Sunday, July 18, 2010

from DSLR to pocketable camera

DSLR stands for Digital Single Lens Reflex or a Digital SLR camera that uses a mechanical mirror system and pentaprism to direct light from the lens to an optical viewfinder on the back of the camera. The basic operation of a DSLR is as follows: for viewing purposes, the mirror reflects the light coming through the attached lens upwards at a 90 degree angle. It is then reflected three times by the roof pentaprism, rectifying it for the photographer's eye. During exposure, the mirror assembly swings upward, the aperture narrows and a shutter opens, allowing the lens to project light onto the image sensor. A second shutter then covers the sensor, ending the exposure, and the mirror lowers while the shutter resets. The period that the mirror is flipped up is referred to as "viewfinder blackout". A fast-acting mirror and shutter is preferred so as to not delay an action photo. Source:Wikipedia
Since DSLR allows the use of interchangeable lenses, it is rather bulky and heavy and requires extra caution in carriage and handling. Lately as an enthusiast, I find the need to carry with me on a daily basis a pocketable camera which I can take out easily when shooting opportunities present itself. Thus, I found myself owning a Canon PowerShot S90. This little point and shoot camera was dubbed by Ken Rockwell as The World's Best Pocket Camera.

I like Nikons and I'm a staunch critic of Canons when it comes to DSLRs but when speaking of compact cameras, Nikon models suck and Canon has the better line up. Sometimes, sticking it out with your favorite brand would limit your photographic options and knowledge on what the other brands have to offer. These are the reasons why I tried other brand/model like the Ricoh GRD3 and this current gem among the smaller-sized sensor compacts, the Canon S90. Like the GRD3, the S90 sports a similar 1/1.7 inch high-sensitivity CCD sensor and designed to compete with the popular Panasonic Lumix LX3.

Considering the smaller size sensor inside compact cameras compared to APS-C or full frame cameras, image quality will of course suffer aside from the obvious lack of other features found only on more expensive DSLR models. But if you only post your pictures on the net and printing large copies of the images you took is not one of your preferences, then compact cameras should do the trick.

Friday, April 16, 2010

vibrant colors

It's not an everyday affair when you go out in the open and able to shoot your subject and get rich and vibrant colors. I'm referring to subjects other than persons. Foremost consideration is, of course, your camera settings. For Nikonians like me, we have options to pick our Picture Controls and D2X Mode III is particularly effective in projecting rich and vibrant colors for your pictures.

The best time to shoot in the open is when the sun is hiding behind the clouds so that direct sunlight is filtered out thereby eliminating glare and too much highlights. In this kind of shooting condition, it is also best to choose a small aperture so that every thing, from the foreground to the background, are in detail. Besides, picking wide apertures is very limiting because of the bright light unless you fit in a Neutral Density filter to block some degree of brightness.

Even with portraiture, shooting under these conditions could give your photos the magical effect of an enormous diffused light from the skies above. What is good about overcast skies is that the sun is not so dominating and the shadows not at all prominent. These shadows, if there are any, should even give more depth and definition to an image. The selection of all the images featured here were all taken in RAW format, hence, I have to use my Capture NX software in converting it to JPEG images. I wish to further share a technique which I found to be useful in giving punch to your captured images. To get rich and vibrant colors like the sample images, tweak the focus slider in the NX a little bit more to give it a sharper look and add some green punch by tweaking the RGB sliders according to your taste.

Inasmuch as you've gone the extra mile of taking RAW shots, you might as well tweak them a little more by calibrating the colors of your image. And this is easily said and done if you're quite familiar with the features of the Capture NX software provided by your friendly Nikon maker. How to get the green punch is like increasing the saturation of the Green color and darkening the shadows at bit more and reducing the Gamma flare to make up for a darker and more appealing shadows. In Photoshop, there are lots of ways of achieving this look and it will all depend on your familiarity and customary flow of work on what suits you best

Generally, what seems to be the predominant contributory factor in getting rich and vibrant colors is the overcast skies serving as a huge and diffused source of light. All these images were taken in Baguio, a mountain city in the Philippines, either early in the morning or late in the afternoon, and this is the time of the day when great images abound in the highlands.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Ricoh GRD3: The Small Wonder

I’m not switching brand but sometimes I feel the need to carry with me a small and unobtrusive gear for taking instant shots when opportunity presents itself. Although I love my Nikon, I simply think that there is nothing in their Coolpix line can truly match the superior features offered by the Ricoh GRD3. It has been three months since I acquired my Ricoh GR Digital 3 compact camera and it never ceases to amaze me with its usability and ease of use. I’ve been using this pocketable camera as my wide angle lens option being equipped with a fixed focal length equivalent to 28mm in 35mm format. It boasts of having a faster lens of f/1.9 aperture, thus it can take pictures on low light environment at a faster shutter speed or the same shutter speed but with a lower ISO sensitivity setting. This third generation GR Digital camera from Ricoh has a new GR Engine III Image Processor which they claim to be capable of producing photos with enhanced image quality.

What I like most from this little gem is its 3 inch high resolution LCD screen with 920,000 dots making your images look so clear and vibrant when viewing them on the LCD. However, the clarity of images you see on the LCD screen is sometimes misleading and is not a guaranty that you’ll have a clearer or sharper picture if you view it on a larger computer LCD screen or monitor.

As a compact camera, nothing beats this GRD3 when it comes to customi- zation. It is designed like a DSLR where you can find the main controls ergonomically and strategically located where your fingers can reach them. On the top right is the Mode Dial where you can either select a choice of Full Auto, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, Full Manual and the Scene Setting. At the back is the Adjust Dial where you can access various menu for setting Exposure Compensation, White Balance, ISO Speed, Quality and AF target. The front circular control acts as Aperture Dial while the toggle lever at the back operates as your Shutter Dial.

Since I am more interested in showing you sample photos from this little gem, I will purposely shun from talking about its paper specs but dwell more on what it can do and can produce as photographic image results. This GRD3 truly excels when shooting landscapes and street scenes or when you simply would want to come closer to your subject.

Overall, what I can do with my DSLR, I can easily do it in this small wonder. I can set the built in Flash to Manual which I usually do instead of relying on its Auto Flash capability. I can avail of its Front Curtain or Rear Curtain setting just like a Nikon can, thus, I can also do remote flash photography using my Nikon SB-800 speedlight in its SU Mode.

Shooting night scenes is a possibility with its extremely longer shutter speed choices of setting thereby allowing you to capture enough light just like when using a Bulb setting while placing it on a tripod and activating the self timer button. Macro photography or those taken in close distance is likewise an easy task because you can focus in as close as 1cm away from the subject.

This little gem is a small wonder. Though only a compact camera, it can take great photos too and this is a very customizable tool in the hands of a serious photographer. Photography, after all is not owning the better gears but what matters more is what you do with what you have.