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Messages - DigitalDivide

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Lenses / Re: Canon EF 16-35 f/4L IS Sample Images
« on: May 20, 2014, 11:22:25 AM »
It looks like we have about 5-6 weeks now...debating whether to sell my 16-35II now or wait to use it for comparisons...

Me too, although in my case it would be the 17-40L I would be selling.  From the data and samples so far available it seems like this lens will blow away my 17-40, so really it should be no contest.  I've never been very happy with the 17-40, and I did consider the 16-35II as an upgrade.  But I don't feel the need for f/2.8 at this FL, and the IQ is not enough of an improvement to tempt me even with the current rebates.

I had therefore been waiting patiently for the rumored 12/14-24 to be announced, but this new 16-35 f/4 is probably a better option for me.  I quite often find myself trying to capture poorly lit interiors of historical buildings while on vacation, where the use of a tripod is generally prohibited.  In a large building f/2.8 can limit the DOF too much even at 16mm, so I suspect that IS would be of more benefit to me than the extra stop.  I don't find myself zooming all the way out to 17mm very often either, so 12 or 14mm might go unused while the greater range at the long end would be handy.

A quick check of completed listings on eBay shows that used 17-40s are still fetching around $600.  That's actually not a whole lot less than I paid for my copy new a few years ago - Canon resale values are good enough that it can almost seem like putting down a deposit for a long term loan rather than actually purchasing them!  ;D  So essentially I would be paying $600 for a huge IQ upgrade, which is very attractive indeed.  The only question in my mind is whether the new 16-35 will come down in price over the next few months, but since Canon has chosen to launch it at a much more reasonable price than some other recent lenses maybe the price drop will be less significant?

Pricewatch Deals / Re: Deal: Adobe Lightroom 5 $80 via Amazon
« on: May 02, 2014, 01:29:43 PM »
From what I can see, the boxed PC/Mac version is being offered for $99.99, while the separate Mac and PC downloads are each $80.58.  The original post seemed to say that the boxed version was also $80, in which case I must have missed it.  :(

I bought the MH-02 Pro a few weeks ago, and I'm very happy with the screw knob so far.  I didn't realize there was such a strong preference for the lever clamp, so I'm glad I got it before they discontinued it.  I'm using it with the Gitzo GM2541, which I ordered at the same time based on helpful advice from several forum members. 

The Gitzo has no trouble supporting my 5D2 with the 70-200 f/2.8 and 2x extender attached, which is the heaviest combination that I currently own.  I'm also really pleased with the twist locks on this monopod (Gitzo calls it G-lock) - they are very fast to operate, and they hold tighter the more weight you put on them which in practice means that a quick twist is enough to lock them without having to check that they are fully tight.  So much easier than the twist locks on my old Tiltall tripod.  :)  I tried a Manfrotto in a camera store and I really didn't like the feel of the flip locks, but clearly this is very much a matter of personal preference...

Canon General / Re: Canon USA Opens New Midwest Service Center
« on: April 01, 2014, 04:13:21 PM »
Woohoo - jackpot for me! 8)  Itasca is only a few minutes drive from where I work.  Time for me to join CPS I think.  I had been contemplating getting a membership until they reduced the loaner lens period.  With a facility virtually next door that should no longer be an issue, assuming they will warehouse some of the loaner equipment there.

Software & Accessories / Re: Alternatives to RRS MH-02 Monopod Head?
« on: March 28, 2014, 10:51:23 AM »
The 234 was a great advice, and I use it with the C-10 clamp.
I don't know why Manfrotto stopped selling the plain clamp given they have so many products (234RC, window mounts, wall mounts, etc.) based on it.
Yes, that is strange.  Maybe they are just using up old stock, since I imagine these products sell in much lower numbers than the bare heads.  While looking for the 234, I found both wall mount and table mount Manfrotto brackets at Adorama (models 356 and 355 respectively).  I was contemplating whether I could cannibalize one of these for the head, since it appears to be simply bolted on to the bracket.

