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Messages - 20Dave

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Any speculations on what *else* the lens could be if not the 100-400L successor?
Knowing my luck, it'll be another 400mm f/5.6 prime...

Actually, I'm praying for a 400mm f/5.6 prime with IS, but I'm expecting a new 100-400L. If it exceeds the quality of the current 400mm prime at 400mm, then that works for me.


Lenses / Re: Value Lens for birding
« on: April 21, 2014, 04:53:18 PM »
I really wish they would make a new version of this lens with IS, even at a few hundred more I suspect it would sell well, since the next thing up the ladder is the 400 f4 DO, which is a lot pricier.

Just a SWAG based on the price increase between the 70-200 MkI and MkII, I'm guessing that any new 400mm IS (whether a prime or 100ish-400 zoom) will be in the $3k range. Still more affordable than a DO, but with pent up demand for such a lens, I think that they could get a fair revenue stream even at that level.

Lenses / Re: Value Lens for birding
« on: April 21, 2014, 10:08:41 AM »
I shoot birds almost exclusively (hobbyist, not a pro). I have the 400 f/5.6 and a Kenko Pro 1.4x teleconverter on my 5DIII virtually all of the time. I've been very happy with it, but with two caveats:
1) I can't use AFMA with this setup. Fortunately, the focus has been good enough without needing to adjust it with my particular setup.
2) Being well into my second year with this setup, I am starting to long for IS. I have very shaky hands, so I need to set the shutter speed at or near 1/2000 for sharp images at the 640mm focal length. With the f/8 maximum aperture of this combo (and I prefer f/11 for a reasonable depth of field), that means that the ISO is usually well into the thousands unless it's a sunny day and not in the woods.

I think that the 400 is a great balance of price/performance, and it's actually the reason why I choose Canon rather than Nikon when I entered the DSLR world about 8 years ago (with a 20D). And if you really start getting into birding, I think that you'll find that you'll eventually want a 1.4x extender of some sort.

I'm really hoping for a new 400 with IS or a 100-400 Mark II sometime this year. At the same time I may upgrade to the Canon 1.4x to get AFMA. As a side note, I gave up waiting for the 7DII last winter and splurged on a 5DIII. I have no regrets on that front, and will continue happily shooting with my current setup as I wait for the next batch of telephotos (that aren't in the $10k range).


EOS Bodies / Re: EOS 7D Mark II Announcement in Q2 of 2014 [CR1]
« on: February 27, 2014, 06:16:48 PM »
Hurry up already, Canon!!  I may have to break down and just get the 1DX if you don't  ;)
Joking aside, my 7d is feeling older and older the more I shoot with the 5d3.  I like the combo (7d,5d3), but... that 1DX rental has me craving something new.

I'm very glad that I bought a 5D3 a year ago rather than waiting for the immanent (at that time) 7D2.

EOS Bodies / Re: EOS 7D Mark II Announcement in Q2 of 2014 [CR1]
« on: February 27, 2014, 05:33:26 PM »
So you're saying there's a chance...   ???

Animal Kingdom / Re: BIRD IN FLIGHT ONLY -- share your BIF photos here
« on: February 20, 2014, 12:14:28 AM »
Here are more Brants wintering along the RI coast.


EOS Bodies / Re: sotchi - canon prototypes
« on: February 15, 2014, 08:57:41 PM »
I perused the enormous panoramic shot of a World Series game just to see if anyone on the field level used the 34# Sigma 200-500mm f/2.8 zoom lens, and sure enough, some photographer had one. It is a distinctive lens in olive drab , looks a little like an overgrown RPG launcher.

i guess everyone here knows the hulkma. ;)


and yes i spoted one of them at sotchi too.

That's a pocket camera ;D. I've actually had the chance to work with a Sony XIS camera. It mostly a video camera but takes stills in a panorama mode to capture up to 270 degree view. And the specification is accurate when it says "less than 90 lb 6 oz", as I've had to move one of these suckers myself  :o .


Animal Kingdom / Re: BIRD IN FLIGHT ONLY -- share your BIF photos here
« on: February 15, 2014, 08:39:14 PM »
Here are a few recent ones of mine. I would have said that one was a flock of Canadian Geese, but their wing speed seemed too fast. Sure enough, it is a flock of Brants, which I had never heard of prior to researching that photo. CCC welcome (the lighting is not good on the first two - too close to the middle of the day...). All shots were with a 5DIII and a 400 f/5.6 with a Kenko 1.4x teleconverter.


Lenses / Re: Get a 300mm or 600mm? Oh the agony...
« on: January 13, 2014, 11:53:29 PM »
Thoughts turned into a momentary urge to purchase this AM, so I'm committed.  Thank you both for this helpful commentary and eye opening initial dose of information.  Since I'm retired I have a fair amount of time and am simply bitten by the bug of photography.  I was bitten back in 1974 when I first bought a Canon Ftb but the responsibilities and cares of life just didn't allow it to materialize much, although I had purchased an F1 and a few lenses and always shot family and travels and a little wildlife.  But now - wow.  The technology has advanced so much that results are close to unbelievable.

