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Messages - ahsanford

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Lenses / Re: 16-35 F/4L IS -- Canon registration, ACR profiles, etc.
« on: August 08, 2014, 04:28:55 PM »
I'm fiddling with it now.  Is microcontrast just DXO's term for the clarity slider from ACR?  Seems very similar.  It's a 'more detail at the cost of an HDR look' sort of tradeoff to me.

- A
Yes, that's a good way to put it.  I generally go light with that one, maybe +5 to +10 if needed.  Also, if you expose to the right (or have shots with blown out highlights) the "Highlight Recovery - Strong" in the Exposure dropdown is pretty amazing.

The functionality is impressive but the controls/layout are a mouse fest.  Not overly fond of that.  And it really crawls on my old MacBook Pro for most tasks.  Only the noise reduction previews take this long on ACR.

I've collared a few keeper RAW files from older shoots that capture the standard things I need to wrestle with in ACR.  We'll see how this does, thanks.

- A

Lenses / Re: 16-35 F/4L IS -- Canon registration, ACR profiles, etc.
« on: August 08, 2014, 03:27:09 PM »
DxO might be a good choice for you as it's really designed for two types of people - users like yourself who prefer to have the tool do most of the work, and users like me who are insanely slightly obsessive about processing 100% of their photos from RAW.  The basic processing works extremely well and the general sliders are easy to use to tweak your photos a bit, but there's lots more if you get into it.

On the other hand, the interface isn't the most intuitive and you have to export everything to file (or other apps) and that can be a little hard to get used to compared to other apps.  I'd recommend downloading the free trial to see if it's for you.  These two tutorials should get you started:

It's typically a love/hate thing with DxO, but try to be patient at first, it really is a great program once you get the hang of it.

I'm fiddling with it now.  Is microcontrast just DXO's term for the clarity slider from ACR?  Seems very similar.  It's a 'more detail at the cost of an HDR look' sort of tradeoff to me.

- A

Lenses / Re: 16-35 F/4L IS -- Canon registration, ACR profiles, etc.
« on: August 08, 2014, 12:28:19 PM »
Yes, DxO does sharpening as well, and it's probably the best and coolest correction they do as part of the profile because it's done per the lens's "softness" profile.  That means that it sharpens very little in the center and more and more towards the edges.  It's also done using some method that produces little-to-no artifacts, at least at the default setting.  For me, it's great because the default settings work very well in 90% of the photos I take and that saves me from the time needed to sharpen like I do with ACR.

Here's more info if anyone is interested:

...and yes, DxO should pay me for being such a big fan/supporter...but they don't!

Not being a pro, I don't like spending much time in post-processing.  So I've always been a lazy 'global corrector' with the sharpness slider in ACR rather than masking before sharpening in PS.  It's a terrible habit but a lot of the alternatives to my really quick ACR-->PS-->JPG workflow force me to migrate my universe into their databases.  Believe it or not, I warehouse all my stuff in vanilla iPhoto as it pushes to all my devices so well (and I'm very happy with it). 

But I would love a smarter RAW processing tool, especially to avoid global sharpening.  Keep mind that I'm only RAW processing perhaps 3-5% of my shots.

So if I could just use a better tool as my RAW processing middleman and either save high quality JPGs or pipe to PS for heavy lifting on panos and such, I might be interested.  Does DXO Optics Pro do that, and if so, is there a demo I could try to see how it stacks up against my ACR files?

- A

Lenses / Re: 16-35 F/4L IS -- Canon registration, ACR profiles, etc.
« on: August 08, 2014, 11:25:44 AM »
P.S. the profile from DxO seems to work exceptionally well.  I applied it to my test shots and the 16-35 f/4 IS comes out quite a bit sharper than the corrected 24-70 f/2.8 II photos!  That seems crazy but is what I'm seeing.  I'll have to play with it some more this weekend and do some more side-by-side photos, assuming the weather cooperates.

That's really odd -- your lens profile is affecting it's sharpness? 

In ACR, profiles in there are for lens corrections:  vignetting, distortion, chromatic adjustments, etc. but not for sharpness.  You'd never want an apply-to-all-shots-from-this-lens sort of change to something that would vary for reasons other than the lens.  In other words, I ratchet my sharpening up or down based on the light I had and the resulting ISO I had to use.  Do why is the DXO profile bundling sharpness with the usual lens corrections?

Please forgive my ignorance.  I've always been an ACR guy and did not know this about DXO's tools.

- A

EOS Bodies / Re: Canon Doing Market Research on Medium Format?
« on: August 06, 2014, 11:42:35 AM »
As I've posted elsewhere, consider that you can't enter the MF market with just an outsourced sensor.  You need a new stable of lenses, too. 

Think of how many mounts that the big 2 are currently supporting:  Nikon has CX / DX / FX mounts already, and Canon has EF, EF-S, PL and the spectacularly-well-supported EF-M [cough cough].

