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Messages - dgatwood

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Canon General / Re: Does Canon really deserve this?
« on: November 23, 2014, 05:03:58 PM »
Various responses to multiple posts:

More DR means less contrast - yet contrast could be considered more important in the eyes of many.

More dynamic range means more contrast, not less.  It means that the photo can represent a wider range of brightness values.  Yes, if you then deliberately squash the entire dynamic range of the camera into an sRGB image, you'll have less perceived contrast on the things that matter, but why would you do that?  In a more realistic post-processing workflow, you'll end up with the same amount of contrast, just with bigger safety margins for correcting overexposed or underexposed images (which you can throw away disproportionately to make the picture brighter or darker) without blown out whites or blacks.

99.9% of the time, that doesn't matter.  But when that .1% happens to burn you on a photo that you care about, the two-stop difference between a 6D and a crop body makes a world of difference, and an extra stop or two on top of that would be most welcome, even if it is mainly  a "just in case" feature.

  Folks want more MP, and yet on at least a few websites, reviewers note that without a tripod, there is no difference between 24 MP and 36 MP.  And, yet, people want even more MPs!

There's no reason that this should be true in principle, so if that's what folks are seeing in practice, it probably indicates that the IS systems are simply not precise enough.

Unless you print larger than 8" x 10" there is virtually no difference between photos taken with an SL1 with kit lens and a 6D with "L" lens, but people want to believe that they need the best cameras and the best lenses.

Under optimal conditions, there's little difference between my 6D and my iPhone 5.  Of course, real-world shooting isn't always optimal, and poor lighting, long distances from the subject, etc. can make those minor differences turn into huge differences.

The big reason folks want more megapixels, in my experience, is the ability to crop more in post processing.  If a camera's resolution is good enough, you can shoot wider, resulting in fewer misses, confident that you can crop it in post and get a reasonable image.

This particularly comes into play when shooting wildlife and sports, because of the distances and the sometimes erratic subject motion characteristic to both.  For both situations, a full-frame camera with the pixel density of a crop body would be a serious win.  Unfortunately, Canon chooses to keep full-frame pixel density relatively low, presumably because they've been unable to scale the high-density sensors up to larger sizes while maintaining an acceptable reject rate.  That's pretty annoying.  Lots of us would really like the reach of a crop body, but without the crop.

On the plus side, I hv to admit Canon still has a clear lead in in-camera jpg rendering for portraits/skin tone.

With flash prices as cheap as they are, I stopped shooting anything but RAW several years back.  From what I can tell, outside of a few specific markets (e.g. news gathering), that seems to mostly be a consumer feature.  Unfortunately, consumers are buying fewer and fewer dedicated cameras these days, so I doubt that Canon's lead in in-camera JPEG rendering is very meaningful in the grand scheme of things.

I don't think the 5DIV will be a 'mirror slapper', or at least not if you don't want it to be.

With this talk of a 'modular' dslr going round I think the next 5D could have an interchangeable viewfinder, that is an optical pentaprism one for those that want to shoot stills with a high quality OVF, and an electronic EVF for those that want to lock the mirror up and use it for either stills or primarily video.

This way you get the best of both worlds.

Although that could certainly be done, it would make a lot more sense to just use a hybrid viewfinder that can be an EVF or an OVF on demand.  And a properly done hybrid design could also allow for all sorts of overlays even in OVF mode (e.g. zebra stripes on overexposed areas, focus peaking, etc.)

If you get the chance, there's a bridge across between the north and south rims with an old bridge next to it that they've converted into a pedestrian bridge.  Besides being able to say that you walked across the canyon, you might also get to shoot some pictures of whitewater rafters down below.

Incremental sync speed is vastly over rated and not the panacea many seem to think it is. Besides, the 1D from 2002 synced at 1/500 and the 1D MkIV syncs at 1/300 AND, speedlites like the 600-EX-RT, 580 EX II, Nikon SB910 etc have full power flash duration in the 1/250-1/350 range anyway, shorter shutter speeds actually cut your power even when you are not in HSS.
I disagree. A FF camera with a sync speed @ 1/500th at that price would be a game changer. The X100 is already a hit with many strobists. It means I can stress my speedlites less, better battery life, and less headaches of battery pack swaps.

