Category Archives: San Diego

Timing Really Is Everything!

Timing is everything, really! This is especially true with photography. Sometimes it’s more about your timing than your equipment. Fortune not only favors the bold, but also the well prepared.

When you go somewhere to take some photos, a little planning can go a long way in creating interesting and unique images, vs. snapshots. So, how does one prepare? Scouting a location you’re interested in helps. You can also use Google Earth and Maps to get an idea of what to expect. And, since there’s an app for virtually anything including photography, you should take advantage of them. Personally, I use one for my Android phone call PlanIt For Photographers. This app (and others like it) can tell you which direction the sun will rise and set, but also when the best light will happen. PlanIt also has the ability to tell me when and where the Moon will rise/set, along with the Milky Way!

A quick note about gear. It’s nice to have a high end, high dollar camera and lens. However, it’s not an absolute requirement. My gear costs a fraction of what some of the high end stuff does, but I don’t let that stop me. Learn how to use what you have to maximize the results you can achieve. I’ve done some night shots of city lights using my Sony RX100 (technically a point and shoot camera). To maximize my results, I put it on a tripod and used the timer to get my shots. My point is that you don’t need to spend a ton of money on gear.  Use what you have to get started, and it may surprise you!

In addition to doing your homework and knowing when the best light is for a particular scene, you also need to bring some patience. There are times when the light may seem like it’s done and gone for the night, but it’s definitely worth it to wait. More than once I’ve been at a site, along with other photographers…the sun sets, and the others pack their bags and head for their cars. I waited, not long, maybe 10 or 15 minutes at the most. And – BAM! The magic happens! Here’s an example of what I’m talking about:


The shot above is the Imperial Beach Pier. You can see that the sun has just about set.

Compare this shot to the one above it. They were taken from just about the same spot, but about 15-20 minutes later. Quite a difference!

This next shot was taken when the sun was low in the sky. The light was very nice, and I could have called it good and packed up.

Now in this case, I waited more than 15 minutes. I wanted to get the San Diego Waterfront all lit up.

Personally, I like the second shot much better. While the first version is nice, and I wouldn’t have a problem sharing it with anyone, the second one is much more appealing. In order to make this shot work, I put my Panasonic FZ1000 on a tripod, and used a delayed timer for the shutter (to help minimize vibration).

To sum up this post, here are the main points:
Prepare – use Google Earth/Maps or get an app (PlanIt or something similar).
Timing – get to the location and set up before best light.
Patience – the show may not be over when the sun has set, give it another 10 or 15 minutes.
City Lights – you may need to stay a little longer to catch the city all lit up (bring a tripod).

That’s it for this post, until next time – Happy Shooting!

My New Pocket Rocket

Catchy title, isn’t it! I’m referring to my Sony RX100. Technically it’s a point and shoot camera, but that’s a good thing, really!

You may be wondering why I got myself a point and shoot (P&S) when I have so many other choices. That’s because I’m always on the the hunt for a small camera with excellent image quality.  After doing quite a bit of research, I picked the Sony RX100.  Yes, this is the original.  There are 2 revisions to this model on the market.  As nice as these newer versions are, they come with a hefty price tag and I decided that I really didn’t need the additional features.  Some of these features seem like gimmicks and marketing ploys, and I probably wouldn’t use them.  My primary “must haves” were excellent image quality, shoot in RAW, and it had to fit in my pocket.  The RX100 does all of this, and more.

Before I share a few examples let me say that this little P&S is not a DSLR replacement much less a M43 (micro 4/3rd’s) replacement.  As good as it is, it does have its limitations.  One of the things that makes it so good and also the reason it won’t replace my other cameras (like my Canon 60D or Olympus E-M5) is it’s sensor.  The little RX100 comes with a 1″ sensor.  This is much, much larger than what typically comes in a P&S camera.  The 1″ sensor is also much smaller than the sensor in either my 60D or E-M5.  The other thing that makes the RX100 so good is it’s Carl Zeiss lens.  It’s fast (f1.8 on the wide end) and provides excellent image quality with very little color fringing or chromatic aberration (so far).  It also has an image stabilizer and can shoot up to 10 frames per second.

