Return of the RX10

Posted on Updated on


La Rochelle, France. This is a 5 image sequence shot on the Sony RX10 and stitched in Lightroom. ISO80, f/5.6, 1/640″. Click the image to view a larger version of the file.

I previously commented on how my beloved RX10 was struck down by mould. This was on the front element of the lens and was inside a (supposedly) sealed unit. Rather than taking this to Sony for a repair I went to The Real Camera Company in Manchester. One of their engineers has now replaced the affected unit and the camera is back with me in a little over a week from my authorising the repair.

Whilst the camera has been away for repair it felt like I had lost something quite major. I had been used to taking the RX10 out on hikes across the moors where I live. The alternative was to take the Fuji X-T2 or Olympus EM5, both of which produce higher quality images than the RX10. Despite this, the inconvenience of never having the right lens on the camera at the point you want to use it, or needing to change lenses and filters frequently in the field was what can only be described as a pain in the butt.

The RX10 produces excellent detail and sharpness in the central area of the frame, but it softens near the edges and distorts a little in the corners (at the wide-angle end of the lens range). I suspect much of this is due to a lot of lens correction being applied in software. Despite this, the camera is a joy to use and produces images which have a lovely feel to them. The convenience of having a 24-200 focal length in a constant f2.8 lens, all bolted onto a 1” sensor is a great combination, especially when out walking.

So far, I have only taken a few test shots in the garden to check the camera functions correctly (it does.) I’m really looking forward to some good weather to put the RX10 through its paces. I would also like to say well done to The Real Camera company for their help and a job well done.

Friday Image No.127

Posted on


Grass and dunes at sunset. Fuji X-T2 with 18-55 lens at 44mm. 1/1250" at f4.0, ISO200.
Grass and dunes at sunset. Fuji X-T2 with 18-55 lens at 44mm. 1/1250″ at f4.0, ISO200.

I’m sat here this evening searching my images to find a Friday image to share. As I do so, the overwhelming feeling I have is that all the images are too “in your face”. They are all competing too hard for my attention and as a result none of them hold it.

But with Yin there must be Yang (my Tai Chi teacher would be impressed) and this image has subtly held my attention. I remember at the time the vivid, sunset light falling onto this grass as I walked through the dunes. I decided to make the grass and consequently light the centre of attention. To retain a sense of place I included the sea in the background but deliberately threw it out of focus. You know it’s a beach at sunset but if I didn’t tell you it was Bamburgh, you wouldn’t known.

Ultimately, the more I look at this image, the greater the feeling and sense of place it evokes. That’s very odd for a generic beach scene at sunset. Then again, perhaps it’s because I was there and it doesn’t do anything for you.

Apologies for my ramblings. I hope you have a great weekend.

My Move To Apple

Posted on Updated on


Cerro Torre Glacier, Patagonia, Argentine. I may not show old images such as this one very often, but I certainly don't want to lose my access to them.
Cerro Torre Glacier, Patagonia, Argentine. I may not show old images such as this one very often, but I certainly don’t want to lose my access to them.

A few months back, I blogged about how I was switching from Microsoft to Apple. At the time, I purchased a MacBook Pro and was so impressed I went on to purchase a Mac desktop. It’s now been quite a few months and I can report I am more impressed with the MacBook than when I first bought it. It’s been stable and the start-up time is so fast, it’s probably paid for itself already.

As for the desktop, I really like it but I find the high-resolution screen has given me a couple of problems:

  1. The high resolution makes everything look good as well as very sharp. It seems to hide problems that would otherwise be identified when viewing on my PC. There has been occasion where I have finished editing an image, only to move it to my PC (which has a 1080 HD resolution) and find it’s not actually sharp.
  2. If I record a screencast or edit video on the Mac, its ends up being 10 – 20 times the size of a recording on the PC. This makes the file sizes too large to upload over traditional broadband (I can’t get fibre where I live).

