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Messages - jrista

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1156
Software & Accessories / Re: Microfibre Cloths for Lens Cleaning
« on: May 04, 2014, 02:28:45 PM »
I have never used the carbon end of my lens pen - chicken I guess - but I really should try it!

Everyone fears the carbon end. :P It's because if you touch it, your fingers get black...but that just means it's working. The carbon bonds with oils, which is why it works. Your fingers get black because they are oily, but on a lens, the carbon lifts the oils off. You really do have to make sure there is no grit, though...you do need some pressure for the carbon tip to work, and if there is any grit, your lens is going to get scratch. But, that's pretty much the same as when using wipes or anything else...grit is death.

1157
Software & Accessories / Re: Gimbal Head: Wimberley Vs Jobu
« on: May 04, 2014, 01:07:01 PM »
Personally I chose the Jobu Pro 2 as the gimbal for my 600mm f/4 L II. I looked at the Wimberley, Mongoose and RRS Pano. There really isn't much difference between the Wimberley and Jobu, same basic thing, same weight. The Jobu is a bit beefier, and has a nice lock for the inner arm, but otherwise, they are the same thing. I got the Jobu because I got it a little cheaper thanks to a sale on Amazon.

I tried out the Mongoose, which seems to function the same as the RRS Pano. These are side-mount heads...you attach the lens to the joint where the wimberley/jobu attach the inner arm. They don't quite work the same as a true gimbal, and for whatever reason, the Mongoose felt more restrictive. I guess I just like having my lens return to base balance due to gravity.

I've shot thousands of bird and wildlife photos with the Jobu Pro 2, and I haven't got a single complaint about it.  LensCoat had a specially designed coat for the Jobu, so I was able to camo my whole setup with lenscoat (tropod legs, gimbal, and lens), which was also ideal. I believe there is a lenscoat for the mongoose, however I couldn't find anything other than a camo carrying bag for the RRS Pano.

If you picked up the Wimberley, then you shouldn't ever have any problems.

1158
EOS Bodies / Re: More Sensor Technology Talk [CR1]
« on: May 04, 2014, 12:38:26 PM »
Are you using telescopes for astro or the 600?

Currently using the 600, however this baby is at the top of my list:

Astro-Tech 10" f/8 truss tube Ritchey-Chrétien optical tube

Telescopes are kind of like lenses, though. You usually need a few. The 600 is ideal for wider field work. I think the 200mm f/2 L would be an excellent one for very wide field work, but I think when I get the 300/2.8 L II that will be the last Canon supertele for a long while. The 300 is still excellent for wide field work. The 10" RC is a longer focal length, which is better for galaxies and clusters, and for close-up work of parts of nebula.


1159
EOS Bodies / Re: More Sensor Technology Talk [CR1]
« on: May 04, 2014, 11:56:42 AM »
Glancing at his gear wish list, it looks like he's more into action than astro. An A7R is 2500 less in the budget (camera + EF adapter). Personally I would love one for portrait and landscape work, but I can not justify the expense. I suspect I'd get more use from that tamron 150-600 and a new tripod.

I'm actually pretty into astrophotography. It splits my budgets now. The A7r, along with pretty much any Sony camera, Nikon camera (with the exception of a couple that use different sensors), and a lot of other cameras that use Sony sensors (i.e. Pentax) are all pretty poor choices for astrophotography. Those manufacturers all mess with the image signal pretty heavily.

They clip the black point, rather than using a bias offset (Canon uses a bias offset). That causes two problems for astrophotography: By clipping to the black point, you simply eliminate a lot of the dimmer background stars entirely, they are gone from the signal, unable to be retrieved; They make it difficult to use standard bias frame calibration techniques to remove any noise caused by sensor bias and recover those dim stars (which IS possible with Canon cameras.)

Sony/Nikon/Pentax/etc. also tend to apply noise reduction to the RAW signal in hardware...an unconfigurable noise reduction, that's just always applied. Having total control over noise is a pretty critical facet of astrophotography...the vast majority of images you create for astrophotography have image data only in the lowest echelons of the signal, stars are the only things that have levels throughout the signal. While you can do some pretty amazing things with the D800 at ISO 100 when it comes to lifting shadows, that's nothing compared to the kind of lifting you do in astrophotography. The D800 can be lifted about six stops. In astrophotography, your often lifting by a lot more than that...to really pull out dust lane detail and dark nebula detail and things like that, it's common to lift things by an equivalent of 10-15 stops! Not even the great D800 or any other Exmor DSLR camera can handle that, in part because of the black point clipping, which is throwing away a couple/few stops of potentially recoverable information in the first place.

