Posted by: digibirder | July 30, 2009

Just a little sampler

After the fiasco with the Sigma 18-200mm OS lens I ordered from Park Cameras, along with my Canon 40D, I am pleased to say that the correct version of the lens is now in my possession, having ordered it from Warehouse Express after I sent the wrong one back to Park. It arrived the other day, but I haven’t had a chance to try it out before now, as the weather has not been too good, and of course I’ve been at work.

I have, however, been off work yesterday and today, but still with no opportunity to try the lens, as both Keith and I have been suffering from the effects of an undercooked chicken! I have just found enough strength to get up and about a bit more, and having eaten something a bit more substantial than soup or porridge, I feel a bit more lively this afternoon.

So, as there was a break in the rain, I put the new lens on the new camera and went into the back garden to try it out. I have been reading the manual while I’ve been incapacitated, and have made a few alterations to the default settings, but I think it probably needs some more tweaking. Here’s just a taster. I had the optical stabiliser switched on for pics two and three.

IMG_0018A very overgrown garden – at 18mm end of lens

IMG_0019At the 200mm end

IMG_0022Trying out the macro at the 18mm setting – not life-size but not bad

Well, the weather turned even nicer later on, so I thought I’d try some more test shots. I am off work (officially) tomorrow, so I wanted to go out and have a good session with the camera and lens before Saturday, as I’m on a course with Fotdayz in the Yorkshire Dales. I was considering taking my old  camera, but I think I have the jist of the 40D now so I think I will be taking that.

I wanted to test the focusing and metering options to see if I could improve on my usual efforts. On my 10D I usually had only the centre focus point active and used centre-weighted metering, but I think this harks back to the days of photographing birds (well, trying), where I needed to meter and focus on the centre of the image. I needed to change this habit. When I went out last week with the 40D (and one of my existing lenses) I found that focusing was a bit hit and miss, probably as I had all 9 focus points active, making the camera automatically choose the best focus point(s). I wasn’t all that keen on this option, so I changed it back to the centre focus point only. I’d also changed the 40D to my usual centre-weighted metering mode, but I thought I would test it with the other metering modes.

I’ve done nothing to these images other than reduce the image size for the web. All were at 18mm with aperture priority, ISO 200, optical stabilisation on, and at large/fine JPEG quality.

IMG_0023All 9 AF points active, evaluative metering, 1/180 at f/5.6

IMG_0024My ‘usual’ settings of centre AF point and centre-weighted metering, 1/350 at f/5.6

IMG_0025Centre AF point and evaluative metering, 1/350 at f/5.6

So, the first image, in my estimation, has no real sharpness (and didn’t improve with sharpening in Photoshop). But the exposure is OK.

The second image is too dark (I often get this and have to mess about lightening and adding contrast), but the sky is a nice colour. Believe it or not, the sun was out as in the first and third images, but the shadow detail on the fence has been totally eliminated.

The third image is, I think the best of the bunch, and I think I will test more with these settings. It sharpened quite well in Photoshop. Just needs the foreground lifting a bit.



  1. Looking good to me 😀

  2. Interesting – I’ve not really used centre-weighted metering (only the focusing point). I must experiment more.

    For landscape, I tend to use the 9-point focusing and evaluative metering. I’ve found this works best. Be interested to hear more of your “finds” as you experiment.

  3. Thanks, Tricia. I have to say it’s probably a case of trial and error, and no one setting is the answer. I suppose that’s why they put so many choices on cameras! I found setting all 9 focusing points was not giving me a well-focused image, but I’ve only taken a handful of shots so far, so that may not be indicative of how it should work. Perhaps that setting wasn’t right for the particular subject I was shooting. I could see which of the nine points the automatic system was choosing, but couldn’t see those points in focus on the actual image.

    I think the more critical setting is probably the metering – I will stick with evaluative for now and see what happens.

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