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Messages - dafrank

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31
Third Party Manufacturers / Re: WW2 Kodachromes 4x5's
« on: January 12, 2013, 06:18:34 PM »
These look so good, so long after they were taken, because they were shot in Kodachrome, the most archivally long-lasting of all the practical color films of the time (and, even much, much later as well). It is essentially a three-layer B&W film, each layer of which later has attached to it a very stable primary color dye in processing - a very complex and expensive process that is just recently, unfortunately, unavailable and lost to the pages of history. Those photographers did a wonderful job with what they had - probably 4x5 Speed Graphic types of cameras and horribly "slow" film (i.e., ISO 10?) -  by shooting subjects whose movement they could tightly control and either shooting the "type A"emulsion with big cumbersome tungsten floods or the daylight emulsion with flash - not electronic flash, but, most likely, very large, multiple flashbulbs; this last is quite hard to do well without a lot of trial and error, so they had to be very experienced to properly get what they got. Their results were sometimes stilted, compared to the 35mm B&W negative shooters of the time, but they did the best they could and sometimes even overcame that limitation as well.

As to the image manipulation in scanning or in actual post, I actually see very little in the examples shown here. It looks like the images were lightened just a bit from whatever the darker examples represent, plus maybe just a very tiny goose in saturation - overall not much of anything.

We should all be very grateful for the tools we now have and the relative ease it affords in our work. Our predecessors had to bust their humps, generally have to deal with many more technical issues than we do, and work through very cumbersome limitations to achieve what they did. Finally, it's just so much fun to see what these men and women tried to show us of our country and our people in a time not too long ago.

32
Reviews / Re: My Mini-Review of the 85mm 1.2L II.
« on: January 04, 2013, 11:12:54 PM »
Nice, considered review Ramon. I have the 85 f/1.2 II and had the 135 f/1.2 at the same time for a couple of years. My impression of the two was that the 85 had a little more "magic' that is hard to define, but that the 135 had a kind of relentless sharpness that was quite good for its speed and focal length.

As to build, my 85 came flawless out of the box and I haven't noticed anything negative - no mechanical weakness, unintentional disassembly or dust problems. As to focusing, yes, it's slow, but, as others have mentioned, the focus motor has to move a group of very heavy lens elements. In any case, hardly anyone seriously buys this lens for fast-moving low light sports (a few diehards to the contrary). Its best use is for slow considered portraiture and even some specially rendered product shots and other miscellany, all done in a style where ultimate focus speed is almost irelevant.

I find its bokeh to be impeccable, but I hardly ever shoot this lens tight at f1.2 (maybe for an occasional half- or full-body shot), due to its insanely narrow depth of focus; if your subject so much as twitches, your f/1.2 shot will be a mess of misplaced focus. I find that f/1.6 is a great aperture for my purposes with f/2.0 being not much less attractive. At f/2.8, you might as well be using less expensive glass, although this lens is still quite amazing through f/4.0, compared to most others. It's not just sharpness, it 's also the "character" of the image: a combination of designed-in flaws and aberrations from the purposeful trade-off demanded by such a wide maximum aperture, its bokeh, its color, its contrast and the super-high center resolution along with dimiinshed edge and corner results. This is supposed to be, above all else, a portrait lens, and all these characteristics make it a great one. For instance, when taking a good head and shoulders picture, it is the central area of the subjects face, around the eyes, that benefits from great sharpness, not the tips of the subjects' shoulders on the edge of the picture.

When I have to quickly shoot a lot of portraits of a lot of people, as in a day of corporate "gang" shooting on location at some headquarters conference room, I always use my brilliant 70-200 f/2.8 IS II. It get's the job done perfectly, and you can somewhat make up for f/2.8 bokeh by using a longer focal length when possible. But for those occasions when I can take my time to get a really impressive single "portrait" picture, I like to use the 85, and slowly vary the focus to see what I can make of the very narrow band of focus that it affords me. For this, there is absolutely no substitute.

All in all, a terrific lens I will keep indefinitely.

Regards,
David

33
PowerShot Cameras / Re: Which Powershot or IXUS
« on: December 26, 2012, 11:14:38 PM »
For some reason, my first attached picture in my last post did not display properly on the site. Therefore, I will try to post this one again. Again, it's a "product" shot of one of my cams that I sold on Ebay, done on my driveway on a cloudy day, without any of the ususal tools I use on a "real" studio product shoot, and using my SX230, instead of a DSLR. Considering the set-up, I was rather astonished at the quality of the results. Anyway, it won't win any prizes, but, like the other shots above, it gives you an idea of what the cam can do without much help.

