Archive for January, 2010

Monday, January 25th 2010

Lens Cleaning Tips

Just before I was about to sell my old lens, I searched the web for good ways of cleaning the outsides of a lens.

If you’re reading this, you’re probably familiar with the weird white stuff that gets stuck between the little grooves on your zoom and focus rings. I guess it’s a mix of salt, grease and dead skin cells. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you probably haven’t had your DSLR for a full year.

This is what it looks like:

Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM, dirty.

Anyway, the method that I found is really simple. (And cheap!)

Just find an old toothbrush and fill a cup with warm water. Dip the toothbrush in the water and flick it hard a few times to get most of the water out of it again.

Then you simply brush the mucky areas. Just make sure the toothbrush isn’t leaving pools of water all over your lens – it’ll get into the joins.

Rinse the toothbrush if it gets too dry.

If you don’t drop your lens in the cup of water, you should end up with a lens looking close to new!

Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM, clean!

(BTW, this is not the lens I sold. The toothbrush method worked so well I went ahead and cleaned all my lenses.)

Friday, January 22nd 2010

Sharpness test: Sigma 17-70mm vs Canon 17-55mm

After having bought my second hand EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 I sold my Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4.5. But before I sent it off to the buyer, I took some test shots for a little comparison of the two lenses.

I set my camera up on my tripod and took shots of our bookcases from roughly 2.5 meters away, at a right angle. I took photos at 17mm, 35mm and 55mm with both lenses, and at each focal length I took photos at f/2.8, f/4.0, f/5.6 and f/8.0. (Obviously, the Sigma doesn’t do f/2.8 at 35mm and 55mm.)

One thing I did notice fairly soon was that the Sigma’s autofocus was much less reliable than the Canon’s. For some of the shots I ended up having to manually hunt for the optimum focus distance. The Canon got it right every time.

From each test shot I have cropped out sections from the centre, mid and edge areas. All in all, 66 squares of 300×300 pixels, which I have ordered in (hopefully) pretty tables below.

As you can see in the overview photos, the sections are taken from different places for the different focal lenghts. (To use the areas of the bookcases with most detail in them.)

I’ve put my own conclusion in words at the end, after all the tables.

Overview of sharpness test of Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4.5 and Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS

17mm – Centre
Aperture Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4.5 Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS
f/2.8 Sharpness test of Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4.5 Sharpness test of Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS
f/4.0 Sharpness test of Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4.5 Sharpness test of Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS
f/5.6 Sharpness test of Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4.5 Sharpness test of Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS
f/8.0 Sharpness test of Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4.5 Sharpness test of Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS
17mm – Mid
Aperture Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4.5 Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS
f/2.8 Sharpness test of Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4.5 Sharpness test of Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS
f/4.0 Sharpness test of Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4.5 Sharpness test of Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS
f/5.6 Sharpness test of Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4.5 Sharpness test of Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS
f/8.0 Sharpness test of Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4.5 Sharpness test of Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS
17mm – Edge
Aperture Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4.5 Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS
f/2.8 Sharpness test of Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4.5 Sharpness test of Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS
f/4.0 Sharpness test of Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4.5 Sharpness test of Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS
f/5.6 Sharpness test of Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4.5 Sharpness test of Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS
f/8.0 Sharpness test of Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4.5 Sharpness test of Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS

Overview of sharpness test of Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4.5 and Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS

35mm – Centre
Aperture Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4.5 Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS
f/2.8 Sharpness test of Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS
f/4.0 Sharpness test of Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4.5 Sharpness test of Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS
f/5.6 Sharpness test of Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4.5 Sharpness test of Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS
f/8.0 Sharpness test of Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4.5 Sharpness test of Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS
35mm – Mid
Aperture Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4.5 Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS
f/2.8 Sharpness test of Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS
f/4.0 Sharpness test of Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4.5 Sharpness test of Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS
f/5.6 Sharpness test of Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4.5 Sharpness test of Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS
f/8.0 Sharpness test of Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4.5 Sharpness test of Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS
35mm – Edge
Aperture Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4.5 Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS
f/2.8 Sharpness test of Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS
f/4.0 Sharpness test of Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4.5 Sharpness test of Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS
f/5.6 Sharpness test of Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4.5 Sharpness test of Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS
f/8.0 Sharpness test of Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4.5 Sharpness test of Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS

Overview of sharpness test of Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4.5 and Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS

