On the January Winter tour we visited Nordegg, Alberta to make images of the historic downtown. For that shoot I grabbed Linny, the Linhof 6×12 panorama camera and Gail, the Fuji GA-645 medium format point-n-shoot and walked about snapping a few photos. Here are five of the resulting images:
The image above was with the Linhof using Fujichrome Velvia 50 slide film. The image shows the punch and saturation familiar to those who know Velvia.
The four photos above were all shot with the Fuji GA-645 and Fujichrome Reala 100 print film. Reala has a softer palette than Velvia and a wider tonal range. All the photos shots with Gail were hand-held.
Anyone who owns a Canon G-series camera (e.g. G9, G10, G11, or G12) knows that we are not talking about a camera that will fit in your pocket (unless you’re a kangaroo and have a pouch sized pocket). And readers of this blog know that I like to take my Canon G11 almost everywhere with me. Therein lies a major frustration; how do you carry a G-series camera around so you have quick access to it and yet it does not become a huge pain in the neck or a giant bulge in your pocket? Plus there are times you may just want to have the camera hidden from view.
Sometimes I let the camera dangle from my neck (conspicuous and the camera is always annoyingly flapping around). Sometimes I have stuffed the camera in a day pack (access is slow). I have also tried a small belt pouch (again slow access and I need to remember to wear a belt). In short I have never had an functional solution… until now.
Black Rapid (makers of camera straps) have introduced an innovative 3-in-1 camera bag/sling strap/hands strap system for G-sized point-n-shoots that I really think is perfect. The SNAPR is a great solution that lets me get to the camera quickly, that keeps the camera safe and protected and that is a bit styling (hey, you all know how hip and stylish I am).
Watch the video and see how it works (plus they sure know how to pick good-looking models for their videos!)
BTW, I am not getting paid nor am I affiliated with Black Rapid, I just think the product is cool and useful and thought I would pass on the info. Cost is about $40-50 depending on where you buy. Of course I buy most everything from The Camera Store in Calgary
Technically, I am supposed to post a weekly photo every Monday, but yesterday was Valentines Day and so it was a day off from the office for obvious reasons. By the way, I happened to have my best Valentines Day ever. Wow! But I can’t really talk about that
Anyway, I am posting the weekly photo here today. On my photo tours I ask participants to post their six best images from the trip to showcase their work. In the past, I never posted my own photos but I have had a number of requests to do so. Below are my six favorites from the January 2011 Winter Photo Tour. If anyone is interested we just happened to have a last minute cancellation for the March 2-6, 2011 Winter Photo Tour. Contact Alan at the Aurum Lodge at firstname.lastname@example.org to book this last spot (it will likely go fast so hurry if you are interested).
Abraham Lake at Preacher’s Point, Canon EOS-1ds Mark III, Canon TS-E 17mm lens, 1/50th at f10.
A lucky sunset at Preacher’s Point from the evening before the tour started. Canon EOS-1ds Mark III, Canon TS-E 17mm lens, 1/8 th at f10.
Snowshoe path at Mistaya Canyon, Canon Rebel T2i, Canon 17mm TS-E, 1/50th at f11
Mistaya Canyon, Banff National Park, Canon EOS-1ds Mark III, Canon TS-E 17mm lens, 1/60th at f8. Notice the three little photographers at the top of the frame.
Salt-stained road (Highway 11). Canon G11, 1/30th at f4 (hand-held).
Ice detail on Abraham Lake, Canon G11, 1/50th at 6.3
For me, 2010 was an interesting year. Stock sales continued to decline and the recession hit many photographers hard. Fortunately for me, this past year was the best year I have ever had financially because I diversified my income. I make my income from three main sources; stock photo sales (direct and through agencies), teaching (workshops, seminars and tours), and assignment (writing and photography commission work). Each contributes about 30-35% to the overall income.
The major investment I made this year to the business side of photography cost me a lot in personal creative growth. I simply had very little time to make photos. I only got out to shoot about 25% of the time and with so little time to devote to the art of photography, the creativity hit a bit of a road block.
So for 2011, I plan to achieve a better balance of business and creativity. When I look back at the 1300 ‘keepers’ I created in 2010 I was not overly impressed with what I saw. But I did make a few images I liked which I shared in my Weekly Photos and in my Daily Snaps.
Below are 10 images which are a little more subtle but that continue to please me even after looking at them for a long time.
Evan Bedford came along on the Fire and Ice photo tour and shot with… wait for it… film cameras! What a crazy guy eh? But he also brought along his Lumix LX3 point-n-shoot digital to grab a couple of snaps along the way. Here he shares a few of the digital photos with us.