David

34
PowerShot Cameras / Re: Which Powershot or IXUS
« on: December 26, 2012, 07:03:50 PM »
I second the suggestion of the Canon SX230 HS. It's a great little cam with superior snapshot quality up to about ISO 400 (really nice at native ISO 80-100) and decent ISO 800. 1600 is OK for tiny shots that won't go bigger than an quick email to your sister. The lens is sharper than those of most of the "travel zoom" competition and the range of 28-400 is pretty much all I need for snaps. It's really small, easily pocketable, and has only one annoying quirk - the flash pop-up that activates every time at startup, that is positioned directly under the left index finger of a two handed grip. You can just push it back down again and shoot sans flash, but it really shouldn't be popping up unless first summonedby the user, and the pushing down of the thing might effect the mechanics eventually (mine is OK so far).

All in all, a great little snapshot camera that is a fine companion when you don't want to drag a DSLR around or pay a lot of money for a super deluxw compact when you're saving up for a new "L" lens or just the next mortgage payment.

There are a few examples to follow, most interestingly a surprisingly nice couple of "product" shots done for an old Ebay listing.

Regards,
David

35
No.

I never use filters on any of my lenses unless there is a very particular reason for it. Long gone are the days when my serious film shooting required carrying around: about 60 different color correction and ND 4" Kodak gel filters, a dozen or so glass ones and a dozen or so plastic graduated filters of different color and density spreads, filter holders, thin guage black gaffer tape to work on lenses the filter holders didn't work with, my color temperatrure meter, self-made reciprocity failure and artificial lighting type correction charts custom made and researched for every individual film stock that specified filtering at various shutter speeds and lighting conditions. Good riddance! Now, things are a lot simpler and my use of filters massively curtailed.

For instance, in cases where atmospheric haze or high altitude is a factor, I will use a very specifically tuned UV filter (one of two B&W's that were ridiculously expensive), or if there is some environmental factor such as industrial grit or outdoor sand or rain/snow/sleet blowing towards the lens, I will use the mildest UV I own just to protect it.

Of course, I do use good quality polarizing filters when it would genuinely help an image or correct a problem with an image, as well as color correction, ND or graduated filters on the very rare occasions when changing camera settings or PP wouldn't work as well.

The days of always using a filter on the lens to "filter" every shot, due to a general inadequacy of the lens color response are long gone. Pretty much all modern photo lenses sufficiently filter UV on their own, and are color biased so that they also don't need the slightly pink filtering afforded by the ubiquitous "skylight" filter.

As for physical protection, some photographers who constantly work in situations where rough treatment might lead to physical scratches, or other similar damage to the front element, would be wise to keep a weak UV filter on the lens merely to "sacrifice" it in the event of disaster, instead of the front lens element. Neither my work, nor my pleasure shooting, fall into that category, so my 70-200, and all the others in my kit, are usually used "bare-as#ed-naked."

Regards,
David

36
The Canon 9000 is a good flatbed scanner for slides and 35mm negs, one step under the Epson V-700 and V-750. It'll give great value for the money, but not the best you can do at home with a desktop scanner.

 I use a Nikon Super Coolscan 9000 ED for 35mm and 120/220 film and an Epson Perfection V-750 for 4x5 and 8x10 transparencies and B&W negatives. They both do an excellent job fopr their formats. The Epson is not quite as good for the smaller formats as is the Nikon, but the Epson still does a wonderful job for a glass platen based consumer oriented flatbed scanner. I used to own a couple of very expensive drum scanners and used them to scan literally thousands and thousands of film images, and my experience has been that if you learn how to wring the last bit of quality from your film with these two scanners, you can produce digital files that are clearly just a fraction less accurate than with the drum scanners, especially so with the Nikon. If the Epson had a true and precise manual or auto focus feature, it would be even closer to the Nikon quality for smaller formats as well.

For some hard to pin down reason, I go back and forth with scanning software between VueScan, Nikon Scan and Silverfast, which I have installed on several computers with different enabling OS's, any which of one I can attach to and use the two scanners with. I tend to mostly use the Nikon Scan with the 9000 on an old 32bit Vista machine and VueScan on either that or one of my 64bit Win7 machines for the Epson. I never did warm up to Silverfast, despite its potentially deeper profiling options. So, I use it every once in a while to refresh my memory, but it doesn't seem to actually lead to a better scan than the other two, if I am careful and work with a well profiled monitor.

Well, that's what I use, if it helps.

