Photos from April 2015

A trip to wells cathedral

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A heart filled helium balloon

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Shopping at the Orchard Centre in Taunton

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Quantock House in Taunton

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A dog near County Walk shopping centre in Taunton

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Wigs on display at a hair salon in Taunton

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A duck in a sink

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Walking between Eype and Seatown

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Construction works in progress on the NIDR road in Taunton

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The hot sausage company

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Red leaves in Castle Green

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Longrun Meadows

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Tangier way artwork

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White roses

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At JD Weatherspoon in Bristol

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Waiting for the cross harbour ferry in Bristol

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Modern apartment in Bristol

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Crane 30

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@bristol chimney

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a Banksy

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Reflections

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viridor building – artwork on window in Blue and purple
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we buy and sell gold – i can see myself (just) on the top left cctv panel
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perhaps the owner of this car thought a flower on the dashboard would keep the ticket inspector at bay
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catching up with news in the somerset county gazette
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mirrored wall in lift
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doing a facefift on a shop in riverside place

 

m8raw2dng Raw Processing App

There is a handy app for the Leica M8 I have been trying out recently which “unlocks” the ability to shoot in 14 bit raw instead of 8 bit DNG.

A link to the app is here: http://m8raw2dng.de/

In order to “capture” the 14 bit raw image the camera needs to be put into “service menu” mode as follows:

Press right arrow button 4 times
Press left arrow button 3 times
Press right arrow button 1 time
Press “set” button as select “RAW + jpeg fine”

People call it the “button dance” lol! I tend to disable auto power off and I stick a small bit of electrical tape on the power switch as it tends to easily be accidentally switched off.

The RAW files are about 20mb instead of the usual 10mb DNG files. The m8raw2dng app takes the RAW file and turns it into a 14bit DNG file using the exif data from the jpeg image as RAW files have no exif info stored.

iso1250 sculpture in taunton museum

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iso320 dellers wharf

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iso160 viridor building firepool

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The m8raw2dng app (*.exe file) is quite small and can be placed anywhere you choose (eg in “my documents”) there is a small text only *.bat file which can be copied into the folder with the RAW+jpeg pairs and double clicking this will start the conversion to DNG which seems to convert about 6 files per second so pretty quick. The *.bat file hold the parameters like location of the *.exe file.

Leica M8 with Rawtherapee

These were mainly shot at f/4 although Leica digital cameras cannot record aperture as there is no data link between the lens and the body.

I quite like the B&W preset profiles in Rawtherapee – there are 4 to choose from.

1/125s, iso160

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1/250s, iso160

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1/250s, iso640

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1/180s, iso320

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1/125s, iso160

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1/250s, iso160

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1/250s, iso160

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1/360s, iso160

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1/750s, iso160

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1/180s, iso160

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1/250s, iso640

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1/180s, iso320

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More from the Leica M8

I’m gradually getting a bit more used to the Leica M8, this being my 6th day of owning it. Day 1 did not really count as I did not have a memory card that would work with it.

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I have noticed that it’s quite easy to accidentally jog the focus ring on the lens as I normally keep it set about 3 metres but as I have a blackrapid strap it can brush against me and get moved as there is not much damping so it needs checking before taking a shot.

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I have disabled the “auto off” feature as it does not seem to use much power when the display is off. I had it set to switch off after 10 minutes before.

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I was mainly using f/5.6 today in aperture priority – it was quite sunny so could have gone with f/8 but there are a few annoying dust spots I need to shift. Had a go with a rocket blaster and shifted a few spots but some stubborn ones left.

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Using discreet advance so shutter only resets once the button is released. The Epson RD1 has a lever to reset shutter rather than a motor so would have been nice on the M8.

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The lens hood is a bit fiddly to take on and off so I’m tending to leave it on as the lens can easily be cleaned with it in place.

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Leica M8

Recently decided to sell my Nikon D610 DSLR and move to something more compact.   I liked my Ricoh GRD4 and Ricoh GR but they were really “point and shoot” type cameras although they did offer a lot more than most mass market point and shoots.

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I was thinking about getting the Fuji Xpro1 as it has an optical viewfinder, however it’s still a very electronics based camera and the focus system works electronically even though it offers manual focus.    It is styled like a rangefinder but does not have a rangefinder method of focussing where you line up the double images to confirm focus.

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There are only 2 digital rangefinders:

1) Epson RD1

2) Leica M

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Leica M is not cheap, however the original M8 is now cheaper than many DSLR cameras and certainly cheaper than the Nikon D610.

