Sunday, September 30, 2012

Update On RainbowImaging 100 Meter 2.4 GHz Wireless Shutter Release Review (Video)

Hello guys, I just wanted to give a quick update on one of my video product reviews I have posted before. the first video is the original review.


After the product broke and I have to do some DIY soldering to fix it, here is an update on what happened and how my views changed on this product. 


That is all. If you enjoyed the videos and want more, you can always subscribe me on Youtube here.
If you love photography, you should also check out my photography blog here. It's got photos from all over the world, plus tips and tricks on a variety of different subjects in photography.

Friday, September 28, 2012

High Speed Photography Tutorial (Including a Video Version)

Space Shuttle Endeavour Flyover at NASA Moffett Field near Mountain View, CA.
See more photos of the event here.

How would you guys like to learn high speed photography and be able to take a photo like the one I did above? Pretty sure all of you do. I am here to offer some tips and tricks on the method I use for high speed photography. Let's get started!

In order to take the photo, you need to have the correct settings on your camera. Here are some of the settings I use on my camera. I'll explain them in more detail under the image. These were just screenshots pulled out of my video. If this text version tutorial don't make that much sense to you, I recommend you want the video at the end of this blog post.

  1. In a high speed shot, you always want to control the speed of the shot. Always use Shutter Priority Mode (Tv or S) on your camera. In this mode, you can set the camera's shutter speed, and have your camera decide the rest of the values (ISO, Aperture) automatically to reach the correct exposure. You do this by using the mode dial on the top of your camera. 
  2. Secondly, make sure you have a shutter speed fast enough for your moving object. However, you should not drive this speed up too much as your camera may not be able to get the right exposure! Generally if the camera can not reach the correct exposure, the values in the camera will flash. Generally when this happens, it means your photo will turn out too dark, however under some circumstances, it may mean your photo will turn out too bright. This is generally a trial and error process. The tip here is to get it at the "right" exposure, one that is neither too short or too long. I can not give you a specific shutter speed as it will depend on how fast your subject is moving. 
  3. Set your camera in AI SERVO mode (Canon) or in the special focus tracking mode in your camera. This mode is generally under different names in other brands of cameras. I only know the name for Canon cameras as I have never used other brands before. AI SERVO will insure that your subject will be continuously focused on as long as you are pressing down the shutter button half way or in between shots when it is fully pressed down. 
  4. Set your camera on High-Speed Continuous Burst so it will take as many shots as fast as it can when the shutter button is pressed down. This will make it more likely you will get the shot you are looking for. 
  5. Zone-AF is what I use for these kinds of photos. The center focus points of ANY camera is the fastest and is great for focusing on fast moving objects. Most likely, your subject will be in the center anyways, so why not just limit the focusing to those points! 
  6. Setting the metering mode to center weighted average will help you get the correct exposure. Sometimes when you try to take a photo of a bird in flight, the sky behind will be extremely bright compared to the under side of the bird. If you left it on evaluative metering, your camera will most likely expose for the sky instead of your subject. Again, your subject will be in the center most likely, so this will even out the exposure a bit and help you get the right image. 

Some people may disagree with the tips I provide below. Again, this is just my way of doing things. Whether or not you want to follow these is completely up to you. 

Another thing I like to do is setting my camera on RAW + Small JPEG. I love shooting RAW as I have more work room in post processing, and I also shoot a small JPEG because RAW photos can not be previewed with out special softwares like Photoshop. Generally people look down at this for high speed photography as it will fill the buffer (temporary storage) of your camera as it writes the data to memory card. When this limit is reached, your speed will slow down significantly and your camera will refuse to take any more photos. How fast you hit this limit depends completely on the camera you have and the write speed of your memory card. If you want to see how fast before the Canon EOS 7D hits its buffer, check out my video below. The Canon EOS 7D has a pretty fast processor and a fairly large buffer inside so I shoot in RAW as the buffer limit don't bother me as much. 

If your camera hits the buffer too soon and it starts bothering you, you can try these few things:
  • Turn off the JPEG "preview".
  • Choose a lower resolution RAW format.
  • Switch to JPEG format (you usually can't fill your buffer in JPEG mode).
  • Buy a faster memory card or camera. 

The other thing you see in my above image is that I have my camera set on ISO Auto. If you are a bit more experienced with photography, you might be thinking, "That is not very professional!". Usually I'd agree with you, but however, the recently Canon EOS 7D firmware upgrade added the option for me to set a max in ISO Auto. If you want to read more about the firmware update, you can read about it here. You want to use as low of an ISO as you want, but with fast moving objects, there is no telling what you need to use. It is best to let your camera automatically pick between a limited range. I usually don't like to go over ISO 800, but in the Space Shuttle Endeavour Flyover case, I know ISO 400 should be enough to properly expose the shots. In photography, everything is about experience. You should be able to get a rough estimate of the settings you need for a particular image with out even seeing it first. Only tip I can offer you on that is keep taking photos and soon you will get the hang of it. To configure the maximum ISO on a Canon EOS 7D, press (Menu), and scroll to the 3rd menu. You should see this option. If you don't, you probably didn't update your camera yet, and again, you get get more details on that here.


