September 23, 2014, 08:56:15 PM

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Messages - BLFPhoto

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Lenses / Re: The Sigma 35mm Art is Toasting Canon's?
« on: September 17, 2014, 09:04:00 PM »
My experience is that neither my 35 Art or my friend's is any more or less reliable in AF than my 35 f1.4L that I've had for more than a decade. 

I don't know which lens I like more at this point.  They are different, and both very effective. 

Speedlites, Printers, Accessories / Re: CF Cards Vs SD Cards
« on: September 17, 2014, 09:28:45 AM »
Yup...enough with the fear mongering. 

I've been shooting CF cards for 15 years and not once have I bent pins or messed up the mechanical interface in any way.  I've had exactly one card go bad in all that time (of hundreds I've owned), and that was when one fell out of my card wallet and got run over by a fire truck. 

I use Vortex Stormjacket Pro covers in various sizes to fit my lenses.  They pack up super small but provide more than adequate coverage when I get caught out by storms on a long day or three in the field.  I also have a full-on think tank cover when I know I'm going to be in torrential downpours or if I ever head to the arctic.

EOS Bodies / Re: Official: Canon EOS 7D Mark II
« on: September 15, 2014, 05:29:53 PM »
If I only user center-point for photographing birds, is this really worth the upgrade over the T2i I've been lugging around for several years?  I'm thinking of just getting a 6D or 5Diii, as I can get pretty close to my subjects, and I'm using a 400mm lens.  From the specs of the 7Dii it looks more like a 'side-grade' to the T2i than an actual upgrade, for the type of photography I do.  My main limiting factor right now is iso performance; anything above 400 on the T2i is pretty much useless, and I'm not getting the sense the 7Dii will be any better.   Anyone that shoots similar subject matter have any thoughts on this?

Oh my!  Even the current 7D would be better for your purposes.  This new one, with the 65 f/2.8 focus points will be miles better.  You will be able to actually compose a proper picture instead of shooting dead center and cropping.  AI Servo will be miles better than with your T4i.  And 10fps frame rate will shoot circles around what you currently do, giving you the ability to track and shoot, choosing the peak action in post.  You'll get images you can't imagine getting on a regular basis.

It's seriously not even a reasonable question unless you simply don't have the $.  In fact, for your purposes, I'll bet I'd almost rather have this 7D Mk II than a 5D Mk III. 

Photography Technique / Re: Benefits of IS in fast shutter speeds
« on: September 10, 2014, 02:04:35 PM »
I shoot A LOT of sports action at shutter speeds well over 1/1000.  I have not seen a significant issue image quality with IS on or off.  The images are coming out of my camera the same way. 

The reason I often turn my IS off on  my 300mm f/2.8 or 70-200mm f/2.8 is because it saves a significant amount of battery time on my 1DMkIV.  With my newest battery in the camera, a recently purchased LP-E4n version, I can get about 2k shots on a charge with IS turned on.  I can shoot 3-3.5k shots with IS turned off.  That is significant, and often the difference between getting a whole event on one battery.  I have backup batteries, but if I'm shooting in the mid-2ks for number of images, it's sure nice not to have to worry about monitoring the battery and finding breaks in the action to change it out. 

I will say that the 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS Mk II with the newest version of IS seems to be better on battery life than my 300mm f/2.8 which is the Mk 1 version with an earlier generation of IS. 

It may be counterintuitive, but I keep IS on for my wider angle lenses (24-105, 17-55 when I had that), when I'm shooting flash/strobe action shots, even with HSS or Hypersync.  I'm often panning with the subject in the frame, waiting on the right moment to click, and it seems to be a small help in managing that small bit of camera motion.

Third Party Manufacturers / Re: Zeiss Otus 1.4/85: The New World-Class Lens
« on: September 08, 2014, 12:43:08 PM »
I'm sure these are wonder optics that live up to their billing, regardless of how overblown some of the verbiage is in the marketing slicks. 

But for my money, I think I would pour my $ into a medium format system for portraits before I considered the Otus lenses.  I could do a lot more with, say, a Pentax 645Z and a couple of lenses, than by adding the Otus lenses to my lineup. 

Just my take on them. 

Doesn't mean I won't lust after this 85mm... 

Lenses / Re: Your favorite older EF lens
« on: August 29, 2014, 12:55:15 PM »
Hands down favorite older lens 50mm f/1.8 Mk I.  (the metal mount version with the distance scale).  I still have mine after more than 20 years.   It has been replaced by the 40mm pancake as my walk-around street lens, but that may be short lived.  I still love the look of that 50 for B&W street. 

