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  • Sony QX100 review, night pics included

    Post 1 of 3

    I know some here are interested in seeing what my Sony QX100 camera can do. This a a bit of a review.

    This is the camera (Sony ad pics)




    It is a most interesting camera. It has a 1" sensor which is far larger than most point/shoot camera and this makes things possible that cannot be done with an ordinary P/S camera. By far it is the huge improvement in low light capability and a secondary result is the ability to take very high speed shots of fast motion. In some ways the control via a smart phone or android tablet it a big plus and in some ways it could make the camera unusable. This is NOT a plug and play camera. You must have some familiarity with how Android works and must be able to connect your phone/tablet to the camera. It is not difficult at all but it does require a bit of knowledge in that area. The camera itself will operate without any connection to anything but only in full auto mode with no viewfinder.

    Here is a table of sensor sizes. I have calibrated this table so the sensor are displayed at actual size on a monitor with 108 per inch pixels. That is the pixel density on most of the large 2650x1440 monitors. Sorry, but I haven't made one calibrated for the very common 1920x1080 size as I only use that for my two side monitors.




    You can see the difference by comparing the most common point/shoot size sensors which are the bottom right two smallest sizes with the one labelled 1" 12.80 x 9.60 mm (in the QX100). Canon for instance uses the 1/2.3" sensor size in nearly all of their P/S cameras with one exception in the model S200 which has the 1/1.7" sensor. I bought one of those for my wife a couple of months ago and even that relatively small sensor size increase makes a very big difference. She is able to take very good photographs at meetings and a recent birthday party without using flash and they look very good.

    Sensor Pixel size is directly correlated to image quality. The smaller the pixel the worse it works at collecting light accurately. Current sensors are such a small area when loaded with huge pixel counts the individual pixels are so small that quantum noise effects are taking over all other sources of noise, and the results are not pretty. The pixels are approaching the wavelengths of light. Just doubling the linear size of the sensor increases pixel size for the same count by 4 times. The sensor on the QX100 is more than 4 times larger (4.3885 times to be precise) than the most common P/S sensors so with 20 megapixels the pixels are that much larger than nearly all other P/S camera with 20 megapix and still twice the size of sensors the same size with 10 megapix.

    Quantum noise falls off dramatically as the pixel size increases. It isn't linear or even close to linear. It falls by a huge factor, nearly a straight downward line when the size goes over a certain point. When the quantum chance that the entire photon actually did hit the sensor pixel then the counting of that photon is much more often correct.

    I took some shots lst night, unfortunately very cloudy, but it still lets me see how good it will be for star shots. We have a lot of light pollution in the northern sky because Williams Lake has added thousands of unshielded street light over the years since we moved out here for that very reason. It isn't too bad on a clear night but it sure shows up when it is cloudy. Some of these images are tweaked one way or another but that is standard practice in astrophotography. You are taking pictures of things the eye cannot see at all so tweaking is part of the process. I have posted a couple that are out of the camera with resizing the only "tweak".

    This is not tweaked! All of these images were taken with autofocus turned off. I don't know how it found the correct focus. I can only assume it opted for a default of infinity. All of these night shots were taken at F1.8 with an exposure time of 8 seconds. I don't think it gives an ISO rating and it doesn't matter. What matters is sensitivity vs noise. The outside temp was just below freezing. The range of the internal Wi/Fi was at least 25 feet and that was competing with my router, my computer, another couple of tablets and 3 outside Wi/Fi security cameras.



    This is adjusted but not by much, a little contrast and brightness. Taken just to the right of the lights pic. These pics were taken at 02:00am and it was a very dark night with clouds just barely visible against the trees. The moon was down over two hours ago. There was no moon backlight.



    Continued...
    Last edited by Evan; 12-28-2014, 09:33 PM.
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  • #2
    Post 1 Continued here:

    This image is entirely untweaked, as from the camera but resized. This is how much town light pollution we now have and we are at least 10 km out of town in a straight line. Grrr....
    This image has back light from the Christmas lights. I left them on so that I would have enough light to provide some reference on the trees. I didn't need to.



    One of the issues is that Williams Lake has its own 70 megawatt waste wood power plant so it makes money off electric power and spends as much as it likes on lighting.

    This image is to the south west. It is entirely untouched except resizing. I am amazed how much the clouds are reflecting light from the town. I changed the camera white balance for this so it isn't so yellow looking but it is the same light from town.



    What isn't at all obvious is the amount of colour that was captured in the above image. Some special tweaking I use for astrophotos brings that out. The noise level is very acceptable too.



    The next is just our dogs at present. This was taken with small amount of telephoto and no attempt to hold the camera steady. The internal stability system seems to be excellent.




    Continued on post 3...
    Last edited by Evan; 12-30-2014, 04:31 PM. Reason: sp
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    • #3
      Post 3 Continued from post 2...

      Our dog Snoopy. This is a crop of about 1/5 of the original image and then resized to 1/10 of same. BTW, in the background is our clevely disguised dumpster. ;-)



      This image was the only one to show a tiny amount of camera movement. The dog movement was far greater as she was barreling toward me at high speed. This was taken with full telephoto and the dog was about 50 feet away. It is about a 1/4 crop of the full image.



      The main thing that you need to accompany the camera is a phone or tablet with a fast CPU stack. The faster, the better. A large screen is also a big plus. The holder on the camera is rated to a width of 75mm but it can be easily slightly forced (it's steel) to a width of 78 or even 79 mm. That makes a big difference in the available screen sizes that will fit in the holder. Anything bigger than 5" screens usually needs a couple of mm over 75 but will often fit in 78 or even 79mm.

