Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Governmental Incompetence … how much can we bear?



Well thank goodness that we have a fully funded medical system and no one is dying while waiting for MRIs and CT scans and the like … no wait …

As ye sow … so shall ye reap … Apple wins an early battle very big, but do they lose the war?

There is this somewhat silly concept called karma, which perfectly describes the concept of behaving as you would want others to behave towards you – the “golden rule” if you will. In other words, if you screw someone to get ahead, you are accruing “bad karma” …

So when Apple won that wet dream award of $1B from some wing nut jury over their patent dispute with Samsung, things were looking pretty rosy. (Note: The award has been reduced already by a judge with a capacity for reason.)

Things must have looked pretty rosy for Apple and I’m sure more than a few corks were popped … but as they say, karma is a bitch.

And now Samsung is tightening the supply chain noose for displays and processors and that has Apple predicting a “divot” in their upcoming profits.


I laughed out loud when I read this paragraph quoting analyst Peter Misek:

Apple is having to switch from in-cell to on-cell for the iPhone 6 as in-cell is proving unable to ramp to 4.8”. This new technology is unproven and Apple will incur significant costs to ramp production. We also believe that this is a stopgap technology in front of OLED. We believe it will take Apple and partners two years or more to commercialize OLED as the OLED market for smaller displays is effectively controlled by Samsung who will not supply Apple. In the meantime both LG Display and Japan Display will be forced to be on a dual track for screen technologies for Apple.

This transition for Apple will raise screen prices by 10 to 25 percent. Remember that it is Samsung who has completely swung the market towards the larger displays and even “phablets”, a crossover tablet and phone. Think they had something in mind?

But it gets better … I read this next and howled … Smile

Apple is trying to switch processor manufacturing completely to TSMC and away from Samsung. The problem: Apple need Samsung for its older chips and can't cut over production. Misek said Samsung will start raising prices on legacy chips in the summer which will raise Apple's bill of materials another 20 percent to 30 percent.

This is a beautiful example of how the opponent’s next move is sometimes subtle. Apple may not yet be defeated, but I think they earned themselves this swift kick in the jewels :-)

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Rogers Speedboost … a pleasant surprise now and again …

Wow …

D7100 vs OM-D E-M5 vs GH3 vs GX1 – JPEG vs RAW at high ISO – Which one would you buy?

Update: I realized today that I approach this sort of article from a perspective that is not shared by everyone, so I should be very clear about why I like to compare cameras that are theoretically interchangeable. Meaning that one can buy an APS-C system for general purpose shooting or one can buy an m4/3 system for the same purpose. Each has advantages and disadvantages like body and/or lens size, size of system (number of lenses for example), video capabilities, image noise, speed of AF, AF tracking, buffer size, EVF versus OVF and so on.

But a lot of people tend to focus on one thing because it is the subject of so many comparisons --- crops at 100% to gauge detail and noise. I prefer to approach this subject to show the differences for the average image when examined in the comparators without a bias towards the nth level of subtlety. In other words, I like to note when images are pretty similar, more of a cup half full philosophy. I firmly believe that technology has advanced to the point where m4/3 and above all make “dLSR quality images” in most lighting conditions.

Yet, when examining crops from these cameras, many people would declare the APS-C sensor the clear victor and wonder why m4/3 even exists in this market, as
DigiLloyd did in a recent article. Well, I cannot agree with much of what he said because m4/3 does not suffer from noise at embarrassingly low ISOs unless you are a raging measurebater. So in the end, you may agree with the following or not, but if you do then you are free to choose a system on a far wider set of parameters.

A truly interesting question. These cameras are all in the same ballpark, cost-wise, except for the GX1. The GX1 is very inexpensive if you look around. I got mine for 300 bucks and at that price this thing is the bargain of the century.

So the D7100 review was recently posted at DPReview.com and I urge you to go read it if the state of the art interests you. The D7000 remains a superb camera, and there is certainly no need to rush out and upgrade, but the new camera is pretty magnificent.

