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My Other Blogs: Birder's Journal Art Here Lately ThEdBlog Movies Reviewed & My Kindle Blig My G2 Journal
My Panasonic G2 Journal has not replaced this page yet. This is Part Two. Part one is a big page.
This page is me still learning the quirks, questions and qualities of my Canon S90 I got March 18 2010.
Tony Craig Congregation 2009 wood and metal hooks at The Nasher Sculpture Center
When we visited art museums last week, I brought my Canon S90. Not my little Panasonic Lumix G2 and especially not my next size up Nikon D7000. Those other cameras don't fit in my pocket. Besides, the Nikon looks a little like a professional camera (though not nearly as much as my disintegrated Nikon D300 did). The G2 does not, but then the S95, looks to the casual observer, much less like a professional camera, and that misdirection has its merits.
I'm not one to sneak around taking photos of stuff I shouldn't be (mostly because I publish such pictures, and it would be difficult to prove I hadn't once I dance my usual copyright notice across the face of it), but if I walk up to a museum admissions counter with a black behemoth hanging around my neck, I may well have to leave it with them, which experience is usually okay, but does not always end well.
Mostly it'd be a hassle. I pay too much for these complex chunks of metal, plastic and glass to leave them with some dufus at a counter that is often not even watched, let alone guarded. Worse, I wouldn't have it to photograph the few things in those places that I could legitimately shoot — like the sculpture out front or in their sculpture garden.
The Dallas Museum of Art is particularly anal in this respect, but we planned to start there, exit another entrance to cross over to the Nasher Sculpture Garden, which has a considerably more tolerant view of visitors taking photographs. Then over to the Crow Collection of Asian Art, which often allows us to photograph particularly interesting objects or decor.
I didn't pull the s95 out till I was in a room with this strange wooden beast hairy with metal hooks. I asked the guard if it was okay if I photographed it. She thanked me for asking, and said go ahead.
White Chair and White Table on Porch G2
I was hard-pressed to find an image I'd taken lately with my s90. When I go out now, I take my Panasonic G2 hanging around my neck, usually with my 100-300mm lens (supposedly a 200-600mm, 35mm equivalent) for birds and detail shots or my 20mm (40mm equivalent) for people and art.
Its sensor is 5 times the size of my s90's. Except that the G2 has interchangeable lenses, it's not easy to tell the difference in my usual use, here on the low-res web, but it becomes noticeable when I do serious pixel-peeping in Photoshop or I work with the files. So far, I have made only one, large print from my G2, and it's about to be in another art show.
Right now, I have two photographs in one art exhibition and that one about to open in another. I thought the two in Hecho en Dallas (Made in Dallas), a competitive exhibition (luckily open to Anglos, tambien) at Dallas' Latino Culture Center (LCC), were the two directly below. I was looking at the file names to determine which was taken with my Nikon D300 and which with my S90 when I realized they were both shot with the s90.
Turns out only the upper shot is the same. I will have to get an even bigger print made of the lower one — I've been working on it in Pshop. I bet that will look spectacular.
The two dead flower (18 x 24 each) shots are hanging together in the LCC. One on top of the other, making a visual clatter, since neither cigar box is aligned vertically or horizontally. I'd never thought about that before. At first I was dismayed, but now I like them that way, a little jarring, because even though the two prints are perfectly aligned, they always look crooked. A little, extra, added bonus.
Later this afternoon, I'll deliver a 20 x 16 print on that same black board for another show with a Spanish name, Loteria! Loteria! Tres (3) at Dallas' Bath House Cultural Center, may favorite gallery anywhere — because it shows such a diversity of local artists in this city. It is my first print from the g2.
I don't have a printer (too messy, too expensive to keep up, expensive ink keeps drying up, my old one, bought in 1999 finally died, etc.), so it literally is my first g2 print. I wrote about that image's genesis in My G2 Journal. Here's the actual original shot (only that one's horizonatal, as I shot it, then I learned they had to be vertical, so I chopped, channeled and stretched it.
I wrote more about the process with the umbrella down and up that page, but I liked the original one so much better I didn't mind altering it to fit the specifications. In fact, the two dead flower shots were likewise stretched, so they'd both be the same size, which at the time seemed important, then scary and now inconsequential.
I do not like glossy photographs that are difficult to see in the glare of galleries' direct lights, and I don't like them behind glass for that same reason. For awhile, I experimented with white frames that more or less blended into gallery walls, but I don't like frames, either. Paintings, arguably more expensive and fragile, are rarely framed, why should photographs be?
Lately, I have been getting large prints made on Lustre-surfaced paper bonded to black-edged foam board, so it has dark shadows around the image, no stupid frame and no glass over it. Presented as pure photograph with slight shadow. That soft texture may dull the contrast slightly, but they look great, especially with light on them, like galleries usually do. And if somebody dares touch the surface, it won't leave nasty — or permanent — fingerprints.
First time I looked at them at Xpert Imaging in Deep Elm near Downtown Dallas, I thought they were awful low-contrast. Then Phil, the owner, suggested I look at them in the daylight coming through the front window, and wow! They came alive.
Working now that I think I know what I'm doing with both cameras and comparing both s90 and g2 images, I realize the Canon shots need several times more sharpening than my g2 to look right. I've been wondering how the g2 makes images that are so sharp. I guess I'd have to do a Nikon DX image comparison to see if larger sensors make sharper images (although my Nikon's sensor is only 1.5 X the size of my g2's. But I probably won't do that, because I'm too used to using the G2 now, and using the Nikons, which are so heavy, is always a struggle just remembering which buttons to push.
