As of today, Photographer’s Guide to the Canon PowerShot S100 is available for purchase as a downloadable file from Apple’s iBookstore for iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch. The book has the same content as the other versions, which are available in paperback and for Kindle and Nook. To see the book’s information page, you can search for the book by part of its title in the iTunes Store, or you can use this link to the book’s information page in iTunes.
Today I had my first chance to try an experiment I had been wanting to do for some time — “painting” with light on a photographic image. I used a red laser pointer, which I aimed at a dark blue poster board background inside a room that was very dimly lighted. I could see enough to walk around, but all bright lights were turned off.
I had the Fujifilm FinePix X100 camera on a solid tripod, set to Manual exposure mode, with the aperture set to f/5.6 and the shutter speed set to the B setting, for Bulb. ISO was set to 200. The blue background was about 4 feet (1.2 meter) away from the lens.
I attached a standard cable release to the shutter release button and held the shutter open for 15 seconds. During that time, I attempted to trace the word “FUJI” on the background. Of course, all I could see was the bright red dot from the laser, so I had to do my best to keep tracing the letters in the right shapes. I added a couple of lines as flourishes at the end, below the letters. Here is what I chose as the best result from about 10 attempts:
I didn’t post-process this image at all in Photoshop; this is exactly as it looked coming out of the camera. I plan to do some more experiments and will post the results here if anything turns out to be interesting.
Today I tried out a new gadget that I hope will be useful for demonstrating the effects of different shutter speeds for stopping action. I set up my Canon PowerShot S100 on a sturdy tripod in Shutter Priority mode and aimed at the new gizmo, which is called the Super-Sized Light Doodler. (I got mine from Edmund Scientifics.) I haven’t yet explored all of the features of this device, but, as you can see in the first image below, it consists of a blue base with a ring attached to it. The ring has a series of colored lights spaced around its rim. When you turn on the machine, the ring rotates rapidly, and the lights flash in various patterns that you can change with dials.
I turned the Light Doodler on, and what I saw was basically what you see in the second image, which was taken at 0.3 second. At that slow shutter speed, the image shows at least one full cycle of the ring, which paints a circular pattern, appearing to create a globe in mid-air. After that shot, the other shots were in the following sequence: 1/10 second, 1/25 second, 1/60 second, 1/80 second, 1/200 second, 1/1000 second, and, finally, 1/2000 second, the fastest shutter speed available on the PowerShot S100.
There isn’t all that much to conclude from this experiment. I just think it can be interesting to see how the camera, with its series of increasingly fast shutter speeds, can stop the action of an object like the rapidly-spinning ring of the Light Doodler, and make images that look like completely different objects depending on what shutter speed was used. You don’t really see what the human eye sees in this case until the shutter speed is slowed down to almost half a second.
Today I had time to do some testing of the white balance settings of the Fujifilm FinePix X100 camera. I did some test photos to show the effects of these settings for my guidebook about the camera, Photographer’s Guide to the Fujfilm FinePix X100. The difference now is that I recently acquired a color temperature meter, the Sekonic Prodigi Color C-500R, which gave me the ability to measure the actual color temperature of the light source I was using.
For the photos shown below, I set the X100 to Shutter Priority mode, with the shutter set for 1/125 second, with all other settings, such as Film Simulation, at their normal values. The light source was a pair of Lowel Ego lights, which are tabletop fixtures, each of which contains two 27-watt spiral fluorescent bulbs. According to their instructions, they are supposed to be balanced for daylight with a color temperature of 5500 Kelvins. As it turned out, at least in the environment I was in, with the bulbs diffused through the Lowel Ego plastic diffusers, the actual color temperature reading of the light source was 4840 Kelvins.
Here is how the images came out, with no settings on the camera changed between images other than the white balance. I won’t try to reach very definite conclusions based on this set of images, though I can say generally that the X100 seems to do quite well with its white balance settings compared to some other cameras I have used. In this case, the best results came from using the Custom, Color Temperature, Auto, and FL-1 settings.
For the first image, which shows what I believe is the most accurate color rendering, I used the Color Temperature setting, with a value of 4800, which is as close as I could get to 4840.
The next image below was taken with the camera’s white balance set to Auto. As you can see, the X100 did a pretty good job of matching the correct white balance with its automatic setting.
