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Messages - pixyl

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Technical Support / Canon 24-70 f/2.8L II with uneven zoom action
« on: May 27, 2014, 05:42:43 PM »
I thought I read about this problem somewhere but can't find it...
My Canon 24-70 f/2.8L II "sticks" when I zoom, resulting in an uneven movement. For the premium price I paid I'd expect a smooth action. Is there something I can do about it or is it a production issue which Canon should repair within the warranty period?

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Lenses / Re: Portrait lens setup -what should I get next?
« on: June 02, 2013, 02:34:41 PM »
an f/2.8 lens on APS-C is equivalent to f/4.5 on FF.  So, I'd be looking at f/2.8 lenses, not f/4.

I hadn't thought of that. Good point! As others have said though I understand it has more to do with perspective than sensor size. Then again you'd change perspective at the same focal length because of the crop size.

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You haven't said anything about your lighting gear, and for many portrait settings that's much more important than the lens.  You may want to consider an off-camera multi-flash setup, stands, modifiers, etc., first...

Yes, I'm steadily investing in lighting gear. This is what I've got:
- Elinchrom 500 BXRi studio strobe kit (two strobes, stands, softboxes, radio trigger) -don't use it much since it's a hassle to move around and I've been shooting at client's homes
- Canon 580EX II Speedlite
- Canon 430 EX Speedlite
- Phottix Ares (manual) radio trigger, 2x receivers
- 30cm off-camera TTL cord
- 5m off-camera TTL cord for multiple flashes (Pixel Componor)
- Lastolite Hotrod Octa 70cm softbox
- 105cm shoot-through umbrella
- 83cm shoot-through umbrella
- 83cm reflective umbrella
- stands and Manfrotto swivel adapters for Speedlites
- ebay reflector (around 1m diameter I think)

I'm just starting to get into flash but probably have enough lighting gear to get me going for a while.

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Lenses / Portrait lens setup -what should I get next?
« on: June 02, 2013, 08:38:55 AM »
I'm aiming for a career within people photography (portraiture of various kinds in-/outdoors, the occasional wedding etc.) and wonder which lens(es) to get next. I will also be photographing food, architecture, lanscape, products etc. but people photography will be my main thing. My gear so far:

- Canon 50D (hoping to upgrade to full-frame, most likely a 5D III)
- Canon 70-200 f/4L (great IQ though with a crop body I seldom use it)
- Canon 35 f/2
- Sigma 17-70 f/2.8-4.5

The Sigma is getting pretty worn and I don't particularly like it, which means I'm looking for a "bread & butter" zoom for general use. I'm considering the Canon 24-70 f/2.8L II, Canon 24-105 f/4L and possibly a 50mm f/1.4 (I'm leaning towards the Sigma instead of Canon because it just seems better built and I hear it also gives a better result whenever copies of it don't have focusing issues) for shallow DOF/low light shots.
To make choices even more difficult there's Canon's 24-70 f4L, Sigma's 24-70 and Tamron's 24-70 (with IS). I can get the Canon 24-70 f/2.8L II at a special price now, and I have a feeling that despite the missing IS and the missing added reach which the 24-105 has that this is a "keeper" and something which can boost the quality of my shots. The Tamron seems like a good buy on paper but I'm skeptical towards the brand itself and having tried it I don't like the reverse zoom compared to Canon's lenses and the placement of the focus ring. I don't know enough about Sigma's 24-70 but have heard a lot of good stuff about the Canon.
My 35mm f/2 is OK, but feels cheap and not very inspirational although I'm beginning to like the idea of prime lenses more and more, which is why I'm also considering a 50mm of some sort in addition to a general/use for everything "bread & butter" zoom (I'm ruling out Canon 50mm f/1.8 as that would be similar to my 35mm in build quality, and also the f/1.2L version because of the price).

So, would it be a good decision to go for the Canon 24-70 f/2.8L II and possibly also the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 in addition (or leave out the 50mm for the time being), or would you go for the 24-105 and 50mm as well as possibly other primes, or something entirely different?

Oh, I'm working on my flash photography skills, so although I do like natural light I'm not one of those "I only use natural light" photographers and hence don't feel the need to go with fast, expensive lenses all the way.

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In regards to your thoughts on moving up to full frame, here is a pair of shots that reflect my experience going from 50D to 5D3 with 70-200 f/2.8L II when shooting outdoors sports at distances comparable to yours.

