5.04.2021

Switching gears and playing with a small, older camera that is new to me. And was free.


Everyone in Austin seems to be moving. The long time residents are making hay while the sun shines, selling their insanely price-inflated houses and moving to cheaper and less crowded cities. Or downsizing into smaller houses or condominiums in the area.  The Californians are rushing in and snapping up the million dollar and up, three bedroom, two bathroom, ranch style houses built in the 1960s and 1970s and convincing themselves that they just got a screaming bargain. The people who lived here, worked in normal jobs and didn't have houses to sell are packing up and moving to surrounding communities, driven by the need for lower rent. We're staying put. 

But no matter what the motivation for moving around or out, and no matter what form the housing market will take when the panic buying and selling resolves, the one thing everyone seems to have in common is a desire to get rid of stuff they don't use and don't need. They just don't want to move all their stuff around so much anymore. People are getting pickier about their inventory. 

People who are downsizing from bigger houses are calling to offer free dining room tables that seat eight or ten or twelve. People heading into condos are offering up their pool furniture. Etc., Etc. But I'm trying my best to maintain my own large object diet. 

One thing I can't resist is the offer of free cameras. I might end up passing them along to someone else in more desperate need of a camera but I can't bear the thought that little camera gems might end up in a landfill or tossed into a barrel at a thrift store and damaged beyond usability. 

One of my friends is cashing in on his Austin real estate, also selling his local business and moving to another state. We had lunch last week and he handed me two cameras. Nothing special but he made it clear that he and his partner were moving on to being "cellphone only" snapshooters. No extra gear needed. I get it. He's in the food service biz and doesn't have time to mess around with the mind-numbing routines of being a fully fledged photo hobbyist. 

The cameras are both what we would call "point and shoot" cameras or compact cameras. One is a Canon S-95. It's small and nondescript and I have charged up batteries for it but have not yet shot with it. The second camera was more interesting to me; it's Sony RX100. No letters after the 100. It's the first version of Sony's very popular one inch sensor compact camera line. It boasts a Zeiss designed lens and a tiny form factor. 

I've always been curious about this particular line of cameras but the stars never lined up for me and I've never shot one before. I bought two new batteries and a charger from Amazon.com for a whopping $18 and I've been waiting for the weather to get nice so I could go out and give it a try. 

I walked around on my favorite downtown route this afternoon and I gotta say I was a bit tired today having done a "double" on swim workouts today. 

I had the little camera set for aperture priority, auto ISO, f5.6 and AWB. I used both ends of the zoom range which is something like 28-100mm in full frame speak. The aperture starts at f1.8 at the wide end and ends up at f4.9 on the long end of the zoom range. The one inch sensor is chocked full of 20.2 megapixels of sensor goodness and the lens is image stabilized. 

The camera totally lacks an eye level viewfinder of any kind and there's no way to add an EVF to it, that I know of. The video capability is typical of a camera introduced in 2012, offering 1080p but all the way up to 60fps. There are a couple of built-in microphones and no headphone jack. This is NOT a camera I'd choose to make many videos with but it could be useful for some random content you might come across while out on a walk. The real selling point of this camera, now and at the time of its introduction, is the tiny size of the body, the relatively large size of the sensor (compared to compacts on the market at the time) and a really nice zoom lens with a good range of focal lengths. 

After owning a Sigma FP I've learned how to shoot while composing on a rear screen only. I guess I could get used to it and I will say that the screen on the back of the RX100 is pretty easy to work with in all but the brightest sunlight. 

But since I've only used it for a few hours today I'll cut to the chase and tell you what I know from my relatively slim experience: It makes very nice images in good light. The color is a bit forward but it's likable. The images have a high impression of sharpness and this is intensified by a much deeper depth of field that I've gotten used to when shooting with the full frame cameras. 

I shot a couple hundred frames, left the camera on as I walked around and when I came back to the office the battery indicator was still showing a full charge. All in all I can see why this RX100 line of cameras continues to be a great selling product for Sony. It really delivers nice files for a camera its size. 