Mount Chephren, Banff National Park, Alberta
Culvert at Allstones Creek, Kootenay Plains, Alberta
Logs along the North Saskatchewan River, Banff National Park
Abraham Lake at Preacher’s Point, Kootenay Plains, Alberta
Lichen detail, Quartzite Boulder Pile, Jasper National Park, Alberta
Whirlpool Point, Kootenay Plains, Alberta
I started the Daily Snap exactly one year ago (December 5). I wanted to show that it wasn’t the gear that mattered but rather the ability to see. And there is no better way to learn to see than to force yourself to practice daily by making photos. And by using small point-n-shoot cameras I could practice making photos anywhere (around the house, at the pub, on walks with the dog, or while on photo tours). The Daily Snap was my personal exercise to do photography regularly to keep my eye in tune–visual scales for the visual artist if you will.
Now that the year is done, I plan to move onto a different project for 2011 (stay tuned for that in the new year). I have created a gallery of some of my favorite Daily Snaps over on my website. If you want to see the whole year of Daily Snaps go here. Some people have been inspired to do their own daily photos, if you are doing such a project feel free to share a link to your project in the comment section below. Thanks to everybody for your support and patience with this somewhat self-indulgent exercise. If you subscribe to this blog your inbox will now be just a little less full.
The last snap is below. And of course why not photograph one of my favorite subjects… Samantha (here having a coffee at our favorite local coffee shop). Thanks for tuning in!
Because of the amazing file quality I now use the Sigma Dp1x as my landscape point-n-shoot camera. I just love the files it gives me. The Canon G11 is my people, family, pets, macro and all around ‘happy snap’ camera. The two machines are very different animals and serve specific purposes. Below is a shot from yesterday with the DP1x. I ordered the lens hood/filter holder so I can use a polarizer and grad filters on the DP1x, but I do not have this accessory yet. So yesterday I hand-held a 3-stop hard-edge grad filter over the lens to hold back exposure in the sky. I also used a reflector leaning against my leg to add light to the fence post. Imagine what the farmer who drove by thought of me. Here I am with a big ‘Fargo’ parka holding a grad in one hand, trying to press the shutter with the other hand and balancing a big silver disc on my leg with Brando (my dog) curled up beside me in a snow drift! No wonder he sped up as he drove by!
Samantha has this hand-me down cookbook that is obviously well used. As soon as I saw it on the kitchen table I had to make a photo of it! I used the Sigma DP1x to snap the photo.
Note: To see all future reviews please note this blog is no longer active, please visit me over at oopoomoo.com
The Sigma DP1x was announced in Feb. 2010 but didn’t really make it into stores until this September. The Dp1x is a niche camera designed for photographers interested in high quality files in a compact package. This is a small camera with an SLR sized sensor. In fact, the sensor is from 7 to 12 times larger than the average point-n-shoot camera. The camera comes with a 16.6mm f4 lens (equivalent to a 28mm on a full frame dSLR). In theory, the combination of a prime lens and a big sensor should give this point-n-shoot a real advantage in producing quality files over a regular compact camera.
I thought it would be fun to try the DP1x as a landscape ‘point-n-shoot’ camera. I am a fan of wide angle lenses for my landscape photography (24-28mm is my most used lens range) and I am also a fan of prime lenses, so for me the DP1x was great to try (one lens, small camera, ‘big’ results). I am not going to spend a lot of time on the technical aspects of the camera. For that stuff go to the Sigma Dp1x site which explains the concept and design of the camera. All I was interested in was how the camera handled and what kind of files it produced in field conditions. As well, readers should note that I am sponsored by Sigma Canada. I hold no punches in this review but some people might be hesitant about my objectivity. I direct reader’s to some other review sites if you want other opinions: Trusted Reviews, Let’s Go Digital.
One last caveat, I am a working photographer and not a camera reviewer. All I can tell you is what I like and dislike about a camera. Also I can only compare this camera with other digital cameras I own or have owned. The only point-n-shoot digital cameras I have used extensively are the Canon G9 and the Canon G11. I do make some comparisons about performance of the Sigma Dp1x against the Canon G11 (and against its bigger cousin the Canon Rebel T2i) even though this is like comparing a cheetah with a house cat.
When I first unpacked the camera it struck me as a little ‘plain’. Let’s just say this camera is not a fashion statement. But later I learned to appreciate its simple design and layout. Secondly, I was surprised that the lens which sticks out of the body actually expands out even more when the camera is turned on. I suppose this is a design function of the large sensor but it just seemed weird to have a ‘retractable’ fixed lens. Also the camera does not have a built in shutter-like lens cap like the Canon G-series but instead uses a regular lens cap like a dSLR. The controls seemed pretty intuitive but I did need to look up a few things up to understand how they worked (like how to get auto bracketing). Finally the LCD screen on the back of the camera is disappointing, not too large and not very bright and ‘snappy’.
In the Field
I took the Sigma DP1x in the field with me on the Fire and Ice Photo Tour 2010 and then used it subsequent to that to make photos around the house and on short excursions. To see some samples of the kinds of shots I took with the camera check out the my Daily Snaps. To summarize, below is a list of things I liked and disliked about the use of the camera in the field:
The Sigma LCD on the left is very dim and flat even with the screen turned to its brightest setting (as it was here). The Canon LCD at default settings is bright, contrasty and colourful (overly saturated IMO). I think the Sigma shows colours accurately but the screen is often too dim to compose photos well.
