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Topics - friedmud

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Software & Accessories / Luma Cinch Strap
« on: November 18, 2012, 11:21:34 PM »
Does anyone around here have any experience with the Luma Cinch Camera Strap ( )

It looks great - but I'm still on the fence.  I would love to hear from people who have bought one.

In particular, I like that that they've thought about how it will be used with a tripod quick release plate:


Third Party Manufacturers / D600 High ISO Examples
« on: October 20, 2012, 06:38:41 PM »
Hey guys,  I picked up my Nikon D600 with a 50mm f/1.8G yesterday (sold my 7D and other Canon gear to get it) and happened to go to a card game at my boss's house last night.  This was the perfect chance to try out the low-light focus, big aperture of the 50mm and the high ISO capabilities of the D600.  Here's what I came away with:

These were all shot _without_ a flash and it was pretty dark.  All, or almost all, are at ISO 6400.  I was shooting in the highest quality jpeg modes and had High ISO Noise Reduction set to "Normal".  They were only slightly edited in LR3 before getting posted.

I am super impressed with the quality.  Yes, there is noise (of course at 6400!) but there is a TON of detail in there too.  I applied just a tad more NR in LR3, but I think the balance between noise and detail is awesome.  I uploaded the full resolution jpegs to Flickr so you can grab those there if you want.

I didn't have any problems focusing in the dark.  I used a lot of off-center focus points and never had any trouble.  Unlike the Canon 50mm f/1.8 the Nikon version _does_ have an ultrasonic motor... and it focus fast, accurately and quietly.  It's also damn sharp wide open.

I'll embed a few here for those who refuse to follow a link ;-)

Rich Shuffling by friedmud, on Flickr

Highland Park by friedmud, on Flickr

Yaqi Just Lost a Hand by friedmud, on Flickr

Thinking by friedmud, on Flickr

Third Party Manufacturers / Rented a D600
« on: September 28, 2012, 11:45:21 AM »
For the past couple of weeks many people on this board have been telling those of us that are not overly enthused about the 6D but are still wanting to go full frame to "Jump Ship to Nikon".  Well... I decided to dip my pinky toe into that water and rented a D600 and the Nikkor 24-70 f/2.8G.

I received it late last night (wife missed the Fedex guy).  First impressions: body feels lighter than my 7D but still well made;  lens is damn heavy.  I put the lens on and proceeded to go through my normal rituals of learning a new camera.  This is where trouble started.

I was expecting the control layout to be different... but I wasn't expecting it to be retarded.  It's as if someone was throwing darts at a picture of the camera to decide where to put buttons / functions.  There is no central "theme" or purpose behind the design at all.  Let me go through a few functions to demonstrate:

1.  AF selection.  This is the worst offender.
  1a. Manual Focus.  There are two places to choose manual focus vs AF.  On the lens _and_ on the body.  They both have to be set to AF for AF to work.
  1b. AF mode selection.  There is a stupid button down by the barrel on the front left (if you are holding the camera to your face) _on_ one of the AF/MF switches that you have press and hold and twirl one of the two control wheels (but which one?) to select AI Focus, Single, Continuous and the other control wheel (but which one?) to select an AF point selection mode.

The first problem there is that you have to use your left hand to change AF modes!  How the hell do you do that with a big 400mm+ lens while you have the camera to your face?

The second problem is that it's not clear which wheel changes which thing.  On my 7D anything controlled by the wheels is on a button by the LCD (which, first of all I can press with my right hand while holding it to my face) and it is obvious (because of the label on the button) which wheel controls which option.  This is a small thing because you will ultimately remember which wheel is which... but it's this lack of thought that permeates the whole way this camera works.

Now... as for the AF modes themselves... they suck compared to my 7D.  I love being able to toggle through AF point selection modes _while my eye is to the camera_ and use the joystick to move it around on my 7D... it is EXTREMELY fast.  On the D600 that's not really possible (because of the button location) but even if it were there are really only _two_ AF point selection modes: Auto and Single Point.  Now, there are some "restrictions" you can put on Auto... but it's still basically Auto.  Compare to my 7D where I can cluster, I can do point expansion, single point, full Auto, etc.  Even worse: the D600 doesn't have Orientation Sensitive AF Point Selection!  I really don't understand that and it's one of those things I love about my 7D.  I could go on about how limited the AF system is for quite a while but I'll stop there.