What interests me, though, is the distance form APS-C sensors to m4/3 sensor of the modern variety – which I define any anything at 16mp after the GH2. The GH2 was the first generation of 16mp sensors and has a lot of difficulty in shadows, so I define it these other sensors are second generation (GX1) and third generation (E-M5 & GH3.)

I also think these sensors all look very much alike at base ISO and comparing them there is basically a waste of time for RAW shooters. JPEG shooters, on the other hand, are going to want to compare output so that they can choose the color rendition they like. Don’t get too twisted over tone curves and sharpening, as that is always controllable through the user interface. Color rendition too, but only to some extent.

Where I get interested is at extreme ISO, because it tells you where your camera’s limitations set in. If you are at a party, can you set the camera to 6400 ISO and fire away? Or will you ened up with nothing but garbage.

Well, the good news is that you might get something useable. Basically, you are looking for a reasonable level of saturation and definition of lines, and you are looking for a reasonable attempt at low contrast fine detail like hair. So let’s look at these for a moment, using the excellent comparator at DPReview.com

Here is what the 6400iso JPEG looks like of a copr everyone has seen by now … the little robot in the test scene:


Pretty hard to argue with Olympus’s rather strong processing when applied to high ISO. It wins easily with the D7100 a little behind. The GH3 is a bit further behind and the GX1 brings up the rear. The Olympus JPEG engine is masterful at bringing out details at higher ISO, and JPEG shooters need look no further. Of course, in such lighting, the D7100 will probably spank the OM-D with better AF performance etc, so there are many other considerations in your buying choice. But for now, consider the OM-D as a very strong contender for JPEGs.

RAW shooters have an entirely different decision to make. Here is what that looks like …


Ok, now that;s much more interesting. First, they all look alike, with the D7100 having a nicer noise pattern as would be expected. This makes it obvious that someone with even a modicum of skill will get a better image form the D7100 than from the three m4/3 sensors. But more importantly, there is almost no difference between the 3 m4/3 outputs.

Do remember that, even if we see subtle differences, we cannot really take them as significant, because these are Adobe defaults for the camera in question and anyone who judges by default settings is not thinking very clearly. These are RAW images and they are meant to be processed by the photographer. Please internalize that thought now, else everything I say will seem like it is in Martian.

So we’ve seen that these are all pretty competent in terms of saturation and fine details like those hairs that are on spread across the robot. Not enough difference to even comment on.

But what about a field of these hairs, or maybe a feather? Let’s have a look at a feather …


The Nikon looks pretty decent in RAW. The OM-D and GH3 look a lot alike, and the GX1 is a bit behind those two with a tad more noise. An older sensor, so this makes a bit of sense. But how that small amount of noise really does not hamper the person processing the files as much as you might think. Once you dial up color noise reduction (and in Lightroom 4 / ACR 7 this is just excellent) you really aren’t left with any blotching of consequence. I actually prefer the blotching pattern of the GH3 here over the E-M5, but remember that these are default settings and there could be more or less of each NR technique automatically applied. The only way to know what these really mean is to process them yourself and see what you get.

That last comment is extremely controversial as the vast majority of enthusiasts on the forums believe exactly the opposite. They think that Adobe defaults are the only fair comparison. They are wrong, of course. Practically speaking, no image is ever left at the defaults and so that state is meaningless except for cursory examination.

Now, how about some hair?


Whoah …. the GX1 looks as good as the rest. What is going on? Again, default settings differing slightly. What it does tell us is that the GX1 sensor is very good, even at such rarified ISOs.

There is a lot of whinging on the forums right now over Panasonic’s strategy to reuse sensors. Well, these are great sensors, obviously. The updated GH2 sensor in the G5 and now the G6 has fixed the shadow issues and looks as good as the GX1 sensor. So I have no qualms about the fact that the GH3 sensor remains in the flagship camera, and I have no qualms about the fact that the OM-D sensor is not in the Panasonic cameras. It just does not affect me as a RAW shooter enough to get mu knickers twisted over it.