The Sigma DP1X (bottom photo) has tons of space for the thumb and the controls are well spaced out for easy access. The G11 (top photo) has no space for the thumb and all the back panel controls are jammed together in a minute little space. Good luck not accidentally hitting one of these buttons when you hold the camera!
For me this is where the wind meets the sail. Does the bigger sensor and the Foveon technology of the Sigma DP1x give us great images as promised? Let’s take a look.
Below is a comparison shot of the same scene taken with the Canon G11 at maximum aperture of f8, the Sigma Dp1x at f11, and the Canon Rebel T2i (an APS sized dSlr) using a Sigma 17-50 f2.8 lens at f11. All images were shot at 100 ISO and all images were processed with the same settings in Adobe Camera Raw. There are distinct colour differences between each file, none are right or wrong, just different. Which one is ‘best’ is simply a matter of preference.
When we look at the details of each file, we notice a difference in sharpness between the small sensor G1 (top photo) and the larger sensors on the Sigma (middle) and the Rebel (bottom). I enlarged each photo at the point of focus (the grass blade to the lower left) so that differences in DOF are not responsible for differences in sharpness. To my eye the Sigma is slightly sharper than the Rebel but not by much.
Moving on to a more colourful object (my jeans on my bed), the image below shows how each camera renders the scene. Each camera was set at f5.6 this time at 100 ISO and all images were processed using the same settings in Adobe Camera RAW. The top photo is from the CanonG11, the middle photo from the Sigma DP1x and the bottom photo from the Canon Rebel T2i outfitted with a Sigma 17-50 f2.8 lens. Again we see differences in colours and in contrast. To my eye (as I remember the scene) the Sigma seemed to handle the accuracy better (but this is purely subjective).
When we look at the details of each shot at the point of focus we see that the larger sensor cameras had more detail than the Canon G11 (top) but the Sigma DP1x (middle) significantly outperformed the Rebel (bottom). Also the colours of the Sigma DP1x really are vivid but true in hue (the Foveon sensor advantage?).
In another test with just the two point-n-shoots battling it out in a high contrast scene, the two cameras gave very different results. The G11 is the top photo, the Dp1x is the bottom photo.
When we look at details of the two photo, the Sigma just blows away the Canon in terms of resolution.
I did a shot in low light in my bedroom to see how well each point-n-shoot handled longer exposures (4 seconds at f2.8 for the Canon, 8 seconds at f4 for the Sigma) and how much I could force a shallow slice of focus by using the widest aperture on each camera. Also it was interesting to see how both cameras handled the green apple colour of the walls. Again the Sigma (bottom) really seemed to give accurate colours while the G11 (top) struggled with the intense greens turning them more yellowish. Also notice the distortion in the Canon lens at its widest setting (barrel distortion). The Sigma does give a better thin slice of focus than the G11 which has a hard time giving blurred backgrounds even at f2.8.
I rarely shoot with any of my cameras at higher ISO’s. I prefer to use ISO 100 or lower whenever I can and I use a tripod a lot. But I did a comparison of ISO between the two point-n-shoot cameras and the Sigma seem to fare better than the Canon as would be expected for a bigger sensor camera but not by as much as I thought. It looks like the Sigma gets a little softer as ISO goes up. I processed all the files at the same settings with no noise reduction in Adobe Camera Raw. The Canon G11 is on the left and the Sigma is on the right. The ISO settings from top to bottom were ISO 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, and 3200.
I need to test further the ISO performance of the Sigma DP1x and see if it can perform as well as the Rebel and other APS sensor dSLRs. More on that in a later post.
The Sigma DP1x is a specialty camera, no question about it. It is not an all around point-n-shoot that is versatile to use like the Canon G11. If you want a ‘do everything camera’ then the Sigma Dp1x is not for you. But if you want really great files and do not feel limited by a prime wide angle lens, then the Sigma is a top performer. I absolutely love the handling of the camera (Canon take note!) but the main short coming for me is the DP1x’s weak LCD display (it is dim in bright light and performs poorly in low light). If Sigma upgrades this camera with a better display screen, gives it a faster lens with OS (Optical Stabilization), and improves auto-focus in low light then they would have an absolute killer point-n-shoot camera!. For me, as it is now, and despite its shortcomings, it has still found a way into my camera bag because of its amazing image quality and use-ability. Now I take two cameras with me, the G11 and the DP1x. I almost always go for the Sigma first especially for important images where quality is my number one concern.
Below are my review ratings for the Sigma DP1x
Image Quality 9/10
Build Quality 8/10
LCD and Image Display 6/10
Price 6/10 ($800 MSRP)
Total = 7.4/10