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Messages - BLFPhoto

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Lighting / Re: Setting up a speed light studio for remote locations
« on: February 16, 2015, 11:10:03 PM »
I shoot outdoors all the time with speed lights.  My recommendation, if you can afford it, is to go with the 600ex-rt kit at BHPhotovideo that comes with two speedlights and a remote transmitter.  The radio control works flawlessly in all conditions.  And use a different modifier than umbrellas.  Umbrellas always catch the wind, and with ultralight stands, probably give you fits. 

With the kit above, you have many options for lighting.  Two off-camera light positions in one or two groups.  Both speedlights paired for more power, particularly where you're using hss.  Or one light on camera and the other off camera, with the on-camera as master, firing bounce or not firing.  The paired speedlights stacked does reasonable when cross lighting with the sun over the subject's shoulder.  I use that a lot for sports portraits and hss action shots. 

The only drawback with my rec is that you cannot pair your current 430s with the setup unless you go back to the optical trigger for all of the lights, and that is a nightmare outside in bright light. 

I have amassed 6 600ex-rts and two remotes.  There is very little I will not try to tackle with that setup.  And for those jobs...I'm buying two of the profoto b1s for when I need raw power. 

Seriously...if you can stretch it at all, the 600ex-rt system is the way to go.  No more pocket wizards or other outboard triggers, and absolutely reliable firing and control of the lights. 

EOS Bodies / Re: What will become of the 5D Mark III?
« on: February 04, 2015, 09:59:19 AM »
My 5DmkIII will continue right on trucking.  It's well north of 100k at this point, and should pass the 150k mark by August or so.  When/if the shutter goes, it will get a new one.  It will remain in my stable until repairs outstrip replacement.  Meanwhile I'll consider a 5Ds, more likely the next Canon will be a 5DmkIV if that becomes available.   For high MP, I'll be moving to Pentax 645Z for the portrait aesthetic that is not possible with full-frame 35mm. 

Long story short, you won't see me unloading my 5DmkIII.  But nor am I interested in picking up another one for cheap costs at this point.  The only thing that would change that would be an expansion of my photography business to include additional shooters.  In that case, I'd by several cheap 5DmkIIIs.  It will remain a fantastic camera for at least 2/3s of what I do for a long time to come.

Lenses / Re: Can someone please school me on Reikan FoCal??
« on: January 04, 2015, 08:34:55 AM »
Agreed. It is a great tool that will provide you a lot of insight on the workings of your cameras and lenses.  I have a ton of gear and automating the process of doing periodic lens cals is a lifesaver to me.  And with four or more semi-annual lens calibrations for most of my equipment, I now feel I have an adequate baseline to not only understand the general condition of my equipment, but also spot significant degradation that may need attention at CPS.  When combined with my CPS membership's annual CLS program, I now worry little about whether or not my equipment is working properly. 

The use is very straight forward, and easy.  I will second the advice to ensure good light levels.  When I first got it I tried with light levels of 7 or 8 and found that the results would vary under back to back tests using the same settings and gear.  That caused me some doubt about the efficacy of the software and method.  When I supply sufficient light for the test, more than 9 in my experience, I find that the test result variability goes away and I have confidence in the readings.  I suspect many of those who have tried and don't like the software due to "unreliability" were not supplying sufficient light.  It is a calibration operation and ought to be performed in optimum, repeatable conditions.  I use the same lighting, the same distances, etc, now for every time I run my gear through a check.  When aproached thusly, you will find it extremely useful.

Macro / Re: Menage a trois
« on: December 30, 2014, 04:37:55 PM »
Is oblivious that I can't do anything expensive or fancy.

Fancy isn't the point.  The light is flat and directionless here.   All you need to do is to create directionality to the light.  This image is a really good documentary representation of the plants, but we don't really get their character. 

Bring the lights in from off axis, and from a single side.  Use 2-3 on one side.  Use one of the four for "fill" from the opposite side.  If you used 2 on one side, one for fill, then you could even use one for a back light to gain separation from the black background. 

Seriously, given the lights and the size of the subject, it's a matter of moving your lights just a few inches here and you would raise the game tremendously. 

Photography is all about seeing the light and making it work for you, whether you're photographing flowers, bugs, people, or mountains. 

Macro / Re: Menage a trois
« on: December 30, 2014, 09:35:46 AM »
Nice execution. 

