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Messages - elflord

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PowerShot Cameras / Re: Low light compact for £250
« on: October 01, 2011, 02:41:02 PM »
I have a suggestion, but new might be a little outside the budget.  Sony have now launched the NEX 5 N and the older models are being sold off quite cheap.  I'd suggest the NEX5 with 18 - 55mm lens, having just bought the twin lens version I shot a load of low light stuff at Iso 800, most of it doesn't even need to have noise processing applied.

It's a decent choice, but a used micro 4/3 will be cheaper and have a better lens selection available. The sensor is slightly smaller than the sony's, but much larger than that of the G12.

EOS Bodies / Re: Shooting in manual
« on: September 30, 2011, 07:58:10 PM »
I've been visiting the site for quite some time now and recently joined.  Thought I'd introduce myself by asking the requisite novice question.

I've learned a lot reading the various posts here (thank you all).  And I've picked up some modest skill over the course of the past 2.5 years since purchasing my 500D, but I have yet to find a shot or a shooting situation yet, in my experience, that requires I shoot in manual mode.  I haven't done any macro or sports shooting, and I have almost no experience using flash so perhaps those are some of them..  I generally shoot landscapes, city-scapes, architecture, portraits, and birds.  I shoot with the following glass; EF 50 1.4, EF-S 17-85, EF 70-200 f4L non-IS, & a Speedlite 270EX that collects a lot of dust.

So the question is, when do you find yourselves shooting in manual, or what situations require it? 

Whenever the cameras metering fails, you will need to either use AE lock or manual exposure. This for example can often happen if you have strong backlight. It's common for night lit scenes where there are intense contrasts and you need to make an intelligent choice about what you want the camera to meter. For landscape photos, you might have to set exposure carefully to get the sky right. If you're taking a picture of a scene with a lot of snow, the automatic metering probably won't do the right thing. Take a look at Bryan Peterson's "understanding exposure" for some interesting examples that benefit from thinking carefully about metering. If you take landscape/cityscape photos, you'll like the book (most of his shots are landscape/cityscapes)

And yes, it's useful for flash pictures -- set the shutter speed to "fast enough" and pick an aperture that gives the right depth of field.  I find Av usually doesn't do what I want when I have the flash (it uses long exposures to expose the back ground but I find it over exposes which means I'd need to adjust it anyway)

EOS Bodies / Re: Price point of a 5Dmk2 replacement
« on: September 30, 2011, 07:44:40 PM »
How much of that was because it was Sony?

Sony continue to produce a full frame camera at a similar price point to the D700 and the 5D Mark II. Sony didn't kill it because they can't produce full frame cameras, they killed it because   they came to the same conclusion as everyone else who manufactures full frame bodies -- a $2000 full frame body isn't a winning proposition for the manufacturer.

  Sony I think more of the P&S crowd

Perhaps because they don't have as much history as Canon/Nikon/Pentax ? However, they do make full frame cameras (just not in the $2000 price range)  and (unlike their mirrorless) their SLR mount has a pretty decent lens lineup. Not perhaps as comprehensive as Canon and Nikon but they touch all the right bases.

EOS Bodies / Re: Price point of a 5Dmk2 replacement
« on: September 30, 2011, 12:35:23 AM »
Sony did it with a $2000 FF.

Yes, I know they released a $2000 full frame camera which I addressed it in my earlier post. Quoting myself:

In terms of manufacturing costs alone -- Sony has already sold a full frame camera for $2000 (the A850). So it is likely that it is possible to get full frame cameras on the shelves for $2000 a piece with 0 marginal cost per unit  to the manufacturer.

But pricing does not depend on marginal production costs alone.  It depends partly on fixed costs and partly  on supply and demand economics

However, they didn't exactly corner  the full frame market. The A850 was so successful that they pulled the model less than two years after its launch.

Does the A850 hold the record for the shortest lived full frame DSLR ?

EOS Bodies / Re: Price point of a 5Dmk2 replacement
« on: September 29, 2011, 07:22:50 PM »
A lot of times, people setting the prices are not rocket scientists (surprise surprise). They do not create sophisticated price elasticity models...  I implement financial package (ERP) applications in Fortune 500 companies, and it amazes me how rudimentary their cost allocation models are. Most of the time, R&D is considered a period cost and allocated based as a percentage of selling price or product cost, then a margin is added on top of that.