Jack - Best of luck with your new gear and hobby, it can be very rewarding if you stick with it, and from the sounds of your comments, you will. I am a few years behind you, with retirement on the horizon, so I'm stocking up on equipment in preparation while I still have an income.  ;D

In terms of star images, I love the scenes that include landscape and wide angles and have followed threads on CR and elsewhere. 

Besides just practicing general astroimaging, the next project that I'd love to tackle is a video of the night sky as it moves across the sky. I have a spot next to water that I'm eager to experiment with.

... I'll be doing my best to learn with help from the many kind folk on CR like yourselves.  :)

If you haven't found it already, I recommend following the DSLR photography forum on www.cloudynights.com. There are a lot of terrific imagers on there.

I hear good things about a Rokinon lens that I may buy but initially I was hoping my new 70-200 F2.8 would work on the mount, or my 24-70 F4.  I guess only time will tell where all this leads me and I'll soon know what isn't working. 

Both of your existing lenses are perfectly fine to start with.

Lenses / Re: Get a 300mm or 600mm? Oh the agony...
« on: January 13, 2014, 10:28:52 PM »

You can do a lot more than just milky way with an iOptron. People have been using devices like that to get pretty darn good Messier "deep sky" results...larger galaxies and nebula, open clusters, etc. A 100mm f/2.8 Macro lens and an iOptron could get you some pretty phenomenal results of say Orion's Belt and Sword, which contains at least 5 nebula. Slap on a 135mm or 200mm lens (so long as the whole setup is under the 8lb weight limit), and you could zero in on say just the Orion Nebula. At 200mm, periodic error in the iOptron might limit how long you can expose, but exposing for a few seconds and excessive stacking can still get you some pretty phenomenal results. It can be quite a useful tool...I was actually planning to buy one not more than two months ago, when I decided instead to save my money for more ambitious goals (i.e. Celestron EdgeHD 1100 DX.)

You are correct, I should have been clearer on my definition of wide angle sky photography, which is where I think that the iOptron is the best fit. Things like the North America Nebula and the Orion area are certainly doable with a moderate telephoto and some stacking/tracking. I took the attached image (assuming I successfully attached it...) of Comet 17p-Holmes with a 20D at 400mm on a tripod - single image with a 4 sec shutter, so you can definitely get much better images with a reasonable tracking mount. Just be ready for a new style of image processing, with stacking of multiple images.

For $300-500, things like iOptron's devices are a good way to get started into both wide field and deep sky astrophotography without spending thousands of dollars. Now, Jack should be aware, there is no way in hell that little device is going to hold his 300mm lens...just in case he was thinking he'd slap on the 2x TC and do some hard core imaging of deep sky objects. You need a much sturdier mount with much more accurate tracking and much lower periodic error (and, probably, some autoguiding as well...and all of that mounts up to considerable cost...don't expect to get away with less than a $5000 investment.)

A Losmandy G8 mount (as one example) should definitely be able to handle the 300mm well, and those run around $1500 with the tripod. But yes, to get into the really deep sky stuff like galaxies, the 300mm isn't long enough, and you are getting into some big bucks. For good or bad, I took the splurge myself with a heavy duty mount, but I'm just in the beginning phase of my learning curve and not yet ready to put my images up for feedback  :-[.


Lenses / Re: Get a 300mm or 600mm? Oh the agony...
« on: January 13, 2014, 09:56:20 PM »
jrista, thanks for the hints and encouragement.  I'm seriously thinking of buying the iOptron 3302B SkyTracker Camera Mount so that I can have more fun with the night sky.  Any thoughts on that idea?



Regarding astrophotography, I would recommend that you research a little before you invest any money into something like this. I'm not saying that it's a bad thing, just that you should know before you spend. This is a good site to start with: http://www.astropix.com/INDEX.HTM

I'm sure that there are many ways of categorizing astrophotography, but off the top of my head, here are a few different types:
  • Lunar imaging - you likely won't need a tracking mount, just a good tripod and a good telephoto lens (+ teleconverter if you have it). The moon is bright enough that you shutter speeds will be relatively fast. This is a great place to start.
  • Wide angle sky images (e.g. the Milky Way) - This is where the iOptron could be useful, but even this can be successfully done with just a good tripod. See the link that I posted earlier for some great advice on how to do it. This is also a great place to experiment.
  • Planetary imaging (notably Jupoter, Saturn , and Mars) - a DSLR is not the best camera for this. You need loooong focal length ( > 1000mm) to magnify the planets enough to see detail, and a webcam or similar device is better than a DSLR. That is because you'd be cropping out 95% of the DSLR image, and you'd want to stack at least dozens, preferably hundreds of images.
  • Images of galaxies, nebula, clusters, etc - This absolutely needs a tracking mount, but it would definitely push the limits of the iOptron, depending on what you are looking to get out of your photos. To get a really sharp image like you see some of the advanced folks getting, you're talking at least the $1k range just for the mount. Yes, it *can* be done for less, but you'd need to put a fair amount of sweat and tears into your effort.
  • Solar imaging - the key requirement is to get a specialized solar filter to go on the FRONT of your lens/scope. If you're talking sunspot images, it isn't too bad. If you want beautiful pictures of solar flares, you're talking very specialized gear.

