Favourite Nikon D300s Shots

Posted by Stuart Herbert on March 24th, 2013 in Equipment, Favourites.

The time has come to sell my Nikon D300s.

Of all the Nikons I’ve owned since the mid-90’s, it’s the one that stayed with me for the shortest time … but what memories it will be leaving behind. Many of the best photos that I’ve taken to date were done with this camera, including the first photo in my pick, taken at the Eden Project in Cornwall.

Outside The Core

Rope Fence In The Rainforest Biodome

Fence And Yellow

Statue Outside 1 Kingsway

We Will Exterminate You

Merthyr Road In Mist

Manchester Alleyway

The Lindisfarne Causeway

Footpath Sign

Sunset In Northumberland

Wall And Gate

Access Denied at Puzzlewood

Looking For Angels at Puzzlewood

Gates In Silhouette

Mosquito

Inside The Cockpit Of A Harrier

Bluebells

Public Telephone At Heath Low Level Station

Weee Man of Waste

Millennium Stadium Supports

Grass On The Clifftop

Day Return

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I recently updated my Aperture workflow tutorial for Aperture v3, and posted the slides up on Slideshare.net:

It contains a detailed walkthrough of the steps that I follow every time I process photos to share on this blog and on Flickr. I hope you find it useful.

8 comments »

80 Photos: Nikon D200 Tribute

Posted by Stuart Herbert on August 7th, 2010 in Equipment, Photos.

Nikon D200

After four and a half years of faithful service, I finally sold on my Nikon D200. It might have been the Nikon D100 that got me into digital photography way back in 2003, but the Nikon D200 was the camera that I really fell in love with. It served me very well indeed, and although I made the switch earlier this year to the Nikon D300s, it took a while before I was ready to finally part with it.

I still have many thousands of photos from the Nikon D200 that remain to be sifted through, processed and uploaded (including many photos for my Merthyr Road project), so you’ll still be seeing new photos from the camera for months (if not years) to come here on this blog. But I wanted to post a tribute here and now to one of the great Nikon cameras … my choice of favourite photos taken with the D200.

No captions this time, just images. I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed taking them.

The Photos

Dolphin On The Beach

Beneath Whitby breakwater

Borth Beach At Sunset

Walking Along Borth Beach

Dawn Walk On The South Beach

The Martians Are Coming!

Fishing Nets

The Stile

16361

Ice By Candlelight

Lighting The Way Home

Calanais At Dusk - HDR

Calanais At Dusk - HDR

Calanais At Dusk

Harlech Castle

Cadw Shop, Harlech Castle

Craig Yr Allt and The Garth

Dawn on Caerphilly Mountain

Mumbles Lighthouse

The Sorry Remains Of Brighton West Pier

The Fountain

Outside The Rainforest Biodome

2008 Review: Janet's Foss

Sunset On The Hill

Restricted Shore

The Bridge Opposite Castle Street

Cardiff Bay Railway Station

The Line Of Light

The Burning Beacon

Anthropogenic Crap

Who Are You Looking At?

We Are Not Amused Either

The Fountains Of Callaghan Square

Water Feature In Callaghan Square

The Greenway

Yellow Quarry Tipper Lorry

A Giant's Bite In The Landscape

Steetley Magnesite

Ribblehead Viaduct

Towards Pontypridd

Your Favourite Photos

South Towards Pontypridd

Graffiti Outside The Treforest Tin Works

The Abandoned House By Calanais III

British Camp

Calanais At Dusk - HDR

Macleod Stone - HDR

Macleod Stone - HDR

Past, Present and Future In Cardiff

Cathedral

The Lower Gun Deck, HMS Victory

The Reflections In The River

The Deserted Beaches Of Harris - HDR

Unity

Stone Wall Texture

Trees And Graigwen

ye olde Newbridge Arms

The Submerged Forest

Graffiti Inside The Treforest Tin Works

Walnut Tree Viaduct

Still & West Country House, Portsmouth Harbour

Penarth Pier

Unity - The Pontypridd Sculpture

Sunset On Borth Beach

Whitby Abbey At Sunset

Walk To Pennard Castle

Ribblehead Viaduct

Bridge Over The Glamorganshire Canal At Pont-y-dderwen

Sheltered Bay - HDR

The Submerged Forest

The Old Bridge, Pontypridd

The Chapel On The Hill

The Spa Footbridge, Scarborough

Morning Across The Taff

The Western Isles

Scarborough South Bay At Dawn

The Rooftops Of Cilfynydd

The Spice Island Inn, Portsmouth Harbour

Passing Beneath Catherine Street

The Submerged Forest

The Rediscovered House

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80 Photos: Nikon D200 Tribute

Posted by Stuart Herbert on August 7th, 2010 in Equipment, Photos.

Nikon D200

After four and a half years of faithful service, I finally sold on my Nikon D200. It might have been the Nikon D100 that got me into digital photography way back in 2003, but the Nikon D200 was the camera that I really fell in love with. It served me very well indeed, and although I made the switch earlier this year to the Nikon D300s, it took a while before I was ready to finally part with it.

I still have many thousands of photos from the Nikon D200 that remain to be sifted through, processed and uploaded (including many photos for my Merthyr Road project), so you’ll still be seeing new photos from the camera for months (if not years) to come here on this blog. But I wanted to post a tribute here and now to one of the great Nikon cameras … my choice of favourite photos taken with the D200.

No captions this time, just images. I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed taking them.

The Photos

Dolphin On The Beach

Beneath Whitby breakwater

Borth Beach At Sunset

Walking Along Borth Beach

Dawn Walk On The South Beach

The Martians Are Coming!

