October 25, 2014, 07:41:40 PM

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Topics - drmikeinpdx

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1
I've been really curious about the Sigma 50mm F1.4 DG HSM, aka: the 50 Art lens.  I've read a lot of reports about autofocus problems, but wanted to check it out for myself.

I rented a copy of the Sigma 50 Art from LensRentals.com.  Before I ordered, I emailed their customer service to ask if they used the USB dock to do any kind of calibration with the lens.  They replied that they take every 50 Art that comes back into the shop, put in on the USB dock and reset it to the default values.  That sounded good to me, as I planned to use the microfocus adjust feature on my 5D3 to make any needed changes.  I was planning to do an outdoor photoshoot where my models would always be roughly ten feet from the camera, so I did not feel like I'd need the USB dock to adjust the focus for different distances.

Upon receiving the lens, I did my usual autofocus calibration.  This time only at ten feet.  Using the center focus point, the Art lens was pretty consistent on my 5D3.   I settled on +3 MFA value and was pretty pleased with the stable focus from shot to shot.

Then I tried using other focus points.  I found that as you move away from the center point, the lens will front focus more and more.  Using the outermost horizontal points, the front focus was about two feet or a 20% error.  The next pair in toward the center front focused about one foot or 10%. Using the top and bottom points, the front focus error was about 1 foot or 10%.

When the lens was in focus, it was very sharp, so I went ahead and did the planned outdoor photoshoot.  I used mostly the center point, but occasionally moved the focus two spots left or right.   Used within this restriction, I was very happy with the sharpness, bokeh and autofocus accuracy.

I did a few shots with my old Sigma 50 Classic, which was autofocusing pretty well that day, since I fed it a shot of cheap gin before leaving the house and said some magic words over it.   The Art lens was definitely sharper, but not stunningly better.    They both created very nice bokeh of the distant trees when used wide open.

Here is a shot with the Art lens at F/2.0:



Here's a shot with the Sigma 50 Classic at F/1.4:



These are just fun shots to give you an idea of what kind of photoshoot I was doing, they don't really prove anything.

One thing I learned on this shoot was that the DOF at 1.4 is even more shallow than I thought.  Shooting two models standing side by side you have to make sure they are both exactly the same distance from the camera.  Unfortunately couples naturally want to move around.  I had a lot of shots where one model was in perfect focus and the other was slightly out of focus.  I was kind of expecting that and shifted focus back and forth between the two models, so I got plenty of usable photos.

In the future, if I'm not going for the absolute maximum bokeh, I plan to use my Sigma 50 Classic primarily at F/2 on these kinds of photoshoots.

One more item...  Before sending back the Art lens, I attached it to my old 7D backup body and ran it through my usual autofocus test.  It was difficult to come up with a precise AFMA number because the focus was not very consistent.  I settled on +12.  I tried the outer focus points to see if the 7D showed the same error pattern as the 5D3.  It did not, but the general accuracy and repeatability was poor enough that I would not venture a guess as to what the real pattern is.  Basically, I would not want to use the Art lens on my 7D unless I stopped it down to about F/4 or so.  As a control, I put my 40 pancake lens on the 7D.  It focused better than the Art lens, but still not as well as I wished.   I don't know about your 7D, but mine has never had a very accurate AF system, which is one reason I rarely use it now that I have a 5D3.

As a result of my experience, I have decided not to buy a new 50mm lens.  I will keep using my Sigma 50 Classic and wait and see if Canon comes out with a new 50mm lens in the 1.8 to 2.0 range.   If it is sharp wide open, it would be the perfect lens for me.

Update:  I turned this photoshoot into a blog post that includes some additional photos taken with the 50 Art lens.  Some are mildly naughty, so consider yourself warned.  :)

Check it out here: 

http://www.beyondboudoirphoto.com/blog/2014/10/outdoor-photoshoot-for-a-portland-couple

2
EOS Bodies / Canon profit report
« on: October 14, 2014, 04:55:12 PM »
http://asia.nikkei.com/Markets/Tokyo-Market/Canon-likely-saw-7-profit-boost-in-January-September

October 15, 2014 1:57 am JST

Canon likely saw 7% profit boost in January-SeptemberTOKYO -- Canon's operating profit apparently climbed 7% on the year to just over 260 billion yen ($2.41 billion) for the nine months through September thanks to strong office equipment sales and a weak yen.

     But sluggish camera sales blunted the Japanese company's profits, which had shot up 26% in the January-June half.

     Total sales for the January-September period likely stayed flat from the 2.69 trillion yen booked a year earlier.

     Both sales and profit appear to have grown at its mainstay office equipment unit. The recovery in the business environment has pushed up demand for photocopiers, laser printers and other office equipment around the world. The soft yen has further boosted profits. Yet sales of high-margin consumable items, such as toner, stalled.

     Meanwhile, profits in its imaging systems segment likely dipped from falling digital camera sales. The company sold about 30% fewer compact cameras due to competition from smartphones with better-quality cameras. Weak personal spending in Europe and repercussions from Japan's sales tax hike also contributed to a double-digit drop for interchangeable-lens products, such as SLRs.

