Spent the recent Sunday at the Singapore Zoo and River Safari with the new lens.
Found Omar (or maybe its Winnie), one of the two rare Bengali white tigers in the Singapore Zoo. The Zoo has reportedly acquired an orange Bengali tiger but has yet to join in the exhibit. I wonder how will the white tigers react when they being introduced with the new member.
The Australian Outback was kind of bare with most of the kangaroos and wallabies hiding at a shaded corner.
Using the zoom lens (at 300mm) made me realize that these animals were also eyeing me as well. It was almost shocking to me when I was doing post-processing, to find out that they were staring right at me — cautiously and ferociously at times.
Here’s a cropped version, just to give a clearer look of the baboon’s gaze.
I used a telephoto zoom lens from Sony (SAL 70-300mm SSM G) which is not exactly fast since the widest aperture ranges from f/4.5 to 5.6 only. It comes with other weaknesses e.g. having to use an adapter (LA-EA4) in order to use this A-mount on the alpha 7 (E-mount). The adapter limits the focus region in the small centre area and also sacrifices a little bit of light since it uses a mirror for focusing.
The advantages? The 300mm focal length and the price! It is affordable for me, so I relied on higher ISO and noise reduction in post-processing.
Xiaomi launched the Redmi in Singapore in February 2014. Since then I have been wanting to get what is known as Hongmi in China which sports a quad-core 1.5Ghz ARM processor that runs a modified version of Android OS’ Jelly Bean i.e. MIUI. The 4.7”-inch 720P IPS display phone comes with a 8MP BSI camera (probably came from Sony, but if it was true — Xiaomi would have mentioned it all over).
The UI in the camera application does not look very different from other Android implementations. In other words, it looks clean and easy to use but there is nothing more to shout about. It offers a choice of simple UI or a slightly more advanced UI with more options selectable (white balancing, more shooting modes, EV setting, etc).
The EXIF data says that the focal length and aperture are fixed at 3.8mm (3.8mm is equivalent to 28mm – source) and f/2.2 respectively. This means the sensor size is approximately 76% that of the Xperia Z1. In the settings, the user can choose “standard” camera frame which fully uses the 8MP resolution i.e. 3264×2448 in a 4:3 form factor. Besides “standard”, there is also the “full screen” mode which comes in 16:9 form factor where the image will be cropped at 3328×1872 or 6MP.
All photos below are taken in “full screen” mode.
From the previous two photos, the camera app chose lower ISO instead of higher shutter speeds which I found odd. This device is predominantly meant for handheld use and as such I would give priority to faster shutter speed instead of lower ISO. I suspect Xiaomi is trying to “hide” sensor noise at higher ISO.
If you have also found the exposure numbers being odd or random or non-standard, me too! And I don’t know why Xiaomi does it this way!
As it is priced very competitively, I can conclude that it is indeed a very good replacement for your point & shoot camera! And its more than just a P&S, its a smart phone! But if you’re expecting to buy a red phone, you will probably be disappointed as Redmi does not come in red (yet)!
I do believe that the best camera is the one that is always with you.
More than a decade ago, it was my Lomo LC-A because it is compact enough for me to bring it with me to most places. Today (in 2014) it is the Xperia Z1. I am so glad that we now have smartphones which are equipped with high-resolution sensors. The Xperia Z1 camera sensor packs 20.7 megapixels in 1/2.3-inch area. This sensor is among the largest in the smartphones’ market and should promise low noise (but not really…) and better bokeh. The phone also has a dedicated shutter button with half-press ability — something I like very much.
The default operation mode is Superior Auto which means the user just needs to compose and trigger. The Manual mode on the other hand offers a little more flexibility to the user for EV compensation and setting of WB. It does not provide control/access to the shutter speeds and lens aperture (aperture seems to be fixed at f/2 in all the EXIF data I have checked for both Auto and Manual modes). Instead, there is a Scene selection. Also, full resolution 5248 x 3936 (20.7MP, 4:3) is only available in the Manual mode.
Although I prefer having some manual controls in my cameras, I seldom use the Manual mode. I stick to Auto most of the time because:
Noise at full resolution or 20.7MP is more pronounced
Smaller file obviously, with Superior Auto which locks max resolution at 8MP
16:9 in Superior Auto crops out the soft corners reported
The phone doesn’t remember the mode which I last used! Each time I start the camera app, it goes to Superior Auto!
Besides these two modes, the camera app also accepts add-ons developed by Sony and third parties (e.g. Evernote). I rarely use any of them except for Timeshift burst. They’re downloadable from the Play store.
Below are sample photos, directly from the camera (unedited) but resized, shot in either Superior Auto or Manual and all handheld. You can probably tell which mode is used from the aspect ratio. Resized images often reduce the effect of noise (one conclusion – most phones are fine if you use the photos for web). The lens according to the EXIF data, has 4.9mm focal length. I read this is equivalent to 27mm (FF/35mm).
To conclude, the camera produces sufficiently good images. With some post processing (noise reduction, sharpening, adjustments of shadows & highlights), the resized images should look great for web (or facebook, etc).
