Archive for September, 2010

Radio Remote for Canon EOS 550D

The small and very handy IR-remote Canon RC-5 has a lot going for it and two things against it: It requires the camera to be “On” and this draws power and it must have a free line of view to the camera.

Enter the Radio Remote for Canon EOS 550D/Canon Digital Rebel T2i – and many other cameras! In this case JY-110 from Deal Extreme. As can be seen in the picture on the left it consists of two parts: transmitter and receiver. It has a working distance of at least 100 meters! (If there is no radio wave blocking obstacles in between!) But you do not really have a line of view between the camera and the transmitter. Especially this is true when you are close, 5-10 meters, then its radio waves goes through a lot of obstacles! The kit seems reasonably well-built – without having a super finish.

The receiver
Is equipped with two buttons and two LEDs.  The receiver connects to the DSLR via a 25 cm cable to a small 2.5 mm stereo headphone jack. It can be fitted in the flash hotshoe on the camera or just used “dangling” in the cable. You can pair transmitter/receiver with each other by selecting one of the available 16 channels on a small DIP-switch. This lessens the risk of interference from other radio transmitters.

The simplest way of using the receiver is in “Off” mode. It then works as a wired remote shutter release! Use it to lessen camera shake or just for convenience. The release button has two pressure levels – exactly as on the camera; the first sets the focus; the second releases the shutter. There is no delay – it is as pressing the release button on the camera!

Switching the receiver “On” is by the smaller button just to the right of the shutter release button. This lights up a red LED on the front indicating that the receiver is ready and listening for the transmitter. One more press on this button switches it off again – and extinguishes the LED. Note! This “Power on”-LED is so weak that it is both very easy to forget it “On” and not to see it. I do not know if this is a fault of my sample or if it is by design to save power. Because it uses a press-on, press-again-off button it can be switched on by accident if you keep it unprotected in your camera bag.

The receiver is using a 3Volt type “CR2” lithium battery. Mine ran out very quickly – I do not know if I forgot it “On” or not. I think I had it “Off” but it still ran down the battery!

The transmitter
Is equipped with one pressure button, one slide switch and one LED. The transmitter is always “On” so there is no “Power on”-switch. It also has an antenna that can be pulled out to increase the working distance. The large button is the release button and it also has two pressure levels – exactly as on the camera; the first sets the focus; the second releases the shutter. As you press this button a two-colour LED just in front of the button lights up in green to indicate focus and when you press harder it lights up in red to indicate shutter release. The same happens at the receiver a bright LED indicates green and red. The setting of the slide switch controls what happens next!

First setting (downwards) with the small “G”-like symbol gives a two second delay before the picture is taken! The red LED blinks during these two seconds.

Second setting (upwards) is a little more complex – or versatile – depending on how you look at it. You focus as normal, then a short press triggers the shutter at once! Or if you keep the button firmly pressed you can either use it for continuous shooting if you set up the camera for this – or if you set it up in manual mode where the “BULB” setting is available – you can have the shutter open as long as you press the button! Very handy! Even better is the fact that if you let go of the button after a few seconds the shutter will stay open untill you press lightly for “focus” – this will close the shutter again! Summarizing: one long press to open the shutter and on short “focus” press to close the shutter. (Note that you will have to “focus” to finish the “BULB” exposure! Just pressing the button as for a shutter release will not work!)

It really works over 100 meters – I have tested it – but it is impossible to see the LEDs at that far away distance – it is even difficult to believe that a picture has been taken! But it has!

The transmitter is using a 12 Volt type “23A” battery. This is said to last for 20 000 exposures – which I have not tested 😉 – but I strongly doubt it … but on the other hand I will have to wait very long to find out – even if it only lasts for 5000 exposures!

Controlling video
Using the radio remote will actually focus the camera at the first soft press but then it will not start the video recording when you press harder. It will “only” trigger the shutter – just as it does normally!
I am sorry to say that you can not control the video at all by the radio remote! (Or any other remote that connects to the remote contact!)
You can however use the infrared (see my blog post on that) to control the video recording!

Conclusion

I ordered this radio remote JY-110 from Deal Extreme for less than $20/15 Euro/150 SEK  (incl batteries and delivery) and I think it is well worth it! When you order the remote, at the same time, buy a few extra CR2 batteries as well! Other radio remote brands in the photo shop at the high street costs several times as much for the same functionality. It is reasonably well-built, the cable is soft and flexible. The only quirk of the system is that it might consume receiver battery power even when switched “Off”! (I will test this and update the text here! Looking for a way to measure the very low current consumption…)

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Money back at last!

