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About Cal

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    05 Feb 2019

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  1. Oh believe me I know. Having become quite fond of taking photos of swans I found all too well the limitations of dynamic range and finding often I had to mask certain parts of the image. There are also a few images in my port each of which I spent several hours removing power lines...! That has to be something only done occasionally or I suspect it will send one round the twist with insanity... but the result I have to say was impressive.
  2. Your flower images look great Steve. Really punchy, nicely saturated. I agree with your conclusion that the OP's flower image you selected was underexposed and indeed the histogram agrees. The roadkill one is not as easy though. You are right the histogram is pushed over to the right and there's no blacks. But then there shouldn't really be any blacks in the image - there are none (or very little). It's primarily a grey/blue sky. I am playing devil's advocate here because I agree a touch more contrast wouldn't go amiss but you must agree that in this situation a perfect histogram isn't going to be good for the image. I also don't think that image would look bad at all against a white background (webpage) which is probably how it will end up. There are also dynamic range issues. Sometimes you have to suck it up and accept that exposing for one part of the image will blow the highlights or sink the blacks. Yes you can pull and push parts of it in LR, but I am very wary of overdoing this as it can quickly lead to an unnatural looking image. There are a few HDR images in my port but I've tried to do it in such a way that you can't really tell. I say this knowing fine well that there are some rather poor images in my own port, but I've left them in so a) I can go back and see how I've improved and because b) maybe there's use for images that are "flat" in perhaps an obscure case so I haven't bothered deleting them. Thankfully I am getting better (significantly so now I've got to grips with Lightroom).
  3. While I am in no way looking to contribute to the pile-on I do wonder what viewing equipment you are using? I know we had a slight disagreement about the importance of the histogram but I think for the most part your advice is sound, but I have noticed you have said on a few port reviews that there is flat lighting and/or something underexposed when I have not necessarily agreed. That said, it might be confirmation bias as I will only see when this is pointed out. I use an iMac 27" 5K and while I will hold my hands up and say it isn't calibrated I know not everyone here does and even uncalibrated it's a very good starting point. What are you using to view images? Is it an unusually fancy monitor?
  4. Thanks Olivier, yes I agree about what you are saying and it was your initial contribution to the thread that got me thinking about FF again, though the advantages FF can/would bring to me are secondary to those addressed simply by a superior grade APS-C body than what I had. While I do agree there are advantages to FF, I can't help but think the "full frame" terminology is somewhat romanticised to extort money out of people - yes it's the same size as a 35mm film but an APS-C sensor is not less than a "full frame" - it's marketing speak. Regardless, I got an A77ii and it has outperformed my expectations both in AF and ISO performance. Immediately I could see the 70-300 needed micro adjustment - something I couldn't prove on the A35 due to its AF being a bit dodgy generally. Even although all the lenses are the same the AF feels like they all have new focus motors. Unfortunately water got into my kit bag this weekend (only a tiny amount) and it was enough to damage the A35. So while the A77ii has now answered my concerns of the A35, I am bereft of a second body and if Ebay comes up trumps I will likely add a second Alpha body, maybe even an A99 still.
