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Shooting with a Pentax 645D from an helicopter

nicolas claris

OPF Co-founder/Administrator
This last month of June I had an assignment by Alumarine (a French Shipyard located near Nantes) to shoot their latest launch, a workboat for the Pilote de la Seine in Le Havre.
These boats are made to give lifts back and forth to the authorized pilots to board the big ships that need to come into/out of harbors.
This so called "pilotine", 12 meters long, takes 5 pilots plus its own pilot.
It has to be strong, fast and very very easy to handle in almost any weather conditions. Its cruising speed is 30 knots/58 kph/48 Mph.
A beautiful occasion to give its first helicopter flight to the Pentax 645D and my lens line, including the 300mm!


Shot with a PENTAX 645 - D FA 645 55mm F2.8 AL [IF] SDM AW - f/10 - ISO 200 - 1/640 s

_NCL5958_LR4_1000.jpg


100% crops:

_NCL5958_LR4_1000-a.jpg


_NCL5958_LR4_1000-b.jpg


_NCL5958_LR4_1000-c.jpg


 
Last edited:

Michael Nagel

Active member
Looking at the results (hat tip - they are simply great) it seems that you had fun.
So was the larger camera no issue for handling in flight?

Best regards,
Michael
 

nicolas claris

OPF Co-founder/Administrator
Thanks Michael
not really. Of course the 645D is not lightweight but compared to the EOS Mk3 and 500mm…
On the other hand, in that case, weight means stability (inertia is my friend!).
Honestly I had an even better percentage of keepers than with the Canon, but to keep objective, I shot much less! I love to compose my shots and take times… and in a way with 1 frame/s shooting speed, I'm forced to calm down!

Thanks for stopping by : )
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief

Shot with a PENTAX 645D - FA645 80-160mm F4.5 @ 80mm - f/10 - ISO 100 - 1/500s​


_NCL6067_LR4_1000.jpg

Nicolas,

First, I love the sense of movement peer as the boat cuts through the water with a foaming wake. The asymmetric and bold splashes or red on white and against blue make for a startlingly clean and impressive composition. But that's your eye, not the camera!

Were the windshield wipers working at the time? Even if not, it's amazing considering the lack of image stabilization on the 645D and the movement of the boat, the water and the helicopter! One technical assistance you have is that the pictures are taken closer to the boat than usual as the reach of the Pentax lenses are less. This means that angular displacement is going to be less as one approaches closer to the subject.

I'd love to see a side by side test on land with the camera handheld to look at details on a flag in the wind or windshield wipers on a car.

Asher
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief

Shot with a PENTAX 645D - FA645 80-160mm F4.5 @ 80mm - f/10 - ISO 100 - 1/500s​


100% crops:

_NCL6067_LR4_1000_a.jpg


_NCL6067_LR4_1000_b.jpg


_NCL6067_LR4_1000_c.jpg



Here's where we see the clarity and great color of the Pentax system. I "feel" it's a class higher than any 35mm similar shot I've seen at 100% but that's just my immediate impression. It's the difference between gobbling food and dining, grabbing and being served, wiggling and gracefully dancing! Still, I'd love to see my intuition confirmed by side by side tests!

:)

Asher
 

nicolas claris

OPF Co-founder/Administrator
I'd love to see a side by side test on land with the camera handheld to look at details on a flag in the wind or windshield wipers on a car.

Asher

Oh Asher! you make me blush!

I think that the windshield were running, but I'm not 100% sure.

Here's another shot shown full frame and a zoom @ 100% of the flag.
Yes! 1600 ISO I wanted to test… of course a bit more of noise, but still… amazing isn't it?

_NCL6040_LR4_flag.jpg

 

Mark Hampton

New member
Oh Asher! you make me blush!

I think that the windshield were running, but I'm not 100% sure.

Here's another shot shown full frame and a zoom @ 100% of the flag.
Yes! 1600 ISO I wanted to test… of course a bit more of noise, but still… amazing isn't it?

