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About my lighting

The lighting system I use for these tests is not neccessary the most optimum for the cameras, or even close to the conditions that other people may have in their homes. What I have attempted to design is a series of configurations that are easy for me to setup and to replicate. This allows for consistency between sessions and camera tests. It should be noted that because of the color of my walls and lamp shades, it is sometimes difficult to get these cameras properly color balanced in my office, so I try to adjust them as close to optimum as I can.

For each test, the cameras are mounted on an elevated platform I built for the purpose. This places the cameras about 6 inches below my eye level and keeps the demo setups very close to identical.

A few years ago I got two new flat panel monitors which were much brighter than what I had before. As a result I redesigned the method for the "computer monitor only" tests. In all the tests shot after December 20, 2005, I turn off my monitors and use a 7 watt night light style bulb mounted in a photo light reflector, set 6 feet in front of me, to represent the light coming from my computer screen.

On cameras that seem to have difficulty automatically adjusting to major lighting changes, I adjust those cameras using what ever manual controls are available to obtain the best possible image under each lighting condition. I figured this would allow the example shots to show the camera's actual capability rather than emphasizing limitations in the software.

Rather than using natural light for the daylight examples, I block out the windows with black fabric and set up two 500 watt daylight photo flood lamps (EBW, 4800 Kelvin), such as are sometimes used in professional photography. The key light is four feet from my face, and the second lamp illuminates the wall behind me. This setup is a fair simulation of daylight coming in through a large window. While this is actually a bit brighter than what most people would have coming in their windows, it is the proper color and is easy for me to replicate quickly to review new cameras.

My computer room has burgundy walls and a white ceiling. The table lamps are all 60 or 75 watt incandescent bulbs and burgundy shades. Besides the 2 lamps behind me there is one to my left of my monitor. There are also two 75 watt halogen spot lights reflecting off the ceiling which give soft indirect lighting throughout the room. The cowboy lamp behind my chair has a parchment shade and contains a seven watt night light style bulb.

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