I mentioned shadows … let’s take a look …


The GX1 is a bit behind here for sure. A bit more processing required, but you will still be able to tame it because it is in the form of more chroma noise. The OM-D and GH3 will have a bit more detail I suspect. When I get some time, I will process them myself and post a second take on this article. But for now, you will want to bone up on your high ISO skills :-)

Bottom line: JPEG shooters should probably buy the D7100 or the OM-D if you want to have a great deal of latitude to 6400 ISO. But remember that professionals manipulate or add light, so they are not troubled by such limitations. Enthusiasts are of either ilk, but if you are really serious about shooting in the dark, you really ought to consider learning about light or using full frame and be done with it.

RAW shooters have more latitude and can probably shoot any of these unless 6400 ISO is a way of life. Then I would recommend full frame again, since it is much cleaner than any of these cameras.

But for most people, such high ISO is a rarity and all of these cameras are going to be pretty excellent. Choose based on ergonomics, features and performance.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

DXOMark – What is the practical value of their sensor numbers?

This topic is if interest to me because there is so much partisanship going on betwene “camps” in various forums. The Canon – Nikon wars have raged for years, fueled by their 1:2 positions that actually swap around now and again. DXOMark came along and gave us all “hard” numbers of relative sensor quality to debate over ad nauseum.

I was always a Nikon fan, well before their adoption of the Sony sensors and of course their development of various hybrid versions of these sensors etc. I imagine that the Canon shooters were annoyed when Nikon shooters crowed about their total dominance of the Canon cameras in the DXOMark rankings.

But was there a lot of practical difference in day to day shooting? I really doubt it. Owners of the 500D had a 10 point deficit against the D5000 to deal with, and that is a pretty big number on this scale since the Nikon is only around 72.


So you would wonder then if the Canon fellows all defected to Nikon to get this great new sensor? The answer, obviously, is no. If their shooting was crippled by comparison, then one presumes that they would move in droves. But Canon sold a bucketful of these cameras because it didn’t matter enough to force the migration.

I shot the D70s for years. And that is a further 10 points behind the 500D. Obviously, a terrible camera, right? Well, no. The D70s was magnificent, and I still miss it. I was shooting it right up until I sold it off to finance the D700. The D700 is gone long ago (loved it) and I have moved on, but I remember all of these cameras very fondly. I do not ever remember pining for a camera with better dynamic range because I found it perfectly adequate, despite its being miles and miles behind the newer cameras.


This has all become more interesting to me as I moved into the m4/3 arena. As with the Canon and Nikon war, there is a similar dichotomy in the m4/3 community. Panasonic makes bodies of really varying styles that ignore fierce debates and lots of gnashing of teeth. Olympus cameras have a Sony sensor in them after suffering with older 12mp Panasonic sensors (still great sensors for their time by the way) while Panasonic was shipping the flagship GH2 with the first of the 16mp sensor generation.

That sensor has been surpassed by several new Panasonic sensors and by a Sony sensor, which Olympus sourced to create the wildly popular OM-D E-M5. This camera is widely acknowledged to stomp the Panasonics by the Oly faithful, but when you ask why you get one of two answers:

  • DXOMark score is much higher
  • I can see so much more “depth” in my images, trust me Winking smile

Well, the first point is always true. The numbers are out there … for example, this is how my GX1 and G5 compare against the EM-5 …


Now that is a heck of a beating. The OM-D has matched the D5000 (a higher sensor class, cool) … and the G5 has matched the 500D (also APS-C, cool) … and the GX1 is better by 5 points than the D70s (wow … who’d a thunk?)

So … we have a camera that is as good as an APS-C camera from 3 generations ago and another camera that has the same qualifications, and a third one that is better than an older model from this higher class. That tells us that the m4/3 sensors have come a long way. It also tells us that the same dynamic is at play with Olysonic as was at play with Canikon. Which is to say that people like me go for the best ergonomics (Nikon / Panasonic) and others go for the best sensors (Nikon / Olympus) …

Note that Canon came second for many of us in both those categories. But remember that I bought into Nikon when the sensor wars went to Canon. I did that because the ergonomics easily trumped any perceived advantages of the sensor at the time.