_NCL6040_LR4_flag.jpg


lol i think i could climb the steps on the workboat ... nice work
 

nicolas claris

OPF Co-founder/Administrator
Another set, but this time I wasn't in the helicopter (obviously!) but at the front of the Pilotine, well settled inside the protections made of black pipes…
The boat was running at full speed while the guys had good laughs looking at me jumping in the air. I'm not a "light" guy ('bout 170 pounds, but shhhhh…) but the movements of the boat were quite jerky!
However with the use of this kind of situation, ability to anticipate what's going on, I could grab some nice shots (fortunately I didn't need the 300 mm for that!)


Pentax 645D and SMC Pentax-DA 645 25mm F4 AL [IF] SDM AW - 1/1600 - ƒ10 - ISO 200

_NCL6164_LR4_1000.jpg


_NCL6164_LR4_1000_a.jpg


_NCL6164_LR4_1000_b.jpg


_NCL6164_LR4_1000_c.jpg


_NCL6164_LR4_1000_d.jpg

Also, the weight of the camera and the lens together helps a lot for stability with the inertia that it brings.
(49.4 oz (1,400 g) body + 36.7 oz (1040 g) lens)
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
Nicolas,

So you jump to get rid of the shaking and take the picture while you are in mid-air? Make sure you are in the front of the boat, or you could land in the water if he accelerates!! :)

Asher
 

nicolas claris

OPF Co-founder/Administrator
Nicolas,

So you jump to get rid of the shaking and take the picture while you are in mid-air? Make sure you are in the front of the boat, or you could land in the water if he accelerates!! :)

Asher
Nope! LoL!
I jump because I'm like a tennis ball on a racket!
I'd preferred to keep my feet on the boat!
 

nicolas claris

OPF Co-founder/Administrator
After some private talks with Bart, I came to the conclusion that these images can be even better, working more in depth with sharpening and denoise. So I have changed the all set of the first image. For comparison, see one of the new crops:

_NCL5958_LR4_1000-a.jpg


and its previous version…​

_NCL5958_LR4_1000-a-old.jpg

Thanks Bart!
PS viewing online it may be even a little over sharpened…
 
Thanks Bart!
PS viewing online it may be even a little over sharpened…

Hi Nicolas,

You're welcome. Your excellent photography, often under difficult circumstances, deserves only the best quality.

For the other readers, Nicolas and I have exchanged some informaton about optimal sharpening. I'm going to post a new thread on that subject of sharpening shortly, only for those concerned with getting the best possible image quality from their expensive equipment, and Raw converter software.

It is my philosophy that, especially for commercial purposes, the first visual impression is very important when communicating a message in the form of a photo. Human vision is very sensitive to (edge) detail, the lack of which is a distraction from conveying the content. Image quality has to be of as high a quality as the rest of our work, in fact it should have quality written all over it.

Cheers,
Bart
 

Asher Kelman

OPF Owner/Editor-in-Chief
For the other readers, Nicolas and I have exchanged some informaton about optimal sharpening. I'm going to post a new thread on that subject of sharpening shortly, only for those concerned with getting the best possible image quality from their expensive equipment, and Raw converter software.

It is my philosophy that, especially for commercial purposes, the first visual impression is very important when communicating a message in the form of a photo. Human vision is very sensitive to (edge) detail, the lack of which is a distraction from conveying the content. Image quality has to be of as high a quality as the rest of our work, in fact it should have quality written all over it.

Bart,

Is there a way of classifying the quality of images by some test that measures the quality of the lines meant to be in focus? Could one do a second derivative of a pass across a line mean to be sharp?

Asher
 
Is there a way of classifying the quality of images by some test that measures the quality of the lines meant to be in focus? Could one do a second derivative of a pass across a line mean to be sharp?

