Waiting for sunshine

I am, I confess, not the world’s most patient individual. Walking around my local reserve I have taken a few scenics with the Fuji X-T1 but the birds and animals are always tantalisingly out of reach. It may be four months until we are ready to receive our container and with it my camera gear. I have therefore been researching what small and modestly priced camera might fill the vacuum.  A superzoom bridge. Nikon seemed to have a candidate until I discovered it did not take RAW files. Then I saw a used Canon SX60 in my local LCE. Off I went to inspect it. It did not have the original warranty nor could I find out the shutter count. So there it rests awaiting a less picky buyer. Another factor was price. LCE had pitched it at £120 less than a new one. Canon however is offering a £40 cashback so the difference is brought down to £80. With this in mind I decided to buy a new one.

Eager to try it out I have walked the reserve twice. As luck would have it the walks have been weighed down with leaden skies. Precious few birds have posed and said “watch the birdie”. I have taken maybe 30 frames and all look as if they have been shot on large, coarse grain film at low speeds. They are, not to put too fine a point on it, not worth the sensor they were shot on. The first batch at ISO 1600 were especially alarming. The second batch at ISO 400 or 800 were also worthy only of a virtual dustbin. Reducing the ISO also reduced the shutter speeds. This is not a grey-day camera. I am hoping a brighter day will bring a reprieve. The SX50 gave me some acceptable results and I do not believe the SX60 will do worse.

Only 2 images gave me any hope that they might be worth preserving. The idea was to convert them to black and white and use the coarse grain to my advantage. And so Swan’s Way came to pass. Here it is failed photo masquerading as a drawing perhaps. The second image failed the experiment.

Swan's Way


19 thoughts on “Waiting for sunshine

  1. That is a disappointing report. I read elsewhere that the SX60 has a noise reduction circuit. Did you make use of that? Did you meter for the swan and have to brighten the image? I’d not be very happy after spending the money and having a limit on when I could use the camera for good results.
    I’d also be going completely loony if my equipment was out of reach for the amount of time you have experienced.

    • Steve, I suppose I ought to read the manual but that would be defeatist. I generally leave NR off so I can do it myself in processing. Does it work with RAW? All small sensors have inherent drawbacks and it is far from ideal. But I don’t want to spend much knowing I have so much gear in transit. It is intended only to help me document at the house what I can’t do with the Fuji.

      • From what I read, all small sensors are more prone to noise and if the image is underexposed, then the noise becomes more noticeable. Thus exposing for the white swan would cause you to raise the exposure of the shadowed woods and path.
        I employ the NR feature for long exposures in camera. There is still some noise reduction needed but the camera (5D Mark II) does a reasonably good job of reduction without loss of detail that processing can cause. It does double the camera’s processing time because, as I understand it, the camera makes a second file and combines them to reduce the noise just as it does for High ISO Noise Reduction. I always shoot in RAW so it does work. As to how all of that relates to a small sensored digicam I cannot say from any experience. But I think you can try NR in the SX60 in RAW with no loss of quality.
        If I do purchase one, it will be for keeping in my pocket while traveling around during work etc and not for the more serious intent…although the opportunity for a serious image does pop up during the work day on occasion.

      • I think I lost my reply on this :-((

        You can’t use NR on this camera in RAW Steve. I am familiar with what you are describing but I don’t use it. I prefer to do NR in processing.

  2. The swan is an impressive photograph. Whenever I go looking at smaller cameras I come back to the DSLR. Even the best of mirror less still have issues for me, coming much closer.

    • Victor, for macro and birds I agree. For landscapes and travel / street photography I no longer use a DSLR. If there is a difference in quality I can’t see it. My Fuji allows me to take shots I would not take with Canon purely because of its light weight. Olympus and Sony similarly. I expect DSLRs to become specialist niche tools in a short time. Either they go up to compete with medium format or they specialize. The Sony low light performance is outstanding. I shoot with my Fuji at 6400 with confidence. Can’t do that with a Canon (maybe 5D3 or 1Dx). Battle is joined and the dinosaurs have to adapt or die.

      • I was looking at t1 Fuji, but stories about the sensor turned me off. I fully understand how useful a mirror less kit could be. Thanks for taking the time to push me😀

  3. I am curious about the four months for your container to arrive. We went through similar process moving back from Holland to Australia after having worked there for three years. I think the crates with all our stuff arrived about 6 weeks after we had arrived in Sydney.
    Customs send me a letter to inspect all in my presence with the ominous advice to bring a strong crowbar.
    I had to physically prise open the timber crates. All was passed including the woodworm in some of our very old farm furniture. This was in 1976.
    I can see nothing wrong withe b/w swan photo. It looks a bit ghostly but that adds to the overall enjoyment.

  4. So it’s now a camera when are you going to settle down,I on the other hand just got back from tea with my girls yes you heard me rite tea with my wife and daughter,finger sandwiches, sconces, and pastries,jasmine tea if you must know quite good too,at the four seasons hotel again if we’re asking,we do it rite too it’s not just all steak and mushed potatoes,just thought you mite want to know if you were asking
    As always Sheldon

  5. The camera dilemma sounds like a photographer’s nightmare. It has to be quite frustrating. What is the deal about DSLR becoming a niche instrument? I really like medium format cameras and still have my old Bronica packed away and film in the fridge that might be good or not. However, I have no idea which storage container my old cameras are in and there are about 8 containers to look through. I don’t have the energy to look. If I ever get better and have the moola, I will invest in a used medium format camera. I really do like the quality of the photos.

    I liked the photo that you posted here and made it a favorite on Flickr. I see the other birds on the path and wondered what they are.

  6. I’m sorry about your frustration, but this is a real winner for me. The combination of the perspective of the path, with the lovely varied uprights of the trees and the not quite random birds.

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