Sunday, December 27, 2009

Second walk with the Canon S90

I had to go to the store today so decided to take along the S90 in case something presented itself to photograph.
Took the long way to the store and realized the Polar Bear Express was here for a special Sunday run to make up for there being no train on Christmas Day. Not only that but it was leaving a couple of hours early, at 3:00 p.m. which meant it would be leaving in daylight.
Headed over to the train station and grabbed some shots of the train. The one I liked best was a shot of a woman with two suitcases and a small child.
Walked past the head of the train and across the rail bridge to get a shot of the train as it left. Once again reminded of the short telephoto range (28-105mm) of the S90 when I took a shot of the train from the opposite side of the creek.
Decided to try a video. Got a little scared when I noticed an eyedropper that had something to do with changing the colours in a video. Could not figure out how to get rid of the icon but dialed it to zero which I hope avoided its effects.
S90 video is low res 640 x 480. I wish it was a bit better as I recently shot some videos at 1080p (1920 x 1280) and 720p (1280 x 720). While the increased resolution does not always show up online it is clearly visible in the source files.
I was happy with the S90 video of the Polar Bear Express and posted it on youtube.
Once again, I shot in both RAW and JPG. I used the JPG's for quick shots and processed the RAW's in Adobe Capture Raw. I stuck with the Camera Standard profile. I found myself getting better at dealing with chromatic aberration; at times it takes a surprising large blue shift when dealing quite large areas of blue colour that show up.
To illustrate this, I took a shot of the front of the train and posted it with and without chromatic aberration correction. I didn't apply any post capture sharpening to either so I posted a "normal" shot as well. The shot was taken at 6mm (28mm equivalent). Some areas are quite bad, I illustrated the problems in the lettering on the boxcar, the side of the switchstand and the beginning of the railing on the bridge.
Manually correcting for chromatic aberration is no fun and I would love to have an automatic solution. I have DXO which has a module for the S90 but unfortunately that module does not handle this problem.
I am not that fond of Digital Photo Professional; probably because I do not use it very much. DPP did a better job with chromatic aberration than Adobe did.

The day had a nice surprise in store. While walking home I ran into two talented photographers from Toronto, Melissa McCauley and Crimson Hosking. Melissa is originally from Moosonee and brought Crimson here to enjoy the subarctic winter and compare grocery prices. It was great to have a visit and some photographic fun with other people who habitually walk around with heavy camera bags on their backs.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Walking around with a small camera

One of the presents I opened yesterday afternoon was a new camera, a Canon S90.
This is a small camera, a point and shoot that still costs about $500 in Canada or $400 in the US.
I had wanted a pocketable camera, something that could be on my person without announcing its prescence to all the world and also produce pictures of reasonable quality.
The S90 shares its sensor with the Canon G11 which I also considered but decided that it was simply too big or at least too big to be handy.
I spent some time on Christmas reading the S90's manual. Endless options and complications of the sort that delight people who want to be able to adjust lots of things.
And, some nice features including a decent sensor, the ability to shoot RAW pictures, an interesting arrangement of controls including a control ring around the lens with variable functionallity, an f2.0 lens and the claimed ability to take pictures in low light (ISO 12800). On top of that, endless special modes for all conceivable kinds of photographic situations from fireworks to fish in aquaria.
I played around with it at home. Trying to get the hang of a few of the features could be frustrating at times but was helped by the explanations that showed up on screen when using menus.
I head out for a walk on a very mild Boxing Day; so mild that I even saw people playing road hockey in shorts. The biggest surprise was seeing a Sea Gull which should have been long gone. Trying to get a good shot of that bird reminded me that  the S90 has lens that is the equivalent of a 28-105mm lens on a 35mm camera. Nice for wide shots but not much good for small or distant things.
Boxing Day may be a day for big sales elsewhere but all but corner stores were closed up tight in Moosonee. People take their holidays seriously. Nobody was out shopping but lots of people were fishing.
What did I notice about the camera?
Well a couple of things frustrated right away. The camera has a built in flash. To call it up you need to head to the menu. To make it retract into the camera you need to go to the menu and turn off flash. You cannot just push it down or call it up with a finger.
Normally, I shoot in aperture priority mode. So I set the S90 to f5.6 figuring that that would be just as good as f8 on a DSLR and probably give a wider depth of field. There is a control on the back of the camera with multiple functions. It can rotate, can depress in any of four directions and has the Set/Function button in its middle. It is not stiff like the dials on DSLR's so it easily turns and I found that my chosen aperture had to be watched closely.
The day was not cold, just around freezing so not wearing gloves all the time was not a big hardship. But I soon realized that the S90 could not be operated with gloved hands at all, so it is not likely a cold weather camera for me.
I choose exposure compensation as the function for the control ring around the lens. It can also handle ISO, focal length (set of fixed lengths), etc. That was fairly handy, there was snow covering most of the ground and I needed to allow for that.
I shot in RAW and JPG. the files are good sized, this is a ten megapixel camera after all. I took about three dozen shots and came home with more than half a gigabyte of images.
I took a look at the RAWs and JPGs. One interesting point was that the JPGs were much darker, much more conservatively "exposed" or processed. In Adobe Camera Raw when I used specific camera settings (e.g. Camera Standard) the images closely matched the JPG's. Since it was a cloudy and dull day I did not really have a great range of exposures, not much at all in the way of highlights that might have been recovered in RAW. In fact I am not sure if any of the pictures really benefited from the extra file size of RAW. However, I did increase exposure in ACR so perhaps there was some point. Sometimes I did not care for the Camera Standard, a couple of times I thought its colour rendition was off and found that Camera Neutral a better choice.
Not surprisingly the camera has significant chromatic aberration and fringing. All lenses have this, to some extent, but this one took a fair amount of compensation. It showed up in the both the JPGs and the RAWs. I wonder why the camera does not try to fit it when it turns out JPGs.
I posted some shots from the camera. While it is obvious that they are not as good (not as much resolution, more noise) as those from a DSLR with a good lens, I wonder if they are good enough for typical purposes, e.g. posting on websites or small prints.
The S90 has a lot of features that I have barely begun to explore. In some ways I want two, perhaps contradictory, things from it. I want a point and shoot that takes no effort to use while producing good pictures and secondly I want a small camera that has the ability to let me control it completely both in how it takes the shot and how that shot is processed. The camera seems to satisfy the second, time will tell how well it satisfies the first.
If you are used to a DSLR then controlling a small camera is frustrating. Instead of things being done with convenient and sturdy controls you end up dealing with tiny buttons, tiny dials and the need to resort to menus for what might wish were easily accessible functions. The S90 is no exception. It does try hard to be easy to use and even has a programmable S button and the ability to set up user menus. Most of its menus and functions were easy to use although a few required a bit of manual reading.
This is not intended to be a review of what is a very complicated and powerful little camera. There are lots of those reviews out there. I have just written about my first walk around with the camera; if I get another decently warm day I may give it another try.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Chasing the sunset to the tracks

