Another newly acquired old camera: Sony F828

I continue to collect older digital cameras. While reading about another new acquisition (See: Another recently acquired old camera: Sony R1) I came across information on its predecessor the Sony Cybershot F828. It looked interesting and was inexpensive so I decided to get one.

In its January 2004 Review (yes the camera is almost 20 years old) DP Review wrote the following:

The Cybershot DSC-F828 was announced on 15th August, this new camera is very obviously a development of the DSC-F717 design. Just under a year since the F717 and Sony’s flagship prosumer digital camera has certainly undergone a large number of changes, not least of which is the switch from the electronically zoomed five times lens of the F707/F717 to an all new mechanical zoom seven times lens with Carl Zeiss T* coating and a wide angle 28 mm equiv. capability. Sony has also chosen to go with their latest sensor, the all new eight megapixel four-color (RGBE) 2/3″ type (8.8 x 6.6 mm) CCD. Ignoring all other changes this makes a formidable combination, a high quality mechanically linked zoom lens combined with the resolution of an eight megapixel CCD. This camera is arguably the most important prosumer digital camera this year.

And concluded

There’s no doubt that physically the DSC-F828 is one of the most unusual and arguably best designed prosumer digital cameras. It took the successful design of the F717 to the next level with a mechanically linked zoom lens, full black metal body, new control layout and improved EVF among others.

Sony has clearly concentrated on giving digital camera owners the full SLR experience without the need to carry multiple lenses. Performance was on the whole very good, with fast startup times, short shutter release lag and better than average focusing speed. From a feature set point of view the F828 is strong although still not up with the likes of Minolta’s excellent DiMAGE A1 nor the Nikon Coolpix 5700.

It’s a shame that Sony couldn’t directly document that the ‘Real color’ mode of the camera is actually mapped to a known color space (sYCC) and perhaps even have provided the color profile for this color space so that owners could make proper use of it.

Where the F828 starts to disappoint is image quality, many observers had concerns about the very small pixel pitch of the camera’s eight million pixel sensor knowing that it would most likely lead to noisier images but what we weren’t prepared for were chromatic aberrations. This came as a surprise especially considering the F828’s lens carries not only the Carl Zeiss name but also the ‘T*’ notation indicating the use of special lens coatings. So in reality the F828’s biggest issue becomes chromatic aberrations, with noise a second place.

Throughout the latter part of writing this review I had an ‘Above Average’ rating fixed in my mind, higher than average noise at ISO 100, the green hue shift issue and the chromatic aberrations problem dominating the final conclusion.

However after going back through the advantages the camera offers, the extra resolution, the ability to produce very good images with a little experience, the flexibility of the lens (wide angle, reach, fast maximum aperture, mechanical zoom), the improved build quality and feature set the DSC-F828 just scraped through to a Recommended rating. (That said I am still on the edge of an ‘Above Average’ rating).

So about what you would expect for a 20 year camera. But there’s something very special, even unique about this camera. But that’s a topic for a future post.

Taken with a Sony A7IV and Sony FE 24mm f2.8 G.

Confused by Sony cameras. This will help.

I have a number of Sony cameras, both full frame and APS-C, but I’ll be the first to admit that Sony offers so many options: full frame vs APS-C; low cost vs expensive; still vs video; hybrid; optimized for video; optimized for stills; optimized for fast action etc. that it can be difficult to choose.

I find this video from Tony and Chelsea to be incredibly useful in sorting out all of the options.

Another recently acquired old camera: Sony R1

It’s a Sony R1, a bridge digital camera announced by Sony in 2005. It features a 10.3 megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor, a size typically then used in DSLRs and rarely used in bridge cameras, which at that time typically used much smaller sensors This was the first time such a large sensor was incorporated into a bridge camera. Besides the APS-C sensor, the DSC-R1 also featured a 35-120mm equivalent Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* lens, which was reputed to be very good. At the camera’s launch one reviewer said the lens alone was worth the asking price.

There’s a excellent review on DP Review. Make sure you read it now!! Amazon, the owners of DP Review, are shutting it down imminently – see here for more information.

The conclusion of the review reads:

I’ll start as I shall no doubt finish this little piece of editorial, the lens is worth the price of the DSC-R1 alone. That fact is not to be underestimated, it’s a great lens which provides you with a very useful 24 – 120 mm zoom range (which will be sufficient for the majority of users). Doing the math it’s pretty clear that you have to spend a fairly considerable sum on lenses for a D-SLR to get close to this range and the quality of the DSC-R1’s lens.

The DSC-R1 has been around for several years, the mythical fixed lens digital camera with a large (APS sized) sensor, but only in the minds of many of us. Thankfully Sony were brave enough to do it, to try something totally new and rekindle interest in the ‘prosumer’ fixed lens market which had pretty much been ignored since sub-$1000 digital SLRs came along. I’m glad to report as a prosumer / fixed lens digital the DSC-R1 is so much better than anything that came before it, it’s really not worth comparing it to cameras like the DSC-F828, there’s only so much you can do with a small sensor.