2.  Everything looks cheap.  This is harder to put down in words.  The LCD on top looks like an old 80's LCD watch and the menus on the back screen look like they would be more at home on a $100 P&S.  For instance when you hold down (yes you have to hold it down) the exposure compensation button (which is in a random position next to the LCD) and twirl one of the wheels (which one? and why?) to set some exposure compensation it shows you a big 80's style watch number instead of the cool pointer that you move left and right on a 7D.  It's a small thing, but it just leaves me feeling that they were cutting corners...

3.  Finger gymnastics.  As I've already pointed out, to change any settings you have to _hold down_ buttons with one finger (or even another hand) and twirl a random wheel.  But it gets worse.  To change shooting modes you have to hold down the lock button (I know some people like that, and that there is even an free "upgrade" you can get for your 7D that does this, but to me it's just a pain) AND you have to hold a release button to change "Drive Modes" while twirling a tiny ring around the shooting mode selector.  All of this adds up to sore finger tips and sore fingers.  Seriously, I shot for hours last night with this thing around my house and as I'm typing this my fingers are sore!  I have rather big hands, but even for me it is uncomfortable to hold down some of the buttons and locks and twirl wheels.  This is not too mention the fact that the grip is uncomfortable (it has a pretty sharp edge just under the front twirly wheel that digs into your finger when you have a heavy lens on like the 24-70 and it's smallish... which means I am gripping pretty hard with my fingers instead of my hand unlike my 7D)

4.  ISO.  Why in the holy hell of the world is the ISO selection button (that you have to HOLD DOWN and twirl a random wheel to change the ISO) on the back bottom LEFT of the camera? Again... you cannot do this with one hand.  You canNOT do it while holding the camera to your face.  One other quick hit on ISO: Why does it BLINK at me in the viewfinder that it's on Auto ISO?  Why?  Why blinking?  Right in my eye!  I truly don't understand.

5. Drive mode selection "ring".  I mentioned it earlier... but it warrants it's own section.  Why is drive mode (Single shot, Continuous, 2 Second Delay, Remote, Mirror Lockup) selection a _physical_ ring that you have to press and hold a lock button and twirl?  This is dumb on a number of fronts... but I think the most egregious is that it mean that I can't set the drive mode to one of the user defined settings (U1, U2).  On my 7D I have a "Fast Action" user setting (which is the last one BTW... so I can just crank over the mode dial and I know I'm on it... the Nikon mode selector spins all the way around so you have to actually take the camera away from your face and LOOK at the dial to know where you are) that sets continuous focus and highspeed continuous drive (among other things).  You CANNOT do that on a D600.

I could go on for longer about stuff I don't like... but what about things I like about the way the D600 works?

1.  The on/off/LCD light switch switch integrated into the shutter button is cool.
2.  Minimum shutter speed with Auto ISO is really nice.
3.  Max ISO selection is good.

All griping with no pictures on a photography forum?  Yes.  I haven't shot anything worth posting yet (just around the house last night and my office this morning).  I'm headed into the mountains this weekend to put it to the Landscape test... and I'll post back with my findings.  From what I can tell on the back screen the image quality looks really good (which is why I'm doing this in the first place).  But can the IQ overcome the inequities in the functioning of the camera?  We'll see....

Lenses / Just bought the shorty 40mm...
« on: August 19, 2012, 10:23:47 AM »
Headed to England next week on a 2 week trip... I thought this lens would come in handy on my old XSi for my wife to use.  Should basically turn it into a "P&S" that she can walk around with easily.  I'll probably stick it on my 7D every now and again too when I don't want to pack much gear for an outing...

Has anyone used this on an XSi?  Any pictures of it on an XSi?

When it comes in I'll definitely post a few ;-)

So... I had my picture taken with President Obama today (because of this: ) and of course during the whole thing I was watching the White House photographers.

They were all using exclusively Canon gear.  Each had a pair of 5D Mark II's.  One had a 24-70L on one and a 50mm f/1.4.  The other had a 24-70L and it was hard to tell what the other lens was.  I think it was an 85mm f/1.2... but it might have been a 50mm f/1.4.  I'm not quite sure.

