Photography Blues

Once I got home and could really look at my pictures from the Malta/Sicily trip, I was very disappointed by the quality of many shots. The new camera – the Fujifilm X-T30 – has a stellar reputation, one of the top-rated cameras these days. So I was puzzled and frustrated by the wayyyy-overexposed pictures I kept getting.

After some thought and some comparison, I’m pretty sure I have the answer. Operator error, a very rookie mistake. I took two lenses with me, a 50mm prime lens and a 50-230mm zoom. The pictures with the prime were generally good, even great, but the pictures with the zoom were not. First I thought it was simply the lens quality – I bought the XF version of the prime lens, where “F” stands for “fine”, indicating a higher quality build. I bought the XC version of the zoom to save some bucks, where “C” stands for “cheap”. (Actually, the XF indicates a lens with all metal construction and the XC version substitutes plastic for a lot of the lens body).

Then I thought it might be the fact that I was shooting everything with in auto-ISO mode. This isn’t something that was even possible back in my film-shooting days, and is made more practical now by the way the Fuji can take crisp shots at crazy-high ISO settings, as in ISO 12,000 or 16,000.

Then I noticed that the night shots with both lenses were excellent. At that point I realized what must be happening. Like an idiot I left the lens hood for the zoom lens home – it’s pretty big and I thought it wouldn’t make a difference. Boy was I wrong. Pretty much all the daytime shots with the zoom are washed out due to light leaking in from the lens’ front edge. Zoom lenses are focused on something in the far field and make their focus and exposure decisions based on the light gathered from afar. Light leaking in from the edge causes an overexposure. Here’s an example. The first picture is with my Fuji zoom lens, taken at ISO 800, F6.7 and 1/20 second. I was trying to capture the amazing colors of the lichen growing on Mt. Etna above the tree line. Didn’t work, as you can see.

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Here’s approximately the same scene in the same light shot by Kathryn’s Canon G9. Huge difference in colors and contrast. Her Canon took the photo at ISO 400, F4 and 1/200 seconds.

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One more example to illustrate the point. Here’s a photo taken on a bright afternoon with the zoom lens, trying to capture Valetta’s beautiful seafront. It was taken at ISO 160, F2 and 1/1000. Horrible result.UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_bc6d.jpg

Here’s the same photo taken by Kathryn’s G9 at the same time. It was taken at ISO 100, F4.5 and 1/2000 of a second.

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This careless, rookie mistake cost me hundreds of pictures. Fortunately we took many of the same shots, so Kathryn’s pictures fill the hole where I failed. But a hard lesson nonetheless and one I won’t forget.

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