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Topics - ahsanford

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RIP the 24-105 F/4L IS?


I own the 24-70 F/4L IS and it is brilliant.  Sharp, (relatively) light, weathersealed and 0.7x macro.  It's the perfect hiking lens for me.

- A

Lighting / 90EX on a 5D3?
« on: October 11, 2013, 12:35:51 PM »

Hey gang,

I shoot a 5D3 and have a 600EX-RT, but I only pack it for special events.  (I am more of a natural light shooter.)

However, I've considered picking up a 90EX with all the EOS-M deals going on these days.  It's just so small that I could pocket the damn thing and use it in a pinch. 

Does anyone have experience using this little guy on a 5D or 6D? 

In particular, I've heard the recycle time is toxically slow -- I've heard 5-6 seconds (is that right?). 

No AF assist beam, right?  Anyone have experience trying to use it in low light?

In addition, I'd also be concerned about the flash not getting over my bigger lenses.  I imagine my wide primes would be fine, but I have a 24-70 F/4 and the 100L macro.  (I certainly wouldn't bother with this with my 70-200 F/2.8).  Anyone have a read on what lenses this does/doesn't complement well?

I welcome your thoughts on this. 


Lenses / Weathersealing a non-weathersealed lens / Dust Donut
« on: October 08, 2013, 11:19:29 AM »

Great people of CR,

I know that there is more to weathersealing a lens than just the rubber gasket, but I thought it might be a good idea to gasket my non-WS glass if it was a non-permanent thing (i.e. considering resale).

So I found this kickstarter:

It looks like it was funded, but I don't see a storefront on Google anywhere.  Did he just make a production run to cover the backers and then shut down?  It would be a pity if so.

Any thoughts in general on the upsides/downsides of such an idea?  Does anyone have one of these?


EOS Bodies - For Stills / Tips / pointers requested for skyline photography
« on: September 30, 2013, 02:34:41 AM »
Hi all,

I've given some nighttime tripod work a go recently to shoot the LA skyline, which is not my normal fare.  I'm a handheld natural light guy for almost everything I shoot.

I shoot a 5D3, and I'll upload two shots I took -- one with the 24-70 F/4 IS (on the 70mm end) and the other with the 70-200 F/2.8 IS II (around 165mm).  I'll run through my method, and I welcome any and all pointers you have for taking the shot or post-processing it.  As you'll see, I'm a novice at this -- many simple pointers should immediately come to mind if you've done this before.

Starting declaration:  I'm an aperture-priority shooter 98% of the time.  I'd rather not climb 'why don't you shoot manual?' mountain in this thread unless you feel it is absolutely necessary, thanks.  :D


1) Set tripod, frame shot, level the shot in viewfinder, weigh the tripod down, hook on the corded shutter release, etc.
2) Switch IS off (it was windy, but not that windy.  Was worried about the IS motor actually inducing shake.  Does that still happen, or are those lenses tripod sensing?)
3) Switch to manual focus, turn LiveView on, set ISO to 100.
4) As I was not shooting anything remotely close to me (see shots), I set aperture for the sharpness sweet spot of the lens, somewhere between F/5.6 and F/8.
5) Meter (left it on evaluative, see #7 later for my rinse and repeat method)
6) In 10x LiveView, I manually focused on a building in the skyline.  I kind of threw out the classic 'focus 1/3 of the way into the frame', hyperfocal considerations, etc. because, again, most everything would have focused out to infinity with this framing.
7) Take shot.  Due to shooting a nighttime scene in Av, it was much brighter than needed, so I used exposure comp and brought it down to something more like my native eye would see (-1EV to -2EV depending on the shot in question).  I sort threw the histogram out the window in this case, as the goal of the shot was clearly not a bell-curved histogram.
8 ) Take final shot or shots (sometimes I bracket three on +/- 1 EV just in case).  Shot in RAW.

POST-PROCESSING  (I use PS's native Adobe Camera Raw tool, which is nutty, I know.  But all the sliders are there, running -100 to +100 if you haven't used ACR before.)

