December 22, 2014, 01:00:38 PM

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Topics - cervantes

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1
Photography Technique / Travel photography: Estonia 2014 - Part 2
« on: November 25, 2014, 01:39:25 AM »
Hi everyone!

After posting my first travel photography article here on CR, I received a lot of positive feedback from you guys. Thank you very much!!
Now the second and final part of my article is online and it would be great if you could take a look. This article focuses on landscape and wildlife photography and in my opinion it turned out even better than the first part.

If you haven't seen the first part you can find it here:
http://www.focrates.com/articles/estonia_2014/estonia_2014_part1.html

For the new article use this link please:
http://www.focrates.com/articles/estonia_2014/estonia_2014_part2.html

I'm always enjoying opinions and feedback from you guys very much. Thanks for your support!

Best wishes!

2
Photography Technique / Travel photography: Estonia 2014 - Part 1
« on: November 06, 2014, 02:02:48 AM »
Hi everyone!

I went to a photo trip to estonia in spring and I've created a little article about my experiences on my website. It would be cool if you could take a look!

http://www.focrates.com/articles/estonia_2014/estonia_2014_part1.html

Thanks!

3
Photography Technique / Website launched!
« on: August 25, 2014, 01:23:57 AM »
Dear Friends on CR!

I have been a regular visitor and a member on CR for a while now. I started visiting this site when I was a total beginner and learned a great deal from the vast knowledge of some of the members here.

Now I'm proud to announce that my website was launched a couple of months ago, and since the testing phase is over I'd like to ask you guys to stop by and take a look.

Additionally to some of my images, my article about configuring the 5D3 AF for fast action that I posted here last year, has found a permanent place on the site.

You can find my site here: www.focrates.com

If you have comments, ideas for improvements or anything else to share shoot me a mail, PM or leave a comment here.

Thank you very much and I'm looking forward to hearing from you!
Best wishes!

4
Photography Technique / Configuring your 5D Mark III AF for fast action
« on: February 06, 2014, 01:18:02 AM »
Hi,

a week ago I posted some of my pictures to the birds in flight thread and some people asked me how to configure the 5D3 AF to get these results. Since this is a complex topic I wasn't able to simply respond but I took the time to create an article at dpreview.com. If you own a 5D3 or 1Dx you maybe wanna take a look here:

http://www.dpreview.com/articles/9174241280/configuring-your-5d-mark-iii-af-for-fast-action

If you own a different camera there will maybe also be some useful tips for you. I would be be delighted if you took a look and maybe even left a comment here or over at dpreview.

Have a nice day!

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
EDIT:
Dpreview did some weird thing to its article section but my original link seems still to be working. However I have recently launched my new website www.focrates.com and you can find an updated version of this article there under: http://www.focrates.com/articles/configuring_your_5d_mark_3_af_for_fast_action/configuring_your_5d_mark_3_af_for_fast_action.html

Hope to see you on my site!
Best Wishes!

5
Animal Kingdom / A lesson I learned the last weekend
« on: December 10, 2013, 02:38:04 AM »
Hi everyone,

last weekend I was kind of unmotivated when it comes to photography. I didn't have a clue where to go and what to shoot so I simply went to a nearby lake where one can always find lots of ducks. Yea I know - Ducks? BOOORING you might say - which was exactly the thought I had when I strolled there. But at least I got one thing right: I went to the lake at the late afternoon hours because I knew that there would be some gorgeous warm sunlight and intense color.

After looking at the results I was actually pretty impressed. Please take a look for yourself and leave a comment if you like!

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/bfszjr3e09rzuqn/A2R-p_Dhsk

I think this shooting was a nice reminder to me (and now to all of you hopefully) that even if you shoot completely ordinary things you can get some pretty cool results. And now go out and shoot if you can.

Greetings!

6
Lenses / What lens delivers the strongest background blur?
« on: July 16, 2013, 02:03:27 AM »
That is a question I recently asked myself. After some research on Wikipedia I found an easy formula which one can use to calculate the diameter of the circle of confusion at a given magnification:

blur disk diameter =~ (focal length * subject magnification)/aperture number

If a constant magnification is used the lenses can be compared in regard to the strength of their background blur.
I created a quick excel sheet with the common canon prime lenses and calculated the numbers - as you can see I normalized the result to the 50mm f1.4 (this means the 50mm 1.4 delivers a coc radius of 1) since this is a very well known lens.