I am happy to say that the return of my Samsung WB2000 was accepted and I got my money back! That does not mean that I am ALL happy – it was a very nice little camera – but with a few small (?) things I could not accept! Orientation sensor missing and colourless rather cold pictures in shade and cloudy weather. I am still searching dpreview forums for other buyers opinions about the image quality – because a nagging hope/fear is that it was just my sample that was flawed! But so far very little from others to go by. The returned money anyhow  means that I will be able to look for a new compact camera (to complement my Canon EOS 550D)  very shortly! Any ideas to what cameras I should have on my shortlist?

/Photoman

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Infrared Remote for Canon EOS 550D

I wanted a remote control for my Canon EOS 550D/Digital Rebel T2i – I did not even think about any alternative but bought the original Canon RC-5. (Price €20 in Sweden) That is an infrared remote with just one button – nothing more! Well it has a hole to tie a string or lanyard to. It is powered by a small button cell CR2032 – that lasts several years with “normal” use. It does have a small “arrow” that indicates where the infrared LED is situated – or what direction you should point to the camera. Note! This remote works with a number of Canon DSLR cameras. There is also a newer model for the same price, the RC-6, that allows you to select with or without 2 second delay – so it is a better buy!

Super simple to use! Just set the camera up for self-timer/remote and you are ready to go! You press the button on the remote and the camera responds with lighting up the yellow/amber light near the shutter release button. If you have the beep sound activated it will also emit a series of short beeps. Two seconds after you pressed the button on the remote the camera will take the picture. 

In more detail I also noted that the focus and exposure measurement is done when you press the button and then the camera waits for two seconds before it releases the shutter. That is the camera uses the “one shot”-mode. This is probably the natural way of doing it – but be aware of this as things might change during the two seconds… Good things: If you are in the picture you will have time to hide the remote! 😉 Bad things: Clouds might appear… the sun might set … 😉

One more thing to be aware of is that the camera will only react to the IR-remote as long as it is “On” – quite naturally perhaps!? But it means that you will have to have the Auto Power Off set to a suitable time 30 secs-15 min or “always on”. This also means that the camera will draw power as it waits – I do not know how long it can be left “on” before the battery runs out – probably several hours at least but probably not days! You can lower the power consumption by switching of the display!

The infrared sensor is placed near the top of the grip – just below the shutter release button. The camera will react up to just over 6 meters from the camera – at least indoors in a “cosy” lit room (that is very soft and low light). It also has a very wide sensor angle – amazingly close to 90 degrees(!) to the right of the camera – but then at a max distance of about 2 meters. On the left hand side it depends on how much the lens and other parts of the camera is blocking the view to the sensor. The red area in the illustration marks the rough working area – but it is not to scale.

This is quite a handy little device – very good also for the looong timed night shots – use the remote to avoid camera shake! It is also so small and light that it is easy to carry around with you.

Moreover it can be used to start and stop the movie recording with! Very handy! But then the recording starts immediately – without the two second delay!

Next will be a post about another remote I have – a wireless radio-remote – for the same price as the RC-5.

/Photoman

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Sample Photos High ISO Samsung WB2000

All of these samples are full size and have not been edited in any way – except changing the filenames! I have taken a series of pictures of the same motif with two different cameras: Samsung WB2000 with Canon EOS 550D/Canon Digital Rebel T2i as comparison. I know it is VERY unfair because of sensor size, price … etc but at least there is something that can be used as a sort of “gold” reference. A compact would have to work VERY hard to surpass a decent DSLR as the ISO goes up and the light goes down! Give me sun and the pictures are very good from all cameras! I also threw in two samples from an OLD (4-5 years) Canon Ixus 750 (7 Mpix – that does not go any higher than max ISO 400!).

As all three cameras has different wide angles so I zoomed the Samsung and EOS to roughly the same focal length as the widest angle of the Ixus which was 37 mm. (550D was  used with the kit lens.) The day was cloudy with no visible variation in lighting during the test shots.

All cameras was set similarly: AWB, all other settings to normal. Note that the sharpening on 550D is normally set for “soft” from Canon – I did not change that!

