Sony RX100 - a compact DSLR

Thursday, April 25, 2013 at 15:26:16

I’ve gotten far more in to my digital photography recently - see gallery - and my DSLR (Nikon fanboy!) is my constant companion. However when I’m on the daily grind it’s far handier to have a compact to allow me to get that shot when I need to. After much gnawing and gnashing of teeth I plumped for the Sony RX100 - this is one of a new breed of compacts designed for the professional. What makes these types of camera amazing is packing a very large sensor in to a tiny body and making full manual controls available with a great lens. There are several competitors on the market, but the Sony offers a stunningly large 1” sensor and a fast Zeiss f1.8 10.4-37.1 optical zoom. In short, it produces amazingly sharp photos with remarkable light sensitivity. Minor shortcomings include the lack of ability to attached filters and the lack of time lapse and IR remote release.

There are two things I briefly wanted to touch upon here, namely filters and setup. So….

1. Filters: the camera as it arrives cannot take any kind of filters on the front. UV, ND or CPL would all be very useful to add. Thankfully after market comes to the help here - Lensmate make a glue on plastic mount that allows you to add a 52mm (for Nikon) screw-thread. I then use a 77-52mm stepper ring to use my telephoto filters on the camera.

2. Setup: the camera menu is far from simple to use and there are a myriad of settings. On the back of the camera is a control wheel surrounded by 4 menu buttons. My adjustments here include reassigning the functions to allow great control over the shooting. These are:
a. Centre: focus point. Camera is set to single focus point and pressing this allows you to move the focus point to your subject.
b. Up: screen display (default setting)
c.Left: drive mode. Change from single, multi, bracketed or timer modes.
d. Right: manual focus (yes it has a manual focus mode!!)
e. Down: exposure compensation. Adjust under or over exposure of the image

OK, that gives me huge granularity over my day-to-day shooting however I need quick access to other settings as well, so hit the Function (Fn) button to bring up a custom menu that you can edit. For me this is:

ISO (I have auto as the default to increase ISO at low shutter speeds)
Metering Mode (change between centre weight and spot)
Flash Mode: I have it off by default

Finally you can use the Control Wheel around the lens to access specific functions - this is just way too confusing and easy to knock. I turn this OFF and only use it for focusing in manual mode.

And finally, for those searching desperately for a way to multi-select and delete images in Playback mode, it isn’t there!!! You actually need to press the “Menu” button, go to the first “Playback” menu and select “Delete” (counter-intuitive!!).

Fabulous camera - buy one!

First satellite image

Wednesday, April 17, 2013 at 13:33:20

Well almost…..i09 shown the first weather satellite image of the Earth. This was taken from TIROS 1, a research satellite launched in 1960 to test the efficacy of remote observation from space. These images look a little mediocre in comparison to today’s images, however its worth remembering that they were primarily aimed at imaging the atmosphere, NOT the surface. Prior to this point imaging a whole hemisphere was not possible and just having information on a whole weather system, in one snapshot, was astonishing. Yes there were high altitude aircraft, but they were military. It must have seemed miraculous when these first images were returned to Earth - an eye watering moment to ponder what the next 50 years would hold.

LDCM Calibration

Tuesday, April 16, 2013 at 07:19:44

Nice article over at EO IofD as NASA/USGS prepare to ready LDCM for full operation status. As they say in the article…..”You don’t just strap a satellite to a rocket, launch it, and voilą, it takes measurements.” There’s a bucket load more stuff to do. Worth having a read and watch as LDCM is prepared for routine data collection.

OS Terrain 50

Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at 12:03:26

OS announced this weekend the availability of OS Terrain 50 (T50), a maintained 50m DEM of the UK. This is great news as 50m provides an incredibly useful spatial resolution for a variety of tasks. I have fond memories of working with the older equivalent, Landform Panorama, which provided a good visualisation of terrain given the resolution. The same couldnt be said of Landform Profile which was derived from vector contour data and suffered from all sorts of artefacts. As the Terrain FAQ notes, the data have been produced photogrammetrically using stereo air photos entirely by OS. There is no third party data involved (aka the bastardization of Landform Profile Plus).

Terrain is clearly a new product and almost doesn’t feature on the main terrain data page. I’m assuming this is a (very) new product, as its only on the FAQ page that we see mention of Terrain 5 which will be a 5m DEM to compare to NEXTMap amongst quite a few other products in the marketplace.

It’s great to see OS bringing this to market, albeit a little late and I will be interested to play with T50 more - in particular if it is derived from the T5 product how was this done and is the “information content” actually potentially higher such that we could resample to better resolutions (e.g. Grohman and Steiner (2008))

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