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Canon Consistent with EOS-R & RP

Canon have improved the sensors in the EOS R and RP. The R sensor is based on the same sensor we see in the 5D mark 4, and the RP is based on the same sensor in the 6Dm2 and Canon have managed to squeeze a little more out of both for some good results.

EOS-RP v’s 6D mark II

As you can see the EOS-RP sensor performs much better than the 6Dm2 sensor over the whole range of long exposure times. Canon have possibly continued to improve the manufacturing process or the new DIGIC processing is really working some extra magic. The RP is where I expected the 6Dm2 sensor to be after the fantastic long exposure performance of the original mark I. Better late then never.

EOS-R v’s 5D Mark IV

The EOS-R is also better than the 5D mark IV. It’s not the same jump in sensor improvement as the RP, but it’s still a big improvement of almost 20% less noise at 1 second. Again there is consistent gains over the long exposure testing range.

So it’s a good gain for Canon, but I do feel disappointed again, just like I did when testing the 6D mark II. Canon are making consistent gains with each new model, but the long exposure sensor noise is where the competition was years ago.

Mirrorless, Nikon and Canon

When comparing the R and RP to the Z6 and Z7 based on long exposure base noise alone It would be difficult to recommend Canon, especially if you are not gear biased. The R/RP may do better for extreme long exposures of 5 mins or more, but how these models would compare with dark frames added to remove noise for extreme long exposure I don’t know.

Conclusion:
If you are currently using Canon then the R and RP are a good step up from the 5D mark 4 and 6D mark 2 in regards to sensor noise. If your thinking of upgrading to mirrorless I think both these would perform well and give good results. It’s possibly the most sensible path to go down if you have a lot of EF glass and just want to expand your kit.

The EOS-R has the best long exposure low noise sensor from Canon over 20MP, so if you are after Canon, this is the one to buy. The EOS-RP is also very respectable and not far behind. Will they be the cleanest images money can buy for long exposure?, No I expect not.

If you would like to compare the EOS-R and EOS-RP to more models, or learn more about the sensor database click here.

Again, a big thanks for Alex @Stallards in Hobart for access to these cameras for testing.

Fuji X-T3. Third time lucky?

I’m always in two minds when it comes to the fuji sensors. and like Olympus they seem to be doing noise reduction and low level sensor data manipulation even when it’s disabled in camera. It could be the “grain effects” that make Fuji unique, but it does make it hard to compare their sensors to other bodies.

Having said that the new X-T3 performs much better than the X-T2, even with a few more MP. At 1 and 30 seconds the sensor is much better than it’s predecessor. Noise does build up quicker with longer exposures and at five minutes the results are worse (noise mean), but with less standard deviation.

X-T2 vs X-T3

Compared it to the Nikon Z6, currently the leader for long exposure noise the X-T3 appears to do very well. However as mentioned above this in my mind only shows one thing, that Fuji are seriously processing the RAW data. Keep in mind that the X-T3 is a crop body, where as the Z6 is not.

Thats some serious low noise?

When compared to a crop body like the Nikon D7500 you start to get an idea of what is going on:

Nikon D7500 vs X-T3, whats the story here?

Conclusion:
There is no doubt that the X-T3 is a big improvement on the previous model, the noise has been greatly reduced. However I am really not sure how this camera will perform in a real world low light situation. Either Fuji have a crop sensor that is performing better than any full frame sensor, or they are performing noise reduction. I think the latter is more likely, and how this impacts on some subject matter like stars I guess time will tell. Some real world astrophotography samples would be great to see.

If you would like to compare the X-T3 to more models, or learn more about the sensor database click here.

Again, a big thanks for Alex @Stallards in Hobart for access to the X-T3.

Nikon Z6 & Z7 King of the Hill

Nikon’s last low light monster, the D750 has finally been knocked off the hill. The new Z6 and Z7 with their new BSI sensors have overtaken the D750 to hold positions 1 and 2 for low light performance, at least for exposure times below 30 seconds. Our testing showed at 300 seconds (5 mins) the Z6 and Z7 were significantly worse than the D750, as well as many other models. At what point the sensor introduced the noise is yet undetermined, I expect well above 30 seconds.

