Archive for the ‘Canon’ Category

Wednesday, August 23rd 2006

New Lenses – EF 70-300 1:4-5.6 and EF 50mm 1:1.4

On Tuesday I got myself two new lenses: the EF 70-300mm 1:4-5.6 IS USM (phew!) and the EF 50mm 1:1.4 USM.

Canon EF 50mm 1:1.4 USM

I’ve been wanting the EF 50 1.4 for a long time, since it opens new opportunities in low light. On the 30D (with the 1.6x crop making it equivalent of 80 mm focal length with 35mm film) it also works great as a portrait lens.

Canon EF 70-300mm 1:4-5.6 IS USM

I previously had the EF 75-300 1:4-5.6 III, which I got in a kit with my EOS 300 and an EF 28-90mm 1:4-5.6. This combination was great for learning, but neither of the lenses were any wonders of sharpness, so now I’ve replaced them both for lenses which can make the most of the 8 megapixels in my 30D. (I have the Sigma 17-70mm 1:2.8-4.5 as my standard zoom.)

With the 70-300 IS I’ll feel more comfortable using the 300 mm end, since the 70-300 IS is very sharp throughout the zoom range, as opposed to the EF 75-300mm that I owned before. Both sharpness and chromatic aberrations when shooting at 300 mm are much better/less severe with the new lens, thanks to a UD lens element (made with Ultra-low Dispersion glass).

Then, of course, the 70-300 also has image stabilizing which can truly work wonders in low light. Or what can you say when you get a sharp picture at the equivalent of 112 mm with a shutter speed of 1/8 sec?

I’ll be adding some images I took with the 70-300 on Monday to my Photography website.

Edit: I have now added two new galleries at my photography website, Now and Then.

Edit: Since this post was made I have re-structured my gallery and the Now & Then galleries don’t exist any more.

Tuesday, August 8th 2006

Sony Alpha 100 – First Thoughts

The shop I work at now has the Sony Alpha 100 (DSLR-A100) in stock. After having just felt it briefly, here are some thoughts:

  • 10 MP – good!
  • Higher noise levels than Canon EOS 350D and 30D – not so good!
  • Anti-shake built in – good1!
  • Price: SEK 9900/USD 1340 (in Sweden) – as expected!
  • Included lens: 18–70 – good zoom range!
  • Plasticky feeling – not so good!
  • SATDOT – Shake-All-The-Dust-Off TechnologyTM – good!
  • Shutter release placed behind the controller wheel thing – not so good2!
  • Constantly auto-focusing left right and center – can someone please tell me this is possible to switch off!

1) However, having the stabilizer in the lens has one apparent advantage: You can see the effect, and thus it is easier to make the most of the motion dampening. Try a Canon lens with IS, and you’ll see what I mean.

2) This was one of the first things that struck me – the shutter release is in the wrong place!

All in all it seems a fairly good camera. Personally, I still don’t regret getting the 30D, which for 40% more money feels much more robust. I think it was worth it. Actually, it’s basically just the look and feel of the 30D that makes me prefer it over the Alpha 100. Not everone else will feel the same, of course. If I could have had one of the Alpha 100’s features on my 30D it would have been the anti-shake.

Sunday, June 4th 2006

Canon EF 28-90mm vs. Sigma AF 17-70mm

The full title of this should have been Canon EF 28-90mm 1:4-5.6 vs. Sigma AF 17-70mm 1:2.8-4.5 at ~35 mm, but it got rather long.

I’ve just done a small series of shots at f/4, 5.6 and 8 with the Canon and the Sigma, at 35 mm focal length.

As you’ll see, this test displays more than anything why it’s worth spending some more money on getting a sturdy tripod. Even though I didn’t intentionally change the camera’s position, it has quite obviously moved between the shots.

Below are 100% center crops. The Canon 28-90 is on the left, the Sigma 17-70 is on the right. Oh, and I should say that the Sigma ended up at 36 mm, and the Canon at 35 mm. First up, f/4:

100% comparison between Canon Ef 28-90mm 1:4-5.6 and Sigma AF 17-70mm 1:2.8-4.5.

Then we have f/5.6:

100% comparison between Canon Ef 28-90mm 1:4-5.6 and Sigma AF 17-70mm 1:2.8-4.5.

Finally, f/8:

100% comparison between Canon Ef 28-90mm 1:4-5.6 and Sigma AF 17-70mm 1:2.8-4.5.

