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Old Mar 27, 2011, 9:09 PM   #1
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Default Early K-5 Exposure tests -- just some swans

Hi All.

My complex hires a company that supplies a mated pair of Mute Swans to help control the Canada Geese at our lake. Last year, they produced their first signets after quite a few seasons. The Swans were just delivered, and are busy exploring the lake. It was bright, but a bit cold (low 30's F (@ 0C), so I can't spend a lot of time out before my hands stop working. I gave myself about 15-20 min to walk over and shoot some to test how well the K-5 meter and sensor handled the relatively low angled sun on the white birds against the dark water.

I usually shoot jpegs, Av priority, Center Weighted metering, so these were my settings here. I also wanted to test the Highlight Correction feature which can help to prevent blown highlights as I knew that this would be a problem with the white birds in direct sunlight. I rarely used this with the K-7 as it introduced quite a bit of noise, even at ISO 200 (the minimum ISO available is automatically set at 1 stop faster in this mode to give the extra headroom for highlight retention). I had the extended ISO range turned off, so the lowest ISO setting usable was 200 with this feature active, and I think I'll be using this feature quite a bit with the K-5 since the noise penalty is hardly noticeable.

I still dialed in -.7 stop Ev compensation for the light conditions and subject. This is about the minimum that I'd have used with previous bodies, and it turned out just about right. Later in the season, when the sun is closer and brighter, I'll most likely need more, so my use of Ev comp will probably not change much with the new body.

Here are the better shots:

#1. At first, only one of the guys was anywhere close to shore.

#2. This was a shot of the arrival of the second swan. Usually they just "walk" underwater, alternating the foot strokes, but this one was apparently "rowing" with both feet simultaneously, causing it to surge forward, pause, and surge again. You can see the wake it caused in front. I'd never seen this before.

#3. With a pair of waterfowl, for some reason I always try for symmetry shots between the pair, and have rarely gotten good ones. This time I got lucky.

All were shot with the K-5 and FA* 300/4.5. All were PP'd to taste to bring up the shadows a bit, corrected for some very slight lateral CA, sharpened with Topaz InFocus and downsized for posting. I've got to start remembering to bring that portable reflector . . .

Scott
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Old Mar 27, 2011, 9:31 PM   #2
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Very nice! The birds are so beautiful! The amount of detail in the feathers is wonderful. Isn't it nice to have so much ability to lighten the shadows without introducing noise?

You've also brought up a point about the highlight correction. The reason I never used the extended range in the past was due to noise, but as you mentioned, the K5 is very good when it comes from having little noise. So I can see using using it for things like this. Certainly gives me something to think about and a reason to test it out.
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Old Mar 27, 2011, 11:25 PM   #3
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Very nice shots Scott, but you're making things difficult for me: I'm really trying to resist the urge to get the K5 and a few DA* lenses. With 2 kids in college and my wife facing some medical issues, it's just not something I should even think about spending money on. But photos like yours, with such clean and noise-free shadows, and highlights that are beautifully exposed, makes it harder and harder to resist the urge.
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Old Mar 28, 2011, 8:26 AM   #4
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Really nice. Thanks. I am not very good at birds, but the detail that shows here tends to lead me to say you've nailed these.

Seaain
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Old Mar 28, 2011, 1:32 PM   #5
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The issue I've always had with Highlight & Shadow correction (on the K7) was the way it slowed down the camera to a virtual standstill at times. I admit I haven't tried it on the K5 - so how did you find the camera / buffer handled it ?
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Old Mar 28, 2011, 7:47 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mtngal View Post
Very nice! The birds are so beautiful! The amount of detail in the feathers is wonderful. Isn't it nice to have so much ability to lighten the shadows without introducing noise?

You've also brought up a point about the highlight correction. The reason I never used the extended range in the past was due to noise, but as you mentioned, the K5 is very good when it comes from having little noise. So I can see using using it for things like this. Certainly gives me something to think about and a reason to test it out.
Hi Harriet,

Thanks! The low noise performance really adds versatility and I'm finding the files very easy to PP.

So far, the Highlight Correction seems to do a good job, and the is not a problem. I'll have to look into the possible performance hit that Kevin mentioned, but as far as IQ is concerned, I have no problem using it as a hedge against blowouts. So far, I've found that the sensor allows a pretty gentle transition to clipping, and even in jpeg, there is a little headroom for recovering highlights that was not there for previous sensors.

Have you gotten your replacement K-5 yet? The last I saw, it was ready for shipment. . .

Quote:
Originally Posted by mtnman View Post
Very nice shots Scott, but you're making things difficult for me: I'm really trying to resist the urge to get the K5 and a few DA* lenses. With 2 kids in college and my wife facing some medical issues, it's just not something I should even think about spending money on. But photos like yours, with such clean and noise-free shadows, and highlights that are beautifully exposed, makes it harder and harder to resist the urge.
Hi mtnman,

Thanks!

The K-5 is a whole new experience in IQ, and I've barely nicked the surface of what it can do. The ability to use about any conceivable ISO sensitivity opens up a whole lot of new possibilities, and I am looking forward to experimenting with some out-of-the-box applications for some good lenses that I've pretty much ignored because of spec limitations.

Family comes first though. . . I'm fortunate in the sense that I have little other responsibilities than myself, and I've allowed a pretty liberal budget allowance for my interest in photography.

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Originally Posted by seaain.gray View Post
Really nice. Thanks. I am not very good at birds, but the detail that shows here tends to lead me to say you've nailed these.

Seaain
Hi Seaain,

Thanks!

I'm pretty much a bird specialist, and the Swans in direct sunlight are always an early spring test to get me into a "preserve the highlights" mindset because they are so hard to expose correctly, and I've spent the winter inside practicing in available artificial light which really can't prepare me for the extremes presented by the sun as a light source.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Frogfish View Post
The issue I've always had with Highlight & Shadow correction (on the K7) was the way it slowed down the camera to a virtual standstill at times. I admit I haven't tried it on the K5 - so how did you find the camera / buffer handled it ?
Hi Kevin,

I didn't consider the possible hit to processing time, but I'll look into this since you mentioned it. The Swans are relatively static, so I wasn't even tempted to shoot in bursts though I always have my camera set to Continuous High as a matter of habit. All these were single shots with an occasional accidental double which happens to me all the time with both the K-7 and K-5 -- I still haven't gotten the hang of applying a very smooth shutter actuation without the occasional double when the camera is set to Continuous High. . .

The bursts that I've shot so have been short, and I've never come close to filling the buffer yet, but I'll check this out in real life situations and see if I need to rethink the use of some features in this light. I'm very aware of potential performance hits due to in-camera processing, but haven't really thought of the consequences of this feature in that sense. Probably because the K-5 is so much faster than even the K-7 in burst rate for short strings. It is possible that the potential for slow down might not effect my shooting in any practical sense. . .we'll see. Thanks for pointing this out.

Scott
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Old Mar 29, 2011, 7:24 AM   #7
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It looks like these great tools continue to do a fine job in your talented hands!

Speaking of hands, you mentioned problems with cold and your hands. Do you know about these things:
http://www.sierratradingpost.com/p/,...Heat-Pack.html
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