Sunset comes early this time of year, just a bit after 4 p.m. so I generally miss it since I am stuck behind a desk. However, today we had reduced hours so I got out a bit early and got some shots along the river with 7D and 300mm lens.
When I got the 7D about a week and a half ago one of the first shots I took with it was one of the trees on Butler Island with the 100-400mm lens at 400mm. Ugh! I was not that happy with the picture. Today I shot the same picture with the 300mm and found much more detail. I am still getting pictures at time that are too crunchy (clarity setting in Adobe Camera Raw) but this was an improvement. I posted a comparison composite.
It was getting dark but I tried for birds in flight. Probably too dark but a few shots that I was willing to post. The subject birds, Common Ravens, are challenging in two ways: they need a lot of exposure compensation (two stops) and they are difficult for focus (pretty featureless and dark).
There was surprisingly little snowmobile traffic but got a couple of shots of the one that went by headed towards the setting sun.
Lots of clouds meant a chance for an interesting sunset so I went inside and grabbed a 5DII with my usual walk around lens, 24-105mm IS.
A few shots up the river and then off on foot to figure out best place from which to shoot the sunset. This is not as easy as it sounds. Ideally I would like a place where I have a lot of empty space in front of me and no overhead wires. The best place would be on the other side of the river but I didn't have the time or inclination to head over.
I kept walking until I got the tracks by which time the sun was down but the sky was still interesting.
It was about 4:30 by the time I was standing beside the tracks so I decided I might was well wait and get a shot of the train which heads south at 5:00. It was getting darker very quickly. Decided to try a video at high ISO. It turned out very noisy, as expected, and I called it Night Train from Moosonee. As usual, it looks a lot better on my monitor than it does on youtube: viewed at home I can clearly see the smoke billowing from the lead locomotive. The Polar Bear Express is, for much of its length, a fairly dark train. It has lots of head end cars (flat cars, boxcars) before the passenger cars with their lights at the end. In its present form, it is only a couple of years old. There used to a train with the same name that was a summer time only excursion train and a year round mixed train that had lots of freight with passenger cars at the end. The Ontario Northland got some extra money from the provincial government to improve service. They ended up with a five day a week Polar Bear Express that has some freight type cars that mostly carry vehicles for local residents and baggage and a separate freight train. But, there is no longer a train with all passenger equipment.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Pixel Peeping 7D and a stamp

(Images referred to in this posting may be seen in full size)
Pixel peeping is the practice of examining a digital photograph at the lowest level of detail to determine its quality or lack thereof. Pixel is short for picture element. Digital photographs are composed of various numbers of pixels. Early digital cameras had a few hundred thousand pixels; now most have a few million and some have even more. Usually the pixel count is expressed as the number of pixels across (horizontal) X number of pixels up (vertical). For example, a six million pixel (6 megapixels) camera might be described as 3000 X 2000.
In film days, people who wanted to peer at the detail of photographs in a serious way used a loupe (magnifier) to examine negatives. Everybody knew that most prints had much less detail than was actually found in the negative; something that anyone who has ever ordered enlargements from a print will know. Looking at negatives was a serious business and required skill and patience.
Looking at a digital photograph up close is easy with a decent sized monitor and image editing software.
Now that we can pixel peep we may do so and find that our photographs do not impress up up close. When people look at pixels they are seeing their images as bunches of square blocks, each one a single colour; something like building an image with pieces of lego. It looks fine from a distance but not so great up close. What this implies is that we need to have an idea what things look like up close before we judge; we need to realize that there is no such thing as a diagonal line or a perfect circle in a world of rectangular pixels.
Having much to do and no wish to do it tonight I took some time to do some pixel peeping. I wanted to see how well the Canon EOS 7D digital single lens reflex camera did at reproducing a subject. Some of my 7D pictures have given me pause and lots of people on the internet are expressing (to say it mildly) their concerns about the 7D which is new 18 megapixel camera.
I decided to do my best to test things under favourable circumstances: a good lens (Canon 300mm f2.8 IS), tripod, mirror locked up and timer to allow the camera's vibration to settle down before the picture was taken.
For a target, I taped a stamp from an envelope on some books about 12 feet from the camera. I focused with the centre point using spot auto focus (this is when the camera uses a smaller focus point).
I took a series of RAW shots at ISO's from 100 to 12800. I processed the RAW shots in Adobe Camera Raw 5.6. I used default settings except for adding two thirds of a stop of exposure. I did not use the clarity control.
In Photoshop CS4 I added annotations but did not do any sharpening.
After the tests, I realized I could have picked a better stamp. I wish I had used one with fine engraving: lots of thin lines and tiny text. Maybe I will if I want to do more pixel peeping in the future.
I was impressed with the 7D, especially at lower ISO's. I think it has the potential to take some very good pictures given good lenses and steady hands (especially with longer focal lengths). It has nearly twice the resolution of my other cropped sensor camera, the 40D. Does this mean that it magnifies every bit of camera shake and vibration by almost a factor of two? If it does then it means that it may require faster shutter speeds.
I took the stamp and scanned it at 600 dots per inch on a Canon 8800F scanner. It was obvious that the scanned version had much more detail than the 7D shots. The difference in effective resolution was significant but not enormous (468 pixels acros the stamp on the scanner and 383 for the camera).
I posted full size annotated test shots in a gallery on my website.
Was this a useful exercise? For the purist, with an optical bench in her basement, probably not. There are too many variables that were not controlled. For example, the stamp was illuminated by fluorescent lights that flicker; not every shot is going to have the same lighting.
Was this a useful exercise for me? Yes, it was. It is one of the things that has convinced me to keep the 7D. One of the other things that convinced me of that was my experience shooting a hockey game in a dark arena with the camera.
Was it fun to pixel peep? Not really. It made me realize how much work and how tedious it would be to do this in a serious fashion. I am glad that there are lots of people who are willing to put in the effort to pixel peep and test cameras for the common good. There are lots of great sites on the internet where I go to read about their results:  DPReview, Rob Galbraith, Photography On The Net, etc.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The road to Moose Factory

