December 20, 2014, 03:29:46 PM

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Topics - curby

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Software & Accessories / Easy-access photo backpack?
« on: December 11, 2014, 05:08:25 AM »
tl;dr You know that crazy guy who's always going on about easy access to bag contents? The yahoo who wants things so organized that he can quickly grab specific items with one hand without looking? Well, he needs a camera backpack along these lines for travel/wildlife photography.

First, some background:

What I Carry

I've got a Canon 70D, 10-18/4.5+, 17-55/2.8, 35/2, and 70-200/4. Planning ahead, I'm likely getting the 100-400 MkII within a year. I'd also love to get a dedicated macro lens for food and product photography (the 35mm f/2 is currently doing those duties albeit at very wide angles).

How I Carry

I stuff everything inside a Think Tank Photo Retrospective 10 (Retro10), which in turn is stuffed into a Camelbak Urban Assault XL (UAXL) for travel. When I get to where I'm going (e.g. hotel), I unload everything. Then, each outing I take the 2ish lenses I think will be most useful inside the Retro10, leaving the rest in the room. The Retro10 has a Peak Design Capture Camera Clip on its strap. For sizing, I'm roughly 6', 150 lbs.

Why That?

The UAXL has extra storage for things like my laptop, and has two straps for balanced carry for long treks through an airport terminal. The Retro10 can be slung across the body, allowing for quick access to gear while out and about. The Capture Clip acts as a third hand to help during lens changes or other times I need both hands.

Why I Need a Change

On a recent trip to Hong Kong, we visited Kam Shan Country Park. It was amazing, and we got within monkey-bite distance of feral monkeys, which is always exhilarating. Unfortunately, between all the public transportation and walking to get there and the hiking through the park itself, the single strap of the Retro10 and all the gear inside made my shoulder seriously ache by the end of the day.

Not all trips will require so much walking and hiking but for those that do, I want a two-strap solution that can more comfortably manage the weight. Add to that my planned acquisition of the 100-400 next year, which weighs as much as all my current lenses combined.

What I'm Looking For

One backpack, ~25L capacity, ~4lbs weight, that can replace both the UAXL and Retro10. This new bag can ignore the laptop support requirement (I have another place to carry it).

Top priorities include easy access to camera and lenses without taking off the backpack, side/front tripod carry options, external access to accessories like filters, memory cards, etc., shoulder straps under 3" wide (for the Capture Clip), rainfly option, ipad/tablet carry option.

Other desired features include laptop compartment with dedicated, direct-access zipper, urban or hiking pack styling, and backpacking pretensions (internal frame/stays, well-designed harness, etc.).

Of course, there's the obvious stuff like light-colored interior materials, subtle branding, basic water resistance without a rainfly, high quality construction, etc.

What May Work

Fstop Kenti - Great size (might actually be a bit small for my frame), rare double side-entry feature, this is currently the frontrunner.

MindShift Professional - Way bigger than what I need, but chock full of external organization options, beltpack that can support any lens of mine mounted onto the body, etc. Oh how I wish this was smaller.

MindShift Panorama - Oh how I wish this cost $100 more and had the features of the Professional model. The size is about right (though the beltpack will be tight), but it lacks a lot of external pockets, lashdown areas, and backpanel access.

What Won't Work

Anything by Clik Elite - They have some side-entry bags, but the side openings only seem to support a camera and not multiple additional lenses. And I either have to choose a huge bag to get the hiking style I'm looking for, or ugly and obvious "camera here" styling to get the size I'm looking for.

Anything by Gura Gear - Bataflae series is only accessible by taking off the bag and accessing it from the front (the side farthest from the body when worn). I really wanted to love the Uinta, but lack of side entry slows down access to gear.

Anything by Think Tank - I love their shoulder bags but I haven't found any backpacks with the features I'm looking for.

Next Steps

I've yet to look at Lowepros, which I know have some side-entry options. I also need to look at the Manfrotto bags, since they absorbed Kata's stuff which also had side entry options.

I'm sure a lot of folks here have great ideas, or noticed that I might have overlooked something with the brands listed above. Or maybe I need to think outside the box and carry my gear in a totally different way. Or maybe you swear by rear-panel access, taking off both shoulder straps and rotating the bag around so you can use the back of the backpack like a table.

Thanks for reading through my ebook.  :P Any suggestions would be most welcome. Thanks in advance!

