30 April 2009

Battery grips and AA batteries for your EOS

EOS 50D with battery gripEOS 5D Mark II, EOS 5D, EOS 50D, EOS 40D, EOS 30D, EOS 20D, EOS 500D, EOS 450D, EOS 400D, EOS 350D and EOS 1000D all have the ability to be powered from AA batteries when you use the Canon battery grips. The battery grips for these models come with a battery magazine that can be used with six AA batteries but AA batteries are not all equal. With battery grips costing about the same as a couple of Canon original batteries you might be tempted to try a battery grip and AA batteries instead of a pair of Canon batteries.

In practical trials of many of the listed cameras, using AA batteries is to be thought of as a 'get out of jail free card' rather than an everyday solution. If you forgot to charge your Canon batteries and need to shoot now, then the AA route can be a life saver. However AA batteries seem to only power the cameras for a very limited number of shots before their voltage drops and the dreaded low battery indicator and warning on the LCD show. There is some hope if you choose the AA battery route and that is Energizer Ultimate Lithium batteries. For some cameras they can provide longer shooting than a pair of Canon batteries in our trials, but they are not a cheap option.


29 April 2009

Err 99

If you've never had an Error 99 failure, you're a lucky person. Error 99 seems to crop up now and again on pretty much all the camera models and if you've never seen it before, it can be quite daunting as it locks the camera out and stops you being able to do anything.

What causes it is more of a problem to diagnose though. Error 99 is basically a catch-all term. Think of it like the camera telling you that something is wrong, but it's not sure what it might be. Unlike the other error codes, of which the are about a dozen, the camera doesn't give too much guidance.

So how do you clear it, and what are the potential causes? In the first instance, turn off the camera, remove the memory card, battery and lens. With the lens off, take a look at the contacts and see if they're a bit grubby and need a clean (if they do, use a pencil eraser to rub them gently). With that done, put it all back together again and the camera should come back to life.

If you see an Err 99 once, it's not a cause to worry. If you start seeing it regularly, then you should seriously consider getting the camera into your nearest service centre as it will be pointing to an underlying problem that needs solving.

As we pointed out in this post on the EOS-1 Series Mark III firmware updates they now have a bit more information included and in fact, you're less likely to see Err 99 anyway.

So, how many of you have seen Err 99? Was it a one off or did it recur? Did you get it solved or is it ongoing?


28 April 2009

A star in the range - EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM

What, no Tuesday 'tog? Yes, it it is Tuesday, no, you're calendar is not wrong and no, there is no Tuesday 'tog today. Don't worry, there'll be one next week, we just thought we'd give it a break for a week while we take stock of where the blog is going and what it's going to do.

So this week, this is the start of a new mini-series picking out some of our favourite lenses in the Canon range. Some may be familiar to you, some maybe not, but all of them are lenses we've used and found to be cracking. First up this week is the EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM lens. Now this lens is a great favourite of ours and is in fact well like by many photographers. Sadly though, it is often overlooked in favour of the EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM in the belief that that f/2.8 lens is better.
Well, for all those that bought f/2.8 lenses - sorry! The f/4 lens is actually as good or better than the f/2.8 lens at any aperture. It's a much newer optical design and hence improvements have been made.

When looking at lenses, there are four things you're likely to consider:
Image Stabiliser

If we take the optics first, as we said above the EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM more than holds its own.
Image Stabiliser: f/2.8 = 3 stops, f/4 = 4 stops
Weight: f/2.8 = 1470g, f/4 = 760g
Price: f/2.8 = c.£1550, f/4 = c.£980

To make it simpler, you get better hand-holding ability, a weight saving of 710g (that's nearly half the weight) and a cost saving of about £570. Pretty clear cut isn't it?!

So, with the optic quality being equal and everything else being better on the EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM lens, you may wonder why people still buy the f/2.8 lens. Well, the answer is simple - they shoot in low light or they use extenders. With extenders of in low light conditions, the f/2.8 lens is still king becasue it focuses better and keeps a larger maximum aperture. If you fit a 1.4x Extender the max perture drops by 1 stop taking the f/2.8 lens to f/4 and the f/4 lens to f/5.6 In bright light, this doesn't make too much difference, but once the light levels drop, having an aperture a stop wider can help with focusing.... not exposure though. Let's be clear on this = most people still have the film or early digital mindset. In other words "I can't take the ISO over 400 or I'll see noise". If you're shooting on one of the latest cameras, this doesn't matter. You can up the ISO further, still avoid undue image noise, and effectively counter the exposure loss of one stop.

For all those that do have the EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM lens and are thinking you'd be better off with the f/4L IS version - don't worry. If your lens is in good condition, you should be able to sell it second-hand for more than the cost of a new f/4L IS lens. Just don't send any prospective purchaser to this page first!


27 April 2009

Please stop the ****in beeping!

Having been to a church wedding this weekend I have a top tip. For all of the photographers who are 'doing a bit of wedding work' to help make ends meet, a church marriage service is not the place for a beeping camera.

All the EOS cameras come from the factory with the beeps enabled as a default, to turn the beep off you need to go to the first menu tab and find the selection for BEEP and turn it off. Alternatively if you use back button focus then keep the camera in AI Servo AF and it won't beep either.

Maybe I'm just tuned to it, but the beeps of the wedding togs camera sure distracted me enough to notice he'd got a new EOS 5D Mark II and some EOS 5D cameras and only the new EOS 5D Mark II was beeping.


25 April 2009

Lens hoods and filters

Hands up those that keep filters on the front of their lenses for protection.

Now, those with your hands in the air (it's ok, you can put them down now) do you use the best filters you can buy? You know, the Canon range or the Hoya Pro 1 Digital etc?

No? You use the ordinary ones from the corner shop?

Shame on you. Let me put it to you simply. A filter creates another air-glass interface and increases the risk of light scatter, reduced light transmission, flare, ghosting, aberrations etc. If you don't use the best filters you can buy, you may as well give up on the expensive glass habit you have and buy cheap milkbottle lenses for all the good you're getting out of your L-Series ones.

More to the point though, what protection is a filter on the front of the lens going to give? Honestly, if you drop it, two things will happen. The filter will break, thereby scratching the front element anyway, and the filter mount will deform leaving you with a broken filter jammed to the front of your lens. Great scenario!

In my opinion, there are only a couple of occasions when using a filter on the front of the lens is acceptable. 1. On a beach or dune with wind-blown sand. 2. In a rain storm with driving rain. 3. When the lens is pointing out of a fast moving vehicle in the direction of travel.
Notice anything about these scenarios? They all involve the possibility of wind-borne objects hitting the front lens element. At all other times, your better off without.

