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Topics - ereka

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I recently received a Lee Filters 77mm wide angle adaptor ring from Calumet and wasn't happy with the quality. It looked slightly soiled and felt slightly sticky to the touch and the black coating on the adaptor was scratched inside the ring in two places as if it had already been screwed tightly onto a lens causing the coating to scrape off. The black coating also appears to have rubbed off slightly on the outer surfaces of the adaptor, or not coated properly. To their credit, Calumet acted promptly and arranged to deliver a new ring and collect the original at the same time. So, I've just received the replacement and it has all the faults of the first with the addition that the black coating appears patchy in a couple of places, as though it's "run" during the production process (is this "anodising"?) It also has a couple of additional places on the inner edge of the ring where the coating appears to have scraped off showing the silver coloured metal underneath. I'm probably making this sound a lot worse than it actually is as none of the blemishes is really large in itself, but the cumulative effect is that it doesn't strike me as a quality product in line with Lee Filters' reputation for quality. Have I just been unlucky, or do you think these minor blemishes are acceptable? Do you have one of these wide angle adaptor rings and if so, does what I decribe sound like the one you have? Am I just being too fussy?

I'm a beginner when it comes to landscape photography and after doing some reading thought it would be a good idea to invest in a circular polarising filter and some ND/ND grad filters. After some further research, I decided on buying into the Lee Filters system mainly to be able to use ND grads in conjunction with a circular polarising filter effectively i.e. be able to rotate the polarising filter independently of the ND grad. HOWEVER, I watched some landscape photography training videos at Kelby Training this morning and the presenter (Bill Fortney) recommended using a circular polarising filter in conjunction with an 8-stop variable Singh Ray ND filter if needed, but stated in no uncertain terms that the advent of modern post production software e.g. Lightroom 4 with its selective adjustment brushes has made ND grads more or less redundant and he doesn't use them any more - they are gathering dust somewhere. So my question is this: have I just wasted in the order of £300 buying the Lee Filters SLR starter kit and adaptor ring and would I have been better off just adding some screw-in ND filters to my screw-in circular polarising filter as needed, then using Lightroom to make any dynamic range adjustments in post processing? Are there any REAL advantages in using ND grad filters? If it's relevant, I'll be using a 5DMkIII body.

I'm torn between the Black Rapid (or similar) shoulder strap and the Spider Holster (or similar). I know there are cheap versions of both, but at the price level of the genuine items I'd probably feel more confortable going with the original manufacturer. That's just me. Specifically for travel photography, which system do you think is more practical?

The other consideration is reliability of the Black Rapid system, which seems to have some weak points that can lead to failure. However, I'm aware that there is a long thread specifically about that and the various modifications people have made, so please don't repeat all that here. I think I could live with the Black Rapid as it is, for use with my 5DMkIII.

I'm just wondering which system is more practical for travel photography i.e. shoulder strap or holster?

Lenses / Worth upgrading from 100mm macro to version II?
« on: March 22, 2012, 03:48:33 PM »
[Edit: as has been kindly pointed out, there is no "version II" as such. What I'm referring to in the title is the 100mm f/2.8 L IS USM Macro versus its non-L non-IS predecessor].

I already have the 100mm f/2.8 macro and have always found it difficult to obtain sharp hand held images. I'll be travelling soon and I'm wondering if it would be worth upgrading to the 100mm f/2.8L II IS, particularly as I probably won't be lugging a tripod everywhere with me and in any event as I'll be with my family I probably won't have the time to think too much when macro photo opportunities arise, least of all set up a tripod.

Does anyone have direct hands on experience with both lenses and if so, I'll be grateful for some feedback on how they both perform in the field and whether the upgrade is worth the additional cost.

Also, I'm wondering if 100mm is sufficient for 1:1 images of nervous flighty things e.g. flies, dragonflies etc or whether a longer focal length lens would be better. Having said that though, the 180mm macro costs twice as much and also doesn't have image stabilisation - coupled with the longer focal length, I should think that would make it even more difficult to hand hold?

I'm erring towards investing in the 100mm f/2.8L II IS, but what do you think?

EOS Bodies - For Stills / Gutted! (5DMkIII Adorama Bundle)
« on: March 20, 2012, 02:49:02 PM »
"Preorder from Adorama
Adorama has created a 5D Mark III w/24-105 f/4L IS kit bundle.

