Macro Photography Test: Sony DSC-HX60 vs Fujifilm X10

I used to spend many an hour with my old Panasonic TZ20, rummaging around hedges looking for bugs to snap. I’ve had my Fuji X10 for a couple of years, but never done any macro photography with it, and my Sony DSC-HX60 is a recent purchase, whose cheap price was the decider against the much more expensive Panasonic TZ60. With a nice sunny evening yesterday I decided the time was right to test them both out. First of all, the full photo as taken, straight out of the camera:

Dandelion Taken with Fujifilm X10

Dandelion Taken with Fujifilm X10

Dandelion Taken with Sony DSC-HX60

Dandelion Taken with Sony DSC-HX60

On seeing these photos I was quite disappointed at the lack of sharpness, and wondered if these two cameras, the Sony a lot newer, and the Fujifilm newer and higher spec, were as good as my 5 year old Panasonic TZ10. The depth of field is pretty similar which surprised me somewhat, given the superior sensor of the X10. I cropped the images at 100% in the centre to see what the quality is like at full size.

100% Crop of Dandelion Taken with Fujifilm X10

100% Crop of Dandelion Taken with Fujifilm X10

100% Crop of Dandelion Taken with Sony DSC-HX60

100% Crop of Dandelion Taken with Sony DSC-HX60

There’s not much difference in quality, but the Fuji seems to have focused on the stamen (tentacle type things growing out towards the lens) where as the Sony has focused on the centre of the flower and petals, further back. One thing that I will have to look into is setting macro mode on the Sony, as that was not something I could see how to do, and had to rely on automatic settings. One thing the Sony does have going for it over the Fujifilm is more natural colours, with the Fujifilm producing a more orange tinge.

I’m also keen to dig out my Panasonic TZ10 and photograph the same flower. It could be that the new Sony was a false economy at the keen price, and I should have been looking at the new model Panasonic. Overall though I’m quite disappointed, which is not a new feeling during my photography experiences!

I’m off to Star Wars Celebration Europe 2016 in London

Even if you aren’t interested in Star Wars in the slightest, you’ll have done well to avoid any of the buzz on social media this past weekend from Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim. The new teaser trailer for Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens premiered there, and within minutes went viral all round the world. Rightly so too, as it seems to have swayed anyone who wasn’t convinced after the first teaser trailer and turned every cynic into a fanboy once again. As someone who hasn’t been to a Star Wars Celebration since it was last in the UK, when it hit London in 2007, I was thrilled to see the announcement that next year’s event will once again come from London.

Star Wars Celebration Europe

Star Wars Celebration Europe

As I type this right now I’m hoping I manage to get tickets, as it’s only 7.30pm, and tickets don’t actually go on sale until 8pm – I’m confident though, so I am writing this post in advance, hoping I’m successful! The price for the 3 day event, which runs July 15th – 17th, is just £70, which shocked me somewhat. I was expecting a lot more, though if you are lucky to get one of the 200 VIP tickets at £350, you can pay a lot more. The benefits of VIP are worthwhile, but they will go in nanoseconds.

Real Time Update: VIP tickets did go in nanoseconds, maybe less, but I got normal tickets, lanyards, a t-shirt and guide and with added VAT and taxes/shipping (confusing that was added on top of VAT and they are tickets we pick up at the venue) it was a fair but more than I was expecting. But what the hell, this is my Mecca, and I’m on my way to Star Wars Celebration once again – whoo hoo!

Star Wars Cellebration Europe 2016 Tickets

Star Wars Cellebration Europe 2016 Tickets

 

I only went for one day in 2007, and didn’t queue for any talks or signings – the exhibits, market areas and galleries were enough to keep me satisfied. Next year will be a different story though, as I’ll be queuing like a demon for as much as I can, and anyone that knows me knows how much I hate queuing, so this Star Wars Celebration thing must be pretty good! Luckily I’ll be going with my good buddy Mark, who is an expert at queuing from his experiences at the Disney D23 expos, so he’ll kick my lazy butt into gear should I start moaning.