The one that took the group photo was using a Pocket Wizard to set off two extremely powerful strobes that were pointed directly up (to bounce off the wall and ceiling in front of the group).  They used the 24-70L to take the group shot.

It was pretty cool to watch them work... definitely professional work ethic... they followed the president around smoothly, not getting in his way while he worked through the room talking to people.

I haven't seen the photos yet, I'll post back with them when / if I ever get my hands on them.  I don't know what kind of resolution to expect though ;-)

Lenses / Help! I think I got a bad 16-35
« on: May 09, 2012, 12:23:48 AM »
Help!  Just received my 16-35 f/2.8 II... and I think I may have received a bad copy.  It is unbelievably soft on the left hand side (and not great on the right).

I am shooting with a 7D and really did not expect to see much, if any, falloff in sharpness due to the crop.  Please, if you have a 16-35 and a 7D, please let me know if this is normal or not.  I'm really thinking about dropping this thing back in the mail tomorrow to try to get a new copy...

Here are a couple of full sized, untouched JPEGs from the RAWs I shot this afternoon.  Look on the left hand side... especially going toward the upper left corner...

Exposure   0.001 sec (1/1000)
Aperture   f/2.8
Focal Length   16 mm
ISO Speed   100

Exposure   0.003 sec (1/400)
Aperture   f/4.5
Focal Length   16 mm
ISO Speed   100

I think this last one demonstrates it the best.  It was shot at f/7.1 which should definitely be pretty good in this situation.  The focus was basically right in the middle of the frame.  Just take your eye from the middle of the frame, straight to the left and watch what happens on the rocks...

Exposure   0.003 sec (1/320)
Aperture   f/7.1
Focal Length   16 mm
ISO Speed   100

I can't imagine what it would look like on a FF camera!  The left 25% of the frame would be unusable.

This is crazy for $1,600!

Please give me some feedback here... I need to know if I'm crazy...

Lenses / Best Weather Sealed Wide Angle?
« on: April 11, 2012, 11:31:57 PM »
What do you think is the best weather sealed wide angle lens for use with a 7D?  I value resolution over anything else (for instance, it doesn't need autofocus).  Should be at least 20mm or smaller...


Animal Kingdom / Colin with 70-200 f/4 IS
« on: April 04, 2012, 01:39:32 AM »
My 70-200 f/4 IS L just came in today... so I immediately threw it on my 7D and tossed my puppy named Colin outside to put the lens through its paces.  I shot about 700 shots (yes, really!) and ended up keeping ~50 (not that they were out of focus or whatever... just choosing the best).

Here are some that I like:

EOS Bodies / Imaging Resource 5DIII Shots
« on: March 07, 2012, 01:02:07 AM »
With all the bashing of the 5DIII I see... I find it interesting that there hasn't been much discussion about the images samples over at Imaging Resource:

Compare the 5DIII against anything else there... and you can definitely see that the 5DIII is awesome.  The ISO 50 shots are incredible (look at the cloth in the upper left... the detail is crazy).

Personally, I trust those guys to run scientific tests of cameras... instead of trying to compare "sample images" from Canon's site to sample images on Nikon's site, etc....

Lenses / First LensRental Just Arrived
« on: February 09, 2012, 12:51:46 PM »
I have an upcoming trip to Savannah, GA and I wanted to try out an "ultra-wide" on my 7D so I dialed up (seeing as how it's associated with this site and I've had good experiences on here) and ordered up a Canon EFs 10-22.

I just received the lens yesterday and was blown away by how carefully it was packaged and what great condition it's in.  I would say it's basically brand new.  I don't know what I was expecting... but whatever it was this has beaten them.

The lens itself is great.  I'm going to head into the mountains tomorrow to field test it before the Savannah trip... I'll post back if I snag anything good.

Anyway... I just thought that I would post about my (so far) positive experience with  If any of you guys have been on the fence about using them to try out some gear: I would say go for it!

Look for a post on Saturday with some pics ;-)

EOS Bodies / What Are Your Custom Modes Set To?
« on: December 21, 2011, 12:41:59 AM »
Having just stepped up to the 7D from a Rebel I'm absolutely loving the three custom modes.  It has led me to wonder what everyone sets them to.

