The weather has gone absolutely mental!!!! We’ve gone from having days in the high 30’s to the low 40’s to belting rain and temperatures of 15℃. It is really strange to say the least.
The video footage was mainly shot on my iPhone and some on a Sony Action Cam. I must say I am a very late starter to using a mobile phone for photography and video. Dunno why – it just never appealed. Yesterday I was out walking the dog and I thought I better shoot some footage about the weird weather and the only camera I had to hand was my phone. I had no microphone nor anything to steady the footage. It was all flying by the seat of my pants. I went out again this morning and decided to take my Sony Action Cam to take some additional footage. Most of what I took was unusable – the quality from the iPhone is so much better. I did for a crazy moment think about editing the footage on my phone but I decided against it as I’d never used iMovie on my phone before and thought it would be quicker and easier to bang out the edit on my laptop.
Regular readers will have noticed that since Christmas that I have been putting up video and stills that had been taken with a fish eye lens. For a while I was considering purchasing a suitable lens for either my Canon or Olympus systems as I had been intrigued by the effect. I was also very mindful that having bought such an item I would quickly tire of it and see it as a gimmick and so feel I had wasted my money. So when Dick Smiths (a popular chain of electronic stores here in Australia) offered the Sony HDR-AS20 ActionCam for $120 AUD just before Christmas I bought one seeing it as an affordable way of trying out extreme wide-angle photography and videography.
So what are my feelings about the camera. Well I do believe every photographer should have one of these cameras. They open up a world of creative photography. The lens is outside of the protective case pretty decent. It has a 170º field of view which is roughly equivalent to a 17mm on a full frame 35mm camera, a minimum focusing distance of 30cm (12 inches), a fixed aperture of f2.8 and is pan focus. There is obvious barrel distortion and some chromatic aberration. The distortion is all part of the look of fish eye lenses and the CA can be easily fixed in still images in apps such as Lightroom with a single click. The camera only produces jpegs, which bright and contrasty without too many artefacts. There is no control over sharpening and there are only two pictures styles, normal and underwater. You can’t control the ISO, the shutter speed nor the white balance. All being said it produces nice files and the exposures and white balance were largely spot on requiring minimal adjustments in post. For video the Steadyshot image stabilisation while being software based produces impressive results and was one of the major selection criteria for me when purchasing the camera. It’s not got the best video codec in the world nor the best bit rate and compression but it edits reasonably well as long as you don’t push it too far. A very nice feature is that the supplied software for the camera is embedded as firmware so that you don’t have to mess around with downloads or install discs. So what’s not to like – well the optical quality of the lens port on the protective case is pretty appalling, the supplied software is pretty flakey and crashes a lot on my relatively new iMac. No matter what I tried I couldn’t get the WiFi function to work using either my Sony Android phone or iPad. The Sony mount system isn’t as comprehensive nor widely as available as that of the GoPro alternatives. No problem just get an inexpensive adapter and then you can use anything made for GoPro. A real annoyance is that Sony have made it very difficult to plug in an exterior microphone. You can’t use one with the LCD case nor the standard protective housing. The one you can use it with means you loose the LCD and the protection.
Overall I’m very happy with the camera and have had a load of fun using it. The only thing is that it is totally addictive and I keep coming up with ideas for shots which inevitably means I have to buy another mount for it. Luckily they are cheap, but I have quickly acquired a bag full of them.
Quite a few scenes in this video were shot with the Sony HDR-AS20. I was surprised that the camera proved parrot proof!
Following hot on the heels from last week’s entry about MONA. David Walsh is not the first person to try to bring a bit of culture to the denizens of Hobart. Way back in 1842 Lady Jane Franklin wife of the governor Sir John Franklin felt that there was a “lack of cultural institutions” in Tasmania. She sought to remedy this with the help of the convict architect, James Blackburn, by building a classical edifice on the slopes of Mount Wellington set in 400 acres parkland. This building was to be the centrepiece of a botanical garden and hopefully instil some cultural aspiration into the good people of Hobart. Fat chance! The Franklins left Hobart in 1843 and the building and land were transferred to the Anglican Church, notably Christ College. After nearly 100 years of neglect by the church the building became an apple shed. Apples are very important to Tasmanians. The nice thick stone walls probably made it a very good store. In 1949 it was acquired, along with 5 acres of land by the Hobart City Council and then leased to the Art Society of Tasmaniawho are now using it as it was originally intended.
I know I’ve said in the past that I’m not a great fan of MONA but just lately I’ve been going up there a bit because I’ve signed up to study a unit in Art Theory at University of Tasmania (UTas). I got up extra early to see an installation by American artist James Turrell called Amarna. There’s not a lot I can say about this work except that it is gob smackingly beautiful and very serene.
Here are a few stills.
Technical notes: the time-lapse sequence was made with a Sony ActionCam HDR AS20. The stills were shot using an Olympus OMD EM-10 with either an Olympus mZuiko 17mm f2.8 or an Olympus mZuiko 25mm f1.8 lens.