Sunday, October 18, 2009

Resurgence of the Rangefinder

Anyone that has been doing photography for any amount of time, know at least something about Rangefinders... even if it is only that they are super high quality, and that they tend to be expensive.

Rangefinders are small, light and compact and great for travel and photojournalists, its been a favoured camera of National Geographic for many years, as well and Time, and many others. And in the far past, the Rangefinder was the start of 35mm sized format, in one of the old Leica's, to which the particular model eludes me. But Canon, Nikon, Contax, Minolta and Voigtländer all had their versions, and all were the ones you went with for quality... but everyone and their dog had a Rangefinder style camera at one point.

(If you want to know more about any of the older style cameras, I recommend that you go to Camera Quest, they have a lot of info on the Voigtländer, but also almost any of the others.)

And up until recently, only Leica and Voigtländer were still in the Rangefinder game... the latter being the one if you wanted lower cost but high quality, and the former is if you had far too much money in your pocket... but quality beyond anything you could ever dream of.

A couple of years ago, with the Canon G7, they started to bring back the look of the old Rangefinder look, but it still had the small sensor of the compact style camera. Also at about this time Panasonic, brought out their LX1/LX2/LX3, also much more reminiscent of the Rangefinder styling; albeit again, the smaller sensor. Sigma brought out their DP1 with a full APS-C sized Foveon sensor, but gave it a fixed lens 28mm ; great for some things, not for others; the DP2 is their latest incarnation of that series.

Early this year, Olympus shook the world with a Micro 4/3 rangefinder style camera, the EP-1 Digital PEN, meant to be reminiscent of their old PEN-F, so while not as big of a sensor as 35mm, it is still a much bigger sensor than any of the high end compacts. Small, light, interchangeable lenses and comes kit'ed with a fast 17mm F2.8, and with the right adapter, will take almost any lens you can think of; Leica M series, Olympus 4/3'rd or OM, Canon FD, Nikon F... You name it, they likely make a adapter for it, or will in short order.

Shortly after that, Panasonic announced the GF1, which is a direct match for the EP-1. Again, a nice interchangeable lens with the Micro 4/3'rd mount, a super fast 20mm F1.7 kit lens, that is as sharp as anything. And according to DP Review, is the must have lens for any one wanting either the EP1 or the GF1.

Both also have HD Video built in to them, so once I get mine, do expect some high quality videos out of me; and also have a great line up of lenses to start out with, with more slated to come out in the time to come.

Leica has also brought out their latest in their M-Series with the M9, which is a 24mm x 36mm sized sensor, and their X1 which is a APS-C sized fix 24mm lens. Both are not for the faint of heart for price, but both will give you top quality in lenses and construction.

Bang for your buck, anyone looking to get a Rangefinder style camera in the digital world, then take a hard look at either the GF1 or the EP1, I was lent one by Panasonic for a weekend just a week ago, and I feel in love with it. It was refreshing to have to work at my composition, being that I only had on the fixed 20mm F1.7 (40mm equivalence in 35mm speak), but the shallow depth of field was stunning how crisp it is, and how it makes the subject pop.

This is just how I am ordering mine

Again, this Panasonic GF1 can been seen at Kerrisdale Cameras and many other fine photographic retailers. At the moment, the few places to see the Olympus EP1 seems to be restriced to Lens & Shutter, but that I hear is coming to an end soon, and it will be released to other dealers shortly.

We'll see you all on the outing this Saturday, Oct 24th at the pumpkin patch in Maple Ridge, and at our meeting on Oct 26th after that, until then, good shooting
Cheers
JR

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Protecting your memory



And no... I am not talking about keeping your mind sharp, by playing games on your iPhone or Nintendo DS.



I'm talking about the memory cards for your camera. Believe it or not, those little cards are not as durable as we would like; and they require some care when storing more than one card in your bag. (Albeit, there was this one time I did send one of my CF card's in it's little carry case that it came with, through the wash in the pocket of my pants, and I was able to download the photos that were on it... of course the card never worked again after that...)



And while a number of the high end cards such as the Lexar Professional and SanDisk Extreme do come with a little card case for that card, not all the cards we buy do come with a hard carry case.



So if you want to protect your cards, and use CompactFlash, SD/MMC/SDHC, XD (Olympus), or MemoryStick (Sony) style cards, any and all of these will fit in the Gepe Extreme Card Safe...



Some of you will have seen me with the ones that I use, and there was a few questions about my card carry case after I posted the video on my bag. I have been using these little hard cases for about 3 years now, and I love how easy they are, and how indestructible they are.



When I went to a training night some time ago, when the distributor was announcing these, and to show how durable they really are, he took a few photos of us arriving, put in into a Gepe Extreme Card Safe, parked his Ford F250 on top of it, left it there for dinner, moved the truck, picked up the case, popped the card in the laptop, and displayed the photos of us arriving.



Right from there, I was sold... I ordered 2 that day; and have been using them ever since.



They are drop proof, water proof, dust proof and crush proof (within reason of course), and I have put both of mine through Hell and back again. They still look great, they still work great; and best of all, they keep my cards organized, and safe.




And for this piece of mind for keeping your cards safe and secure, all it costs you is $29.99 at Kerrisdale Cameras, or many other photographic retailers. Lowepro, Pelican and a couple others have brought out their own versions of these too; but the Gepe was the first on to the block; and in my opinion, still the best looking.




****




Also a reminder, that the regularly scheduled meeting of Oct 12, 2009, will be canceled due to the holiday, our next meeting will be on Oct 26, 2009, and Dave will be presenting to us on Composition.

Until then, good shooting.
Cheers
JR

Thursday, September 10, 2009

TCPC Season 2009/2010

Greetings all As you may or may not have read in Jonathan's last email to the club, is that due to some schedule conflicts for him, his is having to step down from the president's position; and me with my new found freedom of time in my schedule after leaving my job as the head of security, have stepped up and taken the position. And while I am sure the few of us that do things there, could run the club as is, the position of vice president is available to any that might feel up to the task; and it would be very helpful for me.
I would like to thank Jonathan for this last year, and being so new to the club and taking on the presidency like he did was a big help for us all. I think Jonathan did an outstanding job, and I personally am going to try to do as good as a job as he did... that's not a guaranty however.
We will be looking for some ideas for this upcoming season, I have some of my own, but I am open to hear all of yours as well.
So if you have anything you wish to share with me for ideas or anything else that may be of interest for the club, please feel free to email me at: jrphotographybc@yahoo.ca
See you all on Sept 14.