  5. Budget isn’t the issue per se, more the realisation that spending oodles of money on something would probably end up in wasted potential. I’ve mulled over switching to E-mount and more recently read reviews of the A7iii. The high iso performance looks phenomenal, but it raises the question of being “too good”. The reviewer was demonstrating the capability by mostly re taking pictures that they had already taken at reasonable ISO like 6400. It seemed that at the lower ISO setting the images were already free of blur and were well exposed, so the fact that the camera could also take them at ludicrous numbers like 256,000 was purely academic. As an experiment I attached the sigma 85mm f1.4 to the A35 and took some shots around the room lit only by two small table lamps. One setting was at the far end round a corner and would be classed as not far from darkness. At 6400, f/1.4 and 1/30s (which is dicy, but doable with the Sony steady shot) I could reasonably take the picture. It was a completely unreasonable situation which I just couldn’t see myself ever needing to practically shoot in - the light from a street lamp would be magnitudes higher than what I gave myself to work with. I’ve worked out that even with my slow 70-300 the most I should need is 6400 for almost anything non-tripod I will shoot. With a better AF system, I’ll also not feel the need to play it safe and always use f/11 or higher. i’ve said on another thread already that it’s easy to fall into the trap of just acquiring fancy gear because of the numbers. I fell into this trap terribly once when I was younger - I spent more time looking at what to buy and spending money pointlessly on kit than shooting. I went full frame once because I felt I had to do it - by buying an ancient canon 1Ds mark 1. I bet the person who unloaded that boat anchor onto me felt lucky that day. The thing weighed as much as the moon and had a max ISO of 1250. Yes 1250! I still have some of the images I took on it and if I convince myself and squint a bit I can maybe see that there’s a certain something about the images - or more likely it’s just my imagination. anyway. It’s not a trap I’ll be falling into again so my decision since posting last has been made and I’ll be getting an a77ii once one comes along at the right price. The A99 really did the devil on the shoulder thing but with second hand prices being almost double what they are for the a77ii there was no logical thought process to being lured in by it, and it was contrary to the original goal of better AF. I know if I’d have bought one it’d be another 1Ds moment - a millstone round my neck. How the heck does anyone take well composed images with that pitiful AF point layout?! if there’s only one thing ken Rockwell says that I agree with, it’s to stop worrying and just get out and shoot. I tried that today and got soaked head to toe - thankfully the kit bag is waterproof. Thanks for the suggestions and input everyone; A77ii soon to be on the way.
  6. Thanks John. I don't think they are the same sensor, but if they are from the same (roughly) generation I'd expect performance to be broadly similar, with perhaps a smidgen more high ISO noise on the A77 due to slight light loss through the SLT mirror. At the moment I am still deciding from the various choices what's best for me. I have the megapixel department sussed out and plenty to choose from there. I have decided firmly that I will be sticking to 24MP+. Whether I actually need a better AF system is still undecided, as it could be me that is the issue. Some days I go out and miss nearly every shot, others I get a high rate of keepers. Higher light gathering ability would be nice as I often use the 70-300 at f/11 which means that at 1/1000 I'm into ISO 1600+ territory even on bright days. The A99 would excel at this but its AF system, being borrowed from the A77 is clustered in the centre of the VF and the sudden lack of reach would I suspect be an annoyance. My head is continually trying to talk my heart out of even considering the A99; it's a lot of money for an old camera that on paper isn't even that good. I'll dither some more then make a decision and see what happens.
  7. It is unrelated to your Alamy QC rank, I asked them. I'm a mere mortal 3 star and thankfully haven't had to wait more than 48 hours in most cases for approval. It's usually around 24. If I don't have the email within 2 days I normally check anyway as the email seems to come as and when it likes. I genuinely feel for those who are waiting weeks/months to pass QC.
  8. I would say somewhere in between just checking the histogram for clipping and going by eye is right where you need to be. The more you use it and are able to correlate it with what's in the image the more you get used to its foibles and why it does what it does - and ultimately when to take with a pinch of salt what it is telling you. Lightroom is good because if you hover over the histogram it tells you what the sections represent.
  9. I agree, I just wanted to emphasise as I also get where you're coming from and went through a lot of learning curve and disappointment trying to perfect the histogram when I first started. I find some people put heavy reliance on shooting for the histogram not the content (not saying you are) and I think this can mislead people.
  10. The histogram is useful, but neither is it an exact science, you have to take into account the content of the image. If I take a photograph of swans against a light-ish background with very little dark grey or black in the image, the histogram will appear to be smushed over to the right. That doesn't necessarily mean the image is overexposed... it just means that there is a lot of bright white in the image. Perfectionists will say "well don't take a photograph of swans against a light background" but that is completely missing the point. Opposite applies if I take a photograph of an object with for instance a dark or pure black background. The histogram will try to tell me there's too much black in the image by being largely skewed over to the left with peaks where the exposure is. Again, that doesn't mean the image is underexposed. While I agree that the histogram is a useful tool, using the sliders to "fix" it seems to be somewhat missing the point considering it's the image content that matters the most. I've taken some images that the histogram has told me it's all wrong and tried to fix it, ruining the look of the image. It's useful in giving you a ballpark idea of how well exposed an image is, but you also have to trust your eyes too.
