Sunday, December 30, 2012

Best of 2012

Better late than never and it wouldn’t seem right to post my best images of 2012 in 2013 so, in no particular order, here goes:





OS Harbor


Wesleigh Cheerleader


OS Rain


Although none are masterpieces, these are my best and favorites of the past year.  Interestingly, only two are of my granddaughter and four are from my Canon 7D while only one is from my G1X.  None of these will replace any of my Top Ten.

… and now let’s see what I can do in 2013.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Canon 10-22mm Zoom

No, this isn’t an accessory for my G1X but for my 7D.  Having passed on both the EOS-M and G15, I felt OK about asking Santa for the Canon 10-22mm zoom.

Canon 10-22mm

Above is a scene that I routinely photograph using my latest toy equipment.  The 10-22mm was set for the widest angle, 10mm (16mm equivalent on the 7D sensor).  Wow!  That’s wide! 

Canon 10-22mm

In comparison, the 15-85mm zoom (my usual lens with the 7D) at 15mm seems more than a bit zoomed-in (above).

Canon 10-22mm

At 22mm, the above view is as tight as the 10-22mm will go.

Canon 10-22mm

I tried the above odd combination of wide angle and close-up with the front of the lens about 8 inches from the rose.

All shots taken from the in-camera JPEG using the “Faithful” color setting and not cropped but down-rezzed.

I walked around a bit and grabbed more shots while trying to get a feeling for the lens.  Of course, care must be taken to avoid severe perspective angles but the lens itself does not appear subject to noticeable distortion.  I think I’ll like the 10-22mm zoom.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

White Pelicans at LSU

LSU Pelicans

The White Pelicans have returned to LSU.  Without additional comment, here are some shots from today – all taken with the 7D and 100-400mm zoom.

LSU Pelicans

LSU Pelicans

LSU Pelicans

LSU Pelicans

LSU Pelicans

LSU Pelicans

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Photography Books

After posting a list of my “Top Ten” novels in this, essentially, photo blog, I gave thought to my favorite books on photography and came up lacking. The problem is not that I don’t have books on photography – I have many – but that I’ve not cultivated my reading and collection in the same manner as I’ve done with novels (although some, perhaps many, may disagree with my tastes in fiction).

In photography, I obviously tend towards “how to do” books instead of philosophical, artistic or thematic subjects. OK, that’s just who I am.

Here are books that I’ve liked or otherwise found useful:

“The Time-Life Library of Photography” – especially “The Camera”, “Light and Film” and “The Print” but also for “The Art of Photography” and “The Great Themes”. This 1970’s series is out-of-print (in fact, I bought mine at a used book sale long ago) and it probably would be deemed obsolete by most current day photographers.

Several iterations of “The Leica Manual” by Morgan and Lester from the late ‘30s to the mid 50’s convinced me that photography was impossibly complex.

For learning flash photography, the best “book” has been the website and blog of the “Strobist”, David Hobby. He doesn’t offer a book and his DVDs, while instructive, are not exactly exciting. “Minimalist Lighting” by Kirk Turk is along the same lines as taken by the Strobist. “Mastering Canon EOS Flash Photography” by N.K. Guy was very instructive as was “Speedliter’s Handbook” by Syl Arena. Of course, for lighting, the classic reference is “Light Science and Magic” by Hunter, Biver and Fugua.

I’ve actually read “High Dynamic Range Digital Photography” by Ferrell McCollough twice. Even so, I fiddle with HDR settings more than should be necessary.

“The Empirical Photographer” by Mike Johnston is an interesting, different and more philosophical approach to photography than my usual “how to” approach. Strangely, it is devoid of actual photographs except for the cover.

“The Moment it Clicks” by Joe McNally is an interesting and instructive read as is his “Hot Shoe Diaries”. Joe McNally’s blog is different and interesting – to say the least.

