5 June 2009

Have you updated yet?!

We've mentioned it a few times now, and all being well, this will be the last time! We're moving!

Blog posts are now being made on www.eos-network.com
This is our new site with the blog (obviously!), a community/forum/network, details of our training courses, a weekly EOS Quiz question, our twitter feed, regular EOS tips and tricks, a photo gallery for you to upload images to and get peer feedback on (that came online this week!) and some soon to be added features - online training videos and downloadable podcasts.

If you've not dropped in to check it out and register on the site yet, you really should :-)

This message will be re-posted a couple of times this week to make sure you all get to see it!

If you read this by RSS feed and want the RSS feed for the new blog click this link!


1 June 2009

Please update your links!

We've said it a couple of times this last week, but for those that missed it, WE'RE MOVING!

Blog posts will now be made on www.eos-network.com
This is our new site with the blog (obviously!), a community/forum/network, details of our training courses, a weekly EOS Quiz question, our twitter feed, regular EOS tips and tricks, and some soon to be added features - photo galleries, online training videos and downloadable podcasts.

If you've not dropped in to check it out and register on the site yet, you really should :-)

This message will be re-posted a couple of times this week to make sure you all get to see it!

If you read this by RSS feed and want the RSS feed for the new blog click this link!


30 May 2009

What is a telephoto lens?

If asked the question above, what would you say the answer is? Is it:
a) A lens with a focal length greater than 200mm?
b) A lens which can change it's focal length?
c) A lens whose physical length is less than the focal length?

I expect most of you will go for answer "A" but you'd be wrong. In real terms, anything with a focal length over 200mm is termed a telephoto lens in common parlance...but, there is a clue in the fact that you often find lenses shorter than 200mm refered to as telelphotos. So what are they talking about?

Well, the answer lies in techie talk.

According to the Canon Lens Work book, a telephoto lens is defined as follows:
With general photographic lenses, the overall length of a lens (the distance from the apex of the front lens element to the focal plane) is longer than its focal length. This is not usually the case with lenses of particularly long focal length, however, since using a normal lens construction would result in a very large unwieldy lens. To keep the size of such a lens manageable while still providing a long focal length, a concave (negative) lens assembly is placed behind the main convex (positive) lens which is shorter than its focal length. Lenses of this type are called telephoto lenses. In a telephoto lens, the second principal point is located in front of the frontmost lens element.

Translated into simple terms, a telephoto lens is one that has a physical length (from the front lens element to the the focal plane) which is less than its stated focal length.


29 May 2009

The new EOS 5D Mark II firmware

So, the new firmware for the EOS 5D Mark II will be arriving on the 2nd of June so we're told. What does it mean, and is it really a big step forwards for most users? To decide that, we need to look at what it's actually doing and why those features were not in the camera from the start.

The EOS 5D Mark II was the first EOS model to feature movie recording and the first camera from anyone to feature full HD recording. The market for this camera is huge. Possibly bigger than had been anticipated. It's also a very immature market in that there are no established users who have fixed ideas about what they're doing with the camera. The problem has come because the camera is simply so good at movie recording. If it had been a bit weak or not very good quality, the professional video guys would not have been interested and the standard full auto video mode would have been perfectly good enough for the people who were going to make use of the feature - those that have little or no experience with video and just want it to work without too much fuss.

That's the only reason I can see why Canon would have chosen to not give full manual control. If you think about it, giving the full control to a complete beginner with no experience is quite likely to lead to a bad user experience - it'll be too complex and the results won't be as good and they then won't use the feature.

Instead what's happened is that the camera was limited and the pro video guys got hold of it and wanted more - more control to get better results because they know what they're doing. They know what shutter speed and aperture will do to the results and how to use them creatively. I can already see there will be problems with the new firmware - beginner users will be confused and will end up shooting at (for example) faster shutter speeds than they need because they think they have to and it's what they're used to doing with still images of moving subjects. The reality is Canon could have simply given a few shutter speed choices - 1/30sec, 1/60sec, and then a break until the much higher speeds for specific results.

And what about sound? Ask any video guy and they'll tell you that sound is more important than pictures. The image can be great, but if the sound is rubbish, the whole thing will be poor. That's another reason for the simple video controls - it was a set and forget feature. You can start recording and let it get on with it without having to touch the camera and risk getting 'handling sounds' from the camera body. Granted the internal microphone is not great and for good sound you should be using an external unit, but for you complete beginners in video it does the job and allows you to get video with sound of little Johnny running around the park. Now you'll almost certainly have to buy an external microphone to get half decent sound because there will be more camera handling sounds going on as you adjust the aperture or ISO to get the right exposure. Suddenly the camera has gone from a product suitable for use by the masses to a one that is now capable of being used by everyone - amateur movie makers and pros alike but for almost everyone will require an external microphone.