If you really want to protect the front lens element, get a lens hood. Lens hoods should be bought with lenses as standard. In fact, we wish Canon would start bundling them with all the lenses, not just the L-Series.
The lens hood, while not as effective against wind-borne objects, is effective against dropping the lens (it acts like a crumple zone), fingers getting the front of the lens accidentally, and most importantly, lens flare. Using a lens hood should be a matter of course. It will improve contrast in your images, reduce flare and ghosting and give you that piece of mind that for most situations, the front of your lens is well protected.


24 April 2009

Does sharpening add up in DPP?

Recently the world famous camera store in New York known as B&H has made available a really interesting video of a seminar presented by Erik Allin from Canon USA. The seminars are all about the Canon software. If you want to find no better use for the best part of two hours it's worth a watch. Even better is that the section with the demonstration of techniques in the Canon Digital Photo Professional software are covered in probably some of the most depth ever seen in the wild. Check out video 2 of 3 and 3 of 3 particularly. Big thanks for that Erik and B&H

However on the topic of sharpening we'd like to dispute the claims made in the video that you can choose to do sharpening in either the RAW or RGB tabs of DPPs tool palette. In our quick test the two sharpening sliders are cumulative. So set +10 sharpening in the RAW tab and then set +500 sharpening in the RGB tab. We found that with both sets of sharpening set to the max then it's more sharpened than when either of them individually is set to the maximum. 

These images are screenshots from DPP edit image window and are in split screen mode at 100% view.

RAW +10 sharpening, RGB 0 sharpening
RAW +10 sharpening, RGB +500 sharpening
RAW 0 sharpening, RGB +500 sharpening
To me it seems that the RAW sharpening is applied to the RAW data and then additional sharpening on the RGB data is applied, one small contradiction in an otherwise great presentation.

So to answer the title question, RAW sharpening in DPP does add up.


23 April 2009

Firmware update for EOS 50D, EOS 450D and EOS 1000D

EOS 50D, EOS 450D & EOS 1000D firmware updates
Canon has made new firmware updates available from it's website for the EOS 50D, 450D (Rebel XSi) and 1000D (Rebel XS). The changed functionality is listed below for each of the cameras.

  • Reduces vertical banding noise that can appear in images shot in SRAW1 image sizes
  • Adds additional details to error messages with more specific errors rather then the often generic Err 99 that people have seen
  • Adds support for the focus assist beam feature of the new Speedlite 270EX that was announced with the EOS 500D earlier in March
EOS 50D cameras have been reported in the market with firmware version 1.0.5 direct from the factory. This now seems to have been an interim version, maybe the same as 1.06 but without the AF assist beam support for the Speedlite 270EX?? If your camera is running the older firmwares then time for an update. The banding in SRWAW1 images was also addressed for the EOS 5D Mark II earlier in firmware version 1.0.7 back in January.

  • Adds support for the focus assist beam feature of the new Speedlite 270EX that was announced with the EOS 500D earlier in March.

  • Adds support for the focus assist beam feature of the new Speedlite 270EX that was announced with the EOS 500D earlier in March.

Top tips for hassle free firmware update;
  • use a fully charged battery in the camera
  • use a small memory card to load the firmware update on
  • take your lens off the camera before doing the update
Have you tried the new firmware and for the EOS 50D does it fix any problems you have had?


22 April 2009

How many awards is enough?

Well, it seems if you're Canon, then there's no such thing as too many awards. Here at blab, we love Canon products, and we know that you guys and girls do, so it's nice to see the industry agrees with us - if only because it means a lot of people that know what they're talking about think you made the right purchasing decision as well! So, with 5 awards in the bag, Canon are rightly feeling rather happy about it - enough that they felt it good to put out a press release!

It seems the EOS 5D Mark II picked up best D-SLR Expert, the PowerShot G10 got best Expert Compact, the TS-E17mm f/4L got best Professional lens, the new PIXMA Pro 9500 II got best Expert photo printer and the Legeria HF S10 got best Expert HD camcorder. Well done Canon!

Press release:
United Kingdom / Republic of Ireland, 20 April 2009: Canon today announced that it has won five awards from the prestigious Technical Image Press Association (TIPA) – Europe’s leading photo and imaging press association.

The TIPA voting panel, which meets annually to select the best photo and imaging products of the year, selected the Canon EOS 5D Mark II as “Best D-SLR Expert in 2009”, the Canon PowerShot G10 as the “Best Expert Compact in 2009” and the “Best Professional Lens in 2009” award went to the Canon TS-E 17mm f/4L. Additionally, the Canon PIXMA Pro9500 Mark II won “Best Expert Photo Printer in 2009” and the Canon LEGRIA HF S10 took the “Best Expert HD Camcorder in 2009” prize.

“Winning 5 TIPA awards, as well as exceeding last year’s success, is an outstanding achievement for Canon and confirms our leadership in the imaging market,” said Rainer Fuehres, Head of Canon Consumer Imaging, Canon Europe. “To be presented with these awards, from an independent body as prestigious as TIPA, is an important accolade and recognises our commitment to and passion for the power of image.”

Best D-SLR Expert in 2009: Canon EOS 5D Mark II
Canon’s full frame, 21.1 megapixel EOS 5D Mark II is the first EOS with full High Definition video capability that captures amazing quality footage. TIPA’s panel of judges summarised the camera as: “Fast, reliable and discreet, this ‘expert’ D-SLR challenges in quality the best pro models.” Although compact and lightweight, the EOS 5D Mark II’s newly designed and improved Canon full frame CMOS sensor, along with the DIGIC 4 processor, delivers image quality at 3.9 frames per second.

Best Expert Compact in 2009: Canon PowerShot G10
The PowerShot G10 is Canon’s flagship PowerShot compact digital camera and the first G-series camera to offer wide-angle imaging via a 5x (28mm) zoom with optical Image Stabilizer. TIPA’s panel of judges commented that the PowerShot G10 “… is very well built, and its grip ensures good stability.”

The PowerShot G10 is perfect for shooting sharp, blur-free shots of landscapes, architecture or interiors. It includes a 14.7 Megapixel sensor and Canon’s DIGIC 4 image processor ensures exacting image quality.

Best Professional Lens in 2009: Canon TS-E 17mm f/4L
The tilt and shift Ultra-Wide angle TS-E 17mm f/4L has the widest view angle of any tilt and shift lens on the market and the TIPA judges were impressed with its outstanding image quality: “The Canon TS-E 17mm f/4L is the professional choice for architectural or landscape photography.”