I just don't see either taking on another mount.  That's a massive investment to just get a foot in the door of a very competitive marketplace -- making your money back is questionable in that environment, regardless of your Brand's appeal.

What I could see is Canon or Nikon doing is using their size/cash to get a leg up in MF.  They could either:

  • Buy an MF company outright.  "All your base are belong to us."   :P
  • Strike an m43-like licensing deal with a current MF company to share the mount design; all current lenses at this company plus all of Canon or Nikon's new lenses in this design would work with each other's bodies.  That way, Canon or Nikon (whoever does this) only needs to come out with a great body and they can hit the market running.  As this (in the long term) likely will mean the end of the current MF company, one would think that they'd have to be pretty desperate to accept these terms, or they'd charge nearly as much as selling the entire company for such an arrangement.

And for those saying that FF will get to MF quality soon, the Camera Store did a head to head to with the D800 against the new Pentax MF rig with this new sensor, and from what little I saw, it wasn't really that close.  Shockingly, the larger sensor prevailed.

- A

Oh I hate this. I sold the 16-35 f2.8L II, got the Zeiss 21/2.8 and Zeiss 15/2.8, in addition to the 17 TS-E. And I was so happy for several weeks.

Reading the test of this new 16-35 throws everything into the boiler again ...  ::)

Waaaait a minute.  I thought buying a Zeiss Otus legally binds you to be happy with your gear and not covet new lenses, Eldar.

- A

Just a question with this lens.  Knowing landscapers will stop this lens down considerably for DOF reasons, but also recognizing that at F/16 you've lost (roughly) 20% of the resolution, is there any value in focus stacking with landscapes?  Provided you have a truly static scene (limited wind on foliage, no crashing waves, etc.), would compositing together 3, 4, 5, etc. images at a the lens's sharpest aperture yield better results?

Again: landscape newbie here.  I've seen this done in controlled/studio macro work quite a bit, but I didn't know if the idea would pay dividends in landscapes.

- A

Performance in the same ball park as the legendary Nikon 12-24.

Canon deserves some praise here!

I am formally going to call the Nikon 14-24 as the most typo'd lens in this forum.   :P

But yes, I agree.  The results are terrific.  I imagine that Mackguyver (easily this forum's most avid discussion person on this lens) probably had kittens reading this article.

- A

EOS Bodies / Re: Canon to Make a Big Splash at Photokina? [CR2]
« on: August 02, 2014, 12:11:01 PM »
So my guess of a new FF body of ANY kind (a 6D, a 5D4, a mythical 0D Mark 12, etc.) is not happening at Photokina. 

And if the dates of the picture are correct, it seems that the cycles are slowing down. 3 years for 5D, 3.5 years for 5D2 ... so maybe 4 years for 5D3? Same with 50/60/70D or until 1DX... So 5D4 and 1DX2 will be maybe presented at Photokina...2016. :P

7D succeccor is possible - maybe an additional type (megapixel monster), but no direct replacement of "long" (lol!) waited cameras..

You are correct, Canon is slowing down at refreshing existing brands.  I presume this is due to the addition of so many new brands, like Cinema EOS, the tiny SL1, EOS-M, etc.

That is the topic of maaaaany threads on this forum.  Does Canon really need 4+ APS-C body price points?  What about low/middle/high setup for APS-C and the same for FF?   What happened to APS-H?  What about a completely stripped down FF model with one AF point?  What about an integrally gripped APS-C body? What about that new line of cameras with a pop-up softbox?  I want a pony!

[...and the montage fades away as the camera refocuses on the narrator...] 

The bottom line is that gear obsessives (myself included) want their swim-lane of the portfolio charts to be better supported and get the new products first.  Canon and Nikon folks are never truly happy in that regard.  But it could be worse: we could be Sony fanboys that actually do get a ton of interesting new stuff on a regular basis... but what we get may let us down. 

- A

EOS Bodies / Re: Canon to Make a Big Splash at Photokina? [CR2]
« on: August 01, 2014, 06:42:34 PM »
Long time lurker, first time post!

To go back on topic a bit to Photokina... no one thinks a new 6d is going to come out right? I'm thinking about forking out for it but I have a tendency to buy things before new versions are just released.

I know it was only released 2 years ago and most of the talk is about the 7d MKII, but has Canon ever been able to pull off a complete upset/surprise, aka no one saw it coming?

Just for the record, I don't want to wait for Photokina because I'm going on a backpacking trip in two weeks so I was hoping to have it for that if I can manage!


