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Messages - jrista

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1501
EOS Bodies / Re: Canon EOS M2 Not Coming to North America
« on: December 05, 2013, 10:25:46 PM »
A couple of years ago, 8 out of 10 DSLRs sold in the USA carry the Canon logo... now, they are down to 6 out of 10.


Interesting.  Would you mind providing your source for those data?  Thanks!


A different but similarly interesting data point is the "top camera" search results on www.dpreview.com on their front page.

It used to be that Canon cameras were 6 out of 10 for a long while. Now Canon is 3 out of 10 and none in the top 5.

Use the Amazon best sellers list. As of tonight, Canon has 13 of the top 20 best sellers. Nikon has 7.


Is Sony even in the top 20 at all?

1502
Lenses / New Samyang 10mm f/2.8 ultrawide! Looks impressive...
« on: December 05, 2013, 10:13:04 PM »
Samyang 10mm f/2.8 Manual Focus Wide Angle Prime

This looks pretty impressive. Samyang has made excellent wide angle primes for a while, but this is the first time I've seen one with a nano crystaline coating on an internal lens element. Canon and Nikon have been using nanocrystal coatings on internal elements for a while, and it has a truly amazing impact on reducing flare (total transmission loss is in the range of 0.1%, vs. often more than 1% for basic multicoating.

For rectilinear wide field astrophotography, this lens could be a true dream come true...not to mention the applications for high quality ultrawide landscape photography (especially on full frame!)

Curious to see how corner performance is. If it is anything like the 14mm and 24mm Samyang lenses, it should be phenomenal...but 10mm is pretty darn wide...

1503
EOS Bodies / Re: Canon EOS M2 Not Coming to North America
« on: December 05, 2013, 10:06:51 PM »
... but I'd like to add that even if Canon would consider low iso important, they have no hope on reaching or overtaking Nikon/Sony in this area due to patents, so it's smart to stop trying and expand their own strengths - which unfortunately seems to be amateur video and high-end sports/tele.

... or very fortunately for people who happen to do amateur video and high-end sports/tele.  And very fortunately for people who photograph weddings.  I just read a comment on Facebook from a Nikon using pro asking whether the skin tones from the new Df were like those from the D4, because the skin tones from his D4 were giving him problems.  I've seen dozens of Canon DSLRs (and bags full of Canon lenses) used by wedding videographers in recent years, and never once a Nikon or Sony.

Some would argue that this is the JPEG conversion, others would argue that it is due to sensor differences.

For weddings that I've been to, it has been a 50-50 split of Nikon vs Canon.

However, I see more "amateur wedding photographers" with an APS-C Canon DSLR than I do with Nikon. If someone has Nikon kit, they've got proper pro equipment.

I know a few dozen wedding, event, and portrait photographers. Two use a pair of D3, one uses a D3 and a D800 (his work is phenomenal, he LOVES the D800+14-24, but he still caters to the D3). Two use the D7000 (I think one upgraded to a D7100.) The rest use Canon 5D II and 5D III (many usually have a backup as well, sometimes its a 5D III + old 5D II, sometimes it is two 5D III bodies.) I know a few wedding and portrait photogs who use a 1D X + 5D III. A couple also use the 5D II/III + 7D as their backup. The most talked about is the 5D III, usually for one key feature: The quiet shooting mode!

Without question, particularly for weddings, the 5D line is the most frequently used camera amongst the people I know and know of. The 5D II might actually be the most ubiquitous wedding and portraiture camera I've encountered, at least here in Colorado. That goes for amateurs as well, and a few young budding wedding photographers (in their very late teens in some cases!) who show phenomenal skill and probably have rich careers ahead of them. Their gear is most often the 5D II + 24-70/2.8L + 70-200/2.8 L, with the 50/1.2L, 85/1.4L and 135/2 L filling in fairly frequently as well.

Given my experience, friends, and acquaintances (and the fact that I've moderated photo.stackexchange.com since 2010), the notion that "amateur wedding photographers" use APS-C Canon DSLRs is pure conjecture. The 5D II+70-200 seems to have become the amateur wedding photographer kit of choice, and given the excellent price/quality ratio of those two, it's no wonder why.

1504
EOS Bodies / Re: Canon EOS M2 Not Coming to North America
« on: December 05, 2013, 09:50:00 PM »
... but I'd like to add that even if Canon would consider low iso important, they have no hope on reaching or overtaking Nikon/Sony in this area due to patents, so it's smart to stop trying and expand their own strengths - which unfortunately seems to be amateur video and high-end sports/tele.

