Wednesday, August 08, 2007

New used cameras - test photos of wild flowers and weeds

My pocket camera a Nikon S-1, that I take on dogwalks, was too finicky and frustrating to use. Granted it was small and thin so easily pocketable but lacked image stabilization so I often ended up with blurred images in spite of it having blur detection ability. I would often get the message "the image is blurred, do you want to keep the photo" so I would have to take the picture again with often the same results and still have some blurred pictures that the camera missed detecting.

I was also looking for a small camera to take on a trip so I started to do some research and decided on either a Panasonic FX01 or FX3. I have had very good luck purchasing used cameras on Ebay so I bid on these two cameras and won both for a very good price. When the cameras arrived they were in very good condition almost looking like new. And the price was right, about 1/3 or less of the new camera price.

So here are some test shots taken on the dogwalk on an early rainy morning. Even with the OIS (Panasonic optical image stabilizer) the photo of the Silene was blurred. But this was under extreme low light and windy conditions. I would never have been able to take any of these photos with the Nikon S-1 so I'm quite pleased with the performance of the either of the Panasonics. The bad rap on the Panasonics is that they produce "noisy" pictures. For me noise is much less objectionable than a blurred least I have a usable picture.

I realized too late that I had the photo compression set at a very low level. I sent some photos to someone who has dial-up and needed to create small files. I forgot to reset the quality so unfortunately the resolution of these photos are not very good, only about 40-60 kb each. But you can see that the cameras do produce a nice image. I also really like how it reproduces color even if these flowers are not very colorful.

P.S. I uploaded new higher resolution photos for the morning glories but Blogger seems to limit the file size of the photos.

Wild morning glories.

The very fragrant but invasive Japanese honeysuckle.

I don't know what this is, perhaps a wild primrose? It stands about 2 1/2 feet high and has flowers at the very tips of the plant.

It was breezy on this cloudy, drizzly morning so the Silene was moving about quite a bit but I was still able to get an image. You can see the edges of the flower seem to be double exposed but you can still easily identify the plant.

This photo of grass seed was taken when it was blowing around. Quite an impressive performance by the camera's OIS.


Blogger A wildlife gardener said...

Excellent results! And I think the yellow flower might be an oenothera primrose.

6:34 AM  
Blogger kate said...

I agree with WG - it is an evening primrose. It is such a lovely flower.

It's hard to believe that something that smells as good as Japanese Honeysuckle could be invasive.

I have never seen wild morning glories. That is a treat - thank you!

Your pictures are always great ...

9:53 AM  
Blogger Annie in Austin said...

You've impressed me, too, Ki - with both the clarity of the photos in the 50kb range, and with your shopping ability!

You made what people would see as weeds into art.

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

5:56 PM  
Blogger Ki said...

Hi wildlife gardener,
Thank you for the kind words and thanks for the plant ID. It is indeed a Oenothera biennis, the common evening primrose which appears to be a plant with interesting medicinal properties.


Kate, I was puzzled because the flower looked like an Oenothera but the ones we planted O. missiouriensis and O. speciosa were short plants compared to the evening primrose. The Japanese honeysuckle Lonicera japonica is listed as an invasive species but it seems to be easily eliminated. As you mentioned, it does have a wonderful scent so it's a difficult choice to eradicate it completely. I think these are wild morning glories. They are growing in a waste space near some new housing. I don't think they escaped from someone's garden. I haven't seen very many people planting morning glories in any case. They are beautiful though aren't they with the barest hint of a pink blush?


