August 01, 2014, 11:37:28 PM

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Messages - wsheldon

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EOS-M / Re: Which batteries do you use on Speedlite Flash 90ex?
« on: June 23, 2014, 11:18:14 AM »
I just bought one to use on my G1 X at Amazon for $61, and found it controlled my 580 EX II on the G1 X and my 5D MK III.
Pretty cool little flash.  I use one on my 6D to control 430EXII's remotely.  I still rather have an in camera flash like the 7D for that purpose.

Same here - picked one up for fun on whitebox special at Amazon (~$45)  even though I have an ST-E3. I use it to control 430EX and 270EX2 flashes for small macro setups when the 600's are too big. And ditto about the Eneloops - they work well.

Photography Technique / Re: Need advice: 60D + 100-400L
« on: June 23, 2014, 11:08:56 AM »
That's frustrating, but as others have pointed out you can get great images with an APS-C camera and that lens if you get a good copy, achieve focus, and optimize ISO and shutter speed.

Here's a recent shot of a sandpiper at the shoreline taken with a 50D and 100-400L at 400mm, f8, ISO 200, 1/400th under good early evening light from a similar distance to what you describe (slight crop):

Lots of good feather detail there.

Of course when you *can* get really close there's way more detail you can achieve, like this (50D, 400mm, ISO 200, 1/400, f6.3):

The new MeFOTO tripods by Benro ( are becoming very popular, and for good reason. They're well designed, available in 3 useful sizes, and include a very decent Arca-Swiss-compatible ballhead with plate for a reasonable price. The 2 larger models (RoadTrip and GlobeTrotter) come in aluminum and CF depending on your tastes and budget, but the lightest (Backpacker) is aluminum only.

I picked up an aluminum RoadTrip (max 17lbs) for $180 to complement my great-but-huge RRS 34L for hiking with lighter equipment and I'm thrilled with the quality of both the legs and head. The GlobeTrotter would be a very good all-around tripod that should compete well against the bigger Manfrottos and even Gitzos. Worth a look, and there are lots of glowing reviews showing up on the web. They also convert to a monopod without tools, which can be useful on a trip when heading into gardens or museums that don't allow full tripods.

Software & Accessories / Re: RRS or Markins?
« on: June 14, 2014, 12:54:04 PM »
Okay, that won't elicit a short answer.  But I'll share what I know and have heard.

Markins generally is thought of as not playing well with other gear.  For me that's critical because no one manufacturer has everything I need.  It's amazing how important a millimeter or the cant of a dovetail is to getting pieces to mate easily, and Arca-Swiss did not produce universal standards.  I've heard folks grouse about several Markins ball heads.  The only Markins head I've heard recommended is the Q20, but you might still have trouble making that work smoothly with other gear.  The ball head is the most important component of a support system.  There are better places (eg: lens and body plates, clamps, flash brackets, macro rails...) where one can save money.  I recommend investing in a top ball head, then saving elsewhere.

I've owned a Q10 for several years and researched it heavily beforehand, and this is the first I've heard of those incompatibility criticisms. I use a mix of Markins, RRS, and Kirk camera and lens plates and all of them mount easily and tightly on the Q10 with the screw clamp. Lever clamp bases are always tricky to mix/match plates on, so perhaps that's what the fit comments you report are based on. However, Markins answered that by making their lever clamp tension adjustable, unlike RRS which I have heard is very picky about fit with other AS plates.

The *only* consistent negative people report is difficulty really locking down the pan base, particularly people who tote their gear mounted over the shoulder. I haven't had major problems with that issue, but I it does take a pretty good twist to get the pan base tight so I can see how that happens.

That aside, I think the Markins Q10 is a top-notch ballhead that operates very smoothly with no sag except under extreme conditions. It's much easier to find and set the sweet spot than any ballhead I've ever tried. I only experience sag once, and that was with a 180mm macro plus 1.4x extender way off axis on a set of RRS macro rails and with a 430ex flash mounted way out above the lens. It held great, despite all that torque, I just had to deal with minor sag when tightening. This is much, much better performance than the Kirk head I upgraded from.

No experience with the BH55, but there is a major increase in weight and a bit more $$ with that head, so I've stuck with my Q10 even when upgrading the 3-series RRS legs. I'm a big RRS fan, though, so I may end up there some day.