What we need is to move to electronic shutters with simultaneous parallel readout.  With that, not only would you have almost infinitely fast shutter and sync speeds, but also the ability to store a photo as a stream of samples along with shake data and perform much more precise IS in post, for faster response beyond the capabilities of physical IS.

Lenses / Re: 70-200 or 100-400 conundrum.....
« on: November 21, 2014, 01:01:23 AM »
Personally, I'm very fine with my 70-300L, and if I want "fast" I'd rather add fast(er) primes to that (I've already got the 100L macro). Even for indoor flash-supported work the 70-300L is ok, it's not like one stop @70mm is such a big deal when you're doing small prints.

I tend to agree.  I loved my 70–300L on crop, but after moving to full-frame, I find myself leaving the 1.4x extender on it almost nonstop, so I’m probably going to switch to the new 100—400L II at some point.  I think night sports is pretty much the only plausible reason to go with the 70–200L f/2.8.  For most normal situations where you need reach, f/4 and even f/5.6 is plenty fast enough, and if you don’t need reach, you’ll probably be using your 24–105L, so the 70–100 range won’t be a big loss.

I have the 24–105L and the 70–300L, and 84% of my shots were shot at focal lengths longer than 105mm.  I don’t think I’d miss the overlap that much.

Photography Technique / Re: Travel advice - Northern California and Oregon
« on: November 20, 2014, 02:39:43 PM »
... there's little I like more than the beach in winter (although it'll be a first for the Pacific Coast)

If you get to the Monterey Bay area, be sure to dip your feet in.  You’ll soon discover why they don’t swim in Maine.  :D

And in the unlikely event that you have a few hours to spend, the whale watching trips from Moss Landing are an experience.  Bring a long lens (I mostly shot with a 70–300L and a 1.4x Kenko TC on my 6D).

Photography Technique / Re: Game Ranches for photography
« on: November 20, 2014, 02:22:42 PM »
One thing to note is most zoos, wildlife parks, and captive habitats have copyrights on their animals and strictly prohibit commercial photography without their permission.

At least in the United States, it is not possible to copyright an animal.  Copyright is exclusively limited to creative works.  Those locations may claim that they have such protection, but they don’t.

They might ostensibly have trademark protection, which would make certain specific uses (such as use in advertising) illegal, but that’s a different issue, and is pretty expensive on an ongoing basis, so it is unlikely you’ll run into it.

As always, the usual caveats apply: Although I have an extensive background in intellectual property law, I am not a lawyer, and more importantly, I am not your lawyer, so get legal advice before doing anything that might violate any agreement that you’ve entered into with such a zoo or park.

EOS Bodies - For Stills / Re: How long until the next FF body? Or buy now?
« on: November 18, 2014, 03:56:18 PM »
Probably not 95% if Canon production statistics can be used as a guide.  In April 2014, Canon surpassed 100 million EF lenses.  In February 2014, Canon produced its 70 millionth EF camera (film and digital).

Again, this tells you nothing of value, other than that Canon sold a few more lenses than cameras.  I suspect that most people do not regularly upgrade their lenses (if ever), but rather buy new lenses of different varieties.  By contrast, most people do eventually upgrade their camera bodies.

Depending on the percentage of kit lenses in that mix:

  • If most of the lenses sold are kit lenses, then most people never buy a second lens, and most users never replace their cameras.  As a consequence, users have, on average, about 1.4 lenses each.
  • If most of the lenses sold are individual lenses, then most people do buy a second lens, and most people do eventually replace their cameras with newer models.  If you assume that the average user goes through three bodies before upgrading a lens to a similar model (which is probably not far from reality), that means the average user probably owns about 4 lenses.
But even if we knew that information, that still wouldn't tell you what percentage of users never upgrade.  If users own 4 lenses on average, you could take twenty people, and nineteen could own one lens, and the twentieth could own 61 lenses, and you'd average out to four lenses each, but 95% of people would still be using the kit lens.  Such an extreme imbalance is, IMO, highly unlikely.  But you could easily have ten people who have seven lenses and ten people who have only one.

