My tenth series for this year is a set of sunsets or sunsets set, whatever haha!
Anyways, these were all taken at Shotgun Road in San Mateo, Rizal. The place has a high altitude and if the sky is clear, one can clearly see the buildings of Ortigas and Makati. Unfortunately at the time of this shoot its a bit cloudy. We (PnSers Camera Club) were hoping we could shoot both the sunset and cityscape, and waited for the clouds to clear, but to no avail, we just settle for the sunset.
My last shot of sunset was so long ago that I’ve forgot the settings already. Good thing my reliable Fuji S1800 has an SP (Scene Position) for an automatic Sunset settings that I’ve utilized for the following shots, all I have to think of is my composition. 😀
And lastly, the not-so-late review of Fuji S1800 😀 .
Great for the price(Phil Leese — 10/06/2011)Fujifilm S1850 – Review
This review is relevant for the S1800, S1850, s2500HD or any of the S series 12mp models as they’re all pretty much the same camera.
Why did I want this camera?
I’ve been into photography for around 30 years and currently use a pentax K100d digital slr with a Tamron 18-250 zoom. I also use a fuji Z33 waterproof camera for on the beach and in the water and a Panasonic SD60 HD video camera. The problem I had is with the Pentax dslr. It takes great pictures but most of the time it’s just too big, heavy and cumbersome. Also it’s always in the back of my mind that leaving £700 worth of camera by a sunbed is risky and I’m conscious that’s it’s an expensive camera to get knocked about on holiday. So I don’t take it with me. That leave’s me using my Panasonic to take snapshots most of the time. The resolution is pretty low, effectively around 2.3 mp and I was concerned about damaging the switch constantly changing between video/photo. So I needed the flexibility of my Pentax but smaller, lighter and cheaper. Obviously I would take care of what I bought but I wanted something that I wouldn’t be bothered about so much.
After studying many cameras and reviews I decided on Fuji. They had the best combination of functionality, picture quality and price. The latest S series cameras use a 14mp sensor – for me that’s just too many pixels on a little sensor. This causes image noise and the Fuji noise reduction goes into overdrive doing what I would describe as `pixel painting’. This smooths the noise out across many pixels leaving a pleasing but pasty image. The problem is it also smooths away fine detail. Not a problem if you don’t do enlargements, you’ll be perfectly happy. The 12mp models still do this but not as much, so that’s what I decided on.
This is bigger than a compact with a chunky lens and hand grip and a big 3 inch screen on the back. In fact the hand grip is around the same size as my Pentax dslr. However, the camera is still amazingly small and lightweight for what it offers. The handgrip allows a firm hold so you can shoot one handed most of the time. There’s just enough room on the back for your thumb to grip the corner. The buttons are difficult to knock accidentally and have a nice precise click.
I have found the screen to be ok and the electronic viewfinder is perfect for it’s most common purpose ie when the sun is too bright for you to see the screen. The resolution isn’t high enough to show great detail but it does the job. You can also see your shutter speed and aperture while shooting and during playback you can display the key info including an exposure histogram. The on/off switch could be a bit better but it works ok. The control dial feels solid and contains most of the modes available. You have to delve into the menu to change scene modes.
The flash is an slr style pop up unit which requires you to release it manually. Compared to a compact this means it won’t just flash automatically for you if there isn’t enough light, you have to decide that you want to use it. I prefer this and I’m used to it but if you’re moving up from a compact then this might catch you out at first. It’s powerful enough to cover most situations. (The slow synchro option works quite well as long as you use it where there is some available light otherwise the shutter speeds will be too slow).
This camera offers many of the options that a dslr has and you should never be stuck for choice. The camera also offers great flexibility with ISO levels. This controls the sensitivity of the sensor. In practice this means that a low ISO eg 64 will need more available light but image noise will be low giving the best quality. You can set a high ISO (up to 6400) – this will operate in much lower light allowing you to shoot in darker conditions or use faster shutter speeds. However, as a lot less light hits the sensor it has to amplify it. The more it amplifies the more image distortion or `noise’ is produced. High noise levels show as a mottled or grainy picture with less contrast and colour. So would you always want the lowest ISO setting? Well you will also still need a fast enough shutter speed to stop your picture from blurring. In this case you may need to increase the ISO to allow you to use an appropriate shutter speed. What a lot of fiddling about that is. The Fuji has a great way of managing this for you with Auto ISO. So you can set the ISO to any level manually but you can also let the camera adjust it dynamically. You just decide whether the maximum it will go to is 400 or 800. Setting Auto 400 will help keep noise down if that’s important for the picture but in low light you may end up needing to use the flash. Auto 800 allows shooting in lower light or faster shutter speeds but with a possible increase in visible noise.
This is how I use mine;
Full auto – for use at any time but useful when the lighting gets lower, it has auto 800 ISO. If you just want to point and shoot this is a great option and I trust it, it works really well.
P Program – The same as full auto but I’ve set the ISO to Auto 400
S Shutter priority – I use this if I’m using a lot of zoom or for moving subjects. In auto mode the camera will try to increase shutter speed when you zoom and the antishake helps but sometimes it’s not enough for a sharp picture. So this is set to 1/400th second with Auto 800 ISO.
