Friday, February 28, 2014

Door County Coastal Byway Kiosk project

My photo in the upcoming Door County Coastal Byway Kiosk.
Last June I wrote in this blog about taking a plane tour in Door County Wi. and some people from the Door County Coastal byway contacted me about one of my photos to be used for their upcoming kiosk project for the tourist info area.

It is a great honor for one of my photos to be used in things like this. I cannot wait to go there and see how the photo was used.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Canon Powershot G15

The awesome Canon G15.

Looking for a pocketable camera that gives you the flexibility of an SLR without the bulk? I have asked myself this question plenty of times already. Usually the first thing that pops into my head are the micro four thirds interchangeable cameras. Some models that have the APS-C sized sensors such as the Sony NEX and the Canon EOS M also comes to mind. There are a lot of stuff in the small, pocketable camera category that you'd have to spend time researching which one will fit your shooting habits best. I came to a decision to get the Canon G15. For all the reasons why I came to that conclusion, read on.

With the lens extended.

The Canon G15 came out in 2012. I got mine last month of the time of writing this. Which means the G15 is almost two and a half years old. Amazon sells it for around $350 - $450. I got mine brand new for a good deal and that was one of the reasons why I got this beauty in the first place. It gave me the balance of a nice camera with a pretty good price.
The side has speakers for playback.

The G15 as of time of writing is the predecessor of the current model G16. For digital imaging specs, it is not far behind with the current model. For around $100-$150 less. I got mine after a week of ordering it. When I held it up the first time I was pretty impressed by the build. The body is made out of metal. Not some cheapy material as some other point and shoot camera has. I was pretty impressed.
Top view of the G15.
 One of the reasons why I bought the G15 is the exposure compensation dial at the top of the camera. An ISO dial on the top of this camera would have been a dream come true, but the exposure compensation dial is an awesome feature. This enables me to adjust exposure compensation without digging through the menus by pressing buttons. A lot of camera manufacturers today are now adding the ISO and exposure compensation dials instead of burying these into menus that you have to dig through. Adjusting exposure compensation is now a breeze in aperture of shutter priority with this camera. The mode dial includes a C1, C2, Manual, Aperture and Shutter priority, Program, Auto, etc. Basically I only use AV, TV, Manual most of the time. I still need to create settings for my C1 and C2 settings. The flash can be popped on the top left side of the camera with a flick of the switch. In manual, AV, or TV mode, when the flash isn't up it means the flash isn't activated. The zoom and the shutter button are in one unit. In the top middle part of the camera is another reason why I got this's a hotshoe that allows the use of Canon speedlite flashes. A very neat feature from a point and shoot camera.
Disregard the screen protector on the LCD. I attached that myself.

In the back of the camera, bottom left part are buttons for the tracking AF button, an asterisk button, metering button, and the menu button. Dslr users won't have a problem identifying which button is for which. The only new button that I didn't know about was the asterisk button...and it's a button that I use a lot after I knew what it was for. When you are in manual mode, AV or TV mode and you need to take a quick shot without adjusting anything to get the right exposure, press this and the camera automatically finds the best setting for the lighting condition in an instant. It's pretty neat when you pull out your camera and you have no time for adjustments. Viewfinder is pretty much pointless for me. It's nice to have in case I don't want to use my lcd.

Also in that area is the dial that also acts as a 4 way joystick. It lets you adjust the focus mode, ISO, flash, and the display. The dial also changes your focus point. The top right portion of the camera has the movie record button. Near the viewfinder is the preview button for previewing your shots. On the top left portion of the camera is a shortcut button which you can program to any quick setting you want.

An ISO dial would have been awesome with the exposure compensation dial.

The camera has a fixed LCD screen on the back. A lot of people had complaints about this. I don't have a problem with it. I guess with people who are so used with an articulating lcd this is a problem. I know it gives you more flexibility shooting from awkward angles, but I never had a camera that has an articulating lcd in the back so I am comfortable with a fixed one. This is also one of the reasons why this camera is pretty thin compared to models that have articulating screens in them.

The pop up flash.

The dial that is similar to other Canon EOS dslrs.

On the right side of the camera is where you'll find the shutter release port, and ports for plugging your camera into a monitor. It also has an HMDI port for HDMI monitors.

Side panel.

The Canon G15 has compartment at the bottom which houses the battery and a single SD card. The G15 can do approximately 350 shots on a single full charged battery.

With the flash popped up.

The front ring near the lens can be removed. this allows the user to attach a filter holder for the lens. Although the filter holder would limit the pocket ability of this camera. I leave mine as it is.

I love how close the camera can focus.

Image quality of this camera is pretty good considering a smaller sensor than a DSLR. The camera has the ability to focus close to around 1 cm in macro mode, and I tell you...1 centimeter is close. From what I understand you can actually attach a Canon macro flash in front of the lens if you have the filter attachment for it. Pretty sweet for a point and shoot.

Not too bad considering it was overcast.

