Need opinions on a recent camera purchase

Questions on how we spend our money and our time - consumer goods and services, home and vehicle, leisure and recreational activities

Need opinions on a recent camera purchase

Postby climber2020 » Sun Dec 09, 2012 12:13 pm

Hello all,

I recently bought a new camera and could use some opinions on whether or not this was a smart purchase. I have 30 days to return it and feel the endowment effect is clouding my judgment at the present time, hence I thought I'd post my ramblings to the educated and balanced opinions on this forum.

The camera in question is a Sony RX1. I bought it because I wanted something that could achieve subject isolation via shallow depth of field when taking pictures of people or things from a few meters away. All I've had up until this point is small point and shoot cameras, which by the laws of physics, cannot produce this effect. I do not have the mistaken idea that an expensive camera will improve my photography skills at all; I simply do not have any other tools that can fill this need. I spent much time researching all my different options, previously bought a Nikon DSLR (the 5100) and ended up returning it after a few weeks because I came to the realization that I would never want to travel with a camera so large. The RX1 that I currently have is perfect for my needs: it's small, fast enough for the type of pictures I take, and the technical quality of the pictures is outstanding. The only thing that is bothering me is the price. This thing did not come cheap at a whopping $2800.

Is any digital camera worth this price given the rapid pace of technology and how quickly these gadgets become obsolete? This is a fixed lens camera, so the glass can't be taken off and put on a new digital body a few years down the line. For me, the main draw of this camera is that it's so tiny for the type of camera it is, and it is because of its fixed lens that it has the small form factor it does, with the downside being that once the camera dies, the lens becomes useless. There are plenty of mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras out there, but even the smallest of these are much larger than anything I would want to carry around regularly once you add a good quality lens to it.

The other conundrum I'm facing is paying this amount of money for any hobby in general. I'm a pretty frugal person by nature, so I was (and still am) a bit hesitant about dropping this amount of cash on a camera that will probably be worth close to nothing in 5 years. I was able to comfortably exceed my savings goal for the year, so I would not be going into a financial hole by any means if I decided to keep this thing, but it still goes against my financial instincts spending this kind of money on a toy.

Any thoughts?

p.s. If you haven't seen or heard of this camera, Steve Huff has an excellent review on his photo blog.
User avatar
climber2020
 
Posts: 301
Joined: Sun Mar 25, 2012 9:06 pm

Re: Need opinions on a recent camera purchase

Postby livesoft » Sun Dec 09, 2012 12:40 pm

If you wanted f/2.0 in a small camera, you could've purchased a Canon S100 for much less.

I personally would've waited for the price to come down to under $1,000 before I would buy a RX1.

I own a Canon dSLR with fast lenses and also bought a Canon S100 last year. I use them both all the time. I cannot imagine a person in your situation (no camera) paying $2800 for a camera nowadays. Do you take 5,000 to 10,000 pictures a year?

But if you have money to blow, then by all means keep the RX1.
It's all about short-term opportunistic rebalancing due to a short-term change in one's asset allocation, uh, I mean opportunistic rebalancing, uh I mean rebalancing, uh I mean market timing.
livesoft
 
Posts: 32646
Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2007 9:00 pm

Re: Need opinions on a recent camera purchase

Postby climber2020 » Sun Dec 09, 2012 12:50 pm

livesoft wrote:If you wanted f/2.0 in a small camera, you could've purchased a Canon S100 for much less.


I have a Canon S95 (and prior to that an S90 that I used extensively until it died), but it cannot produce the shallow depth of field despite the f2 lens because it has a sensor the size of my fingernail. It's a great camera that fills many needs, but not the specific one I am looking for.

livesoft wrote:But if you have money to blow, then by all means keep the RX1.


I do, but I keep thinking that maybe it would be better if I invest this money and let the interest compound for the next 35 years. A tough decision that I tend to face with all major purchases. I'm still on the fence.
User avatar
climber2020
 
Posts: 301
Joined: Sun Mar 25, 2012 9:06 pm

Re: Need opinions on a recent camera purchase

Postby Gadabout » Sun Dec 09, 2012 1:03 pm

I taught photography when film was king and did not keep up with the digital curve and all the latest bells and whistles. If a photo course is available in your area I’d suggest taking it before purchasing an expensive camera. If you don’t want to take the course scout out the teacher and get his/her opinion. I used to have students with better equipment than mine who would have been better served by a cheap camera. Don’t buy more than you need. Today’s cameras have so many options they can be confusing. While you’re trying to figure out your choices you lose your picture (unless it’s a still life). I used to drool over my ex-neighbor’s Leica. He shot about two rolls of film a year that were essentially snapshots. What a waste!
Gadabout
 
Posts: 1
Joined: Sat Aug 04, 2012 1:49 pm

Re: Need opinions on a recent camera purchase

Postby magellan » Sun Dec 09, 2012 1:04 pm

In addition to typical new purchase should-I-or-shouldn't-I considerations, I like to calculate what the new toy will cost if I end up not using/liking it.

Since this camera is so new, resale value is tough to guess at, but I'd be surprised if you lost more than 20-25% of your outlay selling it used on ebay. So after deciding if you can afford it, the next question is whether it's worth $400-$600 to try this out to learn if you like it and will use it. If not, would waiting until after the camera has been out a while reduce this cost?

I once spent $900 on gear to color correct my photography workflow. Then, a year later, I sold everything on ebay for around $700 after costs. I learned that I really preferred working on my laptop in a comfy chair rather than at a desk in my study. The expensive monitor mostly just gathered dust. Also, I found I still did nearly as many test prints to check color/brightness as I did before. The only way for me to learn this was to try it out. Now I know and it only cost me $200. One caveat is that for purchases like this, I try to be a deal-shopper and wait until I can 'buy it right.' This dramatically reduces the cost if I end up going the ebay route (or even if I don't).

Jim
Last edited by magellan on Sun Dec 09, 2012 2:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
magellan
 
Posts: 2824
Joined: Fri Mar 09, 2007 5:12 pm

Re: Need opinions on a recent camera purchase

Postby midareff » Sun Dec 09, 2012 1:27 pm

I have used all varieties of Canon (and other) gear in the last few years from the 5DMKII to the S95, G series 9/10, T2i, GX1, Fujis, Panasonics, etc. Blurred field and sharp subject takes a fast lens and a large sensor. .. which usually comes in a camera obnoxiously large to travel with when the assoerted bag of glass (lenses) is taken along. The best combo I found for travel photography (so far) is the T2i, a smaller dSLR (T4i latest edition) with 15-85 glass, 70-300 L glass and a 10-22. You are talking over $3K in glass at this point for a $700 camera but this hobby is ALL ABOUT THE GLASS. Camera bodies will come and go annually, those with fixed lenses should be avoided unless they are a few hundred dollar compact. Really top glass will last decades and reward you every time you use them. If interested www.martindareff.com
User avatar
midareff
 
Posts: 2275
Joined: Mon Nov 29, 2010 11:43 am
Location: Biscayne Bay, South Florida

Re: Need opinions on a recent camera purchase

Postby climber2020 » Sun Dec 09, 2012 1:41 pm

midareff wrote:Camera bodies will come and go annually, those with fixed lenses should be avoided unless they are a few hundred dollar compact. Really top glass will last decades and reward you every time you use them.


While I totally agree with this, even the smallest DSLR is too big for me. For the short time I had one, I found it a huge nuisance to carry around and ended up leaving it at home more often than not. I like to travel light, so anything that doesn't fit in a jacket pocket is a no go. If this camera had a removable lens, it would I think by necessity be much larger than it currently is and defeat the whole purpose of being a tiny camera with a huge sensor.

magellan wrote:Since this camera is so new, resale value is tough to guess at, but I'd be surprised if mint used ones sell on ebay for less than 20-25% off the new price. So after deciding if you can afford it, the next question is whether it's worth $400-$600 to try this out to learn if you like it and will use it. If not, would waiting until after the camera has been out a while reduce this cost?