With Panasonic, not only do I prefer the ergonomics (by a country mile), I also prefer the cost of bodies, the video abilities (not even a contest), and in the end I prefer the look. And to be honest, I just cannot put a finger on how much better the sensor is on the E-M5.

The numbers are clear enough … or are they?


Huh? Where did that pounding go? Well, despite the clinginess of the graph lines to one another (i.e. a cursory glance says “nothing to see here,”) in fact the numbers are plotted against “measured ISO”, which for the Oly is much lower than it is for Panasonic. Which basically means that the 200 ISO point fo rthe Oly is way over there on the 100 ISO line.

Getting your head around this is no easy trick. DXO themselves talk about the “fairness” of looking at “measured” ISO for comparison purposes instead of “camera ISO”, which is what determines your ultimate shutter speed. This is very confusing, since camera ISO is how we make the capture, so we really want to know the difference in the quality of the result based on what we need to use to get a certain image (which means shutter speed really matters when you cannot just pop the camera on a tripod and be done with it.)

If we shifted the line for the OM-D to plot it against camera ISO, the line would be well above the Panny bodies, which would accurately describe what the photographer experiences. So why plot it this way? There can be only two answers:

  • This lack of any real difference is meaningful, there is no practical difference
  • Brain fart

The Oly faithful are always spouting these numbers (the raw numbers, not the graphs, obviously) in their defense of the blanket assertion as to the camera’s incredible prowess. And we get statements like that second point way above where the fellow swore up and down that his images were just so obviously better with so much more depth and such. When I challenged him to post some images that illustrate these obvious differences, he dodged repeatedly. The images never appeared. I have never seen someone demonstrate the practical advantages that these numbers give you.

Now, I have seen some truly excellent high ISO images form the Oly, so I know that it has the chops. It also has a really nice (if somewhat over-processed) JPEG output. But no one has shown the head to head differences that really make it shine. When I process images from DPReview and Imaging Resource, I simply cannot find this dominating difference.

So I am at a loss why I cannot find the difference when I process images from these cameras, and why the graph appears to confirm this by plotting against measured ISO and calling that fair. Fair to whom? The Oly’s alleged prowess is not apparent from the graph I clipped above. DXOMark themselves never address this issue, preferring to explain ad nauseum what the number mean in the broad sense. The faithful are sure there is great meaning attached yet never post anything to show us what the difference means in practical use.

So I searched this evening for some answers, after reading the articles discussing the sensor measurement issues on the DXOMark site. And this is what I found …


A year ago someone asked this very question. A day later he posted “anyone?” And that same day the visible post asked if there were any answers. I would think that the lack of answers was a little obvious.But my point is that you just cannot find any useful info to explain the strange break between the reality of the practical use of these cameras and their rather wide gaps in the DXOMark numbers.

How can Canon sell even one camera with Nikon sensors stomping them like that? How can Panasonic sell even one camera when Olympus has three cameras now with that “magical” sensor that stomps all the Panasonic cameras now? The answer is that it matters far less than the faithful (fab boys, whatever) would have you believe.

Anyway … I just thought I would throw this out there. Maybe someone will know of a really good explanation out there somewhere. Or maybe some really good practical samples to show these differences in real world use.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Dragon Naturally Speaking … maybe just a hint of sleazeware?

So I’ve blogged about WinZip and Java with respect to their partnerships with what is called “Shovelware” like the infamous Ask toolbar and similar apps that provide mediocre functionality but infect your PC like a virus. This ticks me off.

So there is another aspect that I have not mentioned much. Call it “dribbleware” if you want. This is where a company makes a small product that you may or may not like, but they pester you every 6 months to upgrade to the next version, into which they have “dribbled” a tiny feature or two.

I fully understand the need to do this for people who want to make their living from a single small application like perhaps WinZip. But come on … the increments in WinZip 15.5 are unnoticeable to almost anyone using WinZip 6, never mind WinZip 15. So I finally got off the train and started using 7zip … and guess what? No difference. Except I am not being charged for upgrades (7zip is open source) and no one is pestering me to buy the latest dribbleware.