It seems that if you want really strong background blur you need to go with one of the big whites. I also marked the 200mm f2.8 II which is the black lens with maximum coc diameter (the 70-200 f2.8 II @200 would be the same).

Please note that these numbers are only valid at
subject distance >> focal length (--> "normal" distance - opposed to closeup)
so the mentioned macro lenses could deliver a much stronger blur at maximum magnification.

7
Lenses / I can't stop thinking about A MONSTER! Part 2
« on: April 18, 2013, 03:47:39 AM »
Hi folks!

Some of you may still remember my original post on this topic from about two months ago (http://www.canonrumors.com/forum/index.php?topic=12825.0). In short I asked about some opinions whether to get a 500L II or not. In this post I’d like to give you a heads up on what happened in the meantime.

To cut a long story short: I got it.
A local dealer made me “an offer I couldn’t refuse” which was a very good price AND the 1.4x III included.

This is not going to be a review but a little report of my experiences with the lens so far – so if you also like to dream of a big white or if you think about getting one this might be helpful to you. If you’re not interested in that, feel free to skip to the end of this post and see some pictures! Be warned that this text is exclusively about using this monster in the field and it does not contain any pixel-peeping.

So…where do I start? If you read my original post you know I had it divided into some major concerns. I would like to continue with this style and tell you how it turned out for me.

WEIGHT AND SIZE OR HOW TO HANDHOLD A BIG LENS
As I mentioned in my first post I was planning to use it exclusively handheld because of a lack of tripod / head and for portability reasons. When I unboxed the lens … well it was probably a little bigger and heavier than I remembered it from the shop ::). I had some serious concerns if this was not too much for me. I tried it out the first time the next day and felt that my arm would probably come off over time. Especially the stress on my wrist joint was high since I held it on the tripod foot with the hand bent ~90° to the forearm. Additionally I had to twist my forearm for this holding method which resulted in some real pain the day after shooting and a forced pause of several days. Holding the lens on the barrel achieves nothing and has the additional disadvantage that you need to lift your left arm even higher to get the lens leveled (and you probably can’t support your arm on your body anymore). These are pretty much the methods of someone who has no clue/experience on how to hold a big lens since it’s the right way you would hold a lens of “normal” size. I have illustrated it in the pics below so that you can better understand what I mean. After a few painful and exhausting shooting sessions I refined my technique and came up with the following solution: Support the lens foot only with the palm of your hand and use your fingers to hold the barrel (right picture). Doing so solves three major problems:

1. Your wrist is only slightly angled and so the force is transferred to your arm in a more natural way.
2. Your forearm is not twisted and will be able to hold more load or the same load for a longer period of time respectively.
3. You gain full access over the lens controls. Use your thumb for pressing the AF-stop button and to manual focus farther, your middle finger for the playback ring and your ring finger to focus closer.

(Btw. you understand me correctly – I do not only use this lens handheld but also with manual focus if needed.)

[I didn't figure out how to put the picture here - it's at the end of the post!]
 
For beginners I recommend keeping the lens foot locked – which will limit you pretty much to taking pictures in landscape orientation. Expert mode is to unlock the foot and to only use the notches to hold the lens exactly horizontal/vertical – this will allow you to change between landscape and portrait just as you would on a tripod, but it surely needs some training (this is the way I mostly do it now and it works very well).
With this technique my problems are gone. Last weekend I visited the zoo and shot about from 10am continuously to 4pm only using the beast and the next day I felt … nothing. Everything is perfectly fine with my arm. I can shoot all day long with it now – of course I can’t hold it to eye level all the time and have to pause frequently but I can’t say that I have missed a shot due to exhaustion – at least none that I wouldn’t also have missed using a tripod/monopod. Did you see my arm in the picture? Yes, that’s all I have to work with and I handhold this baby perfectly for hours, so you can easily too – using proper technique of course! If you are a stronger guy than me you probably can also handhold the 600 II or the 400 II but I don’t have any experience with them and other factors such as weight distribution will play a role.

Weight is in my opinion absolutely no concern when carrying the lens in a backpack. I use the Lowepro Flipside 500 AW which conveys the weight to the hips and not the shoulders if you set it up correctly (which is important for you backbone health) using its hip strap. However, size is a concern but the Lens fits in the backpack nicely with camera attached and also leaves some room for other lenses/accessories. With extender and camera attached it doesn’t fit or it would probably fit if you used some force which I don’t.

