In this issue:
What Does a Photographer Bring on Vacation?
What RAW Corruption Looks Like
Unobvious Things about the Sony Alpha 6300 (video)
Fujifilm X-Pro2 ebook out!
Updates on other books
What does a Photographer Bring on Vacation?
Because of all the books I write, I probably have more cameras than should be allowed by law, which makes it especially challenging to decide what to take when going on vacation. (I know; none of you feel sorry for me. I'm OK with that.) In the past I'd take the best equipment I had just because "Hey, how can I NOT do that when I'm going to exotic places like Australia and New Zealand?". Then I end up schlepping a backpack full of E-mount lenses and bodies which, despite the bodies' smaller size, still ended up weighing a ton.
So when going on a personal vacation (as opposed to a working one), I don't want to be burdened by my equipment like that. I just want to bring something small that can do pretty much everything pretty well but won't weigh me down. The Sony Alpha 6300 (whose ebook is out, and a video for which appears later in this post) would be an obvious choice here, but because of where I would be I really didn't want to mess with changing lenses either.
So what did I bring? One of the most underloved cameras Sony has ever produced:
The RX-10 II.
If you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you'll know just how much I love the RX-100 series of point-and-shoots. The RX-10 II essentially takes that very same sensor and compute engine and slaps a superb Zeiss 24-200 f/2.8 lens in front of it.
|That lens! Go ahead, download the full-res file, view at 100%, and count the eyelashes.|
|Also this image from earlier in the year.|
|If your light is good, the image quality is outstanding.|
|Family photo from that trip - nobody can tell that a small-sensor camera was responsible.|
The truth is that for most non-commercial purposes, the most any normal person needs for their photography is about 16 megapixels (even when viewing on a Retina display), which makes this 20-megapixel camera ideal for carefree travel. One further benefit is that although it has the light-gathering ability of an f/2.8 lens, it has the depth-of-field of a full-frame lens set to f/8 (see choral examples below).
|A wide shot of a low-light choral performance...|
|...and a close-up a few seconds later.|
|A Bar Mitzvah in Pennsylvania. Bokeh lovers won't be impressed with the way the out-of-focus portions are rendered; however I wasn't planning on taking pro-level head shots on this trip.|
|Perfectly licensable image... not everyone needs shallow depth-of-field all of the time.|
|A boat house that, remarkably, is still standing.|
I have other nice shots too, but I don't want to bore you. Instead, let me share with you a mistake I made on this trip which I will never, ever repeat again.
What RAW Corruption Looks Like
When you're on vacation you get lax about everything. Normally when I travel I bring two 1-terabyte hard drives, and every night I empty my memory cards to both drives (and store them in different places - one comes with me, one stays at the hotel) just in case something bad happens. On this trip I decided to lighten up and take only ONE external hard drive, keeping just the .jpgs on my laptop because my SSD storage couldn't hold all the RAW files.
So of course the hard drive experienced some sort of formatting error, and I estimate that about 1% of the RAW files became corrupted. The worst example appears below; I'll show a typical example in a minute.
|Worst RAW file corruption I've seen.|
Normally I never touch my RAW files because if my light is good and my exposure is right for that light, the benefits of RAW are not that compelling. Here, though, my light was awful and so I had to do some rather extreme post-processing in order to make the images draw your eye. And it's this extreme manipulation that the .jpgs just don't handle as well as RAW does. Below is the out-of-camera .jpg and then a processed .jpg to make it look more engaging. But look carefully at the sky and you'll see what can only be described as "splotchiness".
|Original .jpg, straight out of camera.|
|.jpg processed for drama. Look at the splotchiness in the sky! .jpgs just can't take extreme manipulation like RAW files can.|
|Processed RAW image - click on the image for a larger view. Note that the splotchiness is gone, but look carefully and you'll see four hair-thin lines going across the bottom half of the image - some continuous, some not.|
Fortunately I was able to make those go away using the healing brush tool in Photoshop. And as you can see the splotchiness in the sky never appeared in this version.
But what I really learned in this process is that there are NO image repair tools available for Sony .ARW files (like there are for .jpgs). Lesson re-learned: Redundancy is your only hope against certain technological failure.
Fujifilm X-Pro2 Ebook by Tony Phillips is out! Please help spread the news online.
A6300 ebook updated: Version 1.03 of the A6300 is now available, as are the .epub and .mobi versions. Email me with your purchase receipt if you didn't receive automatic notification and I'll send you a download link.
Version 1.2 of the Sony A7R II ebook has been updated as well. If you purchased it from my website, you will have been automatically notified. If elsewhere, email me your purchase receipt and I'll send you the latest download link!
Next Time in f2 Cameracraft
These impressive dance images were born of frustration. The couple's 13-year-old daughter with dancing aspirations wanted to fill her room with dance photos, but there were no photos of current dancers which she admired. So her parents set up a small studio in their Brooklyn apartment and invited over today's dance greats.
Learn the secrets behind these and many other iconic shots; subscribe to f2 Cameracraft!
Unobvious Things about the A6300
And now, a word from our sponsor:
I'm currently working with some camera clubs in Colorado, Arizona, and Nova Scotia to bring the Friedman Archives High-Impact Photography seminars out to them. We can energize your photo club as well! Email me for more details.
Yours Truly, Gary Friedman