Ideally, I'd like to determine this in the next few weeks so I can get a full refund if I decide it's not for me. I think the resale value would be decent for at least a year. I don't think this is the type of camera that Sony would update every year.
User avatar
climber2020
 
Posts: 301
Joined: Sun Mar 25, 2012 9:06 pm

Re: Need opinions on a recent camera purchase

Postby magellan » Sun Dec 09, 2012 2:03 pm

midareff wrote:The best combo I found for travel photography (so far) is the T2i, a smaller dSLR (T4i latest edition) with 15-85 glass...

I absolutely love Canon's 15-85 lens for my 7d. I almost didn't buy it after reading several critical reviews. Like all lenses, the designers did make some tradeoffs, but I'm glad I got it and now use it as my standard walking around lens.

...this hobby is ALL ABOUT THE GLASS. Camera bodies will come and go annually, those with fixed lenses should be avoided unless they are a few hundred dollar compact. Really top glass will last decades and reward you every time you use them. If interested http://www.martindareff.com

First, great photos - thanks for sharing. I'm in a local photo club and we've hired models a few times for shoots and it was great. I'd never do this on my own, but working with the models and pro lighting was a blast and I learned a lot.

Also, I agree about good glass. My first non-kit lens was a Canon 100-400 L that I bought almost 8 years ago for $1200. Four bodies later, the lens is still a favorite and is still worth about what I paid for it.

Jim
Last edited by magellan on Sun Dec 09, 2012 4:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
magellan
 
Posts: 2824
Joined: Fri Mar 09, 2007 5:12 pm

Re: Need opinions on a recent camera purchase

Postby nisiprius » Sun Dec 09, 2012 2:09 pm

Strictly personal. I gave up my last 35 mm SLR circa 1990, when I realized that I was never actually going to get around to setting up a darkroom in my basement. I used a pretty good pocketable Olympus rangefinder 35 mm camera for many years, then a series of point-and-shoot digital cameras, most recently a $300 Sony DSC-TX1. I love it because a) it's always with me, and b) it is just about literally true with this camera that if I can see it, I can get an acceptable-to-me picture of it. The little Sony is smaller than a cell phone and incomparably better. And the sweep panorama feature really works, very well, and completely scratches my once-longstanding itch for a Widelux.

It's fakery and I'm sure any critical eye can detect it, but for a long time now I've satisfied myself by creating subject isolation using Photoshop Elements. The big thing is that if you don't change the brightness of the background much, you don't get a telltale halo around the object. I select the foreground object by any convenient means; expand the selection a couple of pixels; feather it by a couple of pixels; invert so I've selected the background; add some Gaussian blur, reduce the color saturation (greying it a bit), and cutting down the brightness just a skosh. I adjust the amounts of each of them until it looks right, then I back it off by half! As I say, it's fake. For example, the whole background will be out of focus by the same amount, instead of the more distant parts being fuzzier than the closer parts. And you do not get the very subtle softening or modeling, quite different from simple blur, that you get on a face when you're using a portrait lens.

But it's good enough for me.

Recently, I inherited a 2005-vintage Canon EOS 5D, equipped with a 50 mm. f/1.8 lens. This camera is from the era when digital cameras were finally acknowledged to have have equalled 35 mm film, and the prices on them had started to come down; it cost about $2,000 new and has a full-frame sensor, meaning the depth-of-field characteristics etc. are an exact match for a 35 mm camera. I think "prosumer" applies here. I thought I would love having it as a second camera, because the sheer quality of the images is so much better than the little Sony. It's not a question of sharpness or resolution, but noise, dynamic range, and color quality.

I found that I hated it. It was big, heavy, bulky, felt clumsy in my hands, and the balance between its picture file size (15-20 megabytes per image) and my disk space was awkward. And I cannot get used to the mirror flip after having been free from it for a decade. I sold it on eBay for $500.

That's strictly me, and while I once aspired to being a serious amateur, I've settled for being basically an advanced snapshooter.

I'd add this. I am a time traveller from the age when 35 mm was considered to be a compromise, low-quality format, suitable mostly for photojournalists. In those days, even at f/1.8, the depth of field of a 35 mm camera wasn't shallow enough to give real isolation effects; the pros taking product shots for magazine ads would be using Hasselblads or view cameras. I don't believe there are any digital cameras with 4x5" sensors yet!
Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen and six, result happiness; Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.
User avatar
nisiprius
Advisory Board
 
Posts: 24862
Joined: Thu Jul 26, 2007 10:33 am
Location: The terrestrial, globular, planetary hunk of matter, flattened at the poles, is my abode.--O. Henry

Re: Need opinions on a recent camera purchase

Postby neurosphere » Sun Dec 09, 2012 2:18 pm

I disagree that this camera will be obsolete in 5 years. There will certainly be new features added to the software, some bells and whistles but there will not be monumental changes in glass/lens technology, and there will not be some magic which will allow a bigger sensor to fit in a small camera. Perhaps the sensor technology will allow for more light gathering and push the ISO up to several gazillion or whatever. But if you think the camera takes good pictures NOW, it will ALWAYS take good pictures. A newer camera 5 years from now might take sorta-kinda better pictures, or be 20% smaller, or have built in flash AND a hotshoe (I know this is not likely, but is just an example of a possible added feature).

If you want a camera with a fast lens, full-frame sensor, and do NOT want the option of changing lenses, because any other lens will add to the bulk, then this is an amazing camera which is not going to be dramatically improved upon. Might another camera with very similar features come out next years for only $1000, of course.

So I can't tell you about what this camera may be worth to YOU, but I wouldn't stress too much about it becoming obsolete. There is a better chance your photography hobby will be "obsolete" than the camera in 5 years. You might be able to get a lot more camera in 5 years, but will your PHOTOS really be that much better?

NS
I am not an actor, even though I play one on television.
User avatar
neurosphere
 
Posts: 1332
Joined: Sun Jan 17, 2010 2:55 pm
Location: NYC

Re: Need opinions on a recent camera purchase

Postby livesoft » Sun Dec 09, 2012 2:50 pm

^ I agree.

After all, photography is physics. Photons are photons. If a camera is sensing every photon that hits the front of the lens and recording it, that's all it can do. Of course, photons are lost along the way (in the lens and elsewhere) and noise is added, too. But you cannot get away from natural laws.

I would not mind getting this RX1 as a present.
It's all about short-term opportunistic rebalancing due to a short-term change in one's asset allocation, uh, I mean opportunistic rebalancing, uh I mean rebalancing, uh I mean market timing.
livesoft
 
Posts: 32646
Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2007 9:00 pm

Re: Need opinions on a recent camera purchase

Postby midareff » Sun Dec 09, 2012 3:21 pm

climber2020 wrote:
midareff wrote:Camera bodies will come and go annually, those with fixed lenses should be avoided unless they are a few hundred dollar compact. Really top glass will last decades and reward you every time you use them.


While I totally agree with this, even the smallest DSLR is too big for me. For the short time I had one, I found it a huge nuisance to carry around and ended up leaving it at home more often than not. I like to travel light, so anything that doesn't fit in a jacket pocket is a no go. If this camera had a removable lens, it would I think by necessity be much larger than it currently is and defeat the whole purpose of being a tiny camera with a huge sensor.

magellan wrote:Since this camera is so new, resale value is tough to guess at, but I'd be surprised if mint used ones sell on ebay for less than 20-25% off the new price. So after deciding if you can afford it, the next question is whether it's worth $400-$600 to try this out to learn if you like it and will use it. If not, would waiting until after the camera has been out a while reduce this cost?


Ideally, I'd like to determine this in the next few weeks so I can get a full refund if I decide it's not for me. I think the resale value would be decent for at least a year. I don't think this is the type of camera that Sony would update every year.



Recommend you have a good look at the latest Olympus micro 4/3 setups.
User avatar
midareff
 
Posts: 2275
Joined: Mon Nov 29, 2010 11:43 am
Location: Biscayne Bay, South Florida

Re: Need opinions on a recent camera purchase

Postby climber2020 » Sun Dec 09, 2012 5:07 pm

midareff wrote:Recommend you have a good look at the latest Olympus micro 4/3 setups.


