Lair Of The Multimedia Guru

November 5, 2007

Digicam, the story continues

Well after lots of looking around, reading reviews and all that, i finally realized that all compact cameras which are available currently suck. So my choices where down to getting an old analog camera or a DSLR, now “analog” film is just too inconvenient for my lazy self so i choose a DSLR, more precissely the EOS 400D, thats also what mans recommanded though mans recommandition was not really why i choose it. The EOS 400D is certainly not perfect but there arent many options, many cameras are just too expensive for my taste and then there are: sony alpha (crappy noisy sensor) pentax (non functional IS and IS is the only advantage over cannon), olympus (too small sensor), nikon (lens compatibility with their cheap DSLRs is no good and no real advantage over canon)

So is the EOS400D good? Well its not bad, it could be smaller and lighter, its viewfinder could be bigger and brighter, at least ive no problem using the viewfinder with glasses but manual focus at large apertures is not possible with it because the viewfinder limits the view to f/4 or so . I wonder if one of these 3rd party focusing screen replacements would help here?

The EOS400D also sadly doesnt have live view, that is viewing what you shoot on the LCD, but there arent many DSLRs which do, the 40D being one but its too large, heavy and expensive for this small extra feature, and note the only reason why i care about live view would be better manual focus ability

Lenses, well, getting a good lens for my DSLR turned out so far to be quite a bit more tricky than i thought. First lenses are expensive, it seems they are all sold at 10 times their production cost. Second you cant just read reviews and buy a lens based on that, the lenses provided to reviewers seem handpicked and perfectly adjusted by the manufactors, what you buy in a shop is not. But i didnt know that or rather i underestimated the sample variation some people claimed exists with lenses so i bought a 18-250mm f/3.5-6.3 Tamron lens, according to reviews and images there (as well as other reviews) this lens has better image quality than for example canons 17-85 IS USM and it of course has a much larger focalength range though its not that good at the larger focal lengths but then having all that range in a single lens seemed quite convenient. Well to make a long story short the 18-250 lens i got was so bad it went back where it came from at the first oppertunity. At 100mm one side was so much more blurry than the other it was immedeately vissible at 1024×786, there was no need to zoom in and look at pixels 1:1

Luckily i also bought a 50mm f/1.8 lens from canon, one of canons cheapest lenses but still vastly outperforming the 6 times as expensive crap 18-250 tamron i received, so the sample images below are all shot with that 50mm lens. Also note that i had to recompress the images to lower quality as wordpress refused the files due to their filesize

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For a long time that flower was on my balcony, now its in my grandmothers garden, and it doesnt seem to do that well as you can see :(

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Strange tiny tree, we bought a while ago, its needles are completely soft instead of sharp and it doesnt seem to grow

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Some random weed i think

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One of my grandmothers unique plants, this one is quite representative for many of them though not all, some are breathtakingly beautifull like her roses …
My mother said its a oleander, my grandmother disagreed, i dont remember if she said what it is

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Birds, overexposed IMO, it was very dark and rainy, also they dont look good at f/1.8 aperture

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second try at f/4, sadly most birds where gone already, also the image looks worse then the origial before the recompression needed to make wordpress happy filesize wise

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My mother wanted to take a (few) picture(s) as well, well, she tried, and tried but it didnt work, half pressing the shutter button, waiting for the autofocus and then full pressing it apparently isnt that easy, so the above image was taken by my mother with manual focus. What i learned out of that, well the EOS400D shutter button is very well build as it still worked after my mother was finished.

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After you fight your way through thickets you find in a corner of the garden some firewood perfectly protected from rain to dry, currently my grandmothers only means to heat her house as her more modern heaters broke down (not counting electricity based ones). Somehow i suspect the firewood will still be there in the spring and the heaters will still be broken and the electricity bill will be near 0. In normal houses you need to wear warm closes when you leave in my grandmothers house you need warm clothes when you enter.

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Tasty looking apples (emphasis here is on looking)

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My mother identified it as parasol mushroom and said its edible, my grandmother said its poissionous (thats what my grandmother says about all mushrooms), i tried to convice them to try it ;)
btw, iam a little curious what it is, i am almost certain its not a parasol

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White roses (in the rain like everything else on that day)

Filed under: Cameras,Pictures — Michael @ 1:02

9 Comments »

  1. Pretty much all those images look quite noisy and I’m not sure what the technical term is, but the edges seem to bleed into the surroundings rather than be sharp. Is that mainly a consequence of the recompression (it seems excessive for a recompression artifact) or is that the camera/lens?

