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Messages - TrumpetPower!

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There are things you can do with the truly expensive gear that simply can't be done at all with the other stuff. There's a reason a <i>Sports Illustrated</i> photographer will go with a 400 f/2.8 on a 1D X instead of a 75-300 on a Rebel when shooting a football game. The two setups have the same field of view, sure -- hell, the Rebel setup even has more reach. But that's where the similarities end.

Other examples abound. You can do stuff with a TS-E 24 II that you can't with a 28 f/2.8, even though the 28 has autofocus -- think of a small wildflower filling the frame with the rest of the meadow and the mountains in the background, everything in sharp focus, except for the dreamily-blurred grass right underneath the flower. And when it comes to things like the MP-E 65...well, sure, you can crop to get the same field of view but doing so is a joke.

So "improvement" isn't quite the proper word to use. Does buying a cement truck to park next to your carbon-frame bicycle improve your locomotion?



HDR - High Dynamic Range / Re: 5d3: HDR VS Multiple Expsosure vs AEB
« on: August 30, 2012, 11:31:40 AM »
Use the built-in HDR. It does the bracket, saves the original images, and creates a not-awful JPEG preview for you. The preview is useful in the field to get an idea of whether or not you got the shot you wanted, but it's unlikely you'll want to use it for anything else. The only time AEB makes sense for HDR work is if you're shooting more than three frames. (There are uses for AEB other than HDR, but damned few -- and most of those would be better served by HDR anyway.)

How to process the image once you get back to the computer is a subject of much debate and taste. My own approach is to create masks with a big, soft brush; you're essentially creating your own custom-shaped graduated neutral density filter tailor-made for just that scene. Others like the surrealistic hyper-contrast look of tonemapping. What you go with is your problem.



If you want a slow card, buy a cheap slow CF card.


You can get off-brand 32 GB CF cards for $30 - $40 at Amazon. You should be able to pick up 16 GB cards in the impulse bin in the checkout line at your local office supply store for $15 - $20. Personally, if I were to go that route, I'd get a half-dozen 8 GB cards (for $10 - $12 / ea)...if a card goes bad, you've limited the damage.

The only reason you'd want to use an adapter would be for one of those specialty cards, like the EyeFi, or if you were going to take the card out of the camera and put it directly in something that doesn't support CF (such as a cheap picture frame), or if you were going to immediately hand the un-edited JPEGs to a client who only wants SD. None of those situations are common or, frankly, even a good idea -- there're other, much better ways to accomplish the same thing. Granted, those other ways are more expensive...but if you've just blown thousands on the camera, why're you fretting over tens of dollars for this sort of thing?



Another big question is how big you'll be printing. Unless you'll be printing on a machine that takes ink by the gallon, I wouldn't even give it a second thought. Even then, it's unlikely to be a concern (though it can be).


Portrait / Re: Speedlight for perfect night portraits
« on: August 27, 2012, 05:04:17 PM »
An on-camera flash certainly can do a lot to improve the light in a dismal setting, but you'll be hard-pressed to get "perfect" night portraits out of one. Your best bet would be to bounce the flash, which is often impossible outdoors.

Somebody else has already pointed you to Strobist, which is the best place to get started to learn how to get the flash off the camera.

I'll also point you to Neil van Niekerk's superlative Web site where he tells you everything you ever needed and wanted to know about how to bounce a flash, as well as lots of great stuff about how to get the flash off the camera.

Effective use of flash has a weird learning curve. You start out with the pop-up flash, which works, is easy to use, but is ugly. Then you get into bounced flash and off-camera flash, which isn't hard to learn, but isn't intuitive and takes a bit of practice -- and which gives a huge quality boost. But to go from there to truly mastering flash...well, that takes a lifetime, and then some....



