Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Cragside Rothbury

We try to get to the National Trust property Cragside at Rothbury every year at this time in order to see the rhododendrons and azaleas in bloom.

There was something new to see this time, an Archimedes screw used as a water powered turbine to generate electricity. It was not working, but the installation looks to be complete.

I assume that the blue thing in the cabinet is a speed increasing gearbox, driving 
a generator mounted above the axis of the rotor. (Pentax 50mm f1.7)

They are also installing one of these machines in the river Wear 
as it passes through Durham City. (Pentax 28mm K f3.5)

Now for some flowers. Ideally you should use a tripod and a reflector to get good crisp and contrasty flower shots, but Cragside was very busy on Bank Holiday Monday and some of the paths quite narrow, so I made do with hand holding the camera. Samsung 35mm f2 (rebadged  Pentax) at f11.

View across Tumbleton Lake looking towards the Visitor Centre.

View from the Iron Bridge towards Tumbleton Lake

For more Cragside photos see here and here.

Sony NEX 6 manual focus lenses.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Step This Way at Darlington 2014

Appalachian dance team Step This Way with musicians from the Bones Creek Band performed within the market place as a part of Darlington Arts Showcase.

Audience participation is always popular!

Thursday, 8 May 2014

50 mm lenses on Sony Nex 6

Over time I have compared the performance of the Sony 16-50  kit lens supplied with the NEX 6 to that of old manual focus prime lenses that I have in my collection.

Is this a fair comparison, an image stabilised zoom against a manual focus prime? Well the zoom was designed and manufactured in the 21st century and the old primes in the 1960s. Possibly 50 years between them.

Judge for yourself.

The overall view taken at a focal length of 50mm 

Below are 100% crops of the sign to the right of the lion.

Sony 16-50 at  f5.6

Zuiko 50mm f1.8 at  f5.6

Sony 16-50

Zuiko 50mm

Further testing - to investigate the influence of auto focus error on the results of the tests I conducted further experiments with the following parameters. Manual exposure, camera on tripod with 2 sec shutter delay. 3 shots for each situation, best chosen for comparison.

1) Sony at f8 autofocus 
2) Sony at f8 manual focus at f5.6 ( wide open)
3) Zuiko at f8 manual focus at f5.6 ( to match Sony)

Default processing in LR and PS. No adjustments made. Actual pixel crops from top left hand corner of image.

Sony f8 - manual focus (137kb)

Sony f8 Autofocus (137 kb)

Zuiko f8 (196 kb)
The manually focused Sony result is slightly better than that achieved by autofocus, but the Zuiko is clearly superior, both in terms of the JPG size, but also visually. Actually you don't need to do any of this testing as the Zuiko looks far better in the EVF!

More comparisons, Sony 16-50, Canon 24-105 and Pentax 50mm f1.7. Default conversions in LR and PS, no adjustments. Forget the colour temperatures, they can be adjusted easily enough, this is a test of sharpness and contrast.

Overall view ( Canon 24-105 on 5DII)

Actual pixel crops of top left corner. (Click for full size)

Pentax 50mm on NEX  (JPG size 187 KB)

Sony 16-50 on NEX (JPG size 142 KB)

Canon 24-105 on 5DII (JPG size 179 KB)

My pecking order would be Pentax 50mm f1,7, followed by Canon 24-105 with the Sony a poor third, but judge for yourself.

This test demonstrates quite nicely why I prefer to carry a lightweight Sony NEX 6 rather than have the Albatross of a Canon 5D11 around my neck!

Monday, 5 May 2014

Sunderland Steam Spectacular

Billed as Sunderland Steam Spectular, this event is taking place in Herrington Country Park, just over the road from Penshaw Monument. The photo below is a stiched panorama taken from the monument. Click for an enlarged view.

I can count five full sized steam vehicles, not what I would call Spectacular, but I guess that they have to start somewhere. This was taken at the start of play on Sunday morning, so it is possible that more steamers arrived during the day. 

Having peered in from above I elected not to spend the £6 entrance fee, or £15 for a family. I suspect, but don't know for sure, that the various fairground rides would incur a further charge, so a pretty expensive outing for a family for what is a fairly limited display.

Beamish steam weekend, by contrast, is on a far greater scale and easily worth the annual membership.

I can only hope that, if they do this again, it will be more truly "spectacular".

Sony NEX 6 Pentax 200mm f4