It's strange how you can visit a place many times and not notice a landmark right under your nose. Every month I park up in the village of Knowl Hill to eat lunch before my rehearsal. The spot where I park is right next to a long footbridge, crossing the A4, yet I've never thought to walk across it. Today I put that right, walking up the steps to see what the view looked like. Staring across the fields I saw this chap walking his dog in the distance. I could see he was heading in my direction, towards a cross roads in the grass, where decades of dog walkers have followed the same path. I composed my shot and waited for man and dog to reach the spot where I wanted to freeze frame their journey. It may not be the most dynamic piece of street photography (or should that be field photography?!) I've ever created but it taught me to take more notice of the places I visit month in, month out.
I took my new camera for a thorough test drive today, with a trip into Cambridge. I was interested to get to know what the G9 is capable of so I headed first to Gonville and Caius College Chapel for some architecture photography.
The low light levels in the chapel were the perfect for me to test the G9's in camera stabilisation and I found it, frankly, astonishing. I discovered I was able to take pictures at 1/5 of a second without camera shake - that's much slower than I've ever managed before! I also tried cranking up the ISO and found improvements over my GX8 there too. While it'll never be as good a full frame camera I'd be happy to shoot at ISO6400 if need be and that's plenty high enough for most situations.
One of the innovations I was particularly keen to try out was the G9's High Resolution mode. With this mode the camera's sensor moves inside the camera, shooting eight frames in quick succession, each slightly displaced by a small amount. The camera then glues all of these together, resulting in an 80 megapixel picture with much more detail. Not bad for a machine that's only got 20 megapixels to start with! Obviously the camera itself needs to be completely still so I grabbed my tripod and gave it a try. On importing the photos into Lightroom I wasn't wildly impressed. However, once I'd exported a JPG file it was possible to zoom further into the photo and maintain clear detail. I'm not convinced I've perfected my technique with this tool yet but I'm keen to try it again soon.
By the time I'd left the chapel I was pleased to see some really useful improvements over my two year old GX8. The additional stabilisation will be really useful when I'm shooting badly lit music events and should be really handy when shooting with long lenses.
After some lunch and a good read of the user manual I set out onto the streets of Cambridge to try a little street photography. The light was deeply underwhelming but the camera acquitted itself well and I think I had more successes than usual in terms of accurate focus.
Finally I wanted to try out the main feature I bought this camera for - tracking moving subjects. Obviously there were no sports cars or aircraft speeding through Cambridge so I had to make do with some more sedate cyclists instead! Again, the dreary light didn't do me any favours but I quickly realised the G9 is a huge improvement. I never got the focus tracking mode to work successfully on my GX8 but after a couple of minutes of practice I was already getting some keepers on the G9. There are many settings to be tweaked to perfect things but I can see it's likely to be a great tool for shooting moving subjects once I've learnt more.