Comparing camera pictures is SOO difficult – all cameras should really be set so that YOU think it gives the best possible result – not just left with what the maker thought was the best… well... Hands up all those that have left the setting at what it was out of the box! 😉 Taking into account that the three cameras all has different resolution is soo tricky – you will have to scale and then the sharpness changes…. but it does all the time that you look att pictures on a screen – very few 18 MPixel screens exist! This is intended to compare the noise increase at higher ISO. Printing the pictures on paper and then comparing them is, I guess, the most fair method…

 ISO 100 – included as base reference

Click on the pictures to see them full size!

Canon EOS 550D – The reference 

  

  

 

 

 

Canon Ixus 750 – the old-timer

 

 

 

 

 

Samsung WB2000

 

 

 

 

 

ISO 400

Canon EOS 550D – The reference 

 

 

 

 

Canon Ixus 750 – the old-timer

This is the last one – the Ixus does not go any higher!

 

 

 

 

Samsung WB2000

 

 

 

 

 

ISO 800

Canon EOS 550D – The reference 

 

 

 

 

Samsung WB2000

 

 

 

 

 

ISO 1600

 

Canon EOS 550D – The reference 

 

 

 

Samsung WB2000

 

 

 

 

 

ISO 3200

Canon EOS 550D – The reference 

 

 

 

 

Samsung WB2000

 

 

 

 

 

Below I have added 100% crops of small parts of some of the pictures above. Note that they are all of roughly the same area but they still have different sizes – that is because the cameras have different number of pixels. The Canon have 5184 x 3456 (18 MPix) and the Samsung 3072 x 2304 (10 Mpix).
To make the Canon equal i pixels I would have to reduce the size to 59% or enlarge the Samsung correspondingly. Note also that the Canon sharpness is set to “soft”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ISO 100 Both cameras produce sharp pictures with little noise. Well done I think! Shows what the lenses are capable of! One obvious thing is that the Samsung is much less saturated and that it actually looks sharper then the Canon. As I said above the Canon is set to “soft” but you can still see that the Samsung lens is quite sharp in comparison!

ISO 400 Samsung passes the old Ixus (400 is as high as it will go) with lower noise! (This crop is not shown!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ISO 800 The Samsung starts to show signs of noise in shadows but I think it still is acceptable! Also details are being blurred

ISO 1600 Here the Samsung starts showing noise in the lighter areas as well. This is the decency level I think – still OK but you can not be very picky and remember that one at least still can take a picture with ISO 1600! (This crop is not shown!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ISO 3200 In the lighter part of the picture (with the sign) : Here it shows a lot of noise and it might definitely not be everyone’s cup of tea but if it can help you take a picture you would not otherwise be able to take – I think it is OK – but best avoided – if possible! Here you can still improve it a little – increasing the saturation.

In the darker part of the picture (with the plank wall) : Here it shows a lot of noise, most details are lost and is almost colourless – I don’t think there are many out there who likes this! BUT as I said above if it can help you take a picture – I think it is an emergency setting for those MUST have a picture! UFO:s and the like! 😉 Here you can do very little to improve it – there is very little colour so it is hard to increase the saturation!

Conclusion:
One general observation, that I also made earlier, was that the Samsung WB2000 (at least my sample) in the shade and under clouds gives pictures that strike me as a little on colourless and blueish side! And it gets worse as you ups the ISO-value. At least when used as the manufacturer has set it up. I myself would not want them like this out of the camera but would use one of the in-camera ways to add a little more saturation and maybe make the pictures a little warmer. The drawback is if you do this you will block several of the WB2000:s cool features!

/Photoman

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Sample Photos Samsung WB2000

All of these samples are full 10MPix and have not been edited in any way – except changing the filenames. Just click the picture to see the full size! The Exif info should give you all info on the picture. All of the pictures have used the Program mode – P mode – with everything else set to automatic – but flash off. (If you have not tried the IrfanView free software for viewing pictures, some image processing, etc – please do! It is quite good and very easy to use! Also has lossless jpg rotation!)

Afternoon light. Standing in the shade from the trees taking the picture upwards towards the small clouds. Focus is on the cloud in the middle.

Settings: Multi segment exposure metering. Auto white balance. Contrast normal. Sharpness normal. Saturation normal. Wide angle 24 mm used. P mode used. Set for auto ISO – which selected ISO 100. Shutter time 1/1500 and f-stop 4.0.

Result: Good exposure, good saturation and good white balance! Sharpness is quite good! Very little noise. Note! The sky is darker on the right hand side! It is not vingetting!