Here are what mine are currently set to:

C1: Landscape
Mode: Av
Aperture: f/8
ISO: 100
Exposure: Evaluative
Drive Mode: Single
Shutter Release: 2 Second Delay
Mirror Lockup: On
Auto Lighting Optimizer: Off
Highlight Tone Priority: Disabled
Long Exposure NR: Off
Silent Shooting: Off
Output: Full RAW

C2: Portrait
Mode: Av
Aperture: f/2.8
ISO: Auto
AF: Landscape Spot (just above middle), Left Portrait (handle up) Spot just above middle, Right Portrait (handle down) full auto all points active
Exposure: Evaluative
Drive Mode: Single
Auto Lighting Optimizer: Off
Highlight Tone Priority: Disabled
Long Exposure NR: Off
Silent Shooting: Off
Output: Full RAW

C3: Wildlife Tracking
Mode: Tv
Shutter Speed: 1/800
ISO: Auto
AF Drive: Servo
AF Point: Manual Point Selection (NOT Spot!) (Middle Point)
AI Servo Track Method: Continuous AF Track Priority
AI Servo Tracking Sensitivity: +1
Exposure: Evaluative
Drive Mode: High Speed Multiple
Auto Lighting Optimizer: Off
Highlight Tone Priority: Disabled
Long Exposure NR: Off
Silent Shooting: Off
Output: Full JPEG

C3 is basically my "Holy Crap Look At That!" mode... like a moose running by, or a bald eagle snatching a fish out of the river, etc.  I like that it's all the way at the end of the dial because I can just "crank it over" and be able to capture something unfolding rapidly.  I chose to go with Full JPEG in that mode for longer burst capability and less space taken overall (because I'll end up with tons of photos from just a few moments of holding down the shutter release on a 7D).

So how about it... what is _your_ philosophy on how to use those custom modes?

EOS Bodies / Can a 7D do Landscapes?
« on: December 11, 2011, 07:17:50 PM »
Short Answer: Yes!

Long Answer: Read On

A few days ago I was "Earthshatteringly Disappointed" with my new 7D.  However, upon learning that I couldn't return it, I decided to give it a fair shake to see if it would be worth keeping or dumping for a loss.

I took it out to Jackson, Wyoming yesterday and shot quite a few shots and I wanted to share the results here.

Firstly, the photos linked from this post were all shot with these settings in common:

Camera: 7D
Lens: 17-55 f/2.8 IS
Filter: Lee 0.6 ND Soft Grad
Tripod: Manfrotto 055XPROB with 322RC2 Head
Focus: Manual
Mode: Av
Exposure: Evaluative
Image Stabilizer: Off
Drive Mode: Single
Shutter Release: 2 Second Delay
Mirror Lockup: On
Auto Lighting Optimizer: Off
Silent Shooting: Off
Long Exposure NR: Off
Output: Full RAW
Edited In: Adobe Lightroom 3.5 (Camera Raw 6.5)

Now, my best two shots of the day (full resolution jpegs):

Shot 1:

Shot 2:

Shot 1 Details:
ISO: 100
Aperture: 9.0
Focal Length: 24
Focus: Back of Barn

Shot 1 Edits:
Blacks: 5
Saturation: +9
Tone Curve Adjustments
  Amount: 46
  Radius: 1
  Masking: 26
Noise Reduction:
  Luminance: 15
  Color: 25

Shot 2 Details:
ISO: 100
Aperture: 8.0
Focal Length: 35
Focus: Mountains

Shot 2 Edits:
Blacks: 5
Saturation: +12
Tone Curve Adjustments
  Amount: 56
  Radius: 1
  Masking: 34
Noise Reduction:
  Luminance: 19
  Color: 25
Lens Profile Corrections:
  Distortion: 0
  CA: 100
  Vignetting: 100

Personally, I am really happy with these shots.  Are they winning any awards?  No.  But, that is _my_ failing and not the camera ;-)

Both shots show a ton of detail.  Shot2 is a familiar shooting place.  I have tons of photos that look exactly like this from my XSi… but they don't even come close to the level of detail displayed here.  Shot1 I've shot a few times (most recently a few months ago) and comparing to my XSi I definitely received quite a bit more detail from my 7D.