I also have a 50D and I'm not particularly happy with sharpness either. I really should give AF microadjustment a go but haven't gotten round to it yet -seems like a time consuming task.
I upgraded from a Rebel XT (350D) about a year ago and had the same issues with that camera, so I suppose it's got more to do with my technique than anything else. Regarding lenses I have a 70-200 f/4L (non-IS version) which I find considerably better in the IQ and build department than my Sigma 17-70 f/2.8-4.5, and because of that a greater joy to use, but with a bit too much reach for normal day to day use. I would probably use it more with a FF body.Still, I don't find it "tack sharp" as I had hoped for.

So is the consensus that the 50D autofocus is so-so? And how does the 70-200 f/4L compare to the f/2.8L version in terms of IQ/sharpness?

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Pricewatch Deals / Re: Big Canon EOS 5D Mark II Price Drop Coming
« on: September 29, 2012, 02:17:11 PM »
Having been on the fence for a while I'm wondering if it would be worth upgrading to a FF by getting a 5D2 now when the prices drop or use what I have for now (50D) and instead invest in quality lenses, then buy a 5D3 when prices finally become more reasonable (I suppose in a year or so)?

I've read a lot about what some call outdated AF, and also some flash sync issues (not sure what the specifics are) with the 5D2.

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If you end up going with a FF, you'll want to hang on to that 70-200.

No worries, the 70-200 f/4L is a keeper  ;)
That is, unless I replace it with the 2.8 IS version at some stage.

robbymack: Why do you suggest the 17-55 f/2.8 IS when I already have the Sigma 17-70? Wouldn't a 24-105 f/4L IS be much more of a step up or would the IS and constant f/2.8 of the 17-55 be worth the upgrade? I suppose the IQ might be better than the Sigma as well?
As for indoor low light photography I'll probably have to resort to flashes anyway, and one of the things I'm starting to invest both time and money into (an additional Speedlite, radio triggers etc.)

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Software & Accessories / Re: 580EX II Faulty by Design?
« on: September 10, 2012, 04:33:38 PM »
I was wondering: are these two items regular off-the-shelf electronic components available from just about any electronics supplier at low cost or are they made to custom specs by Canon only making them hard and expensive to replace yourself?
The IGBT is most likely off the shelf, perhaps w/o or with a custom label, the tubes aren't that common.
But without knowing wether its just about part specs or their alignment that doesn't say much.

I think I found it! According to the "580EX II failure report" by LPA designs (Pocket Wizard) they identify the IGBT as:

The testing quickly revealed that an IGBT (transistor) within the flash is damaged.  This part is made by 
Renesas (part # RJP4301).


I looked up the Renesas website and found several versions of the RJP-4301 so I'll probably have to physically open up a 580EX II if/when needed in order to identify the exact component number. I didn't find anything about the xenon tube other than Canon having the complete tube/reflector assembly available as a spare part. I do however see that you can buy xenon tubes on their own at ebay for around US$ 10 (search for"canon 580ex II xenon tube" at ebay) though I don't know these are "genuine replacements" or just odd xenon tubes, possibly with other specs.
Oh, I also came across the 580EX II service manual! I've taken a quick peek and it actually includes the schematics in addition to all sorts of interesting info (including how to discharge the (possibly lethal) charged capacitors.


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Aha!  :)
All those replies got me thinking and reading some more.
I understand that you need a certain working distance from your subject in order to eliminate distortions (huge nose/small ears etc.) which probably explains why people commonly seem to use 85 and 135mm primes instead of a Canon 35mm f/2 which I intended mainly for indoor (low light) portraits. No wonder I've been I've been giving myself a hard time focusing on fast moving kids with such a close working distance. And I've probably also distorted their faces in the process as well. But.... I have gotten to like the idea of using primes instead of just zooms all the time.

