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Topics - jonathan7007

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Behavior: I finally did a firmware update 9/6/2014 -- issued by Phottix a year ago for TCU and receivers. My Odin kit was 1.0 and those sold now are 1.5, but Phottix implies that the firmware update makes them functionally identical (they use the word "compatible".)

I set up a little test shoot to see the results of the firmware -- and practice some use cases I have not yet done with the Odin -- for clients. I just want to learn more about the Odin kit. Here's the problem: Since the update yesterday there are times I shoot a frame in which no flash occurs and then the second shot will fire as expected -- as will further frames as long as I keep going. This wake-up frame seems to occur when there is perhaps a minute or two of inactivity.

I first noticed this yesterday so I cleared the TCU, took out the batteries and let it sit without power for a day. This had helped some photographers last year at the time of the firmware update, which didn’t go smoothly for everyone. My flashes in this test are one each 580EX and 550EX. They are set to stay on, not to go to sleep. It is not battery power. But tonight I had that blank frame reoccur.

I was shooting tethered to an Android tablet and thought something wonky in its shutter button but the same issue happened with out tether. A pause takes the camera into some form of standby. I will ask Phottix. Any thoughts here?

Nowhere can I find a detailed discussion about when it's best to leave the flash units as TTL using "TTL Compensation" on the TCU to affect a ratio. Non-TTL is called Manual but the flash is STILL set for "ETTL". I have been asking myself how TTL on controller *and* flash head (speedlight) can work when the shoot calls for the flash unit to be facing the inside of a umbrella of softbox. Using TTL in the test setup I did see some change in the flash output when I put a white card behind the mannequin head (my "model"). In TTL with changed aperture the whole rig was "OK" at producing similar histograms. But one of my strobes, the 580, was flashing into a silvery umbrella on every shot, The other light was a 550EX directly at the model.

Changing mode on the TCU to "manual" would seem to avoid  confusion from TTL decisions, I guess, so I set full power from the umbrella and 1/8 power from the direct 550. Shoot. This strong ratio does show on the back-of-camera screen  as soon as I hit the shutter. Changes in ratio show right away.

I have very little experience with TTL  and trust manual (admittedly limiting). I expect to meter the flash as I own a Sekonic L558. Even though there appears to be no preflash in this Phottix version of "manual" my meter is confused. It reads f3.2 for a flash level that is f10 when I get the histogram right. (I know in-camera histograms aren't perfect…)  (In preflash for TTL operation my meter successfully waited for and displayed pretty accurate results of a "second" flash stronger than the first.     

Why is there a wake-up shot required?
Why doesn't the speedlight inside something or facing an umbrella mess up the Odin TTL system?

Lighting / Mitros+ Owners: are you satisfied?
« on: August 19, 2014, 04:36:46 AM »
Comments on Amazon from the first months after release refer to overheat throttling and the success of the firmware upgrade in avoiding shutdown was 50-50 in the small number of comments offered. It occurs to me I should see if B&H have sold more... therefore might have more comments.

I have a Phottix three-Odin set and one Strato2 rcvr to round out the kit. I have used these for several different setups. I am considering buying one Mitros+ flash to stay on my camera during events at which I have placed flashes (maybe my Einsteins) at one or more remote perches. It is a biggish commitment ($400) but you could say the transceiver is valued at $150 alone.

Private by Design once made the point that this price rises to the same range as good deals on Canon 600 pieces. I agree but have the investment in the Odin kit and a 580EX and a 550EX. I also do interiors where there are needs for a less-bright light in a small room off the main area we are lighting. Optical slaves can be finicky. I like having a LOT of flexibility when working in unpredictable locations.

So, are these delivering the benefits Odin installed features should allow?


I am a stills guy adding an occasional simple walk-through video to keep customers who insist on both. I have experimented with a Hague DMC steadying device for my 5Dmk3 and could tell that my 24-70 v2 was too heavy and too big, because the length/weight combo introduces swaying and movement when lifted or swung. So it appears I need a pancake-like wide angle to trim down the shape and weight effects of the body/lens at the top of the stabilizer.

