Saturday, May 26, 2012

HS25 Review – Part 15 – Plinking about in the garden over a span of weeks … catching up on my backlog …

I’ve had the HS25 for a few weeks now and I must say that I enjoy it. However, it does have some issues that bear repeating.

One of these is that the high magnification and very slow and sometimes unreliable AF mean that the EVF freezes and you sometimes lose a moving subject or clip it. This can be really frustrating.

Here is an example of a shot that came about after a jet had flown over my head. I wanted to capture a close up image of the jet above me, but I have been mostly unsuccessful at that. The F770EXR is also problematic. What I am seeing here is that this level of magnification is not all that useful on moving subjects that are fairly close.

Anyway, the image ended up being really nice for other reasons. I love the tone and color, and the play of the branches against the modern technology. Note how clean it rendered the branches at 687mm … this lens has nothing to apologize for, that’s for sure!

fuji hs25  100iso  f/8 1/340 -1ev

Looking down at my feet, I see my tulips are just passing prime condition. The sub is shining from the west (hence the beautiful coloration of the branches as the plane passed over my head while heading east to the airport.)

fuji hs25  100iso  f/8  1/420  -1ev

Note that program mode is choosing f/8 a lot. This does not seem to impart any less sharpness through diffraction, as might be expected.

It’s a good time of day to move to the east side of the blooms and try to capture some back lighting.

fuji hs25  100iso  f/8  -1ev

One thing I have noticed with the HS25 is that the meter is a bit wonky. It seems to need more compensation for bright scenes than I am used to. The F770EXR never quite made me over compensate, but I find that I am not as happy with the results from the HS25EXR when I don’t compensate quite a bit.

fuji hs25  100iso  f/7.1  1/300 -1ev

A bit darker with heavier processing. I like the mood that this one invokes. Grain is making its presence felt at the bottom of the bloom, but that does not hurt the scene at all for me. Call it “art” :-)  The stem that intersects the bloom ruins the image as anything more than a snap shot by the way. I’m not blind …

My neighbour’s Muscari (Purple Hyacinth) … gorgeous. A bit over processed, but hey … the color is pretty exciting.

fuji hs25  320iso  f/5.6  1/250  -1ev

By the way, I’m shooting this series in program mode. I don’t mind allowing the camera to choose the proportion of ISO to aperture to shutter, so long as I control the overall exposure through compensation.

fuji hs25  160iso  f/5.6  1/250  -1ev

A tulip in perfect shape is a pretty glorious sight. This is not the sharpest image you will ever see, but it shows the texture nicely.

Look up … look waaaaayyyyy up! And I’ll call Rusty. Sorry … childhood memory asserting itself.

Remember that I mentioned the difficulty in capturing oncoming jets, despite their rather predictable movement … well, here is a prime example of the issue. At full zoom, I can catch the jet a long way off (this is miles away yet) and still fail to get a good focus lock. This happens over and over.

fuji hs25  100iso  f/8  1/500  -1ev

Open that last one up to see just how much it missed AF by … Going straight over head I failed to back off the zoom and the focus was again mediocre.

fuji hs25  100iso  f/8  1/640  -1ev

Back the zoom off a bit and you can do better, proving that high magnification and contrast detect AF are not a great match for anything that moves.

fuji hs25  100iso  f/6.4  1/480  -1ev

And sometimes you still miss AF. Things that move really show up the weakness of this camera’s AF. The EVF freezes when it pauses, making it that much more obvious that the camera is struggling.

fuji hs25  100iso  f/5.6  1/420  -2/3ev

Open those last two up to see how different they are for crispness.

On the other hand, it can be fun to try to capture a seagull from miles away. It looked like a spec in the sky and getting AF was difficult. But once in a while you can get the camera to respond.

This evening, there were gorgeous cirrus clouds rolling in. Now, cirrus can signal an approaching storm, but the front that moved in was not active in any significant sense. SO they were just pretty on this day.

fuji hs25  100iso  f/5.6  1/950  -2/3ev

And in keeping with my obsession this evening, I noticed a contrail with a spec at the end. The telescope that can separate Saturn’s rings has little problem with the cause of the contrail …

fuji hs25  100iso  f/6.4  1/280  -2/3ev

Open that last one to really see the jet.