Nikon stopped making their last two models, the 9000 (35mm and 120) and 5000 (35mm only) scannners, many years ago. Whether or not you can still pick up a good and clean Nikon 9000 or 8000 anymore at other than wildly exorbitant prices, I don't know. I've seen near new or "kind of new" 9000's go for as much as $5,000.00 or even more on Ebay and none (in decent condition) that go for less than about $2,000.00. The Epson V-750 and its slightly less expensive stablemate, the V-700 (the only differences are in the supplied accessories and better lenses in the 750) are still available, but who knows for how long? I'd try to buy one now, if I already didn't have one. As for getting a new Chinese slide scanner like the Plustek, or trying to snag a used Nikon 4000 or 5000, or a later model Minolta, it's a matter of the slightly better quality results of the used machines versus the convenience, warantee, modern software compatibility and the almost-as-good quality of the various Chinese models available today. The quality differences between them are mainly in the general precision of build, the whole lighting path, the optics and the electronics, with the stepper motors probably being about the same.

For a wild card, there's always the possibility of the getting one of the Hasselblad Flextight mock "drum scanners" (actually a very high quality CCD slide scanner, some of which take tranny's as big as 4x5) new for about $25,000.00 or more or taking a chance on a genuine good quality drum scanner. I'm not sure if any company any longer manufactures a real photomultiplier tube drum scanner, but if they do, it would cost a ridiculous amount of money and have gigantically expensive and hard to operate software limited to a very narrow choice of computer OS. A used one, being much cheaper, would be a better choice, but the same software incompatibility problems for those are much much worse, and the chance that the scanner is still in pristine condition is remote.

That's about it.

Regards,
David

37
Portrait / Re: Food pics - help required
« on: December 17, 2012, 04:15:38 PM »
I have often done all the things you are tasked to do as a working professional, so I do know quite a bit about it. Other than advising your friend to hire a really competent professional and then being at the shoot yourself to observe and learn for a possible second opportunity, there is very little you can do to help create consistently first class pictures for your friend, unless you spend about six months practicing first. As others have suggested, your request covers such a broad range of subject matter - interiors, people and/or people with food, and food itself - that giving you any specific advice is really either a "fool's errand" or a full-time job.

As to cameras and lenses, you already have whatever you need if you would be just as creative as you need to be. Hey, just look through that little viewfinder thingy in the back of the camera and observe. Does it look right? Then it is. Lighting is what you need most and need to, above all, learn.

Instead, in an effort to be helpful, I will give you the same advice which served me so well over 30 years ago when the very talented pro I occasionally assisted for gave it to me. Buy, or preferably rent, yourself some very cheap "hot lights" - two or three tungsten halogen powered focusing floods or broad lights (i.e., TotaLights or Mole or Arri true focusing floods or "nook" or broadlights) in the 500 watt range and a couple of small (200 watts) Fresnel lensed focusing spots (sometimes called "midgets" in the industry). You'll need some barndoors for the true floods and perhaps a snoot or two for the spots. For most non-quick-melting food subjects, these lights, plus some B&W foamcore, some c stands, arms with gripheads, a mini boom, clothespins, A-clamps and Mafer clamps and some gaffer tape, a sheet or two of diffusion plastic, maybe a few colored lighting gels, plus 5 or 6 sandbags, will be all you need to do such a job properly. Generally, use reflected (off foamcores or ceilings/walls) or diffused (through plastic sheeting) light for soft lighting effects, the harder direct lighting mostly with the small Fresnel's. Most inexperienced amateurs would wonder if my suggestion sounds so "old school" as to be stupid. Why hotlights when you can also do such a job with flash which seems so much more "modern" and high-tech? Well, there are lots of reasons:
1) The ambient lighting in most quality restaurants is primarily tungsten (for now - until the EPA succeeds in ruining even our nights out to dinner), so that you will have a near color-match balance between your photo lights and the ambient background lighting. Life is simpler this way.
2) You can see exactly what your picture will look like (except for contrast/DR issues) with your own eyes and very quickly adjust and change your lighting until it simply looks good; flash modeling lights are never as effective at previewing your actual pictures for many technical reasons. This concept is true for both the food and the restaurant interiors.
3) Flash (except for truly ridiculously expensive - and not quite as "accurate" - Fresnel-lensed flash units)  and other economically feasible lighting sources, like controlled photo fluorescents, just can't duplicate the control and effectiveness of a simple, cheap 200 watt Mole midget Fresnel spot, which makes it possible to make your food go from OK to great looking when you learn how to use it with precision and subtlety.
4) If, when taking your people shots, you don't have enough "shutter speed" with your tungsten, you can add a little supplemental pop to the people with a simple tungsten gelled potable flash unit, which, along with today's higher ISO possibilities, makes this use quite effective.
5) Once you know how best to light things with your tungsten experience, you can later use that knowledge with the harder to use (for this subject matter) flash lighting that you see so often. Or maybe just stick with tungsten. Whatever suits you best.

