Friday, March 08, 2013

Testing 1, 2

click photo to enlarge
Television in the UK seems so much less adventurous than it was in the 1960s and 1970s or even the 1980s. Despite hundreds of channels operating 24 hours a day I often find there is nothing that I want to watch. Maybe it's me. But perhaps it isn't. Where, today, is the commissioning editor who would fund not just one series but multiple series' by the likes of Neil Innes or Alexei Sayle? Who would recognise the acute observation and quirky brilliance of Innes' musical offerings, or Alexei's in-your-face barrage of invective that pricked the inflated self-regard of the English middle classes, and then go on to persuade a channel that it would soon find a relatively small, but very partisan and dedicated audience?

So dire is today's television that sometimes I use YouTube as my source of entertainment, and often find myself listening to Neil Innes wonderful musical parodies or Alexei Sayle's assault on politics or the vagaries of modern life. I was doing so the other day when I stumbled once more on a throw-away piece by Neil Innes, less than a minute long, but one that is so well-observed, re-creating as it does the kind of semi-professional band that used to be found touring English working men's clubs or performing at weddings. It's not laugh out loud stuff like "Protest Song", "Godfrey Daniel" or "Crystal Balls", but it always raises a smile on my face.

And the connection with today's photograph of a churchyard at twenty two minutes past seven on a recent dark and slightly wet evening is...? Well, that piece of music is called "Testing 1, 2", and in taking my photograph in such unpromising circumstances I was doing something I hardly ever do: I was testing a feature on the Sony RX100. The only testing of kit that I undertake involves looking at my photographs, drawing conclusions about the success or otherwise of the camera in those circumstances, and modifying (or not) my practice accordingly. Here I was trying out the Superior Intelligent Auto mode (what a name!) that, in dim or dark conditions takes several quick exposures after one press of the shutter button and then makes an amalgamated shot of those images that attempts to cancel out the noise. This noise cancelling technology has been available on some cameras for a few years, though on none I've owned. I do have software for a dedicated film and negative scanner that makes 2,4,8 or 16 passes to achieve the same thing and that works very well. The result of my test is that the Sony mode is pretty effective too and much, MUCH quicker.

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Camera: Sony RX100
Mode: iAuto+
Focal Length: 10.4mm (28mm - 35mm equiv.)
F No: f1.8
Shutter Speed: 1/4
ISO: 3200
Exposure Compensation:  0 EV
Image Stabilisation: On