Now … Dragon. I like this application at version 12, but I still don’t use it much. It takes a different mind set to speak an article rather than just type it. But I want to get used to it again so I fired it up and lo, and behold, it offered an update to SP1 (service pack 1 in Microsoft speak.) So I said sure. After all, Windows 8 might need something from them because I have not run it since my OS upgrade.

And guess what …


Yup … free upgrade to 12.5. What a deal, go Dragon!

Only one issue though. They put the full court press on me to upgrade, including email and a phone call. This was only a few months ago and I decided I would wait for the price to drop from their “deal” at $99. So how does a 100% discount sound? Because that is what I got.

Seems a bit dirty to try and wring $99 out of me when SP1 was going to contain the new version. Hmmm …

Monday, April 22, 2013

Orwell was only off by 30 years … **Updated May 2016**

UPDATE: Here in 2016, we have seen a classic demagogue nominated to run for the Presidency. A man who appeals to people’s extreme distress by pitting them against one another, as in “us against them”, and more specifically “white against color”. He laughs at the inequality that is built into the American political process and that is rampant throughout the entire world while pretending that he will tear it all down. (Not a chance.)

In the West, we had almost solved equality by the 60s and 70s, but it has resurged and is now at its highest ever and its growth is out of control. We are allowing this to happen while the political process is manipulated by the wealthy into total chaos, which has always been a terrific way to control the proletariat. Orwell’s book makes a great manual. Rampant greed for money and power does the rest.

This is how fascism comes to the world, starting with the strongest country and bleeding outward from there. I never thought I would see us get this close.

Original article:

The book 1984 denotes a chilling dystopia in which personal rights and freedoms are non-existent, in which people are regularly taken by the state and held (and tortured) without habeas corpus, and of course with a perpetual state of war against a vaguely defined enemy. All in all, a book that will disturb you, written back when “mom, apple pie, and the white picket fence” was still the norm.

Fast forward to today and we have seen a decade of erosion of rights and freedoms with rendition and similar suspensions of personal rights. We have seen state-sponsored torture defended in the highest office. The USA remains in a perpetual state of war … on drugs, against terror, and so on. We have seen the sprouting of technologies (analytics) that can analyze phone calls and images from public cameras (e.g. traffic cameras) to track people in real time, along with your GPS phone of course. And from what I have read, these technologies are in day to day use.

So now we see that the uproar against the spectacular loss of privacy and anonymity that the CISPA bill would bring only slowed it down a bit. It is back, it has passed the house and it is now on its way to the senate. Which means that there is nothing that the state or its private partners cannot know about you in a heart beat.

Next year is the 30th anniversary of the Orwellian vision of the future. Slowly we see the pieces falling into place. I hope you are shuddering at the thought of where this ends.



Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Weight Loss Juggernaught

UPDATE: 21 March 2016

As the work turns I have had a relapse. Not quite to my highest point ever, but only 10 pounds off. Lots of reasons, lots of stress, all the usual excuses. So what to do? Well, I finally got it together on 14 March and went back to basically the same system as documented here. My first week has been a raging success using the same site and the same measuring techniques. I've been getting outside again after working between 110 and 120 hours over 110 days ending Wednesday last week, and this is helping me again. All in all, I am satisfied so far.

latest attempt, week 1 result

Original Article Unchanged


So as I have written before, I got inspired about 14 months ago to try to fix my long term weight issue. And by this I mean to address my lifestyle and try to form habits that I could live with forever. I’ve updated the story along the way and today I reached a milestone that makes it worth speaking again on the issue.

Basically, my style is simple – count calories. For that I use the web site http://caloriecount.com but you can use any web site you like that supports the method. The key point is to keep track. And while you are keeping track, I recommend you use their weight tracking mechanism too, as it helps you see the trends. I do this pretty formally with my own spread sheets but then I am a computer scientist, so what do you expect :-)

The caloriecount version of that graph looks like this:


What this shows is that I have finally arrived back at my lowest point, which came in early October. I got into a relationship that lasted until mid-January and you can see its effect on my discipline. I had none :-)

But you can also note a couple of other things that are actually well known. First, you get about one year of grace when you start losing weight where it is pretty easy. If you stick with the program, the weight just comes off. This is a known issue with weight loss surgery (WLS) people, as WLS is a tool that can help accelerate your loss through restriction of amounts and / or mal-absorption of nutrients. But the interesting thing is that the grace period works for them too. It is as easy to eventually defeat WLS as it is to defeat your own brain (as I clearly did.)

