Sunday, December 16, 2012

Sunday Photo(s)

Since I still haven't done all the research I wanted to for a follow-on article to the caboose story, I thought I'd just post a few test shots from the new camera. It's a Canon SX260 HS. Its work has debuted already, and last week's "Sunday Photo(s)" featured some early pictures I took with it. The main reason I bought it was that it's supposed to have good low-light performance, and I'd say that's true. It also has a 20X zoom, which I find incredible for a point-and-shoot camera. I almost didn't buy it because of that huge zoom, figuring that the mechanism would be so complicated and delicate that it would be broken in a few years. On that point, we'll see.

Still, as you can see, I've found uses for the zoom lens. I took these photos of aircraft flying overhead in Federal Way. The airport is a few miles north of here, so I'm not shooting them flying at high altitude. It's a lot more than my last camera could do, though. Both of these are cropped from the original photo image files. Neither is retouched.

This appears to be an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737-400:

Image credit: All photos by Cujo359

[All photos that appear on this page are reduced-size from the originals. Click on the pictures to see the full-size images that I'm describing.]

This looks like a Lufthansa Airbus A330-300:

The images aren't retouched, so you can see what is possible straight from the camera. As you can see in the photo of the A330, there's a bit of ISO noise, but considering that it's a photo of a moving object at high zoom on a cloudy day, not too bad. It's good enough for the web, at least.

Speaking of which, this one is also cropped, but otherwise unprocessed:

I used the night scene mode, of course, and with full zoom. The trick to getting this photo, it turned out, was to make the camera use just the center of the picture as basis for setting the light level.

Here's another night scene, a bit more prosaic but still interesting:

This was also taken with the night scene mode, and it turned out well. Both the cup and the woman in the background (who was moving, of course) can be seen without difficulty. It's reduced in size, of course, but otherwise unaltered.

Finally, I took this of Mt. Rainier around dusk the other day:

Once again, that photo was reduced, since I'm limited to a maximum image width of 1600 pixels by Picassa. I also retouched it, using a contrast-enhancing overlay of GIMP. This, however, is an unretouched section of that image:

It's a medium zoom for this camera. Even with my not-so-steady hands, it managed to take a picture clear enough to see the steps on that water tower on one of our notoriously dim winter days. There's some ISO noise here as well. The EXIF data of the image says that it was taken at ISO 200 (I had that setting on automatic), which is a bit disappointing. But, given the circumstances, it's acceptable, particularly for the automatic mode in low light.

The camera has a bad habit or two. The worst is that it takes some effort to turn it on. I don't know what it is about the ON/OFF button yet, but it always seems to take multiple presses. I'm still learning the controls, which are more complicated than the old Kodak's were. I figure once I get the feel for that little knob/button combo control I'll be most of the way there. There's an automatic mode, of course, which takes reasonably good pictures in daylight and bright indoor settings. For other settings, there are modes that let you choose either shutter speed, F-stop, ISO level, or a combination. All of that takes some getting used to, before you'll have an idea what works for you in particular light conditions.

That's about it for now. Hopefully, I'll be displaying more of this camera's work in the future. For anyone wondering, I've been getting roughly 250 photos per battery charge. I'll also recommend that you look at Radio Shack for replacement/supplemental batteries. They sell a knock-off that's about half the price of the Canon battery.

Have a good Sunday.


One Fly said...

That's taking some real good low light pictures. The store and the cup on the table were without flash I'm sure but they are very vibrant at least to my eyes

If it does this well on planes - zooming in on landscapes will be enhanced as well. I do that a fair amount and then look for the things I thought I possibly saw.

Cujo359 said...

Yes, it does look pretty good. It's even OK at theatre shots, though I probably will need to work at it more.

And the zoom lens is a bit like having 10x binoculars or thereabouts, with the added benefit of being able to take a high res picture and look it over later.