Sunday, June 24, 2007

Photo Comparison

I promised to show photos showing a comparison between different camera technologies. In the following are two photos of the Grand Canyon taken by two different digital cameras: An HP 3 Mega pixel camera, and an Olympus C7000 camera with 7.1 Mega pixel resolution.

The first photo is that taken by the HP PhotoSmart camera and its original size is 446 KB. The camera settings were as follows: Focal length 5.9 mm, shutter speed 1/111.1 sec, aperture f 9.8, and exposure compensation was 0.0EV. The second photo is that from the Olympus C7000 camera and had an original size of 390 KB. The camera settings were: Focal length 7.9 mm, shutter speed 1/500 sec, aperture f 7.1, exposure compensation -0.7EV, and ISO sensitivity 100.
Obviously the two shots are not the same but they were taken under similar conditions four years apart. No adjustments were possible with the HP camera as it was a simple point and shoot camera, but the Olympus shot was taken with Shutter priority setting with the above settings. The focus in both shots was automatic, although it is possible to adjust the focus manually with the Olympus camera.
Which photo looks better? It seems to me that the first picture was sharper and had fuller colors than the second one. I don't know about you but I think that the older and simpler HP camera takes better pictures than the more advanced Olympus one. What do you think?

Digital Cameras

I remember the days when I had my old Pentax 35 mm SLR camera in the seventies. I always admired the Canon and the Nikon lenses long before digital photography emerged. I bought a Nikon camera in the mid eighties although I could not afford a good Nikon lens at the time, and I had to settle for a zoom Nikkor lens. I was able to take decent pictures with that camera although I always aspired for better quality photos, mainly more sharpness and richer colors.
Then came digital cameras that changed photography forever. No more you need to wait till you develop your film to see the results, and you can shoot as many photos as you like as long as you have enough juice in your battery. My first digital camera was an HP 3Mega pixel one that I bought in 1997. That one was a simple point and shoot camera that did not have any manual adjustments. It served me well until finally it stopped working in the summer of 2004 when it got wet from rain. Then I bought an Olympus C7000 with 7Mega pixel resolution. That latter camera had all the features that I had in my old Pentax and Nikon cameras. I could choose Automatic, Aperture priority, Speed priority or Manual settings, and I could switch the ISO from 80 all the way to 400 which is equivalent to the ASA settings of the old film cameras. It had a zoom lens that covered wide angle to x4 magnification, and software that made it possible to edit and even stitch photos to make wide angle panoramas. It was quite impressive for its price of $260 (refurbished). The picture quality from that last camera was not bad at all but still the pictures were not as sharp as I wanted them to be and the colors were not rich enough for me. I wanted a real SLR camera that I could use with different lenses, and at the same time make use of all the advantages of the digital technology, like Canon Rebel or Nikon D40 or D80 etc. These cameras are entry level professional grade that allow you to use many lenses just like the old professional film cameras. The Canon Rebel D400 (XTi) and Nikon D80 have resolution of 10.1 Mega pixel and all the features of the film SLR cameras, and most importantly they have a great selection of lenses from wide angle to telephoto and in between.
In particular I am fascinated with the Canon technology and lenses. I admire the Canon L series lenses and would love to own them if I could afford them. But until then I find the prime 50 mm f 1.8 lens, which has a price tag of less than $100, to be an excellent lens. It captures spectacular sharp images with magnificent color and detail. Even the 18-55 mm lens that comes with the Rebel XTi camera kit is good enough if you know its limitations, mainly avoid small f numbers and use at f 11 and higher for wide angle. The price tag for a good new digital SLR camera such as Canon Rebel XTi or Nikon D80 is about $750 without the lens. You could go cheaper with Olympus or other brands but if you are going to spend that kind of money then it is worth it to get the best, because it makes a big difference in the image quality that you will get.
So finally I decided to own the Canon Rebel XTi camera with the 18-55 mm lens that comes with it. I bought it refurbished for $750 which included the lens, an extra battery and a 4 GB memory card. In addition to that I bought a brand new Canon 50 mm f 1.8 lens for about $90, and a new 75-300 mm Canon lens for about $130. The latter lens is not the USM type (Ultra Sonic Motor automatic focus), but has the older DC motor drive. The optics is the same but the USM provides quieter and faster focusing. I think with this gear I am ready to take professional grade photos that I always aspired to. I haven't started yet because the camera and lenses won't be delivered to my house till next Monday, but I am quite excited to try this latest digital camera technology and optics. I intend to show some results in my next posting, so stay tuned ...