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Photography (1) - The Canon EOS M (1) - ISO Settings, for Shooting FPGA Development Boards, For Example

Posted by on in Photography and Sketching
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Hello, regular readers of my En Vacances blog category know that sometimes I use a Canon EOS 550D or more recently the Canon EOS M to take blog photographs.  The Canon EOS 550D is a better camera, but I tend to use the EOS M a lot more nowadays, due to its small and compact size. Although lets face it, irrespective of which camera I use the poverty of quality in my photographs is self evident. Most of my photographs are of the snapshot variety and are generally not outstanding.

Well this is all about to change, as I have decided to invest some time in the art of photography. I have been especially spurred on to do so, because some of my blog photographs of FPGA development boards are crap not very good, not to be too self critical. Hence, this blog post delivers the results of me knowing what the Canon EOS M's ISO setting are and how they are involved in remeding my less than flattering blog post photographs of FPGA development boards. 

Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me amd I learn - Benjamin Franklin

This is my first blog post in this new blog category on photography and sketching. It sounds like the category may be a creative design fusion of the two disciplines and I wish it was, but isn't. As interesting as it sounds its not within my skill set to fuse the two. It is simply easier to manage one blog category than two, so I have combined these two categories into one. It would be nice though, if I could  produce some creative photography and in the future I wouldn't mind creating animations based upon my creative image, partly using my iSketchNote, seen below.

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So what have I been doing to change the course of history? Well, I have been learning about the Canon EOS M's ISO settings in particular and about ISO settings in general. The Canon EOS M is characterised with a 17.9 Megapixel image sensor, which can produce a maximum image of 5,184 x 3,456 pixels (You could compare this to the Raspberry Pi Camera module used in our computer vision systems, which produces images with a maximum size of 2,592 x 1,944 pixels).

The sensitivity of this image sensor to light governs the camera's ISO settings. When a sensor is very sensitive to light it needs more time to capture an image. Hence, when shooting in plenty of light, like in daylight, one should use the lowest ISO settings. Likewise, when shooting in very low or dim light, like at night time, the highest ISO setting may be required, when not using a flash. The Canon EOS M has an ISO range of 100 - 12,800 that is expandable to 25,600.

The base ISO is the lowest ISO number of the sensor that can produce the highest quality images without adding noise to the image. Electronic noise becomes more prominent in an image at higher ISO settings, because of an amplification factor, which is introduced with the less amount of time required to capture an image in low light. 

002-002-001-000055t.png Figure: Lightboxes produce diffuse lighting from multiple angles. (Image taken from Wikipedia)

Generally, due to the low light levels indoors most bloggers, including myself, use a lightbox or studio box lights to recreate daytime conditions. Doing so allows one to disable a camera from its auto ISO setting mode and to set it to its base ISO, which on the Canon EOS M is ISO 100. This allows one to create reasonable pictures, by my standards, like the two photographs seen below. Previously, I used a a DIY lightbox that I assembled by following instructions found on a website.

Today, I just use use the light stands fitted with 35w (5400k) daylight  lightbulbs, without the light tent. I use a white fabric, bought on Ebay, to act as a light diffuser. I do things this way because I have never been able to store a light tent successfully when not in use. They always seemed to be damaged or dusty when I need them.

The two images below are my fist stab at taking photos with the camera set at it's base ISO setting of 100. I am not sure what you think, but I'm more impressed with myself now. Compared to the photographs that I produced before these are brilliant, if I can  say (and am saying) so myself. Finally, I have managed to defeat the bad PCB photo bogeyman or at least give him a bloody nose!

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The images above and below are of Avnet's MicroZed Evaluation Kit fitted with a Xilinx Zynq 7010 System-on-Chip (SoC) FPGA, consisting of a dual ARM Cortex A9 Hardware System (HS) and Programmable Logic (PL). I don't really need to tell you that, as the markings on the IC's are so clear you can read so for yourself! You can also read more about my programming exploits using this evaluation kit in a new blog category soon.

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Figure: The photographs have been taken with the following settings - Focal Length: TBD, Shutter Speed: TBD, ISO: 100.

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There are some problems though when taking photographs with an ISO 100 base setting, as can be seen in the picture above. This image is blurred due to the long exposure time required at this ISO setting. In essence it means that one needs to hold the camera rock steady for about  a second, at least with the Canon EOS M. My hands are not that rock steady, the result of which is the blurred image above. Maybe I should have a stiff drink before hand?

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I thought that taking overhead pictures should be a common problem and indeed it is. Having spent a little research time investigating it seems one needs to use a tripod horizonal arm or vertical boom, like this Manfrotto 190XPROL Tripod. I'm not quite sure what I'm looking for yet,  so I might phone a friend to ask for help. 

So I'm off to find a horizontal tripod arm and will report back when I do.

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