Fishing Nets

The Stile

16361

Ice By Candlelight

Lighting The Way Home

Calanais At Dusk - HDR

Calanais At Dusk - HDR

Calanais At Dusk

Harlech Castle

Cadw Shop, Harlech Castle

Craig Yr Allt and The Garth

Dawn on Caerphilly Mountain

Mumbles Lighthouse

The Sorry Remains Of Brighton West Pier

The Fountain

Outside The Rainforest Biodome

2008 Review: Janet's Foss

Sunset On The Hill

Restricted Shore

The Bridge Opposite Castle Street

Cardiff Bay Railway Station

The Line Of Light

The Burning Beacon

Anthropogenic Crap

Who Are You Looking At?

We Are Not Amused Either

The Fountains Of Callaghan Square

Water Feature In Callaghan Square

The Greenway

Yellow Quarry Tipper Lorry

A Giant's Bite In The Landscape

Steetley Magnesite

Ribblehead Viaduct

Towards Pontypridd

Your Favourite Photos

South Towards Pontypridd

Graffiti Outside The Treforest Tin Works

The Abandoned House By Calanais III

British Camp

Calanais At Dusk - HDR

Macleod Stone - HDR

Macleod Stone - HDR

Past, Present and Future In Cardiff

Cathedral

The Lower Gun Deck, HMS Victory

The Reflections In The River

The Deserted Beaches Of Harris - HDR

Unity

Stone Wall Texture

Trees And Graigwen

ye olde Newbridge Arms

The Submerged Forest

Graffiti Inside The Treforest Tin Works

Walnut Tree Viaduct

Still & West Country House, Portsmouth Harbour

Penarth Pier

Unity - The Pontypridd Sculpture

Sunset On Borth Beach

Whitby Abbey At Sunset

Walk To Pennard Castle

Ribblehead Viaduct

Bridge Over The Glamorganshire Canal At Pont-y-dderwen

Sheltered Bay - HDR

The Submerged Forest

The Old Bridge, Pontypridd

The Chapel On The Hill

The Spa Footbridge, Scarborough

Morning Across The Taff

The Western Isles

Scarborough South Bay At Dawn

The Rooftops Of Cilfynydd

The Spice Island Inn, Portsmouth Harbour

Passing Beneath Catherine Street

The Submerged Forest

The Rediscovered House

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80 Photos: Nikon D200 Tribute

Posted by Stuart Herbert on August 7th, 2010 in Equipment, Photos.

Nikon D200

After four and a half years of faithful service, I finally sold on my Nikon D200. It might have been the Nikon D100 that got me into digital photography way back in 2003, but the Nikon D200 was the camera that I really fell in love with. It served me very well indeed, and although I made the switch earlier this year to the Nikon D300s, it took a while before I was ready to finally part with it.

I still have many thousands of photos from the Nikon D200 that remain to be sifted through, processed and uploaded (including many photos for my Merthyr Road project), so you’ll still be seeing new photos from the camera for months (if not years) to come here on this blog. But I wanted to post a tribute here and now to one of the great Nikon cameras … my choice of favourite photos taken with the D200.

No captions this time, just images. I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed taking them.

The Photos

Dolphin On The Beach

Beneath Whitby breakwater

Borth Beach At Sunset

Walking Along Borth Beach

Dawn Walk On The South Beach

The Martians Are Coming!

Fishing Nets

The Stile

16361

Ice By Candlelight

Lighting The Way Home

Calanais At Dusk - HDR

Calanais At Dusk - HDR

Calanais At Dusk

Harlech Castle

Cadw Shop, Harlech Castle

Craig Yr Allt and The Garth

Dawn on Caerphilly Mountain

Mumbles Lighthouse

The Sorry Remains Of Brighton West Pier

The Fountain

Outside The Rainforest Biodome

2008 Review: Janet's Foss

Sunset On The Hill

Restricted Shore

The Bridge Opposite Castle Street

Cardiff Bay Railway Station

The Line Of Light

The Burning Beacon

Anthropogenic Crap

Who Are You Looking At?

We Are Not Amused Either

The Fountains Of Callaghan Square

Water Feature In Callaghan Square

The Greenway

Yellow Quarry Tipper Lorry

A Giant's Bite In The Landscape

Steetley Magnesite

Ribblehead Viaduct

Towards Pontypridd

Your Favourite Photos

South Towards Pontypridd

Graffiti Outside The Treforest Tin Works

The Abandoned House By Calanais III

British Camp

Calanais At Dusk - HDR

Macleod Stone - HDR

Macleod Stone - HDR

Past, Present and Future In Cardiff

Cathedral

The Lower Gun Deck, HMS Victory

The Reflections In The River

The Deserted Beaches Of Harris - HDR

Unity

Stone Wall Texture

Trees And Graigwen

ye olde Newbridge Arms

The Submerged Forest

Graffiti Inside The Treforest Tin Works

Walnut Tree Viaduct

Still & West Country House, Portsmouth Harbour

Penarth Pier

Unity - The Pontypridd Sculpture

Sunset On Borth Beach

Whitby Abbey At Sunset

Walk To Pennard Castle

Ribblehead Viaduct

Bridge Over The Glamorganshire Canal At Pont-y-dderwen

Sheltered Bay - HDR

The Submerged Forest

The Old Bridge, Pontypridd

The Chapel On The Hill

The Spa Footbridge, Scarborough

Morning Across The Taff

The Western Isles

Scarborough South Bay At Dawn

The Rooftops Of Cilfynydd

The Spice Island Inn, Portsmouth Harbour

Passing Beneath Catherine Street

The Submerged Forest

The Rediscovered House

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As I’ve just put my Panasonic Lumix LX3 up for sale on eBay, I thought it would be nice to take a look back at some of the photos that I’ve taken with it over the last 18 months.