Edit: I just realized that I forgot to write some kind of conclusion. The Sigma is a lot sharper at f/4, but it doesn’t get much sharper at f/5.6 and f/8. The Canon is, in comparison, pretty soft at f/4, but improves significantly to f/8. At f/8 the main difference between the two seems to be the colour. The Sigma looks slightly more saturated. I did have the camera WB set to Cloudy, so the difference shouldn’t be because of the AWB treating the photos differently.

Saturday, June 3rd 2006

30D – First Shots

I’ve had my 30D for about a week now, so it’s time to put up some first shots. Here are some that I had the pleasure to take during the last week. All were shot in raw and have been developed using Canon RIT, with the Faithful picture style and sharpness at +3.

Snail on wet grass.

Snail on wet grass. The close focusing of the Sigma 17-70mm is very handy. Technical stuff: 1/125 sec, f/4.5 @ 70 mm, ISO 100. (Sigma 17-70mm.) Cloudy white balance setting.

Reflection of blue sky in the windows of a building in front of grey clouds.

Blue sky reflected. Caught this scene on the way home from work. I hope the mood of it comes across. Technical stuff: 1/800 sec, f/5.6 @ 70 mm, ISO 100. (Sigma 17-70mm.) Cloudy white balance setting.

Old houses.

Old houses. Went for a walk around town to see what there was to photograph. Found this charming street. Technical stuff: 1/200 sec, f/8 @ 21 mm, ISO 100. (Sigma 17-70mm.) Shade white balance setting.

00113 - 2006-06-01 kl 19.11

Bleeding heart. In our garden. Technical stuff: 1/250 sec, f/4.5 @ 70 mm, ISO 100. (Sigma 17-70mm.) Daylight white balance setting.

Wilted rose.

Wilted rose. In our lounge. Technical stuff: 1/800 sec, f/5.6 @ 75 mm, ISO 800. (EF 75-300mm with close-up lens 500D.) Shade white balance setting.

Some sort of violet flower.

Violet bud, unknown species. In our garden. Technical stuff: 1/250 sec, f/7.1 @ 120 mm. (EF 75-300mm with close-up lens 500D.) Cloudy white balance setting.

Unknown pink flower.

Unknown Species II, The Return of Pink. Technical stuff: 1/400 sec, f/7.1 @ 80 mm. (EF 75-300mm with close-up lens 500D.) Cloudy white balance setting.

Saturday, June 3rd 2006

Canon EOS 30D and Sigma 17-70mm, Second Thoughts

Well, I got my 30D on Monday. (Finally!) I ordered it basically a month ago. Oh boy is this a nice camera… I’ve had the lens since the 16 May, but obviously haven’t been able to use it properly until now.

Canon EOS 30D box

Thought I’d give you a little review of it here. If you’re wondering, I’m not having second thoughts about my purchase. I just thought it would be wrong to title this First Thoughts, since I’ve had it for about a week now 🙂 All the same, it won’t be a complete review – there are plenty of those out there for you already. I’ll just comment on a few different aspects of the camera.

The size of the grip.

This is the main reason I got the 30D instead of the 350D. I’m not so bothered about the 5 frames per second, although it is nice at times. Having tried the 350D with a ~400 gram lens and a flash attached, I am convinced I made the right choice. For me, the 350D was far to small to feel comfortable. I got the feeling I was only holding it with my fingertips.

I actually ordered the vertical grip (BG-E2) as well, but canceled it when I read that it wasn’t very high quality, and sometimes could cause power-cuts. I would definitely like the vertical grip for that last bit of hand to fit onto the camera in landscape orientation, and obviously not having to hold your arm up for verticals would be nice. However, having a battery grip on when using a tripod is not optimal in my experience, which is half the reason I decided to skip the BG-E2.

The 2.5-inch display

This, obviously, is very nice to have. Some have complained about the brightness not being good enough for outdoor use. I agree that the default (middle) brightness setting is a bit low for daylight use, but you just need to up it two notches for it to be fine. However, remember to turn it down again, or your pictures will look overexposed when you review your photos in less light.

The viewfinder

Some mean that the viewfinder of the 20D and 30D is on the small side. I feel it’s just right, probably mainly because of me wearing glasses. With it not being huge, I can easily see all of it at the same time. If it were any bigger I would have to keep moving my eye in relation to the camera to see the edges of the frame.

