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.

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.


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.


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.


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