Category Archives: Sony DSC-RX100

Video Showing Setup for High-Speed Images of Gunshots with Sony RX100 Camera

Recently I posted some high-speed images I took with the Sony DSC-RX100 camera of the impacts of shots from an airsoft BB gun. I thought it would be interesting to make a video that shows how these images were captured, so I put together a sequence that shows how the various pieces of equipment were set up. Here is the video, as posted today on YouTube:

That probably wraps up my experiments with gunshot photos for now, because I need to take everything apart and reclaim the space for other projects. I will be turning my attention to a book about the new camera coming from Sony within a couple of weeks, the RX100 II (also known as the RX100M2).

High-Speed Ballistics Photography with the Sony DSC-RX100 Camera

Over the past few weeks I have been using the StopShot control device, made by Cognisys, Inc., to experiment with taking photographs of drops of water falling into a tray of water and colliding with each other. Once I had some experience with the operation of the StopShot device, I decided to try to branch out to taking high-speed images of impacts from gunshots.

I don’t own a real firearm and I wasn’t interested in getting one, so I did some research and decided to use an airsoft gun. I learned that there are many models of airsoft guns available. Many of them are replicas of real guns, but all airsoft guns fire only plastic BBs.

I found out that there happens to be a well-stocked store that sells airsoft equipment about 10 miles from my home near Richmond, Virginia. Last week I visited the store and, after a number of questions, ended up purchasing an airsoft rifle made by KWA, the LM4 PTR, which looks and handles much like a real AR-15 automatic rifle used by the military and others. This rifle shoots plastic airsoft BBs with a diameter of 6 millimeters and a weight of 0.20 gram. Although I don’t know the exact figure, the rifle shoots with a velocity of between 300 and 400 feet per second (100+ meters per second). The rifle is powered by “green gas,” a special mixture of propane that comes in a can.

The gallery at the bottom of this post shows the setup I used, along with a few of the shots that I managed to capture using the Sony DSC-RX100 camera. (I could have used just about any advanced compact camera, but I used the Sony because of its large sensor and excellent image quality.)

There were many steps involved in getting everything set up to capture these images. Here is a brief overview. I purchased the CTK Precision P3 Ultimate Gun Vise as a stand to hold the rifle firmly. With the rifle in that stand, it was somewhat tricky to get it lined up so that, when it fired a BB, the BB would travel between the two infrared sensors connected to the StopShot. When the BB interrupted the infrared beam, the flash connected to the StopShot (a Yongnuo YN-560 III flash) would fire after a delay to allow for the time it took for the BB to travel from the beam to the target. (This delay worked out to be between about 3 and 4 milliseconds.)

The flash was aimed at the target area, which was placed inside a cardboard box for safety. I cut out a part of the box and taped on a sheet of hard, clear plastic to make a protective window. The camera was set up outside that same window and was focused manually on the area where I expected the BB to hit. For each shot, I set the camera’s self-timer for a 10-second delay and used Manual exposure mode with a shutter speed of 1 second at f/9.0. I used the long shutter speed so the shutter would stay open to allow the action to be frozen by the flash. I kept the room darkened so there would not be much ambient light to interfere. I set the flash to its lowest power, 1/128 of full power, so the flash would have a very short duration and be able to freeze the rapid flight of the BB.

Once I pressed the shutter button to trigger the camera’s  self-timer, I moved quickly to the rifle and got ready to fire it. As soon as the camera’s shutter opened for its 1-second exposure, I pulled the trigger on the airsoft gun. Almost immediately after that, the BB penetrated the infrared beam and the flash fired, freezing the action as the BB moved through the target area.

In each image shown below, the gun was fired from the left side. In some shots you can see part of a target and the pellet trap that was set up in the back of the cardboard box to trap the BBs. Despite that setup, a good number of BBs went flying all over the room, making me glad I had my safety glasses on.

As you can imagine, it took a lot of trial and error to get the aiming and timing worked out to the point where I started to get some interesting images. You can see the setup and the results so far in the gallery below. I hope to keep working on this project so I can get some better images, but I was pleased that I was at least able to catch a few images of the black BBs as they flew through the targets.

