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Posts tagged “outdoors

My yearly photo day at “La Rouge” river.

For some years now i like to go shooting photos along the ” La Rouge” river in Grenville sur-La-Rouge, there is a dirt road that runs along the river that offers beautiful point of views. My favorite time of the year to go is autumn not just because of the beautiful colors of the trees but also because there is often fog early in the morning. So this year is a great year for formation of fog, we have sunny warm days and colder nights without clouds, so i was able to easily plan my visit there.

I was up early so i could be there just before sunrise, it’s about 1h15 minutes drive from my home, it paid off, there was fog in the lower valleys and on the river !

Here is the sunrise i was granted from my early drive, i did use a Graduated ND filter, wish i had a stronger one.

Pentax K-01 with DA*50-135mm, tripod.

I finally got on the dirt road and was happy to see lots of thick fog over the river which gave me more time to shoot before the sun was able to evaporate all that fog.

I zoomed to about 250mm to get that perspective of the fog over the river.

Canon T3i with 70-300mm IS, Tripod.

Island on the river in the morning sun.

Canon T3i with 70-300mm IS, Tripod.

The opposite banks of the river also getting some warm morning light.

Canon T3i with 70-300mm IS, Tripod.

I used a long enough shutter speed to show movement of the fog.

Canon T3i with 15-85mm IS, 1/2 sec. at f/11, Tripod.

I was near the end of the dirt road and the sun was getting higher in the sky and the fog was nearly all gone by now. I suddenly saw this field on my right with steam coming out of those hay bales, i stopped immediately and ran with my gear in the field!

Pentax K-01 with DA*50-135, Tripod.

I tried different lenses and point of view, here i used my 15-85mm at the 20mm setting and used the built-in flash to get some fill-in light in the shadow part of the bale.

Canon T3i with 15-85mm IS, Tripod.

I like the B&W conversion of that shot better than the color one.

 Canon T3i with 70-300mm IS, Tripod.

It’s always a joy to shoot photos along that river and i get different opportunities each time i go there, it’s also a good place to see Deer and Turkey Vultures but this i didn’t saw any close enough for my lens. Well maybe next year !


Don’t forget to walk around your subject.

Often we take a shot and we walk away because we think we captured it the only way possible, but in fact we didn’t take full advantage of the situation and didn’t produced the best photo we could. This morning i finally had the occasion to photograph a scene that i was waiting to shoot, i wanted the Sumac Vinegar trees to change to their autumn colors.

I already knew i wanted to photograph them from to different point of view, i started with one of them and took some shots before the sun would hit the scene.

After that i walked to my other point of view and the sun broked through the clouds.

This last shot was taken from another point of view that i found while walking along the field. So even when you think you knew how you wanted to photograph a subject sometimes just a change of position or quality of the light and it can make a difference.

Just for comparison, here is a photo i took with a similar composition to the one just taken above but without the same light.

All the photos were taken with my Canon T3i and 15-85mm with a polarizing filter on a tripod, i took them before going to work within 15 to 20 minutes of each others. So keep your eyes and mind open when shooting in the field.


Canon 15-85mm/ 3.5-5.6, my impressions after 2 weeks of vacation.

I bought that lens just before going to vacation (New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island) because i wanted a Zoom lens, taking photos with a complete set of Prime lenses during family vacation is just too slow and you always change lenses and kids don’t wants to wait too long while dad is taking photos ūüėČ

The comments below are based on that 2 weeks trip, so it’s not a long period but it was the lens i used for most of my photos and that 15-85mm was glued to my T3i. I’m not a fan of zoom lenses, so i’m critical about sharpness, habitually i found that zoom lenses are too much of a compromise in IQ but there is some very good ones out there. One of the negative point of zoom lenses is that their minimum focusing distance is not close enough when used at their shorter settings! This one focuses down to 35cm, not bad but when you’re at 15mm it’s too far, for comparison my Pentax DA14mm¬† focuses down to 17cm !

Dickson Creek in Fundy National Park, NB.

The 15-85mm was very useful along that creek and around the waterfall.

At 15mm, ISO 100, 2 sec. at f/11,Tripod and a Polarizing filter.

The IQ of the lens never disappointed me at any settings, not always as sharp as a good prime lens of the same focal length but still very good in most situations. The versatility of that lens compensate for the little things that are not perfect like minimum focusing distance, some distorsion at 15mm and some vignetting at wider apertures especially at 15mm but easy to correct in LR.

The EF-s 15-85mm is a big and heavy lens compared to the 18-55 kit lenses but the built quality is higher and the 15 to 18mm range is very useful. I didn’t had problem with zoom creeping yet since the lens is brand new but i know from what i’ve read that it will come eventually. I really liked that lens for family vacation and will be using it for my regular photography from now on.

Some more shots taken with that lens:

Here is a shot to show the sunstar effect of that lens, i did use a Polarizing filter but the flare resistance is not bad, need more shots to have a final judgement and without any filter.

Handheld with IS activated at 15mm at f/8 at ISO 100.

