Thursday, November 12, 2009

"Digital Holga" -- part one of something

Yashica EZ F521, B&W mode

It's here, and it rained all day. Managed to get out in the evening right before the sun went away, and got to play with it a bit. Some comments and thoughts here.

As I mentioned in last night's very brief post, it's a very small camera. Even with the protruding lens (and I wonder how much of the lens is really optical elements and actually needed; could this camera be made flatter?) it fits just fine in the front pockets of my jeans. It is also quite light, as can be expected from its "frugal" all-plastic build.

The viewfinder is no better or worse than that on other compacts I've used. The fact that it even HAS one is unusual these days. One odd thing, though: the LCD can be turned off (the DISP button cycles between off, image only, and image with some info overlay), but when you then press the shutter button it doesn't take a picture, but rather turns the LCD back on. You then have to press the shutter button again to capture the image. This is a little unexpected and I must confess I don't quite understand what the logic was behind this. The LCD itself isn't a bad one; no adjustments or anything, but it refreshes smoothly, has decent enough resolution, and gets the job done. Better than I expected, to be honest. One bonus is that when you put it in any of the "effect" modes it's reflected in the LCD preview -- so you can see a black and white, or sepia, or funky colored image on the LCD before snapping the shot.

Even in "high" quality jpeg mode, there's often visible artifacting in various areas. Nothing terrible or unexpected however. You can apply "effects" to already captured images, and it will create a copy of the image with the effect applied while leaving the original intact. Cool!

One nuisance (but again, nobody bought this camera expecting smooth functionality or high quality) is that the settings for effect, exposure compensation etc are reset whenever the camera turns off. There's no way of disabling the automatic shutoff (and nor would you want to based on how quickly it eats through batteries from what I can tell), so if you want to use B&W mode with -0.7 compensation you just have to reset it every time it wakes up or powers on.

Slow shutter speeds can be fun

One thing of note is that all my shots have ISO 100, f/2.8 embedded in the exif. The fixed aperture is something I expected (I did not think such a cheaply constructed camera would have aperture control), but it is supposed to have "Auto ISO" so either the exif data is incorrect, the specs are incorrect, or something isn't working as intended. I snapped some available light indoor shots and compared to my 50D, and the camera seems to be unable to expose past 1/17 second, ISO 100. Curious and something that I'll have to investigate further.

Well, this covers my initial experience, brief as it was. I look forward to further experiments with the camera, and will look into whether anything can be easily done to modify or change the lens. I initially suspected it was entirely decoupled from the rest of the camera, but at a minimum it does have a switch to sense when put into "macro" mode (it being a fixed focus lens, this is the only change you can make to focusing distance). I am not sure what this switch might do other than turning on a small LED on the back of the camera, though!

Keep an eye out for further posts; hopefully we'll see some sun in the next few days so I can get some less gloomy looking shots.

PS: if you came here looking for information on how to change the language from Japanese, it's the bottom menu entry in the "tools" area.


Watoo Watoo said...

Intereting review, thanks!

Too bad there's no vignetting

storpotaten said...

Thanks! I will post some more shots today, we actually have sunshine and blue skies for once. I agree that it lacks the optical distortions and vignetting of the Holga (I have a 120N that I use on occasion), but am hopeful that some modifications to the lens might be able to yield some more interesting images.

Morten said...

Hi, Nice review. I just bought one myself and I'm loving it;-) One thing... I can't transfer pictures directly from the camera to my Mac - Is there anyway to do that, or am I forced to remove he SDcard every time and fuck up the settings?

HolgaJen said...

Nice review - I had heard about this camera and was curious as to what the results were. Might be worth a consideration :)