Camera & lens Review
If you are looking for a way to dramatically improve your flash photos, you need to move your flash unit away from your camera. This means you will need an external flash unit and a means to hold and trigger it off the camera.
Why should you go to the trouble and expense of using a remote flash when your camera most likely has a perfectly good built-in flash? Almost all cameras that feature a built-in or pop-up flash unit place the flash directly over or just to one side of the lens. Any professional photographer will tell you that is the worst place for the flash to be. This article will explain how you can use a remote flash to improve portraits of people, but most of the following will apply to any subject.
Consider the list of problems created by having your the flash inline or near the lens. First off, this is where red-eye originates. If the flash is fired from an area in close proximity to the lens, the chances of your subject displaying red-eye is increased substantially . Some cameras offer a red-eye reduction mode and you can usually fix the problem by editing your images with software. Neither of these solutions is ideal, however. The best fix for red-eye is to move the flash away from the axis of the lens. The further the flash is from the lens, the less chance that people and animals in your photos will exhibit red-eye.
The second problem with direct, on-camera flash is the harsh shadows it creates behind your subject. If you are outdoors or in a very large open room, you might be able to avoid this problem. If your subject is near a wall or a large upright object, direct flash will cause a shadow to appear just behind their head. The closer they are to the wall, the harsher the shadow will appear. This is annoying for subjects with light colored hair, but it is deadly for photos of brunettes. The shadow tends to merge with the dark hair to create a horrendous blob on top of the person’s head. Once again, you can solve this problem with off-camera flash. If the flash unit is held high or to one side, you can cause any shadows to fall outside of the photo area.
Another short-coming of direct flash occurs when you are shooting someone with eye glasses. You fire that direct burst of light into the lenses of their glasses, which promptly reflect it right back to your camera. The result is a nice portrait of your subject with white streaks where there eyes should be. Moving the flash will allow you to aim it in such a way that the glasses show no reflections.
Direct flash can also cause your subject’s skin to reflect light, causing bright hot spots on their cheeks or forehead. The fix is the same as that for eyeglasses; move the flash.
Finally, direct flash can cause a “deer-in-the-headlights” look on your subject’s face. The flash wipes away all the natural shadows we are used to seeing on a person’s face and leaves everything looking flat. Lighting experts know that side lighting exaggerates texture, while frontal lighting minimizes texture. You might want to tone down the texture in someone’s face to a degree, but you don’t want so much head-on light that eyes, nose, mouth and facial features appear flat.
All of these problems can be eliminated by simply moving the flash so it is not inline with the lens. How you accomplish this will vary with the type and brand of camera you are using. The easiest way is to use a flash bracket, which mounts a remote flash high and off to one side of the lens. You can also simply hold your camera with your right hand, while directing a remote flash with your left hand. Both of these solutions assume your camera has a PC port or hot-shoe that will allow you to use a sync cord to fire a remote flash.
If you camera lacks a way to sync with a remote flash, your options are more limited. You may be able to use an optical sensor to trigger a remote flash when it senses the light from your built-in flash unit. Many cameras, however, fire a pre-flash beam before the actual exposure. This beam is used to calculate exposure and focus. If this is the case with your camera, a generic optical trigger will not work, because the pre-flash will trigger the remote unit too early to have any effect.
Should you discover that you camera doesn’t support remote flash in any way, then you won’t be able to take advantage of off-camera flash. You can attempt to minimize the effects of on-camera flash by moving your subjects away from walls and adding extra tungsten light to reduce shadows.
If your camera will support moving the flash off-camera, don’t hesitate to start using this technique. Once you see how much better your images look using remote flash, you will never go back to shooting with a built in or hot-shoe mounted flash.
Read more photography articles by Tom Bonner at Alphatracks.com, the weblog for Sony and Minolta SLR enthusiasts.
