Tag Archives: Charlotte

Lens Insecurity?

Testing my old Fujinon 18-55 Lens

Years ago I was at a photo seminar, and the presenter – either John Shaw, Tony Sweet or Bob Krist (I think it was Bob but it was a long time ago) mentioned that he thought we were looking at our digital files too closely.  He referred to the fact that in the film days, looking at our negatives or slides under a loupe only gave us about a 10-25% zoom factor, and that if it looked sharp under a loupe it was probably sharp enough.

Testing my old Fujinon 18-55 Lens
Testing my old Fujinon 18-55 Lens
Testing my old Fujinon 18-55 Lens

I’ve always heard (and practiced) that sharpness with digital files is best evaluated at 100%.  That was especially true back in the days of Unsharp Mask in Photoshop.  But now that we have newer, higher-resolution sensors, I’m not sure that needs to be the case any more.  Once in a while I look at my photos think that they don’t look as crispy sharp as they should.  Is it the lens?  Is it my technique?  Is my new whiz-bang camera a piece of junk? Is it my eyes?  Am I looking too close?  But the finished digital files and prints come out consistently good, so it hasn’t been too big of a worry.

Testing my old Fujinon 18-55 Lens

A couple of weeks ago I was aimlessly wandering through my Lightroom catalog and looked at some of my recent photos taken with the Fujinon 16-80 f4.  Although I’ve been consistently pleased with the lens since I got it, I convinced myself that some of them looked a little soft, especially at the edges and the corners, and I wondered about the lens.  So I went back and sorted my photos by camera and lens, looking at photos I’ve taken with some of my older lenses including my primes, and found that they all look really good but all about the same.  The primes are more consistently sharp, but that is to be expected.  That is a good reminder to use my primes more!

Testing my old Fujinon 18-55 Lens

I often reminisce about the Fujinon 18-55 f2.8-4 that I sold to my son along with my old camera bodies, referring to it as “the lens that made me decide to go with Fuji” when I moved away from Canon gear.  He graciously agreed to lend it to me for a week or two, so I have been using it to take some walking-around-the neighborhood photos.  But you know, as good as it is, it isn’t significantly “better” than the other lenses I own.  I do love the more compact size, as it is closer to a prime weight-wise.  But it isn’t significantly better image-wise.  But then I remembered that old saying and decided to back the zoom off to 50%.  Lo and behold, they all look pretty darned good!  So I’m wondering – am I looking too close?

In case anyone wonders, I wrote off the 16-55 2.8 years ago as being too heavy and too expensive, regardless of how highly rated it is.  It would be defeating the purpose of downsizing from the heavy Canon gear.

Testing my old Fujinon 18-55 Lens

Another thought I had was about monitor resolution.  I’m using a good but old ASUS Pro Art monitor that I’ve had for about 8 years.  It’s nothing fancy, especially compared with the newer 4K and 5K monitors out these days.  Is it possible that my monitor is not able to sufficiently resolve the files, or that a newer better monitor would show that detail better?  Or would I be just as perplexed as I am now but several hundred dollars (or more) poorer?  It’s new territory for me, but if anyone has insight I’d love to hear it.

Testing my old Fujinon 18-55 Lens
Testing my old Fujinon 18-55 Lens

In the mean time, I’ll keep my zoom at 50% and be glad that the finished output still looks excellent!

These photos, by the way, were all taken with the 18-55 and in-camera JPEGs with the stock Fuji Velvia profile.  No adjustments in Lightroom other than output sharpening.  For whatever that’s worth!

Testing my old Fujinon 18-55 Lens
Testing my old Fujinon 18-55 Lens
Testing my old Fujinon 18-55 Lens

Christmas Lights

Christmas lights on Carbert Lane in Huntersville, North Carolina

Kathy & I gave up covering our house with lights years ago, but still enjoy driving around nearby neighborhoods to check out other peoples’ efforts.  Some people really get carried away!