I took a look at the new OM-D, which appears to be an excellent camera in its class. The closest lens available for this system to what I want is a Panasonic 20mm 1.7 (equivalent to a 40mm lens). Looking at sample images, this combo does not have the shallow depth of field qualities that would, for me, justify its need over my Canon point and shoot. I could always add a fast telephoto lens to it to get nice portraits with the blurry background, but then we run into the same problem of carrying around too much stuff. Regardless of the brand, I'd rather have just one fast prime lens that is around a 35mm equivalent. With the size limitations of a micro 4/3 sensor, I don't think I can fill my needs with just a single lens.

livesoft wrote:I would not mind getting this RX1 as a present.


Would you rather receive the camera as a gift, or a $2800 gift to invest in nicely diversified index funds? I think this is the main issue I'm debating.
User avatar
climber2020
 
Posts: 301
Joined: Sun Mar 25, 2012 9:06 pm

Re: Need opinions on a recent camera purchase

Postby livesoft » Sun Dec 09, 2012 5:16 pm

I don't need more money, so I would rather have the camera.
It's all about short-term opportunistic rebalancing due to a short-term change in one's asset allocation, uh, I mean opportunistic rebalancing, uh I mean rebalancing, uh I mean market timing.
livesoft
 
Posts: 32646
Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2007 9:00 pm

Re: Need opinions on a recent camera purchase

Postby nisiprius » Sun Dec 09, 2012 5:23 pm

"Always make the growth choice." I wish I could remember who said that. Are you going to learn something from using this camera? How many hours of time will you spend with this camera, because I think you should figure it as cost per hour. I read somewhere that new purchases usually give you "pride of ownership" pleasure for about six months, which sounds about right. I think "at least five years" sounds about right, too. Since I don't know whether improvement in cameras is going to continue at its present rate, I can't guess whether this is going to be a lifetime purchase or whether there will be something so much better in five years that it will be silly to keep using it, but, certainly, five years.

Let's say you spend two or three hours a week, times fifty weeks, times five years, on your photographic hobby; that's, let's see, 3 times 50 times 5, 750 hours, or about four bucks an hour. If you are spending it in something that's "self-actualization," something meaningful or educational, that doesn't seem extravagant. On the other hand, if the $2,800 gives you six months' pride of ownership, showing it off to envious friends, and then it goes in the drawer, well, maybe not.
Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen and six, result happiness; Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.
User avatar
nisiprius
Advisory Board
 
Posts: 24862
Joined: Thu Jul 26, 2007 10:33 am
Location: The terrestrial, globular, planetary hunk of matter, flattened at the poles, is my abode.--O. Henry

Re: Need opinions on a recent camera purchase

Postby WendyW » Sun Dec 09, 2012 5:46 pm

I don't really understand the appeal of the Sony RX1.
With the bulky lens sticking out the front, it doesn't seem any more portable than an SLR is.

My photography solution consists of two cameras:
#1 is a DSLR with fast lenses.
#2 is a high-quality pocket camera with a retracting lens. (think Olympus XZ-1, Panasonic LX7, Canon S100, etc.)

When I'm taking serious pictures, quality wins out over portability, and I use #1.

The rest of the time, portability wins out and I slip #2 into my pocket.

The RX1 would replace neither of these cameras, as it lacks the flexibility of #1 and the portability of #2.
WendyW
 
Posts: 338
Joined: Sat Dec 08, 2012 5:01 pm

Re: Need opinions on a recent camera purchase

Postby climber2020 » Sun Dec 09, 2012 9:30 pm

WendyW wrote:I don't really understand the appeal of the Sony RX1.
With the bulky lens sticking out the front, it doesn't seem any more portable than an SLR is.


I thought along the same lines until I actually held the thing:

Image

Of note, I'm not a very large person and have smallish hands. I had one of the smaller DSLR's (Nikon D5100) for a few weeks before deciding to return it, and in my opinion there is a huge difference in size. Despite the lens protrusion, this thing slides into my front jacket pocket no problem.

nisiprius wrote:"Always make the growth choice." I wish I could remember who said that. Are you going to learn something from using this camera? How many hours of time will you spend with this camera, because I think you should figure it as cost per hour. I read somewhere that new purchases usually give you "pride of ownership" pleasure for about six months, which sounds about right. I think "at least five years" sounds about right, too. Since I don't know whether improvement in cameras is going to continue at its present rate, I can't guess whether this is going to be a lifetime purchase or whether there will be something so much better in five years that it will be silly to keep using it, but, certainly, five years.

Let's say you spend two or three hours a week, times fifty weeks, times five years, on your photographic hobby; that's, let's see, 3 times 50 times 5, 750 hours, or about four bucks an hour. If you are spending it in something that's "self-actualization," something meaningful or educational, that doesn't seem extravagant. On the other hand, if the $2,800 gives you six months' pride of ownership, showing it off to envious friends, and then it goes in the drawer, well, maybe not.


Good way to think about it. The path that led me to purchase this camera in the first place started about a year ago when I decided to work on my composition skills and shot just about everything with either my iPhone, Olympus XA (a cool little rangefinder from the early 80's), and Holga in order to get rid of all the gear distractions and focus on simplicity. Through this process, I figured out things that I wanted from my tools that I couldn't accomplish with these 3 simple cameras, and the RX1 was the smallest one that met all the criteria. I'm sure I'll learn from this camera if I decide to keep it, but I think I'll learn and improve regardless of what I shoot with. As far as pride of ownership, I've already covered the brand and model inscriptions with black electrical tape. The last thing I want is for people to know that I'm carrying around a camera in this price range.

neurosphere wrote:I disagree that this camera will be obsolete in 5 years. There will certainly be new features added to the software, some bells and whistles but there will not be monumental changes in glass/lens technology, and there will not be some magic which will allow a bigger sensor to fit in a small camera. Perhaps the sensor technology will allow for more light gathering and push the ISO up to several gazillion or whatever. But if you think the camera takes good pictures NOW, it will ALWAYS take good pictures. A newer camera 5 years from now might take sorta-kinda better pictures, or be 20% smaller, or have built in flash AND a hotshoe (I know this is not likely, but is just an example of a possible added feature).


I agree with this. I'm not someone who upgrades stuff regularly, and I can't fathom I'll ever need more image quality beyond what this camera can offer.
User avatar
climber2020
 
Posts: 301
Joined: Sun Mar 25, 2012 9:06 pm

Re: Need opinions on a recent camera purchase

Postby AAA » Sun Dec 09, 2012 10:40 pm

Personally, the RX1 seems too limiting to me by having only a fixed 35mm lens and therefore to me seems priced a bit high. On the other hand, it sounds like it is almost perfect for the type of photos you usually take and meets your needs well.

Consider this - this is your hobby, the camera seems appropriate to your needs and its quality can bring you some pleasure. Isn't that what a hobby is supposed to do? What if your hobby were skiing and you went on two ski trips each year for a few days each time. Certainly, each trip would cost at least $1000, maybe more. So you've spent one year's worth of ski trips on something that will last you several years.

I always suggest buying the best quality that you can afford, within reason - first, you would regret purchasing something else and second, as has been pointed out, you can always sell photography equipment if it is in relatively good condition and recover some of your cash outlay. So let's say in 3 years you sell the RX1 for $1200. In that case, you have only really spent $1600. Look at the prices of used Nikon D700's - recently discontinued by Nikon - they are holding their value very well.

Yes, it's expensive, but if you want to feel better, look up the prices of some Leica cameras.

Now I have to permit myself to get a Nikon D800.
AAA
 
Posts: 190
Joined: Sat Jan 12, 2008 9:56 am

Re: Need opinions on a recent camera purchase

Postby nisiprius » Sun Dec 09, 2012 10:52 pm

climber2020 wrote:Olympus XA (a cool little rangefinder from the early 80's),
That's the one I had. Actually I think I still have it, though I haven't loaded it with film in years and don't know what drawer it's in. Sweet, compact, nimble, quiet, and very good picture quality. The smooth streamlined shell really slid nicely into a pocket and the lens didn't project.