EOS Bodies - For Stills / Re: How long until the next FF body? Or buy now?
« on: November 18, 2014, 03:44:53 PM »
I would like to also give a warning... if you look at polls like this:

9% say they do not own DSLRs
9% say they only own one lens
23% own 2
59% own 3 or more.


By that poll, about 10% own only a kit lens, and in fact 3x as many people own 5 or more lenses.

Unless that's a separate stat, I don't think those numbers tell you anything about whether they own a kit lens.  There are people who buy a body and a single lens separately because they don't like the kit lens.  There are also folks who buy a kit, then break the kit lens and replace it with another lens.  They only own one lens (usably), but it isn't the kit lens.  And there are folks who decide to upgrade their lens from the kit lens, and sell the kit lens for a little extra cash.  I don't think it is computationally feasible to model such a complex marketplace without a direct, randomly sampled survey asking "Did you buy your camera with a kit lens?  Do you still use it?  Do you own any other lenses?"

They were cool on a personal level.  But we made the decision that even if we have confronted them, their equipment limited them and they would still have done what they were doing all day.  True professionals know how to work around each other.   So we ended up working around them.  As for the alter question, it was an outdoor wedding so there is a lot of freedom a photographer and videographer can do, however just the 50mm lens the videographer was using on a full frame camera was the wrong setup in my opinion.

I strongly agree with that.  Pretty much everything about their approach was wrong, from the lens to the use of a still camera in the first place.  You should never be using a portrait lens for close-up video unless you're doing cinematography—that is, unless your video production is the center of attention and there's no audience.  To do this right with still cameras, you should have:

  • Two close-up cameras with long zooms (70–300 equivalent or longer)—one on each side, about halfway to the back of the crowd (depending on the size of the venue)
  • A back camera with a superzoom (e.g. 24–300 equivalent)

Your close-up cameras (side cameras) should be able to show anything from a two shot of the couple (partial over-the-shoulder shot, not a full OTS) to a close-up on the bride's and groom's hands during the ring part of the ceremony, and a medium shot during the exchange of vows.  Minimally, you can get by with one side camera here, but it is less than ideal.

The back camera absolutely must have a superzoom, because it has to cover everything from a medium shot of the officiant and lectors (or at least a three shot of the couple with the officiant and a passable medium long shot or long shot of the lectors) all the way to a wide shot of the entire room.  If you don't have a superzoom, you'll need two cameras here—one with a long zoom lens (e.g. 70–300 or 100–400 equivalent)—and one with a wider lens (perhaps a 24–105 equivalent so you can zoom slowly from a shot of the entire bridal party to a wide shot of the entire room).

One of the side cameras should record the audio feed from the house sound system, if possible.  Otherwise, you should use a separate portable audio recorder to capture the house sound.  The back camera should have a dedicated external microphone on a mic stand, placed several feet above the camera to minimize noise from both the camera and the operator.

At this point, it is worth noting that so far, I've described what I'd use for a wedding if I had to shoot it using still cameras, but given a choice, I would never even consider doing so, for two reasons:

  • Still camera lens zoom ranges are laughable by video standards, and changing lenses while recording video is not really very practical.  For event videography work, I would consider an 8:1 optical zoom range to be the absolute minimum usable zoom range unless you can afford to throw several extra cameras and tripods at the problem.  These days, most high-end ENG/EFP gear has 20:1 or higher optical zoom ratios.  So even Canon's 28–300 lens with its 10.7:1 zoom ratio—the longest zoom ratio available in a Canon still camera lens—is considered just barely passable for ENG/EFP purposes.
  • Electrically operated zooms give much cleaner results that are more likely to be usable without the need to attach long sticks to them.

So in practice, I'd have those same basic cameras, but each one would be more along the lines of an XH-A1, XA20, or XA25.

In an ideal world, I'd also have:

  • A camera over the altar pointing back at the congregation
  • A dedicated choir camera positioned opposite the choir
  • A dedicated choir director camera positioned above and behind the choir
  • A pair of part-time camera operators in the front row of seating for better angles of certain parts of the ceremony
  • A dedicated officiant medium-shot camera with a long prime lens so your other back camera can keep a three shot
  • Dedicated ambo and lectern cameras to cover scripture readings
  • A moving camera operator

And in an ideal world, all of those cameras would be permanent fixtures of the church except for the moving camera operator, who is optional.  That way, you'd just have one or two remote camera operators back in the back steering things, and minimal distractions.

