Jonathan Fleming's Blog

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Posts Tagged ‘test

First Shots: Canon G1 X Mark II

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I’ve been shooting with Canon’s brand new flagship Powershot camera this week, the G1 X Mark II. The original G1 X didn’t really interest me at all. This camera, however, is a different story.

I’m still assessing its abilities, but right off the bat I’m impressed with the image quality. The RAW files respond well to one of my favorite VSCO presets, Velvia 50, which I used to process most of these shots.

The video mode isn’t very robust, but the quality is pretty good. Footage below was shot hand-held with the camera set to 1080/30p. You can check out more footage on my Youtube channel as well.

I’m really liking this camera so far. It’s pretty quick and responsive, I love the dual control rings, and the 24-120mm f/2-3.9 lens is fast and flexible. Can’t wait to spend more time with this thing!

 

Written by Jonathan

April 21, 2014 at 4:26 pm

Megapixel Madness

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Nikon D800 +  Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G | 1/250 sec, f/2.8, ISO 100

It’s impossible to appreciate fully by simply viewing the downsized images I’m posting here, but from what I’ve seen so far on my monitor at home, files from the Nikon D800 look downright stunning.  It seems that the big headline feature of the camera is its 36 megapixel sensor. I guess I can see why, because this thing captures an incredible amount of detail:


Same image as above, cropped. Really really cropped.

Besides the amazing sensor, however, other key elements of this new camera system are really impressing me so far. I can see definite improvements in metering, autofocus, and especially in handling over my older D700. I’m in love.

Happy shooting this weekend :)

Written by Jonathan

March 30, 2012 at 11:17 am

Growing Up Too Fast

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Nikon V1 + 1 Nikkor 10mm f/2.8 + SB-N5 | 1/20 sec, f/2.8, ISO 200

My great nephew Julian is now a touch over one month old, and wow, kids grow fast! Last night, he met up with the entire family for the first time. Of course, uncle Jonathan has a camera in tow.

The dimly lit house we gathered at was a great place to test out the new flash unit I just received for my Nikon V1. The lack of a built-in flash in the V1 seemed like a curious omission from the camera at first. Nikon instead opted for  a separate unit, the SB-N5 Speedlight, which attaches to the camera using a proprietary connector.

Proprietary connector?! My first reaction was “why not a regular old hotshoe I can mount my SB-900 to?” Then again, an SB-900 is nearly double the size of the camera body itself. Not a combo I’m likely to use anyway. This smaller SB-N5 unit feels way more practical in use, and what makes it rock compared to a typical built-in flash is that it can tilt and swivel, much like its bigger SB brethren.

I set exposure manually at the camera. Wasn’t too worried about the low shutter speeds since the flash would help me freeze movement. From there I just rotated the flash head where I wanted it in order to wash light off part of the white ceiling above me, relying on the camera to vary flash output automatically. The whole experience felt just like using the iTTL flash system with my Nikon DSLR. It worked, and worked well.


Nikon V1 + 1 Nikkor 10mm f/2.8 + SB-N5 | 1/40 sec, f/2.8, ISO 200


Nikon V1 + 1 Nikkor 10mm f/2.8 + SB-N5 | 1/25 sec, f/2.8, ISO 200


Nikon V1 + 1 Nikkor 10mm f/2.8 + SB-N5 | 1/40 sec, f/2.8, ISO 400


Nikon V1 + 1 Nikkor 10mm f/2.8 + SB-N5 | 1/20 sec, f/2.8, ISO 200


Nikon V1 + 1 Nikkor 10mm f/2.8 + SB-N5 | 1/80 sec, f/2.8, ISO 400

Of course, the SB-95 is nowhere near as powerful or versatile as Nikon’s real hotshoe flashes, but for indoor shots with bounce and for outdoor fill, it’s a must for a V1 owner.

Written by Jonathan

December 23, 2011 at 9:35 pm

Running Shiba, Gunning Nikon V1

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Nikon V1 + 1 Nikkor 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 15mm | 1/100 sec, f/4.8, ISO 100

Suki and I have been missing on the blog for a while, but we’re back to talk about the Nikon 1 V1!

I must admit, when Nikon first announced the Nikon 1, their first mirrorless camera system, I wasn’t terribly excited. The camera’s design is on the bland side (especially compared to my Fuji X100), and the sensor, while much larger than the ones you’d find in a typical compact, is smaller than one in my Olympus E-PL2 and other m4/3 cameras. Epic fail, right? Not at all.


