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The Moon and Venus

By salopian
Just after sunset these two heavenly objects showed up well. With the limited zoom on the X20 I needed to include the lighted windows etc in the foreground composing a wider view. I had to shoot this through a double glazed window and used manual focus set to infinity in an effort to keep Venus and the Moon reasonably sharp and I wonder to what extent you think this has been successful. It is quite a severe crop from the original and I dodged a little in the foreground to bring out the lighted windows.

Tags: General X20 Evening sky Mf

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paulbroad Plus
14 131 1294 United Kingdom
5 Jan 2017 5:44PM
As I think you know, things are just too small resulting in no structured composition or subject. Difficult to suggest how you could improve it.

dark_lord Plus
18 2.9k 819 England
5 Jan 2017 8:42PM
You say this is quite a crop yet the exif says the focal length was 8.6 mm though the lens used will extend to 28 mm so why not use a longer focal length setting in the first place.

I can see what Paul means about small subjects but to show the two objects in context you need to show a wider view, as you have here, with some foreground.
From a purely photographic point of view that's the way it appears but for someone interested in astronomy it's much more interesting as a record.

I certainly expect to require some work on the foreground due to the very high contrast range but at that exposure I wouldn't have thought it needed much to bring out the lights.
So in those respects I think you've done ok.

My suggestion for improvement would be to either have a recognisable silhouette in the foreground. Probably the wrong viewpoint but for example the Iron Bridge. Alternatively more lights such as from a street or view across a town if you could find a decent elevated position for example the path around hightown in Bridgnorth overlooking the river.

I use those examples as they're local to you, just to give an idea.
Of course, that would also require a little planning.
dudler Plus
18 1.9k 1937 England
6 Jan 2017 12:26PM
Keith's said it in composition terms. And I'd crop even further.

On the technical side, I'd suggest adding a couple of things to your sensible manual focus.

Close down the aperture a couple of stops, and let the shutter speed drop further. This will reduce the risk of problems with DoF, and as you'll be using a tripod in any case, that's fine.

Use the delayed action setting, so that you don't shake the camera as you press the release.

And double-check that the focus doesn't go past infinity on your camera - AF lenses often allow this, as the AF mechanism 'takes up the slack' - when you are using MF, just turning as far as you can may be a problem, even with the very fly-by-wire arrangement on the X-20 (I must check what my X-10 does...)
salopian 10 3 28 United Kingdom
7 Jan 2017 1:38PM
Thanks for the feedback folks - I did wonder whether to post it as the heavenly bodies were so small.
Keith - I didn't use the full tele capability of the lens as I couldn't include any foreground at that setting and if I had waited for the moon to get nearer the horizon the sky would have had no colour at all.
John - yes the manual focus on the X20 is non too precise and I seem to remember the X10 was the same. The mod is a definite improvement - thanks. I will have to get out when the weather warms up a bit as double glazing does not improve sharpness !!

dudler Plus
18 1.9k 1937 England
8 Jan 2017 1:51PM
I've just been out to play, not terribly scientifically (handheld), with my X-10.

First, the control for manual focus is a pain. It's the ring round the menu button on the back, and it adjusts the focus (shown as a bar on a display at the bottom of the screen) painfully slowly. Several rotations to go from close to infinity.

And when it gets there, it will go two increments past central on the infinity mark, so I'd guess it does actually focus past infinity, but I'm not certain of that.

So I took a few shots (just short of the mark, dead on it, and both clicks past it) at 135mm equivalent, and maximum aperture (f/2.8 at this focal length). All disappointingly fuzzy, to be honest, converted from RAW via ACR, with zero sharpening.

As a comparison, I upped the ISO (dull day - needed to get a half-decent shutter speed) and took a shot stopped down two stops. A bit better.

A check with hte JPGs showed these looked a little sharper, but had haloes all over the place.

So my advice is to stop down two or three stops, and see what happens. Firm tripod, and window open, or out of doors. Use the delayed action.

And fingers crossed!
dudler Plus
18 1.9k 1937 England
10 Jan 2017 3:03PM
And I've been playing again today, in slightly better light.

A series of shots, starting with the focus two clicks past the centre of the infinity symbol, and coming closer, and with one shot stopped down to f/5.6. Finishing with a shot focussed on 30 feet. And, for comparison, a picture shot with an 85mm lens on my Dynax 7D, which equates pretty closely to the focal length (and it's full frame 112mm equlvalent, not 135mm as I'd put before). Resolution is lower (the camera has 6mp, compared with the Fuji's 12), but not that far behind, suggesting that larger pixels really are better!

My conclusions are:

too close to decide whether going 'past infinity' on the X-10 scale matters;
stopping down to f/5.6 is good, as you'd expect - better blacks, higher definition;
focussing on 30 feet really softens things, so focus carefully!

In all of this, I've assumed that the trees and bus stop are near enough to infinity to make no difference.
salopian 10 3 28 United Kingdom
11 Jan 2017 10:45AM
Thanks for the info and mods on your experiments - the weather is a lot brighter today so I might try to get out and do similar tests with the X20. I have a Samsung NX100 with 35mm lens and an APS sized sensor which presumably should be crisper and I could try similar tests on that. Not much use for heavenly bodies of an astronomical nature but more so for the heavenly bodies of your life shots !
Very interesting.

dudler Plus
18 1.9k 1937 England
14 Jan 2017 5:28PM
I'm pretty sure the Samsung will give higher quality. The sensor in the Fuji is both small and quite low on megapixels, and I find a clear improvement with any other camera i own except the really old ones (I've got a Sigma SD-9, and the Dynax D7D, both well short of 12mp, though with bigger sensors!)

On the other hand, the Fuji is very pocketable, and means i never have to go without any camera at all.

And thank you!

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