Cheers
JR

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Stop the world... I wanna get off

Pigs have flown... Hell has frozen over... Aliens have landed and have returned Elvis...


Canon introduces a new camera with a drop in MegaPixels! ...
...


...


...


...

I'm just waiting for you all to comprehend what I just said. Ok, yes, it is true, Canon just introduced the brand new G11 with 10-mp to replace their G10 with 14.7-mp.
And I know what you are saying... "Why would Canon do this!?!"


I'll tell you why... THEY LISTEN! The people in the know, working the front lines of camera sale, and the people that want image quality, have been crying out for some time now, for the manufactures to stop with the MegaPixel war... I was so very happy when Panasonic introduced the LX3 with a larger sensor with the same 10-mp count, as the previous model; they just increased the size of each pixel to get better low light performance.


Both Canon and Nikon with their respective top end models also increased the size of the sensor, but packed it full of more pixels again; and then paid the price when the LX3 became the top point & shoot of choice by the pros, because of its ability to produce good images with lower noise in lower light.


Well... Canon has bowed down, and acknowledged the fact that this MegaPixel war is coming to an end, and dropped the MP's of their flagship P&S by almost 5; in favour of larger pixels for that better image.


I applaud Canon for taking this step, it may be a step backwards in MP's, but a huge step forward in image quality. I thank Panasonic for leading the way of ending the war, by being the first to drop its lance, and walking away from the field of battle.


Maybe now we can stop worrying about how many pixels are in the camera, and start worrying about the final image.
Cheers
JR

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Reasons for having a Circular Polarizer filter

Ok, so today I wanted to talk about the uses of a Circular Polarizer (aka: C-Pol); after my last post, I watched my video and thought to myself that I didn't have my C-Pol with me that day. I had recently had the opportunity to buy a 24-70mm F2.8 for a great price, and it replaced my 17-50 F2.8 in my bag as my every day lens; but it came at a cost...

The Tamron 17-50 F2.8 uses a more standardized 67mm filter size, and the Sigma 24-70 F2.8 uses a rather large 82mm filter; so I took out my 67mm C-Pol of the bag, and ordered my 82mm C-Pol. Not a single lens that I carry on a regular basis, uses the 82mm filter size, with the exception of the Nikon AF 300mm F4.0 D that I use from time to time, but that has a 39mm Drop-In filter for the C-Pol.

So until this time, a 77mm was my biggest C-Pol, so at the time of that last video, we saw my bag in the transition period of waiting for the new one to arrive.

Anyway, onward...

The Human eye sees light de-fraction in 16 directions, and a Circular Polarizer will now cut that down to 2 directions. Ask anyone that wears Polarized sunglasses, can say to how much that it really improves the view of things as you look upon the world with them.

Now with a simple twist of the C-Pol, you can control which 2 directions those are. As shown below:


It helps increase saturation of colours, it darkens the sky with a richer blue, livens up the greens of your foliage, and cuts glare off of water or glass. Depending on the brand, you do lose 1-2 stops of light, with the average sitting a nice 1.5 stops. This is one filter that no photographer should be without.

A C-Pol will work best, when it is seeing 90 degrees to sun, so whatever you are photographing, if the sun is at your left or right of you, then you are going to get the most out of the filter; but that is not saying that it will not function at any other angle to the sun.

I always say, get the best C-Pol you can afford, and get it in the biggest size you need, there is no real need to get a C-Pol for every lens you own, get one for the biggest size, and use the stepping ring to get it to the size you need.

If you are planning on getting a lens that uses a 77mm somewhere down the road, and the biggest you use now is 67mm or 72mm... get the 77mm now.

You want to have a quality filter in-front of your expensive glass. Now you don't have to go nuts and get the B+W Kasemann MRC C-Pol, and spend more on your filter than you did the lens.... but if you can afford that filter... get it. All I am saying, is just be sure to get a good quality one.

I received my 82mm Kenko Pro1 Digital MC Circular Polarizer, and I think it is top quality, and it matches the quality of my lenses that I intend to put it on.

As I have mentioned before, Kenko Pro1 and Hoya Pro1 are one and the same, as they share the same parent company, and from what I hear, both are made in the same factory in Japan.

So if you don't have one, I highly recommend that you get a C-Pol, if you do have one, put one on, give it a turn and watch the world change in front of you.

I hope this helps answer any questions, and I'll see you on Sept 14th.

Cheers
JR

Saturday, August 22, 2009

What's in your bag? Part 1

This is Part 1 of a series of what I am calling, "What's in your bag?". Over the next while I am going to record a few of these involving some of our club members and some other professional photographers that I know.

I hope you enjoy, and I would love some feed back, as well as some volunteers for the follow up parts to this series.

Cheers
JR


Click on video to jump to my YouTube to view it in full screen.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

UV/Protective Filters in a digital age... useful or bunk!?!


So the other day I had some time on my hands while at Kerrisdale Cameras, and one of our coworkers, Doug, had gotten in some new UV filters for himself, and between what the store had in stock, and what Richard and I had in our bags... we figured it was a good time to test the differences between the different manufactures, to see if they did what they advertised.

Between us all, we had the, Hoya Pro1 Digital, Kenko Pro1 Digital, Kenko standard UV 0, Kenko ZETA, Tiffen Ultra Clear, Tiffen Standard UV 0, and the B+W MRC Clear; missing off of this list would be the Heliopan SH-PMC Digital (I have no idea who named that, but they need to be kicked in the junk) and the Tiffen HT Titanium's.

Most of these are the new designs, and most claim to be specially designed for digital cameras, to reduce the possibly of ghosting; only those that I have marked as 'standard' are not claiming this.

For those of you that have yet to see or know what a ghost is on a digital camera, here is a brief break down: Way back in the day, when shooting film, the emulsion side of film was a matte finish to it, but todays digital sensors are a high gloss shine to them; so light enters the front of the lens, hits the sensor and part of it bounces back at the UV filter and if the filter does not have the right anti reflective coatings on the back side of it, the light bounces back and causes a ghosting image of a light source. (i.e.: the sun, a window, a light bulb, a candle or any other point source of light in your frame)

Now yes... by simply taking off your UV filter will then eliminate most of the possibility of an image ghost showing up in your image; but it also leaves your lens subject to damage. The whole point of a UV/Protective filter, is that it protects your front element on your wonderful lens, which could range from between inexpensive to several thousand dollars. And speaking from experience, that little filter on the front of your lens, can save your ass when it comes right down to it.

