Adventures in Smarshland

February 3, 2009

Olympus E-420 Review

Filed under: Photography — smarsh @ 3:01 am

I purchased the Olympus E-420 at a closeout of a Circuit City store near my house.  I got a pretty good deal on the camera.  It comes with a kit lens with a zoom from 14mm to 42mm.  it comes from a line of cameras which are based around the 4/3rds format.  It is a format supported by Olympus and Pentax as well as a few other major manufacturers.  The advantage of the 4/3rds format is the rather compact form factor of the system.  It is able to achieve the compact dimensions by breaking away from the traditional spacing of the 35mm format .  The bulky form factor supported by Nikon and Canon is the largely the result of a legacy format .  There is no reason that the form factor used for 35mm film should continue to be the form factor of the future other than the fact consumers already have lenses from their previous systems.

Olympus and the other manufacturers who support the 4/3 format have chosen a clean break from tradition .  And this is of significant benefit .  The Olympus camera which I purchased is the lightest digital SLR camera on the market .  Or least it was when I purchased it.  Pentax has sense come out with a lighter camera based on a related format to the 4/3rds format called micro 4/3rds.  Micro 4/3rds is based on taking the digital SLR even one step further.  It completely does a way with the mirror lockup.  This means that you give up being able to look through an optical eyepiece.  But this is not really necessary with a digital camera when you can have a live view mode on a decent sized LCD screen.  Also it has a digital equivalent of an optical eyepiece; instead it has a small LCD screen which you can view through where the eyepiece is normally.

So what do I think of the camera specifically.  Overall, my impression is that it is a great value for the money.  Although the lens is not nearly as tack sharp as it could be, it is still decent.  From the reviews I have read the sensor is decent but has about one less stop of dynamic range than most prosumer level cameras, but you’re spending quite a bit less than you would to those cameras.  A few of other objections that have had with the camera include fairly limited bracketing ability of only one stop at the maximum.  In most situations when I want to bracket I want two stops typically.  however this is easily overcome by using the +/- EV button and the wheel.  This gives you practically infinitely many possibilities of exposure settings.  the only other major sticking point for this camera is the USB port does not use a standard miniplug connection but but rather a proprietary format.  Combine that with the camera not using xD and compact flash formats rather than the more standard SD format, and it becomes more inconvenient to pull the images pull off of the camera.  I have read though you can get an Eye-fi cards to work with compact flash format.  I may decide to go that route, but for the time being is more of a minor inconvenience.

All things considered I am very happy with my purchase.

October 19, 2008

More HDR

Filed under: Photography — Tags: , — smarsh @ 2:57 pm

It’s autumn and the leaves are changing.  Across the street from where I work is a very large park with which I thought would make for some nice landscape HDR images of the leaves turning at sunset.  I processed the images entirely with free open source software using GIMP, UFraw, and Qtpfsgui.

October 18, 2008

Canon Point and Shoot Becomes Much More

Filed under: Photography — Tags: , , , , — smarsh @ 1:25 am

I had read about a third party open source firmware that has been developed for many of Canon’s point and shoot digital cameras.  One of the major additional features the CHKD firmware provides is the ability to save and download RAW image files from the camera.  RAW is mostly useful when you intend to do significant post processing where the lossy nature of a JPEG would not have sufficient bit depth.  SInce RAW file format images are straight readouts of the image sensor, they contain much richer information.  One of the interesting post processing steps you can due is called High Dynamic Range.  This is where you take several images of the same scene at a range of EVs and process them with an algorithm which dramatically increases the contrast of the image.  I tried my hand at a HDR image and was quite pleased with the results.

My Apartment in HDR

August 31, 2008

Dense fog, Long run

Filed under: Athletics,Photography — Tags: , , — smarsh @ 11:42 am

This morning I got up very early to get in my long run for the week in preparation for the Portland marathon, which is just a matter of weeks away. The run was 16 miles. It was a though run, but I made it to the end kicking. Hopefully race day will have better conditions then today which were made worse by the incredible humidity, which you can get a sense of based on the dense fog in the pictures below. I’m running 18 next weekend and 20 the following week, then tapering volume until race day October 5th.

November 3, 2007

Fall Colors

Filed under: Life,Photography — Tags: , , — smarsh @ 6:07 pm

All of the trees are spectacular colors as the season turns:

For more pictures go to my gallery.

March 19, 2007

New Photo Gallery

Filed under: Computer,Photography — Tags: — smarsh @ 6:51 pm

I have a new photo gallery thanks to my brother. To check out the new photo gallery here or click on the link on the right side of the blog.

March 10, 2007

Picture says it all

Filed under: Life,Photography — Tags: — smarsh @ 1:51 pm

I think a picture says a thousand words in this case. It has been very cold for far too long here in Ohio and now the snow is finally melting and it is warm enough to go outside and be comfortable.
It's Melting

Also long overdue is a posting of one of my favorite pictures from a trip my brother, dad, and myself took to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. I also made a print it using which was the only online photo printing site I could find that would print panoramas. It will be pretty huge and necessitate a great deal of wall space as the picture itself is 12″x32″ and the frame is 20″ x 40″. I also discovered in the process of trying to get the picture framed that Michaels is outrageously overpriced. They wanted $150 for drymounting, glass and the matting. Just as easy would be to get a glass store to cut you some plate glass, don’t drymount (instead use a good backing that will keep the photo flat, and buy yourself a matte cutter. Total materials cost about $50. Labor about 1 hour, plus you get to keep the matte cutter which can be used for other projects.

I’m also working on setting up Gallery, so that I can share all of my photos on my site.

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