I wouldn't say that is necessarily true. Canon's problem is their ADC and other downstream electronics, which exist off-die, operate at high frequency, and are only moderately parallelized. The direct readout from the sensor is usually pretty clean. It is when the downstream secondary amplifier kicks in, and when ADC occurs in the DIGIC chips, that the bulk of read noise is introduced.

I think Canon sensors are actually very good technology...they simply lack the image processing integration and digital readout that Sony Exmor has (the ADCs are hyperparallelized and on the sensor die). That said, when Canon published the press release about 120mp APS-H sensor, it clearly described some kind of on-die parallel "image processing" that sounded very much like Sony's Exmor. I don't recall anything about fully digital readout (i.e. with digital CDS and digital amplification), but Canon had to move the ADC on-die, and greatly increase it's parallelization, in order to achieve the 9.5fps readout of that monster volume of pixel data. They also have patents on that sensor.

So, while Canon likely won't create something that works exactly the same way as Exmor, they already have technology that is very similar in design...

1505
EOS Bodies / Re: Canon EOS M2 Not Coming to North America
« on: December 05, 2013, 09:24:13 PM »
A couple of years ago, 8 out of 10 DSLRs sold in the USA carry the Canon logo... now, they are down to 6 out of 10.

Interesting.  Would you mind providing your source for those data?  Thanks!

Ditto.

1506
EOS Bodies - For Stills / Re: The Unthinkable: Swapped out 5D3 for 6D
« on: December 05, 2013, 09:12:10 PM »
How does the light condition look like at -3EV? Who photographs at -3EV? Are those pics usable without flash? The 6D has only a very slim theoretical advantage (if one may call it that) over the 5D Mark III. In real terms, there's no reason why anyone would choose the 6D, with its primitive AF system, over the 5D Mark III. The only fact that makes sense is if you can't afford the 5D Mark III. That's the only, true reason here. Period!

I shoot at -3EV more than I would like to. But I do it. I have a baby and another young child in the house. There are also plenty of times when we are out at night and I don't have my flash with me. This weekend alone, we are going on a carriage ride at 8pm through a decorated neighborhood where there will be -3EV conditions a lot.

Again though, the center point of the 6D was not my motivation for making the swap. Just making a point.

Your assessment of why anyone would choose a 6D over a 5D3 is quite flawed and already proven to be so based on several users here in this thread alone. I already owned a 5D3 (two of them at one point). Furthermore, I'm pretty sure my glass collection alone covers the value of everything you have in your signature (if we want to get into being able to afford things).  ;D

I don't want to get into that (because I haven't listed in my signature everything I own  8) ). ... Unless you're using a 1DX, pics snapped at very high ISOs aren't usable.

Wow, that is simply not a tenable statement.


My point?  These are just a few examples of images that I have personally taken at very high ISOs with 6Ds that have had critical and commercial success.  As long as you nail exposure, images even at ISO 25,600 are often very usable.  It has been further noted that the noise from the 6D renders much more like film grain, superior even to the 5DIII in that regard.

Just to be fair, you DID apply noise reduction...by downsampling. Those are all downsampled by a fairly significant degree, and the filtering algorithm (usually BiCubic) applied during downsampling averages pixels together, which reduces noise. So, it really isn't fair to say there was no NR whatsoever. Even if you didn't use an explicit noise reduction tool, the downsampling itself is a form of NR.

That said, I totally agree...very high ISO settings are indeed usable on the 6D, 5D III, and 1D X. I've seen some bird photographs taken at ISO 51200 that had a minor amount of NR applied, and they looked as good or better than ISO 3200 from my 7D!!

Your point is true only for the way they are shared here.  The commercial use of these images are full size, without downsizing...and those images are still remarkably clean, even at pixel level.

They will only be as clean as physics allows, because the physical nature of light completely dominates at high ISO. There is a few percent improvement with the 6D and 5D III over prior Canon cameras, but the margin isn't nearly as significant as the sizes here or the default sizes on Flickr would indicate. In explicit terms, the 1024x682 pixel max size photo on Flickr is a mere 3.5% of the total area of the native 6D 5472x3648 image (an area of 698,368 vs. 19,961,856 pixels). The Flickr image looks really good, but a hell of a lot of original information was factored into its creation.

Again, this is just to be fair and honest with the evaluation of the results. Yes, the 6D performs very well at high ISO, however that isn't really due to the fact that it has low noise. The 6D performs better than the 5D III because it has better color noise characteristics...noise-wise, there is less than a percent difference in actual noise vs. the 5D III, or for that matter the 5D II. It fares better than Canon 18mp sensors when downsampling due to the fact that there are more total pixels, and larger pixels with greater native SNR to factor into the final results than something like the 7D.

