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EOS Bodies / Re: A Rundown of Canon at Photokina
« on: September 03, 2014, 11:20:07 AM »
EF 400mm f/4 DO IS II

Be still my beating heart!

The 7D II sounds good too, and if its sensor is a true breakthrough, I'll probably go through five of them just like I did with the first version!

I would LOVE to have the luxury of using crop sensors instead of full frame, and still having the quality customers demand from me, but it's been a dream too good to be true... hopefully that will change on September 15th!

As it currently stands, in my humble opinion, the Canon world is far better than Nikon.

Although I own a lot of Nikon gear, like the D810 with the new Sigma 50mm ART, 400mm II, etc., Nikon is to me a niche market within my photography needs. Nikon has terrible customer service, a very incomplete and outdated lens lineup, etc. Canon's products are much more reliable, and although I hate to use a word which has no clear definition, Canon's products are also much more "professional."

Here are just a few of my personal experiences with Nikon:

* Nikon returned a wobbly lens purchased from B&H without being repaired because it was gray market (which is in some sense understandable, but wait for the rest of the sentence) after unscrewing and severely damaging the internal surfaces of several lens elements, then shipping the lens back to me loosely packed resulting in the lens elements shaking around freely inside the lens. In my mind, they had a customer service obligation to accept my offer to pay any price to do the repair, and they had a MORAL obligation to at least screw the lens together before shipping it back.

* Nikon broke the aperture mechanism on a $6000 lens I just sent back this summer, in the process of performing a $600 repair (replacing the AF-S motor on a supertelephoto).

* Nikon has twice sent me defective refurbished lenses (essentially worn-out junk), whereas the many refurbished lenses I have purchased from Canon have all been equivalent to new stock. Some well-regarded photographers actually consider Canon's refurbished lenses to be better than their new stock, because they are only like-new stock with an extra step of doubly careful calibration and replacement of any parts that would be the most likely to break.

* Nikon's autofocus has not caught up to the 1D X yet.

Long term, I am banking on Canon. I believe that Canon's sensor technology is going to surpass Nikon's and Sony's within a few years, in the same way that Intel's years of careful research finally paid off and began to beat the AMD processors that used to be wreaking havoc with Intel's marketshare back in 2003.

Even if the Nikon vs. Canon sensor war remains as it is, with Nikon "better" in some (but definitely not all) aspects, the Canon "grass" is still much greener with Canon's superior selection of lenses and bodies.

And even if their far better customer service was the ONLY thing going for Canon, they would still be the winner to me. Customer service is the most important thing to a customer, and that is what we are as photographers.

Lenses / Re: New Lens Information for Photokina
« on: August 29, 2014, 06:16:24 PM »
Yes, please, the 400mm DO version II is what I've been praying for for years and years!!!

If it's as sharp at 4.0 as the other premium new Canon lenses, a lightweight 400mm f/4.0 would be my dream come true. As good as it is, a 400mm f/2.8 is too heavy to run around with 12 hours a day. Busy events have too many people in the way just to sit there with a heavy lens on a tripod, so I desperately want this rumor to be true.

This is my number one desired lens in this focal length.

Photography Technique / Re: Is RAW worth it?
« on: August 29, 2014, 10:27:45 AM »
RAW is worth it as long as it doesn't make you lazy.

Too many people use RAW as an excuse to be sloppy with lighting and lazy with "automatic" exposure.

EOS Bodies - For Stills / Re: Lens to body pairing
« on: August 19, 2014, 04:37:39 PM »
I would recommend the Sigma 150-500, with a caveat that I don't actually have it, but that I have tried your other alternative and it doesn't really do it for me in that situation.

At the focal lengths where it really matters, I feel confident that you would get better plane pictures both optically from the 150-500 lens and physically from being able to handle / pan / zoom, especially at the 500mm end which is really what you need for taking really good plane photos. Even a "wide angle" plane photo with several planes is going to call for a very long focal length, unless the planes are extremely close (roaring in your ear drums kind of close).

I doubt that the 70-200mm with the 2x extender (resulting in 400mm) is going to compare to the quality of the image you'll get with the 150-500 lens at 500mm with no extenders.

UPDATE: I think I'm wrong. I had heard that the 150-500 was really a pretty great lens overall, but I have just Googled some image comparisons and some of them seem to show that the 70-200 II is sharper, even with the disadvantage of a 2x teleconverter attached, and even comparing Canon details at 400mm equivalent focal length vs. Sigma details at a true focal length of 500mm.

