Tuesday, September 21, 2010

F300EXR – Review Part 6 – Macro Field of View

The F70EXR and F80EXR do not get all that close for macro shots. Close enough for flowers of course, but magnification remains fairly light. So how does the new 24mm lens do against the 27mm lens? And how about at full zoom, where we benefit from an extra 90mm?

I ran two separate tests in low light on tripod.

Test 1 – Closest Focus at Full Wide

Here, the F300EXR managed a lot more magnification. This presumably due to the ease of focusing a wider lens closer to the subject. Here is the F300EXR’s field of view shown as shot from closest focus.

DSCF0160_f300_wide[1] And here is the shot from the F70EXR (which is identical to the one from the F80EXR in field of view, hence only one is shown.)

DSCF4813_f70_wide[1] The plane of focus slashes left to right through the middle of the “B” so parts of these images (e.g. top right and bottom left) are out of focus. This is more pronounced with the F300EXR because of the much higher magnification.

Remember to click through to see the 800px versions. And here come the crops for this series … three from each cam, one in M4:3 and one in L4:3.


So what we see here is that all three cameras provide nice clear macro images. Good acuity across the plane of focus and some pretty decent fine details.

Even the L4:3 images look good. Why is that you might ask? Well, these are fairly extreme close ups and the threads here are multi-colored, so we benefit from higher contrast than single colored thread, and higher magnification that keeps the details large enough to escape the selective noise reduction algorithms. Close macro is the one area where I might feel safe to shoot in L4:3.

Now … moving on to the second test. I shot full tele (270mm on the F70 and F80 and 360mm on the F300) as close as I could get the tripod. This involved a lot of slight shifts of the tripod, but was ultimately successful.

The F70EXR was shot from a fairly close distance … around 3 feet. I shot the F80EXR without moving the tripod, as they have the same lens. I then mounted the F300EXR and started shifting backwards until I could lock focus. This was frustrating because I ended up shifting the tripod dozens of times. I did not expect to have to shoot at about 4 feet, but that’s how it works. Still, I did get higher magnification evenafter shifting the tripod back so far.

Here is the shot from the F300EXR. I chose the L4:3 image to display in order to show why I dislike DR100 for indoor shooting. Remember that L4:3 forces DR to stay at or under ISO, which means that shifting to L4:3 at 100ISO drops DR to 100 as well. And guess what? This blows highlights indoors. It also darkens shadows. But for some reason, the F300EXR shot is worse than the F70EXR shot, despite using the same settings – ISO 100 and DR 100.


DSCF0163_F300_tele[1] And now the F70EXR

DSCF4815_f70_tele[1] These shots use the same settings, although again the exposure of the F300EXR is slightly higher. Perhaps 1/5 stops. But that should raise both the highlights *and* the shadows. Yet the F300EXR shadows are darker here than the F70EXR.

So … I think the default standard (Provia) tone curve of the F300EXR has in fact been made steeper, which deepens shadows and brightens highlights. Exactly what I do not want.

And now the crops:


I think it is obvious from these that all three cameras provide excellent images at full zoom macro. I do slightly prefer the look of the M4:3 images as they come across as crisper slightly. Better edges I think. There has been speculation that the anti-aliasing filter is stronger than needed for 12mp mode because it must handle the larger pixels in 6mp mode when binned. This makes some sense and would explain the hint of blur that always remains in high res images from EXR cameras.

Anyway, there is some more magnification evident, which means that you win on both ends of the macro range … much more close macro and slightly more far macro. Very nice!


Solsang said...

Thanks for the review, it seems the f300 does a really pretty decent job despite the 15x zoom lens, looking at the full moon tonight i was just thinking of it:)

I suppose the slight softness would be countered by downsizing, giving a true comparison with f70

Now seriously considering the f300 myself, and used f70 some months, and a few years ago took thousands of pics with f31

A few major issues with f70 made me sell it, namely the sound from the camera when idle (a tiny constant high pitch) and the zoom noise, how do you find them on f300?


Kim Letkeman said...

Aurin, I never knew there was a noise while sitting idle. Your ears must be incredible (or you are quite young) because I have to hold the cam to within 1" of my ear to hear it. I think I'll blog this because it is quite interesting ... but the bottom line is that the F80 is a bit noisier and the F300 is quieter. The F300 is hard to hear against the ear. Same for zoom noise ... F70 like a dentist's drill, F80 quite similar, F300 a nicer pitch and quieter. But still audible. Try it in a store if you can. They've improved a lot of the ergonomics.