It got easy to travel to Moose Factory a couple of days ago. The winter road across the ice of the Moose River is open to light vehicles. This means that I can call a taxi to where I live here in Moosonee and get a ride to anywhere in Moose Factory.
For most people, it sounds like no big deal. But for the residents of these two small communities at the South end of James Bay in Northern Ontario it makes life a lot easier for a few months.
No more taking a taxi to the boat docks in Moosonee, getting into a boat taxi for the trip to Moose Factory and then, waiting for a taxi at the docks in Moose Factory. Or, taking a taxi to the helicopter pad at the airport and waiting for the two minute journey across to the pad in Moose Factory when the river is breaking up in the spring or freezing in the fall.
Easy, simple, direct and convenient transportation comes every winter once the Moose River freezes.
This year the gap between boats and trucks was short. I took my last picture of taxi boats in the water on November 30th and my first of trucks going across on December 18th.
The first people to make it across from Moose Factory are daring travellers on fast snowmobiles. They are followed by snowmobile taxis with their passengers accommodated in covered sleds. That service lasted for just a few days this year. The weather was cold and the river froze rapidly. Somebody drove over in a truck one day and the next most of the taxis were happy to drive across.
It can be a rough road and it can have problems along the edges. The reason is that the Moose River has tides. Not great big ones like the Bay of Fundy but big enough (a few feet) that the edge of the ice often gets disconnected or partially disconnected from the shoreline. Sometimes this is called the tide mark, a narrow strip of slush and water along the edge of the ice. At best it is a nuisance, sometimes it is enough to stop traffic for a while or force a slightly different routing.
The road to Moose Factory starts at the bottom of McCauley's Hill in Moosonee. The hill is named in honour of two brothers, Sinclair and Oliver McCauley, who lived at the top of the hill. They were the last World War Two veterans in Moosonee.
I went over to the bottom of the hill last Thursday to grab a couple of shots of workers flooding the ice. They drill holes and pump water from underneath the ice. The water freezes on the surface and this makes the ice thicker and safer for travel. They also dumped some snow along the shoreline to make a bit of a ramp for the road.
On Sunday, I went back just before sunset to get some pictures of traffic. The direct road onto the ice had been disconnected by the tidemark so vehicles travelled a little ways along the shore before turning out onto the river. There was a steady traffic and even one truck heading up the river a ways.
Today I got a reminder that the river provides a road for more than snowmobiles and trucks. As I was leaving the bottom of the hill I noticed a single engine plane fly by. I paid no attention for a minute and then noticed it seemed to be coming right at me. It had turned in flight and was coming in to land a bit further up the river. It was low and fairly close and I really wished I had brought a longer lens with me. But even with a 200mm lens I was able to get some quick shots as it flew by.
My time at the bottom of the hill was made even more enjoyable by two friendly ten year olds, Megan and her Uncle Timothy. They had the patience to repeatedly throw chunks of snow and ice onto the thin ice along the shore to let me test out the frame rate of my camera. Thanks to both of them.

Postscript: Monday 2009 December 21st: This morning I headed over to Moose Factory to get an X-Ray done at the hospital. Taxi showed up at my place we headed across the ice, the road was ok but not great. Got to Moose Factory, "oh, oh". Deep water right along the edge of the island. Bunch of vehicles, including our taxi, sitting and waiting. A couple of people went through the water, it came up over their bumpers as they drove through and headed off. Taxi was a van and driver was not keen to risk it. Fortunately, a guy in an SUV and took us thru the water. Once I was on Moose Factory I was there for a few hours, taxis were not willing to go across until the water went down, about three hours later.

Paying to discover the law

There are rarely guarantees when people go to court. This is not necessarily surprising; after all, if a case was obvious people would know what was going to happen if they went to court and they would not bother going. Going to court is expensive; sometimes ruinously expensive. No rational person would go to court if the outcome was certain.
Minor digression into costs. People who go to court have to pay their own lawyers. In Canada, if you win the case, the other side usually has to pay some of your legal costs. This is called the indemnity system and it generally does not apply in the United States. The basic idea behind it is to discourage lawsuits; in Canada you know that if you lose it is going to cost you money.
Even once people have gone to court there is still a chance that the court was wrong. What does it mean for a court to be wrong? Basically it is up to a higher or appeal court to decide. If somebody can persuade the apppeal court that the first court was wrong about the law or perhaps wrong about something factual (less often) then the appeal court can overturn the decision of the first court.
Generally, appeals courts are very polite as they go about their business. There is much mention of the "learned trial judge" who may have misdirected herself or done some other seemly trifling thing that resulted in her decision being successfully appealed. Once in a while they are pretty blunt and say things that are much less complimentary about the trial judge and his interpretation of the law.
All very interesting and probably very expensive. After all, you have to pay when you do an appeal. And even better, once in a while you get a second appeal to an even higher court.
A long time ago, a law professor named Garry Watson at Osgoode Hall Law School mentioned to me that this could be seen as unfair. Why should the people involved in a lawsuit have to pay to get the appeal court to correct the error of the trial judge? Good point I thought.
Professor Watson is from Australia where there were schemes to help out people who went through successful appeals. The justice system was willing to help out with the costs incurred.
This sounded like a really good idea and I ended up spending a lot of time looking into it as part of a research course. For some reason, I had decided to do one of these as opposed to another course with a one hundred per cent final exam. I am not sure why, it was an awful lot more work to do the research instead of just writing an exam at the end of term.
In my case, doing the research ended up involving a lot more than a trip to the library.
Remember, this is decades ago, before everything was on the internet and before email was in general use. So, I sent off inquiries to all of the Australian States and asked them about their programs. Fortunately, Osgoode had the largest law library in the British Commonwealth and it included relatively current copies of the laws of the states. Eventually I had a big pile of photocopies and reports and said down and wrote a longish essay which Garry marked and revised and made a lot of suggestions about until we got it into publishable form.
If you are ever in a law library, you can look it up in volume 19 the Osgoode Hall Law Journal under the title: Bringing Fairness to the Costs System -- an Indemnity Scheme for the Costs of Successful Appeals and Other Proceedings".
I thought the idea of helping people out when the court system made a mistake was a good one and I still do. Nobody else really seems to think so it remains, I guess, an Australian innovation that stayed on that continent.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Deciding what matters (in a picture, exposure wise)