The Confederation bridge, from New Brunswick to Prince Edward Island in about 10 minutes.
This is a 12.9 kilometre (8 mile) long bridge, it’s the longest in the world crossing ice-covered water.

At 15mm, at f/13, ISO 100, tripod and Polarizing filter.

At 80mm, ISO 200 at f/6.3, handheld with IS.

Zoomed in at 100% to show the details, crop from above after PP and sharpening.

Baie des HA! HA!, Bic Park, Quebec

At 15mm, ISO 100 at f/11, tripod.

Corner crop of the shot above.

Acadien day on August 15, La grande Tintamare, they make as much noise as they can to commemorate that day every year, Bouctouche, NB.

15mm at f/8, ISO 200, Polarizing filter and fill-in light with the built-in flash of my T3i.

Old School in Avonlea, village of Anne of Green Gables, PEI.

19mm at f/8, ISO 400, handheld with IS.

Dickson Fall close-up, Fundy National Park, NB.

At 40mm, ISO 100 at f/14, Tripod and Polarizing filter.

Dickson Creek in Fundy National Park, NB.

At 85mm, ISO 100 at f/11, Tripod and Polarizing filter.


Saving a Camera and lens damaged by water

I’m the kind of photographer who tend to broke is photo equipment, call it bad luck or i’m goofy but it happened to me on some occasion over the last 25 years. But i outdone myself this time, i dropped my 3 months old¬†Canon 7D and 400mm/5.6L in the water ūüė¶

I was photographing frogs and just put my 7D with 400mm/5.6 L and with an Extension tube on my tripod, i put my camera bag on the ground and saw my kit falling in the pond , i quickly grabbed my lens by the hood but the ext. tube unlocked from the lens and my 7D did fall back in the water and was now fully vulnerable and making bubbles ūüė¶

The first thing i did was to turn the camera OFF, remove the battery and CF card. I was about at a¬†10 minutes drive from my home, so i was able to put my camera and lens quickly in plastic bags with silical gel. I went to my local¬†camera store and they said that Canon wouldn’t repair them because¬†of the water.¬†After that i got help from forum members (DPReview and Nature Photographer Network) that suggested rice, so i put rice also and transferred the lens and camera in separate plastic containers. I also removed the back cover on my 7D and unscrewed the lens mount on my 400mm lens to help air circulation.

I changed the rice everyday, and after over 48 hours i decided to try my 400mm lens which looked dry (no more water in the scale distance window), it didn’t get deeper than the scale distance window in the water.¬†To my surprise the AF worked like a new lens, i tested it on a Canon XS, here¬†is one of¬†my first test shots:

This is a 100% crop from a shot taken in JPEG on a Canon XS.

After testing it i put it back in the container with rice to be sure that any remaining humidity would be eliminated. I didn’t touched my 7D for a full week, the top LCD was half filled with water, it took 3 days to completely dry out, even after 5 days there was still water droplets in the VF.

Well tonight i looked at my camera and the VF is now fogged, so i decided to try a battery in the camera (in fact 3) ….. well nothing happened. I declare my 7D officially dead ūüė¶

I’m now waiting news from my insurance tomorrow, after that even if they don’t pay i will have to buy another 7D. At least i saved my lens, the camera took too much water to survive.

Hope that my post will help others save their equipment if it ever happens.

I found some tips here a couple of days later:

http://www.dpreview.com/articles/5848434337/water-damage-dont-loose-hope/2


The little pond.

My favorite pond for photographing Green Frogs is in fact an old part of an ATV trail that is now filled with water. The pond is not wide so it’s easy to take photos of any Frog in the water or on the shore . When i can i stop at the pond before going to work, i don’t always take photos or came home with a good shot but the more i go the more i have chances to get a good shot. This is a big advantage to have a place like this that you can go often and try new technic are POF, if it doesn’t work the first time you can easily try again and again until you get what you want.

During the last years i got different perspective of Frogs at that pond by using different lenses. I will start by a short video i made this morning of the pond and the set-up i used to get the following photo.

This is the photo of the Male Green Frog that i’m showing in the following Video. unfortunately i couldn’t get the reflection of the Frog’s eye on the water because of the reflections of the plants surrounding the frog.

Canon 7D, 400mm/5.6L, 52mm of Ext. tubes, ISO 400 at f/9, tripod, LV was used to focus precisely on the eye.

Here is the video, you will see the whole pond and the Frog that is in the photo just above:

http://s47.photobucket.com/user/leopold44/media/IMGP1717_zps964efd90.mp4.html

Some more shots from that pond and i always keep an eye for insects on plants along the shore.

Canon 7D with EF 70-300mm IS at 300mm with Ext. tube, at f/11, tripod.

Pentax K-01 with DFA100mm Macro WR, ISO 800 at f/7.1, tripod.

Pentax K-01 with DFA100mm Mcro WR, ISO 500, 1/500 sec.at f/5.0, handheld with SR.


Rain protection for lenses and your Cards.

