Sunday, October 14, 2007

More Comparisons

Above is a picture taken with the old camera. Below is the same tree, with the new camera. Note that the picture taken with the older camera is a better picture than the one taken with the technically better hardware.

This picture has a 2x digital zoom on it. It also starts by being a tighter optical zoom. (New camera took picture at 34.8mm focal length; old camera maxed out at 23.2mm.) And the image stabilization has to be helping.

But image stabilization can be iffy. Sometimes (as above) it works great. Compare the two details below, at full size, from the new camera and the old camera. They are from almost the identical angle, same tree. Both are blurry (both were taken while moving). The new camera zooms in closer to the tree, sure. But that doesn’t necessarily mean more clarity.

Also compare the picture above to the pictures below. Above you see image stabilization working quite nicely. Below you see it not helping much. Same camera, same time, same lighting, same tree, same highway speed. Part of talent is luck.

(This is not a commentary on which picture is a better picture. This only makes a point about one technical aspect of a camera.)

All kinds of things go into how bright a picture is, how clear it is, how much contrast it shows, how true the colors are. Camera settings make a difference. Bugs on the windshield make a difference. A picture taken on a bright day will show a different range of light (darks vs. brights, intense colors vs. nuance) from a picture taken under overcast skies. A picture taken at sundown shows warmer ranges of yellows and reds. A clean lens can have a big effect. Air quality matters: Hazy air on a warm day affects eyes and cameras, particularly when you’re looking at anything off in the distance. Is a bright light in front of you or behind you? Either one can make a strong picture better or ruin a good picture.

Below is a picture from the old camera and the new camera. The comparison may be unfair (because the pictures were taken on different days under different conditions), but it shows some of the haziness I started to see in pictures with the old camera that made me think I might want to look at something new. I also had a couple of persistent spots on the CCD (the image collector inside the camera) that always left ghosts in the same spots in images, and some of the mechanics on the old camera were getting roadworn. I could have probably had the old camera cleaned and refurbished and improved things somewhat.

1/250, f/5.5

1/500, f/4.8

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