The last time I used it was in 2004; I was on a vacation with my Canon Digital Elph as my main camera, but it had an effective ISO of only 100. I had the Olympus loaded with ISO 800 films and used it for available light. A great little camera, but the flash wasn't quite as great as the camera. The idea that it took a single AA battery was pretty cool, but it took forever to recycle and the battery was only good for about twenty or thirty shots.
Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen and six, result happiness; Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.
User avatar
nisiprius
Advisory Board
 
Posts: 24862
Joined: Thu Jul 26, 2007 10:33 am
Location: The terrestrial, globular, planetary hunk of matter, flattened at the poles, is my abode.--O. Henry

Re: Need opinions on a recent camera purchase

Postby WendyW » Sun Dec 09, 2012 11:43 pm

climber2020 wrote:I thought along the same lines until I actually held the thing:

If I was going to drop $1000 plus on a large sensor pocket camera, I'd more likely go with the Fujifilm FinePix X100...

Image

Which is less than half the price ($1200), and might actually fit into one of My pockets.
WendyW
 
Posts: 338
Joined: Sat Dec 08, 2012 5:01 pm

Re: Need opinions on a recent camera purchase

Postby interplanetjanet » Sun Dec 09, 2012 11:59 pm

climber2020 wrote:
midareff wrote:Recommend you have a good look at the latest Olympus micro 4/3 setups.


I took a look at the new OM-D, which appears to be an excellent camera in its class. The closest lens available for this system to what I want is a Panasonic 20mm 1.7 (equivalent to a 40mm lens). Looking at sample images, this combo does not have the shallow depth of field qualities that would, for me, justify its need over my Canon point and shoot.

It's important to note that depth of field is dependant on more than just image sensor size, focal length and f-stop setting.

The 20mm at f1.7 on a m4/3 sensor will give you the same depth of field as your 35mm/f2.0/full frame, if you can move about 17% closer to your subject - for example, from 3 meters away to 2.49m away. Whether your shot will suffer from the loss of material around the edge by being half a meter closer in that case is something that's an individual call. It would certainly be far less of an issue than with a telephoto.

This is likely much less of a difference than between m4/3 and a p/s camera, which typically have vastly smaller sensors - for example, a Canon S95 shooting at f2.0 at 35mm equivalent (7.5mm) would require you to be about 60% closer (shooting at a 1.2m distance instead of 3m).

I've no doubt that the RX1 is a fine camera and worth it if you really value what it offers. I do want to say that there is a bit of a shallow-DOF "fetish" in many online photography forums. It's an effect that is useful in drawing the viewers' attention, but it's by no means a necessity for making the perfect shot and it can be overused.

Keep in mind, as well, that postprocessing is very easy with digital and it is getting easier and easier to subdue/soften backgrounds. While someone staring very closely at your images might be able to distinguish digital blurring from a true shallow DOF shot, most will not and will simply enjoy the image for what it is and what it evokes.
User avatar
interplanetjanet
 
Posts: 2177
Joined: Mon Jan 24, 2011 5:52 pm
Location: the wilds of central California

Re: Need opinions on a recent camera purchase

Postby TomatoTomahto » Mon Dec 10, 2012 12:41 am

I recently purchased a Nikon D4, so I'm obviously not as bothered by a large camera as OP. With the 70-200 f2.8 lens, it is heavy and large, but I find the ergonomics perfect.

Anyway, since I can't help you with camera choices, I did want to chime in on the frugality question. Do I need a D4? No. Do I absolutely love it? Yes. We're well on track with our retirement savings, each child has around 80% of their anticipated college expenses sitting at Vanguard, the house is paid for, we contribute to the charities that we care about, etc. For a few moments I felt queasy at the thought of paying $6000 for a camera body, but then came to think that it was fine. Who's to say what is reasonable or acceptable? I didn't inherit or steal my money; I can spend it any legal way that I want to.
User avatar
TomatoTomahto
 
Posts: 2619
Joined: Mon Apr 11, 2011 2:48 pm

Re: Need opinions on a recent camera purchase

Postby TomatoTomahto » Mon Dec 10, 2012 12:53 am

interplanetjanet wrote:Keep in mind, as well, that postprocessing is very easy with digital and it is getting easier and easier to subdue/soften backgrounds. While someone staring very closely at your images might be able to distinguish digital blurring from a true shallow DOF shot, most will not and will simply enjoy the image for what it is and what it evokes.


Respectfully, postprocessing is not at the point where it is easy to fake shallow DOF. You can blur a background, darken it, etc., but it will not resemble a DOF effect unless you have spent considerable time in processing (or it's a photo with essentially only two planes: one to be in focus and the other out of focus). I don't think that it usually requires staring very closely; there is something very natural about shallow DOF that most quick postprocessing can't duplicate. The software packages that claim to handle this are, IMO, not very good.

IMO, portraits are very rarely effective without shallow DOF, and good portraits of that type are usually only achieved by exceptional photographers. You seldom see portraits done with a 35mm lens.
User avatar
TomatoTomahto
 
Posts: 2619
Joined: Mon Apr 11, 2011 2:48 pm

Re: Need opinions on a recent camera purchase

Postby porcupine » Mon Dec 10, 2012 1:07 am

livesoft wrote:I don't need more money, so I would rather have the camera.

OP:

Here is your answer! You just need to supply more information. Do you have enough money or do you need more?!!

- Porcupine
porcupine
 
Posts: 1259
Joined: Thu Nov 04, 2010 12:05 pm

Re: Need opinions on a recent camera purchase

Postby nimo956 » Mon Dec 10, 2012 2:05 am

This Sony camera seems to be tailor-made for street photography. The fact that it's a digital rangefinder means that there is no mirror like a dslr, so the lens can be placed closer to the sensor, keeping the size and weight down. The 35mm f/2 lens is ideal for shooting handheld night scenes on the go. For another option, see Fuji's X-E1 with a 35mm f/1.4 lens. For a more expensive option, see Leica's M7 or M9 + 35mm f/2 or f/1.4.

Just as an aside, a $2800 budget will get you a nearly new 4x5 set up. The resolution and control of depth of field dances circles around these small format sensors. It really shines when making big enlargements, but it's completely manual, so it takes some getting used to!
25% S&P 500/ 25% 30 year US Treasury Bond/ 25% Gold/ 25% Cash
nimo956
 
Posts: 462
Joined: Mon Feb 15, 2010 7:07 pm

Re: Need opinions on a recent camera purchase

Postby interplanetjanet » Mon Dec 10, 2012 3:35 am

nimo956 wrote:This Sony camera seems to be tailor-made for street photography. The fact that it's a digital rangefinder means that there is no mirror like a dslr, so the lens can be placed closer to the sensor, keeping the size and weight down. The 35mm f/2 lens is ideal for shooting handheld night scenes on the go. For another option, see Fuji's X-E1 with a 35mm f/1.4 lens. For a more expensive option, see Leica's M7 or M9 + 35mm f/2 or f/1.4.

Or, if you're in a bit of a bonkers mood, try a micro-4/3 with the one of the Voigtländer Nokton f0.95 lenses (17.5mm or 25mm). You won't get as low noise as you will with the bigger sensor, but you should be able to get as small or smaller DOF than with the f2 full-frame. Either lens is a chunk of change but likely one that will hold its value very well. The 17.5mm is only available as a fully manual lens, unfortunately - and both are heavy, though surprisingly not too bulky for what they are.

For a relatively cheap way to get thin DOF that is still compact-ish, I use a micro-4/3 body and a manual f1.2 lens with an adaptor. It's heavier than the Sony, though.

Just as an aside, a $2800 budget will get you a nearly new 4x5 set up. The resolution and control of depth of field dances circles around these small format sensors. It really shines when making big enlargements, but it's completely manual, so it takes some getting used to!

And you can get tilt and shift movements too! If you want pinpoint control over DOF above all else and your subjects can be counted on to stand still, this is a great way to go.
User avatar
interplanetjanet
 
Posts: 2177
Joined: Mon Jan 24, 2011 5:52 pm
Location: the wilds of central California

Re: Need opinions on a recent camera purchase

Postby interplanetjanet » Mon Dec 10, 2012 5:52 am

TomatoTomahto wrote:
interplanetjanet wrote:Keep in mind, as well, that postprocessing is very easy with digital and it is getting easier and easier to subdue/soften backgrounds. While someone staring very closely at your images might be able to distinguish digital blurring from a true shallow DOF shot, most will not and will simply enjoy the image for what it is and what it evokes.