     The company is focusing more on higher-end items, which have a wider profit margin, and has slashed production costs, but was unable to completely make up for the slow sales.

     Canon plans to release January-September results on Oct. 27. It is expected to retain its guidance for the year ending in December of an 8% operating profit gain to 365 billion yen.


3
Third Party Manufacturers / What happens to all those returned Sigma lenses?
« on: September 24, 2014, 07:29:07 PM »
I'm considering a Sigma Art lens and doing a lot of online research.  One thing that shows up a lot are reports of photographers sending back a lens to exchange for another that will hopefully focus better.  Sometimes there are three or four exchanges before they either give up or get a lens they are happy with.

You guys know that already, but what I'd like to know is what happens to all those returned lenses?  Does Sigma have a place where they sell refurbished lenses?  Do they destroy them as a tax write-off?   Disassemble them and re-use the parts to make new lenses?

Just curious!

4
Now that the new Sigma 50 Art lens is out, the old DG HSM version has been feeling neglected.  So I'm declaring it to be a cult lens!

It may not be as sharp as the Art lens, but there's just something magical about it's rendering, you know?


I will try to find and post some more images that aren't too naughty.  Feel free to post your own if you have this lens and join the new cult. :)

5
EOS Bodies / DP Review's 10 most popular camera list
« on: April 09, 2014, 12:36:37 PM »
I sometimes glance at DP Review's list of the ten most popular cameras.  I believe this refers to how many visitors are looking at the reviews, not how many are sold.

The number of Canon cameras on this list has been declining for the last year or so.  Today I looked and there isn't a single Canon on the list.

Most popular cameras according to DP Review pageviews:

Pentax K-3 7.8%
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX10 7.4%
Nikon D610 6.0%
Olympus OM-D E-M10 5.7%
Sony Alpha 7R 5.4%
Fujifilm X-T1 3.3%
Sony Alpha a6000 3.2%
Fujifilm X-E2 3.1%
Nikon D5300 3.0%
Samsung NX mini 2.6%

Even if you just look at DSLRs, there still isn't a Canon on the list.

http://www.dpreview.com/products/slrs/statistics

I may have to tear up my Canon fanboy card if this situation continues much longer!

6
I want to be able to copy some JPG images onto my Compact Flash card, put it into my camera, and scroll through the images on the LCD screen, like I do with images I just shot.  It seems like a simple thing, but it's not happening.

Here's what I've been doing:

I put the CF card in the card reader and use Windows Explorer to transfer some JPG files from my hard drive to the active folder on the CF card.  In this case, the folder is named 100EOS7D.  When I try to view the JPGs on the camera screen, they aren't there.

Just for fun I tried this with a Canon RAW file and I was able to view it on the screen.  Tried again with a DNG image file and no luck.

Any ideas on how I can make this work?

Both my 5D3 and my 7D do the same thing.  It seems odd, since you can save your images as JPGs and view them easily, but when you copy in a JPG from your computer, it is not recognized by the camera.

Thanks in advance!

7
I thought my friends here at CR might enjoy reading about my recent Photoshoot with 40 pancake, 50 Sigma and a brolly box. 

I took the time to include the lens and ISO data for each shot.  Hope you find that interesting!  As usual, I am using my beloved 5D3, the camera that makes every lens look good.  (According to me, anyway!)

Oh, I also used my favorite lens, the Canon 85mm f/1.8.  You may notice that when photographing people, I tend to use my prime lenses between f/2 and f/2.8, that seems to be the sweet spot for me.

I am becoming quite a fan of what our Brit friends call a Brolly Box.  Basically it means an umbrella with translucent white fabric over the open side with a small hole for the light source.  In my case an Alien Bee 400 is located in the hole.  This makes a really nice soft box that is very compact to transport and very easy to set up.  It is so efficient that I sometimes end up using ISO 50 in order to use a large aperture with my prime lenses.  (Light source: Alien Bees 400)

Perhaps the best thing is that they can be made very cheaply, so if yours gets damaged (hasn't happened to mine yet), you just reach for a fresh one.  I bought mine at the link below.  They are so cheap they are sold in pairs to make a worthwhile sale.

http://www.skaeser.com/servlet/the-607/photo%2Cvideo%2Clight%2Clights%2Clighting%2Cumbrella%2Csoftbox%2Creflective%2Creflector/Detail

So if you would like to read my blog post, just go here:

Fair warning... after the first few photos it is rated NSFW.

http://www.beyondboudoirphoto.com/blog/2014/3/boudoir-photography-in-a-century-old-portland-home   

8
Third Party Manufacturers / In praise of the Tamron 28-75, F/2.8
« on: November 23, 2013, 12:30:18 AM »
I've said good things about the Tamron 28-75 before, since it was the only lens that would really focus well on my persnickety old 5D Classic.

I've had my 5D3 for about a year.  About six months ago I figured the 5D3 deserved an L zoom so I picked up a 24-105, F/4.  It's a great lens, very sharp, with fast autofocus and effective IS.  My old Tamron sat on the shelf.

Recently I was doing a long studio shoot and started to feel the size and weight of the 24-105.  For the next shoot I decided to try the much smaller and lighter Tamron.  I was surprised to see how well it worked.