Either way, if you have a moving camera operator, that person should not move very often.  IMO, it would be acceptable to have a mobile cam in or near the center aisle during the procession, who gets the heck out of the way immediately thereafter.  That person might move immediately to the back to catch the recession at the end, or might temporarily sit in or near the front row to serve as a pop-up cam for the ring exchange, or as an alternate straight-on camera for parts of the ceremony that are off to one side, and then might slip to the back during communion or some other moment of Mass distraction.  :D  Either way, the moving camera should never be up and moving around during the ceremony itself on an ongoing basis.  That's very unprofessional.

And you should never have a camera behind the officiant unless it is pointed almost exclusively at the congregation.  That violates the 180 degree rule, a.k.a. crossing the axis, jumping the line, whatever.  Presumably, you'll have a back camera pointed at the trio, and if your close-up camera shoots from the opposite side, suddenly people are facing the wrong direction.  It is very disorienting.  It also doesn't reflect the congregation's view of the ceremony, which makes it a dubious representation of that ceremony.

EOS Bodies - For Stills / Re: How long until the next FF body? Or buy now?
« on: November 17, 2014, 05:34:43 PM »
Remember that the vast majority (around 95%) of people never buy another lens after their original purchase of a DSLR.

I'd love to know how someone can generate such statistics.  I mean, you can't correlate sales figures, because you have no idea whether people are buying a body to replace an existing one or buying one fresh.  And you can't even assume that people who buy one with a kit lens are new buyers, because they might turn around and sell the lens on eBay at more than the difference in price between the kit and the body-only price, or they might be buying the kit lens to have as a "beater" lens for when they go to the beach or whatever.

Also, even assuming the whole "people don't upgrade" thing is true for entry-level bodies, the main reason for that is because lots of people buy them, try them, conclude that they can't deal with the size and bulk, and go back to shooting photos with their cell phones.  That doesn't mean that someone who actually plans to shoot for more than a week with a DSLR shouldn't choose a camera based on what lenses are available.  :)

Also, to the extent that the "never upgrade" thing is true, it means that the manufacturers need to improve their kit lenses, because a lot of folks won't upgrade, and will be daunted by the low-quality images that they get compare with what they were expecting.  This leads to people giving up before they find a reason to buy a better lens.

I'd ask for several things:

  • A portfolio of work shot by that photographer (not the studio, as you've already noted)
  • An example video of someone's wedding, as shot by that photographer
  • A photograph of the photographer
  • A list of churches where the photographer has worked and who officiated
  • A list of typical equipment

The reason for the first and second items should be mostly obvious.  You want to make sure that the photographer is competent, and make sure that the videography work matches the style that you expect.  For example, some folks want a straight movie of the ceremony as-is, whereas others prefer more of a highly edited highlights reel with various musical additions in the background, ducked during the "I dos".  Make sure you know what you'll be getting, and that it is what you're expecting.

The reason for the third and fourth items are so you can go talk to people at the church who were involved in previous weddings and ask them whether the photographer would be welcomed back, or whether the person was a nuisance.

The reason for the fifth item is so you can determine A. whether the photographer is likely just some kid with a rebel who got lucky with the photos on one shoot, and B. whether or not the photographer has the lenses needed to do an adequate job without getting in the way, based on the size of the church in question.  If, for example, you're shooting in a cathedral, and the photographer shoots everything with a 50mm lens, you can safely assume that you won't get any usable shots during the ceremony unless the photographer gets in the way of the ceremony.

I would ask if the photographer does video.  If not, ask whether there are any video crews that he or she has worked with successfully in the past (and/or unsuccessfully, so you know who to avoid).  It is far better to have people who know each other and know how to stay out of each other's way, which is why (IMO) if you can find a good all-in-one shop, you're probably better off, even if that all-in-one shop subcontracts the video work to somebody else.

If you're trying to save money on the video work, you might ask if the photographer would be willing to provide you with the raw footage at a discount rather than editing it down into a final presentation.  The ingestion and editing is a large chunk of the time invested in doing a wedding video, and if you're willing to do that hard work yourself, you could potentially save money that way, if the photographer is amenable to it.  (Some do, some don't.)

