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Messages - dafrank

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Lenses / Re: DXOMark: Samyang 24mm f/1.4 for Canon
« on: March 13, 2014, 12:35:10 PM »
Actually, the DXO review for the Samyang, if anything, pretty much convinced me to consider buying the 24mm f/2.8 Canon IS prime. IS - good for 3 or 4 extra stops with static subjects and video, plus very good sharpness wide open, good construction, guaranteed camera compatibility, small size, light weight, exif communications and a price just above the Samyang and less than half of the faster Canon, makes the lens the rational choice for those that don't absolutely have to have the extra 1.5 (likely "real" T-stop difference) stops faster aperture or the tilt/shift ability of the 24mm TS-E. Of course, YMMV, but I can't see how this isn't rational and true, and I know that, even with very fast (f/1.2 to f/1.4) lenses, I rarely actually shoot at maximum aperture, because I usually want that slight extra sharp focusing margin that a slightly smaller aperture affords.


Photography Technique / Re: Product photography with shiny objects
« on: February 13, 2014, 11:35:15 AM »
Best solution is to first is to set up the shot exactly how you want to show the product, then note the field around the subject and literally mark off the exact space being reflected in the product. What you should be trying to achieve is to add highlights to define shape and texture and solid blacks or gray gradients where defining highlights aren't necessary. Hang black and/or gray cloth in the reflected field and add large soft and diffused highlights with lightbanks, diffuser shoot-throughs or lit foamcores as needed. Or just hire a competent professional. Good luck.
Regards, David

These look familiar; I've long known about such things from reading newspapers and magazines, rare bouts of watching TV news and occasionally being "hypnotized" by the always lurid prison porn that is shown, usually late at night, on MSNBC, usually the most interesting thing that that cable channel runs on air.

A couple of the shivs look like they might be constructed of "starched" cardboard. Is that correct? If only those benighted sociopaths would apply just some of their energy and resourcefulness to honest work, we'd have a very little better economy, and they'd be a lot happier themselves. Too bad.

Many years ago, I covered a prison riot for Time magazine at Jackson Prison in Michigan. Scary places, those maximum security lock-ups. I hope you don't have to be too involved with the population in your work. It will be a lot better for your mental health if this was the last time you had to go inside the walls.

As far as photography and Canon goes, well, I'm kind of glad I didn't get the point. ;)


EOS Bodies / Re: Canon Teaser
« on: November 08, 2013, 02:02:29 PM »
"... Canon will start from the white world ..."
So rife with politically incorrect double entendre it almost seems like an Onion headline.

That sounds like a very literal translation. I wonder if it means something like "Canon starts from a blank slate".

I'll ask my Korean colleague when he comes back from lunch.

Yes, that's exactly what I thought when I read the machine-translated post - that what they probably mean is that Canon has created a new camera from a "clean sheet" of white paper, as the expression goes in the U.S., as it probably also does in other English-speaking nations. This would be a very nice surprise, if true. If not, it may also mean that (ugh!) Canon has fallen back on that desperate standby - kitchy styling - to bolster their sales and has created a literally all white painted version of the SL1 to sell to young Asian women to go with their Hello Kitty accessories. I guess we'll all know pretty soon, but I don't expect any real breakthroughs here. Just saying.

Regards, David

Third Party Manufacturers / Re: Sigma 24-105 f/4 DG OS Sample Images
« on: October 31, 2013, 09:05:35 PM »
The cyan-red lateral chromatic aberration is very obvious in all of the 5 or 6 shots I looked at full-size. It does not look up to the recent standards established by the faster Sigma "art' lenses in general with the LCA and soft corners at wider angles, etc. I would definitely pass unless the lens sold for under $500.00, and was used as a fun walk -around only. Not up to professional standards, especially for an f/4.0 lens. Canon's 24-70 f/4.0 is also flawed, but I think that, if memory serves me, the Canon 24-105 is better than this. This figures, as Canon appears ready to soon replace their 24-105, as a kit lens, with the substandard 24-70 f/4.0. Perfect. ::)


All the previous posts do well to specifically answer your question as to the dual pixel advantages in focusing. However, there are some possibilities that may or may not actually ever be incorporated into later designs, using dual pixels, which could open up a number of options not now available. Somewhat like Fuji in some of their recent sensor designs, Canon could actually use one pixel in each pair for reading highlights and the other for reading shadows, thereby creating a sort of instant HDR exposure, increasing DR by quite a lot. Other arrangements could also be made to use one of each pair to read color information separately and differently from its mate in the same pair, thereby increasing color depth and accuracy. I'm sure that many things that others could think of, would also be possible , but these are some that sound interesting to me. Whether any of this could or will actually happen is another thing entirely. Maybe Canon already has this in mind, maybe not.