  11. 3264 was what I used on the long side IIRC, total image size turned out just above 7MP. All in QC now, so we will see. The 12-24 and 85 will cover FF and I think the 70-300 is an FF lens as well. FF not 100% ruled out yet. Head tells me it doesn't make sense though as I'm often at the 300 end. Interestingly I had a look on dpreview and did various comparisons of high ISO noise with other cameras that came out roughly the same time as the A35. It turns out the A35 is actually as good as if not slightly better than some of the other sony crop bodies at high-ish ISO due to electronic trickery and probably comparative lack of megapixels. I couldn't find any crop body that I'd be considering within my budget on dpreview that offered realistically any better ISO performance. Bearing in mind Olivier's comment I put some FF bodies into the comparison and was reminded just how much better it is for high ISO performance. The a99 looks usable up to 12800. So this morning's research has taught me a few things. Forget the ISO performance with APS-C; whatever I buy if it is APS-C will likely be just as good as the A35. If I decide I do need good high ISO perf, I've no choice really but to go FF. If I stay with APS-C, I live within its limitations and concentrate on just getting a body with more MP and better focussing system. Tiltable screen be a plus for candids, but they almost all have that anyway.
  12. The problem with going to full frame is a) it's bloody expensive and b) I'd lose a lot of the reach I've come to love for my recent foray into birding. There is also a c) that is the lenses I use aren't the greatest and FF would probably really show at least two of them up (edge sharpness/falloff). For me to upgrade to FF, while it is something I've considered, would just be prohibitively expensive to do properly at the moment. I'm not looking for "Nikon D3 when it was new" levels of jaw dropping high ISO performance, just something somewhat better than what I have now. Have used FF once briefly in the past - Canon 1Ds - camera weighed half as much as me. I will take on board what you have said about micro adjustment, I didn't know the A77 had this, I expected it to only be the ii so I will look. I can't tell whether I have slight focus issues with one lens on my A35 as I end up with a LOT of duffers from it all with the same symptom - focus about 2-3 inches in front (towards me) of where it should be - that's enough at 300mm to make a lot of the bird photos I've taken just a tiny bit soft. That said, I'm not sure at this point if it is the equipment or just me being crap, because I've got into the controversial habit of focus and recompose, mainly because if you give the A35 a choice of which focus area to use, it will almost always choose the wrong one every time. Today I got brave while photographing some ducklings and selected a focus point while using continuous AF and got a surprising number of keepers, so I suspect the blame lies largely with me. I also ventured up to ISO 3200 and did what spacecadet suggested which was to downsize the images somewhat. I can't believe I never considered this before, but it sounds a lot better than simply using so much NR the subject turns to plastic. Time will tell whether it's enough to pass QC, but basing on what seems to pass QC noise wise they will go through.
  13. One of the best things for my morale and quality of my pictures (I hope) is to take a break if I feel quality starts to slip. Especially after several days on the trot of putting out good images I can find that the next time I go out it's all just substandard crap because I've temporarily burned myself out. I take a rest, leave the camera at home, and then get back to it a couple of days later recharged and ready. If you feel you are "hastily rushing", try and do the same.
  14. This, and if it isn't appearing as high as I think it should, I try to tweak the keywords/caption until it does. Sometimes you get lucky and manage to shoot a subject that is not very well covered, but potentially has a broad range of uses. Some images where everything worked out just right can also put you ahead where there are thousands of other images of the same subject - I once spent four or so hours removing power lines and every conceivable blemish from an image and was really happy with the output. Purely anecdotal, but I think sales do affect how highly your images appear as one of mine which has sold twice now appears high up when the generic search term to find it is used, and it never did before. So it's a bit like reddit, you see upvoted posts more often because they're upvoted, and then they're more likely to get upvoted so they're more likely to be seen... you get the idea.
  15. I wouldn't be buying new I don't think, second hand was always what I was going for. Budget probably no more than £350. I like most of the the specs of the A58, I just don't quite think 20MP is enough. I'm kicking myself because there was a used A77ii (yes ii) for sale for something absurd like £350 a few days ago and I never snapped it up.
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