Tom Bonner is the author of the Sony Alpha DSLR-A300/A350 Digital Field Guide, published by Wiley Publishing. A photographer for more than three decades, he offers photography and web design services to clients in the Charlotte, NC area.
Canon EOS 5D Mark II
The long awaited and highly anticipated successor to the 5D, the EOS 5D Mark II boasts the newly redesigned Canon CMOS sensor, with an ISO sensitivity that peaks at 25,600 and is capable of shooting in very near dark conditions. The new full frame 21.2 megapixel sensor has been redesigned to be able to capture even more light and produce much lower “noise” images throughout the entire ISO range. The full frame sensor features the same dimensions as classic 35mm film, meaning that the angle of view doesn’t need to be changed to use wide-angle lenses, as is common in smaller sensor cameras. The viewfinder provides a bright 98% coverage.
The brand new DIGIC 4 processor works with the revamped sensor to produce medium format like image quality at 3.9 FPS up to 310 frames. It is combined with 14-bit analogue-to-digital conversion which translates into smooth gradations in what are typically problem areas, such as skies, along with extremely accurate color. The other advantage of the DIGIC 4′s incredibly high speed is its ability to provide uninterrupted bursts of large JPEGs, fast start-up times and immediate review of shots. It also includes noise reduction algoriths, further improving on the already low-noise CMOS sensor.
Equipped with full 1080p HD video capture capabilities, the 5D Mark II allows the user to shoot completely uninterrupted at 30FPS – such a high Frame Per Second rate that the human eye can’t detect any seams. It produces stunning quality video footage with incredible levels of realism and detail.
Following the predicted path towards seamless still and video integration, the inclusion of HD movie recording capability into this high end 21.1 megapixel camera busts a plethora of new possibilities wide open, particularly for news photographers and photojournalists. Even wedding photographers, enthusiasts, and other photographers that have long favored the 5D for it’s discreet size and relative ease of use will find that the including of HD recording capability opens up a broader range of options for the rapidly evolving digital photography industry. Now they can shoot artistic stills of their or their clients memories, or record portions of the event for exact reproduction of precious moments.
Large three inch clear LCD screen with VGA quality resolution and a 170 degree viewing angle, along with anti-reflective optical coating.
Added the all new Canon EOS Integrated Cleaning System, along with a Fluorine optical coating on a low-pass filter.
Now compatible with the UDMA memory card format
Automated peripheral lighting correction which takes advantaged of the detailed EF lens information to produce optimal JPEG images directly from the camera.
Much improved menu options, including a “shortcut menu”, called a Quick Control Screen, which grants the user much more direct access to commonly used settings.
Switched to a magnesium ally body construction and added enhanced environmental protection (not protecting the environment, protecting the camera from the environment). Can withstand up to 10mm of rain in 3 minutes and includes high resistance to dust.
Camera Review: Nikon CoolPix 6000
To compete with Canon’s new Powershot G10, Nikon released their own version of the pint-sized powerhouse. The CoolPix 6000 is a not a replacement for a DSLR system but the versatile camera has a solid position in the digital camera market but can hold its own against the similar Canon point and shoot.
The 13.5 megapixel resolution is able to capture the finest of details, allowing for better ability to crop images and a greater range of enlarging options. The enhanced performance of the image-processing engine produces finer color reproduction and the high-sensitivity of the sensor allows for an ISO of up to 6400 (on images 3 mb or smaller).
The CoolPix 6000 comes with a built in GPS or Global Positioning System so you can ‘geotag’ your images! Then, connect the camera directly to the internet through the built in LAN connector and upload images directly to Nikon’s free online gallery my Picturetown or view the images on maps at ViewNX.
Similar to the Canon G10 is the range of settings and customizable features in the CoolPix 6000. Both can be set to shoot in RAW for lossless files, have some metal in their casings for long-lasting toughness and provide an optical viewfinder for those of us that do not like the ‘live’ or on screen viewfinder. The Command dial and Function button allow you to set your own settings and the Mode dial provides quick changes between Programmed, Sutter-priority, Aperture-priority and Manual exposure settings. The built in pop-up flash allows for greater versatility and the system is fully expandable with a wide-angle converter lens and built in advanced i-TTL flash control (hot shoe) to fit a variety of Speedlights.
