Further Thoughts on the Canon G7X

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Test shot with the Canon GX7. Nice colour handling and the RAW file captures a lot of data.
Test shot with the Canon GX7. Nice colour handling and the RAW file captures a lot of data. Don’t judge the picture, it’s a test snap. I need to get out with the camera for some serious landscape work.

Last week I mentioned that my new Canon G7X arrived and I shared my first thoughts on the camera, having not even switched it on. This past weekend I charged the battery and inserted a memory card. Whilst knew I wasn’t going to get out to for serious photography I was determined to shoot a few test frames. This is how it went.

My first shots with the camera were whilst stood in my back garden. I shot a few reference frames and examined them on the back of the camera at maximum magnification. This revealed what I call Jaggies (the individual pixels of the image). When I see Jaggies such as this it means either the camera is not rendering a smooth image from the RAW file or the lens is exceptional. Importing the images to Lightroom later would allow me to see the truth.

Whilst making these test shots I also made a sequence at different ISO settings, starting with the base ISO of 125 and going up to the maximum 12,800. The light levels were very poor due to an impending thunder storm, which resulted in a shutter speed of 1/8”. Very pleasingly I found that I was able to produce consistently steady shots even with such slow shutter speeds. This would suggest the image stabilisation in the G7X is quite good.

I had high hopes for the image quality but on reviewing the test shots on the computer later I was quickly disappointed. The images were steady but the lens just appeared soft and incapable of rendering a sharp image. The ISO tests did perform better and showed the noise to be well controlled. The noise at higher ISO settings also reminded me a little of strong film grain.

The next day I took the camera out when I when shopping. The image of the canal that you see above was taken on the way to the Supermarket. This time I had set the camera to shoot RAW +JPEG which allowed me to zoom in to the image and assess the quality a little better on the camera. Again the images just didn’t seem to be as crisp as I had wanted but the Jaggies were gone. It was then, looking through the settings, I noticed that the camera had been set to a focus stacking mode. This is a neat little feature that allows you to take multiple shots with the focus point being moved automatically between each (you can later merge them in software to a single image). When I turned this feature off the next images seemed to snap into focus on the camera screen.

Reviewing the images later on the computer I could see they were of a higher quality than I initially thought. I won’t say that the lens is exceptional but it does produce a solid performance, although the corners at 24mm display some distortion. Two other points I noticed are:
1. The colour handling is very natural and I like it a lot.
2. The touch screen selection for the focus point is excellent. This is a feature that I first came across on the Panasonic GX1 and I loved it. The Canon implementation is almost identical to the Panasonic and it makes the camera very nice to use.

In summary, this is a pleasing start to using the G7X. I’m now waiting on the Lensmate Filter Adapter to arrive from the US so that I can begin using filters and testing some landscape work.

Friday Image No. 61

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Olympus EM5. Irregular blurring in Lightroom 6 using a Radial Filter
Olympus EM5. Irregular blurring in Lightroom 6 using a Radial Filter

At the moment I have a really strong feeling that I want to shoot some coastal scenes. I haven’t been getting out very much at all with my camera as there have been too many other things that I need to do that unfortunately don’t relate to photography. The best I can do is content myself with looking back over past images and choosing some to reprocess.

I then started to process the image above in Lightroom which is where I came across a rather interesting feature that I think is new in Lightroom v6. At least I don’t recall it in an earlier version. When using tools such as the Gradient Filter or Radial Filter a mask is automatically created. There is now a collection of brushes within these tools that allow you to refine the masks. Experimenting with a Radial Filter I was able to make the selective adjustments to blur irregular areas of the image. I’m going to investigate this further and will probably pull together a short piece about it.

Have a great weekend everyone.

My First Impression of the Canon G7X

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Zabriskie Point, Death Valley
Zabriskie Point at dawn, Death Valley. Sony RX100, ISO80, f/4.0, 1/80″, 0.3ND Graduated Filter

In my previous post I mentioned that I was going to buy a Canon G7X given how impressed I was with the G16 compact camera I had been using. Well it arrived yesterday and I have decided to do something unusual. I’m going to give a quick review of my first impressions having not yet taken a picture with the camera (I haven’t even put the battery in the camera).

I bought the camera because I thought it was the same body, or at least very similar to the G16 but this isn’t the case. I was quite surprised to find the G7X feels a fair bit smaller than the G16. The G16 has a rubber hand grip on the right which feels quite chunky and nice. The G7X by contrast feels thin, small and a little slippery. The handling reminds me of the tiny Sony RX100 I had (hence the image above).