If one went purely with R&D allocation, it would not inflate the prices of the higher end models as much, what does inflate those costs is the % of Mark-up tacked on. Herein comes the art of pricing, the mark-up.

 A product manager for lets say a rebel line will work on what he has to work with given his product range and not worry about pricing for the pro series, he will have sales targets (the smarter companies will have profitability targets): These Targets at times are not always set to maximize profitability, but at times are set to mantain market share and customer base till the next model comes along. The real money is made from the higher margin products, therefore for consumers, the higher end models do "rightly" seem over priced, and they are.

I agree that the people who set the prices probably aren't that sophisticated. I notice for example that the refurbished prices are uniformly 20% discounted from new price, even though on high end items this has them undercutting street prices on used items.

However, at some level, demand driven pricing kicks in. They at least understand the need to price their items "competitively" and that they could lose a lot of sales if they don't. They fine tune their prices as necessary as demand slacks through rebate programs. It might seem simplistic, but if you were to go and deploy a sophisticated model, you usually need a human being to step in at some point and update the model inputs.

Whether or not the manufacturer allocates R&D proportionately to revenue for different products or uses some other mechanism is somewhat orthogonal to my point -- which is that you can't meaningfully choose any per-unit allocation of R&D costs, because the marginal R&D cost per unit is 0.

So it makes perfect sense for them to crank out the cheaper models as long as the marginal revenues exceed the marginal costs. That is, they don't have to pay the R&D bills with their point and shoots for it to be worth it to produce them. But they do this understanding that these units aren't going to be cash cows for them.

The cheaper models do have something in common with more expensive models -- they are subject to the laws of supply and demand. The big difference is that the demand curve looks quite a bit different -- they are dealing with a very price sensitive market.

So whether you attribute it to R&D allocation or "markup" or whatever, the fact remains that they can't jack up prices on cheap models very much without killing sales. So pricing is very much dependent on demand.

A $500-600 differential between a 7D to 5D class camera (other things being the same) might be justified, the rest is fluff and mark-up!

If that's the case, why doesn't someone get out there and corner the market with a sub $2000 full frame camera ? If you're right and a less expensive smaller sensor camera is good enough to keep the lights on, then why is it that Olympus and Panasonic let standard 4/3 die, Pentax (APS-C and medium format only) were bought out, while the full frame models are still going strong ?

It seems to me we're talking about the same thing -- prices are driven by demand (and not the "demands" of forum posters)

PowerShot Cameras / Re: Low light compact for £250
« on: September 29, 2011, 06:40:25 PM »
A friend at work is looking for a new camera, she's asking me about the Samsung MV800 but she's wanting something for taking pictures at weddings and family gatherings, in particular where light is a poor.  She isn't wanting a DSLR and I'm not sure she would be up for a second hand G Series... 

Any suggestions for £250 that will fit in a pocket ?

How about a used micro 4/3 (e.g. panasonic GF series or an olympus Pen) ? The sensor size to camera size of these things is pretty hard to beat. That would be the best performing option short of getting an SLR.

For compacts, stick with a 1/1.7" or so sensor -- Canon S90/S95, Panasonic LX3/LX5, Olympus XZ1. The smaller the sensor, the worse it will perform in low light.

Obviously, the people who get annoyed by that comment are those who have not exploited their gear at the maximum. Which means that they have wasted money on their current equipment.

If this is true, we could all spend a life time with a point and shoot, and still fail to produce better images than those who truly mastered using one.

Thankfully, it isn't true. They've only "wasted money" if the added utility of the more expensive equipment is less than the utility (to them) of the extra money they spent on it. 

If I get $1500 worth of joy in jumping from a Rebel to a 5D Mark II (and what constitutes $1500 worth depends entirely on my subjective preferences)  then it is not a waste to buy one. There is no rule that says that I have some obligation to spend a certain amount of time using cheaper equipment and maximizing the results obtained from it to acquire skills that make me "worthy" of a more expensive camera.

Of course those who want to maximize the results from a point and shoot before buying a more expensive camera are welcome to do so. But those people will never own an SLR (and never upgrade their point and shoot)

Remind me, why are you waiting for 5D3 / 1Ds 4?

I'm not in the class of people who have to own a camera that doesn't exist but I  did buy a full frame and I'm pretty sure that there are some much better photographers using much cheaper equipment. The reason was that I really enjoy using it for taking the types of pictures that I take. I don't see it in terms of "going further with my skills". I am not a pro and I don't participate in photography contests, so have no interest in "going further". Indeed, I think one could "go further" with a point and shoot, and if "going further" were truly the goal, one might be better served by using a variety of very inexpensive cameras.