Respectfully, postprocessing is not at the point where it is easy to fake shallow DOF. You can blur a background, darken it, etc., but it will not resemble a DOF effect unless you have spent considerable time in processing (or it's a photo with essentially only two planes: one to be in focus and the other out of focus). I don't think that it usually requires staring very closely; there is something very natural about shallow DOF that most quick postprocessing can't duplicate. The software packages that claim to handle this are, IMO, not very good.

I agree that things are not quite there if you start with an image with deep DOF. If you start with a moderately shallow DOF, though, I do think that it is possible to gently enhance it without making things too obvious. I found myself more impressed with what Photoshop CS6 could do than I expected - the improvements in this area over CS5 seem substantial. The effect is not indistinguishable by any means but it is remarkable for what it is and feels much less like a "flat" blur.

IMO, portraits are very rarely effective without shallow DOF, and good portraits of that type are usually only achieved by exceptional photographers. You seldom see portraits done with a 35mm lens.

This is true. Thankfully, "portrait length" lenses give a considerably shallower DOF at the same distances than something like a 35mm on full frame will. I use a fast 50mm manual lens on a micro-4/3 body for portraiture and find that it works quite well - wide-open, I get a DOF of just under an inch at typical portrait distances. This is enough for me. It's also a great combination for shooting my children on stage in dimly lit school auditoriums. :)
User avatar
interplanetjanet
 
Posts: 2177
Joined: Mon Jan 24, 2011 5:52 pm
Location: the wilds of central California

Re: Need opinions on a recent camera purchase

Postby nisiprius » Mon Dec 10, 2012 7:58 am

interplanetjanet wrote:The 20mm at f1.7 on a m4/3 sensor will give you the same depth of field as your 35mm/f2.0/full frame,
Whoa, whoa, whoa, something does not compute here. I suspect the issue has to do with how the book formulas decide on what is a tolerable blur circle.

Assume that the issue here is subject isolation, and that what you care about is not "how much looks perfectly sharp," but "how blurred is the out-of-focus background." Assume that you're displaying the picture at some natural size, maybe 8"x10" held at magazine-reading distance, and that the resolution is high enough that your eye isn't even close to resolving pixels in that situation. And just to avoid minutia and make mental calculations easy, let's assume f/2 on both lenses.

A 20 mm f/2 lens has a physical, absolute aperture size of 10 mm. If a fly walks across the lens from one edge of the aperture to the other, its point of view shifts by 10 mm. The lens collects and smooshes together images from points of view that are 10 mm apart. If it is properly focused, the images of the subject all align perfectly, while the images of the background do not.

A 50 mm f/2 lens has a physical aperture of 25 mm. The fly can see further "around" the subject as it it walks from one edge to the other.

Let's say the subject is 1 meter away. The light collected by the lens from a point on the subject is a cone 1 meter long and, respectively, 10 mm and 25 mm wide. The angle subtended by the cone will be, respectively, 0.01 radian or 0.025 radians.

OK, now bear with me. Suppose that in the background, at infinity or close as makes no difference, we have... say... a big outdoor Christmas tree with point-sized lights on it. They are thrown out of focus. By how much? Each light is going to look like a big, flat circle. Let's say the subject holds a coin in their hand that is chosen so that the coin looks "the same size" as the out-of-focus circle. By math, by diagram, or by handwaving, I think you will be able to convince yourself that the blur circle of the out-of-focus object at infinity is the same size as the circle with physical, absolute lens aperture at the subject distance.

That is, the out-of-focus tree lights will be as large as a 10 mm coin at the subject distance when taken with the 20 mm lens, and a 25 mm coin at the subject distance when taken with the 50 mm lens.

The pictures will have an entirely different look to them. Regardless of how deep a field appears "sharp" in the two pictures, the background will be thrown much further out of focus with the larger lens.

In other words, there's a set of relationships that do not depend solely on the lens angle of view and relative f/stop. There's a very important set of relationships that depend on the absolutely physical size of the lens aperture, because that governs the collection of slightly different points of view that get superimposed to form the picture.

This has an interesting consequence, by the way. It means that cameras whose focal length is roughly the same as the human eye, with physical, absolute apertures in the range of 2 to 6 mm or thereabouts (same as the pupil of the eye), capture images that have a certain similarity to the boring, prosaic images we see with our eye--images in which, if we look at a foreground object, yeah, the background is somewhat out of focus, but not a lot. Traditional cameras--think pre-35 mm, think of your 6x6 cm. Hasselblads and Rolleis or your 4x5's or the portrait photographer--throw the background much farther out of focus than the eye does. This is usually seen as a pleasant and desirable effect, and is one of the ways in which "photographs" look different from "reality."

Another effect that's quite important has to do with the sort of blur that created in traditional portrait photography. Here, again, the combinations of focal length and film size and enlargement size combine to create quite a lot of intentional blur, but it is the result of different parts of the lens looking partway around the face. There is a strange combination of sharpness of outline with blurring of the skin surface, so that the picture does not simply look blurred--you do not get the same effect by throwing a smaller lens out of focus. It is a sort of modeled look that is, according to conventional standards of female beauty, flattering.

Although I suppose tastes in photographic image mannerism may change over the years as with any fashion.

Look for an 8x10 black-and-white studio photograph of your grandmother, and you'll probably see what I'm talking about instantly, especially if you put it next to one of your grandfather (where photographers tried for a sharply focussed rugged look). Whether or not you like the effect, you cannot get the kind of image captured in a studio portrait taken with a physically big lens--a wide aperture, measured in absolute number of millimeters--with a small lens. The big lens is sucking in and overlaying views from a broader chunk of space; it is looking from places where the small lens isn't looking, and seeing further "around" the subject's face than the small lens can see.
Last edited by nisiprius on Mon Dec 10, 2012 3:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen and six, result happiness; Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.
User avatar
nisiprius
Advisory Board
 
Posts: 24862
Joined: Thu Jul 26, 2007 10:33 am
Location: The terrestrial, globular, planetary hunk of matter, flattened at the poles, is my abode.--O. Henry

Re: Need opinions on a recent camera purchase

Postby Mister Whale » Mon Dec 10, 2012 8:29 am

climber2020 wrote:Any thoughts?

p.s. If you haven't seen or heard of this camera, Steve Huff has an excellent review on his photo blog.


Wow that's a nice camera. I am in the market for something in that quality range. Thanks for the heads-up.
" ... advice is most useful and at its best, not when it is telling you what to do, but when it is illuminating aspects of the situation you hadn't thought about." --nisiprius
User avatar
Mister Whale
 
Posts: 455
Joined: Sat Jan 02, 2010 11:39 am

Re: Need opinions on a recent camera purchase

Postby climber2020 » Mon Dec 10, 2012 9:06 am

porcupine wrote:
livesoft wrote:I don't need more money, so I would rather have the camera.

OP:

Here is your answer! You just need to supply more information. Do you have enough money or do you need more?!!

- Porcupine


I don't have enough money to last the rest of my (projected) life since I'm in my early 30's and have only been working my real job for a few years, but I think I'm doing well for where I'm at. My savings rate this year will probably end up in the 30-35% range of gross income depending on the size of my bonus check at the end of this month. So I definitely do need more overall money, it's just a matter of balancing out how much more to save and how much to splurge.

interplanetjanet wrote:Just as an aside, a $2800 budget will get you a nearly new 4x5 set up. The resolution and control of depth of field dances circles around these small format sensors. It really shines when making big enlargements, but it's completely manual, so it takes some getting used to!

And you can get tilt and shift movements too! If you want pinpoint control over DOF above all else and your subjects can be counted on to stand still, this is a great way to go.


