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Topics - mackguyver

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EOS Bodies - For Stills / The Canon EOS-7D Mark II AF Grid Void
« on: January 27, 2015, 10:29:46 AM »
I have my eye on getting a 7DII at some point, so I wanted to know if any of you have run into the issue that Arthur Morris is talking about:

The Canon EOS-7D Mark II AF Grid Void

I just read this new article on the Canon's DLC Site and I'm itching to try it now, given how cool some of his shots turned out.  I haven't done this since my film days.  Has anyone else used this feature much?  If so, any shots and/or tips you want to share?
Multiple-exposure photography with the EOS 5D Mark III

Canon General / New Gear Resolutions for 2015
« on: January 09, 2015, 01:03:38 PM »
Does anyone else have any New Year's Gear Resolutions for 2015?

I've decided to make up some - I wonder how many I will stick with:

1. I will only buy a new lens if it covers a focal length (or lengths) that I don't already have covered unless it is a upgraded or special lens (i.e. TS-E 45L II)
2. I won't pre-order every new Canon EOS / EF product that is announced (again)
3. I will stop buying new memory cards - I'm starting to exceed my hard drive space with CF & SD cards ;)
4. I will keep using my beat up old aluminum tripod until it dies (or RRS finally has a genuine sale)
5. I will only order a full Lee Filters kit if I can find all of the required components from no more than 3 retailers (wish me luck)
6. I will wait for new camera bodies to go refurb before buying them

What are yours?

Third Party Manufacturers / New Nikon 300mm f/4 - with DO-like optics?
« on: January 06, 2015, 12:34:18 PM »
Like most Canon guys, I read the Nikon press release with a bit of yawn, but then I saw this:

Smaller, Lighter, Faster Telephoto

Nikon has also introduced the AF-S NIKKOR 300mm f/4E PF ED VR, the world’s lightest 300mm full-frame fixed focal length AF lens2, which is nearly 30% shorter and 1.5 lbs. lighter than its predecessor. Extremely easy to handle and built to suit the needs of serious photographers in the field, the new 300mm f/4 lens utilizes Phase Fresnel optical technology to help correct chromatic aberration and reduce the overall size and weight of the lens, making it easy to pack for any assignment. Capable of producing tack-sharp images and beautiful background blur at a distance, Nikon’s newest FX-format lens also features four and a half stops of VR image stabilization3, a VR Sport mode, VR tripod detection as well as several of the latest NIKKOR optical technologies including electromagnetic aperture control, a Silent Wave Motor for quiet AF operation, ED glass for further controlling chromatic aberrations and Nano Crystal Coat for superior image quality.

It sure sounds like a DO or DO-like lens.

Update: Yes, it is - here's the description from Nikon's lens page:

Phase Fresnel
Phase Fresnel (PF) lens elements effectively compensate for chromatic aberration and ghosting when combined with ordinary glass lens elements. The PF lens element is based upon the Phase Fresnel lens, which appears to have a series of concentric circles engraved onto it. Utilizing a Phase Fresnel lens element allows Nikon engineers to use fewer lens elements, resulting in a more compact and lightweight lens. Due to the characteristics of a PF (Phase Fresnel) lens that utilizes the photo diffraction phenomenon, when there is a strong light source within the frame or when light enters the lens from outside of the frame, ring-shaped colored flare may occur according to shooting conditions. This phenomenon can be minimized with “PF Flare Control” to be included in Capture NX-D (ver.1.1.0 or later). For more information, see software Help/manual. Capture NX-D is available from the Nikon website. Be sure to keep your software up to date.

It's interesting to see that they are using software to tame the flare issues.

Technical Support / Repair or Return?
« on: December 16, 2014, 11:21:11 PM »
I got a pretty good deal on a refurb 8-15 fisheye during Canon's recent sale, but the stupid lens has some sort of washer/spacer right over one of the lens elements (see attached photo).  I can either return it for a refund (no exchange is possible as it's out of stock) or use the 1-year warranty and send it in for repair.  I'm sad as I have had about 6 great refurb experiences in a row

I'm really torn on what to do as I think it should have not have been this way when I received it, but then again, I can deal with the repair too as it was a refurb anyways.

What would you do?

Business of Photography/Videography / Update on SmugMug
« on: November 18, 2014, 02:17:31 PM »
After my long period of frustration with SmugMug, I gave it another shot over the weekend and I'm happy to report that the kinks all seem to be worked out.  I have finally built a "new SmugMug" website and customizing it has been pretty straightforward.  I'm still working on the site, but I can now go from stay away from them to actually recommending them again.  If there's anyone out there who has been thinking of trying them, it's worth giving the free trial a shot.

Software & Accessories / 1D X + EC-S Focusing Screen - Save Your Money
« on: November 17, 2014, 10:22:34 AM »
I have been very busy with my non-photography life lately, but I finally got around to trying out the EC-S focusing screen in the 1D X - first for an event with terrible lighting and then for a wildlife shoot.  Overall, I think it's a waste of money unless the body is dedicated to fast lenses, and even then, the gain is minimal.

