Saturday, February 1, 2014

Camera questions

I have been asked several times about the camera I use to take the pictures on this blog, so I thought I would address it in a post. My every day camera is  Fuji Finepix S1500 that's already 3 years old so the 10 mega pixel that was the cat's meow at that time is already terribly outdated. Even my Droid has 8mp on it and there's a lot of times that I only take my phone rather than my camera when we go out .So let's get to the nitty gritty. This is a highly capable camera with a ton of features that I rarely use, but here are the main things that made me choose this as a boat camera.

  •  It's a lightweight camera that has a solid grip to it so it's easy to hold. Important on a boat.
  • It has a 12X digital zoom which is definitely not as good as optical, but for the kind of pictures I take is fine.
  • It has good common shooting modes: aperture, shutter speed, totally manual, totally automatic, panorama, video.
  • Fuji has the best digital capture of blues and greens, the two most prominent colors in sailing pictures.
  • It takes regular AA batteries, not rechargeable. I know, I know, they're not great for the environment, but when I had a rechargeable battery camera I missed a lot of really excellent shots because the batteries were dead. With AAs I can keep a good supply in our fridge and the Fuji gets a long long time out of a set. I take a ton of pictures, sometimes over a hundred in a day, and I can usually get almost two months out of a set.
  • It takes a regular SD card and my 4Gig card can keep more pictures on it than I care to take.
  • It was reasonably priced. I paid less than $200 for it.
  • It has an awesome image stabilization unit in it. This is the most important feature to me. As long as the boat is even in the viewfinder I will get the picture. Yes, even while rolling and heeling.
 To talk about the camera alone does not address my picture taking, though, because I also process all the pictures through an editing program. I'm a huge fan of open source programs because I believe that wide contribution from a large collection of imaginative people makes software better. So my two choices for editing software are Picasa and Gimp. I use Picasa to store the pics from my SD card and to do quick exposure editing, cropping and tagging. When I take pictures on the boat, I shoot everything that seems remotely interesting, then in Picasa I will dump the bad pics, usually pairing down my 100 shots to 25 or 30. This is the great thing about digital photography. Picasa is also good for basic artistic features such as changing to black and white or sepia, changing photos to line drawing.  If I have a particular photo that I want to do some major editing, or to combine photos into one layered one, then I use Gimp. Gimp is an amazing open source version of software similar to Photoshop. If you are comfortable with Photoshop then you can use Gimp. If you're a newbie, you'll find Gimp is not intuitive, any more than Photoshop, but it's a very capable program.

If you have any specific questions please let me know via email or comments and I'll be happy to answer them. Some pics from today:

Our Canadian neighbors' boat backdropped by Miami and a very weird sky

Miami on our way out this morning

Miami waterfront

From our cockpit in Dinner Key mooring field

From our cockpit in Dinner Key mooring field

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