October 20, 2014, 06:56:08 PM

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The wedding photographer you hire needs to be knowledgeable and experienced with photography in the same environment where the wedding will be held.

For example, consider two completely distinct situations, calling for different photographic skills--
Is it in a dark church with no ability to set up flashes and lighting?
Or is it going to be outdoors during daylight hours?

I suggest that you look at the photographer's portfolio, especially their recent work, and see if there is any evidence of producing good photographs under the conditions and location where the wedding is planned.

Ask to see one or two complete wedding photography books from weddings in situations similar to yours. The photographer may not be able to display them to you publicly at their website, but they should at least be able show you them in a face-to-face meeting. Compare the results of three or four photographers and pick your favorite.

One other important note is that $2,000 is not enough to even pay for the equipment depreciation and business expenses of a good photographer, let alone their need to pay for the expenses of staying alive. 5-6 hours of on the scene photography translates to at least 50-60 hours of work directly related to your wedding, and much more work that is indirectly related but equally important. Set your expectations quite low if $2,000 is all that you can afford.

If I worked 80 hours a week for 52 weeks out of the year, and spent $150,000 annually on running my business, I might be able to reach a level of productivity of 100 weddings per year, absolute maximum.

But even in this ideal scenario of the highest possible profitability and efficiency for the photographer, a price of $2000 for the wedding values the photographer's expert time, usually based on 30+ years of dedicated commitment to the trade, at only $10 an hour.

So just ask yourself if you want to entrust your wedding memories to someone whom you are paying an hourly rate of just 75 cents more than the "Fry Cook" position at McDonald's.

Post Processing / Re: Fast editing of RAWs to "camera like" Jpegs
« on: October 04, 2014, 12:22:31 PM »
Despite having options to mimic camera settings, Lightroom so far does not have this capability, nor do other non-OEM RAW processors that I have tried (all the ones that usually come up in a Google search).

Digital Photo Professional is the only RAW processor I know of that truly has the ability to instantly match the standard out of camera JPEGs of the Canon DSLRs. In fact, when you shoot RAW and JPEG together, DPP will by default process the RAW output to be the equivalent of the JPEG output, with the exact same settings applied and using the same algorithms.

And then, starting with a result that looks as great as the SOOC JPEGs, you can then do so much more for the photos that need it.

This works so much better than spending all your effort struggling just to get the RAW files to look as good as the JPEG images that you barely have any energy left over to make them even better.

The only problem is that DPP is really slow. For example, exporting is a 30-second process for one RAW image, so I can't use it for the purpose that you desire, of quickly allowing all of your RAW photos to see the light of day.

Yet herein lies the other benefit of shooting RAW + JPEG. For the photos that don't need to be taken beyond standard processing, you will already have the time-consuming conversion process done by the camera.

Of course, if your original JPEG images are shot with awful settings, like the wrong white balance, etc., then you are back to square one. So in a sense, learning how to make the SOOC JPEG images look good by your shooting technique is just as much of a part of this method of RAW processing as doing all the tweaking afterwards, and it saves so much more time.

EOS Bodies - For Stills / Re: Why haven't you left canon?
« on: October 01, 2014, 01:55:30 PM »
What an utterly dumb question to ask.

I am asking myself the exact opposite question, and seriously I am honestly about to completely leave Nikon, despite being with Nikon for even longer than I have been with Canon.


Nikon has horrific customer service in every possible area, from website and phone ordering to forgetting to screw in all the screws into the back of a lens after repairing it, to NPS, to putting their loyal, long-time authorized dealers and service centers out of business by charging them $107,000 for renewal, etc. The list could go on forever.

Canon has incredible customer service.

End of story.

If you are an actual photographer who actually relies on your equipment to the point that you need service, you need Canon. That's it.

Thank you! A very useful post!

It is not Canon's fault.

Chuck Norris passed by a major sporting event two years ago, affecting hundreds of the super telephoto lenses present, which have been nervous about focusing on anything ever since.

EOS Bodies / Re: 7D Mark II - Timing and when to buy
« on: September 17, 2014, 03:43:14 PM »
Wait a year if that's the only camera you need in the next five years.

If you buy it early, you have a very small chance of running into issues, and won't save anything on price.

If you wait a few months you might end up with one of the cameras returned by other terrible citizens of the photography world. I've seen people who brag about how many times they use then return lenses and cameras on these forums, for example. I never, ever buy cameras without being fully committed to the purchase, merely so I can try them out and then return them. And even if something is truly wrong with a camera, I have it serviced rather than exchanging it to pass the problem on to the camera store or another photographer. But there are a lot of people who do the exact opposite, and there will be a lot of "new" cameras that aren't really quite new being sold after the initial introduction as a result.

If you wait around a year, you can probably catch it at a great sale price, and get one that is fresh from the factory, and probably better by some slim margin than all the cameras being sold at the release date.

Some even suggest that the sensor's performance can improve slightly between one production run and the next, similar to the "steppings" of computer CPUs which vary in overclockability (which would be somewhat a parallel to the amount of sensor thermal noise and read noise) despite having the same design.

EOS Bodies - For Stills / Re: Do you need a really high ISO?
« on: September 11, 2014, 08:43:17 PM »

It would be impossible for cameras ever to reach a point where a still higher level of ISO sensitivity would no longer be useful/needful for me.


I'd like to know the actual resolution of a lens regardless of body.

Hearty Amen.