Lenses / Re: New Tilt-Shifts in 2014, Other EF Lenses in 2013 [CR2]
« on: July 13, 2013, 12:19:57 PM »
As a longtime tilt-shift and studio monorail view camera user, I love my current 90mm TS-E, which is nearly flawless optically "as is." About the only things that could significantly improve it would be better anti-reflection coatings, independent rotation of tilt and shift functions - as in the current 17mm and 24mm versions, and bigger beefier control and locking knobs. That said, I probably won't rush to replace my current 90mm lens. My old 24mm TS-E is another matter.

There are two TS-E lenses I really want/need for my type of work, at least one of which I will purchase this year: 1) the 17mm f/4.0 and 2) the 24mm f/3.5 version II. Aside from these two, I would love to have a 135mm f/4.0 TS-E for product work, with near macro capabilities. This longer focal length would go a long way to cement the market for Canon among studio shooters who formerly migrated from large format film to medium format digital backs on view and technical cameras because of the availability of larger image circle type view-camera-like "digital" lenses from Schneider and Rodenstock. With the now supposedly soon-to-come very large megapixel full-frame camera arriving this year or next, Canon would have a shot of eating into that professional market with just another very high quality TS-E lens or two. A TS-E lens longer than 90mm would give these shooters a way to reduce perspective distortion in many product images, such as in automotive and other larger object photography, as well as in ordinary table-top set-ups. Anything from 120mm to about 180mm would be great; I just picked 135mm as a practical and well-worn focal length. In fact, a 120 to 180 f/4.0 - or even a variable aperture f/4.0-f/5.6 - TS-E zoom would be amazing. All this aside, I imagine Canon will most likely just produce the more pedestrian choice - 35mm f/2.8 TS-E. Well, there's always hope, isn't there?

Lighting / Re: Softbox Size question
« on: July 07, 2013, 02:18:31 PM »
Of course, this is one of those questions that are insoluble to those who are not actually living your own life. But, there are some rules of thumb to go by that might help you to understand diffuser (softbox light is diffused light) light sources.

Most people, even some photographers, mistakenly think that the softness (lower overall contrast, with lighter shadow values compared to harder lighting having comparable highlight values) comes from the evenness of the light source, such as light that is bounced off a large reflecting board or diffused through a medium such as translucent cloth, vellum or plastic. This is only about 1/4 right. The "softness" from these light sources is actually solely due to the overall size of the light emitting surface in relation to its distance from the subject. If a source is very uneven, with much brighter areas surrounded by those less illuminated, then the size of the source can mainly be measured by the part of the source which is most bright, like the light coming from an old fashioned photo flood fixture, and would actually measure as smaller overall than the size of the reflector. This is why the most efficient way of delivering soft lighting from a source of a certain measured area will usually be from an evenly illuminating source such as a softbox, light reflecting off a board or wall, or even a well made umbrella. But, the real data that counts is still how big the illuminating source is compared with the distance to the subject.

Understanding this should give you an idea how to calculate how big your softboxes should be to work for your subjects and your preconception of the quality of the light. If you cannot vary the distance from multiple illuminating sources to your subject by very much, then, in order to change the soft-hard quotient of the lighting from more than one softbox source, one would require different sized softboxes to accomplish the desired effect. Also, things such as overall space requirements, weight on - and position of - the lighthead (torque strain), portability, cost and many other factors might lead you to choose boxes of different sizes.

Think about what you may have to shoot and figure it out for yourself.

Regards, David

The Japanese Yen has fallen considerably in value in recent months. Japanese exports should therefore be much cheaper now for buyers, so why are Canon prices remaining so high? I'd love a new Canon 5D mk III but current MAP limitations are keeping prices high and stopping me from buying.

I have read many, but not all of the replies, so please forgive me if I repeat something someone else has already stated.