Raincover for lenses

Back in March 2013 when i bought a Canon 7D and a 400mm/5.6L i knew that this combo was not as weather sealed as my Pentax K20D and DA*50-135mm and i didn’t want to use plastic bags¬† like i did with my Pentax-67 M*400mm/4. So i looked on the Net to find a Raincover that would fit my new kit, i finally found a rain cover sold by Rainydays2008 for 20$ (Canadian) for the Canon 400mm/5.6L (they sell raincovers for different lenses). At that price it was not a big risk, it’s been a good investment for protecting my gear from the rain.

You can see in the photos above that the raincover is kept in place on the lens hood with a rubber band and it also have a small ruberized band inside to keep it from sliding on the lens hood. On the second shot above it shows that you have enough space to put your hands under it and use your gear without any problem.

Even if it’s for a Canon 400mm/5.6L it would certainly work for other lenses and camera combo, the 400mm/5.6L has a 72mm filter size and i can use Extension tubes with or without my TC-1.4X II. It would certainly fit on a Canon 300mm/4L with different cameras but also for Pentax lenses like the FA*400mm/5.6, F*/FA* 300mm/4.5 or even ¬†Sigma 400mm/5.6 and 300mm/4 APO Macro.

Waterproof card case

My camera bag was becoming full of SD and CF cards all piled in a pocket in Ziplock bags and it was not easy to find the one i wanted for a specific camera, so i bought a Gepe card safe Extreme case, which is waterproof and crush proof. Up to now i like it and will probably buy another one.

The advantage of that case is that you can put 4 SD cards and also 4 CF cards above them as seen above. Also when it’s closed you can see through so you can quickly know which cards are in the case.

In the field

I tested in several occasions the Raincover and the Card case and both performed very well. Last week i was able to photograph Frogs and a Great Blue Heron for over 3 hours in the rain with periods of heavier rain fall and i had no problem at all, my camera and lens stayed dry and i kept the Card case in one of my rain suit pocket.

Here are some shots i took during that morning.

Bullfrog with decorations !

Canon 7D with 400mm/5.6L with TC 1.4X II and an Ext. tube, tripod, remote release.

Great Blue Heron stretching, i stayed with him for over 2 hours sitting at the edge of the pond, patience even in bad weather is sometimes rewarded !

Canon 7D with 400mm/5.6L, tripod.


1st Frog shot with Underwater casing and NEX-3.

During the winter i bought a MEIKON underwater casing for my NEX-3 and 18-55 kit lens. My goal was to made different photos than the usual view of frogs. I wasn’t sure if i would be able to view the LCD of my NEX-3 clear enough to be able to compose correctly$. Finally after that 1st try i’m really pleased with the set-up!

Here is my NEX-3 in the underwater casing.

The controls are relatively easy to operate, didn’t had any real problem using all the controls on my NEX-3. You can only use AF since you don’t have access to the focusing ring. Now i need to practice to get better at composition with part of the frog underwater, there is a lot of branches underwater that prevents from a clear view of the frog’s body parts that are underwater. The 18-55mm kit lens was set at 19mm and it can focus down to 0.25 Meter, not close enough. Tomorrow i will try my Sigma 19mm which can focus down to 0.20 Meter, i will loose OSS but i will gain sharpness and i can go to f/2.8 is necessary.

Well here is my first shot.

I cropped the right side and some of the bottom part of this shot, the 18-55 don’t focus close enough and i can only set it ¬†from about 18mm up to 19mm within the casing.

Stay tuned, i will try again tomorrow morning, practice will make me better at this!


Beavers are back at the pond, good for Frogs !

My favorite pond for photographing Gray Tree Frogs and Spring Peeper Frogs is a Beaver’s pond, but sadly 2 years ago the beavers were killed by humans. Since there was no more beavers for the last 2 years the water level of the pond was very low and last year it was completely dried out by mid summer and a lot of tadpoles died before having time to complete their metamorphosis.¬†So last year was not a good year for the frogs and for my frog photography sessions, it didn’t last long.

One of the 3 beavers that i’ve seen this spring, a blurred vision in low light. ¬†I panned with my camera as the beaver was swimming close to me.

Canon 7D with 400mm/5.6L, ISO 800, 1/25 sec. at f/5.6, tripod.

I had a surprise last week-end when i went to see if i could find some frogs and saw 3 beavers and a big pond full of water, and to top this i heard some frogs singing even in the cold morning (it even snowed later in the day). I was more than happy for the little frogs, hope that the beavers will not get kill this year.

Here is a video i made last summer (2012) of that pond, where i walk to take that video this year with the water level i would be walking in waist level water . You can see the result of a very dry year and no beavers present to maintain the water level.

pond

Beaver’s pond¬†are important for frogs and insects, it’s a great place for reproduction and make that place home. If everything goes well it should be a great year for frog reproduction, especially for the Spring peeper and Gray tree frog because at the edge of the pond there is a lot of vegetation and small trees to hide in. At that pond in past years i also saw Leopard frogs, Green frogs and American Toads.

Leopard Frog on moss on the shore of the pond.

Pentax K-01, Pentax DFA 100mm Macro WR, handheld.

Young Gray Tree frog in a tree along the shore of the pond.