Aside from “how to” books, I liked these:

“The Story of Kodak” by Douglas Collins is a large and well-illustrated history of the company. Published in 1990, this history does not foresee the end of Kodak that is, apparently, rapidly approaching. Just out of college, I worked for the chemicals division of Kodak and began my photographic education in its camera club so the book and demise of Kodak is especially meaningful for me.

“Popular Photography” magazine was another important part of my photographic education. “The Best of Popular Photography” edited by Harvey Fondiller, published in 1979 and covering forty years of that magazine was both nostalgia and new information for me.

“The Tree Where Man was Born” by Peter Matthiessen combined with “The African Experience” (1972) by Eliot Porter was, most likely, the first photojournalism book I bought.

“Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Man, the Image and the World”, by Philippe Arbaizar and others, published by Thames and Hudson.

“Ansel Adams: An Autobiography” was an interesting read and, of course, included many photographs.

Mike Johnston’s “The Online Photographer” is one of my favorite blogs. Mike regularly includes book reviews and recommendations.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Ten Novels: Favorites or Somehow Remembered

Diverting from the usual program, here are my top ten novels (why ten? Well, I’m an engineer and, besides, have ten fingers). Not necessarily in any particular order:

  • “The Time Keeper” by Mitch Albom
  • “Illusions - The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah”, by Richard Bach
  • “Time and Again” by Jack Finney
  • “Joshua” by Joseph Girzone
  • “Cold Sassy Tree” by Olive Ann Burns
  • “A River Runs through It” by Norman Maclean
  • “The Catcher in the Rye” by J.D. Salinger
  • “The Sound and the Fury” by William Faulkner
  • “Cannery Row” by John Steinbeck
  • “This Random Sky” by James L. Summers
  • “The Red Car” by Don Stanford
  • “The Mudhen” by Merritt Parmelee Allen

Somehow, each of these novels have impressed me enough that I’ve kept a copy and read them more than once. I think I’ve read “Illusions” at least four times and began to re-read “The Time Keeper” immediately after finishing it the first time.

As for favorite novelists, I usually begin by naming Steinbeck, Hemingway and Twain but on making this list realize that I’ve not re-read any Hemingway in many years.

As I list these novels, the sad thing is that my own is not among them – apparently, you have to actually write it down before it can be printed. I have taken ten pretty good photographs though.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

G7–> G15?


When the G6 was announced in 2004, I already had a G3 and, although tempted, decided not to upgrade to the G6. After a while, it seemed that the G6 was the end of the line for the G series but then the G7 was a surprise announcement in 2006. The G7 has been followed by a new G series every year from 2007 through 2010 when, once again, there was a two year gap and rumors of the G series coming to an end. Those rumors ended with the announcement of the G15 a few weeks ago.

(As a side note, the G4 and G8 model names were skipped in the past just as the G13 and G14 names have been skipped most recently. That is, there was no G4 or G8. Amusingly, the G4 and G8 are sometimes praised on Internet discussion forums for their quality and features. I expect the same praise to eventually be awarded to the G13 and G14.)

The G7 was a nice looking compact camera but did not have the articulated display screen featured in previous G series models. To my further disappointment, the G7 did not produce RAW image files.  To many people, these shortcomings meant that the G7 was not a “real G”.  All G models after the G7 have included RAW image capability but the articulated display screen did not return until the G11. I passed on the G7 but bought a G9, then a G12 and most recently a G1X.

My point (and yes, there is one) is that there was a two year gap between the G6 (which had an articulated display screen) and the G7 (which did not). There was also a two year gap between the G12 (which had an articulated display screen) and the new G15 (which does not). The G7 was viewed as a test of the compact camera enthusiast market. Is the G15 also a test of the market?

Fortunately, the G15 can produce RAW image files. In fact, the G15 seems to be more like a G12 that has been made more compact (by eliminating the articulated display) than it does an updated G7.

Will there be a G16? Who knows? My thinking is that Canon currently offers too many enthusiast compact cameras (G1X, G15, S110, EOS-M and an advanced EOS-M essentially announced). I expect that, depending on sales volume (of course), either the G1X or G15 will be dropped. But, as Canon has shown in the past, “dropping” a product may really mean a two year gap until the next model is announced.


