Wednesday, February 16, 2011

About that camera, and socks

I completed a wonderful pair of socks last month, surely the most luxurious socks I've knit to date. They've got some cashmere, a lot of merino, and princess feet to spoil me. But, really, this post is not about the socks at all.

In spite of that, I feel obligated to provide a few technical details about these socks: the yarn is a delightful merino/cashmere/nylon mix from The Plucky Knitter; the pattern is Saguaro, an easy knit with simple cables that look pretty but lie flat and don't pull too tight. The foot is knit inside out, a feat that required knitting the cables from the purl side along the instep, as well as along the heel in one sock due to a miscalculation. It wasn't hard to do and gives me a smooth mostly stockinette foot that feels great against my feet. The heel turn is reinforced with an extra strand of bamboo-flavored sock yarn to protect the spot that wears out first. (Warning: the link to the sock pattern actually takes you to the designer's blog. The pattern download button is on the sidebar to the right, a goodly ways down. Don't get lost in her blog, which is madly interesting, if you want to hear about my new camera. Come back to me!)

Details done, I'll now use these sock photos to make a few observations about my new camera. All the photos in this post, and most of the photos posted here since the beginning of the year were taken with a Canon G12. Basically, I like it. It's undeniably better than my old camera, a Canon A710 that had been dropped too many times. It focuses all the time, every time. It has all the features of my old camera, plus many I haven't quite mastered and probably don't need.

The greatest thing about it, so far, is the screen that rotates and tilts so that I can see it from the front of the camera. That means I know exactly what image I'm getting with every shot, even when I'm modeling. I resorted to taking a rather bad shot of the camera with my phone camera just to illustrate how the screen works. You can see the image on the screen that I've rotated to the front and titled up. The image on it is upside down, but only because the screen is tilted upwards. If I set the screen completely vertical, the camera would rotate the image. Automatically. It also automatically shifts to macro, tracks faces, and changes other settings as needed when it is in auto mode. It's a little wizard.

There's another big difference between the G12 and my old A710. The G12 can take photos in RAW format as well as the standard jpeg. I didn't know about this feature when I bought the camera, but I have used the settings and the accompanying software to take some comparative shots. In the collage above, the ones on the left are jpegs, edited with Picasa. The ones on the right were RAW, edited with DPP (software that came with the camera) and converted to jpeg. So far, I've found that I can adjust the RAW images to produce a more true-to-life image--at least as far as the color. The images on the right show the actual color of the socks.

(Here's where you'll probably want to click on the collage to enlarge it in another window, then click on it again to zoom in. For more on the camera, and more socks, come back here after that.)
Having finished these socks, then whipped out another pair rather quickly on a little trip (a sock in three days--whoopee!), I thought I'd start a Spring pair. I had gotten some lovely green yarn at the same time as the brown. It was perfect for the leafy socks, In the Peaceful Forest, from Think Outside the Sox.

Or so I thought...except that the yarn was mottled and a bit bumpy, making the pattern look a lot less smooth than the sock in the book and obscuring the cute little leaves. I could have lived with it, but not with what was revealed after I knit a couple of inches. See anything wrong in the photo above? If not, look at the edited RAW image below.

Even though the jpeg is lighter, the edited RAW file above really shows what I saw after I set the sock aside. The color is accurate--there really is a difference. The knitted part is dark, but the yarn is light. Mmph?

It's no big problem, just that the inside of the ball has a bit of darker yarn at the start. I've had this problem once before with hand-dyed yarn. That time, I ended up with socks that looked different. I didn't like that, so I hope that once I start over from the outside of the ball, the darker part will end up in the toe of the second sock, if I need it at all.

At least the color problem encouraged me to rip it out, eliminating the yarn/pattern mismatch. In another pattern, on another day, this yarn will make nice socks. One problem remained. I still wanted a new sock project.

I thought I'd try to encourage some pattern sales by knitting a knee sock version of my Burning Stripes pattern, this time in two colorways of Noro Kureyon Sock.

The first photo is the edited RAW one. Yes, the colors really are that muddy, without the sharp difference I would have liked between each stripe. The second photo, the jpeg, exaggerates the colors. I could have probably reduced the saturation a bit. The lack of color contrast and the fact that this is way too big for my leg, even at my calf, meant that I ripped out this one too. At least now I know that I should cast on no more that 84 stitches for knee socks, and maybe skip the ribbing when using inelastic Noro.

Disatisfied with these sock attempts, I tried a magical third time, with satisfying results. I'll blog that later, though. For now, I'm back on The Camera.

Before I found the G12, I was set on upgrading to a digital SLR. Then I read another blogger complain that she didn't take many photos on a trip because she had brought her DSLR. Since she found it too big, too complicated and too time-consuming to set up for travel snapshots, she just didn't use it. Until I read that, I thought I wanted a DSLR. I considered her comment and decided that I didn't want to spend twice as much (or more) for a camera I wouldn't use much.

Even then, I didn't know about the Canon G series cameras. They popped up once I started reading camera reviews. It only took a day or two for me to realize that they are the perfect knit-blogger cameras. The three features I've outlined are the reason: the simple controls, the movable screen and the editable RAW images.

So far, I don't think that the photos are noticeably better than the other digital point-and-shoot cameras I've used. I'm not getting those "reach out and touch" macro shots that DSLRs seem to give. But for blogger photos, hey, these are good enough.

They might even get better once I work with it more. That photo above is a simple unedited jpeg, straight from the camera. Not bad, considering I wasn't even trying give the yarn its close-up.

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Affiknitty said...

It was interesting learning about the camera, and your photos are always good. But of course I am even more fascinated reading about the socks! I'm curious about knitting the foot inside out, I'll have to try that pattern sometime. And I still want to knit your Burning Stripes, I'm off to purchase the pattern to take with me to Stitches West. Thanks!

joannamauselina said...

The Saguaro socks are very nice!