I love these settings, and I wish to use them more often! What should I do? You can easily set it to one of your custom function modes on your camera (may not be present on some cameras and the number of modes you have vary between different bodies too). The method I show you here is for the Canon EOS 7D as this is the only camera I have and know how to use. Different cameras may have different methods of setting this up, or you may not have custom functions entirely. I recommend you consult your camera's instruction manual for more details on this subject.

If you have a Canon EOS 7D like me, you are in luck! Ever wondered what the C1, C2, or C3 on your mode dial is for? It stands for Custom Function 1, Custom Function 2, and Custom Function 3. On your Canon EOS 7D, you can set up a total of 3 custom functions. For me, I my C1 set on the settings for HDR photography. For my C2, I have it set up on landscape shot without a remote shutter release (in other words 2 second delay). For my C3, you have been looking at it all this time and it is my high speed photography settings.

The settings can be any mode you want (expect Auto and Creative Auto). The button can be P, Tv, Av, M, or B and any custom settings you dial in will be saved. Custom settings includes your menu options, your metering modes, your shutter speed (in Tv or M mode), and all the other things displayed on your LCD. Every time you turn to the Custom Function, all those options will be there set up for you the same way you did the first time. To do this, turn your mode dial to the mode you want (P, Tv, Av, M, or B) and dial in the settings. Then just press (Menu), scroll to the 9th menu, and go down to Camera user setting (as demonstrated in the photo above). Then it will ask you to either Register, or Clear Settings. You will want Register (obviously). Then you just pick which mode dial you want to set it on. Doing so will reset what ever you have set on that mode previously, so make sure you don't pick the wrong one!


Now that we are done with camera settings, let's move on to some methods I use in the field when I'm actually taking photos.

The first tip I offer you may not be practical in all situations. Sometimes you maybe wondering if the shutter speed you set is fast enough, or if the tracking modes is correct. In planned events, like the Space Shuttle Endeavour Flyover, I know the subject will be a Boeing 747 (airplane). Before the main target flew over, I saw some other airplanes flying over the area and I took some test shots with those planes. You can see the test shots I took below.


Generally this is not practical with wildlife photography because those things are not planned and the speed they move at varies too greatly. However, in these planned events, I know those airplanes flying overhead is traveling at about the same speed as the Boeing 747 later, so I was able to use them as test targets. If you expecting the subject to fly over sometime, and it is totally planned, I recommend you find some test objects traveling at about the same speed before the real deal comes.

If you are in the field getting wildlife photos, it is a process of trial and error. Again, like I said above, The more photos you take, the easier it is for you to judge the correct shutter speed.

Remember how I said above with your buffer filling up? One way I try to avoid that is by shooting 2-3 shots, and then taking a break. I still keep the shutter button half way pressed, and I still track the subject, but I take a break from taking any shots. If you think about it, later on your computer, you only need 1 or 2 good shots. You don't need several hundred trashy shots (even if they are all in focus). So when I take a break between the shots, it gives the camera more time to write the data to the memory card, it gives me time to reframe the shot (You can't see anything when the mirror is up!), and it also gives AI SERVO some time to refocus accurately. Technically AI SERVO is still focusing between the shots, however it will be much more accurate when it doesn't have the mirror flipping up and down.

If you looked at my Endeavour photos, you will know I left some margins in every photo. I recommend you do the same just incase you have to crop and reframe a photo. This will also give you some error space as well. As I mentioned above, you can't see through your view finder when the mirror is up! Sometimes I will find myself not panning my camera when the mirror is up! I am not the only one who make this mistake, so make sure you leave some margins when you frame up the shot. Also remember to continue panning even when the viewfinder goes dark.

Alright, I hope you have enjoyed this tutorial! I hope this tutorial can help you out with your future photos. Please don't forget to share my blog posts with your friends! If you would like to get notifications next time I post, you can "Like" me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter and Google+. These links can also be found on the top of the right sidebar. Alright, and below is a video version of this tutorial which may further clarify somethings if you didn't get it in writing.


If you enjoy the video and would like more, you can subscribe me on Youtube here.
Love photography? Or just want to see beautiful photos? Come to my Photography Blog now1

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Unboxing the Canon Speedlite 600EX-RT Flash (Video)


This video is an unboxing of the new Speedlite 600EX-RT flash. I will have a video review posted soon after I get to use this product for a while. This new flash features radio transmission which is easier to use for multi-flash photogrpahy. 

Follow me on Youtube here. Other than these unboxing video, I also do product review videos, and photography tutorial and tips videos.

Enjoy photography or just want to see beautiful photos? Come to Eric's Photography Blog now where photos are displayed and photography lessons are provided including product recommendations! 