I once put my camera bag down just a little too hard, and I heard a glass like shatter... I opened up the bag to find that the protective UV filter on my 80-200 F2.8 lens, all but shattered and a lot of glass powder... that $60 filter in front of my expensive lens, saved me a trip to Nikon to get the front element in my lens replaced, which let me tell you, would not have been as cheap to replace.

Every one of my lenses has a filter on it, mostly B+W, because that is what I was shown to be the best by one of my first bosses way back at Broadway Cameras, and by my parents who also used B+W as their main filters. So for me, it is the only logical choice, but I do own a couple others as test beds.

I was blown away by some of these results, which you can see here for yourself on my Flickr. Some of these filters specially designed to be used on Digital cameras did not perform as well as one would think, others did just as advertised. I am hoping to get my hands on the missing 2 filters and try them out too sometime in the near future.

So... the break down of the digital specific filters only:

  • Hoya Pro1 Digital & Kenko Pro1 Digital, I am going to lump them both together, as I am assuming that they are identical in almost every way (the boxes are the same, the logos are the same, and the samples on the website are the same) to which I might be assuming incorrectly but they hold too much in common including the fact that they are both owned by the same parent company. Both did very well, I saw little to no differance between them.

  • Kenko's latest and greatest the ZETA Protective filter also was a very good performer, but at a fair bit more cost than the Pro1 Digital series, not sure if the extra cost is worth it; but I plan on doing more testing with this one.

  • Tiffen Digital Ultra Clear... FRAK, this one blew me away with how badly it performed... being the filter of choice by us at the store to sell to people when they came in complaining of ghosting with their old UV filter. I tested this one myself and even have a couple, but was never totally happy with the quality. Now with a side by side test of all these filters, I now know why I was unhappy with the results. (see image at top of post)

  • B+W MRC Clear, in my mind was the clear winner, but at a hefty price jump from the almost just as good Hoya/Kenko Pro1 Digital series. So if you want the best, and do not care how much you pay for it, then B+W is the filter for you.

Conclusion:

The best bang for your buck here with good quality in build, final image quality and a reduction in the chance of image ghosting, Hoya/Kenko Pro1 Digital's are the filter to go with, hands down. Both are within a few dollars of one another, and the Kenko ones are started to be stocked by Kerrisdale Cameras and all your other favorite retailers.

Until next time...

Good shooting

Cheers
JR

Monday, June 29, 2009

The fine art of a Ring Light

So a few months back, I had the opportunity to borrow a Ray Flash from the Red Raven rep, who is now the distributor in Canada for them, (Being a Kerrisdale Cameras employee does have it's perks...) since then I have purchased the Ray Flash, after having such a good success with it.

After some moderate testing with it, I felt comfortable enough to use it more often; but in doing so, I have learned its strengths and weaknesses, and today I am going to share those with you.

First off, a Ring Flash is something that many of the fashion magazines have used for many years. Ever looked at a cover of GQ or Voque and wondered how they lit that model... there is a very good chance that they used a Ring Flash. It creates a very hard light, but focused centrally, and it falls off on the edges, creating a natural vignette to the image, and if you are close enough to your subject, you create a nice donut shape highlight in their eye, but an almost shadowless image on the main subject. Even if you are using a telephoto lens, it helps create a striking shadowless subject...

Now a studio sized Ring Flash is very big, very heavy and VERY powerful... like 800 watts per second each (or w/s) or more; but with great power... comes no Through The Lens metering. So you have all the power in the world to combat existing lighting and supersede it with your own, but you have to meter it yourself with a handheld meter or read the histogram. I have used the AlienBee ABR-800 before, and it is very powerful, and does the job very well, but sometimes I don't want to shoot at F16 @ ISO 100; I like that shallow Depth of Field (DoF) to my pictures, with or without flash. Most of the main Strobe manufactures make a Ring Flash for their systems, all of them require a portable battery powerpack or a wall socket.

The Ray Flash is designed to fit right onto your existing TTL Flash, they make them for the Nikon SB800 & SB900 and the Canon 580EX II, and they are fairly specific on the size of camera they fit; so be sure to get the right one to fit your equipment if you do order one. But the power you get out of a Hotshoe mounted flash tends to be about 85w/s (give or take, depending on the model of flash), so as you can see, there is quite a significant drop in power. But do we need all that power we are missing?

And the answer is: sometimes... but most of the time, I have been working very well with the power of the hotshoe flash for some time now, and in that time, I rarely say I need a LOT more power; and the few times I do need just a little more juice, I add in 2-4 more flashes. 3-Vivitar 285HV's in a single umbrella is all the power I have needed when the push really comes to shove.

So, this little attachment that sits on my flash, by sliding into place, and locking down with a 1/4 turn of the dial on top; the fibre optic channels (I think that is what they are) send the light down and around the lens. Now.. one thing I have noted here, is that while still fairly light-weight, weighing in at only 16 oz, it does weigh enough to tilt the head of my SB800 and my SB80DX on a slight down angle; creating it not to sit quite level on the lens axis. So to combat this, I cut one of the little silicone stoppers (the ones you put on your cupboard doors to prevent them from slamming) in half, and placed half on each side where it meets the flash to raise it to prevent it from that odd angle. This has successfully fixed that issue for me, it is cheap, easy to do and I keep a sheet of them in my Pelican case with me where ever I go.


With this set up, I have shot many subjects, from the cat to many people... I hadn't come across a single problem with it, until I photographed a couple of young ladies, with ice blue eyes... and then came the red-eye, photo after photo. I mean the CAT didn't even get that silver glow to their eyes when you use a flash on them in a photo look to her, and she was only 10 inches away when I took that image. *seen here* This has been the one time that I found a problem with it. Sadly that was a paid job, and I spent some time fixing that error in post after the fact. It was a hard lesson to learn, but I am glad I found that issue... no other eye colour has caused me the grief that the ice blue eyes have; not even a darker blue.
I have found that the Ray Flash does take away some of your lighting power, so I have been giving the flash a +1 Flash Compensation to give it that little bit of oomph that it lacks without that setting, cause the image comes out a tad dark on the subject. *Seen here* I have been shooting in Shutter or Aperture priority and letting the camera figure the other one, while I concentrate on my speed or DoF, but it has usually been my DoF.
In all I give the Ray Flash attachment a 9.5 out of 10 for build, ease of use and image quality.
If you want to view more of my Ray Flash images you can view them here, and that set will continue to grow as I take more images with it.
And a special thanks to David M from Red Raven for the loan of the Ray Flash and the Honl gear, it was enough of a tease to make me buy it all.
Cheers and good shooting
John R
Kerrisdale Cameras

Friday, June 12, 2009

Trash the Dress (or not)


June 6, 2009 the Tri-City Photography Club, went to an old factory in Coquitlam on Christmas Way, for a 'Trash the Dress' photo shoot. We had a lovely model: Brittney Wright, and a great make up & hair artist: Kelly Kloeble. ( Kelly's MM )




We got off to a start a little later than I would have liked, but hey... when working in the real world, you have no idea how many times the Bride has not gotten out of the hair and make up session on time. Kelly told me it would take an hour and a half... she took an hour and a half. So I can't fault her.