So for any application below or at a few minutes the Z6 is going to be better than anything currently available in the market. There is no evidence of star eating, and NR off in camera appears to be “off” unlike some other bodies that add grain or manipulate the RAW data even when set to “NR Off”.

How does the D750 compare to the new Z6 and Z7

The Z7 is still great at 1 second, but starts to fall away when compared to the D750 @ 30 seconds. Keep in mind this is a 46 v’s 24 mega pixel race. So the Z7 performs exceptionally well for its pixel count. At 30 seconds I expect you would be getting wonderfully clean images in low light.

The Z7 seems to perform slightly better at 300 seconds compared to the Z6, which was a bit of a surprise, and it was also out performing the 5DSR and GFX-50S. It was about the same as the A7RmII (I do not have the mIII sample as yet).

If you are looking for exposures in minutes, then I’d maybe consider other bodies. But keep in mind the new Z mount may see some faster glass in the future, which would allow a reduction in ISO, and possibly a more cleaner image, and it is 46MP after all.

Overall it’s a very impressive result, and continues to show that Nikon are working hard with Sony to produce sensors that give exceptional results in low light / long exposure situations.

To compare more models, or see further details, check out the Sensor Database.

A big thanks for Alex @Stallards in Hobart for access to the Z6 and Z7 for testing.

Nikon D7500 Long Exposure Monster.

I’m impressed, the Nikon D7500 is the best crop body I have tested so far for long exposure. It out performs all previous models by quite a margin, taking even the title form the D500. At 1 second it out performs the new Canon 6D Mark II which is full frame, and is is only slightly worse at 30 seconds. Check out the results and compare models here.

 

Colours, Hobart, Sunset, Tasmania

The Canon 6D mark II and long exposure.

When the first sample shots from the 6D mark II started showing up in the usual places, I must admit I was not all that impressed. It looked like Canon had taken a step backward and failed to advance their sensor in terms of noise. Having now had the chance to test the 6D mark II, I’m happy to report it’s an OK result for the price of the camera. I personally think you can still get better value for the money, but it’s an OK upgrade for those in the Canon camp looking at long exposure work while gaining some much need features and AF improvements.

Most long exposure Aurora work is around the 30 second mark, so as shown from the results below the new model is only slightly worse at 30 seconds than the original, which when combined with the megapixel upgrade and no doubt better noise reduction options in camera, would most likely put the new model in front. Results for the 5 minute exposures are also slightly down, but with slightly better standard deviation, again making the two cameras very similar.

However, looking at 1 second results, they seems to be more in line with what others are reporting, which is maybe a step backwards in noise, especially if your looking at sports photography.

So if your looking to upgrade from the 6D to the 6D Mark 2 I don’t expect the pictures are going to look any worse, maybe a slight improvement for long exposure work. Is it worth the upgrade? I will leave that up to you to decide.

If you would like to look at the results in more detail, you can do so here.

Golden Gate Bridge, Red, San Francisco

The Golden Ratio (Spirals) & Custom Grids.

Most photographers have heard of the thirds rule, and most camera models have grids available either in the view finder, live view or both. Most supported grids are normally 1/3 or 1/4 in size. 1/3 size being the most popular supporting the 3rd’s rule. However I think it’s become increasingly obvious companies are missing out on one big consumer need, and it’s a need that is very easy to fill:

Custom Grids.

As a landscape photographer I shoot a lot using live view, and I use a lot of the information provided in live view to assist me to position my shot, such as the grid, exposure, level, filter position, focus etc. But some of the information is very limiting, particularly the grid. What  I may want to use is a custom grid, such as the popular Phi Grid (Golden Spirals) ?

Nikon, Canon, Sony, I’m talking to you, how hard would it be to allow users to upload their own overlays from the SD card? or for you to even provide a few more options inbuilt? I mean, seriously it’s not that hard, the only hard thing about a custom grid is possibly the orientation, but even that can be solved with 4 seperate grids that can be flipped and mirrored. Semi-Pro+ bodies allow you to reassign buttons to do this fairly easily.