The nicest and sometimes most appealing pictures are taken with great lighting. Every degree of brightness in the scene is reproduced in the picture, nothing is really too dark or too bright to fit. If you look at the histogram, it is a beautiful shape, a mountain pretty much centered with nothing blown out or in total shadow. For example, this picture of a train south of Moosonee shot in 2008.
Usually, if you point your camera at a scene it will do a pretty decent job of coming up with a decent shot. Most cameras have built in software for evaluating a scene and deciding on the settings to use to end up with a decent exposure.
Sometimes what is front of the camera makes it difficult to get a perfect exposure.
All cameras have limited dynamic ranges. This is the range from the brightest to the darkest lighting that can be contained in a picture. I suppose it is a bit like the contrast range statistic advertised with tv sets and monitors. The nasty thing is that human eyes tend to have a better dynamic range than cameras.
When you get a scene that exceeds the dynamic range of your camera you need to decide what matters. Are there relatively dark objects in the scene that you want to show up with detail and colour instead of as dark shadows? Is there something that is really bright and beautiful that you want to show up properly?
The classic example is taking a picture of the rising sun. On a clear day, when the sun is not dimmed by clouds or fog, there is no way you should even be aiming at the sun. So the most memorable sunrise and sunset pictures include lots of clouds or are taken when the sun is not directly visible.
A more reasonable circumstance is when you are taking a picture and the sun is shining towards the camera. If you have a subject facing you, that subject is going to be a shadow if you want things lit by the sun to turn out propertly.
Yesterday I went to take pictures of work on the road to Moose Factory. This is a winter only route across the Moose River (pickup trucks started driving across yesterday). I didn't have much time (there are not a lot of hours of daylight right now and I am supposed to be at work for almost all of them). When I went to take the pictures what I saw was a group of  men out working on the glaringly bright ice. If I took a normally exposed picture they would be nothing but black outlines so I had to adjust the exposure. I had to let more light into the camera so that the workers and their equipment would be reasonably well exposed. The result is that the ice and snow and the sky are much too bright. Later I took a shot of a dark blue truck dumping snow at the same spot. I exposed my picture so that the truck would show up properly and hoped for the best with the rest of the scene. It is not great, the sky is completely "blown out" but the truck looks ok. That was my choice.
Most cameras have the ability to adjust the exposure to brighten or darken the picture. Sometimes this is express in terms of "f-stops" or "stops". Basically, if you increase the lighting by one stop you are doubling how much light is getting into the camera. You can do this by changing the f-stop or by slowing down the camera or by changing the ISO rating. Most of the time this is an easy adjustment. If you want to be fancier you can take an exposure reading from one of the subjects and adjust your exposure for that subject. It is probably faster just to grab a few pictures at different exposure levels and pick the one you like.
There are things you can do to make the best of this situation. On the computer you have some scope to brighten up dark areas and reduce the brightness in overexposed areas. This works even better if you shoot RAW pictures where you have a wider dynamic range than you might with JPG's. Your camera likely has a wider dynamic range at lower ISO ratings.
If you have time you can take a bunch of pictures at different exposures and combine them on the computer. This is called High Dynamic Range (HDR). You have one exposure that picks up the details of the dark areas and others that handle the bright areas. Depending on how you combine them you may end up with a natural looking scene or with something out of science fiction.
Michael Freeman has a great book "Pefect Exposure" on this subject which divides all pictures into twelve different types of exposures. It is not overly technical and has a tremendous amount of information.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

My first hockey game with the Canon EOS 7D

Once again, if you are not interested in photography you will probably want to skip this posting.
For the past few days I have been playing with the Canon EOS 7D digital single lens reflect camera that arrived last week. At times I have found it very frustrating, a bit alien and sometimes disappointing.
Tonight, I decided to go shoot some hockey pictures with it. In Moosonee, the arena is a relatively dark place. To get decent pictures you need a fast lens and a camera with the ability to shoot at high iso's. I have used a couple of cameras for hockey. One of them is a professional grade camera, the Canon 1DIIN. It is a few years old and its high iso ability is limited. Still, it is incredible at focusing on moving objects (largely due to its dual processor design with one processor doing nothing but handle focus). Often I shot at iso 1600 and had to push the shots and ended up with a fair amount of noise. The other camera I used for hockey is the newer Canon 5DII. It has a much more primitive focus system but is much better at higher iso's. I used it at both 3200 and 6400 with acceptable results. By acceptable I mean shots that look ok on a website and would probably work on newsprint.
The 7D does not have quite the high iso performance of the 5DII but it does have a newly designed focus system and dual processors. The processors are a faster model than the ones found in the 1DIIN. The focus system has the kinds of options that were found in professional cameras. Tonight, I didn't use any of those, I just left them at their defaults.
What I shot tonight was not a regulation hockey game. There were no goalies and no officials. It makes for fast action and no interruptions. I didn't have a really great vantage point; the only place I could get above the glass was on a set of stairs in one corner. Hence most of my shots come from one end of the arena.
I shot jpg's, more than 700 of them and picked a couple of hundred for posting. I used only a couple of settings: ISO 3200 f2.8 1/400 or 1/500 or ISO 6400 f4.0 1/500. All I did for processing was to load the jpg's into Lightroom and do some cropping. When I exported the selected shots I applied some sharpening but left them at full size. All of the pictures were taken with a Canon 70-200 f2.8 IS lens with IS (image stabilization) disabled.
White balance can be a problem in this arena. I used an expodisc to get a setting. That worked for most of the shots. But the lights are not consistent in colour temperature so some images end up with a bit of a colour cast. Because I was mostly interested in how the camera performed at high iso I didn't worry about that.
Focusing seemed to work very well within the limitations of the kind of depth of field you get at f2.8 or f4.0 with a telephoto lens. A few times it focused in the wrong place but never for more than one shot at a time unless it was clearly my fault. I used the centre point most of the time along with assist points (the points around the selected focus point).
I am reasonably satisfied with the quality of the images. They are noisy and I suppose I could have done something about that, either in camera or when processing them. But, on the whole, they are acceptable.
I am not a sports photographer and I do not skate or play hockey so I do not really have a clue what is going on on the ice. So my pictures are not that well composed or planned. But they do give an idea of what happened on the ice and how the 7D handled a dark arena.
If I was shooting hockey seriously I would have used two cameras and more lens. The 70-200 is a compromise for hockey, there are times when something wider (especially on a crop camera) would be handy and a 300mm or even longer lens would help with action at the other end of the ice. However, I am doing this for fun and decided not to haul around a lot of equipment.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Canon EOS 7D initial thoughts

