Posts Tagged ‘night photography


Nighttime panoramas with the Fujifilm x10 camera

Several posts on have emphasized a problem with the Fujifilm x10 camera and a phenomenon of  “white orbs.” Those reviews make the white orb problem sound so bad that they make the camera almost unusable. The white orbs are supposedly visible in low-light photographs that include bright points of light (such as streetlights in night scenes) — the white points of light overexpose and bleed over surrounding pixels. Sounds pretty bad, but I have been playing with my x10 in all kinds of lighting conditions and I have not found this problem to be much of a nuisance.

Yesterday at dusk I was walking across the UT Austin campus and I decided to shoot a few sweep panorama photos with the Fuji x10. These were shot handheld at high ISO, but the results were nevertheless impressive from such a small camera. You tell me: are the “white orbs” here any worse than you would expect to see in any photo shot under these conditions with a compact camera?

The UT Austin campus at dusk


What camera should I buy?

As a photography instructor, I am often asked “what camera should I buy”? To answer this question intelligently, I need some additional information, like “what are you going to be photographing?” and “how much money do you want to spend?” Often, people tell me they want the best camera they can get for under $500. Lately, I’ve been suggesting that people consider buying a used, pro-level D-SLR.

I recently bought (as a backup camera) a used Canon EOS 1D, which is at least six or seven years old. It’s only four megapixels, and it cost me (with a cheap lens, two batteries and a charger) just over $500. That might sound like a lot for a four megapixel camera, but consider what the 1D has to offer: tank-like, weather-sealed construction, 8 frames-per-second shooting speed in RAW, very fast autofocus, a nice, bright viewfinder, and a low-noise CMOS sensor with only a 1.3x 35mm conversion factor. A 4MP RAW file from the 1D will compare favorably with a 12MP JPEG from most compact point and shoot cameras for both detail and dynamic range. You could also snag a Nikon D2H (4MP) or D1x (5.7MP) for the same price or slightly less.

A sample photo from the Canon EOS 1D

A sample photo from the Canon EOS 1D

The camera I bought was in superb condition, which is a genuine consideration when buying a used SLR. Pro-level cameras are designed to live through at least 100,000 shutter actuations, but keep in mind that these models were used by professional journalists, who might have treated them roughly. You don’t want a camera that has been through a sandstorm in Iraq.

Don’t want an SLR? Prefer a camera you can put in your pocket (or at least in your purse or a small bag)? I recently compiled a list of compact cameras that offer an indispensable feature: manual exposure control:

Canon Powershot G10 (about $550)

Canon Powershot SD990 Digital Elph (about $325)

Canon Powershot SX1 IS (about $550)

Canon Powershot SX10 IS (about $350)

Canon Powershot SC110 IS (about $250)

Canon Powershot SC200 IS (about $350)

Casio Exilim EX-FH20 (about $425)

Fujifilm FinePix F200EXR (about $320)

FujiFilm FinePix S1500 (about $200)

FujiFilm FinePix F70EXR (about $280)

FujiFilm FinePix S200 (about $600)

Kodak EasyShare Z915 (about $180)

Kodak EasyShare Z980 (about $353)

Leica D-Lux 4 (about $700)

Nikon Coolpix P90 (about $400)

Nikon Coolpix S710 (about $250)

Nikon Coolpix P6000 (about $500)

Olympus SP-590UZ (about $350)

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX580 (about $400)

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ3 (about $400)

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3 (about $500)

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LZ8 (about $160)

Pentax X70 (about $320)

Samsung TL320 (about $380)

Sigma DP-1 (about $550)

Sigma DP2 (about $650)

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX1 (about $440)

Sony DSC-H20 (about $250)


more fun with fisheye

Playing with my new fisheye lens has prompted me to cull through some of my older fisheye photos for comparison. My first fisheye lens was a 30mm Arsat for the Kiev 88 medium format camera. It was a heavy beast that I bought at the factory in Kiev and carried on my trans-siberian railroad trip in 1999. The lens was sharp enough, but the camera body was unreliable (it frequently failed to advance the film, causing unintended multiple exposures). I also had opportunity to use a 16mm Nikkor fisheye lens that belonged to NYU. I took this photo with a Nikon F100 and the borrowed lens at the terminus of the 7 train in Queens, New York (right next to Shea Stadium). Available light shot was handheld with Kodak film pushed to ISO 3200 (processed with D-76, as I recall–I decided the following year to use only HC-110).

The terminus of the 7 train in Queens

The terminus of the 7 train in Queens

July 2018
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