I already own a lot of wideangles for stills: my Sigma 12-24 seems too big for this and, like the Canon 24-70, too heavy out front. I have the 24mm f1.4L, trimmer in length but almost as heavy as the 24-70.

I am considering the Voightlander 20mmf3.5 or 28mmf2.8. These are manual, pancake designs. The 20 is not sharp at the edges but the 28 is much better. My biggest unknown is whether moving through spaces and doors and hallways in smaller houses will the 28 be insufficiently wide? If I shoot a still to show a whole small room I have my 17mm tilt and shift or the Sigma 12-24. (But I use my 17 on every shoot.) With a moving video camera I have the flexibility to pan. The 20's lack of sharpness might be OK because video never seems very sharp anyway. But the changes in shapes get weird(er) with the very wide lenses.

I have read that very wide focal lengths help mask glitches in the stabilizing.  But 20 is pretty wide to be moving past objects in the tracking shots. . 28 doesn't feel "wide" to me now. But video handles distortion differently.

Here's a really good review of the two lenses by a photographer. The link is to the review of the 28 and at the end of this review is a "related" link to his earlier write-up of the Voightlander 20.

Perhaps there are other candidates. Couldn't think of a different forum for this. Feedback, please.
Thanks, in advance for all thoughts.

EOS Bodies - For Stills / Any voodoo cures for Err80?
« on: July 07, 2014, 10:31:46 PM »
One of my 1Ds3 bodies is throwing the Err80 message and hanging up, only to be awoken with battery removal. The body did not suffer any event that I saw or knew, like a fall or static discharge. I have tried three different cards in the body, and it will hang on the first shot with all of them. I left the body without its battery for a whole night as one Canon suggestion reported or quoted said a long time should be taken for reset and I was willing to try anything.

I did reformat the cards in this body during one of those cycles -- before trying an exposure. Hung again. More than one Canon lens tried, too. Batteries Canon stock. Two brands of cards eventually went in the sockets, both CF and SD.

Betting it's an expensive deep dive into the body but must pay for a fix. Anyway, I'd be hesitant to take this on a job -- unless I got a very witch-doctor certain fix. Eye of Newt anyone?

Just checking before I send it off to Irvine.

...not Flickr, Facebook, Google+. Everything I have found wants people to sign in to become a community and share lots of info or whatever. We are a photo club and there is no one site/community that everyone is willing to join and people don't want to sign into a site to either upload and see other members' images. Some members get confused about sign-ins and especially uploading.

We have used/tried Facebook, GoogleDrive/Google+/Picasa. I am starting to look at WordPress templates, hoping there is a plug-in or theme there that does this.

Please let me know if there is a template or system that can do this. I can't build it in Dreamweaver, etc. Just don't have those skills.

An example of use: six club members go to a 4th of July parade and they want to show other members the images - to be viewed on the web. (For this last [viewing]step Google and Facebook require membership and sign-in.)

The best operating model would be uploading images as attachments: upload by e-mail message. Control would came from the careful distribution of the e-mail addresses. Every member of the club performs e-mal tasks and management. The alternatives make someone a images Secretary who aggregates everyone's input and does the uploading.

EOS Bodies - For Stills / Loss of viewfinder flash of red light
« on: July 06, 2014, 05:00:37 AM »
I was shooting our local 4th of July arade which went through dusk I realized that the [lame]viewfinder illumination wasn't working in my 5DMk3

The choice to make a black-box focus-target indicator on the focus screen was throwing me big time in the ever-darker street. Worse, I was getting NO flash of red and a sense of which target was activated. The first thing I can't do anything about. The second: I know the 7D people pt up with it. Had never had or handled one, ever.

Has anyone had their "viewfinder illumination" die? Looks like a trip to Irvine.

Boy I hope they put in a different system on the 5D-whatever-is-past-Mk3.

Software & Accessories / EU version 3 flaky - for me so far
« on: July 01, 2014, 07:54:37 PM »
I have a shoot I'd like to perform tethered so tried out the new version with one of my 5DMk3 bodies. After three cords of ever-shorter length the program just disappears off the screen either on its own or in response to  some sort of input. I called Canon and they say they have not had lots of calls about the software; for this gentlemean in Virginia it was his first call on the subject.