My old 24mm f/2.8 would be a very close second.  I would say I "mistakenly" sold it if you ask me today.  I should have kept it.  But I sold it when I had, variously, the 17-40 L, 24-105 L, and 24-70 L.  I wish I had it today as a small, lightweight complement to the 40mm pancake for my "running" kit that I carry while running and covering ultramarathons.  Sometimes I need something wider, and the 17-40 is just too much lens to carry when I'm running for hours around 50 or 100 mile running routes trying to get the shots.

Photography Technique / Re: Is RAW worth it?
« on: August 29, 2014, 12:40:26 PM »
I would add that most of the folks I read here are not photographers working on a deadline.  No deadline?  Then there really is no reason NOT to shoot in RAW.  Hard disk space is cheap.  And if you manage your files well, getting rid of the junk with a good edit, then even that isn't a problem.  The upsides far outweigh any downsides to me.

Photography Technique / Re: Is RAW worth it?
« on: August 29, 2014, 12:36:57 PM »
I shoot jpeg only when I need unrelenting speed and buffer out of my cameras.  Even a 1D Mk IV fills up the buffer somewhat quickly with Raw when you're shooting action of a running race. 

Otherwise, I want the flexibility in post afforded by the RAW files...ALWAYS. 

Shooting on deadline is not that hard with today's software.  Ingest the files, select all, set a global adjustment (essentially the same thing as defining jpeg settings in your camera), and output jpeg files to a folder or even direct to FTP.  I can do it all in Lightroom and it doesn't take much longer for either jpeg or RAW.

In the "old" days, when dealing with RAW meant a trip through way.  Jpeg all the way.  But times have changed.  But today, if I've got a great file that I send out to a client immediately, I still want the flexibility to go back later and do something in RAW to optimize the image for other purposes.   

When you really want to work over a file, RAW is the only way to go.  Somebody else said it best...jpegs just fall apart if you really dig into them beyond minor global corrections. 

Via online galleries on my Photoshelter site.  I started with Photoshelter with the lowest level that allowed eCommerce sales of prints directly from the galleries.  I'm at the full Pro level now with more than 75% of 1TB of gallery images up there. 

It makes it easy and fast to get images to clients, particularly clients who traveled from out of town for beach portraits or weddings.  I can also give multiple distributions via email addresses or group passwords. 

For one-offs, or early in establishing business, USB drives are my recommendation.  But online distribution gives so many advantages that I won't do physical media again unless specifically requested by the client. 

Lenses / Re: Something with 50mm L lens that make it different
« on: July 18, 2014, 10:24:16 AM »
The EF 50mm f/1.4 is a great documentary and photojournalist lens.  It works great starting at about f/2.0 and really shines at f/4-f-8, especially in black and white.  It will do passable work at f/1.4-f/1.8 and is very cost effective for that work. 

But for those looking for images that rely more on artistic expression, the EF 50mm f/1.2 is the far better lens.  Wedding photographer?  Environmental portraitist?  Those photographers will find the color, contrast, bokeh, etc. all add up to a better image for their purposes much, if not most of the time.

I have owned both, and still currently have the 1.4 version.  It was one of the first EF lenses I bought way back in the early 90's.  I still have my original copy of that lens and it is still going strong, contrary to all the reports of how fragile it can be.  Treat it nicely and it will work for a long, LONG time. 

If the 50mm played more in my wedding and portrait shooting, I would have the L version for sure.  As the OP asks, I can confirm there is just something "more" about the images I got out of the one I had for a while, when compared to images from my 1.4 version.  In my estimation, it is the combination of all performance aspects that create that look.  It's almost like that's what the Canon engineers were trying to do!  ;-)

Software & Accessories / Re: Rain protection for 5D3 and lens
« on: July 14, 2014, 03:29:57 PM »
I shoot a lot of sports and keep both a small and a medium sized Vortex Media Pro Storm Jacket in my bag to cover my bodies and lenses.  They pack up super small into zippered pouches to the point I often forget they are in the bag until I need them.  They weigh next to nothing.   

If you go with the Vortex product, you want the "Pro" version which has a velcro opening to allow for attachment of a monopod/tripod.

The medium size fits my 1DMkIV or gripped 5D Mk3 with 300mm f/2.8 lens with room to spare.  I often use it with the 70-200 IS II as well.  But the small version also fits that combination, though it's a bit more tight quarters for long shoots. 