Free Bundle Items

SanDisk 32GB ExtremePRO SDHC Memory Card
Canon Deluxe Photo Backpack 200EG
Red Giant Adorama Production Bundle for PC/Mac a $599.00 Retail Value
5D Mark III w/24-105 f/4L IS Kit for $4299 at Adorama

Stock is expected to arrive this week."

At current exchange rates, that's approximately £2710 for not only the 5DMkIII but also a 24-105 f/4L IS lens and all the rest of that list thrown in for good measure. Even adding 20% for VAT that would only come to £3252.

In the UK, I've just paid £3689 ($5852 equivalent) just for the 24-105 kit ... and it's cost me another £79 ($125) on top for the identical 32Gb SDHC card that's included in the Adorama bundle ... and no backpack and no Red Giant software bundle.

Why am I feeling ripped off i.e. ripped off once by Canon and ripped off on top of that by the Chancellor of the Exchequer with his ridiculously high 20% sales tax (VAT)?

Well at least I got my hands on the 5DmkIII in time for my Far East trip on 12th April, but it aint 'arf cost me an arm and a leg! :(

Rant over!

Software & Accessories / Lightroom 3/ PS CS5.5 on a Macbook Air
« on: March 17, 2012, 03:34:55 AM »
Does anyone use Lightroom 3 and/or Photoshop CS5.5 on a Macbook Air?

The model I have is not the current model, but the previous one: 2.13 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 4 Gb 1067 MHz DDR3 RAM, Apple SSD 250 Gb, NVIDIA GeForce 320M 256Mb graphics card.

Will it be up to the job?

Just a thought - I'm obviously too late to pre-order a 5D MkIII in time for my holiday, which starts on 12th April, but do retailers set some stock aside to satisfy walk-in customers (as opposed to pre-orders)?

OK, here's the rub ...

My only body currently is an 8 year old 1DMkII

The lenses I have are:

24-70L I
70-200L IS II
85 f/1.8
100 f/2.8 macro

I have a once in a lifetime opportunity to spend 5 weeks in the Philippines and would like to maximise the opportunity to grab some saleable travel and landscape images, but feel my current kit will fall somewhat short of the challenge. I had a 1Dx on preorder more or less from the day it was announced but (maybe foolishly in retrospect) cancelled it when the 5DMkIII was announced as I thought the MkIII might suit my needs at around half the price. Now it seems, due to my dithering, there's no way I'll have my hands on a MkIII before I fly out there on 12th April. Really bad timing.

So, what are my options?

Buy a 5DMkII to tide me over? Will it be up to the job e.g. will the weather sealing be OK in a very hot, very humid climate? if this is the way to go, buy now at £1695 or wait for prices to drop (and are prices likely to drop in the next few weeks)?

How about lenses and filters? Anything essential that I'm missing?

I'll state what should be obvious from the foregoing i.e. I have no experience shooting landscapes - nada, zilch, none at all so I'm really in need of some guidance ... so, all you travel/landscape photographers, I'll be grateful for any and all advice that you can offer me  8)

OK, so I'm a paid up member of the Bureau of Freelance Photographers in the UK and have been advised by my tutor that my 1DMkII is more than adequate for general freelance work i.e. even for magazine submissions and high end stock libraries (e.g. Alamy). In fact Alamy submission guidelines suggest that 6Mp files are adequate, To test this out, I submitted a 6Mp image from my old 10D (interpolated to Alamy's minimum file size) and sure enough it passed QC without any problems whatsoever. Admittedly it hasn't sold yet. I've also recently had images published from London Fashion Week, shot with my 8Mp 1DMkII. Both of these examples seem to prove my tutor's point i.e. I could upgrade my equipment if I WANT to but in reality I don't NEED to, at least for general freelancing purposes/ stock libraries.

Despite the above advice, I can't help feeling that I SHOULD upgrade, either to a 5DMkIII or 1Dx to take advantage of the newer technology e.g. high ISO performance, dynamic range etc. Also, I feel there might be a benefit in the form of a renewed enthusiasm derived from working with a full frame camera, having more dynamic range, better high ISO performance and perhaps having more pixels to play with. I realise it wouldn't make me a better photographer as such, but might it just allow me to get some saleable shots that I'd otherwise miss?

So, bottom line - is upgrading to the newer technology likely to benefit me in terms of sales achieved or is it just an illusion?

