Thursday, June 21, 2012

Finally a Sunset and a little "HDR light"

I finally got the timing right on one of my drives home from Canada.  There are a few nice farm houses on top of a mountain that looks over to a rest area.  I was hoping to get there for a sunset, and finally, the timing worked out for me.  As you can see from before, I tend to like the sunsets anyway, so any chance at one really makes me happy.  However before the sunset, lets look at the farm house (I will get to why).

Remember to click the picture to get a full size.

I have always liked old farm houses, and enjoy taking pictures of them.  Notice here the sky is white (as I exposed for the farmhouse.  Now lets look at the sky on its own.

So, now HDR (High Dynamic Range) is getting really popular in photography.  HDR is basically accomplished by taking multiple exposures and combining them so that all the pixels are exposed properly.  I do not do much with this, but I have often put the sky back into the picture (which I guess is sort of like HDR light).  So, I will now combing the exposures (note the sunset is zoomed out a bit more, but that will not matter).  

Had I not zoomed out for the sky, the dark clouds would not have been there (they were higher in the picture).  I could still have easily removed them by just sliding the picture up.  However, I tend to like the look that they give, so I figured I would leave them like this.  

This is a pretty cool image.  All I had to do was put the farm house on a layer over the sunset, use the magic wand and select the sky and delete it.  Then a nice picture with an exposed farm house and sky (in very simple steps.  Notice, I used this technique with the church photo down further in this blog (but tried multiple skies) as well as others.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Comparison for a new camera (SX-260)

I picked up the SX260 to carry around.  I just seem to find I use smaller cameras much more than the DSLR (it really helps that it just slides into my pocket).  So I am always looking at a way to improve my pictures in the smaller camera (improving the camera I carry most supplies more bang for the buck).  With the SX260s 20X zoom, I can use it to get the kids even when they are far away. I tried the SX240 when it came out, but did not purchase that one as the improvement did not seem worth buying another camera (there is a comparison of that on in my older posts)

The SX260 dropped the resolution to 12.1 MP (from 14 for the SX210).  This is good, I still think 10 would be better (look at the old review to get an understanding of why, but in short it would reduce noise).  Obviously the quality of the pocket camera does not compare to the DSLR, but as it is around me more often, it gets points for that.

So instead of posting lots of pictures showing the comparison (as I did last time) and boring most people, lets just get to the point.  For that, I only need 2 pictures (remember to click them to get full size pictures).  My biggest complaint with the SX210 (and SX240) was noise.  So does the SX260 help that.  Lets use the picture of my book shelf as a guide.

As my office is not the brightest, both pictures were taken at an ISO of 800 with no flash (remember this is a noise test, not so much real world).  The upper picture is from the SX210.

The picture below is from the SX260.

If you compare the images on a pixel by pixel looking for noise you would get this:

The SX210 is on the left, and the SX260 is on the right.  Though neither image is really great (go back to see how the DSLR did with this image in the first comparison), there is less noise in the SX260.  So it is making strides in its weakest area.

However, was that enough to justify buying a new camera.  I am not sure, it is definitely an improvement in what I considered the chief weakness, but fortunately, I did not need to use this as the sole decision maker.  The SX260 also has some nice new features.  One being live mode.  Below are two pictures taken one right after the other outside in real world conditions (sun set over a hill).

The first is from the SX210.  Note, I have taken lots of sunsets with this camera (again see some of the past posts), so I know how to configure the camera to get the best of the situation.  Even with all of that, below is the best I could do.

Note, I could most likely enhance this in photo shop, but that adds another step.  Below is what I was able to get out of the SX260 just using the live view sliders.

The SX260 matched the actual colors much better.  Using the live controls it was easy to get the camera to match what I was seeing.  This is something that the SX210 does not have.

The other feature that made the SX260 nice was the slow motion video.  Both do regular video fairly well, but the SX260 adds a feature to do a reduced resolution slow motion video (again, something the SX210 does not do).  Take a look at the example below.

Note, that this was ball 4, he was not hit, nor is he rushing the pitcher (though I thought it skimmed his helmet at first).

Though the resolution is really low (I would like to see future cameras increase the resolution in slow mode), it is still something I have lots of fun with the kids.  We have taken videos of all kinds of things, and it is always fun to watch them play back in slow motion.

So to conclude this, the quality out of the SX260 is better than the SX210, and that alone is most likely worth the purchase.  Additionally with some nice creative and fun modes, the camera really stands out.  So I kept the camera, and am using it regularly.

Note, my next update will be soon.  I have been using this as an infra red cam already (and the reduced noise again helps here as well).  I have posted one of the pictures on Google+, but will go through it all here a bit more.