Best Expert Photo Printer in 2009: Canon PIXMA Pro9500 Mark II
The TIPA panel were impressed with the PIXMA Pro9500 Mark II, as it enables gallery-quality imaging: “(it) uses a 10-colour pigment based single ink system, including matte black and photo black. This allows photographers to print on gloss and matte media with exceptional colour accuracy and gamut, without the need for swapping ink tanks.” The addition of 16-bits per channel print capability offers exceptionally smooth tonal gradations in both colour and monochrome photo prints of up to A3+ or 14” wide.

Best Expert HD Camcorder in 2009: Canon LEGRIA HF S10
Suited to high-end consumers, the next generation High Definition (HD)flash memory camcorder features an extensive set of professional-level controls and features which proved a hit with the TIPA judges: “The LEGRIA HF S10 uses a combination of 8.0MP Full HD CMOS sensor, Canon HD Video Lens with 10x optical zoom, and the DIGIC DV III processor, to produce video of exceptional quality.”


21 April 2009

Featured 'tog Tuesday - John Lester

This weeks 'tog is landscape and nature photographer John Lester.

BLAB: Jumping straight in to the important question, what colour would your Ferrari be?

JL: I'd love to give the geek answer of 18% grey so I've got the coolest grey-card around, but I'd go for metallic Black. I understand the purists' point about red ones, but show some individuality! Besides, the sunset looks amazing reflected in a shiny black car.

BLAB: Can you tell us a little bit more about yourself?

JL: If I was to summarise my photography in just one area, it would be Landscape / Nature photography, but I enjoy other areas as well and am always looking for new projects and experiments.

My interest in photography started in 1988 when I was 10 and my parents bought me a Canon Sureshot point-and-click film camera for my birthday. It went everywhere with me and despite not having a zoom, I managed to get some pretty good nature shots - sneaking up on butterflies, grasshoppers etc. About 6 years later, I took my first shots with an SLR - a 3 frame panorama of Mount St. Helens (post eruption) using a manual Pentax SLR. I still have the pictures framed on my bedroom wall now.

On the strength of my little Sureshot, I decided Canon was the way to go so I saved up and bought a second hand EOS 1000F which I proceeded to improve my photography with. Purchasing various lenses and accessories gave me the opportunity to properly experiment with aperture, shutter speed, filters etc. I was fortunate to have a family who took me all over the world so saw wonderful things you can't get in the UK. I was also lucky to be egged on by a neighbour and now very good friend, Dr. John Davis, who has toted everything from Sony Cybershots to Leica SLRs and is currently using a Leica Range-finder as his main toy.

At University, I did the photography for one of the Sports Club Balls and sold prints from the event - that meant learning how to use, process and develop black and white film and prints. I spent DAYS in the dark room playing with settings. It was by no means profitable for me and in honesty was not hugely successful, but the money helped toward my EOS 5 which to date is my best camera.

In 2004 I went digital and bought an EOS 300D which still serves me well and nearly all my website pictures were taken with it. Despite going digital, I still believe that the skill of Photography lies in the camera and not in Photoshop. I make small adjustments to my images such as cropping and brightness, but nothing you couldn't do easily in a dark-room. I'm not knocking the Photoshop gurus out there but for me that's Digital Art rather than Photography.

I use Aperture on my Mac Pro for all my photo work. I've been a Mac addict since about 1985 and wouldn't dream of using anything else. My MacBook Pro comes with me on photo trips longer than one day and proves an invaluable tool for generating interest in what I'm up to.

I have no plans to be a full time professional photographer as I'm scared of turning my favourite hobby into a chore, but I am working toward selling a few prints / doing a few shoots to hopefully get my photography to pay for itself and maybe buy me the occasional bottle of winjavascript:void(0)e.

I put some pictures on my website, http://www.jalphoto.co.uk a few years back and really must update the site properly, it needs an overhaul so please do visit me, but also check back soon for an updated look at my work.

Right now, I'm doing some photography work with a friend of mine,James Corrin. He is teaching me how to do model shoots and I'm going to help him with his landscape work.

I've recently been made redundant from a small IT reseller so I'm using this time to work on things I don't get time to do whilst I look for a new job. If anyone works at Apple or needs an IT hardware sales guy....

BLAB: Back to the regular blab questions: If you had been paid ten thousand pounds for being our 'Tuesday tog', what photo equipment would you spend it on?

JL: Oooh toys!

  • Canon 5D mkII with 24-105mm F4 L IS (£2900) - This will be my next kit purchase as I've been dribbling over full frame since the original 5D was launched. I love wide-angle landscape work and the 16-35mm L lens I have is awesome, but just not wide enough on a crop sensor... I'm also looking forward to playing with HD video, but suspect that will be a minor part of the camera's use. The 24-105mm lens gives me something good for general purpose work with a very useful zoom range.
  • Apple 30" Cinema display (£1200). I have an Apple 20" Studio display now, but more pixels are required for playing with a 21MP camera.
  • Colour calibration kit (£100). I would like to be a little more accurate with my output. My Canon PIXMA printer is brilliant but is not colour accurate with my screen and that bugs me.
  • A handful of Sandisk Extreme IV flash cards (£500)
  • Canon EF 14mm f2.8 L lens (£1900). As I said already, I love wide angle landscape work.
  • Canon TS-E 45mm Tilt Shift Lens (£1100). I have no idea how these work but the results fascinate me so I'd love to play with one, especially on someone else's money :)
  • Three Speedlight 580 EXII Flash (£1000). Slave flash-lit work is another area I'd love to play in
  • Canon MR-14EX Macrolight ringflash (£450). I've got the Canon 100mm Macro which is probably my favourite lens, a Ring Flash would be very useful for me.
  • Two Elinchrom Freelight Ranger portable flash (£900). I want to get more into people photography, but want to combine this with my landscape work, so portable lights would make the list too.
BLAB: Sounds like that list is pretty well planned out, but which of your images means the most to you and why?

JL: This was taken beside Spirit Lake in Jasper National Park, Canada back in 2004. I love doing landscape photography and the wilds of Canada are just so perfect a playground. This trip was one of the last family holidays we took before my Dad died. He was a huge fan of the outdoors and this shot wraps up the awe and majesty of the Canadian Rocky Mountains.

As much as I hate to admit it, the location of this shot was luck more than judgement. We'd spent all day at the lake further up the valley with mostly cloud-laden skies and cool weather (even in August it's cold up there - it's only 3 months from snow melt to snow fall). We were just leaving for home when I saw this view in the wing mirror of the car. The sun had just broken onto the mountain in the foreground. I stopped sharpish and piled out of the car leaving my confused family wondering what had happened. The image is Canon's JPEG (I wasn't shooting RAW then as the camera was 2 weeks old and I didn't know what it meant) but otherwise untouched. The sky was that moody, the water that still. I was very lucky - I took just one exposure and got back in the car. Fortunately it worked.