Where the CoolPix takes a backseat to the G10 is in the range and quality of the lens as well as the 0.3” smaller LCD monitor. The G10 offers an optical range from 28mm to 140mm where as the Nikon sports only 28mm to 112mm although the wide angle converter broadens the range to 21mm. The 4x digital zoom increases the zoom to 448mm.
Where Nikon seems to have committed ritual suicide is in their new RAW format however. Prior to the CoolPix 6000, Nikon’s RAW format was NEF and could be opened and edited by most post production software. However, their new NRW format is only able to be opened by ViewNX – a Windows based software. What about Mac users? What Nikon writes is:
‘The RAW file format for Nikon COOLPIX cameras is compatible with Microsoft’s Windows Image Component (WIC) codec, allowing images shot in RAW format to be opened and edited in ViewNX (Windows version only), or in other applications that support WIC.’
‘WIC’ stands for Windows Imaging Component for anyone who is not up on the anything non-Mac. Nikon may feel that the now 12% of the market share that use Mac will not have a significant impact on the sales of their new cameras. Nevertheless, with the continued growth of Mac’s share of computer sales it seems an odd, if not downright stupid, move on Nikon’s part. Considering Mac’s ability to effortlessly run the Windows operating system as well as their software, maybe Nikon was not actually trying to commit suicide, more just craving the attention caused by threatening to take their own life in a thoughtless maneuver?
And what about ‘bit-rot’? Right now, only Windows XP SP3 and Vista have the WIC codec so what happens if you lose your ability to access the magic codec? Five years from now Windows may scrap the codec for a new one and then you lose your ability to access the RAW data from any of the images shot on the CoolPix 6000. The longevity of your data is in question – not something any photographer should have to question.
It is too bad – the CoolPix 6000 is a great camera with built-in features that you would expect to cost more then the $499 sticker price as well as bulk up the small package. But the bottom line is the ability to access your RAW images on all platforms and in the future – why risk the inconvenience or loss of your images for built in GPS or Ethernet ability? Cool features but not worth losing the use of your images. Take a pass on the CoolPix 6000 and look to Canon for a bright and healthy future in the G10.
If you would like to see some user reviews folow the link Nikon CoolPix 6000 Review
Camera Review: Canon 5D Mark II
“High Performance for High Expectation”
Anyone who has shot with the 5D DSLR body understands the impact Canon made on the digital photography industry when they introduced this full-frame ‘compact’ camera. At the time it was first announced, the jump from the 30D to the 5D was night and day – it was a whole new concept for the prosumer level photographer.
The highly anticipated 5D Mark II looks to be as equally dramatic of a jump – Nikon, Sony, Olympus and the rest of the DSLR manufacturers better get ready for a drop in new camera sales and a marked increase in their used products on eBay.
In a nutshell, the 5D Mark II has the highest level of image quality seen in a digital camera so far, meaning it beats the 1Ds Mark III in everything but speed and overall durability. An impressive feat considering the difference in price between the high end 1Ds at $7999 and the 5D Mark II at $2699 – the $5300 savings buys you a ton of glass. If speed is not a huge requirement on your part, the 5D Mark II may be a better option for many reasons:
* With the inclusion of ‘Live View’ and the ability to capture high definition video, the new 5D Mark II has brought the world of still and moving pictures together in an uncompromised package. At 1920 x 1080 resolution for up to 4GB or 12 minutes of filming and 24 minutes of filming per clip at 640 x 320 resolution, the possibilities are unlimited
* The new 21.1 megapixel Mark II uses a full-frame CMOS sensor with 16, 384 colors for each of the 3 primary colors
* The ISO range is expanded to 100-6400 and is expandable to L: 50 and H1: 12, 800 and H2: 25,600 with a full-time ISO read-out. Canon states that because of new noise reduction technology, images at even the highest sensitivity will be ‘remarkably smooth’. There is also strong rumors of an Auto ISO feature so Canon will now be up to Nikon’s standards on this feature as well as having the increased range.
