Thursday, July 30, 2015

A Big Circle

Over the past year and a half I have made several changes to my "gear philosophy".

I started out 2014 with an EOS 5D Mark II and an EOS 7D. I sold the 5D Mark II, a decision I regret. I had a Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L lens and an EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens. The latter I purchased by selling my non IS 70-200mm f/2.8L and my 300mm f/4L IS lenses back in 2013.

I sold both the 70-200mm and 24-70mm lenses and I then bought used Sigma 50-150mm f/2.8, 17-50mm f/2.8, 30mm f/1.4 and 10mm f/2.8 fisheye lenses.

I don't have anything bad to say about the Sigma lenses other than that I much prefer using Canon's DPP software for processing my images and that just doesn't work to get the best out of images made with Sigma lenses. If I were just shooting JPGs out of camera I would have been happy with the Sigmas but I shoot RAW and process every image to get rid of chromatic aberration, something the Canon software won't do with third party lenses.

So, starting this past Spring, I began a reverse migration back to Canon lenses. I sold all my Sigma lenses for pretty much the price I paid for them. I then picked up a used non IS 70-200 f/2.8L at a great price on eBay. After experimenting with primes in the barely wide to short telephoto range I picked up a used 24-70mm f/2.8L USM lens from Adorama. In fact, this copy of the 24-70 was made in 2011, the last year Canon made the lens and is in better condition that my earlier copy.

So, I am now back to where I was with really nice 24-70mm and a 70-200mm lenses but with only crop bodies. The addition of the Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM back in the Spring, a lens I really like, compensates for the lack of a full frame body.

So, I'm heading into the future with two 7D bodies, one with battery grip, one with Magic Lantern software and a 70D body together with Canon zooms covering 10-22mm, 24-70mm, and 70-200mm in addition to 24mm pancake and 50mm STM primes, Canon's EF-S 60mm macro lens and an extender 2XIII.

The EF 28mm f/1.8 USM and EF 100mm f/2 USM lenses are expected to be sold in the near future. Here are the seven lenses, without hoods, which will now remain in my main bag.






Monday, July 27, 2015

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM Scenics

Canon's newest small, cheap inexpensive STM prime lens makes a really nice walk around package with a smaller DSLR like the EOS xxD series. While the field of view with this lens on Canon crop sensor bodies is equivalent to 80mm on a full frame body, I like the ability to isolate subjects and eliminate foreground clutter. For wider views there's always the smaller, and almost as cheap inexpensive, EF-S 24mm f/2.8 STM pancake lens which has a 38mm equivalent field of view.

In the shots below, I was shooting between shrubs along a trail looking out onto a field of Cattails. The 24mm lens would have shown some of that foreground clutter which would have needed to be cropped out. Sure, a 24-70mm zoom would provide the needed flexibility in a single lens but Canon's 24-70mm f/2.8L USM lens weighs almost three pounds while the 50mm and 24mm STM lenses together weigh 10 ounces. And, since the STM lenses are so cheap inexpensive, there's no reason not to have both options available.

These are all five image handheld bracketed shots at +/- 1EV processed with Photomatix Essentials 4.0.







Friday, July 24, 2015

Magic Lantern Auto Exposure Bracketing

In my last post I discussed installing Magic Lantern software on one of my 7D bodies in order to bracket more than three images for HDR processing. This morning, I got around to trying out the auto bracketing feature of the software and I like it. 

The software not only decides how many images to bracket but what the bracketing parameters should be. The only setting that is set ahead of time is the amount of bracketing, 1/2 EV, 1/EV, 2EV, etc. The software then evaluates the first either the scene or the first image and then decides how many additional files to shoot and whether they should be over and/or under exposed.

When I was out this morning I intentionally looked for scenes with both high contrast and low contrast, lighting wise. The exposures ranged from two to six images and only one was the traditional over and under exposure in equal numbers. Some five frame brackets were the normally exposed image and then four underexposed images in one stop increments.

The files that resulted seemed to fit well with the "Balanced" presets in my HDR software, Photomatix Essentials 4.0. While the Magic Lantern software did choose six files for two of the scenes, the HDR software will only process five files so I deleted the darkest one.

I uploaded the twelve resulting images and the normally exposed files to a gallery on Zenfolio for anyone interested in examining them. The way I've set it up is explained in the Gallery description. The Gallery is located at http://trulandphoto.zenfolio.com/mlaeb.

One of the drawbacks of using the Magic Lantern bracketing is that is very deliberate in how it functions. While the built in Canon firmware lets you shoot at high speed continuous and stops when the bracketing is completed, Magic Lantern requires you to be in single shot mode and then evaluates and processes each file. Today, it was taking at least one second per shot whereas an EOS 70D, for example, can bracket five shots in less than a second. This could matter if the scene includes wildlife, clouds or people that are moving.

Here are a couple of examples. The first one is a five image HDR and the second a two image HDR.