(And if those comparisons I read are true, then really 150-500 lens is NOT a great lens at all like a lot of people have been saying, but a terrible lens.)

All that I can say based on my personal experience is that I am NOT satisfied with the quality of the 70-200mm II in this kind of situation with teleconverters. But the 150-500mm might be even worse.

EOS Bodies / Re: Canon 1dx vs Nikon d810
« on: August 13, 2014, 12:23:29 AM »
The experiment is flawed, and the photo shown has nothing whatsoever to do with the vague concept of "the D810's sharpness."

The sharpness in the picture is clearly limited by just about every other possible photographic factor other than the D810, so the D810's "sharpness" (whatever that means) is not even being measured here.

Besides, I happen to have a D810, so how is it that my "D810 sharpness" looks different?

(Note: this is definitely not the sharpest example from my D810. It is also flawed and limited by photographic factors other than the "D810's sharpness.")

EOS Bodies / Re: 7DII - where are the leaks ??
« on: August 05, 2014, 08:12:09 PM »
The 7DII will be a weather-sealed body – that means no leaks.

Awesome post! Thanks for the laugh.

Photography Technique / Re: 5D III delete RAW+JPEG
« on: August 02, 2014, 11:57:04 PM »
This is a bug that apparently Canon has decided not to fix since it doesn't have any fatal negative impact (just a bunch of irritation).

But this bug of performing operations like deleting and locking images only on one of the two cards has a more sinister consequence when locking images and using them in a fast-moving workflow like sports photography.

I have software that scans a memory card in under 5 seconds, copies any locked images and prepares them for media use on a web page. I simply push the lock button on any image that I want to go to media while I'm taking photos at a game. At any given moment, someone can come and swap out a memory card, scan it in 5 seconds, then hand it back. (The 5 second scan is possible, because locking an image is not stored within the image itself, but is a file flag in the file system, which can be read almost instantaneously, requiring almost no time beyond that needed to actually transfer the few files which are actually locked. Ratings, however, require scanning at least part of each file, and would take at least ten times longer to use in this way.)

The fatal problem is that Canon's cameras randomly switch between which memory card is active (regardless of camera settings), and the lock operation is only performed on one memory card.

So several times the locked images haven't been there on one memory card, and whole bunch of memory cards need to get scanned to find them. Occasionally this has caused an issue, as you can imagine.

Canon needs to get their game together and provide an option to perform file operations like deleting and locking on both cards rather than one.

Sure, someone might want to have a back up of ALL the images on a second card, even ones that were "deleted." But probably nobody wants to have files locked only on one of their cards, especially if the camera is randomly flipping between active card slots when any cards are taken out, making it impossible to know which card actually contains the locked version of any particular image.

Photography Technique / Re: Storage Workflow
« on: August 02, 2014, 11:38:30 PM »
On the job:

* Dual cards used at all times (at least five times this has saved my bacon)

When processing photos:

* Pictures are copied to a Synology DS1813+ with eight drives and RAID 6 with one extra hot spare drive (5 total drives actually used for storage, two for redundancy, and one for a hot spare).
* Photos are imported to Lightroom
* Usable photos are flagged and exceptional photos are rated

After processing photos:

* All Photos and Lightroom catalog are backed up to one of two external drives, alternating with each backup. The other external drive is stored off-site.


* All flagged and/or rated photos are synced to Google Drive.

Directory structure for copied files, e.g.,:


where Folder is a name from within the DCIM folder created by the DSLR.

I do not use automatic import nor folder naming from Lightroom because I have found it necessary to organize my folders not just by the camera date (which is automatically stored by Lightroom regardless), but also by import date (which is the folder name I create for copying my files into, like 2014/Aug/8-2), as well as by the camera folder itself (which I have set on each of my cameras appropriately).

By the way, Lightroom still has a bug in it where it does not sort nor export photos correctly if they are viewed chronologically and multiple pictures were taken within a single second. If multiple photos are taken with the same camera within the same second, then it should fall back on sorting by the file name, but it does not do so, and the photographs end up being in a random order, which is extremely disorienting when trying to go through finish line photos of a race, for example.