Got to see some decent some decent images taken from that day, on the Monday night club meeting. But I have to give props to Alana (see the above image), for using just her little Canon G9, and as far as my understanding hasn't used flashes like we were using all that much before; she got some great images.



I look forward to seeing more images come in from the shoot, so are both Brittney and Kelly.



Cheers

JR

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Convergence

They are all doing it... the masses have spoken... the people want it! And the big hitters are doing it, and all the others will be following for sure shortly, they have no choice.


At first I said I didn't want it, and that I would never do it... but after some thinking, I changed my mind, I do want it... I would totally do it!


I'm talking about High-Definition Video from a D-SLR! It's the way of the future... or is it!?!


Nikon was the first on the block, with the D90 with a 780p (24fps) mode built in, and Canon with the 5D mk II with 1080p (30fps) mode, a few days later; Panasonic and Pentax have both announced their bodies with High-Def video after that.


RedrockMicro has even come up with some accessories that the pro-vid crowd use for these bodies. I mean how cool is that, a custom Fig-Rig or a focus puller for a D-SLR.


Hell, Vincent LaForet showed us the quality of video that the Canon is capable of; and I have to admit... it blew me away.


So why would we, the average consumer want a Digital Single Lens Reflex camera, to have High-Definition video built into our cameras?!? Wouldn't a proper video camera do us much better, and leave the still picture taking to the D-SLR's? Let me explain. 


When I first heard that Nikon had the D90 coming out, with the HD Video built in... I really thought that Nikon had lost their rocker and that they were way out in the nuts right next to Charlie Manson. And then a few days later, Canon leaked out that the 5D mk II was on the horizon, and I started to think that it was Armageddon coming. (and no... not the movie with that horrible Areosmith song)


But then I started to think about my business, as you all know, I am a Wedding photographer; and I have had some requests for Video during the Weddings I shoot. I already have an assistant... so would it not make sense for me to have her take some Video of the Vows, the First Dance... anywhere else that there is a cute moment. I have the lenses already, and most of them with a nice wide aperture, to give that shallow DoF that we all love.


How sweet of a short clip would it be, to use the 80-200mm F2.8 or the 300mm F4, wide open just as the couple kisses, that creamy dreamy background blur that I know and love from many of my lenses. I get goosebumps just thinking of a video taken with my 105mm F2 DC. *Sigh*


Anyway... so after I admitted that I would use the video for my business, I asked myself, if I would use it for other things other than a wedding. And I came up with tons of little things that I wouldn't mind having a short video of, my daughters band concerts, behind the scenes of photo shoots... etc; and I am more than certain that if you started to think about it... that you could come up with some too.


So instead of having 2 devices to carry around, on a vacation, at a paid gig… whatever the case might be, having it all into a single device is some kind of genius. You have 1 less device to carry, 1 less charger to carry, which equals out to more space in the bag and also no different type of battery to carry with you. If your D-SLR is your video camera at the same time, you only have to carry spares of its battery, and not any other type.

With the sensor size of the 5D mk II or the D90, being much bigger than those used in even the high end High-Def camcorders, you can get much more shallow depth of field, especially when used with a nice bright prime or zoom. 

Now... one question does come to mind, with the sensor being charged more often, and for longer times... would it be more prone to sensor dust? It might, but all the manufactures have worked hard on finding ways to get their sensors less attractive to dust. Some even have sensor cleaners built in. So overall, I do not think that it is that much of an issue... and if it is, then the good ol'friend the AcrticButterfly comes out to play. 

Now going back the whole 24p or 30p thing, what difference does it make to you and why would you want one over the other. 24p (24 frames per second) is more like what the big movie cameras use, and give you that movie theater feel to the final clip, 30p (30 frames per second) is what most of the small cameras have set as their default video capture, and for many years.... even what most news broadcast cameras were set at. This is why for years I have looked at TV, and wondered why they have a much different look to their video feeds, versus a movie.... its rougher, and has a contrasty look to them (IMHO). 

So for the most part, the 24p is the way to go if you want to make that Lord of the Rings film feel and look to your videos. 

Do you need to learn a whole new set of programs?!? YUP! You'll need to learn iMovie HD or Adobe Premier, or their high end equivalents. 
Is it going to be easy? More than likely not. While the basics of video are not all that different from still capture, there is a bit of an art to it it seems. The biggest thing I have found, is how fast your movie clip can go from good to bad, by just hand holding it. My advice, put it on a tripod! 
In the end of it all, is it going to be fun? Hell'z Ya!

I will be investing in a D-SLR camera sometime in the near future, that has video capture build in.... I'll tell you more about it then. But from my short time that I used a Nikon D90 that was lent to me by Nikon, I loved it, and plan to use it a whole lot more when I do get one. 

Until next time... good shooting, and see you all on Saturday. 
Cheers
JR

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Picking a camera carry system that is right for you

If you haven't guessed, today I am going to talk to you about the different styles of camera carry systems out there, and the manufactures that make them.

And for starters, this is opening a HUGE can of worms, as there is no one right system out there for anyone. And any of the people that have been into photography for a while, know that there is no one bag or case that does everything they want, nor hold what they want, weights more than we want, it does or doesn't carry a laptop... the list goes on.


I have 7 different bags, and 2 hard cases... each of them I use, for one reason or another, still when the time is right to use just that one; I have even given a couple away that I had no use for so that number can have still been bigger. And I am still on the hunt for the prefect bag, even if I did just buy the Lowepro CompuPrimus AW.


