I decided to make a limited real-world comparison of my Canon 70D with the 24mm lens vs. the Nikon 1 J5 with the 10 – 30mm lens vs. the Leica X2 with its 24mm lens. This is a comparison of the results that I got with different sensors and lenses, and how they choose settings in program mode. I was comparing the 20MP APS sensor in the Canon to the 21MP one-inch sensor in the Nikon to the 16MP APS sensor in the Leica. In addition, I made all the images hand-held since I rarely use a tripod. Was it a fair comparison? Probably not, but I needed to see how they compared so that I had a better feeling of what to use when and where; as well as whether I really need three cameras.
The following images were taken outside on an overcast day, but fairly bright with no strong shadows. The compositions are slightly different due to the different focal lengths or changes made during vertical corrections: but they are full size, uncropped. All of the images were taken in raw format and then processed in LR6. I made no changes to the Adobe standard settings except that I did use the lens profiles and used the auto vertical correction on each. All were also focused using the center focus point on the white gazebo in the center. I will let you decide whether the advantages of the higher priced Canon and Leica with their larger sensors and greater size and prime lenses are worth it relative to the smaller Nikon 1 J5 with the kit zoom lens … at least for displays such as this on the web.
Did you figure out which was which? 150626-101407 was the Leica which chose ISO=100, f/5.6, and 1/640 sec. 150626-101345 was the Nikon which choose ISO=160, f/4.2, and 1/800 sec. 150626-101316 was the Canon which choose ISO=100, f/8, and 1/250 sec. If you click on one of the images you will shift to gallery mode where they will be larger. You can also pick a larger size to review them closer.
After looking at the above images, I decided that I needed to use a more demanding situation, so I switched to indoors. I wanted to see how they performed in lower mixed lighting where they would have to crank up the ISO settings. The following show what I got with the three systems.
As I expected, this was a tougher situation and the differences were more striking. 150626-104639 was the Nikon which used ISO=2800, f/4, and 1/60 sec. 150626-104702 was the Canon which used ISO=2500, f/3.2, and 1/125 sec. 150626-104753 was the Leica which used ISO=640, f/2.8, and 1/30 sec. If you looked closely you saw that the Leica image was blurred due to camera motion. I started to retake it but didn’t since it taught me a valuable lesson. I can’t rely on the auto settings for the Leica and I need to probably shoot in manual or shutter mode to ensure that I always have a fast enough shutter speed; but that slows me down. I also went back and checked the Canon settings and saw that I had the shutter speed set to 1/125 sec for the floor when deciding to adjust the ISO. Maybe that wasn’t fair but I can’t make that setting with the Leica. The Nikon lens was the only one with image stabilization.
The color balance of the Canon was probably closer to the actual colors, but if I had adjusted the WB, I would have corrected that on all three. The differences in WB and exposures can be easily adjusted in LR6, but the camera settings, etc. can’t be changed after the fact.
There are other factors to consider such as ergonomics, ease of adjusting controls, how sturdy they are, ease of carrying, weight, etc. which are all relative to the usability of these cameras; but, I was surprised by the image quality of the Nikon 1 J5. The small size of the camera and lenses is a big plus for it in my view, but the size also works against it in some ways. It doesn’t have a large enough or suitable hand-grip and I occasionally find that I have accidentally changed something.
Primarily, this comparison has caused me to focus more on the usability of cameras and less on their image quality. That means that my quest isn’t over. I still find that the Canon 70D is the best compromise I have tried so far, even though it is too large and heavy. My search is still on. In addition to finding a camera that I can easily take with me and handle and shoot with one hand, I am still looking for that one camera that is the best compromise for what I need for my photography. I still have the option of just using my Canon 70D with lighter-weight, smaller prime lenses; but I would prefer something even easier to carry and hold. I might try the Sony A6000 next.
We have turned the corner and the amount of daylight is decreasing daily now. I took the above picture last night at 9:18pm. As far as photography goes, I’m looking forward to fewer hours of daylight. It will make it easier for me to make pictures on either side of the sunrises and sunsets. I also prefer to make pictures when the sun is low and shadows are long and this will be the case for more of the days. My only concerns are that shorter days will happen very slowly, meaning that I will need to be patient while waiting for better conditions … and then there is also the problem of the days getting colder. I don’t like colder.