Oh yes, I eventually bought a used G6 just to complete the “set” (G3, G6, G9, G12). Does that mean I’ll someday have a G15?

Monday, October 8, 2012

RF-603 PC Connection


In addition to the hotshoe and shutter connections, the RF-603 also has a threaded (“screw lock”) PC connection at the squared off end of the body, see above.  (In the world of photography, “PC” once meant Prontor/Compur and not “Personal Computer”.) The intent of the PC connection is to connect to flashes that do not have a hotshoe. My set of  RF-603s did not include PC connection cables so I ordered some from eBay (search for “Male to Male Flash PC Sync Cable Cord for Yongnuo RF-603” – can’t get much more specific than that!). My order was placed with “Jiakgong” in China. These cables were less than $3 each so I ordered 4 cables. Shipping was only $1.40; seems like it took about two weeks to receive the cables. The cables were loosely packed with no documentation but seem OK and I gave positive feedback on the transaction.

RF-603 PC

The eBay cables indeed fit the RF-603 – first test passed. Next, I wondered if the RF-603 could trigger two flashes in the same way that worked for the  RF-602. The trick with the RF-602 was to use one flash in the hotshoe and connect the second flash with the cable. I tested this configuration with two old Nikon SB-24 flashes, the RF-603 and the PC cables as shown below.


It works!


Saturday, September 29, 2012

RF-603 Triggering Modes


Most of the time, my RF-603 will be used in the simple manner shown above: transceiver in the hotshoe of my 7D and wirelessly triggering a remote flash or two. However, the RF-603 can be used as a shutter trigger or even combined shutter and flash trigger.

RF-603 (G1X)

In the previous post, I noted that the button on the RF-603 transceiver activates only the shutter release (side connection using 2.5mm plug) and not the hotshoe functions. As shown above, the RF-603 can be used as a simple wired shutter release. Press the shutter button and the camera fires but remote flashes will not be triggered.

RF-603 (G1X)

The configuration shown above will trigger both camera and remote flashes.  Place a transceiver in the hotshoe of the camera and connect its shutter release to the camera. Add a second transceiver to trigger the hotshoe transceiver. Now a press of the button on the second transceiver triggers the shutter release on the first transceiver (the one mounted on the camera hotshoe) and the camera fires. When the camera fires, the hotshoe mounted transceiver transmits a signal to any RF-603 that are listening and those flashes will fire. To operate in this mode, three transmitters are needed: one on the camera hotshoe, a second transmitter to be the shutter trigger and a third transmitter mounted on the flash.


Actually, the “third” transmitter (the one mounted on the flash as shown above) can be used to trigger the transmitter mounted on the camera hotshoe so really only two transmitters are needed. In other words, set up a RF-603 on the camera hotshoe and wired to the camera release connection plus a second RF-603 mounted on the flash hotshoe as shown below. When the button on the flash mounted RF-603 is pressed, the camera will fire and activate the RF-603 on the camera hotshoe which will trigger the flash mounted RF-603 to fire the flash having the transceiver that began the cycle.

RF-603 (G1X)

All this is simpler than the words necessary to describe it.  Just remember that the button activates the 2.5mm connection and the hotshoe activates remote hotshoes.

Monday, September 17, 2012

G15: How ‘bout that!


As rumored and becoming obvious over the past few days, Canon announced its PowerShot G15 enthusiast’s camera today – a replacement for the G12 but skipping the G13 and G14 product names for various reasons of their own.

The Canon website now includes product pages for the G15. Dpreview has a preview of the G15.

My own guess, was that the G12 marked the end of that product line but that descendants of the G1X would continue it. I'm wrong once again (although more nearly correct a year ago).

Instead of the G12 being the end of a product line, I now suspect that the G1X will be a one-off model line because Canon's enthusiast compact product line seems to be getting crowded. Perhaps Canon is floating trial balloons to see which way the market winds are blowing.