CONSPICUITY
Well, there’s nothing you can do about that I guess, this lens draws some serious attention. When I go shooting usually always someone starts talking to me or asks me some questions about it – people are usually quite amazed when they see this monster (and who can blame them?). When I was at the zoo I heard about 100 times people talking behind my back. Somehow this is a little like the weight issue – it is a bit shocking at the beginning but you get used to it pretty fast and additionally >99% of the comments are really positive. I decided to answer questions politely and patiently (about how much it zooms for example ;-P) or sometimes to not give a f*** and this works pretty well for me.

IMAGE QUALITY
Lol. Nothing to do here ::). Think about the best possible image quality you can imagine – this is what you will get from this lens. Sharpness and contrast are perfect and bokeh is creamy – what else do you desire? Did you see the MTF-chart? It’s the only one that I can draw out of my mind since it is only a straight line at 1.
I practically can’t tell the difference in shots with the bare lens and shots with 1.4x Extender used, besides of the even thinner DOF (and stronger bokeh). It is surely measurable (your turn pixel-peepers) but not noticeable with the naked eye I would say. With extender it’s still at least as sharp as every other L lens I own (700mm f5,6 is a KILLER LENS with massive reach btw. ;D).
I wonder how it will be with 2x III but I’m sure it won’t disappoint.

AUTOFOCUS
On the web I read that the AF was “instant” or “blazingly fast” or some other superlatives. To be honest I cannot notice it to be faster than the AF of some of my other lenses eg. 70-200 4 L IS or 100L (with focus limiter activated!). However, this is very fast.
There is one problem I noticed: When my 5D3 goes to sleep and I half press the shutter button it takes about 0.5 sec or even longer (which is an eternity in some action situations) for the AF to kick in. This is a problem of the camera not the lens but I recommend to make sure that your camera doesn’t go to sleep when you want to shoot action. BIF come closer a significant distance during that time span.

STABILIZER
The IS is one of the most important features for me, since it vastly increases handholdability. Using Mode 1 you can frame static objects perfectly and your viewfinder keeps still quite nicely. However the new Mode 3 is my favorite since it doesn’t interfere with my framing in action shots and if you are panning it only stabilizes normal to your panning direction. I have no idea if those claimed 4 stops are true but it simply works great.


SUMMARY
If you are mad enough to buy a lens like this you should really know what you are doing. This is not for the casual weekend shooter. You really need to show some effort and dedication to justify the price tag and to haul this thing around the whole day. But if you are serious, I can’t think of anything that can give you more pleasure to use and more spectacular results than a supertele lens. You wouldn’t believe how happy I am with this “monster”. I’ve only used it since about one month and I'm learning a lot every session, but I think that I was already able to make some really cool shots with it – see for yourself in the link below!
IQ is perfect, handling is very good, you don’t need a tripod if you know how to handle it – believe it or not I’m pretty much using this as my walk around lens now. You can read about IQ, IS, AF etc. in all the reviews you can find, but let me assure you once more that this lens is really handholdable for extended periods of time, since I didn’t find a review who stated that clearly.

Ok, now let’s come to the fun part: PICTURES!
Pictures OF the lens: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/e8dsgdawaxbe2p7/5qjI8NJHBh
Pictures WITH the lens: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/zspwh97zbjbv7ff/t_y_bdpwDQ

Some of those where made with the 1.4x III, some without – consult the EXIF data for more info. Usually the pictures are downsized to about 6MP which is more than enough for everything except very large prints. 5D3_8529 is a 100% crop with the bare lens.

I hope you enjoyed my “not review” and if you have questions don’t hesitate to ask!
Greetings!

8
Lenses / I can't stop thinking about A MONSTER!
« on: February 07, 2013, 06:10:24 AM »
Hi everyone!

I started doing photography roughly two years ago. At the beginning I had a 550D and some beginner zooms but one day I made the mistake of getting an L lens, and the inevitable happened to me -> I got infected.
Aside of the 50 1.8 I only have L lenses now which are the 70-200 4 L IS, 100L and 16-35L II, and somewhere in between I also got a 5D3. So now you have an idea of my current setup.