So this is just a data point. I am just starting to get a handle on what is wrong.

I did tell them I was bummed that I had to run two versions and if needing to swap the body on the tripod for one of my 1DsMk3 bodies the client (and I) would probably get annoyed backing out of one package and starting another.

My tethering setup is the same as before the upgrade: same Lenovo w520, same cables (that worked before).

I did notice that a frame taken with the Sigma 35mm f1.4 did not auto focus when fired from the button image in the control rectangle in the software. Now I have to try with a Canon lens on the body.

Lenses / My 24-70v2 a bit wonky?
« on: January 31, 2014, 04:59:53 PM »
Before I send this off to the mothership... Do you 24-70 owners also see a LOT of curve to horizontal lines?

Lately my 24-70 2.8Lv2 has not seemed as sharp and looking at recent ocean horizons there is a lot of curvature seen before the Lightroom 5 correction kicks in or is invoked. I try to avoid getting too obsessed with sharpness at a pixel-peeping level, and I should open up a frame or two from the first months I had this lens. Other than some back focus (-4 correction) it was wonderful. Did I just get jaded and want more?

I am going to ask CPS for a loaner before this goes in and in the day overlap with both lenses here I will do some kind of res test on both. Funny joke is that are no brick walls here in my rural Hawaii area so it's hard to find the right flat big target in the natural world. Yeah, I know those of you living in the northern states on the mainland or Norway are rolling your eyes right now... sorry for complaining.

Anyway, I wonder if this took a knock and whacked something inside. Did a search on CR forums (fora?) and didn't find any other discussions of barrel/pincushion expectations. ...just seems more pronounced...

Canon General / CPS again at Platinum or self-insure?
« on: November 16, 2013, 09:41:10 PM »
I have been a Gold member a long time. When the new structure was announced I was on the fence about moving to Platinum. (I have been eligible for Plat for a while so it had been a choice to stick with the lower Gold$.) I began to lean toward upgrading to go forward this Fall at renewal time, but I had a surprising interaction with CPS that has made me consider self-insuring and paying like a regular citizen at time of need. So I am writing here to see what readers here think. Writing it all out will help me think about the decision, too.

First, I look at this as insurance. Insurance isn't an investment. I believe that I make a mistake if I plan to get back the net value (of services) I paid in. That said, how is the CPS way of doing things supporting me?

The incidents that forced this into perspective as a renewal question were:
I had sent in a 1DsMk3 body with all forms and a clean-and-check chit. I asked for a shutter count as I had bought the 1DsMk3 body used and I wanted an official document for that future time when I sold it to the next user. No shutter check on the repair order and when I called  I was told they could not issue a new copy of the work order. They could probably e-mail me, no letterhead. (They did show the number, approx 74,500, in their RN# records visible to the customer service staffer.)

After that I tested the sensor for the first time since receiving it. There was a big round spot in the frame. I should look to see it if is among the other dark dust spots on the sensor before sending... Anyway, the clean-and-check chit sent them had a note specifically requesting sensor cleaning. I had taken the body out of the bag and removed the body cap, placed a lens on the camera and taken it out for a walk. Shot the sky, confirmed the visibility of the spot in some green broadleaf cactus, too. I figured I'd be without the body for a couple more weeks but hey, they'd make it right. (In Hawaii CPS must *mail* -- yes, mail -- you a label for a re-do and courier service usually takes an extra day. So two weeks give or take.)

Irvine told me that my dust represented "just one of those things about dust on sensor--it's going to happen. You can send it in again with another clean-and-check chit." Staffer checked with a Supervisor who didn't get on the phone.

I spoke to one of the CPS-specific advisers (different crew than Irvine's customer service operation.) He was a great resource, surprised they took this tack.  Realizing I might opt for self-insurance I asked him for details about the listed services performed during a clean-and-check on a lens. A body is easier to see the value -- well, for me anyway. It's pretty vague about the real important questions: alignment, de-centered elements. He read a document that says they put it on a mount, but his reading of the task performed was that the ability of the lens to communicate with the body was all that was tested. Canon Repair also handles the lens to feel the performance of the rings, smoothness, and they are willing to clean the front and rear element. If there's a collar they insure it works. They will never, he said, go inside the lens during a plain old clean-and-check. That makes perfect sense to me. I'd love it if they did but let's get real, their costs would go through the roof.