The Millennium Centre, Cardiff

Car Park (III)

Car Park (II)

2008 Review: Manchester

2008 Review: Cardiff Bay

2008 Review: Cardiff Barriage

2008 Review: Glamorgan Heritage Coast

2008 Review: Bath

2008 Review: Darleks at Doctor Who

2008 Review: Caerphilly Castle

And here is the beast itself … the Panasonic Lumix LX3.

Panasonic Lumix LX3

Panasonic Lumix LX3

Panasonic Lumix LX3

Panasonic Lumix LX3

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What Is Geotagging?

Geotagging is adding longitude and latitude co-ordinates to the metadata in your photos, so that your photos remember exactly where they were taken.

Preferably, this is something you want your camera to do for you at the time you take the photo. You can geotag your photo when you’re sat in front of your PC when you’ve returned home by using software on your computer, but this approach relies on you clicking on a map in the right place, and it can be surprisingly hard to remember where you took every single photo.

But what’s the point of going to all this trouble in the first place?

Why Geotag Your Photos?

My main photography project, Merthyr Road, is all about trying to track down what remains of the industrial heritage of the South Wales valleys. Many of the photographs from the time have been published in books … but the problem is, many of the places in the photographs no longer exist, and many of the authors of the books never anticipated that the landmarks they described in the text would change beyond all recognition.

In short, it can be bloody difficult to work out where a photo from yesteryear was actually taken. By geotagging your photos, future generations will know (within an accuracy of a few metres) where your photo was taken. Perfect for the historians of tomorrow to refer back to! But it isn’t just about history.

Photo sharing websites like Flickr can plot geotagged photos onto a map (here’s my map of recent geotagged photos) helping your friends, family, and passing strangers to see what photos have been taken in the vicinity (here’s the map of geotagged photos taken in Cardiff). There are apps for the iPhone et al that you can use when you’re out and about to see what photos have been taken wherever you happen to be. That’s a great help if you want to practice a popular photo of a landmark – or avoid what has become a cliqued shot!

If you’re convinced about geotagging, I’m sure you’d like to know how to go about geotagging your photos. First, we have to pick the right Nikon camera.

Choosing The Right Nikon Digital SLR

I’m a lifelong Nikon fan, so if you’re a Canon/Sony/Panasonic/Samsung/etc/etc photographer, I’m sorry, but I can’t really help you geotag your photos with cameras from anyone but Nikon.

First, a bit of bad news, potentially. To geotag your photos, you need a Nikon digital SLR that has a Nikon 10 pin serial port. That normally means you need one of Nikon’s pro-sumer DSLRs (e.g. Nikon D200) or higher. If you have a Nikon D90, then you’re also in luck … but if you have one of the lower-end models (such as a D40x, D60, D5000 et al), as far as I know you’re shit out of luck for now. If you do come across a way to geotag photos on these models, feel free to leave a comment below.

Assuming you do have a Nikon DSLR with the 10 pin serial port, or a Nikon D90, then there’s a number of ways you can go about geotagging your photos.

Using A Garmin GPS Receiver

Before TomTom came along and spoiled the party / breathed new life into satnav products (depending on your point of view), Garmin made the best GPS receivers for Joe Public and his hillwalking friends. Like me.

The Garmin eTrex runs for days on end on a pair of Duracel batteries, is far more weatherproof than my Nikon D200, and is light enough to live in my camera bag and go everywhere with me.

Using the Nikon MC-35 connecting cable (there are third-party alternatives available too), plus the right cable from Garmin, you can plug an eTrex into that 10-pin serial port on your Nikon DSLR. Once your camera is receiving GPS data, you’ll see “GPS” appear on your camera’s LCD panel on the top-right of the camera body, and you’re ready to take geotagged photos.

This technique should work with a wide variety of third-party GPS units too.

This is the approach I took for many years, and it served me well. But ultimately there were two problems that made me look for another way.

  • The GPS unit has to stay physically cabled to the camera when you’re taking photos. That can get a bit awkward, depending on your type of photography. It certainly did for me, as a landscape / industrial landmark photographer.
  • Eventually, the cable broke, somewhere inside. It lasted a long time – several years of long walks and scrambles – but that’s what happens to all cables in the end.

Faced with the cost of replacing the cable, I decided to look around for a wireless alternative.

New Kid On The Block – Nikon GP-1

This wasn’t an option for me at the time, but it might be something suitable for you.

When the Nikon D90 was announced, Nikon also introduced their own dedicated GPS module, the Nikon GP-1. I haven’t played with one myself (I hadn’t heard of it until doing the research for this article), but DigitalReview.ca has done a very nice review of the GP-1.

The key thing about the GP-1 is that it sits in your flash shoe on your camera or on your camera strap. It still has a cable, but it’s a very short cable that shouldn’t get pulled and twisted around too much, so it should last a long time before it finally breaks.

If you have a Nikon D90, then this appears to be your only option for now anyways, but it’s also worth considering if you have a Nikon D200 / 300 / 300s or higher. Please share your experience of using this unit in the comments below.

As I mentioned earlier, what I really wanted was a totally wireless solution, and thanks to the forums of DPReview.com, I found one.

Introducing The Foolography Unleashed

My perfect geotagging solution is one that is completely wireless. There are many excellent GPS receivers on the market today that run for hours, fit inside a fleece pocket, and that use bluetooth to share GPS data with other devices.

Unfortunately, for reasons that I’m not privy to, Nikon has yet to build bluetooth support into their digital SLRs. It’s such an obvious solution to the problem that I’m sure they will do so one day, but until then, if you want to use a bluetooth GPS receiver, you need to find a third-party bluetooth module for your Nikon digital SLR.

