Friday, November 6, 2015

Holy Moly! 3/5th Second Exposure Handheld! (Sony RX100 II)

Night Lights - Tehachapi, California
ISO 1600, f3.5, 3/5th Second (0.6"), 58mm (equivalent).
Look at the photograph above. Yeah, I know, it's not great. It doesn't have a punchline. There are some shadows lacking details. The composition isn't the strongest. There's some distractions in the frame. The digital noise is somewhat strong. But take a look at it anyway (click here to view it full-size).

Did you notice that it's sharp and not blurry? It's a handheld photograph--I did not use a tripod. Unbelievable! I have never experienced image stabilization that allows a 3/5th second exposure handheld. That's over half a second with the shutter curtain open, and the photograph is still sharp!

I captured this image using a Sony RX100 II. I chose ISO 1600 because that's the practical high-ISO limit for this camera (ISO 3200 has too much digital noise for my taste). At 58mm, the maximum aperture for the RX100 II is f3.5. So, for this exposure, the required shutter speed was 0.6 seconds. Click here if you want to see the EXIF data.

I didn't have a tripod because I was out with my kids on Halloween.  I was walking along and thought the bright streetlights mixed with the dimly illuminated trees created some interest, so I attempted to capture it. And, honestly, I didn't think that I'd be able to successfully capture it.

To be fair, I made six identical exposures--one right after the next--and only one was sharp and the other five were blurry. But, still, this is nothing short of amazing!

Back in the days before image stabilization, for any chance of a sharp image the shutter speed had to be a similar number to the focal length. For example, at 58mm a 1/60th second exposure would be the slowest before you'd need to use a tripod. If you were particularly still, you could sometimes get a sharp image at 1/30th of a second, but that was certainly pushing it.

Image stabilization allows you to use a slower shutter speed. The absolute slowest shutter speed that I've used (before this) and had sharp results handheld is 1/4 of a second, and that was with a wide angle focal length lens. That's quite amazing, but not nearly as much as 3/5 of a second with a "standard" focal length, which is unbelievable!

I'm not sure what's different with the built-in image stabilization on the Sony RX100 II, but I'm thoroughly impressed with it. The impossible was made possible some how. Great job, Sony!

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