Pentax K-01, Pentax DFA 100mm Macro WR with TC 1.4X, tripod.

Damselfly are another resident of beaver’s pond.

Pentax K-01, Pentax DFA 100mm Macro WR with TC 1.4X, tripod. 

I’m looking forward to see how the season will go, hope to make some good frog shots and now of beavers also !


Pentax K-01, one year with “The Brick”


“The Brick”¬†is the nickname of the Pentax K-01 in reviews and on Forums, yes it looks like that but it’s the best looking brick i’ve ever seen! I’ve been using my K-01 for 1 year now and i wanted to talk how it performed in the field and if it was a good move to buy it immediately when it was available ?

FUN¬†…….. that would be enough to describe the Pentax K-01!

If you read posts about that camera on Forums you will see that it’s the word that is used the most often to describe the experience to shoot with the K-01. It reminds me when i bought my 1st 35mm SLR, a Pentax K1000, same colors with big wheels and the minimum numbers of¬†buttons on the camera. Sure the K-01 is not for fast action shooting when used in RAW format, just like the K1000 was not one either.

Does that means that the K-01 is a perfect camera ?

No, it’s not a camera for action photography if you shoot RAW format. This is my main complaint about the K-01, Pentax can certainly boost the speed¬†to 3 Fps with a firmware update, but i don’t know if they will do it ? Pentax released a firmware update (version 1.02) for the K-01 and it helped the AF, it’s now faster with most lenses, certainly worth it. Would have liked to¬†have an update for the 1 Fps drive in RAW at least up to 3 Fps.¬†I did took wildlife photos with it when the animals were slow or not moving but i still prefer to use a DSLR for wildlife photography.

The rubber flap that covers the SD card door was a concern at first, but it proved to be durable and easy to close with some practice, will see if the rubber flap will survive many years of hard use.

I really enjoyed shooting with it in the field, i tried angles that were hard or impossible with a DSLR because you need to look in the VF. Sure you can use LV with most DSLR now, but the K-01 is more fluid and AF is accurate and faster with the new Firmware update.

This is one situation where the K-01 is king ! I was balancing on icy rocks while holding my K-01 with the DA14 just above the water’s surface. Even at an angle of about 45 degree i was able to compose my shot and the AF and SR were of great help also.

Another shot taken with the K-01 and DA14 ¬†from ground level, this Green Frog was tolerant because i was holding the camera at arm’s length which is less threatening than getting myself close with a DSLR ¬†while looking in the VF !

Here is one advantage of the “Brick”¬†, if you use it with a small lens and without a quick release plate you can support it on nearly any side .

As you can see it can be useful, you can support it on many flat surfaces like a table, ground or any other practical places. I don’t know if it was the goal of the disigner and/or Pentax but for photographers it’s a plus. The grip is not as good as a DSLR especially with bigger lenses but up to my DFA 100 Macro WR i have no problem handholding it for shooting in different positions. When i’m shooting at ground level or taking photos of frogs in water i use my thumb to press the shutter release button.

I always prefer to use a tripod but there is situations when a tripod is not practical and the K-01 is really a great camera , for me at least, with the SR, LV and very good AF performance !

Focus peaking

Well this was one of the main reason that i bought the K-01, because i was already using a Sony NEX-3 and liked to use ¬†the focus peaking with my od manual focus lenses. At first i didn’t found the Pentax version as good as the Sony, but with practice now i found it easier to get exact focus especially when using the loupe at 6X. In low light the Pentax K-01 focus peaking is better than the one in the Sony NEX-3, the Sony is hard to focus in low light.

I wish Pentax will come with a firmware update providing a choice of colors for the Focus peaking like the NEX cameras. In most situations i had no problem with the actual color of the focus peaking but with some subjects having a different color would have helped.

Cold temperature

Since i live in Canada taking photos in cod temperatures, from autumn to spring, having a camera that can support very cold and humid environment is important to me.

One winter morning it was -27 C ¬†(-37 C with windchill factor) and i went to the shore of a lake and took photos for 40 minutes before i had to go to work, i wish i had more times, but a good test anyway. The K-01 never failed, just slower to refresh the LCD after a photo was taken, at the end of the session. I turned it off a couple of times to cold it down to see if it would start again, no problem.¬†So the camera temperature was ranging from 9C for the first shot (the sunrise photo below) to -6C at the end of the session.¬†When you use it more the camera temperature goes up again, so i think that using a MLC in LV will generate more heat than a DSLR used with it’s OVF.

On another occasion it was -18C and took photos for more than 2 hours and it never failed either even with a mist coming from the Waterfall that frosted on it. I did use it on many other occasions in temperature from -15C to -20C and the K-01 comes out with great performances every time.

Here is the photo of  the sunrise taken on the morning when it was -27 C.

With Telephoto lenses.