1. Easy fit / install
2. Works well with f/1.2-2 lenses, ever-so-slightly sharper & brighter than stock screen
3. Better bokeh visualization with lenses faster than f/2.8
4. No Custom Function setting, but little noticeable effect on exposure with most lenses

1. AF area etching doesn't match 1D X (very minor annoyance)
2. Darker view with f/2.8 lenses (I think), dim view with f/4, almost impossible to use with f/5.6 lens or lens/extender combo in anything but bright sunlight, didn't try f/8
3. Clearness/sharpness improvement is very small over stock screen

I have used the super precision matte screens in the 60D and 5D II and was expecting great results.  With those screens, I used them with great success, even in low light, even at f/11 (400 f/5.6 + 2x II extender) and while dim, it wasn't unusable. 

On the other hand, the EC-S screen actually seems dimmer with f/2.8 lenses than the stock screen (didn't compare directly) and is terrible at f/4 and practically unusable at f/5.6 in low to decent light.  Even using AF was difficult because it was so hard to see the subject!

I guess the stock screen is much better than I thought unless you plan on dedicating this body to fast  lenses (only) or MF lenses (a waste of a fine AF body IMHO), I would pass on the EC-S screen.

Third Party Manufacturers / Kodak EktaSensor Press Release
« on: September 25, 2014, 04:04:16 PM »
I found this on Kodak's website:

KODAK Announces New EktaSensor and Partnerships with Major Camera Manufacturers

ROCHESTER, N.Y., September 25 -- Kodak is announcing the release of the EktaSensor, a revolutionary new digital photography sensor, and partnerships with major camera manufacturers.  Kodak, the inventor of the digital camera, has created a new 400 megapixel (MP) sensor for digital cameras that will produce the most stunning photographs ever created by any photographic device.  The film emulsion scientists at Kodak took their many years of experience and worked with the top digital sensor experts in the industry to create the new sensor.  In addition to the massive number of pixels, the sensor is able to record a vast amount of dynamic range, which is the number of shades between pure black and and pure white. The sensor is able to record a remarkable 40 stops of dynamic range, nearly triple the number of stops in Kodak's top professional film emulsion, Vision3.  This breakthrough is due in part to a new 48-bit (16-per R-G-B channel) architecture that also allows for billions of colors to be recorded.  In terms of ISO, the sensor is capable of capturing the entire dynamic range from ISO 50 to an amazing ISO 1,638,400.  The sensor is in the 35mm format (24x36mm) and an even higher resolution medium format sensor is in development.  The EktaSensor records all 400 MPs, but can easily scale the image to more manage sizes in the camera.

Following development of the new sensor, Kodak reached out to their longtime partners, Canon and Nikon, to offer them the opportunity to use the sensor in their camera bodies.  Both manufacturers jumped at the opporunity and agreed to Kodak's requirements that there would be no exclusivity of the sensor.  Kodak's desire is to return the film days when the 'sensor' was the Kodak film emulsion within the camera.  Canon has also established partnerships with Sony and Panasonic, and all major camera manufacturers other than Fuji.

“The changing marketplace has required significant adjustment from Kodak,” said George Eastman, III, great grandson of Kodak's founder and Director, Emerging Products, Eastman Kodak Company. “After many years of languishing in the camera industry, Kodak realized they had significant intellectual property and committed those resources to this new product.”

"The new KODAK EktaSensor is the most significant development since the invention of the digital camera,” said Canon's CEO, Fujio Mitarai, "And we simply couldn't ignore this opportunity to put the very best in our cameras."  The new EktaSensor will be available in all of Canon's full frame cameras, starting with the next upgrade cycle.  Mr. Mitarai also said, "When we are able to put this sensor in a body like the EOS 7D Mark II, no one will be able to compete with us."

The President of Nikon, Kazuo Ushida, added, "While we viewed ourselves and our supplier, Sony, as leaders in the so-called sensor war, Kodak has made even our most advance products irrelevant."  Nikon also announced that the EktaSensor will be available in all of their upcoming full frame sensors, except for the Nikon Df replacement.

"After reading one too many forum post about dynamic range and megapixels, I decided that Kodak had to do something," said Dr. Ones D. Range, lead scientist on the EktaSensor team.  He added, "I fondly remember the days of film when cameras competed on the merits of features like autofocus and exposure metering, and I'm happy to announce a return to those times."  "I expect consumers to be the big winners now that we have created the ultimate sensor that will be shared by all but one of the major camera manufacturers."

EktaSensor is currently available to all electronics and photography manufacturers and will be available in consumer products starting in Q1, 2015.