The USB connection

(See the edit at the end of this post.) My largest disappointment with the 30D must be the non-functional USB-to-computer connection. The CD doesn’t seem to include any so called WIA drivers for the camera, which may be why the connection keeps dying in the middle of transfers. I’ve given up completely on moving pictures directly from the camera, because it seems impossible to move more than a few before the camera disconnects from the computer. I’ve ordered a CF card reader. While some may say that I should use a card reader all the same, I feel it should at least be possible, if a little slow, to transfer pictures straight from the camera. Canon, are you listening?

The Auto White Balance

Some reviews have complained about Canon’s AWB not handling tungsten light very well. My thought is that this is because they don’t want to risk taking the warmth out of photos shot at dawn and dusk. I’d love to hear what you think on the subject – leave a comment if you think I’m right or wrong.

The Multi-Controller

There is a small joy-stick thing on the back of the 30D (and the 20D) which is used for moving around when reviewing photos. One of the custom functions (nr 13, set to 1) lets you use this multi-controller for quickly selecting which AF point to use. I think this should be the default behaviour, since it is much quicker and easier than having to press the AF-point selection button first.

The Sigma 17-70mm 1:2.8-4.5 DC

Without having made any direct, scientific comparisons, this lens seems very sharp. have done though, and the charts show that this lens is better than the EF 17-85 IS USM in many ways, apart from the fact that it doesn’t have IS of course. I’ll do a comparison with my EF 28-90mm f/4-5.6 later just for the fun. I realize they will be like day and night, optically. They definitely are quality-wise anyway.

The Over-All Feeling

This is a camera I will have lots of fun using, hopefully for many days to come!

Edit: After consulting my fellow photographers in the MBP Forums, I tried reinstalling all the Canon software. If I had read the manual I would have seen a warning to not connect the camera before installing anything. I must have done just that, because it works fine now that I have reinstalled.

Wednesday, May 3rd 2006

Ordered My Canon 30D Yesterday

Well, just as I suspected, I couldn’t resist the temptation. Yesterday I went down to Allradio, were I’ll be working this summer BTW, and ordered a Canon EOS 30D body and a Sigma AF 17-70mm f/2.8-4.5 DC lens. Can’t wait to get clicking.

Tuesday, April 25th 2006

Great Review Of The Canon EOS 30D

I found a very detailed and interesting review of the Canon EOS 30D, which highlights things I haven’t heard about in previous reviews.

Canon EOS 30D on a transparent background.

Here are some of the interesting facts I didn’t know until reading this review:

While still able to shoot at a fast 5 fps rate, the Canon EOS 30D is also switchable to a low-speed 3 fps continuous shooting rate. The 30D can also shoot at rated speed with non-USM (Ultrasonic Motor) lenses while the 20D fell back to 3.5 fps when using these.

The emphasis there was mine. Then they compare the shutter sound of the 30D and the 20D:

Those shooting in quiet venues such as weddings will like the Canon EOS 30D’s quieter shutter sound. The 20D shutter has a “CLACK” sound to it whereas the 30D has a more subtle sound.

However, having used the 30D previously, and having listened to the provided sound files (20D, 30D), I don’t find the difference to be so huge. They both are fairly loud, but the 30D perhaps has a slightly softer, muffled flock, as opposed to the 20D’s sharp clack. Anyway, until now I thought they had identical shutters. It’s also nice to know that the 30D shutter is rated at 100,000 shots, while the 20D was only rated at 50,000. That should let you fire away whithout worrying about the shutter waring out 🙂

The following was also news to me… (Quoted, I think, from a Canon press release.)

Shapes around the flash head and lens mount have been changed subtly to suggest Canon’s upper-range models. The mode dial now has a metallic finish. The grip below the shutter button has been extended for better purchase with the middle fingers and improved overall handling. A new groove where the middle finger falls improves comfort and security.

And, the reviewer concludes:

The first thing I noticed when picking up the 30D was the grippier surface on the rubber grip. The reshaped grip is nice, but just slightly different than the 20D.

Sounds good. Only a small improvement, but hey, don’t fix what ain’t broken.

I also found some interesting info in the official 30D white-paper. Specifically, they explained the Picture Styles very well:

Style 1 – Standard is for users who do not intend to do any post-processing of their images. Right out of the camera, the pictures look crisp and vibrant, with the sharpness set to 3 and the color tone and saturation set to obtain vivid colors. Excellent prints will eventuate without any further adjustment. It is equivalent to parameter 1 on the EOS 20D.

Style 2 – Portrait has color tone and saturation settings that yield natural skin tones. The sharpness is set one step weaker than the Standard setting so that skin and hair look softer.