Last, per what you said in your OP, you don't always need very great depth of field in your shots, especially in your food shots, as, for the past 15 years or so, very narrow depth of field has been the more usual approach, perhaps even originally created out of necessity, but nonetheless still the current norm. Think small. Think mainly out-of-focus.

I hope all this advice helps, but I still think you ought to have your friend hire an experienced and talented pro the first time.

Regards,
David


38
Canon General / Re: What real Pros shoot...
« on: December 11, 2012, 09:35:38 PM »
Real pros shoot frequently.

As far as gear goes, it almost doesn't matter, except to say that whatever seems to work best and feel right to each shooter is the best gear for them. Everything else on the subject is interesting, maybe even sometimes entertaining, but "blarney" just the same, best held in reserve for those times when arguing in a bar seems like a good idea.

Regards,
David

39
Lenses / Re: New Tilt-Shift Lenses in 2013 [CR2]
« on: December 09, 2012, 12:23:49 AM »
Well, I guess this is good news. I don't currently have much use for a 45 TS-E at all, but I do frequently use my current 90 TS-E. It is just about perfect optically. Perhaps new optical coatings, a slightly greater image circle to extend the sharpest image area even further off-axis and, of course, the new TS mechanism allowing independent control of movement direction, would entice me. But, at what cost? Now, with moderate lens movement, there is no sharper lens that I've seen in the Canon line-up. I'll just have to see for myself, but Canon will have a hard time convincing me to part with my Version I of this lens.

As to what other lens focal length that might fall into the TS-E lineup, I'd definitely vote for one in the 135-150 mm range, as for product photographers of all sorts, this focal length proves just about the best for full frame images of "things." At those focal lengths perspective distortion is greatly minimized, and room for lighting the subject is increased. Furthermore, I've also been lusting after the 17mm TS-E for my occasional architectural work. Looks like I'll have to think seriously of new ways to finance my lens wish-list program, before my wife decides to trade me in on a Version II.

Regards,
David

40
Lall the lenses are Canon, unless specified otherwise.

The basic 5, and couldn't, for some reason, expand on the number of lenses:
17mm f/4.0 TS-E, 24-70 f/2.8 II, 70-200 f/2.8 IS II, 85mm f/1.2 II, 90mm f/2.8 TS-E.

If anyone cares, the next 8 that would be on my list if I already had the above lenses, and if I had the funds (the 200-400, for one, is going to be pretty da%$ expensive): 100 f/2.8 IS macro or 180 f/3.5 Macro, 24 f/3.5 TS-E II, 35mm f/1.4, 200 f/2.0 IS, and the 200-400 f/4.0 IS, plus the light weight traveling 3 - the 40 f/2.8 pancake, the 24-70 f/4.0 IS and the 70-200 f/4.0 IS.

Last, what I actually have now: 8mm f/3.5 Belarus Peleng fisheye (this is a "cheapie"), 16-35 f/2.8 II, 24 f3.5 TS-E, 24-70 f/2.8, 50 f/2.5 macro, 85mm f/1.2 II, 90 f/2.8 TS-E, 150 f/2.8 Sigma Macro, 70-200 f2.8 IS II, 1.4 converter II. These may not all seem so glamorous, but they get the job done, and done well.

That about does it.

Regards,
David

41
Animal Kingdom / Re: MY dog
« on: December 01, 2012, 11:27:25 PM »
Here are two shots of my dog Bailey. He and his brother, Buster, are Giant Schnoodles from the same litter. They are each about 95 ponds of fun, very smart, very social, very loving and have the energy of small nuclear powered aircraft carriers :). I caught the outdoor shot of Bailey in a rare moment when he stood still for about 3 consecutive seconds. Hope these display OK.
Regards, David

42
EOS Bodies / Re: 60D or t4i?
« on: November 27, 2012, 08:44:05 PM »
Others here have given you some parameters in which the two differ and which they thought mattered more. I've never done more than "handle" both cameras; I've never even shot a single frame with either. However, just from picking them up and looking through them, I've been able to form some opinion.

First of all, the 60D, while bigger and heavier, fits better in my average sized hands, while my right hand fingers feel uncomfortably crowded when trying to grip the T4i. After a long time holding the Rebel, my right hand would feel too cramped.