I would love to have a button assigned to rotating a custom Phi or golden ratio ‘grid’. Nikon, make it happen (please). In all seriousness, DSLR producers really are behind the software curve when it comes to bells and whistles, and it wasn’t until Sony started to bring in new features that the others took note. How long did it take the Nikon and Canon to introduce features like HDR and time-lapse in camera? Why does magic lantern exist? I was completely frustrated with Canon years ago and their inability to innovate.

Sure you could argue that it’s not a priority or not inline with their goals, but some features really are an easy add-on, and this is one of them.

Aurora, Australis, Beams, Colours, Pirates Bay, Selfie

Dealing with Social Media & Lightroom.

It seems every year there is a new photo sharing social media site that photographers have to deal with. I have had my photos on Flickr for as long as I can remember, before it was purchased by Yahoo. During that time may photo sites have come and gone, but a few have persisted and in this short article I will discuss what I use and how I handle my workflow.

I like many use Lightroom (LR) for post editing and to catalogue my photos, so it makes the most sense to publish directly from LR if I can. Firstly there are a number of features built into LR that you should be using beyond the basic editing. Two important concepts that can save you a lot of time and effort are collections and metadata.

Bottlebrush, Red, Tasmania, TreeCollections are a way of sorting images based on criteria, either automatically through a smart collection, or a unique selection of images you desire. Smart collections allow you to automatically create a collection based on information or metadata about an image, such as a lens or body. A general collection is just a bunch of images you want to have grouped.

In any given year I shoot thousands of photos, some years tens of thousands. Of course I’m not going to publish them all so whenever I do publish an image I add it to a collection I created for that year, i.e. “2015 Publish Images”. This allows me to quickly go back and find images I have published from any given year. No one wants to go and search though thousands of images to find it. After you have created a collection all you need do is drag the image(s) into it (NOTE it does not move the image, it’s just a reference to the image).

Metadata is additional information recorded about an image, your camera records some metadata and adds it to the image by default, such as camera settings, location, date, time etc. LR allows you to build upon this and add additional metadata to make it easier for you in the future, for locating, sorting and publishing. Trust me a little time spent here will save you later on down the track….

Addition metadata you should add:

  • Check the defaults (Metadata menu->Edit Metadata Presets), i.e. copyright info and default keywords. You should be adding these all the time.
  • Always add additional metadata on EVERY import, if you add a few hundred shots from a shoot the least you can do is select them all and add a few additional keywords, such as the location, the model, the event etc.
  • For each shot that you are going to publish you should add additional keywords, Title and a Caption.

 

Once I have edited an image for publishing I add the additional metadata mentioned above, and then I place it into any useful collections, including a publishing collection for that year. From here I can publish to many locations. This is done my dragging the image into a publishing services, the same you do with collections. then publishing it with the publish button. Here are the publishing services I use:

LR has Facebook and Flickr built in, all you need to is configure them:

  • Facebook: This is pretty straight forward to setup / link to Facebook and all the export settings are pretty standard, the Title you added to the metadata will be used as the text when it posts to your account.
  • Flickr: Again this is pretty straight forward to setup. Title will again be used as the text, and if you have export all metadata enabled in the plug-in settings then the keywords should also carry across as well.

External Plugins, downloaded from 3rd parties and added to LR via the Plug-ins Manager.

  • Instagram: https://www.lrinstagram.com/, Pretty straight forward to setup and link to your Instagram account. In the plug-in settings change the Instagram Caption to be a custom template and add “{title} {caption} {#keywordTags}”. This will ensure that your title, caption and keywords (as hashtags) are used in the post.
  • WordPress: https://wordpress.org/plugins/wplr-sync/, This one is slightly more complex to setup as it requires a plugin in both WordPress and LR. In WP you can find the plug-in via the plugin search and install it, you need to make sure you change the permalinks as recommended. In LR download and add the plug-in and link to your WP blog. In the LR plug-in settings I use the ‘Alt. Text’ box to pass the keywords.
    NOTE: this plug-in does not create a new post in WP, it only added the image to your media, but it will have a title, caption and keywords, which are all a handy for a new post you are writing. Also If you update an image and LR you can re-published and the WP site will also update accordingly.