Unfortunately, you are thinking in ways that don't correspond to how businesses actually work. It is easy to do this because many of us tend to think of how we would behave - if we were perfectly selfless individuals acting on a one-to-one basis with a friend or relative - in setting prices on something or other ourselves. In this regard, corpporations, as well as individuals in business, who make and/or sell goods or services in the universal market environment in which we all conduct our financial transactions behave, at the most basic level, according to two principals: 1) they set their prices to maximize their income and profit, while always being careful not to set prices higher than would be the level to suppress demand, and 2) try not to churn the market by changing their prices too often or too rapidly, in order not to create ill will or confusion among their customer base and avoid pricing mistakes by basing their profit assumptions on too short a data sample.

Under the above realities, Canon has done two things: 1) when the value of the yen rose, it did not raise U.S. product prices as high or fast as the monetary valuations would suggest, and 2) when the value of the yen fell, it did not lower U.S. product prices as low or fast as the monetary valuations would suggest. And, if after testing the market for a period of time during which its competitors do not lower their prices and/or Canon's sales do not diminish or sales growth slow, they will probably take advantage of the period of lower yen evaluations to raise income and profit.

In short - no surprise here - the business world continues to operate under well known principles of supply and demand. "Fairness" in pricing is a principle that only exists in the minds of the naïve or schemes of various collectivist-minded "planners." The reality is that Canon will set its prices to maximize its income and profits, and only if the price levels they set punish them by reducing those two metrics, will they reduce their prices at all.


Lenses / My wanted list -probably a little different
« on: May 14, 2013, 06:02:00 PM »
Since I shoot some different things than most, I'd like to have a few different lenses which not be found on most other peoples' radar:

135mm - 180mm TS-E f/4.0 with both great far field and very good close-up capabilities, plus 3 axis IS (dream on) for a long-ish product lens with nearly zero per cent color aberrations and killer sharpness out to the edge of the image circle. The 90mm doesn't cut it for very large objects (cars, cars, cars) at extreme oblique angles when trying to maintain a relatively "normal" size perspective between the near and far portions of the subject matter.

Super high resolving, super high contrast 50mm f2.0 L with IS.

Super high resolving, super high contrast 16-24mm f/2.8 L with IS.

Super high resolving, super high contrast 24-50mm f/2.8 L with IS.

Super high resolving, super high contrast 50-105mm f/2.8 L with IS.

Modestly priced 400mm f/4.5 L IS

In all of the above lenses, except the TS-E, my purpose for specifying them as I did, is to trade aperture or zoom ratio for better image quality, something I would prefer to have, especially in light of the (hopefully) very high resolution per image area sensor cameras coming pretty soon. Whether these cams use smaller pixels, true color pixels, pixel-shifting multiple exposure techniques or some other method to yield their higher image resolution, better lenses will make them all the more useful.

Just my thoughts.


Software & Accessories / Shame on you Adobe
« on: May 07, 2013, 09:08:01 PM »
I am a professional. I do treat all my business related purchases as business deductions, I own the Creative Suite Master Collection version CS6.0 and previously had Master Suite in version CS5.5 and CS5.0, and Design Premium in CS4, CS3, CS2 and the original CS, plus had Photoshop with multiple licences in almost every version before that going back to PS2.5, different versions of InDesign, Illustrator, Acrobat and several other pieces of miscellaneous Adobe products. In other words, for a very small business, probably the backbone of Adobe profitability, I am the very customer Adobe should want to please. I am not a troglodyte, I am all for new forms of service and product delivery when it makes sense and adds value to the customer and his business. I HATE THIS SUBSCRIPTION MODEL, WILL RESIST IT IF AT ALL POSSIBLE, SAW IT COMING A MILE AWAY, AND DO NOT VIEW THIS AS ANY SORT OF POSITIVE, NECESSARY OR INEVITABLE DEVELOPMENT FOR ADOBE'S CUSTOMERS.

The only value added by this is to Adobe's bottom line. I don't think profit is a dirty word. I don't begrudge Adobe their profit, and I would like to do whatever I can to raise my own business margins, but my experience has long proven to me that I can't do that by simply unilaterally raising prices, complicating the product delivery process, giving clients products that they didn't ask for, changing the terms of payment and asserting total control over what used to be up to the discretion of my clients. The profit that is best is that earned from pleasing your customers by offering great choices, not forcing them in an unequal power relationship, by offering your clients real product innovation and quality, real productivity gains, continuity of exceptional service, and just plain respect. Adobe has done none of this, but has unilaterally decided to try to impose a scheme to just force its customers into forking over more money, at their pleasure, on their schedule, for either no, or nearly no, added value to its customer base whatsoever.