If you are not interested in photography this is probaby not of much interest.
My Canon EOS 7D showed up a couple of days ago. I got it to replace the 40D, a great camera but more than three years old now. I thought about buying the 7D for quite a while, it sounded attractive and the price was not outrageous.
After a weekend with it, I am still debating the widsom of my purchase.
For the last year, most of my pictures have been taken with the Canon EOS 5DII. This is a superb camera. It is full frame; lenses work the way they do on a 35mm film camera. It has very good high ISO performance. ISO 3200 is pretty good and ISO 6400 is acceptable.
The 7D is a cropped sensor camera, same as the 40D, just more pixels. This means that a 200mm lens acts like a 320mm lens on a film camera. This is a hand feature. I have been keeping my 400mm lens on the 40D to  have it handy for pictures of far off things; usually that combination is like having a 640mm lens. I figured the 7D would work the same but give me more pixels of distant things.
The first thing I did with the 7D was attach the 400mm lens and try to take a shot. Ugh! How do you turn this camera on? Why did they move the power switch? Next issue: how do you focus it? I don't want it to assume what I am focusing on, I want to tell it which tree across the river I want to focus on. Bit of playing around and manual reading.
Now I am realizing that this camera really has a very different focus system. It has a lot of options. Some of them are disabled when you take it out of the box. You can pick individual focus points OR pick smaller individual focus points. You can pick zones of focus points or cross shaped groups of focus points. You can say how fast you want focusing to change, etc. This is a lot more complicated than the focusing system in the 40D or 5DII. It reminds me of the focus controls in Canon professional cameras (1D series).
What about results. I am not impressed with my first shots. I do not think they are as good, despite the extra pixels and fancy focus system, of the shots I got with the 40D. Off to the internet.
I mostly shoot RAW because it allows me to attempt to cover up all kinds of exposure sins. Using RAW means that I need to convert pictures to jpg's on the computer. I generally use Adobe Camera Raw. It is fast, has lots of options and is easy to use.
Adobe Raw was happy to conver the 7D pictures. However, Adobe has a beta version 5.6 of it that is a little newer that was designed to handle 7D shots. Download and install. A little better? Perhaps.
I like to wear a belt and suspenders. I have other RAW converters.
Canon provides Digital Photo Professional with the camera. I install the new version and try it out. It is far harder for me to use and much slower. It is somewhat better in overall results but I would hate to be stuck using it for a lot of pictures. It has controls for handling chromatic aberrations, those nasty problems caused by different colours in the picture being not lined up properly by the lens. The 7D, with those extra pixels, makes the problem worse. At low resolution you do not notice chromatic aberration very much. Which is a good thing since cheaper lenses tend to be very prone to it.
I also tried out DXO as a raw converter. It is also slow and complicated to use. However it has proved helpful in the past, especially for issues with distortion. So, out comes the credit card and I buy the upgrade to the current version. Some good results but not enough time to really play with it.
Sunday night I spend with a focus chart pinned to the wall and cameras on a tripod. I take a bunch of shots with the 40D and the 7D.
Then it is time for pixel peeping!
I compare different ISOs and different converters. I downsize the 7D shots to see how that affects the comparison. Quickly I learn that the 7D seems to have a better idea of exposure than the 40D as well as more pixels. At times things look softer on the 7D but this could be me coming up against the limits of the lens, a Canon 100-400mm L. But still, at 400mm it does a reasonable job with small print at 12 feet.
My conclusions?
First, I do not have a clue how to accurately test cameras or lenses. More importantly, I probably do not have the patience to do it properly either.
Second, I do have some nagging doubts about the 7D. Is it really better than the 40D for my purposes? I am not sure. I do know that it is not as good as the 5DII in terms of resolution or high ISO performance but that is a very different and more expensive device.
Third, I need to do some more testing. Not of a piece of paper but of real world subjects in varying light. I would like a bright sunny day to give it a shot with birds, a hockey game in a dark arena to test out high ISO performance and maybe something pretty like a sunrise. I need to get those shots in the next few days while I can still return the camera.
Notice that I have said nothing at all about the video features of the 7D. It has plenty of those, even more than the 5DII. High definition, different frame rates, all kinds of options. But I do not have any dreams of making feature films, I know that anything I turn out is going to look like a home movie, albeit with lots more shaky pixels. Video production needs a whole new set of skills and lots of equipment (stabilization, audio, focus and PLANNING). Everybody says there is a coming convergence of video and still photography. I suppose I will get used to it but not yet.
There are a lot of reviews for the 7D, one that I read that covered some of my concerns appeared in The World According to Roland.

It was warm this morning; too bad it was blowing.

I woke up in lots of time for sunrise this morning. That is not really hard to do this time of year when the sun does not come up until well past 8:00 a.m.
A quick check of the temperature on the computer showed it was a balmy minus one and just a couple of degrees colder outside my window. This is spring or fall weather!
A quick run to the front door. Oh, oh. Yes, it is warm but it is also blowing snow so hard that I can hardly see across the road, let alone have any hope of a beautiful cloud enhanced sunrise. Naturally it is the kind of nasty wet snow that does not invite walking about. Grabbed a few shots and came in.
The weather changed fast after that. It cleared up a bit and it got colder. Much colder. From minus one this morning it is down to minus 16 and supposed to go colder. Mind you the cloudy skies looked impressive.
The colder weather snuck up this year. One day it was relatively mild and the next it was like winter.
I took pictures this morning with a new camera, a Canon EOS 7D that showed up on Friday. It is taking some getting used to.
I like the fact that it uses the same battery as the 5DII, that is handy for travelling and easier to share a common stock of batteries. My idea for buying it was to replace the older 40D. This camera has the same size sensor but more pixels (18 vs. 10 megapixels). It has a new kind of focus system. Ultimately, I hope to use it for hockey and birds because of the cropped sensor (telephoto lenses go further) and if its high ISO performance turns out to be better than the 40D. The 5DII is great but is slow (only 4 frames per second which is sometimes not fast enough for all of the action in a play--the 7D is 8 fps).
My first 7D problem was finding how to turn it on. Not sure why they moved the power switch. I suspect I will like the camera, it has enough new complicated features to keep me busy for a while.
There is not a lot of snow here, yet.
Further south they got a lot of snow. Colin Tytler took an amazing picture of the Northlander in deep snow.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Not really running out of stuff

