Truland Photography

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Canon's New Pancake Lens

Canon announced a new lens for full frame sensor and crop sensor cameras two weeks ago. It started showing up late last week in Singapore and the UK. In the US, for some reason, Best Buy had the lens in stores before the big online retailers had stock to ship out. So, I ran to my local Best Buy, picked one up and cancelled my pre-order.

This lens is exciting because it is cheap, tiny and a focal length that I think is perfect for many different kinds of photography. At less than $200 it is less expensive than good filters for my other lenses. The lens is officially called the EF 40mm f/2.8 STM but most people will call it the 40mm pancake.

Wikipedia describes a pancake lens as "a flat, thin lens (short barrel), generally a normal or slightly wide prime lens. Pancake lenses are primarily valued for providing quality optics in a compact package."

STM stands for stepping motor. A different kind of auto focus motor than used in Canon's line of USM lenses. The lens focuses to just under a foot and with a short extension tube will be capable of nice closeups and still be shorter than a normal lens. I can also get out my Cokin A series filter set which will not fit on my bigger lenses. This will give me a polarizer, graduated neutral density, neutral density and other filter options for the lens.

Here is a picture of the lens on my 5D Mark II with battery grip.

I have mostly been using the lens on my 5D without a grip. Here are a few shots from the last couple of days.

Canon EOS 5D, EF 40mmm f/2.8 STM, f/5.6, 1/20 sec., ISO 400

Canon EOS 5D, EF 40mmm f/2.8 STM, f/5.6, 1/125 sec., ISO 100

Canon EOS 5D, EF 40mmm f/2.8 STM, f/4, 1/200 sec., ISO 100

If you want your own pancake you can order one from Adorama here.

UPDATE: Here are two more shots taken with the lens. The first is at at the lens' minimum focusing distance, the second at the minimum focusing distance with a 20mm extension tube attached. I was shooting just for demonstration purposes and was hand holding. Not what I would do normally.

ISO was ridiculously high. You wouldn't want to see 100% crops of the full image.

Canon EOS 5D Mark II, EF 40mmm f/2.8 STM, f/8, 1/750 sec., ISO 3200

Canon EOS 5D Mark II, EF 40mmm f/2.8 STM, f/5.6, 1/750 sec., ISO 3200

Friday, June 15, 2012

High Grass Along the Trails

I finally got on to the island for the first time in June. The most notable difference from my last visit toward the end of May is the height of the grass along the trails. It's getting more difficult to find different things to photograph so that I don't end up with a whole lot of images of similar scenes. I expect that this will be an issue from now until we get into September.

I'm still waiting for that shot of a trail with a deer in the middle of it. I've seen the scene several times but not with a lens long enough to make the deer stand out. And when I've got a long enough lens - no deer. There are a few Bald Eagles that hang out around the island and that rule applies to them as well.

In any case, here's a shot from this morning.

Canon EOS 5D Mark II, EF 24-70 f/2.8L USM at 24mm, f/5.6, 1/320 sec., ISO 200

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Playing Event Photographer

For the past couple of days I've been in Rochester, New York, helping to shoot the Synod Assembly of the Upstate New York Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Photographing events like weddings and conventions is not something I'd like to do for a living. There is a lot of pressure not to miss anything that someone will be expecting to be photographed.

When you're volunteering your time, the pressure is less. It also helps lessen the pressure that the entire event is being streamed live over the internet and recorded for posterity. A difference between a fluid convention and something like a wedding is that there are no posed photographs. In a way, it's more like documentary photography than a typical wedding shoot which mixes candids and posed shots.

In a big convention hall, lighting can be harsh and uneven and there is no practical way to use flash. While some photographers have no problem climbing on chairs or walking right up into the action, I approach it more like I were shooting wildlife - trying to be unobtrusive and grabbing candid shots where they are available.

I would not be a person to solely shoot an event like this but I think I can add a different perspective and some quality images to document the experience. All of the examples I included below were made with a Canon EOS 5D Mark II at ISO 1600. All except the photo of communion during the worship service were made with the EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM at F/2.8. The communion photo was made with the EF 50mm f/1.4 USM at f/2.

Nearly all the photos I made required white balance adjustment in post processing and most required exposure and contrast changes before saving as .jpg files. Cropping was mostly to remove distracting portions of the image.

I ended up with 46 shots in a gallery on my Zenfolio hosting site. The ones I uploaded there are ones I felt had both photographic interest and an importance to the event. Here are some examples. My favorite is the shot of Pastor Leonard Johnson. You can visit the gallery at

UPDATE: You can see how the photos were used in this PDF file 2012 Assembly Wrap-up. I provided all the photos except for the last two.

Synod Bishop Marie Jerge

Pastor Leonard Johnson, marking his 50th anniversary of ordination

Installation of elected officials

Communing at worship

Recognition of outgoing Secretary Sandy Moncrief

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Decorah Eagles Update

It's amazing the progress the Eaglets have made since the end of March. Here is a screen capture from this morning.

To see my blog post of March 30th with a link to the live stream click here.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Trail Scenic Project Moves Into June

Last weekend was the final opportunity I had to add to the Peebles Island Trail Scenics Project in the month of May. At some point soon I'll have to make the rounds with a tripod and bracket exposures for some HDR processing. With the tree canopy all filled in it is too dark under the trees to properly expose the entire scenes.

Canon EOS 5D, EF 50mm f/1.4 USM, f/5.6, 1/400 sec., ISO 200

Canon EOS 5D, EF 50mm f/1.4 USM, f/5.6, 1/160 sec., ISO 200

Some interesting color was added to one of the scenics by some orange slime caused by iron bacteria in water running off across the trail from a bog. The last photo shows a closeup of the orange stripe in the scenic.

Canon EOS 5D, EF 50mm f/1.4 USM, f/5.6, 1/125 sec., ISO 200
Canon EOS 5D, EF 50mm f/1.4 USM, f/5.6, 1/125 sec., ISO 200