Archive for May, 2009

An Ode to 40D

Posted in Uncategorized on May 27, 2009 by Richard

This webpage was obviously intended as Canon marketing, but I can easily attest to the fact that everything it says is true. The slide show elegantly explains *why* I fell in love with this camera the first time I held it in my hands. The 40D is an example of positively brilliant industrial design. It just feels *great*. It has fabulous ergonomics.

And, yes, it takes great pictures, too. Image Quality is important, but we must never forget ergonomics and handling.


Allan Gardens Dry Run

Posted in Uncategorized on May 22, 2009 by Richard

Previous to the Butterfly Conservatory field trip, I went to Allan Gardens as a dry run. Here are some of the pictures:

I gave my 100mm macro lens a good workout. Man, this is a damn good lens! Well worth the CAD$650.


Posted in Uncategorized on May 22, 2009 by Richard

I just came back from the Butterfly Conservatory at Niagara Falls. This was my first major photographic field trip. Here are the results:

This one was my Moby Dick:

I was constantly trying to capture the blue butterflies, but none of them would land and open their wings. Typically, when they land, they fold up their wings, as in this picture where they’re feeding on oranges:

Luckily, I eventually found one butterfly that was obliging. In fact, I took 18 pictures, getting closer and closer and closer to my target. (“Stealth” photography.)

I used all three of my lenses (100mm macro, 70-300mm telephoto, and finally 17-85mm). The telephoto is not a good lens to use because I can’t get up close — within about 5′, the camera won’t even let me take a picture! Frak!

It was very warm inside the conservatory. That’s because I was wearing a jacket and carrying the backpack.

The weather was absolutely gorgeous. Perfect summer day.

The drive down to Niagara was long, about 1.5 hrs. I took a wrong turn and got lost momentarily, but my Garmin GPS saved me.

The drive back was harsh. I could hardly stay awake! And I was *tired*. My right leg was aching, operating the gas and brake pedals. I guess I’m getting too old for long drives…

Correcting Barrel Distortion

Posted in Uncategorized on May 20, 2009 by Richard

Because my 17-85mm is not particularly great at the wide end, I will usually have to deal with barrel distortion. My research indicates that there’s only one good and common way to correct barrel distortion:  using the open source Panorama Tools. Plugins that employ Panorama Tools are available for Photoshop and GIMP. There’s also a standalone program that uses Panorama Tools — it’s called hugins (don’t ask me where the name came from).

Panorama Tools is extremely user-unfriendly. (This reminds me of my experience with the open source FFmpeg utility for performing video format conversions. Why are such common power tools such frakking bitches to use???) Open source developers are archetypical geeks who have zero understanding or concern for user-friendliness. A pox on them.

Anyway, I have my work cut out for me to learn how to correct for barrel distortions. (Don’t think the problem goes away if I buy a $2,800 EF 14mm f/2.8 L lens.)

Going Full Frame

Posted in Uncategorized on May 15, 2009 by Richard

Okay, here’s some pleasurable day-dreaming…

At some future date, Canon is going to come out with a consumer-priced full-frame DSLR. (“Consumer-priced” means less than $2,000, kit lens included.) Certainly within the next 5 years.

And I shall pounce on it.

What lenses should I buy for this camera? Well, I can take my cue from Vistek!

One of the really nice things about the Vistek website is that they show product lists in order of popularity. And since a lot of photographers of all stripes shop at Vistek, these product lists are very representative of what’s considered best overall for most consumers.

So here is a list of lenses I would get for my full-frame beauty:

  1. Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM – $2,149
  2. Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM – $1,569
  3. Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM – $480
  4. Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM – $780 (I already have this lens)
  5. Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM – $1,849
  6. Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM – $1,949

Frak! That’s $8,800 worth of high-quality glass!

Protective Filters

Posted in Uncategorized on May 13, 2009 by Richard

I’ve been doing some research into protective filters for your lenses. Here’s a fine discussion:

The one comment that sold me on Hoya Standard protective filters was from Gareth Harper:

Mr Volkoff, I’ve never had any problems with the standard Hoya filters. I think they have a single coating on each side and are very good.

Brands of filters I’ve used. Hoya, Kood, Hamma, B+W, Mamiya, Jessops, Lee, Tokina, Tiffen to name a few. Can’t tell the difference between any of them. Probably got just over half of them second hand.

The only coatings I’ve had hassle with are the HMC ones. Despite the premature damage to the outer coatings that two have suffered I still use them, doesn’t seem to have any effect.

Hoods offer very little protection. Minor impact protection at best. Some times in lively situations they can just be a nuisance, hood comes flying off and you have fart about trying to recover it before somebody stands on it.

Another thing I don’t get is this idea that filters degrade the image. I use solid colour filters for b&w work, skylights to warm colour film up a bit, polarisers for saturated colour and to remove reflections and grads at times to control contrast.

So filters can not only protect your precious lens and mean you never ever have to clean that precious front element but they can also enhance your photographs.

I shall continue to use my Hoya Standard filters. I see no need to buy better ones.

Macro Ring Flash

Posted in Uncategorized on May 8, 2009 by Richard

It would appear that the Cameron DRF14 is essentially the same product as the Marumi DRF14. The following reviews are fairly positive about the product:

Since I’m mostly interested in macro work as far as a ring flash is concerned, the Cameron DRF14 is likely my final choice.

(Important Caveat: this device will only attach to lenses with filter sizes 52mm, 55mm, 58mm, 62mm, and 67mm. Fortunately, all my lenses are 58mm or 67mm size.)