The other night I had a chance to test out three unique pieces of equipment. To get a real sense of their performance capabilities, I opted to shoot in low light. As the sun gave way to glowing office lights, I headed over to Rockefeller Center. Here are the results.
- The panoramic image above was taken with the Sony DSC-TX9. After learning about this camera at the Photo Expo in October I selected it as one of the Best in Show. A few weeks later I got my hands on a demo model which I'm pretty sure I'm supposed to give back at some point. While this tiny camera has an impressive list of specs such as HD video, a touch screen, and a 12 megapixel sensor, the one feature that has really captured my attention is the "Sweep Panorama" mode. You just press the shutter and start panning across an expansive scene from left to right. The camera then does all of the stitching for you in mere seconds! It works surprisingly well, and absolutely deserves a closer look. I'd be curious to try it on a tripod with a DSLR as well. You can see the image a bit larger here.
- Next I worked with the new HDR mode on the iPhone 4. It works by exposing for the shadows and highlights and putting the two together images. Like the Sony above, it does the actual processing in-camera, eliminating the need for post production. In the photo on the left check out the way the details in the sky are lost, but more data is captured in the shadows. In the photo on the right, the sky detail is held, but the shadows go dark. You then get the blended result with details in both the shadow and highlight area. It's a bit like having a graduated Neutral density filter for your camera phone. Again, I was surprised at just how well it worked.
The completed HDR image from iPhone 4 with slight crop.
- I put the pocket sized cameras away and took out my trusty DSLR. It was the lens selection that made things interesting. This was shot using the Lensbaby Composer and Fisheye lens. At 12mm, it really creates that distorted look with curved lines, and stretched buildings. Although I don't work with this lens very often, it's a lot of fun to see the results. It's so wide you actually have to be careful not to include your feet in the photo.
While none of these products are without flaws, they are remarkable advancements, particularly the in-camera features of the Sony Sweep Panorama, and iPhone HDR. Although they won't be used everyday, they each fulfill a unique need which makes them a nice addition to a camera bag.
For more holiday fun, check out the Christmas Tree Lighting Video here,
and holiday lights with long exposure here.