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blw

Richmond, US
28579 posts

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blw Moderator Awarded for his high level of expertise in various areas Nikonian since 18th Jun 2004
Sun 23-Sep-12 10:56 AM

I've had a far, FAR harder time learning this camera than any Nikon in my entire career - or for that matter, any other camera, period. But persistence pays, at least most of the time.

First, here's a result from one of the features that I don't hear about much, "Pro Focus." This feature apparently calculates focus distances to various parts of the frame and computationally softens the backgrounds to compensate for either the small sensor or the slow lens. In reality, this lens is f/2 at the short end and f/2.8 at the long end so it's hardly slow, but I suppose one could wish for more selective focus capability pretty much no matter what. Anyway, I saw this scene whilst walking by the Old Bailey in London:

Click on image to view larger version

In this case we're at 7mm, f/2, and in super macro mode, so the front of the lens is about 2cm from the flower. (That is, not quite minimum focus for the lens in this configuration.) Now DOF was always going to be pretty short here, but it seems to have done a nice job of hiding its tracks, at least, and certainly the final result is nice. The tiny sensor doesn't tolerate sharpening like an FX does (I can only imagine what a D800e file must be able to withstand), but in a decent sized print I bet this looks pretty good.

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I remember having white balance trouble in the past, and I thought I was over that. But no, look at this. First, here's a file straight out of the camera, of a nice dessert:

Click on image to view larger version

As luck would have it, this one is an EXR file for which the camera chose low light mode. Giving credit where credit is due, this is 1/40th, f/2.2, ISO 800. When do you see a file this clean, straight out of the camera, at ISO 800, at least with a tiny sensor like this one? And while you can't tell from this scene, the noise reduction is not bad - it's the synthesis of three frames taken essentially back-to-back and the differences merged out, so the usual softening techniques are either not applied or they're done only lightly after the noise differences are subtracted out.

The thing that got me, though was this one, taken ten seconds later, in aperture preferred mode and raw:

Click on image to view larger version

The white balance is clearly very, very different. Problem is that not only are they different, they are both very wrong. That's powdered sugar on the plate, and that's about as close to pure white as one can get, and neither of these two images are even remotely close to white in those regions. My wife jokes that I'm color blind (I'm not, literally, I'm just not trained in color theory to the degree that she is), but even I can tell without thinking that this is a really gigantic white balance mistake. Here's the raw file corrected by LR4 with the eye dropper:

Click on image to view larger version

Now I'll grant that the lighting was a bit tough, but I am surprised at both how far off it is, and even more so by the fact that EXR and "standard" got them so differently wrong. Moral of the story: I probably should be carrying a bit of white paper in my "camera bag," for the purpose of getting a white balance reading. These white balances are truly huge errors, but my workflow (ie LR4) allows for 1-click repair if there is a convenient white available.


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Brian... a bicoastal Nikonian and Team Member

My gallery is online. Comments and critique welcomed any time!

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