How to use Small Sensor Cameras on Landscapes - ClubTread Community

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post #1 of (permalink) Old 01-27-2010, 01:43 PM Thread Starter
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Default How to use Small Sensor Cameras on Landscapes

I figure this is a good topic considering how many of us on Club Tread hike or climb or paddle into these amazing landscapes, often with small cameras (due to weight concerns) only to get home and realize all our skies are blown out or that something is 'missing' from our shots.

I typically hike / climb / ski with a micro 4/3's system (Panasonic GH1) simply because it's half the weight of any FF DSLR and it also does great HD video.

The problem? It has a smaller sensor than my full frame camera (half the size) and is therefore much more prone to blowing highlights and shadows. Many of the people on this board hike with point 'n shoot cameras which have even smaller sensors and blow even more highlights.

I don't feel like re-writing my article that I wrote on this problem, so hopefully the admins are ok with me posting a link to my web site. I don't make any money off it so if you're interested, continue reading...

http://www.explor8ion.com/using-gnd-filters.html

V.

Vern Dewit
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post #2 of (permalink) Old 01-27-2010, 01:56 PM
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Not a bad article but how do you propose to use GND's on point and shoot cameras? You mentioned you used a GND on your Canon G9 in past, how? I agree this is useful stuff for SLR's of all sizes, but I'd expect that most people out hiking choose a smaller point and shoot camera over an SLR (though I exclude myself from that group most times).
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post #3 of (permalink) Old 01-27-2010, 04:50 PM
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1. I dont disagree with you but several small P& S dont take filters.
2. I still say a lot depends on the person taking the capture.
3. I found myself metering off the sky first and then taking a reading from the ground. Shoot somewhere in between. You can also use a small pocket grey card to get a light reading.
4. Here are some examples.
5. The first few were taken with a 5mp . The sunset was a Canon A620 which is 7.2mp. I will admit colours were adjusted a bit with Photoshop but only slightly.




My suggestions is use your camera on manual and shoot , shoot, shoot. Don't be afraid to play with the settings. Get or download some books on photography.

I don't want to derail your thread Vern so no offence please. Here is a link that may be of some help to people. There is some very good info here and a number of people I know that are awesome photographers have found it usefull, myself included. I have downloaded several podcasts and then listen to them on my Ipod while sitting in traffic.
Here is the link.
http://www.7photographyquestions.com/audio-podcast/

b.t.w. I have seen junk taken with a Canon 5D by so called Pro's and I have seen great stuff with a $200 camera. I use a Canon 40D and have had my share of carppy shots however my keeper rate has come up over the last 2 years.
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post #4 of (permalink) Old 01-27-2010, 04:55 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
quote:Originally posted by The Hiker

1. I dont disagree with you but several small P& S dont take filters.
2. I still say a lot depends on the person taking the capture.
3. I found myself metering off the sky first and then taking a reading from the ground. Shoot somewhere in between. You can also use a small pocket grey card to get a light reading.
4. Here are some examples.
5. The first few were taken with a 5mp . The sunset was a Canon A620 which is 7.2mp. I will admit colours were adjusted a bit with Photoshop but only slightly.
No amount of skill or metering can replace the fact that a small sensor is dynamic range limited. You can meter for the sky or the ground or somewhere in between but unless you are doing exposure blending, photoshopping color or HDR you can not get back pixels that are blown out.

You don't need filters to use a GND, you simply hand hold it in front of the lens. You can get filter adapters for most P&S cameras too (including the G9/10/11 from Canon). Another reason to use the filter adapter on a P&S is to use a polarizing filter which can not be duplicated digitally afterwards (it doesn't only make the sky bluer, it takes away reflections).

V.
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post #5 of (permalink) Old 01-27-2010, 07:18 PM
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Unfortunately not all point and shoot cameras meter the same way, I have three and have to adjust my technique with each. Generally though, I meter an image until the sky isn't blown out by pointing the camera mostly into the sky. Then I lock the exposure by pressing the shutter release half way. Then with the shutter release still at half, I reframe the image to what I want then push the shutter all way. I find that as long as I have some pixels everywhere in the image, I can adjust them in photoshop. Depending on the image I can adjust them in rbg colour space or lab colour.
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post #6 of (permalink) Old 04-10-2010, 08:05 AM
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I'm with Vern on this one. In the mountains it is not uncommon to have a dynamic range of 9EV, whereas a camera may only cover a range of 6EV. HDR and GND filters are the best ways around this. There is also a trick that used to work for b&w film, but I've never tried it with a digital camera. The basic premise is that a person pre-exposes a photo to a neutral grey card for a short exposure. Then the scene is photographed again normally (exposing for the highlights) using a multiexposure shot. In terms of using with a small p&s, you can't do this if you can't do multi-exposures. The underexposure should work if you expose for the grey card and then do -3 stops. Maybe -4 would be better if you can, it depends. I'm doubtful that this technique works very well for colour photos but there may be some circumstances where it's ok.

For those interested, this is a very basic reason why it works. By underexposing a grey card, you are trying to take a picture of an almost black surface. Suppose the scene has a dynamic range of 9 stops. What you are essentially doing is compressing the image to 7 stops. Only the darkest areas will be affected by the pre-exposure, and they will be made brighter while the pre-exposure will have no affect on the highlights.
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post #7 of (permalink) Old 04-10-2010, 10:44 AM
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Most landscapes that need a GND with a 4/3 sensor are going to need one with a full frame anyways. Dynamic range has more to do with bit depth and raw capture than sensor size - a couple years ago, the DR of FF cameras was less than 4/3 sensors today...

A note on your article: don't be afraid you rough up your pro gear, it's made to take the abuse. Weight is a valid reason for leaving a D700 at home; "I might drop it!" isn't.
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post #8 of (permalink) Old 04-10-2010, 10:51 AM
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vern.dewit, what do you do when you have irregular shaped edge between shadows and highlights? GND filters are all straight edged as far as I know. The most powerful and best way is still to take multiple exposures, and create a custom mask in Photoshop. For simpler situations where a straight edge filter is fine, it takes me 3 seconds to select a gradient tool in Photoshop, and drag it across the edge to create a straight edge mask.
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post #9 of (permalink) Old 04-12-2010, 12:36 PM
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Quote:
quote:Originally posted by Arnold

vern.dewit, what do you do when you have irregular shaped edge between shadows and highlights? GND filters are all straight edged as far as I know. The most powerful and best way is still to take multiple exposures, and create a custom mask in Photoshop. For simpler situations where a straight edge filter is fine, it takes me 3 seconds to select a gradient tool in Photoshop, and drag it across the edge to create a straight edge mask.
Besides using photoshop you can sometimes hand hold your GND and move it around during a long exposure if you use a tripod. With a little bit of practice it can be quite effective.
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post #10 of (permalink) Old 04-13-2010, 07:51 PM
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Quote:
quote:Originally posted by Arnold

vern.dewit, what do you do when you have irregular shaped edge between shadows and highlights? GND filters are all straight edged as far as I know. The most powerful and best way is still to take multiple exposures, and create a custom mask in Photoshop. For simpler situations where a straight edge filter is fine, it takes me 3 seconds to select a gradient tool in Photoshop, and drag it across the edge to create a straight edge mask.
There are soft-edge GNDs that will do a fine job as long as the border falls within a wide band. If you have moving clouds, wind, not-perfectly-still water surfaces or anything of the sort you are SOL with multiple exposures. I did multiple exposures and HDR for a long time. I have moved to filters and haven't looked back.
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