Category Archives: Sony

My Photographic Niche

If you’ve followed any of my work you’ve probably noticed by now that I am hooked on a few subjects.  Landscapes have always been a passion of mine.  Military aircraft, especially WWII Warbirds on display in an air museum or an air show are something I really enjoy.  But lately I’d have to say that my niche is black and white photography.  It’s not that I’ve lost interest in my other photographic interests, black and white has just taken a front row seat.

One of the benefits of black and white is that I can still work on my landscapes and also the aircraft.  Since I shoot about 95% color (I do switch the camera over to black and white occasionally), I have the best of both worlds.  It’s after I’ve taken the shot and have it available for post production that I can begin to transform it.  Sometimes when I’m out and working a scene I can even picture it in black and white. Ansel Adams described this as previsualization where he defines it as “the ability to anticipate a finished image before making the exposure”.  This may sound a little corny, but it works for me.  There are some scenes that just seem to cry out to me – “black and white”!

Here’s an example.  This shot is of the Imperial Beach Pier, just south of San Diego.  Whenever I’m down in the area I try to make a sunset photo side trip.  I was trying out my new Sony RX100 and got lucky to have a very pretty sunset.

Not bad, and I think most folks would probably just leave it as is.  But there was just something about it that made me wonder what it would look like in black and white.  I think the result gives this shot a completely different mood.  It’s been transformed from light, colorful and even cheery to dark, moody, and somber.

There’s one more aspect to my black and white obsession, and that’s adding a vintage look. I’ve been fortunate to have access a family travelogue from the early 1900’s. The book is called “Around Arizona” and chronicles my great-grandparents and very young grandfather’s 1000 mile journey around a very rough and wild Arizona. Being over 100 years old it’s not in the best shape and I’m in the process of scanning all of the pages and copying the photos. I’ve always admired vintage photos and like to study them to try and duplicate their unique look and feel. Having access to some that have a direct family connection is just icing on the cake.

To give you an idea of what I’m talking about, here’s an example:

As you can see, this photo is far from perfect. It’s faded, scratched, blotched, etc… etc… And I think it’s absolutely perfect with all of it’s imperfections. Looking at it takes me back to simpler time, when there were no superhighways, no air conditioned cars, no fast food. Photography was very primitive compared to what we have today. The camera my great grandmother used for this shot was an Eastman-Kodak No.1 Pocket Camera. It used A-120 roll film and had an autographic feature that allowed the photographer to actually write a note on the back of each frame of film using a little stylus.

That’s enough history. My point in sharing all of that is to say that I use this as my inspiration to further transform some of my photos into something similar, something with that same vintage look and feel. I’m not always entirely successful, but I enjoy the challenge. Here’s one of my more recent images:

To sum it up, I’d say that black and white, including vintage images have more character than those technically perfect shots that are cranked out today. There’s nothing wrong with a perfect digital shot that is flawless down to the last pixel, but most of them lack character, or a soul. A photo doesn’t have to be perfect to convey a feeling, a mood, or tell a story. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have a problem with those that want to create that technically perfect image. I’m just going in a different direction, towards my niche.

If you like black and white photography and want to see more, check out my new Black and White Gallery!

That’s it for this post. I hope you find your photographic niche! Until next time, Happy Shooting!

Testing the RX100

I was able to take my Sony RX100 out for a little testing and fun today.  One of the places I like to take my cameras is the Planes of Fame Air Museum (POF) in Chino California.  The POF is a wonderful place to visit if you want to see a collection of warbirds, many of which are flyable and part of the big air show show every May.

Before I begin please note that this is not an in-depth scientific review.  My RX100 is the original model, there are currently 2 newer versions on the market.  I picked mine up for a very reasonable price and it has all of the main features that are important to me.

I wanted to travel light today and thought about just bringing the RX100 by itself.  But I didn’t, just couldn’t help myself!  So I placed the little RX100 in my Tamrac Slinger Bag along with my Olympus E-M5 and assorted lenses.  The nice thing is that even with a full bag (2 cameras, and a half dozen lenses) it was still lighter than a bag with my Canon 60D and 3 lenses.  The Slinger is a very comfortable bag and didn’t get in my way at any time as I wandered around the museum.

So, how did the RX100 do?  In a word, great!  It was quick and easy to use.  There were some times when I missed having a view finder but it wasn’t a show stopper.  This happened mostly when I was near a hangar door and the bright outside light would cause some glare on the screen.  I was a little worried about image quality when I set the ISO up to 800 to handle the dim indoor light but was pleased to see that it wasn’t a problem.  Although there aren’t a lot of external controls on the body of the RX100 there are enough to get the most important settings changed.  After that you have to start digging in the menus.  All of my shots today were hand held only, no tripod necessary due to the image stabilizer.

After spending a couple of hours at the museum and with my RX100 I’m very pleased with its performance.  As I mentioned in my previous post the RX100 is not a DSLR replacement.  It is however a very worthy companion or backup.  I took over 300 shots with the RX100 today (lots of experimenting), and only 60 with my Olympus E-M5.  The E-M5 was notably better in some situations, and not so much in others.  One of those situations was when I wanted a longer focal length than the RX100 had.  All I had to do with the E-M5 was reach in the bag and grab a longer lens.  Since there was no action today the speed of the E-M5 provided no advantage.  The other thing that made a difference on the E-M5 with the view finder.  This was especially helpful when I was out in the bright sun and there was some glare.  The display on the RX100 is not bad, in fact its seem a little better than a lot of other cameras I’ve used in the past.  Unfortunately bright sun is…. bright, and it was an annoyance at times.

Here are some shots from the RX100.  Other than resizing and converting the RAW files to .jpeg they are straight out of the camera, no editing!



All of the images above that were taken inside of the hangars had an ISO of 800, and all of them were done with the RX100 set in aperture priority mode.  I’d say that the noise is not really noticeable, unless you really do some pixel peeping. But at normal viewing I think they look pretty good!

I couldn’t be more pleased with my RX100! It really is a little pocket rocket!

That’s it, 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!