BLAB: What would your dream photo opportunity be?

JL: I've got two - one that will never happen and one that I hope will.

My Dad was a Botanist and in 1995/96 was applying for budget to create a Flora of Yemen. If he'd managed to secure this, then I was offered the role of official photographer and would have spent 3 months trekking through the wilds of Yemen with a new macro lens and EOS 5 film camera and more film than I knew what to do with.

The opportunity I can still do (and am determined to one day) is to hit Fall in the maple forests of Eastern USA / Canada. This has to be one of the most spectacular events and presents so many photo opportunities.

BLAB: Pictures.... please?

This was taken at midnight by Chun Quoit in Cornwall. I'd set out to take star-trail pictures by the Quoit but had not understood what thin cloud and a full moon would do to my exposures. 5 minutes looked like daytime. Green grass, blue skies, SHADOWS!!. I changed tack and worked on this picture which I like as it shows the undisturbed ancient-ness of Cornwall but with the modern world close at hand. The Quoit itself is "painted" with a standard torch to bring it out.

I took this picture with my newly purchased 100mm Macro lens. It's of some old winch gear in Lulworth Cove, Dorset. Rusted metal has a fascination for me - I think it's something to do with the colour and the fact that it's been abandoned.

I was in Slovakia on a 10 day photo holiday touring the countryside. Near the end of our trip we'd stopped in a tiny medieval town called Spisska Sobota near Poprad. I saw these Houseleeks growing in roof at eye-level and the lighting was perfect.

Taken in Trengwainton Gardens, Cornwall. It had been raining all day and with a very low, flat light there wasn't much jumping out at me. I found these flowers with water droplets on quite fascinating and took this hand-held, naturally lit shot. For me it shows the brutal sharpness and background blur of the Canon Macro lens

BLAB: Thanks to John for being this week's 'tog on Tuesday, if you want to be here in the future comment on one of the Tuesday tog posts with some contact info and we'll be in touch. Your contact details won't be published since we moderate all blog comments.


20 April 2009

Movies and IS - the examples

Well on Saturday, I promised you some example videos showing what IS does when you're using long telephoto lenses with the camera mounted on a tripod. Something I didn't say on Saturday was that this doesn't only appear in movies - if you're using Live View to compose or focus, you'll also see the image moving slightly. However, the benefits of IS if you're shooting stills are great enough to mean we'd suggest leaving IS on - The ability to manual focus with a more steady viewfinder being one of the main reasons.

So, on with the movies. What you'll notice is that in the first 10seconds, the image seems to move around and you can hear the IS motor spinning. In the second clip (after the cut) is that the image is stable and there is no IS sound.

EOS 5D Mark II Movie with IS on long telephoto lenses from Blab pictures on Vimeo.


18 April 2009

Filming, tripods, long lenses and IS

We're all aware that IS is a wonderful invention whether you're shooting stills or video. However, there is one caveat to that - when using a tripod.
Most of the recent IS lenses don't require you to turn off the IS when you mount the camera on the tripod, however in our experience, if you're pretty certain the setup is stable, then turn it off otherwise you'll end up with slightly blurry images as the shutter speed drops.
For filming, you don't end up with blurry images. From our experience, we've seen that with longer lenses when filming from a tripod, you don't so much get blurry images, as motion in the images - in other words the image seems to drift back and forth as the IS spins but there is nothing to correct. Essentially the IS elements that move to counteract are creating a movement that isn't there. To avoid this, simply turn the IS off when you put a big lens on a tripod and plan to do some filming.
Look out for a post early next week where I'll put up two video clips, one with IS on and one with IS off to show the effect...


17 April 2009

Slave Speedlite tips

430EXIIWhen using the Canon wireless flash system people work in one of two incompatible ways. They put the slaves in manual and set the power on the slaves individually, or they leave the slaves in E-TTL and then use either manual or E-TTL II on the master flash.

If you set the power of the slaves individually in true pure 'strobist' style then you have precise control and can in effect have more than the standard 3 groups of flashes. One flash at 1/128, one at 1/32, one at 1/4 and another at 1/2 power is all possible. Indeed this is the only way to work if you need this level of difference in power outputs. Problem is that to change the power levels you need to go round to each individual slave and make the change.

If you leave the slaves in E-TTL and assign them to the groups A, B and C; then from the on camera master flash such as the Speedlite 550EX, 580EX or 580EX II you determine the settings of each of the flashes in the slave groups. The only important thing is to note or remember which slave is in which group. For ease if you put A slaves to camera left, B slaves to camera right and the C as a background or hair light you don't go far wrong. You can have more than one slave in the same group if needed. 
Put the master flash in manual and then you can set the power level of each A, B and C group of slaves from the master. Leave the master in E-TTL II and use the ratio controls to balance A:B and the flash exposure compensation to adjust the strength of group C. 

In this second approach with the slaves assigned groups and left in E-TTL it makes it possible for a group of photographers to work in either style. The all manual strobist photographer can set the power output for his shots by adapting the power on his master flash, and other photographers can use E-TTL II with ratio control for theirs. Just recently on a model shoot outside we tried exactly this setup, and everyone got the results they needed. The slaves simply take the information from the master that communicated with them last and do what they are told switching from manual power outputs to E-TTL II outputs and even high speed sync as necessary.


16 April 2009

An anecdote from experience

There it goes. My fourth TC-80N3 remote control. It's gone to the great camera gear heaven. At around £100 a pop, it's not cheap to keep killing them, but that's my fourth one gone. And would you believe it, I've killed all four of them in the same way - lowering the tripod while shooting water and forgetting the TC is hanging below. Yep, that's right, I've drowned them. This time was even fresh water and I dried it immediately, but no matter, it's dead.

So what's the story here? Firstly, when working around water keep an eye not just on your camera, but also anything you may have with you.... the 80cm cable is great for triggering the camera remotely, but easily long enough to drop the release into the water. Secondly, maybe it's time to look at ways of keeping water out for when I feel stupid again and accidentally dunk it in the water again. My number one choice currently, as weird as it may look, is a 'phone condom'. Yes, you read that right. Some genius came up with the idea of making condom type things for mobile phones, and I reckon one will be just the job for keeping water out of the TC-80N3.
I've got a couple here and I'm going to give them a try. While they're not going to be able to seal the top end, I think a bit of tape around the cable should be enough for the couple of seconds that I usually submerge them for!