I think I have been the beneficiary of extra help over and above official guidelines in the past but I suspect that flexibility in the facilities is waning.

So. Self insured from now on out?

I am not a big photo group with ten bodies out churning through three weddings every weekend. I don't get shot at as a photojournalist. My commercial photo shooting schedule isn't as crazy as it was some years back on the mainland during which I might have some piece of gear fail in a state 2,000 miles from home base. Canon saved me a few times in that crazier time. Loaners used to be handled on a phone call basis and went out that afternoon to your hotel… that kind of thing.

I have three bodies: 1DsMk3 (two of these) and a 5DMk3. Plan to get another 5D3, stick with four total. This another form of self-insurance, admittedly more $$ than Platinum $$. The only horror would be temporary loss of my treasured 17mm TSE, which I use for clients all the time. But I have a wider 12-24 Sigma lens which is plenty sharp and I *could* correct for a couple of weeks  in Transform or DxO ViewPoint (don't like doing it this way but…)

Shipping alone during one equipment failure kerfuffle  might pay for  the $300., but having Irvine standards lowered might make some of that "help" worthless and get in the way of a successful shoot.

Wow, sorry about the wordy post. Anyone else thought through the self-insurance consideration? I have actually constructed various repair/shipping scenarios to understand the costs I would bear in typical hassles. No question, they are high costs.
Being out here in the middle of the blue Pacific cuts both ways good and bad in all things business.

So I might go for another year and bump up to Plat status. $300 is not going to break the bank. I sometimes go into the next price negotiation when faced with these decisions and just straight-faced quote a higher price to cover it. Keeps my resolve when the negotiating happens.

What do CR readers think?


Please read this account of a minor odd moment in strobe lighting and tell me if you know what went wrong.

I was photographing interiors and my kit includes both Einsteins and speedlights, Canon and Vivitars. In a small bathroom I planned to shoot from the door and snuck an Einstein head up next to me such that the head pointed straight up at the ceiling over my head. Satin 7.5 inch reflector. Dialed down to something like 100, 200WS, because it was a small bathroom and light in overall color (white ceiling). Attached directly to the 1DsMk3 by its own Buff-supplied PC cord. 17TSE on the body.

This body had been used on other rooms with just Einsteins (multiple heads) all good so far.

I had placed a Canon 580EX in the bathtub to brighten up the shower curtain and the matte-finished tile. It was mounted on a small stand up on top of a Phottix  Odin  receiver into which I had plugged a FlashZebra orange optical slave made for Canon triggering (FlashZebra has different models.) Odin "on" and set for Group A, Channel One. The speedlite was behind the white translucent cloth curtain pointed away from the lens. The Odin was underneath it and the slave stuck out the "back" of the Odin toward the camera position and therefore toward the strong pulse from the Einstein.

What went "wrong"? This: On first curtain setting only the Canon's light showed up in the exposure. Everything fired, though, and apparently at the same time. Tried it about five times.  Get this - I was dragging the shutter to let a ceiling light show in the image, so I wasn't anywhere near 250th. No banding showing on the screen. Change to second curtain and it works fine.

The same combination did it in another room a bit later. Again, second-curtain "fixed" the problem.

Nothing strange about those second-curtain images in post.

Tonight I pulled what may or may not be the same Einstein head and tested the setup. I should have marked the head! Works fine on both first- and second-curtain.  WTF? Presumably the Canon is going off milliseconds after the Einstein, as it's the Canon speedlite on a slave.

OK, anyone, any ideas?

(As an aside: One of the things that bothers me about my 580 and 550 is their lack of a PC connector, because when not at an event I think of them as small manual strobes to be hidden here or there or lighting a corner that just fades due to required placement of the bigger units. Before the purchase of the Einsteins this motley crew of Canon and Vivitar units was my only kit for interiors.  In most cases optical slaves are fine for that kind of work. The Vivitars have a connector, albeit a proprietary one.)


