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Canon EF-S and EF-M Lenses / Canon EF-M 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM
« on: January 03, 2015, 11:02:08 AM »
Images from the EOS M kit zoom lens. 

I use the M mainly as a travel/vacation camera.  Here's an image of my older daughter on top of Cranmore Mountain in New Hampshire.

Software & Accessories / DxO OpticsPro 10 released
« on: October 29, 2014, 01:25:05 PM »
DxO OpticsPro 10 adds DxO ClearView, a spectacular new feature that eliminates haze, and improves its revolutionary PRIME denoising technology.

Press release attached.

ClearView, the headline feature for this version, is pretty impressive (although not as broadly useful as the PRIME noise reduction that came in v9).

Also worth noting that their pricing model has changed.  Prices are lower than the previous versions, and the 'tiers' are different. Previously, they had two tiers with identical feature sets, but the more expensive version had support for full frame cameras.  The pricing model with v10 is 'Essential' and 'Elite', both of which work with all cameras, and instead the Elite version offers additional features (see the attached press release for a comparison table).  Since only the Elite version offers PRIME NR the 'essential' version is lacking a pretty essential feture, IMO.  If considering purchase of just the Essential version, I'd recommend just getting the free download of v8 instead. 

The other important point to note is this: "DxO OpticsPro 10 can now integrate DxO ViewPoint’s powerful geometrical corrections. After the DxO ViewPoint plugin is activated, a dedicated palette lets photographers directly correct perspective problems and volume deformation in RAW and JPEG images."  That sounds like a good thing, but it's not.  Most of those geometric correction tools were directly a part of v9 and previous.  Granted, ViewPoint is more powerful and easier to use, but Optics Pro offered very good corrections for keystoning and volume anamorphosis and those are gone from v10 unless you also purchase ViewPoint.  The need to now buy the ViewPoint plugin to gain back features removed from v10 mitigates the benefit of the lower price (v9 Elite was $300, v10 Elite is $200 plus $80 for ViewPoint...$20 cheaper is not a bad thing, but it's not the $100 cheaper that you might have thought you were getting until you went looking to correct keystoning or volume anamorphosis in v10!!).

Overall, PRIME is a bit better in terms of quality and a lot better in terms of speed compared to v9.

Third Party Manufacturers / And people say Canon is behind??
« on: September 12, 2014, 10:49:21 AM »
News flash from Adorama - Nikon releases their very first full frame dSLR!! 

Third Party Manufacturers / D810 users are seeing spots
« on: August 19, 2014, 11:04:18 AM »
Seems like this issue affects all units in the initial production runs.  Good job by Nikon to quickly acknowledge the issue and offer a fix.

Guess they learned something from the D600 oil/dust spot fiasco. 

Canon General / Canon posts 1Q14 Financial Results
« on: April 24, 2014, 09:31:09 AM »
The highlights from the 1st quarter of 2014:

  • Unit sales of interchangeable lens cameras (ILC) dropped 7% y/y
  • Unit sales of compact digital cameras dropped 30% y/y
  • Revenue from total camera sales dropped 6.7% y/y
  • For Canon, Inc. overall, 1Q14 sales are +6%, gross profit is +12% and net income is +16%, due to solid performance in office and industrial segments

Projections for FY2014 are -1% / -20% for ILC / compact sales, respectively, and an 8.2% drop in revenue from camera sales.

Full details here:

Software & Accessories / Louis Vuitton bag
« on: March 03, 2014, 12:07:13 PM »
Nope, not spam...

The new Camera Bag from Louis Vuitton will hold a gripped/pro body and 3-4 lenses.  It comes with one internal divider, so there's plenty of room for the lenses to roll around and bash into each other.  There's also a handy outer pocket that will hold approximately 300 compact flash cards. 

This attactive, full-featured camera bag can be yours for a mere $3,750 (a real bargain at slightly less than a 5DIII + 24-105L kit).  You can purchase your very own here.