Everything I've read about the G2 says I should shoot RAW images because its JPEGs are so mediocre. But because I don't have the latest version of Photoshop, I can't open Panasonic RAW images. A very strange but probably ultimately powerful piece of Japanese software came with my G2 but I haven't taken the time to learn its many and complex subtleties and odd names for tools, and though I've upgraded to the latest Macintosh OSX, without the latest Photoshop version I'm still out of luck for raw.
Not that I mind. My G2 jpegs are great. For awhile, I saved images in both formats, but my gosh that takes up a lot of space. I never used s90 raw either, and, like I say, I've been showing images in competitive art exhbitions. So I think the urging to always shoot g2 raw lacks intelligence, when I can Photoshop enough quality into either camera's plain old JPEGs. I am good at Photoshop and have taught it since version 1, which was strictly grayscale.
I did do an abrupt about-face when I finally ventured into Nikon raw, ended up using it most of the time, and I may do the same when I can do g2 raw. But till then, I'm happy with jpegs.
Not being able to find a suitable photo to top today's journal entry, I cleaned up a white plastic chair and set about photographing it in place on my front porch. So today's shot was actually shot today. Minutes ago. Long-time readers of this journal will recognize the early visual theme in it. I started out photographing just such a chair on that front porch at the beginnins of this journal [in part one]. Took awhile to get this chair as clean, but now maybe I can continue the series, because I still have the s90, and ocassionally, I still use it.
I shot it, brought the camera back here to post-process it, and had it up on the monitor before I realized I had shot it with the g2 instead of the s90 as planned. Oops! Goes to show I've really turned the corner on my favored camera. I never even thought about it. Just picked up the camera and shot it.
G2 images are better, much better. Much, much better. I miss being able to stick my camera in my pocket and eventually forgetting it's there, but the quality upgrade is so substantial, it's almost worth carrying it on a strap banging around my waist.
I have on several occasions, stuck either my s90 or my elderly SD780 in my pocket, more for the possibility of wide-angle shots when I'm shooting my long zoom, but I never get around to using them, then discover them crammed in my pocket much later. I tend to think in telephoto when I have a telephoto lens on my camera, so wide-angle establishing shots are much less important or interesting.
I still use my s90 almost every day. If I could find my Canon sd780, I'd probably use that one more often. Last I remember of it, I stuck it in a jeans pocket to go off somewhere. I keep hoping I didn't launder the jeans with that in them, but I've patted everything down several times, and usually check before chunking laundry into a machine anyway. I miss it.
Problem with the 780 is that once it's in a pocket it's too easy to forget it's there. Not a problem with the s90, which I still use at Joel Cooner Gallery, although it's time there is numbering down, because it's so difficult to get it to show taken exposure. But around the house, when I'm working on an idea, it's perfect. It doesn't put an undue load on my crappy tripod — I can't use it to hold one of my Nikons vertically. It's just too flimsy. I need to get a professional tripod, no doubt, but this will do till then. Just it's easier with the small, light s90 than my heavy clunk Nikon d200 or d300.
It's so easy to use to work out details on an idea. Like my continuing dead flower petals in a cigar box series I'm up to calling "Treasure." The first instance had pretty freshly dead Stargazer petals in it, still very vividly purple. As the series continues, the Stargazers are fading to dark.
I'm entering photo and art competitions again after not entering any for a whole year. I liked that year for that. But I'm interested in showing my art photos again, if some juror will simply appreciate one or more. And I'm concerned that ten megabytes at 23 MP/cm² pixel density is awfully high, especially compared with a new Nikon D7000 and presumably the soon-to-be-announced Nikon D5100's 3.6 cm² pixel density is too high for the larger prints I am contemplating when I get into one of these competitions (I've only tried entered art one so far. Tomorrow I'll drop off my second attempt.).
I was very interested in the D5000, and I'd be even more interested in the D5100, for its articulating LCD, among other Nikon niceties, including the fact that even the semi-amateur models (D3100 and D5000) now incorporate features of Nikon's higher-end cameras.
Both these were shot on my desk with fluorescent overhead lights. When I shot with the Nikon, I used studio lights in a light tent. I should work that one up and see the differences, although any distinctions would be minimized by using it at less than 1/3 megapixel at 72dpi here.
If no art juror accepts my art images, I'll go back to my birds, which have always been very popular. Especially the arty ones. Just that I'm so much more involved in these, as art. I can almost see the petals as brush strokes impasto with color.
My Nikon D300 is overexposing random frames. Sometimes every sixth shot, sometimes dozens between, fairly often now every third shot. It's gonna cost $300 and 5 weeks without it to fix it. It's still better than my once-treasured S90, which is more an more trouble to try to deal with, since it refuses to show me the right exposure till after I shoot it.
I'm giving up on Canon compacts. I've thought seriously about the dSLRs, but the camera I'm most thinking about next is the Panasonic GH2, although I suspect the G2 would be almost as good — if it only had built-in image stabilization. That, at least, still works on my s90. It may well be that my dreams of a great little video cam (too) are a little twisted, since I rarely shoot video.
I took a video editing class either early this century or late in the last, but I don't even know how to use the video editor that came free with my Mac. I've never even tried it. That's a pipedream. I've shot some family videos, but darned few. I'm a still photographer, and I have been since 1964. I'll probably keep being one.
I photograph art and birds, mostly. And a lot of other things in between. I daydream of being a videographer, but I don't think about it much when I'm wide awake. I want a smaller camera that I can look through and see what the camera's sensor is seeing. I got used to an EVF on my Sony F707. I loved it. Instant feedback on all aspects of exposure and focus. It did not have images stabilization. So far, only my cheap Canons have had that. And some lenses.