Landscape / Re: ND Filters - Solid or Graduated
« on: August 27, 2012, 11:58:51 AM »
Personally, I don't like HDR, except on some occasions (there are some good examples). It is far overused in my opinion and in many cases badly (which makes the technique look worse than it is). Putting that aside though, there are many scenes where it just simply doesn't work, such as scenes containing snow to name one example. Also, adding gradients in Lightroom or Photoshop isn't going to recover detail that isn't there in the first place. If the sky is blown, then gradients are a waste of time, at best, you'll get bright white areas, at worst, you may also get weird colour casts. It's far better to use a grad (or two) to preserve the detail, even if it isn't quite enough, so that the detail is there for recovery in processing.

You misunderstand me.

The gradients aren't of colors or curves or whatever.

The gradients are in the mask and allow you to choose which portions of which exposure are seen.

Take one exposure -2 EV. That's your sky. Take another exposure +2 EV. That's your foreground. Put the +2EV on the bottom layer and the -2 EV on the top layer. Add a mask to the -2 EV layer. On that mask, add a gradient that results in solid white at the top, solid black at the bottom, and a transition gradient somewhere between. How wide the transition, where to place it, and what angle to place it at define the characteristics of your virtual graduated ND filter.

Now, imagine you've got a scene with grass in the foreground, a patch of bright snow in the middle ground, dark (shadowed, forested) mountains in the background, blue sky, and a few bright puffy clouds. No way are you going to get that all in a single exposure with any ND filter ever made, but that's not a problem. Shoot multiple exposures, one for each part of the scene. Then, create your own custom ND filter in post using layer masks.

Of course, this assumes you know something of at least the basic principles of Zone exposure. You wouldn't want your exposure for the snow to put it at middle gray; you'd want it as bright as you can get it without clipping. And that shadowed forest needs to be as dark as you can get it without blocking or getting noisy (though you'd probably overexpose it a bit in the scene and pull it in post). The grass and sky, of course, should be close to middle gray, and the clouds should probably come from the same exposure as the snow.

Then, the challenge in post is nothing more than creating the proper masks for each of the layers.



Lenses / Re: Flat lens offers a perfect image
« on: August 27, 2012, 11:43:11 AM »
There's another important caveat: this just applies to the lens element -- the piece of glass. Your 70-200 would still need a (virtual) 200 mm between the front element and the sensor.

And there'd be another problem: this lens is far thinner than a sheet of plastic, and there's no way you'd be able to keep it rigid without doing something like...well...encasing it in glass.

Lastly, even at the infrared and longer wavelengths this works at, it's horribly dark -- it only lets through 10% of the light.

There's no need to completely despair, though; the technology is quite similar in principle to the diffractive optics Canon already is using in its green stripe lenses. I imagine, with time (maybe a lot of time), all the supertelephotos will have diffractive optics. Some day we'll probably see a 400 f/2 that's as light as a 70-200.

You'll still need a second mortgage to buy one, though....



EOS Bodies / Re: 5d Mk III dilemma
« on: August 27, 2012, 09:28:48 AM »
I'd be amazed if the 24-70 II will be sold as a manufacturer kit. I'd also be amazed if buying it as a kit from a reseller like B&H or Adorama would save you more than a hundred bucks or so.

And I have a hard time believing that saving a hundred bucks is really worth the wait for somebody wanting to spend several thousand on a new camera, especially somebody who already has invested thousands in equipment.

The 24-105 is slow, yes, but it's optically excellent, has IS, and has a significantly longer reach than the 24-70. And the 24-70 is only one stop faster, which isn't all that much in the real world.

My advice? Get the 5DIII with the 24-105 kit. If you really need that additional stop, get the Tamron 24-70. The Tamron is better optically than the Canon 24-70 I (which is rightfully a legendary lens), costs half as much as the 24-70 II, and has IS.

Either option gets you the camera in your hands today, which is worth a lot more than a hundred bucks. And, either option will save you a grand over the 24-70 II -- almost enough to get the 35 f/1.4.