Shame on you Adobe. This will not end well for you or your customers.


Lenses / Yikes
« on: May 03, 2013, 03:00:36 PM »
Yikes; you've got a lot of questions and, obviously, very little knowledge about lighting and image making.

There is no "magic bullet" available to transform you into someone who can take excellent jewelry pictures, unless and until you take a lot of time, and invest some more money, in order to gain the experience and make the mistakes necessary to learn the craft of photography. Your gear is minimally adequate already. It's you that need s to learn. The suggestion to buy a book on lighting is excellent. Also, you may want to attend a workshop or take a class if either is available to you. In the alternative, there are a few concepts to understand which may help you to develop a better skill set through practice.

It is always helpful, when shooting any shiny reflective object - and jewelry is certainly one of these - to understand that such objects are exactly like mirrors; they reflect whatever is in their environment, according to a well understood principle of optical physics, the "law of reflection," that when a light ray strikes a reflective (flat) surface, then the angle of incidence is equal to the angle of reflection. Think of a perfectly constructed pool table: when you strike a billiard ball with your cue stick, rolling it towards a rail on the table, then, at whichever angle off the perpendicular that the ball travels to the rail, after striking the rail, it will bounce and then roll onwards at exactly that same angle, but in the inverse direction from the perpendicular. Hard to describe in words, but you get the picture. Similarly, your camera lens, at whatever angle it lies to the "flat" surface portion of your jewelry that you are trying to light, is literally viewing a "picture" of whatever lighting device, reflector or any other surface area, is reflected in that "flat" surface portion of the jewelry from the equal but inverse angle of the lens to jewelry surface angle. Since almost no jewelry is truly flat, and most reflect light from either a full 180 degrees of view or close to it,  you must take into consideration a very wide range of area to control the lighting.

Small, directional and "contrasty" lighting sources created with open face, spot and "pin" spot type fixtures, coming from several different directions, sometimes works best on multifaceted stones, where many small "hard" highlights better define their surface texture and dimensionality. Diffuse lighting spread out onto a very large surfaces placed relatively close to the jewelry produces larger "soft" highlights which best define flatter surfaces, such as watch faces and metal bands. Carefully combining both techniques when necessary yields a very good look, but great care must be taken to separate the different lighting schemes' effects in order to maximize the quality.

Care must be taken to control color, not only matching the proper white point for the light sources, but also the color of any reflecting or light diffusing surfaces, whether intended or accidental. One can also use "improper" color sometimes, as in reflecting gold surfaces onto gold jewelry show the jewelry color more effectively without also adversely affecting the background.

Last tilt-shifting lenses can be used to better control focus, to either appear to increase or decrease effective focus depth, and the somewhat onerous technique of focus stacking can be used as well. But, keep in mind that a narrow focus, limited depth-of-field look, when the focus itself is placed strategically, can sometimes be just as, or even more, effective than having everything all in focus all the time.


Lenses / Re: Fair price for a used 85mm 1.2L II
« on: April 29, 2013, 02:04:40 PM »

"Well first, do not buy most of the stuff from the pro, as they abuse gear most. Having said that 85 1.2 is studio lens, may not have had hard life, so your call."

Hey, I'm a long-time pro, and I can tell you that I take better care of my gear than 95% of the amateurs I know, keep gear carefully stored in fitted cases and in moderate temperature and humidity conditions almost all the time - except, of course, when actually shooting. Even in the infrequent circumstances where I must shoot in less than good circumstances, I never abuse lenses or cameras in the "elements" and protect them from harsh environments by always being prepared to take adequate precautions. As far as dropping or knocking gear around, I have almost never done so, because I need to earn my livelihood with it and need to have it in perfect working order every time. On the extremely rare occasion when any gear of mine does get messed up (two lenses and one body in over 30 years working), I have it repaired by the best available means immediately, test it for myself, and would notify the seller if it had required repair in any subsequent sale. And, if some gear looked great but had an awful lot of use - much more than the looks would ordinarily indicate, I would also let potential buyers know that as well.