Finally back to earth. My front yard garden provides me with a view of the dying tulips after a rain. This is a new day by the way and the camera is again in program mode.

fuji hs25  100iso  f/6.4  1/300 –2/3ev

The space between my house and my neighbour’s house is occupied by some lovely Hostas that he planted years ago. The transition from sun to shade is starker than shown, and the HS25 barely handles it. The RAW engine of the HS30 would do better. But note that I have switched to A-Prio mode and set 0EV. The HS25 would have had a better chance at –2/3EV.

fuji hs25  160iso  f/5.6  1/150 0ev

The tulip I shot next was well lit by the afternoon sun, and with 0EV the HS25 handled this one ok. But only because the detail in the background was not relevant.

fuji hs25  100iso  f/5.6  1/550  0ev

I do love the Bleeding Heart (Dicentra) plants that just do not want to die off. I planted them in two places and they are growing now in three other places. These perennials self-seed very well if you allow it.

fuji hs25  100iso  f/5.6  1/300 

Updated thanks to my friend Sue: We have a lot of Red Admiral butterflies this year – I’ve read that the Red Admiral migration this year is the largest in 16 years -- that like to hang around during the day. They flit about the plants but are often as happy on a wall. Here is a crisp image of one of them on the pillar of my porch.

fuji hs25  100iso  f/5.6  1/420  -2/3ev

Looking across the street, I see that I can isolate the almost blooming Lilacs against the neighbour’s house. I like that look … this was two weeks ago by the way. As I type this, the blooms have all faded. You’ll see them in upcoming posts … or maybe this post if I ever finish it lol.

fuji hs25  100iso  f/5.6  1/1000  -2/3ev

The HS25 is particularly good at macro at mid zoom range. Very sharp with decent bokeh.

Looking again towards my fence in the front yard, I see a pair of tulips hanging on for dear life.

fuji hs25  125iso  f/5.6  1/250  -2/3ev

Considering that the image was shot at full zoom at only 1/250s, one must be impressed by the stabilization Fuji has implemented. It works well enough for sure.

I walked across to the neighbour’s driveway to try to capture a fairly close shot of the European Sparlings .. got one on the edge of his garage.

fuji hs25  100iso  f/5.6  1/550  -2/3ev

I *love* their plumage. Too bad they are so noisy :-)

Still on the same day, I walk back and grab a close up of the Lilac bush again. The bokeh here is very smooth.

fuji hs25  100iso  f/5.6  1/200  -2/3ev

Here, I spent some time shooting the Dicentra with the yellow tulips in the background. It was very hard to get crisp images, I think it was breezy that day and the Bleeding Hearts are on long stems that move in the slightest breeze.

Anyway, of the many images I shot, this one captures best what I wanted to see,

fuji hs25  100iso  f/5.6  1/250  -2/3ev

I planted Lily of the Valley about 14 years ago and they have slowly been taking over the space. Very pretty when blooming.

fuji hs25  400iso  f/5  1/150  -2/3ev

Three days later. The Lilacs are blooming sporadically.

fuji hs25  100iso  f/5  1/400  -2/3ev

Three huge bees are pollinating this one plant as the suck in the nectar of these tiny blooms. That’s busy work for sure.

fuji hs25  100iso  f/3.2  1/1000  -2/3ev

Another kick at the Dicentra cat, so to speak. I am always trying to capture the perfect image of the Bleeding Hearts.

fuji hs25  400iso  f/5.6  1/250  -2/3ev

This might be another Red Admiral. A bit hard to tell when the wings are closed. The tips of his wings are moving, possibly in the breeze. Kind of unusual though.

fuji hs25  200iso  f/2.8  1/110  -1/3ev

On that last one I switched back to program mode after staying in A-Prio mode for days. I generally prefer program for shooting small sensors. In that last image, I also began experimenting with localized sharpening in Lightroom 4. Turns out that it is quite capable of localized processing once you get the hang of it. I like the sort of vortex effect of that image …

A close up of the butterfly’s face. Only a mother could love that face. Again, the right antenna is perfectly crisp, but I get the sense of slight movement on the eye and the body. Insects are sometimes tough with a slow focusing camera.

fuji hs25  200iso  f/2.8  1/105  -1/3ev

And two more days later … the Lilacs have reached perfection. I love getting shots like this where a few blooms are in focus and the rest provide a soft colored background.

fuji hs25  500iso  f/2.8  1/125  -1/3ev

Note that the camera likes wide open aperture in the late evening. Even so, it was forced up to 500ISO.

Three days later … the sun is out early and my hostas glow … the burnt out areas might have been saved with more aggressive compensation.

fuji hs25  100iso  f/5.6  1/350  -2/3ev

Here’s my try at a bulls-eye composition :-) … I rail against these as the norm for most beginners. But sometimes they are appropriate, as in this instance where the subject is the texture on the curled tops of the leaves. Note that I also switch here to A-Prio again.

fuji hs25  100iso  f/5.6  1/300 –1.33ev

Same bloom from a much better angle. I’m not lying when I say that the bulls-eye composition has limited use.

fuji hs25  100iso  f/5.6  1/800  -1.33ev

That last one is shot at 35.4mm, or about 193mm in 35mm terms. A very nice macro range that more people should use. Creates nice tight shots and smooth backgrounds. This one was edited a bit further in CS6 beta to remove some offensive branches that impeded the overall appeal.

Here’s the original Lightroom version with the offending branches intact.

Seriously, you should work on removing the garbage around your subject. If you can do it at capture time, all the better.

Backing out a bit to show the environment for these shots. This is my neighbour’s yard, as my tree has gone the way of the Dodo bird.