So what am I complaining about? Well, it's this: If you've got full manual control and everyone is telling you it's a great thing, you'll be tempted to use it. If you don't know much about video, don't! By all means practice with it and find out how it works, but don't start shooting in manual movie mode and expect great results or you're setting yourself up for a fall.

For the pros reading this - you're happy you've got full manual control, but don't think it's all about you. In fact, you're not the biggest market for cameras. Think how many consumers buy cameras when compared to how many pros. And that's why Canon did what they did. They're probably over the moon you're so pleased with their camera that you want to use it to film this, that and the other, but it was a first step into an uncertain market. So before you start complaining about the other things you want - Manual Audio Control and varying frame rates, stop and think. For pro users they'd be great, but for consumers it's another layer of complexity they need understand to get good results.

NEWS: For those that read this far...well done! As we mentioned at the beginning of the week, we are moving. If you subscribe to the RSS feed, you can subscribe to the feed at the new location using this link.
If you just want the new website where you can find the blog to bookmark in your browser, that's here.


28 May 2009

Is the recession really biting?

It seems everywhere you look these days there's doom and gloom about the recession. I'm sure everyone reading this knows someone who has been made redundant, had their hours cut or otherwise suffered due to economic down-turn. However, while everything else seems to be heading ever more downwards, the photo industry seems to be carrying on regardless.

A couple of months back we had the launch of the Canon EOS 500D and Nikon D5000 and now Sony have released a raft of THREE new consumer level models. Not only that but Pentax are in on the act too with the announcement of the K-7. It all adds up to a time when you'd be forgiven for thinking there was a global recession going on. At the very least I'd expect companies to hold off a little. Maybe keep products 'live' for a little longer before replacing them. Or maybe it's a concerted effort to drive sales upwards and so stave off poor economic results. Sony for example posted their first net loss in 14years just the other week - and it was big too - $1.03billion. Nikon too have seen a drop. While they're still in profit, they've seen their profits fall 63% for the year ended 31st March '09 - down to 28.06 billion yen from 75.48 billion yen the year before.

So what's going on? We've got cameras being launched when you'd think the market was in a downturn and at the same time, prices from the major manufacturers going UP. It's like giving with one hand and taking away with the other.

What do you think? Are you likely to buy a new camera in the near future or are you taking the squirrel approach of saving for a harsh winter?


27 May 2009

EOS 5D Mark II firmware update coming

Canon have finally announced new firmware is coming for the EOS 5D Mark II.... and it will give manual control for people wanting to shoot video! Hallelujah!
The new firmware will give the ability to choose:
*Full aperture settings
*ISO speed range from 100-6400 as well as Auto setting and H1
*Shutter speed from 1/30sec to 1/4000sec

There is no mention of any changes to the Auto Gain Control settings on the announcement, so if it's not there, there will still be something for grumpy people to complain about on the web! Honestly.

Hopefully, this will put an end to people using those N!kon lenses for video!

The firmware update will be available from 2nd June 2009 from the usual Canon websites.


26 May 2009

Another award for the EOS 5D Mark II

NEWS: For those that saw the post yesterday, we are moving! The new location for the blog will be at www.eos-network.com
However, we don't want to lose all you guys in the transition, so for the next few weeks we'll keep putting our posts both here and on the new site so you can always find them!

For those who have bought an EOS 5D Mark II, awards a rather meaningless, but in someway a validation that you made a good choice. (You bought a Canon so clearly it was a good choice, but this time others agree with you!)

The most prestigious award in Japan is the Camera of the Year award in the Camera Grand Prix 2009. The Camera Grand Prix has been running since 1984 and the awards are voted on and decided by thirteen photo and camera publications with a deciding committee made up of academic experts, technical writers, professional photographers and others from the photo world.

The award for 2009 was given to the camera they thought was the best product released between April 1 2008 and March 31 2009. And they chose the EOS 5D Mark II.

Are you feeling vindicated in your purchase now?!

Well done Canon!

As an aside, how much do awards really sway you as the 'buying public' when you're choosing your next camera?