Nikon D700 + Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G | 1/125 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200

My initial impression of the V1’s image quality is very favorable. The files are detailed, sharp, and clean. All the lenses currently available for the 1 mount (10mm pancake, 10-30mm, 30-110mm, 10-100mm) seem to perform very well. But what intrigued me most about the V1 wasn’t so much the image quality as it was the system’s speed.


Nikon V1 + 1 Nikkor 10mm f/2.8 | 1/320 sec, f/2.8, ISO 100


Nikon V1 + 1 Nikkor 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 22mm | 1/250 sec, f/5, ISO 100

The V1 is heavily specified when it comes to speed, especially in auto-focus performance. It has a hybrid AF system that can use phase-detection and contrast detection to acquire and track focus, giving the V1 a significant edge in focus performance compared to other mirrorless cameras. The dog park was a perfect place test this capability out, and I was, to say the least, floored by how fast the AF is.

One thing’s for sure, I never expected to take a shot like this with a camera other than a DSLR:


Nikon V1 + 1 Nikkor 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 22mm 1/250 sec, f/5, ISO 100

Not only is the AF blazing fast, but the camera is capable of some ridiculously high burst rates. Switching from the mechanical shutter to the electronic shutter, which incidentally has a maximum speed of 1/16,000, allows you to shoot as high as 60fps in full resolution, though at that speed you lose the ability to continuously focus. However, you can do single-point, continuous autofocus at 10fps, which is more than enough to keep up with Suki at the dog park:

In a scene like this, the V1 doesn’t stutter, hesitate, or second guess itself. You hit the shutter release and it just goes. Brilliant.


Nikon V1 + 1 Nikkor 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 100mm | 1/250 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200

The dog park is relatively small, and I wanted to up the ante. Suki runs much faster in a bigger, more open area, so we headed to the beach for more Shiba Inu running action. To minimize lens changing in such sandy conditions, I used the 1 system’s super zoom, the 10-100mm VR, though I’m sure my telephoto 30-110mm Nikkor would have performed just as well here:


Nikon V1 + 1 Nikkor 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 10mm | 1/160 sec, f/8, ISO 100


Nikon V1 + 1 Nikkor 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 100mm  | 1/500 sec, f/8, ISO 400


Nikon V1 + 1 Nikkor 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 40mm | 1/640 sec, f/5.3, ISO 100

Left: Suki at impulse speed. Right: Suki at warp speed.


Nikon V1 + 1 Nikkor 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 100mm | 1/1,000 sec, f/5.6, ISO 320

Again, the camera confidently kept Suki in focus, even when she was running straight at me:


Nikon V1 + 1 Nikkor 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 100mm | 1/1,000 sec, f/5.6, ISO 280


Nikon V1 + 1 Nikkor 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 100mm | 1/1,000 sec, f/5.6, ISO 250


Nikon V1 + 1 Nikkor 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 100mm | 1/1,000 sec, f/5.6, ISO 220


Nikon V1 + 1 Nikkor 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 100mm | 1/1,000 sec, f/5.6, ISO 220

_

I haven’t done too much video with the V1 yet, but it’s spec’d well in that area as well: 1920 x 1080 30p or 60i, 1280 x 720 30p with full manual exposure control, as well as some high-speed capability at lower resolutions: 400fps at 640 x 280 or 1200fps at 320 x 120. The high speed is played back at 30fps, giving you the ability to capture slow motion video. The one above was shot at 400fps. Pretty cool stuff!


Nikon V1 + 1 Nikkor 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 10mm |  1/125 sec, f/4.5, ISO 180


Nikon V1 + 1 Nikkor 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 100mm | 1/500 sec, f/5.6, ISO 320


Nikon V1 + 1 Nikkor 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 100mm | 1/400 sec, f/5.6, ISO 560

My x100 has been sitting in my carry-everywhere camera bag all by itself lately. Not any more!  I can now supplement the Fuji’s excellent low light, high ISO ability with the V1’s  high performance video capabilities, fantastic focus and burst speed, and lens changing flexibility. Well, actually…. the Fuji is getting repaired right now (an entirely different story), so the 1 is all that’s in the carry-everywhere bag for now…

Which isn’t all that bad so far. The V1 is flat out fun to shoot with, the build is super solid, the metering is spot on, the image quality is surprisingly good, and boy is it fast. Will return with more impressions =)

Written by Jonathan

December 18, 2011 at 3:21 pm

Blue Hour Photographs

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Fuji X100 | 9 sec, f/11, ISO 200 (JPEG output: Astia)

On the way to meet friends for dinner in downtown SF last night, I stopped by the pier to grab some night shots with the X100. It was a surprisingly warm evening. Perfect for a relaxing stroll with the camera.