All I am saying is that using heavily downsampled images to demonstrate noise levels or noise quality is a rather unfair approach. The only way to truly demonstrate differences in noise is to use identical pictures taken with different cameras and compare (preferably, both at 100% and at a normalized size.)

1507
EOS Bodies - For Stills / Re: The Unthinkable: Swapped out 5D3 for 6D
« on: December 05, 2013, 06:29:42 PM »
How does the light condition look like at -3EV? Who photographs at -3EV? Are those pics usable without flash? The 6D has only a very slim theoretical advantage (if one may call it that) over the 5D Mark III. In real terms, there's no reason why anyone would choose the 6D, with its primitive AF system, over the 5D Mark III. The only fact that makes sense is if you can't afford the 5D Mark III. That's the only, true reason here. Period!


I shoot at -3EV more than I would like to. But I do it. I have a baby and another young child in the house. There are also plenty of times when we are out at night and I don't have my flash with me. This weekend alone, we are going on a carriage ride at 8pm through a decorated neighborhood where there will be -3EV conditions a lot.

Again though, the center point of the 6D was not my motivation for making the swap. Just making a point.

Your assessment of why anyone would choose a 6D over a 5D3 is quite flawed and already proven to be so based on several users here in this thread alone. I already owned a 5D3 (two of them at one point). Furthermore, I'm pretty sure my glass collection alone covers the value of everything you have in your signature (if we want to get into being able to afford things).  ;D


I don't want to get into that (because I haven't listed in my signature everything I own  8) ). ... Unless you're using a 1DX, pics snapped at very high ISOs aren't usable.


Wow, that is simply not a tenable statement.

ISO 20,000 from the 6D, no additional noise reduction:


ISO 25,600 (6D) - this one is licensed through Getty, has been purchased for commercial use, and I have directly sold art prints of it.


ISO 25,600 (6D) - taken at an event I was there to shoot professionally - client was very happy.


My point?  These are just a few examples of images that I have personally taken at very high ISOs with 6Ds that have had critical and commercial success.  As long as you nail exposure, images even at ISO 25,600 are often very usable.  It has been further noted that the noise from the 6D renders much more like film grain, superior even to the 5DIII in that regard.


Just to be fair, you DID apply noise reduction...by downsampling. Those are all downsampled by a fairly significant degree, and the filtering algorithm (usually BiCubic) applied during downsampling averages pixels together, which reduces noise. So, it really isn't fair to say there was no NR whatsoever. Even if you didn't use an explicit noise reduction tool, the downsampling itself is a form of NR.

That said, I totally agree...very high ISO settings are indeed usable on the 6D, 5D III, and 1D X. I've seen some bird photographs taken at ISO 51200 that had a minor amount of NR applied, and they looked as good or better than ISO 3200 from my 7D!!

1508
EOS Bodies - For Stills / Re: The Unthinkable: Swapped out 5D3 for 6D
« on: December 05, 2013, 05:55:57 PM »

The 5D3 is a great camera but not worth (at least to me) the $3400 price tag. After reading people's thoughts and reviews I was expecting a powerhouse of a camera, and it really wasn't. I just couldn't justify spending the money on it to upgrade. The 7D is a VERY fast camera and very hard to beat in that department. I shot BIF (birds, raptors exactly, in flight) with the 5D3 and got 10 times more blurry bird shots than I did with my 7D! (Yes I KNOW how to set up my camera for birds in flight, I am NOT new to this! Please don't waste your time telling me how I didn't know what I was doing... I always select the center point on AF and use AI Servo...) I was also using my own EF 70-300L on the 5D3. That lens is lighting fast on AF, so I know the fault wasn't with the lens.

Not trying to start a fight here but.... you definitely didn't have the 5DIII AF set up correctly for the type of shooting you were doing (or something else was going on).  I have shot extensively with Rebels, 7D, 1DIV, 5DII and 5DIII for BIF... hands down the 5DIII is the best out of all of these regarding AF speed and accuracy.  The 7D does have a very good AF system but once you get the setup right on the 5DIII it is nothing short of amazing.

Regarding the OP.  Glad you sorted out your priorities.  It sounds like you are looking for some justification for your decision from the forum and there are definitely a lot of people who think along similar lines.  The 5DIII is a fully customizable workhorse and for many shooters it is certainly overkill.  The cameras you are using are great and will not hold you back from making great images.  Happy shooting.