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Software & Accessories / Next on the shopping list: filters
« on: May 05, 2014, 05:25:02 PM »
I'm interested in a 10-stop ND and a circular polarizer for a trip to Alaska later on this month.  I'm looking to flex my landscape muscles a bit, and figure the ND would be for blurring clouds and water for long exposures; the polarizer for blue skies and clear water options. 

My lenses all have 67-77mm filter threads, so I'm thinking of getting 77mm filters with adapters as necessary.

So I'm thinking of the B+W 1000x MRC and the Kaesemann Polarizer MRC, but my budget's a bit tight.  Two questions:

1) How useful is the MRC coating, if I'm only occasionally using the filters?  Is it important optically, or more for easier cleaning and resistance to gunk?  Adding MRC to the ND adds roughly 50% to the non-MRC price, so that's pretty significant.

2) If I were to only get one of these, which would you recommend, and why?  I'm leaning towards the ND filter, to have fun with things like waterfalls, but a polarizer is one of the things that you can't replicate or fake with ISO/shutter/aperture/Photoshop tricks.

Thanks!

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Software & Accessories / Convertible tripod/monopod options
« on: April 09, 2014, 06:41:33 PM »
Hi, I'm looking to replace my current Feisol tripod, due to some space and usability issues.  The Feisol can still be used at home, but I'd like something more compact and modern for travel.  180°-folding legs, monopod conversion, and 5-segment design can help with compactness, and some modern usability features like non-rotating leg sections would be nice. 

I use a non-gripped 70D, and my longest lens is currently a 70-200/4, though I'm looking to extend into the 300-400 range in the next year or two.  I do a variety of travel photography including wildlife, landscapes, architecture, and near-macro.

Options I've found thusfar:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0Av1HyANgStffdEJkaHVwd3QzUnFvTWt2R3Ffb0FrcUE&usp=sharing

Must-haves include good reliability and stability for the weight and price class, twist locks with anti-rotating legs, and a monopod conversion feature.  I'd like to spend under $400, but could go higher if there's something amazing just out of that range.  I have a ball head I could transplant, but a good head that comes with the new tripod would work too.

Are there any other options I missed?  Have you had positive or negative experiences with any of them?  Any other thoughts?  Thanks in advance!

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Software & Accessories / Step up Adapters and Circular Polarizers?
« on: October 04, 2013, 03:24:23 PM »
I know the usual warnings about filter adapters, e.g. vignetting if they extend out too far, but are there polarizer-specific problems I might encounter when mounting onto smaller lenses?  My lenses all have either 77mm or 67mm filter threads, and I'm considering a 77mm polarizer and a 66mm (lens) to 77mm (filter) adapter.  Thanks!

5
EOS Bodies - For Stills / Using Custom Dial Settings
« on: August 06, 2013, 10:29:13 PM »
Hi folks, looks like the 70D is going to be my upgrade from my 400D.  I need better AF than the 6D, and lower prices than the 5DIII.  Something I've never used though is custom modes (C1, C2, etc.) on the mode dial.  I get how setting different drive/metering/etc. modes may be useful if you're using one body to quickly switch between multiple types of shots, but of what use is the single C mode of the 70D?  I guess you set up your M/Av/Tv/P mode to be a pseudo-custom mode, then use the C mode for something else and switch between those?  If so, don't the five clicks from C to P (worst case example) reduce the usefulness of a custom mode as a shortcut or time saver?

How many of you with newer bodies use your C modes?  How are they set up, and what shooting situations do you use them in?  Do you use them in conjunction with the "normal" M/Av/Tv/P modes? 

In a nutshell, I'm trying to understand how this feature could help, especially when there's only one.  Thanks!

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EOS Bodies - For Stills / Do smaller RAW formats give lower noise?
« on: July 09, 2013, 01:17:17 AM »
tl;dr version: I'm really interested in low noise during low-light/high-ISO shots, and am wondering if shooting in smaller RAW formats could help in that effort.

I'm betting it doesn't work, but what does shooting in smaller RAW sizes (e.g. M-RAW, S-RAW) actually do in terms of mapping sensor sites to the final image, and can it combine sensor site outputs to increase apparent light sensitivity without boosting ISO?  And if not, why not?

