This week I bought a Panasonic Lumix GX80. This Micro Four Thirds camera has in built stabilisation on the sensor as well as making us of M43 lens stabilisation.
I thought I'd get an adapter and try some old inexpensive Minolta MD lenses I've had for a while - to see if the on-sensor stabilisation would make this old lenses more useful. I was really impressed with the results.
This image was taken from an upstairs window with a Vivitar 100-200mm lens. The glass isn't great, it's not a fabulous lens. Also it's a dark day so the shutter speed was too low.
Due to the size of the M43 sensor the crop factor of the 100-200mm is a 35mm equivalent of 200-400mm. This shot was taken at the equivalent of 400mm.
And thanks to the GX80s on-sensor stabilisation I was able to handhold the camera to take this shot. This isn't an amazing photo, but it really shows the potential of the system with adapted lenses.
I recently took some photos at my children's school sports day. I wasn't happy with the result. Too many shots were out of focus. I'll admit the main problem was technique and lens choice. I used too long a lens and was poor at keeping the focus points over the subject I wished to capture. I was also stood at an angle that wasn't conducive to getting great shots. The latter was highlighted by the much better shots I got when the sporting events gave me a better angle to work with.
But where's this going? Well yesterday's announcement of the Fujifilm X-T21 and its dramatically improved autofocus system made me wonder how much of the issue was my camera. How much of the problems I faced at sports day were technique and position and how many were because the camera is not up to the job. After all we're often told that mirrorless cameras just can't do sports. I don't believe this last point. Yes if I was shooting only sport I would use a DSLR, but for the kind of small-scale action shooting I occasionally do I believe that mirrorless cameras are good enough. That left me with two options to pursue in improving my hit rate; those being my own technique and the camera settings.
Yesterday evening my boys were playing football in the garden and I decided to experiment with camera settings and attempt to improve my action shooting technique. I put the 55-200mm down and instead reached for the 18-55mm. In the small space of our garden this immediately made a different. Even at the longer focal lengths I could keep the boys filling enough of the viewfinder without losing them. The second thing I discovered was a better way of using the camera settings. Since firmware version 4.0 the X-T1 has enjoyed a more advanced autofocus system to that which the camera originally shipped with.
There are now three autofocus modes - single point, zone and wide/tracking. What complicates matters is that in reality there are more than three modes as each of these changes function depending on whether the photographer is in single shot or continuous focus mode, and whether the shooting rate mode is set to single, continuous low or continuous high. Take for example shooting in continuous low - which fires off something like three shots per second. In single autofocus mode there's a blackout between each shots. But in continuous focus mode the camera switches into high gear and you can see what's happening between shots. For now I want to focus (sorry) on the various ways the camera works in continuous focus mode as this is the one users are most likely to engage for sports or action.
Fujifilm suggests using the single point focus mode when tracking simple subjects moving towards or away from the camera. Zone autofocus gives a choice of three increasingly large zonal areas to track a target. I used this with great success at Yeovilton Air Day last year. From tracking subjects against simple backgrounds it really works very well and the experience between shooting the air show with the X-T1 and previous DSLR experience was minimal. Zone doesn't work so well with cluttered backgrounds and wasn't much help to me at the sports day. It definitely works brilliant in some situations and if I could have moved my viewing position might have been my go to mode for sports day, but not this day.
Both single point and zone focus modes behave in similar ways when you change the shooting rate. The low setting allows you to use all the focus points across the frame. The high speed setting prefers the user to make use of the nine phase detect focus points in the centre of the frame. This all seems predictable and easy to understand. Where I think there can be confusion is the third focs mode called wide/tracking. Just the name is confusing. Is it wide? Is it tracking? What's it actually doing. My experimentation leads me to believe it's doing really different stuff depending on other settings. It might have been better for Fujifilm to separate the functions into wide and tracking modes.