With long telephoto lenses from 300mm and up a MLC¬† like the K-01 or other MLC with no EVF/OVF¬†are not the best cameras to use, i still prefer a DSLR. Especially when you use a lens with a tripod collar on a tripod, the set-up is not as rigid because you don’t press your¬†forehead on the camera because you don’t look in an EVF/OVF. You need a faster shutter speed to obtain a sharp shot. But when i use my Pentax-645 FA300mm/5.6 which doesn’t have a tripod collar, it’s the K-01 that is attached to the tripod then it’s easier to get sharper shots.

The focus peaking really heps getting the focus where you want it with Telephoto enses for long distances shots.

Field on a frosty morning, this is one situation  where focus peaking is helpful to get the focus where you want it with long manual focus lenses like here with my Pentax-645 FA300mm/5.6.

Conclusion

I never regretted buying my K-01 even if i paid the full price (some peoples have to sacrifice themselves ). The K-01 is really a camera that grows on you and put the FUN back into your photography ! With it’s great IQ, SR, excellent construction which should last many years and it’s particular design, the K-01 will become a classic Pentax camera. The K-01 really shines for photographing Macro and landscape for nature photography. Other photographers might not consider you a real photogapher when they see that you’re using a K-01, if they know which camera you’re using in the first place, but when they will see the photos you have taken with the Brick they wil be surprise.

My K-01 was supposed to be a back-up camera for my K20D, but the more i used that camera the more i wanted to photograph with it. It really grows on you and finally my K20D is now my back-up camera !

My K-01 is the camera that i reach for when i want to enjoy photography, it says a lot !

We don’t know yet if Pentax will continue with a K-02, Pentax never said that they will do another K-Mount MLC like the K-01 …. so chances are thin to see a K-02.


Pentax-645 FA 300mm/5.6 review

I was looking for a smaller lens to use when i don’t want to take my big and heavy Pentax-67 M*400mm/4. Sure, i could have bought one of the 300mm lenses available in K-mount but i was curious about that lens and how it would perform on my K20D and K-01. There is not much info or reviews on that lens, from what i’ve found it’s said to be a good lens, so i think it’s worth writing a small review on the image quality and my impressions of ¬†how it feels to use it in the field.

Lens specifications and first impressions

This lens is not marked as a “*” ¬†lens but the build quality is very good as usual with Pentax lenses. The focusing ring is large and smooth just how i like them on a lens. You can switch to AF by pushing it forward to the front of the lens and then pull it back toward the camera to switch to MF, like the FA* K-mount lenses.

– Weight: 775 gr

– 7 elements in 7 groups

– Filter size: 67mm (same as my FA20mm/2.8 and DA*50-135mm/2.8 certainly an advantage for me)

– Min. focusing distance: 2.20 Meter

– Number of aperture blades: 9 (nearly rounded)

– Range of F-stop: f/5.6 to f/45 (two position between f/5.6 and f/11, after that 1/2 f/stop between f/11 up to f/32 and full stop between f/32 and f/45).

Here is a size comparison with my Pentax DA*50-135mm/2.8:

The lens hood have a small part on the bottom that you can remove so that you can turn your polarizer filter that is attached to the lens, i like that feature¬†(the DA*50-135 also have it). There is no tripod collar on that lens, i would have liked to have one on such a long lens but since it’s not that heavy in handles quite well.

The nights during the week were cold, between 0C to -6C, good conditions for ice formation around rivers and ponds. On that morning i tried different ISO and shutter speeds to see the effects and selected my favorite later.

K-01, 1/15 sec. at f/11, ISO 500, tripod.

What about the image quality of that lens ? 

I didn’t shoot brick wall or other set-up ¬†for this lens, instead i decided to evaluate it’s IQ only from photos in the field since long lenses can be affected by the environnement like wind and haze. ¬†Keep in mind that the comments apply to the lens used on APS-C cameras and that the IQ can differ if you use that lens on a 645D.

As for sharpness i tried it at every apetures, my conclusion is that it’s good at f/5.6 and it’s at it’s best ¬†from f/6.3 to f/11. At f/16 the diffraction already shows it’s nose and from f/22 to f/45 i call it soft and unusable.

This photo was taken near the minimum focusing distance of the FA300mm/5.6. The lens was stopped down at f/8 and i found the sharpness to be very good. As usual the camera was attached to a solid tripod.

My goal when i bought that 300mm was to replace my big and heavy Pentax-67 M*400mm/4 (weighing 3700 gr.) so i could take a smaller camera bag for my photo outing when wildlife is not my primary interest. So i wanted to know how the sharpness of the FA300mm/5.6 would compare to the M*400mm/4. My guess before taking some shots was that the 400mm would be sharper at f/5.6 since it will already be stopped down 1 stop and the 300mm will be W/O. My guess was right, not a big guess since it is logical and predictable.

Most of the time i use my 400mm at f/5.6 but i also stop it 1/2 stop more when i can, so i tested both lenses stopped 1/2 stop more than f/5.6 and it’s probably at that setting that i will use the FA300mm most of the time.

OK, i said i wouldn’t take photos of brick wall …. well i cheated just a little here !

Here is a 100% crop of a photo i took in the field to see how those 2 compares, this shot was taken stopped down 1/2 stop from f/5.6. Both shots were taken with my K-01 in RAW with no PP and i did use the 2 second delay with the help of a solid tripod.

