Tag: birds

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Croak or Caw?

Along Adams Ave., at the end of the bridge above Texas Street, I spotted some huge birds in the trees below. The vantage point presented another opportunity to see how good (or bad) Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra could be shooting distant objects.

Unlike the S23 Ultra, which packs 10x optical lens, the newer model relies on 5x optical and in-camera close-cropping 50-megapixels to produce something that is supposed to be as good as, or better than, the last-generation smartphone. You judge.

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The Duck Walk

A time not so long ago, Fuji’s single-lens compact camera series delighted photographers who wanted something smaller and capable—with creative extras, like the hybrid digital-optical viewfinder or fun film simulations.

Then TikTokers and Instagramers went, ah, quackers for retro-styling and the image—not that’s produced by the device but how they look carrying it. Suddenly, the X100V was in hot demand and available nowhere. Fuji’s answer to that problem was development of the X100VI, which started shipping two months ago.

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A Pair of Redheads Visit

The parrots sure are squawking this week, typically starting in the hours following sunrise and again before sunset. The closest coastal community to University Heights is 12 kilometers (7.5 miles)—less as the bird flies; Ocean Beach is better known habitat for the exotic fliers, so their presence is surprising but definitely welcome.

Late last month, I felt quite lucky to get photos of the birds on a neighbor’s roof. Today, a parrot pair presented in a palm that I happened to be nearby and angled into the morning sun. I pulled out Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra, set the camera to 10x zoom, and started shooting. The Featured Image and companions are the result.

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To Everything, Tern, Tern, Tern

During the SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2)/COVID-19 lockdowns, my wife and I let expire our membership to San Diego Zoo. Reason: Hefty price increases.

For example, we paid $112 annually for a residential 2-adult pass six years ago, with no blackout dates. I grumbled when the price jumped to $149. In 2024, one-forty-nine is the cost for one adult membership, with blackout dates. Meaning: Twice as much, with restrictions, compared to five years ago. Ah, yeah.

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Parrot Posers

What a Leap Day treat: Two of the squawkers that flap around the neighborhood perched atop the building next door. I pulled out Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra and captured the Featured Image and companion. Both are pseudo-10x zoom; the camera combines 5x-optical lens and digital wizardry to mimic what the S23 Ultra could achieve totally optically.

Vitals: f/3.4, ISO 32, 1/320 sec, (synthetic) 230mm (digital and optical zoom); 5:10 p.m. PST, today. The other is same but 1/310 sec. Both photos are composed as shot. I must admit that the 10x renders are as good as or better than what would come from Galaxy S23 Ultra.

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They Come to Eat

On the second—and last—day visiting Dad, he asked my sister to take out scraps for the birds. She put them beside the building just below the big windows looking out onto the backyard. She calls the room, where his little dogs like to sun, the Solarium.

During the course of the afternoon, I observed birds and several red squirrels come by for grab-and-go snacks. The glass was clean enough that I could shoot through the window, using Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra. The Featured Image sets the mood for the set. Look sharp for the red squirrel. Vitals: f/3.4, ISO 32, 1/900 sec, (synthetic) 230mm (digital and optical zoom); 1:58 p.m. EST, Feb. 18, 2024.

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Is the Bird in Hand Better?

Earlier today, Galaxy S24 Ultra launched. Unfortunately, rumors were right. Samsung replaced the 10x optical zoom with 5x; the previous reach remains available, synthetically: artificial intelligence plus 115mm (film equivalent) optical lens and software.

That 230mm (film equivalent) telephoto set apart the two previous Ultras—S22 and S23—from Apple and Google flagships. But the f/4.9 aperture really limited low-light shots at 10x. I hoped for something much better. I am not jumping jacks with excitement over S24 Ultra’s f/3.4 at 5x, particularly when iPhone 15 Pro Max and Pixel 8 Pro are f/2.8.

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Bird Breakfast

As my wife and I walked along Panorama Drive in San Diego neighborhood University Heights, she pointed out mourning doves gathered to feed. I stopped, pulled out Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, and captured the Featured Image. Vitals: f/4.9, ISO 50, 1/640 sec, 230mm (film equivalent); 9:27 a.m. PST, today.

The shot demonstrates some of the benefits and limitations of the smartphone’s 10x-optical zoom lens. Having such capability and reach in a device carried in the pocket is amazingly convenient. That said, image quality is nothing close to what a real camera produces. So, please, no pixel-peeping. You will be disappointed.

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The Pole Star

The Featured Image won’t win nature photography awards, particularly from pixel-peepers. But it is testimony, once more, that the best camera is the one with you. Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra takes credit, or demerits, for this one, only made possible by the 10x-optical zoom.

This afternoon, two parrots squawked across Mission, at Georgia, in my San Diego of University Heights. I walked beneath the one on a pole. The other could be heard, but not seen, in a palm tree. Ten minutes to sunset, last rays shone just enough on the bird.

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Hummingbird Visits

Patience pays, but I couldn’t wait to share the somewhat obscured hummingbird with you—four days ago. This afternoon, the same hummer, or another, frolicked about the Bird of Paradise outside my office window. These shots, all from Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra and through the double-pain glass, are what I wanted on Nov. 20, 2023.

The Featured Image is the last taken of the set. Vitals: f/4.9, ISO 64, 1/120 sec, 230mm (film equivalent); 1:10 p.m. PST.

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Hummingbird of Paradise

During a break from sporadic showers on Nov. 15, 2023, I stood at my office desk surveying the street while studying. A bird of paradise, situated just outside the window, attracted a hummingbird seeking nectar.

Over the course of an hour, I made numerous attempts to nab a good shot of the hummer, which repeatedly flew off. Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra shutter is plenty fast enough for the task. But movement, like lifting the smartphone, scared off the little bird. So I don’t have a full-feather shot or fluttering about.