Dateline  16 August 2016

 

Chatham Challenge – 16 July 2016 – Organised by Mark Thomas

Report by Peter Flower

This was a very well-attended event with no less than 19 members (plus Mollie with her camera!) taking pictures at this attractive venue. The gardens at Nymans were at their most colourful and the weather was perfect. After the briefing in the car park members spread out in all directions around the extensive formal gardens and the surrounding areas of the estate. In addition to the formal garden areas there were the woodlands to explore as well as the house, parts of which now lies in ruins as a result of a fire in 1947. Within the house there was the added attraction of a special exhibition featuring Vivien Leigh who gained international fame with her role as Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind, for which she was the first British actress to win an Academy Award. Married to actor Laurence Olivier, the celebrated couple were greeted on tours with the enthusiasm generally reserved for royalty. The exhibition included over 100 pieces from Leigh’s personal archive on loan from the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, including costumes and sketches, photographs and scripts. Perhaps of greatest interest to us, as photographers, was a short slide show featuring stereoscopic colour photographs from Vivien Leigh’s private collection revealing a personal insight into her world of film, fashion, and theatre.

Mark had chosen twelve varied subjects to photograph, some of which could be quite a challenge to meet the brief. The definition of 'wild life' posed a possible dilemma – were bees really 'wild' when their hives were probably supplied by local bee-keepers? Fortunately a group of us came upon Mollie who had rescued a baby rabbit from a cat, which was not well pleased by being deprived of its prey. 'Architecture' (with small print 'excluding ruins'), plus 'Architecture - The Ruins' covered both aspects of the buildings. Perhaps the most potentially problematic subject was 'RPS Member In Action'. This provided plenty of humorous incidents where one member would try to get a shot of another, in action, before they had time to react! Of course, if the other photographer wasn't in fact taking a picture at the time it could be entered in the 'Relaxing' category!

It will be interesting to see how successfully the entrants managed to satisfy all the subject matter required. As a reminder, all images should be submitted to Les Dyson no later than 31 October 2016 so that Mark has time to make his judgement in readiness for the verdict to be announced at the pre-Christmas December meeting.

Resident artist at Nymans - photograph by Peter Flower

 

Hasselblad drone

Techman

The following announcement appeared on the Hasselblad web site -

Hasselblad and DJI (drone manufacturer) have combined forces to create a fully integrated and optimised aerial solution with the A5D-50c Aerial camera and the Matrice 600 flying platform. Available with the 50 megapixel CMOS sensor and modified HC 3,5/50mm-II lens (with the focus locked on infinity), the A5D combines the world’s best optics and sensors with a modern, compact design, resulting in a system that will ensure that you attain the highest possible image quality. Hasselblad aerial cameras provide a range of important features that help to deliver your imaging requirements. The Matrice 600 (M600) is DJI’s new flying platform designed for professional aerial photography and industrial applications. It is built to closely integrate with a host of powerful DJI technologies, including the A3 flight controller, Lightbridge 2 transmission system, Intelligent Batteries and Battery Management system, for maximum performance and quick setup.

As both products are already on sale the bundle deal is available now priced at €24,400 before tax. The UK price has yet to be announced.

 

Camera Viewfinders and Screens

Peter Flower

In the previous Newsletter we gave information about the latest new camera model to come from Fujifilm, the X-T2. A number of improved features were mentioned in that report but we omitted to mention the rather unusual new screen design that is, it is believed, the first of its type. There have been numerous designs which articulate in one way or another, dating back to the very early days of digital cameras. As an example, I still own a Canon A640, dating from 2006, that had a fully articulating screen. This was fairly typical also of a number of Canon Powershot G range models (from 2000 onwards starting with the G1) that other members of the society owned at that time. The A640 image is shown below.

It is noticeable that the viewfinders for these Canon ranges at the time were still optical. The fully articulating screens did add thickness to the body depth, but the advantages were the versatility in respect of viewing angles and the fact that the screen could be folded inwards, protecting the glass surface, when not in use. In these respects this design was, and remains, far superior to many of the subsequent variations. It is not known why so many of the articulating screens introduced since those early days followed a different design path. There are the obvious advantages of thinner screens, but it could be that design patents are involved. One of the most popular forms of articulation involves a slim hinge which allows the screen to fold out and be angled slightly up (and sometimes down as well). In some cases they can also fold completely upright in order to facilitate the taking of selfies. The Olympus Tough TG-870 is an example of this. It should be added that this model has a second shutter release button on the face of the camera in order to easily enable one-handed selfie shots to be taken!

