BBC SSO Chief Conductor Donald Runnicles 60th Birthday Concert

BBC SSO Usher Hall. Donald Runnicles 60th birthday concert.

Edinburgh’s huge and impressive Usher Hall was the venue for a concert celebrating the 60th birthday of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra‘s chief conductor Donald Runnicles. It was Sunday afternoon 16th November. The program had two items: Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante (for Violin and Viola) and Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. The concert was a sell out and I was there to capture the event. The chance to hear the orchestra in a vast hall with a chorus of over a hundred was not to be missed.

BBC SSO Usher Hall. Donald Runnicles 60th birthday concert.

The brief from the BBC’s marketing department was for curtain call shots only, so that simplified things. I would be using the Canon 24-105mm lens for the full stage width and the Canon 70-200mm f2.8 for tighter shots of conductor and soloists. The only problem is where to position myself to get the best view and be close enough to the stage to get something interesting. I was also restricted by where in the hall I would be allowed to photograph from. The two possible positions were the centre of the circle and camera right of the stalls. I knew from experience that I probably would only have time to be in one position as the curtain calls are pretty brief. I was assured that Donald would be bowing to the audience and thanking the orchestra and soloists longer than usual, so I would have ample time to cover the two positions. However I wasn’t convinced and thankfully stuck to the circle. The curtain calls were over in only 5 minutes.

BBC SSO Usher Hall. Donald Runnicles 60th birthday concert.

The shots are predictable but hopefully show the scale of the stage with the orchestra, soloists and choir.




From Canon G16 to the Canon G7 X

I’ve been searching for a compact camera that approaches the image quality of my Canon 5D MK3. Having tried a G9, G10 and recently a G16, I was always slightly disappointed with the results. I usually ended up taking my 5D kit with me as well.

Canon G16

The big Canon was perfectly comfortable in a backpack even with three lenses but was a hassle if you needed to take a quick shot doing street photography or similar. Carrying the 5D round my neck was uncomfortable and holding it in my hand for long periods, even with the wrist strap, was tiring as well as making the camera vulnerable to damage or theft.

The G series partly solved some of the issues but the cameras were all a bit bulky and images at ISO speeds above 400ASA were noisy. I liked the wee optical viewfinder although it was no more than a guide to what you were taking. It’s advantage was that the recorded image had more in the frame than you saw in the viewfinder. The G16 image quality was actually very good but it did not match that of the 5D.

In October this year Canon released the G7 X. I was in the Glasgow branch of Calumet ordering a new Epson 3880 printer (my 7 year old 3800 had developed a head clog that was proving difficult to clear). I enquired about the G7 X and Tommy, one of the sales team, told me that there was a lot of interest in it. He put me on the list of possible buyers and 2 weeks later it was waiting my collection if I was still keen. It’s noticeably smaller than the G16. It’s lens is equivalent to 24 – 100mm.The viewing screen flips up (no optical viewfinder) and the camera is very comfortable to hold aided by a moulded thumb rest. It ticked nearly all the boxes and I bought it.

I’ve got no regrets. It slips into a pocket (but not jeans) and the image quality is very good. I’m still playing with the camera rather than using it as the tool that I intended it as. The functionality and ease of use are excellent – it can be configured to various custom settings. The downsides so far are poor battery life (the battery is tiny) and although it has a very fast FPS rate in jpeg mode, it’s slower in Raw.

The f1.8/2.8 lens is good. In 24mm equiv. it is sharpest from f1.8 to f8. The corners are soft at f1.8 but only get slightly better from f2.8 on. At 100mm equiv. the lens is sharp from f4 to f8 with f5.6 being the sweet spot. After f8 slight blurring from diffraction kicks in. The lens performs very like the Canon full frame 24-105mm f4 IS L, although the the L lens is better in the corners and sharper than the G7 at the widest setting.

Canon G7 X


I’ve got more testing to do and will update shortly.