I know the G2 is a superb camera — without image stabilization. But many of its lenses have IS. It has manual exposure and focus and is comparatively small and light. It has a fully articulating LCD and an EVF. All the things I want and think I want in a smaller dSLR. It does good enough video.
Toraja Architectural Panels (Saneh) at Joel Cooner Gallery
Link to the page of smaller boards that show their use (near bottom of page),
which I unfortunaely did not take.
My s90 has given up all pretense of showing the actual exposure on the LCD before I shoot — a key reason for buying it. It's been heading in this downhill direction for months now, and though I keep using it as a pocket stuffer just in case, I'm about ready to move on to the micro-Four-Thirds sensor format dSLR Panasonic GH2, almost certainly with their 'pancake' 20mm f/1.7 (40mm 35mm equivalent) lens, and probably especially their 100~300mm (200~600mm) lens for birding (and maybe another, shorter zoom — although I could adapt other Nikon or Canon cheap, non-auto lenses to it easily.
I'd thought my s90 was doing adequately, till I shot the seven, deceptively-dark Toraja panels at Joel Cooner Gallery this week. What a disappointment when I discovered that the cam is no longer Wysiwyg (pronounced wizzy-wig — What You See Is What You Get). Only it wasn't.
I'm awaiting the near-inevitable last-minute manufacturing changes due to the pixel-peeper complaints on the DPR (check for GH2 on the listings of all m43 camera listings) and other camera forums.
Meanwhile, to see anything close to the actual exposure for each s90 shot, I check the review each time I make a new exposure. Neither looking at the LCD before a shot, partially holding down the shutter, nor seeing the quick auto-review there after, has the light-dark exposure accurate, and it's already been to the shop — probably part of why the s95 came so quickly on the S90's heels.
I don't know if the s95 exhibits these same issues, but I'd like to avoid more cheap (though expensive) Canons. I'm really looking forward to using both the eye-level and the articulated LCD Wysiwyg viewfinders on the Panasonic.
The GH2, at about a thousand bucks for the body-only, also apparently has superb HD video and quiet zooming and focusing kit lenses. Check UTube for lots of examples.
Both Photography Blog and Photo Radar's reviews (two sites I rarely cite) show the GH2 to be an exemplary mirrorless camera. DPR's would cinch it, if it's as positive. It takes awhile for them to review recent cameras, but they always do the best job. An earlier pre-review by Luminous Landscape using a pre-production (features always change when actual production cameras finally become generally available here) was amazing, and so far, the GH2 is only available in fits and starts here in the USA. DPR usually waits those changes out.
A review by GH2 owner Amy Medina on Steve Huff Photos is, however, illustrative of some of the GH2's issueas, without going all negative.
The DPR S90 review was proof enough that was a decent camera, and it was. For awhile.
DPR's previews, including the recent one for the GH2, are hype-filled and the data is usually largely manufacturer-provided, but their actual reviews are professional and deep.
S95-Killer or Copy?
The announcement of the Olympus XZ-1 adds fuel to the Best Enthusiast's Camera competition, with its remarkably bright 28~122mm (35mm equivalent) f/1.8~2.5 (!) lens (the Canon S95 is a bright f/2 ~ a dark f/4.9) for $500. An "enthusiast's camera," the XZ-1 has 10mp, a 1/1.63" CCD (but probably doesn't use any more of that chip than the Panasonic LX5 does), S90/95-style lens and back dials, a flash shoe with wireless flash ability. It offers 1280x720p HD or 640x480 SD video and a built-in monaural microphone.
The optional Olympus VF-2 electronic viewfinder (EVF), external mic or macro lights can be attached via the AP-1 accessory port (like on the Olympus Pen EP-2 and E-PL1), but the PENPal Bluetooth add-on cannot. The built-in flash can remotely control and fire flashguns (like the FL-36R), and flash can be set to first or second curtain synch.
Being able to use an EVF, especially one as good as Oly's, could be amazing, and they're calling the lens a ZuiKo, which usually means it'll offer better IQ than Oly's other lenses.
Unfortunately, the XZ-1 is somewhat larger than my S90 and your S95, so it probably won't go into many pockets (so it's a strictly dangle-round-the-neck or wrist cam), and it has no grip to steady it (Calling Mr. Franiec.), but it does have a 460k 3-inch LCD and an optional waterproof case.
ISO 100-6400, manual controls (although we can only change one parameter at a time in P+S modes), those two control rings (one around the lens; one little one on the back — just almost exactly like our S90/95's. Neither ring can be customized, and their functions vary by the shooting mode, so beginners and experts alike will will always be confused. Hard to imagine a more direct copy of the S90 or S95. Sure looks familiar.
The battery should last through 320 shots a charge, not as good as the LX5 but way better than the S90//95.
For more info, see Digital Photo Review's extensive but hype-filled, or Steve's Digicams, Digital Camera Resource, Phoblographer and/or Olympus previews.
Tulip with Ancient 55mm f/3.5 Manual Focus Lens on Nikon D300
I can never remember how to set White Balance manually on my Nikon D300, but now, after owning it for more than two years, I may finally have it. I've carefully studied the manual, taken notes, broken those down to the essentials, tried it, got it to work, and here they are. All NINE steps:
Setting the Nikon D300's White Balance
- Set WB to PRE.
- Release WB briefly.
- Repush WB till PRE flashes.
