Part 2 – Camera Technology This is the second of a three-part series on IQ, a concept often used by serious photographers to define the essence if not the characteristics of what goes into producing great classic photographic images. It relates...Read more
Harvey Stearn has photographed landscapes and wildlife for over sixty years. Though he was a top executive for two large scale land development and home building corporations, he always found time for his fine art photography which won many awards. H...
About Harvey Stearn
Harvey Stearn has photographed landscapes and wildlife for over sixty years. Though he was a top executive for two large scale land development and home building corporations, he always found time for his fine art photography which won many awards. His work was exhibited in art museums in California and Arizona, and was also featured in billboard advertisements and published in magazines. Mr. Stearn served on the California Arts Council for nine years, including two years as Chairman and another two as Vice Chairman. In addition, he was the founding Chairman of the John Wayne Airport Arts Commission in Orange County, California. Mr. Stearn’s work was sold through Arizona galleries for 15 years. In recent years he wrote 14 illustrated articles for Luminous-Landscape.com, and published a book entitled “In Search of the Old West”. He was a guest lecturer on photography on a cruise ship visiting Chile, Argentina, Uruguay and the Falkland Islands. In 2019, his landscape image "Clearing Snowstorm at West Fork of Oak Creek" was selected as one of the top 100 images out of 3800 submissions for NANPA's (North American Nature Photographers Association) Showcase exhibit and publication.
The First of Three Articles On The Quest For Higher Image Quality (IQ) As I am writing this article and taking the images to illustrate it, my wife and I have confined ourselves to our house and immediate surroundings like hundreds of...Read more
In a recent article, I wrote about the experiences that three of my photographer friends and I shared at Bosque del Apache in late November 2019. One interesting moment occurred on the second night after we had dinner and sat around discussing...Read more
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AuthorTopic: Sony’s Incredible FE 135mm f1.8 GM Lens Read 0 Times
Sony R7IV File Size, Processing Power, Storageon: September 22, 2019 at 11:27 pm
Kevin, For some reason, I keep thinking about your first shooting experience with your A7rM4. At the risk of being a pest, I think that there may be an even more accurate explanation for the unexpected initial drabness of your farm scene images, even allowing for the extremely flat lighting. I wonder if your “Creative” setting was either on standard or neutral. I think that one of those is the default setting for Sony cameras. My setting was on Landscape, as that gives me a little more punch to start with, and I can more easily tone that down if necessary than I can find the right balance starting from what is usually a very drab image. As you know, a number of camera manufacturers offer a balance that they call “neutral” which has little or no adjustment to the RAW image so that some photographers can initiate editing with minimal pre-determination. The “Standard” setting is a little more punchy, but a lot closer to Neutral than to the Landscape setting. I’ve used them all over the years. But, I find the latter choice a more effective starting point. The landscape setting builds in more vibrancy and contrast, though I find that I often add a little more vibrancy in my editing anyway, depending on subject and lighting. I remember now that when I used the neutral setting, I was often shocked by the way the starting image looked. So, I’m curious, what creative setting did you have on your rM4 during that first shoot? By the way, I tend to use the Landscape setting even on some of my wildlife shots because the outdoor environment is often the same.
OK, I promise to give other subscribers a chance at this one!
H.Re: Sony R7IV File Size, Processing Power, StorageReply #1 on: September 22, 2019 at 8:47 pm
Correction to my comments:By auto-color balance I was of course referring to “auto white-balance”. Also, I haven’t yet figured out how to insert a full-sized image into the PhotoPXL texts as Kevin does. But, the reader can click on the partial thumbnail to see a pop-up of the full image.
HSRe: Sony R7IV File Size, Processing Power, StorageReply #2 on: September 22, 2019 at 6:39 pm
Kevin, I used my new Sony A7rM4 for the first time on Wednesday while I was down in Scottsdale, AZ. Butterfly Wonderland was nearby; and the subject matter was a perfect opportunity to test color reproduction and the reported improved focus tracking as well. What I saw through the viewer blew me away, as the color and detail was outstanding. When I downloaded the files, the unedited images still looked good, but admittedly required basic editing to get to what I feel is top notch reproduction. This experience is a little different from the one you described; and there may be two reasons for this.