For the image below, the X100 had its white balance set to Custom. For this one, I used the Custom white balance option and set the white balance using a white cardboard reflector under the Lowel Ego light source. This image also seems to have fairly accurate color rendering, in my opinion.
Next, below, I took an image with the white balance on the X100 set to the Fine setting, which is the Daylight setting on this camera (“Fine” is for “fine weather”). This one appears to be somewhat overly blue. I wanted to try the Daylight setting because the Lowel Ego lights are supposed to be balanced for daylight, which should have a color temperature of about 5500 Kelvins. As I noted above, though, in reality the Lowel Ego lights had a color temperature of 4840 Kelvins, so the Daylight setting did not quite work to deliver an accurate color appearance under these lights.
For the next image below, I set the X100’s white balance to Incandescent, just to see what it would look like. Of course, I didn’t expect that setting to do too well, because incandescent lights should be in a color temperature range of about 2500 – 3000 Kelvins. The result clearly is the farthest from reality of all the tests so far — much too blue. This is what happens when the actual color temperature is about 2000 Kelvins higher than the camera’s setting.
Finally, I tried out the X100’s three different Fluorescent Light settings, numbered 1, 2, and 3. I tried these because the Lowel Ego system uses compact fluorescent bulbs, and I wanted to see if the the three FL settings would yield good results. The first one, below, shows the results with the FL-1 setting. This one is not bad.
The next image below was taken with the X100 set to its FL-2 white balance setting. This one seems somewhat too blue to my eyes; the background actually is more purple or violet than blue.
Finally, the last image shown here, below, was taken with the FL-3 setting. This one seems somewhat more blue than the previous one. Overall, of the three Fluorescent Light settings, it seems to me that the FL-1 setting was the most accurate for the Lowel Ego lights.
Today as an experiment I listed one copy of Photographer’s Guide to the Canon PowerShot S100 on eBay, with a low starting price of $9.95, which is considerably less than it costs me to print a copy of the book, and less than half the normal selling price on Amazon.com and elsewhere of $24.95. I’m also offering a reduced shipping rate of $3.95 for Priority Mail in the United States or $6.95 for First Class Mail International to anywhere else in the world. These shipping rates are considerable bargains, because Priority Mail normally starts at about $4.95 and international shipping usually is at least $13.18.
It will be interesting to see if this copy of the book sells. I hope the auction at least brings the book to the attention of a new audience — the people who are looking on eBay for an S100 or accessories for it, and happen to find the book. I’ll post the results of the auction in about a week. Here is a link to the eBay auction.
Today I continued experimenting with the Fujifilm FinePix X100 camera. I decided to try purposely blurring an image to produce a sensation of motion. I discussed this phenomenon to some extent at pages 58-59 of Photographer’s Guide to the Fujifilm FinePix X100. There was nothing particularly complicated or tricky about this process; I just set up my eagle figure on a table and set the X100 on a sturdy tripod with a moveable head. After taking one shot of the eagle with no motion (f/16.0, 0.6 second, ISO 200), I took several shots for which I panned the tripod’s head during a similarly long exposure of at least 0.5 second. I set the camera to manual exposure mode and manual focus mode. I turned on the self-timer to a two-second delay so I would have some time to get ready before I had to pan the camera during the exposure. The shots below are in order by increasing speed of the pan, to show greater motion effects. I don’t have any particular conclusion to draw from any of this; it was just a quick experiment to see what the motion blur would look like with several different attempts.
Today I had some more time to experiment with the FujiFilm FinePix X100 camera, so I can provide some more information beyond what is contained in Photographer’s Guide to the Fujifilm FinePix X100. I had been wanting to try the technique of “focus stacking,” in which you take multiple images at slightly different manual focus settings and then combine them in software to make a final image that has extended depth of field and is sharp throughout, even though the subjects are at different distances.
It can be difficult to illustrate this technique with some of the other cameras that I write about, because of their relatively small sensors and broad depth of field. The Fuji X100, though, has a large sensor and, with its f/2.0 lens, can produce a narrow depth of field, and therefore is a good candidate for using focus stacking.
I used three different bird figures — the peacock at a distance of 14 inches (36 cm), the eagle in flight at 30 inches (76 cm), and the perched eagle at 57 inches (145 cm). All of the images were taken with the Fuji X100 set to manual focus, in Aperture Priority mode, with the aperture set to f/2.0 and ISO set to 320. The exposures were each for 1/350 second. In the first image below, only part of the peacock is in focus.