Hi Asher,

On just any random image that may be hard to do reliably, but that is one of my ultimate goals (afterall, one needs to aim high to shoot high). Some image areas may contain very few clues as to what level of correction is required, e.g. out-of-focus nice bokeh from a shallow DOF. Other images will give better clues, but we still need to interpret them and translate them into settings to use in our Raw converters.

So for the time being one can best hone one's skills based on the analysis of known image features, such as those in a test chart. Once the potential quality of our optics+Raw conversion process is known, we'll also know the shortcomings that need to be addressed, and more importantly how. Over-correcting will introduce artfacts such as halos, undercorrecting will leave quality on the table.

The analysis method that I use to determine the required Capture sharpening settings is approx. 10x more accurate than a straightforward second derivative could reveal. That also means that slight shortcomings in one's technique or gear will be revealed.

My experiences with my analysis tool sofar have also taught me that we need to use different sharpening settings for each different aperture we used with specific lenses. So the general mantra of using a small sharpening radius for high spatial frequency detail may prove to be sub-optimal.

Cheers,
Bart
 
I agree, the detail is amazing, but the front of the boat has the white edge that typically means it has been over-sharpened. I'm sure it would be easy to selectively fix.

Hi Maggie,

You are correct. Nicolas and I have just begun working on finding the optimal settings, and there is still some work to do. The challenge is that Nicolas is probably the first person in the world to try the improved approach on Pentax 645D files, processed in Lightroom, so we're pioneering in "uncharted waters" (pun intended), so to speak.

While they offer a huge amount of control, the Lightrooms of this world offer little real intelligence to help the users, all feedback is visual and that means that things can be overlooked. Lightroom even starts with a setting for the Amount, before setting the Radius which is more relevant ... I'm afraid that tells more than just something about interface design.

One of the omissions in most explanations about the LR Detail panel is that it is mostly a Capture sharpening tool, and that the Adjustment brushes are required for real Creative sharpening (in the workflow of Capture->Creative->Output sharpening). It is very tempting to do both in the Detail panel in one go, but that will often backfire.

But you are correct, the remaining halos can be prevented quite easily by doing the output sharpening with Photoshop and a Blend-if sharpening layer.

Cheers,
Bart
 
Hi Maggie,

You are correct. Nicolas and I have just begun working on finding the optimal settings, and there is still some work to do. The challenge is that Nicolas is probably the first person in the world to try the improved approach on Pentax 645D files, processed in Lightroom, so we're pioneering in "uncharted waters" (pun intended), so to speak.

While they offer a huge amount of control, the Lightrooms of this world offer little real intelligence to help the users, all feedback is visual and that means that things can be overlooked. Lightroom even starts with a setting for the Amount, before setting the Radius which is more relevant ... I'm afraid that tells more than just something about interface design.

One of the omissions in most explanations about the LR Detail panel is that it is mostly a Capture sharpening tool, and that the Adjustment brushes are required for real Creative sharpening (in the workflow of Capture->Creative->Output sharpening). It is very tempting to do both in the Detail panel in one go, but that will often backfire.

But you are correct, the remaining halos can be prevented quite easily by doing the output sharpening with Photoshop and a Blend-if sharpening layer.

Cheers,
Bart

Bart,

Although I don't have the expensive MF camera and lenses that many here have, I am concerned with getting the very best printed output so I'm very interested and truly looking forward to your post on sharpening.
:)
Maggie
 

nicolas claris

OPF Co-founder/Administrator
I agree, the detail is amazing, but the front of the boat has the white edge that typically means it has been over-sharpened. I'm sure it would be easy to selectively fix.

Bonsoir Maggie,
thanks for stopping by!
The best way to fix is to adapt the sharpness process, or, at least to sharpen less…
But you know what? I forgot to wear my glasses while processing… true!
 

fahim mohammed

Well-known member
Nicolas, after having viewed these images multiple times, I am getting sea and air sick!!

Besides the quality of imaging, I am impressed with the physical dexterity and control that must be required in the air and on the sea vessel itself. Even more so with a MF.

More power to you pal!!

Best regards.
 
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