Canon1, would you please share your setup for the 5DIII? I have been shooting with the 6D and I am not happy with it's AF, particularly it's slow focus lock time using a 70-300Lens. My 60D is much better.

So I intend to sell the 6D and buy a III. I shot a lot of birds and think I will be much happier.

How do you have your 6D focus set up? Are you using AI Servo?

For tracking moving subjects, such as birds in flight, you want to tune the AF system for AI Servo tracking of a locked on subject, with continuous AF search. You also want to make sure that the AF system is tuned to ensure focus is locked before releasing the shutter. These are all options in your 6D custom functions. Pull out your manual and read up on them, so you understand what each setting does. It only takes a minute to set it all up, then you are ready to go.

It also helps to decouple the AF-ON function from the shutter button. I usually configure the * button on the back of the camera as my AF-ON button, and the shutter button as meter on (half pressed) and activate shutter when fully pressed. This gives you FAR more control over AF, and gives you the ability to explicitly refocus on a different subject or retry focus when it stops just by releasing and pressing the * button again.

1509
EOS Bodies - For Stills / Re: The Unthinkable: Swapped out 5D3 for 6D
« on: December 05, 2013, 07:41:23 AM »
So over the Thanksgiving weekend, I finally gathered the nerve to just let go of my 5D3 as I was offered a fair price for it. That, in conjunction with the deal for the 6D at $1400 pushed me into pulling the trigger on the swap out. Done and done.

Some things I'm struggling with, some not so much. Either way, I think the decision was the right one for me (for now).

Wondering if anyone else has given the same move some thought.

I haven't done exactly what you have done BUT I had the chance to shoot with a 5D3 for the day and now that I have, I won't buy one. I will keep my 7D.

The 5D3 is a great camera but not worth (at least to me) the $3400 price tag. After reading people's thoughts and reviews I was expecting a powerhouse of a camera, and it really wasn't. I just couldn't justify spending the money on it to upgrade. The 7D is a VERY fast camera and very hard to beat in that department. I shot BIF (birds, raptors exactly, in flight) with the 5D3 and got 10 times more blurry bird shots than I did with my 7D! (Yes I KNOW how to set up my camera for birds in flight, I am NOT new to this! Please don't waste your time telling me how I didn't know what I was doing... I always select the center point on AF and use AI Servo...) I was also using my own EF 70-300L on the 5D3. That lens is lighting fast on AF, so I know the fault wasn't with the lens.

Actually, for BIF, single center point is not the best AF option. The ideal setup, on both the 5D III and 7D, is to use at the very least center point expansion, but small zone works just as well if not better in some cases. The reason for this is due to the fact that even with steady hands, at long focal lengths the subject moves around a little bit in the frame, which can make detection of contrasty regions by the AF unit difficult. Just going to expansion mode does wonders for BIF tracking accuracy on both cameras, but more so with the 5D III as it's AF points are smaller than the 7D points (which are actually rather huge relative to the frame).

Small zone works even better on the 5D III, however it is less biased for the center points, which are more precise than the two columns of points on either side. On top of that, you need a slow to medium-slow tracking sensitivity (check custom functions), which will help mitigate focus jumping when momentary obstructions pass in front of the bird being tracked (the 7D and 5D III default to a moderately fast setting, meaning focus tends to jump off your subject to whatever is closer to the photographer...took me a bit to figure this out for the 7D when I first started BIF, and I kept getting clearly focused trees and telephone poles and the like in my continuous shooting of birds like raptors, pelicans, gulls, etc..)

I know a few people will say that I didn't give the 5D3 a chance to give it an honest opinion. Well, let me say this, I had (on loan) the 5D3 for a day and took well over 1000 photos AND was shooting with friends who OWNED the 5D3 and I was asking questions and they were gladly giving me pointers. By the time the day was over, I was so frustrated after shooting with it for a day and getting missed shot after missed shot. In contrast, when I upgraded from my 40D to my 7D, the transition was almost seamless. I had the 7D mostly figured out in just a few shots and was very happy with my decision. It was so much faster (in AF and fps) than my 40D that I was sorry I hadn't upgraded sooner! I learn more and more about it the more I shoot. Honestly? I had really been wanting a 5D3 so I know I was excited to give it a try. It just did not deliver enough goods to make me want to give up my 7D.