The rail line from Cochrane is the way that most things and people get to Moosonee. Flying is a lot more expensive ($700 round trip as opposed to about $100 for the train).
There have been no trains this week until today due to the closure of the line after a person set parts of the Moose River bridge on fire over the weekend.
At the store (i.e. Northern) a couple of shelves are bare:  fresh milk and commercial bread. Nothing else really seems short. There is lots of instore baked bread and everything else looks to be in normal supply.
A long time, Northern's predecessor stores (the Hudsons Bay Company) brought in a year 's supply of goods at a time. Some remote stores occasionally had to make supplies last for a second year when conditions made it impossible to supply them.
Running a business that only got deliveries once a year required a lot of warehouse space. Today, when I look at a Northern store I am struck by how little storage space it has. They supplement it a bit with trailers but they really have to depend on a good supply system. It is not "just in time", except for perishables, but it must come very close.
Moosonee is a comparatively easy place to supply because of the rail line. Moose Factory is a little more difficult, especially this time of year when things have to slung over under helicopters. Thinking about it makes you appreciate how complicated the whole supply system must be. The amazing thing is that, most of the time, it works reasonably well and I can go to the store assuming that most of what I need will be in stock, most of the time.

Prices are another story, of course.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Life imitating art: The Paper Chase and a Snowmobile

Almost four decades, John Jay Osborn Jr., wrote a novel called the Paper Chase, about a first year student at Harvard Law School. It was turned into a movie in 1973 (with John Houseman as the contracts professor and Timothy Bottoms and the student) and then into a TV series.
One of my most vivid memories from the movie is of the start of class. The professor stands at the front with a seating diagram that included photographs of the students in the class. He picked his victim and started his relentlessly intimidating demonstration of how to make a student realize how little he actually knew about the subject.
Not long after the movie came out, I walked into my first year contracts class at Osgoode Hall Law School. The professor, George Adams, showed up a few minutes late and told the class he had gone to the wrong room. Since Adams was a brilliant lawyer, professor, judge and mediator, I kind of doubted that he had really been lost or confused and decided that he was simply trying to put us at our ease.
Still, I realized that there was at least one similarity with Harvard:  he had a folder with our pictures. Nobody had told us where to sit so there was no meaningful seating diagram but he could figure out our names. I didn't notice any of the other professors using the photographs and really didn't notice him using it much after that.
Some professors believed very strongly in a system of teaching law that had come from Harvard called the Socratic Method. The idea was that the professor should never provide answers -- just questions. Court cases were studied in order to figure out the legal principles that the judges had followed in making their decisions.
The Socratic Method worked very well for subjects that were strongly based on court decisions as opposed to the close scrutiny of statutes.
A few professors followed the traditional practice of calling upon students from the class list. I imagine they thought it encouraged us to actually get around to reading the cases before we showed up in class. Others simply looked for raised hands and let the ignorant sit in silence.
When I went to law school everybody called it Osgoode except for the people at other law schools who called it WasGood. Nobody liked to mention that the historic school was by then the Faculty of Law of the upstart York University in the middle of empty fields in remote Downsview. Until 1968 the school had been in the same building that housed the courts in downtown Toronto, Osgoode Hall on Queen Street. I went to York for my undergraduate degree so I had a little more pride in the place than most.

As I sat in silent thought and recollection about law school of more than a generation ago, somebody was out on the Moose River on a snowmobile. Thanks to Mike McCauley and his good eyesight for pointing it out to me.

Monday, December 7, 2009

No train and no real news

Yesterday people starting talking about the rumours that something had happened in Moose River Crossing. Moose River is a small settlement where the Ontario Northland Railway crosses the Moose River on its way from Moosonee to Cochrane. Everyone in Moosonee could tell you that it is at mileage 142 north of Cochrane; Moosonee is mileage 186.2.
In the "old days" there were a fair number of people living there, a school and a church. Lots of men worked for the railroad out of Moose River to maintain the tracks.
Now, fewer people live there and there are some empty buildings. The church is gone and the school is used by the railroad. In the last couple of years there have been a lot of workes there handling repairs to the bridge.
People heard that someone had started fires or tried to burn the bridge down. This sounds very scarey when it happens in a really isolated place wthere are no emergency or medical facilities.
Some of the rumours turned out to be true. There was damage to the bridge. A person tried to set fire to part of it and some of the wooden ties that carry the tracks were damaged.
This means no train for a few days at least.
Almost everyone who comes to Moosonee comes by train and so does almost everything. Groceries, mail and fuel. Everything will be held back for a while. People are stuck out in Cochrane, other people who are in Moosonee cannot make it out. Vacations and work are disrupted.
I have been over the bridge at Moose River many times. It is the longest bridge on the Ontario Northland at 1800 feet. However, I have never gotten off the train in Moose River so I do not have a picture of the whole bridge. My shots of it have been taken out of moving trains and do not necessarily show what a massive and important structure it is. A couple of years ago I shot a video from the train as we passed through.

What happened is sad, perhaps tragic but also a major inconvenience. Another part of the price for living in a community that does not have a road to the rest of the world. Still, I think it is worth putting up with the occasional interruption of service to live here.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Why did I do all those videos?

I am not a videographer. I am scared of video. It takes lots of equipment and lots of people to make a decent video. All of a sudden, instead of just worrying about taking a simple picture you are worried about take a whole bunch of them without jerking the camera around and, on top of that, people expect sound in their videos.
Despite my misgivings, today I ended up taking a few videos and posting them on my own site where I had to reduce the size of a couple of them and also on youtube.