* The new DIGIC 4 Image Processor offers faster processing of both fine details and color reproduction while reducing image noise
* The 3.0 Clear View LCD has new anti-reflective and scratch-resistant coatings for improved wear, smudge protection and increased viewing abilities
* The EOS Integrated Cleaning System is new, specifically designed to work with full-frame sensors
* Shooting mode dial now includes three customizable settings for quick access to commonly used settings
* Battery gauge now has four sections versus the usual three for more accurate reading of the battery level
* There are now B&W as well as Highlight Control warnings in the view finder so less images are wasted due to lost data
The original 5D was not the camera for sports or action shots – it just could not handle a lot of movement unless it was a bright, sunny day and whatever was moving was not black. This has been fixed in the Mark II to some degree but we may still see some problems with medium to low light blur – keep your fingers crossed.
Image Sensor 36 x 24mm 22.0Mp CMOS Sensor with RGB primary color filters and Low-pass Filter
Effective Resolution 21.1Mp
Color Depth 14-Bit analog/digital conversion
Color Modes sRGB, Adobe RGB, Monochrome
Image File Formats RAW (3 uncompressed sizes)
JPEG (3 sizes, fine/normal compression)
RAW + JPEG (simultaneous)
Recorded Resolution (5616 x 3744), (3861 x 2574), & (2784 x 1856) [RAW]
(5616 x 3744), (4080 x 2720), & (2784 x 1856) [JPEG]
Video Recording Yes (1080p max. 12 minutes, VGA max. 24 mins per file)
Audio Recording Yes (via built-in microphone or external microphone socket)
Lens Mount Canon EF Mount (EF-S lenses excluded)
Focal Length Multiplier 1.0x
Optical Image Stabilization Possible with Canon IS Lenses
Focus Type TTL-CT-SIR AF with 9 points (1 cross-sensor) & 6 invisible supplemental points
Focus Modes Autofocus, (One-Shot AF, Predictive AI Servo AF, AI Focus AF (automatic switching between One-Shot/Predictive AI Servo AF)), Manual Focus (MF), AF Point Selection (Manual or Automatic selection)
Sensitivity ISO 50-25600
Shutter Type Vertical-travelling, electronically-controlled mechanical focal-plane shutter
Shutter Speed 30 Seconds to 1/8000th second
Mirror Lock-Up Yes
Exposure Metering Evaluative (35-segment)
Exposure Modes Fully-automatic AE
Creative Auto AE
Shutter speed-priority AE
White Balance Modes Auto, Preset (Daylight, Shade, Cloudy/Twilight/Sunset, Tungsten Light, White Fluorescent Light, Flash), Manual (Custom, Color Temperature), White balance bracketing (+/-3 stops in full-stop increments), White Balance Correction (Blue/Amber bias +/- 9 levels or Magenta/Green bias +/- 9 levels)
Scene Modes Standard, Portrait, Landscape, Neutral, Faithful, Monochrome, User Defined (1, 2, 3)
Built-in Flash No
Effective Flash Range Not applicable
External Flash Connection Dedicated Hot Shoe, PC terminal
External Flash Control E-TTL II autoflash with EX-series Speedlites
Maximum Flash Synchronization Speed 1/200th second
Start-Up Time 0.1 Seconds
Shutter Lag Not Specified by Manufacturer
Time Between Shots Not Specified by Manufacturer
Burst Capability 3.9 Frames per second:
- Up to 78 frames (JPEG)
- Up to 13 frames (RAW)
- Up to 8 frames (RAW+JPEG)
(based on Canon’s testing standards)
Self Timer 10 Seconds or 2 seconds delay
Interval Recording Possible with optional timer/remote
Date & Time Stamp No (Simultaneous recording onto image data)
Built-in Memory No
Compatible Memory Cards CompactFlash (CF) Card (Type I & II)
File Size RAW: 25.8MB, 14.8MB, or 10.8MB
JPEG: 6.1MB, 3.6MB, 3.0MB, 2.1MB, 1.9MB, or 1.0MB
Battery Type Lp-E6 Lithium-Ion battery