Second, and more importtantly, look through the viewfinders of both at the same time and do a an A/B comparison of what the same scene lfrom the same shooting position looks like in both cameras. You will find that the view through the 60D viewfinder is bigger and brighter. I believe that the 60D has a true pentaprism optical system for the viewfinder while the T4i uses the penta mirror system. The viewfinder mirror system is cheaper and inferior to the pentaprism for brightness and contrast, making manual focusing much harder. Furthermore the 60D viewfinder shows a slightly greater area of the image which will appear on your sensor and image file than does the T4i, and it also magnifies the viewfinder image a little more to make it appear larger and easier to see details in your field of view more clearly.

Last, the 60D body is a little more solidly contructed with a little more metal in its frame, making it feel like it could take a little more abuse and last a little longer in a more professional environment. I also seem to recall that the shutter is rated for slightly greater use in the mean-time-before-failure testing done by Canon themselves.

I hope this helps.

Regards,
David

43
EOS Bodies / Re: Possible positive 6D surprise? Should I wait?
« on: November 24, 2012, 09:48:57 AM »
Despite any rumors about low light performance of the 6D - or their relative merit - even if the technology of the 6D sensor and electronics remains unchanged from that of the 5D3 (a camera that I own and really like so far), it will, by virtue of a very slightly lower pixel count (20 vs. 22) have very slightly bigger light receptors for each pixel, making the 6D potentially that much better at capturing low light images. Whether or not that difference in capture performance exists is a matter of other associated factors, such as the formation of the focusing lens layer over the sensor wells, sensor well depth, associated electronic circuitry, etc. Finally, even if such a difference does exist, whether or not you would ordinarily notice it in your own work, given its likely small effect, is a question which will need to be answered at such time as you actually get your hands on both cameras and try them out. Good luck.

Regards,
David

44
Lenses / Re: Lenses for Ice Cream Photography
« on: November 22, 2012, 09:56:09 PM »
Others here have suggested that lenses are not the issue, but maybe lighting is more important. They are closer to the truth about this subject. Of course you need the proper lens, proper lighting, proper styling, but, most of all, you need a talented and experienced shooter, if, as you said, the results are critical to your family business' success. Perhaps you could eventually be that person, that photographer, but, if you need to get your pictures sooner than about a year from now, and if you cannot afford to spend hours and hours, weeks and weeks, practicing, learning and improving yourself, perhaps hiring a professional is truly your best option.

I am not suggesting that you hire me, but take a look at both my food portfolio and my people with food portfolios - only two of the 15 portfolios on my website - to see some good examples of food oriented images shot mostly for high-end editorial use, plus some for advertising type use. This will give you an idea of the road you'll have to travel in order to "get" where you'll have to be to do it yourself. I think you'll quickly understand that your best bet is to hire out this job. You can see my website information at the end of this post. Meanwhile, you can work on your skills and, hopefully, some day do the job properly yourself. By the way, there is no best lens, but the TS 90 is probably the most likely overall candidate, depending on multiple factors too numerous to get into in this forum post. Good luck to you.

Regards,
David

45
Lenses / Re: My unscientific 50mm macro shootout: Canon vs Zeiss
« on: November 18, 2012, 08:29:40 PM »
Your test generally confirms what I've for so long, as the occasion arises, gone out of my way to point out - the incredible performance of the "little 50 who could" (see the beloved childrens' story about a locomotive for reference); this modest little lens outperforms most every outlandishly expensive rival. It is constructed so that it feels like it is in danger of falling apart at any moment, but it doesn't and, if cared for reasonably well, will last a lifetime. It focuses to 1:2 as is, and to 1:1 with a matched extender which I never bought. It's amazingly cheap, and, even wide open at f/2.5, is better than most 50's and really pretty darn good. Stopped down one stop or more, it will at least match almost any 50 made and exceed most in sharpness. The focus motor is not USM, plus the focus ring is skinny hard plastic and has a litlle bit of a wobbly feel to it in manual focus mode. Despite all these shortcomings, this lens, if you can still buy it new, is a steal at its selling price.

The OP's test shows that this little Canon can easily compete with even a Zeiss lens costing vastly more money. I've shot 2 x 3 ft. nationally distributed commercial car posters for one of the "Big Three's" ad agencies with this lens on a 1Ds3, and the client, more used to medium format, thought it was plenty sharp and loved it. It ain't perfect, but it sure is a great deal, better than the "nifty 50" f/1.8, the 50 f1.4 (at least at apertures under f5.6 or so), the 50f/1.2 L at most matching apertures and more, as well as the Sigma f/1.4. Check it out for yourself on the-digital-picture.com website test. True, you can't shoot at very wide apertures with that kind of nifty bokeh, but barring that, this thing is amazing. It was designed about the time when dinosaurs roamed the earth and used an old tried and true optical formula that was more likely laid out on a napkin rather than a computer monitor, but, it just works.

Well, more than enough said.

Regards,
David

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