Anyone else killed one of these or have any thoughts on how to keep them dry? Anyone that suggests 'not dipping them in the water' will be berated forcibly! :-)


15 April 2009

Closer than the minimum focus distance

Extension tubeDo you ever hit the 'subject too close' limit with longer lenses? Wouldn't it be great if that 70-200mm lens with it's 1.2m closest focussing distance could be used even closer sometimes?

The EF12 II and EF 25 II extension tubes move the closest focus point of your lens even closer. Macro photography with an EF 500mm f/4L IS USM anyone?

Extension tubes are tools that some photographers see as only for macro work, but you can use them with a lot of lenses not just macro ones. Moving the rear of a lens further away from the sensor means that it will focus the light from closer subject distances than it can do normally, the downside - you can't focus on infinity anymore.

Some years ago Canon used to show a video with wildlife photographer greg Basco shooting snakes in trees using an EF 300mm f/2.8L IS USM lens with an extension tube on the back allowing much closer focussing.

In the past I've found the extension tube a neat solution to the problem of shooting through glass at zoos. In some cases you need to have the lens right up against the glass to reduce the reflection, but then the subject is too close for the minimum focus on the lens. Put on the extension tube and the problem is solved.
These two shots were taken with an EF 70-200mm f/4L IS USM lens at it's minimum focus distance, the first with the lens only, the second with an EF 12 II extension tube fitted between lens and camera.

200mm close focus 200mm close focus with 12mm extension tube

You can now focus at distances less than 1 metre from the subject but maximum subject distance becomes just less than 5 metres with the lens set to infinity.

When Canon introduced EF-S lenses with the EOS 300D it changed the extension tubes so that they could be used with EF-S lenses as well as EF lenses. This makes it possible to use an EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens as a macro lens on an EOS-1Ds Mark III, but the subject distance is very short. Some wide-angle lenses aren't compatible with extension tubes as the point of focus moves to a point inside the lens itself.
For the technical or the inquisitive readers you can also combine extenders like EF 1.4x II or EF 2x II with extension tubes for even more magnification.
Extension tubes may make the automatic peripheral illumination correction available in DIGIC 4 cameras insufficient, and likely it will render flash distance information wrongly too.


14 April 2009

Featured 'tog Tuesday - Clare Robinson

Today's featured 'tog is Clare Robinson a photographer and sometimes model.

BLAB: Please tell us a bit about yourself

CR: I started taking photos on a small red plastic camera that I bought for £5 at a Blue Peter Bring and Buy sale held at our house many years ago! Over the last 6 years I've been taking photos with whatever camera I've been able to get my hands on- from my Canon Powershot point-and-shoot to my 400D that my other half bought me for a rather special birthday/christmas present!

I have a lot of friends who are photographers, which interested me to try amateur modelling to help them with portfolio work. Eventually I found the modelling wasn't really my bag- being a bit of a tomboy, I wasn't used to allocating time for curling my hair, painting my nails and all those kind of things! I was however, pretty interested in trying it from the other side of the camera. Thanks to many of my photographer buddies, I got to have a little experiment playing with their cameras and equipment, and found that although my technical knowledge was almost non-existant, I wasn't terrible at shooting models. Since then, I have shot a number of local models -in studios, on location and in my makeshift studio in the dining room- and am thoroughly enjoying the new challenges that it brings me! I think my experience on both sides of the camera is extremely useful when putting models at ease- but it also ensures I have realistic expectations from my model shoots. I intersperse shooting models with some self portrait work with varying degrees of success!

I'm the first to admit that if it wasn't for digital cameras, I would not be a “photographer”- though many may argue that unless you understand the processes and can shoot on film that you're not really a photographer! I still struggle with technicalities, but I enjoy creating beautiful and interesting images of people, places, things and experiences- and I am learning so much as I go along.

BLAB: In keeping with our usual style, here's a few questions we put to Clare.

What colour would your Ferrari be?
CR: I'm afraid I just wouldn't have one! I'm a bit of a hippy environmentalist type, and I can't imagine anything more ridiculous than the idea of spending £200,000 on a car! Having said that it, if I had to have one, it would be in an embarassing or ridiculous colour like lime green (do they DO green ferraris?) or orange to match my folding bike!

What's your best bit of advice for a new photographer?
CR: I think it would be just to keep taking photos, to experiment and be self critical in a constructive way. Most of my photography is self taught- with advice from friends stuck in there along the way. Inspired by a friend, I challenged myself to do a 365 photographs project- which I started with my point and shoot Canon Powershot A530. It ran over about 15 months (not the 365 days straight that I envisaged) and really made me work to find something of interest or beauty in my everyday life. It also taught me how to select my better pictures and take critique- and I would highly recommend it as a way to really start taking photos.

If you had been paid ten thousand pounds for being our 'Tuesday tog', what photo equipment would you spend it on?
CR: I'd probably just catch myself up the the level of every other photographer on the planet! I shoot with a 400D, using either the kit lens or a Tamron 28-105mm that was given to me by a friend. I like to keep things basic and to be resourceful when shooting- a lot of my self portrait work has been done balancing the camera on a tower of books, and lit using desk lamps! I have recently bought myself a few extra bits and bobs, but on the whole I don't have a lot of spare cash to spend on camera gear. I'd love a really decent macro lens- my interest often lies in the detail of an image- especially finding an obscure or perfect pattern in an unexpected place. I'd also make sure I had a great portrait lens, some flash units and a proper set of studio lights with all the accessories!

Which of your images means the most to you and why?
CR: This is a really hard question that I've been pushing myself to try to answer! Although not necessarily my “best” image, day 19 of my photography project means a lot to me! It was taken on the first foreign holiday I took with my (now) fiancee, and we went to such beautiful places across Brittany and had such a lovely time! I think it was one of the first “good” photos I took, which I thought about and planned, and used technical knowledge mixed in with a “creative vision” to come up with a satisfying outcome!

The pictures I have chosen to represent the range of my work are:
This image was taken during the snow in February 2009- and for some reason it's one that I always come back to. My “style” if I have one involves slight desaturation of colours- and this represents that and the sombre effect that it creates.

The next image is of one of the models I shot in 2008:
The Story
This was the first time that I used a model to create an idea or vision that I had about how the overall image should look and feel. The model (Lisa) was brilliant- able to take direction and bring her own style and movement to the shot. I put the three images together as a tryptich to better express the emotion and story behind the picture.

Spiney Mice
I haven't really travelled anywhere particularly exciting, but I always want to prove that you don't HAVE to travel to exotic locations to take interesting images. This was taken at Whipsnade Zoo- I couldn't believe how well lit the animals were, and how clean the glass was through to the vivariums. This is two baby Spiny Pocket Mice feeding from their mother- an absolutely captivating experience!