I usually take an average of a dozen pictures everyday as I practice and play with my cameras. Usually I delete the pictures, but occasionally I use them in my blog. This is a crop of one I took while comparing lenses and focus modes. The flower, a Pieris Japonica is growing in front of our Villa.
I am still in the mode of learning the limits of my Canon 70D. In one of my trials this morning I was checking its ability to focus. I had started with the 18 – 135 mm lens racked out to 135 mm. While it worked and I had no problem focusing, I wasn’t pleased with the sharpness. It wasn’t bad, but not great, so I changed lenses, put the 24 mm lens on the camera, and just moved closer.
The above image was taken with the 24 mm pancake lens. This is an uncropped image in which I used the center point autofocus to focus on the rain drop. I found that the focus and sharpness was better, but you will need to look at the full size image to see the details of the rain drop. I am also very much interested in the depth of field and quality of the out of focus areas when using this pancake lens.
I hope to take this camera-lens combination to the streets of Hanover when the weather is more favorable. For this recent trial I was running in and out between showers. I have the minimum shutter speed set at 1/125 sec. for walking about since this lens has no image stabilization. The settings for the above were ISO 100, F5.6, and 1/125 sec. I love it so far. My next trial with this camera-lens combination will be for a project that I am currently photographing in the wood shop.
I accumulated too many cameras and lenses. I primarily did that while trying to cover many different photographic situations and trying to figure out what I wanted or needed. The above are what I had when I started my recent purging, and you will note that I had a lot of overlapping systems. It doesn’t include all the other cameras I tried and sold previously. Lately, I have spent a great deal of time trying to figure out what I want to do, can do, and will do, in my future photography so that I can simplify. By-the-way, there are a lot of differences between “want to do, can do, and will do”.
The unmarked camera in the picture at the top on your left is the Canon SL1. At the time I took the picture I had black tape over the lettering. I had one other camera in addition to the above cameras that I used to take the picture. It was the Ricoh GR.
I have given up on reducing down to one camera for the time being, but I am reducing the number of different systems that I have and selling off some of the above with the goal to end up with fewer options. While trying to decide which way to go, I cycled through each of the above cameras and used them to remind myself of their individual characteristics and why I got them in the first place. Each has a particular strength and capability so my decision process came down to deciding what, or how, I will not be photographing in the future.
I have tried to pick a subject to concentrate on. I first thought it would be Hanover streets and buildings, and it might still be; but I have concerns. In some of my trials I have had minor confrontations which I have been able to walk away from so far; but I am concerned that the confrontations might increase, especially if I use a DSLR camera with a long zoom lens.
I would like to do something with a rangefinder style camera with a focal length of 35 or 50 (e) mm; but that usually means photographing people, and is not likely … in town or within Homewood. But, that doesn’t rule out such a camera for buildings, landscapes, etc.
What about other possibilities? The big one is travel photography but for several reasons, that is not likely for me. Another possibility would be nature, wildlife, etc. We have limited wildlife but it is still a possibility. There are also weather, clouds, etc. but that is limiting from an opportunity perspective. I can’t photograph the weather effects when I wish since it is dependent upon the whims of the weather.
I am still trying to decide what it is that I mainly hope to photograph, but in the meantime I am going to concentrate on what is most likely. The picture below shows what cameras and lenses I am currently using after going through my initial simplification and concentrating on what will most likely be available for me to photograph.
The Pentax gear and the Lumix LX7 have been sold. The rest have been boxed up for sale or storage. I haven’t sold the micro 4/3 gear yet since I haven’t yet decided to give up on micro 4/3. I like my micro 4/3 gear but I can’t do everything (especially in low light) that I would like as well with it. You will also see my latest acquisition, the Canon 70D with the 18 – 135 mm lens attached that I am trying for 30 days. Yes, the Canon is heavy (just slightly lighter than the K-3) but it has advantages and uses that I would rather not give up. I really like the articulated LCD and fast live-view focusing. In order to deal with the weight, I might not carry it far or often, and if necessary, I could get a 50 mm lens for it and back off using the longer, heavier focal length lenses. Currently I am trying the Canon 70D for certain uses like clouds, wildlife, some internal Homewood projects, etc., and using the Ricoh GR for my pocket camera while walking about as well as for several projects close to people, etc. where all I need is an effective 28 mm focal length.