Welcome, and fair question.  I'd say the odds for a new 6D / 'entry'-level FF rig are very, very low:

  • Though never a certainty, Canon's full frame life-cycle/refresh timing has been running about 4 years or so based on 5D and 1Ds/1DX timing (see handy timeline from Northlight), so the 6D is only about halfway to a refresh.  That's for staying 'in-family' with a refresh.  Canon, could, conceivably launch a new brand/trim-level of FF camera out of the blue, but the odds of that are astronomically low based on zero chatter whatsoever about that and high stock levels of their current FF bodies.
  • The 6D has been well-received (despite some features being somewhat nerfed compared to the 5D3), so there isn't a need to pull a 'Nikon D610' quick update to solve a major issue.
  • If only one non-Rebel body is released at Photokina, everything points to the 7D2 being the one -- see the timeline again (hint: ancient), read about limited stock levels, see all the clearance deals, etc.

So my guess of a new FF body of ANY kind (a 6D, a 5D4, a mythical 0D Mark 12, etc.) is not happening at Photokina. 

- A

EOS Bodies / Re: Canon to Make a Big Splash at Photokina? [CR2]
« on: August 01, 2014, 05:03:41 PM »
And thank you everyone, I think it's fun how far we've strayed off-topic in this thread ;D
Given that Canon India's 'Big Splash' turned out to be a photo contest, can you blame us for going off-topic?   :o


- A

EOS Bodies / Re: Canon to Make a Big Splash at Photokina? [CR2]
« on: August 01, 2014, 05:00:02 PM »
ahsanford: do you have a blanket ban on using photoshop or flash?  I don't normally carry a flash for the stuff I do but I made an effort to learn how to use it and it comes in very handy sometimes.  When I'm shooting with my Fuji XE1 (for which I have only one lens - the 35 1.4) I usually shoot jpeg because I don't generally feel I need to process the shots much but I certainly shoot RAW 100% with my 1D4 for birds and RAW+jpeg for sports.  The point is, putting arbitrary limits on the tools available doesn't make sense if the goal is good photos.  Shooting with my XE1 is limiting because of the single prime lens and because I usually only shoot jpeg but I'm not married to those limitations.  I'll crop shots if it makes them look better and I'll process them if it makes them look better.  I just cannot fathom why anyone would look at a shot and say "I know this would be better if I did this and that but I'm not going to abandon ~*my principles*~"

No hard ban on either.

I'm not a huge fan of hard rules either, but I do like natural light for my aforementioned list of reasons.  That said, I finally picked up a flash last year because friends were more and more asking me to take portraits or mill about at large family events, and I lost my pop-up flash when I migrated to FF.  I'm also fooling around with touristy 'landscape portraiture' and backlit subjects are a mess without some help from a flash.

I use Photoshop principally to bring in my RAW shots through ACR and save them as JPEGs.  I only do this for my 3-5% of best/keeper shots, and I do not spend more than 3 minutes editing a shot.  I almost never perform surgery with masks and curves in PS.  I recognize getting better at PS help me make a good shot great, but I rarely have the patience for it and I almost never print my work.  (Note:  I am not a professional photographer.)

Agree with your comment against dogmatic 'I would never...' rules on photography.  I am hard-pressed to think of my personal 'I would never' photography rules, but if you twisted my arm, they would be...

  • I would never shoot street photography of homeless/indigent folks, nor will I capture scenes of outright suffering.  I'd sooner put the camera down and help those folks.  (Goodness knows, there are enough photojournalists cataloging the world's difficulties these days, anyway.)
  • I would never use a flash for concert photography, because I'd like to shoot another concert someday.  :P
  • I would never shoot macro of arachnids. (In fairness, that's not dogma -- that's phobia.)

- A

EOS Bodies / Re: Canon to Make a Big Splash at Photokina? [CR2]
« on: August 01, 2014, 03:17:20 PM »
There's this weird trend in online photography discussion groups where mediocre photographers embrace some sort of artificial limitation regime like "no cropping" or "primes only" because of the belief that it's purer photography or something. 

Ouch, I missed the word in red above.  Your point is well made (and I welcome the discussion that follows your comment re: purists vs. pragmatists), but there's no need for that kind of tone or implication.   This is a respectful place.  People who don't have the same sensibilities as you are not sub-par human beings -- they are just people with different sensibilities.

Further, I think if you went to that person's website (, you'd see far from mediocre work on display.

- A

EOS Bodies / Re: Canon to Make a Big Splash at Photokina? [CR2]
« on: August 01, 2014, 03:07:49 PM »
A case in point. I took this shot yesterday. Equipment used: Sony NEX-6, Metabones NEX-FD Speed booster, Sigma FDn 70-210mm 3.5-4.5 APO. Manual everything (save the white balance). And no cropping.

That is a good example - you clipped the front of the car.  If you had shot wider you could have got all of the car and then cropped for better composition in post.

I can understand how you could shoot motorsports with the "no cropping" limitation, I just don't understand why you would.  Cropping is one of the major tools of photography.  Not using it is like a finish carpenter not using a chisel or planer and justifying it by saying he gets his cuts right the first time (but throws away a lot of good wood). 

