Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Panasonic and Android users are both more attractive and more loyal …

You don’t have to believe me … you can believe this very well written and researched article.


Here is the salient graph … I think you will agree that my staggeringly handsome face has to do with rubbing up against my GM1, GX1, G6 and GF3 quite frequently …


Note also that Android users apparently have fewer sexual partners than Blackberry users, which have fewer partners than iPhone users.

I submit that we are simply more loyal … Winking smile

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Fuji S1 versus HS50EXR – Review Part 27 – Low light video test versus Panasonic G6 and GM1 by the light of two candles …

Once again I shoot a video by the light of two candles … I think this embarrassingly bad Haiku sums things up nicely.

Two candles burning brightly
Big sensors, long strides
Small sensors stumbling blindly

Anyway, I set the four cameras up side by side on a tripod:

I set this tripod about 6 feet from the test subject, a maple chair with the candles lighting the setup I used for the ISO ladders. The video is pretty much self-explanatory as I show you the video and audio of each camera in turn, with a few adjustments along the way. Near the end, I turn on the studio lamp that was used for the good light test.

All in all, the Fujis do pretty poorly. This is expected for their small sensors as this is simply not a strength. I just wanted to see if the decent low light performance in the ISO ladders might translate to improved low light video. The answer is a ringing no!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Fuji S1 – Review Part 26 – Firmware Bug for Raw Images Shot with Shutter Speed Greater Than 10 Seconds – **** UPDATED!

User SnowPlow on the DPReview Fuji Talk Forum has found a firmware bug, and has isolated it to 10 seconds of shutter speed. This destroys a raw image, spiking the blue channel something wicked.

*** UPDATE: I was confused by the thread Snowplow created in which I thought a user posted that he sent his in and the firmware update they applied did not work. So I proceeded with the test and article below. He just posted that the firmware fix was never implied, so he did it and it did in fact work. So I am charging the battery overnight (always apply firmware with a full battery!!!) and will update the article with the confirmation that the fix works tomorrow.

And it worked!

Test with Firmware 1.01

Updating the firmware to 1.01 is trivial:

  • Download the new firmware
  • Format an SD card in the camera
  • Put the SD card in your card reader and copy the new firmware to the top level (I.e. just drag it onto the drive letter in explorer)
  • Put the card back into the camera
  • Make certain that the camera has a full battery, or is on AC power
  • Turn camera on while hold the disp/back button down
  • Follow the menus
  • Turn off the camera and turn it on normally

After that, 10s exposures work perfectly. As in:

Original Test with Firmware 1.00

I decided to put this in a permanent record in my tests, and to isolated the shutter speeds from 6.5s to 10s to see if there is any hint below 10s. There is not. And what one notices is that the dark frame subtraction appears to start at 10s, which is indicated by the image not coming up immediately, but rather showing a “processing: screen for about the same time as the shutter speed and then showing the image.

So it is clearly a bug. (At the time I wrote this, I was unaware that it was already fixed.)

I also isolated it to the raw in a jpeg + raw pair. The jpegs are fine. Go figure. This means that the Fuji is perfectly capable of rendering the jpeg from the raw, and then it destroys the raw. Love that firmware team :-)

The histograms for the jpeg and raw are:

image   image

Hmmm … I think that is clearly a screw up. But do note that the spike is also there in the jpeg. This comes from the presence of candles in the image. They throw heat, and Fuji sensors react by turning images magenta / purple. I proved that video is less sensitive in the S1 than in the HS50EXR, but it is not insensitive.

And it gets worse. If you look at the jpeg, you will not only see the rampant heat signature all over the candles, you will see also several flares in the image in that color. These might be lens flares or they might be hot spots on the sensor, but either way I am not that thrilled to see them. Remember that I shot the Centennial Flame and saw little of this behavior there. Perhaps the sensor was warmed up by the video test I ran just before shooting these. Who can say …

Note that this image was shot at 100 ISO and 10s shutter. It is a perfect exposure, showing 0ev on the meter in manual mode.

And the raw of course is utterly trashed.

Note that I coined the term sledge hammer noise reduction to describe the noise reduction we see in earlier F series EXR models. These cameras really smeared details, even at low ISO. And especially in HR mode. Things got better with the newer cameras, but then this appears in the noise reduction for long exposures. I think we need something bigger than a sledge hammer for this … perhaps wrecking ball.

Here is a matrix of a series of perfect exposures at 100 ISO and over exposures at 1600 ISO. The 10s issue appears in both. The shutter speeds are 6.5s, 8s and 10s. The issue definitely starts at 10s, when the wrecking ball hits.