- Before it stops flashing, Fill viewfinder with white or gray.
- Press shutter.
- If 'Good' flashes in Control Panel, proceed.
- If 'No Good' flashes, try again.
- If Good, select d-0 by pressing WB button and
- rotate sub command till I get to d-0.
Hope it works.
There's an even more complicated way to save that white balance as d-0, but I think it's already there, and I can shoot the picture or pictures secure that the White Balance has been set. It is, of course, easier to manually set White Balance on a Canon compact camera, like my SD780 or s90:
Setting the S90/95's White Balance
- Select the White Balance symbol opposite AWB and
- push the MENU button with the cam filled with white or gray.
- Push SET and shoot.
But maybe that's too easy. The Nikon way's gotta be better, right? Because it's so much more complicated. So complicated I've had to study and re-study and re-re-re-study the procedure till I finally wrote down my compressed version above and taped it to my camera (the bottom' the only area big enough, but I had to leave a round hole for tripod mounting. Maybe I'll get it to work that way next time I need to. In the several years I've owned that camera, I've only succeded at setting the White Balance three times, and those times were while practicing. I've never managed it when I actually needed it.
Unless, of course, I use my s90 instead. I like the colors on the s90 better anyway, although it can't match the resolution and low pixel density — let alone the speed — of the Nikon D300.
Setting the Panasonic G2's White Balance
- Push the upper right button on the back until you get the white menu screen.
- Push any of the WB boxes on the LCD
- Push the White Set rectangle on the LCD
- Push the actual SET button on the back or the SET space at bottom right on the LCD
- Aim the smaller highlighted rectangle on the LCD at something white
- Click the actual SET button or the SET rectangle at lowest right corner of the LCD (makes shutter sound but does not take picture)
Which sounds more complicated than it actually is. But there are more steps than the s90.
More tulips on my DARts Member Page.
Jerry Dodd Beam (upper detail) 2010 steel and paint on the s90
I hadn't really planned to go to the Bath House to take pictures of Jerry Dodd's sculpture again. But I was in the neighborhood, and I wanted to check out some theories I'd been back-burnering about his juxtapositioning of impossible pieces that couldn't possibly go together together.
I'd shot his work at the opening with my Nikon D300 and 17~55mm lens. It wasn't that those shots weren't good enough, or that the ones I shot today were better. More like I wasn't thinking all that straight at the opening, had begun to write about it, then needed another look-see.
I had the Nikon with me but with a 70~300mm lens I expected to photograph birds with, although I didn't find anything interesting. Like I said, this was an impromptu shoot. But, as usual when I go out without a clear idea of why I'd need it, I stuck the S90 in my jeans pocket, lens out, where it's pretty comfortable and easy to carry. I didn't think I ever could, but once it's in there snug and secure, I often forget it.
The Nikon doesn't have image stabilization, and the s90 does. Works well, too. I shot more Jerry Dodd pieces and since nobody else was there, I spent time matching my still-developing theories to actual pieces. I even looked at some I'd overlooked the first time. Just me and my s90.
Jerry Dodd Goalposts of Life (slight detail) steel and paint on the s90
Like this one that I later dropped most of the background out of in Photoshop, so we could concentrate on the art instead of the dark carpet, gray columns and other work in the show. I do wish the s90 had an electronic viewfinder (EVF) I could press against my forehead and look through while steadying it, and that what I see on the LCD while I'm shooting would be what I actually get. But what it looks like on the LCD seconds after is accurate, and that's good enough for now.
Most of the gallery is lit by tungsten lights, so when I was in those parts I switched the white balance to tungsten, and when I was at the end with a skylight, I switched to AWB and took my chances. My exposures weren't always perfect, but all the pix looked good.
I could have fixed them later in Pshop, but while I was there along with the art, I struggled to make each shot as good as I could make it, often shooting two or three or more of the same piece. And it worked out pretty well. For this one, I held the cam well above my head shooting down. I couldn't get the goalposts in the pic, because I was in full wide-ange zoom, and I wanted the details more than I wanted the whole the piece. Now, of course, I see that I probably could have had both.
I'm still thinking about getting a micro four-thirds (m43) camera that won't be small enough to stick in a pocket, but that sensor would be 525% larger for taking bird and other shots I'll want to enter in competitions and show large in exhibitions. And it and its lenses will be so much smaller than my giant Nikon and its giant glass. The m43 camera may not have IS, but the lenses I'd get will.
The Panasonic GF1 — whose supposed successor, the GF2 I got so excited about a couple of entries down this page — is itself price-dropping down to just $200 more than I spent on the s90 new last March, although I may still wait for the Panasonic GH2 with its fully articulating LCD (so I could see the image even if I held the camera over my head), EVF (to see exactly what I'd get) and near-professional HD video.
The Ergonomics of Futility by Ian F. Thomas (above left) and
Shreepad Joglekar at 411 North Tyler in Oak Cliff in Dallas, Texas
Took me awhile to figure out that the GF2 (below) is not the direct descendent of the amazing little GF1, that is still available but now at a much lower price. It is, instead, a cheaper, quicker version of the GF1 for more amateur photographers moving up from compact cameras, rather than a full-control, very small, interchangeable lens, single-lens un-reflex camera. Hardly to be lauded here, although Panasonic is expected to come out with a more GF1-like camera in the coming months.
I guess they brought out the GF2 to take advantage of the amazing reputation of the GF1, which I am still considering buying, although I'm more likely to get their newer GH2, which has an EVF (electronic viewfinder, so I can tell immediately how good my exposure values and color balance are), a fully-articulating LCD and all the right dials and switches to make the kind of precise photographic controls I am used to on my dSLRs and my Canon s90, which I still use often (It has, in fact, become my de facto pocket camera, edging out my smaller and thinner Canon SD780 IS).