EOS Bodies / Re: Price point of a 5Dmk2 replacement
« on: September 29, 2011, 06:32:45 AM »
My calculation is: $300 difference between FF and APS-C, $300 for larger prism, larger shutter, lager mirror, larger body (compared to 7D). Assuming that the 5DIII have all the features of 7D then, the 5DIII should be  $600 above 7D. The current 5DII have less feature than the 7D and sells about $1000 above the 7D. Therefore the 5DII is over priced. Canon should be able to sell the 5DIII at about $2200. Since 5dIII is a FF, Canon may price it at $2800 for deeper profit.

Canon have manufacturing costs (per body produced) but they also have fixed R&D costs. How do they distribute those between the different models ? For example, if the R&D costs average $200 per camera sold, does that mean that entry level powershots "should" cost $200 plus manufacturing costs plus markup ? If you don't want to pay for the R&D, then why are we discussing prices of a model that doesn't even exist yet ? The way it ultimately works is that the way those costs are distributed among their models depends on relative supply and demand for the different models. Higher end models (those where a price increase doesn't hurt sales as much) are likely to cover more of these costs.

In terms of manufacturing costs alone -- Sony has already sold a full frame camera for $2000 (the A850). So it is likely that it is possible to get full frame cameras on the shelves for $2000 a piece with 0 marginal cost per unit  to the manufacturer.

But pricing does not depend on marginal production costs alone.  It depends partly on fixed costs and partly  on supply and demand economics (and these interact as fixed costs are likely to be distributed based on demand). The 5D Mark I has similar full frame hardware to the 5D Mark II, yet it is "underpriced" at $1000. The reason is that there is limited demand for an older model.

EOS Bodies / Re: Am I the only person who isn't interested in a 5d mkIII?
« on: September 28, 2011, 06:42:11 AM »
It's so frustrating seeing everyone praying for their new 5d/7d/60d/ti etc!.

I think I'm about the only one here who actually likes the 5D Mark II (I just picked one up) and isn't in a hurry to dump it for the 5D Mark III (never mind the fact that we still don't know anything about the Mark III and therefore aren't really in a position to decide whether the upgrade is a good idea). Sure it could have more autofocus points, but I just use the middle one all the time anyway. I suppose there are some who would like to be able to bump the ISO up to 409600. Not me. Camera tech simply isn't on a Moore's law curve, and the 5D Mark II while "old" was ahead of the curve when it came out.

EOS Bodies / Re: Price point of a 5Dmk2 replacement
« on: September 27, 2011, 07:17:44 AM »
Excellent topic, and really interesting picture is emerging here.
Looks like except hand full of professionals, some really crazy enthusiasts, may be some lawyers, dentists and yes neuroanatmist, nobody else can afford FF or in other words humble 35 mm format digital camera.
I really hope Canon, and others are not creating this elitist  club with premeditation...
Good night everybody!

Price of entry to "full frame goodness" is quite a bit lower than the cost of a new 5D Mark II. If you're willing to go with film, the EOS 3 is about $300 now. It works with EOS mount lenses and has a good autofocus system. If you really want digital (no one really needs digital except possibly pros and only because they are competing with other pros who have digital) , used 5D classics sell for about $1000 or so -- about the price of a new 60D.

About the "elite club" -- it boils down to whether you want to take great photos, or crank out pictures on a tight schedule that meet  the expectations of clients. For pros, the latter is important but for amateurs, it isn't . So pro equipment won't necessarily produce the best results (what it will do is produce quick gratification which is why everyone wants it)

If you really do want to turn pro,  then you're looking at it as a business startup cost. The cost of a 5D Mark II looks expensive compared to discretionary income, but it is not expensive by the standards that you'd measure business startup costs.

Canon General / Re: Improving composition - photography skills
« on: September 26, 2011, 08:24:32 PM »
Firstly thank you all for the references and tips.  will need time to digest the materials mentioned here.

Let me share 2 specific challenges I face with my photos:

1) Exposure - with digital - even a slight brightness often "kills" the colors by "blowing them out". When I shoot outdoors (I live in a very sunny country) I find it very hard to set exposure - as "normal" exposure often is much to bright and colorless, if I start to underexpose - I get dark spots in the frame? Any tips on outdoor shots in bright light ?