    I’m not a camera connoisseur but I’d expect better from a 390 GBP camera. Fair enough, if you scale the images down, they look much better, as you would expect, but then what’s the point of all those extra pixels? :)

    Personally, as I basically live on my computer and doubt I’ll have many photos printed on paper again ever, if it looks good at desktop resolutions, then it’s good enough for me. But I do want to upgrade to a >1920×1080 screen at some point for the sake of HD so maybe I’ll need a camera upgrade too. :)

    Comment by Robert Swain — November 5, 2007 @ 12:43

  2. > Pretty much all those images look quite noisy

    ISO 800 + recompression caused that, the originals have a noticeably less noisy appearance, subjectively at least
    and keep in mind this was shot under pretty heavy cloudcover and rain, you should try to take images with a point and shoot under such conditions :)
    just to show why that wont work
    some of the images where ISO 800 f/1.8 1/40sec 50mm (80mm considering the 1.6 crop), first your point and shoot cant do f/1.8 at 50mm, it would need f/5 or so but that means it would need a 8 times longer exposure, thats 1/5 sec and even with IS you might have problems getting a shake free image at the telezoom end of 80mm with that, not to mention IS wont help you if your subject moves or there is wind moving the leaves. But the most important thing, your point and shoot would still be at ISO 800 and that would look more like ISO 3200 or 6400 on a DSLR than ISO 800

    > and I’m not sure what the technical term is, but
    > the edges seem to bleed into the surroundings rather than be sharp. Is that mainly a consequence
    > of the recompression (it seems excessive for a recompression artifact) or is that the
    > camera/lens?

    which image do you mean exactly? And its almost certainly the lens, also keep in mind that these images where shot at fully open aperture of f/1.8 with a 80 euro or so lens (which likely cost 8euro to produce), dont blame the camera for that, the images would look overall alot sharper if i would have used a slightly smaller aperture though that wouldnt have blurred the background so nicely which is what i wanted to achive …

    Comment by Michael — November 5, 2007 @ 16:27

  3. I have both EOS 400D and EOS 10D. If you test, you will see that EOS 400D takes 72dpi pictures whereas 10D takes 180dpi pictures. Although EOS 400D is a newer camera I was dissappointed with the 72dpi pictures. My older 10D still takes very less noisy pictures.

    Comment by plastik — February 5, 2008 @ 10:19

  4. Dear plastik, if you want to spam my blog you need to get at least a partial clue about the subject. Also you will need to figure out some smarter method than making your homapge url link to your “Cosmetic Plastic Surgery” site. Such links are easy spoted and removed (like i just did).

    Comment by Michael — February 6, 2008 @ 22:34

  5. 40D has much more than just a Live View:

    – Magnesium alloy body
    – DIGIC III processor
    – 14-bit A/D and RAW files
    – sRAW (2.5 MP)
    – Spot metering (approx. 3.8% at center)
    – ISO 3200
    – 100,000 exposures shutter
    – 1/8000 sec
    – Flash X-Sync 1/250 sec
    – WB in Kelvin (2500 – 10000 K in 100 K steps)
    – Interchangeable focusing screens
    – 6.5 fps burst of up to 75 JPEG, 17 RAW, or 14 RAW+JPEG photos
    – 3″ LCD
    – Wireless multi-flash support
    – PC Sync flash terminal
    – 3 custom shooting modes (very usefull)
    – Communication terminal on base for WFT-E3/E3A
    – My Menu (configurable menu for your frequently used options)

    In my opinion the above list kind of justifies the price difference and an additional 266 grams of weight. Not to mention that 40D has much better ergonomy and the same very good menu system used in Canon EOS 1D Mark III.

    I was first thinking of getting 450D but I eventually gave up and got myself 40D.

    True, Canon has some issues with focusing which may lead to a relatively large percent of out of focus shots regardless of the lens used depending on what you shoot.

    For example, tracking a subject along the Z axis (i.e. going towards or away from you) often produces out of focus shots especially if the subject lacks contrast (such as dark clothes or a solid color), and the background is light, or there is other movenent behind the subject. Those focusing issues plague even the most expensive Canon cameras such as the EOS 1D Mark III I mentioned. Strangely Nikon doesn’t have such issues, most likely because they have 51 point AF with 3D tracking.

    As for the focusing screens, those that help manual focusing make the viewfinder even darker (I believe around f/5.6) so they are only good for use with fast lens (f/2.8 and below).

    As for the lenses, I am sure that manufacturing a good quality lens isn’t cheap but they are indeed too expensive because new high-resolution sensors are starting to hit the current lens resolution limitations (check the Canon 50D review on dpreview.com).