By the way, I ordered a Kirk QRC-1.75 to mount to the monopod.  It is a bit shorter than the Wimberly C-10 and C-12.  Hopefully this will work okay with the MH-02 head and also for direct mounting of the camera and lens.

I have been using a Benro DJ90 monopod head with good success. My heaviest lens is 70-200f4L on a 5D3, so not as heavy as what the OP has. I can't find it on the Benro website anymore, I bought mine at Vistek (in Canada).
The only Benro model B&H sells now is the DJ80, which seems to come with Benro's own plate design.  I wonder why these manufacturers are discontinuing their bare and Arca-compatible heads?  I suppose they want to lock you into their proprietary QR system, although I recall seeing on CR that Manfrotto is going to start offering more Arca-style products.

Software & Accessories / Re: Alternatives to RRS MH-02 Monopod Head?
« on: March 27, 2014, 07:23:27 PM »
When our MH-01 Monopod Head is more than you need, consider the Manfrotto 234 Tilt Head (formerly known as the Manfrotto 3232). Really Right Stuff no longer sells this head, but we recommended it for years. Great for light loads, this simple and inexpensive tilt head is only rated for 5.5 pounds. Mount our B2-Pro clamp directly to the Manfrotto head and you have a reasonably robust tilt head with quick-release capabilties.

Thanks mackguyver. I checked to see if the 234 is still available.  It seems no longer to be carried by BH, Adoroma or Amazon, but I did find it in stock at a few other places such as Wolf camera.  I'm sure they pop up on ebay too.  Together with the Wimberly C-12 clamp that Neuro recommended this would probably work fine for my current lenses.  I'd still need the B2-mAS clamp to get around the 90 degree problem though, which means the combined weight has crept up again.

After a bit of thought I have decided to just go with the RRS MH-02 Pro head.  Although it is overkill now, it should last me a lifetime during which I hope to acquire larger lenses ;D.  (I'm dreaming about getting a 300 f/2.8, but not anytime soon; unfortunately I missed the recent group buy on canonpricewatch :( ).  For those times when the weight seems too much I can forego the convenience of the head and just mount the lens or camera directly to the monopod and lean it as needed.  To this end I ordered an extra clamp which I can mount permanently on the pod.  The MH-02 has an Arca-compatible base, which means I can clamp the head on quickly if I need to.  I just hope this works as well in real life as it does in my imagination...

Software & Accessories / Re: Alternatives to RRS MH-02 Monopod Head?
« on: March 26, 2014, 07:49:12 PM »
Looking at your original post I assume you are thinking of the different orientation of QR plates on your cameras and larger lenses. If you do the same as me - I align my QR plates along the center-line of my long lenses (equipped with lens feet) and at 90 degrees on the cameras. If this is the case then - no the Sirui does not accommodate this without the use of tools.

Yes, that is what I was thinking.  I have never used Arca-style QR plates before, but from reading the forum and looking at the product descriptions this seems to be the way it would work.  I suppose it might be possible to align some types of camera QR plate with the lens plates, thereby avoiding the problem. But since I plan to use an L-plate on the camera body I don't think that is an option for me.

Software & Accessories / Re: Alternatives to RRS MH-02 Monopod Head?
« on: March 26, 2014, 07:43:36 PM »
Instead of changing the monopod head orientation, change the orientation of camera's attachment point.  The RRS B2-mAS clamp ($60) has a bottom dovetail at 90° to the clamp.  You could connect it to the bottom plate or the upright part of the L-bracket, as needed, to connect the body to a fore-aft monopod clamp.

Thanks Neuro, this looks to be a good option. When I first looked at the Sirui on B&H it wasn't clear to me that the QR plate was Arca-compatible. The description only mentions that it has an Arca style base. I've since checked the manfacturer's website, and they make it clear that most Arca-Swiss plates can be used with this head. The only caveat is that the Sirui safety lock feature does not work with third party plates, which is fair enough.