Should you regret your decision when the 24-70 II finally hits the streets, no worries. If you went with the 24-105, you'll be able to sell that for at least as much as it cost you to buy it in the kit. If you went with the Tamron, the depreciation will be far less than it would have cost you to rent the lens. Either way, you'll have had the full use of the camera and lens for the period and you'll come out ahead financially.



EOS Bodies / Re: I love Primes.
« on: August 26, 2012, 11:42:24 PM »
I use primes for following reasons:

- size and weight, cheaper filters (ND still necessary)
- big aperture = more lights for AF and viewfinder
- price
- easier to setup microadjustment

Erm...Canon's best primes are the biggest, heaviest, and most expensive lenses in the lineup. And the fastest of the supertelephotos is only f/2.8. The top of the heap is f/5.6.

The 35 f/1.4 and the 24-105 are easy to mistrake for each other at a quick glance if you squint.

And, except for the Plastic Fantastic, Canon's cheapest lenses are the consumer zooms.

What I'm getting at isn't that primes or zooms are inherently superior, but rather that all lenses are compromises. We all want a TS-E 12-1200 f/0.8 L IS AF, and we want it to be the size and weight of the Shorty McForty, and we want it to cost as much as the Plastic Fantastic. Even Canon wants to sell us that lens. Of course, none of us will ever see it on the shelf....



Landscape / Re: ND Filters - Solid or Graduated
« on: August 26, 2012, 11:22:47 PM »
First, I personally don't have the Photoshop skills to get the sharpness out of an HDR that I can get using the ND filters.  I'm not relying on software to align the images.

No mad Photoshop skillz needed.

Use a tripod (which you should be doing anyway) and don't move the camera between exposures. And adjust the exposure with the shutter speed while leaving the aperture and ISO alone.

Open both images in Photoshop. Press, hold, and keep holding the shift key. Drag the layer icon of the one image onto the window of the other image. Release the shift key. (You were still holding it, right?) The two frames are now laid on top of each other, perfectly aligned.

Click the icon to add a mask to the topmost image. Use the gradient tool on the mask. Experiment at random and you'll very quickly figure it out, but the short version is that where you click and hold is where the foreground color starts, and where you let go is where the background color starts; the transition (gradient) is between those two points. On the mask, black conceals and white reveals.

And there's your graduated ND filter, however hard or soft you want, positioned wherever you want and at whatever angle you want. Don't like where it wound up or how soft / hard it was? Just use the gradient tool to re-do it and you've got a fresh new ND filter.

That's all there is to it.

For bonus points, use a big, soft brush instead of the gradient to paint in or out the top layer.

For super extra bonus points, use more than two exposures and selectively mask in or out bits from each of them...and there's your HDR.

The attached image I did like that some years ago. If I remember right, it's three exposures. Classic 5D with the original TS-E 24, at the bottom of Muir Woods. It's probably time for me to re-visit this one...I can do better today, I think....



Landscape / Re: ND Filters - Solid or Graduated
« on: August 26, 2012, 02:59:57 PM »
If you're shooting digital, there's rarely any situation in which graduated (not solid) neutral density filters make sense.

Rather, what you really want, is the simplest type of HDR. Take two exposures, one for the part of the scene where you'd use the dark part of the filter and another for the light. Then, in Photoshop, put each on their own layer. You can then use a mask with the gradient tool to perfectly mimic the effect of the filter. Or, for something that'll work even better, use a big, fat, soft brush to brush in (or out) the one exposure (or the other).

That's really all that the best-done HDR work logically comes down to: a customized graduated neutral density filter. The quality of the end result is directly proportional to the quality of the masking, which can be seen as the skill in constructing the perfectly-shaped ND filter for that particular scene.

That's also why all those auto-tonemapped halo-filled neon photoillustrations look so's like looking at the world through the most bizarre ND filter you can imagine.



EOS Bodies / Re: I love Primes.
« on: August 24, 2012, 07:39:30 PM »
There are lenses that I love that happen to be primes. The first two that spring to mind are the TS-E 24 II and the 400 f/2.8, but there're plenty others. The 180 macro, for example, is awesome for passport-style head shots, in addition to everything else it's awesome at.