And that’s where Foolography come in.

Oliver Perialis founded Foolography, and came up with the Foolography Unleashed, a bluetooth receiver that neatly plugs into the 10-pin serial port on high-end Nikon digital SLRs. Here’s one I bought off him in 2008, attached to my Nikon D200:

You’ll see that it has a little USB port on it, and a Canon-compatble cable release connector port too (that has proved very handy since the wife went over to the dark side and switched all her gear to Canon, but that’s another story). The USB port is for plugging into your PC so that you can pair the bluetooth module with a GPS receiver. Alternatively, you can buy a GPS receiver from Foolography too, and have both bluetooth module and GPS receiver arrive already paired and ready to go … which is exactly what I did.

Here’s the GPS receiver I bought from Foolography to go with the Unleashed:

My Experience Using The Foolography Unleashed

The Foolography Unleashed plus bluetooth GPS receiver is not a cheap piece of kit, but it was worth every penny. Provided you don’t do something silly, like forget that bluetooth signals don’t go very far or travel through people very well, you’ll find the Unleashed to be so reliable you start taking it for granted. I certainly do. It’s such an integral part of my camera kit that, when I was doing the research for this article, I was surprised to find that I only bought mine back in the summer of 2008. I feel like I’ve been using it for much longer than that.

I found that the most reliable way to use the kit was as follows:

  • The GPS receiver stays on the whole time, and sits in my left fleece pocket to be closer to the camera.
  • I leave my camera on between shots, so that the bluetooth link remains connected, and only switch the camera off when I’m confident that I won’t be using it for several minutes.

The GPS receiver will happily last all day off a single charge. By leaving it on, I can forget about it and focus on my photography. I don’t leave it in my camera bag (which is normally on my back) because the bluetooth signal seems to get blocked by my body. Stashing the GPS receiver in a front pocket sorts that out nicely.

Once the bluetooth link is established, if you switch the camera off and then back on quickly, the bluetooth link doesn’t re-establish. This happens on both the D200 and D300s camera bodies, so I assume it’s a quirk of the Unleashed and/or the GPS receiver. Once you get used to it, it isn’t a problem; you just get used to leaving the camera powered on if you’re likely to take more shots within the next minute or so.

I’ve geotagged many thousands of photos using the Unleashed, and I’m looking forward to many more years to come of geotagging photos with it. At least until Nikon start building bluetooth directly into their camera bodies.

Other Options

I’ve read recently about another option – the Eye-Fi Geo card. This is a memory card that also geotags your photos as you take them. Sounds great, and I’m sure it is a good option for plenty of people. I don’t have one because it doesn’t use GPS. It works out where you are by listening to all of the wifi networks around you, and then comparing that with a big database of known wifi networks (see their site for details). I tend to wander to places where there are no wifi networks, so this isn’t an option for me – but it might suit your photography. And the great thing about it is that it works in any camera that accepts SD cards.

Where The GPS Data Is Stored

Digital photographs contain two things:

  1. The image itself
  2. Metadata about the image

This metadata includes your aperture size, shutter speed, focal point selected, date and time the photo was taken … and if you geotag your photos using one of the solutions I’ve mentioned, the metadata also includes the longitude and latitude reading from the GPS receiver. This happens automatically when you take the photo.

If you upload a geotagged photo to a service such as Flickr, Flickr will automatically look for the GPS data in your photograph’s metadata and use it to plot the photo on a map. All the hard work does into getting a GPS unit slaved to your Nikon. It’s all easy after that.

Conclusions

If you have the right Nikon digital SLR, then the Foolography Unleashed is a great solution for geotagging your photos. If you have a Nikon D90, then the Nikon GP-1 is your only option. Pro-sumer Nikon owners (Nikon D200 or later or better) can also go old skool, and cable up a traditional GPS unit – until the cable breaks.

I hope you find my own experience from geotagging photos over many years to be helpful. I’d love to have your feedback in the comments below.

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In February 2009, Panasonic kindly loaned my one of their (at the time) new LUMIX DMC-G1 micro four-thirds digital SLRs for a couple of weeks to play with and review. Because I use a Mac and shoot in RAW mode, it wasn’t possible to publish the photos taken with the G1 until Apple released Aperture 3 in February 2010. But despite the time that has passed, the DMC-G1 is still on sale and definitely worth a review.

To help you make your own mind up, I’ve also included over 40 example shots taken with the G1.

My Review Model

Panasonic lent me a LUMIX DMC-G1 camera, complete with a 14-45mm lens (equivalent to 28-90mm in 35mm terms). The camera has an electronic viewfinder, and a live view screen on the back that pops out of the body so that you can tilt and swivel it. It came in the lovely red colour shown above.

Let’s start with first impressions. Everyone who saw the camera – friends, family, and my colleagues at work – found both the camera in general, and the particular tone of red in particular, to be very eye-catching and very much to their taste. There’s just something about the look of the G1 that suggests quality. The publicity photos really don’t do it justice. If you’re even remotely thinking of buying this camera, pop down to your local camera shop and see it in person if you can.

It’s very nice to handle too. The camera body has a rubber coating that makes it very easy to grip, and is much smaller and much lighter than my beloved Nikon D200. You can (and I did) walk around with it in one hand for a whole day without getting tired. When it was time to send the loan unit back, I found that I’d grown very attached to it.

As A Camera

The whole point of the micro four-thirds camera system is that it allows the camera manufacturers to design cameras that are much smaller and lighter than DX format cameras like the Nikon D200 or full-frame cameras like the Nikon D700. One of the compromises they had to adopt to achieve this was dropping the mirror and pentaprism required for an optical viewfinder.

