Thursday, September 23, 2010

NiZn Update

At my granddaughter's birthday party, I used NiZn batteries in my 580EX II flash directly mounted on the Canon 7D and fired off 270 shots.  All the shots were in a sort of fill flash mode so this really was not a strenuous test of the NiZn batteries or of overheating the 580EX II.  Still, it worked out well.  Sometimes I fired off three or four shots relatively quickly but the flash did not misfire or overheat even though it was a 95 F day and most shots were taken outdoors.  Realistically, NiMh batteries probably would have performed just as well as the NiZn for the fill flash that I was using.  Even so, this was a confidence builder for me.  I recharged the NiZn batteries and put them back into the 580EX II for the next event.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

G12 Announced


No, that's my G9. The G12 was announced yesterday but I don't have one – yet. In fact, I'm agonizing over whether to get a G12.

Don't get me wrong, I'd like to have a G12. I passed on the G10 and G11 so the G12 has some (although not that many) advantages over my G9. Unfortunately, it turns out that you are required to trade money for a G12. I'm not fully convinced that the improvements in the G12 are worth $500 in comparison to my G9. On the other hand, if, for example, the G9 were dropped from a height of, say, six feet or so, then I'd certainly get a G12 instead of repairing the G9. Of course, this is just a hypothetical situation and not to be discussed with my wife.

Thinking out loud here …

Even though it is getting a lukewarm reception, the G12 does have some advantages over my G9. One of the features that surprised me in the G10 was the wide angle lens; I'd like to have that wider lens. Likewise, I was surprised when Canon returned to the articulated display screen in the G11 but I didn't buy the G11 even though the articulated screen was very useful in my G3. I'd predicted (and was wrong) that the G11 would have full HD video and then predicted – again wrongly – that the G12 would have full HD video; however, the G12 does have HD video as 720p. So, the G12 has the wide angle, the articulated display and HD video (albeit 720p) that I've been wanting.  Plus, the G12 sensor with its 10MP and a three year or so evolutionary advantage is likely to be better than the G9 12MP sensor – especially in low light (high ISO). Also, the G12 image stabilization is likely to be an improvement over the IS of the G9.

I'm curious about the High Dynamic Range feature of the G12 as well as Quick Shot mode and multi-aspect ratios but doubt that I'd use them very much. I do think that I'd use the G12 remote control quite a bit because the Franiec cable is very useful on my G9.

At this point, my conclusion is that the G12 is even less of an evolutionary step from the G11 than I'd anticipated – much less hoped for. On the other hand, the G12 is a nice step up from my G9. I'm seriously considering the G12 but anxiously awaiting the review and commenting process before opening my wallet.

By the way, I've given up on the PowerShot G series getting CMOS. I've also given up on the G series getting more sophisticated flash controls. In fact, I still think that the G series is near the end of its product life.


Saturday, September 11, 2010

Pixel TD-381 Battery Pack


Continuing my current fascination with batteries for external flashes, it was only natural to try an external battery pack. In addition to recharging the flash more quickly, an external battery pack provides more flashes without changing the batteries. After a bit of browsing and reading in POTN, I decided on the 3rd party Pixel TD-381 rather than the more expensive Canon CP-E4. I was especially curious as to how an external battery pack would compare to the rapid recharge from NiZn batteries.

Whereas the NiZn batteries will fit into any flash that uses standard AA batteries, an external battery pack requires a special connection on the flash. Not all flashes have this special connection but my Canon 580 EX II has it. My old Nikon SB-24s also have a connection for external batteries but, of course, the Canon and Nikon connections are different. I decided to order the version for the Canon and also decided to order from a US supplier, Cheetah Stand, instead of an eBay supplier -- just in case something went wrong.

As shown above, the TD-381 is a hard plastic case with connection cable and a cloth carrying case. The carrying case has a belt loop; the cable is long enough to reach the flash when the TD-381 is belt mounted. The plastic case has a hole through it so that it can be attached to the bottom of the camera; a thumb screw is included.

The TD-381 holds eight AA batteries that are wired into a “dual circuit” charging system. The batteries are in a tray that is removed for changing batteries. I'd read of problems with flimsy latches and loose battery connections but mine seemed fine. The tray can only be installed in the proper orientation.

So, how well does it work? I installed eight freshly charged NiMh AA cells and tested the TD-381 in the same manner as I did the NiZn batteries. That is, I fired off five shots as quickly as the 580EX would indicate it was charged. In previous tests, the 580EX with NiMh batteries could get off five shots in 15.7 seconds or 8.1 seconds using NiZn batteriers. With the TD-381, I could get of five shots in 5.9 seconds. Naturally, I couldn't resist putting the NiZn batteries into the TD-381. Using NiZn batteries in the TD-381, the time required for five flashes was reduced to only 5.5 seconds!

Repeating my warning: Be patient and don't fire off many shots in a short time because the flash may overheat!

I normally have no need for rapid fire flash or even for hundreds of flashes in event photography but now have the equipment to do so. My plan is to use the NiZn batteries installed in the 580EX for normal use and, when necessary, use the NiMh batteries in the TD-381.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Swing with LSU


When my friend Jason wanted a photo of his pride and joy LSU golf club, I came up with this version of a swing.  For this effect, I used five layers in Photoshop and applied a bit of motion blur and distortion to four of the layers.  The four motion layers are each a rotated copy of the base layer.  The base layer was made by propping up the club and then cloning out the props.  This not the kind of thing that I usually do in Photoshop; in fact, I'm pretty weak on most Photoshop effects and trying to learn more about them.