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Thread: G1 shakedown under less-than-ideal conditions

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    G1 shakedown under less-than-ideal conditions

    This evening I gave my newly-purchased G1 its first workout, shooting more than 1,000 frames at a theater rehearsal under pretty tough conditions.

    The pictures themselves probably won't interest most people, but if you want to see how the G1 performs under low light, at high ISOs, with fast action, shooting into the lights, etc., you can see them by clicking this link.

    The kit lens' modest maximum aperture was hopeless for this situation, so I used a selection of M-mount or M-adapted lenses via my Chinese-made adapter. Lenses used were 35/1.2 and 50/1.5 Voigtlander Noktons and 50/0.95, 85/1.5, and 100/2 Canons.

    I intend to write up a blog post later, but a few pleasant surprises included:

    -- I had surprisingly little trouble focusing manually without needing to use the magnified focus-assist feature; whenever I tried using the focus assist, I found no difference from where I had focused unassisted. Not needing magnification made action shooting easier.

    -- The eye-level finder's brightness under dim conditions was a big help, and when shooting black-and-white, being able to see a black-and-white finder image is a nice feature.

    -- The battery life was much better than I had expected. I was able to get through more than 400 exposures before the battery indicator stopped displaying "full." Since I had no spare battery, I put the one battery I did have in the charger during our one-hour dinner break. With this one top-off, I was able to shoot from 1:30 pm to 10 pm covering more than 1,000 frames.

    And some not-so-good surprises:

    -- ISO 3200 is basically unusable even by my rather lax standards, and 1600 is much less smooth-looking than my Epson R-D 1 at the same rating. I had to dial down to 800 to get images that looked as good as the R-D 1's at 1600. (There's one R-D 1 photo in the set for comparison.)

    -- Shutter lag is surprisingly long for a non-reflex camera. I was able to deal with it by anticipating, but it was a challenge.

    -- The camera isn't heavy, but the dinky front grip doesn't do a very good job of distributing its weight. I've actually got a blister coming out on the end of my third finger because that's where most of the stress is concentrated.

    Most of this stuff is livable, but I have to admit I'm going to need to do some soul-searching about whether or not I want to keep the camera in view of its ISO 1600 performance. I realize that isn't an issue for most people here.

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    Re: G1 shakedown under less-than-ideal conditions

    Do you have the camera set for 1/3 ISO stops? 1250 might be workable for you

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    Re: G1 shakedown under less-than-ideal conditions

    Ranger,

    beautiful write up! the most helpful (to me, personally) that i've seen by far! it's not just that i'm an R-D1 owner (so i understand what you're saying there), but you went out and used it in dark, difficult conditions that i love to shoot. and the shutter lag? wow! that is such a huge thing, very important to me, and i've seen it mentioned nowhere else.

    you wrote of real-life usage (albeit, really tough conditions) that explored the strengths and weaknesses of this cam. i love it and look forward to more details on your blog. please post the link!

    and, again, thank you.

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    Re: G1 shakedown under less-than-ideal conditions

    Hmm. I haven't seen any issue with shutter lag. With manual lenses, where there is no autofocus, it's not in the league of say a D700, but considering the price category I don't find it inordinately slow, either.

    For reference: D700: 0.045s, G1: 0.077s (prefocused, which would be the case for adapted lenses.)

    http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/D700/D700A.HTM
    http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/DMCG1/DMCG1A.HTM

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    Re: G1 shakedown under less-than-ideal conditions

    One thing to note is that the ISO ratings on the G1 are somewhat pessimistic. Compared to the D40, the G1's ratings are about 2/3rds of a stop under what the camera is actually delivering (So 800 is really 1250).

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    Re: G1 shakedown under less-than-ideal conditions

    Thanks, all, for the follow-up comments.

    TEB, yes, I had the ISO set for 1/3-step increments, but I didn't try any settings between 800 and 1600. That's worth trying before I make up my mind whether this camera is a keeper or not.

    Monza, I admit my sensitivity to shutter lag is higher than most people's because of the kinds of subjects I shoot. For example, I use a Nikon D300 and a Nikon D80 as a backup, and I find I have to make a mental adjustment when I use the D80 because it's just that little bit slower than the D300. I always have to anticipate the action a bit: with the R-D 1 hardly at all, with the D300 a bit more, with the D80 a bit more than that. The G1 seems to require a little more than the D80.

    You can see in the example pictures that I was getting the peak moments I wanted with the G1; it took more anticipation than I'm used to, but I was able to adjust to it. For the 99% of users who seldom shoot action with sharply-defined peak moments, it most likely would be no problem.

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    Re: G1 shakedown under less-than-ideal conditions

    I owned a D300 and currently a D700 and of course the shutter lag is essentially zero on those. The G1 actually measures a shorter lag than the D80 (0.083 by the same reference above.) The difference between the D700 and the G1 is 32ms...that is about the limit of human perception (1/30s.)

