Sony HX60 a good travel compact camera?

Just got hold of a Sony HX60 as I thought it would maybe make a good compact camera for carrying with me as an alternative to the RX100 MkII. Although I love the RX100 I just sometimes need a bit extra reach when I am out and about on a walk, and don’t want to carry the Olympus E-M1 and a couple of lenses. I remember back in the days of film cameras carrying a large bag of equipment especially on trips to France and Italy, how did I manage that weight I will never know.

So what does the HX60 give me against all of my other camera gear, well to start with a zoom lens that covers the 35mm equivalent of 24-722mm, that’s a 30x zoom lens in a very small package. Unfortunately, the lens is not very bright, with an f-stop of only 3.5 at the wide end, and 6.3 at the telephoto end. The other key point is no RAW capture, not that is a major issue, it’s just that I would prefer that to Jpeg only.

So how did it perform, well not that bad really, I used it with the FDA-EV1M electronic viewfinder that I use with the RX100 MkII, as I feel it gives the camera a bit more stability, especially on the telephoto end. I would also add that I used the lowest ISO setting of 80 where possible to get the best out of the camera, as I would expect that raising the ISO would result in increasing the luminance noise.

To test the camera I walked to Buxted Park not far from my home in the county of East Sussex in the UK.

Dragonfly

A Dragonfly laying eggs in the water @493mm focal length

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A Photo Walk around Winnie the Pooh’s Ashdown Forest

This walk was around Ashdown Forest, a place that was home to the author A. A. Milne who wrote the story of Winnie the Pooh. The Ashdown Forest is situated in the Weald of Sussex with the main London to Eastbourne Road (A22) cutting right through it.

My journey started from Gills Lap car park, situated just off the B2026 road that runs between Hartfield and Fairwarp. I have visited the forest all of my life and can always recall an Ice cream van was parked in this car park every time I was here, it’s funny how you remember the small things. Today though no van, probably due to it being a Thursday, and not a lot of customers from the dog walkers.

Leaving the car park heading north towards the memorial plaque for A. A. Milne and EH Shepherd, turning west toward the Lone Pine.

The Lone Pine

The Lone Pine

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Been busy moving house

The last three months have been fairly busy as we have just moved house, so most of my time has been consumed with this, either planning, organizing, fitting, fixing or decorating. Although there is still a bit to complete, I thought it was about time that I set aside a day for a bit of exercise, exploring and photography.

I decided to take in a walk around the town of Uckfield in East Sussex, the walk would be in both the town and surrounding countryside.

It started from the Eastbourne Road near the Highlands Inn pub, which incidentally always seems busy especially at the weekend. Heading south-east along the Eastbourne road to pick up a footpath that now runs through two housing developments, one fairly recent while the other built back in the mid 90’s.

Woodland Path

Woodland Path Ridgewood Uckfield East Sussex

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Airplane travel and camera gear

Having just returned from a short trip to Spain, travelling on a commercial airline is becoming harder and harder for photographers on a budget. So this post is not only my view but also something that may change what gear I currently use or choose in the future.

My current travel camera is my trusty Olympus E-M1, I carry this with a flashgun, two primes the 60mm macro and either the 17mm or the 25mm and two zooms, the 12-40mm and the 75-300mm. I fit all this and my 13″ Mac Book Pro and Kindle (essential for air travel, as I get bored flying) into an old Lowepro Mini Trekker AW. My tripod, filters, charger and power supplies go into checked in luggage. The carry on luggage usually weighs in about 10lbs, so currently is ok for all the UK budget airlines.

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My well worn Lowepro Mini Trekker AW

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My Macro Gear

As promised in my last post I would include an article on the gear that I use for Macro photography, when I travel, stay in my garden or capture indoors.

The first bit of kit serves two purposes when used on Sony A7R, as I also have a film – slide copier attachment for the Olympus bellows (second image). I have two OM macro lenses that I use they are the 50mm F3.5 and the 80mm F4.0, the latter is used in combination with the bellows and A7R to copy 35mm film or 35mm slides.