55mm – Centre
Aperture Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4.5 Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS
f/2.8 Sharpness test of Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS
f/4.0 Sharpness test of Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4.5 Sharpness test of Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS
f/5.6 Sharpness test of Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4.5 Sharpness test of Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS
f/8.0 Sharpness test of Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4.5 Sharpness test of Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS
55mm – Mid
Aperture Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4.5 Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS
f/2.8 Sharpness test of Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS
f/4.0 Sharpness test of Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4.5 Sharpness test of Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS
f/5.6 Sharpness test of Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4.5 Sharpness test of Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS
f/8.0 Sharpness test of Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4.5 Sharpness test of Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS
55mm – Edge
Aperture Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4.5 Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS
f/2.8 Sharpness test of Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS
f/4.0 Sharpness test of Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4.5 Sharpness test of Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS
f/5.6 Sharpness test of Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4.5 Sharpness test of Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS
f/8.0 Sharpness test of Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4.5 Sharpness test of Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS

Conclusions

On the whole, in almost all of the little squares, the Canon is running circles round the Sigma. No pun intended actually.

Surprisingly though, the Sigma looks sharper than the Canon in the centre and mid areas of the frame when using f/2.8 at 17mm. The Canon seems to suffer from some kind of fringing here. (At the edges though, the Canon is better.)

To summarize, it was much as I had hoped and expected. But I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little disappointed with the Canon’s performance at 17mm. At the same time I don’t think that fringing will be very visible with most subjects. It would take a lot of fringing to out-weigh the benefits of having image stabilization.

Thursday, January 21st 2010

Firefox 3.6 Released Tomorrow

Mozilla are opening the flood gates on Firefox version 3.6 tomorrow. Here’s a short video showing what’s new:

Wednesday, January 20th 2010

My Canon EOS 60D Predictions

Photoshop mock-up of the Canon EOS 60D

It seems Canon are about to release their 60D fairly soon. Just for fun I thought I would put together a prediction of what I think the feature list will look like.

Here’s a quick summary, then I’ll discuss each point in more detail:

  • 18 megapixels
  • 6 frames per second
  • 1080p @ 30fps + 720p @ 60fps video
  • 19 point autofocus
  • 95% viewfinder
  • New 640×480 screen from 7D
  • Electronic Level: No
  • Wireless Flash Control: Yes
  • Weather sealing: Same as 50D
  • LCD Focusing Screen: No

Sensor resolution

I think they will use the 18 MP sensor from the 7D. I doubt they would save any money on using the 15 MP sensor from the 50D. Instead they will turn the heat up as much as possible on Nikon and use the 18 MP sensor.

Frame rate

To keep the 60D from getting too close to the 7D it must be no faster than 6 frames per second. At the same time they can’t make it any worse than the 50D, so it must 6 fps, no more, no less.

Video

HD Video to the same specs as the 7D. That’s to say 1080p @ 30fps and 720p @ 60fps. Also, the new Live View/Video button should make its first appearance in the XXD series. They probably won’t include manual controls though, to save some goodies for the 7D.

Autofocus

The more I think about it the more I think Canon will include the full 19 sensor AF of the 7D. There is no logical way of removing sensors from the 19 point pattern (see it here) and Canon need all the sensors to keep new camera buyers from choosing Nikon. They might make the possible configurations more limited though.

I would be surprised though if they just stay with the current 50D autofocus, which has basically been around since the 20D. Canon really need to work hard (and seem to be doing so) to stay ahead of Nikon.

Viewfinder

Sadly, we’re not likely to see the nice viewfinder from the 7D, which has 100% coverage. Instead we’ll probably just see the 50D’s 95% viewfinder.

Screen

I think Canon will re-use the improved 640×480 screen from the 7D, which is more compact than that on the 50D, and works better in daylight. I think they’ll move the buttons back to the left hand side too. (BTW, why don’t dpreview.com specify sensor resolution in the above way? They seem to be reasonably bright people.)

Electronic Level

This is tricky … hmm. I don’t really think this is the kind of feature that will make professionals choose the 7D above the 60D. But Canon probably think so. And as far as I know, Nikon don’t have this feature. So Canon will probably feel safe in keeping this as a 7D exclusive feature.

Wireless Flash Control

Yes, this is a must. Now that Canon has developed the software for this (in the 7D), it would be stupid to not include it. The D90 has had this since August 2008 …

Weather sealing

… won’t be significantly better than the 50D.

