Author Archives: photography

Processing Night

On a recent trip to New York, I did a lot of street photography, some done in the evening. As much of the subject matter was moving, the camera was handheld, so a very high ISO was used during the evening. I could have placed the camera on a tripod and approached the following example quite differently, but making images late at night handheld, I was not carrying a tripod. Also, setting up a tripod at night in the street is awkward and perhaps draws too much attention to one’s equipment. However, this led me to a very interesting way to process such images. (If you are interested in night photography techniques, both on and off the tripod, you could refer to my article titled Low Light Challenge.)

After spending some time in post-processing trying to decide how to work with the noise created by such high ISOs, I discovered a fairly straightforward way to create very painterly-looking images. Examples of these images are in the following gallery: Streets of New York. The first twenty or so images will give you a good idea of the end product of this process; the image below is included in this gallery. What follows is a step-by-step illustration of the process

I used the following eight images to create a panorama image. This was necessary as I was using a 35mm equivalent lens and did not have the ability to change to a wide-angle lens. I would also argue that often, in these situations, a panorama image is less distorted than having to use an ultrawide lens. If you are interested in the process of creating panoramic photographs, I cover this topic in another article: click here to go to that article.

RAW Images as they appear after downloading

The images were then all selected and run through Lightroom noise reduction AI software, which DNG files. In order to see the difference between the original RAW image and the AI noise reduction I have enlarged the centre of the image and increased the exposure by 3.5 stops. This shows a dramatic difference.

The image on the left is the DNG file produced by the AI noise reduction feature in Lightroom. The one on the right is the original RAW image.

I then selected the Lightroom tool Merge to Panorama, chose the Spherical option, and used the auto-toning button in Lightroom so I could see the building a bit better.

You can see that the Auto button made the following adjustments to the image. There is a significant, almost two-stop increase in exposure, a significant reduction to the highlights, a smaller adjustment to the shadows, and minor adjustments to the Whites and Blacks, but quite a bit of Clarity. The remaining adjustments were quite slight

I then decided to crop the image and make some further adjustments. Rather than try and increase the exposure I chose to use the Shadow and White tone sliders to increase the light on the building. At this point you can see the impact of the AI noise reduction by comparing the image below and the following one.

The following images are from panorama merge without using the AI noise reduction program. The second image has similar adjustments made to those used in the image above. Again you will want to click the images above and below to see the difference in the detail.

At this point, the blacks in the sky were problematic, so I used the masking feature to select the sky and made the adjustments illustrated below. These adjustments were only made to the area above the building, and there was a diffusion adjustment where the sky meets the building.

I then inverted the mask and made the following adjustments to the building while not altering the sky.

At this point, I used Lightroom to move the image into Photoshop, the Nik Collection plug is integrated into my Photoshop program. I then selected the Nik 7 Viveza program, a colour and toning tool. Using this program, I made some minor adjustments to the image.

Once the adjustments were made, I applied the changes, and the adjusted image came back to Photoshop as a new layer. I then selected the Nik 7 Colour Efex program to process the image further. In the tool I used the Detail Extractor, Tonal Contrast, and Midnight to modify the image. The intent is to move toward a more painterly look to the image and tone down the intensity of the colours and light.

At this point, the image is then saved in Photoshop, which automatically returns the new version of the image into Lightroom as a TIF; as I did not flatten this image, it retained the various layers that were created in Photoshop using the Nik programs. This means if I am not happy with some of the adjustments, I can use opacity settings or other adjustments to tweak the image.

Equipment Used

The following images were created on an X100 VI in April of 2024 at 10 pm. They are hand-held images at 1/125 and f4 at 12,800 ISO. For those unfamiliar with the camera it is a fixed lens camera with 23mm (APSC) lens, so in 35 mm terms this is a 35mm lens. The resolution of the camera is 40 megapixels. If you are interested in more information about this camera; click here to go to the article.

What Can I Get for My Money?

A Comparison of Sony and Fuji Hi-Resolution Camera Kits|
Rob Will – May 2024

Camera selection can be a bewildering and confusing experience. There are many camera companies; each offering a variety of models at various price points. On top of that, there are multiple sensor size formats, each of which has its own advantages and trade-offs. If you are new to photography, or are considering a major upgrade to your existing gear, it’s difficult to know where to begin.

