This blog is my attempt to keep track of some of the things I learn along the way, with my Canon 7D, G12 and accessories. All images copyright Brad Calkins, not to be used without permission (or purchase). I do not attempt to monetize my blog, other than to promote my stock photo portfolio on Dreamstime.

Friday, December 31, 2010

Back to Canon...

As previously posted, I was leaning towards giving micro 4/3rds a fair shake - but I just can't get the results I can from the Canon equipment.  As I said, I would have to move to the 7D or 5D to get a bigger viewfinder.  While they are indeed more expensive than the Panasonic bodies, they are more capable for what I do...  So, I've sold my GF1 and gone back to the G12 and put the proceeds towards an update of my 40D to the 7D.  Goals I have in mind:

1. Current model for high resolution in stock photography at base ISO.  If I'm ahead of the curve now, the images I upload today will be current for longer. 
2. Smaller RAW sizes (sRAW), lower noise high ISO for personal shots that don't demand high resolution.  This is an area the micro four thirds system falls short...
3. Better AF.  Microadjust for primes, zone focusing, AF tracking, point focus, etc.  I've very curious to see how the 7D's point focus mode works.  With my 40D I very often find that shooting a flat target is very accurate, but I get front focus when shooting something on an angle like a face.  I don't think this is a microadjust problem but the physical size of the AF area picking up the front edge of the subject.  Smaller AF targets should help nail the eye of the person.
4. Video.
5. Wireless flash - sell the ST-E2 and get the flash control without any physical add-on to the body.  Sell the 40D as well.
6. Bigger viewfinder.  5D Mk II would be even nicer, of course, but the extra $1000 goes a long way with 4 kids...  The original 5D is an option as well, but used they seem to be closer to $1200 or more if you want a low shutter count.  For what I do I think full frame is overkill, and suddenly my 24-105mm doesn't zoom enough, etc.  A 7D replaces my 40D, while a 5D would supplement it - meaning I can't sell the 40D to help pay for it.
7. More customizable camera.  The more I like using my camera the more I bring it and use it - and the better the photos that result from that...  I love the little details on the 7D: depth of field button can be used to toggle AF modes, LCD viewfinder hides non active AF points, AF in live view, etc.

We'll see how happy I am with it in a few months :)

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Critque of my own photos

Well, I probably won't do much actual critiquing, as I'm intending to show some photos I really like...  Lately I've been focused on gear and stock photography on this blog as I sorted out my various equipment, but all along I've been happily taking shots of my kids that I really enjoy.  I intend to step it up a bit in 2011 and focus a bit on developing my style.  I find I tend to do things the 'safe' way, and while I have developed my skills in terms of exposure and getting sharp photos, I now need to turn more to composition and concept.

This shot of the kids sledding is one I think worked out nicely.  I've got my son dead center in the frame, but I think it works well because of the other kids in the upper right, and the space it leaves for him to move into...  It also has a kind of nice diagonal flow to it, from the upper right and through the sled to the bottom left.  I'm not sure if his expression is one of worry or just concentration - probably the latter as at this point he hadn't bailed yet :)  That said I think this is an example of a safe shot - but still one I really enjoy looking at.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Why you want an articulated screen

For reasons I'll get into in a future post, I've finally decided to go back to the Canon G series in the form of a Canon G12.  There were a couple of deal breakers with the G10 that made me move away from the G series down the micro 4/3rds road, and now that they've been solved I'm back ;)  Those deal breakers were the lack of HD video of any kind (I'm happy with 720P), and the other was just a bit too many megapixels on the sensor.  One key feature I missed with 4/3rds is the compatibility with my Canon flashes.  

My main criticism of the Micro 4/3rds was that it really meant I would have needed to start duplicating equipment with my Canon gear to really embrace it.  In the end, I think it could be very well suited for many applications - but not if you also maintain the dSLR system.  

But back to the point of the blog, here is an example of the difference that having an articulated screen makes.  The first shot is about as good as I would normally get without a screen that flips out.  With my dSLR I would have been even higher up, not being able to hold the camera at arms length.  The 2nd shot is the result after flipping out the screen and holding the camera closer to the ground!  Forget pixel peeping for a second, this is a real difference in the image that makes it in my opinion!  Wish I hadn't clipped her foot, though :)