So, rather than having to guess (or remember the distance from past experience) at which distance from the subject a lens distorts I'm thinking that say an 85mm lens forces you to keep a specific distance at which the subject isn't distorted while with a zoom (say my Sigma 17-70) you can always zoom out, move closer and probably mess things up. A 70-200 would be different of course as I just tried it with my Canon 70-200 f/4L. With my 1.6x crop sensor I found that even at the minimum 70mm (112mm equivalent on a FF) I got very close and was forced to back away in order to frame the subject, thus eliminating distortions.
Zooming in closer to 200mm was pretty hard as it made for very tight headshots and was also hard to hand-hold (I don't have the IS version). At 85 mm (trying to emulate the framing of an 85mm lens) it was doable, but of course not easy peasy as with the 35mm where hand-shake isn't an issue and I can just snap away (it is of course a lot lighter than the 70-200 which helps). 135mm was even harder and needing more space (OK in a studio I guess but harder in a small home). But then again I'm guessing most serious portrait photographers go FF.
An 85mm would be a better choice for a 1.6x crop sensor, wouldn't it? And still usable for a FF (the equivalent of how 53mm looks on my crop camera if my calculations are correct). This looks good to be suitable for both a headshot and a full portrait. The 85 f/1.2L seems like an unnecessary investment at this stage. I can always reconsider it when I get more experience, so the much lower priced 85 f/1.8 comes into consideration. According to Ken Rockwell, it's very sharp, and much sharper than the 100 f/2 (comparison at f/2) which brings me to yet another lens; the 100 f/2.8 macro which is, according to many reviews/comments, also a nice portrait lens (even though it obviously doesn't give the same shallow DOF as the  85 f/1.8). But it would cover my needs for a close-up lens (I'm thinking food photography, rings etc. in a wedding etc.) The 100 f/2.8L IS is tempting, but having read that you really need a tripod and a flash in any case when doing serious macro work, and it seems a bit over-priced for a plastic shelled lens I think I'll pass and go for the non-L/non-IS version instead.

Next I'm looking at a general-use lens which should replace my Sigma 17-70 which is pretty worn and not a lens I'm very happy with any longer. The Canon 24-70 f/2.8 seemed like a good replacement but after some reading doesn't seem to be "the perfect allround lens" any longer with sharpness and build issues according to many user comments (then again lots of people seem very happy with it) which is why I've been eagerly awaiting the 24-70 f/2.8 II. Not any longer with that price tag. I'm thinking that with an 85 f/1.8 I'll have a sharp and shallow DOF lens for portraits. Along with my 35 f/2 I will also have two "indoor primes", so the 24-105 f/4L looks like a suitable replacement for everyday use (outdoor or flash indoor "do it all" lens). And unlike the Sigma 17-70 it'll also work on a FF. On a FF it should give the same view as 15-65mm on my 1.6x crop camera; a little wider than what I already have but not quite as much reach (and a lot less than 105mm on my crop camera). But no worries as that's where the 70-200 f/4L comes in.

So that leaves wide angle where I see one option for now: the Canon 10-22 f/3.5-4.5. On my 1.6x crop camera it should give the FF view of 6-13mm which I can only imagine is amazingly wide and should be great for stuff like real estate and also for "getting in with the action" type shots if I additionally get really close to the subject(s). It seems that the Canon 8-15 f/4L would be the closest to get for FF use. Funny that with this setup I would be getting 2mm wider with a crop-only type lens  ;)


This is getting veeeeery long, so to conclude what I'm thinking would work with my 50D and also a FF in the future:

  • Canon 85 f/1.8 (portraits)
  • Canon 100 f/2.8 (macro/close-up and portraits)
  • Canon 24-105 f/4L (travel, general use)
  • Canon EF-S 10-22 f/3.5-4.5 (real estate, indoor, "getting in with the action" wide angle)
  • Canon 70-200 f/4L ("getting closer" lens ("getting very close" on crop) in studio, outdoor or with flash -I already have this
  • Canon 35 f/2 (indoor (low light) wide angle (FF) or low-light general purpose (1.6x crop) -I already have this

Then, when I get a FF I'd sell the Sigma 17-70 and 10-22 (or keep one of both if I'd still be keeping the 50D), then get an ultra-wide such as the 8-15 f/4L if I'd need that for my FF.

For lighting, here's my proposal:
  • Canon 580 EX II (on-location/portable flash setup)
  • Canon 430 EX (on-location/portable flash setup -I already have this
  • Phottix Strato II manual radio trigger (with TTL pass-through) on-location/portable flash setup
  • Stands, umbrellas, brackets for the above -I already have some of this (umbrellas and stands borrowed from the Elinchrom gear below)
  • Elinchrom 500 w/s BXRI heads (2x), stands, 2x small soft boxes, 2x umbrellas, reflectors, snoot, barn-door, Skyport radio trigger (for studio shots) -I already have this
  • Manfrotto Auto-pole 2 (for studio backdrop mounting, allows flexible repositioning and mounting of other devices as well if needed) -I already have this

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Software & Accessories / Re: 580EX II Faulty by Design?
« on: September 09, 2012, 05:17:43 PM »
I've read this thread with great interest as I plan to buy a second hand 580EX or 580EX II, but am worried about the problems I've read about. The EX II has better features which the EX doesn't, but then again I haven't heard of any reliability problems with that model.
However, I don't intend getting a Pocket Wizard and from what I've read so far it seems that if the 580EX II does start acting up with HSS etc it is usually fixed (and works reliably from then on) after replacing the xenon flash tube AND the IBGT transistor.