Using the G1, therefore, is a bit like using a compact camera. You frame your shot using the screen on the back of the camera. There is a viewfinder, but it is electronic (i.e. it’s another screen, just a very tiny one), and I personally didn’t use it after the first couple of attempts. I’m too used to an optical viewfinder, and I found the electronic viewfinder too blocky to use with any degree of precision. Besides, using the screen on the back of the camera is much more flexible, as it allows you to hold the camera at silly angles or away from you and still see the shot that you’re composing. The screen on the G1 pops out; it can be tilted and rotated, just like the screen on a camcorder. It’s very very handy, and a feature I’d love to have on a future Nikon DSLR.

Focusing with the G1 took full advantage of this. It was possible to zoom in on the picture to make sure that the image I was about to take was in focus exactly where I wanted it to be. This is another excellent feature I’d love to see on a future Nikon DSLR; I believe that picking your focus point (instead of just focusing on whatever is in the middle of the shot) is a very important part of composing a good picture.

The passage of time has dulled my memory, I have to admit, but I don’t remember any real issues with the camera at all. I tend to shoot with manual focus a lot, so I don’t recall using the autofocus very much. Micro four-thirds cameras have a reputation for being a little slow to autofocus; something to consider if you’re buying a camera to shoot birds or cars and the like, perhaps.

I did find that the battery ran flat on me sooner than I’d expected. On one of the test shoots, I took the camera out all day, and had to switch back to my Nikon halfway through the day after the G1’s battery ran flat. That was more inexperience with a new camera than anything else, I believe, but it is something I wish I’d tested better at the time.

What Was The Problem With RAW Mode On The Mac?

Many photographers like to shoot in RAW mode because the resulting image gives you the most flexibility in post-production. Take a JPEG image (such as my shot of Machrie Moor from 2004) which has been heavily adjusted in post-production, and you can clearly see the way the colour gradients have broken down. You simply don’t get that degradation in quality when processing RAW images.

Unfortunately, shooting in RAW mode with the Panasonic DMC-G1 turned out to be a problem when it came to preparing the images for this review. There’s no such thing as a ‘standard’ file format for RAW images. Each RAW image is essentially a dump of the actual data captured by the camera’s sensor; as a result, every time there’s a new camera with a new sensor, there’s normally a new RAW image file format for people like Apple and Adobe to support. And … how can I put this? Apple took their time adding support for RAW files from the G1. They didn’t add support for the G1’s RAW images until February 2010, a full 12 months after Panasonic had lent me the G1 to review.

Let me say that again. For a full year after the release of the Panasonic DMC-G1, it wasn’t possible for me to view or work with the G1’s RAW images using Apple’s products. Adobe released support for handling RAW files from the G1 back in November 2008 according to one report.

If you are going to buy a newly-released digital camera, and you want to shoot in RAW mode, first make sure that your photography software of choice has support for it. This is a major pitfall with digital cameras to be aware of. It wasn’t just the DMC-G1 that I’ve been stung with this. I also own the compact Panasonic LUMIX DMC-LX3, and I had to wait 14 months before Apple added support for its RAW files. Grrr.

Remember to check before you buy. And if Apple are being tardy in supporting the camera you’re interested in, consider switching to using Adobe Lightroom. Or don’t shoot in RAW mode.

Field Tests

I took the camera out on three major field tests before I had to hand it back to Panasonic.

The first test was arguably the most difficult. We went out to Aberystwyth on the dullest, dreariest day you can imagine, the sort of day where I’d resort to black and white HDR shots with my Nikon D200 and count myself lucky if I bagged anything worth uploading.

In the second test, I spent a day walking a good chunk of the Bath to Bristol Railway Path. It was once the route of the Midland Railway, and it makes for a lovely and gentle walk through a mixed countryside. As such, it provides a nice amount of variety to give the G1 a good workout, and the sort of long trip that makes you quickly appreciate the G1’s lightweight nature and size.

To finish, I took the camera out for a couple of hours up the hill opposite where I live to basically mess about taking woodland shots and take advantage of the live view on the camera’s rear screen to take the sort of shots that’d be just too awkward to attempt with a traditional DSLR like my Nikon D200. Woodlands are a good challenge for any camera; you’re going to take photos that are quite busy – crammed with detail – with lots of opportunities to highlight any problems with colour fringing or coping with textures and patterns.

So how did the camera fare? In my opinion, surprisingly well, but here are the pics so you can decide for yourself. None of these shots have been adjusted or cropped in any way at all. What you see is exactly what the camera produced.

Panasonic G1 Review Pic

The weather at Aberystwyth was dull and grey, but that didn’t stop the G1 getting the exposure just right on this shot of the harbour.

Panasonic G1 Review Pic

Point the camera away from the grey sky, and the G1 has no trouble at all producing bright photographs like this one.

Panasonic G1 Review Pic

Again, the auto-exposure did a great job in this shot, striking a pleasing balance to bring out the boats in the harbour.

Panasonic G1 Review Pic

This is where it gets a little more subjective. The camera appears to have based its exposure on the white waves, trying to avoid burning them out. The resulting shot looks quite dark, but I’m sure it can be easily processed to bring out the detail.

Panasonic G1 Review Pic

The under-exposure continued throughout the day. Although the unprocessed shot looks dark, with careful adjustment I’m sure all of the detail could be easily brought out of this shot.

Panasonic G1 Review Pic

This shot, perhaps, is where the G1 under-exposed too much. Some credit for trying to preserve the detail in the sky, but I think that the camera got it wrong this time – albeit in very difficult conditions.