The L-10 looks to be well made, well priced, and it got mostly positive reviews on the B&H site. The specified weight is less than half that of the MH-02, so even with the addition of the B2-mAS clamp it should be noticeably lighter. One reviewer did claim that his L-10 actually weighed 10 ounces without the plate though; if true, the total weight with plate and clamp would not actually be much less than the RRS head.

I guess I need to decide if it is worth the extra complexity of adding an intermediate clamp to save a few ounces and about 140 bucks...

Software & Accessories / Re: Alternatives to RRS MH-02 Monopod Head?
« on: March 25, 2014, 06:45:05 PM »
Thanks johnf3f.  Does the Sirui head allow for 90 degrees rotation without having to use a special tool, like the MH-02 does?  That's the feature I'm really looking for.

Software & Accessories / Alternatives to RRS MH-02 Monopod Head?
« on: March 25, 2014, 04:56:03 PM »
I'm about to pull the trigger on a monopod and tilt head. The monopod will mainly be used when I'm travelling to add a little stability in low light (especially having switched to the 24-70 from the 24-105 and losing the IS). I have a couple of tripods but on the rare occassions when pack one I tend to find that I end up not carrying it with me when I need it.  A light and packable monopod seems like a better solution.

My question concerns the choice of head. My basic travel kit consists of a 5D2 with 24-70 f/2.8 II and 70-200 f/2.8 IS II lenses. I sometimes bring my 17-40 f/4 or my 300 f/4 IS as well, so I anticipate needing to switch between a lens foot mount and direct camera mount quite frequently. From the forum I became aware of the problem with the plates being at 90 degrees to each other, so I'm looking at the RRS MH-02 Pro head which I saw recommended by Neuro. So far it is the only tilt head I've found which can be rotated 90 degress without a special tool, which seems really convenient. Is the MH-02 actually the only head with this option? I'm sure it's a fantastic bit of kit (as it should be for the price), but it is quite heavy and seems like overkill for my current lenses.

I'm leaning towards the Gitzo carbon fiber GM2541 monopod over the Manfrotto CX694. I tried a CX694 in the store and it was very nice, but I think I prefer twist locks to lever locks.  I like the idea of the G-locks, but the store didn't have any Gitzos to play with.

The Gitzo is slightly lighter but also a couple inches shorter.  However, I'm five ten and I think with a head it will be tall enough, even when shooting on a hillside.  I hope I'm right! ;D  The Gitzo also claims to support 26 lbs versus only 11 lbs for the Manfrotto, butI don't know if the ratings from different manufacturers are directly comparable.

Other than that, I'm going with L84 and L-brackets from RRS and a Kirk QRC-1 clamp which I'll attach to my Black Rapid strap (also based on Neuro's advice). This sounds like a great way to simplify the frequent switching between the strap and monopod for both the camera and lens foot mounts.

Any other comments on this setup?

Photography Technique / Re: Photography fail moments !!!
« on: February 07, 2014, 10:47:17 PM »
There are quite a few good (or bad) film fails here but I can add a couple more.  Its easy to forget what a luxury it is to be able to see your picture on the LCD, intead of a week after you get back from your trip!  :)

- forgetting that you jacked up the ISO in order to "push" a roll of film.  Finding out when you get your slides processed that the entire roll is majorly underexposed, a serious "doh!" moment  :o
- on my EOS 10S the exposure compensation did not reset when changing film, and the indicator in the viewfinder was easy to overlook.  As a result, on more than one occasion I shot a significant number of pics on the new roll before I noticed I had forgotten to remove the compensation. Argh!
- I haven't managed to do it yet, but I can pretty much guarantee that I'll take a lens cap shot with my Fuji GSW690 sooner or later.  Easily done with a rangefinder camera...  :P

I've also done the self timer thing, and I've forgotten to switch AF back on quite a few times!

