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Lenses / Re: First dSLR, lens recommendations
« on: April 13, 2012, 09:11:19 AM »

I wouldn't be so fast to laugh: Of course the 70-200/2.8 is an excellent lens, but imho has some drawbacks: a) physically larger, front-heavy on 60d, less suited for travel, b) no IS which is handy when some animal doesn't move for some time, c) very small depth of field on 2.8 - even when a bird is looking towards you, you need something like f5.6 if you want to have it in focus, d) more need for a good af and af micro adjustment (i.e. not the 60d)

Good comments about the 70-200 f/2.8, but I said the 200mm f/2.8L II. I specifically said prime. It is far lighter, perfectly balanced, and if you haven't used it, you have no place to comment.

Lenses / Re: First dSLR, lens recommendations
« on: April 13, 2012, 12:36:50 AM »
I read through your post again and based on your budget for lenses and the subjects you want to photograph, this is what I recommend:

* get the body only (the first lens I am recommend would be way better for your needs and a much better value than the 15-85mm)
* Sigma AF 17-50mm f/2.8 EX DC HSM OS
* Canon 50mm f/1.4
* Canon 200mm f/2.8L II

If you can't afford all three lenses, you could actually skip the 50mm f/1.4. The 200mm f/2.8L II is just the ticket you need for wildlife. It doesn't have image stabilization, but believe me, it is a much better choice for what you want than the 70-200mm f/4 IS, and actually is hundreds of dollars less expensive. On the 60D body using just the center of the image circle and having a 1.6x crop factor, it is equivalent to the 300mm f/2.8 L II lens. Once you have experienced this lens, any other option seems laughable.

PS. If you can't get the 50mm f/1.4 then the 50mm f/1.8 is a must-have option after you buy the other two lenses, and surely that would make all three fit within your budget. The only thing that I can't stand about the 50mm f/1.8 is its noisy and slow autofocus, but I still have multiple copies of it and can assure you that it is a wonderful lens, and a miracle to be priced so low. It's like a little Leica or Zeiss lens for just $100.

Lenses / Re: First dSLR, lens recommendations
« on: April 13, 2012, 12:23:03 AM »

One thing that helped me when I first got started: I bought a 50mm f/1.4 and just stuck with that on my Rebel for a long time. It helped me really get a handle on composition and forced me to recompose with my feet, instead of just zooming in/out. I believe I became a better photographer because of it. You can get a Canon 50mm f/1.8 for like $130, probably the best lens anywhere for the money. After that, you can start deciding how to add to your stable.

I agree with that. At the beginning of your photography career you have the most potential to develop your photography talents the fastest.

As a past photography instructor I have seen that zooms tend to kill any photographic intuition that would be normally developed by a new photographer with a prime lens.

With a zoom lens you can just sit there not being a good photographer and you'll never even know it. And keep getting mundane shots.

The over-arching thing about photography isn't cropping, composition, etc.--it is first of all what is in the picture and second of all from what perspective you are taking the picture from. In other words, where you physically are, in a relationship with where the subject physically is.

Once someone becomes an expert with lighting, their equipment, and all of that, photography basically boils down to the relationship between the subject and the camera, which is acting in the place of eyes for whoever will be viewing the photograph forever after.

A prime lens teaches you how to have this relationship between the camera and the subject, whatever that might be. A zoom lens does not teach this. It makes you think about zooming in or out, or getting around obstacles, rather than a simple relationship with the subject.

A zoom is like someone who stands in one place and screams for what they want at whatever volume is needed to irritate everyone into paying attention, rather than talking in the right tone of voice for each situation that is at hand.

As soon as so many people stopped using zoom lenses, for me I have seen for them the true world of photography open up and blossom.

The 50mm f/1.4 mentioned is an excellent choice, and I would highly recommend the superb f/2.8L 200mm lens at the ridiculously cheap price of about $800 as your next lens (it will revolutionize your photography, and it is equivalent and just as good as the 300mm f/2.8 $11,000 lens on your 60D camera). You can keep your kit lens for any wider angle shots that you need.

How far will these two lenses put you ahead of anyone else? Light years.

A lot of people think that they want a lens like a 28-300mm.

At 50mm and beyond you would be shooting closer to f/5.6 than f/4.

The 50mm lens is sharper and lets in one, two, three, four stops more light (f/5.6, f/4.0, f/2.8, f/2.0, f/1.4).

This is SIXTEEN TIMES more powerful of a tool for your photography than the zoom lens.

And even if that were not true, prime lenses are still better for learning and executing the art of photography and the relationship with the subject which is all important as soon as all the technical details are mastered.