Many of us confuse our “needs” with our “wants”, and it’s easy to get pulled in by lists of features offered by various camera bodies. What we often fail to realize is that every choice we make early in the buying process has ramifications that dictate our options further down the road.

The purpose of this article is not to champion one sensor format over another. Sensor size is an argument that often borders on the religious, with advocates for each sensor type touting its advantages and often ignoring its disadvantages. This article aims to give photographers contemplating the purchase of one of these systems an idea of the overall cost and size of a system once it has been fleshed out with a stable of lenses. 

My comparison will be limited to current camera bodies produced by Sony and Fuji that offer the highest resolution available for the APSC, FF, and MF sensor formats. I will be looking at the total cost, size and weight for each selected camera body, and a set of three prime lenses (24mm, 50mm, and 85mm equivalent).

All prices are quoted in Canadian dollars, as per The Camera Store website at time of writing. Pictures are from CameraSize.com.

The Contenders

The highest resolution sensor currently available for an APSC camera is 40 MPx, with a pixel size of 3.04 microns. Fuji offers three interchangeable lens camera bodies that utilize this sensor. 

The most compact option is the XT-50, but that body sacrifices features such as weatherproofing and battery life to achieve this size reduction – features that are present in the two more expensive and larger Fuji bodies: the X-H2 and X-T5.

Both the X-H2 and the X-T5 can be considered APSC flagships; the principal difference being body style. The internals of all three bodies are virtually identical, and choosing between them comes down to personal decisions regarding feature sets and price.

The highest resolution full-frame sensor available is the 61MPx one used in the Sony A7rV and A7Cr. These two cameras have very different body styles, but both are considered flagship models in their respective lines. The 61 MPX sensor has a pixel size of 3.76 microns.

The highest resolution Medium Format (44x33mm) sensor is used by the Fuji GFX100 II and the GFX100s II. Both cameras deliver identical Image quality (IQ), but the GFX100 II offers a richer feature set, and is the undisputed flagship of the GFX line. The 102 MPx sensor has a pixel size of 3.76 microns (identical to the Sony 61 MPx sensor).

Generally speaking, a larger pixel size yields less noise and better IQ than a smaller pixel. 

No Compromises Comparison

This comparison aims to match flagship bodies for each sensor type with three prime lenses equivalent to the 24mm, 50mm, and 85mm focal lengths in FF. I have selected what I consider to be the lenses in those focal lengths for each sensor format that offer the best combination of speed, price, and versatility.

Sony also offers a 50mm lens with an F/1.2 maximum aperture, but that lens is significantly larger and more expensive than the F/1.4 version that I have selected. A photographer who prefers the F/1.2 version can add $800 and 262 grams to the Sony totals in the comparison.

Fuji offers a pair of APSC flagships, and a photographer who prefers the X-T5 body style to that of the featured X-H2 can deduct $250 and 103 grams from the Fuji APSC totals.  

Compactness Comparison

Size and weight matter to photographers who carry their gear around on a daily basis, and I have included a comparison that selects the smallest and lightest body and lens options for each format that can fully resolve the sensor’s resolution. Unfortunately, the MF sensor format used by the GFX system does not lend itself to compact lenses (except the GF 50mm F/3.5). For that reason, MF has been eliminated from this round. 

Conclusions

Every camera produced in the last ten years by any manufacturer is more technically advanced than virtually anything that came before, and regardless of what sensor format you choose, you can be assured that excellent hi-resolution options are available. Each format has its strengths and its trade-offs.

Fuji APSC offers the lowest costs, and the smallest and lightest components, but sacrifices resolution and pixel size compared to the competition. 

Sony FF offers a balance of resolution, price, size, and a more extensive lens selection than either of the Fuji systems. The 61 MPx FF sensor also has an identical pixel size to the 102 MPx sensor used by Fuji MF. It is not without trade-offs, however. Sony FF sacrifices significant resolution to Fuji MF and costs significantly more than Fuji APSC. 

Fuji MF offers the highest resolution of any of the formats compared, while maintaining the same pixel size as FF. It is the largest, heaviest, and most expensive of the three formats, but allows the photographer to crop further into an image with impunity, and produce prints that are larger than the competition. Value conscious photographers that do not require the modularity and higher resolution viewfinder of the GFX100 II may want to consider the GFX100s II, as it is significantly less expensive than its big brother.

Whatever you choose, you can’t really go wrong with any of these cameras. Choose a system that fits your needs and budget, and go have some fun taking photos.–