While the camera in your smartphone is not going to replace “real” cameras anytime soon — it should still be your best because you have it with you all the time — unless if you have dSLR with you all the time too.
This post is about Canon’s “New” FD or FDn 85mm f/1.8 lens which I got from Japan via eBay. There are not many articles on this lens on the Internet; some stuff I found out: it is constructed with 6 elements in 4 groups. The angles of view are 16° vertical and 24° horizontal. The more popular 85mm Canon lens would be the f/1.2 one which is probably why information is so scarce.
I find colour reproduction of this portrait/telephoto lens very acceptable, perhaps due to lack of ghosting and/or flare. Overall sharpness is also good but I often get slightly blurred images due to my own movements when using maximum aperture — couldn’t always nail sharp focus on the eyes when shooting portraiture at 0.85m distance. Will probably need to work more on this, or I could make use of a monopod.
I love prime lens, and the 50mm focal length is one of my favourites. In my opinion, primes generally offer 3 main advantages — (a) less optical distortion introduced, (b) have wider maximum aperture for those bokehliciuos portraits and finally (c) for the smaller package as compared to zoom lens.
50mm focal length (in full frame) is nifty because you can use it for many types of photography genres. If you’re new, 50mm should be your first prime because it can help you explore these various genres. You’ll be able to find what you like — portraits, street, landscape, etc before investing further in other lenses.
If you’re using a camera with APS-C sensor, you should be looking for focal length of about 35mm. Olympics and Panasonic mirrorless cameras use m4/3 format and the equivalent focal length is 24mm.
The rain after a bout of dry season created a perfect environment for many of the trees here to blossom. I would suggest that the National Parks Board of Singapore dedicate an area in the Gardens by the Bay planted with rows of these Tabebuia Rosea or the Trumpet Trees. This will create our very own version of Sakura Spring/Cherry Blossoms!
Saw these blossoming trees on the way to NUS Utown.
Then again, I do not think these trees are local. They could have been brought over from the Central/South America region about 50 years ago during the greening campaign.
The first 24mm lens designed specifically with a reflex F-mount was introduced in June, 1967. The Nikkor-N 24mm f/2.8 Auto lens has a retrofocus design, it was based on a creative design concept by Nikon optical engineers, combines a super picture angle of 84° and coupled with a fairly fast speed at f/2.8 (fastest lens among the same focal length lenses available during that period) [source: leofoo].
This first version has the “Nippon Kogaku Japan” label but mine was simplified to just “Nikon” — but it is still probably among the older 24mm Nikkor lenses because it has a minimal aperture scale of up to f/16 only (f/22 was later added in 1975). Anyway, I love the design — especially the deep ribbed “scallop” grip for the focusing ring.
The red pandas (close relatives of the raccoon and weasel) were very active this morning — showing off much of their tree climbing skills. Their quick movement proved a little difficult to manually focus with the Vivitar telephoto lens (the focus ring is a tad tight). By anticipating their movements and drive mode set to continuous, with some luck, I did manage to capture some reasonably sharp images.
Giant Panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca)
The Giant Pandas were easier; Kai Kai was just lazing around at one spot and Jia Jia was moving in and out of her den slowly. She was too shy to stay out at the public exhibit area. The eyes were large but dark — can hardly see if the eye lids are opened or closed without zooming into the picture. These pandas are a sign of the twentieth anniversary of friendly Sino-Singapore relations. They arrived on September 2012, are on a ten year loan from China. [source: Wikipedia]
This solid all-metal prime lens has the longest focal length in my collection today. Think it was made in the 70’s. It is super sturdy and heavy; this handsomely-built lens should easily last another 40 years or more.
I was worried that it may be too heavy for the alpha7’s E-mount adapter, but I’m glad it came with a tripod mount. It has minimum aperture of f/22 and provides adequate sharpness at wide open. I find focusing a challenge because the focusing ring is stiff. Turning the ring will shake the lens and that’s not helpful when seeing through the EVF at such long focal length.
However for the price I acquired it, the outcome makes it a real steal. Although it’s quite sensitive to stray light which causes overcast images when the lens points to bright areas, this is quite fixable by minor curves adjustment in post- processing.
Bought this lens off eBay. It has a minimum aperture lock, so according to a Wikipedia entry, it should be a post-1981 lens. I’m using it as a manual lens on the Sony Alpha 7 body.
The Alpha 7 has a couple of features which help manual focusing i.e. focus peaking which highlights the in-focus edges in red, yellow or white, and magnification which blows up a small area to fill the whole EVF or rear LCD (I prefer looking through the EVF). Having said this, I had some time struggling to shoot at f/1.7 — nailing the focus probably only 70% of the time during the first weekend. Hopefully my hit rate will improve.
I found it nevertheless fun. 🙂
I’m looking forward to more weekends with this 50mm prime lens. Meanwhile, I have also managed to snatch a 200mm off eBay and now waiting for it to be delivered! 🙂