Monday, September 17, 2012

Canon's New EOS 6D Full Frame DSLR


Photo Credit: Amazon.com

Hello photography enthusiasts! Canon has unveiled today their new EOS 6D camera. This new camera is a great upgrade if you are an EOS 7D owner as this camera is only around $2100 USD (Body only) compared to the EOS 7D which was priced around $1500 USD (Body only). If you are making this upgrade, please take note this camera only reads SD cards and are not compatible with EF-S mount lenses. A 20.2 megapixel full frame sensor, a built-in GPS, DIGIC 5+ Image Processor, and a built-in Wifi transmitter are just some of the important components making this new camera unique. 

The new built-in GPS allows the camera to include location information in every photo you take. Other Canon DSLRs so far (Example: 5D MkIII7D) requires you to plug in an external GPS in order to recored location information. The new built-in Wifi transmitter allows you to upload photos wirelessly, print photos wirelessly, and control the camera wirelessly. Previous cameras (Example: 5D MkIII7D) needed an external Wifi transmitter in order to do these things. Peripheral Illumination Correction, Chromatic Aberration Correction, and Distortion Correction can also be done in camera.

If I had the money right now, I would totally upgrade from my EOS 7D to this camera. Sadly, I do not have the money right now. HAHA Currently (at the time of writing this post) this camera is up for pre-order at $2099.00 USD plus tax where required on Amazon.com. If you think you want to upgrade, or want to find out a bit more, please follow this link

Specifications:
  • Sensor: 20.2 megapixel full frame (self cleaning via ultrasonic vibrations)
  • Processor: DIGIC 5+
  • GPS: Built-in
  • Wifi: Built-in
  • Memory: SD, SDHC, SDXC Cards
  • Lens Type: EF mount (No EF-S or EF-M lenses)
  • ISO: 50-102400 (when ISO range is expanded in the in-camera settings) ISO Auto can be limited. User can set a high/low limit. 
  • Flash: Needs external Speedlite. None built-in.
  • Modes: Auto, Creative Auto, Scene Mode, Program, Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority, Manual, Bulb, 2 Custom Functions
  • AF Type: 11 Point AF including a high-precision center cross-type AF point with EV -3 sensitivity allows focusing in extreme low-light conditions
More specs are available on Amazon.com. I just listed some of the important ones here. 

Saturday, September 8, 2012

3 Classes of Canon Lenses

Hello fans, I am here to tell you a big about Canon's 3 classes of lenses. The lenses in each of the class are very different from each other. Whether you are a beginner photographer or a more advanced photographer, I hope this guide will help you when you pick out your lenses.

EF-S Mount Lenses
The EF-S mount lenses are Canon's cheapest lenses. These lenses are not compatible with all of Canon's DSLRs. They are only compatible with the entry level DSLRs that support the EF-S mount. These lenses are designed for the crop sensor bodies only. The EF-S mount lenses are not made from high quality material, does not usually feature a distance window, and the front element moves and rotates as you zoom and focus. EF-S mount lenses use a micro motor focusing system which is both slow and noisy. The filter size for these lenses are usually 58 mm. These lenses are recommended for beginner photographers that doesn't plan on getting into the manual controls or amateur photographers that plans on using this like a point-and-shoot camera. This type of lens is usually bundled with entry level DSLRs when sold in a bundle.


USM Lenses
By USM lenses, I mean the non-L type lenses that uses a USM motor. The USM lenses are Canon's middle class lenses. These lenses are slightly better made and bulkier than the EF-S mount lenses. The USM lenses start using the EF mount which is compatible with all of Canon's DSLR lineup. The USM lenses uses a micro USM (not ring USM) as its focusing mechanism. The micro USM works a little bit faster and a bit quieter than the micro motor focus used in the EF-S mount lenses. In USM lenses, the front element still moves and rotate when zooming and focusing making it a hassle to use polarizing filters. The front element on these lenses still tend to be 58 mm. These lenses are recommended for beginner photographers who plan on getting more advanced and professional photographers on a budget. The build quality of these lenses are alright.


L or Luxury Lenses
The L model lenses are the Canon lenses with an "L" written after the lens's aperture information in the name. These are Canon's elite lineup of lenses and are made of the highest quality materials. If a lens in this line up has sister lenses from the other two categories that have the same focal length (example: the 50 mm lenses), the L model lens will always have the widest maximum aperture. The L series lenses also have a non-changing aperture as you zoom. Lenses in the other two categories change in aperture as you zoom, L lenses do not do that. These lenses also have a stationary outside and does not move or extend as you zoom or focus making it great for polarizers. These lenses also offer ring USM focusing which is very fast and very quiet and the focus can be manually adjusted after auto focus is achieved. This line up of lenses are recommended for professional photographers or advanced photographers that are serious with photography. These lenses start from $800 and up each.


If you guys want to see a video version of things described in this article or just want to see a photo slide show of photos taken with some of these lenses, you can view it below. If you just want to see the photo slide show, press play, and then skip to almost the end of the video.


If you want to see more videos like this, you can subscribe me on Youtube here.
If you enjoy photography, please view my photography blog here.
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