Sony A7R

Sony A7R – OM to FE Lens adapter – Olympus Bellows & Olympus OM 80mm F4.0 Lens

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Sensor noise comparison

This post is my take on sensor noise vs sensor size, this is not a scientific experiment, more of an understanding of how a sensor’s size has an impact on noise (Luminance and Chrominance) across ISO settings when the exposure is either under or over. I have produced this mainly for the purpose of deciding if I can work with the 1″ sensor and full frame, and ditch the Four Thirds kit.

I have used several cameras for this testing, with sensor sizes from full frame, APS-C, Four Thirds and 1″, with the following cameras.

All of the cameras were set to Program Mode, with Matrix or equivalent metering, and auto white balance. The images captured starting at the base ISO for the camera (for both the Olympus and Fujifilm the base ISO is 200) and then increasing the ISO one stop up to ISO 3200, I then bracketed the exposure by plus and minus 3 stops. The RAW files were then imported into Lightroom with default settings with no sharpening or noise reduction applied, I obviously had to correct the exposure compensation by adding or subtracting the 3 stops. All of the images were then exported to jpegs for sharing with this blog page.

For information, all of the images were captured indoors on a cloudy day with diffused light through the window blinds. The reason I chose to use two types of camera with an APS-C sensor, was to see if there was any difference between the Bayer and the X-Trans array.

I would also add that in real life situations the noise may not be apparent in the image, or some may find it adds to the image, it really depends on the subjects matter or type of photography that you follow. Continue reading

Southease to Newhaven via Peacehaven

I messed up my train journey today, as I missed the first train and the second one to Brighton was either running late or I misread the time when I checked this morning. Anyway, the later train got me there with two minutes to spare, luckily I only had to walk across the platform.

So I am on the train just pulling into Lewes when I noticed that it didn’t stop at Southease, a quick check on my phone confirmed that only alternate trains stop at Southease station. So I waited at Lewes for the next one as I didn’t want to walk in the other direction.

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The Ouse Valley Way (from Southease to Lewes)

After having to abort a walk yesterday because of rather windy and wet conditions, I thought I would try again today as the weather forecast didn’t predict any further rain. This yet again involved a train ride in getting to the start of the walk, as there are no direct trains to Southease it meant into Brighton and onto another train along the coast.

Arriving at Southease I joined the South Downs Way for a few hundred yards, crossing the swing bridge before turning onto the path that follows the course of the river into the historic town of Lewes in East Sussex. There is a path on either side of the river but I chose the west side of the river, the reason being when I arrive at Lewes it would be nearer to the station.

The swing bridge, as far as I know, hasn’t been opened for many years, probably because no large boats travel up the river anymore.

The Swing Bridge at Southease on the river Ouse.

Sony RX100 MkII 10.4mm @F6.3 1/400 sec ISO160

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A Walk to the Chattri

The Chattri is a First World War Memorial, built on the site where a number of Indian soldiers, who fought for the British Empire had been cremated. For more information and its location check the Wikipedia entry on the Chattri.

The only way to get to the Chattri is by a bridleway either from the south or the north of the downs, I approached it from the north walking up from Underhill Lane near Clayton village. It’s a fairly steep path onto the downs rising about 150 metres. This was just going to be a single visit, however when I arrived the light was pretty flat and overcast. I was hoping to see a fairly moody sky as the forecast mentioned rain, but it was not to be, just cold and blustery weather (nothing new there being so elevated).

I took a few images but I didn’t capture anything outstanding, so I packed up with a view to returning the next day. I did note in all of the images that I took that day when examined in Lightroom were the nasty gremlins known as dust spots, something that I have had trouble with the A7R almost from day one.

Chattri, Brighton

Sony A7R 28-70mm @28mm f16 1/25s ISO 100

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What’s in my bag

What's in my bag

Lumia 930 4.46mm @F2.4 1/50sec ISO 64

I am a big fan of these type of posts as I am interested in the technology, as well as the art of photography. So this is what is currently in my bag (that should be bags, as I don’t have one large enough for all my gear).

My cameras of choice are the Olympus OM-D series, the Sony A7R and the RX100 II. The Olympus OM-D series cameras are very customisable and are full of very useful features, the Sony’s are not so customisable, but do have the larger sensor. Although I have chosen both manufacturers for different reasons, ultimately I chose them both for their image quality and portability. Continue reading