Don't get me wrong, I strongly encourage you to give astrophotography a try, but I would see what you can do with your existing equipment first, then decide if you want to continue before spending money on any specialized equipment.

Finally, if you're thinking about getting a 600mm for other reasons (e.g. birding), then you've already invested 80-90% monetarily of what you need for some good deepsky imaging. However, you're only 10-20% of the way through the learning curve (but that's half the fun, right?  ;) ).


EOS Bodies / Re: 7D Mark II on Cameraegg
« on: January 13, 2014, 09:21:55 PM »
I got tired of waiting for the 7DII to upgrade my 60D. So I just got the 5DIII. If the 7DII shoots 10fps, 61 point AF and has thr same sensor as the 70D. I would be tempted to get one. Because I cant afford the 1DX.

I did *almost* the same thing, except I was upgrading from a 20D  ::). And, I did it last spring, when rumors were hot and heavy about the 7DII coming out. I shoot mostly birds (purely amateur hobby), so the perceived 7DII specs were looking terrific, but I decided that I didn't want to wait for a rumor. I'm not looking back and love the 5D3, and I'm sure that you will too. It works great with the 400mm f/5.6 and a 1.4x Kenko TC.

Good luck with your new camera.


Animal Kingdom / Re: Show your Bird Portraits
« on: August 20, 2013, 10:13:24 PM »
Assuming I correctly get the attachment loaded, here's a Pileated Woodpecker from late spring in Maine. Equipment was a 5D3, 400mm f/5.6 with a Kenko Pro 1.4x. The 5D3 and the 1.4x are new for me (upgraded from a 20D), the 400 has been with me since my 20D. C&C always welcome.


EOS Bodies / Re: Beginning of a new Canon starting with 7D Mk II?
« on: June 29, 2013, 11:52:58 PM »
If it were free, I would be fine with GPS whether I used it or not. It is approaching free in terms of cost, but it is not free from a battery drain perspective. I wouldn't want it unless it truly turns off.


Landscape / Re: friendly reminder!!! Supermoon tomorrow!!!
« on: June 26, 2013, 11:15:21 PM »
looked like every other moon.

typical internet hype.

interesting fact for astronomers.. but doesn´t help a bit to make better images of the moon.

Correct, I have been an amateur astronomer for nearly 20 years, and I didn't even go outside to look because I knew that it wasn't particularly visually interesting. Having said that, I must say that the photo next to the Empire State Building by strykapose is incredible.

A couple of other quick tidbits about imaging the moon:

  • The most interesting photos of the moon occur at phases other than the full moon (unless you create a stunning scene like the photo of the moon next to the Empire State Building). That is because when there is a partial moon, the sun hits the craters at angles rather than straight on, so the resulting shadows highlight the craters. With a full moon, the sunlight is almost at the same angle as our visual angle, so there aren't many shadows to highlight. Because of that, I am guessing that the first photo in this thread is a mosaic or blending of a couple of photos taken over a couple of days (which perhaps the OP stated). Otherwise, I don't see how you would be able to see shadows in the craters on both sides of the moon so clearly.
  • Serious lunar imagers actually use webcams rather than DSLRs so that they can get a large number of frames (sometimes hundreds) and merge the best images together with stacking/processing programs. I would love to attempt this but haven't yet.
  • If you do use a DSLR, it takes a fair amount of practice to get the exposure right, because the moon is so bright compared to the dark sky background. HDR can be helpful, but even then it is often best to catch the moon when it is low in the sky and not as bright as when it gets above the atmosphere haze.
  • If you try to get more magnified images, having steady skies is critical. I suffer from a lot of shimmer where I live, so I can never get crisp images at high magnification. A lack of skill and experience doesn't help either  ::)
    Here is a mosaic (http://bartolini.zenfolio.com/img/s8/v85/p1661868389-6.jpg) that I attempted a few years ago with a 20D and a telescope as a lens. It could really use some photoshop help to get rid of the blocky sky background, but I didn't bother. If you want to see a serious mosaic from someone who really knows what they are doing, check this out: http://www.astronomie.be/bart.declercq/Moon_20100323.jpg


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