So yes, the DSC-R1 provides you with excellent images via a great lens and noise levels at higher sensitivities which would be impossible to achieve with any other fixed lens digital. However, it’s a little tougher these days, digital SLR’s are truly affordable and their performance has come on in leaps and bounds. Sony played the megapixel game (they had to) and fitted the DSC-R1 with a sensor which would ‘out-number’ cameras like the EOS 350D, however the reality is that (a) the step from 8 MP to 10 MP is so slight so as to be hardly noticeable and (b) the Canon has better in-camera image processing.

So here we come up to the issues. Firstly the DSC-R1’s ISO 800 and 1600 aren’t as good as the Canon (forget ISO 3200). When we first received the R1 we had hoped it would at least be a match but unfortunately it’s not. At ISO 800 images are perfectly usable but you’ll be aware that some detail will be ‘smudged’ by the high ISO NR system. At ISO 1600 you could face some fairly noticeable chroma mottle noise in shadows, something you just won’t get from the Canon.

The second issue is image processing, take a RAW out of the DSC-R1 and run it through Adobe Camera RAW and you can see just what that lens / sensor combination is capable of, however you really need to be pretty dedicated to shoot RAW all the time, 20 MB per RAW file and around 9 seconds to write; I did note that some of our forums users are converting the Sony RAW files to Adobe DNG to save space. That’s not to say JPEG’s aren’t good, they are very good, but you get a whole new appreciation for just how much crisper images could look converting in ACR.

About three quarters of my way through this review my mind was set on a ‘Recommended’ rating, and for a long time that’s how it sat. Then I started to put together the price comparison table (page 20) and I soon realized just what you’re getting. At $1000 you simply can’t get close to the coverage and quality of that lens. Add to that the usable high sensitivities, great build quality, a package which is ‘all in one’, resolution just better than an EOS 350D and final results which can be extremely good indeed. Certainly there are a few niggles with the rest of the camera but at the price they can easily be excused. Hence it’s a bit of a split rating, if you’re an absolute perfectionist who doesn’t mind spending more on lenses and shoots a lot at ISO 1600 you may wish to consider something else, for everyone else I have no hesitation in Highly Recommending the DSC-R1.

Of course I was keen to try it out so I immediately went to some nearby woodland. I can confirm that it works perfectly. Of course its very old technology so I found a few things frustrating: Low noise levels up to ISO 400, usable but NR affected ISO 800, noisy ISO 1600; Odd top mounted LCD location, which some may not like but which I find quite appealing; Both LCD and Electronic Viewfinder far below those of current cameras; Raw files are enormous for a 10 megapixel camera; slow burst rate (which doesn’t bother me); no bracketing (which does); autofocus not up to current standards. I did struggle to find focus a few times, but that’s probably me, not the camera. About what you would expect from an 18 year old camera.

On the positive side I really enjoyed using it. Its a fun camera that does everything I need in most circumstances. It’s relatively light and comfortable to use. A lot of my photography is intended for use on social media so the 10 megapixel sensor is not much of a hindrance. I don’t usually take pictures of things that move around quickly (e.g. small birds – or any size birds for that matter; car races; athletes etc.) so the older, slower focus is not a problem. And if I really want to take pictures of fast moving objects I have other cameras/lenses for that purpose. The 24-120 zoom range is useful.

And even from a very cursory use the lens appears to be everything that the reviewers say it is.

Below a few examples. I’ll probably add some more after I’ve used it more are gotten familiar quirks.

Picture of the camera taken with a Sony A7IV and Venus Optics Laowa 85mm f5.6. All other picture taken with the Sony R1

Kodak Six-20

With the acquisition of this camera I’ve broken two of my rules for collecting cameras.

The first is that I would not acquire a camera that I could not or would not use. I’ve on occasion acquired a camera that was supposed to be working, but turned out to be non-functional. However, I’ve never bought a camera that I knew I wouldn’t use. I think it’s unlikely (but not impossible) that I will use this one. Although you never really know until you try to use it, I believe this camera works. Unfortunately, the film (620 film) was discontinued in 1995. Although the actual film is the same as 120 film (which is still available), the spools are different. The 620 spools are slightly shorter and have a smaller diameter. It is possible to cut down a spool of 120 film to fit or to re-spool some 120 film onto 620 spools in a darkroom or changing bag. Some people do this and sell the result, so it is still possible to get this film. However, it’s difficult to find and expensive. More important, I’ve read that the camera takes terrible pictures. I’m might get my hands on a roll of 620 film and try it out, or because of the apparently poor quality of the images I might not bother. I haven’t decided yet.

Second, I had long ago decided not to collect Kodak Folding Cameras. While they certainly have their charm I was afraid of going down that particular rabbit hole in case I couldn’t make my way out.

So why then did I acquire this camera? The reason is that I’ve decided to start collecting bakelite and art-deco cameras. This one is an excellent example of the latter. Unfortunately, these cameras tend to be old and use film that is difficult (and in many cases impossible) to obtain. Most of them look great though.