I’m sure there are ways around these if I search hard enough, but I don’t yet have time.

One other problem I came across (and fixed) is when I plugged my Drobo into the Mac. Currently I have two Drobo units which store my back catalogue of images; literally hundreds of thousands of files. When I tried to access the images from the Mac, I found I could only read them and that I wasn’t able to write any changes or new images back to the storage.

After some research, I found this is because the disks were formatted by my PC to use NTFS storage. The only way I could change this is by formatting the drives in the Drobo and starting again. That may sound simple until you realise there are several terabytes of images involved and where can you put them whilst you do the work. Even just trying to copy the data could take weeks.

Eventually I found a great piece of software from Paragon Software called NTFS for Mac. Once installed this will allow you to read and write to NTFS disks. It works seamlessly in the background and you don’t even realise it’s there. I think it cost me around £12 for a license but checking just now the price is £16.99.

If you move to a Mac and you have images on large external drives, you will probably run into this problem. NTFS for Mac is a very neat, cost effective solution.

Friday Image No.126

Posted on Updated on


Bamburgh sunrise. Fuji XT2, Fujinon 10-24mm at 12mm, 1/7" at f/13.
Bamburgh sunrise. Fuji XT2, Fujinon 10-24mm at 12mm, 1/7″ at f/13.

I seem to say it every Friday, but this week has again been packed. One day I will finally catch up with myself (I hope). Probably the best thing to have happen was being able to track down the issue with my Fuji telephoto lens and realising it was caused by my ND Grad filters. Now I know the cause I will be able to work around it using multiple exposures and luminosity mask blending (or perhaps HDR).

For this week’s image, I’m sharing another of the images from Northumberland that I shot a couple of weeks back. I had to take around 20 shots before I got the waves just right but the perseverance was worth it. This image is exactly as I wanted it. The reflection of the low sun on the water and the wet rocks is perfect.

Have a great weekend.

New Fuji Lens and a Warning

Posted on Updated on


Misty morning in the trees at the Roaches. Fuji XT2 + 16-55 lens.
Misty morning in the trees at the Roaches. Fuji XT2 + 16-55 lens.

If you are a regular reader of my blog, then you may well be aware of the problems I have experienced with my Fuji 55-200mm lens. Following some rather odd results, the lens was returned to Fuji back in November who couldn’t find any problems. Wex then returned it for a second time following a review of some test images as they agreed, there must be a fault.

The lens is still being inspected by Fuji but Wex have kindly allowed me to trade it in against another lens. This is a huge help as being without a good telephoto lens means I can’t use the Fuji kit properly and always end up taking a second camera with me. Thanks to the trade in I now have the Fuji 50-140 f/2.8 + 1.4x Teleconverter and this weekend was my first outing.

Unfortunately, the location we chose was very foggy and remained so for most of the day. The fog did lift to a certain level but generally it was too dense to use the new lens properly. I did however manage a few test shots of distant rocks which a group of climbers were scaling. I mounter the camera on my tripod and lined up the shot using both the lens and teleconverter. The conditions were still with no wind and I was using a cable release.

To my horror, when I zoomed in to check the image I could see a lot of camera shake and the image was blurred. I tried again and again but I couldn’t remove the shake. I then tried removing the teleconverter to see if it was the cause of the problem but it wasn’t. The results looked very much like those I experienced with the lens I had returned.

Below you can see one of the problem images. Notice how the shake isn’t consistent across the frame and some areas almost come into focus but don’t quite get there.

Example of problem image.
Example of problem image.

And a section at 100% magnification.

Section of poor image at 100% magnification
Section of poor image at 100% magnification

Then through trial and error I worked out the cause of the issue.  Take a look at the image below which was shot immediately after the image above. This time the image is pin sharp across the frame.

Good image
Good image

And again, a section of the image at 100% magnification.

Section of good image at 100% magnification.
Section of good image at 100% magnification.