The Sony HX90 is an example of similar models in the range that incorporate both a fold-out screen as well as a pop-up electronic viewfinder.

The following series of images of a Fujifilm camera (courtesy of mobile review) show how a double hinge allows the screen to be angled both up and down, a design which is very similar to that adopted by other camera makers.

Perhaps the ultimate example of versatility is the fully articulating screen and adjustable 90 degree electronic viewfinder of the Panasonic GX8.

Prize for the strangest design solution must go to the articulating method of the recently introduced Pentax K-1. This uses four 'legs' towards the corners of the screen support mechanism in order to enable it to adopt different angles relative to the back of the camera. On the face of it this appears to be a fairly fragile method, but the image of the weighty camera being held suspended from an extended screen suggest that it is reasonably robust. (Probably not recommended in practice!)

Finally, we come to the design that is a feature of the new Fujifilm X-T2. A shortcoming of the simply hinged articulating screen has been that it is hopeless for use when the camera is held in the portrait-taking mode. The following images show how this shortcoming has been addressed. There is a secondary hinge, at the side of the screen, that allows it to be elevated for comfortable viewing when the camera is held in this orientation.

Extraordinary Bentley Photograph

PF

A picture which Bentley (the car maker) is calling the world’s most extraordinary car photograph was shot by British photographer Simon Stock. Using several Nikon D810 cameras, fitted with lenses of between 300mm and 1500mm, these were mounted on robotic heads that scanned the area in steps shooting a series of high-resolution long-lens pictures that were stitched together in post-production to create the final image.

Simon explained some of the process - ‘The challenge was to create an image in which the viewer could experience the journey from an epic wide panorama of the Golden Gate Bridge and zoom through the image to the intricate stitching on the car’s seat in order to highlight the craftsmanship and obsessive attention to detail that makes Bentley cars so unique.

To capture the giga-pixel image we used multiple robotic heads based on the NASA technology developed for photographing the surface of Mars. This breaks down the overall view into a large number of individual captures which we then stitch together to create the final image. I spent quite a bit of time testing all the various systems, cameras and lens combinations to get to the final result as no one had attempted this level of zoom before. One of the main issues working this way is that you can’t see the final result until you’re back in the studio and have stitched all the images together. This makes the testing quite a lengthy process.

The final image was made up of approximately 700 hi-res images and ended up at 53 billion pixels in size. To give you an idea of scale, if this image was printed it would be the size of a football pitch.'

Readers can view this amazing image by going to the following link -

http://www.bentleymotors.com/en/apps/look-closer.html

It has to be said that there appears to be a trace of unusual manipulation of the image. Although the overall image of the Golden Gate Bridge appears pin-sharp, when zoomed in the white lines and wheels on the Bentley have motion blur, with the exception of the 'B' logo in the wheel centres. All the same, this is a stunning image.

 

Canon EF-M 28mm f/3.5 Macro IS STM

Techman

Canon has recently announced this innovative compact macro lens for Canon’s EOS M series cameras. It is the world’s first autofocus lens with built-in Macro Lite*, which enables users to illuminate the subject without a separate light unit. It also features outstanding 1.2 x magnification, meaning that you can now get closer than ever before. At the touch of a button it is possible to toggle the Macro Lite between left and right side illumination, to find the right balance and achieve stunning, stylistic imagery that would not be possible to create by any other means. It is an ideal choice to capture close-up shots of flowers and food, as well as small objects with intricate details like jewellery. Angular shake is much more pronounced in macro photography; because of this macro photography usually requires a steady tripod. However, the Hybrid Image Stabilizer in EF-M 28mm f/3.5 Macro IS STM is specifically designed to help minimize both angular and shift camera shake.

The second image shows the light in operation

 

Project Photo 100 – Final Progress Report

Peter Flower

This project reached its end on Sunday 14 August 2016. Right up to the end a flow of excellent images continued to be submitted. Some of the more recent ones, chosen at random, are shown below. It is hoped to feature comments from participants in the next Newsletter.