I probably won’t try to use my RX100 at an air show for fast moving air planes.  The long end of the lenses zoom range is only 100mm, and while it can shoot 10 frames per second, it doesn’t have a view finder, either electronic or optical.  It would be very difficult to track and shoot the planes as they quickly pass by using just the screen on the back of the camera.  And if I did manage to grab a shot or 2 the planes would look like little dots.  I would however take it along for photos of the static displays of aircraft on the ground, or in an air museum.

The main reason I got the RX100 was for those times when I don’t want to bring anything that wouldn’t fit in my pocket.  There are times when even my trusty Olympus E-P3 or E-M5 can be bulky (in comparison the RX100).  I’ve been on a quest to shrink my photo gear footprint for a while now.  Since I got the RX100 and used it alongside my E-M5 I think I’m pretty close to where I want to be.  So much so that I’m even thinking of selling a couple of my other cameras.  I’ll keep the Canon 60D and big lenses mostly for air shows, the E-M5 for just about anything else, and now the RX100 as a backup or primary camera when I want to go very fast and light.

There are a lot of P&S cameras on the market.  Some are ok, like the Canon S90 to S120.  Nikon and Fuji also have some very good P&S cameras.  I’m sold on the RX100 mainly because of the image quality and other reasons I already mentioned above.  This obviously isn’t a scientific review, just my thoughts and reasoning for picking up this great little camera.  Here are some examples:

The images above with the exception of RAW conversion and resizing were not “enhanced” in any other way.

That’s it for now, there will be more to follow in future posts as I’m able to spend more time with the RX100. Until next time, Happy Shooting!

EM-5 vs EOS-M

EM-5 vs EOS-M

This post is about a quick comparison between my Olympus OM-D EM-5 (that is a mouthful, so I’ll shorten it to EM-5) and the Canon EOS-M.  Sorry, this isn’t an in-depth scientific test, but more of a seat of the pants real world comparison.

The EM-5 is mine and the EOS-M belongs to my son, Steven.  He got a great deal on his gently used EOS-M (with a couple of lenses), and was kind enough to bring it down during our motorhome vacation at the Chula Vista RV Resort.

My first impression of the EOS-M was from what I had read on-line.  And unfortunately the reviews weren’t very good.  But once I actually got to touch and feel one, I was pleasantly surprised.  The size was perfect (small, but not too small), and it had a nice heft to it.  There isn’t an electronic viewfinder (EVF), and the screen is fixed.  The EOS-M also has a touch screen. The other thing I noticed is that there aren’t many external controls.

The EM-5 on the other hand had glowing reviews since it was first introduced.  I knew I had to have one, and have written about it in previous posts.  To summarize, it’s just the right size (for me), has a movable view screen, and a great EVF.  One more plus is the amount of external controls.  The EM-5 has a touch screen, but I don’t use it and have turned it off.

So, how exactly did we go about comparing these two great little mirrorless cameras?  We put each camera on a tripod, and set them to manual.  Then the aperture was set to f/16 and the shutter speed set to 30 seconds.  Finally, each camera had the ISO to 200.  Here are the results:

EOS-M , San Diego Night Sky
The photo above is from the Canon EOS-M, with 22mm EF-M22mm.

Olympus OM-D EM-5, San Diego Night Sky

The photo above is from the EM-5 with 17mm 1.8

Other than converting from RAW and resizing, each image has had no post processing applied.

Let’s look a little closer.  I zoomed in to 100 percent on each image. Then I selected a small section and cropped it.  This is what they look like:

100 percent EOS-M
The photo above is from the EOS-M

100 percent, OM-D EM-5
The photo above is from the EM-5

Now, the question is – which one is better?  Personally I think they are both great, and there is no clear winner in my opinion. Unprocessed, there is some noise, but nothing that some noise reducing software can’t handle. Will these cameras win any low light contests against full frame DSLR’s? No, most likely not. But that’s ok because they have other advantages like size, speed, and ease of use.

I could have processed these images, cleaned them up, sharpened them and applied some other tweaks and adjustments., but I didn’t want to do that.  I wanted to share what each camera can do right out of the box.  Each image is presented honestly so you can judge for yourself.

Either one of these cameras would be a fine choice if you are in the market.  It really boils down to personal preference.  The best thing to do if you’re interested, would be to get your hands on them and see which one feels the best in your hands.

That’s it for now.  Until next time – Happy Shooting!