1) Set WB to tungsten and that lifted the horrific Blade Runner-ian amber haze of LA at night.  We all will likely disagree on that call, but I felt it let me capture the true light were I there on the street near the larger signs.
2) Given the crazy contrast (I don't like HDR work particularly), I push shadows up somewhat (+30) and pulled back highlights immensely (-80).
3) I actually give up on avoiding black clipping and went -30 on blacks and +30 on contrast.  The goal to me is a crisp night shot, so I don't want to invest a lot of work to make a murky dark part of the skyline slightly more recognizable at the cost of a ton of noise.
4) I give a slight boost to luminance (+15) and a very small kick to saturation (+3).
5) Skipped lens correction work as this aperture wouldn't vignette, the shot was already straight/level, and chromatic aberration was already handled in camera as the 5D3 had profiles for both lenses.
6) Sharpness runs 0 to 125 in ACR I believe, and with such a low ISO, I can climb up to 75 with both lenses before I've 'overcooked' the sharpening.  (I always sharpen and do noise reduction at 100% pixel view.)
7) Didn't pursue noise reduction (again, low ISO shot, didn't want to trade sharpness for noise reduction with so little noise.).
8 ) Exported to PS.
9) Cropped to taste (prefer to do this in PS for some reason) and save as 10 quality JPG.  I only save PSD or CR2 files if I plan to take a shot to print, which is rare in my case.


Didn't use filters or deliberately aim for a long or short shutter speed.  I left the big stopper in my bag as there were no clouds or waterfalls (lol), and no large field of traffic to blur.  This just didn't seem like the right place to use it.

Again, please see attached and help me along.


Lenses / Photozone comparison of Canon 35L vs. Sigma 35mm F/1.4 'Art'
« on: September 30, 2013, 01:42:09 AM »
Hey all,

Photozone finally got around to testing the extremely well-reviewed Sigma 35mm F/1.4 'Art' lens on a FF body.  (Their FF test camera is a 5D2, btw.)

Of note, that now gives us an aperture vs. sharpness breakdown that's pretty simple to read.  See attached.  As their test went, the Sigma was an astounding performer wide open, esp. in the corners compared to the Canon.  Note the stretchy-fonted Canon section is not stretchy from data-doctoring -- I just stretched that chart to better line up left to right with the Sigma data for comparison purposes.  (Raw link below for skeptics. :P)

Keep in mind that I believe that they only test one lens.  Not everyone has LensRentals' statistical power.

For the record, I do not suffer from sharpness syndrome, in which the sharpest lens is deemed 'the best'.  So I encourage folks to read the whole reviews...

Sigma:  http://www.photozone.de/canon_eos_ff/848-sigma35f14eosff
Canon:  http://www.photozone.de/canon_eos_ff/516-canon35f14ff

...and read about other items, like handling, focus shifting, 'nervousness' of the bokeh, distortion, chromatic fringey stuff, etc.

Or better yet, rent both and see for yourself.  Despite the very strong sharpness-per-dollar argument made by an overwhelming majority on this forum, there are many who love their 35L and are holding out for a (weathersealed!) 35L II rather than to go after Sigma's terrific new offering. 

- A


Lenses / What lens and hood combination is this?
« on: September 26, 2013, 12:58:31 PM »

Just saw a CPL comparison on a webpage and saw the nuttiest thing.  See attached pictures or the link below.

I call this nutty because it looks like a 24-70 F/2.8 Mk I with the 24-105's hood on it.

Link here:

1) Did I get that combination right? 

2) Why on earth would you put that hood and that lens together in such a fashion?  I recognize how much smaller that is from the 24-70 Mk I hood, but if it's not correctly shading the lens... why use it?


Lenses / Wide IS lenses - price drop!
« on: September 03, 2013, 04:34:13 PM »

All three of the more recent IS wide primes -- the 24mm IS, 28mm IS and the 35mm IS -- just took a significant price drop.  All are in the $550-$600 range now at B&H and Adorama.

Get on it.

- A

EOS Bodies - For Stills / And now, your moment of zen...
« on: August 19, 2013, 03:43:54 PM »

I'm so glad mirrorless happened.  If it didn't, I never would have seen this picture.

- A

Software & Accessories / Best bag for hiking with a camera?
« on: August 15, 2013, 02:35:26 PM »
Hey gang,

I was looking for a great all-purpose bag for day hikes with with 5D3 + 24-70.  Considerations:

  • Style:  Sling or backpack only.  I love shoulder bags / satchels, but that's a problem for hiking.  I strongly prefer the mass centered on my back.
  • Full loadout:  5D3 with 24-70 attached, backup battery, filter pouch + CPL, water*, two granola bars, a rolled up hat and sunscreen.  Nothing more.
    • *Room for a 1L Nalgene bottle (sidepocket is fine) or a camel-bak.
  • Completely waterproof material + zippers or a rain cover.
  • Light, light, light.  Weight is killer on a hike. Room for an extra lens, flash, hood, etc. are flat-out unnecessary.
  • Low profile.  Large, boxy backpacks pull the real weight (the gear!) further off your back, which increases fatigue over time.  Heavy protection is not really needed.
  • Something breathable/meshy on the skin-contact side to manage sweat.
  • Convenient to draw the camera out -- it can't be a weirdly shaped bag that requires 15-20 seconds to snake my rig back into the bag.  That said, a proper quick-draw feature is a nice to have but not a must; I don't mind pulling the bag off my bag to shoot. (I just hate fighting the camera into the bag.)