A proper astro CCD camera has at least 18-19 stops of dynamic range, and usually well over 20 stops. They are thermally regulated (anywhere from -40°C to -80°C Delta-T from ambient), which nearly eliminates dark current noise, generally have relatively low read noise, usually have much higher Q.E., and usually have larger pixels (smaller astro CCD sensors usually have around 5-6µm pixels, larger astro CCD sensors usually have 9-24µm pixels; FF DSLRs tend to have pixels in the 6-7µm range, and APS-C DSLRs are now around 3.5-4.5µm). Since astro CCD sensors are also most often monochrome, and you usually image in LRGB (luminance + RGB), you can produce images with much stronger signals than you can with bayer-filtered DSLRs.

So, while I'd like an A7r for my landscape photography, it is actually one of the worst possible choices for astrophotography. I do landscapes sometimes, wildlife and birds most of the time, and astrophotography every time there is a clear night. Since Canon cameras don't mess with the image signal nearly to the degree that other manufacturers to (they do some response curve tweaks at certain higher ISO settings, but I usually image at ISO 400, which Canon pretty much leaves alone), and since the 5D III can be used for landscapes (it has a very respectable pixel count and frame size for that), wildlife and birds (it meets my minimum expectations for rate at 6fps), AND can be used for astrophotography, it's a far better investment in the interim (especially with prices hitting $2700 pretty regularly now.) It may not have the DR of the A7r, but it is a vastly more versatile device.

If it wasn't for the astrophotography, I'd get a 1D X. By getting a 5D III, that leaves me plenty of cash to invest in a proper astro CCD, a filter wheel and filter system, and a few other accessories.

So...given how versatile Canon's DSLRs already are...do they really need to become a Sony clone with their new sensors?  ;D :P

1160
Only because I'm feeling particularly argumentative :)

Canon has never chased anyone. They never chased anyone in the past, and they are not chasing anyone now.
Canon were pretty quick to chase Sony's camera division (previously known as Minolta) when they introduced auto focusing SLRs.  The Minolta Maxxum 7000 came out in February 1985.  By the end of 1986, Auto focus SLR's accounted for more than 50% of SLR sales and was dominated by Minolta and Nikon.  And where was Canon? (hint: The T80 doesn't count...)

Well, if you want to get right down to business. In the late 70's, Konika released a camera with a passive AF system. Everyone else followed suit, and released cameras with the same kind of AF system. Canon? Instead of simply "responding" with a "me too" product, they innovated...and created the first active AF system capable of focusing in the dark.

The T-80, which does count, as it was well into development and just about ready for release when the Minolta AF cameras were released (I mean, it was less than two months later that the T80 hit), was Canon's first modern-ish DSLR AF system and was obviously in development for some time before it's release. That was 1985.

Canon released the first EOS in 1987, two years later, with a completely new CAMERA SYSTEM designed from the ground up. We aren't just talking AF, were talking about the platform that Canon launched to fuel their camera systems for decades, the same system that their current modern cameras are based on. Were talking about a mount system, a flash system, a camera system that spawned Canon's entire photography ecosystem. It takes more than two years to plan and develop such a huge thing, so one has to assume they were already working on it by the time the T-80, a-7000, etc. hit the streets.

So, did Canon "respond" with EOS, an entirely new camera system, just because of the a-7000's AF system? Or did Canon innovate their way into total dominance with a camera system built for a new era from the ground up to support the things their customers demanded? Personally, I think there was a little bit of both "response" and a lot of "lets build something kickass and new that will triple our bottom line". It just takes too much time to R&D up an entirely new camera system from scratch for it to just be purely in response to the AF dslrs that hit in '86. The plan had to have already been in motion before hand.

1161
Animal Kingdom / Re: Show your Bird Portraits
« on: May 04, 2014, 03:04:44 AM »
Blue-Winged Teal Headshot

Another headshot. This time of a blue-winged teal. Really just love the mottled golden feathers these beauties have. This shot came out a bit darker than the rest, but the angle of the light on it's head just brought out the iridescent feathers and it's eye so much better.

This is one of those shots that brings out the worst of the 7D. It's a moderately heavy crop, definitely not the heaviest by a long shot, but heavier than I generally prefer. It's sharp, but it's also noisy. That's especially evident in the background...I even used a 0.8 radius for sharpening in LR (which helps reduce the graininess of noise), and the OOF background is still too noisy. I wasn't exactly reach limited here (the bird was quite large in the frame overall, this is a heavier crop for the head), so a full-frame camera with a 1.4x TC would have done a lot better...more total light, bigger pixels, more DR...so less noise. Really can't wait to get my hands on a 5D III.