© Photographs by Jill Flower, Stephen Hewes, Les Dyson

Paul Renaut, Lester Hicks

© Photographs by Grahame Singleton, Peter Flower, Carol Hicks

Rosemary Calliman, Pete Welch, Mick Higgs

It will be seen that Les, Lester and Jill were able to submit images that reflected the final day of the project. Les's mannequins came into the picture again and Jill was able to persuade the waiter at Viva restaurant in Dorking to conjure up a bill for table number 100! Meanwhile, Pete Welch closed his submissions on the final days with images from a holiday in Montenegro.

From a personal point of view this was a highly successful project. I discussed some of the plus points with other members attending the last Saturday Natter. The discipline of taking a photograph each day was one that forced all of us to become 'inventive' on occasions. There were days when walks or visits to different locations presented a host of images from which to choose. On the other hand there were ones where you had been house-bound and spent the end of the day desperately searching for some object to incorporate into an interesting composition. I think that anyone who has viewed the total input on the Flickr website will agree that the images were interesting in general. There were many that would stand scrutiny and be well-marked in competition. However, perhaps the most interesting aspect was that participants were forced to consider taking photographs that were out of their normal comfort zone. The result was a collection of very varied images. For myself, I determined that I would use different cameras (3, including one that was over 10 years old), different lenses, and at least one photograph taken with flash. I thoroughly enjoyed taking part in the project and extend my thanks to Stephen for coming up with the idea in the first place.

The following message was received from Stephen on 16 August 2016 -

We've arrived at day 100! 11 photographers = 1,100 images.

It's been a really fun and rewarding experience, particularly so because of the comments and mutual encouragement, and it's been engaging to see some great artistry at work. I've given a little thought in terms of what comes next. For me, it's not 365! It would however be good to do something though, so I'd be interested in knowing if there would be an appetite for a light hearted monthly theme competition, the theme chosen by whoever's image gets the most stars, and the entries to have been taken in the current month. Please let me know if you are interested, and if so we can do something in the month of September.

In the meantime please leave your images on the site, or let me know if you wish to remove them. I have a slot in the programme next year for a 45 minute session on the 100 days and I’d like to use a selection of everyone’s images. In fact, I’m keen it’s not a monologue, so please also let me know if you’d be willing to talk about some of the images that you have enjoyed in the 100 days. In the meantime, enjoy the sunshine and see you on 5 September.

 

Saturday Natter – Denbies Vineyard – 6 August 2016

Peter Flower

This event was attended by twelve of our members. As always a wide range of subjects were discussed, ranging from various aspects of camera control, through photo manipulation applications available, and potential choice of new or additional cameras. (Always a popular topic!) John Fisher had been agonising on the latter for some time in order to have a lighter carry-around camera for a forthcoming holiday later this year. In the event, his choice had come down to the Panasonic TZ100 mirror-less compact system camera. This is a fixed-lens compact travel camera that has a reasonable 10 times zoom capability, equivalent to 25-250mm. Although very compact it has the advantage of a 1” sensor, giving the potential for much superior picture definition than many other compact models. It also has an electronic viewfinder (an advantage in bright sunlit conditions) to compliment the touch-screen display. John had brought this camera with him, enabling other members to judge its compact and light construction as well as its many features. On the subject of image manipulation, Pete Welch mentioned a free application called 'Faststone'. He has used this in combination with other photo editing apps and expressed his enthusiasm for its features. (Note: This app appears to be limited to use on Windows PCs, but I will check on this when Pete returns from holiday) Readers may remember the photograph that I took at the previous Saturday Natter of Ian Hunt. For this I was experimenting with a Canon lens mounted via adapter on my Panasonic GX8 camera. This time I took along an Olympus 45mm lens which is ideal for portraiture (being equivalent to 90mm on a full-frame camera). The following two shots were taken with this setup – a straightforward one of Pete Welch and a glamorous one of Anthea Post whose hair was blowing outwards due to the fan she was using to cool herself in the warm conditions of Denbies restaurant.

© Photographs by Peter Flower – Pete Welch and Anthea Post

 

Film is not dead

Peter Flower

Having recently purchased some items through 7DayShop I have started getting emails promoting special offers. The most surprising offer was the following - Kodak Water & Sport Waterproof (50'/15 m) 35mm One-Time-Use Disposable Camera (ISO-800) - 27 Exposures, available at a special price of £8.99. The initial reaction is to wonder how the sale of disposable film cameras can remain viable in this digital era. On reflection, if you do want to take underwater photographs on a limited basis it is probably more cost-effective to purchase this disposable camera rather than invest in a digital one which will be expensive and possibly compromised in design.