Pentax-645 FA300mm/5.6

Pentax-67 M*400m/4

But a photo taken in RAW needs some PP so i did that in the photo below to show how the final photo would looks like.

Same shot of the FA300mm/5.6 with some PP, amount 100 and radius at 1.0. This is a 100% crop.

Now a more interesting subject, a Golden Eagle portrait taken in a Zoo and a 50% crop after PP in Photoshop.

K20D at ISO 640 lens set at f/6.3, on a tripod (no cropping).

Here is the 50% crop of the photo above.

Aberrations and flare control

Older lenses can suffer of aberrations and flare because they were not designed for digital sensors, the coating on the rear lens elements can cause reflections on the sensor. I came across some Pigeons on a roof with strong backlit around sunrise. I took some shots to see if i could produce some CA, in that shot below taken with my K-01 and the FA300 at around f/8 we can see some CA but it’s not that bad at all.

It’s a 100% crop from a shot taken at ¬†f/8.0 with no correction of the CA, not bad for an older MF lens. In most situations i couldn’t see any CA in my photos.

In most of the situation i didn’t encounter any problem with flare, but while i was taking photos of the Golden Eagle at the Zoo i did had problem with flare. I don’t know if it’s due to the lens (probably sensor flare due to the older coating)¬†or reflections inside the K-mount adapter. My Pentax-67 M*400mm/4 also have flare problems in that kind of light, subject against a white sky are when the lens is pointing in the direction of that sky.

The flare i encountered with the P-645 FA300/5.6 on my K20D.

In the field

Even if it’s a Medium format lens it’s not heavy and handles well with my K20D and even my K-01. The biggest difference between the FA300mm/5.6 and my M*400mm/4 is that to focus from the minimum distance to infinity the FA300mm needs only 1/3 of a turn of the focusing ring where the M*400mm needs a full 360 turn! So the M*400mm is more precise and easier to obtain critical focus but with time i will get the hang of it like all my others AF lenses.

So how a lens handles in the field can have a negative effect on the sharpness also. Since this lens doesn’t come with a tripod collar it’s important to have a good technique. A tripod collar is probably not needed on a 645 camera since the lens is light enough to be supported and with the weight of the camera the handling may not be as good if a tripod collar was included.

After some practice in the field i now find it easy to use on a tripod with my K20D or K-01 and i’m getting sharp results without any problem.

Conclusion

Did i do the right thing when i bought that lens ?

The more i use it the more i like it and i’m getting to know how to use it to get the best out of it. I’m taking it with me everyday when i’m going to work, my kit is:

– K-01

– DA14mm

– DA35 mm Macro Ltd

– DFA100mm Macro WR

– Super Takumar 150mm

– Pentax-645 FA300mm/5.6

A lot less weight than my regular camera bag and it feels so light, i think i will use that lens a lot and will take it with me for our yearly vacation instead of my Big M*400mm/4 and knowing that i will not loose any IQ! The  DA*300mm/4 would certainly be sharper W/O and at f/5.6 but the price is higher also, if a 300mm would be my main long lens the DA*300 would be my choice but for more occasional use the Pentax-645 FA300mm/5.6 is a great choice.

Some photos taken with that lens:

A cold morning with frost and fog makes for great photo opportunities.

K-01, FA300mm at f/11, tripod.

Snowy Owl taken in a Zoo through a fence.

K20D at f/6.3, tripod.


Fog is one of the best opportunity for photography.

Fog can add drama and/or mystery in a shot, you have to be out early because when the sun is up the fog will evaporate quite fast and the show will end.

I’m lucky to live in the Province of Quebec in Canada where we often have cold nights that are ideal for fog formation. Here it can happen most of the year, habitually you need a warm day followed by a cold night, even in winter when there is a big drop in temperature during the night, fog will form and also frost will hang on the trees adding another beautiful touch to the landscape.

Autumn is the best season for fog photography because the days or still warm and during the nights the temperature can drop very low and you can have fog and frost in the same shot!

This shot was taken in August on a cold morning on the shore of Lake Philippe in Gatineau Park, Province of Quebec, Canada. I waited until the sun was out to see how the scene would change, sometimes you’re lucky and get a good shot.

Pentax K20D, Pentax DA*50-135mm, Tripod.

Exposition can be tricky because your meter will try to make the fog grey, so you will have to compensate for that by dialing +1 or more depending on how much fog take place in your composition.

Another situation that is hard to expose is when the fog is lit by the sun, burning highlights can be easy. The “blinkie” on your LCD¬†can help to see how much of the scene will be overexposed, some part might be overexposed but you don’t want to have all the fog to be too overexposed.

Here is an example of the sun rising behind the fog, the sensor can’t record the dynamic range of the entire scene, so you have to let the sun overexposed which is OK since we can’t see all that scene well exposed with our own eyes anyway.

Sony NEX-3, SMC Takumar 35mm/3.5, tripod.