Photography Technique / Re: Ballhead or Gimbal?
« on: September 06, 2014, 02:28:50 PM »
I want to thank everyone who participated in this thread for providing a truly useful and informative discussion relevant to many photographers. Outstanding!

EOS Bodies / Re: A Rundown of Canon at Photokina
« on: September 03, 2014, 11:20:07 AM »
EF 400mm f/4 DO IS II

Be still my beating heart!

The 7D II sounds good too, and if its sensor is a true breakthrough, I'll probably go through five of them just like I did with the first version!

I would LOVE to have the luxury of using crop sensors instead of full frame, and still having the quality customers demand from me, but it's been a dream too good to be true... hopefully that will change on September 15th!

As it currently stands, in my humble opinion, the Canon world is far better than Nikon.

Although I own a lot of Nikon gear, like the D810 with the new Sigma 50mm ART, 400mm II, etc., Nikon is to me a niche market within my photography needs. Nikon has terrible customer service, a very incomplete and outdated lens lineup, etc. Canon's products are much more reliable, and although I hate to use a word which has no clear definition, Canon's products are also much more "professional."

Here are just a few of my personal experiences with Nikon:

* Nikon returned a wobbly lens purchased from B&H without being repaired because it was gray market (which is in some sense understandable, but wait for the rest of the sentence) after unscrewing and severely damaging the internal surfaces of several lens elements, then shipping the lens back to me loosely packed resulting in the lens elements shaking around freely inside the lens. In my mind, they had a customer service obligation to accept my offer to pay any price to do the repair, and they had a MORAL obligation to at least screw the lens together before shipping it back.

* Nikon broke the aperture mechanism on a $6000 lens I just sent back this summer, in the process of performing a $600 repair (replacing the AF-S motor on a supertelephoto).

* Nikon has twice sent me defective refurbished lenses (essentially worn-out junk), whereas the many refurbished lenses I have purchased from Canon have all been equivalent to new stock. Some well-regarded photographers actually consider Canon's refurbished lenses to be better than their new stock, because they are only like-new stock with an extra step of doubly careful calibration and replacement of any parts that would be the most likely to break.

* Nikon's autofocus has not caught up to the 1D X yet.

Long term, I am banking on Canon. I believe that Canon's sensor technology is going to surpass Nikon's and Sony's within a few years, in the same way that Intel's years of careful research finally paid off and began to beat the AMD processors that used to be wreaking havoc with Intel's marketshare back in 2003.

Even if the Nikon vs. Canon sensor war remains as it is, with Nikon "better" in some (but definitely not all) aspects, the Canon "grass" is still much greener with Canon's superior selection of lenses and bodies.

And even if their far better customer service was the ONLY thing going for Canon, they would still be the winner to me. Customer service is the most important thing to a customer, and that is what we are as photographers.

Lenses / Re: New Lens Information for Photokina
« on: August 29, 2014, 06:16:24 PM »
Yes, please, the 400mm DO version II is what I've been praying for for years and years!!!

If it's as sharp at 4.0 as the other premium new Canon lenses, a lightweight 400mm f/4.0 would be my dream come true. As good as it is, a 400mm f/2.8 is too heavy to run around with 12 hours a day. Busy events have too many people in the way just to sit there with a heavy lens on a tripod, so I desperately want this rumor to be true.

This is my number one desired lens in this focal length.

Photography Technique / Re: Is RAW worth it?
« on: August 29, 2014, 10:27:45 AM »
RAW is worth it as long as it doesn't make you lazy.

Too many people use RAW as an excuse to be sloppy with lighting and lazy with "automatic" exposure.

EOS Bodies - For Stills / Re: Lens to body pairing
« on: August 19, 2014, 04:37:39 PM »
I would recommend the Sigma 150-500, with a caveat that I don't actually have it, but that I have tried your other alternative and it doesn't really do it for me in that situation.

At the focal lengths where it really matters, I feel confident that you would get better plane pictures both optically from the 150-500 lens and physically from being able to handle / pan / zoom, especially at the 500mm end which is really what you need for taking really good plane photos. Even a "wide angle" plane photo with several planes is going to call for a very long focal length, unless the planes are extremely close (roaring in your ear drums kind of close).

I doubt that the 70-200mm with the 2x extender (resulting in 400mm) is going to compare to the quality of the image you'll get with the 150-500 lens at 500mm with no extenders.

UPDATE: I think I'm wrong. I had heard that the 150-500 was really a pretty great lens overall, but I have just Googled some image comparisons and some of them seem to show that the 70-200 II is sharper, even with the disadvantage of a 2x teleconverter attached, and even comparing Canon details at 400mm equivalent focal length vs. Sigma details at a true focal length of 500mm.

(And if those comparisons I read are true, then really 150-500 lens is NOT a great lens at all like a lot of people have been saying, but a terrible lens.)

All that I can say based on my personal experience is that I am NOT satisfied with the quality of the 70-200mm II in this kind of situation with teleconverters. But the 150-500mm might be even worse.

EOS Bodies / Re: Canon 1dx vs Nikon d810
« on: August 13, 2014, 12:23:29 AM »
The experiment is flawed, and the photo shown has nothing whatsoever to do with the vague concept of "the D810's sharpness."

The sharpness in the picture is clearly limited by just about every other possible photographic factor other than the D810, so the D810's "sharpness" (whatever that means) is not even being measured here.

Besides, I happen to have a D810, so how is it that my "D810 sharpness" looks different?

(Note: this is definitely not the sharpest example from my D810. It is also flawed and limited by photographic factors other than the "D810's sharpness.")

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