I've thought about this for absolute image quality, but the size constraints are too much. Plus, I would have to buy bigger developing tanks for the huge sheets of film.
User avatar
climber2020
 
Posts: 301
Joined: Sun Mar 25, 2012 9:06 pm

Re: Need opinions on a recent camera purchase

Postby AAA » Mon Dec 10, 2012 1:26 pm

nisiprius wrote:[quote="interplanetjanet"
In other words, there's a set of relationships that do not depend solely on the lens angle of view and relative f/stop. There's a very important set of relationships that depend on the absolutely physical size of the lens aperture, because that governs the collection of slightly different points of view that get superimposed to form the picture.


Just wanted to thank you for this very interesting post. I had always thought in terms of f/stop, not the absolute physical size of the lens aperture. Do you have a reference? Sounds like something from Merklinger.

And, to be technical, don't you mean the size of the entrance pupil, not the physical size of the aperture?
AAA
 
Posts: 190
Joined: Sat Jan 12, 2008 9:56 am

Re: Need opinions on a recent camera purchase

Postby gatorman » Mon Dec 10, 2012 3:27 pm

I think the first question you need to answer for yourself is whether the camera will take the shots you want to take. The only way to find out is to use it a lot before the 30 days runs out. So, if I were you, I'd be taking a ton of shots to see if the camera lives up to my expectations insofar as bokeh and image quality is concerned. If not, return it for sure.

Just as important as image quality over the long haul is how easy the camera is to use. Many of the newer cameras rely heavily on menu driven settings. I find these do not contribute to one's getting the shot one wants to get when time is short. Cameras that allow you to preset for different shooting conditions, like the Nikon D7000 does, are a lot more conducive to getting THE shot when you need to do so quickly. I'd pay a lot of attention to the ergonomiccs of the camera as I took my test shots.

If the camera meets your expectations as to bokeh, IQ and ergonomics, then you must decide whether it is worth almost $3k for a camera with a fixed lens. That is not a design choice I find appealing, but of course, my opinion is not the one that matters. My thought is that eventually, I'd feel the camera was limiting my creativity and would end up spending even more to get into a system with some flexibility.

What you might do is look at an alternative like the Fuji EX-1 or the new Nikon 4/3 V something or other and get Amazon to send you one with a few lenses to see how it compares. That way you would at least have a comparison point. When you decide what you want to do, keep the one you like and send back the other one, or if neither is satisfactory, return them both.

Full disclosure, I shoot a Nikon D7000, have lots of good glass (12-24mm f/4, 35-70mm f/2.8, 70-200mm f/2.8, 35mm f/1.8, 50mm f/1.4 and 100mm f/2.8 macro, as well as a bunch of kit lenses, teleconverters, etc.), and so am probably somewhat biased towards replaceable lens cameras.

gatorman
Last edited by gatorman on Mon Dec 10, 2012 4:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
gatorman
 
Posts: 2065
Joined: Wed Oct 31, 2007 10:35 am
Location: The Swamp

Re: Need opinions on a recent camera purchase

Postby nisiprius » Mon Dec 10, 2012 3:45 pm

AAA wrote:
nisiprius wrote:In other words, there's a set of relationships that do not depend solely on the lens angle of view and relative f/stop. There's a very important set of relationships that depend on the absolutely physical size of the lens aperture, because that governs the collection of slightly different points of view that get superimposed to form the picture.
Just wanted to thank you for this very interesting post. I had always thought in terms of f/stop, not the absolute physical size of the lens aperture. Do you have a reference? Sounds like something from Merklinger.
As far as I know, it's something I figured out for myself. (Like I figured out for myself that the ratio of print size to viewing distance has to match the ratio of film size to focal length for perspective to be correct). I'm pretty sure I'm right... shoulda put a disclaimer on it I guess.
And, to be technical, don't you mean the size of the entrance pupil, not the physical size of the aperture?
If the entrance pupil means "where the iris diaphragm appears to be when you look through the front of the lens," i.e. the virtual image of the aperture, or something like that... then yes, or something like yes.
Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen and six, result happiness; Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.
User avatar
nisiprius
Advisory Board
 
Posts: 24862
Joined: Thu Jul 26, 2007 10:33 am
Location: The terrestrial, globular, planetary hunk of matter, flattened at the poles, is my abode.--O. Henry

Re: Need opinions on a recent camera purchase

Postby interplanetjanet » Mon Dec 10, 2012 6:38 pm

nisiprius wrote:
interplanetjanet wrote:The 20mm at f1.7 on a m4/3 sensor will give you the same depth of field as your 35mm/f2.0/full frame,
Whoa, whoa, whoa, something does not compute here. I suspect the issue has to do with how the book formulas decide on what is a tolerable blur circle.
*snip*

I don't disagree with anything you said, but you cut out the most important part of my quote.

Focus distance makes a large difference in both absolute depth of field and the degree to which backgrounds blur. This is why macro shots, even with relatively wide lenses, can have paper-thin DOF with a background that blurs out very rapidly.

You may not be able to get the same composition by shooting more closely to your subject. There is always a price to pay, and that price can include distortion - though this can be better corrected now than it was with wide lenses in days of yore (usually at the cost of corner sharpness...nothing comes free). The OP commented on his needs and I thought I would give an alternate perspective, one that I think is often ignored.

I used to shoot MF before I went digital - mostly 6x9. It provided for more flexibility in some ways, less in others. It was definitely annoying to keep a flat enough film plane in that size with roll film, though.
User avatar
interplanetjanet
 
Posts: 2177
Joined: Mon Jan 24, 2011 5:52 pm
Location: the wilds of central California

Re: Need opinions on a recent camera purchase

Postby livesoft » Mon Dec 10, 2012 7:08 pm

I get annoyed when the eyes are tack-sharp but the ears and nose are OOF.

Remember this thread on depth of field -> viewtopic.php?t=77610

I wonder if the wide-angle of the RX1 lens forces a favorable distance which in turn yields a favorable depth-of-field. In that sense, the perceived nicety of the RX1 would just be an artifact.
It's all about short-term opportunistic rebalancing due to a short-term change in one's asset allocation, uh, I mean opportunistic rebalancing, uh I mean rebalancing, uh I mean market timing.
livesoft
 
Posts: 32646
Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2007 9:00 pm

Re: Need opinions on a recent camera purchase

Postby richard » Mon Dec 10, 2012 7:56 pm

interplanetjanet wrote:The 20mm at f1.7 on a m4/3 sensor will give you the same depth of field as your 35mm/f2.0/full frame, if you can move about 17% closer to your subject - for example, from 3 meters away to 2.49m away. Whether your shot will suffer from the loss of material around the edge by being half a meter closer in that case is something that's an individual call. It would certainly be far less of an issue than with a telephoto.

A m43 sensor is 1/4 the size of a full frame sensor (half the width and half the height). A 17/1.0 m43 will give the same angle of view and depth of field as a FF 35/2.0, given the same camera position.

dpreview.com is probably the best source of information on camera purchases. A search of its micro four thirds forum for equivalence will yield more discussion of the subject than you could possibly want.
richard
 
Posts: 7368
Joined: Tue Feb 20, 2007 4:38 pm

Re: Need opinions on a recent camera purchase

Postby richard » Mon Dec 10, 2012 8:09 pm

climber2020 wrote:I took a look at the new OM-D, which appears to be an excellent camera in its class. The closest lens available for this system to what I want is a Panasonic 20mm 1.7 (equivalent to a 40mm lens). Looking at sample images, this combo does not have the shallow depth of field qualities that would, for me, justify its need over my Canon point and shoot. I could always add a fast telephoto lens to it to get nice portraits with the blurry background, but then we run into the same problem of carrying around too much stuff. Regardless of the brand, I'd rather have just one fast prime lens that is around a 35mm equivalent. With the size limitations of a micro 4/3 sensor, I don't think I can fill my needs with just a single lens.

A small micro four thirds camera and a 25/1.4 or 45/1.8 is probably your best bet in terms of size and DOF. Olympus and Panasonic make some rather small models. The OM-D is somewhat larger due to a viewfinder and weather sealing. As mentioned, dpreview.com is a great resource for this sort of issue.

There are some recent point and shoots with larger sensors and fast lenses. I'm less familiar with these, but am guessing they don't have the desired DOF.