The next thing to consider is cosplay, which is something I have never done, but always thought about. I’d love to go as a Biker Scout, but the armour and helmet are very expensive, and I can imagine queuing in all that would not be particularly comfortable. I think a Jedi would be much more up my street as a virgin cosplayer, and a trip to Jedi Robe in London is on the cards. Maybe I could mix things up and go as a Jedi Trooper – Jedi from the neck down but with a trooper helmet. I have 15 months to get myself sorted, so plenty of time, and I may even get adventurous with my costume, but don’t count on it!

It would be remiss of myself to end this article without including the images of the classic Star Wars inspired trading cards I made from the 2007 Star Wars Celebration Europe in London, featuring yours truly. Just a pity I didn’t design at a higher resolution back then!

Star Wars Trading Card 1/6

Star Wars Trading Card 1/6

Star Wars Trading Card 2/6

Star Wars Trading Card 2/6

Star Wars Trading Card 3/6

Star Wars Trading Card 3/6

Star Wars Trading Card 4/6

Star Wars Trading Card 4/6

Star Wars Trading Card 5/6

Star Wars Trading Card 5/6

Star Wars Trading Card 6/6

Star Wars Trading Card 6/6

By the time Star Wars Celebration Europe 2016 comes around we’ll all have seen Star Wars Episode VII and projects such as Rogue One will be well on the way, so it’s fair to say it will be a quite incredible few days. Hope to see you there.

Record Store Day 2015 at David’s Music in Letchworth

Last year I turned up at my local record store, David’s Music, in the afternoon for some live music, without a a second thought for the exclusives on sale and whether they’d still be in stock. Of course they weren’t, and so I ended up getting the Beach Boys Surfin’ Safari reissue on eBay 2 weeks later, and at an inflated price. This year I went a little earlier, but it seems that 9.30am, 90 minutes after the store opened, was still within the expect a big queue time frame.

45 minutes and the weekly shop later and we returned, the we being my 6 year old son and I. Still a big queue, but what the hell, we joined it in a naive hope that it would move quickly. I wasn’t actually sure what was on offer this year, but one tweet to David’s Music later and one of the staff came out with a list for me. See, that’s one of the great things about David’s Music, not only do they have a fantastic selection of vinyl, and other forms of media too, but the staff are top notch, and the makes a huge difference. I decided on 7″ singles by Simon & Garfunkel, The Who and Brian Wilson, while my son Lucas chose Bears in Space by The 2 Bears – I’m thinking he knew something I didn’t, or just really likes bears.

Queue Outside David's Music for Record Store Day 2015

Queue Outside David’s Music for Record Store Day 2015

As records went out of stock the staff would come out and tell us, and that is exactly what happened with Simon & Garfunkel and The Who. Chatting to the guy in front of us in the queue and it turned out he wanted the Brain Wilson record too, so even if I made it to the front while there was still daylight, this chap might grab the last remaining copy of the one thing left on my wish list potentially still available. Even with this uncertainty looming, we stayed in the queue.

At 90 minutes I did wonder if it was wise, and whether it was all really worth it, but the doubt soon disappeared after the staff confirmed via their Twitter account they had 8 copies of Brian Wilson still in stock – surely that was enough to afford me a copy? Once inside we got to the counter pretty quickly, which seems strange as the queue outside moved far more slowly – must be a bigger on the inside Tardis type phenomenon.

I did manage to get the Brian Wilson single, which features two songs from his recent No Pier Pressure album: The Right Time and Sail Away, and is packed in an old school sleeve, complete with hole in the middle. I also got a Black Friday 2014 Bon Jovi release Live 2, with 2 live tracks on each side: I’ll Be There For You / Lay Your Hands On Me and Bad Medecine / Runaway. Bon Jovi have been my favourite band since listening to Slippery When Wet in 1986, while The Beach Boys I discovered a few years later. So even though only one was a Record Store Day 2015 release, both tickled my fancy and then some.

Record Store Day 2015 Purchases from David's Music

Record Store Day 2015 Purchases from David’s Music

Next year we’ll be sleeping overnight outside the shop, at least that’s what Lucas declared in this video we recorded just a few hours after our Record Store Day Experience:

The lesson learned is get there early for Record Store Day 2016, very early, and choosing a shop as good as David’s Music is also a huge positive too. I’m thinking reading up on the releases beforehand might be of benefit too, at least then I’ll know if there’s something I want, which for a vinyl collector is highly probable. It was a fun experience, and the atmosphere in the queue and inside the shop makes all the waiting worthwhile.