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    Re: G1 shakedown under less-than-ideal conditions

    I know you had to work harder with the G1 but the shots are very nice. I really enjoyed the gallery.

    Diane

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    Re: G1 shakedown under less-than-ideal conditions

    Please take this comment with a grain of salt since I don't own either of the cameras you mention/use. I'm doing this from memory, but I think it was you that had a post not long ago that included some dance rehearsal shots along with some music. If I'm not mistaken, they were taken with the RD1. My memory of those shots is that they are superior to this latest batch. Not because of your timing or composition (which both seem excellent!) but just the clarity and wonderful B&W tones of the images. It might be of course, that the lighting was much better in the first round. But still, they were a notch above.

    p.s. If I'm all wrong and it was someone else making that previous post, I apologize to both of you in advance.

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    Re: G1 shakedown under less-than-ideal conditions

    I enjoyed looking at your images but I have to be honest, at this size I wouldn't have known which one was shot with the RD-1 unless you had labeled t.
    V/r John

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    Re: G1 shakedown under less-than-ideal conditions

    Had I been shooting those, I probably wouldn't have thought of using my G1 first--though it was a good test--probably, of my cameras I would have chosen the 5D. I don't necessarily think the G1 is the right 'tool' for everything.

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    Re: G1 shakedown under less-than-ideal conditions

    Quote Originally Posted by Diane B View Post
    (...) I don't necessarily think the G1 is the right 'tool' for everything.
    G1 is the light weight option and gives the user much fun. Shallow DOF, poor light, high ISO - nothing of this is any strong point of the G1.

    To be honest, I'm looking forward to other brands to make similar cameras with bigger sensors!

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    Re: G1 shakedown under less-than-ideal conditions

    Quote Originally Posted by Jonas View Post
    G1 is the light weight option and gives the user much fun. Shallow DOF, poor light, high ISO - nothing of this is any strong point of the G1.

    To be honest, I'm looking forward to other brands to make similar cameras with bigger sensors!
    Oh, I agree--light--and GREAT fun. I really haven't shot with anything else but the G1 since I got it.

    Diane

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    Re: G1 shakedown under less-than-ideal conditions

    Quote Originally Posted by monza View Post
    I owned a D300 and currently a D700 and of course the shutter lag is essentially zero on those. The G1 actually measures a shorter lag than the D80 (0.083 by the same reference above.) The difference between the D700 and the G1 is 32ms...that is about the limit of human perception (1/30s.)
    Yes, I followed the links in your previous post on this subject. It's curious how the results of the instrumented measurements can be so different from personal experience!

    The rehearsal I was photographing was set to up-tempo swing music, and I found consistently that I had to "lead" my G1 shots by about half a musical beat, which is more than the other cameras I use and seems more than IR's lag measurements suggest.

    Some of that difference might be caused by disparities between the way they measure lag and the way I take pictures, but I thought of another potential factor as well: The G1's electronic finder renders motion with impressive smoothness, but it still has a refresh rate (60 fps, if I remember correctly.) Since I was deciding when to press the shutter by viewing through the finder, the display frame rate would build in some delay on top of the natural delay of the shutter mechanism.

    Even a single frame at a 60fps rate takes about 17 ms to display, so adding that on top of the inherent shutter delay might be enough to explain most of the difference.

    I suppose another experiment I should try with the G1 would be to view subjects through a separate optical viewfinder (I've got a variable Tewe finder that would cover all the lenses I'd be likely to use) and see if that improves my peak-action performance.

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    Re: G1 shakedown under less-than-ideal conditions

    Quote Originally Posted by Ranger 9 View Post
    Yes, I followed the links in your previous post on this subject. It's curious how the results of the instrumented measurements can be so different from personal experience!

    The rehearsal I was photographing was set to up-tempo swing music, and I found consistently that I had to "lead" my G1 shots by about half a musical beat, which is more than the other cameras I use and seems more than IR's lag measurements suggest.

    Some of that difference might be caused by disparities between the way they measure lag and the way I take pictures, but I thought of another potential factor as well: The G1's electronic finder renders motion with impressive smoothness, but it still has a refresh rate (60 fps, if I remember correctly.) Since I was deciding when to press the shutter by viewing through the finder, the display frame rate would build in some delay on top of the natural delay of the shutter mechanism.

    Even a single frame at a 60fps rate takes about 17 ms to display, so adding that on top of the inherent shutter delay might be enough to explain most of the difference.

    I suppose another experiment I should try with the G1 would be to view subjects through a separate optical viewfinder (I've got a variable Tewe finder that would cover all the lenses I'd be likely to use) and see if that improves my peak-action performance.
    In bad light the refresh rate is said to slow so you probably weren't at 60fps. It is mentioned in the review at DPReview. I meant to ask before what shutter speed you were using because a number of the shots where you didn't need to stop as much motion could have probably been at a bit lower ISO. What is strange is that I've used ISO 1600 before and I don't feel like I have as much noise in sizes larger than you've posted.


