It’s already starting to feel like ages ago that we went to Australia!

It was an ace opportunity to road test a new camera I bought, the Sony HX9v.

I’ve already posted two blogs about the ‘Australia 2012’ video I filmed on it (here) and the clever Sweep Panorama’s it can shoot (here).

I thought I’d do a final Australia post of highlights showing not only how pretty Aus is, but also some of the other sweet features on the HX9v

Firstly, lets kick off on Bondi Beach, using a pretty cool mode that throws the background out of focus, with an SLR shallow depth of field vibe.

Many of the HX9v features work by taking advantage of the lighting number of frames per second it can shoot, and take 2 or more images in quick succession and blend them together.  This ‘Background Defocus’ mode shoots 2 images, guesses where the subject is, and selectively blurs the background in camera.  Look carefully and you can see where it missed the sea between us, or blurred Clare’s hair.

While it’s not foolproof, and often throws up a ‘Could not perform defocus’ error, when it works, it’s pretty cool.

This is one on the walk down from Bondi to Tamarama beach.

While not actually a mode on the camera, I often buy & carry around in my pocket a small polariser when I go on holiday.  A small 43mm polariser fits over the front of the HX9v, cost less that £10 on eBay, and with a twist, there goes the reflection on the sea and bluer goes the  sky!

Polarisers are almost the only filter you can’t replicate in post production and in a sunny country they make everything look mint.

Read more about polarisers here.I used the polariser for this snap of a lady stretching before a soft sand run down Bondi Beach.

The Bondi crowd are absolute fitness nuts, and if you go out at 5 or 6am, the beach is packed with vain mentalists

This is a view from Bondi Icebergs Club, a sea pool & cocktail bar on the North end of the Beach.

Long ago I saw Jason Wingrove’s beautifully-filmed documentary about the randoms that frequent this place.  Check it out here.

Another institution of Bondi are the insane ribs and bibs at Hurricanes Grill.  Lets just say you don’t leave hungry.

In Sydney centre there are plenty of examples of old meeting new.  The 16x zoom on the Sony HX9v certainly lets you pic your frame from a scene.One of the clever features I particularly liked on the camera was the Backlight Correction HDR mode. Basically the camera quickly takes 3 images at different exposures and blends the three, taking shadow information from the bright image and highlight info from the dark – resulting in images with well exposed skies and subject, even in backlit scenes.  This image of oldest area of Sydney The Rocks, where the settlers set up shop, for example would normally have a completely blown out sky.In Leeds we got pigeons.  The wildlife in Australia certainly is on another level.An HDR image from under the north end of the Harbour Bridge (spot the Opera House!); again maintaining both sky detail and detail in the girders

Our Pal Alex treated us to champagne on the 88th floor overlooking the CBD at the amazing, revolving ‘360 Bar and Dining‘!This is another HDR image, cleverly keeping all the detail in the sky.We took a ferry across Sydney harbour to Taronga Zoo…where we were greeted by this cheeky seal, who did an uncanny Dr Evil impressionAn Australia album wouldn’t be the same without an image of a ‘roo…

…and a dozing KoalaHere’s a great example of dull image of an empty ape enclosure, shot without a polariser…

…and exactly the same shot with my 43mm polariser popped in front of the lens.

From the right angle, the difference in image is immense!  Skies are bluer, saturation stronger and the reflections on the water are nearly gone.

The lovely thing about a polarised sky, such as this one up in the Hunter Valley wine area, is that clouds stay white while the sky goes a deep blue

Generally available under £10 on eBay (here), everyone should own one of these.I liked this arguably redundant vineyards sign. 

Our spoils from a hard day’s wine touring!

Next stop, Melbourne!

The chinatown area was impressiveI rather liked this one of us enjoying a spot of breakfast in our tourist hatsMelbourne is full of cool graffiti.We caught a day’s tennis at the Australia 2012 Open.

I spotted this dude on the other side of the court.  It seems even vampires enjoy the tennis.Melbourne is full of fab English Victorian design.  We’ve got loads of grand old arcades like this in Leeds.

Another reason I bought this camera, was not just it’s impressive zoom, but it’s impressive wide angle, starting at 24mm equivalent.Another pal we caught up with in Melbourne took us to a simply brilliant ‘Chef’s Hat’ standard restaurant called Golden Fields.

It was all the acer having chickens legs on which to hang your tourist hats.

Next stop: the worlds biggest sand island, Fraser Island, where we joined another old UK pal of ours & his misses, packed his 4×4 & spent a couple of nights camping and off-loading and making up songs about…Dingos!  Long story…

But we spotted many of these beautiful wild dogs on several occasions

I love the colours in this image of the beached wreck of  of the S.S. MahenoBase camp!We did some bouncy off roading deep into the island, and did some dune stomping to some amazing interior lakesIn the airport on the way out of London, I’d bought a £20 waterproof bag in which I could pop my camera for underwater snaps & video!

I loved the underwater footage in my Australia 2012 video.

Please don’t buy this camera and take it underwater without a waterproof bag!

And here’s a final image of Clare & my milky self enjoying the warm green waters of Lake Wabby!

So all in all, we had a class ol’ time down under; and while I described some it’s weaknesses at the end of my Sweep Panorama post (here), I thought the Sony HX9v ‘travel zoom’ passed it’s road test with flying colours and helped me bring home some wonderful memories.

Thanks for reading folks!

B

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