Lenses / Re: Active Sports - 135 or 70-200 2.8 II?
« on: April 11, 2012, 12:08:29 AM »
Actually, sports is what I do most, and the zooming causes me to miss a lot of shots, believe it or not. In fast motion one can't be zooming and watching. One has to anticipate and guess the best focal length, and 135mm is the best focal length to use in anticipation of almost any plays in indoor sports on an ordinary basketball-type of court.

The main thing with the 135mm is things across the court will be too far away from you.

Basketball with the 135mm is perfect full frame for almost any plays near the goal. My favorite place is near the corner just because the referees don't get in the way. I have also used the Sigma f/1.4 85mm when I am closer to the lane, with great success.

I also have the 70-200 II and I rarely use it for any indoor sports. One stop brighter always gives me twice as much freedom indoors, no matter how high of ISO the camera has. Note that with the 5D3's two-stop improvement I may actually be "lazy" and start using the 70-200 II a bit more indoors.

In the NCAA basketball season that just ended I didn't use the 70-200 II for a single basketball photo from about the end of January until April, but I used the 135mm and 85mm 1.4 almost every game, plus a 300mm telephoto for shots of the coaches and bench and shots at the other end. I don't know if you can afford it, but I always have those three lenses on three bodies, plus a fourth body with the 24mm f/1.4L II for any wide-angle group shots.

But if I could only have one of the body/lens combos to grab and keep for a game, it would be the 5D3 and 135mm f/2.0L for sure.

That's my two cents worth for you to consider.

My proposition is that iso should be kept as low as possible as a matter of best practice.

Always. Absolutely always. That's the first thing that should always be taught in class. Camera ads, Kodak film ads (in the past), etc., made it sound like high ISO was somehow better. The best images and the best practice for taking images is always to shoot at the lowest possible ISO that can be used for the given subject and conditions.

Sometimes people mistake this for meaning "try to shoot volleyball at 1/125th to improve image quality." Sometimes the lowest possible ISO is extremely high for some subjects.

But that is the golden rule, briansquibb, and you couldn't have said it better.

5D MK III Sample Images / Re: 5D Mark III White Balance issues?
« on: April 09, 2012, 03:52:22 PM »
This is caused by the refresh speed of the lights. Anything faster than 1/60th (actually 1/30th, because at least two full cycles are needed during exposure for reliable averaging to happen) can cause colors to change.

The spectrum emitted by the lights varies drastically during the alternating current cycle which has a high or low peak every 1/60th of a second. Some lights have a photoelectric phosphoresence effect that continues to emit the same intensity/color of light despite the cycling of alternating current. Others change color from white to red or green or other horrible colors.

Try taking a picture of a white wall at 1/500th of a second under these lights, and you will easily see bands of color across 1/3rd or 1/2 of the frame. There are some cameras which have mechanisms to fight it, but mathematically they can't always win.

EOS Bodies / Re: Will the D1-x really be superior to the new 5DIII?
« on: April 07, 2012, 12:41:21 AM »
The 5DIII's AF [...] it's still not as snappy or responsive as even my ancient 1DII.

With all due respect, I must disagree here. What lens(es) are you using and what AF settings when you say that the 5DIII is not as snappy or responsive in autofocusing as the 1DII?

With my 24mm f/1.4 L II, 85mm/100mm f/1.8 / f/2.0, 70-200 mm f/2.8L II, 135mm f/2.0L, and other fast-focusing lenses, I find the AF to be more snappy and responsive as the best bodies from both Nikon and Canon that I have ever used--until now this does not include the D4, which, together with the 1DX, would be the only camera more responsive than the 5D3. With a lens like the Tamron 60mm f/2.0 Macro for Canon, on the other hand, AF is not as "snappy," but here the culpability lies with the lens rather than the body. (That lens is excellent, by the way--it is just noisy and slow due to its not being equipped with the latest silent focusing motors.)

And the low light EV -2 sensitivity of the 5D3 is absolutely for real, not a marketing gimmick. I was shooting in theatre/jazz production Thursday evening and had no problem focusing anywhere in the dark theatre--and I'm not talking about the stage, but about the audience. Starting with ISO 25K, f/1.4, 1/10th of a second and even darker than that--it could nail focus like magic. It was necessarily to precisely aim the selected focus point at the subject, but it was easy and felt nearly too good to be true.

The lower ends of ISO for the 5D3 are not necessarily spectacular improvements over low ISO from previous Canon cameras or versus the Nikon D800 (but very comparable). This is simply because low ISO performance has gotten as good as it can get already.

But the amazing thing about the 5D3 that doesn't show up in DxO-Mark style testing is how flat its image quality curve really is. Although it may reach SNR 85% at a somewhat lower value, its high image quality stays essentially the same for a range of several thousand ISO values.

Just to prove this, I am attaching an unedited ISO 3,200 100% crop from my 5D3. There has never been this little difference between ISO 3,200 and ISO 100 in any other camera. Period. Not even the D4.