I desperately wish the lighting was more interesting, though. 

Lenses / Re: What 2nd bokeh lens for wedding?
« on: December 02, 2014, 01:22:40 PM »
Given your 3 lens considerations, I'd go with the 50.  The 35 is a general coverage lens, and you already have that function covered with the zoom.  I use a 35 (either my 35L or Sigma Art) for 90% of a wedding.  But it is NOT my portrait lens.  And you don't have a great portrait lens in that zoom.  Yes, in your choices you could go with the 70-200 f/4L that you list, but you are hurting for low light coverage at the moment as well.  For a wedding lens, it is sort of a "too safe" choice.  It gets you focal length coverage, but at the expense of some key creative and technical needs in wedding situations.  It is a passable portrait lens, but not great.   If you go 70-200, you really need the 2.8 version, even the older first IS version in order to have the best chance in low light.  My preference is the 135 f/2, though, for telephoto.  The f/2 aperture really does fantastic things. 

So, of the three lenses you listed, the 50L gives you a fantastic portrait lens for your couple shots, as well as gets you a super low-light option for those instances where you are required to shoot in a dark church without flash.  You even get two different "focal lengths" out of it by placing it either on your 6D or your 70D.  I could shoot an entire wedding on a 50L and not worry about missing much coverage.  You don't NEED the telephoto to get great portraits and other types of wedding images.  50L and get closer.  It would be my choice.

EOS Bodies - For Stills / Re: 7DMKII Focus keeper rate ideas?
« on: November 28, 2014, 10:08:52 PM »
Sella is unrealistic in his expectations and lacks perspective on design and manufacturing of high precision equipment.  Only part of the AFMA equation is electronic.  But the whole point is to adjust for minor mechanical tolerance deltas.  The magnitude of those deltas is so minuscule as to make further refinement inordinately expensive.   It is an acceptable level of risk that minor adjustments have to be made.  Further, mechanical systems wear over time, even the best ones.  AFMA allows Canon users to account for differences in their older gear as wear, or even minor dings or knocks that shift parts.  Mechanical systems change over time.  AFMA gives us a simple, painless way to account for that. 

And yes, real professionals in all fields dealing with tight tolerances have to calibrate their gear from time to time.  I'm sure Neuro can talk long about calibration of scopes and scanning equipment....even multi-million dollar machines. 

Calibration is not indication of inherent lack of quality.  I think we're lucky to have user calibration available.  In the film days, we had to send our gear back to Canon, Nikon, etc. to fix minor focus problems.  It was a PITA because it often meant sending bodies with the lenses. 

Lenses / Re: Canon 85mm f1.2 or Sigma 50mm f1.4 Art?
« on: November 11, 2014, 02:14:55 PM »
Viggo, I believe you may have just moved the 50 Art up my priority list a couple of notches...  I loving my 35 Art more every time I chose it over my 35L for an event. 

EOS Bodies - For Stills / Re: My Super Fresh New TOY, Canon 7D MK II
« on: November 07, 2014, 01:15:16 PM »
Is that a new L-bracket for that combination or does the original 7D's bracket fit the new camera and battery grip?

EOS Bodies / Re: Canon 7D Mark II - DXOMark Review
« on: November 05, 2014, 04:15:46 PM »
I'm torn on the swivel screen issue.  On the one hand, I like the mechanical soundness and simplicity of the design, which makes it very reliable and solid in a day-in/day-out sports shooting scenario.  If my old 7D, 1DmkIV or 5Dmk II and III had swivel screens, I'd surely have torn one off by now, or at least severely damaged it in some freak accident hanging it off my side.

On the other hand, the swivel would allow my signature low-and-wide-angle sports shots a lot easier.  I'm also branching out to short video interviews, and it would be nice to have a screen I could angle for easier viewing in video scenarios.  In truth, a swivel screen is about the only thing I would change in making this my go-to lightweight trail running/cycling all-purpose camera.  Right now that role is played by my 6D, and I surely wish I had a swivel on that.  I'll probably update to the 7D2 this year because it covers ALL my shooting bases in a relatively small package.  1dmkIV-like speed and focusing with small-body design, with decent ISO and video capabilities.  I'm rarely on the bleeding edge of IQ with my outdoor sports shooting. 


given the last interview with Masaya Maeda where he basically bold-faced lied about the state of their sensor tech.