Before I get any new m43 camera, I have to wait through the reviews by trustable camera review sites, the inevitable fault-finding by online photo forum members, and the fixing by the company, by which time, the camera will be both improved and probably cheaper than he prices paid by all those photographers and pixel-peepers who just have to have the latest thing, whatever it might be.
One example of recent use of my s90 was an evening of art culminating in an extensive piece of Performance Art. If you see that photo essay, linked under the image above, you'll see just how well the s90 worked in fairly trying (low light, lots of movement) circumstances. I shot it using ISO 400 and custom White Balances, and I suspect I got at least as good shots as several other photographers there with dSLRs and m43 cameras, although I haven't seen anybody else's coverage — and I've looked.
Panasonic Lumix GF2
Panasonic has just introduced its Lumix GF2, a camera that, like the s90/95, is smaller than most, yet has a sensor that is larger than most otherwise similar cameras. Admittedly, its sensor is more than five times the size of the s90/95's, but the new Panasonic has no dial on the back or ring around the lens to change aperture, shutter speed, EV compensation. Not even a mode dial. All that is included in its Touch Screen interface, meaning you have to manipulate controls on the LCD to do all those things.
It does have full HD movie capability, an optional Electronic Viewfinder and uses interchangeable micro Four-Thirds lenses. And it costs about twice what the s90/95s do. It is 4.44 x 2.67 x 1.29 inches compared to the s95's minutely smaller 3.9 x 2.3 x 1.2 inches. The new Pany is probably faster shooting with less shutter lag, and because of its significantly larger sensor its images will look cleaner at higher ISOs. Pixel Density, a key indicator of image quality, is 23MP/cm² for the Canon and 5MP/cm² for the new Pany.
Probably the best preview — the GF2 won't be generally available for awhile — of the Panasonic GF2 was on Luminous Landscape. Contrast that with their full review of the S90. As different as the s90/95 and the GF2 are, they are aimed at very nearly the same photographers.
Now that the GH2 is more readily available world-wide (finally including the U.S.A.), there are reviews, although most of them are really previews.: Imaging Resource Digital Camera Resource EOSHD PhotoRadar AKIHABARAnews
Guess which one will win.
I keep talking here about Joel Cooner Gallery where I have worked from time to time over all of this century, making it my longest-term job ever. I've shown photographs I've taken there of art I've photographed, but I don't think I've ever shown you the place itself, the building. So here is this shot. Maybe I should do a gallery shot, so you'll have a better notion of what it's like inside.
It's the front gate from the front door, down the slight slant down to the sidewalk, with shrubs growing on the wall on the left, the blue blue Texas sky overhead and reflections in the big windows on the left. If you were walking up from the street, you'd probably see a variety of big table furnitures, masks and tribal arts of various sorts through the glass.
This view is either me leaving for the day, which always is, of course, something of a relief, or me going out to my car for something. It is several kinds of amazing for its depth of color and tone, even if the street itself is rather boring. I didn't plan all this, it's just what happened one time when I was walking down the slope with my s90.
I have thought of photographing the building from the street in front or from across the street, but that's comparatively boring. This is much more appealing a view.
Raspberry Chocolate Tart Upended
Lately I've noticed that my LCD is lying to me. Again. Supposedly, Canon fixed that, but apparently it didn't stay fixed. If, however, I half depress the shutter, it shows correct. I just have to remember to half-push. I shouldn't have to remember that. The S90 should take care of that for me, but it's just one more thing to think about when it's in my hand or on a tripod.
I still use it every week at Joel Cooner Gallery, but almost every time I do, I think how much easier this would be to compose and shoot if I had an articulating LCD. Sometimes I can barely see the image, I've got the camera twisted around so much to get the correct viewing angle in my limited, ersatz shooting spaces around the gallery.
So I'm thinking more about m43 cameras lately. A recurring event. Rumors say there's an Olympus EP-3 coming with faster focusing (not so much a problem when the cam's on a tripod at the gallery or here when I'm photographing art but nice for all those moving things I sometimes shoot — kids, cats, birds), the usual Olympus in-camera image stabilization, a sensor that's nearly 5.25 times the size of the s90/95 sensor, and an articulating LCD.
Which, with its expected, usual Oly m43 small camera body size and m43 lens sizes, might make it the perfect camera. For me. But it hasn't even been announced yet, only rumored, actual delivery is usually several months after the announcement. Many photo rumors come true. Some do not.
Then there's the first six months of a new camera's life cycle, when those who buy and sell cameras quickly, buy the latest thing, nearly discuss it to death on the forums, then sell it to buy the latest latest thing. If there's a major flaw, the company will fix it. After I wait through all that, I am usually rewarded by a serious reduction in new-camera prices and an already improved, new camera.
Then there's the review cycle. If it actually comes true, is delivered, discussed, fixed for the problems first responders find, and reviews well, and it's what I think I need and want, I'll buy and keep it till it falls apart.
That's how and when I bought my s90, which I am still amazed by often enough to keep a warm spot in my heart and mind for it. Just that it's not a great studio camera, kid camera, cat camera or bird camera. My Nikon behemoth, meanwhile, doesn't do well on tripods — at least the tripods I or Joel own. Lately, I have been using my Nikon D300 in many of the circumstances I used to pocket my s90 for.