One of the features that is offered in almost all of these systems, is modular padding, where you can move the panels where ever you want in the bag/case, and they are held in tightly with velcro. Almost every single manufacture offers this feature, and is even available in the big hard cases made by Pelican or Storm Case (albeit at an extra charge for these styles), so no mater what I am talking about here, know that this feature is available if it is not already built in.
The most popular by far, is the camera backpack; but even still, that is a huge variety of styles and capacities that they come in. Almost every manufacture out there has their own spin of a feature that they think you want.

Kata 3n1-30
  • some have a Laptop carry system,
  • many can carry a tripod,

  • some are water tight for extreme weather/white water rafting,
  • some open up towards your back for safety when traveling abroad,

  • some are hardened for when you are hiking/mountain biking,

  • some offer a slot for a hydration system,
  • some have a quick side access for the camera body with a lens on it,
  • some can sling around to your front for full access

  • some have a large upper section pocket for extended day hikes...
  • some bags are made with post consumer recycled materials,
  • others are a more traditional canvas

As I said, the list is very long, it really depends on what your needs and wants are. As I said, I have 7 bags, 4 of them are backpacks, each one of them has their place in my world. One is small and discrete, so it does not look like a camera bag, but it can carry a lot in it, another is the large trekker that carries almost everything I own for camera bodies and lenses (but at the cost of weighing in at 50+ lbs when fully loaded), another can carry a body and 5 lenses, and has a large upper section so I can pack clothing and food with me on a long hike or 3 flashes and my Lastolite EzyBox and some misc flash gear, and the last is a very large flat bag that fits into airline carry-on but it can only carry so much with it before becoming full. I use all of these features from time to time, so I keep all of these bags.


The list of the manufactures is almost as long as the available features.


Lowepro, you will see most commonly here in Canada, as they are a Canadian product, they make a great product and backed by an awesome warranty (lifetime replacement on all fabric and stitching; but not the zippers, they do not make those). Their design team is based here in the Lower Mainland... how do we know this?!? Most of their bags have a Rain Cover built in! Any bag with an AW as part of the name, has this "All Weather" cover that simply velcros out of the bottom, and you wrap it around the entire bag.


Tamrac, is the next biggest name, they are US made, and again have a great warranty and great product. During my last decision time of what to get for a bag, one of their Adventure series was high on my list.


Crumpler, is the new kid on the block coming to us from the Land Down Under, but some great product available from them, and a killer sense of humor on their website and in the names of the bags themselves. Sadly not everywhere carries these yet, but there are a few retail outlets in Canada that carry them. I am hoping that more stores in the Lower Mainland picks them up as time goes on here... if nothing else, look at their website and go through the 360 views and product demo videos.


Kata, being a big hit in the market coming to us from Israel... yup, you read that right. I must say that I LOVE their product, their 3-N-1 series is ground breaking, and many others in their line up are just as good. I own the Prism-U from them, as my little bag that could... I can fit a pro level body, 4 lenses, 2 flashes, a 12" laptop, spare batteries, card holders, flash cord and a mini tripod... It is made out of a stretchy neoprene material to allow for it to stretch when needed to shoehorn something in. Many of the Kata bags come with a rain cover, but it is not built in like the Lowepro's.


National Geographic, yup, the Magazine has their own line of bags (and tripods, and tripod heads... etc) that are top rate in my books; the Large Backpack was also on my list of options during my last purchase. All of their product is made out of a Safari/Khaki coloured canvas, and also has the built in all weather rain cover; but you would expect nothing less from the famed outdoor based magazine.

National Geographic NG5737 Large Backpack


There are many others makes out there, these are the ones I count as notable... but if you look out there, there are other manufactures out there, some good, some bad, and even some with features that these big names haven't thought of...


Lowepro Toploading Zoom-1

Shoulder Bags, are our next biggest hit with the consumer, these range from the very small holding only one camera and the lens that is on it (seen above), to the large and able to hold 2 bodies, several lenses and a laptop (shown bellow)... again, if you look at every above mentioned website you will find that they make them. I find they can get very heavy in a hurry if you have a bigger one with a lot of gear in it; but, if you are the type that gets to a location, puts your bag down in a corner and leaves it there... these can carry all that you want for a day, and more, and have a very convenient top opening. Some like the Crumpler Brazillian Dollar Home (shown bellow) can be carried like a ruck-sack, for time when you need to carry it for a longer period of time, in this format you can do so without much effort.


Again, these tend to be airliner safe for carry-on, but they scream camera bag when you are out in public, so if you are traveling abroad, it might not be the safest.

Crumpler Brazillion Dollar Home


Rolling Cases and Hard Cases, I am going to lump these big bad asses together, these are for the working pro or the advanced amateur that has a lot to carry, and want it well protected and all the way up to 'next to bomb proof'.

Rollers are made by several manufactures:


The Lowepro are soft sided cases with an extendable handle and wheels, some are carry-on compatible others... not so much. A few of the Lowepro Soft Sided cases without wheels, slide right into a Pelican or similarly sized hard case for that extra protection.


Lowepro Omni Pro with optional Extreme Hard Case


ThinkTank, makes some really nice rollers (and some wicked shoulder bags that I forgot to mention earlier in the post), and most are designed for the sole purpose of being Airline friendly, and fitting in the Carry-On frame. The ThinkTank Airport International V2.0 is some kind of ground breaking, with optional low rise dividers so you can add in a laptop, but you can not fit as many lenses this way, because the taller ones must lay down to have the laptop sleeve fit. But when you have a couple bodies, a few lenses, a couple flashes and a laptop... and you must carry-on and have it fit into the overhead or under the seat, beacuse your gear must arrive with you, there is next to nothing else.

ThinkTank Airport International V2.0

Peilican, the master of all hard cases! If you want to go through hell and back with your camera gear intact... Pelican is the case for you. You all know I am not a small guy, and I have stood on my case to get that little bit of height advantage for a photo, and nothing inside even showed stress. These were the first guys on the block, and their product shows it, yes there are some knock offs out there that do the same for less... but to me, the Pelican's just seem that little bit more heavy duty made, a little cleaner around the edges... and they are the only ones that can claim for you to "check on the rep, second to none"; this is only possible due to their decades of Military/Police/Fire Department service they have been put though.

Pelican 1510 with optional Padded dividers


One thing all the Hard Cases can claim, they are water tight, air tight, dust proof, many have a seal on it that allows for air pressure difference; so when they are subjected to the thin air of high altitude in the cargo hold of a airliner, you can repressurize them before opening.