It seems that Lowepro, Thinktank, Kata, etc. all prioritize protecting the gear well above the needs of hikers, so everything I've seen is super boxy and overkill (their bags/slings) or ergonomically silly (fanny-pack, waist-level things).  Hiking bags (which nail the water / sweat / ergonomics / rainproof side of things) do not have bag receptacles that are conducive to the fit of a camera.

I know what I want is out there, but I still haven't found what I'm looking for.  (Sad.  I just quoted U2.)



Third Party Manufacturers / First pic of Sigma 24-70 F/2 posted
« on: August 01, 2013, 10:36:44 AM »

Just saw this at CW:

I am not speaking to the legitimacy of a low-res photo.  It may be fake.

BUT, presuming it is real, I've superimposed known glass in PS, in this case, the 24-70 F/2.8L II.

My very crude PS ruler work yields that the new Sigma 24-70 F/2 comes out to:

1.56x as a long as a 24-70 II (at the 24mm end)
1.20x the filter diameter as the 24-70 II (or, roughly 98mm on the Sigma)

And we could also start guessing if we're looking at an internally focusing lens here.  It may not telescope beyond the length shown in the picture, like a Canon 70-200.

Mad speculation is fun sometimes.   :D

- A

EOS Bodies - For Stills / 5D3 wireless photo transfer options...
« on: July 08, 2013, 02:11:50 PM »
Hey all,

I am a 5D3 user who (gasp) prefers SD cards to CF as I don't shoot video or high-burst sports stills.  SD cards are super useful for sharing on-camera JPGs for friends and family, and my MacBook Pro has a built-in reader.   So, SD is overwhelmingly a convenience for me.

But sometimes I want to share things when I am away from my laptop.  So I was wondering what options I have to (a) use wifi to share files to friend's computers who may lack a card reader, or (b) use wifi, bluetooth, etc. to swap photos to my phone so that I can broadcast to Flickr, Facebook, etc.

So what options do I have?  Must I switch to capturing large-capacity still work on CF to free up my SD slot for Eye-Fi?  (I don't see a CF-based Eye-Fi offering.)  Must it be Eye-Fi -- is there other tech I am overlooking?

Background that may guide your advice:

1) Once transferred, all my photos are entirely in the Apple ecosystem -- iPhoto, MacBook, iPhone, iCloud, all that.  Facebook and Flickr are the odd need that I am referring to.
2) I never shoot tethered, nor do I need the 6D's apparently pretty cool app LiveView thing.
3) I am not a pro.  These are family / fun / sightseeing snaps.  No need for DRM / watermarking / etc.
4) I wouldn't want or need to swap everything I am shooting, of course.  This would be the 1-3 keepers from a day out.

But if it does turn out to be Eye-Fi, can I use CF as the large storage option and then selectively pipe the few photos I want to share to a very small capacity Eye-Fi card in the SD slot?  Or must I capture the photos originally on the Eye-Fi card? 


- A

Lenses / New Sigma 18-35 F/1.8 Zoom priced at only $799
« on: June 14, 2013, 03:57:25 AM »

Sigma's 18-35 F/1.8 zoom for APS-C is coming in at only $799 w/ the hood included:

LOL, Engadget thought an "industry-first" like this would cost a wee bit more:  http://www.engadget.com/2013/04/18/sigma-announces-18-35mm-f-1-8-dc-hsm/

I personally was expecting this to coming in around $1,000-$1,200 even though it's APS-C only.  A first is still a first, and I'm not convinced something is so easily 'priced out of APS-C user territory' with so many sports / wildlife guys plugging much more expensive glass on their 7Ds.

Any of you surprised by the $799 figure?

- A

EOS Bodies / Digitalrev speculates on D7100 vs. 7D2
« on: May 27, 2013, 03:20:10 AM »

No hard references that I can see, but here is an amusing look into the 7D2's possible future:


I still am firmly in the camp that the 7D2 is (a) absolutely going to be aimed at pros (for birders, sports guys, etc.) and (b) is absolutely going to cost more than the 6D.  I also am strongly leaning towards (though not prepared to guarantee) that the great 1Dx/5D3 AF system is coming to the 7D2, and Digitalrev would seem to agree.  Then again, my postings on this forum may be the basis of DR's 'rumors'.   :P

But it is all speculation at this point.  Here's the latest dollop on our collective plates.

