Thursday, October 4, 2012

New Toys

I've really been wanting a small camera that I can carry with me wherever I go, but still has a large amount of manual control. There are time's where my phone's camera is just not good enough - for one thing I cannot shoot in any kind of RAW format for editing later. (RAW file formats capture all the info from the sensor. Jpeg's are compressed to a smaller size and a lot of information is thrown away). Of course my Nikon DSLR's do all that but lets face it - there are times I don't want to lug a big camera or bag of gear around.

An example is the picture above. I was on a bike ride in the late afternoon and stumbled across this landscape. Fortunately I had with me my newest toy stuffed in my back jersey pocket - an Olympus XZ-1.

Without RAW I would not have been able to process the shot above. The sky would have been completely blown out - just solid white. I decided to use the camera's bracketing feature so I could figure out which exposure would be the best to work with. It turned out the shot that was shot almost 2 stops underexposed was the best. I was able to bring the foreground up to normal exposure and then digitally apply a neutral density gradient filter to the sky to get some of the really nice cloud detail. In jpeg this image would not be possible. I'd either have an underexposed foreground and properly exposed sky or a properly exposed foreground and a white sky.

I'm impressed with the camera overall so far. It has a super bright f1.8 lens which I believe is the brightest out there in this type of camera. Has a very usable zoom range. Controls are very well laid out and you can get to almost anything you want to change quickly. Another very interesting feature is that it can remotely trigger an off camera flash unit. Not sure how often I will do that with this camera but still it is a very cool feature that has me considering investing in one of Olympus's strobe units.

Anyway, I now have no excuse for not having a camera with me when a cool photo opportunity pops up.

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