Christmas lights on Carbert Lane in Huntersville, North Carolina
Christmas lights on Carbert Lane in Huntersville, North Carolina
Christmas lights on Carbert Lane in Huntersville, North Carolina

Most neighborhoods we go through have few places to park or walk safely, but this particular spot in Huntersville has two houses next to each other, spectacularly decorated and with reasonable parking, at least when we visited.  We were able to get out and walk on the sidewalks without worrying too much about distracted light peepers.

Christmas lights on Carbert Lane in Huntersville, North Carolina
Christmas lights on Carbert Lane in Huntersville, North Carolina
Christmas lights on Carbert Lane in Huntersville, North Carolina

The forecast is calling for some interesting weather here for tonight and Christmas Day, but I don’t think we’ll see any snow.  It sounds like a good day to stay snuggled up with coffee and a warm fire.  Later in the day we’ll open the bourbon and wine!

Christmas lights on Carbert Lane in Huntersville, North Carolina
Christmas lights on Carbert Lane in Huntersville, North Carolina
Christmas lights on Carbert Lane in Huntersville, North Carolina

We hope everyone has a good holiday this year despite all the mayhem.  We are looking forward to lots of positive direction in 2021.

Christmas lights on Carbert Lane in Huntersville, North Carolina

A Return To Latta – With Company!

Nature walk with Edison at Latta Nature Preserve near Huntersville, North Carolina

Kathy & I made another trip to Latta Nature Preserve this past weekend, and met our son Scott and grandson Edison there.  Edison enjoys taking “nature walks” and we knew this would be a good place to take him.

Nature walk with Edison at Latta Nature Preserve near Huntersville, North Carolina
Nature walk with Edison at Latta Nature Preserve near Huntersville, North Carolina

Interestingly, the water levels were much higher this time, even though we really hadn’t had that much rain.  I know that Duke Energy manages the lake levels along the Catawba River, so it likely had something to do with that.

Nature walk with Edison at Latta Nature Preserve near Huntersville, North Carolina
Latta Nature Preserve near Huntersville, North Carolina

It was a little chilly but the sun was shining and we had a nice visit.  We then returned to the house for pizza and chips, so it was a good day all around!

Latta Nature Preserve near Huntersville, North Carolina

A Quiet Afternoon

A fall afternoon at Latta Plantation Nature Preserve near Huntersville, North Carolina

It was almost like I had heard Jeff Curto’s words in my head, although I didn’t actually hear them until we got home.  Jeff’s most recent podcast talks about it isn’t necessary to travel long distances or to exotic locations to make interesting photographs.  Give it a listen if you don’t already subscribe.  And you know you should. 😉

A fall afternoon at Latta Plantation Nature Preserve near Huntersville, North Carolina
A fall afternoon at Latta Plantation Nature Preserve near Huntersville, North Carolina

Kathy and I decided to spend a nice late-fall Sunday afternoon at Latta Plantation Nature Preserve, a county park near Huntersville, North Carolina and about 8 miles from our house.  We packed a picnic lunch, laced up our hiking shoes and spent a couple of hours wandering the trails along Mountain Island Lake, the lake that we live close to, but not at.  It’s not Lake Superior, but it’s what we’ve got. 🙂

A fall afternoon at Latta Plantation Nature Preserve near Huntersville, North Carolina

We’ve been to Latta a number of times over the years, and I’ve made lots of photographs there.  But it had been a while.  There are things to see and photograph at all times of the year, but I have often sold it short since it is – as Jeff alluded to – in our “back yard.”

A fall afternoon at Latta Plantation Nature Preserve near Huntersville, North Carolina

Kathy & I had already decided that we’re going to stick close to home for the next few months, and are planning to get out and explore our own area.  I’ve said for years that I like to be a “tourist in my own town” but have never sat still long enough to give it a chance.  Sounds like now is as good a time as any!

A fall afternoon at Latta Plantation Nature Preserve near Huntersville, North Carolina

Phase 2: Day 20 – Life In Color

Morning walk in the neighborhood

We took our first foray into the restaurant world last evening to celebrate Kathy’s birthday.  It was a nice experience, not a lot different from what we’ve come to expect from our favorite restaurants, except the tables were farther apart, no one hugged and all the servers wore masks.  It was our first restaurant meal since March 16, and between our travels and the Coronacrisis, it was our first time at this restaurant since Christmas Eve.  We’re still not in a hurry to resume our normal visitation, but it was nice to see our friends.