BTW, camerasize.com is a good way to compare camera sizes. http://camerasize.com/compact/#382.93,376,ha,t shows an Olympus with 45/1.8 is almost the same size as the Sony RX1.
Last edited by richard on Mon Dec 10, 2012 8:30 pm, edited 2 times in total.
richard
 
Posts: 7368
Joined: Tue Feb 20, 2007 4:38 pm

Re: Need opinions on a recent camera purchase

Postby dognose » Mon Dec 10, 2012 8:21 pm

The RX1 is a very, very cool camera (and this comes from a guy with several generations of Nikons on his desk). From your description, your camera seems to fit all your needs. Don't listen to all the carping. Forget about the money, keep the camera and enjoy it.
dognose
 
Posts: 94
Joined: Sun Apr 11, 2010 8:57 pm
Location: Arizona

Re: Need opinions on a recent camera purchase

Postby gatorman » Mon Dec 10, 2012 8:22 pm

interplanetjanet wrote:
nisiprius wrote:
interplanetjanet wrote:The 20mm at f1.7 on a m4/3 sensor will give you the same depth of field as your 35mm/f2.0/full frame,
Whoa, whoa, whoa, something does not compute here. I suspect the issue has to do with how the book formulas decide on what is a tolerable blur circle.
*snip*

I don't disagree with anything you said, but you cut out the most important part of my quote.

Focus distance makes a large difference in both absolute depth of field and the degree to which backgrounds blur. This is why macro shots, even with relatively wide lenses, can have paper-thin DOF with a background that blurs out very rapidly.

You may not be able to get the same composition by shooting more closely to your subject. There is always a price to pay, and that price can include distortion - though this can be better corrected now than it was with wide lenses in days of yore (usually at the cost of corner sharpness...nothing comes free). The OP commented on his needs and I thought I would give an alternate perspective, one that I think is often ignored.

I used to shoot MF before I went digital - mostly 6x9. It provided for more flexibility in some ways, less in others. It was definitely annoying to keep a flat enough film plane in that size with roll film, though.


This is absolutely true. Thom Hogan had a column recently bemoaning the lack of a good portrait lens equivalent to the 85mm f/1.4 Nikkor for FX cameras for DX cameras. He pointed out that the 50mm lens on DX does not give quite the same crop as the 85mm on FX, and even that small difference affects the crop, forcing one to get closer for the same crop which in turn affects the appearance of the model's features. I think he, and you, are right, so have started using my 35-70mm lens set at 57mm for head and shoulder shots. I just wish it was a little faster.
gatorman
User avatar
gatorman
 
Posts: 2065
Joined: Wed Oct 31, 2007 10:35 am
Location: The Swamp

Re: Need opinions on a recent camera purchase

Postby shel1 » Mon Dec 10, 2012 8:28 pm

I hate to throw this in, but picasa has a nice little application in it that can smear any background so that it looks like it is out of focus. Much cheaper than buying the Sony

slk
shel1
 
Posts: 7
Joined: Sat Jun 16, 2012 7:52 pm

Re: Need opinions on a recent camera purchase

Postby neurosphere » Mon Dec 10, 2012 11:14 pm

okay, I don't want to hijack this thread, but I have recently bought my first non-point and shoot camera, and I LOVE it! It's a sony interchangeable lens mirrorless camera (the nex-f3). I am a novice to photography, I know very little about, well anything.

I have a photography question. If I just want to have fun and maximize my bokeh, which I guess is the same of minimizing my depth of field, what's the best way to do that?

I have 3 lenses: the kit lens 18-55mm (27-82 equivalent) f3.5-5.6; a purchased 16 mm (24mm equivalent) F2.8 prime lens; and an ultra wide angle adapter for the prime lens.

So if my goal is only having a very small DOF, which lens is best, at what distance, and what setting? And MORE light is always better, right?

I know this is such a basic question, but some of the posts in this thread make me realize that maybe I'm not really getting it.

NS
I am not an actor, even though I play one on television.
User avatar
neurosphere
 
Posts: 1332
Joined: Sun Jan 17, 2010 2:55 pm
Location: NYC

Re: Need opinions on a recent camera purchase

Postby gatorman » Mon Dec 10, 2012 11:51 pm

neurosphere wrote:okay, I don't want to hijack this thread, but I have recently bought my first non-point and shoot camera, and I LOVE it! It's a sony interchangeable lens mirrorless camera (the nex-f3). I am a novice to photography, I know very little about, well anything.

I have a photography question. If I just want to have fun and maximize my bokeh, which I guess is the same of minimizing my depth of field, what's the best way to do that?

I have 3 lenses: the kit lens 18-55mm (27-82 equivalent) f3.5-5.6; a purchased 16 mm (24mm equivalent) F2.8 prime lens; and an ultra wide angle adapter for the prime lens.

So if my goal is only having a very small DOF, which lens is best, at what distance, and what setting? And MORE light is always better, right?

I know this is such a basic question, but some of the posts in this thread make me realize that maybe I'm not really getting it.

NS

I don't know that camera, but if it works the same as my Nikon D7000, I think you are going to have a difficult time getting any bokeh with your current lenses. The 16mm f/2.8 is equivalent to a medium wide 35mm lens, so it should give you excellent DOF, but almost no bokeh. Your other lens is probably too slow to give you a shot at good bokeh. Your best shot with your current lenses would be to use the 18-55 at 55mm placing your subject with a vegatative background a good distance behind the subject. But I'd expect that to yield only mediocre results. You really need a fast long lens to get good bokeh, on your camera something like a 55 or 60mm f/1.4 or f/1.8. Shoot it stopped down just a bit, keep the subject well in front of the background and you should do just fine.
gatorman
User avatar
gatorman
 
Posts: 2065
Joined: Wed Oct 31, 2007 10:35 am
Location: The Swamp

Re: Need opinions on a recent camera purchase

Postby climber2020 » Mon Dec 10, 2012 11:53 pm

Thanks everyone for your thoughts. I think I'll play with the camera for a few weeks and decide whether or not it's worth the cash. A few people have brought up the limited flexibility of the fixed lens. For me, that's not really an issue. I'm fine shooting with only a 35mm lens, and the way I like to travel, the last thing I want is a bag full of lenses to haul around.

neurosphere wrote:I have a photography question. If I just want to have fun and maximize my bokeh, which I guess is the same of minimizing my depth of field, what's the best way to do that?

I have 3 lenses: the kit lens 18-55mm (27-82 equivalent) f3.5-5.6; a purchased 16 mm (24mm equivalent) F2.8 prime lens; and an ultra wide angle adapter for the prime lens.

So if my goal is only having a very small DOF, which lens is best, at what distance, and what setting? And MORE light is always better, right?

I know this is such a basic question, but some of the posts in this thread make me realize that maybe I'm not really getting it.


I don't think any of those will accomplish what you are looking for. What you want is a long lens (higher mm) with a low f-stop. The prime lens you have is too wide, so despite the smallish aperture, the depth of field will be pretty deep unless you get right up on your subject. The issue with the kit lens is that the max aperture shrinks the more you zoom in, though this may achieve enough of the effect you are looking for. Give it a try; take your kit lens and zoom it all the way in to 55mm and keep the aperture at its widest at 5.6. That's probably going to be your best bet.
User avatar
climber2020
 
Posts: 301
Joined: Sun Mar 25, 2012 9:06 pm

Re: Need opinions on a recent camera purchase

Postby neurosphere » Tue Dec 11, 2012 12:14 am

climber2020 wrote: Give it a try; take your kit lens and zoom it all the way in to 55mm and keep the aperture at its widest at 5.6. That's probably going to be your best bet.


You mean like this?:

Image

That was fun. But all of a sudden, I want to spend $300 for a portrait lens. Yesterday I didn't even know what a portrait lens was. This forum is NOT good for goals of early retirement. :)
I am not an actor, even though I play one on television.
User avatar
neurosphere
 
Posts: 1332
Joined: Sun Jan 17, 2010 2:55 pm
Location: NYC

Re: Need opinions on a recent camera purchase

Postby neurosphere » Tue Dec 11, 2012 12:20 am

Whoops, sorry, this is the one I intended to upload:

Image

hmm, doesn't look as good after upload, I guess there is a lot of compression going on at the image hosting site, on my monitor with the original you can really see the details of the eyes and "nose". But there's bokeh, right? :D So lots of light, zoom to 55mm, "open up" the aperture all the way. Got it!