- A

Hey gang,

I am off on a work trip to a beautiful but not super nice or safe place.  I will have some down time, and I hope to snap some nice shots.

I've read in various places to consider making your camera look like junk to dissuade thieves.  Links like this http://petapixel.com/2013/03/19/5-critical-tips-for-travel-photographers/  (see point #1) speak to what I am talking about.

I'm going to keep the gear simple on this trip, and leave the red-ringed gear behind.  My 28 IS (which is phenomenal, btw) is a sharp as some L primes and is fantastically non-descript (small, lacks that telltale red ring, etc.).  That's all I'm bringing on the glass side of things.

But I am bringing my 5D3, so I will be temporarily dirtying it up as best I can.  I'd like to do so as intelligently and 100% reversibly as possible.  Knowing I may sell this camera someday, I treat it very well and take great pains to have it looking like new.  What tape will stay on well in hot and humid conditions (think Florida in the summer, not like a rainforest or anything) but come off completely cleanly with minimal cleanup required? 

Any suggestions?  I have electrical tape, masking tape, a black duct tape (Gorilla tape if you know it) and possibly some hockey tape.


I was fortunate enough to get a photo pass to shoot a rock concert in my area. 

I am not a pro photog by any stretch, but the chance to marry up my two great interests (music + photography) was too good to pass up.  I've attached my really crude 101-level experience and lessons learned from the activity.  I welcome the concert vets to straighten me out if I've come away with the wrong learnings.

Gear selection

  • Faster wins.  Unless you are shooting a daytime outdoor show, you will 95% of the time be shooting close to wide open to avoid ISO values above 6400.  Faster glass will let you walk that back to 3200, 1600, etc. depending on the light.
  • Closer wins.  Shorter focal lengths handle longer shutter speeds better.  The golden rule of a maximum shutter of 1 divided by focal length is about right.   So a 50mm lens can get by with a 1/50s shutter, but a 200mm lens will need a 1/200s shutter, which often will require disastrous ISO levels.
    • So it's no surprise that I rarely see large sports glass off on the wings of concerts in large venues.  I don't think I've ever seen anything longer than an 70-300L at Coachella once the sun goes gown.  Most everyone I see in concert photo pits is carrying some sort of ultrawide (fishbowl, 14 prime, 16-35, etc.) and either a standard zoom (24-70 or 24-105) or prime (the 50 F/1.2 and the 135 F/2 are a regular sight).  Some folks pack the 70-200 as well.
    • I recognize this point (closer = better) completely dismisses the value of different glass for framing and composition, but if you want a sharp shot in this light, you have to make tradeoffs, right?
    • Also, your proximity to the stage, the size of the stage, etc. will drive the lengths you need.
  • What I brought and what I used it for:
    • Body = 5D3.  Not a selection issue for me as the alternative was my old T1i.
    • 28mm F/2.8 IS.  Not super quick, but IS on such a wide angle is super useful in the dark.  Used for wide shots up close at the stage (two guitarists in frame together, wide stage shot, etc.) as well as venue shots from the sidelines. Used it 5% of the night.  More about that later.
    • 50mm F/1.4.  This is my staple low light tool, but I noticed that it was front-focusing when I was setting up prior to the band coming out, and I didn't want to have to use MF.  It stayed in my bag until late in the night for some balcony shots as a result.  Used it for about 5% as well.  Need to set the AFMA on that and get it sorted.
    • 70-200 F/2.8 IS II.  A flagship sports / photojournalist / wedding lens, but F/2.8 is not ideal for concert lighting.  That said, there aren't many faster options at this length (other than the impressive 135mm F/2 and the comically large (but equally impressive) 200mm F/2).  Though I was planning on using the 50mm most of the night, I ended up using this 90% of the time.  It fared better than expected on focusing in low light, but the concerns of length vs. shutter speed needs obviously came up, so the ISO had to climb.  The 70mm end was not wide enough just a handful of times, but I made do.
Shooting up front
I got to the stage before the set and one of the organizers was on stage.  I flagged him down and he explained the classic thing I've read about:

  • I had fifteen minutes stage access, i.e. right at the stage (in front).  This is often phrased as being for three songs, but being a prog rock show, that could be 90 minutes.  So, for this show, it was stated as '15 minutes'.  Then I'd have to skedaddle.
  • No flash, of course.
  • No video, of course.
  • In that first 15 minutes, my head had to stay below the level of the stage, i.e. on my rear-end or kneeling.  Thais was not a traditional pit -- it was a four foot stage at a concert hall. 
    • This ended up greatly limiting my framing.  I was limited to waist up shots of the players for the most part, and shooting the drum kit was simply not happening without framing out the bottom 30% of the kit (the drum risers were not particularly high at this event).
    • This requirement effectively killed the up close / wide opportunity of the 28mm lens.  I had the awful choice of 1/3 of the VF being blocked by the stage or my two rocking guitarists being stuck in the bottom corners of a wide shot (not a good look, even after perspective correction).
  • For this show in particular, I could not mill about the aisles to shoot after the first fifteen minutes (house rules about blocking view or people leaving for the restrooms).