And ask how many video cameras they use.  Two is really the minimum, and I would recommend three, depending on location.  Ask if they have remote control cameras or if they have to have a person physically manning each of them.  This can impact where they can put cameras, and depending on the location, this can make a big difference in terms of what they can do without being disruptive.  (With that said, you can often get away with static cameras, so lack of a RoboCam isn't necessarily a show-stopper.)

Another thing you might consider, if you're camera-savvy, is renting some decent video gear, setting it up ahead of time with fixed shots, starting it, and leaving it running.  That won't give you quite as good a result as a professional videographer, but it would reduce the cost enormously.  Remember to budget for a decent microphone, and be sure to check the levels during loud musical passages to ensure you aren't clipping.  Or if you really don't care much about the video, you could do as some folks have occasionally suggested—mount a GoPro to the bride and groom and be done with it.  :)

Finally, beware of videographers named Sal DiPasquale.

EOS Bodies - For Stills / Re: The structure of a CR2 file
« on: November 17, 2014, 04:07:58 AM »
So wait, if I'm reading this right, Canon's CR2 files (in true RAW format) provide two greyscale images, each of whose pixels alternate between subpixels shot with two different color filters, and compresses those images in a lossless JPEG?  No wonder the RAW files are so big.  What they're doing is basically like using JPEG or MPEG compression on an interlaced video image without deinterlacing it first.  When you do that, you give up almost all of the spatial redundancy that would otherwise be removed by compression, at least in one direction.

Four color channels is sensible.  Three color channels (fold the greens together), would make some sense (though they would be different sizes, and the spatial redundancy would be a little screwy), but two channels is just plain wrong....  How could that possibly make sense?

EOS Bodies - For Stills / Re: How long until the next FF body? Or buy now?
« on: November 15, 2014, 02:23:46 PM »
I'm giving the 6d another 2 years, one year until the 5d4 release, another year to trickle down innovations to the little brother.

Seriously?  I was surprised that we didn't see a new rev of the 6D at Photokina two months ago.  As the Rebel of the full-frame line, I'd expect the 6D's refresh rate to be a lot closer to the 1-year Rebel rate than the 4-year high-end body rate.  By two years from now, other manufacturers will be eating their lunch at the low end.

EOS Bodies - For Stills / Re: How long until the next FF body? Or buy now?
« on: November 15, 2014, 02:15:29 PM »

There is a reason for this - apart from the 6d sensor image quality the 5d3 is superior in every way.

If you happen to shoot center point only, shoot with slower lenses and don't track, go with the 6d. Remember that even *if* Canon releases a newer 5d4/6d2 anytime soon, it'll be a lot more expensive than the current models.

I wouldn't say 5D3 is superior in every way, the 6D center point focuses better in low light and it also adds Wifi+GPS if that's something you want.  Also, I'm not sure that the 5D4/6D2 will be much more expensive than the current models; Canon's pricing strategy lately seems a bit more reasonable.

The 5D's advantages include a better focusing system, viewfinder coverage (Whee!  Three whole percent!), a faster maximum shutter speed, clean HDMI output, a faster maximum frame rate, better video IQ, and two slots (though only the CF slot is really fast enough to be usable).

The 6D's advantages are in-body GPS, in-body Wi-Fi, better sensor IQ (particularly in low light), significantly lower weight, better low-light focusing (center point only), and a faster SD card slot for easier compatibility with laptops and tablets.

For sports shooters and videographers, the 5D is a soundly better choice.  For everyone else, the 6D's better IQ and better low-light handling makes it a soundly better choice even if it didn't cost half as much as the 5D Mark III.  IMO, that makes the 5D Mark III overpriced for what you get.  It is seriously in need of an update to bring its sensor IQ closer to parity with the 1D and 6D, and ideally, to bring its feature set up to parity with the 6D.

Lenses / Re: Preorder: Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II
« on: November 14, 2014, 03:10:29 PM »
This particular lens model has had a long known history of significant sample variation.  It's the only lens that I have seen where every reviewer mentions sample variation as being a significant problem....

Let's hope they made design changes in version II that significantly reduce that sample variation problem—making it more precisely adjustable in more places or using parts that break less easily or whatever.

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