About one year ago I started developing the idea of getting something bigger because my favorite type of photography is wildlife and my 200mm doesn’t cut it (by far). So I was looking into the 300 f4 with 1,4x and the 400 5,6 and … well that are pretty much all the alternatives you have with canon if you want to stay in a reasonable price range.

Suddenly it appeared absolutely clearly in my mind – What do you want with this chickens**t??? If you wanna do something you gotta do it right!

So 500mm f4 L IS II it is! If I get a telephoto lens – this will be it.

BUT there are some serious issues that keep me from going to the shop and ordering one:

- PRICE: Although I’m only 28 I could afford this lens. I have to work for about six months ONLY saving up for it but hey, I’m already at about 5 1/2 right now 8)! I don’t have a car, I go by bicycle everywhere, I really spend very less money regularly and I do not have any other expensive hobbies.
Additionally I believe that if I spend €9500 (which is the current price here in Austria) on this piece of equipment and use it a LOT of years (let’s say 10) I still can resell it for maybe €7000 (if I treat it well of course, and I darn sure will treat it very well!!). So the total cost of ownership will be “only” about €2500 or €250 per year which is pretty reasonable. There are more stupid ways of spending €250 per year I guess (smoking for example  ::)).
Please note that I’m a total amateur and I’m not expecting to make any money out of it.

- WEIGHT AND SIZE: I know that this thing is a BEAST. I saw it once in real life in a shop window with the hood on and I couldn’t imagine myself lugging this thing around. As already mentioned I don’t have a car so I usually go by bike or by foot everywhere. I would get an appropriate backpack for it (Lowepro 500 or something) and carry it on my back all the time (So 600 II and 500 I were not an option from the beginning). Additionally I do not have a tripod, monopod or tripod head hat supports this kind of weight, and for financial and backpacking reasons I will not get these things anytime soon, so I’m planning to use the lens exclusively handheld. 3.2 kg doesn’t actually sound like so bad but holding it to the eye for an extended period of time … I’m not so sure about that. I’m not really a strong guy, but I’m also not the “only shooting from eye-level” kind of photographer, more like the “lying in the dirt most of the time” photographer – so a bean bag or resting the tripod foot on the knee or on the ground is an option.

- CONSPICUITY: Sometimes when I use my white 70-200 and my gripped 5D3 I can notice people watching and I really dislike that. I like to work alone and undisturbed and when people watch I cannot concentrate so well on making my pictures. Compared to the 500, the 70-200 f4 is a BABY TOY lens so how will it be when I walk around with the beast? I myself have never seen such a lens “in the field” so I would be watching too if someone else had it! When I think about it I believe that I wouldn’t use it so much when there are other people around. I am living in a not too big city but I would still have to travel a bit to get to a quiet place (you do remember the no car thing do you? :P ). This would further increase the necessary effort for using this lens. Together with the weight and size issue I have the fear that I wouldn’t use it so much than I should to justify its price.

OK, after so much negative things I should state some good things I expect, otherwise every one of you will just advise me against getting the lens ;).

The pros:
+ This lens would be AWESOME.
+ IQ is absolutely as good as it gets at this time.
+ This lens would be totally AWESOME.
+ I don’t need to spend money on fitness studios when lugging this thing around (which I wouldn’t do anyways to be fair)!
+ It would give me the reach I need for all my wildlife and birding needs (I would surely get the 1,4x III after a couple of months and maybe also the 2x III).
+ It would be AWESOME in combination with my 5D3, AF- and IQ-wise!!

WOW, if you read until this point then TANK YOU! But although it helped my decision making process to write down all the advantages and disadvantages there is one more thing I would ask you to do. Please tell me your opinion:

- Did I make some serious errors in the arguments I stated above?
- Do you have experience with this kind of gear and can tell me something in general and especially about the handholdability?
- Does it really make sense for me to make such an investment or should I simply convert to Buddhism and seek my joy in meditation?
- Should I pull the trigger or not? Please do not encourage me for the sake of it but really tell me what you think. It would be cool if you could put a +1 or a -1 at the end of your post for buying or not buying respectively.

At the end I would also like to share some of my pictures with you so that you can get an idea of my skills and what I like to do normally. Due to the lack of a good tele, I concentrated on macro work during the last year. Most of those were taken with my old 550D. Critics are also very welcome!

Pictures:

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/ipu4mdfjxdgo11a/HBqDdcHUYi

Hope to hear your opinions!
Greetings!





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