Wednesday, May 19, 2010

more with the Leica V-Lux 20

handheld digiscoped imagetaken with new Leica V-Lux 20 at 75 mm equivalent

Following up on the comments from the last blog post discussing the performance of the NEW Leica V-Lux 20 compact superzoom digital point & shoot camera. Clearly as a stand alone camera it functions swimmingly. but above and below I will show some more performance proofs from the V-Lux 20 as a digiscoping camera. In the last post I showed a number of images with the camera zoom near minimum, hand held behind the Leica 20-50x wide-angle zoom eyepiece and APO Televid spotting scope. The question was asked at what point of zoom and to what degree do the images degrade. At minimal zoom (as shown in the image in my past post of the Purple Martin pair), you get a solid defined vignetted edge on each corner with camera zoom at a 35 mm lens equivalent.
With camera zoom near 75 mm equivalent (above in this Great Crested Flycatcher image) the field begins to collapse. It presumably continues to collapse as more zoom is added, but unfortunately I only had the camera to test for one full day and was trying to get nice wildlife shots rather than doing standardized tests.
Eastern Wood-Pewee digiscoped w/ Leica V-Lux 20 through APO Televid scope

The Eastern Wood-Pewee above was again taken with the new V-Lux 20 handheld behind the Leica APO Televid 82 mm spotting scope. The camera was zoomed to a 44 mm lens equivalent and the scope zoom was at lowest power (25x wide angle). This image is completely unaltered and shown as uploaded from the camera. You can see that with this combination of camera & eyepiece zoom there is no visible vignetting at all! While I've always been a huge fan of using adapters to stabilize a digiscoped image it is nice that this camera is a pocket-sized (compact) superzoom with 12x optical zoom (300 mm equivalent) that can be easily handheld on this scope / eyepiece combination with incredible results. It is just another tool in the arsenal for those who want something that is more versatile as a stand alone and still able to be coupled with the scope to reach magnifications well over 1,000 mm equivalents.

Eastern Wood-Pewee digiscoped Magee Marsh, OH 5/14/10

Again with 14.5 megapixel resolution at my disposal, I was able to easily crop the image to a portrait mode with the bird and snag filling most of the frame with negligible loss of quality.
male Cape May Warbler digiscoped through Leica APO Televid 82 w/ V-Lux 20

Yet another example of a high-quality handheld digiscoped image is shown above. This adult male Cape May Warbler image was once again taken simply holding the new Leica V-Lux 20 behind the APO Televid eyepiece.
- Program mode, ISO 200, 1/250th sec, f/3.7, +1 step EV, auto image stabilization, 42 mm lens equivalent & 25x on scope zoom eyepiece

As a final example of the camera's prowess as a digiscoping tool, here is a digiscoped video (videscoped) taken by holding the V-Lux 20 camera behind the scope eyepiece once again. This video shows an adult male Baltimore Oriole feeding. In this instance the wind reduction feature was activated and the video was recorded at the highest level of quality at 1280x720 pixels @ 60 fps (frames per second)!

Needless to say I'm VERY impressed after being able to "play" with this little gem of a camera for only one full day. Unfortunately, I had to send it back though, so will have to wait before showing more tests & results. Never fear though, there will certainly be some!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

NEW Leica V-Lux 20 Breaks all the rules!!!

brand NEW Leica V-Lux 20 compact superzoom point & shoot camera

I was working the "Biggest Week in American Birding" in Ohio last week and the local sales rep loaned me his sample of the new Leica V-Lux 20 to test. I fully expected that I would be able to use the 12x zoom (300 mm equivalent) effectively to capture images of closer birds seen along the boardwalk at Magee Marsh in Oak Harbor, OH. This was a certainty and the camera performed "spot on" in this regard. At 14.5 megapixels with high def movie mode and built in GPS, I was looking forward to playing with this and as you can see from the image of below I was not disappointed!

male Northern Parula image taken with the new Leica V-Lux 20 camera 5/14/10

The colorful male Northern Parula shown above was taken by simply holding this tiny pocket-sized camera up, zooming and snapping the image! Obviously the bird cooperated by being close and at eye-level, but that is why so many birders visit this gem of a site during spring migration; for "in-your-face" views of these vibrant migrant birds. (taken at max zoom - 300 mm, program mode, ISO 200, 1/250th sec, f/4.9, +1 ev, with optical image stabilization and built in flash activated for fill).

Purple Martin pair @ Oak Harbor, OH 5/13/10

Those who know me, know that I am a digiscoping freak so despite the fact that "superzoom" cameras don't lend themselves to digiscoping, I'm sure you know I had to try this new "compact superzoom" behind our new wide-angle scope eyepiece to see how it worked for myself! The above is the exact image completely unaltered that I took through the scope when I first tried this on the evening of 5/13/10.

Amazingly, the Leica V-Lux 20 broke all the digiscoping rules and actually worked f0r digiscoping on its first test above. I was completely stoked! This was handheld behind the Leica APO Televid spotting scope with the wide-angle zoom eyepiece set a bit over 25x and the camera zoom set at a 35 mm equivalent.

Purple Martin pair digiscoped with NEW Leica V-Lux 20 camera

With 14.5 megapixel at my disposal, I was easily able to crop up and eliminate the dark circular frame to capture both the male & female birds (above) and then cropping further even the female alone as below!

female Purple Martin cropped from digiscoped image above

On the way back to the car (near 7 PM), I found my next photo opportunity and tested my luck again. A male Baltimore Oriole was singing unabashedly in an oak tree at the edge of the parking lot. I quickly set up my scope, pulled the V-Lux out of my shirt pocket and held it behind the scope eyepiece. This time I had the scope zoom at minimum 25x, and there was no vignetting around the frame! The image below is again completely unaltered. This is as it turned out by simply holding the new V-Lux 20 to the wide-angle eyepiece and shooting the image! Note there is just the tiniest hint of black vignetting at the lower right corner but otherwise nothing.

adult male Baltimore Oriole digiscoped with Leica V-Lux 20 evening 5/13/10
Image properties:
ISO 200
shutter speed: 1/80th sec
+0.7 step EV
35 mm equivalent

Baltimore Oriole digiscoped image slightly altered.

In the above image I've taken the liberty to add ~10 seconds of photoshop magic, cropping slightly to eliminate the dark corner and some of the "blown out" sky , and adding a bit of "shadow/highlights", but nothing more for the finished look above. At any rate, it is clear I need to get a V-Lux 20 of my own and begin experimenting some more both behind the spotting scope and as a stand alone unit! On 5/14 & 15 I took some more and better images and videos using the same camera scope combination which I will highlight next!