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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

“Bullet-Time Backflip” sequence by:

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 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 All thoughts and images are my own.


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…)

Canon 5DMarkIII Review by

Gear Talk

We spent a day with OliviaTech testing out the capabilities of the new Canon 5DMarkIII. We took it into a full production setting to shoot a music video and then into her studio to compare the ISO sensitivity, rolling shutter, and aliasing vs its predecessor, the Canon 5DMarkII. Check out the video review below and her full write up here.

Longer video clips available for you to download at Canon 5D Mark II vs Canon 5D Mark III Video Clips.

The BigmOS: A Review Of Sigma’s Stabilized 50-500mm Lens

Gear Talk

We take the Sigma 50–500mm f/4.5–6.3 APO DG OS HSM (there’s a mouthful for you) our for a spin to put it through a few paces. Read this review to find out how it did – and why I would rent this lens again.

Opinion: iBooks Author – why photographers should care

Gear Talk
iBooks Author, the new ebook authoring app from Apple.

iBooks Author, the new ebook authoring app from Apple.

Yesterday, at an event in New York, Apple released an update to its iBooks app, along with an all-new authoring application that makes it very easy to create stunning interactive books for the iPad. On the surface of things, this seemed to be an education-related event, with a focus on using the authoring tool, iBooks Author, to create textbooks for sale through the iBookstore.

But if you watch the video of the special event, you’ll see that Phil Schiller, Apple’s VP of worldwide marketing, makes a point of mentioning that iBooks Author can be used to create much more than textbooks. This is where things start to get interesting. (more…)

Finally! A new full-frame camera from Nikon

Gear Talk
The new Nikon D4

The new Nikon D4

Nikon just announced the D4, and it looks like a doozy, not just an updated version of the D3s. Loads of new features – expanded ISO, clean HDMI out, MUCH better HD video options (1080p at 30, 24 and 25fps). Most importantly, it’ll be the first full-frame sensor camera with full HD capability since the Canon 5D MarkII (the 1Dx isn’t due out till March 2012).

A couple of other points of interest.

  • The D4 has an RGB metering sensor, first introduced with the Nikon D7000. The difference here is that besides being an updated version of the D7000’s sensor, the D4’s metering sensor has 91,000 pixels to the D7000’s 2016.
  • Framerate has be upped to 11fps in Continuous High, from 9fps in the D3s.
  • ISO is expandable to 204800.
  • The 91k pixel RGB sensor also features face recognition.
  • You can now record 1080p video in three formats: Full-frame, DX crop and an even smaller crop that uses just 1920×1080 pixels on the sensor.

Lots more stuff too, including a headphone jack for monitoring audio, a levels indicator and more. That 1Dx needs to hit the market sooner rather than later, because Nikon has upped the ante with this extremely capable HDDSLR, finally challenging Canon in the video realm.

Check out the press release for more details. Here are the specs.

UPDATES: Here’s a roundup of D4-related pieces from around the web.


Editor’s note: Post updated to clarify sentence about the D4 being the first full-frame camera capable of full HD video since 5D Mark II. The 1Dx was announced, but won’t be released until after the D4.

Tip of The Week: Our favorite iPad photography applications

Gear Talk Tips & Tricks

Every Thursday, we post a photography-related tip on our blog. These tips are typically inspired by questions we get from our customers. Sometimes we might feature a technique tip, and sometimes a gear recommendation. If there’s something specific you’d like to see in this section, let us know. Email us at [email protected]

Visuals, by Vincent Laforet

Visuals, by Vincent Laforet

This week’s tip is a list of recommendations for iPad owners. Since it was released, the iPad has been used by many photographers as a mobile portfolio, a reference tool, and even as – yes, we’re serious – a light source for photography. Some enterprising photographers have released their own apps for instructional purposes and one National Geographic photographer even gave up his website in favor of an iPad app.

Clearly, the iPad has a lot to offer to photographers. (more…)

One Fisheye to Rule Them All!

Gear Talk

After spending some quality time with Canon’s newest L-series lens, the EF 8-15mm f/4L Fisheye USM, we can safely say it is the undisputed king of the fishes. It’s so versatile that it replaces at least five other lenses: the Sigma 8mm, Peleng’s 8mm, Tokina’s 10-17mm, Canon’s own 15mm and the Zenitar 16mm. It covers the same focal length as all five of these lenses (for the most part) while being sharper across the zoom range, delivering crisp, contrasty images that are to be expected from a lens bearing Canon’s lofty “L” designation. With this lens in your bag, there’s little reason to consider another fisheye lens, regardless of what camera body you are using. (more…)

Tip of the week: Making sense of PocketWizards, Part II

Gear Talk Tips & Tricks

Every Thursday, we post a photography-related tip on our blog. These tips are typically inspired by questions we get from our customers. Sometimes we might feature a technique tip, and sometimes a gear recommendation. If there’s something specific you’d like to see in this section, let us know. Email us at [email protected]

In Part I of this series, we talked about the standard types of PocketWizards, covering the Plus II and Multimax triggers. Now, we’ll tackle the newer, more complex types of PocketWizards, called the ControlTL series.