Since I'm comfortable with a soldering iron and electronic components (yes, I know about the high voltage risk, but once the batteries have been removed and the capacitor has been confirmed drained it should be no problem) I was wondering: are these two items regular off-the-shelf electronic components available from just about any electronics supplier at low cost or are they made to custom specs by Canon only making them hard and expensive to replace yourself?

I did check out the website mentioned a few posts earlier, but this still doesn't include the IGBT (I know, Canon would simply replace the entire circuit board than desolder a damaged IGBT, which explains this, but I would be quite happy replacing just a single component instead). 

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Lighting / Re: 580EX or 580EX II -which one to get?
« on: September 06, 2012, 04:11:16 PM »
Thanks for your reply.
I just came across another thread discussing the same thing and someone pointed out getting three 580 EX flashes damaged when using Pocket Wizards. The interesting thing is that one of them was a 580EX (not EX II).

After all the negative feedback on the Pocket Wizards (and high cost) I have no intention of buying those anyway, so hopefully the "blowing up" of the 580 flashes won't be an issue, but out of curiosity: have you (and others reading) used High Speed Sync (HSS) a lot with either the 580EX or 580EX II? One of the "design flaws" of the 580EX II apparently shows up when using HSS.

Out of curiosity: why are you selling your 580 EX II flashes in favor of the (more expensive) 600 EX RT? The convenience of TTL radio triggering or are there shortcomings in the 580?

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Lighting / 580EX or 580EX II -which one to get?
« on: September 05, 2012, 06:19:28 AM »
I need a "master" flash to complete a dual flash setup (I have a 430EX) and am trying to decide between the 580EX or 580EX II. The latter has been reported faulty by design though I'm not sure if these are widespread problems or just exaggerations.
Would I be making a mistake in getting the less featured 580EX instead? I know the EX II can be controlled from the camera menu and has a better foot design, but the old model (580 EX) allows for easier switching between master and slave. I think there were some other advantages as well which has slipped my mind...

When having gotten the hang of a Canon wireless (IR) master/slave setup I expect to expand by getting a manual radio trigger (such as the Phottix Strato II) and possibly one or two additional speedlights (might as well be cheaper, non-Canon branded as this'll be manual triggering).

So, the 580EX or 580EX II? The former will most definitely be second/hand refurbished at a low price while the latter can probably be bought new for a little while longer (I suspect the 600 EX RT will fully take over once the old stocks have run out).

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Shooting a bit of everything isn't a great idea for a business plan. I suggest you target a market and get good at that kind of photography so you have a good product to sell to that market.

Sounds like good advice. I do very much enjoy advertising/product/food photography including all the Photoshop post-processing (I also need to invest in a better, faster computer), but I also know there's a lot of very tough competition and specializing in that field which would be a real challenge to start out in.
Realistically I think I might be better off starting with something like real estate and portraits for schools and such, then move on to more challenging stuff when I have the experience and can deliver the quality people expect. I don't want to get into weddings just now understandably but not something I'm ruling out for later.

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Also have two 580exii and lots of accessories to control light, even though I use natural light wherever I can.

Yeah, I need to invest more in lighting -portable lighting that is (I have a couple of Elinchrom studio strobes already, but they don't work on batteries and are cumbersome to carry around). I'll probably get myself a 580EX/EX II (or two) in addition to my existing 430 EX and a trigger of some sort (a reliable manual one will likely do for now even though I might just start experimenting with the built in IR-trigger of the 580EX) and a portable softbox (Lastolite EzyBox or similar). With a handy sized reflector, a couple of stands (already have those from the Elinchrom kit) a couple of umbrellas and possibly also a portable backdrop kit I would have enough to get started offering my services I think.

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Thanks for all those replies!
Anyone used the Sigma 17-70 f/2.8-4.5 DC? How do the Canon zooms compare in both build and IQ? (I'm talking about the 17-55 f/2.8 IS, 24-70 f/2.8L and 24-105 f/4L IS). Buying a used/refurbished 17-55 might seem like the smartest choice for now, as I'm just starting out and have a crop sensor, but depending of course on what kind of build (and more importantly in terms of building up a happy customer base: the IQ). The 24-105 might seem like the other option, but as suggested as part of the 5D3 kit to save some dough, so that looks like it might be put off until I can afford that investment.
.... or by the time I go full frame I might end up with the f/2.8L "big guns" which I understand are the 16-35 f/2.8L II, 24-70 f/2.8L and 70-200 f/2.8L II IS. 