In single frame shooting the user isn't given a focus frame to choose from - instead wide/tracking chooses a high contrast subject to focus on. It doesn't matter whether you're in single shot, continuous low or continuous high frame rate modes the functionality is the same. In effect this is the "wide" autofocus mode, in that the camera will choose a focus point across the whole frame. Introduce continuous autofocus though and this is where matters change. Now we're in tracking mode. The screen now shows a square focus point. In single shot mode the user can move this point. Point the square at your target and half press the shutter - the camera will now attempt to track this target across the whole frame. Whether it's the camera or the subject moving the camera will attempt to follow the subject. The X-T1 isn't brilliant at this, but it will try.
So far so good. In the hullabaloo surrounding the launch of Firmware Version 4.0 this is the mode that attracted the least attention. The promotional material showed cameras on tripods tracking slowly moving trains. Big deal, zone and single point focus are where the action shooting's at, amiright? But on a whim I started playing around with wide/tracking yesterday evening while my boys played football. And it was something of a revelation. So let's return to wide/tracking in continuous focus mode. So far we've just tried single shot. What happens when we move to the 3ps continuous low mode? Functionality is pretty much the same. You can place the focus point anywhere and the camera will attempt to track the target with a shutter half press and then shoot three frames per second on a full press. This wasn't the ideal mode for our garden sports - especially due to the close distance and therefore quickly changes angles of my subjects.
So then I switched the camera to continuous high (8fps)2 mode. And this is where the choirs of angles comes in. Because this absolutely nailed it. I've been doing some online research this morning and lots of people seem to think if you engage 8fps shooting in wide/tracking mode the camera just falls back to zone focus mode. I really don't think this is true at all. While the camera does then limit the user to the nine faster phase detect focus points this isn't the zone focus mode, it is still the wide/tracking mode. Fujifilm confirms this in its own online FAQ where it states:
Q.When shooting mode is set to Wide/Tracking mode and CH(high-speed burst), the AF range becomes narrower. A. It is to realize AF speed following the approx. 8 frames/sec by narrowing the area of the Phase Detection AF.
So in wide/tracking mode, with continuous focus at 8fps the Fujifilm X-T1 will attempt to track. And I found using this setting revelatory yesterday evening. If I put the centre square on my focus target before half pressing the shutter the camera tried very hard to keep that target in focus. I was surprised how well this worked. The camera ignored complex leafy backgrounds much better than regular zone mode. The camera would reacquire my target if they moved out of the central PDAF zone for a few moments. The camera would ignore foreground objects that came into shot. Suddenly I was getting loads of keepers. So then I switched back to the 55-200mm lens to see if I got the same benefit. In the tight confines of the garden this lens is a little too long. But I still found that wide/tracking, C-AF, CH worked really well. So there we go. And awful lot of waffle to get to my main point - which is this:
FOR ACTION/SPORTS SHOTS WITH DIFFICULT BACKGROUNDS AND FOREGROUNDS THE FUJIFILM X-T1 REALLY WILL TRACK TARGETS WELL WHEN SET TO WIDE/TRACKING, C-AF, CH. SO THERE.
I don't need a Fujifilm X-T2 after all.3
1A Camera I will readily admit lusting sinfully after, but can't really afford. 2As most X-T1 users know 8fps is a maximum, the camera rarely reaches this consistently in zone or wide mode. 3This is of course complete bullshit, I lust after the Fujifilm X-T2 with every fibre of my being.
The subject of equivalent field of view/aperture on APSC, M4/3 and 35mm camera sensors is one of the dullest things in photography right now. So I thought I would join the clamour for dullness. The argument online goes something like this:
"Check out my new Fuji 56mm f/1.2, isn't it great.
"Well not really, on my Nikon 800 that would just be a 38mm f1/.8"
"That lens would give a shallower depth of field on a full frame camera."
NO IT WOULDN'T YOU IMBECILE.
The mantra you read/hear runs like this. It's the belief that THE SAME LENS would give a shallower depth of focus on a 35mm sensor camera to that on an APSC camera. This is not true. A 50mm f/1.8 is a 50mm f/1.8 is a 50mm f/1.8.