OK, here's my dilemma. I attended Focus on Imaging yesterday in Birmingham (UK). I had the opportunity to handle a 5D MkIII and it did feel good in my hands. The specs are also more advanced than the MkII. However, the asking price is currently £2999 (approximately $4755) whereas there were new 5D MkII bodies on sale for £1300 (approximately $2060) at the Camera World stand.

So, I could have a 5DMkII now (proven and tested technology) for almost half the price of the 5DMkIII at some undefined time in the future (new technology, possible bugs to iron out). Looked at another way, I could have two 5DMkII bodies for more or less the price of one 5DMkIII body.

I had a 1Dx on preorder, which I cancelled because that is almost double again the price of the 5DMkIII and to be honest I started thinking of all the nice glass I could buy with that sort of money.

I'm not a pro sports or wildlife shooter, so a 5DMkIII or even a MkII would probably be more than adequate for my needs, if I'm totally honest with myself.

I'm tempted just to get a 5D MkII for £1300 ($2060) and see how I get on with it for a few months until the 5D MkIII and 1Dx have been out in the field, some real world reviews/comparisons come in and any teething problems are ironed out. Another factor in this decision is that I'd like a FF camera to take with me on holiday to the Far East on 12th April and wonder, even with a preorder, what the likelihood is that I'd even have a 5D MkIII in my hands by 12th April?

What would you do?

Software & Accessories / RAW processing parameters
« on: February 06, 2012, 03:57:15 AM »
This is closely linked with my previous post, but I thought it might keep things clearer not to compound the two issues. My first post was about workflow as such. This post is about what parameters to use (or not to use) in ACR when developing the RAW files.

If you've read my previous post, you'll be gaining the impression that I tend to be a creature of habit. True to a point, but I'm also curious and very open to persuasion that there is a different and/or better way to go about things. Also, I'll freely admit that I'm on a steep learning curve that has started to acclerate recently since I retired from the 'day job' and have more time to devote to photography :)

I'm aware that I've probably developed (excuse the pun) a lot of bad habits over the years when it comes to workflow and post processing of images. Due to my increasing work rate recently, I've also become painfully aware that I need to develop more efficient methods of working if I'm to have any remote chance of keeping up with client demands for finished work within tight deadlines.

OK, so I shoot mainly people using a 1DMkII and then use ACR via Photoshop CS5.5 to develop the RAW files. Custom white balance set in camera. Colour rendition chart used to create custom camera profile. Apply camera profile to RAW files, double check white balance, synchronise all files for camera profile and white balance and then adjust individual files further as follows:

1) I note that by default the files are sharpened - I tend to turn this off and sharpen later in CS5.5

2) I note that by default medium contrast is applied - I tend to leave this on and even apply further 'linear contrast' at around 66% opacity in an adjustment layer in CS5.5 to most files; I guess this is just personal taste for contrasty files but I sometimes wonder whether I overdo the contrast as a matter of habit?

3) I tend to set the blacks to zero to maintain shadow detail but use the recovery slider to recover blown highlights (although these are mostly in the red channel only and I sometimes wonder whether I overdo the recovery - how important really is it to ensure that the red channel highlights are reading less than 255?)

4) I tend to leave brightness and contrast sliders on their default 50 and 25 respectively, leave clarity alone for portrait shots or even reduce it slightly and increase vibrance until colour saturation e.g. of clothing is pleasing to my eye without affecting skin tones too much.

I could go on, but I think these are the main adjustments I'm looking for opinions on. The main questions in my mind are:

Are there any advantages to sharpening in ACR or am I right to turn sharpening off at this stage?

Am I applying too much contrast routinely (medium contrast curve and default 25 setting in ACR, with further linear contrast added in CS5.5)?

Is there any advantage to adjusting blacks in ACR or am I right always to set this to zero?

Am I overdoing the recovery of blown highlights, which are almost always exclusively in the red channel?

I'll be really interested to hear other people's take on all this (if you've had the patience to read this far!)

