Saturday, May 12, 2012

HS25 Review – Part 10 — Long zoom at 1600 ISO in the woods …

Your worst nightmare. Mid-evening with the sun low in the trees. You are in total shadow and you see a cute chipmunk. What do you do? Can you shoot a JPEG camera like the HS25 at full zoom? Is the lens fast enough?

All questions that would make a shooter who is used to relying on a fast lens crap his or her drawers.

I don’t change my settings at all. I popped over to the Stony Swamp again this evening and had the camera set the usual way, with auto ISO 1600 being the setting of choice today. I saw three wild turkeys wandering about, but even their slow movement was too much for the camera that far away in such dark shade.

A large Grey Owl flew across my path and I stalked it for a while. No luck. So I went around the Wild Bird Center and thought I’d see if the trunk where people throw pounds of seeds had attracted a denizen or two. And sure enough, a very small chipmunk was there and did not seem happy to see me.

He was chirping madly at me from his little hole in a log.

HS25  1600iso(!)  f/5  1/55  -1/3ev

That’s a nice shot and I hope that you are impressed as I am with the cleanliness of the 1600 ISO on this camera. You can click on it to see the larger version.

Here he is with his cheeks puffed out, making his chirp. No doubt trying to ward me off but all I wanted to do was pet the little critter :-) Not that I have a hankerin’ for rabies or anything …

HS25  1600iso  f/5  1/55  -1/3ev

Here’s an animation of the chirping …

It’s a pretty good approximation, but the video is even better Smile

A note on video quality. I’ve shot a few videos with this camera now, and it has about the worst video Fuji has ever done. The clarity is not bad, but the shutter roll (jello effect) is unbelievable. I can’t imagine why this one seems so much worse than the F770’s version, but it sure does. Perhaps it is just the magnification of the lens. I don’t know …

He eventually popped back out of the log and stopped there to munch a seed. This is an incredibly sharp image. By now I had switched to using self timer to release the shutter, as the speeds were pretty low for such magnification. In fact, I was playing with 4 stops of stabilization. Which is why I shot so many images to get the few you see here.

HS25  1600iso f/4.5  1/60  -1/3ev

Beautiful hair detail. I can hardly believe this image at 1600ISO on a 1/2” sensor.

I turned to look over my shoulder for a second to see what was causing some rustling and I heard him dash across the path. He eventually popped back out and stood for a few moments on a rock. I zoomed in and reeled off a half dozen shots. None were perfectly sharp, but this is not bad …

HS25  1600iso  f/5.6  1/40  -1/3ev

That one was processed in Lightroom 4 beta earlier in the evening. I don’t have the same sharpening tools in LR as I do in CS, so the sharpness is a tad down. The lower shutter speed also accounts for some of it. I’ve bought the kindle edition of Martin Evening’s LR4 book so when I get a chance I plan to bring my sharpening skills up to a higher level in LR. I like it for many things, but sometimes you need the big dog …

Edit: I have been reading the section on sharpening and it turns out that I do have basically the same sharpening tools in Lightroom 4 as I do in CS. This because Adobe have integrated PKSharpener into Lightroom, whereas I had to buy it for CS myself. Of course, in Photoshop I am used to using it on a layer and controlling exactly the amount that is applied, but guess what … you can do that in Lightroom as well by adding sharpening “layers” (different name in LR) and painting the sharpening where you want it. Each of these can be set to an appropriate opacity to match the flexibility in CS. Anyway, just thought some might find that interesting.

While I was shooting this little fella, I heard a great deal of rustling directly behind me. I did not turn around because I did not want to scare away the chipmunk, so I let it go on for a while. Once he took off, I was free to turn around and scan for the source of all the rustling.

I could not see anything, but eventually I realized that there was a deer staring straight at me! WOW.

HS25  1600iso  f/5.6  1/60  -2/3ev

I am thrilled with this shot. He was at least 50 feet away, pretty deep in the woods with no sunlight anywhere near. He matches the forest coloration perfectly, so there is little contrast to work with.

And yet the HS25 in JPEG managed to pick up enough fur texture and isolate the subject well enough to be convincing.

Very nice job. Go Fuji!