Back to my current situation though:
I'm definitely not interested in buying yet another "toy lens" (as the Sigma feels like IMHO) but at the same time I'm not categorically ruling out anything which isn't an "L" as I've gathered that there are indeed high quality (almost pro level?) lenses out there, but without the tough build and weather sealing used in the L types. I believe that could suffice for now as I handle my gear carefully and don't intend to use it outdoors in rough weather. There's also something about looking like a professional when people hire you and not an amateur trying to make a couple of bucks.

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With the intention of starting up my own photography business I'm slowly upgrading my gear with that in mind and am having a hard time deciding on lenses.

The initial plan was to upgrade straight from my Rebel XT to a 5D3, but at the time it wasn't yet available and I ruled out the 5D2 because of the AF issue/old technology and knowing that something better was coming along "soon". So in the meantime I decided an intermediate solution would be to upgrade to a second hand "prosumer" SLR, just to get the hang of a camera with "pro" controls and features as well as better IQ. I ended up with a 50D with a battery grip. My current lens lineup is:

  • Sigma 17-70 f/2.8-4.5 DC -not very happy with neither the IQ nor build.
  • Canon 70-200 f/4L -I love this lens. Build quality and IQ is excellent IMHO but with 1.6x crop the reach is a bit much for general use, so it doesn't get much use unfortunately.
  • Canon 35 f/2 -I got this in order to replace much of the Sigma 17-70 use, better light-sensitivity and in order to start out with primes. It's OK but not great -noisy focusing, cheap build and feel nor does the IQ blow me away (perhaps I expected a bit more than what could be delivered for the price).

I'll be shooting a little bit of everything: portraits, products/advertising, school/kindergarten group shots, events, real estate etc. and when I get more experienced perhaps weddings.
The 70-200 feels like a keeper, especially when I go FF even though most pros seem to go for the f/2.8 version.
For "general use" I had my eyes set on the Canon 24-70 f/2.8L but have been waiting for much the same reason as the body: knowing that a mark II was about to be released. Now that it has been announced along with the hefty pricetag I'm considering other options:

  • Canon 24-105 f/4L IS -seems solid and well built, has a good feel to it and although online reviews differ a lot it seems like a great contender. The IS should be very useful for still-standing subjects in less than perfect lighting.
  • Canon 24-70 f/2.8L II -I haven't ruled it out though it'd better be twice as good as the first version for that price!
  • Canon 24-70 f/2.8L (first version) -thousands of pros can't all be wrong when using it. When the version II gets released I assume its price will drop drastically, but I'm a little hesitant as I read a lot of people find it a "mediocre" lens despite the "L" designation
  • Canon 17-55 f/2.8 IS -not an "L" lens, but possibly an intermediate lens until I go FF. Lots of reviews/reader comments say it's essentially a lens with "L-quality" but with a consumer build
  • A combination of a zoom and one or two primes

I've ruled out the Tamron 24-70 f/2.8 VC because I've gotten the taste of L lenses and rather want to invest in "keepers" rather than "probably just as good". I understand lots of people will disagree with this view.

My conclusion (if you've read this far  ;) ):
I think my money might be best spent if investing in a good zoom for allround/general use and a couple of fast primes. I'm aiming for lots of Speedlite/studio strobe rather than "I don't care for (I don't know how to use) flash", so I probably don't need superfast lenses for everything. I wasn't entirely blown away with the low-light capabilities of shooting at f/2 with my 35mm, but again I was probably expecting it to perform miracles. Even with an f/1.2 or f/1.4 of some sort I assume I'll have to crank up the ISO and/or in combination with a flash.

But which lenses would be good for both crop and FF use? Even when I get the 5D3 (an "entry level FF" (whatever that means) is also rumored, perhaps worth looking into) the 50D will probably be a nice backup body. Still, I'll be losing out on wide-angle with most of those FF-designed lenses but could buy a second hand Canon 10-22 f/3.5-4.5 and sell it when I get the FF, hopefully without any/much loss.
Or... should I go an entirely different route and buy second hand EF-S lenses just for the 50D now, then buy separate L lenses for the FF when I get it?
Sorry for the long post  :o

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