Many people seem to be confused about this and think that putting a lens on APSC or 35mm somehow makes the focal length and aperture different. Somehow the sensor reaches forward into the lens and changes its physical properties, such as the size of the aperture. Your 100mm f/2 is a 100mm f/2 no matter the sensor size, the only difference is how much of the image circle is used. If an APSC user wanted to achieve THE SAME FIELD OF VIEW/DEPTH OF FIELD as a 100mm f/2 on full frame they would need a 66mm f/1.3. But the 100mm f/2 is still a 100mm f/2 on an APSC camera.
A 50mm f/1.8 does not give you a shallower depth of field when used with difference sensors. It does not. Physics doesn't work like that.
If you put a 50mm f/1.8 wide open on a 35mm camera then cropped out an APSC frame from it, there would be no difference at all with the same lens on an APSC camera. None. How could there be? The sensor has absolutely nothing to do with what comes out of the lens. The lens transmits the same image circle no matter what camera is behind it. The only difference between a full frame, APSC or M4/3 is how much of that circle is captured.
A 50mm f/1.8 at f/1.8 looks exactly the same in terms of depth of field on APSC and 35mm sensors. The difference being the APSC is a crop of the centre of the image. Where people - get confused is when dealing with equivalence. For both these images the depth of field IS THE SAME. It is only when one tries to create THE SAME FIELD OF VIEW in APSC that equivalence comes into play. So if you wanted the same field of view (with the same depth of field) on APSC as a 50mm f/1.8 on full frame, then you'd need to use a 35mm f/1.2. HOWEVER - people still get confused and think a 50mm f/1.8 doesn't show the same depth of field on APSC as the 35mm camera, this is wrong. The images are completely the same - the only difference being the centre crop. Yes there are also difference of noise, but this is sensor related and nothing to do with the physics of lenses, field of view and depth of field.
TLDR focal length/aperture is entirely independent on the sensor behind it. Equivalence calculations only matter when trying to achieve the same field of view/depth of field on difference sensor sizes. A 50mm f/1.2 lens is a 50mm f/1.2 lens no matter what camera it is on.
Kudos to Stephen Colbert. Not many chat shows would feature a scientific breakthrough in this way. And scientist Brian Greene does a great job in explaining the hugely important Gravitational Waves discovery for the average viewer. No scientific knowledge required.
Maybe I'm getting old - but I'm increasingly enjoying sitting and watching the birds in our garden. We live in a small rural village and there is all manner of wildlife in the area. We hear owls hooting at night. In summer we watch the bats flit hither and indeed thither across our garden, and you can't drive a few hundred yards before seeing some unfortunate created splattered across the road.
In addition to the natural wildlife we hear cows moo and sheep baa. So all in all we're in the centre of a swathe of busy none-human creatures. For a long time we've had a simple peanut feeder in the garden for the birds. It was only mildly popular. A few weeks ago my wife bought a Gardman Feeding Station and I set it up in our garden.
It has taken a few weeks for the birds to get used to the idea. But now we have a feeding station that's become very popular among lots of different birds. I placed the feeding station next to a fence and some shrubbery. This allows birds a more covert approach to the feeding station and avoid attacks by the local sparrowhawk. So far we've had no fatalities surrounding the feeding station.
posted on Feb 3, 2016 by grumpyrocker in Videogames
Hurrah American Truck Simulator has finally been released. The favourite game of many a dad everywhere sees a shift in focus from Europe over to the USA. SCS Software's new game is a celebration of Americana and initially features California and Nevada, with other states to follow later. So what's it like?
American Truck Simulator is a lot like European Truck Simulator. In some ways it feels more like an add-on rather than a full fledged sequel thanks to the reuse of the gameplay model and interface. However there's plenty new to enjoy - speed cameras make way for cops, turning right on red takes some getting used to and there are new mandatory weighing stops. The big draw is of course the USA location and for that the game is definitely worth the modest £14.99/US$19.99.
It might have been blowing a gale, but it was also lovely and sunny at Westbay in Dorset yesterday. The day before the town had been very quiet, with rain driving visitors away. But the winter sun brought out plenty of visitors yesterday despite the cold and wind. I decided to head over with my camera. I travelled light for this one, just my Fujifilm X-T1 with the 27mm f/2.8 and 14mm f/2.8 prime lenses.