Never buy a camera in the winter. Especially if it's a really nasty winter, with lots of snow, freezing temperatures, and howling winds. And the occasional power blackout, of course. You'll be trapped inside with your new toy, and nothing to do but shoot pictures through the window, and take pictures of common household objects. But it's one way to learn the camera, its controls, and which settings produce the best results.
I'm not going to talk too much about the many features of the Sony DSC-R1, simply because it's not on the market anymore. (Check amazon.com and ebay.com for used R1s., and there's a full review on dpreview.com.) But learning to use a new camera, and how to get the most of it is always worth writing about.
The first question I was asked when I posted my first R1 photos online was, "Did you shoot these in raw?" The answer is no. But I have my reasons as they relate to the R1.
1. The DSC-R1 is a complex camera that will take a lot of getting used to. Shooting JPEGs simplifies things and lets me concentrate on the camera.
2. The R1 has no image stabilizer. (The joke goes that the R1's stabilizer is built into the photographer.) So the thing that is likely to affect image quality is not the sort of things that raw shooters worry about -- it's the prospect of camera shake blurring my images. So to tilt the odds in my favor, I shoot several (as many as 5) exposures of a scene to guarantee at least a few good ones. It's easy to be profligate with the smaller sized JPEGs, but you'll burn up a lot of storage doing this in raw.
3. The R1 is slow to focus and doesn't always focus where you want it to. Same solution for this as item no. 2.
4. The R1 is beautifully suited to panoramas. The lack of lens distortion, even at the widest angles, makes panoramas a breeze. But I might shoot as many as 20 images to make one panorama. Easy to do this in JPEG. With raw, not so much. In addition, most panorama-stitching programs require JPEGs or TIFFs to work from. Another hurdle for the raw shooters. And it's why so few panoramas are shot with raw.
5. With the right settings (coming in a future post), and with minimal post processing, JPEGs from the DSC-R1 are hard to beat, so shooting in raw may not be worth the effort. (Just for the record, I did try shooting raw with the R1, but I was unable to get noticeably better results than I got with JPEG.)
Stay tuned for further postings about my DSC-R1. In the meantime, let's go take some pictures.
The DSC-R1 isn't the greatest camera for macro work. Fortunately, the problem can be solved with inexpensive close-up lenses from Amazon or Ebay. I used a +1 for most of these pictures.
All pictures were shot as JPEG Fine, processed in LightZone 3