One More Set of Water Drop Shots with the Sony DSC-RX100 Camera

I hope people aren’t starting to think I’m too focused on taking pictures of water drops. I have been posting a good many of those images lately, but this will probably be my last group of them, for a while at least. It took a good deal of effort and adjusting to get the water-drop equipment set up properly and to get the flash and camera working in sync with that equipment. So I wanted to get my photographs done with several different cameras while everything is set up, and then I will move on to something else.

Today I did one more set of photos with the Sony RX100 camera. These shots are not that different from the earlier ones in terms of the shapes that the drops made as they collided with each other, but the lighting was different and I used a different color scheme by placing red and blue sheets of paper behind the water tray. The gallery below shows these shots, which I have tried to arrange in roughly chronological order, showing one pre-collision image first, followed by images of drops in various stages of collision.

Single-Water-Drop-3

Water Drop Photography with the Sony DSC-RX100 Camera

For a long time I have admired high-speed photographs that capture images of subjects like speeding bullets, bursting balloons, and splashing drops of water or other liquids. Over the past couple of days I finally got the opportunity to try out this type of photography myself using my Sony DSC-RX100 camera.

I am not enough of a handyman to put together the necessary components for these shots on my own, so I ordered a kit from a company called Cognisys, Inc.  I purchased their StopShot Water Drop Photography Kit, which includes the StopShot control device, a special valve that releases water drops, and the necessary cables to connect it all together. (There is a picture showing it as I set it up in the gallery at the bottom of this post.)

Once I had the kit set up so that water drops would be released on the press of a button, I connected up my flash unit, a Yongnuo Speedlite YN560. I chose that unit because it has a standard PC connection for a flash cord, which is necessary in order to synchronize the system. Once the flash was set up and the control unit was properly programmed, when I pressed a button the valve released a drop of water that splashed into a bowl of water about 24 inches (61 cm) below the valve, and the flash fired just as the water drop splashed into the bowl of water.

One reason the Sony RX100 camera is good for this type of photography is that it has a BULB setting for shutter speed. With the BULB setting, the shutter stays open for as long as you hold down the shutter button and closes only when you release the shutter button. With the use of the BULB setting, you don’t have to control the camera with the control unit.

In order to take a water drop picture with this setup, here is how I proceeded. With the StopShot equipment set up and synchronized, I set up the RX100 on a solid tripod–a Manfrotto 055XPROB with a 322RC2 joystick head. I set the camera to take Raw images in Manual exposure mode. I set the aperture to f/9.0 in order to get a broad depth of field, set the shutter speed to BULB, and used manual focus, because the camera would be shooting in the dark and it would be hard to use autofocus on a fleeting drop of water.

I dimmed the lights in the room to reduce the ambient light that might show up in the image. Then I pressed the shutter button to open the shutter in BULB mode, and immediately pressed the button on the StopShot control unit to release a drop of water. As soon as the drop hit the water in the bowl and the flash fired, I released the shutter button.

It took quite a few attempts and numerous misfires before I got a few shots that looked the way I hoped they would–with well-formed drops captured just above the water. As you can see in the images in the gallery below, I tried a couple of different angles.  I also experimented briefly with the procedure for releasing two drops of water in rapid succession, in hopes of capturing a collision between the two drops. I didn’t ever achieve a collision, though I did catch two drops in the last two images shown here.

Overall, I was quite happy with the StopShot setup, because it came with sufficient instructions for me to get it running without too much difficulty and it worked well, though it took a good deal of fiddling to get everything synchronized properly.

Apart from the tinkering with the StopShot system, the biggest difficulty I had was in getting the images focused sharply. I used the MF Assist menu option to focus on an enlarged image, and focused on a pencil head above the bowl where I expected the water drop to end up, but I don’t think I ever got the focus point to be exactly where it needed to be. In part, the difficulty in focusing stemmed from the RX100’s relatively large sensor, which gives the camera a relatively shallow depth of field. This situation makes it fairly easy to achieve a nice blurred-background effect, but it makes it a little harder to get completely sharp focus in a situation like this, when I was focusing on a very small point at a close distance.