There's this weird trend in online photography discussion groups where mediocre photographers embrace some sort of artificial limitation regime like "no cropping" or "primes only" because of the belief that it's purer photography or something.  Like, I get that sometimes it might be a good idea to set a temporary artificial limit in order to break a bad habit but making those limits SOP is nonsense, imo.  Knowing how to appropriately use all of the tools available to you is what makes you a better photographer, not arbitrarily throwing out some of the tools from the bag.  See also "I don't use photoshop/shoot RAW, I get it right in camera" or "I don't need a flash, I prefer natural light"

This is a tangled knuckleball of sensibilities and issues you are throwing to us.  (But it's a fun pitch to swing at, I admit.   :D)

For me, natural light vs. flash is about (a) how much effort and how many variables do I want to control, (b) how much gear I want to carry, and (c) how deliberate vs. spontaneous I want the shot to be.  My answers to those three questions are (a) little effort / keep it simple, (b) less gear, and (c) usually spontaneous.  So natural light shooting is what I strongly prefer.

For getting it right in-camera vs. cropping, that's a question of whether you enjoy working within the limitations of your gear (the guy who brings one lens and moves his feet) or if you see limitations as unacceptable constraints that will be eliminated with more lenses, more post-processing, etc.  Crudely, and likely unfairly, I think the first group wants to puff up their chest and show how competent they are at thinking on their feet and netting difficult shots under tough constraints, and the second group giggles at that and either changes lenses or just crops the shot.   One viewpoint is proud and determined and the other is pragmatic and efficient.  Neither are right and neither are wrong.  :P 

As for post-processing, I think it strongly depends on what you shoot and how much time you want to spend shining up your work rather than collecting more images.  With controlled lighting, consistent sort of subjects, etc. getting it right in-camera is a small matter of dialing it in.  But I don't go to 'shoots' where my environment is scripted.  I happen to shoot my life around me, and my subjects are moving, impatient, and inconsistently lit.  So I shoot JPEG + RAW, and I screen with JPEGs and process the 3-5% best RAW shots individually.  That lets my photographic reality be tamed to the point where I get the most out of my shots at a fraction of the work needed to process them all.

- A

I am by no means an expert.  I have used other NDs more than the Big Stopper, but the principles are pretty much the same.  I concur with you and have only a few additional thoughts.

I use M mode almost all the time (except, for example, from a moving train), because that is what I am getting used to (makes much more sense to me than exposure compensation, for example).  I suppose Av would also work, but that seems to me to be an extra step, once the aperture is set in M anyway.  Concur on RAW (if using LR, I don't see the need to shoot anything else).  I use back button focus.  Then, if I remember not to push the back button after focusing, however I have focused (that is, using either camera mode or tweaking with the focus ring in Live View), I am set with focus and don't need to switch back and forth to manual focus.

I do use 100 ISO unless I am using other NDs than the Big Stopper, for example 2 stops plus 3 stops, and need another stop slower.  Then I use 50 ISO.  I haven't thought of or tried your idea of pushing ISO and adjusting exposure time.

I tend to use an app to check depth of field because my eyesight isn't great.  I do use live view and 10X magnification when possible (i.e., when there isn't a glare problem I can't overcome).

I don't follow you on the shutter speed being 1024 times whatever the camera said without the Big Stopper (at set ISO and aperture).  I find either the Big Stopper card or a phone app. will give the answer.

I'm not sure what you mean by inputting the ISO and aperture.  Aren't those already in the camera?  Don't you just adjust the shutter speed by the 10 stops (or so, depending on your Big Stopper)?

I've been just counting out the seconds when I need to go to bulb, but the EXIF data generally tells me I got it wrong (I didn't give it as much time as I thought I did), so I like your idea of using the cell phone timer.  Or investing in a cable release with timer (so many gadgets, so little money).


Great stuff, thanks.

A few responses:

  • I always forget about back button AF.  I'm too stubborn to switch, but yes, that would cleverly solve the shutter button refocus problem I referred to.

  • ND 3.0 = 10 stops, right?  That's 2^10 (i.e. 1,024) times less light getting through, so that's your shutter speed multiplier, isn't it?  My phone app says 1000x for a 3.0 ND, and the Lee card would seem to corroborate that:

  • "Inputting ISO and aperture" means that I leave M or Av mode (whatever mode I framed the shot in) and go to Bulb.  Switching settings (especially away from Av) often moves things back to what I last shot manually, which usually means I lose my settings.  I have to do to bulb usually b/c my exposures are often longer than 30 seconds and all modes other than Bulb caps at 30s, I thought.  Bulb mode is basically M without a shutter speed input, so all you need is ISO and aperture -- that's where the statement came from.

- A

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