Example: take a 20 megapixel sensor, intelligently combine the readings of each block of 2x2 red, green, and blue neighboring sensor sites, and spit out a 5 megapixel image.  If that's done closer to the sensor, before the interpolation of subsensor sites into RGB pixels, might it result in a better (e.g. lower noise) result?  The idea would be to discard the outputs of aberrant sensor sites before they could muddy the interpolation algorithm and "dirty" more final pixels.  I wonder if that would be better than taking a full resolution image, applying noise reduction post-processing tools, and spitting out a 5 megapixel image at the end of the workflow.

Any thoughts?  Anyone actually know how sensor sites are mapped onto S-RAW and M-RAW image pixels?  Thanks!

7
Software & Accessories / Choosing/Stacking ND Filters
« on: December 21, 2012, 04:30:11 AM »
I'm considering getting the B+W 3-stop and 6-stop NDs, and just stacking if I need more light loss.  I get that you shouldn't stack filters if you can help it.  But if it's the choice between two better quality filters (say a 3-stop and a 6-stop that could approximate a 9-stop ND filter) and three poorer quality filters (say a set of 3-, 6-, and 10-stop filters) that cost about the same, could the inherent quality of the better filters make stacking less horrible? 

Also, how good are variable ND filters? "I heard on the Internet" that the interactions between the two polarizers can cause rough light gradients that should otherwise appear smooth.  Plus, you've got 4 surfaces from the two polarizers anyway, so can IQ really be any better than stacking two high quality fixed ND filters?

Any other thoughts or experiences on how you configure your ND capability would be great.  Thanks!

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Lenses / Which (if any) non-L lenses are enviro-sealed?
« on: December 13, 2012, 12:10:54 PM »
So, thread title says it all.  I imagine it goes something like this:

Customer: Why isn't the 17-55/2.8 IS environmentally sealed?
Canon: That's a feature we offer on our L-designated lenses.
Customer: So weather-sealing is something that only high-end gear offers?
Canon: Essentially.
Customer: But prosumer bodies like the 60D are sealed as well.
Canon: Our innovative lens mounts allow such customers to use sealed EF lenses for a fully dust- and moisture-resistant system.
Customer: Due to the crop factor of such bodies, a 24-70/2.8 L would end up being too long. 
Canon: You could use the EF 16-35mm f/2.8 USM L.
Customer: So the only option would be a lens that costs twice as much as the camera and is obviously intended for a different purpose and platform?  Why do you offer sealed EF-S cameras, but no sealed general-purpose lenses intended for those cameras?
Canon: ... Jeez, you guys are picky.

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EOS Bodies - For Stills / Help: Cheap FF or high end Crop for next body?
« on: December 12, 2012, 05:15:00 PM »
Background:

I shoot wildlife, landscapes, travel, indoors, low-light, etc.  Not much portraiture or action.  I currently have a 450D with a 17-55/2.8 IS and 70-200/4 L IS.  My main non-artistic weakness is shaky hands, which is why I use, and only seriously consider, lenses with IS.

Goals in upgrade:

  • Better noise in low light/high ISO situations.
  • Good AF (AF point coverage and performance, speed in focusing, UI for point selection).
  • Availability of lenses.
  • Low weight/physical size. (related: I won't be using two bodies)
  • Environmental sealing.

Crop/FF vs. Goals:

If I upgraded to a newer crop body, I'd gain better ISO performance, potentially better AF, opportunity for me to reuse my 17-55, maintenance of reach of my 70-200 (to 320mm), and likely lower weight than a FF option.  The environmental sealing may or may not exist on the body, and definitely doesn't exist on the 17-55.

If I went with a 6D, I'd get better low light performance and better ISO performance, potentially better AF, and environmental sealing.  I'd have to replace my 17-55 with the 24-70/4 L IS, which while smaller, sealed, and capable of near-macro performance represents more expense and one lost stop.  I'd be able to continue using my 70-200 but would lose some reach on the FF sensor.  And lastly, the 6D would likely be bigger and heavier than crop options. 

How does the noise compare on something like a 60D with 17-55/2.8 IS, vs. a 6D with 24-70/4 IS?  If the 6D has to go up in ISO to compensate for the smaller aperture, will the resulting noise generally be more or less than the crop body at a lower ISO?  How about a 7D instead of a 60D?  In short, how does the low light benefit of going FF compare to the loss of a stop in aperture?

Thanks for any advice and help you can offer.

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