I always feel that it's a good idea to mix photography with whatever other hobbies you have. I have squillions of other hobbies, but sailing is a particularly pituresque one (sometimes!). This is the Ripple (or Patience), a beautiful restored Broads Yacht who I have had the pleasure of sailing a number of times- and on a sunny day with a strong breeze- there's nothing better!

BLAB: Thanks to Clare for being the 'tog for today on the blog. You can find more of Clare's photography in her regularly updated flickr stream, it's well worth a look.

As always if you want to be here one Tuesday then let us know via the comments.


11 April 2009

Should the press take pictures outside No. 10 Downing Street

Reading a couple of news items on Amateur Photographer and Shepherdpics raised an interesting conundrum in my little brain; Is photography of our daily life really allowed anymore?

First AP reports on a Crackdown on photography on the London Underground, and the creation of a paid for pass for shooting on the underground which is private property. At least this indicates that with the reasonable permission - and a route to get it, you can shoot on the London Underground, at least until some station staff decide the LU permit is 'not valid on this station'.

Secondly we have Sherpherdpics story about former Home Secretary David Blunkett commenting on the sacking of Britain's most senior anti-terrorism officer for displaying a top secret memo on the top of his papers leaving Downing Street. The officer was snapped by a member of the UK press from the designated press pen outside Downing Street.

So for private property like London Underground photographers have at least a route to get passes, though I wonder how many mobile phone camera users would apply? Then for the press in designated press areas outside the official residence of the UK prime minister it's suggested that it should not be allowed to take pictures of people leaving No. 10!

Should the various heads of departments take more care with what they show in public, or should photography be censored / banned to reduce the responsibility of being a top chief and having to carry top secret papers? Photographers often buy bags to make their photography kit less visible or liable to theft, do you think 'well paid' officials should be issued with document carrying bags as standard?



10 April 2009

Getting on a plane

At some point, you'll be getting on a plane with your camera. It's a fact of life for a photographer. Trouble is, the rules and regulations for traveling these days make it ever harder. So how do you do it?

Here's my tips:

* Where possible, take no more than can fit in a carry-on bag.
* Study the hand-luggage allowances for your the airline and get the biggest bag you can that just fits inside the rules
* Look at the hand-luggage weight limit and treat it as a guide!
* Put your tripod in the hold
* Before going, make a list of what you want to take. Do this a few days before and gradually refine it
* Tick items off the list as you pack
* At the airport, carry the bag on one shoulder (if you're tall or broad, two shoulders is fine as the bag will be hidden behind you
* At no point make the bag look heavy. Even if your back is breaking, keep a smile on your face and make it look as light as possible
* Check-in online if possible - it shortens the time you spend in front of the check-in staff holding a heavy bag
* If you are unlucky enough to have your hand-luggage weighed and it's over limit, take out the heaviest items (a camera and lens is good) and sling it over your shoulder - it's now a personal item and therefore doesn't count
* Re-weigh the bag, complete check-in and walk off
* Put camera and lens back in bag once out of sight of check-in staff

So far, this approach has worked for me and I have repeatedly carried more than double the hand-luggage allowance onto a plane.

Well, as ever, you may have different views and we'd love to hear them.

PS - when packing, don't forget CF/SD cards and batteries with a charger... Oh and you know the euro plug cable that comes with the camera when you buy it? Don't throw it away. If you're travelling in Europe, take that instead of the UK plug cable with an adaptor - it's lighter and means the adaptor can be used for something else (the other half's hairdryer if my experiences are anything to go by!)


9 April 2009

The Hot Shoe Diaries

We've mentioned Joe McNally before and despite being a Nikon photographer (everyone has a cross to bare) he's a damned fine photographer... proof that it is possible to transcend the limits of a camera and still make good pictures! ;-)

Anyway, he recently published a new book called "The Hot Shoe Diaries" and is all about big light from small flashes. While it may be heavily Nikon-centric, it gives a great insight into how Joe makes his stunning pictures and if nothing else provides an enormous amount of inspiration to get out there and do it.

He walks you through his lighting process and while he may travel with enough small lights to stop a Nepalese sherpa, he devotes 110 pages to shooting with one light. Yep, one light is apparently all you need!

If you've been thinking about doing some more of the strobist stuff, then we strongly suggest picking up a copy.


8 April 2009

6 Megapixels and ISO 204,800

Let's start with a question: Of all the images you take, how many of them do you print? If you're like me, the answer is a very low percentage. Ok, of those images you print, how big do they go? A5? A4? A3? Bigger than A3? 
So, we have just found out that most likely, you print your a few images generally around A4 with the odd A3. 

Now, thinking about the pictures you don't print. How many of these do you display on the web or on a screen/TV, be it HD or otherwise? I'd bet it's a much higher number.

So why do you want 21.1Megapixels? Or even 10Megapixels? If a full HD screen is around 2Megapixels and computer monitors don't do much above 2.3Megapixels (and that's assuming you've got a really high res screen as in 1920x1200) and most post generally work at 1.9Megapixels or less. 

Well, I know you can't choose what you're going to do with your images before you shoot them, but if the bulk of them are going to be on the web/screen then why do we seem to want more and more megapixels? Why do the manufacturers keep giving us more and more? 

How good would it be to have a 6 Megapixel full-frame camera with ISO 51,200 or ISO 102,400 or even ISO 204,800 producing super clean images with no noise because of the larger pixels and advanced noise processing now available? If you could take all the features we have on a camera today and put it on a camera with that sort of resolution, it won't win the resolution race but it would be an incredibly popular camera with the vast majority of photographers. 

Just think back to the EOS 10D. Each time a new camera comes out we tend to re-base what we consider the ideal resolution, but back around the EOS 10D 6 Megapixels was considered enough for most use. And if you combine it with images that show no noise at all until you reach frankly ridiculous ISO levels, you'd be able to interpolate to bigger sizes for the odd occasion when you might need it to print an A3 or bigger with no hassle at all. And the flip side to that coin is that you don't go around shooting 22MB files and cluttering up hard disk drives all over the shop with data that you quite simply don't need. 

What do you think? Are we barking up the wrong tree or should we be campaigning for this kind of camera? You know, one with a full-frame 6 Megapixel sensor, gapless microlenses, DIGIC 4 processor, ISO 204,800 as a standard rather than expansion, full HD movie (with exposure and frame control!), Live View, 10fps and the AF system from a fixed EOS-1D Mark III? 

Would you buy it? Let us know your thoughts...and answers to the questions at the top!


7 April 2009

Featured 'tog Tuesday - Chris Gill

I started taking “serious” photographs in the 80’s using my first Canon the AE1 which was a great camera, I loved the black design because at that time most cameras were silver. I traded that in for an A1 which was the 1Ds MkIII of it’s time.

