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Gear Talk

Sharpness You Can See: Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM II

Gear Talk

Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM II at BorrowLenses.com

The much anticipated release of the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM II has been the source of much discussion and debate. While the lens has some notable differences than the original Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM (we’ll cover those at the end) the #1 attribute of note is its sharpness. (more…)

The Leica Diary, Part V – Final Thoughts

Gear Talk

After about four weeks of shooting with the Leica M9 and various lenses, I came to a dismaying conclusion.

I am not a street photographer. I don’t like street photography. I get nervous, am unsure, and take terrible street photos.

And, for most of the time that I had the M9, I was trying to be a street photographer.  (more…)

D600, anyone?

BL News Gear Talk

So if you follow us on Instagram or Twitter, you already know this, but for our RSS subscribers and blog readers out there, here’s a quick heads-up: WE HAZ DA NEW D600!

D600 in stock. Burger not included.

D600 in stock. Burger not included.

So whether you’re looking to buy one and want to try it out first, or you’re just curious to see how Nikon’s new “budget” full-frame camera performs, you need wait no longer. Get your D600 here: http://www.borrowlenses.com/product/nikon_bodies/Nikon_D600_Digital_Camera

Finding the Photo in the Cruft

Gear Talk
Nikon D800

Nikon D800

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised by the power of software to bring out something interesting in images that might otherwise be a wash, but wouldn’t you know it, I’m still capable of being amazed.

I’m currently shooting with the Nikon D800 of late as part of an assignment (more to come on that later), and I was up in the hills overlooking the San Francisco Bay Area at night, hoping to get some shots of the brilliantly-lit vista that encompassed San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, and parts of the Peninsula area.

Of course, I got up there, and everything was completely fogged in. (more…)

Tilt/Shift: Working With Perspective-Control Lenses, Part 1

Gear Talk
Schneider 50mm on a Canon 5D Mark III

Schneider 50mm on a Canon 5D Mark III

This is Part 1 of a series on using Tilt-Shift or Perspective-Control lenses. In this part, we look at the “Shift” functionality of these unique lenses. Part 2, which covers the “tilt” functionality of these lenses, can be found here.

Anyone who’s ever shot a building or any other structure from the bottom looking up knows that the bottom-up perspective makes it look like the vertical lines of the building are all converging towards the top. This problem is exaggerated with wider-angle lenses, making many of these lenses unsuitable for certain types of architectural photography, where not having those distortions is key. (more…)

The Leica Diary, Part IV – An Unexpected Thing or Two

Gear Talk
The M9 with a 50mm f/2.5 Summarit-M lens

The M9 with a 50mm f/2.5 Summarit-M lens

In this part, I’ll look at a couple of unexpected things I ran into when shooting with the Leica.

Most people who shoot with a Leica assume that the lenses available for it, like the 50mm f/2.5 shown above, are primes. And, for the most part, this is true. I’d certainly had no reason to think otherwise.  (more…)

Playing With Canon’s New Big Guns

Gear Talk

Canon’s 1Dx and 600mm f/4L IS II lens have been two of the most sought after (and repeatedly delayed) items in their inventory for the past year or so. Now, Canon is finally shipping them with some regularity, and we took this opportunity to put this new combo through its paces.

I love photographing birds. A few years ago, I started with a Canon 100-400mm lens and a Rebel XTi, and shot from the comfort of my car. Eventually, I moved up to a Canon 1D Mark IV and a 600mm f/4, or a 500mm f/4 lens.

The 1D MKIV/600mm combo became a favorite, and I managed to capture some really cool images with it that are part of my Natural History portfolio.

Humingbird shot with a 1D Mark IV and the Mark I 600mm lens

Humingbird shot with a 1D Mark IV and the Mark I 600mm lens

Of course, since then, Canon has introduced its successor to the 1D MKIV and the 600mm f/4. The 1Dx takes over where the 1D MKIV left off, introducing a bigger sensor and better high-ISO performance, among other things, whereas the new 600mm Mark II comes in at slightly shorter and much lighter than its predecessor.

I took this combo out for a spin to see if it would match up to my old favorites. As with my previous reviews, I focus more on the shooting experience out in the field, rather than lab tests and results. (more…)

The Leica Diary, Part III – Focus

Gear Talk

Part I of the Leica Diary can be found here. Part II can be found here.

Zone focus.

Those are the two key words you need to know about focusing with a Leica. If you’ve used a rangefinder before, you already know this; if you haven’t, then read on.

Leica cameras don’t focus like the DSLRs, ILC (Interchangeable Lens Compacts like the Olympus E-P2), or point-and-shoot digitals that we’re all used to. For one, Leica lenses are all manual-focus lenses. For another, unlike most other digital cameras today, you’re not focusing through the lens (TTL). You’re actually using a separate viewfinder to do the framing and focusing for you.  (more…)

The Leica Diary, Part II – Coming To Grips

Gear Talk

In this part of the Leica Diary, I explore the M9’s body and features, and struggle to come to grips with using the photographic equivalent of a 1970’s Porsche 911.

Quick samples from the Canon 1Dx and the 600mm f/4L IS II

Gear Talk

I spent a weekend shooting with the Canon 1Dx and the new 600mm f/4L IS II, and will be posting a writeup of it soon. In the meantime, here are a few sample images taken with that combo.

For what it’s worth, my favorite combination until recently was to shoot with the 1D Mark IV and the old 600mm f/4L IS Mark I. I don’t think it’ll be giving much away to say that the 1DX and the new 600 are officially my new favorite combination for this type of photography.