I didn't think it could ever happen, but there actually have been times I forget the s90's in my pocket. The Nikon does not fit in any pocket I've yet seen or worn, and it is unlikely I'd ever forget it was there. But it's so much faster to shoot. I should have taken it to photograph Anna's speech to catch some of her high-speed gestures during her introductory speech at her first-ever solo photography exhibition recently.
Like I should have taken the Nikon to photograph family and kids in San Antonio last summer. There's so many times when I should have brought the faster, bigger and better camera, that the s90 seems to be languishing lately. I still stuff its younger cousin, my Canon s780 in a pocket sometimes when I am not expecting to have to use it on anything.
But when I expect to use a camera for around the house or something besides strictly art that does not move, I bring my Nikon.
It would be nice if a pocket cam would shoot with no noticeable shutter lag, but so far, my only camera that doesn't lag is the Nikon.
Luckily, Birthday tarts don't move very fast.
Grasshopper — through glass, sharply
When in doubt, read the manual, I thought dryly knowing deep down the proper ethic was to figure it out, not read about it. My s90's LCD was lying to me again. This time it's about color balance. It looked tungsten, B filter we used to call it. Blue. I clicked the shutter anyway. It was fine. My LCD is lying to me again. The basis of every permutation of exposure and focus and composition and color is lying straight-faced at me. Sometimes.
Very difficult to trust a camera that does that — not more than a month back from Canon to fix that very behavior. I really want a small, interchangeable lens camera that shoots faster than the s90, focuses faster, has an EVF (electronic viewfinder) as well as an LCD, preferably swing and twist-worthy. It's my dream. I should be able to remember more details. But dreams are like that, I suppose.
I'm usually happy with my s90 for what it actually is or has become, not for what it supposedly is or should be. But it's hardly the be-all and probably not the end-all, and I fear I am becoming like one of those folks on forums who own every camera ever made yet are still striving for the next one or the one after that that will solve all our problems. Tall order. Like perfection, unlikely.
Guess I'll read the manual later.
Tipi Adjacent to Gallery
Here's an abstruse lesson and moral — if not spiritual — dilemma from Anna's and my visit to Montana last month. We'd been wandering around the mountainous northwest, especially Glacier National Park, and we wanted to see some real Indian Culture, so we went to Blackfeet Country, stopping first at a hilltop gallery outside of town, then drove on down into Browning, where we found museums, many Blackfoot inhabitants and a great little Subway where we and townspeople enjoyed lunch.
As we drove up the gold brown hill into the gallery's parking lot, we saw a sign saying we needed permission to photograph there. We went in, I bought some Indian-designed T-shirts; Anna bought a book about Blackfoot Mythology; and I asked the smiling man who seemed to be running things who identified himself as Daryl for permission to photograph the place. He cheerfully said yes.
The camera I had in my hand when I asked was my Canon s90. With permission, however, I went out to the car and got my Nikon with the big telephoto to do some serious photography. It's a big lens — a chunk of glass and metal about 16-inches long including its 4-inch long lens hood.
I was taking tele shots of the art and artifacts outside the gallery and out across the undulating prairie and down the hills. Daryl had requested I not go down their hill, since visitors were living in the tipis there, so I stayed around the parking lot and shot close-ups from afar and wide-shots of even farther out toward distant mountains.
I had just shot this tipi when a woman started yelling at me from an opened screen door forty feet away. She told me I had to have permission to photograph there, and I told her Daryl said I could. She insisted, however, that I could not publish my photographs.
Public Lands and Personal Magic — Remnants of a Lodge
I tried to figure out what she meant exactly, assuming she was talking about putting them in a book or magazine, but I wasn't sure, and she would not answer specifics. Meanwhile, Anna, who had also asked and received permission from Daryl, was also photographing the place and its art, but the woman did not confront her or her Nikon D40 with 70~300mm Nikkor lens.
Why all this is germane, is that I had permission to photograph when I held the comparatively small and "amateur-looking" s90 in my hand, but within minutes after I was seen photographing with the Nikon D300 — probably it was not the camera that caught her attention since Anna's is about the same size, but that large lens attached to it — suddenly I did not have permission any more and could not use my photographs for what I wanted, to publish them here online.
The photographs I show here and on our Montana page (It's a long page with more than 120 photographs including one by Anna of my camera with the big lens, so give it time to load in another window or tab.) are from when I still had permission from whom I thought was the owner, the boss.
Officially, when the public is invited into a "private" space, there is no longer any "legal expectation of privacy." That's the basic law involved in photographing in public vs. private spaces. The signs we followed called it a gallery, and I have photographed art in and around galleries for more than 30 years.
But I didn't wish to clash with the only spirits I truly believe in, so I struggled long with the notion and eventually stopped thinking I should post any of the photos I shot after my permission was suddenly revoked — the only way I have of publishing.
Since then I have accelerated interest in a small camera with more Image Quality and zoom possibilities than the the s90 offers, so I can make bigger prints and show more detail. Without looking like a publishing photographer.
I quit exhibiting photographs this year to see how it felt, and now I want to show more and more different photos next year, and enter competitions again, but first I have to figure out what is important for me to exhibit. Birds, of course, and my abstracts. Exhibiting these would not, I believe, be an issue to the angry woman, but publishing their images of spirituality would, maybe, I think.
Louis Warren Hill and a man identified only as his "Blackfoot Friend" re-photographed with my s90 in the dark hallway to Many Glacier Hotel's dining hall. According to the caption, Hill was "the great promoter and financier of building programs in Glacier Park."