I also suspect that the G15 probably was spec'd and designed very quickly in response to the moderate reception given the G1X. With the exception of a faster lens, the G15 appears to be a modest update to the G12. Since I still have my G12 and have added the G1X, I don’t feel particularly inclined to purchase a G15.

More later as I read and learn about the G15.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Yongnuo RF-603

RF-603The Yongnuo RF-603 is a wireless system for triggering flash and/or camera shutter using the FSK 2.4 GHz channel. Control distances up to 100 meters are claimed. Transmitter and receiver are identical and are called transceivers. The transceivers are powered by two standard AAA batteries; 45 hours of standby are claimed. Sixteen channels are available to provide isolation from other RF-603 that might be nearby.


The RF-603 is offered as the RF-603C for Canon cameras and RF-603N for Nikon cameras. I’ve not seen the Nikon version but apparently there are slight electronic differences in addition to differences in the hot shoe and cable connections. The Canon version uses a 2.5mm socket for connection to the camera and a standard PC socket for connection to studio flashes. On the camera end, the connecting cable varies according to the camera connection. Cameras such as Canon’s 1D, 5D, 7D, 20D use the “C3” cable whereas the 60D, 450D, 1000D and similar use the “C1” cable. My G12 and G1X also use the “C1” cable.


The RF-603C came well packed and worked right out of the box. I must admit that, at first, I thought the triggers were defective because I immediately mounted a flash to the hotshoe of a transceiver and tried to trigger it by pressing the button on the other transceiver. The RF-603 doesn’t work that way. It turns out that pressing the transceiver button does not activate the hotshoe on another transceiver. The button activates the shutter release connection – not the hotshoe connection on the receiving transceiver. As a flash trigger, the RF-603 can be tested by mounting the flash to the hotshoe of one transceiver, placing the other transceiver on the camera hotshoe and firing off a shot.

Channel selection is done by setting the switch that is beneath the batteries.  I immediately changed the channel from the factory setting.  Each transceiver must be set to the same channel.


Here’s a funny about the RF-603 package: The box has dual labels in English and Chinese (I assume). The User Manual is also in English and Chinese. Inside the box was a small package of desiccant label “DO NOT EAT” – but only in English!

Prior to getting the RF-603, my preferred remote trigger was the RF-602 although I first learned about remote flash triggers by using the Cactus V2. The Cactus V2 had an iffy performance that seemed mostly related to connections and wiring. After getting the RF-602, I stopped using the V2.

So far, I’ve not seen much difference in the performance of the RF-603 as compared to the RF-602 when used as a simple flash trigger. I had hoped (in vain!) that my G1X fitted with the RF-603 might not exhibit “screen blanking” as it did with the RF-602. However, this is obviously more of a problem (or undocumented feature) with recent PowerShots than it is related to the specifics of the flash accessory.  The RF-603C worked fine with my 7D.


Compatibility-wise, the RF-603C seems to trigger every flash I have access to – even the Nikon SB-28 and SB-24. Remember though, that all the RF-603 does is to signal “Fire” to the flash. The flash power must be set manually on the flash. It appears that the RF-603 cannot be triggered by the RF-602 and vice versa.


There are two main gripes about the RF-603:  First, the OFF/ON switch is virtually inaccessible after the flash is mounted to the trigger hotshoe.    This means that the trigger must be turned ON before mounting it to the flash.  Second, the trigger just slides into the camera hotshoe – there is no lock.  Although this friction only mounting is actually relatively secure, it does not fill me with confidence so I’ll be applying a bit of gaffer tape.

The RF-603 is very versatile and can be used in a variety of triggering modes but I’ll save those details for a separate post.

Friday, September 7, 2012

G1X: Battery Options


Canon’s G1X uses an NB-10L rechargeable lithium-ion battery rated at 7.4 volts DC and having a capacity of 920 mAh. The NB-10L is also used in Canon’s SX40 HS camera and probably many others. Canon rates its battery for approximately 250 still shots with the display screen turned on or 700 with the display screen off; this rating assumes “normal” operation which includes zooming. The battery is reported to be rated for 300 charging cycles. Of course, Canon’s instruction book for the G1X says “Use only the recommended battery.”.