Style 3 – Landscape has color tone and saturation settings that give vivid blues and greens for skies and greenery. The sharpness is set one step stronger than the Standard setting so that the outlines of mountains, trees, and buildings look more crisp.

Style 4 – Neutral yields natural color reproduction, and no sharpness is applied. This setting is ideal for post-processing and is the same as the EOS-1D Series defaults.

Style 5 – Faithful is intended to match the original as closely as possible. It is the same
as Faithful in Digital Photo Professional. When the subject is photographed in 5,200K
light, the color is adjusted colorimetrically to match the subject’s color. No sharpness is applied. This setting, too, is designed for workflow that includes post-processing.

Style 6 – Monochrome with filter effects and color tones, is the same as the EOS 20D’s monochrome setting.

I also downloaded the full 30D manual and read about the custom functions. Some which I found particularly interesting were…

  • SET-button options (no. 1). You can link it to recording quality or Picture Style selection. I would definately set it to the latter, since it would be very useful to have quickly available when shooting.
  • AF-assist beam options (no. 5). Allows you to disable the AF-assist beam when you haven’t got an external flash unit. I’ll probably do this since I find the stroboscope style AF-assist of the built-in flash really annoying.
  • Mirror lock-up (no. 12), to reduce shake when shooting long exposures at long focal lengths on a tripod.
  • Quick focus point selection with mini joystick (no. 13). The default setting requires you to press the AF point selection button first. With this custom function enabled you can use the mini joystick directly.
  • Second curtain flash sync (no. 15)

Getting more and more tempted for each day… Just need to wait until I get my next pay. A whole month! I guess the price might go down in that time… (Nothing wrong in hoping, right?)

Here’s what I’m hoping to get:

  • EOS 30D body, no kit lens. (Read about the kit lenses here.)
  • Sigma AF 17-70mm 2.8-4.5 DC macro. (Sharper, cheaper and faster than the kit lenses.)
  • 2 GB CF card (Or 4 GB? For travelling you want plenty…)

I plan on selling my EOS 300 with the 28-90mm lens, but I’ll hang on to my 75-300mm for now. Hopefully I’ll get the EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM sometime in the future. (Which is sharper than my current lens, and has 3-stop image stabilizing.) I already have the 420EX flash, which will work great with the 30D.

I’ll let you know when I buckle under and order it.

Tuesday, April 18th 2006

Really Wanting the EOS 30D + Sigma 17-70mm

Can’t stop thinking about it. The Canon EOS 30D. I got to play around with it last week-end, and ever since, I can’t think of anything else.

I’ve been wondering whether I should get a second hand 20D instead, but I’d really like to have the spot metering of the 30D, as well as the larger screen. The 20D’s 1.8 inch screen feels tiny when you’ve tried the 30D. Also, the direct access to the ISO setting is very useful, so I don’t think I’ll be getting a 350D since you have to use a menu to change the ISO there.

I’ve also read up on the lens tests over at Photozone. I’m a bit skeptical about Canon’s EF-S 17-85mm f/4-5.6 USM IS, since it seems to fair rather poorly. It has serious chromatic aberation, vignetting and barrel distortion. The
Sigma AF 17-70mm f/2.8-4.5 DC macro is a much better buy, costing around 3500 SEK (€ 370) compared to the Canon’s roughly 6000 SEK (€ 670). It is sharper (higher resolution) and suffers less from distortion and chromatic aberration. The vignetting is only slightly less pronounced in the Sigma. It doesn’t have the Image Stabilizing that the Canon lens has, but instead it has a larger maximum aperture, by nearly a full stop. (2.8 vs. 4.0.)

Well, we’ll see if this ever becomes more than just a dream… Extremely tempted right now anyway.

Thursday, August 25th 2005

The Canon 5D is Almost What I’m Wanting

Of course, the term wanting is a broad term. Maybe I should say The Canon 5D is Almost Something I Could Buy. But it’s just a tad too expensive still, at around $3,300, for my student budget. 🙂

The Canon EOS 5D

The ideal digital SLR (for me) would have around 8 megapixels, be capable of about 3 or 4 frames per second and would have a full size image sensor. It could cost about $1,000 or so. Of course, I wouldn’t mind if it were even cheaper… The reason I would prefer a full-size image sensor is so that I can use my current Canon EF lenses without quality loss. (If I were to use a digital SLR with an image sensor smaller than the default 24×36 mm the chromatic aberration of my (fairly cheap) lenses would be magnified by the same factor as the rest of the picture. (Often 1.6 times with Canon’s digital SLRs.)