It tells us nothing of the friend, saying Hill "took a sincere interest in the welfare of the Indians and they really respected him," although "He was not ... above using the intense public interest in these native Americans to promote his interests in Glacier Park." The original, perhaps sepia-toned photograph was taken at Hill's house in St. Paul.
This photograph of a photograph at Many Glacier Lodge was taken with my s90 handheld in a dark hallway. Then I got rid of the sepia tone.
Not that I'm some maniac White Man tourist intent on putting down or making fun of religions or beliefs different from my own. I have long carefully photographed Other People's Magic [and here and linked all through this index], and there's something in me that wants to continue that elusive quest. Probably I should create a new web page of better examples. But first I have to capture more, personal magics.
Oddly, the s90 may be ideal for just this sort of personal-space documentation, although I keep researching microFourThirds (m43) and other new, smaller and mirrorless interchangeable-lens cameras (discussed at length in my Cameras & Lenses page — here specifically but really the whole long page), and I have paid special attention to Olympus' new M.Zuiko Digital ED 75~300mm (150~600mm equivalent) lens that weighs only 15 ounces. My Rocket Launcher weighs 4.2 pounds — 4.5 times as much, although its equivalence is a silly 150mm longer.
Maybe when someone divvying out permissions sees that lens on that diminutive camera, they'd go ahead and let me shoot my American heritage's true magic, which after being jarred again by this experience, I want to exhibit — rather than publish — more of.
Both color photographs in today's entry were made with a Nikon D300.
View out the Minneapolis Airport Window At
Manual Focus Infinity
But Focusing Instead on What's in the Middle of the Frame
I kept wanting to use s90's Manual Focus feature, and my s90 kept not letting me. I tried it through various windows on my recent trip to Montana's Glacier Park National Park [Lots of photos — some shot with the s90; most with my Nikon D300] in airplanes and at airports and motels, and it failed me every time.
When I got home I searched DPR's Canon Forum for "s90 [and] Manual Focus" to see how they got it to work or gave up trying, thinking maybe I'd acquire a trick or two to add to my s90-95 Tips & Accessories page. But I did not find MF tips nor tricks.
I'd set up the manual focus mode, aim and click, and it would decide to focus somewhere besides infinity, usually where the focus square was — though it seemed to exert energy trying. Then I'd notice I couldn't use the EV adjustment then, either, turn it off and start over, starting with the EV adjustment.
When I read about Manual Focus in the s90 Manual, I realized I probably had not pushed the Set button (middle of the Squirrely Dial). Though I never had to "Set" the Close Up or Normal focusing modes, and calling it "manual" may be missing the point. The feedback system — the image in the LCD — is iffy at best. Nearly everybody recommends using a tripod when engaging the Manual Focusing Mode.
It's not like split-image or microprism focusing on pre-digital SLRs or superimposing optical images with rangefinder cameras. Nothing that certain. Its aligning a triangle to a vertical distance scale. I tried the s90's version of Manual Focusing to show how good I'd done it, but I didn't do it well at all.
Messing with close focusing — I wouldn't call it "Macro," I have just learned the s90 focuses down to about 2.25 inches, after a slight delay if I hold my finger on the shutter button before pushing it all the way down. Closer than I used to think I could. But not millimeters close like many, if not most, compact cameras, but closer than I'd learned by using the camera before experimenting with these focusing modes tonight.
I never know what to do with the straps.
They are such a booger to put back on.
But here's my Nikon D300 and my Canon s90 in a direct size comparison. sd780 pic
Ken Rockwell is finally admitting there's some things wrong with the s90 — that were fixed with the s95. Heretofore, he's insisted the s90 was perfect and wonderful, which is pretty close to accurate. Apparently neither of us have had any particular problems with the s90, although many others have.
I don't know if those are the pixel-peepers who worry excessively about this or that minor annoyance but rarely take actual photographs. Seems like forum-ites earn their cred by complaining, instead of by making photographs. I read their complaints and especially their fixes (which they do a fabulous job of), but I've rarely felt comfortable among folks who, when faced with real camera issues, sell the ones they have on Ebay, then get the newest, latest, gizmo camera, then complain about that one.
Seems like a silly rat-maze to me. I buy something after doing careful research, try not to get it when it's new and untested, wait six months for the price to go down, then use it, adapt to its issues, till it doesn't work any more.
Rockwell's new story notes the differences between the new version of our favorite camera and finally admits there were things wrong with the old camera. Seems odd to wait till now to acknowledge the issues, but Ken's like that. Slow to admit being wrong. He's still recommending the Canon sd780 that's been replaced by at least two — probably more than that now — other little Canons. (Although I still like mine, too.)
If I had an unlimited budget (ha!), I'd run out and get the s95 and splain you all the differences myself, but I'll let Ken do that.
Reflections of Red Lights
I keep talking about how slow a camera this s90 is. But here's another instance when it was quick. Almost quicker than I was. Of course, I've been practicing. So I've got about five months into it. Driving home from gallery-hopping tonight, Anna pointed at the reflections of the red lights splattered in the acrylic windows of the Dallas Area Rapid Transit station in Fair Park just as I saw it, too, raised my camera, turned it on and focused through the windshield — which is why it's as soft as it is — and fired twice within two seconds.
As is often the case — so much so that I always scrutinize the first shot first and — the first shot was the better. Quick thinking. Quick draw McGraw. And I got it, thanks to my trusty s90. If I'd had it set for continuous shooting, it might even have been better/faster. But this ain't half bad for a slow camera.