Software & Accessories / RAW processing workflow query
« on: February 06, 2012, 03:25:35 AM »
Q. Currently, I shoot with a 1DMkII and mainly people. I've fallen into the following workflow habit:

1) Shoot just RAW (I used to shoot RAW+jpeg but upon reflection hardly ever used the jpegs) with custom white balance set in camera; also shoot a few frames of a color rendition chart using bracketed exposures

2) Develop in Adobe Camera RAW via Photoshop CS5.5 applying a custom camera profile created from the color rendition chart frame showing the most accurate exposure and double checking white balance by clicking on a light grey square from the chart; synchronise camera profile and white balance to all files, then tweak each file individually before step 3

3) Save all developed files as 16-bit psd files to a separate folder named 'psd from RAW'

4) Make further adjustments to the psd files in CS5.5 and save the resulting files to another folder named 'psd edited'

5) Convert to 8-bit mode and save as jpegs to a further folder named 'jpeg for print'

6) For selected files only, 'save for web' into yet another folder named 'jpeg for web'

In this way, I end up with no less than five versions of at least some of the files in five different folders and find myself questioning whether this is the most efficient or appropriate way of working. For example, could I just work with the RAW files and skip the 'psd from RAW' stage?

For background, I usually upload all of the hi res jpeg files from a shoot to my website in a password protected client gallery with the option to purchase prints and personalised gift items for automatic fulfilment by a partner pro lab. The selected web sized jpegs are usually just used for my own portfolio on various other sites.

All opinions and suggestions will be valued. Do you think I'm working along the right lines or is there a better way?

Lenses / Wresting photography
« on: January 19, 2012, 05:44:39 PM »
Is anyone experienced in photographing wrestling matches? What lenses and camera settings do you use? I've been trawling the net this evening for tips and have so far come up with the following plan for action shots in a dimly lit gym:

Fast lens e.g. 70-200mm f/2.8
High shutter speed - at least 1/250th sec
Widest possible aperture e.g. f/2.8
Manual exposure - set shutter speed and aperture, then vary ISO to obtain correct exposure
NO FLASH - shoot RAW to allow exposure adjustment in post e.g. if images too dark and/or noisy
Centre focus point
A1 Servo
High speed continuous shooting

Any thoughts or suggestions?

EOS Bodies / 1D Mk II dioptric adjustment method
« on: January 08, 2012, 07:15:49 PM »
Apologies in advance if I've posted this in the wrong forum, but I couldn't find another that seemed more appropriate.

Could anyone please clarify the method for dioptric adjustment on a 1D Mk II (or presumably any other model)? i.e. the camera manual states "turn the dioptric adjustment knob to the left or right until the AF point or the center spot metering circle looks sharp in the viewfinder" but in another forum I seem to remember someone saying that they adjust until the viewfinder information looks sharp. I've tried both methods and find the latter easier although there does seem to be a slight (almost imperceptible) focussing discrepancy between the two methods. Is this just my imagination or is one method correct and the other incorrect?

Lenses / Lens recommendations for fashion photography (catwalk)
« on: January 07, 2012, 03:49:42 PM »

I've been invited (along with about 30 other photographers!) to an Off Schedule Fashion Show during London Fashion Week in February. Unpaid, but apparently the designer is willing to pay for pictures that are to his satisfaction. Hmmmmmm ... OK! The images will be used for website articles, press releases and flyers. I'll probably be shooting with a 1D Mk II (my only body at the moment, other than my old 10D which hasn't been used since I acquired the 1D Mk II in 2005). I have two zoom lenses i.e. 24-70mm f/2.8L and 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II. Both have recently been serviced and calibrated alongside the 1D Mk II body so I should think they are pretty reliable e.g. as to autofocus. No backstage images are required, only catwalk images. I also have 85mm f/1.8 and 100mm f/2.8 macro (non-IS) primes. Flash is allowed and I have 550 EX and 580EX speedlights (one of each).


I'll be grateful for any advice from those in the CR community experienced in photographing fashion on the catwalk, specifically as to lens choice and also more generally on the best shooting position (presumably at the end of the runway, for head-on shots?), shooting mode (e.g. AV, TV, manual?), drive mode (i.e. single shot or A1 servo, if the latter which custom settings would you use?), natural light or flash (if flash, which mode i.e. manual or TTL?) general photographer etiquette and any other advice you can offer?

I'm thinking end of runway, as high a shooting position as possible (get there early and if possible set custom white balance and shoot a GretagMacbeth Colour Rendition Chart for custom profiling in post), 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II, manual shooting mode at f/5.6 (fixed for reasonable depth of field on the models combined with reasonable separation of the models from the background) and 1/100th sec minimum (vary speed according to ambient light), 580 EX speedlight set on ETTL, drive mode A1 Servo (as the models will probably be walking towards me at a pretty fast pace, plenty of spare batteries and ... last but not least ... don't jostle the other photographers! Am I more or less there or am I way out on my approach?

[I'm hoping the other photographers are not CR members or lurkers]  ;)

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