Monday, 20 March 2017

Technology advances

Although I feel like I could do with a change of direction and to give the beach project a rest to refresh my brain I keep on getting drawn back to it. The weather over the weekend was dire. Rain, rain and a bit more rain. There were a couple of breaks and one coincided with low tide. I thought there might have been a chance to catch someone tending a net, but if anyone had had a net out overnight they'd been and gone. However there was a speck in the distance with some sort of trolley that seemed worth investigating. It was a youngish chap who had just given up trying to catch shrimps.The wind was too strong, stirring up the sand in the shallows and putting the shrimps off.

If the forecast hadn't been for even stronger winds he'd have been back on Sunday. When the rain stopped and the sun shone on Sunday this idiot grabbed an old camera and the lens that time forgot and hit the beach again. It was very windy. Despite the rain having soaked the sand the wind was drying it rapidly and sending it flying across the beach. I felt sorry for the small dogs having to put up with it at their level. Only the occasional gust made it sting my face. 

The near gale had brought the kite surfing madmen out and the lens was almost long enough to get some decent shots. But kite surfing action is not something I have much interest in photographing these days. The wind was really whipping up the sea and I kept having to clean my glasses and the front element of the lens.

I wasn't the only one out with a camera. There was a chap in a hi-vis jacket who I've seen there before. Like other wielders of strange white lenses he wasn't too approachable. So I took some pictures of him. One with a very feint rainbow in the background.

There was a weekender at Pontins and some inappropriately dressed ravers were wandering the beach. The beach is a place where anything can happen I didn't ask what was going on here...

I'm gradually getting to grips with the new toy. I've sort of sussed out most of its quirks and am now testing it's technical limits. In terms of ease of use it's better than the compact I bought for 'street' photography and in that department and technical performance it beats my fishing compact. So much so that I'm thinking it might find a place in my fishing bag. With that in mind I snapped up a rather well priced used telephoto zoom for it today and gave it a quick whirl at the still windy beach. Or I tried to.

As I was driving along the coastal road there was a heavy shower approaching from the west. I just made it to a parking spot in time to grab some snaps. The first with my 'proper' camera and a 'good' lens.

 Then some with the toy camera and lens. At these sizes there's nothing to choose between them.

Since I had my other toy camera sensor technology has advanced enough for me to notice. It's the same make of camera, the same sensor size, but the files are much 'smoother'. That's the only way I can describe them. The old camera's files were sort of 'chalky'. The colour gradations unnatural. The new toy makes much nicer pictures to my eye.

High ISO values in low light are better, but nowhere near what Nikon's full frame magic can work. In good light the high ISOs aren't too bad. Somewhere close to what an APS sensor delivered seven or eight years ago. Even the cheap lenses manage to produce enough detail to keep me happy. Maybe that's because I still judge things in terms of 400 ASA black and white film! This shot is at ISO 2500. It needed cleaning up a bit to remove some noise, and a bit of sharpening, but it's surprisingly clean. I'm sure it would print OK to A4.

Talking of printing, I ran some off last week to change the ones on my wall. What interested me was how pictures which didn't look all that sharp at 100% on the computer screen looked bloody sharp printed out at 15" x 10". Plenty of fine detail to be seen. And they weren't shot with the 'best' lenses either.

While I can't see me dumping the proper camera system, the micro four thirds will make a light weight option to carry around with the telephoto zoom on. It might not give me the shallow depth of field of a fast lens on full frame, but that's not something I crave, and for the times I want a focal length over 100mm it will suffice. The lens that time forgot isn't going to be got rid of. I might not use it much, but it has its uses every now and then. The lens that I forgot, however, is going to get sold. It might fund another toy camera. One with a flip round screen for easier self takes when fishing. I might even use the toy camera for some more serious video work!!

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