Which means that either way, you need to realize that this is a lifetime behavior, not a momentary lapse of reason. (Sorry, PF.)

You can see that my do-over, starting mid-January, has been much rockier than the first time. But nevertheless, I have again knocked off about 17 pounds in a matter of 3 months, and I am very satisfied with that progress. I have had to be more patient this time, as I have been a little too free with the “diet days off” if you will. But that’s ok … because I know now that the technique works for me, and some variation of this method can work for anyone.

The old adage – if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it – applies here. I am able to lose weight with this method, so I will not change the basic method. Count your calories and graph your weight and be patient. Success will come.

And no, I am still not going to the gym. Don’t wait for the day when you feel like hitting the gym 3 times a week to start measuring. That is a separate issue (very useful for your health, but not the key component in weight loss.)

When you measure, cheating shows up right away, so if you simply admit you screwed up on the bad day it is as easy as pie to get back in the saddle again. The graph does not lie. Once you have had success, you know how to do it.

Rickum rackum rockum ruckum, take that ball and really fight! (Sorry, RW.)

Enough platitudes? I could go on forever Smile

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

HS50EXR – Review Part 19 – L versus M again (again?–must be Tuesday) …

Well, it is 12:08 EDT so technically it is Wednesday … and that incredibly obscure Buffy the Vampire Slayer reference was no doubt lost on everyone anyway :-)

So I saw a bird in that tree a block away again and had to know if it was the Merlin hawk returning for a second go round …

HS50exr  1000mm efl  100iso  f/5.6  1/100(!)  L size(!)

Well, no Smile… just a big blackbird (a.k.a. crow.)

I had left the camera on L size for another test and I quickly shot off a burst with the window open to remove the double glass pane from the equation when the little bugger took off. Booo … I really wanted to get an M size image to avoid some of the excess speckling noise that is so prevalent in L sized images, even in RAW.

Anyway, the crow is very clear, but not exactly an image to write home about. Still … it is really far away.

I really liked how the branches came out though in the sunlight so a while later, as the sun was really getting low, I shot that tree from the same spot on tripod etc … and here are four images … the first two being the JPEGs and the second pair the RAFs.

So the primary difference at 1000px in the JPEGs (click on these for the full size as always) is that the M size (first in each pair) has darker skies because of the preservation of the medium sky tones caused by compressing more dynamic range into the image. The RAFs have been intentionally processed to match at the same size, which you will see in a moment.

But wait, you ask. LC&M have proven unequivocally that M DR400 causes blur, mush and color bleeding. The evidence is all over the forum so how can there be any doubt? My answer is .. I dunno, must be crappy tests.

But the proof, as they say, is in the pudding. And so we look at 5 pairs of crops … corners (TL, TR, BL, BR) and the center at the end. Left is M4:3 and right is L4:3. L is downsized this time so it should look really nice. It should … but I see nothing to write home about.

They look, to all intents and purposes, about the same. Which by the way puts the HS50 into a better class than the previous generation since the earlier cams had real problems in L size. It looks like tuning the AA filter and demosaic algorithm has made a difference.

Note, though, that all the other issues with L are still true. Cannot use 100 ISO and DR400 … shadows still somewhat at risk … that sort of thing. So shoot it at your own risk. I prefer to get my DR400 protection and I do like the tonality I get.

Bottom line: Shoot whatever you want with these cameras. If you don’t mind giving up all the advantages of M size, L size probably won’t hurt you too much. But I have to warn you that the sharpening settings is extremely twitchy with L sized files. It takes a long time to avoid the pebbly look that we see in so many images … (LC&M appear to embrace this look but I think it stinks.)

