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Messages - jonathan7007

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Canon General / Re: Any special "hints" for shopping?
« on: November 17, 2013, 04:38:45 PM »
Although the OP has been and gone there is one thing I'd add.

I love looking for new entries or ideas in lighting rigs and accessories, lightstands, connection goodies, clamps, fittings, light modifiers, reflector kits, etc., that are impossible/difficult to judge in an on-line picture. Sometimes new tripod heads.

The heft and finish of the metal, the new ideas you get for your own work, etc., are valuable input, even if you wait to buy the same gear on line later. Tripod heads are especially a "feel" purchase. Less so the legs. I love all this stuff. For my work the ability to light ANYTHING is what I sell, kinda. Everyone has a camera these days, but few can show up with all this lighting gear and set it up to get a promised "look". You can't usually buy this just before a shoot, either.

OTOH, cases and carry bags in camera stores are often WAY overpriced unless you need to hike to a location shoot into Patagonia on a rainy day with a lot of assistants carrying the gear after being dropped off among the icebergs for a salt-water-spray run into shore on a Zodiac. Come to think of it that sounds like fun. The assistants carrying part. <grin>

Anyway, I love visiting big well stocked camera stores and small specialty retail photo stores too. Just visited Burlington, Vermont, and there's a tiny store, "LeZot" with very professional gear right there! So it isn't a NYC-only kinda thing.

Canon General / Re: CPS again at Platinum or self-insure?
« on: November 17, 2013, 04:20:27 PM »
Mt. Spokane,
I do have insurance against theft, loss, damage. Liability, etc. I should have been more clear. The CPS service is kind of "prepaid" repair and cleaning services with a discount of (now) 30%. When Platinum was $600 it was clearly a bad fit for me. Gold worked, and I did once or twice get the (then) 30% discount on repairs. I would never invoke my true insurance "perils" coverage for payment of even a badly damaged camera body. Theft, yeah.

You offered an interesting added benefit: CPS gets a better price in certain purchase situations. Is this for further discount off refurbished bodies? I have used the "Canon Loyalty Program" in the past, but I don't remember any situation in which I got a discount by identifying myself as a CPS member.

Faster turnaround time is a valuable benefit which I cannot buy, I believe. So that is in the "worthwhile" column. As I said, across-the-Pacific shipping to and fro is also a good deal.

The murky benefit (to me) of lens clean-and-check services is a downbeat part of the equation. Does anyone know more about helpful steps in a lens clean-and-check? I don't *think* Canon calibrates or adjusts a lens in any way during a clean-and-check. A CPS rep read me the official list of steps in the process. I would love to know otherwise.

This is NOT intended to be a rant about evil Canon trolls in Irvine, Jamesburg, Newport News (I think that's the Repair locations) but a examination of the benefit-cost balance.

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?


Speedlites, Printers, Accessories / Re: PocketWizard, Yongnuo, or Phottix?
« on: November 03, 2013, 03:08:25 PM »
Couldn't find a Mitros+ "sale" on eBay in or outside the Adorama [virtual]store. Too bad to miss that unless someone knows a link that gets right to the relevant page(?) I would have probably bought at least one. I use several Phottix Odins and one StratoII and having one that can act as controller is appealing.

Please let us know -- anyone that again sees the Mitros+ units on sale.

Yeah, Paul, looking at that more closely (had glanced before) I see the overlaps. I am also surprised he says he uses the 5D2 more than the others. I read a thread here some time back in which a photographer said he was happy with his 1Dx shooting headshots (actors, models) and I believe that, because these files/images with a new 18Meg sensor are well within the quality range for 8x10 prints.

My joy with the two 1Ds bodies I found at about $2250 (each, averaged) is based on:
1. Cost for the quality (way lower than the 1Dx)
2. Ability to have two for consistent control layout shooting in a fast-moving situation
3. Reasonable cost for the durability, water sealing
4. (OK, this isn't that important) The sound of the shutter <bid wide mad grin>
5. The invested $$ won't go down to fast
6. The cost fits my market (follow on to #5)
7. Client knows I'm serious (here most don't know the gear so less a factor.)

