Camera Gear and Software used
Santa Claus 2005! After two and a half years with my Fuji s602, I
wanted a better viewfinder, a faster AF, and short depth of field
available. My budget was under 1000€ for a cam plus needed accessories.
When I started investigation, I discovered quite fast that only a DSLR
would bring real added value. In my budget class, I looked at all
brand. Olympus was phased out because I'm not confident with their 4/3
system. Canon (300D and 350D) and Nikon (D70 and D70s) were dead as
soon as I looked through their small viewfinder. Finalist were Pentax
*ist DS and Minolta D5. I went pentax because its viewfinder is bigger
(even if Minolta made a good work), I had a few very old
manual lenses, it was cheaper, and Minolta anti-shake was not of big
interest for me (even if I think they had a very smart idea with
that). So I purchased the Pentax. Main features:
- Best viewfinder by far in its price class
- Cost effective
- Very small, but still with good grip and ergonomy
- Compatible with Pentax lenses made in the last 40 years, with
plenty used lenses available at good price
- No missing feature (except maybe: no remote flash command with
internal flash, and no ultrasonic motor in lenses)
- Picture quality in line with competitors, and maybe even better
on the noise side
- SMC Pentax DA 18-55mm F3.5-5.6
The kit lens. Quite good for a kit lens
- sigma UC Zoom 70-210mm 1:4-5.6
low grade MF tele zoom. got it cheap on ebay for a few buck,
waiting for money to get a real AF tele
- SMC Takumar f/1,8 55 mm (M42 screwmount)
got it from grand'pa gear (over 30 years old!) excellent for
portrait. fully manual, but the *ist DS allows me to use it in Av
mode with stopped down metering. Not an issue since I'm using it mostly
between f/1.8 and f/2.8 (so viewfinder is brighter than with the kit lens).
It is my most used lens as of today. The type of lens that shows
you what is the real power of a DSLR compared to a bridge: DOF!
plan to be replaced by a FA 50mm f/1.(4|7) in order to keep focus on
fast moving kids
- vivitar 28mm f/2.8 (M42 screwmount)
grand'pa gear again. not a lot of experiments with that one yet.
Got to get ideas from other photographers on how to make an
efficient use of 42mm equivalent (I know it is the focal of choice
for some pros...)
- mamiya/sekor 135mm f/2.8 (M42 screwmount)
grand'pa gear again. not a lot of experiments with that one
Needed to mount my M42 lenses.
Needed to shoot macro with blurred background and shorten minimum
focusing distance. See Hector Niam
website for an excellent tutorial about insect
Macro Photography. I think I will go for extension tubes in the future
to avoid the sensible image degradation caused by these entry grade
Can be great for some landscape shots
Got it for my previous cam. The head swilvel and tilt,
allowing to bounce whereever you want, plenty of power. not TTL, so
used in M mode only. P-TTL flash purchase may be my next purchase.
Shame on Pentax to forgot to put a swivel head on their 360TGZ, I will
have to go for the sigma 500 super.
soften flash light. Used for Macro, and for Portrait when I cannot do
entry grade tripod. Allows me to experiment the world of long exposure.
1 set for the camera, one for the flash, and one backup set for each.
Sets for the flash were intialy used for the cam, but after 2 years
they deliver a too low voltage, so I now use them in the flash only.
works fine. 100 RAW pics or 300 JPG at max quality.
Wonderfull camera bag. Lightweight, but big enough to hold cam, kit
lens, 55mm, a tele and accessories. Does not look like a camera bag.
comfortable enough for moderate biking, hicking, skiing. 'sling' type
allows you to swing it around to the front provides quick access to
your camera stuff.
Image management tool - cheap and incredibely
powerfull. Now you can really organize your 10 000+ pictures spread
over several drives and DVDs. I'm using it to download and rename files
from card reader (one click!), categorize, build my web gallery. This my 'photo digital workplace'. I'm
starting the other tools from Imatch (gimp, qimage.). I'm not aware of
any software that could replace it.
Multiple Image Printing and Processing Software
Print digital photographs with maximum quality. I'm using QImage for
color correction (levels, cruves, white balance,...) and for printing.
It will rework your picture to adapt it your exact printer (or internet
lab) DPI, using advanced interpolation algorythm. The result for large
prints is way better than what you can get by relying on the lab
without preprocessing or with resizing in other software (including the
over priced adobe photoshop. It will also optimize paper usage by
placing Multiple Prints/Sizes Per Page, Including Posters. ICC
mamangement. I tried a A0 poster (4x4 pages, about 120 by 80cm or 4 by
2.5 feets!) from a S602 picture and at 1 meter the result is
stunning. And last but not least,it saves your picture
processing in a separate file, leaving the original untouched.
- paid $59
To handle raw file: it is fast so enable me to easly scan a set of pics
to delete the bad ones. It is very efficient at developping RAW files.
It is (was...) not too expensive. It has enough color and exposure
controls to avoid editing most of the time.
I'm using it for photo retouching, image composition and image
authoring. It is not a daily tool for me, most shots needing only
color/sharpness/blemish/redeye adjustment, that is being done in
Rawshooter+QImage. It's free, and fullfill my needs
that are not covered by IMatch and QImage.
an easy to use GUI for Panorama Tools GUI -
With hugin you can assemble a mosiac of photographs into a complete
immersive panorama, stitch any series of overlapping pictures and much
more. Not a tool that I'm using daily, but I keep it on my hard drive,
doing 2 or 3 panoramas a year. Known to be the most efficient free tool
for building panoramas. Was unstable, but getting beter and better with
As you can see, for about the price of photoshop elements or paintshop
pro, I've got a full workflow with the above software.
Got to improve my noise removal step. I'm using the free version of
Noiseware. But since
I now have >8 bits files, I should review other solutions like
noiseware pro, NeatImage or
NoiseNinja to work in 16 bits color
mode. On the other side, noise is not an issue from 200 to 800 ISO with
my pentax. So that purchase is not a priority.
Regarding usage of color profiles, I'm quite convinced it is a real
improvement. So I'm using an internet lab that is providing its own ICC
profile. Regarding my own printer, my old e20 agfa scanner is not good
enough to create good profiles, and since I'm using the internet lab when
I want high quality prints (after processing with qimage) I do not want
to pay for professionnal made profiles for my printer, that would link me
to a paper brand. So no profile
prism or vuescan purchase