LCD Focusing Screen

I don’t think we’ll see the nice LCD viewfinder overlay from the 7D. It will probably be one of the features used to differentiate the two models.

So …

What do you think? Leave a comment!

Friday, January 15th 2010

Random Christmas Photos

Various photos from the Christmas holidays. We really have had beautiful winter weather here in Sweden. Several weeks of temperatures between -10 and -20 degrees C.

Grå långhårig kattunge.Grå långhårig kattunge.Grå långhårig kattunge.Vaksala kyrka, Uppsala, in snow.Solnedgång i Svia, Uppsala.Out of focus Christmas tree.Svia Enbacken in snow.Akademiska sjukhuset, Uppsala.Brorsan och WilmaVinterlandskap Svia Enbacken, Uppsala.Canon EF 70-300mm 1:4-5.6 IS USM.Foot silhouette and advent star.

Friday, January 15th 2010

Frost On Everything

The last few weeks have been very cold here in Sweden. But the last few days in particular have offered some very pretty frost.

Even though the temperature was -10 C, we had mist. I don’t know how that’s possible, but it definitely looked like mist or fog. The damp but cold air covered everything in a thick layer of frost.

So, a perfect opportunity for a photo walk bike ride through Eskilstuna with my new lens.

Fors kyrka, Eskilstuna.Frosty tree branch.Klosters kyrka, Eskilstuna.Fors kyrka vid Eskilstunaån.Eskilstuna stadshus vid Fristadstorget.Ducks in the Eskilstuna river.Klosters kyrka, Eskilstuna.Frosty tree.Klosters kyrka, Eskilsutna

Thursday, January 14th 2010

First Impressions of the Canon 17-55mm IS

I haven’t done any serious sharpness testing of this lens yet, but so far I’m really liking it. The f/2.8 aperture through the zoom range, the quiet auto focus and the image stabilization are all fantastic.

Or what about this shot through our bedroom window? 17mm, which normally needs 1/30th of a second to be sharp hand-held. Here I got away with 1/3rd of a second, leaning my hand against the window frame.

26288 - 2010-01-12 kl 08.05

That one third of a second feels like an eternity when you’re holding the camera and hear the click … … click.

BTW, if you can explain why the frost is on only one side of the tree branches I’d be very grateful. (It is frost, not snow. And the wind these last few days has been basically non-existant.)

I was also able to shoot a perfectly sharp photo of my wife pulling a silly face in our bedroom, lit by nothing but her computer screen and a 40 Watt light-bulb. Admittedly at ISO 800, but it would have had to be ISO 6400 with my old lens. And my camera only goes to 3200 …

Summary: Looking forward to using this lens for a long time to come!

Sunday, January 10th 2010

Camera bag: Meet Lens

I’ve been saving up for a while, and with some money I was given for Xmas I had enough to get a second hand Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM.

Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM

It took many late nights of on-line research to decide which lens would be the best choice. I’ve been considering the Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 VC (Vibration Compensation) and the Sigma 17-70 f/2.8-4.0 OS (Optical Stabilization). But in the end I decided to hunt down a second hand Canon 17-55mm f/2.8.

Initial reviews of the two other lenses have been so-so. And the Canon has both the constant maximum aperture of the Tamron and the quiet auto-focus of the Sigma.

I’ve managed to get my hands on a two year old copy of the EF-S 17-55mm which doesn’t seem to have been used very much. It really is in perfect condition, and I only paid two thirds of the price of a new one.

I’ll probably post a little comparison between the EF-S 17-55mm and my current standard zoom, the Sigma 17-70mm f/2.8-4.5. If nothing else to cure my own curiosity.

By the way, if you live in Sweden and want to buy my Sigma, I’m selling it here.

As always in camera-land, one piece of new equipment will lead to another.

The EF-S is good in many ways, but it definitely isn’t compact. This means that I can’t really fit all my lenses in my current camera bag and the guy who sold me the 17-55 showed me his beautiful Lowepro Slingshot 350 AW. Beautiful as in extremely well designed.

The Lowepro 350 has a smaller sibling, the 300 (which lacks a laptop compartment) which will most likely be the subject for my next saving-up project.