Like most here, I find the 1DsMk3 sensor likes to be 2/3 stop over exposed. ETTL baked in.

The 1Ds family not a street unit. I wish I never sold my Leica and Leicavit <sigh> film limitations  aside.

I like the 5DMk3 OK, and love the flexibility with the ISO and "better" focusing. (my copy not so good, unfortunately) so I *do* plan to get a second one of these for to have a consistent control layout aspect appropriate shoots. I sold my 5DMk2 and crop body to help with these moves and to step up in quality. (You called it "magic"? Agreed.)


I always agree with the advice "get more clients" because how else do we pay for all this gear and our studio leases? Paul is always spot on with photo advice, too, but here I do believe the 1DsMk3 adds something to studio work or anything else with lots of light.

I have two 1DsMk3 bodies and one 5DMk3 (had the Mk2 before). At 100, 200 ISO the 1Ds files are GREAT. The highlights have lots of room and the details are sharp and clean. There is some kind of pop that I see that I love. Great skin tones. As the ISO goes up the advantage is lost. But where I have strobes or lots of ambient light the bodies are super.

There are some other advantages. Perhaps the wall-power substitute for the battery is nice for a long day's shoot. The solid body absorbs vibration. Shutter count will never be an issue. Dual cards for backup (but the 5DMk3 has that, too.) Robust shutter should mean less strain from lots of LiveView. (I wonder if the cameras differ in sensor heat effects?) I do shoot the 1Ds tethered a lot.

I now work on location but had a studio for some years.

Cost of ownership? Don't know your marketplace. Here in the US I expect to pay about $2000-2400 for one of these used 1DsMk3 bodies and sell it for about the same. I did not look closely at your other bodies in your signature, so perhaps there is an overlap I am not taking into account, but I love my 1Ds bodies.


Software & Accessories / Re: What's the best shoulder strap, currently?
« on: October 19, 2013, 09:37:56 PM »
One other name to add to the discussion: UpStrap

Lower tech and more usual configuration over the neck: look at Upstrap, too. The pad at the top just will *not* slip off ANY clothing I have ever worn while shooting. So it feels steadier on my shoulder. There is a range of widths and materials based on what you are hanging from the strap. Founder of this little company was a working photojournalist for a good number of years.

I look forward to looking at Paul's suggestion because I recently switched over to all Arca-Swiss head attachments. I think the 70-200 could be suspended in a much more accessible way so perhps this is it. 

I got a great deal from a friend on a couple of ThinkTank holsters, gear belt, and suspender-style straps. I bring this up to point out that we all have a bunch of different scenarios and carry-gear to go with them!

Software & Accessories / Re: software for designing wedding albums
« on: October 19, 2013, 09:27:00 PM »
Do you *know* what your customers "need" or "want"? How much extra income rides on climbing this hill? How much will customers in your area pay for this form of output? Do you find that lack of a book option will lose the entire client $$? I can't answer the questions I pose but you may have figured this out already. InDesign will alow more flexibility so if your competitors are making simple books now then 1. some of them will graduate to InDesign, and 2. you have to have a better product to compete right out of the box.

When I made some books I found the easier tools had limitations but that they would accept big PDFs or JPEGs (depended on the software) created from Photoshop to incorporate, say, type on an image, a feature not in the service provider's interface (at that time). So there are "in-between" solutions that might avoid a full InDesign training regimen.

I have decided that I have to learn InDesign for  a few reasons. I admit I have not tried Blurb's interface inside LR. I am not shoooting weddings right now. There are other clients that will want books, though, including commercial (still photo) companies. I'd better carve out some time. I hate that feeling of helplessness at the beginning: like running in quicksand.

