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Posts Tagged ‘camera’

Foggy Edinburgh

 

Foggy Edinburgh

Edinburgh on a foggy night.

Occasionally it is nice to peruse through a photo library looking at photos from a few years ago. Especially when the photo reminds not so much of the subject but what led to the photo.

This one was after we decided to hike up to the Arthur Seat crags during an especially foggy night. We could barely see ahead of us in this small island of darkness in the center of the city. Being able to take a photo like this one is encouraging me to buy a small compact camera to carry around with me as my dSLR does not readily fit into my jacket pockets (I tried and it just does not want to fit).

I don’t have an idea of what compact cameras I should be looking at, luckily there is time between now, black Friday and the end of the year.

 

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UCSB 1982 Graduation

The 1982 UCSB graduation looks a lot like the 2009 graduation.

The 1982 UCSB graduation looks a lot like the 2009 graduation.

I have mentioned before that I am in charge of converting about six hundred family slides into a digital format.

I looked into services where I send out my slides to get them converted, for the amount that I have I figure I can just do it myself.

Then I thought that I should try doing it myself without any fancy equipment and just use the camera gear I have. I did some tests using the above slide that my grandfather took at my parents UCSB graduation in 1982. First I tried my 50mm f/1.8 to see how that would do. The cropped image came out at too low of a resolution (about 1000 pixels on a side).

My +3 Macro filter came to my mind. I screwed it onto my 55-200mm just to humor myself. I was able to get almost a full frame image of the slide, at max aperture there was terrible bloom but setting it to f/11 solved that. In the end I got the above image. Not terrible for what I was doing (light reflecting off of computer paper) but by no means what I want as the final product.

This was all done in consideration of using a dedicated macro lens with a slide holder from Nikon or other camera company. I have been give a budget for the project and my thought was to keep the macro lens that would need to be purchased as my payment for doing this. However what I would need for this is not what I would want (need: 60mm Macro, want: 105mm Macro).

Now I need to decide between dedicated slide scanners that range from one to two hundred dollars. There just seems to be a dearth of information on this subject outside of the two thousand dollar scanner range, and past 2005.

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200mm with a Marumi Macro 3 lens attached.

200mm with a Marumi Macro 3 lens attached.

I got a new set of filters today, 3 Marumi filters: a +3 macro, a circular polarizer and a neutral density. After looking at all of them I immediately put the +3 macro onto my lenses to try it out in my backyard.

At first I tried it with a 50mm f/1.8, I could focus a lot closer to the lens but the region I could focus shrank a bit. It was small to begin with. If I was shooting still objects they photos would have come out sharper with a better focus. However I was thwarted by a light consistent wind.

Then to try out the extreme I put it on my 55-200 VR lens keeping it at 200mm. The focus distance went down from about three feet in front of the lens down to a foot or so. Again the focus region was small but this lens had autofocus. Or at first I thought that this would make it easier, the AF for either the lens or the camera body (D6o) was slow and not very good with macro. I quickly reverted to manual focus (except when trying to shoot moving bees).

The image quality was alright. For the 50mm it was pretty good, not as sharp as it usually is but not bad either. At 200mm it is not that sharp and there is a lot of soft glow spread around the image. The images at smaller focal lengths did look better and I only practiced in direct sunlight. Though I feel that there might not be enough light to use the +3 lens by hand without direct sunlight.

I don’t have a dedicated macro lens or any other close-up lenses to compare this Marumi lens with but so far it has been fun to play with. I don’t know how I will use it in the future or if the images will be sharp enough (maybe I should not do 200mm?) for decent macro photography.

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Oh man, look at those artifacts and lens flares.

Oh man, look at those artifacts and lens flares.

One thing I wanted to bring to the Death Cab for Cutie concert was my camera. I know exactly what I wanted: my Nikon D60 with the 50mm f/1.8 lens. And I was right, I really wanted it, the stage would have fit perfectly in the field of view from where I was sitting.

Except that no bags or cameras were allowed. Of course this probably only meant dSLR cameras since the only photographers there probably had clearance. I resorted to drastic measures.

I used my cameraphone.

In a way I sort of like using it, it is so much simpler and the restrictions make all of the photos have a very clear simplified subject. It works well for graffiti and signs, however a concert posed several challenges; namely the darkness, the lights and the zoom.

The concert was pretty good, I was sitting with a bunch of friends and it was fairly relaxed. The music was alright, I did not start out as a fan and only found a few of their songs I really liked. For the cost it was a superb concert.

The lighting with the bit of smoke/fog in the events center would have made some killer light trails or long exposures. That and the field of cell phones screens held up in lieu of lighters.

Or maybe they were taking photos like myself.

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Projects

I don't know what this is supposed to be.

I don't know what this is supposed to be.

The end of the quarter has arrived. And with it the inevitable season of the final.