My objective is to just use the Canon 70D and the Ricoh GR for a while as I continue to evolve my future photography over time, and later replace one or both with a camera that is better for a more limited style of photography when, or if, I decide or find I need or want to reduce further.
The sun has set on my longest project of the year. That was photographing the work of the model railroaders here at Homewood at Plum Creek as they built and prepared their displays for their annual open houses during the holidays. I finalized that project by creating a video with the images.
The reason that I am mentioning this on my blog is that many of the pictures that I now take are not shown on my blog due to privacy reasons. This creates a slight dilemma for me since I have less and less time to find and take pictures to display. While I have already decided to take on another major long-term project from now until the end of the year, and while such projects usually mean fewer pictures for my blog, I am not giving up on my blog. There will be gaps between posts, but I have some additional ideas in mind for other projects outdoors after it warms up. If I go forward with them, these might generate some interesting pictures for this blog.
The changing nature of my photography is also having an impact on my cameras and lenses and I hope to be writing about some of those changes as time goes on. I will also be having more to say in the future about my past purchases of the Canon SL1 and the 24 mm pancake lens. In addition, I will be mentioning some other pending acquisitions as well as about how the sun is setting on some of my cameras and lenses … maybe on the majority of them.
I took this picture this morning through the window. The temperature was -1 degrees F. My only problem with the picture is that I used my Canon SL1 with the 24 mm lens, and then had to crop it quite a bit. If I am going to continue using this camera for pictures like this one, and those in the previous post, I probably should get a longer lens. My original intent when I got the camera was to only use it with the 24 mm lens, or maybe another longer prime lens.
The weather hasn’t been conducive for me to get out and find anything to photograph and I haven’t felt much like it anyway; therefore, I will take a break from photography and blogging until I manage to actually see something new that is worth photographing.
I have been pondering two things … what will I photograph in the Borough of Hanover and what focal length lens will work best. I really need to find the answers in order since what I photograph determines what camera and lens I need; but maybe not. Since I have already photographed the most interesting areas, I have been exploring some of the back areas.
I was standing in one of the public parking lots when I took the above pictures. My reaction was that there was nothing of interest around me but I took some pictures anyway so I could continue my evaluation of the Canon SL1 camera with the 24 mm lens. Even after studying them, I found nothing of interest, unless it was the thought of what was missing. From the size and age of the trees along with their locations I imagine that these lots were previously plots where buildings once stood. They were probably vacant and falling down so the Borough acquired the lots, tore down the buildings, and paved the lots for parking. This parking lot is typical of many such lots through-out the Borough. I am guessing that what is missing was of more interest, but I can’t photograph that.
I then tried cropping a section out of one of the pictures, and converted it to monotone. You can see the results below.
And the answer is, using an old phrase, “you can’t create a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.” I found nothing of interest in any of these pictures and it means that I will have to work at making images around Hanover. I have already photographed some of the “noted” areas that others think of since they are on the main roads and that is why I have been, and will continue, looking for the unusual and mostly not seen areas.
I still have no idea as to whether to concentrate on details or the bigger picture; but if I wish to concentrate on details I will need a longer lens. The problems are that longer Canon lenses are heavier, larger, and expensive if they are good fast lenses. That means more compromises if I get a long Canon zoom lens and my gut reaction is that I have little interest in more compromises that will probably end up as wasted money. I might just use my K-3 and 55 – 300 mm lens and shoot from close to the car so that I don’t have to carry it far. If not that, I might use a micro 4/3 or one-inch system.
One of my intentions for future photography is to get closer, and see if I can do it without a long focal length and/or a macro lens; but can I do it with my 24 mm pancake lens with an effective focal length of only 36 mm?
I was looking at some old watches and while I was holding them in my hand I took a picture of them to see how they looked with the 24 mm lens. The following is a crop of the corroded one that had spent some time in sea water.