Sunday, February 12, 2012

Nikon E990 versus Fuji F550EXR with Adobe Lightroom 4 Beta 1

Ok, I’m kidding. In fact, I shot a few images at breakfast with the F550 and I went browsing through my historical files for a while this afternoon using Lightroom’s excellent organization of my files. It’s already pretty clear to me that I’ll be buying LR4 when released, but don’t tell Adobe as I’d like to see if they offer discounts to beta users :-)

Anyway … a couple of shots from breaky … first, Nick is chatting while we are waiting for the food. We jumped the queue by 15 minutes because we were willing to take a tall table inside the bar area, which is next to the crowded intake area. The answer is to ignore that and grab the table.

F550EXR  800iso  f/4.5  1/60

And then the wicked breaky arrived … mixed lighting forced me to desaturate some of the blue, which I think made the less toasted bread look a bit wonky. Oh well …

f550exr  640iso  f/3.5  1/30

So the F550 acquit itself rather well. I am really enjoying Lightroom and all the fine grained control I have over the tones and colors. Although ACR is pretty similar, I find this method a bit more approachable. And more importantly, I really like the way their 2012 engine does things over the 2010 engine, which itself was much better than the 2003 engine :-)

So on to the E990 … for those who don’t remember what that was …


Browsing along, I stumbled on a set of images that I always liked. These were taken about 12 years ago in the summer of 2000, so they are on very early CCD technology. And my skills as a photographer were really, really, weak. Anyway, I blew this image out completely, yet it works just fine in black and white … or, more accurately, as a split tone (duotone) …

Note the exposure … although the image looks very bright, it was shot in the late evening with an incredibly slow shutter speed.

Nikon E990  242iso f/2.5  1/3 

The following image is part of a short series I called “bug love” at the time. Jon saw me processing it and mentioned that he remembers it vividly. The boys and I used to have our computers together in a pseudo office (my attempt at supervision) and they watched me process these on Photoshop 7 back in the day. I had a print displayed on the wall of the room for years.

Nikon E990  100iso  f/3.3  1/25

That was another late evening shot, hence another slow shutter speed.

Next, I was looking over the photos of the trip my sister “T” and niece “C” took to Ottawa that year. We went up into the peace tower at sunset … a beautiful view … and before the sun actually set, I looked out towards the North (that is Quebec across the river) and shot the beautiful Library of Parliament, the only structure that survived the fire that destroyed the last Parliament buildings during WWI on 3 February 1916.

The tones are surprisingly subtle, something that Lightroom really helped me to exploit.

Nikon E990  100  f/2.6  1/45

Lightroom turns out to be really good at pushing saturation and vibrance to accentuate beautiful subset colors. The following images are much more colorful than they were when captured, yet I did only global changes to them in LR4.

Nikon E990  100iso  f/5.6  1/120 

Nikon E990  100iso  f/7  1/220   Fluorescent WB

The fancy use of fluorescent white balance was in fact a brain fart, I am quite certain. Anyway … I particularly like the last one because the break from blue to orange is real. The cloud bank happened to be sunlit on the bottom and it happened to perfectly divide the sky. So I cranked the color up to 11 …

Conclusion: I know I didn’t call this a test or anything like that, so the conclusion is to what? Well, I found the E990 a bit cumbersome to process because it was jpeg only and they are small. Sharpening is pretty hard, so I really need to take them into Photoshop and add a pixel or two of Gaussian blur to counter that.

But all in all, I find these images very nice. This camera was an excellent image creation tool in its day … people should try to remember that we have had excellent digital cameras for well over a decade now, and it is actually our skills that determine what our images look like no matter which camera we are shooting.