First, a couple thousand shots, especially with BIF, is maybe an hour of shooting (average burst of 5-6 frames, every 15-30 seconds or so...which is a fairly conservative estimate given that you can easily burn through the whole buffer for one longish BIF sequence, and fill a 32gb card with over 1200 shots in an hour of active shooting). In a couple hours of AI Servo action tracking photography, I can fill up a few CF cards, with bursts between five to twenty shots each (which is only a second or two worth of actual shooting.) If you had said you took 5000-8000 shots over a few of days, it would seem like you had more experience with the camera. A thousand shots with BIF doesn't feel anywhere remotely close to enough experience to actually get the hang of using the 5D III (in one years time, I took almost 80,000 shots with my 7D, the very vast majority of which were birds and BIF). Given what you have described, if you really did have all that trouble after being experienced with the 7D, then it honestly sounds like you might have even had a bad copy. Assuming it was properly configured as I mentioned above, the 5D III should be nailing birds in flight with tack sharp results like clockwork...to have such consistent problems focusing indicates either operator error or a defective copy.

I'd also point out that world renown professional photographers like Art Morris use the 5D III on a daily basis for bird and BIF work. With the proper skill, the 5D III is an extremely powerful tool for capturing action...just as powerful as the 7D, but with the potential to pack more pixels on subject...23% more on average.

It's all fine and dandy if you prefer your 7D. Nothing wrong with that. It just sounds like you are on a crusade to demonize the 5D III based on a rather fleeting "1000+" shots experience with it. It is a far more capable and effective camera than you are giving it credit for.

1510
EOS Bodies - For Stills / Re: The Unthinkable: Swapped out 5D3 for 6D
« on: December 05, 2013, 07:10:36 AM »
So over the Thanksgiving weekend, I finally gathered the nerve to just let go of my 5D3 as I was offered a fair price for it. That, in conjunction with the deal for the 6D at $1400 pushed me into pulling the trigger on the swap out. Done and done.

Some things I'm struggling with, some not so much. Either way, I think the decision was the right one for me (for now).

Wondering if anyone else has given the same move some thought.

Bravo!  I took a less costly route and just bought the 6D to begin with, having tried my cousin's 5D3 a few times.

John, just keep in mind, that in the eyes of the 5D3 lovers, you are no longer a serious photographer.  You have taken a step down in your photographic station in life!

I wouldn't say this at all. Based on his explanation, it sounds like he made an ideal decision. The 5D III was sitting on a shelf, the Fuji was getting more use, but he had a big investment in EF glass. Sounds like John and the 6D are a match made in heaven...

1511
Landscape / Re: Deep Sky Astrophotography
« on: December 05, 2013, 02:22:48 AM »
Yeah, the linear dodge won't work at all really in 16bit mode. I hope it works out for you! I have used it in similar situations as with the focal length and no tracking as you did with great results.

As for photoshop's alignment for astrophotography.... He he. I have never had it work, even with the picture I provided I had to do it manually. It seems that the way registax does it is better where you pick alignment points, although I have not used it much yet.


Out of curiosity, have you ever tried DeepSkyStacker? Currently, I would have to say DSS is my favorite stacking tool. At least, it's registration process and denoising process (which can factor in dark, bias, flat, and flat bias frames) is one of the best. The only problem I have with it is tweaking the final result, which can be a real pain in the butt. Still, if you take a lower-contrast result, and do all the final work in Photoshop, the results can be quite good.

I am going to run all these photos I took through DSS, it's just a bit more time consuming (it's registration and stacking process can take a VERY long time, depending on how much you throw at it). I also wanted to play around with the Smart Object stacking modes to see what they could do. I have to say, median and mean stacking does a phenomenal job with noise removal. I bet you could do still life/landscape photography with multiple frames on a tripod at ISO 100, and stack them with photoshops stack merge feature to produce entirely noiseless images (and maybe even mitigate banding in the shadows.)

My exposure times for that picture were 2 seconds, that is about all I could do at the time before field rotation started to become much more obvious (I just used an alt/az goto dobsonion). It is with a 50D at ISO 3200, so the original frames were pretty noisy. I want to say I used about 9 frames for it though. But yes, as you observed, it definitely helps to fill up that frame.

Should be a bunch of fun when you get that EQ mount!


Not bad at all for 9x2s frames...of course, with the subject larger in the frame, you gathered a lot more light, but still, pretty nice results! Can't wait to get my hands on a proper tracking mount...  8)

I was in the market for the biggest Celestron NexStar (I think the 8") for a while until I realized it only came with the alt/az mount. Then I started saving for the Celestron EdgeHD 11", however finances have become extremely tight. So I just dropped some cash on the Celestron AstroTracker 114 EQ w/ motor drive. It is a super basic telescope, almost your bottom rung entry level. But, it has a tracking equitorial mount, for damn cheap, and some of the astrophoto stacks I've seen made with it were pretty decent (and all from total beginners). I bet I could slap together a little guidescope setup with a webcam and my Surface Pro tablet, and get some pretty good results. The telescope tube also has a standard tripod mount screw attached to it, which allows you to screw on a DSLR camera for wide field tracking, too. Whole setup (with the t-adapter/ring) wasn't even $250 on sale (http://www.telescopes.com/telescopes/reflecting-telescopes/celestronastromaster114eqreflector.cfm), which is a pretty good deal, and I figure it will hold me over until I can afford the EdgeHD 11" w/ CGEM DX mount (which probably won't happen until the end of the year next year at the earliest.)