So I will continue to shoot my settings as described here: http://kimletkeman.blogspot.com/2009/10/fuji-f70exr-how-to-shoot-it-mkii.html

HS50EXR – Review Part 18 – Shooting the neighborhood birds at 800 ISO on a sunny day …

800 ISO? Are you nuts?

Well, yes and no. Through the testing process I have learned that the HS50EXR is wicked sharp when treated properly and shot at base ISO. But it has outrageous zoom range that is actually the point of buying the camera in the first place for many people, and shooting at base ISO reduces you keepers pretty dramatically. At 1000mm EFL you want a shutter speed around 1/1000s to ensure critical sharpness. But you aren’t going to get anywhere near that at f/5.6 in the shade, where the cute little Robins hide out all too often.

So that leaves us no choice. On a dSLR, setting a high ISO like 1600 these days is a no brainer. If you are even slightly competent in Lightroom you will get gorgeous images at that ISO from any modern dSLR. But we don’t have quite the same luxury on the 1/2” sensor in the HS50EXR. I know from experience that you can get adequate snapshots at concerts at 1600 and even 3200 ISO, but that is because the performers are generally bathed in bright light.

Not so with the birdies … they are in the shadows with a fairly low amount of light. Even at 800 ISO I am barely hitting 1/350s which is almost 2 full stops down from the required amount. That means that you need the bird to be absolutely still and you need to be very steady when you shoot to give the IS a smidgeon of a chance to give you a crisp shot. But 1/350 is vastly better than the 100 ISO equivalent 1/45s or so. That is sheer disaster (as I found out which is why you are seeing only 800 ISO images.)

Now, looking at the images at 100% is a bit disappointing since the noise is definitely destroying feather detail and edges a bit. However, I was surprised at what was left to work with anyway and I am very pleased with the final images.

So here we go …

Disclaimer: There is a group of people (let’s call them Larry, Curley and Moe) who swear that L size and DR100 are the only settings that can avoid massive loss of detail, blur and color bleeding. Since these are all shot at M size and DR400, let me apologize in advance for all the horrid blur, edge destruction and color bleeding in these images :-\

I basically walked a circuit down a street I rarely go on and found a spot where a Robin was just sitting there in shadow with dappled sunlight around him. I figured it would be amusing to wait him out and I wandered back and forth while he watched me. Since it got boring pretty quickly, O started shooting my usual bursts of images, waiting for him to move into the sunlight.

It turns out that these images look very special, with excellent presence and terrific color. The sun does tend to wash out colors, so these shade images really stand out. Of course, since I process only RAF files now, these are as detailed as I can make them and the color is rather “spiked” with the vibrance control and some saturation as needed. All in all, this looks a lot nicer than the washed out “snow has just disappeared” look of real life.

HS50EXR  1000mm efl  800iso  f/5.6  1/350

These are all obviously crops .. this is the full frame …

Oh my God .. he moved a couple of steps forward Smile

Oops … back into shade …

I am very pleased with this next one … a particularly detailed shot …

Finally into full sun … and what a let down as the sun puts a real beating on the colors …

A different bird IIRC ….

And that’s the end of the great bird hunt … not that many Robins out today, but I was really pleased with the ones I found. 800 ISO is not at all a total write off …

As I was walking along I was struck by this statue. Quite lovely … but it does remind me of a certain villain in the Dr. Who program …

And my favorite early spring flower was visible on several yards … awesome …

Walking down my stream towards home, I encountered this stunning bike … wow. Remember … still 800 ISO.

And finally, in the yard across the street from my house was this little black squirrel that was hiding behind a flower pot waiting to dash to his back yard. I planted there and waited at full zoom to wait him out. Squirrels are not known for their attention spans …

Sure enough, he dashed through my field of vision in about 1 second, but I smashed the shutter and captured 4 images. They kind of suck but it amuses me to have caught them so here they are …

Anyway, the stars of this show are the Robin images. beautiful birds and shots that I am very pleased with.

Once again: shooting the HS50EXR with the right settings and processing it in Lightroom will give you some pretty nice images.