One thing to brood over is why the camera chose 1/1500 and f  4.0? It is such an extreme selection! Why choose such a short time? Why not stop down just a little? Or a lot? Chosing a shutter time around 1/250 – 1/500 would have been short enough – with a suitable aperture! Or settling for an f-stop of 8-11 with the suitable shutter time! With this camera you can get this if you just set it for S or A mode – pick your own shutter time or aperture or both with the M mode! The result turned out well enough anyhow in P mode – but it does not seem like it picked the best compromise between shutter time and f-stop.

Afternoon light. Standing in the shade of the trees and taking the picture out towards the open area that lays in a mix of shade and a little sunlight.

Settings: Multi segment exposure metering. Auto white balance. Contrast normal. Sharpness normal. Saturation normal. Wide angle 24 mm used. P mode used. Set for auto ISO – which selected ISO 100. Shutter time 1/45 and f-stop 3.1.

Result: Good exposure, saturation is a little low and white balance is a little too blueish! Sharpness is quite good! Very little noise.

In the 24 mm wide-angle setting 1/45 sec is just alright to prevent blur from shaking so why stop down to 3.1? Why not open up a little here and get a little shorter shutter time? It has a very good 2.4 lens! It used 4.0 to get 1/1500 in the very well-lit picture of the sky above! Or why not up the ISO a little? Maybe shorten the time a little …? Well due to my superb ability to hold the camera quite still this picture turned out alright – not super but OK! I would have prefered a warmer picture with a little more saturation. But it is not further off then this is easily fixable in IrfanView – or your favorite image processing software.

Afternoon light again. Taken with the sun behind the leaf in the middle. Exposure taken from that middle leaf where also focus lay.

Settings: Multi segment exposure metering. Auto white balance. Contrast normal. Sharpness normal. Saturation normal. Wide angle 24 mm used. P mode used. Set for auto ISO – which selected ISO 100. Shutter time 1/750 and f-stop 4.0.

Result: Good exposure, good saturation and good white balance! Sharpness is really good! Very little noise. This turned out a VERY good picture with really dynamic colors and a perfect exposure. Contrast is really super! Be impressed by the sharpness in the small 100% crop on the right hand side! This can be sharpened a little in your favorite software for even more astounding result! But you do not really need to!

Once again the selected exposure time and aperture in P mode really mystifies me! Why select such a very short time and such a big aperture? Why not stop down a little? 1/250 sec would be short enough and then we would get a few steps smaller aperture – which whould give us a little extra depth of field … Now this still turned out a very good picture so… I remain mystified – but impressed!

Soft late afternoon light. Flowers standing in the shade.

Settings: Multi segment exposure metering. Auto white balance. Contrast normal. Sharpness normal. Saturation normal. Wide angle 24 mm used. P mode used. Set for auto ISO – which selected ISO 160. Shutter time 1/30 and f-stop 2.8.

Result: Good exposure, saturation is a little low and white balance is a little too blueish! Sharpness is quite good! A little noise appearing. The picture has a “frosty” wintry look to it – should really be a little warmer. The AWB does not really handle this shady/cloudy light well – as does few cameras – you usually have to intervene by changing white balance to shady or cloudy! I have a feel though that the WB2000 gives one of the “frostiest” pictures of cameras I have used. I have several more pictures taken in the shade – and they all look like this picture – it is quite representative!

In this picture the camera chose reasonable compromise of ISO, shutter-time and aperture – I think. Just a slight increase in ISO to 160 to get the shutter time down to 1/30 sec – with almost fully open aperture at 2.8. Why not use that last bit of aperture though – could have brought down the ISO a little. This picture shapes up pretty well with a little treatment in IrfanView! (I seldom bother to start-up Photoshop for these small adjustments…)

Late afternoon light from a window facing from the sun so a lot of cold blue light is reflecting from the sky.

Settings: Multi segment exposure metering. Auto white balance. Contrast normal. Sharpness normal. Saturation normal. Wide angle 24 mm used. P mode used. Set for auto ISO – which selected ISO 100. Shutter time 1/60 and f-stop 3.3.

Result: Good exposure, quite OK saturation and good white balance! Sharpness is good! Noise is quite low – especially in the lighter and sharp areas – but a little noise can be seen in the unsharp and darker areas. In general one more good picture from the WB2000. Admittedly it can be improved further with upping the contrast and saturation and then it turns really super – but it is quite alright just straight out of the camera! Probably the colour of the glass balls help mask the frostiness that the WB2000 seems to want to give in the shade. Well – again a good picture!

Late afternoon. Mixed light – a little sun, a little sky and one distant tungsten light.