For other people's annoying failures, the worst was with the crowd waiting for the bats to emerge from Carlsbad caverns at dusk.  (Up to 250,000 of them, quite an experience.) The rangers told everyone to turn off their flashes.  They explained how it disorientates the bats.  They carefully warned how many point and shoot cameras would flash automatically, and if you didn't know how to turn the flash off then don't take pictures.  They pointed out how flash pictures of the bats never come out well anyway because they are too far away for a built in flash.  They threatened to fine anyone whose flash fired despite these requests.  They repeated this info over the PA over and over.  Then the bats started to fly out of the cave, and I swear a hundred flashes went off within a few seconds.  And people wonder why the bat population is declining.  Sheesh...  ??? >:(

Lenses / Re: Question about Canon 300mm f/4 L IS
« on: February 02, 2014, 08:27:24 PM »
I own the 300 f/4 and 1.4X III extender combo myself, and I also love the portability and the performance it gives. The price is right too.  I'm using mine on a 5D2, which gives a little less reach, but the IQ is very good.

The lens hood does not lock in the retracted position on my lens, but it stays where I put it and I have never had a problem with it extending. I hang it from a BR strap as you do. I attach it to the lens foot rather than the camera body, and in this configuration the combination tends to hang horizontally and not hood down (I think - I don't have it to hand right now so I can't check). This might make a difference, although it does sound like your example is looser than it should be.

Nice photo by the way - was that shot on a tripod? It looks very sharp. I probably need to AFMA my lens, since I get slightly better results with manual focus.

Sports / Re: F1 Photography Advice
« on: November 12, 2013, 04:10:13 PM »
As a long time F1 fan and occasional race antendee, I agree with a lot of the points that have been made.  I think the most important one is to enjoy the race first and worry about photographing it second, especially if it is your first race.  Soak up the atmosphere and marvel at the astonishing, visceral sound the engines make.  My wife still talks about the first time she heard an F1 engine fire up, which happened when we were a couple blocks away from the Indianapolis circuit - normally she has little interest in cars, but that really got her attention!

The pit straight location will be good for shots of the start, finish (especially if Vettel ignores the officials and does a few donuts!), and pit stops.  Malaysia is a modern track and is very wide, with large runoff areas.  Getting close to the action will probably be difficult, so a lens with reach is likely to be a good idea.  That will be especially true of the pit stops, where you want to zoom in on the action.  F1 pit stops are crazy fast, often around 2.5 seconds, and it is just amazing to watch 15 or more crew swarm around the car in a carefully choreographed dance of pinpoint precision.  You'll have to be quick to catch it though. 

After my couple of F1 races I realized that the best place to watch is in the braking zone at the end of one of the really long straights.  F1 cars can slow from 200 to 50 mph in just a few yards, and if you get it right you can get great shots of the front brake discs glowing red inside the wheels as they approach the corner (the discs are carbon, and it takes a lot of heat to do that...).  This is also where most of the passing moves are completed, as a few others mentioned, so you can get shots of the cars fighting for the racing line.  Collisions tend to be the rule rather than the exception on the first lap.

If your race day seats are already set, you may still be able to get some good photos from the braking zone.  I'm not sure if it is the same at all the tracks, but sometimes there are no assigned seats on practice and qualifying days which means you can scoop a prime position if you get there early.  Use the practice sessions to scope out different locations and find one that works best for you, then occupy it during qualifying if you can.  The qualifying laps are the most extreme since the drivers have only one or two chances to get the perfect lap, and they are pushing everything to the limit.  Although they won't be aggressively passing other cars,  you can definitely tell the difference between a race lap and a qualifying lap.  And with the freedom to change seats, you should be able to find a place with a decent, unobstructed view.  Malaysia doesn't have the huge crowds and rabid fans that you see at Monza or Silverstone, which should make things a bit easier.

So from what you said about your trip, I think you'll get the best shots of the cars during practice and qualifying, and on race day you can focus on just grabbing a few photos of the start, finish and pit stops and spend most of the time enjoying the race.  Do scope out the podium location well in advance - it is not always obvious where to go at the end of the race, and if you want good pics of the ceremonies you might need to leave your seat before the race is over.  I've always preferred to see the finish and watch the awards on the big screens, but your preference may be different.

