Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Interiors without a tripod

click photo to enlarge
click HERE for full-size image - 3648 X 2736 pixels (2 Mb file)
Many people make the assumption that because I take a lot of photographs I'm interested in cameras. The fact is I'm not. I'm interested in photographs, and cameras only to the extent that they make securing a good image easier. For my needs four things are important - a reasonable price, the ability to finely control the exposure, a reasonably small size for body and lenses, and low light performance.

Price matters because DSLR development hasn't levelled off yet, so replacement and improvement happens more often than it did with film SLRs (and I've got other things I want to spend my money on)! Control of exposure is important because it is the critical factor in securing the image: DSLRs make this easier than most other types of camera. Small size is really critical for me because I walk and cycle a lot with my camera, and the small camera you have with you always secures better images than the (maybe better) bigger camera you leave at home because of its size! Then there's low light performance. Image stabilization is the most significant development for me in recent years. It has allowed me to capture images, particularly of church interiors, that previously I could get only with a tripod. Now, if Olympus could increase its high ISO performance to somewhere near that of the big two manufacturers, I'd be a very happy man because the tripod would become almost redundant.

Today's image is of the interior of the church of St Nicholas, Walcot, Lincolnshire, bathed in the yellow light of the low November sun. The architecture dates from the the 1200s and 1300s, and is notable for the beautiful fourteenth century east window with its flowing tracery, and the carved fifteenth century bench ends. It's an interior that wasn't "scraped" (see yesterday's post). The shot was hand-held at 1/20 second at f6.3, ISO 200. Is it as sharp as it would have been with the camera on a tripod? No, but it's sharp enough to produce a perfectly acceptable A3 print. I've included a slightly compressed (75%) version of the full-size shot for your perusal. It has a little post processing, some noise suppression, but no sharpening. With my old OM1 I never shot at a speed lower than 1/30, and then it was with 400ISO HP5 with the 50mm fully open at f1.8. These days I risk shots at 1/6 second, and am usually quite happy with those taken at 1/15.

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 11mm (22mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f6.3
Shutter Speed: 1/20
ISO: 200
Exposure Compensation: -1.0 EV
Image Stabilisation: On