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But the camera got it spot-on with this shot, possibly because there’s a lot less sky in this shot, or perhaps because of the large amount of tarmac 🙂

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The exposure on this shot seriously impressed me. It has brought the detail out in the passageway just perfectly.

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Add more sky into the shot, though, and we’re back to underexposing the shot 🙁 I’m sure that, with more practice, I’d learn to handle the camera well enough to avoid this underexposing … but would the camera’s target audience ever learn? That is something I’m not so sure about.

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I’m pleased not only with the exposure but also the depth and detail on this shot. One advantage of the G1’s smaller sensor is that it can produce sharper images than my D200. View this shot on Flickr at full size, and look closely at the detail in the background, and see for yourself.

Panasonic G1 Review Pic

I’m a great fan of Nikon lenses (which is one of the main reasons I’ve been a loyal Nikon user for the past decade or so), but I’m very happy with the kit lens that comes with the DMC-G1. There’s a little bit of distortion on this shot, but not enough to complain about by any means, especially when you remember just how affordable this camera is.

Panasonic G1 Review Pic

The G1’s ability to capture fine detail isn’t just useful for landscapes like the headland shot above. If you like snapping texture shots (such as this wooden planking), you’ll be very happy with the G1.

Panasonic G1 Review Pic

I have no idea what happened to the white-balance here, and it’s been too long for me to remember whether or not it was my fault … but look at the fantastic detail of the rust. Just as importantly, notice the depth-of-field behind, and how the G1’s sharpness adds a pleasing contrast to any photo where you decide to blur the background.

That’s it for the photos from Aberystwyth. The conditions were difficult, but with the one problem of underexposure, I think the camera did well, and I came back from my very first outing with the camera with several photos I would have been happy to post on my blog and share on Flickr. And at least the underexposure behaviour appears predictable.

This next set of example shots is from the second field test: my walk along the Railway Path from Bath to Bristol. This sort of field photography puts the lens in particular to the test: will it have enough width to take in the landscape and yet enough reach to zoom in on interesting sights in the distance? And will the fine detail be lost in horrible purple colour fringing?

Panasonic G1 Review Pic

The day opened overcast, but thankfully not as dull as it had been out at Aberystwyth. With the brighter conditions, there were no underexposed shots at all during the day, which was great news!

If you view this shot at full size on Flickr, the fine detail of the bare tree branches can be clearly seen, and there’s no sign of horrible purple fringing.

Panasonic G1 Review Pic

As I walked along the path that ran along the River Avon, this green bottle bobbed gently by. Focusing on the bottle was easy enough, the camera coping well with the reflection on the water.

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“Wide” on the 14-45mm lens is probably wide enough for most people. I like the sharpness on the image too, such as the amount of detail in the tree bark.

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At the other end of the lens, the image isn’t quite as sharp to my eyes, but is still perfectly fine. And there’s no obvious problems with colour consistency between the two ends of the lens’ range either.

Panasonic G1 Review Pic

But the lens is definitely at its best when used for wider shots. I suspect landscape photographers looking for a lightweight alternative to a big and heavy Nikon would be very happy with the DMC-G1.

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There’s nothing all that remarkable about this shot at first glance, but the main reason I’ve included it is for the lack of reflection highlights on the lettering on the sign. I’ve had camera and lens combinations in the past that would have struggled with this.

Panasonic G1 Review Pic

The 45mm (equivalent to 97mm on a 35mm lens) had enough reach to pick out this bridge visible in the distance, but there wasn’t much to spare. With both Nikon and Canon having 18-200mm lenses for their cameras, the more modest zoom on the G1’s kit lens might frustrate people at first. But Panasonic also make a 45-200mm (which would be the equivalent of over 400mm of zoom on a 35mm camera system!) at a very modest price.

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The shots above are all nice examples of the quality of the lens … lots of nice straight lines with little noticeable distortion, bringing out the true nature of a cycling path running along a former railway route 🙂

Panasonic G1 Review Pic

The live view screen makes it very easy to attempt more unusual shots like this without back-breaking contortions. This is exactly the sort of shot I’d normally resort to using a pocket camera for; the fold-out screen on the G1 gives it an added versatility.

Panasonic G1 Review Pic

I picked this shot partly for the lush fine detail that the camera has picked up, and partly for the very pleasing exposure and colours. I think the G1 can capture very high quality images in good light, as we’ll see later.

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Reflection shots are challenging for cameras, but the G1 has exposed this just right I feel. The other reason I’ve picked this shot is because of the composition. If I’d taken this shot with my Nikon D200, I would probably have had to crop it in post-production to get the framing right. With the live view on the large screen on the back of the G1, I was able to see this shot clearer when the shot was taken.

Panasonic G1 Review Pic

Another example of how the sharpness that the G1 can reliably manage makes a great contrast if you go for a shallow depth-of-field in your shots.

Panasonic G1 Review Pic

As the light improved, the G1 started to capture images with colours and tones that I found to be very pleasing. The sky is still a little washed out, but that’s a problem all current digital cameras suffer from, and here the effect isn’t displeasing.

Panasonic G1 Review Pic

Plenty of pleasing detail throughout this photo, from the gravel beneath the train tracks to the clouds in the sky. I think it’s a good example of what the G1 can do with very little effort, which is perfect for the amateur photographer who is likely to be interested in the G1.

Panasonic G1 Review Pic

As the light improved further, the G1 captured the blue sky accurately. My previous Panasonic – the FX33 – had a tendency to get the shade of blue in the sky wrong, but no such trouble here.

Panasonic G1 Review Pic

Alas, half-way through the walk the battery in the G1 ran flat, so I wasn’t able to explore this rail yard with the camera properly.