Lighting / Re: Why was Godox first to think of this?
« on: October 19, 2013, 08:56:55 PM »
I use 580 and 550EX units with both a Godox belt pack and a Yongnuo knock-off 8-AA-tray. I like the choice to go with the compact form or the extra pack, based on the needs of the shoot. Of course I use rechargeables in the Yongnuo's tray, and that means taking care to do the charging in advance. The Godox pack holds a charge well and charges quickly. Like those that have commented, this isn't a big breakthrough but would be a consideration if someone had not already bought a kit for events.

I admit I didn't go to the product info site... reacting to these posts.

I like the Godox pack.


Software & Accessories / Re: DSLRs Remote for Android Smartphones
« on: September 18, 2013, 05:32:30 AM »
I use dSLRController as does the other poster. But I write to add that YouTube was -- at least a while back -- full of examples of people using this app one their Android phones for camera control. There is also a long thread on XDA Developers Android forum which is dedicated to questions to the developer (he answers the posts every few days) and details about making it work when it is not just easy out of the box.

I like your idea of the unit as a backup to wired shutter release. I think my DroidX is a little too far back in its OS to run the dSLRController software (on "Gingerbread" Android.). Which Samsung phone are you trying to implement?

But I have ordered a Samsung Note3 and anticipate running the camera on that sometimes. The programmer's site lists compatible phones. I hope the Note3 is on it! (Yeah, I should have looked first...)

I tether to either a Win7 laptop or my Android Transformer TF101 tablet.

Please keep us up to date on how you do this.

Lighting / Re: Phottix Odins, monolights, and HSS
« on: September 16, 2013, 07:06:33 PM »
V8, great to see you back!

I bought 4 Einstein heads and a single Vagabond, have shot one or two assignments that called for outdoor power. Looking for similar car challenges way out here on my Pacific rock -- just for fun... owners of great iron here have few commercial aspirations that require spending $$ for a car picture but it looks like so much FUN!

Einsteins put out a LOT of light. Having Balcar attachment standard opens some options past the Buff modifiers, but the Buff materials seem good. Your point about the second or third Vagabond sounds smart and might keep wires out of sight in a more complicated setups.

Third Party Manufacturers / Re: New iPhone: Final Nail in the Coffin
« on: September 16, 2013, 07:02:23 PM »
Forgive me if someone already kvetched on this point four pages ago...

At least a few more potential real estate clients will try to go it alone with each improvement" in always-with-me cameras. I console myself (and adjust my sales message) with the realization that they were not good client match in that case.

I have to aim at the need/client which has to be illustrated/served by skills that aren't coming from the camera itself.

So, not the *final* nail in the coffin.

Hey, thanks for opening up your project to show its guts... Cool mod. It would be a new level of McGyver-type project for me, but the end result is really appealing. Might try it on my 550EX first, as they are easier (cheaper) to replace.  I have to balance this work against the cost of the FlashZebra alternative. (I also have a blunderbuss soldering iron $0.50 from a garage sale so might have to up that toolset a bit <grin>.)

I am still scratching my head on the "why" and that I can't reproduce it.

Thanks, again.

Lighting / Re: 3rd Party Flashes vs. Canon's...
« on: August 19, 2013, 08:47:54 PM »
Canon 550EX units are pretty cheap and offer as much light as the 580EX and 580EX2. You get compatibility and the Master-Slave options as structured by Canon. I usually work in manual, but use ETTL at events/parties. Just a datapoint to consider. eBay sourced, obviously.

Good question and detail missing in my write-up. Thanks!

I set that 580EX for manual, dialing it down to barely show. I never use ETTL when placing speedlights in set scenes. So no preflash. Perhaps, since I could not reproduce the problem (although it happened twice ) it is a different unit from my four Einstein heads and isn't reproduced because that's not the head I tested with last night.

I'm attaching the shot, and it was one of the two on which I saw the behavior.

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