Thursday, 28 April 2016

Snowshill Manor: Additional Picture Added

We were away last weekend visiting the delightful Bourton-on-the-Water, which my friends described as a town, but it felt more like a village to me given that I've lived in London now for twenty years.  Among the other things we did while there we visited Snowshill Manor, which houses the collection of the late Charles Paget Wade.

Of interest for wargamers is the rather nice collection of Samurai armour, suits and weapons ranging from 1500 up to 1800 that were bought for the collection (allegedly larger than the British Museum's collection).  Be warned though there's only one room and it is almost pitch black, which makes it challenging to take pictures as flash is not allowed.

Also of interest is the small amount of arms and armour that is in the main hall.  All arranged for the aesthetics rather than on the basis of showing any historical development.  I managed not to take a picture of the two rather nice rapiers hung on the wall to the left of the picture below.  Partly down to struggling to cope with the lighting levels, which were appallingly difficult.

I, unsurprisingly really, managed to flummox the attendant with my knowledge of Landsknecht swords.  Trivial for a wargamer.  Thinking about it, Mr. Wade would have fitted right in with most wargamers as he clearly was a man who went oh look shiny I must have it.

And after posting this my beloved sent me her picture of the rapiers I saw on the other wall.

This was taken with her Nikon D800.  Enjoy.

Thursday, 21 April 2016

North American Combine Infantry WIP

I took some shots of my Combine infantry that I need to finish.  The above image used my E-M5MkII focus bracketing feature, which meant the camera took 25 pictures starting at the front and moving back adjusting the focus point.  Clever huh?

A close up of my work in progress, which made me want to finish them off.  So guess what I've been doing?

Extreme close-up of the three man squad: 8mm tall don't forget.

Likewise the two man squad.

And lastly the single figure representing a six man squad in the game.  These pictures are all full size crops from original image: as in no zooming in; the picture I took was really that big.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Nihon Mark 4 Ogre WIP

I need to finish this off but here's a work in progress shot.  This is another 16 megapixel focus stack shot, which gets everything into focus and shows up every bit of dirt and defect of the work in progress.

One problem of not keeping on top of projects is that paints dry out, and in this case the blue I was using had.  I tried getting a matching colour from Vallejo in their dropper bottles but it's not quite right.  So there will have to be an order made over the internet as my local shop no longer stocks the full range of the Miniature Paints brand.

Also, since I was given those lovely sets with more Ogre/GEV miniatures I thought a Mark 3 in the same colours to match my Mark 4 would be good. Proving once gain, that tendency of wargamers to paint more armies.  Perhaps we should start Wargamers Anonymous: I am an toy soldier addict and it's been three weeks since I started a new army etc.

Thursday, 7 April 2016

16 Megapixel Wide Angle Stack

When I was out the other day with my partner shopping in the West End we happened to go in the Halls of Mammon, more commonly known as Selfridges department store.  Initially this was to have a coffee break and use their facilities, but ended up in our wandering around for a bit looking at kitchen utensils when we found the photography department.

It impressed us.  Not the prices, as they were for the most part full retail, but because they had a pretty full selection of all the major brands on cameras: Nikon, Leica, Hasselblad, Sony, Canon, Fuji, Panasonic, Tamron lenses, Manfrotto tripods and Olympus cameras plus other things like accessories.  All in all a one stop shop for the photography enthusiast.

I of course was drawn the the Olympus section while my beloved nosed around the Nikon cameras and lenses.  Afterwards we had quite a lengthy discussion on the various lenses we had seen; the Olympus ones in particular we had only seen pictures of on the internet.  My question being around wide-angles and whether one should get a prime or a zoom.  I quite fancy, as in I'm saving up for, the F2 20mm wide angle but I'm also very tempted by the 7-14mm F2.8 zoom that Olympus offer.

Today's post is a test of the assumptions we discussed on our walk.  Would a picture taken with a wide-angle zoom be of a good enough quality?  Now I don't have the 7-14mm but I do have the 14-42mm pancake zoom that Olympus make.  It's considered a kit lens: as in an all round cheap zoom, and I haven't seen a thorough review of it done by DXOMark, which is not that unsurprising really as by their standards it is cheap and cheerful.

I'll let you all be the judge but I have to say that I was surprised and impressed by the results.

The colours are slightly different because these were taken under artificial light and I obviously didn't adjust the pictures to match.

You can compare these with the shots I took with my 60mm macro here.

Monday, 4 April 2016

Archery Progress

I'm still doing the archery and I'm now shooting at 50 yards, which was a big thing as when I first tried to shoot at 40 yards I could barely hit the butt, let alone get a decent group on the target.  Not that I'm doing much better with regards to getting groups, but I am getting my arrows mostly onto the butt, except when I don't – down to inconsistent form i.e. draw length, posture, and release.

As you can see the weather was fine, which was a first and I'm really looking forward to being outdoors in the nicer weather.  I also got to try out my partner's bow and hated it.  It felt wrong in my hands, which is not that surprising when comparing the pull weights.  Mine is 18 pounds, hers 24 pounds.  It makes a big difference, and in RPG if a character were to pick up a bow for example, I would make them role at a disadvantage to hit until they got used to it (mandatory wargaming content).