I would not put the Vortex products in the same category as, say, Think Tank, Canon, or other more massive rain coats that have see-through plastic and other niceties, but they will more than meet 90% of any need for a rain cover.  Put another way, I would use my Think Tank cover if I were going to spend 3 hours at a soccer match in a downpour.  Or if I were headed to the arctic tundra or rain forest for an expedition.  But in spotty, maybe medium-heavy rain, and for long days afield where I may or may not need it, I'll take the Vortex anyday.   And that covers almost all of what I do.   

The kicker is that they are only $35.95 for the medium size in several different colors.  Compare that to over $150 for the Think Tank. 

I have used an Op-Tech cheapo before, but for my $ and my gear, I'll take the Vortex any day as well.  Be sure to check them out before you buy anything else.

Lenses / Re: What was your first L lens?
« on: June 05, 2014, 04:26:16 PM »
My first L was the "Magic Drainpipe" EF 80-200 f/2.8 L.  It didn't have USM.  It was 10mm less range than its current cousins.  And it didn't have IS.  But the images were quite magical.  I bought, compared, and used the 70-200 f/2.8 non-IS when it came out, the 70-200 f/2.8 IS when it came out, and ultimately kept the 80-200 over those even when it became no longer officially supported by Canon.  I only sold it a little over a year ago when I got the new 70-200 f/2.8 IS L II, which is the first of that series that really surpasses that old black lens for me.  But, honestly, I wish I'd kept the 80-200 for portraits.  The drainpipe was magical with portraits.  Only the 85 and 135 Ls are better in my book. 

After the 80-200, it was a long, steady ride to where I am today. 

Portrait / Re: Mobile studio portraits - am I doing this properly?
« on: June 02, 2014, 09:42:01 AM »
For my taste, the main light is too direct and too harsh.  The side light is too much.  Better to get the main light further off the camera to give good modeling, soften it up a bit as well.  And move the rear light higher and more spread across the entire back of the subject to give more separation.

The way you've shot it comes across far too flat...lacking contrast across the entire frame.  The skintones are too close to the background tone.

6D.  No Grip.  Carry extra battery.  The one battery should get you an entire day's worth of landscape shooting, though. 

My lightweight running kit is a 6D, 40mm f/2.8, 17-40L, 135L and a Joby flexible tripod, with a couple of cards, a brush, and lens cloths all in a Lowepro Flipside 10L.  I can run all day with that (not kidding...have run 6 and 7 hour runs with it!) and have all that I need in remote places to take great landscapes and running action shots.  I use the 6D over the 5D Mk III due to the built in GPS and wi-fi.   Anyone who tells you you can't shoot action with a 6D is wrong.  Yes, there are limitations that only my 1D Mk IV with a 300mm f/2.8 will answer.  But this isn't about limitations...this is about freedom of movement and total capability.  If I really want some serious landscape shooting, I'll toss in my grad ND filter kit.  Sometimes I'll toss in a 580EX II with a pocket wizard flex system when I'm shooting runners on trails, but that gets a bit tight and heavy in that pack. 

The 6D is a fantastic camera in a landscape and mild lifestyle shooting role.  The AF module may give up a lot next to the 1D or 5D Mk III, but I've found it more than adequate in sports tracking situations, though usually using just the center point.  For landscape, this will not be a limitation.  If your composition has a main focal point outside the focus points, just use live view as someone noted.  This is probably the preferred way to shoot a considered image like a landscape these days, in my view.  I use the viewfinder when I have people in the shot.  Otherwise I'm tethered or using the live view LCD.

Grab a couple of fast 32Gb or a 64GB card and call it a day.  My 64GB card gives more than 1999 RAW photos on my 6D.   Heck, I'd probably have a hard time filling up the 32GB backup card on a day on the trails.  I just don't run through cards like I do when I'm shooting high speed bursts on the 1D or 7D. 

My recommendation is to forego the grip unless you're doing a lot of people shooting.  As someone noted, it makes the camera less stable on a tripod.   And the alternate hand position just isn't necessary in landscape shooting.  It's one of the last things I'd think about given your shooting parameters.

And don't underestimate the little 40mm pancake as a single super-lightweight package on the 6D.  Sometimes I will go out with that and nothing else.  It's pretty fantastic for landscape and street shooting, working within the limitations of the single focal length.

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