Finally, as someone who uses multiple cameras in rapid succession, it is absolutely essential to regularly synchronize each body with the official U.S. Atomic Time. I use this widget to do so:

One of my biggest wishes as a DSLR feature would be an atomic time synchronization menu button, a capability which all cell phones and tablets have, but is even more critical for a professional's camera

(The other biggest wish would be a built-in AF microadjustment algorithm, just aim at a target at a given distance, push a button, and then let the DSLR calibrate for optimal phase detection focusing for objects at that exact distance without even needing to permanently store any images. Using Newton's Method with some extra least squares measurements added in for numerical stability, it would be easy to lock in an incredibly accurate AFMA adjustment in under two seconds, but only from in-camera without needing to store the entire images and send them back and forth through external software and focusing APIs, etc.)

What lenses do you already have?

That is the important question, of course. If you already depend on another wide angle lens, like the 24mm f/1.4 or 16-35mm, then the most important lens to you would become the 50mm.

If rather it is only one role or the other, and you don't have equivalent lenses to substitute (which is what your question seems to be asking), then as I remarked above, the 35mm seems much more useful to me.

The answers to this poll are surprising to me. Considering physics instead of the business of photography, the 50mm lens happens to perform even better.

However, considering a lens without consideration of its use in photography is like an NBA team considering a draft pick without regard to his basketball skills and how they would serve the team.

For photography, I would always choose the Sigma 35mm if I was forced to choose between it or the 50mm ART. The benefits that a great 35mm can add to my photography would be more frequent and more valuable. In fact, I normally don't even have a 50mm prime in my kit.

If you are considering which of these two spectacular lenses would be more important as a member of your photography "team" (and if you can't choose both), then I would disagree with all the current votes for the 50mm, and would instead strongly recommend the 35mm.

Lenses / Re: New 50mm Sigma ? There are other options !
« on: April 13, 2014, 10:22:46 PM »

Each to their own, personally i have outgrown my zoom lenses and prefer the quality the prime provides and have the ability to think about the composition and use my feet.

This is one of the best points I have seen on CR. I am glad to see someone else who has outgrown zoom lenses.

Someone else pointed out in this thread that "the time needed to change lenses" is a downside to using primes. That's not the way it works. Like the OP here suggests, the prime photographer works with multiple camera bodies, each with its own prime attached. Two or three camera bodies provide perfect coverage of every pre-planned vision as well as preparedness for spontaneous moments, and a fourth and fifth body are always nearby, each with its own lens and perfect settings for that lens's focal length. Primes are not necessarily evil, but "the time needed to change lenses" is simply not a factor in the professional workflow regardless of using primes or zooms.

Perspective (i.e., the photographer's position in relation to the subject and scene) is one of the most important elements of photography, and constant zooming is like a disease that can infect any photographer and inhibit their sensitivity to this part of our art.

Zooming easily makes a photographer concentrate on getting the best out of the current situation but be blind to seeing the best situation. Zooming can give the illusion that we are perfecting a composition when in fact we are only compromising it.

Lenses / Re: Wait for Sigma 50mm Art or purchase Canon 135 f2L.
« on: April 08, 2014, 04:13:08 PM »
If I could only choose one lens to do photography with, it would most likely be a 50mm f/1.4, and ideally the upcoming 50mm f/1.4 ART.

However, the truth is I am blessed to be able to choose any lenses I want to. And the fact is that I have used the current Canon 50mm f/1.4 almost never in the past three years, despite shooting half a million photos each year of a wide range of subject matter. There is simply something more effective for almost every niche and specific photographic circumstance than the 50mm.

When I look at the lens lineup that you have right now, I believe that the 135mm f/2L will add much more photographic power to you than would the purchase of a 50mm f/1.4, even the ART. So the 135mm f/2L is my strong recommendation to you, especially given your penchant for portraits.