I was asked to come and take pictures at something called the First Annual Moosonee Women's Extravaganza which incorporated a memorial for a woman who was murdered in 1977, Josephine Chakasim.
Josephine's sister, Rachel, has been a friend of mine for a long time so I was honoured to be asked.
I showed up, grabbed some pictures of the vendor and information tables at the Extravaganza and waited for the memorial walk to begin after Rachel made her remarks.
In the meantime, there was a women's drumming group, Key Shay Gash Tay-Oh. I asked about pictures and they said sure. For some reason I thought video. I had not brought an external microphone but I figured that if they were loud enough the internal one would be fine; their sounds would drown out the sounds of the camera. So, up onto a chair I went and aimed the camera and pressed SET (which starts recording). A few minutes later I have a video. Not a great one but probably the only one of their first performance; just before they began one of them told us that they had been together for about sixteen minutes. They did pretty well.
Then it was time for the memorial walk. Josephine Chakasim was last seen on April 22, 1977. Her body was found along the Ontario Northland Railway tracks just south of Moosonee the following day. The murder remains unsolved.
At the place where Josephine was found, her family has erected a white wooden cross in her memory. As the marchers headed there, I grabbed some shots and decided to press my luck with video. It takes getting used to the idea of shooting something that lasts a little while, especially when what you are shooting is walking towards and past you but I perservered.
Everybody headed down the tracks. And, yes, they got permission from the railroad. Not that it would be particularly uncommon to see people walking on the tracks anyway.
At the memorial site the family and the drummers gathered by the cross and a small fire. Everybody else lined up along the tracks to watch.
The drum group did another song and the family put some food into the fire for Josephine and then invited people to put tobacco into the fire for her as well.
It didn't take very long and then everyone headed back to town for refreshments.
As for the videos... Well, I shot them in HD which meant that it is taking forever to upload them. The sound quality is tolerable. They all could have benefitted from having been shot on a tripod or with some stabilization equipment (which I do not have now and probably never will). The pictures from the day are OK, I chose to shoot inside without flash. The lighting in the gym at the James Bay Education Centre is poor but modern technology has reached the point where I can produce almost decent shots in there. I don't like to use flash in a big dark space and I can accept a slower shutter speed, a bit of noise and the occasional discard rather than end up with a lot of shots of bright faces and dark background.

Once I got the shots done I decided I should go check on the freezing up of the river. Went across the road and took a few pictures along the shoreline. There is thin ice on the water. I threw a coin out and it didn't break through. It was low tide when I went out and I could see how the ice along the edge had broken and was sticking out from the rocks. I always think that is a neat looking effect and wanted to get a shot to illustrate it. Ideally I would have been able to get down to the level of the water and light up the shelves of ice from below. However, being a coward, I stayed up top and did as best I could to highlight it with my flashlight during a time exposure.

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Accidental Millionaire

If you are not a photographer you have probably never heard of Gary Fong. If you are a photographer you know he is the guy that sells pieces of plastic (lightsphere, origami, etc.) that sit on top of your flash and diffuse the light so it does not look so harsh. You may also know that he is the person who came up the concept of Wedding photogaphy storybooking.

You probably have heard that he has made a lot of money and been married a few times.

Recently he published his autobiography, The Accidental Millionaire: How to Succeed in Life Without Really Trying.

If you read the book you will learn a lot about his relationships, a bit about his various business ventures, his childhood but not a lot about photography. That is fair enough since this is the story of Gary Fong, not a how to take wedding pictures book.

Not a great book, but not a bad one either. You can read it in an evening and see how ties in with various things (pictage, selling an early Canon digital camera on ebay, etc.).

I guess the thing that surprised me most was that he actually did make money out of photography. My impression had been that he had been lucky or smart in real estate (he was that too).
His title seems a little misleading to me. Mr. Fong seems to have worked awfully hard most of the time. I think by accidental he mainly means that he didn't really follow a fixed plan; he took advantage of what came up.
So far, I have bought a couple of hundred dollars worth of his flash diffusers, most recently the origami.Yes, I know that you could make something like it yourself but it is handy to have come all ready to use. It is not a miracle tool but I have found it useful and do not regret buying it. Nothing looks worse that pictures taken with flash aimed right at the subject. You can still end up with nasty shadows even if you use a diffuser but you have a better chance at turning out a decent shot.

Freezing up slowly

Across the road from my front door the Moose River is slowly freezing over. Along the shoreline in Moosonee there is lots of water flow and strong tides so the process takes longer than in some places.
Already, people are posting photographs of the frozen channel between Moose Factory and Charles Island and some of them are brave enough to walk on it.
I don't think any boats have been in the water here since December 1st but there is still plenty of open water here. I went outside around sunrise this morning and grabbed a couple of shots before getting ready for work.
This afternoon, the incoming tide brought lots of ice, some of it in big sheets. That ice piles up further up the river and some of it will stay around while the rest will go back out with the tide. I took a few pictures and a short video. Shooting video with a DSLR, in this case a Canon 5DII, has the potential to produce work of excellent quality. To get that quality, you need to put in a fair amount of work. I am not very serious about video so I only went so far as to use a tripod and an external microphone. The sound track picked up a few camera noises some some wind but mainly passing helicopters and vehicles as well as a raven that flew by. I shot it in high definition which meant that it takes several hours to upload to youtube but also produced a lower quality version (15.0 MB) for easier posting.
Eventually, as the weather stays cold and more and more ice piles up the river will be frozen over. This will likely happen first up the river which is where people from Moose Factory try to come across by snowmobile at first. In a few weeks, the ice will be thick enough for cars and pickups and then heavy vehicles. For a few months, transportation between Moosonee and Moose Factory will be convenient. This is a good because although the two communities are each pretty much self sufficient there are attractions across the river for everyone. For people in Moosonee, Moose Factory Island has a hospital and an excellent store, GG's. GG's is privately owned and tends to have a wide and electic selection of useful and desirable items. People from the island like to come to Moosonee because the Northern Store there is much larger and also to catch the train south.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

No more boats this year?

It's December 1st in Moosonee and it feels cold outside where the wind chill is minus 12C. Mind you this is warmer than normal but it seems frigid to me after all the warmer weather we have been having where the temperature got above freezing almost every day.
I went out yesterday and got some pictures of taxis boats on the river. These run back and forth between Moosonee and Moose Factory. There are lots of them in the summer. Some of the passengers are tourists but most of them are local people going back and forth, commuting to work, shopping or visiting. By yesterday there were only three or four boats left but not much in the way of ice.
Last night it got colder and there was a fair amount of ice by morning. I walked down to where the docks are installed and saw no boats; just a few people coming to check to see if they could get a ride across.