There are, of course, situations where a prime would be a royal pain in the ass. I'm not a wedding photographer by any stretch of the imagination, but I did just play "Uncle Bob" at my niece's wedding, and I can't imagine using anything other than the 24-105 for the reception. (I'd definitely want primes for the ceremony and portraits, though.) Well...granted, I can imagine having enough experience at shooting wedding receptions to know how to do it well with primes, but even then I strongly suspect I'd still prefer a zoom.

Horses for courses and all that....



« on: August 24, 2012, 08:15:57 AM »
Pick up a 5D2 and use the money you'd save by skipping the 5D3 to get a 24mm TS-E II.

I agree a used 5D2 is a great choice, you might even want to consider the 24 TS-E mk 1 (used).  Combined, you will spend less than on a new 5D3. 

This is good solid advice. There is little need for a higher MP camera. You'll be gobsmacked with the IQ if you have been even remotely satisfied with your PowerShot. If you absolutely MUST have higher MP, then there's always a Nikon waiting for you at a store near you.


The 5DII (or III, of course) with the TS-E 24 II (NOT I) is going to give you better image quality than the D800 with anything Nikon has to offer -- never mind the megapickles. Nikon just doesn't have any lenses to compare with the TS-E 24 II.

And, short of going to medium or large format, you're not going to find a better lens for architecture than the TS-E 24 II, or a better camera to mount it on than the 5DIII, with the 5DII being more than 90% as good as the 5DIII for this application.



EOS Bodies / Re: EOS 1DX vs. EOS 5D MARK III for Weddings,
« on: August 23, 2012, 06:27:58 PM »
Wrong.  I shoot tennis for a Division II college.  The players can hear the shutter because you are THAT close in those instances.  This isn't Wimbeldon.  Again, don't generalize for every sports shooter.  Of course I can go stand in the parking lot with a 200 f/2L lens with a 1DX, but if I am allowed to get much closer, I'm going to.  The silent shutter on the 5D3 is GREAT for these matches.
My point wasn't really whether or not they could hear you. I'm sure they can at times. But in my opinion, tennis players just have to accept shutter sounds and learn not to be distracted by them. If they ever reach pro level, they will be hearing that sound over and over again. I don't think there's any etiquette in tennis requiring absolute silence like in golf. Having said that, I am aware of players complaining, but it's extremely rare. They better learn  to get used to it instead.

Presumably, if you're photographing a sport, it's at least in part because you enjoy watching the athletes perform at their best.

Would you rather watch (and photograph) the athletes actually at their best, or would you rather watch (and photograph) athletes pissed off at you because you're annoying them with your machine-gun-sounding camera?

And which photographer do you think the athlete will prefer working with for an off-the-court photo shoot: the one whom they didn't even notice during the match, or the one whose camera made a really annoying braaaaaaap sound every time a critical point came up?



EOS Bodies / Re: EOS 1DX vs. EOS 5D MARK III for Weddings,
« on: August 23, 2012, 01:49:33 PM »
Nothing will beat the 1D X for fast-paced sports photography.

The 5DIII beats the 1D X for pretty much every other type of photography, especially weddings.

And for weddings, a pair of 5DIIIs will blow a single 1D X out of the water.

The 1D X has 12 FPS and (somewhat) better autofocus performance and AF-point-linked metering.

The 5DIII has a silent shutter, more megapickles, is smaller and lighter, and is at least 90% as good as the 1D X on all other specs, and it costs half as much as a 1D X.

If you're shooting for Sports Illustrated (or if you want to shoot for them), you'd be a fool to use anything other than a 1D X.

If you're shooting almost anything else, you'd be a fool to go with a 1D X over a 5DIII.

Oh -- and, if you're shooting for Sports Illustrated but you're shooting golf or tennis, you'd again be a fool to go with a 1D X over a 5DIII (because of shutter sound).



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