In a few days I'll take the S-95 out for a spin. I wonder how much coolness that one has. Also coming soon. A friend shipped me a Canon 50mm f1.8 FD lens and a Canon FD to L mount lens adapter. You see, it was the very first interchangeable lens I ever owned. It came with my ancient Canon TX back when I bought it brand new from the University Co-op. I see them in good condition in the used market for around $60. I can hardly wait to see how this 1970's lens tech works on the front of a Leica SL2. I might just be in for a big surprise...
















 

7 comments:

Mike Shwarts said...

I have the RX100 III. It is one of my favorite cameras. Image quality is plenty good for posting online even with some cropping. Fits in a pocket, so it is convenient when larger cameras are not easy to carry. Wi-Fi for uploading to the phone and quick posting. I use Photoshop Express on the phone.

The only model that can use an accessory, electronic viewfinder is the mark II version. The mark III and later have a pop up viewfinder.

J Williams said...

I once moved 3 times in 4 years. After the last move I realized I had boxes of stuff I had never unpacked from the first move. Obviously they contained stuff I really didn't need.

I have both compact cameras your friend gave to you. I used the Canon S95 quite a bit at one time. This may be the best truly pocketable camera ever made. Now I mean 'truly' pocketable as in you can put it in the pocket of a pair of jeans and eventually forget it is there. I think you'll find it is much like the Canon G15/16 cameras just in a smaller package. I haven't shot mine in a few years but I'm tempted to drag it out again and try shooting some in RAW and see what something like DxO can do with the files, especially at higher ISO. One tip if using it in low light. The lens aperture closes down quickly as you zoom in. If using it in low light I always used it at its widest FL and cropped a bit if I needed a tighter framing. Obviously this limits you to FL somewhere in the 28-35 or so FL range but works rather well for small prints etc.

I also have the original RX100. This is the trimmest of the RX series. It can fit in the pocket of a pair of jeans but its very tight. A pair of dockers etc. works better and you'll know it is there. IQ is pretty good but I doubt you'll be super happy with the JPGs. A good candidate for shooting RAW. In many ways this is better than the proceeding RX100 cameras as it is lighter/smaller and has a more far reaching lens than most of the series. Not as technically proficient as the follow ups but it may have gotten the formula for a compact 1" camera down better than those that followed it.

Michael Matthews said...

Staying put is a wise decision. As long as the rising tax valuations and the attitudes / behaviors of your new tear-down-and-build-it-huge neighbors don’t make it unsustainable. For little more than the cost of your annual gear churn you can turn your current abode into a sybaritic pleasure palace. People burdened with high mortgage costs or other continuing drains may find it wise to cash out and move. But these days even getting rid of stuff is expensive. Many of the usual places dealing in the resale of furniture and household goods as charitable donations were put out of business by the Covid crunch.

Kirk Tuck, Photographer/Writer said...

MM, Texas tax law freezes tax increases on many parts of property tax bills once one crests 65. It makes staying in a home that's already paid for easier. We would have a harder time renting a nice two bedroom, one bathroom apartment (financially) than staying put on a third of an acre in the most desirable neighborhood in central Texas... One of the few benefits of aging in Texas.

Dan Boney said...

The original RX100 is indeed still a fine camera, a testament to how well it met its mission from the get-go. I bought the "deluxe" Hasselblad derivative ("Stellar") when it was closed out on fire sale so has upgraded dials & buttons as well as a really nice wood grip built-in. While now old tech, it's still lovely to shoot with and that's a declining feature in the newer stuff being cranked out...

Rick said...

We're all doin' what we can.

--A California reader

What do the transplants say when they find the COVID infection rate is [checks JH] 6X that of California's, and the governor wants virtually everybody packing heat? Actually, it's the summer that will slay 2/3 of them, not even in the Central Valley do we come remotely near yours.

Anyhoo, home prices are relative, my burg is being inundated with Bay Area folks discovering they can buy a big ol' house for what they sold their 2br/1ba San Jose condo for. And wow, a lot of cash purchases. Think once folks discovered they were unmoored from that daily trip to the office yet still employed, the very concept of a place to call home shifted in a lasting fashion. Not a bad thing, says I.

Kirk Tuck, Photographer/Writer said...

Rick, I just do not understand why in God's name we Texans can't buy shoulder launched anti-tank missiles. Or processed plutonium for that matter. We need to get big guv'ment out of our lives. I'll tell em, "Keep your darn hands off my Medicare and Social Security. But always remember that Obama care is socialism......."