As I have mentioned before, the 5D3 seems objectively better by three stops compared to the 7D, two stops better compared to the 5D2. At low ISO there is no point arguing, but the difference is obvious anywhere above ISO 800.

Canon has a winner on their hands. In my mind, the values of the 7D, 5D2, and all previous cameras have just dropped by about 90%. If you are trying to decide between a 7D, 5D2, or the 5D3, there is absolutely no comparison. Three stops means eight times better (and to me, worth eight times as much) as the 7D. Two stops means four times better (and to me, literally worth four times as much) as the 5D2.

And the improved autofocus and all that is the incredibly delicious icing on the cake. For those who don't rely heavily on autofocus systems, there is still reason enough to buy the 5D3. And for those whose jobs depend on taking rapid-fire sequences of randomly moving targets in perfect focus, the improved autofocus added to the image quality makes the 5D3 the perfect camera. That was something the 7D could do to some extent, and which the 5D2 could not do at all.

Lenses / Re: Sigma 85 1.4 vs Canon 85 1.2L
« on: April 05, 2012, 01:53:28 PM »
Go with the Sigma 1.4. For me it is more versatile and just as sharp.

EOS Bodies - For Stills / Re: 5D MKIII vs 1Ds MKIII
« on: April 03, 2012, 10:47:37 AM »
tom, I think you should get the 5D3. The other camera you mention was good for its time period. But it's like a Pentium 4 computer vs. a Sandy Bridge computer. I don't know if this analogy rings any bells, but I'm trying to say that the 5D3 is a revolutionary improvement compared to the  1Ds MKIII.

If you were comparing the EOS-1D Mark IV vs. the 5D3, then I would say it is more of a wash, although the 5D3 sensor is twice as good even compared to the EOS-1D Mark IV.

All these people talking about "barely a few stops better" need to realize that even one stop is twice as good, i.e., 100% better. After a week with the 5D3, I would rather have it than any three camera bodies prior to the EOS-1D Mark IV, and it is also easily worth more than the $5,000 EOS-1D Mark IV.

So even for $3,500 (or whatever the price is in your country), the 5D3 is the only choice that I would consider if I were in your situation.

EOS Bodies / Re: Shot wedding with 5DIII, dissapointed in AF
« on: April 02, 2012, 06:12:46 PM »
This is not what I am getting. I shot an inauguration on Friday with the 5D3 and autofocus was insanely perfect and snappy down to exposures of 1/30th at f/2.0 at ISO 12,800 with the 135mm f/2.0L.

I also shot a track meet that ran until 1030 pm under poor stadium lights, and tracking was right on, even with runners going in and out of the uneven beams of very dim lights, or backlit in the curves of the track.

The AF of the 5D3 is absolutely incomparably better than the 5D2, and I have loads of experience to be able to make this statement.

BTW, I am using the automatic focus tracking which uses the center spot to lock on and then tracks it to any of the other 61 AF points. It is the mode that shows up with a border around all the AF points and a bold center point, when you are selecting autofocus modes. (I am describing the view through the viewfinder.)

Also, AF worked just as well even if I selected the initial focusing point as one of the other ones rather than the center.

Technical Support / Re: Dynamic Range War
« on: March 29, 2012, 03:25:00 PM »
I'd caution strongly against expose to the right

Expose properly, ideally with a well-calibrated incident meter.

If you've still got crushed shadows and blown highlights in critical areas of the image, you either need better light or you need to go to HDR -- and that's assuming that the crushed shadows and blown highlights are a problem in the first place...the kinds of photography where it's a problem but you can't either fix the light or use HDR are basically nonexistent.

Don't forget that there's a great deal more DR to be had in any well-exposed RAW image than what comes right out of the converter with the default settings.

Good points, and actually you have explained very well what the point of ETTR is, which is to maximize the potential of camera sensors, which are capable of far more than what is offered by default exposure settings. The camera sensors are so good that the dynamic range of most scenes is far within the maximum DR capabilities of the sensor. So photographers are faced with a question--use zero exposure compensation, or try to manually expose to get the most detail? Due to the way that data is recorded (2,048 bits of data for the right side in the brightest stop of light), there is much more data recorded on the right side of the histogram.

There is an amazing example on that page which shows that the little tiny blip on the right side of the sensor (way, way, overexposed, and extreme ETTRing) actually has as much image detail as almost the entire image histogram. That's not what anyone should do. The point is just to show how much more data and details are being recorded for any part of the image that is on the right side of the histogram, compared to the left.

Technical Support / Re: Dynamic Range War
« on: March 29, 2012, 03:01:21 PM »
If you want to get the most detail from your images, then the major area of your image's histogram should be towards the right.

