Over the last few months I have been noticing an increase in the image noise from my EM5. Some areas which you would expect to be free from noise, such as clouds and blue sky, are starting to display faint traces of noise. These then become quite exaggerated when processed hard with Nik filters. In addition, I was beginning to feel that the greens and blues in the EM5 images just weren’t quite right, but it was difficult to put my finger on the problem.
It’s hard to say when this started but it may be that I was becoming increasingly fussy about quality as the Sony A7r was generally producing much cleaner images. A further factor may be that where I had begun to process old RAW files from the Canon 300D I was also seeing a very clean image, surprisingly so. All these factors started to suggest to me that it might be time to upgrade the EM5 or perhaps even switch to another camera manufacturer.
My intention had been to hold out and get the new EM1 when Olympus gets around to launching but I don’t know what the timeline is. In any case, I didn’t feel that happy with the Olympus colour handling and it certainly wasn’t as good as the Sony. These perceived problems together with my impatience lead to me trying a Fuji X-T1. The Fuji line up would also give me a great ultra-wide angle lens in the 10-24mm that would also accept filters. This was a failing of the Micro 43 ultra wides with only the Olympus 9-18mm taking filters but which suffers from edge distortion at 9mm (at least that’s what I was telling myself).
Hopefully this gives you an idea why last week I purchased a used Fuji X-T1 together with 2 lenses. Now the EM5 has taken revenge by making me regret this decision.
At the weekend I collected the new camera from the post office and headed off to the Peak District to try it out (between the heavy showers). Later with the images on my computer, what I saw shocked me. I called my wife in to get her opinion of the images and the first words out of her mouth was that the Fuji image “looked like a watercolour painting”, and that’s without zooming in on the detail. You can see this image below.
When you zoom in to the detail you don’t see much at all other than blur. Take a look at this 100% crop from the point of focus. You may need to click the image below to appreciate it fully.
Now let’s compare this with an image shot on the EM5 from a couple of weeks earlier.
And again, here is a 100% crop from the point of focus.
Both images have been sharpened only slightly in Lightroom as part of the conversion from RAW. I found I couldn’t sharpen the Fuji very much without causing artefacts. Both images have noise reduction turned off. Both sections are from the point of focus.
I can also tell you that this effect has occurred on all the Fuji images using both lenses and across different apertures. Fine details just vanish and become smudged.
I find this unusual as a friend who has the same Fuji shared a RAW file with me before I bought the camera so I could check the image quality and it was much better than I seem to be able to achieve. Another friend has also just shared a link with me which confirms the “watercolour” effect is a known problem with the Fuji XTrans sensor when using Adobe RAW converters.
I will need to investigate this further but if I can’t find an easy solution the camera will need to go back. This would be a shame as it’s a really great camera to use. Perhaps I should have waited for the EM1 MKII after all.
This week I want to share an image from last weekend. A friend offered to meet me at Higger Tor to get a few morning shots. I have never been to Higger Tor before although it’s on an hour’s drive from my house. When I arrived there was only his car and someone camping at the side of the road.
The weather for once was on our side and I thought the location was amazing. I can’t believe that I don’t shoot in the Peak District more often. It seems to be much under rated and we don’t see enough images from the area. I suspect this is because they aren’t quite as dramatic as many other locations.
I hope you like the image and have a great weekend.
Back in the 1990’s I recall reading an article about something called the white goods index. It was intended to measure how much better we are all as a result of white goods becoming cheaper in relation to how much we are all earning.
On Saturday I took delivery of a new freezer. Our old chest freezer had broken a few weeks back and the lid no longer closed. The replacement we bought was duly delivered and filled with all manner of food. Whilst loading the new freezer my wife suggested I buy a second smaller freezer in which to store my photography film. My initial reaction was to think this was an extravagant waste but then I stopped and thought about it. A quick search on the Internet and I found a new freezer for about the same price as three boxes of Kodak Provia in 120 format.
Today I loaded the new freezer with all my film from the fridge, and our new main chest freezer. Seeing all this film in once place made me realise just how much I had. The value is many more times the cost of the freezer and there are a few more benefits. My wife is now happy that she can put food in the freezer box in the fridge. She can store and access food in the chest freezer more easily. I might start using film faster than I have been buying it. Perhaps this last point is pushing things a little too far though.
If you shoot with a small sensor camera and use Lightroom for RAW conversion, then it’s a good idea to take care when sharpening. Noise can be a particular problem when at low ISO settings but there are steps you can take. This video demonstrates how to avoid the ugly sharpening artefacts that can result and which tend to become exaggerated in later processing.
I hope you find this useful.
Last week I was in the Lake District followed by France. That seems so long ago now that I thought I would share one of the images. This one was captured on the Olympus EM5 and is three shots merged in Lightroom. The light on the day was quite blue and the hills were a very vivid green so this image is pretty true to life. I did do a little post processing in Alien Skin Exposure X, applying the Agfachrome 1000 RS slide film simulation. If you think you can see noise in the sky, it’s actually the grain simulation.
Have a great weekend.
This is another image that I just have to share. I shot this around 10 years ago in Paris on my XPan panoramic camera. It was shot on good old Ilford Delta 100 and processed using ID11. I scanned the image in two halves using my Minolta 5400 35mm scanner. The image is panoramic so you need to scan in two halves and then merge the two in Photoshop. The resulting image is 45” x 16” when printed at 300dpi.
Now here are two close up sections at 100% magnification with no sharpening. You can see where I have taken them from on the main image by the red boxes.
And the other section.
Whilst I’m amazed at how sharp the image is (I would love to have this scanned on a top quality scanner), what I really like the gritty feel it has. It’s not as clinical as a digital black and white. Perhaps I’m growing to appreciate black and white film more in my old age.
It appears that quite a number of you want to know more about working with Lightroom and what tips might help save you some time. With this in mind I put together this short 10-minute video demonstrating a few points including History, Snapshots and Integration with Photoshop. These may not be the most exciting features but they could save you a lot of time. Probably much more than the 10 minutes it takes to watch the video.
As always, requests for future video topics are gratefully received.