1512
EOS Bodies / Re: Canon EOS M2 Not Coming to North America
« on: December 05, 2013, 02:11:34 AM »
Neuro, come on.... are you really still standing up for Canon and their 18mp sensor?
Back when the original 12 megapixel 5D was introduced, a very experienced wedding photographer bought it and soon returned it.  He told me it had "too many megapixels".  He realized he had no need for 12mp and didn't want to deal with the big files.  Now we think the little EOS M2 should have more than 18mp.  People who buy the little M2 will be making really, really big prints. ;)

Or, downsampling to get less noisy photos with much sharper detail. Or to crop out a portion of the frame at higher detail. The value of having more pixels isn't purely to print large.

1513
Landscape / Re: Deep Sky Astrophotography
« on: December 05, 2013, 12:45:15 AM »
That is an interesting work flow for it, I will have to check that out.

Most of the time I see people going in to 32-bit mode then using linear dodge (add). You can use the exposure adjustment towards the bottom of the window while you are stacking. This way should be much easier than the method you outlined since you just have them all stacked and you don't need to go through separate groups, just linear dodge add them all. After you do that you convert it back to 16 or 8 bit mode and adjust the exposure during the convert, I usually just use the exposure/gamma conversion.

Also a tip for aligning the layers, I typically use difference for the layers compared to one "master" layer. Seems to allow for more precision, especially while doing rotation to correct for field rotation unless you are using an equatorial mount.

I will attach one of my recent ones of good ole' M42. Let me know if you have any questions about it.

Thanks for the 32bit linear dodge tip. I'll have to give that a try (although I've used linear dodge in the past, with 16bit int, and the results were still far noiser than I got here.)

As for the layer alignment, I actually do use the difference technique if I do it manually. I'm bummed Photoshop's registration feature doesn't work...it does some weird stuff, despite the fact that all the photos were pretty much identical except the shift of the nebula across the frame. The photo above is a 100% crop, so it was rather tiny in the full frame...maybe that's why. Without a tracking mount, I don't have the ability to expose long enough at a longer focal length.

Your photo has the benefit of being much larger in the frame. I have a telescope with an equatorial tracking mount on order, along with a t-adapter and t-ring, so I should be able to do much better in the future. The technique I outlined above is just for those who don't have the benefit of tracking their subject, or keeping it large in the frame without trailing.

1514
Landscape / Deep Sky Astrophotography (Gear Discussion)
« on: December 04, 2013, 11:45:08 PM »
There is already a stars above thread, but that one seems to be about wide field astrophotography. I've been taking a bunch of photos of the comets flying through the sky lately. Only ones I was able to get a decent shot of was Lovejoy R1 (see the Comets thread).

I discovered an intriguing new technique for stacking very short deep sky frames in photoshop, one which nearly eliminates noise without affecting detail. I've been trying to stack short (i.e. 1-2 second) frames of the Orion nebula for a while, never with satisfactory results...always still too much noise. This new technique resulted in my first fairly decent photo:



  • Body: Canon EOS 7D
  • Lens: Canon EF 100mm f/2.8
  • Exposure: 1s f/2.8 ISO 1600
  • Frames: 30

I stacked the frames in the following way:

  • Import as Layers to Photoshop fron LR
  • Align all layers (did it manually, auto-align freaked out for some reason)
  • Select first 5 layers, Layers->Smart Objects->Create
  • Set stacking mode to mean, Layers->Smart Objects->Stack Mode->Mean
  • Repeat 3-4 for each group of 5
  • Rasterize each smart object
  • Set opacity mode to (from bottom most light frame): 100%, 83%, 66%, 50%, 33%, 16%
  • Set blending mode to Screen for all light frames
  • Add Levels adjustment layer and correct black point, white point, and gray point to bring out most detail
  • Tweak color, levels, curves, etc. to taste

1515
EOS Bodies / Re: 5DIV, 7DII and future of upgrades
« on: December 04, 2013, 07:10:16 PM »
...re-reading some columns by Nikonista Thom Hogan...and seeing that Fuji is announcing another new, free firmware upgrade for the X-Pro-1, got me thinking about the future of DSLR upgrades.