If there is anything I have missed, or that you want a further explination on, feel free to email me your questions.


Until then, good shooting.

Cheers
JR

Friday, March 27, 2009

Hotshoe Diaries


For anyone really into the whole Strobist thing, then you have been really looking forward to Joe McNally's new book, the Hotshoe Diaries

I just picked mine up today, after a lengthy Pre-Order, production got pushed back a couple times, but it is out in stores now, and available online

When I left Chapters today, they had 2 left on the shelf, but I do not suspect that will last long. 

Oh, and if you are really into your books, then you might want to 'Pimp your McNally' like this guy did with the last joe McNally book "the Moment it Clicks", which was already a great look into his mind, but H.S.D.'s is even more so, with complete full descriptions and drawings of lighting set ups. 

I'm going to read now... 

Cheers
JR

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

85/13/1.5/0.5

Shooting Modes
So, while Bob was talking the other night he mentioned that he shoots in full Manual mode for the majority of the time. And, I know that Ron Long has talked to us about it, and he recommends shooting in Shutter Priority most of the time. It is important to make sure the image is sharp, as he pointed out; and I agree that at times that is an important thing to keep in mind.

This has got me thinking about the mode I shoot in the most, and why; and not to contradict Ron in his thoughts…but…

I tend to shoot in Manual mode for about 85% of the time, and that time is mostly either at a Wedding, or during Portrait work. Some of my personal shooting is done on Manual, when I want fine control. When I am shooting a Wedding or a Portrait, I dial in my exposure using the Color Balance Coach & judge the exposure via my Histogram. Each time I change rooms or lighting situations, I dial it in again. There are many times that lighting doesn’t change very much, and I can just keep it as it is preset. Even when shooting in full Manual, I tend to worry about how much is in focus, and therefore tend to set my Aperture, and the Shutter speed just follows on a secondary level.

But, the time I am doing some personal work, like street photography, or some macro work, I will have it on Aperture Priority; this is for that 13% of the time category. Most of the time I am doing this personal work, I am on a tripod; I am concerned about my Depth of Field (DoF), and I could care less what my shutter speed is at. These are times that I am fairly confidant that the camera is stable, and my subject isn’t going to move that much… or my flashes will freeze the subject.

But, there is that 1.5% of the time that I do worry about what Shutter Speed I am at, and then I will shoot in Shutter Priority…there are very few times that I am so worried about my shutter speed, that I shoot in this mode.

Just like that 0.5% of the time that I could care less about where I am set on for Shutter or Aperture, and I shoot in Program. But to be very honest, this is the time I am at the pub or drinking with my friends, and I just want some record photos of us…so this mode is used so little on my daily life.

So, while no method is right, and no method is wrong; in my opinion, and I can appreciate Ron and his idea of where camera settings should be set, I just have my own thoughts. Shoot what works for you, that’s what I do.
Cheers
John R.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

the Wedding Guy

I would like to thank Bob Moore, and Pat Kirkwood of the Wedding Guy who came out and showed us some basics of off camera flash photography last night (Monday March 23, 2009). We had a great turn out, and we had a great presentation, and I think in all everyone learned a few things.
I thoroughly enjoyed the presentation; and thought it was a great starting point as a lead in for our next meeting, which is a week early, just to remind everyone, it is to be held on April 6th, as the 13th lands on a long weekend, and the room will not be available to us.
So the next meeting on April 6th, is a hands on flash photography meeting; bring your cameras, flashes, lightstands and lighting modifiers if you have any.
I will first run through a couple of my favorite lighting set ups when I am on the job, (Yes that is right, I am going to be showing you my actual work flow techniques when I am shooting a wedding or portrait) that are super easy to set up and to use; after that short intro we will then break up into some smaller groups, and practice our Flash Photography, ala: Strobist style.
If you are not sure what Strobist style is, and would like to learn more before the next meeting, then check out the Strobist website. The Lighting 101 & 102 is good to run through any time, but it does take time and practice.
I look forward to this meeting, and hope I am able to teach you as much as Bob & Pat were able to teach you all.
Also Harry... I'll need your help on this one buddy. ;-)
Cheers
John R.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Colour Balance & Exposure

Today I am going to ask how you get a correct white balance, and proper exposure. Yes, I know we can all correct the white balance (WB) if we shoot in RAW and select the WB that suits the image.

But what if you need/desire 100% colour accuracy? What if you get a client that is wanting their logo, or a product where colour is key? Or maybe you're just anal like me, and just want the colour to be as spot on as possible. Or what if you only shoot in JPEG, then getting the right White Balance from the start is even more important.
And even in some extreme cases, in an Auto mode, when I was not shooting in full manual, I have noticed a slight shift in the exposure if I had not preset the White Balance before; so while theoretically it should not do that, it has happened. Another reason why I shoot in full manual and preset my White Balance, even when shooting in RAW.

Now there are many tools out there, to help you with needs; all vary in price and size, and that all depends on what your needs are. Lets go over a few of your options:


#1) You may have seen me use my favorite, the ColorBalanceCoach which I have been using for about the last year. The ColorBalanceCoach (C.B.C.) is collapsable disk, much like a average reflector that some of us already own and use, the bottom half is grey, then a black band, and 2 types of white, a solid white and a translucent white. The translucent white is to replicate the average Caucasian skin tone on the histogram.

I use the C.B.C. at the beginning of each sequence of photos that are all in the same lighting scenario, I use the grey section, to set my custom white balance, then I use the section where the solid white, black and grey meet, I photograph that small section and dial in my exposure, the grey should have a peak right in dead centre of the histogram, the white should be the centre of the right section, and the black should be the centre of the left section. If you have one of the peaks to the sides touching the end, you are either over exposed, or under exposed. I then go back to where I will be photographing from, and take one more photo with my subject holding the disk for me, or the disk laying next to the subject. I take the disk out and carry on my shoot.

Anytime I change my lighting, I repeat.

I find this to be a very useful tool, and use mine all the time, but it is not an inexpensive option, at about $110 for the smallest version... but it packs away very small and is in my bag where-ever I go.


#2) The Digital Target, is much the same as I have just described above, but just a different manufacture.


#3) The QPCard, is again much the same idea, but they have some nice pocketable sizes for storing in your camera bag, or jacket/vest; and they have some larger ones that also have known colour swatches for reference (ie: red, blue, green and 24 other colours).