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An important thing to consider is that the M8 is not a full frame camera – it has a 1.33x crop sensor made by Kodak.   It’s a CCD rather than a CMOS which I actually quite like.   You certainly do not get any “bells and whistles” like live view or video!     Another catch is the IR sensitivity of the sensor due to the thin sensor AA filter.   Have not got round to getting an IR filter yet so some colours might not be “true” – eg foliage can show a bit yellow green and black synthetic fabric can look purple.

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I’m used to a 28mm prime on the Nikon D610 and though of getting a 21mm prime for the M8 but in the end went with a 28mm prime – an elmarit 28mm f/2.8 asph – second hand as the price of a new leica lens is not cheap!   This works like a 37.33mm with the 1.33x crop factor although the exif says 38mm equivalent.    The lens has 6 dots on the lens mount which tells the body which lens is being used “6 bit coding” is the leica term.

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The camera I purchased still had the original firmware from 2008 when it was originally purchased and this meant that it would only take a standard SD card and these are not easy to buy as only SDHC cards are readily available.   I did find one a Maplin – phew!    This allowed me to update the firmware to the latest version, which then allows use of any SD card.

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It also allows auto iso which is quite handy although the algorithm is not like nikon where is only changes the iso when the shutter drops below a preset value – the m8 still has a preset shutter value but seems to change iso sometimes when not on the minimum shutter value.

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Iso steps are 160, 320, 640, 1250 and 2500 – 2500 is not as bad as I expected – the shot of the cat above is at iso2500 and although grainy the grain is not too bad.

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The M8 is quite a heavy camera for it’s size but it’s almost all metal.    The menu system is very basic and simple, unlike the complex menus on DSLR cameras.

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It works well with the old version of lightroom (v3) that I have as it produces DNG files.   Newer cameras like the Fuji Xpro1 need to have the files first converted with adobe’s DNG converter before they will work in old versions of lightroom.

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I have really been trying to get used to the camera at the moment rather than trying to shoot anything particularly interesting.   Once I am fully used to the camera I will then be able to concentrate more on images than the camera.

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Testing the RX100

Just a quick test of the RX100 – my partner has recently replaced her D200 & 18-200 lens with the Sony RX100 as it is a lot lighter and less bulky – I took it out for a quick spin. I normally use a D610 and 28mm manual focus lens, and luckily the RX100 defaults to 28mm (actually 10mm but there is a 2.8x crop factor)

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For such a tiny camera it seems to give good image quality, and the RX100 is now quite old in digital terms having been superseded twice by the MK2 and MK3 models, yet Sony still sell the original version.

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I’m mainly used to the Ricoh Digital IV and the Ricoh GR when it comes to point & shoot cameras, so the RX100 took a bit of getting used to.

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I’m used to having the “snap” focus feature of the Richos but the RX100 does not have this feature.   I tried setting it to “manual focus” BUT there was no way of telling what distance you are focussing!   The richos did at least give a distance scale on the LCD and this was saved when you turned the camera off.    The RX100 really does not seem aimed at anything other than AF.

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I have never been a great AF fan and prefer to zone focus but the RX100 seemed to work well with AF and it was just a matter of waiting that fraction of a second to see the green AF confirmation points light up on the LCD before pressing the shutter release – it’s quick, just not as quick as “snap focus”!

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I also tried setting exposure manually but on such a tiny camera doing anything manually just kind of seems a bit fiddly.   In the end I just put it in “P” (program) mode and let the camera make all the decisions.

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I have an old copy of Lightroom (version 3) which has long since been superseded and no longer directly supports the RAW files from the RX100 but  Adobe provide a free “RAW converter” which turns pretty much any RAW file into a DNG file which can always be imported into older versions of Lightroom.    For this quick test I just used the default settings and the only “tweak” I made was using the “strong” tone curve instead of the “standard” tone curve.

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I did notice that the camera has a big lens for such a tiny camera but it’s best to leave the camera switched on while shooting as it takes a while to power up (OK only about a second perhaps, but I don’t like having a camera that is not “ready to shoot”).   The battery seemed OK after about an hour of shooting, and there seems to be no way to turn off the LCD while the camera is switched on (like you can with the Ricohs).    The RX100 has a 28mm-100mm equivalent zoom and the nice thing is that it defaults to 28mm equivalent when switched on which happens to be my favourite focal length.