Aw, shucks Annie, it's mostly due to some lucky circumstance. Our dog likes to eat grass and takes forever to sniff out good smells so I stand around a lot looking at weeds. If I stand around too long I may get arrested for vagrancy or as a peeping tom. I was taking a photo of a rare giant leafed Magnolia in someones yard and I saw a woman in the house slam shut the window in back of the tree. Yikes, I bet she thought I was taking photos of her or at least of her house - possibly to case the joint? What I go through to put pictures on the blog. The Ebay thing is pure luck but you can optimize your winning by sniping - at least that's what I think they call it. You wait 'til the very last few seconds to enter your bid so if your bid is high enough no one will be able to respond by entering a higher bid. Of course a lot of people do this so you just set a price as high as you are comfortable with and hope for the best. Also if you put in a few cents more than a whole dollar you can often win the item by a few cents. I won one of the cameras by 6 cents. The other person and I both put in the exact same amount but I added 6 cents to my bid and won the camera. I bet that person was steamed because the earlier high bid wins and she/he placed the bid a few seconds before I did. I've found that if you find items that end at off times like late afternoon when people are busy trying to get home and on weekends when people are out and about doing other things your chances of winning are increased too.

6:56 PM  
Blogger Entangled said...

I'm impressed with the image stabilization. I always figured it was a gimmick that I didn't need, but you're changing my mind about that. By the time I learn all the features on any electronic gizmo, it's obsolete ;-)

Re: digiscoping, I got frustrated with the whole thing and set it aside. I think it would be worth a try on the dragonflies, if they stay perched for a while. We're using the scope now for some casual astronomy - the heavens don't move as fast as the critters.

Maybe your Oenothera is a fruticosa or a perennis?
Connecticut Botanical Society has some pictures.

5:04 AM  
Blogger Ki said...

OIS is great especially if you have unsteady hands, are in a rush or do athletic things requiring taking a photo when you're huffing and puffing. Not all OIS is equal however. Nikon uses software to correct the blur while Canon and Panasonic use mechanical means to counteract movement. The mechanical way is much superior to software correction.

One of the reasons I buy used cameras is that as soon as you buy a new camera it's obsolete. This way I'm not out much money if I want to upgrade. I think the new thing for P&S cameras is the use of larger CMOS sensors to create less noisy pictures. The trick will be to keep the sensor size small enough so the lenses won't have to be too large and the manufacturers can still retain the small camera form.

Do you have any astronomical photos on your Flickr site?

I think it is too tall to be O. perennis. I just saw another one today that was at least 5 feet tall. The CBS wildflower site is really nice. Thanks for the link.

8:33 AM  
Anonymous mss @ Zanthan Gardens said...

The colors of the wild morning glory are delicate and lovely. I know that my camera (a Nikon Coolpix 4300) would have a difficult time capturing that much detail with such clarity under those lighting conditions.

I'm impressed (and envious).

8:13 PM  
Blogger Ki said...

Hello MSS,

I do like the morning glory pictures too. The subtlety of the colors is quite exquisite. I should post a less compressed version so you can see a better rendition of the original photo.

At one time I had a Nikon Coolpix 3100 the 3mp version of your camera. I liked it a lot and it took very sharp photos but it went through batteries like no tomorrow. Even using rechargeables would last only about 25 - 35 shots. I even downloaded the firmware upgrade which was supposed to address the problem but did not see much difference. The batteries would die at a crucial moment - a very frustrating experience. The newer Nikons seem to be much, much better but the Panasonics are purported to have a 320 shot life on the rechargeable battery which is excellent. I've taken about 60 photos and the bar meter still indicates that the battery is still fully charged.

Comparing the Panasonics to the Nikon S1 or S3, I think the Nikons produced a sharper and less noisy picture. But as I mentioned in the blog the most important thing for me was to be able to get a blur free photo in low light or breezy conditions which the Nikons failed to do. Also, I do think the Panasonic color is more accurate than the Nikon too.

You should sell your Nikon at Ebay and see if you can't win a more advanced camera. As I mentioned previously, I went through a lot of cameras to find a suitable pocket camera so buying new ones would have been too cost prohibitive.

5:43 AM  
Blogger Entangled said...

Ki, I haven't posted any astro pix. We tried taking a few last autumn, but they were pretty bad. I may try again this autumn when the skies are clearer.

7:12 AM  

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