#4) For simple white balance setting, there are products like the ExpoDisc by ExpoImaging, which is available in 2 versions, a neutral, and a portrait. The portrait offers a simple warmer tone to the final image, the neutral is self explanatory. Both are a cap that you pop on the end of your lens, and set your white balance to your lighting by pointing the camera at your light source.

This tool is only good for setting your white balance, and not assisting in the exposure like the ones above. I have used this one before, and I like it, but it is not a cheap option.


#5) The ColorRight is much like the ExpoDisc, and operates the same way.


#6) The Digital Pocket Pack, is something I found on eBay. Much like a smaller version of the Color Balance Coach (C.B.C.), in a 4x6 format and laminated for protection. It looks much like the one at the top of this post, I created that one in PhotoShop.

I will print up and be testing out 2 versions of this card, one where the image is printed on glossy photo paper, and one printed on matte photo paper, then laminated.

I am not 100% sure about the lamination part of this, I would think that the gloss from the lamination will not give it accurate results, but I will test this compared to my C.B.C.; and in the mean time, if anyone wants a copy of the large file of my PhotoShop creation pictured at the top of this post, just ask me and I will email you the full resolution image.


#7) Remember way back when we use to use Grey Cards, well... they still can be used just for this purpose of setting your White Balance, either as a preset (refer to your cameras user manual to find out how to preset on your camera) like I have descibed above, or in post if you have been shooting in RAW.

The Grey Card comes in a 2 pack for about $18 for the pair of them at Kerrisdale Cameras; I would stick one on the bottom of your sock drawer, and one with your gear if this is your method, then every few months, pull the one out of the sock drawer, and compare it with the one in your bag, once it shows signs of obvious fading, toss out the one from your bag, and use the one you had squirled away, go buy a new pack.

If you need assistance in understanding how to read your histogram for any of the techniques I have described above, I suggest that you go here for that, or here.

I hope this helps in some manner for you all.

Cheers
John R.

PS: Just to remind everyone that the next meeting on, March 23rd, 2009, we will be visited by a guest presenter, the Wedding Guy. http://www.weddingguy.ca/

Friday, March 6, 2009

Podcasts and Magazines

Ok, so I have been a little negligent in my posts as of late, and I am going to make up for it this afternoon. 

And right now, I am wanting to talk about where I get to learn more about Photography, and I am sure many of us do; but for a few that don't, this might be something good to look into. 

First off, Magazines, who here doesn't spend a lot of time flipping through a magazine, looking at the photos, no matter what the magazine is about, we all do it. I spend a small fortune on magazines each month... I should really stop spending so much, but I keep doing it. 

There are a couple good North American photo based magazines, but I find the vast majority to be too full of ads in the back, and useless tripe for me; I spend a few $'s more on the UK photo magazines, and get a lot more out of them, but I'll get to them in a moment. 

I have always been a fan of the Canadian mag Photo Life, as I think it very important to support the few Canadian magazines we have, the Outdoor Photography Canada is also a decent magazine, and while I am not a huge landscape photographer, I still like the pretty pictures

I know everyone loves American Photo and Popular Photography, which are both owned by the same production company, and to be very honest... I can't stand them. Too full of the big retailers ad's in the back half of the magazine, and I do mean HALF! Sometimes more...

BUT... every now and then, they do come up with a great article, and American Photo does a great job on heavily image ladened issue on their Amateur  special. 

For those of you that are a bit more advanced, and would like to know some Professional tips, Digital Photo Pro from North America or the UK Based Photo Pro are two of my favorites to read. 

UK based Digital Camera World & Digital SLR Photography are both wonderful magazines, but neither are cheap, both around the $13 each mark, but both have some great tutorials and tips. I personally think they are worth every penny that Chapters charges for them. 

For the B&W Fine art Collector and Enthusiast, this is the ONLY magazine to check out in my opinion. I have spent many an hour going through this magazine page by page, just taking in the stunning B&W images. I still have a soft spot in my heart for the B&W image, as I spent many hours in the darkroom in years past. 

For the Portrait and Wedding photographers, I highly recommend checking out any Fashion magazine such as Zink, GQ or even Maxim... For the Wedding Market, most of them are filled with just photos of dresses or other items that the couple need to think about for the day, with not many actual Wedding Photos... 

that being said, Real Weddings Vancouver is a great magazine for just real Wedding Photos... in-fact, I have a stack of them next to my computer where I am currently sitting. I have also started to pick up the Pacific Wedding magazine, it too has a lot of images that one can see how the pros see their Weddings. 

Podcasts:

I am not sure who here all listens to Podcasts, I listen to lots of them, but a Podcast is a free download from Apple's iTunes, which you can download for free from the Apple Website, even for a Windows based computer. My top two favorites, are Shutters Inc, by Audio2U from Australia, and TWiP (This Week in Photography). 

Shutters Inc: while I love their jocularity, not everyone will; but what I love most about these two guys, is that they both are everyday real photographers. Meaning that they do not always shoot top of the line gear, and they are big into the DIY techniques. Shelton being the professional of the show, a big Wedding Photographer to Australia often refers to his live-in-lens, being the Nikon 85mm F1.8, which is far from top of the line glass. Bruce being a bit more novice, and often is the one asking the questions that many of us are asking. It is a great listen, and I find myself laughing a lot at this pair. I really have to thank Harry at this time for steering me in their direction, it truly is a great podcast. 

TWiP: is a bit more of a serious listen, although the two main hosts have backed out a bit, and have let others co-hosts take the front seat, and a little more jocularity has crept its way in. Local Vancouverite Lisa Bentney (aka: Mostly Lisa) is a frequent guest host there lately. And aside from Lisa... most of these guys have been doing the photography thing for a long time, most of them are at the top of their game, and only use the top of the line gear. Many questions that they answer, they usually offer the most expensive way of going about it as their first answer. But that doesn't stop me from listening to them every week... They still bring up great subjects and often have a great guest on for an interview, such as Joe McNally, Aaron Johnson creator of whattheduck, and more recently Rebekka Flickr Self Portrait extrodinaire. I am not even going to attempt to say or type her last name, she lives in Iceland, and is a great inspiration to all that view her photos. 

Another podcast I listen to, is LightSource, which is kinda dry, but a great listen to if you are into studio lighting at all, they have had some great guests as well, including David Hobby the Strobist himself. 

I hope this helps everyone, and I wish you all a great weekend. 

Cheers
JR

Photographic Marketing Association 2009

If any of you have been following the Pre-PMA announcements like I have, you have seen the cool new things out, you have seen the mass of boring as well. If not, then follow the link I have provided above, to go to DP Reviews full PMA 2009 page. 