Lighting / Shaping the Lite
« on: December 11, 2013, 01:33:07 PM »
I recently purchased a bundle of Honl modifiers for Speedlites (grids, snoots, and gels), to use on my 600EX-RT flashes.  I wanted to determine the optimal zoom setting for them (from the available 20-200mm zoom settings on the flash head), and took the opportunity to test them out, along with a couple of diffusers. 

The setup was a 600EX-RT on a light stand, 5 feet from a neutral-colored wall (measured distance between front of flash head and wall surface).  Images were captured with a 1D X and 24-70mm f/2.8L II at 35mm, 1/200 s, f/8, ISO 200.  Ambient light was nil, and the flash was triggered with an on-camera ST-E3-RT.  Flash power was set manually, 1/32 power in most cases, but higher power was used for the diffusers (1/8 power for the Sto-Fen OmniBounce, 1/16 power for the Honl Heavy Frost filter).   The dots on the wall are spaced 12" apart, so beam spread can be determined from the images.

First up is the bare flash.  The 14mm setting is the built-in pull-out diffusion panel.

The Sto-Fen provides a pretty even distribution of light, and is able to effectively diffuse even the 200mm zoom setting.

The Honl Heavy Frost diffuser (part of the Color Effects Gels kit) is weaker than the Sto-Fen, and has some fall-off at the higher head zoom settings.

The shape of light from the snoots is obviously quite dependent on how you connect the Velcro bits and how you shape the end of the tube.  With the 5" 'shorty' snoot, at 70mm and narrower zoom settings the pattern of the flash zoom head is apparent within the area projected by the snoot itself.

The 8" snoot gives a tight beam with no effect at long zoom settings, although light lost to the zoom mechanism is apparent wider than 70mm. 

Unlike the snoots, the honeycomb grids deliver a nice, circular beam (although the grid must be flush and tightly attached for the beam to porject straight).  With the 1/4" grid at zoom head settings wider than 70mm, there is a horizontal pattern evident in the beam.  One online comparison that I found shows a smooth beam with no pattern; I think this is because those shots were focused on the flash itself (shot from behind) and not the wall onto which the flash beam was projected.  At 80mm and narrower, the circular shape is affected by the shape of the light exiting from the zoomed head.

With the 1/8" grid, the horizontal pattern is evident at 35mm and wider, while at progressively longer zoom settings the falloff is faster and spill is reduced even further.

Get out there and shape the light!

Third Party Manufacturers / Just mousing around
« on: November 20, 2013, 01:18:26 PM »
For many years, Canon has been the Official Camera of the National Football League, and the camera used to take official pictures of the President of the United States

Yesterday, Nikon announced that they are now the Official Camera of.....Mickey Mouse. 

Go Nikon!

Meet the new Sigma 24-105mm f/1.4 DG OS HSM Art lens.  An f/1.4 zoom lens.  Only from Sigma...

DxO has just released Perspective, a standalone app for Mac OS X that corrects keystoning and other common perspective problems.  Looks like a 'light' version of their Viewpoint 2 software (which, in addition to the features of Perspective, also offers corrections for volume anamorphosis and uses the DxO lens modules to automatically correct barrel/pincushion distortion, and works standalone or as a plugin for LR/CS/Aperture).

Perspective will sell for $19.99, but is available through November 3rd as a free download from the Mac App Store (link).

Software & Accessories / DxO Optics Pro 9 released
« on: October 23, 2013, 11:02:54 AM »
DxO just announced the release of Optics Pro 9 (press release pdf link). 

Along with the usual sorts improvements in the user interface and the addition of some new tools and presets, the headline of the v9 release is their PRIME noise reduction algorithm. 

Quote from: DxO
Thanks to PRIME (Probabilistic Raw IMage Enhancement) denoising technology, which analyzes the structure of RAW images in depth in order to differentiate between noise and fine details, DxO Optics Pro 9 offers a gain in image quality of up to one full stop over the best noise reduction algorithms currently on the market.

