Friday, October 30, 2009

Other Things That Fly

50D, 300/4 IS + 1.4x
Birds weren't cooperating, so found some other flying creatures.

The one above, I am informed, is a "long tailed skipper". Had to get some help figuring that out.

The monarchs I at least recognized.


First Yashica F521 review is up!

Go ahead and click -- here's the first review of the new F521.

Looks like almost everything I wished for.

The one thing I hoped for that I didn't get was the exposure compensation being controlled by buttons or a dial. It appears to be menu based. Depending on how well it meters it might not be much of an issue though.

The colors look very nice and punchy (without going into oversaturated blobs like on many cheaper cameras), the dynamic range appears surprisingly wide (look at how well it holds on to highlight detail), and as I suspected from the CMOS sensor and Yashica F924 shots, it does suffer from "rolling shutter syndrome"; check out how wobbly things get when he moves the camera around!

For the money this looks like a lot of fun, and just about what many expected it to be; a cheap, quirky piece of gear with some personality.

As soon as mine arrives I will post a review of my own!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Yashica F521 -- multi-lingual menus confirmed!

There was some initial concern that the production version of the camera would have Japanese-only menus. Dirk @ Japan Exposures has just received one of the F521 and has confirmed that the menu is indeed multi-lingual (English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch and Japanese). Very good news!

With the initial language being Japanese I can possibly see people needing enough help to change the menu language, but that should not be a big deal.

Dirk is also working on a small review of the camera -- will be very interesting to see what he finds out. (More)

Monday, October 26, 2009

But it only works on squirrels

Picked up a Canon 300/4 IS to use over the winter since IS will come in handy when the light is less than ideal. Took it out for some bird hunting with no luck.

50D, 300/4 + 1.4x, 1/30 second wide open

It seems it only works on squirrels.

Now, I like a good squirrel shot as much as anyone, but two days' effort yielded nothing but these furry-tailed rats.

Once the birds start appearing again (honestly, where are you guys?) I will evaluate how it performs compared to the 400/5.6L -- if it does well enough for birds-in-flight I will probably keep it and part with the 400/5.6 later on. Time will tell.

Until then, squirrel.


"Digital Holga" closer to shipping -- update

Dirk at Japan Exposures just informed me that the Yashica F521 should start shipping from the manufacturer October 29th; this means he should have a sample to review before long. One of the things still in flux is whether the menus will be Japanese-only or multi-language. We'll know soon!

Other things I am hoping to find out is how the exposure compensation works (buttons or menus), whether the ISO is auto-only, and if it seems possible to change/modify the lens. I'd probably take a Japanese-only version if it was the only thing available -- just gotta find someone to translate the important parts. What's Japanese for "format", anyone?

Found some more Yashica F924 stuff

Well, still waiting for the F521 to arrive -- from what I gather it's delayed a bit and do not currently have an ETA.

So, while waiting, here's something fun to check out that's related to it: This google translated (it gets, uh, interesting at times) blog has a fair bit of Yashica F924 stuff. I speculated earlier on the F924 sharing components with the F521, so thought it worth taking a closer look at.

The guy's blog seems to contain a fair bit of interesting information on other quirky cameras too (and not surprisingly, he has a F521 on order) -- too bad I can't read Japanese and have to rely on the highly questionable google translation of it!

By the way, I've seen the F924 for sale on ebay for under $100, so for those who aren't wanting to wait for the F521, it might be worth looking into if you want a similar "toy" digital camera.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Juvenile Little Blue Heron

After an unsuccessful beach trip earlier, this little guy was waiting for me outside the house. A little nervous at first, but once I sat down he wandered back over to where I was.

As usual, 50D + 400/5.6

First I thought Egret, but then noticed the oddly colored legs. Sibley guide and a couple of birding forums helped figure it out.

Looks quite different from the adult:


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Resting Anhinga

50D, 400/5.6

Caught this very relaxed looking Anhinga outside the house.

I am not sure if it's the same one that keeps showing up or if they are rotating, but they really aren't particularly scared of me wandering around there taking pictures of them lately. In fact, I am beginning to wonder if they enjoy posing!

Roach clips big hand, more on Yashica F521

Check out this page somebody on flickr dug up. Small images but shows the color processing available in the camera. Nifty.

And the Google translation is priceless: "Recently, a digital camera equipped with a rare optical viewfinder can be taken not only the naked eye gazes into the LCD monitor."