While I was taking photographs (that’s what images were called in those days!!) for fun I developed a creative style using a selection of Cokin filters, my absolute favourite filter was a simple one that you “blanked” out the centre and took say a picture of say a church, cocked on the shutter without advancing the film then took a picture of the wedding couple using a filter that “blanked” out the outside of the picture. I can remember the great anticipation waiting for the pictures to come back from the lab to see if they had turned out, sadly something that does not happen these days in digital!!

I am now totally digital using a Canon (what else?) 1D MkIII and a selection of “L” series lenses, I am a Mac user because they just simply handle the big image files that the 1D MkIII creates, I process all my images in Aperture and export them out using presets depending on what media they are to be used for, I find all the normal adjustments can be done really quickly in Aperture and I seldom use Photoshop.

Having been a PGA golf professional all my life it was a natural progression to get involved in taking golf imagery, I use all of my experience as a golf pro and am using all my contacts to get into all areas of golf tournaments, I am now looking at my “second” career of professional photography.

I am currently re-building my website www.chris-gill.co.uk making it into a rights managed Golf Image Library with images taken on the PGA mens and ladies golf tours plus I am building up with more creative shots which will be used by magazines and media and the like. I am currently undergoing treatment for Lymphoma and due in hospital in April for a Stem cell transplant which will “sideline” me for up to 12 months so my new career will resume in 2010.

BLAB: What colour would your Ferrari be?
I like quite of few people own a silver car and have done for my last three cars! As Tiger Woods is my current day hero he always wears one colour of shirt on the final day of each tournament and that colour will be the colour of my Ferrari……. Yes it’s red!!

BLAB: What have you learnt as a photographer that you wished you knew
when you started taking pictures?

To use my eyes more!! Possibly as much as two thirds of an image will be background and maybe foreground and I now pay a huge amount of attention to what’s happening outside of the main focus of the image, it pays to move and get that background correct.

BLAB: Which photographer's work do you most admire and why?
In terms of golf photographers there are a number of togs out there who constantly are looking “outside of the box” Dave Cannon has consistently produced creative images many have stood the test of time over the years and have been used over and over again in many golf magazines.

I really do like the creative style of Matt Dunham of AP, lots of the togs on tour are just after a record of the players playing in the tournament and therefore do produce in my opinion some very poor images with basic errors like trees coming out of players heads, Matt Dunham is always looking for something that bit different you will often see him hanging on to a river bank trying to get creative as Tiger Woods walks by!!

My favourite photographer outside of golf is Vincent Laforet who is by far the most creative photographer I have ever seen checkout his website www.vincentlaforet.com and some of his aerial shots, simply breathtaking.

BLAB: What would your dream photo opportunity be?
This is a very simple question to answer, to cover The US Masters at Augusta for Golf Digest Magazine. Augusta is for me the main major golf event above our own British Open. Augusta is primed to be ready for the first week in April and all the flowers, trees and grasses are in total mint condition, the water is dyed blue for the week. It has so much tradition and history I would simply love to get that chance one day!!

And now for some images:

Image 1: Tiger Woods at Carnoustie, this image is part of a series and has done very well for me being used by several golf magazines across the world, my first images to get such exposure. Taken using my Canon 1D MkIII coupled up to a Canon 400mm f/2.8
I was able to get a full swing seqence due to using the 400mm lens and that the wind was in the right direction not to put off the great man!

Image 2: Part of a commission for Lexus magazine to which Annika Sorrenstam is contracted, the shoot was at Royal Liverpool Golf Club and I spent the whole day shooting a raft of images of her playing with Lexus dealers from all over the world. I was able to use my Canon 70-200 f/2.8 most of the day as I could get as close as I needed. This image was one of my creative attempts with her tossing a ball in the air and was then used as the main image in the magazine.

Image 3: Not a golfing image in fact looking at it now not a “great” image but it was my very first published and paid for image. Canon Europe used this in The Canon One magazine in 2005/6 and a number of European publications. It was taken on a Canon Experience Day at Knowsley Safari Park using my then 20D coupled with a borrowed Canon 100-400 lens which after the day I just had to buy one!!

BLAB: Chris, thanks for taking the time to come into the featured 'tog lounge today and tell us about your photography and show us some images. We hope, as I'm sure all the readers do, that your treatment goes well and look forward to seeing you back up on your feet and out shooting as soon as possible. 


6 April 2009

Digital Photo Professional 3.6 adds shadow and highlight controls

dpp-3.6Canon has made the latest version of it's RAW image processing software digital photo professional [DPP] available for download, and it has new controls to deal with shadow and highlights in images separately.

It's a strange round of coincidences, but the firmware update for the PowerShot SX1 IS that we reported in February here on the blog meant that Canon needed to make a version of RAW image processing software available for the now RAW capable PowerShot, that version is and can be downloaded from Canon's website along with the PowerShot SX1 IS firmware updater. You'll need a valid serial number for a PowerShot SX1 IS to get access to the files, and the kind folks at www.learnslr.com have one that works fine. Once at the site you'll find the DPP version 3.6 too, and this is what you really want for your EOS camera as it adds the shadow and highlight sliders to the RAW tab of the tool panel.

dpp-animationThis quick animation shows the effect of changing the shadow and highlight sliders to their maximum and minimum settings 5 and -5 respectively. In essence the highlight slider affects the shape of the upper part of the tone curve, watch the animation and particularly the tone curve in the histogram box as the different slider settings cycle through. Similarly the shadows setting adjusts the lower half of the tone curve without affecting the upper part. You can combine the effects of shadow and highlight sliders if needed. This is a real boon for DPP users who previously could only make the tone curve steeper or flatter in total, and will reduce the need for this kind of fix in Photoshop to be done to a whole image.

The only concern so far for EOS users could be that there is only DPP 3.6 available. Often DPP updaters need the matching EOS Utility ones, and for now there is no such download available. If you use EOS Utility for tethered shooting or remote camera control you may be better to wait, since surely with the imminent launch of the EOS 500D Canon will make a set of DPP and EOS Utility updaters available from their normal download sites.

Please Canon make the next feature the ability to straighten the horizon in pictures?


4 April 2009

That didn't take long

Technology doesn't stand still does it? And despite the world's woes with the economy and downsizing of manufacturing, it seems Canon are still making cameras by the truck-load. Yesterday the press office thought fit to let us all know that Canon has just reached another milestone in the history of camera production - the 10millionth consumer D-SLR appeared out of the factory. 

Since the only started with the EOS 300D in 2003, that equates to over 1.6million cameras per year! 