This image is actually about a 2MP crop from the original 18MP image

This image is actually about a 2MP crop from the original 18MP image

Taken with the 1Dx and the 600mm on a gimbal head at the Don Edwards wildlife refuge

Taken with the 1Dx and the 600mm on a gimbal head at the Don Edwards wildlife refuge

This is handheld, from the top of Mount Tamalpais, 10 miles from, and about 2500 feet above San Francisco

This is handheld, from the top of Mount Tamalpais, 10 miles from, and about 2500 feet above San Francisco

Watch for our writeup of these new beasts from Canon later this week.

The Leica Diary, Part 1: Introduction

Gear Talk

These days, it looks like every major camera manufacturer is coming out with a new addition to the MILC (Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera) class of bodies and lenses. The latest, of course, is Canon, with its EOS-M camera. These units, typically smaller than your average DSLRs, have been getting better and better, packing some serious punch into a very small form factor.

Thing is, in all the hype behind cameras like the EOS-M and Fuji’s X100 and X-Pro1 bodies, people forget that MILCs have been around before companies like Sony, Fuji, and Olympus made them popular. Way back in 2006, a good three years before Olympus came out with its retro-styled Micro-Four-Thirds-based camera, Leica introduced its first digital rangefinder, the M8. (more…)

Get Your Gear On With the Canon 1Dx

Gear Talk

We’ve been waiting for this bit of kit for a long, long time. The 1Dx is finally here, and we run through a bunch of the features of Canon’s flagship body. This full-frame camera is set to replace the 1D mkiV and the 1Ds mk III. We show off the high frame-rate, some AF features, compare ISO settings and give a general rundown of this exciting new professional DSLR.

The 1Dx is available for rent now at http://www.borrowlenses.com/product/Canon_EOS_1D_X_Digital_SLR

“Bullet-Time Backflip” sequence by:http://cargocollective.com/emotiveimage/

Product Update: D800 and D4 Lock-Up Fix

Gear Talk Tips & Tricks
News has been circulating today about a newly identified bug with the Nikon D4 and D800 that may negatively impact photographers employing certain settings. To give you a deeper insight to the problem, a short term fix and a likely long term solution our resident technical expert and repair manager Michio Fukuda  has the following to report:
 
The Bug
Nikon’s newly released D4’s and D800’s have had an alarming number of complaints regarding an intermittent issue causing the bodies to lock up under normal user conditions. Nikon has officially addressed the issue, in a recent conversation with PDN (Photo District News) on 5.3.2012,  and DPReview has since confirmed this bug.  The problem encountered again and again is that the body will become completely unresponsive until the battery is removed and re-installed, but should return to good working order once this is done.
 
The Fix
Nikon stated that the issue is present for only a small users who have ‘Highlights’ and ‘RGB Histogram’ display options turned on.  They also communicated that they are in the process of developing the permanent fix and have instructed users on a temporary fix for the interim. The temporary “band-aid” fix is to turn off the ‘Highlights’ and ‘RGB Histogram’ display options in the ‘Playback Display Option’s sub-menu of  the ‘Playback’ menu.
 
Here is the step by step process to implement the temporary fix:
 
Step 1 – Press the menu button.
 
Step 2 – Scroll down to “Playback display options” and press the center button on the directional pad to access that menu.
 
Step 3 – Once inside the playback menu, scroll down to “highlights” and “RGB histogram”.
 
Step 4 – Deselect the “highlights” and “RGB histogram” options.
 
Step 5 – Scroll back up to “Done” and confirm the actions by pressing down on the center button of the directional pad.
 

While we all like our settings a certain way, at least they have narrowed down the catalyst to these two specific settings so that we may all go about our shoots without any hiccups. We speculate that the permanent fix will be a firmware update, since the determining factor (specific camera settings) is a software-based function. Like all Nikon D4 and D800 users we’re hoping that the permanent fix will be released in the coming weeks at which time all BorrowLenses.com customers can rest easy knowing we’ll have the needed update in place ASAP.

Op-Ed: Gear Doesn’t Matter – Except When It Does

Gear Talk
Highway 130. Taken with a Canon Rebel XTi and kit lens.

Highway 130. Taken with a Canon Rebel XTi and kit lens.

Please note: this article is a personal opinion and does not reflect the views of BorrowLenses.com. All thoughts and images are my own.

Introduction

If you follow any part of the photographic blogosphere, you’ve heard folks repeat this mantra over and over and over again: “Gear doesn’t matter.”

The basic premise of that dictum is as follows: making great pictures is about the photographer, not the camera or the lens or any other piece of gear. A good photographer can make a great image with a point-and-shoot that an amateur armed with a Nikon D4 and an 85mm f/1.4 lens can’t match.

I’ve personally repeated the “It’s not the camera that takes the picture” mantra to new photographers myself because I know it to be true, and because it helps allay the fears many photographers have when buying their first DSLR, for example. (more…)

Op-Ed: Your Medium and Tools as Inspiration

Gear Talk

I just noticed that Instagram for Android was released yesterday, and it’s downloading as I write this. I really dig Instagram, SmugMug’s Camera Awesome, and all the other iPhone/Android camera apps out there; they’ve truly democratized photography and that’s for the better.

Then I saw this on Popular Photography: Inside the World of Large Scale Wet Plate Photography.

The story is about photographer Ian Ruther’s camera-in-a-truck that he takes out on location to make images. The cost of each image is a staggering $500, and the process isn’t exactly easy, as shown in the video below.

I’m old enough to remember the days of film, of loading hand-rolled 35mm film cassettes into my Canon AE-1. As late as 2010, I still developed a bunch of medium-format 120 film myself, having fallen in love with the medium all over again. I’ve even shot on 4×5 film on a borrowed Crown Graphic, and it was a wonderful experience. (more…)