Some recent listener feedback


Shutters Inc

Firstly let me start with reference to something that Bruce had mentioned, I think in episode 137.
You were quite concerned with the audio quality that you were able to present to listeners from the portable recorder used at Echuca, the audio on that episode was fine.
I have recently dabbled with other podcasts, and have since canceled all of the downloads except Shutters Inc.
Bruce the quality of the audio delivered by you leaves all others far behind, keep up the good work.
Thanks for the great pod casts not only in the information passed on but also the technical quality.
Mark Chapman

Sine Language

Bruce, I can only say, in my opinion, that the services you are providing are greatly appreciated.
J. R.

Building the pod

I've only recently decided to get back into music production after a prolonged absence.
So, when it came to choosing a DAW, it came down to a choice between FL Studio and Audition.
Dollar wise, quite similar although FL Studio does offer more in the way of virtual instruments for this price range.
But I chose Audition for two clear reasons.
1. I really like the look and feel. The layout is just easy on the eye and made sense to me very quickly.
2. I knew I had a great teacher. I discovered Building the Pod through the Adobe web site and soon found Sine Language.
I have to thank you sincerely for your weekly tuition.
It has turned a somewhat severe learning curve into managable bite size pieces.
I simply can't overstate how thankful I am of your weekly podcasts.
Bye for now.
Ross Huntley


October 28, 2009

The more things change…

Filed under: 7D,alpha 850,Konica Minolta,Shutters Inc,Sony — Bruce Williams @ 9:26

As listeners to Shutters Inc would be aware, I have been salivating of late over Sony’s alpha 850.
My reasons for considering the upgrade are these:
At the 2 workshops I’ve attended (the weekend in Echuca, and the wedding workshop in Melbourne), I have stood shoulder to shoulder with photographers who own cameras less than 12 months old. We have taken the same shots, using almost identical exposure settings, and when you compare the image on the back of my 7D with the images displayed on the backs of some of these newer cameras, the difference has been like chalk and cheese.
So, I had convinced myself that my 7D was getting a bit long in the tooth, that the white balance was not as accurate, that the dynamic range was not as wide, and so on and so on.
Last Saturday, I decided to go to my local camera store and have a ‘hands on’ with the alpha 850 and compare it, specifically, against my 7D.
I explained to the sales girl that I was not planning on buying the camera today, but that I am in the research stage, and wanted to compare. She was ok with me putting one of my CF cards into the alpha so I could take some test shots.
So I grabbed my 135mm f2.8 lens and slapped it on the alpha.
I set a manual white balance (in degrees Kelvin), set the ISO to 400, and set manual exposure at 1/100sec at f2.8.
I took a shot.
I then took that lens and put it on my 7D.
Dialled in all the same settings.
Took the same shot.
Then, I looked at the 2 images on the LCD screens on the backs of the 2 cameras.
The difference was mind-blowing.
The image on the alpha absolutely blew me out of the water, while the image on the back of the 7D just seemed to lack… everything.
So, at that point, I was feeling justified in my desire to upgrade to a newer body.
But, I was going to reserve judgement until I got the 2 images home and into Lightroom.
And that my friends, is where the real story begins.
Upon getting the 2 images into Lightroom and comparing them side by side, I COULD NOT TELL THEM APART.
I kid you not.
They were almost identical.
I did say ‘almost’, right?
Remember that the 7D uses an APS-C size sensor, while the alpha 850 is a 35mm sensor, so the image captured by the 7D was cropped in comparison to the “wider” view of the alpha.
Hence why I’ve cropped the alpha version of the image to be similar in its scope to the 7D image.
With the exception of the cropping of the alpha-generated image, these are both straight out of camera.
Actually, there’s one thing I did do in Lightroom which I did equally to both images.
And that was to set the ‘contrast’ and ‘brightness’ values to zero. I don’t know if it’s a Lightroom thing, or something that the Konica Minolta and Sony bodies do automatically, but I notice that whenever I bring images in to Lightroom, they ALWAYS have a contrast value of 50 and a brightness value of 25.
Not sure why.
So on both of these images, I returned those values to zero, which has made them look REALLY flat, but at least they are equal!
Anyway, below are the 2 images, labelled ‘sample1’ and ‘sample2’.
I’ve done that deliberately so you can’t tell from the filename which image is which.
However, both images have EXIF metadata attached, so you can look to see which image is from which body.
But my point is, WITHOUT cheating, can you tell me which image came from which camera?
To me, this has been both a shock, but also a huge revelation.
What I have learned from this is that what has changed over the last 5 years is not so much the image PROCESSOR technology, but LCD screen technology!
Shelton looked at these before he left for India, and he did make the comment that this was probably not the “be all and end all” test. It’s not exactly challenging lighting, it’s not a high-contrast environment, etc etc, and I totally agree with him on that. Perhaps I need to do some more test shots comparing both bodies under more challenging lighting conditions.
But this simple comparison has been an extremely eye-opening experience for me.
Suffice is to say that had I not done this test, I would have happily gone and dropped A$3k on the alpha 850, believing that it was going to provide a huge increase in quality, and would have then become quite melancholy to discover that that was not the case.
Does this mean I won’t buy the alpha 850?
Probably not.
I’ll more than likely still go that route.
But at least I now have a better idea of what to expect from it when I do.

sample-1.jpg
sample-2.jpg
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5 responses to “The more things change…”

  1. Uwe Mayer says:

    Interesting experience you made. I’m to considering an upgrade to the alpha 900 (owning an a350) and honestly speaking image quality was not a reason for the change.

    I must say that your results surprise me, but they don’t effect any of my reasons for an upgrade. The reasons for selecting a new camera were ergonomics, ability for tethered shooting, more configuration for exposure bracketing, full frame (been a but 35mm shooter for more than 25 years, and I do miss the full frame a lot, that’s just me, I don’t think that full frame is generally better than crop sensors). For me it wasn’t a matter of comparing data sheets, these are the requirements caused by my kind of photography.

  2. Mark Loader says:

    I guess this means the 7D would be a Very useful backup when shooting a wedding – used in tandem rather than an emergency only option. The question now is which lens to put on which camera! Always a sweet moment when your own gear turns out to be a bit better than what you thought. This doesn’t mean you’re getting out of buying the A850 though…not by a long chalk, buddy. Read an interesting article the other day…”Is the camera gear you desire the gear you already own?” Hmmmm…

  3. Jim says:

    She looks happy. That was a good idea to take your camera into the shop and use your lens on the 850.

  4. Lance says:

    I believe the Brightness and Contrast setting you mentioned in Lightroom are the defaults. To change that for all future imports open a photo in the develop module, set the settings you want to always start with, then choose “Set Default Settings…” in the Develop menu and choose “Update to Current Settings”. It won’t change anything already in your catalog but all imported photos from then on will have those settings to start.

    I use this because I only shoot B&W, so I set Lightroom to open everything with my basic greyscale settings. I also set B&W on my D700’s display, so I only ever see color if I need to reference it in raw for adjustments.

  5. Ted Geleit says:

    The top one was from the old camera