Sunday, January 6, 2019

Camera Things (Part 1)

Man...It's be like forever - almost 2 years, really - since I've done a blog entry.  There's been a Sunshine Community Garden plant sale and everything (spoiler alert: I bought too many tomatoes and they only produced a handful).

Anyway, today's blog entry is brought to you by Roberta's Camera, El Presidente.

El Presidente got sick about a month ago so he was sent off for treatment.  Now he's back, but there's a new stud in town (Pincay) so he's been relegated to second fiddle.  Because I always talk about how I need a better camera than my trusty ol' Rebel XTi, Roberta offered to loan me El Presidente with one of her lenses so I could play around and determine if I really wanted a new camera. 

I haven't done a "camera" test yet, but I did do a "lens" test the other night.  I used El Presidente with different lenses to see what type of difference a lens makes.  The lens I borrowed is a 70-300 IS lens.  The IS stands for "Image stabilization." That means that it tries to account for you moving ever so slightly while taking a photo so that you get a clear photo instead of a blurry one.  I have a 70-300 lens, and Shawn has a 70-300 lens so I put them all to the test.

All three lenses have autofocus on them, though Shawn's is a pain in the ass and you really have to use manual to get it close, then switch it to auto so it actually will focus.  In any case, while I took a bunch of photos, the ones on the tripod looked about the same, and the ones where IS was turned off on Roberta's also looked about the same, so instead I'm only showing the three photos that demonstrate why you either a) want to use a tripod when taking photos at full extension (i.e. at 300 or b) why you want an IS lens.

As mentioned above, because Shawn's lens doesn't really autofocus, I decided I'd use Manual focus for these photos.  Aperature (how much light is let in) was set to 5.6 for all the photos (meaning that the background should be kinda fuzzy).  The shutter speed was set to automatic, but ended up being at 1/20 of a second for all three photos.  Usually, to cut down on motion blur (i.e. the camera moved), you want your speed to be 1/your distance - that is, I had these all set to 300, therefore I should have set my shutter speed to be 1/300 to cut down on motion blur.  Unfortunately, because it was dusk, I didn't really have the luxury of setting my shutter speed faster (unless I changed the ISO - i.e. film "speed" - it's why they always used to tell you "use 400 speed film when photographing sports, 100 if you're doing portraits")

The lens line up:  My lens (on camera), Roberta's lens, Shawn's lens

First up: My lens at full extension (300) attempting to take a photo of our formerly feral cat, Stripsie.  As you can see - terribly out of focus.  This is worse than normal - Shawn's lens is closer to what I expect, but you also will end up with a LOT of photos looking like this.  In this case, I probably didn't properly brace myself (bend the knees, engage your core, breathe in, breathe out, and as you breathe out, press the trigger - it's like shooting a gun, really)
300mm, 5.6, 1/20, ISO 320, lens= Canon 70-300 EF 4-5.6 III ($200)

As you can see, it looks a little washed out, but that's something that's easy enough to fix in GIMP (free photoshop)

a little better but still really bad.  The one thing to remember about photo editing - you can fix a lot of errors, but it's damn near impossible to fix 'blurry' so you really want to start with a crisp photo.

Shawn's lens
300mm, 5.6, 1/20, ISO 320, lens = Sigma 70-3004-5.6 APO Macro Super ($200)
Much clearer, but still a little on the fuzzy side.  That fuzz is from motion blur - I probably stabilized myself well, but you still have to depress that shutter button which moves the camera a little.  This is the type of stuff that can be fixed by using a tripod or monopod.

And with the level fixing: (btw, this is what happens when you click that little sun at the top of the screen on Instagram if you go into "edit" mode - and aren't using one of their pre-set filters - I believe they call it "lux")

Finally, we have the Image Stabilization lens.
300mm, 5.6, 1/20, ISO 320, lens = Canon EF 70-300 4-5.6 IS USM ($650)

As you can see immediately, the image is much clearer.  It's not actually 100% clear - there's still a little motion blur, but it's so much less than the other photos that it appears clear.  I also technically had this set to the wrong type of motion correction - I had it set to II, when I maybe should have had it set to I as II is to be used for when you're panning, vs when you're not panning to the side.

And with levels fixing:

So yeah if you plan to be using a telephoto lens, it really does make sense to pay the extra cash for an image stabilization lens unless you're going to use a tripod/monopod for everything.  As I said, the photo above is STILL blurry from motion blur, and the only way to fix that would have been to have either a faster shutter speed or use a tripod.

Next up: the different camera bodies: 
- Canon D30 (Shawn's. It may not even work any more - it's been probably about 10 years since it's been used if not longer)
- Canon Rebel XTi (Katina's)
- Canon 6D (El Presidente)
** Also, sometime in the last 20 years, Canon changed their lens mount so I may not be able to do my camera test like I want to anyway.