Blue-Winged Teal, Male
Cottonwood Creek Wetland
Colorado

Canon EOS 7D
Canon EF 600mm f/4 L II
Gitzo GT3532LS + Jobu Pro 2


1162
Third Party Manufacturers / Re: Zeiss Otus Initial Impressions
« on: May 04, 2014, 02:59:12 AM »
Out of curiosity, what is the MFD? Can it be used as a closeup lens for objects within a foot or two?
The 50cm MFD brings you fairly close, but when adding a 12mm extension tube I get about as close as I find practical.

How is the magnification with the extension?

1163
Animal Kingdom / Re: Show your Bird Portraits
« on: May 04, 2014, 02:58:33 AM »
I for one would love to try "behavioral camo" sometimes: pretending to be part of the environment, appearing uninterested in the subject, slowly moving close, etc.

Or, instead of pretending...you could ACTUALLY become part of the environment! :P



Ghillie Suits FTW!

I am actually in the process of making one of these...I have an old super-cheap net and leaf camo suit that I'm tying frayed yarn strands into....greens, browns, tans. I'm also planning on tying in some of the dried grass straw from Cherry Creek and some of the other parks around that I photograph at. It's primarily to see if it helps me get some better shots of the Kingfishers, which are notoriously difficult birds to shoot...they get all uppity when I'm around, and will only fish when they actually see me leave. I figure, if I can sneak in like a literal bush, maybe they'll get down to business and start fishin in front of my lens! :D
If you get that suit, make sure you get someone to take a picture you can share with us:)

Indeed! For a really good ghillie suit, you usually have to make them. The simplest way is to just take some burlap, cut it up and sew it into a basic poncho and chaps. The big threads of the burlap make it easy to tie frayed yarn and/or shredded strips of fabric to. If my attempt to use my net suit doesn't work, I have some burlap that I was using as a backdrop in my yard to cover the slatted nature of my fence (my fence makes for a really crappy background in my bird photos). I have like four sheets of this camo burlap which I think will make an ideal base for a ghillie suit.

1164
Software & Accessories / Re: Microfibre Cloths for Lens Cleaning
« on: May 04, 2014, 02:52:18 AM »
Zeiss, Nikon and ROR lens solutions.
Pec pads.

Kimwipes are very versatile lint-free wipes, and I must have run through crates of them in my scientific career. But they do tend to flake-off, which might be a problem.

Do use disposable wipes in any case, though. You don't want to rub older grit on to the lens.

Yeah, sometimes kimwipes leave a small amount of flakes. Since they remove all the oil, though, a light puff will usually completely eliminate any of the flakes left behind.

As I got heavily into astrophotography at the beginning of this year, I learned a little lens cleaning trick. You tend to use a lot of red light when doing astrophotography, as it doesn't mess with your night vision. I was cleaning the filter holder of my 600mm lens about a month or so ago, and at first the only thing I had handy was one of my microfiber cloths. I started trying to clean the filter holder (which has two glass windows that can sandwich a gel filter), and noticed that the red light made the oil smears stand out exceptionally well. I grabbed a kimwipe, and started cleaning, and within a few seconds it was obvious that the oil had stopped smearing and was disappearing.

Whatever wipes or cloths you end up getting, I recommend getting a deep red CFL bulb, put it in a dark room, and clean your lens under that light. You'll know in a heartbeat if your wipe or cloth is actually cleaning, or just smearing stuff around. A lot of the time, what appears to be clean in normal light looks horribly grimy and dirty under red light. :P

1165
Animal Kingdom / Re: Show your Bird Portraits
« on: May 04, 2014, 02:51:03 AM »
Meadowlark

I was out checking Cherry Creek to see what kind of birds may have still been around. I kind of missed the first part of the migration this year, as the ducks moved through when it was still rather cold (and I've been just so sick of cold, as it's been quite cold here in Colorado since late September...long time). While hiking around one of the small wetland areas, I almost stepped on this little guy. Not sure what he was doing on the ground, or why he didn't move when I got close (extremely close). His fearlessness gave me a chance to back off, get a nice vantage point, and get some excellent shots.

He sang for me the entire time, too! Really love the meadowlark song, very musical.

(NOTE: No setup of any kind here...completely natural, by-chance setting.)