      Another very nice feature is the ability to specify exactly what you wish to focus on by simply pointing to it on the screen. It works perfectly. Also, this camera does an excellent job of closeups with autofocus to about 4 centimetres. Being able to point at the focus subject is great.

      I am really pleased with the night sensitivity and low noise level.

      That's all for now and I will post some more when I have some star pics.
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      • #4
        Can you get a decent video feed off the camera over wifi?

        Was at a friends place this fall and while everyone was around the campfire I went in the middle of a field and laid my camera on the ground to see what I would get, even being pretty far out of town I couldn't get more than 30sec without light pollution kicking in.

        IMG_0295 by macona, on Flickr

        Which reminds me I need to figure out what I am going to do for the controller on my equatorial mount I have been building.

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        • #5
          Here is your pic slightly improved. I use a variety of techniques but especially one I have developed to pull out the colour hidden in the images. There is plenty of colour in all sky images, it just isn't bright enough to see with your eyes. Manipulating such images is standard practice since the entire reason is to reveal that which we cannot normally see. The colours I am able to dig out are real, not false colour. What I can retrieve matches the colours shown on images from very large telescopes. It is usually not considered possible to do this but then I also proved that a 35mm ordinary SLR camera has an imaging limit of as deep as magnitude 14 which everyone thought was limited to around 11 or 12 at best. I won a first place award for the machine that made it possible, my equatorial tracker I built about 12 years ago.

          Your Pic:




          I haven't tried the Wi/Fi video yet. I have also installed an update in the camera that gives it a lot more control and now allows ISO settings up to 6400 and 30 second exposures. That will be plenty for what I want to do with it.

          BTW, the bluish areas are very young stars, the red are old ones.
          Last edited by Evan; 12-29-2014, 03:31 AM.
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          • #6
            Originally posted by Evan View Post


            It is a most interesting camera. It has a 1" sensor which is far larger than most point/shoot camera and this makes things possible that cannot be done with an ordinary P/S camera. ...
            Evan,

            I am now two weeks into my annual winter drive from Phoenix to the Bay Area, to share the holiday season with family and friends. I was in L.A. When I read your first post since last March, and that was like an additional Christmas present.

            My travel camera is the Sony RX100 III, which has the same sensor (almost) as your Sony QX100, so I must say "welcome to the club." Your setup has the advantage of a much larger screen — you will be able to display more of those 20 megapixels for composing and image sharing, almost like having a view camera.

            I don't have a smart phone, but I am traveling with my iPad Mini (on which I am typing this). I wish Sony would create an app which could control the QX100 from an iPad with Retina Display. That would be the nearest digital equivalent to the old view cameras, and you would not have to view the composition upside down under a blackout cloth.
            Allan Ostling

            Phoenix, Arizona

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            • #7
              Controlling the camera with my new Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 is great. With a 2560 x 1600 OLED screen it's like looking at the reality instead of an image. All it needs is 3D. I just hope I live long enough to see that (and can afford one).
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              • #8
                What is the range available between the camera and the controlling device? That looks like it might be a nice remote controlled camera in a more general sense.

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                • #9
                  From the first post: "The range of the internal Wi/Fi was at least 25 feet and that was competing with my router, my computer, another couple of tablets and 3 outside Wi/Fi security cameras."

                  added:

                  I may be able to take some star shots tonight. They will be done with no tracking since the tracker isn't yet set up. The moon won't be down until 01:00 am so I won't be posting them until much later (or earlier).
                  Last edited by Evan; 12-29-2014, 09:32 PM.
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                  • #10
                    Thanks - was wondering if it was mentioned in any literature. did it drop out at +25' or was that the range you're using in your setup?

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                    • #11
                      I have not yet tested for maximum range with my various interfering devices turned off. I suspect the range in quiet conditions will be significantly more. I will report when I do that, on this thread, so it will pop back up from time to time.
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                      • #12
                        Nice looking border collies! The pics are quite interesting and neat as well! It is amazing some of the pictures people can get now days. I am one of those people that gets the cheap camera that you just point and shoot.

                        there is my very old border collie. She is a good girl.
                        Andy

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                        • #13
                          Border Collies are our favourite animals. Although, my last dog was a Karelian Beardog. That dog was unlike any other dog and was my friend and companion. Her attitude was unlike any other dogs as she was a born and bred hunter with no fear of anything, not any other animal, not thunder or lightning and no trace of fear of gunshots. In fact she immediately recognized that gunshots meant killing and that was fine by her. She is dead now and I cried a long time when she died. Our Border Collies are good friends and always good with other people. They are smart and well behaved and I don't have to worry about them trying to make a meal out of anything near food size.
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                          • #14
                            Here is a star shot from last night. This is not well done as I only put the camera out for a few minutes to snap a few shots. It was much too cold to leave it out for very long as the temp was around -30 and still isn't much warmer.

                            One thing that is very interesting and very different than the Canon cameras is the ability to pick up colours. In this shot there is a slight ice haze at the lower levels and not only did the camera pick that up but it has also detected the slight light pollution "warm" colour being reflected from town. This was a 30 second exposure at f-2.8 and ISO 12800. I have adjusted the brightness and contrast significantly but not saturation. Because of the large contrast adjustment the differences in the star brightness are very reduced.

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