Friday, June 24, 2011

The New Pentax Q -- Toy Camera With Premium Price Tag

Well, Pentax has done something peculiar and unexpected: they've announced the world's smallest digital camera system with interchangeable lenses, the Pentax Q. The sensor is extremely small, on par with point and shoot cameras. Called 1/2.3" size (who comes up with these things?), it measures a minuscule 6.17 x 4.55mm. Into this they cram a 12.4MP CMOS sensor. More about that in my analysis below, but first the distinguishing features.

Some of the Nitty, Some of the Gritty
How small is small? Try 98 x 57 x 31 mm and only 200g fully loaded with battery and SD card. It easily fits in the palm of your hand. That's something you might actually lose in your shoulder bag!
Friday, June 24, 2011

Backlink Hell

Sorry, readers. Somehow back-links got turned on (I didn't do it) and so every post was followed by hundreds of spammy links back to the current article. I am not sure why I took so long to notice this. I must say that the blogosphere is so swamped with spam sites that searching for anything remotely commercial has become quite pointless. I am sure the tide of spam will once again be pushed back, but in the meantime it's annoying.

Since I'm writing, here's a random photo.

dead sport
Saturday, June 18, 2011


sky blade [reimaginings]
Today I had a sort of brainstorm and set about reimagining the 4x6 photos I have lying around the house, using common household objects as totems.

"I hope you'll enjoy it."
Friday, June 17, 2011

BBQ Sea Bass Recipes

sea bass with ginger soy
Tonight I fired up our little BBQ to cook some fresh fish. Of course fresh fish is the only kind worth dealing with. You either have to catch it yourself or be sure someone else has caught it very recently. Same day is the best, but that's not always possible.

That said, there's nothing that wrong with frozen fish. In fact flash-freezing on the boat immediately after a catch is one way to ensure it stays decent until it reaches your table. Many fishmongers thaw out their fish for display, so if you buy it from them it's less fresh than buying it still frozen -- sometimes nowhere near fresh at all.
Sunday, June 12, 2011

Trinity Abstracts

/ \
This is a selection from abstract architectural details taken at Trinity College Dublin. I used the Pentax FA 77 Limited on the Olympus E-P1, as discussed in recent articles. There are more samples if you click through to the Flickr thread.
Thursday, June 09, 2011

Choosing An Optimal Aperture To Avoid Diffraction

Stopping down your lens aperture to get greater depth of field can result in such a small opening for light that diffraction begins to limit the image quality. This is a well-known phenomenon, but what is less appreciated is how soon this effect kicks in. Photographers who commonly stop down to f/22 or f/32 for macro shots (one typical example) will want to read on. And sensor size also plays its part, which is why I am considering this topic now, in proximity with my equivalence article.
Wednesday, June 08, 2011

FA 77 Limited on Olympus E-P1

Roisin candids #1
The adventure continues. After my recent posts using the FA 43 Limited on the Micro Four Thirds Olympus E-P1 camera body, I spent a couple days shooting its larger cousin, the FA 77 Limited. I must say that this combination is a little unwieldy, given the large size of the adapter as previously noted. But it's totally worth it in terms of image quality.
Tuesday, June 07, 2011

FA 43 Limited Compared On Two Camera Systems

Here are some photos taken of the same subject at the same distance, with the FA 43 Limited lens. Shooting the same lens on different systems will not get us photographic equivalence. Nonetheless I was curious to see the overall image quality. On a full-frame camera 43mm provides a perfect normal field of view; on the Pentax K20D it provides the field of view of 64mm; on the Olympus E-P1 it is FOV equivalent to 86mm.

Here it is on the K20D, shot at ISO 200 and f/2.8. As always, click through for larger images in Flickr if you wish to examine in more detail.

K20D with FA43 Limited at f/2.8

Here is the shot on the E-P1, also at ISO 200 and f/2.8.

E-P1 with FA43 Limited at f/2.8

To aid in comparison I took a 100% crop from the centre of the image at various apertures. First the K20D.

K20D with FA43 Limited

And then the E-P1.

E-P1 with FA43 Limited

I will make three observations. First, I used Auto White Balance with no processing; the difference in colour is apparent. Second, the increase in noise in the E-P1 images is apparent.

Finally, the E-P1 produces smoother bokeh. I have no explanation for that.
Monday, June 06, 2011

Equivalence of Camera Systems

Olympus E-P1 with FA43 Limited
Now that I can use both the K20D and E-P1 with the same lenses, I thought it interesting to directly compare images taken with each. This might reveal something about the different sensors and in particular shed light on the thorny matter of equivalence. This article is an update and extension of my previous Sensor Sizes Explained. I will correct some errors1 made there and deal more plainly with equivalence. Unlike some of the other large and confusing tomes on this subject2, I will be as simple and clear as possible.

Lenses Are Invariant
To get the obvious out of the way first, a 20mm lens is 20mm no matter what camera it is attached to. And the maximum f/1.7 aperture is the same as well. The lens does not magically change attributes when attached to a different body. It has the same magnification ability, the same light transmittance and so on. It is, after all, the same lens!
Sunday, June 05, 2011

A Review of the Olympus E-P1 with FA 43 Limited

Bast and starfish
In this post I'll give you some idea of what to expect with the Pentax FA 43 Limited lens when used on the Olympus E-P1 Micro Four Thirds (MFT) camera. As we saw in my last article, this requires the use of a simple adapter, easily available for twenty dollars, that takes the K-mount lens on one side and attaches to the MFT mount on the other, providing the correct registration distance.

Along the way I'll mention some specific camera settings and provide some tips you might find useful. This will not be a test-heavy critical review, but rather a walk-through from actual field usage.
Saturday, June 04, 2011

Comparing Camera Size: Pentax K20D Versus Olympus E-P1

Pentax K20d with FA43 Limited / Olympus E-P1 with Panasonic Lumix 20mm
In my last article I mentioned the main reason to consider a move to the Micro Four Thirds format: smaller cameras. The photo above shows my usual Pentax K20D with FA 43 f/1.9 Limited lens, a superb optic that is perhaps the best Pentax offers. Behind it is the Olympus E-P1 with Panasonic Lumix 20mm f/1.7, again likely the best lens available for this system. Obviously there is a significant difference in form factor. If I had the newer K-7 or K-5 cameras they would be appreciably smaller, but a substantial difference would remain.

I have a second picture to show you, but first I need to explain an important feature of MFT, one that helps explain the compact size but which also provides a further significant advantage.
Saturday, June 04, 2011

My Introduction To Micro Four Thirds Cameras

"Hi there!"
I've recently been considering the best camera to take on a trip to India. While I love my Pentax setup it is big, heavy and ostentatious. I don't want to attract the kind of attention an SLR can garner. On the other hand, I am used to stellar image quality and don't want to make too big a sacrifice for the sake of portability. After weighing the options I purchased an Olympus PEN E-P1. In this article I'll provide a quick introduction to the system.