I recall Canon's commitment when it released the original F1 that they would not release a new model for at least a decade. Their purpose was to demonstrate to professional photographers that they were committed to their pro-level SLR and that photographers could purchase the camera knowing it would be fully supported.

For most of the past decade, gear enthusiasts have been spoiled by the remarkable and near continuous improvements in DSLRs. But, those improvements are increasingly coming at the margins. Higher megapixels, increased dynamic range, high and low ISO improvements, while nice, are generally needed only under very specific conditions for very specific purposes.

Any honest assessment would acknowledge that for 90-95% of subjects and conditions, the cheapest entry-level Canon and Nikon will produce results that under real world conditions will be indistinguishable from the flagship models.

Fuji has followed a path with their X-Pro-1 of releasing firmware updates to keep the camera current and boost customer satisfaction and loyalty. (To be fair, Canon did much the same thing when it released it's major firmware upgrade of the 7D – extending the practical life of the camera and effectively giving customers a free "7D.20" version of the original.)

So, having said all that, I am going to go out on a limb and predict that the upgrade cycle for the 5DIII to 5DIV will equal or exceed the cycle between the 7D and 7DII and that we are entering an era in which upgrades will be fewer and further between.

At the same time, I am going to suggest/hope that Canon and Nikon will offer more significant firmware upgrades during the interim. 

This will certainly require some adjustments to their business model, but in a sense they are simply going back to the model that both companies followed successfully for decades. That's one reason why I believe Nikon and Canon are better positioned for long-term success than companies like Sony, which got into the digital camera market during the boom era and do not have the institutional memory or experience to easily adopt to longer development cycles and more modest sales growth.

I see Canon as particularly well-positioned for this change. They have aggressively developed products for new markets, especially the booming cinema market where growth is fed by the seemingly unquenchable thirst of the internet for new video content. Their recent emphasis on security cameras also shows they are prepared to move into another fast growing emerging market. I am less convinced that Nikon is equally well-positioned, but then I don't follow them as closely as I do Canon.

So what's the point?

In part to feed off the idea of "10 years from now" and in part to get people out of the rut of trading insults over dynamic range and other esoteric subjects that do not sell cameras and do not matter to the vast majority of photographers.

What is your prediction? Will we see fewer upgrades in the future? Will we see more substantial firmware upgrades? Given that Canon and Nikon need to continue to sell products, do you think they will become more aggressive at selling lenses, strobes and other peripherals? Will you spend less money on photography in the future, or will you just spend it differently and how?


Very interesting thoughts! :)

Personally, I'd like to see a slower cycle. Longer period of time (4 years plus) between major body releases. For example, the 1D X is a phenomenal camera, and I don't see it "needing" to be replaced for years to come. Even if Canon put a sensor with more DR into it, that would only affect lower ISO settings, which are so rarely used when photographing action...I really wouldn't see the point.

I do indeed hope to see more firmware updates. So much can be done with firmware, now that we have eminently more capable hardware. I see no reason new features, say focus peaking or even more information displayed in Canon's Transmissive LCD in their OVFs, couldn't be added through firmware. For features that require fairly significant development time, I don't see why us, as customers, shouldn't even pay a small fee for feature-enhancing firmware. I am not saying we should pay thousands of dollars just for a significant firmware update, but a few hundred for a firmware update that moves the 1D X into the future a few years from now, keeping it a competitive camera...I think there could be a business model augmentation to be found in such a paradigm somewhere...

I cannot say whether I'll spend less money on photography in the future. I think I'll spend what I feel I need to spend, which is what I've always done. Sometimes my photography expenditures are high (or even very high...such as this year, over $15,000 spent on photography so far, where as last year, I only spent a few hundred), and sometimes they may even be non-existent. When it comes to camera upgrades, I do need a compelling reason to spend my money.

Both the 1D X and 5D III are quite compelling to me. The 5D III simply because it is very good at everything, and even though it may not have all the best technology everywhere, it is still a superior product overall. I do mostly bird and wildlife photography these days, and landscape/macro photography more seldom. That is in part because I really love birds and wildlife, but also in part because I like to maximize the detail...in highlights, midtones, and shadows...of my landscapes, and simple fact of the matter is, it is probably the most demanding form of photography for dynamic range...and Canon cameras don't measure up. Sure, I can get around the problem of Canon's read noise, and I do...although it DID cost me more money, as I had to buy an expensive set of Lee filters and the Lee filter system in order to balance contrast on-site, and Topaz tools and Nik tools in order to extract the maximum amount of detail from my shadows in post. That was an investment of well over a thousand dollars, above and beyond the money I spent on my camera bodies.