The cause of the issue was the Lee 0.3 ND grad filter I was using. With the filter on the lens, the images were out of focus and appeared shaky. With the filter removed the images were crisp and sharp. I could repeat the result time and again with all my Lee filters.

What appears to be happening is that the filter is causing a problem for the autofocus mechanism in the XT2 and it continues to refocus as the shot is being taken. Later I turned off the autofocus and could focus manual to capture a pin sharp image. If I set the camera back to autofocus the problem occurred again. What I haven’t been able to work out is why I have only seen the issue with the telephoto lenses. My other lenses (10-24, 16-55 and 18-55) all work fine with my filters.

This is one to watch out for if you are a landscaper and use filters. I was also wondering if anyone else has experienced a similar issue?

Friday Image No.125

Posted on Updated on


Bamburgh Castle at sunrise
Bamburgh at sunrise. Fuji XT2, 16-55mm (at 16mm) Fujinon lens. ISO200, f/13.0 for 1″. 0.6ND Graduated Filter.

I know this view has been shot a million times but I still love it. There is something quite magical about standing on a beach, in front of a castle, waiting for the sun to come up. Judging by the huddle of photographers around me at the time, I’m not the only person who thinks this.

Hopefully I can shoot some more images with less well known scenes this weekend.

Have a great weekend.

Sony RX10 Problems

Posted on


Gordale Scar, The Yorkshire Dales. Three image stitch with the Sony RX10.
Gordale Scar, The Yorkshire Dales. Three image stitch with the Sony RX10.

I have owned my Sony RX10 for a little over three years, purchasing it as soon as they were launched. I had a couple of initial teething issues; the lettering around the front of the lens reflected onto my filters, the focus wasn’t quite right and the Stabilisation wasn’t very good. Other than that, it’s been a very useful camera and one that I enjoy using a lot.

In August last year I went to France to visit my daughter, taking the RX10 along. All appeared fine until I noticed on some of the images that they were a little soft along one edge. That’s when I checked the front of the lens and to my horror I could see traces of fungus inside. This was faint at the time and wasn’t sufficient to cause the softness, although that’s what triggered my noticing the problem.

On returning to the UK I made some enquiries with the “legendary” Sony Support (legendary for all the wrong reasons). I didn’t hold out much hope of help given my past experience and unfortunately, they didn’t disappoint. The response was “your equipment’s out of warranty so there is nothing we can do”. Despite my protest that a camera of this age which is well treated and stored with care should not have a problem, they just didn’t want to know other than saying they could me find a Sony repair centre.

Roll forward six months. I had tried to live with the fungus problem, not expecting it to get much worse; unfortunately, I was wrong and it had spread across the inside of the front element. I took the RX10 to Real Camera in Manchester who I have dealt with a number of times and asked if they could have their engineer take a look (if you are ever in the market for a used film camera or need repairs, Real Camera are highly recommended).

I have now received word back from the engineer and the problem is indeed fungus on the inside of the lens. Worse still, it’s not possible to clean the affected elements as the problem is inside a sealed unit where the elements are cemented in place. This means the replacement of that particular lens group. I have authorised the work as it’s still a cost-effective repair but it raises an important question, how did fungus get inside a sealed unit? I have only two possible answers in my head:

  1. The fungus was introduced during assembly which would bring into question the manufacturing.
  2. The unit wasn’t properly sealed, which also brings into question the manufacturing.

In showing no interest in my problem, Sony have, to my mind missed the opportunity to identify and correct an issue. Ultimately, I feel Sony are showing contempt for their future customers by not investigating a problem which (I hope) is unusual.

Whilst I love the results from my Sony gear, this attitude will cost them in the future. I already refuse to use Sony lenses with my A7R as I have never had one that’s sharp into the corner. All have been bitingly sharp in the centre but this makes the edges and corners worse.

I have only one thing to say; Sony, you need to wake up and put customer service first.