Power Adapter ACK-E6 AC Adapter
Computer Interface USB 2.0 (Hi-Speed)
Direct Print Capable Yes (CP Direct, Inkjet direct, PictBridge)
Remote Control N3 type terminal
Video Output Composite out (NTSC or PAL)
If You Woild Like to read some user reviews on this camera folow the link Canon 5D Mark II Review
Canon 70–200mm f/2.8L IS USM
One day while on assignment in Moab, Utah for an off-road magazine, I was chatting up with an editor of another prestigious outdoor magazine when he commented on my mammoth Canon 70–200mm f/2.8L IS USM lens. It weighs in at 3.24 pounds and he questioned whether it was worth the extra weight over the similar range lenses Canon produces, his 25oz 70-200mm f/4L USM in particular. I swapped him lenses for a few minutes and sent him off to shoot.
Within a few minutes, he was back, wondering if I knew of a camera shop in the small town where they might carry the infamous white lens.
For many photographers that shoot Canon, the 70–200 f/2.8L IS USM is their ace in the hole. The exceptionally bright lens can accurately focus in less then half a second and the silent ultrasonic autofocus motor is perfect for wildlife or anytime you do not want the subject distracted. It has a natural clarity that is pure Canon and the internal focus and zoom allows it to be water and dust resistant.
The Canon 70–200 f/2.8L IS USM was first seen in August 2001 as a digital back up to the original Canon 70–200 f/2.8L USM. Inside the metal casing, there are 23 elements in 18 groups with 4 UD elements to compensate for any chromatic aberration.
With the increase of megapixel capabilities in cameras since its inception, there has been speculation about the lens’ ability to perform on all frame sizes as well as continue to produce the image quality demanded by the full frame cameras. So far, so good and I have run this lens on everything from a friend’s Rebel XSi to my original 10D to my 5D and on to the Canon 1D mark III and it consistently produces the best quality images of any of my lens, prime or fixed focal length included.
The final selling point for the editor of the prestigious outdoor magazine was the my story about the time the lens fell out of my bag while scaling a rocky outcropping when, once again, out on assignment for my magazine. It dropped, bumped, rolled and bounced its way down the thirty feet to finally come to rest on a small ledge. It was a precarious climb down and I nearly didn’t do it, thinking what the point would be, there was no it would have survived the fall. My natural curiosity and environmental awareness got the better of me and after setting all my other equipment safely to one side, I scurried down to the ledge. Gingerly, I picked it up, expecting to hear broken glass and massacred drive motors. To my delight and utter amazement, it was silent. The filter was shattered and there were a few nicks and scratches but it was solid. A quick test back at the camera bag showed it to be in perfect form and off we went to finish the assignment.
The $1700 US price tag is a tough one to swallow but worth it in the end. I don’t know of any lens that could take the abuse that my Canon 70–200 f/2.8L IS USM took that day yet continues to perform perfectly without exception. If forced to give up all but one lens, this would be the one I would keep or more simply put, it is the lens I could not live without. No Canon user’s bag is complete without this tough but versatile lens.
Focal Length & Maximum Aperture 70-200mm 1:2.8
Lens Construction 23 elements in 18 groups
Diagonal Angle of View 34° – 12°
Focus Adjustment Inner focusing system with USM
Closest Focusing Distance 1.3m / 4.3 ft.