I spoke with a taxi driver later in the day who told that one person had put a boat in the water but gave up. Last evening there was some ice and the trip to Moose Factory took one person three quarters of an hour instead the usual few minutes.
Now that the boats are gone the only way to get across the river for a few weeks will be by helicopter. The fare is $35 a person each way and there are only three scheduled trips a day. But, soon enough, the river will be frozen enough for first skidoo taxis and then for cars and trucks.
For most people, winter is the easiest time to get around. No more walking or taking a taxi to the boat docks, getting in a boat and then finding a ride once you get to the other side. In winter, you can drive from where you are to where you want to go in either community. Very handy and makes a lot of things much easier.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The World As It Is (was in 1836 anyway)

I own a lot of books. I mean thousands and thousands. I was given a few when I was a child and a few more since then but most of them I bought myself and they have tended to accumulate. Once in a while I have gotten rid of a few of them. Sometimes I have regretted doing so and Ihave never gotten rid of enough to make a big difference.
Probably the oldest book I own is called "The World As It Is: Containing a view of the present condition of its principal nations." It was written by Samuel Perkins and published, in its second edition, by Thomas Bellknap in 1836.
I bought the book almost fourty years ago in Belleville, Ontario when the Quinte Bookshop was closing down. It cost me a quarter. The owner of the store, Joy Nicholls, told me, I think, that it had belonged to her father. She was a little reluctant to see it go but she sold it to me.
She had run the bookshop on Bridge Street for a long time but she had decided it was time to retire. It was not a big place and the selection was not extensive. The service was personal and old fashioned. I remember her starting a special order for me which involved a handwritten letter. One of her big markets had been Grade 13 textboks back in the days when students had to buy their own books for that last year of high school. It goes without saying that I would never have addressed her as Joy, only as Miss Nicholls.
The book is in reasonable condition with more than four hundred pages of small print and engravings. Many of its pages are only slightly discoloured thanks to its publication before the invention of paper made from wood fibres which needed to be processed with acid.
The book is American in origin and viewpoint. It is patriotic and full of enthusiasm for the United States and the ideals under which it was founded:  "Every citizen enjoys equal privileges. His life, liberty and property are alike under the protection of the law. No person, however high his station, can trespass upon the rights of the humblest, without subjecting himself to make ample satisfaction."
Naturally, the word citizen in the quote means "white citizens"; the book notes that the inhabitants of the United States are of four classes: white citizens, free persons of color, slaves and Indians. Much of the language in the book reflects a fundamentally racist view but the author wrote honestly about the problems of "free blacks". For example, he mentions that people desired to set up colleges to provide a liberal education to free blacks and noted that no community "has been found willing to have such an institution in its neighbourhood".
The almanac has a lot of the kinds of details that endear a book of this nature to those who enjoy them. Much about the consititions of the individual states, their cities, manufacturers, religions and schools. To someone used to modern almanacs and books of facts, it seems odd that so much data is presented in narrative instead of tabular form.
The book covers the rest of the world. The British Empire gets a lot of pages although very few of them are devoted to what it is now Canada The author notes that some people have some reservations about Britain: "Its speedy bankruptcy and dissolution was long ago predicted, in consequence of its enormous national debt". However the Mr. Perkins is more optimistic himself, "Although it is certain that her national debt can never be paid; and that many of the principles on which her government rests are unfounded; and although the crown must in the usual course of events soon be placed on the head of a female now fourteen years of ago, entirely incompetent to understand or manage the concerns of the nation, a mere burlesque upon government; yet her duration for a long period on the present basis is confidentialy expected".
When I first strarted reading the book, that reference to the person who become Queen Victoria was the one that struck me the most. I was prepared for most of the prevailing attitudes and prejudices of the time but not to think of the Old Queen as a helpless incompetent.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Looking out the front door at night

For the past few days most of my pictures have been of the open water in the Moose River resulting from some unseasonably warm weather. There were still boats in the water on November 26th and probably will be for a day or two more.
It is a bad idea to focus on one subject to the exclusion of everything else and while I do want to document the unusual conditions on the river I wanted to get pictures of something else.
I looked out my front door tonight and was impressed by the view across the river. The clouds over Moose Factory were lit up and were reflected on the surface of the Moose River.

Took a few shots.
Nothing hard about taking these, camera on tripod with exposures of a few seconds and focus at infinity.
When I take shots at night the choice of white balance makes a big difference. Setting the proper white balance for a pictures is basically deciding which object should look white (or gray) and making sure it does in the picture. Most cameras come with a variety of preset white balances for common situations such as daylight, cloudy, flash, fluorescent and tungsten light bulbs.
This works pretty well when you have a scene that is lit up by a single type of light (e.g. daylight or flash). It gets trickier when there are lights of different types shining on objects in the scene.
Night time pictures in town are often illuminated by the ugly light of street lights. The worst are sodium yellow lights.
At nighttime the source of light can be the moon. That one is easy since the moon is, mostly of the time, pretty close in colour to sunlight, just softer and much weaker.
Tonight was cloudy and there was no moon visible. Everything in the foreground of my pictures is lit by street lights. What about the rest of the scene?
For one picture (the one that looks bluer) I decided that the clouds should be white and set the white balance that way. That is not the way the scene looked but it does a reasonable job on the grass in foreground.
I wondered why it works and realized that the clouds which were providing most of the light in the middle and background were lit up by the street lights in Moose Factory which are likely pretty similar to the ones in Moosonee. Taking white balance off them is almost the same as taking a white balance off the street lights here.
The funny thing with light from street lights is that things look yellow to people. Our eyes have a limited ability to compensate for the colour of light that is present and sodium vapour lights are just too far away from normal for this to work.
My camera choose a white balance that produced a picture that was much more intense than what I saw (the reddish picture). I changed the white balance in the other shot (first one in this blog) to make it look more the way the scene appeared to me.
You can fiddle with white balance in most image editing programs but the most flexible way to do is to shoot RAW pictures and do the conversion to JPG on the computer. RAW pictures do not have a defined white balance. The camera suggests one but you can set it to anything you like. Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) cameras almost always can take RAW pictures. Some point and shoots can as well, e.g. the Canon S90. The drawback of RAW shooting is that the files are much bigger since they contain all of the data that camera picked up instead of a particular impression of it. I started out to write that there is no image compression but realized I needed to qualify that and say that it is a lossless compression. All of the data is preserved and just stored more efficiently. JPGs are compressed and the more you compress them the more data is lost.