"Understanding Exposure" by Bryan Peterson discusses metering in some depth. The first step if you are taking pictures of a scene with really bright highlights is to make sure that you are metering the primary subject and how to meter when photographing challenging scenes.

A quick summary: the way Peterson likes to do it is put the camera on manual and fill most of the frame with whatever he wants to use as his point of reference and manually set the exposure, then recompose. Alternatively one can use AE lock combined with shutter/aperture priority.

2) Portraits. Everyone talks about using a small f/stop >=2.8 to produce background blur (bokeh) and give the shot a nice affect. However I find - that f stops 2.8 and smaller - can easily produce blurry shots as the smallest movement of the subject (not to mention a group shot where people are not all the same distance from you) causes blur. I found that nothing ruins a nice portrait more then a blurry kind of picture (unless this was intended for some artistic purpose)
What is the best F/stop for portraits ? What about if you use a flash ?

The best F stop depends -- depth of field varies with subject distance. If you're close to minimum focus distance, you could need a much narrower aperture than f/2.8 to avoid "foreground blur".  If you're taking a full body portrait with a 50mm lens on a crop, subject movement will not throw them out of focus (assuming you focused correctly). See online depth of field calculators.

For portraits, there is no one best F stop, but if you go with a narrow aperture, you will need a more cooperative background.

Flash can be used as necessary to provide enough light. Ideally, you choose the F stop based on depth of field preference. As you've probably observed already, for group shots you often need more depth of field, especially if the subjects aren't conveniently lined up in the plane of focus. A flash really helps for these because then you don't need to stretch the aperture to get enough light, instead you can close it to get enough depth of field.

EOS Bodies / Re: Opinion - What EOS Will Look Like by Photokina
« on: September 25, 2011, 07:09:03 PM »
The more I think about this, the less I'm beginning to care! Don't get me wrong I like the Canon products I have but I've pretty much grown tired of waiting for Canon to wake up to the fact I want a good small camera.

I'm very close to ditching my Canon SLR gear and picking up a Fuji X100 and maybe eventually a Leica. I don't like that Canon are being so slow to market, they don't impress me with innovation that I care about any more, that will help me take better family photos, videos and studio shots. I want either an affordable, smallish, superfast, 45 point AF FF SLR with a flash built-in, or a small rangefinder style camera.

If someone said to you "I want a small camera with decent image quality, I don't care very much for shallow depth of field, and I want something compact and not too expensive", would you tell them to get the 5D with the 24-70mm f/2.8 ? Why not just sell it all and get the EP3 or the GH2  ? Even if/when Canon do announce a mirrorless product, their lens lineup will be 3-4 years behind micro 4/3.

EOS Bodies / Re: Big 5D Mark II Price Drops in Canada & USA
« on: September 25, 2011, 04:35:42 PM »
dang such a disappointment i was also planning on getting one as well. real tempted to just get one shipped from canada for $2k...the only difference is the 1 year warranty from a us version?

Canon sells the refurbished version for $2000 in their online store. They usually sell out pretty quickly, but if you check the site each day for a little while, you should be able to pick one up. If you can do without the full warranty, it's a deal.

Canon General / Re: Improving composition - photography skills
« on: September 25, 2011, 03:04:47 PM »
Can you suggest some tips on how to advance my composition skills ?

I posted a book before, I can add a few tips (without repositing a mini tutorial) I'm not a seasoned photographer, but I'll fire away anyway --

for family pictures (e.g. birthday parties), I've found dealing with backgrounds to be one of the key challenges. I don't know about you, but my residence while well kept is not a photo studio, and sometimes where I will be shooting, it's just a mess.

Neuroanatomist's tip to scan the frame is a good one. I'd go a step further and suggest that you need to move around and position yourself so that you have a good background. This also includes considering a high or low camera position.

Telephoto lenses (or the long end of a normal zoom) give you tighter control of the background. Wider shots really force you to look at the frame carefully because they really pull in a lot of background.

Canon General / Re: Improving composition - photography skills
« on: September 25, 2011, 02:03:35 PM »
Dear All,

Pardon me for interrupting the flood of tech - equipment type posts. I would like to ask those of you who are seasoned photographers a question about PICTURES (not cameras) for a change.

I am an amateur photographer (as a hobby) for about 14 months now. I started out right at the bottom coming from simple p&s pics at a birthday party - and I'm trying to improve my skills.

Can you suggest some tips on how to advance my composition skills ?

"The Photographers Eye" by Michael Freeman.

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