But what about noise?  The 7D has quite a lot of it for shooting at Low ISO, but I found that I could clean it up adequately with NR without too much of a loss of detail in other areas (which is one thing I was worried about… what good are 18 MP if I have to blur everything with NR?).  Here is a comparison of the tip of the "Grand" in Shot2 both before and after editing:

The noise in the sky is easy to notice, but there is also quite a bit of noise "on" the mountain as well.  But as you can see it cleaned up pretty nicely.  Would I rather the noise wasn't there?  Definitely!  Is it tolerable… it might be.

That was at ISO 100… someone in the "Earthshattering" thread suggested I shoot at ISO 160.  Let's compare 100 vs 160 before we do any edits:

To my eyes the 100 (which is on the left) is ever so slightly cleaner.  Let's see what those same shots look like after we edit the photo:

Now we can definitely see that the ISO 100 shot cleaned up better.  These zooms are from Shot2… but the same phenomena happens in Shot1 (where ISO 100 is again cleaner).  I think I'll be sticking to ISO 100.

Last thing I was interested in is the diffraction limit using this lens / body combo.  In the "Earthshattering" thread it was proposed that the diffraction limit on the 7D is f/6.9… and in fact that appears to be the case!  I shot a _ton_ of exposures from f/5.6 up to f/14… and anything over f/7 definitely gets fuzzier!  That said, I found that up to about f/9 there wasn't any real difference, but beyond that you were definitely losing sharpness.  Here is a comparison of f/8 to f/11 for the trees in the foreground of Shot2:

The reason I chose to zoom to the trees here is because they were "foreground interest" in this shot, but not terribly close to the camera.  Recall from above that in this shot I manually focused on the mountains in the background… so I would need some amount of a small aperture to make sure everything in the foreground is sharp.  Turns out, that for this situation f/8 was enough to keep things sharp in the foreground… and pushing further, even to f/11 caused a loss of clarity!

This situation was the same in Shot1… where I focused toward the back of the barn (which is probably a little close for true hyperfocus, I just wanted to make sure I had the barn in focus).  When I look at the mountains in the back I was expecting that something beyond f/9 was going to be necessary to get the most sharpness back there… but not true.  Again, anything over f/9 softened the details in the mountains.

This is something I never saw on my XSi.  I don't know the exact diffraction limit on my XSi but anything over about f/13 or f/14 definitely produced a softer image.  This is telling me that the 7D is definitely more sensitive to being fed a sharp image…. i.e. the 7D is definitely recording more detail.

Now were both of these shots (f/8 and f/11) acceptable: definitely.  But it's always good to know where the limits actually are for your kit.

So what's the final verdict here?

I believe that when it comes to IQ the 7D can hold it's own for landscape photography.  When you include the numerous benefits of using the 7D in the mix, I think it makes a great landscape photography tool.

Pros For Lanscapes:
- Body Design
  It was ~15 degrees when I was shooting these yesterday.  Because of the layout of the 7D I was able to keep my gloves on the whole time!  Good Stuff: dedicated buttons for advanced options, joystick and wheels workable with gloves, big buttons on the left easy to press with gloves, big bright viewfinder, LCD panel on top gives an instant reading of current options, and more

- Custom Modes
  C1 is now "Landscape Mode" for me.  This has been a dream of mine for years.  All those options at the top of the post are dialed into C1… it brings tears to my eyes to know that I can put the camera in C1 and shoot…

- Built In Level
  I have bubble levels, but being able to use the built-in electronic level is handy.

- One Touch Live View
  I use Live View to do manual focusing for tripod mounted shots - the 7D has a nice big button that makes that easy to do with gloves on.

- Feels good in the hands with a heavy lens on.
  Again, with gloves, the 7D is not going anywhere… always a bit dicey with my XSi!

- Megapixels
  Details!  I feel like I got a level of detail in those shots that I wouldn't have been able to get with my XSi.  I don't currently have my XSi or I would do a direct comparison, but just looking at the photos on my screen (and comparing to previous shots with my XSi) the details certainly stand out.

- Focusing
  I didn't need to use AF much when shooting yesterday (had plenty of time to setup a tripod and manually focus) but the few times I did I was extremely impressed with how quick and accurate the focusing was on the 7D.  It just doesn't mess around!  I also love how I can switch focusing modes right in the viewfinder without taking my eye away (to select AF point or points, etc.)