I first took this camera at a botanic garden near our place. It was overcast. When it's overcast you never will get much color from your digital camera. Now here's where the cameras shortcomings come in. Considering the sensor is on the small side...dynamic range is what you'd expect from a small sensor camera. the highlights easily gets overblown. Other than that, color rendition is pretty good. A little post processing usually brings out more colors in your photograph.

At it's widest, the lens isn't too shabby.

Taken on an overcast day.

For a small sensor camera, the 1.8 lens does produce good bokeh.

By the way did I mention that this camera has a 28-140mm 35mm equivalent lens, with a maximum aperture of f/1.8-2.8? That 1.8 maximum aperture for a lens makes a lot of difference in low light. It also renders a pretty pleasing bokeh when shot wide open.

Macro shot.

It has a maximum shutter speed of 1/4000 sec. Pretty good for a point and shoot but then again, I wouldn't use this camera for sports or fast moving subject. Although auto focus speed is pretty good too. I was able to lock in the subject about 1/4 of a second in pretty good lighting. Rarely that auto focus hunts even in bad lighting. Also, focus can be set manually through the settings if desired.

Color rendition is pretty good.

Maximum ISO is at 12800. I wouldn't use it at maximum though. At around ISO 640, you start to notice noise in the photos due to the smaller sensor. To counteract this, I shoot in raw and I use the Lightroom noise reduction feature. Noise reduction in camera I kinda noticed is pretty strong for my taste. 

The noise actually gives the image a film like feel. 

Black and white mode is great with this camera.

I rarely use the in camera special effects mode when I use cameras. In fact this is my only camera that has one. I decided to give it a try though and I love using the black and white mode. The noise that a high ISO produces in black and white mode actually gives the black and white photos a film like feel.

Skin looks yellow because of the lamp. Otherwise pretty accurate WB.

Without flash, in lowlight, this camera delivers.

The white balance of the camera is not bad either. As I have mentioned, I usually shoot in Raw anyway and adjust my white balance using software especially with smaller cameras. 

The in camera noise reduction isn't too bad either.

Now rounding up the good and the bad features of this camera, here are the reasons why I decided to get it:

Ability to shoot RAW - very important to me as I shoot raw about 95% of the time.

Exposure compensation dial - very easy access when shooting.

Ability to use Canon speedlites - I love this feature. Did I mention that you can also attach a flash trigger to the hotshoe for studio flashes?

Built in ND filter - useful when shooting waterfalls. Don't need to attach an nd anymore. Also helpful when using with studio lights as the minimum aperture is only f/8.

Minimum ISO of ISO 80 - I have never seen a point and shoot with an ISO 80 feature. 

Full HD at 24 fps - 30 fps would have been better but I have cameras that can do that.

The awesome 28-140mm 35mm equivalent lens with f/1.8-2.8 - I will admit that this was the selling point why I chose this over the G1X. You cannot go wrong with a 1.8 lens, really!

Now why did I get this instead of the G1X? The G1X has a slower lens but a bigger sensor. The G15's faster lens makes up for the smaller sensor as you can let more light in which is the advantage of having a bigger sensor. That somehow evens it up for around $200 less.

Why did I get this rather than an EOS M? The EOS M from the majority of the reviews I watched and read has a lousy autofocus. Also I would have to invest more money for lenses and a flash for it. The G15 has all the lens I am ever gonna need for a small camera. Plus I can use my Canon speedlites if I wanted to.

Why did I get this instead of a Sony Nex or any micro four thirds ILC? Again, the main point of getting this camera is the grab and go thing for most situations. I just wanted a camera that's all in one, instead of thinking what lens to bring with it. If that was the case, I'd bring my 6D with me.

Why did I get this instead of the newer G16? Really the only new thing about the G16 is wifi. It has a slightly faster af but for about $100- $150 less, I can go on without wifi.

Now these are my opinions. Everybody has their own.

These features are what makes the Canon G15 an awesome camera. Some of the features in it actually are better than a starter dslr. But then the G15's shortcoming is it's small sensor. But then again this is a travel/party/backup camera that I am gonna put in my pocket and shoot with, without the bulk of a dslr.

I have been using this camera for about a month and a half now and I have it almost every day, ready to shoot anytime. For a little sacrifice on image quality I can go on and shoot whenever I want to.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

My published photos in the Capture my Chicago III book

The Chicago theater captured with my Canon 15mm fisheye. is a site that specifically showcases the Chicago area and its surrounding suburbs by photographers from all over the nation. It's basically a web community of photographers that share their photos online.

Taken at the Chicago Botanic Garden.
People can comment, vote and critique your photos that are posted. It's a big community of photographers that showcase different kinds of photography, from macro to wildlife, to architecture. It's a really nice place to meet photographers around the area.

Taken in Downtown Chicago near Union Station.
Every year, publishes a book which shows the best of the best photographs that are uploaded in their site. This year I was so lucky to have five...yes five photos published in their 2013 book "Capture my Chicago III".

One of my best big cat shots from Lincoln Park Zoo.
The book specifically showcases photography around Chicago with focus on people, architecture, animals, and just pictures of the city itself.

Thinking Gorilla at the Lincoln park zoo.
You can buy the book at Also available on the site are the previous years books.