About Kodak
Kodak is a technology company focused on imaging for business. We provide innovative hardware, software, consumables and services to customers in graphic communications, packaging and functional printing. We also serve entertainment and commercial films markets. With our world-class R&D organization and extensive product portfolio, Kodak is helping customers around the globe to grow their own businesses in a sustainable way. For additional information on Kodak, visit us at kodak.com, follow us on Twitter @Kodak, or like us on Facebook at KodakNow.

(Kodak, Vision3, and EktaSensor are trademarks of Eastman Kodak Company.)

Software & Accessories / UniqBall
« on: September 24, 2014, 04:27:42 PM »
After seeing an intriguing photo on the Luminous Landscape's Photokina page, I did some research and ended up ordering a UniqBall from Amazon today (B&H sells them in the US as well).  It's a cool new ballhead with built in leveling base and two-way head.  The idea is that you level the head and after locking it down, the head only pivots up & down or rotates.  Because it doesn't tilt, all of your shots stay level.  You can also lock the two way head and then use the leveling base as a normal ballhead, too.

It's the best parts of a gimbal without the size & weight, and the best parts of a ballhead without the tilt.  The drawbacks are that it is expensive ($350 for the smaller head [15kg/33lb capacity], $540 for the big one [40kg/90lb capacity]), only oriented for collared lenses (but it comes with an A/S adapter for 90 degree rotation to mount cameras), and doesn't offer the precise balance or adjustment of a gimbal.  You'll need an L-plate to simplify portrait orientation shots as well if you're not using a collared lens.  It comes with a A/S clamp but I don't think it's quick release.

All the same, it allows you to set up quickly and have level horizons for landscape/architecture shots, and track wildlife similar to a gimbal.  It seems to be a perfect fit for all of the stuff I shoot, so I thought I'd give it a try.  I've read a fair amount about it on the web and it seems pretty cool.

I really like, have never loved my RRS BH-55 100% so I'm going to give this a try.  It will be here on Friday, so I'll let you know how it works out.  I worry that I'll miss the quick release clamp a whole lot, but we'll see.  Anyone looking for a decent price on a RRS BH-55 LR might want to pay attention, too ;)

Here's the info on it:
USA Site
Euro Site
Novoflex Site - I think they might be manufacturing or distributing it?
Andy Rouse's Review - NOTE that he is selling these and his review may or may not be objective
Naturescapes Thread on this - some good photographers share their thoughts

There's plenty more out there, too - and I'll let you know what I think of it after I get out and shoot with it this weekend - it's coming on Friday.

Third Party Manufacturers / iPhone 6 Plus Camera Review
« on: September 19, 2014, 04:47:27 PM »
I'm not an Apple guy or a fan of phone photography but I thought this was a good review and certainly shows what can be done with a modest tool in the right hands (and in an amazing location...):


I see people posting those crappy Matt Granger shots everywhere and even though I've posted this link, no one seems to have noticed, so I'm creating a post dedicated to it:

Official 7D Mark II Sample Images & Movies from Canon Japan

Personally, I think the squirrel shot at ISO 3200 looks at least a stop or two better than the 7D but the ISO 6400 night shot of the city doesn't look so hot.

Photography Technique / Why Geotagging is Cool for Landscape Photographers
« on: September 15, 2014, 04:20:11 PM »
In this month's issue of Outdoor Photographer, I read an article (online version) about Art Wolfe's upcoming book.  In the article, he talks about spending the last two years traveling the globe to recreate many of his old shots.

This is one of the secrets of landscape photographers - going back to the same place over and over to get new and hopefully better versions of your existing shots.  I've done this for years but over the past 3 weeks, I've done it twice and in both cases, having the GPS coordinates made life so much easier.  I was able to find both locations without any trouble at all, even though they are both somewhat hidden.  I now have the GP-E1 module for the 1D X which makes it even easier to geotag, but a handheld GPS or your phone with a .GPX tracking app and LR or other software work equally well.

Here are the two recreations.  They still aren't what I have in my head, but they're getting closer and I'll keep shooting them until I get the shot I really want:

OLD - 8/5/2012

NEW - 9/13/2014

OLD - 9/4/2011

NEW - 8/30/2014

Lenses / What New Lens are You Most Excited About?
« on: September 12, 2014, 12:35:12 PM »
Personally the Canon EF 400mm f/4 DO IS II intrigues me. Why? How good will it be?  How much will it cost?

However, the lens I'm most interested in is the Samyang 12mm f/2.8 Full Frame Fish Eye.  I'd like a fisheye but the Canon 8-15 seems way too expensive for a lens I won't use a whole lot.  If the Samyang is cheap (~$200-350 US) and decently sharp, I'll pick one up for sure.

The other lenses don't excite me at all.

Photography Technique / Finding your Specialty
« on: September 08, 2014, 02:45:22 PM »
I have far too much gear and far too little time to shoot, so I would like to specialize.  How have those of you who specialize in one area found that specialty?

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