Oddly I prefer in class finals to any of the other alternatives (except no final). Take home finals results in hours slaving over every bit to get it perfect, projects are similar but with the potential of having a critical flaw in the concept and the most feared is the group project.

Reflecting on the available options I think I have a good mix this quarter. I have two in class finals, two classes without finals and one class with a project. The project is for digital electronics and to get an A we need to get it to work. Once the electronics work adding the A material is quite easy. Unfortunately for me my project has no intermediary working steps. Essentially I am building a driver to connect a camera phone camera to a VGA display using an FPGA board. It will either work or fail. There is one middle step in which it outputs in image in false color.

The work I am putting into this makes me greatly appreciate the ability to plug a semi random device into a computer and expect it to work without problems. The biggest issue I am having is the translation of color space. The camera outputs millions of colors to the FPGA board but the board can only output a maximum of 512 colors. I have to find a way to translate one color space to another followed by a transfer to display through VGA. All in all I might just go with a false color scheme.

After this project is done I just have two finals; compared to the project they will be easy.

Strangely I find finals week to be one of the more relaxing weeks of the quarter.

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An HDR shot of the Santa Barbara Dock.

An HDR shot of the Santa Barbara Dock.

I finally got around to testing out the Streetwalker’s (I reviewed it here) ability to hold a tripod.

The Streetwalker has a pocket on the bottom of the outside that holds two of the three tripod legs, there are then two straps to hold it in place. One strap is at the top of the pocket (for the third leg) and the other is at the top of the bag to secure the tripod in place.

The latches on the straps are fairly secure and are locked into place so the tripod won’t loosen the straps while moving around.

Of course with the tripod on the bag is a bit bulkier, aside from the weight there is not an extra three inches of the tripod sticking out. While this may not be a problem to some people I have a feeling that I will eventually hit or run into something. Hopefully what I break won’t be expensive.

The bag easily holds my tripod, a Bogen 3411 a six foot tripod with some heft to it. Lighter and smaller tripods will easily fit without a problem and without adjusting the weighting of the bag too much.

With the tripod in place it is difficult to access the contents of the bag, if the top strap is released about the top third of the bag can be accessed. However when the strap is unlatched the tripod tends to slide to either side.

I am just glad it is able to fit my tripod so I do not have to carry a separate tripod case around with me.

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The Right Stuff

 

Choose just the right camera gear to take with you.

Choose just the right camera gear to take with you.

You have a trip planned to somewhere in the world, it could be Europe, it could be Vietnam or it might be your family reunion. In any case the question arises: what camera gear to bring? I more fundamental question would be: what camera to buy? I recently went through this as I decided to upgrade from my Olympus C-770 (actually a hand-me-down from my Dad) to a more versatile camera. Lucky for me I had just traveled a lot with this camera and I know what I tend to take with me on a given day (for the curious: messenger bag with a water bottle, camera, guidebook and light reading). I also work at a camera bag company so I could ask around and see what types of camera everyone was using.

Many will say that it is not the camera but the photographer. This is true to some extent, the price tag of a camera does not determine the quality of photos it will take. However if you do not buy the right type of camera you won’t be inclined to take photos with it much less carry it around all day. Before I received my C-770 I had an early digital compact camera, compact meaning two inches thick, with a one megapixel ability. I never took pictures with it, I never carried it around. Once I got a more advanced camera with a few more megapixels, a zoom and a better feel to it I carried it everywhere. If I had never been given a better camera I would not be as into photography today as I am.

I see cameras as coming in three flavors. Compact, Superzoom and DSLR. Compact cameras are thin camera intended for point and shoot and tend to have a limited zoom. You are more likely to be carrying a compact camera around during a trip then any other type, they fit into most pockets and are easy to use. Superzoom cameras are those that have a higher optical zoom range (mine was 10x optical zoom) with a lens protruding from the front even when off, they are a mix between Compact and DSLR. These are bigger then the compacts but have more features and a better zoom. If you are planning to carry a bag with you during the day then the size issue does not matter as much. Finally there are DSLR cameras (DSLR is Digital Single Lens Reflex), a DSLR is much bigger, more expensive and heavier. They have the most options and flexibility, like manual focus and zoom. I just bought a DSLR but have not taken it on a trip yet.

The best method is to look at how you travel and decide what is important to you. A good way to find the right camera is to into electronics and computer stores to pick up the camera to see what feels good in your hands. I prefer Nikon DSLR over Canon DSLR cameras because the Nikon just feels better in my hands compared to the Canon ones. My brother does not like the really small cameras since to him they feel too fragile. Ask friends and relatives what they use and if you could try them for a few minutes to an hour. When trying out cameras take photos of anything, try using it in awkward positions like leaning over a railing or hunched close to the ground. Find out if you like using the viewfinder or the LCD screen (I think the LCD screens that swing out are really neat).

The best way to find the right camera is to go out to touch and feel them. I tried to ignore online reviews for cameras since a camera with a perfect score can just feel awful when you pick it up.

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