First, I bet you had your camera set on auto-color balance. If so, this would create potential for the sensor to mis-interpret the correct color balance, since it has to take a weighted average of the reflected light from different parts of the image. This is something that is effectively corrected in post-edit, but not without some work. I set my camera to the same color temperature as the incident light based on the reading I got from my color meter, an accessory that I now regularly use. The second factor may be that current editing softwares don’t yet develop the most accurate standard previews for the Sony A7rM4 because they were unprepared for Sony’s surprise announcement and were rushing to get a RAW editor in place. Not so sure about this possibility, but it is logical.
Regarding the “blown” highlights, it is common, even with the latest cameras, to display a histogram that is somewhat inaccurate. I have noticed a consistent tendency to deliberately err on the underexposure side to avoid over-exposure. For this reason unrecoverable highlights rarely occur. And, yours appear to be just fine and readily fine-tuned in post-edit. In, fact, with 15 stops of dynamic range there is probably a fair amount of leeway for ETTR exposure with this camera, except this can only be reliably determined through actual testing in different light conditions.
The only negative that I encountered in my first outing with the M4 has to do with more noticeable noise in the darker tones when shooting with an ISO higher than 800. I had to use 1600 to give me a high enough shutter speed to reasonably freeze butterfly motion. Complicating this was the fact that I shot with a Sony 135mm f1.8 GM lens for maximum sharpness, but had to use an f11 opening to get a workable depth of field at the short distances I shot with. In most cases, I could tame the noise in Lightroom, and of course do even better with masking in Photoshop. But, I would say that despite Sony claims, the M4 generates more noise at moderately high ISO’s than does the M3. Of course, I have a lot more shooting and teating to do before I have a right to reach hard and fast conclusions. Attached is one of my butterfly images.
HarveyRe: Sony R7IV File Size, Processing Power, StorageReply #3 on: August 1, 2019 at 11:05 pm
Jack raises an interesting question, that given a steady march to higher resolution (read more data and larger files), and a parallel objective of higher image quality, at what point do we reach diminishing returns as buyers and users? The diminishing returns probably have less to do with adjusting for increased storage volume, and more to do with whether the cost and effort of achieving “better” images is justified by useable improvement. Companies like Sony can certainly continue to produce technical improvements in sensors and lenses that might continue to motivate us photographers to suffer the brain damage of selling prior models every other year or sooner to buy the latest thing. But, what we gain in useable image size increases may be something that many of us can’t take advantage of except for bragging rights. You almost have to be in the billboard advertising business to justify cameras with 100 and 150 MP sensor outputs.
Yet, as a longtime landscape photographer, I still tend to feel that 61 MP produced by the Sony A7rM4 camera is not a bridge too far, even though my gallery exhibition days are largely over. In fact, 200 or 300 megabyte files are nothing new to me, as even five years ago, I made many stitched panoramas using a sharp 85mm narrow focus lens to ultimately produce a single image that could have been made by one exposure with a 16mm or a 24mm lens. This has been an effective way to capture more detail as an alternative to more expensive high resolution cameras. But, it’s simpler and quicker to use a higher resolution camera. And so, I was among the very first buyers to order the Sony A7rM4, as I do perceive practical value from this additional resolution which is still very cost-effective. My objective in capturing landscapes and other content rich subjects is to achieve the greatest sense of reality which corresponds to human vision. Since we see in individual bites of two degrees which our brain stitches together to cover approximately 46 degrees, our reality is based upon substantial resolution. But, there are other aspects of reality besides detail as we well know, which includes color accuracy and contrast control.
However, if the ultimate objective is duplicating visual reality, then the larger question is where does photography go from here? Do we ultimately wind up making high resolution holistic videos? We won’t know until technology and consumer tastes evolve further. As far as storage space problems go, earlier this year I spent three months reducing my 43,000-image library to 14,000 images and mining older images for un-extracted gold. I found some, and made peace with trashing almost 30,000 failed and duplicate files that I now know were not worth keeping. And, it isn’t to save storage, as that’s cheap as Kevin points out. It’s to save time and effort sorting through my inventory. More about the benefits of this process in another article that I started last month.
HarveyRe: New Article Published – Western Mountain Landscape PhotographyReply #4 on: July 29, 2019 at 8:51 pm
Alan, there were actually three mis-captioned images that resulted from my copying the format from a previous image and then failing to change the wording to match the new image. Somehow, I missed it after four proof-readings. Hope you enjoyed the photo’s though.