Lenses / Re: Does the Sigma USB dock work with multiple cameras?
« on: June 13, 2014, 04:51:25 PM »
The dock lets you program AFMA values directly into the lens with the added benefit of setting corrections for multiple distances, unlike the AFMA settings in the body. So if your Sigma is good at minimum focus distance but is off at longer distances you can program in multiple AFMA corrections, unlike body-based AFMA where you have to split the difference or just optimize at one extreme or the other. If you use the dock to perform AFMA you would typically disable in-camera AFMA for that lens (set it to 0).

The big down-side is that you can't currently set AFMA corrections for different bodies (addressing the OP's question), so you would either need to use body-only AFMA or a combination of lens and body AFMA in that scenario.

The other annoyance is that to use the dock for AFMA you have to shoot, unmount the lens, attach the dock, make adustments, remount the lens, re-shoot, and repeat. Pretty fiddly compared to using tethered shooting with the EOS Utility or Focal.

That said, the dock also allows you to update the firmware in the lens to correct performance or compatibility issues that are identified after shipping. For example, there was a firmware update for the 35 Art last year to improve AF reliability and noise. That feature of the dock could be important long-term if Canon tweaks their EF communication specs in future cameras, since 3rd-party companies have to reverse engineer those specs and things could break. I bought the dock for my 35A even though it doesn't need AFMA on my 6D, and it's been nice for the firmware updates alone and as an insurance policy. It's not expensive, but it would be a great item to share around with friends or a photography club since it generally sits unused after you tweak your lenses.

Hope that helps. I have the dock and software, so let me know if you need any specifics and I'll check tonight.

Lenses / Re: Before you buy your next prime...
« on: May 07, 2014, 11:25:34 AM »
... And I bought my wife a new laptop this week, so if she catches me, I'm okay.  I'm guessing she tracked your big whites, though, I know my wife sure did!

That's a good strategy! I did that with an iPad last year ;)

What preserves my marital harmony is restricting gear purchases to extra money I make from consulting, workshops and photo gigs (my part time business stuff). Separate cards and bank account = no arguments.

That said, I'm really starting to question myself on any new gear purchases. I feel I hit the plateau on quality per dollars spent a while back and I really need to stop worrying about gear limitations and shoot at every opportunity. Spending money on travel and workshops (experiences) makes more sense to me at this point than more/better gear. GAS is a hard habit to break, though!

Lenses / Re: Prime v Zoom Bokeh
« on: May 06, 2014, 08:08:05 AM »
The 85mm is having issues which it was in this shot of front and back focussing which having spent some time calibrating is not getting any better and even on tripod shutter release etc will take the same shot with different focuses. At one stage i had it racked out to -20 MFA just to get it on focus. I do primarily use primes for weddings but have not yet decided on the prime to go for the longer work , 135 F2 is very tempting but may be to long for indoors. The 5D3 does correct for lenses but its not able to make much of the terrible PF on the 85mm !


I agree about the PF issue on the 85, and no in-camera corrections will fix longitudinal CA (just lateral, which the 85 doesn't have a problem with). Lightroom does a good job with it's new fringe corrections, but you have to optimize each image individually which really slows down your workflow. I imagine that would kill a wedding photog, with all those white high-contrast edges.

The 135L is wonderful and has MUCH less (almost no) PF/GF issues wide open in my experience, but it is pretty long indoors. Pretty much limits you to head/shoulders unless you're in a big venue. I'm thinking about selling my 85 and just using my 100 macro since I get so annoyed with the PF at <2.8 anyway.

Software & Accessories / Re: The best tripod ...
« on: May 01, 2014, 01:21:24 PM »
I agree with the principle of Thom Hogan's argument, although not really with his numbers.  He seems to assume that gear you upgrade from will be tossed in a closet or thrown away.  Granted, it's pretty hard to offload that $40 pan-tilt tripod you bought at Target, but if you buy decent although not top-shelf gear (Manfrotto, Benro, Induro), those can be sold on Craigslist without losing too much of your original purchase price.

Same here. I sold my first 2 Bogen/Manfrotto tripods/heads, a small Kirk head, and most recently a set of 2-series Gitzo legs for 70-90% initial cost after using them for a couple of years, so the financial side of his argument is over-stated. His guidelines on tripod/head functionality and buying advice is otherwise good, though.