    However, there are some “gems” which have “friendly” price such as Canon 70-200mm f/4L, and even some Sigma lenses are quite good — for example Sigma 17-70mm F2.8-4.5 DC MACRO (which now exists in HSM version as well) can be astonishingly sharp if you pick a good piece by testing few of them in the store.

    Regards,
    Igor

    Comment by Igor Levicki — November 3, 2008 @ 1:20

  6. > 40D has much more than just a Live View:

    Thats of course true, but live view would have been the most relevant for me, but let me comment on the points of your probably exhaustive list.

    > – Magnesium alloy body

    like some review said somewhere for possibly a different camera.
    If you drop it, it breaks, if you dont it doesnt matter if its metal or poly carbonate.

    > – DIGIC III processor

    From what i remember for cannon point and shoots, the bigger the number behind the processor the more details they blurred out. I suspect this is true for DSLRs too.

    > – 14-bit A/D and RAW files

    i dont remember seeing an improvment in signal/noise ratio in the reviews ive read before buying

    > – Spot metering (approx. 3.8% at center)

    My camera is in full manual mode

    > – ISO 3200

    i can underexpose by a stop and compensate in software. Sure a explicit ISO setting would be nicer but its not a big deal.

    > – 100,000 exposures shutter

    so it breaks at 100,001? while the d400/450 breaks before it or is it afterwards?
    honestly iam pretty sure my shutter will still be working when the camera is already technically totally outdated. And if it breaks before 2 years the shop will replace it if they like or not.

    > – 1/8000 sec

    i never was in a situation where i would have wanted to use that, so id assume i wont be any time soon either

    > – Flash X-Sync 1/250 sec

    i dont use a flash anyway

    > – WB in Kelvin (2500 – 10000 K in 100 K steps)

    gimp is free and adds no weight to the camera. Besides that, WB on canon DSLRs is crap, and tend to need correction in software anyway.

    > – Interchangeable focusing screens

    not true, the d400/450 can have its screens exchanged as well, maybe not canon screens but thats just canons loss.

    > – 6.5 fps burst of up to 75 JPEG, 17 RAW, or 14 RAW+JPEG photos

    i dont remember hitting the fps limit, so id assume i wouldnt notice if it was higher.

    > – 3″ LCD

    bigger LCD -> bigger camera and thats what i do not like …

    > – Wireless multi-flash support
    > – PC Sync flash terminal
    > – 3 custom shooting modes (very usefull)
    > – Communication terminal on base for WFT-E3/E3A
    > – My Menu (configurable menu for your frequently used options)

    no java? ;)

    >In my opinion the above list kind of justifies the price difference and an additional 266 grams
    >of weight. Not to mention that 40D has much better ergonomy and the same very good menu system
    >used in Canon EOS 1D Mark III.

    > I was first thinking of getting 450D but I eventually gave up and got myself 40D.

    let me ask you something, how often (if ever) did you use the features in that list above?

    Comment by Michael — November 3, 2008 @ 11:55

  7. Sorry for a late reply :)

    >>From what i remember for cannon point and shoots, the bigger the number behind the
    >>processor the more details they blurred out. I suspect this is true for DSLRs too.

    Nope. Bigger number == more processing power which means better image and more responsive camera.

    >>i dont remember seeing an improvment in signal/noise ratio in the reviews ive read before buying

    14-bit A/D is not about SNR, it is about dynamic range — more bits == more dynamic range.

    >>My camera is in full manual mode

    Regardless of that, having spot metering is usefull to get an estimate.

    >>i can underexpose by a stop and compensate in software.

    And how exactly will that help you capture more light and/or use faster shutter? Because that is what ISO 3200 is for.

    >>i never was in a situation where i would have wanted to use that

    No bright sunlight and the need for shallow DOF (though you can use ND filter but still)? No fast moving objects such as planes and choppers?

    >>i dont use a flash anyway

    This is for studio flashes.

    >>gimp is free and adds no weight to the camera.

    You cannot dial temperature in K there.

    >>Besides that, WB on canon DSLRs is crap, and tend to need correction in software anyway.

    You must mean AWB and that is true. Manual K setting serves exactly to correct it in camera.

    >>i dont remember hitting the fps limit

    You never shot racing cars or fashion shows then.

    >>let me ask you something, how often (if ever) did you use the features in that list above?

    I used all of them them all the time (except those features for wireless flashes and wireless grip).

    Comment by Igor — December 14, 2010 @ 16:19

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