Contrast Nikon D200 Shot

By comparison, here’s a shot taken with the Nikon D200 a few minutes later. I think the shots from the G1 compare very well, especially when you think that the Nikon D200 + 18-135mm lens combination cost me over 1,600 GBP, and today you can pick up a brand-new G1 for under 450 GBP. That’s progress for you.

Finally we come to the third and final field test, an afternoon’s stroll on Craig-yr-Hesq in South Wales, with more examples showing the excellent detail that the G1 captures and at last the opportunity for the G1 to show off what a great job it does of capturing rich colours on a bright day.

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It’s worth mentioning that this shot was handheld 🙂

Panasonic G1 Review Pic

Final Thoughts

I really enjoyed my two weeks trying out the Panasonic LUMIX DMC-G1, and putting together this review I’ve been very impressed with the quality of the images that the camera consistently captured. The conditions were not kind at all, but the G1 still did a great job. Each photo is full of fine detail, especially on the wider shots where the bundled kit lens is at its sharpest. The colours are rich and accurate, and very importantly I haven’t found a single shot spoiled by purple fringing so far. And none of these shots have been adjusted at all; they are exactly as taken by the G1.

I’m not sure that the G1 is for people like me who have been shooting with digital SLRs for some time. It is very early days for the micro Four-Thirds standard, and at the time of writing there are only two lenses available for the G1. By contrast, my light travel kit bag has three lenses in it 🙂 But don’t let that put you off; I don’t believe that we’re the target audience for this camera.

If you’re looking to move up from your pocket digital camera to your first digital SLR, then you should include the G1 on the list of cameras to consider. Because the camera is entirely electronic, the controls look and feel like those on a pocket camera – with the added advantage that you can take full control over your images when you’re ready to do so. Today, the G1 with the 14-45mm kit lens that I used to take these shots can be purchased for under 450 GBP brand new – and for even less on eBay. That’s cheaper than a Nikon D5000, and you get a more versatile lens for your money.

I believe that both the Nikon and Canon ranges offer the serious amateur more long-term options, but most people just want to have fun taking photos, and at the same time have a little more creative control and a little higher quality than a pocket camera can offer. If that sounds like you, then the G1 might just be perfect for you.

I hope you find this review useful; if you do, please leave a comment below. And please feel free to share your own experiences with the G1.

7 comments »

New Camera: Canon IXUS 200 IS

Posted by Stuart Herbert on January 24th, 2010 in Equipment.

I’ve been without a pocket camera since my Panasonic FX-33 died on holiday in September 2007 … until today 🙂

The Observatory, Swansea

For my birthday, my wife has bought me a Canon IXUS 200 IS. This 12MP camera features a wider-angled lens than the IXUS 110 and also a longer zoom too, but the main reason I picked this IXUS over its slimmer sibling is the touch screen. In the past, one of the deep frustrations of pocket cameras has been that I couldn’t choose where the camera focused. But, with its 3 inch touch screen, the IXUS 200 allows me to quickly and easily choose where the camera focuses with each and every shot.

And, after an afternoon’s walk around Swansea’s redeveloped waterfront, I think the potential of this camera speaks for itself.

Spike On His Throne Keep The Lights Burning Wideangle In The Pocket A Most Unusual ... Er, What Is It? The Observatory, Swansea The Observatory, Swansea The Observatory, Swansea The Roof Of The Observatory, Swansea Two Masks Seafront Sign The Pumphouse, Swansea The Dylan Thomas Theatre, Swansea The Floodlight Dylan Thomas Statue Dinner Is Served On The Bridge Marking The Lanes Lamp, Apartments, and the Moon

Favourite Shot

Two shots in particular stood out for me, and they were both looking up at objects that most people probably ignore most days:

Keep The Lights Burning

The Floodlight

Thoughts On The Camera

I’ve read in several reviews that the IXUS 200’s touchscreen seems a bit of a gimmick, and if you’re used to an iPhone and its marvellous touch screen, you’d be forgiven for thinking the same. But I chose this camera specifically because I could use the touchscreen to quickly and accurately pick the focus point for each photo, and for the most part it worked very well indeed.

There are a few shots (including two of the photos I’ve published in this set) where the final image wasn’t sharp. At first, I thought the camera had a softness problem at maximum zoom … but not every soft image was zoomed in to the max. I’m going to have to investigate this a bit more to try and figure it out.

There are also a few shots where the colours came out … not washed out exactly, but certainly looking odd. I’m guessing that this was something to do with the camera’s automatic dynamic contrast feature, and will be trying to figure that one out too to help minimise the number of disappointing photos in the future.

Other than that, the IXUS 200 and I have become firm friends already, and I’m looking forward to getting out with it again soon.

Final Thoughts

The Canon IXUS 40 was my first pocket digital camera, and it was my faithful companion for several years, taking plenty of interesting photos before it was finally retired. The two Panasonics I’ve had since then were excellent cameras too, with the FX-33 winning in a head-to-head against the IXUS 40. When it died, I replaced it with the LX3, but despite the excellent quality of its images, its limited focal length and non-recessed lens meant that it could never be a go-everywhere pocket camera.

The IXUS 200 IS has none of the limitations of the LX3, and has become my pocket camera of choice for the moment. However, it’s logical to assume that this is at the cost of image quality. I’ll be putting both cameras head to head in February to find out.

2 comments »

Nokia N82 – 5 MP Camera Phone

Posted by Stuart Herbert on October 10th, 2008 in Equipment, Photos.

When magazines print their Top 10 Photography Tips, you can normally guarantee that the #1 photography tip is to always carry a camera with you. Modern digital compact cameras have made that very easy to do, but for many people the idea of carrying around an additional gadget doesn’t fit with their lifestyle.