Anyway, the gallery below has a picture of the setup I used, followed by the best of the single-drop and two-drop images that I managed to capture with the Sony RX100.

Setup for Water Drop Shots with Sony DSC-RX100 Camera

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Image of Duck Taken with Sony DSC-RX100 Camera Through Spotting Scope

Digiscoping with the Sony DSC-RX100 Camera

Today I finally found time to do something I have been wanting to try for a while — take digiscoping shots with the Sony DSC-RX100 camera, using a Celestron spotting scope.

When I published Photographer’s Guide to the Sony DSC-RX100, I included a brief mention of digiscoping, which is the practice of connecting a digital camera to a spotting scope to get a magnified view of the subject, usually wildlife. At the time that book was being written, I did not have a spotting scope. I included in the book a sample shot taken through the telescope that I used for taking a shot of the moon, but that telescope is quite bulky and not designed for terrestrial viewing, so it is not a good substitute for a spotting scope.

Since that time I have obtained a Celestron Regal 80F-ED spotting scope, which seems to be of very good quality and is relatively affordable. Today I took the Sony RX100 and connected it to the scope using the same system described in the book for attaching the camera to a telescope. That is, I used the Lensmate filter adapter, which consists of two small, plastic pieces — a “receiver” that is glued to the camera’s lens, and the adapter itself, which is attached to the receiver by a bayonet system. The adapter accepts any 52mm filter or other accessory. In this case, I had to attach a 1.25-inch telescope eyepiece to the camera so the camera could be connected to the spotting scope using that eyepiece. To connect the camera to the eyepiece, I obtained an adapter kit for the 52mm diameter filter size from telescopeadapters.com. (The part number for the kit is Digi-Kit #DKSR52T.)

I should emphasize that the connection between the camera and the spotting scope relies on the plastic filter adapter and is not a tremendously strong connection, so be careful if you should try this system for connecting the camera to any kind of scope. I know there are other adapters and systems for connecting the RX100 to spotting scopes, and some of them may be better suited for this activity. I just tried this out because I happened to have this adapter available.

With the camera attached to the eyepiece, I removed the optical eyepiece that came with the scope and inserted the camera with the telescope eyepiece into the spotting scope in its place. I then went off to nearby Deep Run Park, where there normally are ducks and geese at this time of year.

At the park, I set up the camera and scope using a Manfrotto 190CXPRO4 tripod with a Manfrotto 128RC Mini Video Fluid Head. I set the camera to capture Raw images using Program mode and turned on continuous shooting. With this setup, there is considerable vignetting because the camera is shooting through a tube. I zoomed the lens of the RX100 all the way in to the extent of its optical zoom, which reduced the vignetting, though the vignetting is still noticeable. (I left the images below uncropped, so you can see how much vignetting took place, darkening the edges of the images taken through the scope.)

I adjusted the focus on the spotting scope to be as sharp as possible, and I used single-autofocus mode with the RX100.  This setup achieved fairly sharp focus.  Of course, when you are shooting through the lens of the camera and also through the lens of the spotting scope and eyepiece, the images are not going to be as sharp as if they were taken through a long lens that is attached directly to a DSLR camera.

Anyway, the gallery below tells the story in a few images, showing the equipment that I used, then a couple of shots taken with the Sony RX100 through the spotting scope. Finally, there is a single shot taken of the ducks and geese from the same location as the digiscoping shots, but using the camera’s full optical zoom without the scope. I included that shot just to show how much the images were magnified by using the scope.

Overall, I was pleased that it was possible to get fairly good shots with the RX100 through the spotting scope.

Sony DSC-RX100 Camera Next to Eyepiece for Scope

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Sony DSC-RX100 camera with Lensmate filter adapter attached, with adapter and eyepiece for connecting camera to spotting scope lying nearby