Some important stuff to keep in mind:

  • Get your metadata right at the start, this saves you additional work later on.
  • Start using collections to improve your workflow.
  • Get the export settings right for each publishing service, such as image size and watermarking. What is right for one service will not be right for another.

If you are publishing your images on other sites chances are they will have LR plug-in, heres some I found fairly easily:

  • GETTY: http://www.gettyimages.com.au/resources/plugins
  • iStockPhoto: http://www.berman-photo.com/lrplugins
  • ShutterStock: https://www.shutterstock.com/lp/adobe-photoshop-plugin-shutterstock

Happy Publishing 🙂

YES! Sigma 14mm f1.8, Full Frame, Yes. Really.

When I first heard that Sigma were making a 14mm f1.8 Art my initial reaction was one of resentment, why are sigma creating more crop sensor ART lenses?
What about us poor sods waiting in the full frame (FF) world?. It seemed to good to be true to be a FF lens. But there was still the hope deep down, that just maybe, Sigma has been able to do something magical and bend the laws of physics and light to pull off the first 14mm f1.8 lens. After all companies are innovating in this space all the time right?, look at Canon with their fancy 11mm lens.

Then a few weeks ago the chatter started across various tog sites, rumours so wonderful they seemed to good to be true. The new 14mm was indeed going to be FF. At this point I like many others were hanging out on the edge of their seat, waiting for an official press release. Had Sigma done the impossible? Well it appeared they had when the offical word was given from Sigma. Since then specifications have been released, as well as sample pictures.

However, the story is not over. Possibly the most important piece of information is missing. How much is it going to cost? Surely bending the laws of physics and light comes at a cost? Now we wait, stuck in a holding pattern until Sigma release offical pricing. Oh course it does not stop people of speculating, so far I’ve seen people quote the lens as cheap as $800, and as much as $3000. Oh course I know a few people who are familiar with Sigma pricing, and they believe it should be around the $1500 mark (AUD).

So my name is number one of the order list (well at least here in my local town), and you can be assured that I will be testing it as soon as humanly possible. So until then, let us all keep calm and make sure your name is on a list somewhere, or you can wait for my review 🙂

Better than sliced bread, the Nikon D700, Sensor DB Update.

When the Nikon D700 was introduced nearly 9 years ago it was the best thing since sliced bread. It was the camera to have for low light. It’s colour and tone output was nothing short of outstanding. In many respects it made it’s brother, the D3 look a bit underwhelming in regards to noise, and it wasn’t until the release of the D3s where we saw the big brother take back the trophy.

Morning Light (Nikon D700)

At the time it’s main competition was the Canon 5D mark 1, and yes it was a great camera in it’s day, but there was a lot of people jumping ship when they saw what the D700 could do. The features of the D700 9 years ago were well ahead of its time, and the rivals. Even the 5D mark 2 with it’s 21MP was not enough to put it in it’s place when it was announced later the same year.

Looking back now and viewing the sensor data I have built up over time it’s clear that the D700 was the winner when compared to any of it’s rivals at the time. But it’s also important not to get too nostalgic if your considering this camera for low light work today, especially long exposure. Sure it will work and give you pretty good results, but there are much better options.

The D700 by todays standards performs about the same as a Canon 6D at 30 seconds which is no slouch, but it is 20MP. At 300 seconds it falls somewhere around the D800 or 5Ds, 36MP and 50MP respectively.

If you would like to get nostalgic, or just to know how your D700 compares to some of the new models, it has been added to the Sensor Database.

Fuji X-T2 Added to Sensor Database.

I’ve had a few requests now to have the X-T2 added to the Sensor Database. Well without further adieu here it is. It’s worth noting that I still personally believe Fuji are heavily processing noise in camera, and again we see the noise mean reduce as the exposure time goes up (eh). Considering the X-T2 is using a crop 24MP sensor the results are pretty good, but again there is some processing going on.

 

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