Category Archives: Amateur Photography

Need a camera to replace a Fuji F30, or do I?

We all like to keep up with current trends and as an amateur photographer I wanted to update my now ageing Fuji F30. Now when it was launched it had more plaudits that any other Compact Camera before or since really. It had a 6Mpix sensor and a fairly average lens at 36mm to 108mm (35mm equivalent) but that wasn’t the clever bit, it was its low light performance, that everyone was staggered at.

At the time in some forums people were talking it up to almost SLR levels of noise reduction. Now I’ve got a Canon 40D and it can’t come close , but as a second camera it does an incredible job when you consider the size and weight difference. But having joined Alamy up scaling 6meg images from a compact that takes pictures straight to JPEG is tough to say the least, even the very best 100iso images have small artefacts especially when they are scaled up to the resolution Alamy wants.

But Which New Camera To Get?

I had a quick look around and the list below got short-listed. Some are Enthusiast models that can even capture RAW others Premium more lifestyle models. What was I looking for? Minimum 10Mpix, Wide angle Lens 28/24mm, good screen, not too big (I’ve got an SLR for that) and last but maybe most important, excellent high ISO performance.

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So to the list and a few reasons why the initial ones didn’t make it.

Canon G9/G10 – G9 didn’t go wide enough really but it is quite cheap at the moment, G10 went to 24mm but they are both too big and heavy and fairly expensive for the little extra benefit overall when you pixel peep. Have a look over to Ken Rockwell to see his comparison with the IXUS 870 / SD880.

Panasonic LX3 – A great little camera, zoom lens sticks out though so not as small as it seem and the lens cover could be a fair hassle for a quick P&S. But the lens is good (Big barrel distortion issues get fixed in software LR or Silkpix) 24mm is F2 and 60mm is F2.8 so a fast lens but not long at 60mm. But they are had to come buy and I wasn’t sold with the sticky out lens to go in a jeans pocket and its quite pricey but then it will also capture RAW. This is the current hit camera for 2008 and I can see why. But its a no from me.

Fuji F100fd – The spiritual successor to the F30d or at least in the same bloodline. Its not the best looking camera to say the least but it just about every other way it ticks all the boxes. High ISO performance is good but not great though. Plus at only £165 from Amazon a bargain really and a recent winner of dpreview.com Premium Cameras in the run up to Christmas. This is a Maybe

Canon IXUS 870 IS / SD880 – Now this could be the one. Its small, has a 28mm lens and its not too expensive (I’m married so budget is important 😉 ) Its got a good zoom lens an 10mpix sensor and good ISO performance. At approx £200 its not too expensive either and it looks great. It will also get the CHDK ad on at some point, this will enable extra features and even the ability to capture RAW files.

And the winner is…?

If I am going to get a camera at the moment it will be the Canon IXUS 870 IS, reviewing goodness knows how many reviews its the winner. Some even say why get a G10 when this does the same or better in many situations and with CHDK will be able to capture RAW.

BUT……… what about the F30?

Well I went back and look at some F30 reviews and got a shock. The noise on high ISO images for ALL of the cameras above is worse the higher they go. Sample them at 400iso and you can already see the difference. Have a look at the two images in the links below and see what you think. Yes one is 10mpix the Canon IXUS 870 the other 6m on the Fuji F30 but surely in the last 2 and a bit years it could be beaten even with a higher ISO. But it appears not, even shrinking the picture on some models and running it through Noise Ninja won’t get it as good as the Fuji original.

It begs the question if it wasn’t for the Mpix needed to get into Alamy is it actually better to stay with the F30, I’m still undecided.

Canon IXUS 870 IS IS400

Fuji F30 ISO400

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Alamy goes from bad to worse.

artSo recently I posted about Alamy go slow and first rejection but things are now getting even worse. I removed the accidental pictures I included from my compact and only uploaded the pictures from my 40D a fairly good pro-sumer Canon SLR.

But yesterday I had the same set rejected this time apparently because an image was soft or had camera shake, now this was a picture that was take in broad daylight on the back of a boat that wasn’t even at sea off the cost of Cannes, with an 17-85 with IS turned on at ISO 100, it was crystal clear.

So I take it as a blip but this time I resubmit them in batches of 10. Now before anyone reading this says my photos are rubbish stop complaining I’ve already had 70 shots accepted and these were due to take it to 100+. But the issues are getting worse, this time I have had problems uploading the images, in fact ever batch had problems, failed communication, lost connection and even image deleted appearing. Now I’m on a ADSL2+ connection with 1.2meg upload and 16 down so my connection isn’t the bottle neck.

So I left it as it was with only a few images of each batch going up and today guess what more rejected images, two of the batches don’t even have a reason as to why they have been rejected. I have to say I’m not impressed, if I was a pro or semi pro and this happened I would be livid.

I’ve had a look at the Alamy forums and people are having the same problems, images rejected and the upload problems. Are they trying to force the non pro’s out now they have 14Millon+ images I wonder.

