Choosing a new camera

It would be great if there was a pocket-size camera that could capture any possible scene in any possible light, but, just as there is no one type of a car that is equally good for off-road driving and Formula One racing, cameras come in a variety of types and shapes and sometimes it is quite daunting to pick one off the wall of cameras. This post offers some thoughts on how different types of cameras work out for various types of photography and, hopefully, will be useful for someone who took occasional pictures with a randomly-picked camera and would like to take photography to the next level either by learning more about the existing camera or getting a new one.

Cameras range from a cell phone camera, which is always with you, but is quite limiting in its capabilities, to a DSLR that can capture just about anything, but requires some skill to operate and some upper body strength to carry around. The rest of this post describes almost everything in this range and how each choice works for specific types of photography.

Tamron 18-270 f6.3 PZD - impressions of a daily shooter

After going through two Sigma 18-250 lenses in two years, I decided to give a Tamron 18-270 f6.3 Di II VC PZD a try. Tamron promised improved AF performance with a new ultrasonic AF drive and offered a five year warranty, which was definitely something I could use after spending over $800 on a Sigma 18-250 designed to last only 50K shots. The new lens was also much smaller and lighter, which made it easier to carry it around, given that sometimes I spend hours with a camera in my hand.

M vs. Av and Tv

Manual exposure mode (M) is often perceived as a mode that only most advanced photographers can use. While it is true that manual mode will immediately highlight any exposure errors, which is why it is also often used in photography schools to teach how exposure works, manual mode also provides some advantages when compared to aperture priority (Av) and shutter priority (Tv) modes. Let's take a closer look.

Sigma 18-250mm f/6.3 - enjoy while it lasts

In October of 2009 I picked up a Sigma 18-250 f/6.3 for my 7D for walk-arounds, so I could shoot any scene without having to switch lenses. My choice was between Sigma 18-250 f/6.3 and Tamron 18-270 f/6.3. The latter didn't have an ultrasonic motor at the time and wasn't focusing as fast as I wanted, so I bought the Sigma 18-250 for about $800 CAD.

Cross type AF points in EOS 7D

My good old film EOS SII has just a single auto-focus (AF) point and can only focus on vertical or diagonal lines because its AF point had only one bar of photosensitive elements. New SLR cameras have cross type AF points that have two lines of photosensitive elements forming a cross, which allows such cameras to focus on vertical or horizontal lines.

DOF: 35mm vs. APS-C

I was always curious to see how different would be a scene captured on 35mm film and with a digital camera, so I dusted off my good old Canon EOS SII, bought a fresh battery and a few rolls of film. The tests described in this post were captured on FujiFilm ISO 160, color-balanced for daylight, which is the only low-sensitivity film the local photo store had in stock.

Crop factor vs. magnification

Crop factor is a term associated with sensors smaller than the standard 35mm film frame, which is commonly misunderstood, even by people who write for respectable sites, such as Luminous Landscape. Consider the Understanding the DSLR Magnification Factor article written by Nick Rains in 2002. In this article Nick writes:

‘Crop’ is a fairly good term – the imaging area is physically smaller. Less of the image circle projected by the lens is used, therefore it is a crop. The image remains the same size at the film plane for a given lens and subject distance – it is in no way magnified. It does, however, take up a larger proportion of the (smaller) frame and so it is easy to see why some people call it a magnifying effect.

DXO Optics Pro - looking forward to v7

I usually use several applications to edit images. I always start with Canon's Digital Photo Professional (DPP) and then use Noise Ninja, EnfuseGUI and GIMP, when I need to do selective noise reduction, tone mapping and additional editing and scaling. When I learned that DxO Labs, which maintains an awesome database of camera sensor test results, offers DXO Optics Pro v6.1.1 that does it all in one package, I decided to check it out.

Putting a compact camera to a good use

Compact cameras are commonly considered as something that is only good for holiday family pictures and party shots. While there are many technical reasons why Single Lens Reflex (SLR) cameras produce better images, quality compacts pack enough technology to capture great photographs and the attention of your audience.

Can Lumix DMC-G1 stop time at 1/125th of a second?

I was browsing the Lumix website and noticed that the shutter speed reported for an image of a hummingbird in flight was 1/125th of a second. Hummingbirds flap their wings at approximately 50 flaps per second, so I would expect the wings to show some motion blur at this shutter speed, which could be anywhere from 10% to 70% of the wing path. However, there was absolutely no motion blur in the picture.

Panasonic DMC-ZS1 - please stop helping!

I started to see hot pixels in my good old Coolpix E5900, so I decided to buy a new camera. After much research, my choice fell on Panasonic DMC-ZS1, which was highly recommended by DPreview in their group review of compact super zoom cameras:

At first, the camera felt great - the 12x optical zoom range was awesome, which is about 6x magnification, compared to the 3x optical zoom of E5900. My excitement started to evaporate quite quickly though once I learned that the camera lacks basic control over image quality.