Left: Fuji X100 | 1/10 sec, f/2, ISO 200 (hand-held) ||  Right: Fuji X100 | 2sec, f/11, ISO 200

At this point the light was falling fast. After a couple of hand-held snaps, I brought out my trusty gorillapod for some long expsosures:


Fuji X100 | 7 sec, f/11, ISO 200 (JPEG output: Astia)

I would normally shoot RAW when doing night photography, but out of curiosity I recorded RAW and JPEG files simultaneously. To put it simply, the X100 puts out a fantastic JPEG file.


Fuji X100 | 30 sec, f/16, ISO 200 (RAW: Processed in LR3)

The built in 3-stop neutral density filter came in handy for giving the water a more glassy look and smoothing out the clouds, though I do prefer the more dramatic sky that resulted from the 7 second exposure over the 30 second exposure above.

I continue to be amazed that such a relatively small camera packs such a serious image quality punch. I feel like such a ninja with the X100. Silent, extremely portable, and incredibly quick to deploy:


Nikon D700 + Nikkor 85mm f/1.4G AFS |  1/125 sec, f/1.4, ISO 1600

Tonight I wanted to get a couple frames of the Golden Gate during blue hour. Arrived on site, jumped out of the car, climbed down on the rocks, plopped the small rig down and fired away. I was happy that the fog stayed high enough in the sky to be a sweet element in the photo without completely shrouding the bridge, which is often the case in this very foggy city.


Fuji X100 | 30 sec, f/11, ISO 200 (RAW: Processed in LR3/CS5)

Click on the image above to see a larger version on my City and Landscape gallery.

Written by Jonathan

August 19, 2011 at 10:55 pm

Fuji X100 : Intelligent Flash

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Fuji X100 | 1/400 sec, f/5.6, ISO 800

You know those tiny and often useless flash units built into many smaller cameras or that pop out of the top of many DSLRs? The ones that many people totally avoid using because they seem to hurt more than help? The X100 has one of those. Here’s the thing though: I actually find it useful.

Sometimes you’re dealing with pretty crummy lighting and you need a small amount of fill, a kiss of light to hit your subject to keep them from being all shadowed up. Muah:

A few more examples of how well the fill flash works on this camera.

In these three image there was so much harsh sunlight (the sun was directly above us at this particular time of the day) that a straight shot without flash would have looked terrible. So I had my subjects look down, essentially shadowing their faces, and I popped some on camera light at them. Worked great for preserving detail in the background without completely silhouetting my subjects.

There is one problem you can run into however. You can see it in the image of the wifie above: Notice how her eyes and nose are lit by the flash, but there seems to be a loss of light from her nose down? That’s the accessory hood getting in the way:

I kind of light the spot light sort of look it gave to the image, but in most cases you’ll want to remove the X100’s lens hood (if you have one) before you use the flash.


Fuji X100 |  1/950 sec, f/2, ISO 400

I wrote a post a while back that covered the X100’s ability to sync with my SB-900 flashgun at crazy high shutter speeds. That high speed sync helps the camera’s tiny, relatively low-powered built-in flash as well, allowing you to shoot wide open and still light a heavily backlit subject with it, as seen in the example above.


Left: Fuji X100 | 1/30 sec, f/2, ISO 3200 || Right: Fuji X100 | 1/40 sec, f/2, ISO 3200

Don’t get me wrong, I certainly don’t go out of my way to use that tiny little on-camera flash. Sometimes however, using it becomes the difference between getting a shot and not getting a shot. In that sort of situation, I’m pretty surprised at how easy it is to get natural results with the built-in flash. Low light portraits are a good example (above).

Ever use flash to take someone’s photo in a dark room or outside at night and get a super bright or even blown-out subject with a black hole for a background? Yuck. You can usually compensate by manually using a slower shutter speed to burn in some ambient while you mix your flash in to get a better image, or in the X100’s case, just turn the flash on and shoot.  Both of the low light shots above were taken in Aperture Priority Auto. All I did was turn the flash on and the camera did the rest, properly exposing my subject and balancing in the ambient (whatever little amount of ambient there was anyway).

Of course, human beings are not the only subjects the little flash can help you out with:


Fuji X100 | 1/750 sec, f/10, ISO 400

A little on-axis fill to lessen the harsh shadows on Bo Bear here. Also comes in handy for bringing a little more detail out of heavily shadowed areas of your frame. Check out the difference in detail, especially inside the shadowed area of the gas pump on the right, between the first image shot without flash, and the second with flash activated:


Fuji X100 | 1/340 sec, f/5, ISO 800 (flash off)


Fuji X100 | 1/300 sec, f/5.6, ISO 800 (flash on)

I like that the results are subtle. They don’t scream “taken with flash!!!!”