About the ControlTL series

ControlTL stands for “Control The Light”, and it’s PocketWizard’s way of giving photographers even greater power over their lighting setup. There are several items that make up the system, from triggers designed specifically for studio flashes like the Paul C. Buff Einstein E640 lights, to small flash-specific triggers like the Nikon SB-900 and Canon 580EXII.


Weekly Recap – November 7, 2011

Gear Talk

Welcome to the Weekly Recap. Today’s post recaps new and newsworthy items related to photography from around the web for the week ending on November 6, 2011.

  1. In case you missed it, Canon made its Hollywood debut last week. Lots of hoopla and a $20,000 camera in EF (standard Canon lens mount) and PL-mount version. Martin Scorcese and Vince LaForet both made appearances.
  2. Not to be outdone, outspoken and brash CEO Jim Jannard of RED trumped their introduction with his own – a $10,000 RED Scarlet-X that shoots 4K resolution at up to 30p.
  3. Of course, Canon added a very Jobsian “One more thing” nugget at the end of its presentation, announcing an HDDSLR that would capture 4K footage at 24fps in MotionJPEG.
  4. Lawsuits against photographers filed by angry clients isn’t exactly old news, but this one takes the cake. Actually, this guy wants his photographer to pay for his cake. And the rest of his wedding, apparently, so he can restage the whole thing SIX years later. After he’s been separated from his wife. It was enough for Anderson Cooper to add him to the Ridiculist.
  5. What is it these days with the law and photographers? First there’s the guy above, suing for $48,000. Then, an Oakland cop fires a rubber bullet at a photographer. And somewhere along the way, a Milwaukee photojournalist was arrested while covering an Occupy Milwaukee protest. Photography is not a crime, people!
  6. At least the folks in New Hampshire have it right. A judge there dropped wiretapping charges against a man for recording a police officer during a traffic stop.
  7. Going back to new gear releases, Panasonic unveiled the GX1, it’s newest Micro 4/3 camera. The category continues to grow…
  8. Our friends at DPS have a list of their top 10 photographic accessories, as presented by their readers.
  9. The folks at DIYPhotography have a rundown of the latest, greatest, most cutting edge camera flash technology – from 150 years ago.
  10. And finally, because everyone who shoots Canon knows that white lenses are better than black, one photographer painted his sub-$100 50mm f/1.8 lens white, with a red ring. Presenting: the 50mm f/1.8L (not really ‘L) lens.

And… fight!

Gear Talk
RED vs Canon

RED vs Canon

Canon says hello to Hollywood.

For a few years now, Hollywood has had a burgeoning love affair with Canon’s EOS HDDSLRs, using them in productions ranging from Transformers to Captain America to TV shows like House. Now, Canon is making its formal entrance bid into Hollywood with the $20,000 Cinema EOS C300. Check out Canon’s new site dedicated to all things Cinema EOS.

More importantly, check out our friend Vincent Laforet’s post on his newest video, Mobius, shot with the C300. There’s an awesome behind the scens video, both embedded here for your viewing pleasure.

Mobius from Vincent Laforet on Vimeo.


Mobius :: Behind The Scenes from Blake Whitman on Vimeo.

The camera looks pretty impressive and the video, if Mobius is any indication, is of excellent quality. The Super35 sensor is a 4K sensor, but captures a 1080p file, and Canon has a DSLR concept that can capture 24fps in the MotionJPEG codec at 4K resolution.

Yeah, we’re salivating.

3 hours later, RED unveiled new specs, pricing and availability of their answer to the C300, the Scarlet-X.

And what a coup – the Scarlet-X is all grown up. 5K at 12fps (that’s 14 megapixel stills at 12 frames per second) and 4K at up to 30fps, incredible dynamic range and a price that starts at $10,000. A fully equipped package, ready to shoot, minus lenses, is $14,000. It has the same sensor as it’s big brother, the EPIC; the difference in the two – besides the price – is the processing power in the camera’s brain; the EPIC can handle higher frames per second at higher resolutions because of it.

Um, wow.

Since canon announced the C300 before RED put their announcement out, we’ve yet to hear what Canon’s reps think of the Scarlet-X. Either way, as the folks at Pixiq say, “The battle for amateur filmmakers is about to commence, and things are are about to get properly interesting…”