"In contrast to the usual approach of finding a better compromise between image quality and execution speed, we have created a tool whose sole purpose is to obtain the best image quality possible, "explained Frédéric Guichard, Chief Scientific Officer of DxO Labs. "For each pixel, more than a thousand neighboring pixels are analyzed. This vast exploration allows DxO Optics Pro to identify similar data that can serve to reconstruct image information. Several minutes may be required to do this, but this process takes place in the background, so users can work on other images and projects while they wait for the results."

PRIME technology results in truly spectacular images: noise is suppressed, and textures, details, and color saturation are preserved, particularly in shadows, for a beautifully natural look.
I can say from personal experience that this new NR algorithm does an excellent job of preserving detail while removing noise, particularly with very high ISO settings (ISO 6400 and up).  The trade off is time - they state that 'several minutes may be required' and they aren't kidding - processing a batch of images with PRIME will max out all of your processor cores for quite a while, although the coding is effective at keeping it in the background, so I don't find my MacBook Pro bogging down while the batch processing is proceeding.

As usual for DxO, there's a free 30-day trial activation period, with a fully functional version of the software.  From now through November 20th, they're offering a discount of $70 off the Standard version and $100 off the Elite version (the latter is needed for Canon full frame bodies).

Canon non-EF Lenses (TS-E, FD, etc.) / Canon MP-E 65mm f/2.8 1-5x Macro
« on: October 08, 2013, 02:42:28 PM »
There should be a thread for this in the Lens Galleries...


EOS 1D X, MP-E 65mm f/2.8 1-5x Macro @ ~3x, 1/250 s, f/14, ISO 400, MT-24EX

Third Party Manufacturers / Nikon announces waterproof, shockproof MILC
« on: September 19, 2013, 11:12:51 AM »
New from Nikon is the Nikon 1 AW1 (press release), a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera that's waterproof (down to 49 feet), shockproof (6.6 foot drop), and freezeproof (down to 14 °F).  The body uses their 14.2 MP CX-format (2.7x crop) CMOS sensor, which is the same size sensor used in the Sony RX-100.

To go with the new mirrorless body, there are two new lenses - an 11-27.5mm f/3.5-5.6 (30-74mm FFeq) and a 10mm f/2.8 (27mm FFeq), both of them waterproof/shockproof/freezeproof to the same specs as the AW1 body.

They've also announced development of a SB-N10 Underwater Speedlight to go with the system.

Supposed to be available next month, MSRP of $800 for the AW1 + 11-27.5 kit, $1000 for the AW1 + both lenses kit.

While not waterproof to sufficient depth for scuba diving, this system would be great for snorkeling, pool and beach use - no need for a bulky waterproof housing (but it's likely not buoyant, so plan on attaching a float). 

Will we see an EOS MW and waterproof EF-MW lenses (complete with blue ring) someday?  That would be pretty sweet...

Canon General / Protecting yourself from gear theft
« on: June 26, 2013, 10:30:36 AM »
Some great tips from Roger Cicala (

Canon General / Canon direct mail marketing
« on: May 24, 2013, 10:07:29 PM »
I have dutifully registered my Canon products, using their online registration tool.  Thus, they have my address.  Their database should also tell them that I have a fair amount of gear registered with them, pretty much all of it high end stuff.  By 'fair amount', I mean $40K worth at current retail prices.  You'd think, armed with that knowledge, they'd be able to have a pretty good idea of what would interest me as a consumer, right? 

Today, I received my first direct (snail) mailing from Canon.  A brochure for the new EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4x, perhaps?  An ad highlighting the benefits of their excellent RT flash system, GPS accessories, etc.?

Nope.  A little brochure highlighting the features of a pair of dSLRs sure to be of interest to a 1D X owner...

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