How many of them have you got? Hit the comments and let us know...

Press release
3 April, 2009: Canon has announced that it has produced over 10 million consumer D-SLRs (digital single-lens-reflex) worldwide since the launch of the EOS 300D in 2003.
Canon’s D-SLR products have achieved consecutive no.1 rankings in GfK’s consumer hitlist since 2004. Starting with the Canon EOS 300D, the market-leading spot was passed to the 350D in 2005, the EOS 400D in 2006 and the EOS 450D in 2008 (GfK WEU14 Jan~Dec for each respective year) and it is hoped the trend will continue following the recent release of the EOS 500D.

“Canon remains at the forefront of this consumer market growth with a market share of 40 per cent in Europe (GfK WEU14 Jan~Dec 2008) which we account for our commitment to consumer demand and our passion for high-quality image,” said Rainer Fuehres, Head of Canon Consumer Imaging (CCI), Canon Europe. “We hope that the release of the EOS 500D will further strengthen our market position this year.”

The increasing volume of consumer-orientated D-SLR models on the market has also driven an increase the volume of lens sales. Canon’s EF lens portfolio is now the world’s most extensive and popular range of D-SLR lenses, with over 60 models and 40 million sales worldwide.

Canon recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of Canon SLR (single lens reflex) cameras, having launched the Canon Flex in May 1959. Over 50 million Canon SLRs have been sold worldwide and Canon SLR cameras are accepted as the benchmark standard for amateur and professional photography.


3 April 2009

Shutter speed choices

Camera shake can be the ruin of any image. Fortunately, with a little thought it's very easy to overcome. There is a rule-of-tumb that states to avoid camera shake, you should use a shutter speed that is no slower than the reciprocal of the focal length of the lens. This is based on a standard print size, which in the days when it was pronounced, was around 10x8inch. Now, in today's world where A4 seems to be the norm, that fortunately still applies. However, if you plan on printing bigger, then you might just want to reconsider those figures and perhaps make them a little faster. As with everything, it's worth doing some testing yourself.

What is true though, is that as resolutions increase, pixels get smaller and this can have an effect on camera shake or the appearance of subject movement in your images.

using a shutter speed no slower than the reciprocal of the focal length of the lens will avoid camera shake

Take for example an EOS 50D. This camera packs in 15.1 Megapixels onto an APS-C sized sensor. Clearly, those pixels need to be really quite small (a little under 5 micrometers - 4.7 to be exact). These smaller pixels mean that any movement during the exposure will occur over a greater number of pixels than if they were larger, and this will increase the apparent blur from either subject movement or camera shake. Now with the apprent increase in focal length due to the narrower field of view afforded by the APS-C sensor, and the smaller pixels, it's no wonder you might be in for some trouble if you stick to the old rule of thumb and work with the actual focal length to make your calculations.

For example, a 300mm lens on a camera should, in theory, need a shutter speed of 1/300sec (or 1/320sec since there is no 1/300sec setting). However, that 300mm lens on an APS-C sensor has the field of view of a 480mm lens. Although the magnification is no different, the lens needs to move less distance for it to be as apparent on the sensor, due to the effects of trigonometry. Effectively, for the same angular distance moved, it forms a greater percentage of the overall image on a smaller sensor than it does on a bigger sensor and therefore motion will be more apparent.

So how to get around it. Well from the camera shake side of things, Image Stabilisers are a great help giving 3, 4 or 5 stops of extra shutter speed. In other words if you need a shutter speed of 1/125sec without IS, you should be able to get away with 1/15sec with a 3-stop IS system - but you should do your own tests as everybody differs in how well they can hand-hold a lens. If you don't have IS, then you can use the same rule of thumb as before, but this time use the apparent focal length of the lens rather than the actual focal length:
For example: EOS 50D with APS-C sensor
100mm = 1/160sec
200mm = 1/320sec
300mm = 1/500sec
400mm = 1/640sec

For subject movement though, IS has no effect. You'll just have to up the shutter speed at which you shoot to ensure you freeze the action.



2 April 2009

EOS 500D - the price is not right

EOS 500DLast week Canon launched the EOS 500D, great specifications with 15MP APS-C size sensor, DIGIC 4 and HD video. Everyone seemed really happy with the product apart from video people looking for full HD at selectable frame rates and full manual control in video modes too. Then once the initial excitement of the new product was passing we read down the specification sheets and checked a few suppliers websites.... looks like someone has a strange calculator for determining the UK list price; I mean eight hundred and sixty quid is a huge pile of money in this credit crunch time, and that's body only...!

Consider this for a moment, eight hundred and sixty nine pounds will get you an EOS 40D with EF-S 17-85mm IS lens and some change. It will get you an EOS 50D body only or two EOS 450D bodies! In our opinion go for the EOs 40D with the 17-85mm IS lens as a much more capable camera for stills, or go for the EOS 50D for the same resolution, better ergonomics, better AF, better battery life, better viewfinder in fact everything except video!

You must really want to be the next Tim Burton or Vincent Laforet to stump up for an EOS 500D at that price.

So amazed was Amateur Photographer magazine in the UK that they contacted Canon to seek some clarification, and the reply was basically flannel since the US price is 799 US dollars.

Yes in the USA they quote prices without sales tax, so that's about 5%, but still some gap to the UK prices.

Really we're all hoping that this is an indication to the dealers and once the cameras start shipping in May then the price will reach a more normal or acceptable level close to 500 or 600 pounds.

Tell us what you think in the comments.

- blabpictures - 

1 April 2009

EOS 5D Mark II batteries why are they so scarce?

We like the new EOS 5D Mark II a lot, it does many great things and one nice thing is that the batteries seem to last a long time. Which is really helpful as they are a bit scarce to get in the market right now. We asked the manufacturer for a comment on the battery supply situation and they checked and said that the batteries use a new battery technology and although it says Lithium Ion on the pack actually they use a unique combination of RARE-ium and UNOBTAINium dioxide to provide power for the EOS 5D Mark II.

Rare-ium is the worlds least available metal, and can only be found in remote corners of Japanese hot springs. It also rumoured to be an essential component of missing socks.

Unobtainium dioxide is a similarly difficult gas that can only be created in conditions of absolute zero kelvin and a perfect vacuum.

However the combination provides amazing power for the EOS 5D Mark II. Canon previously experimented and even showed a working camera with a fuel cell battery in 2005. However once the designers realised that recharging the battery required photographers to throw cameras in the sea to recharge them the products never came to production.

Some photo dealers also told us that the BG-E6 battery grip and WFT-E4 wireless file transmitter are also thought to contain small traces of RARE-ium too!