Enter the camera phone.

The whole appeal of a camera phone is that you’re always going to have it with you, because you always have your mobile phone with you. They are also extremely discrete (well, the phones are; the folks using them often are anything but!) which means you’re not going to attract the sort of attention you might get taking carrying around a decent Nikon SLR. Handy if you enjoy taking photos in the heart of London’s Docklands and other places where the police come with their very own complimentary H&K MP-5 sub-machine gun.

Back in March, I bought myself a silver Nokia N82 to become my main phone. Since then, I’ve been snapping away with it, and thought I’d share the results.

The Nokia N82 – 5 Megapixel Camera Phone

Nokia’s N82 comes with a 5 Megapixel sensor, and a Carl Zeiss lens supporting f/2.8 to f/5.6. Focal length is fixed, and quoted by Nokia as 5.6mm. Unfortunately they don’t provide any figures to compare that to 35mil focal lengths, but I’d estimate that it’s somewhere between the equivalent of 28mm to 50mm in 35mil terms.

It’s important to stress that the lens is fixed focus. All the zooming is digital, which should be avoided at all costs. Digital zooms result in lower-quality images (if you’re lucky), and on my Nokia N82 the auto-focusing simply doesn’t work if you try zooming in. Mind you, my particular handset has been back to Nokia more than once for repair, so you may find this actually works quite well for you if you buy your own handset.

This camera can also take macro photos. The quoted specs are that you can take macro photos at a distance of 10-50 cm. I found that quite useful, but not especially brilliant, and if macro photography is your thing you’re more than likely going to carry a real camera with a real macro lens anyway.

The lens is hidden behind a manual sliding cover to keep it clean, which does the job. just above the lens is a real flash (not a crappy LED flash like the N95 had to suffer), which I expect makes the N82 a great camera for taking photos of your drunk mates in the nightclub at the weekend (which, let’s face it, is really why phones have cameras at all).

Taking Photos With The Nokia N82

I got into digital photography early in 2003, when digital cameras were notorious for being slow to start up and to lag substantially when actually trying to take a photo. Thankfully, real cameras have long since banished this particular demon, so it’s really obvious how slow the N82 is when you whip it out of your pocket to capture a quick shot.

I have missed many shots because of how slow the camera mode is to start on the N82, how slow the autofocusing is, and the lag when clicking the shutter release button. If that’s your type of photography, then you’ll want to try the N82 out for yourself before taking the plunge.

The screen is bright and clear, although on sunny days I’ve found that the screen makes an excellent mirror, and it can be tricky to take shots if you can’t shade the screen with your free hand. But if your photography allows you the time for some patience, or you can avoid direct sunlight on the screen, you could probably live with it.

Nokia N82 Photo Quality

Speaking of direct sunlight … my own experience is that the N82 takes by far its best photos in well-lit conditions. It can be blue skies or grey, so long as the sky is bright and you don’t try zooming in, it will prove to be a camera you can trust.

In darker conditions, especially around dusk, I’ve had little success in taking quality photos with the N82. I’ve always suspected that camera phones are mainly designed for use in nightclubs anyway, so this isn’t a surprise and I found I quickly got used to the limitation.

One thing I like about the photos taken with the N82 are the colours. To my eye, I find them deep, rich, and most importantly pretty accurate. This adds a lot to the perception of quality in the final image, and it also adds to the enjoyment of taking photos with the N82, because I certainly feel that under the right conditions I can trust it to take a photo that I won’t need to edit later.

Sample Photos

Here are some shots that I think show what a useful camera the Nokia N82 can be, in the right conditions. None of these photos have been edited in any way. There’s certainly some shots in this set that I’d have been happy to have taken on a dedicated pocket camera, and I think that’s a good indication of how much image quality has improved on camera phones.

N82 Test Shot N82 Test Shot N82 Test Shot N82 Test Shot N82 Test Shot N82 Test Shot N82 Test Shot N82 Test Shot N82 Test Shot N82 Test Shot N82 Test Shot N82 Test Shot N82 Test Shot N82 Test Shot N82 Test Shot N82 Test Shot N82 Test Shot N82 Test Shot N82 Test Shot N82 Test Shot N82 Test Shot N82 Test Shot N82 Test Shot N82 Test Shot N82 Test Shot N82 Test Shot N82 Test Shot N82 Test Shot

Geotagging With The N82

If you look at the metadata on the sample shots, you’ll notice that there’s a distinct lack of geotagging information. The older firmware on the N82 didn’t support geotagging at all, and I’ve been unable to get it working on the new firmware since my N82 came back from Nokia. However, if you take a look on Flickr, you’ll see lots of folks haven’t had any trouble, so I’m putting this down to a problem with my particular N82.

Photo Uploading To Flickr

One of the neat features of the N82 is “Share Online”, which allows you to upload your photos to Flickr without needing a PC. It works over WiFi as well as the mobile phone network, which saves on data transfer costs. Unfortunately, since my N82 came back from Nokia, this feature no longer works. I get a completely ambiguous “System error 100” message. A quick Google shows that I’m not the only person who sees this problem, and that there doesn’t seem to be a good explanation of what causes it or how to resolve it 🙁

Conclusions

I’ve had the Nokia N82 for six months now, and I can see myself keeping it for another couple of years and continuing to use it as a camera phone throughout that time.

The ultimate test is whether or not I’d be willing to leave the dedicated pocket camera at home, and just go out and about with the Nokia N82. Day to day, travelling to and from work, I do indeed only have the Nokia N82 with me – but there’s no way I’d go out and about on a weekend or on holiday and hope to rely solely on the Nokia N82.

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