Settings: Multi segment exposure metering. Auto white balance. Contrast normal. Sharpness normal. Saturation normal. Wide angle 24 mm used. P mode used. Set for auto ISO – which selected ISO 400. Shutter time 1/30 and f-stop 2.6.

Result: Good exposure, quite good saturation and very good white balance – especially considering the mixed light! Sharpness is quite good! Noise is quite low – considering this is ISO 400! Noise can be seen in the unsharp and darker areas but it is not very disturbing.  It turned out a good picture!

In this picture the camera chose reasonable compromise of ISO, shutter time and aperture – with almost fully open aperture at 2.6. But why not use that last bit though?

Conclusion:
The GOOD: The Samsung WB2000 does really well in sunshine with good colours, saturation and contrast. Also handles mixed light indoors very well and gives very pleasing pictures in that difficult(?) light. It gives really good results with ISO up to 400, with noise ramping up in ISO 800 (still quite usable) but you have to lower your requirements at ISO:s higher than that! The lens is also a good one with good sharpness and good contrast and very little optical problems – it is not perfect (that is not to be expected either) but is well-chosen and well suited for this camera!

The BAD is – as you can see – pictures taken in the shade will have too low saturation and too blue white balance! It seldom produces pictures to my liking in the shade or when the clouds come out to play! (Is this just my specific sample of camera that gives these results…?) You might like them or you might not care…

The “frosty” pictures in the shade can be fixed either afterwards in you favorite image software (at least as long as there is some colour in the picture) or beforehand with the settings available in the camera! But you will have to reset them when the sun comes out again! 😉

This will have to do for today! More in a day or two!

/Photoman

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Sweep Panorama Mode

The Samsung WB2000 and many of this years crop of cameras has something they call “Sweep Panorama”. It works in similar ways on all of these cameras. On the WB2000 by going into the Scene-mode and selecting the panorama mode you will be able to use the very handy “Sweep Panorama” feature. You just point where to start (this locks the exposure and AWB) , press and keep the finger pressed and then just slowly sweep the camera either right, left, up or down. It will show you a bar that grows as you sweep the camera up till the maximum width. Then, when you let go of the shutter release button, the camera will automatically create the panorama picture! It is that easy!

The width of the picture depends on how wide arc you sweep the camera over and the height of the picture depends on how straight line you will move the camera in. Have you fluttered a little up and down during your sideways movement the camera will have to crop out a part of the height of the picture. With the tests I did on free hand (no tripod) the best that I got was 720 pixels in height on a standard sideways panorama but it can easily go below 600 pixels if you flutter too much! You can sweep it sideways in portrait mode and get a slightly higher resolution.

This is most certainly a fun and quite useful feature for some people! It is very easy to use and produces a panorama – as promised! BUT remember that the resolution is quite LOW and the stitching is not that great. Depending on motif and how smooth you move the camera you often get a number of “waves” in the pictures and also some “ghostly” artifacts! This is masked a little by the fact that the panoramas are relatively small so you won’t see these shortcomings too clearly – especially on the camera display! It definitely lands in the handy and funny but NOT high quality sector of features.  Is this of use for you? Depends on your requirements! I would use it every now and then – but  just for fun!

For me I would say that the low quality/resolution of the panorama piuctures from this “Sweep Panorama” mode  would normally have me going about it the usual way instead! I would take several overlapping 10 Mpixel pictures and stitch them together automatically in the computer afterwards with the free Microsoft ICE  panorama software – and get beautiful high resolution panoramas! The fact that the WB2000 can’t easily lock exposure and WB complicates matters slightly – either I repeatedly lock exposure and WB at the same point (shutter release halfway) and reposition the camera for each new picture in the series or I use manual settings … or I just let Microsoft ICE sort it out!

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The Jury is Still Out

Now over a week has passed since I sent the camera back for a refund and still no response from the webshop. I’m still waiting… BUT I will not start on a new quest for another camera untill I know what the shop will do – I could not bare to have decided on a new camera and then get the Samsung back!
Still it was/is a nice little camera –  but everyone has to decide what particular features they want in a camera and what “misses”/drawbacks they can accept.

I have a few more things to write about WB2000 here in this blog – the most important I think is image quality. I have taken a few shots – both single samples with the WB2000 and comparisons with both Canon EOS 550D and an old Ixus 750. The pictures taken an overcast day (that tipped me over to send it back) I have shown at dpreview but I plan to have those as well as some crops and other pictures here on the Photoman blog.

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