Fuji X100 | 1/220 sec, f/4.5, ISO 200

These leaves were pretty heavily shadowed. Use the flash to lighten them up against the background.

I must say, when I first saw the little built-in flash on the X100 I just chuckled. But hey, it comes in handy. Fuji calls it an “intelligent flash.” Seems like an appropriate name considering how easy it is to get natural results with it.  Good job, Fuji!

Written by Jonathan

July 11, 2011 at 12:57 pm

Hanging Out in Arizona

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Fuji Finepix X100

Sedona, AZ. My goodness what a beautiful town. I really wish had time to properly photograph the area, but we were in a hurry to get to our next stop. Sedona is very….red. The buildings are red, the rocky landscapes are red…even the light poles are red!

The landscapes are simply incredible, but I could only grab shots from the passenger seat of the car as we trucked through the town. Next time, Sedona!


Fuji X100 | Top Image: 1/60 sec, f/2, ISO 1600

Loving Bridget’s “hurry up and take the photo already so I can figure out what I want to eat!” look. It appears that Fuji is known for really good skin tone reproduction. I think I can see why. Even under really crummy-colored light, skin tones out of camera look very natural.


Fuji X100 | 1/180 sec, f/3.2, ISO 200

Arizona is HOT right now. I think it’s about 108F outside as I type this. The hottest part of the day is around 5pm, which is so different from how things are in San Francisco, where even if it does reach 105F in the day time, it’s going to be in the 60s by 5pm =)


Fuji X100 | 1/480 sec, f/8, ISO 400

We started hiking through one of the local parks, but quickly started overheating (we’re weak San Franciscans!). So we headed to a much better spot for hanging out:


Fuji X100 | Motion Panorama, 120 degrees

This is Slide Rock Park in Arizona. When my friends and I were kids, we went camping every summer together. Our childhood campground was right next to a beautiful river, where we used to spend all day swimming. Slide rock brought all those memories back as we hung out in the swimming area:


Fuji X100 | 1/340 sec, f/5.6, ISO 800

Lighting was horrendously contrasty, with the searing mid-day sun casting hard shadows everywhere. Still amazed at how the Fuji X100 handles dynamic range in situations like this.

Sitting on rocks in the middle of the river, I really wanted to capture as much of the scene as possible, so I went into the X100’s motion panorama drive mode, which also works vertically:


Fuji X100 | Motion Pano, 120 degrees

You can see a little bit of a misalignment in the bridge detail at the top of the image. Towards the end of the pan, I think I moved a little too far outside the guideline.

If you’re careful, motion panorama also works with people!


Fuji X100 | Motion Pano, 180 degrees (cropped)


Fuji X100 | Motion Pano, 180 degrees


Fuji X100 | Motion Pano, 180 degrees (cropped)

I was driving my friends crazy here. “Don’t move guys! Doing a pano!”


Fuji X100 | 1/340 sec, f/6.4, ISO 800

Beating the heat with a swim followed by some DQ. Oh yes…


Fuji X100 | 1/220 sec, f/4, ISO 400

As the sun began to set and temperatures continued to RISE (so weird!), we left Slide Rock and kept driving. Stopped briefly to check out the Montezuma Castle National Monument.

By this time the sun was BURNING hot. Special reflective umbrellas helped some of us unaccustomed folk brave the heat. That, and eating raspados in the evening. Raspados are these interesting, milk-shake/show cone hybrids, with fruit! Yummm:

Finally we arrived at our last destination for our trip, and have spent the last to days doing ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. And you know what? I love it. I love doing nothing. I work hard everyday and am always doing SOMETHING. Doing nothing feels incredible. Our host happens to be a hair stylist, so the girls got their hair done:


Fuji X100 |  1/60 sec, f/2.8, ISO 1250


Fuji X100 | 1/60 sec, f/2, ISO 400

The wifey is looking cute!


Fuji X100 | 1/105 sec, f/2.2, ISO 400


Fuji X100 | 1/500 sec, f/2, ISO 800

Me? I spent my time under the A/C vent in the living room. Cold tile at my feet, Lightroom/Photoshop/Wordpress up on my laptop. Snacking, brewing cups of coffee at will, defiantly refusing to think about anything that HAS to be done. My friends chat it up, watch TV, take naps, play cards, just chill. This is an awesome vacation =)

Written by Jonathan

June 24, 2011 at 6:08 am