A Aperture Priority – For me this is one weakness the camera has. Controlling the aperture means restricting the amount of light that can pass through the lens. This camera doesn’t control aperture with an iris which can be closed down in stages (stops). It uses a neutral density filter which reduces light by 2 stops. It’s either on or off. This is effectively a darkened filter snapped across the lens (internally). A bit like putting on sunglasses. The advantage of an iris is that you can increase depth of field (ie how much of the picture from front to back is in focus) by stopping it down. It also can also improve edge definition a little on zoom lenses. The only benefit of an ND filter is that you can restrict light to allow you to use a slower shutter speed. So say it’s a bright summer’s day and you want to use a slower shutter speed on a waterfall. Setting the higher aperture value will allow you to slow the shutter by 2 stops.
M Manual – Plenty of flexibility but I never use this. I prefer the auto or shutter priority modes letting the camera adjust exposure on the fly while I think about the picture itself.
C Custom – The same as full auto but with ISO set at 64 for top quality.
Movie – I’ve got this set to the HD 720p setting. It’s not full HD and it’s not as sharp as a dedicated HD video camera. But it’s not bad either if you follow these 3 guidelines;
1) Try not to zoom during filming as you’ll hear the motor noise. Zoom first then shoot, stop shooting, change zoom setting then start shooting again. The motor noise isn’t that bad actually and I zoom during filming but it might bug some people.
2) The microphone is very sensitive to noises close to the camera such as the lens cap flapping about on a windy day so keep that in your left hand and avoid making noises with your hands on the camera.
3) Don’t pan across scenes too quickly as you might get some jumpy frames.
Panorama – Let me tell you now, this is fantastic and I love it. It is a treat for wide angle photography. You can take 2 or 3 pictures side by side and the camera will stitch them seamlessly together. I like to use 2 pictures, it’s a good compromise. This gives an image shape similar to a cinema movie. If you’re really fussy it can highlight lens barrel distortion so try not to use the camera at full wide angle, tap the zoom in a little. Also try to keep the camera as level as possible in all the shots.
I was really surprised how good this is.
SP Scene mode – Choose (in the menu) from a big range of scene modes. These are fully automatic modes but they will bias the shutter, aperture, iso and colour settings in different ways. Most useful to me are the Sport mode for moving subjects and Natural and Flash. This latter option is great to use on bright days where backlighting may be a problem. Pop up the flash then for each shot you take it will actually take 2 pictures, one with normal auto exposure and one with flash. It will display them side by side. It seems to use the same exposure settings for both but adds fill in flash on the second. It works well and you have a choice.
This is so useful as it allows you to decide later which option is best and there’s no fiddling about switching the flash on and off or changing settings.
SR Auto – A sort of super auto mode that tries to determine what type of picture your taking and set the appropriate scene mode. If it can’t make it’s mind up its sets standard auto. I don’t use this.
Macro – Pretty good for the price – no focusing or exposure problems.
Leave this on. It’s not as effective as on other cameras I’ve used but nevertheless is still makes a worthwhile difference. I can take hand held shots without flash in low light with slow shutter speeds and it works well. It seems less effective with telephoto shots. I’d say it makes around 1.5 stops difference on average.
Packing 12mp into such a small sensor seems like a recipe for image noise. The APS C sensor in my DSLR is several times bigger than in the Fuji and only has 6mp spread across it (Thus each pixel is a lot bigger so receives much more light). So inevitably the DSLR suffers from far less `noise’ as it doesn’t have to amplify the signal so much.
Having said all of that things are a lot better than I expected. In fact pretty good. Noise does creep in gradually but up to ISO 400 it’s not bad at all. ISO 800 is still useable but the inevitable mottling and softness are noticeable if you look for it. Anything above that and noise get very noticeable but don’t just dismiss this. The quality may not be great but at least these higher settings allow you to capture a shot which may previously have been impossible.
Set the ISO to auto 400 or 800 and in normal use you should be perfectly happy. The camera does a good job.
This is around 1600 lph, pretty much the same as my 6mp dslr. Ideally you would expect around 2000 lph from a 12mp sensor. The limiting factors are likely to be the fact that the pixels are so small and the resolving power of the lens.
This is still a good news story, enlarged to 8″ x 10″ or even 11″ x 14″ pictures should still look good.
Being ultra critical there is some barrel distortion at wide angle if you look for it and I would say that the lens is slightly less sharp at it’s telephoto end but given the fantastic 18 x zoom range, compact size and the relatively low price it’s a great performer.
I’ve set this to use the central area. In this way I always know what it’s focused on eg point at the focal point, half press the shutter to lock focus then reframe if needed while holding down the shutter before shooting . I’ve not had any problems with this. It does hunt a little at telephoto or in low light but always seems to focus ok. The focus light also works well in very low light.
I’ve set this to average across the picture. It seems to favour burning out bright patches in order to get things right in the rest of the picture but in practice this works well. Exposure levels are pretty much spot on to me(you can adjust the meter or bracket exposures if you want).
Colour is set to standard and again seems realistic and just about right. None of the garish pictures that you used to get a few years ago with Fuji cameras.
I’ve set sharpness back at standard. I tried soft as I thought less sharpening might also mean less noise reduction but there wasn’t really any noticeable difference. The standard setting seems just about right.
A camera like this is always going to be a compromise, it’s built down to a price so there are other cameras that do some things better. However, for the price this camera offers a wealth of functionality and great pictures. It’s easy to learn and a pleasure to use. For most people this is all the camera they would ever need.