An interesting thing about fog is that it will take the color temperature of the available light, at sunrise it can become orange and before sunrise it’s more gray or blue.

Here is a shot i took at sunrise, you can see that the fog took the color of the light at that time of the day.

Sony NEX-3, Sony Alpha 70-300mm G series, tripod.

Composition is important, if you fill the frame with fog you will not necessarily get a good shot, you will get a white frame, you need structure and if possible a strong foreground interest. Practice is the key for photography and particularly with fog, autumn is coming so it’s time to set your alarm clock, dress warm¬†and get out with your camera.¬†Back home after¬†your photo session you will be able to look at your shots on your PC with a hot chocolate or coffee.

Some more shots.

Fog and frost in a field last autumn, not thick fog but enough to give a final touch to that shot.

Pentax K20D, Pentax DA* 50-135mm, tripod.

St-Lawrence river at sunrise with fog on the horizon.

Pentax K20D, Pentax DA* 50-135mm, tripod.

Fog can give a different look to your wildlife photos, those Canada geese looks more like a painting.

Pentax K20D, Pentax-67 M* 400mm/4, tripod.


Some recent photos taken with the K-01.

Just wanted to share some photos taken with the K-01 that i took lately.

Still learning that baby, the more i use it the more i like it, it really grows on you. Well, since i got it i barely used my K20D, even for wildlife shots !

Close-up of a Snapping Turtle, i was glad i still had all my fingers after that shot ūüėČ

Taken with the Pentax DFA100mm Macro WR handheld with SR.

That morning the fog was very thick and lasted even after sunrise, the insects couldn’t fly away so i was able to take many shots.

Taken with the Pentax DFA100mm Macro WR and Pentax-A TC 1.4X-S, tripod.

Stemless Lady’s-Slipper taken in a pine forest near my home, they are so beautiful.

Taken with the Pentax DA14mm, tripod.

Taken with the DA35mm Macro Limited, handheld with SR. I wouldn’t have been able to take that shot with a DSLR because it would have been impossible to see in the VF, even with the K-01 it was hard to compose and focus. A tilting or swivel screen wouldn’t have been helpful either because the camera’s LCD was up against the steep shore of the pond.

Even if it’s have some limitation it’s certainly a camera that have it’s place in my bag, i never left home without my K-01.


Showing Wildlife in their habitats.

When i started photography (and most people for that matter), all i wanted was getting closer to wildlife to have a close shot of the animals. It’s always fun to have a great portrait of an animal, i still do that when i have the occasion. But now, whenever i can, i try not to get too close and show the animal in it’s habitat, i think it will be the kind of photos that will sell more and more now that the environment in which the animal live is considered as important to protect than the animal itself …. well i hope it will be in most countries!

It’s not always easy to show an animal in it’s habitat, often there is distracting elements that you can’t crop from your composition.

In this shot the Great Blue Heron was at the base of a waterfal that is not natural. I was able to frame the heron against the waterfal and still show the heron in this particular environment without showing the artificial construction. I could have gotten closer but i would have lost the background and it would have been “yet” another Great Blue Heron portrait. Sony NEX-3, Pentax-67 M*400mm/4.

It’s more like taking a landscape photo but with an animal in your composition, so you need the same thing as a landscape photo: good composition, beautiful light certainly helps and an interesting landscape or atmosphere. The rule of thirds is still a valuable starting point, placing the animal at one of the crossing points makes for a dynamic photo, if necessary you can place the animal elsewhere in the frame if it makes for an even stronger composition.

This photo was already posted here on my Blog but i think it shows what i mean about showing an animal in it’s habitat. Those Canada Geese stayed very late at that place, they left when they had no more place to go¬† on that pond (free water), so even in december you can have great opportunities to show how an animal can survive in their habitat even if it gets cold. Pentax K20D, Pentax-67 M*400mm/4.

Don’t forget the small animals that can be found at your feet, i like to use my 14mm lens at or near it’s minimum focusing distance and show a frog, snail or insect in it’s habitat. Unfortunately not all wide angle lens can focus very close, especially zoom lenses where the minimum focusing distance is often not as close as a prime wide angle lens.

This close-up of a Snail¬†on Stone crop and moss is interesting because we can see the details and textures of the animal but doesn’t show too much of the snail environment . It was taken on a rainy morning around sunrise. Pentax K20D, Pentax DFA 100mm Macro WR.

This one was taken on another morning but close to where the shot above was captured. Here i took the photo with my Pentax DA14mm which can focus very close for such a wide angle (0.17 meter and a repro ration of 0.19x), which is very useful to take the kind of shot like this one. With such a wide angle i was able to show the snail environment and create a dynamic photo, the snail looks like is following the rock path along the water to go back in the vegetation in the background . Pentax K-01, Pentax DA 14mm, at f/8, handheld, SR (Shake Reduction) activated.

Next time you will¬†go hunting wildlife with your camera,¬†¬†keep in mind to also capture them with a wider perspective, showing¬†the animal¬†in it’s habitat can give viewers another experience when looking at your images.


K-01… the Pentax’s Black sheep ?