Attend many Canon executive meetings?  Work in their manufacturing and engineering teams? 

That's a highly inflammatory, bold statement for someone on the outside looking in.  I deeply respect your knowledge of general sensor and IC technology but, respectfully, you don't have the position, information, or perspective to call someone inside Canon a liar.  I see all sorts of statements like these by pundits whose tone comes across as if they have some inside knowledge calling out all of these companies for alleged motives and/or improprieties.  It happens here about Canon, over on Nikonians about Nikon, and elsewhere about whatever company is on topic.  I especially love the discussions where people make marionettes out of the engineers for the mythical Marketing monster to move around at will.  That's a complete lack of perspective on how an entity like Canon, Nikon, or otherwise operate. 

It is good enough for you to write intelligently about what is known about current products and how you feel about their level relative to what you believe is state-of-the-art.  You do yourself and your considerable insight there a great discredit when you impugn the integrity and motives of those whom you do not know and have no reasonable knowledge of. 

Can you stick to just discussing the aspects of sensor design and a discussion of their merits? 

EOS Bodies / Re: Patent: Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L II
« on: October 29, 2014, 05:46:03 PM »
35mm is probably my favorite focal length.  I have both the current 35 L and the Sigma 35 Art and love both of those.  I keep thinking I'll get rid of one, but I just can't bring myself to do it.  And I'll probably end up adding the 35L mk II to my kit while keeping the other two. 

Thankfully no one is advocating IS on it yet!  Let's leave that to the f/2 IS USM version (which will be added to my kit shortly for video purposes).

Lenses / Re: 70-200 2.8 II or 100 2.8L and 135 2 and 200 2.8
« on: October 23, 2014, 09:55:03 AM »
I have had the 80-200 f/2.8L /70-200 f/2.8L and now the 70-200 f/2.8L IS II.  I have also had or currently own the 100 f/2.8L, 135 f/2L and 200 f/2.8L. 

I would boil your question down to what is more important to your shooting, flexibility, or the specialized qualities of the 100 and 135.  The 200L is a wash with the new zoom. 

There are times in professional shooting and/or high action situations where I need the flexibility of the zoom to adjust framing on the fly, especially when my mobility is limited by the event or circumstances.  This week's paddlesports shoot with kayaks and paddleboards on the Charleston harbor is just such a situation.  With choppy water and multiple boats, I needed the zoom capability to maintain a good composition.  shooting with the 135 or the 200 would have made a much longer day out of it.

On the other hand, there are situations where I absolutely need the macro of the 100L or the f/2 of the 135L.  For their given focal lengths, there is nothing really to choose between the three primes and the zoom.  It really is the close focusing ability of the 100L that sets that lens apart.  You can really move in on a tight headshot and drop backgrounds out in a way that the zoom can't in close quarters.  And, of course, you can get tight on small items like rings, flowers, hands, insects, etc.  With the 135, unless you've seen your image at f/2 vs the f/2.8 you can't know how special that is.  I love to shoot athletes in forested trails with that lens.  Even when the trees are close in, that lens lets me separate the runners at much closer range than the zoom.  Same thing in crowded wedding scenarios.  I can separate the couple on the dance floor from the sidelines even when they are surrounded by other guests. 

Are those two qualities more important to you than the flexibility of the zoom?  I think for personal shooting, unless those two things are extremely important to what you want to shoot, the zoom is going to be a better choice for the long run. 

With that said, if someone said I had to choose one way or anther on my lenses, I'd drop every zoom I have and go with the 35/85/135 trinity and throw in the 100 for macro.  I like the discipline of single focal length shooting.

Canon EF Prime Lenses / Re: Canon EF 200mm f/2L IS USM
« on: October 20, 2014, 03:51:12 PM »
Those are absolutely lovely, $winter!  Love it!  I can see I'm going to have to add this one to my collection. 

Third Party Manufacturers / Re: Woe and Pathos in the Sigma 50 Art?
« on: October 16, 2014, 12:10:51 PM »
Eldar, since you use FoCal and claim this lens has inconsistency issues, perhaps you'd care to share some focus consistency test results from FoCal on this lens with us.  Multiple copies, multiple bodies would be indicative.  At least post the charts showing the 10 or 20 shot tests, with the final percentage. 

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