Playing With Canon’s New Big Guns

Playing With Canon’s New Big Guns

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. 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. Handling Canon 1Dx The first thing I do with a new camera is go through the settings to customize it to my specifications. The Canon 1Dx’s menu system is a lot like the 5D Mark III’s, which itself borrows a few things I loved from the 7D, such as the...
The Leica Diary, Part III – Focus

The Leica Diary, Part III – Focus

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.  Take a look at the image below. It’s a bit hard to capture the view through a Leica’s viewfinder, but see that slightly bright rectangle near the top-left of the circle? That’s your focusing aid. Now, see how the part of the poster that’s in that rectangle is doubled?  Well, on a Leica, you adjust the focus ring of the lens till the two images merge into one. That’s the first way to focus a Leica, and when you’re at a wide-open aperture like f/2.5, it’s the surest way to gain critical focus. But that’s not how zone focusing works. Google defines zone focusing as “A way to focus that utilizes the depth of field scale rather than the actual distance from camera to subject. Zone focusing is most useful for candid, street photography.” To understand this, let’s take a look at the lens barrel of a Leica. In the image below, you’ll see that there are a number of markings...
The Leica Diary, Part 1: Introduction

The Leica Diary, Part 1: Introduction

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. Powered by a 10.3MP crop sensor, the body retained almost all of the classic Leica styling that’s been aped so much now, and kept the lens mount the same, so that almost all M-series lenses could fit onto this new digital body. The M9, which BorrowLenses.com carries, kept the same general body shape of the M8, but upped the sensor to an 18.3MP full-frame sensor. It also added some very nice features, including better high ISO performance, a better EV compensation system, and exposure bracketing (though it feels kinda weird to try and shoot HDR with a Leica). Leica users also happen to be some of the biggest zealots most passionate folks out there. I’m not talking about the rich guys who like to hang an M9 from their neck for the cache that the little red dot on the camera’s body provides. I’m talking about the guys...
Get Your Gear On With the Canon 1Dx

Get Your Gear On With the Canon 1Dx

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

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

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. I’ve also made some images, like the one shown here of Highway 130 in the San Francisco Bay Area, that I still like. It was taken with a Canon Rebel XTi and an 18–55mm kit lens. So, yes, at a basic level, you can make great images with very basic gear. For newcomers, especially, this is a good sermon to preach. The catch You knew there was going to be one, right? Before I tell you what that catch is, let me say this again, this time in bold and italic typeface: You don’t need expensive gear to get started in photography. Even a point-and-shoot will work. Use basic gear to learn the basics of photography before you start eyeing big gear. Ok. Here’s that catch: Gear...

Canon 5DMarkIII Review by OliviaTech.com

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...
Opinion: iBooks Author – why photographers should care

Opinion: iBooks Author – why photographers should care

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. A few days ago, I posted the following rant to my Google+ page. I just had a bit of an epiphany. I’m reviewing a book for +This Week in Photo (TWiP) and I realized that I can’t really review it – or any other book – in terms of its design and presentation. This one book is available in three or four electronic formats, not one of them alike. How do you a review a book – especially a book on photography – without commenting on its design and layout? I think ebooks are going to have to get to a point where they match print books in terms of aesthetic beauty. Ebooks on photography, for example, really ought to match their printed counterparts. +David duChemin is doing this to a huge extent with his Craft and Vision ebooks, but the big publishers have to get up there and do this too. ePub is a lame format, as is the...
Finally! A new full-frame camera from Nikon

Finally! A new full-frame camera from Nikon

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. Nikon’s James Banfield goes through the video functions of the D4 on DSLR News Shooter. Just in time for the D4, Sony announced a range of XQD cards for the D4. ISO1200 has a lead on a low light video...