Fuji hs25  100iso  f/5.6  1/350  -1.33ev

Note the burnt edge of one petal. Oops … turns out that even –1.33ev is not enough for this lighting. Usually, when such a problem asserts itself, you shade the subject or wait for better light. Overcast skies are far better for flowers, but I am just documenting the season, so I soldier on.

fuji hs25  100iso  f/5.6  1/750  -1.33ev

Note that the last one is an even better angle on these blooms. From just below their height, they tale on a great significance in the image … you are in their world now, and the image has a completely different feeling from the “observer” stance you took in the previous series of images.

Always look for that edge to your compositions .. but shoot I both ways, since not every image works.

The Dicentra in shade at my front step capture my eye once more …

fuji hs25  100iso  f/5.6  1/90  -1.33ev

Skip ahead 5 days to the 23rd of May. I've been to Toronto with the HS25 to visit friends, but that’s another post.

A bright sunny day and my Bridal Veil Spireas are both blooming. The sun makes this tough, but I found an exposure that worked. And it looks really nice to my eyes.

fuji hs25  400iso  f/8  1/1000  -2ev

So I was struggling by this point … a lot of the camera’s features were failing me. I needed –2ev for almost every shot and I could not test any metering mode but matrix. In the end, I am pretty sure it was tied to leaving external flash set to on, but without an external flash actually attached that should not affect the camera so badly. Anyway, it needed a full reset to get all the modes working again. That really annoyed me.

I did manage to capture a jet flying over head at full zoom, so that raised my spirits a bit :-)

fuji hs25  400iso  f/8  1/1000  -2ev

My wonderful Yellow_twigged Dogwood has come into bloom. I love thgis plant. And here I isolate and sharpen the one in-focus bloom … I’m getting the hang of this in Lightroom.

fuji hs25  400iso  f/7.1  1/800  -2ev

You will note, though, that these are still pre-reset images. The high ISO is really bugging me and must be tied ot the flash mode. No reason otherwise to be seeing these values I think. The cam could drop the shutter speed by two stops and the aperture by at least 1 stop but is refusing. Still, a nice image.

Now, here is an image I really like. It shows the rather small Sand Cherry bush that I planted back when these all went in in 1998. It struggles to remain relevant, although it had only a few blooms this year. But it breaks up the monotony of green so I am pleased. What I really like about this image is the subtle tones. Nothing harsh, just a strong sense of dimension.

fuji hs25  400iso  f/4.5  1/600  -2ev

The other Bridal Veil Spirea is more able to maintain its space in the South Western corner of my back yard. It has the Hansa Rose on its left and the Service Berry on its right. Both are bigger than they used to be, so the competition is fierce.

fuji hs25  100iso  f/5  1/220  -1.33ev Average Metering (post reset)

SO the reset has allowed me to try average metering. I don’t really nitice much difference from matrix. Compensation is needed either way, so best you just learn to use that. But at least the camera is responding properly again after the reset.

Can’t get enough of the beautiful blooms on the Yellow-Twigged Dogwood.

fuji hs25  100iso  f/4.5  1/240  -1.33ev

Backing out, here is how this Dogwood has taken over the South East corner of my yard. There is a Forsythia behind and to the right, and a False Spirea to the right.

fuji hs25  100iso  f/4  1/340  -1.33ev

The street entrance on the Western side of the house is overrun with plants that I do not recognize. Well, I know the Ostrich Ferns. These reproduced by spores, by the way. They have never been planted here. There is yet another self-seeded Maple Tree on the left. Might transplant that to the front yard. We’ll see. Ignore the Dandelions …

fuji hs25  100iso  f/4  1/120  -1.33ev

This bush seeded itself on the Western end of the pool. I like it there and have allowed it to grow for a few years. I cannot quite tell what it is. The blooms remind me of Dogwood, but it does not match either species of have on the yard.

fuji hs25  100iso  f/5  1/200  -1.33ev

Hmmm … I think this is the Bridal Veil Spirea again. A beautiful image for sunlit white flowers.

fuji hs25  100iso  f/8  1/400  -1.33ev

My Hansa Rose (a native North American Rose) has been very hardy. And it used to be very prolific. Now I get only a few blooms, but they are still very pretty. This one bloom has dominated the week.

fuji hs25  100iso  f/5.6  1/105  -1.33ev

And that is that. We are caught up with the HS25.


This camera is not without its issues. For moving subjects, it can be frustrating. The AF is too slow and erratic to make the camera suitable.

But for general walking about, the camera is superb. As a JPEG only shooter, I would normally ignore it these days. But I have to say that the images I have been getting have been very nice. I like the tone and color, of course I set everything to low except color, which I have now started setting to high. Lightroom is used on every image. The originals are ok straight from the camera, but frankly I find the white balance always a bit too cool.

There is compensation in the JPEG engine settings though, so you can certainly get the images to look pretty much however you want straight from the camera.