This photo is one I took on our morning walk yesterday and it says several things to me.  The new X-T4 handles dynamic range really well, and it has very little noise despite a lot of shadow and highlight adjustment.  This was taken with the 23mm f1.4 prime lens.  The in-body image stabilization seems to work really well with non-stabilized lenses – as advertised.  In this photo, the lens exhibits very little flare and barely any chromatic aberration.  The 23 has been my favorite prime, it works really well on the X-T4 and makes a nice walk-around lens.

Phase 2: Day 19 – Life In Color

Construction workers at the mini storage construction site

One of my weekly routines is to go through the sale ad for our regular grocery store.  It amuses me to look at some of the foods that are advertised and wonder who eats them.  Today’s chuckle came from something called “Daily Crave Bourbon BBQ Quinoa Chips.”  I mean, that doesn’t even sound good.  I like bourbon, I like BBQ and I even like quinoa.  But I don’t know about mixing  them.  ‘Quinoa chips’ must be another one of the ways that food companies destroy otherwise healthy food by adding stuff to make it taste good to people who don’t know what healthy food tastes like.  I suppose you would wash those down with a Snapple. 😉

Phase 2: Day 17 – Life In Color

Construction equipment at the mini storage construction site

I’m still working with the settings on this new camera and processing of the files.  Our grandson visited yesterday so I got some photos of him.  Shooting pictures of a moving 4 year old was a good test of focus tracking, and also of the user’s ability to use the camera!

No, these are not his toys. 😉  I may have a photo or two to share soon.

 

Phase 2: Day 16 – Life In Color

Evening light from the patio

Yeah, it’s more transmission towers, but this time from a slightly different perspective.

We have about a 100 degree view from our patio, but most of the view is taken up with houses and other foreground clutter.  These towers make for an interesting foreground silhouette, since I don’t have any palm trees. 😉

The night before last, we were sitting on the porch watching the sunset, and I said, “I should get my camera.”  But I didn’t and the color got nice.  Last night, I said, “I should get my camera.”  And I did.  The color was actually a bit better than the night before, so I chose correctly. 🙂  This shows the advantage of having a long lens – 128mm with my 55-200.  I thought about giving the new IBIS a test, but opted for the stability of my tripod.

Phase 2: Day 15 – Life In Color

Shopping carts escaped from Walmart

Are you tired of looking at abandoned shopping carts yet?  There is an ample supply, and my other choice was more photos of transmission towers, so there you go.  Tomorrow may be transmission towers again!  I need to get out of the neighborhood.  Soon, I suspect.

I spent yesterday afternoon fiddling with menus and settings and taking photos of the ceiling fan on our porch.  It’s interesting what things can be controlled on these cameras, although I’m not sure what they all do or why I would need them.  I’m trying to figure out some of the custom settings but am discovering why I seldom bother – they are fussy and frustrating to figure out and it is getting in the way of taking pictures.  I’m going to keep trying, though.  Because I suspect that there is value in using them that I won’t recognize until I’ve used them.  Duh.

Today I’m working with the camera profiles in Lightroom to see what they will do.  Fuji added a bunch of new profiles to their cameras over the last 5 years or so, and I need to catch up!  There are 4 new black & white settings and a number of color/film emulations to figure out.  I try not to use the same settings all the time, but I do like to have a common starting point.  In order to know what to use I need to know (1) what I like, and (2) what they all do.  So, the homework continues!

Phase 2: Day 13 – Life In Color

Delivery of building supplies to the new storage center under construction

The summertime heat and humidity have finally arrived.  It’s typical here in the south, but we do the “thermometer dance” in the spring between heat and A/C, then BAM! it’s summer.  We’ve been taking our walks early.  Well, early for Kathy. 😉  That gives us a chance to get home before our shoes start melting into the pavement!

The Big Brown Truck is bringing me a special package today.  I’ll write about it tomorrow. 🙂