Male Meadowlark
Cherry Creek State Park
Colorado

Canon EOS 7D
Canon EF 600mm f/4 L II
Gitzo GT3532LS + Jobu Pro 2

After some googling, I'd say this is the Western Meadowlark, which is more melodious than the eastern kind. Seems to spend most of its time on the ground; even the nest is just a shallow, ground-level bowl of grass, though a dome may be built over it.  The male will defend its territory vigorously -- but this one seemed calm in the face of a human.

Beautifully captured!

Oh yes, definitely a western. We do get some eastern meadowlarks here, but the westerns definitely dominate. The eastern meadowlarks have a higher pitched and "thinner" song than the westerns, and it isn't quite as melodious.

1166
Animal Kingdom / Re: Show your Bird Portraits
« on: May 04, 2014, 02:46:04 AM »
I for one would love to try "behavioral camo" sometimes: pretending to be part of the environment, appearing uninterested in the subject, slowly moving close, etc.

Or, instead of pretending...you could ACTUALLY become part of the environment! :P



Ghillie Suits FTW!

I am actually in the process of making one of these...I have an old super-cheap net and leaf camo suit that I'm tying frayed yarn strands into....greens, browns, tans. I'm also planning on tying in some of the dried grass straw from Cherry Creek and some of the other parks around that I photograph at. It's primarily to see if it helps me get some better shots of the Kingfishers, which are notoriously difficult birds to shoot...they get all uppity when I'm around, and will only fish when they actually see me leave. I figure, if I can sneak in like a literal bush, maybe they'll get down to business and start fishin in front of my lens! :D

1167
Software & Accessories / Re: Microfibre Cloths for Lens Cleaning
« on: May 04, 2014, 02:11:17 AM »
Thanks for your feedback, jrista. I did a quick search on the Kimwipes and they seem to have quite a mixed reputation with some swearing by them while others swear at them!

While I was searching for them, I came across Zeiss Pre-Moistened Lens Cloths Wipes which have got some excellent reviews and are reasonably priced.

I wonder if anyone here has used those?

To be very honest I had never given much thought to the whole microfiber issue. I am concerned that these wipes may not work well when I am working in the rain and the lens gets covered with water droplets - amazing how that happens, but you just need a big storm and rain at an angle I guess, and it must bounce off the inside bottom of the hood and up onto the lens. Last time that happened both I and the guy next to me were totally amazed at just how much rain had got to the lens, and a 400 /2.8 ii does not have a small hood!

Kimwipes are like tissue paper...very thin. They won't really "wipe" in the rain...however, they are superior for absorbing water droplets without leaving any residue or spots of their own behind. So you can dab a lens to pick up water droplets, and that works quite well (assuming the wipe didn't get obliterated by the rain before you got it to the front of the lens).

I'd like to see some of the negative comments you found about Kimwipes. It's pretty rare that you find anything negative about them. They have almost universally positive reviews at Amazon (i.e. there are 75 four and five star reviews, and only 2 three, two, and one star reviews each; as far as positive vs. neutral/negative review ratios go at Amazon, that is stellar!) Everyone I know in any industry that requires high quality wipes has only ever had good things to say about them. My eye doctor uses them (they have kimwipe boxes everywhere), a jeweler friend uses them religiously, I know a few product photographers who photograph valuable jewelry and coins, they swear by kimwipes.

They are some of the most loved microfiber wipes I know of. The next best runner up would probably be Pec*Pads, which are more specifically targeted at lens cleaning (specifically for photography). Pec*Pads cost anywhere from three to five times as much for half as many wipes (i.e. you can usually find 280 kimwipes for about $4.50, where as 100 pecpads are usually $12-14.) PecPads are different, structurally...where as a kimwipe actually feels rough (it doesn't damage the lens, the rough feel is actually what makes them work so well...it's a flat surface with pits), pecpads feel very soft. Pecpads do live up to their lint-free name, however they are not the same as a microfiber cloth...they don't pick up and lift off oily residues nearly as well as kimwipes. If you use a solution, pecpads work fine...but you already seem to know the potential downsides of using cleaning solutions. Without solutions, you'll often find that the more expensive and supposedly purpose-designed photographic wipes don't actually clean...all they really do is smear oily residues around.

I really, honestly do highly recommend kimwipes. I went through a lot of cleaning wipes and solutions when I first got into photography. It blew my mind how easy it was for oily crap to get on my lenses, and I could never get it off, or if I did, I eventually found out that the solutions I used to clean my lenses ended up just making it easier for more oils and dust to get stuck to the lens because of the residues left behind. (I eventually did fine one organic solvent that works superbly and does not leave behind any residue, but I haven;t used it since I found kimwipes.) Kimwipes are an odd thing...they don't feel smooth or soft, they have the faintest rough feel, and that often scares people off. That's the irony about them, though, as the pitted surface is exactly what you want for a lens cleaning wipe...the surface itself is smooth, the pits create a grabbing edge that picks up oil, and the pits collect it. You don't need any solutions, just the lightest amount of elbow grease and steady, broad circular motions, and you can pretty much eliminate every last bit of sticky, oily crap from your lenses.