I can't say too much about equipment because I still had my old EOS 10S and a crappy 100-300 zoom when I last attended an F1 race.  My best F1 shots came from my first race, which was in Phoenix, and I was at the start/finish.  Back then the stand actually overhung the track by a few feet, and during qualifying I could lean over the edge and shoot the cars going past a few yards below.  I was constantly getting hit by pieces of hot rubber coming off the tires!  The coolest pics were shot with a 28mm manually focused to a spot on the track, and panning like mad whenever a car came past.  Most of the time I didn't get the timing right, but when I did I got a really neat effect with different blurring on various parts of the car due to the differential speeds.  Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it) they are now very safety concious, so this sort of thing is no longer possible. :(

Personally I think the panning technique with a slowish shutter speed works best when the cars are in motion, as otherwise it tends to look like they were parked on the track.  But unless you can get relatively close when the crowds are smaller prior to race day, I'm not sure it will be very effective.  With the exception of the above Phoenix experience, my successul panning shots have all come from lesser race series like Japan F4 or were taken at private club track days, at small tracks where it is easier to get close.  There is no substitute for having your gear with you when you volunteer as a corner worker, but sadly the FIA doesn't think I am qualified to marshall an F1 race. :) ::)

Technical Support / Re: Need help, Please " Sunny 16 Rules"
« on: October 16, 2013, 03:25:49 PM »
The rule still works, but film had a wider tolerance for missing the ideal exposure.


Thus, ASA 100 became ASA200.  Really Confusing, but the wide latitude allowed by film allowed this to happen without overexposing.  That's why absolute accuracy really wasn't a big deal.

This is true of print film, but slide film has a much narrower exposure latitude.  It is often said that the exposure needs to be dead on when shooting slides.  I'm not sure the same is true of today's digital DSLRs, which have a pretty impressive dynamic range - 12 or more stops.  While nailing the exposure is certainly important when using the technique of exposing to the right in order to avoid blowing the highlights, I would think that a fair amount of underexposure can be tolerated at the cost of gradually decreasing shadow detail.

I am a relatively late convert to digital photography, having upgraded from an EOS 10S to a 5D mk2 early last year.  I have been struggling with exposure on the 5D2, trying to improve my ETTR technique but finding that I frequently have to take multiple shots and fiddle with the exposure compensation before I get it right (I typically shoot in aperture priority mode).  I shot slides with the 10S for over 20 years, and the exposure was almost always spot on.  I used the exposure compensation only for backlit subjects and other tricky scenes, again with very good results.

I still shoot film occassionally with my small collection of medium format cameras, relying on a Voigtlander clip-on lightmeter for those without a built-in meter, and again I rarely have a problem with exposure.  I am puzzled as to why I have so much trouble with the 5D2.  This is tangential to the subject of this thread so perhaps I should post it elsewhere, but I am curious as to how the modern DSLR metering and exposure behavior compares to the film era.

EOS Bodies / Re: EOS 1V Film SLR
« on: March 29, 2013, 03:47:06 PM »
They seem to be readily available from the used camera dealers in Japan.  I poked around a bunch of these shops on my last work trip to Tokyo, and I was extremely tempted to pick up a mint-looking EOS 1vHS I came across.  (Only reason I didn't was because I have decided to use my medium format gear for film and stick to my 5D2 for 35mm format for now.)

The 1vHS was priced somewhere between $400-$500, so not a bargain, but the Japanese do tend to look after their gear.  A lot of these shops sell through eBay as well so you may find something there, but pay attention to the shipping costs which can be significant.  Unfortunately the exchange rate between the Yen and the dollar is not so good right now for those of us in the US.  It may be a different story for other countries.

If you do ever find yourself in Japan, I would strongly recommend searching out a few of these dealers, just to browse if nothing else.  The quantity and variety of used gear is staggering, despite the tiny size of most of the shops.  They are often very hard to find but the internet comes to the rescue - try a search for "Japan Camera Hunter shopping guide" for example.

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