there was very little latitude to expose to the right. In fact I struggled to avoid the flashing highlights in almost all my shots. Blown highlights were everywhere despite using a 2 stop ND grad. In the end I just gave up trying to control this and turned it off. Back on the computer when I have loaded in the RAW file it looks like there is plenty of headroom in the highlights which is a little frustrating.

Overall the G16 is a nice camera to use and will produce good results, but I can’t see it replacing my LX7. Will I keep both? Yes for the time being. I want to use the G16 in an urban environment as it seems to be more suited to this than Landscapes.

The other thing I am going to do is make more use of my GM1. I bought this as a high quality compact camera and whilst the image quality is superb (on a par with the EM5) the 24-64mm equivalent lens is a little restrictive. I therefore intend to buy the 70mm-200mm (small GM ultra compact) lens. I can easily carry the camera in one pocket and the lens in the other. This strangely may make a better option for a carry anywhere camera.

Friday Image No. 46

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Tree in the Lake District. Olympus EM5 ISO200, f/7.1, 1/125", 28mm
Tree in the Lake District. Olympus EM5 ISO200, f/7.1, 1/125″, 28mm

It’s a very quick post for this week’s Friday image. That’s because I have only just got home and I need to pack for a trip to the Lake District tomorrow. Hopefully I can take advantage of the forecast snow.

I wasn’t too sure which image to post so I thought I would resort to another from my last trip to the lakes. I was browsing through and noticed this one I had shot. There was just something that I liked about this tree. I hope you do too.

Have a great weekend everyone.

Resolution Broken

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Loughrigg Tarn captured on a Panasonic LX7, ISO80, F/5.0, 1/8" handheld
Loughrigg Tarn captured on a Panasonic LX7, ISO80, F/5.0, 1/8″ handheld

I’m currently preparing a presentation on Lightweight Photography for Chorley Photographic Society where I have spoken in the past. As part of this I decided to take a few shots with my Panasonic LX7 when I was out in the Lake District on my last trip. Above you can see one of the images which I have also printed at A3 to take along on the day. The print looks quite nice with lots of detail. With the addition of a little grain I would say that it doesn’t look very “digital” at all.

This exercise got me thinking that I haven’t been using my compact camera very much over the last year. This time last year I was missing the LX5 which I had replaced with a Sony RX100. I then found I didn’t enjoy using the Sony as much so sold it for the LX7. Don’t ask me why but I never seem to be carrying the LX7 and this defeats the objective of owning a compact camera.

Anyway, I found that I really enjoyed shooting with the LX7 in preparation for the presentation and before I knew it I had ordered a Canon G16. What a bargain; £290 new from Amazon and then £40 cash back from Canon. This is where breaking the resolution comes in as I said I wouldn’t buy any more equipment this year.

I can’t yet report on the Canon as although I took it on a walk with me over the weekend the terrible weather meant that I didn’t shoot anything that’s worth showing. What I did notice is that the image stabilisation doesn’t seem to be as good as the LX7 but the noise handling appears better. Time will tell but I did find I enjoyed using the G16.