    ISO 1600 f5.5 1/25
    Attachment 11983

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    Re: G1 shakedown under less-than-ideal conditions

    Quote Originally Posted by barjohn View Post
    I enjoyed looking at your images but I have to be honest, at this size I wouldn't have known which one was shot with the RD-1 unless you had labeled it.
    The fact that I downsampled all the images to 600 pixels wide for display purposes pretty much wipes out that difference. So maybe I should have amended my original remark to say that for images that are going to be posted online, the G1's performance at ISO 1600 is perfectly acceptable, and even the ISO 3200 images are usable if somewhat rough.

    I might also mention that this afternoon I ran some 4 x 6 prints from the test images, and all the ISO 1600 images looked fine except for those with very dark backgrounds. The ISO 3200 images were noticeably "speckly," but many users probably would find them acceptable for casual viewing.

    And of course few photographers take pictures under the kinds of crummy conditions in my tryout, so I'm the first to admit that my experience will be completely irrelevant for most people!

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    Re: G1 shakedown under less-than-ideal conditions

    Quote Originally Posted by TEBnewyork View Post
    What is strange is that I've used ISO 1600 before and I don't feel like I have as much noise in sizes larger than you've posted.
    Yes, that's definitely a nicer-looking result than the ones I was getting. Even the darkest areas of the mime's (?) costume seem to have very little noise.

    I notice that the lighting conditions in your shot seem fairly even. I suspect one difference is that in most of my shots, the lighting was both dim and very contrasty, which is a difficult challenge for any camera. To keep highlights from blowing out, I had to use exposures that probably underexposed the shadows pretty drastically, causing them to "noise up."

    Also, out of curiosity, did you shoot your image as a JPEG, or if raw, did you use the converter software that comes with the G1? I shot in raw and converted with Lightroom 2.2, and I suppose one possibility is that it does a sub-optimal job on G1 files at high ISOs.

    Thanks again to everyone for all this follow-up info; it's very useful in my decision-making about the G1.

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    Re: G1 shakedown under less-than-ideal conditions

    Quote Originally Posted by Ranger 9 View Post
    Even a single frame at a 60fps rate takes about 17 ms to display, so adding that on top of the inherent shutter delay might be enough to explain most of the difference.
    You must be very talented at video games.

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    Re: G1 shakedown under less-than-ideal conditions

    Quote Originally Posted by Ranger 9 View Post
    Yes, that's definitely a nicer-looking result than the ones I was getting. Even the darkest areas of the mime's (?) costume seem to have very little noise.

    I notice that the lighting conditions in your shot seem fairly even. I suspect one difference is that in most of my shots, the lighting was both dim and very contrasty, which is a difficult challenge for any camera. To keep highlights from blowing out, I had to use exposures that probably underexposed the shadows pretty drastically, causing them to "noise up."

    Also, out of curiosity, did you shoot your image as a JPEG, or if raw, did you use the converter software that comes with the G1? I shot in raw and converted with Lightroom 2.2, and I suppose one possibility is that it does a sub-optimal job on G1 files at high ISOs.

    Thanks again to everyone for all this follow-up info; it's very useful in my decision-making about the G1.
    OK, this shot was done about 5AM in Penn Station NY on Nov. 1 and the shots were the remains of people out for Halloween - so that was the Joker. The lighting was more uniform but still pretty awful...shutter was at 1/25.

    Unfortunately I think I only have the jpeg here of that shot. It was pre Lightroom support and I was shooting RAW + jpeg and saving the RAWs However I think this is part of a batch of RAWs that are missing that I inadvertently deleted one day. So, this JPEG was in camera processing. I usually have NR turned down.

    Also, one night when Jack was trying to see how the files handled I sent him a series of RAWs and 1600 seemed OK but 3200 falls apart pretty fast.

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    Re: G1 shakedown under less-than-ideal conditions

    Quote Originally Posted by monza View Post
    You must be very talented at video games.
    LOL... He'd have a pretty "outdated" monitor by gaming standards though at 17ms refresh rate... 6ms or better is the "standard" these day.
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    Re: G1 shakedown under less-than-ideal conditions

    One has to be in the Matrix to react to 6ms refresh.

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    Re: G1 shakedown under less-than-ideal conditions

    6ms is not the refresh rate for the whole screen, it is the pixel turn on off rate. Most LCD panels are refreshed at 60-70 fps.
    V/r John

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    Re: G1 shakedown under less-than-ideal conditions

    Yes true there are some of the newer ones do 120 I believe.
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    Re: G1 shakedown under less-than-ideal conditions

    Yeah, but look at all that noise in the floor !!!

    Quote Originally Posted by TEBnewyork View Post
    What is strange is that I've used ISO 1600 before and I don't feel like I have as much noise in sizes larger than you've posted.


    ISO 1600 f5.5 1/25
    Attachment 11983

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