Zoom System Rotating Type
Filter Size 77mm
Max. Diameter x Length, Weight 3.4″ x 7.8″, 3.24 lbs. / 86.2mm x 197mm, 1470g
Author Anne lockly
Copyright ©2008 picturephotosoncanvas.com
New to Canon’s line up in October 2008 is the Powershot G10. This replaces the G9, offering 14.7 megapixels, a new 28–140mm wide zoom feature, increased screen resolution and the new DIGIC 4 image processor.
But why feature the new Canon Powershot G10 on a pro photographer’s website? As any working photographer will tell you, there are times where you require a backup camera but cannot afford the extra weight or headache of a full DSLR system. You want something you can toss in your pocket, drop off a bridge, let a local use or hand off to the annoying kid at the wedding to get him out of your hair. You want something light, easy to use, reliable and with comparably good image quality that will not bog you down; something that fits in a belt pack so it is always there as a back up, just in case you need it.
Still don’t see the value? What if we tell you this tiny 350-gram amateur has the ability to record files in RAW? That’s right. If your DSLR fails you or (gasp) it plummets from the bridge, your assignment will not be lost as the Powershot G10 can replace at least the file size required by the magazine, the rest is up to your ability to shoot without the professional gear.
New to the G10 is the 28 mm wide-angle lens that allows you to get as close as 39 cm from your subject and a reported 1 cm on macro shots. The new DIGIC 4 processor allows for faster operation while increasing the clarity and color reproduction of images. The rich, low noise images includes the new i-Contrast to increase the dynamic range of images and bring out details previously lost without causing whites to blow out. The DIGIC 4 Image Processor also adds AF Servo capability meaning the G10 can continuously focus on a moving subject. This is normally a DSLR only feature but comes in handy for sports or wildlife photography where you want to be able to remain focused on the subject while it dodges about.
Mix the AF Servo feature with the optical Image Stabilizer, Motion Detection Technology and Auto ISO Shift means fewer photos in the recycle bin due to camera shake or motion blur. Clear, crisp photos unless, or course, that is the look you want then the new dedicated AE compensation dial for Aperture Priority and Manual settings will let you shoot the way you would with your DSLR.
The 14.7 megapixel resolution allows for printing up to 16” x 24” or a greater ability to crop images in postproduction.
The biggest disadvantage or, at least, limitation to the Powershot G10 is it can only shoot one frame every .07 of a second until the memory card is full. For sports or action shots, this may not be fast enough as a backup camera for a professional although for the 350 grams and $500, it is better then nothing.
• 5x optical zoom (up to 4x digital zoom)
• Image Stabilization
• 15 – 1/4000 sec on manual
• Custom white balance
• ISO 80 to 1600, Auto, High ISO Auto
• Exposure compensation +/- 2 in 1/3 incraments
• Evaluative, Center-weighted average, Spot (center or linked to Face Detection)
• 3” PureColor LCD II TFT screen with wide viewing angle and optical viewfinder
• SD, SDHC, MMC, MMCplus, HC MMCplus compatable
• 350 grams
What about the ability for the pro photographer to shoot video? Okay, maybe not necessary but have you have thought to yourself as you carry your DSLR equipment how nice it would be to be able to film a short clip versus always capturing still? Maybe not often but it is one of those features that would be convenient if you could pull it off. The G10 captures smooth 30 frames per second VGA movies for optimal small screen viewing.
Accessories to trick out the G10:
• Waterproof case
• Conversion Lens Adapter
• Tele Converter
• Speedlite flashes
This is definitely not the prettiest consumer level camera in the shop but it is one of the most versatile. Small, easy to use and with an improved grip shape over its predecessor, the Canon Powershot G10 is a great addition to the pro photographer’s camera bag as a backup camera when space or weight is an issue. Canon has out done themselves again in bringing historically prosumer DSLR features to a point and shoot.
Author Anne lockly
Copyright ©2008 picturephotosoncanvas.com
If you would like to read some user reviews please follow the link Canon G10 Reviews
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