Thanks for pointing that out, I only discovered this fact after some try and error - maybe they should have put a  sentence like this in the manual :-p

The concept is termed ETTR.

Great point, I would like to add a link a really cool article on the subject as well:

In summary,

"For Maximum S/N Ratio [i.e., image quality]

"The simple lesson to be learned from this is to bias your exposures so that the histogram is snugged up to the right, but not to the point that the highlights are blown. This can usually be seen by the flashing alert on most camera review screens. Just back off so that the flashing stops."

There are photos of the histograms in the article.

Note that for a dark subject, you still need the image to be darker than for a bright subject, so it is overly simplistic to say "always have the histogram snugged up to the right." But to get the most details out of all the data that is available in the light coming from the subject, that is the way.

Technical Support / Re: Dynamic Range War
« on: March 29, 2012, 02:58:46 PM »
The concept is termed ETTR.
While it might not make me seem like a pro (hey, I am not!): I didn't know about that, thanks again dr. neuro!

The only thing left for me to wonder when shooting at low light is if it's better to have a properly exposed histogram at higher iso or a histogram that leans to the left at lower iso. Using lr4 and its smart shadow recovery, I'm tending towards the latter with my aps-c sensor, because higher iso than 800 really ruins the picture while 1ev underexposure does not.

That is a question that there may never be a definitive answer for.

In my experience it depends on the camera. Some cameras whose high ISO modes are just "software enhanced" are better used at lower ISOs with slight underexposure, and then pushed on the comupter with software that is better designed and can increase the brightness without resulting in as much nosie as the in-camera "software-enhanced" ISO boosting.

For other cameras that really do have the ability to increase their light sensitivity, it is absolutely better to increase the ISO to get more bits of detail in the file, and then try to decrease noise later. Underexposing reduces the actual amount of data that is captured in the scene. So in an ideal world, you would get the proper exposure by increasing the ISO, and then reduce the nosie in post-processing, and your image would have higher quality than shooting underexposed and then boosting the ISO with software.

It all depends on whether the ISO level that you are shooting at is provided by the intrinsic analog/physics capabilities of the image sensor physics (in which case you should shoot at high ISO and reduce noise afterwards), or by the camera's image processing (in which case you should shoot at lower ISO and increase brightness afterwards).

Boosting ISO with software always reduces the amount of usable data in the image (which is why the Nikon D4 only has 6-8 bits of DR at ISO 200,000, because it is software boosted). So that is what you always want to avoid.

Technical Support / Re: Dynamic Range War
« on: March 29, 2012, 02:26:33 PM »
For the record, slide film has a smaller dynamic range than negative film.

However, it still held at least as much "data" as did negative film.

Therefore, there was much more detail in the image coming from a slide, but exposure latitude was not as forgiving. Blown highlights, and lost shadows were more likely with slide film. Overexposure in particular is much less of a problem with negative film, because there was a lot of headroom with negative film. Not so with slide film.

The way this compares to digital images is as follows:

Approximately the brightest 1/2 of the image data (i.e., the right side of the histogram) represents one stop. Therefore, the most image detail is in this area. Subtle variations between brightness are easily discernable.

The darkest 1/2 of the image data is divided up as if it was another image, like this:

* the brightest 1/2 of the remaining 1/2 of the image data (i.e., the upper half of the bottom half of the histogram) contains another stop of brightness data. There is slightly less detail, since not as much data is used to represent one stop of light.

The remaining quarter of the image data is divided up again, recursively:

* the brightest 1/2 of the remaining 1/4 of the image data contains another stop of brightness. There is significantly less detail, etc.

Let's assume that your image data is stored as 16 bits per pixel, and the primary part of your image is exposed at EV 16.

Then the top 8 bits contain a detailed view of the brightest one stop of the image from EV 16.0 to 16.9.
The  next 4 bits contain a moderately detailed view of the next brightest stop of the image from EV 15.0 to 15.9.
The next 2 bits contain a poorly detailed view of the next brightest stop of the image from EV 14.0 to 14.9.
The final 1 bit contains a very low detail view of the darkest stop of the image from EV 13.0 to 13.9.

This is how it works, simplified, with "linear gamma."

All modern cameras use non-linear gamma systems to expand the dynamic range of linear gamma from the maximum of four stops to many more stops of dynamic range.

But the principle is the same.

If you want to get the most detail from your images, then the major area of your image's histogram should be towards the right.

Try taking a photo of a subject with little dynamic range, like a a square foot in the middle of a field of green grass. If the image is underexposed, the histogram will make a narrow band towards the left side. The size of the band represents the detail recorded from the grass.
If the image is properly exposed, the band will be a little bit larger showing that more detail is being recorded in the upper area of the histogram which is more detailed because more bits are used to record each stop of light.

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