Sports / Re: track and field photography
« on: February 04, 2014, 01:41:25 PM »
At an indoor track meet here is what I do to set up my camera:

1. Set white balance (optional--if you are not experienced doing this, then leave your camera on AWB, because nothing can improve or ruin pictures more than a good or bad white balance reading).
* ISO 100, f/5.6-f/8 (depending on the indoor lighting strength), 1/6th to 1/8th of a second (depending on lighting strength again). The reason for the slow shutter speed when taking a white balance reading indoors is to ensure that strobing effects (very common in indoor light sources) do not ruin the white balance reading.
* Photograph a gray card or a non-glossy white surface (like paper) with no shadows on it, that is equally reflecting light from the surroundings as well as from the light source.
* Look at the RGB histogram if you want to see what is going on here and to compare one white balance test photo to another.
* Set the camera's white balance and then reset exposure values back to normal shooting (high ISO, high shutter speed, wide open apertures) and take some test photos.
* If you arrive 30 minutes early and take time to set a quality white balance, you can get the majority of your photos to turn out at the quality level of studio lighting, except for a few shots where the strobing effects of some indoor lighting will result in an unavoidable color cast.
* It is well worth the time to set custom white balance in an controlled indoor lighting environment, and simply setting Kelvin color temperature is not as good due to the difference at every track including reflectivity of walls, color of the track, and lots of other factors.

2. Use camera and lens settings that work better in lower light.
*  On the 1D X I use most often a 135mm f/2 lens for indoor track with aperture values from f/2.0 to f/2.8. I also use a 400mm f/2.8, 100mm f/2.0, 85mm f/1.8, and several lenses in between which I believe are too expensive to recommend based on the percentage of use that I get out of them at a typical indoor track meet. My only reason for not using the 135mm f/2.0 is if I am limited by space constraints, such as if a high jump is crammed into the corner of the facility. There is always opportunity to use the 400mm lens for its unique photos, but it doesn't have much use in photographing the peak action except portraits of individual hurdlers or runners coming out of the blocks. So 90% of my photos are with the 135mm f/2.0. The 200mm f/2.0 is very nice as well.
* I use ISO values between 1600 to 6400, depending on the track and direction athletes are facing into the lighting.
* Everything is full manual exposure, and especially no auto ISO. Auto ISO simply trashes a great exposure as the background changes.
* Perhaps most importantly, whatever equipment you use, make sure you set the AF to Servo and only use the center 5 points in a cross configuration (center plus four surrounding), or perhaps all of the center 9 points. (Occasionally, the center 1 point alone.) I have found that even on the 1D X, in lower light, using fewer points will improve AF performance. This is true even with the 2.0.3 version of the 1D X firmware.
* Focus on the person's head or, depending on the uniform, the printing on their jersey if it is high contrast and on their chest. Some uniforms simply make it all but impossible to focus except on the head, and in long jump especially this can be quite a challenge, because it takes considerable photographer skill to track the head from head on during a long jump.

Results: sports photo of the year award in my state, Gatorade National player of the year coverage in the Chicago Tribune, etc.

When I see that quote, I assume that it is talking about a long newspaper article trying to describe a noteworthy person or event. So that is the thousand words that I think of.

For a photographer, a more appropriate question is to ask, "What picture?" Some pictures definitely don't tell a story, and aren't worth a thousand words. Imagine a photo of a gunfight. The answer to "What picture?" that could tell a thousand words would be a photo showing inconspicuously the town's name, some landscape that would show the locality, someone's expression showing how the hero was regarded, as well as someone's expression showing how the villain was also a human (like the sad face of his mother), and of course both of the prime characters in the gun fight--showing a story in each one, although not necessarily with their faces.

This is what makes photography so much a different art than videography. With video, you simply take a video of the event, and the story is told. Improving the story is a matter of improving the perspective and directing the event. With photography, it is completely different. In order to tell a story with a picture, it is not enough to simply take a picture of the story, but to put the parts of the story together in the picture. A low angle of a flock of baby ducks splashing water above themselves and quacking merrily would make a photograph that told a story. (This example comes from a recent photo situation I saw near a highway in my city.)

A photograph essentially requires the use of art in order to effectively tell its story. With a video, the story can be told even without the use of art. With the example of ducks above, a photograph of some yellow blobs several feet straight down out the window of your car on top of a one-dimensional spot of wetness on a service road to a freeway downtown would tell nothing. A video straight down out the window of your car of those same yellow blobs would still tell the story that they were ducks splashing in a puddle, but there would be no art involved. You can see the birds splashing in a video, regardless of the art involved. But a photograph to tell the story of the birds splashing requires greater artistic achievement. And to tell the full story of where the birds were downtown near the freeway would require a very beautiful touching photo. A video telling the same thing could be absolutely horrible, though, simply rotating the camera to the highway and then back.

The standards of art are far higher for telling a story with a photograph. And "What picture?" can tell a thousand words is a question that we as photographers make a life out of answering.

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