Note also the stripe of devastation along the top in both 10s exposures in the raw image. What’s up with that?

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Magic of Lanterns - my travel kit

I'm on a bus to Montreal to see the Magic of Lanterns display at the Chinese gardens in the Botanical gardens neat the Biodome. 

I decided to take a break from testing the Fuji cameras and instead brought the G6 with 14-140,  the GM1 with 12-32, the EPM2 with 45 1.8 and the GX1 with the Samyang 7.5 fisheye.

This all fits into a fairly small Lowepro case, the EX180.

This case hangs nicely from the shoulder and there is just enough room left over to fit the small Metz 36AF5 TTL flash.

The big benefit here is that I have 24 through 280 covered with 15mm fisheye and 90mm low light without swapping lenses in the field. And it is fairly light.

The Fuji S1 fits into the same location as the G6, but the HS50EXR is a very tight fit and unpleasant to carry in this case. So I'm not entirely sold on the bridge camera concept for travel. I would need larger sensor companions to assignment the smaller sensor. 

Still, the new FZ1000 and LX100 have certainly turned my head, as they could replace this entire kit with very similar image quality... And with space left over.

Fuji S1 versus HS50EXR – Review Part 25 – Purple Heat Syndrome

The Fuji EXR sensors all seem to react to heat sources by displaying an obnoxious bright purple instead of the yellow or red. Every one I’ve tested does it, and you will see that the HS50EXR does it too. The S1, on the other hand, has a new sensor … so what does it do?

See for yourself …

Monday, September 22, 2014

Fuji S1 versus HS50EXR – Review Part 24 – Flare when shooting lights at night …

I covered sun generated flare (both cams were epic fails) in part 23, so now I cover night time flare. Do the lights do what the sun did? I.e. wreak unholy terror on the image? Or is it better behaved?

Truth be told, I shot these images days ago. I was just waiting for the sunlight images to be available, and then I had so much fun playing with those images that they got published first.

Anyway, to the point … we know that the F series zooms – both the 360mm zooms and the 500mm zooms – have a terrible time shooting against bright lights. You get a kaleidoscopic halo that is a real turn off for most people. I am sure that the ensuing kerfuffle (apologies for my insistence on scientific purity of terms) cost Fuji more than a few sales.

I went downtown for some reason the other evening, and decided to bring the cameras and stop at Parliament Hill to shoot the building and the Centennial Flame. Since Wellington Street was right behind me I had the brilliant idea to shoot the flare test right then.

Maverick that I am, I started this test in A priority M size at DR400 (gasp!) so as to shake things up. I think the camera shot a rather nice image here.

I had the camera set to f/5.6 for no particular reason, but it was a happy accident since the lights were all star shaped … but if you look about an inch from the top and about 1 and then 2 inches from the right edge, you will see what I think is a mild pair of flares.

I then quickly shot an L sized image at DR100 before anyone noticed the switcheroo.

The flare is there again, so I think we can confirm its presence.

I did not stop the S1 down, sadly, so no pretty stars. But the lights look quite nice and I can spot no flare in the sky, or anywhere else.

Much later, I shot one with the GM1 from much closer to the flame … at these sizes and this ISO, you can’t really see any difference.

Moving on … I shot the street to see whether much larger and stronger lights would flare it up, so to speak. I color corrected pretty harshly and that has caused some blue to creep in, bur that might make flare easier to spot.

I only shot the HS50 in L size because there seems to be no difference in flare performance (as one would expect.)

HS50EXR f/2.8

Not bad. Some glare around the close light top left, and some flare from that light heading out of frame. The windmill shaped stars on the lights on the right are again kind of funky, but not really ugly. I think there is a hint of flare at the bottom of the middle of the left most post in the bottom right corner, but it is subtle enough to get away with.

HS50EXR f/8

Nothing subtle about that. The flare at the bottom of the post is confirmed, but overwhelmed by the light show around all the stars. Huge stars … and not that pretty top left. That cluster of lights looks like a real kaleidoscope. Not quite F-series worthy, but in some ways worse. And those dust reflections … wow. I just notices flare in the bottom left corner too. Wow … quite the show.

S1 f/2.8

Hmmm … what to say. A reasonable level of surrounding glare/flare … but some kind of weird half circles of stronger glare. Some big translucent dots in the sky and a very strong flare right beside the light top left. Basically, yuck.

S1 f/8

Stopping it down did not improve things. More flare spots everywhere in the sky and they are harsher. The stars are nice, though … much nicer than the HS50EXR can achieve. I was hoping for that sort of performance. The glare around the larger clusters is too much, though.

Two cameras and two fails. Flare remains Fuji’s enemy.