Software & Accessories / Re: The best tripod ...
« on: May 01, 2014, 11:51:17 AM »
Here's about the only head-to-head (pun intended) comparison I've seen of the major tripod heads, which was published, but not done, by DPReview:
Battle of the titans: Top ball heads tested
It's not the definitive review, but it's pretty well done and will give you a feel for the different heads.

No Markins? No Kirk? You can tell those guys aren't US nature photographers, where it's RRS, Kirk, Markins and Arca and everything else is a fringe or knock-off product.

I've been debating options myself, and also use an RRS L-bracket. Anyone have experience with the Custom Brackets CB Folding-SA Flash Rotating Bracket ( They sell their brackets with an AS plate at only a $30-40 premium over their standard tripod socket mounted brackets.

Looks like a standard folding flash bracket, but sounds pretty well made. Reviews on the standard bracket are good, but the AS versions appear new.

Lighting / Re: Cheap decent softbox for a traveller
« on: April 25, 2014, 07:46:10 AM »
I like the Westcott Rapid Box 26" Octa Softbox ( Folds up into a little carry case and it's very portable. I does need a decent stand or someone to hold it, though. Can also be used as a beauty dish if you buy their little metal reflector plate.

For on-camera use I have started using a 12" Wescott Pocketbox ( Extremely light and folds flat like a piece of paper. Pretty nice light for head/shoulder portraits and great as a table-top softbox for product shots.

Depending on whether or not your needs permit it, I would say try out the Camranger. For use with mobile devices, the UI is significantly more feature rich and refined than using the EOS Remote with native wifi to say the least.

For the users that have concerns about battery consumption on the camera itself, the Camranger has it's own battery.

The only disadvantage is that you have to find a way to mount it that works for your needs. I have mine mounted on the hotshoe which may or may not work for some of you.

I'd second that. I was just at a nature photography convention and one of the co-developers of the Camranger was there demoing the product. It was very slick, and used the full resolution of the iPad. Far more feature-packed than even the EOS Utility on a laptop, and as already mentioned has its own battery. Plus it will work across brands and models of cameras. Well worth the $300 if you need that functionality.

I have successfully used both the EOS utility and iPhone App with my 6D over WiFi, but I agree the WiFi is a little fickle and the App is immature. The lack of retina support is a real killer for critical work, too.

One more thing - this device was developed by a young couple, who are both engineers and avid outdoor photographers. Really nice story of home-grown entrepreneurs, and they really like interacting with clients. With all do respect to the innovators in the east, it's nice to support some young talent here in the states.

Photography Technique / Re: ST-E3-RT + 2 600Ex-RT + 430EXII
« on: April 06, 2014, 12:11:48 PM »
Personally, having used third party triggers and the 600's, I'd save the $90 on the triggers and sell the 430, then put the money towards a third 600.


That was my approach after trying a few work-arounds. The radio control of the ST-E3-RT and 600EX-RT works so well it's annoying to dumb things down to handle legacy equipment. All we need is for Canon to sub-license the spec or third parties to "adopt" it, so high end lighting (Einsteins, etc) can be used with the system.

In addition to removing the battery and memory cards, covering the camera with dry, uncooked rice as a low-tech desiccant is often recommended (e.g. Haven't tried this myself yet, but it makes sense.

Frustrating. Good luck. I just picked up some inexpensive Opteka waterproof sleeves in case of unexpected wet conditions. Hopefully those will work better than your plastic bag.

Software & Accessories / Re: Alternatives to RRS MH-02 Monopod Head?
« on: March 28, 2014, 12:45:42 PM »
I'll deviate from the answers before, also from the original post. I use a Markins Q3 Emille small ballhead on a Gitzo Monopod GM3551. It allows me extra freedom in positioning the monopod at angles see

I'm currently using a similar approach, but with a lighter-duty ballhead and 1" Kirk clamp for my Induro CM24.

Giottos MH-1303 (

Kirk 1" clamp (

I had to buy a dual-threaded 1/4-20 screw to attach the clamp after removing the platform, but it's not a bad homebrew set-up for ~$60 with a 11lb plus rating.

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