A client for whom I teach still photography will use her new 5DMk3 for occasional video at events. She will be buying a Lexar 32Gig 1000x UDMA7 CF card. In 99.99% of the usage scenarios there will be stills shot and some video but for starting point, can someone tell me the empty-card capacity for 5DMk3 video on that card?

She will want the easiest and most common playback file format to give to friends by way of copying to optical media (not posted to the cloud. She does not plan lots of (any?) video editing.

Just not my area.

Thanks, in advance, for suggestions.

Software & Accessories / Fast CF+SD reader for Mac?
« on: July 06, 2013, 04:04:30 AM »
A client of mine needs a reader for CF and SD cards that will connect to a new iMac 27". I use a Lexar pop-up unit on USB3 on my Lenovo w520 laptop and Win7 production desktop machine, but there is a warning on the Lexar site about *some* Mac users' difficulties (which are not described.)

So what's the equivalent good reader for Mac users?

Lighting / Buff Einsteins can use any Balcar accessory?
« on: May 14, 2013, 03:23:50 PM »
I have a few Einstein heads and reflectors on the way to me. To my surprise a Buff employee told me during transit that these heads take Balcar accessories. I had not seen that on the Buff website.

Has anyone here tried out (successfully?) Balcar modifiers, reflectors, etc., on the Einsteins? Willing to share your experiences?

I have some modifiers here that require a 6-inch flange of thin metal as a connector/attachment. Now I am searching for source(s) of a Balcar-to-6 inch pieces. Buff doesn't have such a thing. Living way out in the boonies I hope to avoid too much shipping cost to try out possibilities. Looks like Kacey Enterprises has one excellent alternative sold specifically for Buff, and I ordered that. Page about this flange shows it on Alien Bees, not Einsteins.

Lighting / Stands made for assistant carry/point?
« on: May 03, 2013, 01:00:59 PM »
I want a pole or stand that my assistant can hold to point a small softbox at an event or outdoor shoot that calls for a two-legged-lightstand. Yes, I can offer him or her a folded lightstand but I wonder if anyone has seen a pole with better handle, grip surfaces -- to make pointing, lifting, holding easier?

As I was typing I thought to check Lastolite. They offer this one:
which seems well thought out.

Alternatives? Experience to share with this kind of solution?

This weekend finally kinda gave up on Manfrotto head/attachments. This is going to cost me but... I plan to switch over to the RSS gear I'll need for simple pano experimentation. I am only interested in single row pano right now, but the panos I tried included a couple that needed a nodal rail. I am losing confidence in Manfrotto, so I figured it was time to switch.

(Searched whole CR forum for posts on geared heads and read everything returned.)

I had trouble getting my whole support combination to stay level through the "swing". Surprisingly my wonderful very heavy old-style Gitzo Tele-Studex 309 seems to have a spirit level that's inaccurate! (I will have to confirm that with some other levels and a known level surface right away.) I had found Manfrotto's L-bracket but trying to use it this weekend found it's a kludge compared to the RSS. I believe it introduced some flex and alignment change. I have a pano rotator from Manfrotto (300N) but think I can stick with that.

The RC4 quick-release is still a little looser than I'd like. Yes, it's better than my RC2 plates but still not great. I was using my Manfrotto 410 geared head with the RC4 plate as the camera attachment -- not rotation. Is there any Arca Swiss standard equivalent? Some searches today turn up nothing. I have seen one shooter say he just bought the clamp "adapter". I do architecture and real estate so want to continue to use a geared head for that.  Is there a geared head for about $300 that uses to Arca Swiss quick release? Yeah, I saw the $1,600 block of goodness that Arca Swiss makes... clients here aren't paying the margins for that.

From my experimentation I take it that the tripod has to offer the rotator a perfectly level plane of swing. Can I just give up a head altogether and have the rotator on the tripod as the "head", then place a nodal rail on the rotator, then, of course, the camera on the rail? That takes a source of error (the head) out of the "stack".

I know I'll need one RSS for each body, so I think I'll stick to one L-clamp for my 1DsMk3.

Thoughts? Suggestions?


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