Monday, September 22, 2014

Fuji S1 versus HS50EXR – Review Part 24 – Flare when shooting lights at night …

I covered sun generated flare (both cams were epic fails) in part 23, so now I cover night time flare. Do the lights do what the sun did? I.e. wreak unholy terror on the image? Or is it better behaved?

Truth be told, I shot these images days ago. I was just waiting for the sunlight images to be available, and then I had so much fun playing with those images that they got published first.

Anyway, to the point … we know that the F series zooms – both the 360mm zooms and the 500mm zooms – have a terrible time shooting against bright lights. You get a kaleidoscopic halo that is a real turn off for most people. I am sure that the ensuing kerfuffle (apologies for my insistence on scientific purity of terms) cost Fuji more than a few sales.

I went downtown for some reason the other evening, and decided to bring the cameras and stop at Parliament Hill to shoot the building and the Centennial Flame. Since Wellington Street was right behind me I had the brilliant idea to shoot the flare test right then.

Maverick that I am, I started this test in A priority M size at DR400 (gasp!) so as to shake things up. I think the camera shot a rather nice image here.

I had the camera set to f/5.6 for no particular reason, but it was a happy accident since the lights were all star shaped … but if you look about an inch from the top and about 1 and then 2 inches from the right edge, you will see what I think is a mild pair of flares.

I then quickly shot an L sized image at DR100 before anyone noticed the switcheroo.

The flare is there again, so I think we can confirm its presence.

I did not stop the S1 down, sadly, so no pretty stars. But the lights look quite nice and I can spot no flare in the sky, or anywhere else.

Much later, I shot one with the GM1 from much closer to the flame … at these sizes and this ISO, you can’t really see any difference.

Moving on … I shot the street to see whether much larger and stronger lights would flare it up, so to speak. I color corrected pretty harshly and that has caused some blue to creep in, bur that might make flare easier to spot.

I only shot the HS50 in L size because there seems to be no difference in flare performance (as one would expect.)

HS50EXR f/2.8

Not bad. Some glare around the close light top left, and some flare from that light heading out of frame. The windmill shaped stars on the lights on the right are again kind of funky, but not really ugly. I think there is a hint of flare at the bottom of the middle of the left most post in the bottom right corner, but it is subtle enough to get away with.

HS50EXR f/8

Nothing subtle about that. The flare at the bottom of the post is confirmed, but overwhelmed by the light show around all the stars. Huge stars … and not that pretty top left. That cluster of lights looks like a real kaleidoscope. Not quite F-series worthy, but in some ways worse. And those dust reflections … wow. I just notices flare in the bottom left corner too. Wow … quite the show.

S1 f/2.8

Hmmm … what to say. A reasonable level of surrounding glare/flare … but some kind of weird half circles of stronger glare. Some big translucent dots in the sky and a very strong flare right beside the light top left. Basically, yuck.

S1 f/8

Stopping it down did not improve things. More flare spots everywhere in the sky and they are harsher. The stars are nice, though … much nicer than the HS50EXR can achieve. I was hoping for that sort of performance. The glare around the larger clusters is too much, though.

Two cameras and two fails. Flare remains Fuji’s enemy.