Camera Settings
  • RAW only.  Say this ten times.  I didn't even bother with the JPG + RAW as my card was rather full already.  With ISO 3200+ and with crazily shifting lighting, RAW is really the only way to go anyway.  JPG is useful for some shooting needs, but here, RAW is the best call.
  • Mode: I believe that Av, Tv and M all work (as always) provided you keep an eye on what you are not prioritizing. As a creature of habit, I shot aperture priority, but I was constantly working the triangle of Ap / shutter / ISO to get the best possible balance I could.   Call it 'manual shooting with metering for better exposure'.
  • Default setting was wide open or perhaps 1/3 - 2/3 stop narrower, ISO 6400 (3200 with the fast primes, perhaps).  ISO and aperture adjusted to get a more desirable shutter speed.  Exposure was generally a shade under normal (like -1/3 or -2/3 EV) as you don't necessarily want the background fully exposed (your subject will be too bright).
  • Standard (evaluative) metering -- I didn't need to mess with it at this event as the lighting was decent enough.  (Spot metering has been a prior call in some dark caves I've shot in the past.)
  • One shot focusing.  It's the most accurate unless you want to capture a burst of some David Lee Roth jump kicks (and the house lights are on).  This was not that kind of show at all.
  • Single point AF or the very small plus-shaped point cluster AF.  AF worked really well that night.  Lighting was decent.   Darker lighting + less modern AF glass = AF will hunt and you will miss shots.
  • Focused and then reframed on the wide glass (those are more DOF forgiving), but largely moved my AF point to the subject in the desired framing for the longer zoom I was using.

Composition lessons learned
  • Obvious, but must be restated -- shooting nearly fully open has a tiny working DOF.  F/1.4 - F/2 on the 50 prime is fine for a single subject, but if you want more than one musician in the frame, I had to do one of the following:
    • Stop the aperture down to F/5.6 - F/8, which usually meant increasing the ISO even further (i.e. 8000+)
    • Wait for the two musicians to be about the same distance away.  That happens less often than you'd like.
    • Wait for the house lights to come up.
    • Get further away, like on the balcony.  Larger distance = larger working DOF for a given aperture.
  • Move your feet.  Unless you know a band very well, your principal subject might not be where you want them to be.
  • Keyboards, mic stands can interrupt your framing, look unattractive, etc.  Again, move your feet.
  • Knowing the songs really helps.  With an emotive frontman or musician, if you know when the hook drops or the solo starts, you can time your shots for a rock face, fist pump, gospel arms, etc.
  • Don't forget the stage lighting.  Try to frame up the subject against a stage spotlight, or possibly just shoot the band member as a black silhouette in a field of color.  (Need to do that more next time.)
Output / post-processing (note I'm somewhat odd in that I just use PS's Adobe Camera RAW instead of LR, Aperture, DXO, etc.)
  • Skintones are flat and tough looking at these high ISO settings, even on my great low light rig.  Extreme care has to be taken to avoid saturating skin tones in post processing, or your rock star looks like he spent a week in a tanning bed.  Also, software that avoids oversaturating skin tones can often fail as the stage lighting (if you didn't back it out with RAW WB processing) pulls the skin tone out of 'skin tone range'.  I need to do selective color editing in post, but I never do.  More work than I'd like.  I just did macroscopic RAW adjustments like vibrance and saturation, but at a fraction of what I'd normally do for the aforementioned skin tone reason.
  • White balance management is great with RAW, but I don't know if the goal is to subtract out the lighting tint on the subject or if I want to capture that as part of the composition.  I can do either, but I wasn't sure which to do.
  • Noise reduction is unfortunately necessary as the ISOs are high.  I generally hate what this does to details, so I do it sparingly.
  • Sharpness adjustments in RAW processing are a staple adjustment usually, but with low light it amplifies the noise.  So I generally did less sharpening to limit the noise reduction needed.

Please set me straight if I've misinterpreted the concert shooting experience with my statements above.  There may be a vital trick I am missing.

Thanks for your thoughts!

- A

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