I’m going to give it another go at the weekend and I will report back, yours an unhappy user of Alamy.

Alamy go slow and first rejection

artHow long is it talking to process images on alamy at the moment? Answer very long, over Christmas is understandable but its still very slow. It says you should expect 37hrs for the processing of images but its more like 48hrs and even then you have to wait for the QC. Come on Alamy you are taking a bigger slice of the photographers royalty the least you can do is speed things up a bit.

And its also bad news on those images that did manage to get to the QC stage. Yes my first rejection, but I can understand why. Without realising it I uploaded 4 images taken from my Fuji F30, a great camera but not good enough to cope with the requirements of Alamy unfortunately.

Fingers crossed the rest will be ok, but when I hear they have been accepted is anyones guess. Yours waiting. unspool reminiscences lace

Lowepro Fastpack 250 Review + Pics

[singlepic id=13 w=320 h=240 mode=watermark float=left]So you need to carry your camera somewhere and your laptop so you need two bags right?, wrong. You need a Lowerpro fastpack 250 than can do both with ease. I wanted something that would allow me to carry my laptop and my camera gear in one bag and luckily for me Lowerpro had just launched the fastpack series. I went for the fastpack 250 as this is big enough for a laptop of up to 15″ screen size and I use a smaller more portable Dell XPS 1330 which has a 13″ screen, after a fair bit of research I found it cheapest at Amazon and ordered it straight away. As you can see from the pictures below the laptop fits in with ease and with plenty of room to spare. The back of the bag is also well padded to protect me and the equipment in the bag and it works well on both counts.

Lowepro Fastpack 250 Laptop opening and rear padding.

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But how much camera gear can it carry, well quite a bit I think considering its size. The images below show that there is plenty of space for several lenses, some filters and space for other bits and bobs. Its wide enough to carry a 40D with a 70-200 f4 or f2.8 L anything bigger and you will struggle to get it in. In the picture below there is a 40D with a 17-85 fitted, a Sigma 30mm f4, Canon 60mm Macro and a little Canon 50mm plastic fantastic, a few filters and space to spare. For me this is more than enough space to take some kit on holiday to take a few shots. Whilst on holiday I transfer some of my kit to one of my other bags such as the Crumpler Muffin Top 5500 that has enough space to carry some of the lenses and a few essentials.

Fastpack 250 Camera compartment

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In the top compartment you can store batteries, battery charger and more besides. I normally put a Nintendo DS in there and the power supply for the Laptop along with other bits and there is still room to add more see the image below to how big this areas is.

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All in all I’m very impressed with this bag it more than meets my requirements to carry may laptop and a few lenses on holiday which is exactly what I wanted it for. It’s not a full on dedicated camera bag so if you have 5 or 6 smaller lenses and a 300mm f4 then this isn’t for you have a look at a Lowerpro Trekker AW. It would also be nice to have the ability to lock some of the zips up as you might be carrying some pretty expensive gear that you don’t want to go walkies but with all the flaps at the back you would have to be very good to get in undetected if you were wearing it on your back.


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So I’m going to award it 9/10 losing a point on the slight security issue, but otherwise its highly recommended.

Crumpler Muffin Top 5500 Review

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So a bag is a bag is it, erm no, especially when they have names like Muffin Top and Pretty Boy they aren’t. We all have our own preferences on what makes a good camera bag and lets face it if you are into photography you will have almost as many as your other half, come on you know its true.

So this is the latest addition to my collection, the Muffin Top 5500. Its larger than my first Crumpler bag by quite a margin but some how it doesn’t look or feel to big which is great. My first Crumpler was a Pretty Boy Large (3000) which was good to carry around just my SLR (40D) but not much more really.

Crumpler Muffin top 5500 and Pretty boy (L) side by side

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This is a whole different story, I can now carry the Canon 40D (Which is a fair bit bigger than a 350/450D or Rebel) with the 17-85kit lens attached, a 30mm f1.4 Sigma and maybe 1 or 2 other lenses as you can see from the picture below. It looks like the tardis in comparison to the Pretty boy (L) that struggle to carry anything other than the body and the kit lens.

Its very well made with the same fabric as before and the expandable compartment at the front that you can fit a few memory cards in and other bits and bobs like some filters. I think you could even put something like a Canon 70-200 f/4 L standing vertically in the bag without too much trouble and still have room for another lens on top of the kit lens.

Crumpler Muffin top 5500 with 40D+2 Lenses inside

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All in all if you want a bag to carry around a larger SLR like the 40D and a few lenses then this is all you will ever need. It doesn’t feel heavy with the padded shoulder strap and has plenty of room in it without it feeling big, it doesn’t feel much bigger than the Pretty Boy to be honest and an important point for me it doesn’t ‘look’ like a camera bag. This last bit alone made it a top choice for me, I don’t really want to look like a target walking around the streets of foreign countries if I don’t have to and with this bag you don’t.

So for me I’d give it 10/10, a great bag at a very reasonable price.

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