This week I had a total wobble moment when Sailesh, my coach, told me to set my sight arm out to the maximum length after we finished shooting four dozen arrows at 50 yards for the next round of shooting at 40 yards.  The reason being I couldn't for the life of me understand how I was now able to reach 40 yards with the arm so far forward and the answer of, it changes your sight picture just did my noodle in.

Susan and I discussed it later and went through how the length of the arm has less effect on the angle of the shot as compared to moving the sight post up and down.  That and the fact that after four months my form has improved but I hadn't realised it until I changed my sight.  Oh well, live and learn.

Friday, 1 April 2016

40 Megapixel Focus Stack

E-M5 Mark II with Olympus F2.8 60mm macro lens: ISO 200, 0.3 seconds at F8, 191.2mb RAW files processed using Silkypix +0.5 exposure, 25 HDR, 15 black – 8 picture stack processed in Helicon Focus and cropped to 8902 x 5021 179.3 mb TIFF, saved as a 832 kb JPEG using Graphic Converter.

And now, after much trial and error, some computer hang ups as my poor little Mac Mini struggled to process the files, the above picture is taken from a 40 megapixel stack made up from eight 191.2 mb images.  You can click on these to see them larger.

TIFF crop 39 mb 3117 x 3106 pixels saved as a 809 kb 900 x 871 JPEG using Graphic Converter.
TIFF crop 16.8 mb 2279 x 2464 pixels saved as a 831 kb 875 x 946 JPEG using Graphic Converter.

The top image is so large that it's possible to take crops without loss of quality.  Finally, just to show what an un-resized crop looks like.

TIFF crop 4.9 mb 1192 x 903 pixel saved as a 889 kb 1192 x 903 JPEG using Graphic Converter.

TIFF crop 4.9 mb 1207 x 903 pixels saved as a1 mb 1207 x 903 JPEG using Graphic Converter.

I'm impressed.

Friday, 25 March 2016

E-M5 Mark II versus DMC GF-1 Shoot off

My old Panasonic Lumix DMC GF-1 shooting a 4000 x 3000 picture, 12 megapixels.  A 36.2 mb RAW file was saved as 1 mb JPEG, which produced a 1262 x 946 pixel picture.

My new Olympus OMD E-M5 Mark II shooting in its standard 4608 x 3456, 16 megapixels  This resulted in a 48 mb RAW file saved as 1 mb JPEG, which produced a 1382 x 1036 pixel picture.
And my new Olympus OMD E-M5 Mark II shooting in the Hi-res mode 9612 x 6912, 40 megapixels.  This results in a 191.2 mb RAW file saved as 1 mb JPEG, which produced a 1490 x 1117 pixel picture.

I thought it might be useful to compare straight pictures taken by my Olympus OMD E-M5 Mark II versus those taken by my old Panasonic Lumix DMC GF-1.  The above three shots are full frame JPEGs from TIFF files saved off the original RAW files all saved to be the same file size.  The difference in pixel count being down to the compression algorithm.

You should be able to click on the pictures to see the full size image.

All the pictures were taken using my Olympus M. Zuiko F2.8 60mm macro lens, which is the class leader for micro four third cameras.  They were also taken on a tripod using cameras self timer to reduce camera shake.

The three shots were taken one after the other with the lens set at F8 using aperture priority.  Both cameras were manually set to ISO 200, but the E-M5 Mk2 used a shutter speed of 0.4 (2/5ths) of second, while the DMC GF-1 used 0.25 (1/4) of a second.  The difference in the shutter speeds could be down to either the light changing or the way the two cameras metering systems.

I hadn't thought to account for this, which is why I appreciate DP Review and DxOMark for there laboratory shots when they test cameras.  It's harder than it looks to account for all the confounding variables and I certainly don't have the time and resources to match the professionals.

The next three shots below are crops taken from the TIFF files, which is what you get when you save process the RAW files into an image.  The pictures below are as close as I can get to identical pixel size using my cropping tool.

1202 x 903 crop from 12 megapixel original.
1203 x 904 crop from 16 megapixel original.
1203 x 904 crop from 40 megapixel original.

OK as you can see the crop is rather cruel to the 40 megapixel shot.  But if I crop the 12 megapixel shot to the same area and you click on the pictures you should be able see the real difference.

521 x 397 crop from 12 megapixel original.

And that's it.  Buy a great camera and make you models look like really rough.  I will remind everyone that these miniatures are 28 mm tall.

Thursday, 24 March 2016

On My Workbench

I've been chilling out today or chillaxing as the kids like to say.  I needed to unwind from work and have been messing around with my new camera, taking some shots.  In the process of poking around the menus I found that the latest Olympus firmware upgrade to version 2.2 had added focus bracketing.

It's not mentioned in the official manual or the after market manual so I had to play with it and take a bunch of shots, most of which I threw away, as one does when one is testing out a new feature, but below is a a 18 picture focus stack compiled from 25 automatically taken pictures (I processed the stack using all 25 images but decided that I wanted more of the background to be out of focus and removed seven images).

Click to see bigger image and admire the depth of field: nine inches front to back in focus.

As I've said already my OMD E-M5 Mark II is a computer that takes pictures.  Also, while this new feature is a fantastic addition it's not fully integrated into the operating system: as in I can't choose it and set the camera's self-timer or more importantly use it in hi-res mode.  Hopefully Olympus will rectify this shortcoming in future firmware updates.

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