- Metering
  For both of the shots I posted I think I dialed in +1/3 exposure adjustment (just to bring out a bit more shadow detail for use in post).  The +1/3 certainly wasn't necessary.  The built-in evaluative metering is _awesome_.  It never failed me all day!  I actually never use my XSi in evaluative metering mode… it just always does the wrong thing.  I actually always use center weighted average… at least then I would have some idea of what it would do so I could compensate manually.  The 7D frees me up to focus more on composition and less on trying to second guess the metering system.

- Weatherproofing
  This thing feels like a tank.  I wouldn't hesitate to take it out in a storm.  It certainly didn't mind the fairly cold temperatures yesterday.

Cons for Landscapes:

- Low ISO Noise
  It is there.  I do wish it wasn't.  But it can be cleaned fairly well in post.

- Weight
  Not a big deal, but when hiking around I did notice the weight a bit.  For the weatherproofing and hardiness of the body the weight is certainly acceptable.

So am I going to sell it?  At this point: I don't think so.  I just enjoyed using it a little too much yesterday.

If I could send it back, would I??  That is a hard one.  I still think the answer to that question is probably yes.  I think I would probably wait a few months and see if a 5D3 comes out.  However, this isn't an option for me.  Yes, I could sell it, but I would probably lose $300-$500… which is hard to justify considering all of the great things about this camera.

Note that in this post I didn't talk about any of the other things the 7D does well.  I did use it to shoot around Jackson Wyoming quite a bit with my wife yesterday and found it an ABSOLUTE joy to use while walking around and taking candid photos of my wife.  I won't go into all of that here though, because I don't think anyone is questioning the 7D for that use.

It's been shown numerous times that the 7D excels in basically every way other than landscapes… hopefully I've shed some light on some issues surrounding that use of a 7D.

EOS Bodies / Earthshatteringly Disappointed With 7D
« on: December 09, 2011, 12:03:09 AM »
I posted last week to get advice on getting a 7D now... and got some truly wonderful responses about how I should take the plunge... and I did.

I got it last night and took some photos around town today.  While I was shooting around town I thought the PQ looked GREAT... I could definitely see improvements in the evaluative metering over my XSi... and shouldn't even have to mention the HUGE improvements to AF over my XSi.

Everything was going great... until I got home and loaded up those photos in LR3... and saw a ridiculous amount of high frequency noise ALL over the place... even when shooting at ISO 100-200!

I couldn't believe it so I snatched my camera and went out into my backyard and front yard and shot some more photos of houses around me at ISO 100 and was very careful to expose everything correctly and get perfect focus... brought the camera back inside... and CRAZY NOISE persists!

I am mainly a landscape photographer... so _low_ ISO performance is hugely important to me.  Before I bought the camera I read a ton of reviews that were positive... but of course they were all checking the _high_ ISO performance.  Now that I found a "problem" I started searching around and have found TONS of people that are disappointed with the low ISO performance of the 7D.

What to do?

I am going on a trip into the mountains (no hiking, just driving) this weekend, so I'm definitely going to take along the 7D and "do my thing"... and if I come back with noise all over the place I think I'm going to have to return this body.  That's a damn shame because I love everything else about it.

I _do_ think the noise is "livable"... but I feel like I shouldn't have to "live with it" for $1,500.  Also, I buy cameras for the long haul and would be extremely disappointed every time I came back from a trip with noise all over my low ISO photos. 

I feel like I've been cheated of the joy that is rightfully mine by Canon...

Any advice here?


EOS Bodies / Advice On 7D Purchase
« on: December 03, 2011, 04:33:18 PM »
Looking to pick up a 7D.  I've already invested in EF-S lenses and I would use all of the advanced features of the 7D (ie, it really _is_ what I want... not a 5D II/III or even a 60D or T3i).

My _only_ reservation is timing.  The 7D has been out for over 2 years now and I would be seriously bummed to put down $1500 now only to have a 7DII come out in January or February.

I haven't traditionally paid attention to Canon's release schedule... so I'm hoping that someone around here can give me some indication of the probability of being extremely disappointed in a month or two ;-)

Yes, yes, I know.  Get what you need now and use it until it fails to meet your needs any longer and all that... just trying to be a little smart here...


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