The tilting screen on the back of the camera is nice but why has Canon not gone for a fully articulated screen. The screen is limited to tilting upwards with the hinge along the top. This is fine if you have the camera in Landscape mode but if you want to shoot with a portrait orientation it doesn’t work. Despite this, it’s an improvement on the G16 which doesn’t have any screen tilting.

The next thing I noticed is that the controls are very small and cramped, much of the space having been given over to the screen. This makes them a little tricky to use if you have anything other than small hands. The use of the dials on the top of the camera has also been changed, again making them a little tricky to use. I can foresee a problem when using this camera for Landscape Photography in cold weather.

Despite the limitations of the size of the buttons and dials the layout of these is very well thought out which does make them very usable. This also makes the G7X a true pocket compact. The G16 may feel nicer in the hands but you need a big pocket to carry it around.

The camera came with a strap, but this was only a wrist strap which may trouble some people. My automatic reaction was to want a neck strap but then I have a habit of wrapping this around my wrist a number of times to carry cameras in my hand. Perhaps the wrist strap with this camera will be helpful and again make it easier to fit in a pocket.

The final point I notice is that there is no way to attach filters to the camera. On the G16 there is a removable ring around the lens which then accepts an accessory tube to which filters can be attached. With the G7X the ring doesn’t detach but instead has a number of functions that can be assigned to it. As filters are essential to my work I have ordered a stick on adapter from the US. This again is similar to what I had to do with the Sony RX100.

One minor lucky point is that the screen protectors from my EM5 fit the G7X screen so I don’t need to buy any of these and can put the money towards some spare batteries. The battery for this camera is tiny and I can’t imagine it will last all that long, although we shall see.

In summary the G7X is a very well designed and well-built camera but it feels as though Canon have tried to copy Sony (even down to the 1”, 20Mpixel sensor) and in the process thrown out some of the better points from their G range.

I will share further thoughts as I begin to use the camera.

I Love the Canon G16

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Whitby Pier
Whitby Pier. Canon G16, ISO80, f/4.5, 1/500″. Black and white conversion in Nik Silver Efex Pro.

I have been using the G16 pocket Camera quite a lot recently and the more I use it the more I like it. I find the build good and the image quality very good. It’s easy to use and whilst it doesn’t shine in any one area it’s a great, well balanced package that’s a joy to use.

In fact, I like this camera so much I am going to sell it.

The reason is that I have been enjoying using it so much that I couldn’t resist buying a Canon G7X. The G7X is pretty much the same body except that it has an articulated screen which is something I really wanted on the G16. The other major difference is that the G7X has a 1” sensor and is 20Mpixels.

When I saw the discounted price on Amazon (reduced to £350) I couldn’t resist. I do hope it handles as well as the G16.

July 15 in Review

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Canon G16 Compact Camera, ISO80, f/3.5, 1/8". Processing in Nik Silver Efex Pro
Canon G16 Compact Camera, ISO80, f/3.5, 1/8″. Processing in Nik Silver Efex Pro

July has been a tough month. The Lenscraft website crashed again which prevented quite a few people from accessing information and downloads. The cause was down to my subscribing to a Content Delivery Network or CDN. These help deliver content more securely and quicker that a hosted website. My intention was to speed up the website not bring it down.

Despite all the lost time trying to recover from this problem I was still able to publish a number of new tutorials on Lenscraft:

How do I blur a photo background

How to Level the Horizon in Lightroom

Photoshop High Pass Sharpening

Landscape Photography Tips

Edge Sharpening in Photoshop

Understanding Photoshop Masks

Understanding RAW Format Photography

Backing up Lightroom Presets

What are Lightroom Presets

The Benefits of using Lightroom Presets

Photoshop Underwater Color Correction

Many of these tutorials were in response to requests received from visitors. If you have an idea for a tutorial or article not already on the site let me know using robin@lenscraft.co.uk.

Friday Image No.60

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Llyn Peninsula, North Wales. Olympus EM5, 12-40mm lens at 12mm. ISO200, f/8, 8.8", Lee 10 stop filter.
Llyn Peninsula, North Wales. Olympus EM5, 12-40mm lens at 12mm. ISO200, f/8, 8.8″, Lee 10 stop filter.

It’s been a very long week again. Most of my free time was taken up with repairing the damage done to the Lenscraft site and dealing with errors in Google so I apologise for not posting anything of interest this past week. Hopefully after this weekend I can get back to normal and start posting and adding tutorials again.

Despite this, I found a little time to search through my archives and find another image from my trip to North Wales last year. This was taken on the same morning (but a little earlier) as last week’s Friday Image. I quite like the painterly quality of the light.

Have a great weekend everyone.

Lenscraft is Back

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I just managed to get the Lenscraft site back on line. I will post more when I have time.

Thanks for your patience.