The autofocus isn't quite as fast as the 24-105 and it does make a little bit of noise, but not enough to be noticeable in the middle of a photoshoot.  The important thing as that the images are very sharp.  Of course, I'm shooting with strobes that prevent motion blur and I'm using enough light to permit apertures around F 5.6, so even a cheap lens will create sharp photos.  Under these conditions, at least for me, an L lens is overkill.

Since the Tamron is considerably smaller and lighter than the Canon, I am a happier photographer during a studio shoot.  I will still use the stabilized 24-105 for outdoor shoots, but in the studio, I'm back to the old Tamron, which, by the way, I picked up on Craigslist for $260 about three years ago.

This photo was at F/3.5, 53mm, ISO 100 (Alien Bees with umbrellas). I wanted to see if the Tamron would substitute for my 50mm Sigma in shallow DOF portrait situations.  I think I actually dialed back the sharpening in Lightroom.


9
Site Information / Avatar size?
« on: October 27, 2013, 11:04:23 AM »
It looks like I can now upload an avatar if I wish.  Does anyone know the maximum size (in pixels) that can be displayed?

10
Landscape / Columbia River Gorge
« on: October 25, 2013, 12:53:59 AM »
I think the Columbia River Gorge deserves a thread of its own.  Here's a shot I took today featuring my trusty steed at Chamberlain Lake Safety Rest Area on the Washington side of the Gorge.  (On State Hwy 14)

If you happen to need a restroom break while touring The Gorge, I highly recommend this spot.


11
Third Party Manufacturers / Sigma Service :)
« on: July 18, 2013, 09:34:46 PM »
Like a lot of photographers who use 50mm F/1.4 primes, I often wonder if it could be a little sharper wide open or focus a little more accurately.  While I was getting to know my new 24-105 L zoom last month, I decided to send my Sigma 50/1.4 in to Sigma for a little TLC under warranty.  I've had it for about two years.

On the repair request, I said that it was not as sharp as I wanted wide open and it did not focus as accurately as my Canon lenses.  I figured that would challenge them a little.

I got the lens back exactly two weeks after I sent it, which means they had it in the shop about 3 working days, by my estimate.  Pretty impressive.

The service invoice says they "adjusted af data"

If there is any improvement in performance, my methods are not adequate to detect it, but I do feel better knowing that the lens is properly calibrated. It's a confidence thing, you know.

This is still one of my favorite lenses, along with the Canon 85mm F/1.8.

12
I'm going to be doing some nighttime urban shots without a tripod using available light from streetlights and nightclubs.  I'm expecting to make use of the high ISO abilities of my 5D Mark 3.  A grainy, black and white motif is the plan.

I am wondering about which lenses to take along on this shoot, and here is my question:

How much does the maximum aperture of a lens affect autofocus performance in low light conditions?  I can select from lenses with max apertures ranging from F/1.4 to F/4.   Will the Mark 3 be able to focus better in marginal light with the larger aperture lenses?  Or does it depend more on the mysterious magic of the autofocus system in each particular lens and how it talks to the corresponding microprocessor in the body?

I've seen some discussion of the 6D being able to focus down to EV-1, or something like that, but nobody ever says if that varies with the lens that is attached to the camera.  It seems to me like it should.  Hopefully one of our resident experts can bring this issue into sharp focus!  LOL

13
Lenses / What exactly is a 100% crop?
« on: April 27, 2013, 06:40:37 PM »
For years I've seen people post examples of a "100% crop" to show the sharpness of a lens or the noise level of a sensor.  Today I was thinking about posting some images from a EF 70-300 f/4-5.6 IS that I just picked up and realized that I don't know how to do a 100% crop.  Can someone provide brief instructions on how to do that?  I'm using Lightroom 4 if it matters.

14
Lenses / Tripod collar for 200mm f/2.8 L?
« on: February 18, 2013, 04:51:47 PM »
I picked up a used 200mm f/2.8 L that seems to work very well, but I think it needs a tripod collar for better stability.  The Canon unit is quite expensive, of course.

I found this one online:

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/822975-REG/Vello_TC_AB_Tripod_Collar_A_Black.html

Has anyone tried one of these?  Are there other alternatives to the Canon collar?

15
http://www.perfxprints.com/#Wheretobuy

It's time for me to properly calibrate my Canon Pro 9000 Mark II ink jet printer so that I'll actually use it.  I want to be able to use different inks and papers, so the manufacturers profiles aren't going to meet my needs.

I have a Spyder device to calibrate my monitor and I have a nice Epson scanner, so this product called PerfXprints looks like it would be perfect for me.  If it works.

All they sell you is the software and a color chart card for $135.  You put the card in your scanner to calibrate the scanner first.  Then you print a file with your printer and put the print into the scanner.  Supposedly the software generates an ICC profile.

The website is not completely clear on how it works.  The tutorial page is broken, which is a bad sign in my opinion.  However, you can order it through B&H, which is a good sign.

Has anyone tried this product or other products that work on the same principal?  I really don't want to pay nearly $500 for the ColorMunki that replicates two pieces of hardware that I already have.

Thanks!

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