When I sell my used gear, if I say it is mint, it really is. To do or say otherwise is foolish, as it can easily be discovered if you are not being truthful. I would guess that the majority of pros are more like me than what you apparently imagine. I doubt very much that you have to worry that buying from a pro would be more risky than from an amateur, and, I think that it would likely, in fact, be a safer option than buying from most amateurs. Yes, there are some pros who beat the heck out of their gear and who are deceptive about its condition, but the same could be said about many amateurs as well. The best thing to do is to judge each case individually and know that the odds aren't against you finding gear as it is represented in a sale from a pro photographer.


Lenses / My thoughts
« on: April 18, 2013, 05:30:10 PM »
In terms of image quality and out-of-focus rendering or (also?) “bokeh”, does one of these lenses have an edge for portraits and head shots at 100mm?

70-200mm f/2.8L IS II (8 rounded aperture blades)
100mm f/2.8L Macro IS (9 rounded aperture blades)

If there is no substantial/significant/notable/etc. difference between the two lenses at 100mm, I would be inclined to use the 100mm macro on a shoot because it is lighter.

However, if the 70-200mm lens (at 100mm) has some sort of appreciable advantage over the 100mm macro lens, then extra weight would be unimportant to me, and I would use the bigger lens.

From what I believe I have read elsewhere in Canon Rumors , but am unable to find exactly, is that the macro lens is not recommended generally for portraits (?), and that the 70-200mm is preferred, along with primes such as the 135mm f/2L or the 85mm f/1.2L.

Might anyone share thoughts or insight regarding this question?

Here are my thoughts: first, you should loosen up your perception of what a "portrait" lens is.

I have the 85mm f/1.2 lens, usually thought to be the near-perfect lens for portraits in the Canon lens lineup. It is wonderful, but I take a minority of my portrait assignments with this marvelous beast. One can take a great portrait with almost any lens, from ultra-wide (fisheye to 24mm) "environmental" portraits, to "normal" 35mm to 60mm lens "medium" shots, to super-tight, very long focal length portraits, with lenses up to even the 300-400 mm range. Think creatively. It's not that a 100mm lens would not produce extremely pleasing head and shoulder - and even tighter head-only shots; it's just that it would be preferable to have more focal length options, especially in the 70-200mm range which covers most of the best focal lengths for people shooting. That is why you should strongly consider the f/2.8 zoom, in addition to, or instead of the 100mm macro. It also affords you the cropping and perspective that you might prefer when you can't necessarily change the distance between you and your subject, all things for you to consider.

As to bokeh, well, as in all high contrast zooms like the great 70-200 mm f/2.8 IS II, bokeh is a little busy compared to many simpler single focal length lenses, but it is still very good compared to most zooms and is usually more than acceptable for narrow aperture portraiture. Significantly better bokeh than the zoom would require the 85mm f/1.2, the 135 f/2.0, the 200mm f/2.0, or, perhaps, yes, maybe (by a hair) the 100mm 2.8 macro.

Good luck finding what you want and using it for what you need.


EOS Bodies / Adding info to plastic bag routine
« on: April 07, 2013, 11:56:12 AM »
Hey y'all! So next week I'll be shooting a tournament outdoors. It is likely it will rain but I still need to shoot. I'd be using my rebel XSi and 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens. The latter is weatherproof -so I don't need to worry about covering my lens right? but I can't say the same for my rebel.

Any ideas on making a makeshift dslr rain cover?

I've quite frequently gone the plastic bag route and have never needed any commercial solution; it isn't elegant or pretty, won't allow you to appear very cool, but it just plain works.

Let me add a little more information about how to best do it. This may seem blindingly obvious, but always use a clear plastic bag, just barely big enough to contain your biggest useable lens and your hands inside the bag, with room for the bag to drape pretty far down past the bottom of the camera with your hands inside. The clear bag will allow you to see the controls and LCD display. Besides the hole for the lens, you can also create a smaller whole for the eyepiece and gaffer tape around it, and you may want to add a light UV filter to the lens and rubber band the bag to the end of the lens, over the filter, rather than at the base of the lens as has already been suggested; there's no sense tempting fate, even with a "water resistant" (not waterproof), lens in use like the 70-200.

That's about it, except to repeat the advice of others on bringing one or two backups for all the materials you use for this, in case of an unanticipated problem, and to bring a dry terrycloth towel stuffed inside your personal raingear to dry anything that does get wet. Plan ahead!


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