Exposure was pretty close to what it looks like here. f/4.9, which probably means wide open, if you can call that wide. ISO 400. Shutter speed 1/400th, which means I wasn't paying much attention. Zoom was wracked out as tele as it would go. It says exposure mode Manual, although I know that's not true. For most of tonight's gallery shooting, it claims I was on Auto — and I may have been, but the camera was always in Av Mode, and still is.
I hadn't noticed that about the Metadata in Adobe Bridge. But a nice, fun, quick shot nonetheless.
Highland Park Cafeteria Entrance in Lakewood Shopping Center in Dallas, Texas
I was shocked when I finally realized that the new Canon s95 did not have a built-in hand grip. At least it gives Richard Franiec a lot more business selling his superb attachable Custom Grip ($36 with shipping), although it might have to be slightly re-engineered for the new, ever-so-slightly (1mm) thinner camera body. His grip for my s90 is perfect and makes it a much better, more ergonomic hand-held device.
I looked at the new camera from all angles several times before I realized they'd kept the black box look.
I barely remember now what it was like to hold what one DPR Canon Talk forum contributor called the s90 (now $336 from Amazon or $300 from Dell) before the Franiec grip, "a slippery bar of soap." More details about that accessory and others on my Tips & Accessories page. The new Panasonic LX5 has a good grip. The LX3 (now $367) before it — that set Canon off to continue its dormant SXX series — had a smidgen of one.
I mean, how stupid can Canon be not to buy Franiec out and incorporate his grip into their camera? At least offer it as a Canon Accessory in the box? Plus they've removed the thumb grip on the back of the s95 just below the mode dial made the s90 ever so slightly easier to hold, although there may be a new, grittier surface on the s95.
The 95 seems more a mid-term shakeup of internals than a whole other candidate. After all, the new one's not the s100, only a fractional leap forward.
Yeah, the s95 has semi-HD video and a faster frames per second. I wonder if it has a shorter shutter lag. That would be very helpful. There's a hype-filled story about the s90 on Digital Photography Review. I probably should read all of it, but I'm really turned off by DPR's hyperbole.
Sneakerpimp on DPR's Canon Talk lists six minor construction changes on the new camera. Interesting, but hardly world-shaking. Stephenbw adds that it's 5 grams lighter, too. That .1764 ounces.
Wonder what the reviewers will say about the s95. I'm keeping my s90, because I'm still in love with it, and the s95's not nearly different enough. There's already a Canon S100, maybe the s96. ...
One of the bright-spot joys of my life is photographing, then selecting among those off-beat images for my ThEdBlog stories, usually about me or doing DallasArtsRevue. They are most often personal, I keep wanting to call them "little" photos, because though I consider them art, I never think of them as forcibly so. They are images of things around my home or something I've been thinking about or encounter along the way.
Personal in a quiet, unobtrusive way. Sometimes they are carefully selected for that particular thed. Other times I just use what I have on hand. Stored for whenever in the ThedPix folder. I've been running low, so yesterday afternoon I wandered around the house looking for lilting little image possibilities that might fit the category.
And I found eight pretty good ones. Not all, like the one above, are immediately obvious. The titles I give them may or may not have anything to do with their reality, but this one has everything to do with it. Just that it's more than a little obscure.
Those actually are the shadows of two wind chimes hanging on my front porch and sun-projected onto an old wood glider that my father built that's on my front porch. There's another shot of a tree trunk with slats of brilliant sunlight striping it from these same slats in the glider.
My 20-year-old and decrepitating Honda Accord, Blue, is barely visible through those slats here.
Most of my thedpix were shot with my s90. It's actually more difficult to take thedpix with my Nikon, although some were from my Canons DD780, too. Until recently, I noted in vague gray under each pic, which camera was used for it. Guess I'll have to go back and update the more recent ones, too. Did.
Maybe it's because the s90 is so involving of my attentions as I twirl the loose dial on the back, twist the big, chunky dial around the lens or adjust color balance or ISO. Or because I have to hold it in front of my face as I do all that fiddling, watching carefully what effect it has on the LCDed image. Or because I'm so careful about adjusting exposure before I shoot.
Unlike my Nikon dSLR where I'm always looking through it, my fingers know what to do, but I can never see the image for what it is, until I stop all that and look at the LCD.
The s90 is a camera that involves its photographer in the action of making pictures like few others do, and it seems perfect for those quirky, "little" moments.
Size Comparison: Canons S90 vs. SD780
Last time I photographed these two cameras together, hoping to show what has always seemed to me an obvious size differential, I failed. That image [somewhere on the first page] shows only a slight difference when viewed straight on. But the real difference is in their thicknesses, which as you can see above, is considerable.
I haven't used the SD780 much since my s90 came back from Canon as good as new — right after the 780 came back not as good as new and never likely to be again. But so what, I've got the s90.
The s90's lens is brighter (f/2 at full wide angle, compared with the 780's 3.2 — and at full tele it's 4.9 vs. 5.8. And the s90 is capable of full manual, whereas the 780 is stuck forever in Auto.
But the size difference overcomes nearly all that. The 780 is a fine little camera for "just in case.
The s90 is altogether a better camera, but the 780 is smaller, lighter and more easily "lost" in a pants or shirt pocket. Once it's in there, I tend to forget it. It's just there, ready for use whenever — and not at all "in the way," whereas an s90 in any pocket is noticeable and often an issue.
It's probably too late for the s95 — arriving in October or so, but maybe the s100 could be much smaller and still offer substantial improvements. I'll probably skip the upgrade. I'm just now getting used to having the s90, although I tried its rather boring Low Density video just this weekend.
<<< Continued from Part One