I’ve found a great site: Art Deco Cameras, which has a wealth of information on such cameras and how to use them. I imagine it will become my guide to finding addition leads.

This one is a Kodak Six-20 and according to Art Deco Cameras:

The Six-20 Kodak was introduced in 1932 but from 1933 it was redesigned to become the Six-20 model C. It is a self-erecting folding camera. It has angled ends to the body which is covered with pig-grained leatherette. It has a brilliant finders that swivels to cater for both portrait and landscape views. It does not have a folding frame finder. It features black enameled side panels with nickel lines. The shutter plate is octagonal with chrome and black enamel deco pattern as well as bright red highlights. It has a swiveling red window cover. The struts are chrome and ornate unlike the redesigned Model C which are quite plain.

It supported two combinations of lens and shutter. These are a Doublet lens coupled with Kodon shutter or a Kodak Anastigmat f/6.3 with a Kodon shutter.

I believe mine is the former i.e. the one with the doublet lens, which is a pity because if I did choose to use it I’m sure the latter would produce better images.

Art Deco Cameras also rates the cameras as to the extent to which they have the characteristics of an art-deco Camera and describes this camera as follows:

Iconic: Famous, well-known and celebrated

  • Produced during the main Art Deco period.
  • Octagonal face plate design with red highlights.
  • Ornate chrome struts.
  • Angled ends to body.
  • Enameled side panels with nickel lines.
  • Raised diamond and octagonal motifs
  • Pig-grained leatherette
  • Octagonal film winder
  • Chrome and black enamel brilliant finder

Taken with a Sony A7IV and Venus Optics Laowa 85mm f5.6

A Digicam: Panasonic LX-3

In an earlier post (much earlier: 2013) on the LX-3 I said:

I owe a lot to this camera. Somewhere along the line I’d lost interest in photography. Over the years I’d gone from the Minolta 7sii rangefinder that got me started, to a film SLR (Canon AE-1) and then to digital (Maxxum D SLR and Canon Powershot S-50). I’d also picked up a used Rolleiflex on a whim, but only used it once or twice – but that’s another story. I’d reached a point where I rarely went out to take photos, and was even reluctant to take a camera on vacations, family events etc. I’m not entirely sure why I lost interest. As I had moved to SLRs they had gotten bigger (the bodies and especially the lenses) and I no longer wanted to lug all of this stuff around.

More importantly perhaps was that I was dissatisfied with my pictures because I couldn’t entirely control the results. I never developed my own film and so I was always at the mercy of the labs. Even with digital images I had rarely post processed (even though I had copies of an older version of photoshop and also Photoshop Elements.)

I’d stopped carrying around the SLRs and pretty much restricted myself to the Canon. Then I was in Switzerland for my younger daughter’s wedding and I left the Canon in a taxi. It was later returned to me and I eventually gave it to my grandson, but for a while I was without a small, carry around camera. So I did some research and decided to get the LX3. I was very impressed with the results. I liked that it was small enough to carry around; it has a great f2.0 lens; 10 megapixel resolution; multiple aspect ratios; good macro and wide angle performance.

Although the LX3 is a wonderful camera there are still things about it I don’t like including: It’s small but still a little too large to comfortably carry around in a pocket; Noise starts to get bad above ISO 400; The zoom range (24-60mm equivalent) is a bit short;The LCD screen is almost impossible to see in bright sunlight and the only viewfinder option is a fixed 24mm optical.

The LX3 pretty much solved the portability problem. When I got this camera I also started to use RAW format files and Adobe Lightroom. This combination gave me much of the control I was lacking. Not all of it though. I still haven’t fully mastered digital printing.

Overall I was more than satisfied and I started taking pictures again – lots of them. It came at just the right time. With retirement looming I needed a hobby – something to occupy my time. Suddenly I was back into photography with a vengeance. Not just taking pictures, but studying the philosophy of photography, the history of photography etc. I even got into vintage cameras and started using film again. I’m now retired and spend a lot ob my time on “things photographic”. I don’t know if this would have been the case without this camera.

There’s a good review of it here. Here are some pictures taken with it.

Patriots Park, Tarrytown, NY, 2010

Car in the woods. Graham Hills Park, NY, 2010

Putnam County Veterans Memorial Park, 2012.

Jaguar. Geneva, Switzerland, 2010.

Tree by my house. Briarcliff Manor, NY. 2010.

Stone Bridge. Rockefeller State Park Preserve. 2010.

Whipple-Feely Chapel. 2012

Flea Market Vendor. New Milford, CT., 2012

Window at the former train station (now post office), Scarborough, NY, 2011

Wooden Statue outside a store in Rhinebeck, NY, 2011.

For what I understand “Digicam” to mean see the preceding post: Digicams.

All pictures taken with a Panasonic Lumix LX-3 except for the picture of the camera itself, which was taken with a Fuji X-E3 and Fuji XC 16-50mm f3.5-5.6 OSS II