(By the way, I dig the old school strap attachments; looks like I can put one of my 1970s "hippie straps" on there.)

The specs look like what was posted earlier, no surprises there. One thing that I wonder about is whether there is any communication between lens and body, and if not, how easy it would be to transplant other lenses on there. I have a plethora of old M42, OM, Leitz etc glass that could make for an interesting marriage with the (hopefully!) somewhat crummy CMOS sensor. I did the math and at ISO 100 1/2000 top shutter speed would put us around f/4 in bright sunlight which is a little smaller aperture than the f/3 or thereabouts would yield. If we lower the base ISO a little then the 1/2000 shutter speed would be sufficient for f/3 and it would be possible to have a fixed aperture lens... time will tell.

Of course, even the widest of my glass would make for tele lenses. :)

Is November here yet?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

David and Goliath

50D, 400/5.6
The beach is pretty dead this time a year as far as birding goes, but now and then some arrive and provide a little entertainment and photo opportunities.


Friday, October 16, 2009

Found on beach

50D, 400/5.6


Thursday, October 15, 2009

High key gull

Sometimes you screw up and get lucky. (50D, 400/5.6)

I really do prefer manual mode for most of my shooting, but on occasion a combination of light change (e.g. sun coming out from behind a heavy cloud) and changing angles can result in some serious exposure errors if you aren't paying attention. Well, I wasn't, and ended up with this shot. Played with the raw file a bit and I could possibly rescue it in post processing, but decided to leave it as is; a somewhat ethereal bird portrait.

Speculation on the F521 "digital Holga"

Was poking around a bit looking for information on the new Yashica EZ F521 camera. I speculated in the previous post about it being related to the EZ F524 which has similar specifications, but little information could be found on that camera.

But, it turns out there's yet another Yashica branded model that could be sharing components with this guy, and I found some actual images taken with it!

It's the Yashica EZ F924 -- looks like it's the same camera as the F524, except with a 9 megapixel sensor. Same lens (7.1mm f/3.2), same LCD, same looks... considering they are not putting a lot of money or R&D into this range of cameras I think it's a fairly safe bet that these components are the same we'll see used in the EZ F521 when it starts shipping.

And, it turns out somebody actually HAS one, and has posted some pictures from it. This guy's flickr set contains a pile of shots (mostly dark/indoors) from the F924. It looks promising, with some overly bright colors, poor white balance, and noticeable softness. Let's hope the F521 has a similarly "cheap" look to its images.

Hey, if we wanted sharp and pretty shots, we'd be out picking up a last generation Canon point and shoot for the same money, wouldn't we?

Added 10/16: Found another set of shots from the F924 here.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Yashica's "digital Holga"

Well, I thought the Yashica name had died out long ago (and from what I gather, the name is all that really remains of the classic camera brand), but here they show up out of nowhere, and with a quirky camera to boot. Spotted at The Online Photographer earlier this week, this curious looking device is a rather basic digital camera; a 5MP sensor, optical(!) viewfinder, fixed lens with only two focus settings (macro and hyperfocal). The design, though, is definitely shooting for classic styling. As cheap as they are ($89 in Japan) I pre-ordered one from Japan Exposures, in hopes that it will effectively turn out to be a digital version of my beloved Holga. Time will tell.

Incidentally, Yashica has an "EZ F524" camera model that appears very similar in specifications. I wonder if this new camera is just a more retro looking variation of this guy.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Generic sunset, portrait

50D, 24-105/4

Turns out you can use lenses OTHER than the 400/5.6 on a 50D. Who knew!
Since I'm not really into the "normal" wide angle (24-28mm on full frame) range, the 24-105/4 makes for a good walkaround lens on the 50D. The wicked barrel distortion on the wider end is not quite as big a problem as on a full frame camera, another bonus!

And while it's no 85/1.8 for portrait work, it can certainly get the job done:


Flying low

50D, 400/5.6

It's always fascinating to watch the pelicans; such skilled flyers. You can sometimes spot them skimming the surface of the ocean, following the waves up and down, never missing a beat.

This particular shot was pure luck. I was shooting some gulls hanging out on the beach, and noticed something going past behind me. Unfortunately I was in manual exposure mode (as almost always) and underexposed the shot but a good stop and a half. Thankfully I was able to bring the exposure back up when processing the raw file without introducing too much noise.

The gulls posed nicely for me, too.