Pentax took a big risk with the design of the K-01, nobody is indifferent to that new camera, you either like it or hate it. It will certainly not be a camera that will appeal to the majority of photographer because it’s not like other MLC (mirrorless camera). But under that design there is a real camera that can certainly take great photos when you get to know it.

I wanted a second camera body with very good image quality, with good live view and not too big, Shake Reduction (SR) is a very welcome addition and didn’t necessarily needed an EVF/OVF. Sure it’s bigger than any other APS-C¬† MLC but it’s still smaller than a DSLR and because of it’s shape it’s easier to find a place for it in a camera bag than a DSLR. I have my Pentax DA35mm Macro Limited attached to the K-01 and it fit nicely in a section of my bag.

Here are my first impressions so far.

Ground level photography.

I tried some handheld shots at ground level, with the help of SR it performed very well and getting sharp photos was easier than i thought it would be. Since you can’t hold it as steady as a DSLR because you’re not looking in a viewfinder and can’t brace the camera on your forehead, you learn to hold it differently. When i’m taking photos at ground level i can view the image and focus on the LCD from an angle of 45¬į from above the camera and press the shutter button with my thumb instead of my finger, seems to work fine for me. An advantage of a MLC is that it’s not as hard on your body (back and neck) since you don’t have to contort yourself as much to compose your shot, like trying to see something in the VF of my K20D while photographing frogs at eye level on the shore of the pond.

Here is 2 photos taken handheld with the DA14mm:

DA14mm, ISO 400, 1/25 sec at f/8.0

DA14mm, ISO 500, 1/20 sec. at f/7.1

Powerful Macro tool.

One of the reason i bought the K-01 was that i wanted a camera that would help me with manual focus, the live view and focus peaking were a big selling point for me. I shoot a lot of close-up and Macro and always use manual focus. When you combine a great sensor with very good focus peaking,¬† you get a camera that is great for Macro photography. Taking Macro shots at ground level will be easier, as discussed in the previous paragraph. Can’t wait to try out some frogs photos with my Macro and DA14 lenses.

DFA100mm Macro WR, ISO 160, 1/100 sec. at f/6.3, tripod.

DFA100mm Macro WR, ISO 200, 1/80 sec. at f/4.5, tripod.

With long lenses, i think i’m crazy !

One thing i wanted to try was how it handles with long lenses, because of it’s better high ISO performance than my K20D i want to use it for photographing frogs using my Pentax-67 M*400mm/4 with extension tubes. The K-01 is bigger and have a better grip than other MLC so it’s not that bad on my 400mm, i can use it with good results, my hands don’t suffer from trying too hold and maneuver the gear on my tripod. If needed i will not hesitate to use my K-01 with long lenses.

That shot was taken around sunrise in a forest of Pine, this Cottontail Rabbit was relaxing under a big Pine. The good performance at high ISO and the focus peaking made that photo easy to get.

Pentax-67 M*400mm/4, ISO 1250, 1/80 sec. at f/5.6, tripod.

Focus peaking:

This is one of the reason i bought the K-01, combine with the magnification (up to 6X), it makes obtaining exact focus easier especially with manual focus lenses. I selected the red button (customization menu) for turning On and Off the focus peaking, it’s useful to be able to turn it off quickly because sometimes the peaking makes it hard to compose your shots. Even without the magnification the peaking is accurate and i like using it that way when i’m taking photos handheld at ground level. If you want to see how it works you can take a look at my other post here:

https://steevemarcoux2.com/2012/04/07/peaking-feature-k-01-vs-nex-3/

What i like about the K-01:

– The buttons and wheels are well made with firm clicks and feel.

– The shutter is very quiet, the first time i tried the K-01 in the field it was windy and i couldn’t hear the shutter.

– Focus peaking is great and accurate.

– Battery life is also very good, i made over 450 photos and some videos as well as playing around with the camera on the first charge.

– Built quality is also very good and i like the feeling of the camera in my hand, i don’t have problem with the layout of the controls.

– Shake Reduction is very good.

What i don’t like about the K-01:

– 1 Fps in RAW is my biggest negative point on the K-01, hope Pentax will address that in a future firmware update.

– Rubber door flap of the SD card compartment. I learned to close it with relative ease but my concern is more if it will survive in the long term ?

– AF is not the fastest but i don’t use it often anyway.

Conclusion:

If i had to own only 1 camera the K-01 wouldn’t be my choice because i need a DSLR with a faster motor drive and a VF for wildlife photography. But as a second camera body i think it’s a great value for any photographer who want a MLC or a smaller camera than a DSLR with great built quality and with focus peaking,¬† you can’t go wrong…. and the IQ is superb!

About high ISO i can say that i like the results up to 1250 ISO, i did try it enough above that to make a conclusion how high the quality is good enough for my taste. Will make another post here when i will have more shots under my belt with the K-01.

Time will tell if Pentax made a mistake or not by coming out with the K-01, it is certainly a camera that is already controversial, it’s not for everyone, but i like that Pentax made that move since the market is already full of tiny MLC that or not always easy to use other than with small lenses.