 

NIKKOR lenses – Total production reaches 100 million

Techman

An announcement by Nikon Corporation, Amsterdam, on 27th July 2016 gave the news that total production of NIKKOR lenses for Nikon interchangeable lens cameras reached one hundred million in June 2016. The history of NIKKOR photographic lenses began in 1932 with Nikon's (then Nippon Kogaku K.K.) registration of the NIKKOR trademark. (Note that the lenses are always referred to with capital letters as shown). This was soon followed in 1933 with the release of the Aero-Nikkor aerial photographic lenses. In 1959 Nikon released the Nikon F SLR camera, as well as its first NIKKOR lenses for Nikon SLR cameras. Nikon's line-up of NIKKOR lenses currently consists of more than 90 types of lenses, including fixed focal length (prime) lenses covering ultra wide-angle to super-telephoto angles of view, fisheye lenses, zoom lenses, micro lenses, and PC-E lenses that support a wide variety of applications, as well as '1 NIKKOR' lenses for their Nikon 1 series of compact cameras.

 

Low-priced Digital SLR cameras

Techman

In Newsletter No.79 I reported on the very low price of the Canon 1300D model at that time. This camera, introduced in March 2016, was available at an initial price of £289, body only, or £369 with an 18-55 IS II kit lens. Looking at currently available offers I noted that an older model, the Canon EOS 100D which was introduced in March 2013, was priced as a kit with 18-55mm IS STM lens at £339 from Jessops. The price would come even lower after a £30 cashback from Canon at £309. For comparison purposes I searched for the nearest competitive model from Nikon. The Nikon D3200, introduced in July 2012 is available at £279 with 18-55mm kit lens.

These prices seem indicative of how the market leaders perceive the competition that exists at what might be termed the lower end of the enthusiast photographer level, where there is a requirement for models with the capability of exchangeable lens cameras rather than bridge or compact ones. In contrast, even a comparable model from Pentax, the K-50 with DAL 18-55mm WR lens kit, introduced in June 2013, is currently listed on Amazon at £399.

 

The first and the last

Peter Flower

For Reigate PS members the transition to digital photography really gained momentum in 2008 with the purchase of a digital projector and laptop with a National Lottery grant. Many members had already purchased the early digital cameras and continued to use film cameras alongside these. However, digital images were first shown at one of our evening events as far back as 2003. This was a quiz evening, run by myself, at which members were asked to identify the authors of various iconic photographs from the past. Some of these images are shown below.

Original authorship acknowledged

At the time I had yet to buy a digital camera (this didn't happen until 2006) so the images were captured from books using the digital still function of a JVC GR-DV3000 camcorder that I owned at the time. This could record images onto an SD Multi-media card at 1.92 megapixels. We used a projector which was borrowed for the evening from Legal & General, where Jill was working at that time. I am not certain of the date of the event but I can see that I photographed the images on 15 May 2003.

One of the last major events to feature film photography was the Chatham Challenge of 14 July 2007, organised by Don Morley. This took place at the Bluebell Railway. I remember that I had to dig out my Canon EOS 30 SLR camera in order to use it on this occasion. The results were announced at the last December meeting, the winner of the event being Bob Boden. I spoke to him recently on this subject and he confirmed that he had by then acquired a digital camera and had to have his images transferred onto slide film for his entry. I was able to locate slides from the 2007 Bluebell Railway visit, some of which are shown below. (Apologies for the quality, photographed rather than scanned)

© Photographs by Peter Flower

Porter by the Meridian Line sign, In the engine sheds

Memorabilia (which received 10 marks)

 

And finally . . . . . . .

PF

The Olympics in Rio are the top news topic at the moment. Hundreds of photographers are there to capture the action. Some of the equipment which they will be using, on temporary loan, is shown in the following images. The scale of support provided by major manufacturers like Canon and Nikon can be judged from the following images.

© Acknowledgement Vincent Kalut, Photo News

Image from Canon

© Acknowledgement Michael Heiman, Getty