I'm honestly not a sales man for KimTech...kimwipes are just the best lens cleaning product I've ever used, by a very big margin.

1168
EOS Bodies / Re: More Sensor Technology Talk [CR1]
« on: May 04, 2014, 12:30:20 AM »
...
Sigma wastes far too much time, money, and effort trying to trick potential customers into thinking they will get more resolution with a Foveon than a bayer, which is just a blatant, outright lie. I don't appreciate that, and yes, I fault Sigma for it. If Sigma would take a big chunk of their false advertising budget and inject it into their R&D department instead, I think they could make Foveon viable both on the color fidelity and spatial resolution fronts, and actually have a real competitor on their hands. But sadly, they keep pushing their missleading advertising.

If Canon come out and say that their 15MP layered sensor is in fact 45MP, how are you going to
respond? 15 is just an example, maybe it will be 20, maybe some other number. But the challenge will be how to market it as being superior to a 36MP Nikon or a 36MP Sony.

If Canon comes out and makes spurrious claims about how their 15mp layered sensor is really a 45mp sensor, I'll be the first to call them out for using the same missleading tactics as Sigma. I almost hope they do, and if they do, I really hope your still around, because I would love to prove to you that I stick to the facts and the physics, regardless of brand.

How many times have you heard me say the D800 has a superior sensor at low ISO, or in terms of resolution (hell, just a couple posts ago I stated that the D800 had twice the resolution as the 1D X)? I only dispute what's wrong. The Foveon, like Canon's DPAF, is not a magic bullet. It cannot give you more resolution than it actually has. Canon DPAF cannot give you more resolution, because DPAF isn't about resolution. The D800 cannot give you better high ISO performance because high ISO performance is physics-limited. I could care less about the brand...all I really care about are the facts, the engineering, and the physics when it comes to what a sensor or camera is capable of.

I would have thought my tiraid against the mistaken notions of Canon's DPAF also being a magic bullet for better IQ in the future would be an indication of how little I care about brand when debating the facts.

Quote
I spent over ten grand on a lens last year.

Why should we care about this?

Well, if your going to intentionally miss the point, you shouldn't.  :P

1169
Animal Kingdom / Re: Show your Bird Portraits
« on: May 04, 2014, 12:23:01 AM »
Killdeer

One of the most ubiquitous shorebirds in the US, the Killdeer is hard to miss. Between their incessant "injured bird" act and fast antics as they spurt about along shores and around grasslands in their "dash-pause" manner, they are also probably the most well known plover. They are larger than a lot of other plovers, like Piping or Semipalmated, and have longer legs. They have two slightly different plumages...one with two white bands around the neck during breeding season, and one white and one cream colored band during the winter season.

They have a very persistent technique for protecting their nests and their young by playing the injured bird...with a high pitched, lilting chirp, flipping one wing out at an oddly-cocked angle, and showing off rusty-red colored underfeathers that look like they might be covered in blood, they play the hurt card until your close, then jet off with a broken, jerky flight a dozen or so feet out in front of you. Get close again, and they keep drawing you away from whatever it is they don't want you to find. ;) Clever little bastards. :P

Based on the ruckus last year every time I got near a throng of Killdeer, I'm sure they breed in Cherry Creek. I have not yet found any nests or chicks. Unlike the more common beaches where shorebirds are most often found breeding, Cherry Creek is FULL of hiding places, and finding baby birds is near impossible...even if you spot one, they skitter about and disappear into the brush without a trace, never to be seen again. Maybe this year I'll manage to glimpse some baby shorebirds.

Killdeer (Plover)
Cherry Creek State Park (Cottonwood Creek)
Colorado

Canon EOS 7D
Canon EF 600mm f/4 L II
Gitzo GT3532LS + Jobu Pro 2


1170
Animal Kingdom / Re: Show your Bird Portraits
« on: May 04, 2014, 12:09:09 AM »
The last shot was pretty much uncropped and not a lot I could do (tricky with 780 reach).  Same with this one.

Oh, I missed that you were using the 2x TC. I guess you kind of need the TC with the pixel count of the 1D II...but generally, I'd drop that and just use the 300 bare with a little bit of cropping if you can get away with it.

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