John & Anne Wiley


Excuse Me?

Filed under: Happiness,Has Photos,Random — John @ 09:13

I hope you can pardon my enthusiasm, and this somewhat techie detour. See, snapping pix from a plane taxes the ability of cameras to produce acceptable results. Mostly it’s about motion. Lots of it. So the shutter speed has to be fast to eliminate blurring due to motion. Well, my old camera could get 1 clear 8 MegaPixel (MP) aerial pic out of every 3 shots with its max usable speed setting of ISO 400 (pretty fast). Well, this new Nikon D5100 gets comparable results with an ISO 3200 speed setting, eight times faster! So what would look much less clear than this 5100 pic if taken at ISO 400 on the old camera:

0091 New 5100, IS0 400

0091 New 5100, IS0 400

Looks like this at ISO 3200:

0095 New 5100, IS0 3200!

0095 New 5100, IS0 3200!

Not much difference, right? Of course these are reduced a lot and have been corrected for contrast and color (though actually much less than what’s required on pix from the old cam). Let me show you something larger. Here’s a sample from the same ISO 3200 pic above, corrected and reduced to 8MP size. This sample is cropped at full 8MP resolution:

0095 ISO 3200, 8MP Crop

0095 New 5100, ISO 3200, 8MP Crop

Most of the lumpy effect is due to heat waves, and you need to click each pic to see it full-size for a good comparison. The flag is about 800′ away, and the hillside maybe a couple of miles. This is about a sixth of the width of the full 8MP image. So this pic could be full-size on most computer screens and still look pretty good, right? So what? Now I can get vastly better aerial photos and for me it’s a really big deal. I can even snap sunset and moonrise from the air. And it’s not just ISO 3200.

0056 Anne, ISO 12800, f5.3 1/10s

0056 Anne, ISO 12800, f5.3 1/10s

I can also get indoor snapshots at night without blinding friends and family with a flash. Night pix taken at the D5100’s maximum of 25600 (f3, 125/sec.) are usable portrait snapshots! But reducing to the next-slower and still remarkable setting of ISO 12800 yields pix like the one above cropped from half the width of a 1200×795 reduction that was snapped using just very dim room light and the glow of a computer screen at f5.3, 1/10 second. That’s 32 times faster than my old camera, and it cost only 5 hours’ flying time. Now maybe this is all gibberish to most people and photographers already have better cameras, but I’m ecstatic about meeting my need for (ISO) speed while preserving some of my flying funds. 🙂


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