Between Canon & Panasonic, I think 1,218 new point and shoots came out, ok... maybe that is a slight exaggeration, but it feels that way sometimes... what I am getting at, is that every one and their dog brought out a gaggle of P&S's; and I am going cross-eyed from reading them all. 

This was the most non-exciting year for me in the last 8 years of PMA, with the exception of Olympus's new E-620, Canon's new wide angle Tilt Shift lenses (a 17mm & a 24mm), Nikon's 35mm AF-S DX F1.8 (to allow it to work on  the D40 & D60 series), Pentax's new super wide Limited lens a 15mm, and last but not least Leica announced that they will be ceasing production of their R-Series

The two things that did catch my attention, was not from PMA, but from WPPI (the Wedding & Portrait Photographers International) instead; and for me, this is the show were all the cool things came from this year. 

Lastolite introduced the TriFlash umbrella mount, this allows the user to put 3 hotshoe flashes into a single umbrella. With 3 flashes on the one stand allows the user to do one of two things, it either will give the user more light, allowing the user to get a greater depth of field by stopping down more; OR... and this is how I think most are going to use it, it allows one to dial back the flash output, and get faster recycling speeds out of the flashes. Faster recycle times means you can shoot more rapidly, without the sacrifice of the power now. 

This really was one of the biggest V8 moments I have ever had *WACKS FOREHEAD* "Why didn't I think of that!?!"

I am going to be buying myself that adaptor from Lastolite as soon as it is available, but in the mean time, I am also going to build something like it on my own... I'll post photos and how much it cost as soon as I am done. 

And the last really cool thing to be announced, was from PocketWizard, as they introduce the Mini TT1 & the Flex TT5's, thus by giving Canon and Nikon users full wireless TTL over a wireless system, without having to be in line-of-sight like both their current systems use. The Mini TT1 being a tiny transmitter to sit on the camera, and the Flex TT5 being the Transeceiver (PW's own designation for being both a Transmitter and a Receiver all in one). 

Full E-TTL II comes first for the Canon users, available this week, and the Nikon iTTL to be available in April.... I think of it as how PocketWizard is beta-testing with the Canon first, before they make it available for Nikon users ;-) 

The range of the TTL Wireless is 800 feet, and full manual control up to 1200 feet. 

PocketWizard also added something called HyperSync'ing, which allows a user to plug their new Mini TT1 or Flex TT5 into their computer via mini USB port, and dial in their triggers, to give a camera a higher flash sync speed than it might normally. 

My Fuji for instance, has a top sync speed of 1/180th of a second, with some testing and the use of the new radio triggers with the HyperSync ability, I theoretically can bring that up to a max of 1/500th of a second. It all depends on the camera, Rob Galbraith described it best in his full review of the PocketWizard's, so please visit his site here is you want to know more about it all. 

I hope to finish my own TriFlash Umbrella Mount this weekend, and will likely have a post about it by our next meeting. 

Cheers
John R. 

Friday, January 23, 2009

Rechargeable Batteries and care



















With so many styles of batteries out there, and just as many manufactures to choose from, what do you use and buy? Lithium Ion (Li-Ion), Lithium Polymer (Li-Poly), Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMh) or Nickel Cadmium (NiCad)?

Well, many of the big manufactures (Canon, Nikon, Sony, Olympus & Pentax*) have made that decision for you, by only allowing proprietary style Li-Ion pack, that only fits their cameras, some have even gone as far to add in a chip that only allows you to use their batteries if you want the features, but there are always third party options... they just lack that chip. 

But many cameras still have accessories that use the AA or AAA style batteries, such as flashes or wireless remotes, some cameras have a AA battery tray to fit their vertical grip, for when you run out of Li-Ion power; fewer still use only AA's as their main power source (This is where the * on Pentax fits in, only their top of the line has a Li-Ion the rest use AA's). 

As far as brands go, most of the name brands offer good products, some better than others, and one stands out against the rest. I take it upon myself to buy and test most of them for myself, and at one point or another, I have used them all; Panasonic, Energizer, DigiPower, Ansmann... etc. I use a lot of flash, and while I do own a Quantum Battery to fit my flashes, I have been hooked on things in the past from the cord that runs from my belt to my flash, so I would rather not have that cord, therefore I rely heavily on the NiMh rechargeable AA's. 

Over the last two years, I have become more and more reliant on one manufacture over all others, and that would be the Ansmann brand. I use them for a couple reasons:

1) Their batteries are far superior in over all life and have a 2-year warranty (over everyone elses 1 year)

2) While most chargers use the old tried and true bank charge method, the Ansmann chargers are all equipped with a processor built in, and thus by giving them an intelligent charger to work with their batteries, charging them only as much as each battery needs, and not a blanket amount. 

And what about care for your batteries, and is there a right way and a wrong way to charge your batteries?

Well... first thing first, the only batteries I would invest in would be the NiMh or the Li-Ion /Li-Poly styles; none of these will exhibit the 'Memory Effect" that the older NiCad's did, so long as you do the first 3 steps correctly. 

The first thing to remember, is that any of these batteries are all still chemistry based, and that they will not last forever; the longest I have ever gotten out of any of my batteries before their ability to hold a charge diminishes is about 2 to 3 years. I am just starting my third year with my first set of Ansmann's, so maybe they will last longer, but time will tell. 

Even still, with the Ansmann 2 year warranty, I still buy replacement batteries every 18 months, number the set, and start putting them into circulation within my workflow. So if you have a Li-Ion battery for your Nikon or Canon, and you've had it a while, it might be time to pick up a replacement. 

Now to the goods of this post... The most important thing to do for a new battery(ies), is to:

1) Fully Charge it for the first time, over night is best. 

2) Fully Discharge it, after its first charge, it is almost more important to do this step, drain the battery until it does nothing anymore, play with your camera, take photos, take video (if it has that option)... then when it thinks it doesn't have enough power to do anything more, turn it off, wait 10 minutes, and turn it on again and play some more. DRAIN IT FULLY

3) Charge it fully again, and once again, over night is best

You are now free to use and abuse your NiMh or Li-Ion as you see fit, once you set in the top and bottom of the chemistry, you can do anything you want to it, and it will not change that first memory setting. 

I hope this help answer any battery related questions. 

Hope you have all been getting in some good photo time, I know I have. 

Cheers
JR