Better technology gives me more control, more capabilities, and less need to spend extra money on the side to extract the kind of detail I really want from my photography. To me, the most compelling camera that I would be most interested in buying next is one with as many megapixels as Canon can reasonably pack into a sensor, and at least 13 stops of dynamic range. I would probably settle for more megapixels, and "the same old DR", if that is all Canon can come up with...but I have to be honest...I'd part with my money with more difficulty than otherwise. ;) I believe Canon is a highly innovative company...but I do think there needs to be some compelling developments in their future product releases to keep me buying. If they don't innovate compelling new technology, and especially innovate and progress enough to keep up with the competition, it will be ever more difficult for them to get me to spend my money on their products. I probably still will...I have too much invested in Canon glass not to...but it will be late, and lazy, never at release when they are getting the most revenue from their products...instead I'll wait for the best sales time can offer, and snatch up their products at a significant discount, resulting in the minimal amount of revenue for Canon. I'll be late to the game with new gear, possibly by a couple years, but that will be the only way I feel as though I'm getting my moneys worth.

In the most extreme case, I'll break down and buy the most compelling product from a competitor. Sony's A7r is intriguing, because it could make an excellent landscape camera that would work with EF mount lenses. I don't really need AF or other high performance factors for landscape photography, so the reports of the A7r's poor AF performance with adapted EF lenses wouldn't be a huge deal. The remaining problem is...it costs quite a bit, $2700? For "just" a landscape camera, even though the sensor is amazing, eh, I'd still have to wait until a particularly deep sale occurred before I could justify the purchase.

So, to me, compelling innovations included in compelling upgrades. That's the most important thing Canon can do. They don't necessarily have to compete feature for feature with their competitors, but I do think they need to keep abreast of their competitors in terms of the level of their products.

Reading some of the excellent commentary here, especial Jon Rista's take on the amount of headroom that remains in ISO improvements (I don't for a second pretend to understand terms like quantum efficiency, so I have to take his word for it)


You don't necessarily have to take my word for it. Here is a little visual diagram demonstrating Q.E.:



The two diagrams are identical in every way, except the number of electrons stored in each photodiode. The amount of photons raining down on each sensor is identical. The microlenses and color filter array behave identically. The only difference is that the one on the left has 40% Q.E. and the one on the right has 60% Q.E. A photodiode works by converting incoming photons into electrons, an amount of electrical charge, which is stored and can then later be read out via a special process. Photodiodes are not 100% efficient, especially at room temperature, so instead of converting every single photon it detects into an electron, each photon that strikes the photodiode increases the probability of an electron being released.

For photodiodes that have a 40% quantum efficiency, it takes approximately 2.5 photons for that potential to become realized, and release an electron. That means, every two to three photons detected, in a roughly even distribution, one electron is released. For photodiodes that have 60% quantum efficiency, it takes approximately 1.667 photons for that potential to become realized, and release an electron. That means every one to two photons detected, in roughly even distribution, one electron is released.

In other words, it takes less time for a sensor with higher quantum efficiency to achieve the same exposure. In the same amount of time, the exposure for a sensor with higher quantum efficiency will be greater. At high ISO, a sensor with higher Q.E. will have a greater exposure...more electrons, greater charge per pixel, requiring less gain, to achieve the same result. Less gain, less noise.

It should be relatively self explanatory now to understand that once Q.E. approaches 100%, where you basically get 1 electron for every 1 photon detected, you've literally reached the limits of what physics will allow. There is no Q.E. above 100%...not literally. Someone may come up with a means of improving sensor sensitivity even more...historically, changes to photodiode area is the only thing that affects the maximum number of electrons that a photodiode can hold before leaking charge or increasing in temperature (any additional photon strikes once you reach the photodiodes capacity either result in releasing an electron, which means another electron has to be "lost" somehow (into the neighboring photodiodes, into the wiring current, etc.)...or the photon is converted into heat.) It may be possible to put multiple layers of photodiodes into a pixel...allowing electrons to be collected "three dimensionally"...in area and in depth, which might increase maximum well capacity and the potential of converting a photon, therefor increasing charge, and therefor signal strength, at higher ISO settings. So far, layered photodiodes have only accompanied sensor designs like Foveon...but there is no reason, necessarily, that we would have to employ all three colors at each pixel, we could stick to a bayer design and gain the benefits of gathering photons in area as well as depth.

Anyway...hope the diagram helps.

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