But now I still want another lens. :oops:

NS
I am not an actor, even though I play one on television.
User avatar
neurosphere
 
Posts: 1332
Joined: Sun Jan 17, 2010 2:55 pm
Location: NYC

Re: Need opinions on a recent camera purchase

Postby gatorman » Tue Dec 11, 2012 7:04 am

Neurosphere- I think you are getting the idea. The background is blurred, but it doesn't look like the "cream cheese" bokeh you can get from a good fast lens. With a fast lens, nearly wide open, you wouldn't be able to make out any background detail whatsoever. Your photo would also benefit from the use of a little fill flash. Look through this:

http://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/fill-flash.htm

for a quick overview of the uses of fill flash.

Here is a link to a calculator which will calculate the limits of near and far focus for your camera:
http://dofmaster.com/dofjs.html

With it you will be able to compare your current lens to any purchase you are thinking of making.

If you are going to be taking lots of photos of insects and other small things, you'll probably want to get a macro lens as well (don't get the Sony E mount macro, you want something longer so you'll be able to get farther away from your subject).

I noticed in reading about your camera there are adaptors available to allow you to use Nikon lenses. That opens up whole new vistas of possibilities. Nikon pro level glass is excellent. Tokina and Sigma also make some great Nikon mount lenses. Sony also makes an adaptor which allows the use of A mount lenses on an E mount camera. Autofocus works with that adaptor, so that is probably your best bet for expanded lens options. The price is ~150USD.

So it begins . . .
gatorman
User avatar
gatorman
 
Posts: 2065
Joined: Wed Oct 31, 2007 10:35 am
Location: The Swamp

Re: Need opinions on a recent camera purchase

Postby interplanetjanet » Tue Dec 11, 2012 3:25 pm

gatorman wrote:Neurosphere- I think you are getting the idea. The background is blurred, but it doesn't look like the "cream cheese" bokeh you can get from a good fast lens. With a fast lens, nearly wide open, you wouldn't be able to make out any background detail whatsoever. Your photo would also benefit from the use of a little fill flash.

I agree on the fill flash; changing exposure compensation is also appropriate in some situations like this. Automatic metering tends not to give the desired effect when you have a bright background and a relatively dark subject.

Another thing that can help in a situation like this is a polarizer. I'd consider this to be one of the more useful things you can have handy when you're taking pictures that in some way involve the sky or water (though as with any technique they can be overused). Either a linear or circular polarizer should work for your camera and they're really not that expensive.

If you want to teach yourself how to see polarization with the naked eye, start looking for Haidinger's Brush:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haidinger%27s_brush

The downside to this is that once you start seeing it, it's difficult to unsee. Having LCD monitors next to one another that are oppositely polarized gets annoying.
User avatar
interplanetjanet
 
Posts: 2177
Joined: Mon Jan 24, 2011 5:52 pm
Location: the wilds of central California

Re: Need opinions on a recent camera purchase

Postby usaa13 » Tue Dec 11, 2012 4:36 pm

For ~$3k, if you want small size, fast glass, and high quality, my personal choice would be a Leica-M or similar lens to throw on a Sony NEX (preferable to a 4/3 system because it has a smaller "crop factor" and is thus more readily used with legacy wide angle lenses). (For 35mm equivalent, you'd want about a 24mm lens.) That way you will retain the flexibility (but not the necessity) of adding other lenses and you will invest most of your money in the glass, rather than the camera.

You can get a perfectly useful and excellent camera body for $200-300, or pay $600-800 for the most recent bodies. Their image quality is top notch. Most of the really compact and fast M glass is quite expensive, but it is not out of your budget and is not a wasting asset. (Probably look at the 24mm/2.8 for a very compact lens.) Or drop down to the Zeiss or Voigtlander lenses made for M or screwmount. You will need to use an adapter, and you should choose one with a helicoid so that you gain some greater minimum focusing capabilities.

The perfect setup, so long as you can learn to love manual focusing (which I do ... never use autofocus at all). It would take some getting used to, but I bet you'd find in the long run that it is a more enjoyable way to do photography. And if you mostly shoot still scenes while travelling, you won't miss auto-focus. If you find you hate it, you can simply sell the lens and camera at a slight loss.
usaa13
 
Posts: 13
Joined: Sun Nov 13, 2011 9:09 am

Re: Need opinions on a recent camera purchase

Postby hicabob » Tue Dec 11, 2012 4:47 pm

interplanetjanet wrote:
gatorman wrote:Neurosphere- I think you are getting the idea. The background is blurred, but it doesn't look like the "cream cheese" bokeh you can get from a good fast lens. With a fast lens, nearly wide open, you wouldn't be able to make out any background detail whatsoever. Your photo would also benefit from the use of a little fill flash.

I agree on the fill flash; changing exposure compensation is also appropriate in some situations like this. Automatic metering tends not to give the desired effect when you have a bright background and a relatively dark subject.

Another thing that can help in a situation like this is a polarizer. I'd consider this to be one of the more useful things you can have handy when you're taking pictures that in some way involve the sky or water (though as with any technique they can be overused). Either a linear or circular polarizer should work for your camera and they're really not that expensive.

If you want to teach yourself how to see polarization with the naked eye, start looking for Haidinger's Brush:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haidinger%27s_brush

The downside to this is that once you start seeing it, it's difficult to unsee. Having LCD monitors next to one another that are oppositely polarized gets annoying.


Cross polarization is quite fun too. That is the lights are sent thru a polarizer that is 90 degrees to the polarizer the camera is looking thru. I have used it very successfully for machine vision applications to eliminate lighting hotspots, but with general photog and some subjects (i.e. insects) the x-polarized pics show detail that appears invisible otherwise ... also used by pros taking pics in art galleries where the hotspots from the lighting would otherwise trash the pic.
hicabob
 
Posts: 1682
Joined: Fri May 27, 2011 6:35 pm
Location: cruz

Re: Need opinions on a recent camera purchase

Postby gatorman » Tue Dec 11, 2012 6:17 pm

hicabob wrote:
interplanetjanet wrote:
gatorman wrote:Neurosphere- I think you are getting the idea. The background is blurred, but it doesn't look like the "cream cheese" bokeh you can get from a good fast lens. With a fast lens, nearly wide open, you wouldn't be able to make out any background detail whatsoever. Your photo would also benefit from the use of a little fill flash.

I agree on the fill flash; changing exposure compensation is also appropriate in some situations like this. Automatic metering tends not to give the desired effect when you have a bright background and a relatively dark subject.

Another thing that can help in a situation like this is a polarizer. I'd consider this to be one of the more useful things you can have handy when you're taking pictures that in some way involve the sky or water (though as with any technique they can be overused). Either a linear or circular polarizer should work for your camera and they're really not that expensive.

If you want to teach yourself how to see polarization with the naked eye, start looking for Haidinger's Brush:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haidinger%27s_brush

The downside to this is that once you start seeing it, it's difficult to unsee. Having LCD monitors next to one another that are oppositely polarized gets annoying.


Cross polarization is quite fun too. That is the lights are sent thru a polarizer that is 90 degrees to the polarizer the camera is looking thru. I have used it very successfully for machine vision applications to eliminate lighting hotspots, but with general photog and some subjects (i.e. insects) the x-polarized pics show detail that appears invisible otherwise ... also used by pros taking pics in art galleries where the hotspots from the lighting would otherwise trash the pic.


Bob- I can get this effect by using 2 polarizing filters (which will cost me 1-2 stops), but I was wondering whether you know of any manufacturer who produces an integrated cross polarizing filter? A quick google search didn't turn up anything.
gatorman
User avatar
gatorman
 
Posts: 2065
Joined: Wed Oct 31, 2007 10:35 am
Location: The Swamp

Next

Return to Personal Consumer Issues

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: 1530jesup, BigOil, Epsilon Delta, NYC34, SecretAsianMan, shaboob and 54 guests