Using the wide-open aperture of f/2.0 it would not be possible to capture an image with all three subjects in sharp focus. So, I took a fairly large number of exposures, starting with the one above, and then adjusting the focus farther and farther back into the scene with each exposure. I ended up using twelve of these exposures, in order to cover the whole scene with sharply focused images of the three birds. I opened all twelve of them in Photoshop CS5, using the command File-Scripts-Load Files into Stack. In the next dialog box, I selected Attempt to Automatically Align Source Images, and then the program loaded all of the files, each one into a separate layer.
Next, I selected all of the layers and chose the command Edit-Auto-Blend Layers. In the resulting dialog box, I selected Stack Images for the Blend Method and checked the box for Seamless Tones and Colors. The program then took a few minutes to blend the images together based on their content, selecting the most sharply focused parts of the various shots. Finally, I flattened the resulting image. The final composite image, below, shows the three subjects all in reasonably sharp focus, including all of the peacock’s tail.
Focus stacking is probably used more often in macro photography, when you are taking pictures of a very small subject at a very close distance, and there is no other way to achieve a broad depth of field. With the situation shown here, I could have achieved basically the same result by using a narrow aperture. In fact, the image below is an example of the same scene taken in a single shot at f/16.0.
So, focus stacking was really not necessary in this case, but it might have been needed if the light were so dim that I had to use a wide-open aperture. Anyway, I hope this post at least demonstrates how focus stacking works, for those times when it’s the only (or best) way to achieve the focus results you need.
Photographer’s Guide to the Canon PowerShot S100 has just been published for the Amazon Kindle and the Barnes & Noble Nook e-reader. The book is available for purchase for $9.99 for either device from the Amazon and BN.com sites. If you would like to visit the Amazon information page for the Kindle version, please use the button below:
If you would like to go to the page for the Nook version, you can use this link to the BN.com site.
As of January 3, 2012, Photographer’s Guide to the Canon PowerShot S100 is listed and available for sale at Amazon.co.uk. It has been available for a couple of weeks at Amazon.com in the U.S., but the listing in the U.K takes a bit longer to show up. As of now, the book is not shipping directly from Amazon, but only from third-party sellers. Specifically, at present it is available only from White Knight Press, which ships the book from here in Virgnia, as a third-party seller at Amazon.co.uk. You have to select the listing for the book as “Used,” even though the books we ship are brand new. F0r some reason, Amazon did not give us the option to list the book as “New,” so we had to choose “Used,” and then mentioned in the actual listing that the book is actually new. We ship the books quickly; almost always by the next business day. We send them by First Class Mail International, which should reach destinations in the U.K. within about one week. We also ship to other destinations throughout the world, with correspondingly different shipping costs and shipping times.
Within a week or so, third-party sellers should begin to sell this book through Amazon.co.uk, and eventually Amazon itself will start to sell the book directly.
I have been busy finishing up recent books and taking care of other matters, so I didn’t notice until today that Leica recently released an upgrade to the firmware of the D-Lux 5 camera. This was expected, because Panasonic upgraded the firmware of the Lumix LX5, which is very similar to the D-Lux 5, in September 2011.
Here is a link to Leica’s site where you can download the upgrade to version 2.0 of the firmware and the instructions that accompany the upgrade. The upgrade should be quite worthwhile, based on my knowledge of the upgrade to the Panasonic LX5. Among other things, it adds improvements to the focusing and white balance capabilities of the D-Lux 5, and it adds a new “Miniature Effect” setting that lets you take photographs and videos of full-sized scenes in a way that makes them look like table-top miniatures.
I unfortunately no longer own a D-Lux 5 camera myself (it’s not possible for me to keep every camera I write about), so I can’t provide an update that’s written specifically for Photographer’s Guide to the Leica D-Lux 5. However, I did write an update for the book about the Panasonic Lumix LX5, which should provide just about the same information. As is usual, Leica presumably has used slightly different names for some features and menu items, but the functionality of the features in the upgrade should be very similar, if not identical, to that for the LX5.
So, you may find it useful to read the Addendum I wrote concerning the upgrade to version 2.0 of the firmware for the LX5. It is available for download by anyone free of charge.