Snapshot Voyager is about my own personal photography journey. I am always looking to try something new, inquisitive as to how it works, and to the end results I might achieve.

Monday, 23 September 2013

A camera with balance

Of all the cameras I have kicking around the house, and there is a few, my wife likes the Nikon D90 with the Nikkor 35mm f2 combination the best.  Why?  For her it is the best combination of light weight and compact size, fast auto focus, good low light performance, ease of use with optical viewfinder I have.  

I have cameras that will better the above criteria, but none with that combination.

What about with the 18-105mm zoom?  Too bulky and low light performance is an issue.  D600 and Sigma 35mm f1.4?  Far too heavy.  Fuji X100 or Sony NEX 5n?  AF is too slow, especially in low light.  Leica M3?  Why would you want to shoot film?

Sometimes it's your most unloved camera that some else thinks is gold.

Nikon D600 and Tamron 180mm f3.5 macro

Saturday, 14 September 2013

The Smart Phone Purchase and the Sony QX

Recently I've been rotated to a new  position at work, one that no longer requires a cell phone.  So I have to hand in my klunky old Blackberry Bold and look at purchasing a new phone.

Trying to find out a plan and phone that fits your needs on a set budget requires a Phd in Electronic Engineering, Marketing, Legal contact writing and Mathematics.  Yep, it really is that complicated to figure out how much you will be paying per phone, per contract, by provider.

I like the idea of the iPhone 5, or the Samsung Galaxy S4, as they are the most ubiquitous iOS and Android phones, and the latest and greatest, but they are only available on expensive plans which I don't need.  I also know I want a good camera as it will be with me all the time, and the best is the Nokia Lumia 1020 with its unbelievable 42 megapixel camera, but its not on sale in Canada yet, and neither is the cheaper 925.

Nikon D600 with Nikkor 28mm f1.8

So where to go from here?  At the moment I am leaning towards the Samsung Galaxy S3.  The camera is quite good, but clearly not as good as the Lumia, iPhone 5 or S4.  However, there may be a solution.....

Sony has just launched its new QX10 and QX100 cameras that are nothing more than a lens and a sensor.  They clip on to your cell and transmit wireless camera controls to the smartphone, and wirelessly send back the photos.  Very cool!  The cheaper QX10 has a small sensor and a super-zoom lens, while the QX100 is basically a body-less RX100 - my favorite compact camera.  For the cost savings of buying a S3 instead of an S4 or iPhone 5 I could get an attachable camera that has image quality close to that of a D-SLR!  Sounds like a winner!

But there is one problem.  Catching opportunistic images requires that you have your camera on you.  Would I take the QX100 with me all the time, like a phone?  Very unlikely.  Is there a time when I would take the QX100 and not take say the NEX 5n or X100.  Probably, as it is very small, but not as much as I would think.  Therefore, is it worth $500-$600?  In the usage light that I have described, it would make for a tougher purchase.

So, with all that, what will I do? Not sure yet.  Probably I'll get the S3 and not get a Sony QX camera, but you never know, Christmas is coming!

Nikon D600 with Nikkor 28mm f1.8

Friday, 6 September 2013

Nikon Coolpix P330 - a mini mini review

Like my father in law, I was also tasked with getting my mother in law a new camera.  She wanted a compact that would take nice photos and go in her purse, so a Sony NEX wasn't going to work.  All she knew was it had to have a zoom (the Fuji XF1 manual zoom was no good) and it had to be very easy to use.  I wanted to make sure it had good low light capabilities so she could take nice photos indoors without flash, and be responsive enough to shoot antsy grand children.  Of course the best camera available for this would be a Sony RX100, but it was more than double her budget.

After a bit of research and looking around, I decided on the Nikon Coolpix P330.  It has the best image quality of any camera with a 1/1.7" sensor, has a good zoom range (equivalent to 24-120mm), a fast aperture f1.8 lens at 24mm, Vibration Reduction and a lovely 900,000 dot 3" screen.  It's also very pocketable (though not the smallest), and has almost all the features of Nikon's flagship compact the P7700.
My job was to get the camera ready for her.  So I bought a 8 GB card, charged the battery and looked at the menus to make sure it was suitable for her.  Principally, I changed the auto ISO range from 100-400, to 100-1600 to make sure she was able to use it in all lighting conditions.

Before I gave it to her I decided to try it out.  It certainly isn't as responsive a DSLR, or even a mirrorless, but it still works well.  ISO performance reminds me of my old D2X. The images at low ISO (ie 100-400) are excellent. At ISO 800 quality drops, while ISO 3200 and above is really for last resort only.   There's lots of smudging of details and noise apparent, and really not that usable.

The 3" screen is lovely, and great for both shooting and reviewing photos, while auto mode captures almost everything correctly, except white balance under tungsten lighting is sometimes a challenge.
The lens is sharp and I particularly like the 24mm equiv wide angle.  At the 120mm tele end, the lens darkens significantly to f5.6 and macro mode is no longer available.

All in all, a nice fun to use camera that has good image quality and is very compact.  I liked it.

Note:  All shots done with the Nikon Coolpix P330 at f1.8 at 24mm in macro mode.