In contrast to the NB-10L as used in the G1X, the NB-7L as used in the G12 is rated for 370 shots with the display turned on or 1000 shots with the display off. The NB-7L is also a 7.4 volt battery but with a capacity of 1050 mAh. The NB-7L is slightly larger than the NB-10L.

G1X CameraMany G1X users interpret “recommended battery” to mean the NB-10L type of battery and not necessarily the Canon brand. Canon’s NB-10L is much more expensive than non-Canon batteries. Typically Canon’s NB-10L is around $40 and as high as $60 whereas generic NB-10L range from $10 to $20 and really cheap ones are less than $10.

So – what’s a photographer to do?

Coming from a time when batteries were not as reliable and had a lower capacity, my personal and recommended practice is: one in the camera, one in the pocket and one in the charger. Being even more conservative, I’m likely to have an additional battery or two around. At the same time, all my extra batteries are the generic variety.

My personal G1X is usually powered by the official Canon battery. Along with my G1X, I purchased a “Power2000” NB-10L which, as I recall, was about $20 at the time. The Power2000 NB-10L is rated for 1200 mAh. Later I went even cheaper with two “Photive” NB-10L batteries costing $20 – including a charger useable with either AC or adaptable to an automobile DC socket (cigarette lighter). Come to think of it, I’ve not tested the DC socket charger.  Hmm, better test it someday (Update:  Seems to work!). Like the Power2000, the Photive NB-10L are labeled as having 1200 mAh capacity.

I believe/suspect that there are few rules for determining battery capacity or, more likely, that the temptation to use an exaggerated capacity is very strong. In my very limited testing and experience, it seems that the OEM and non-OEM batteries have about the same capacity. That is, don’t be misled by the mAh capacity label. My practice is to use a “Sharpie” pen to mark batteries as received. Of course, the received date is not the same as the manufactured date but is somewhat indicative of the age of the battery. It seems to me that generic batteries have a slightly shorter lifetime than do OEM batteries.

Following are some sources for NB-10L batteries. (This blog is not linked to any commercial sites or agreements.)

  • B&H has a Pearstone NB-10L for $20. It is highly rated in the B&H system of ratings.
  • Adorama has their private labeled NB-10L for $10.
  • Sterlingtek has a good reputation and is a source used by many photographers. Sterlingtek has been my first choice for non-OEM batteries for many years. Strangely, Sterlingtek does not carry the NB-10L on their website but even more strangely, Amazon carries an NB-10L ($15) supplied by Sterlingtek that is highly rated. I don’t understand this at all.
  • Amazon has some very cheap NB-10L batteries. Some are as low as $4 and others are packaged with chargers and other accessories. Wow, the Power2000 is about $4 and has a good rating – makes me feel like getting another one!

Various Internet discussion forums have positive comments about NB-10L batteries supplied by GT Max NB-10L, Sterlingtek (through Amazon), B&H, Ex-Pro and Opteka. It is easy to get the idea that the marketer (not the same thing as manufacturer) does not matter. The difference is probably the specifications and tolerance requirements of the marketer. One begins to suspect that there are very few manufacturers and that many of these batteries are actually made by the same manufacturer.

I’ve followed this philosophy and practice for some time. Here’s a post about a clone battery failing in my G9 and two posts about batteries used in my 7D.

My recommendation?  Buy a cheap generic battery for backup; in fact, buy several.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Isaac: Thursday

Mixing Pancakes

The rain has stopped (for a while anyway) and we begin the return to a normal life – for us anyway.  We are blessed and fortunate to have had little damage from Hurricane Isaac.  Except for a brief outage, we’ve had power throughout the storm although my daughter’s house, along with many others, is still without power . 

Roads are mostly open but many businesses remain closed because of access, no power or no expectation of customers.  Schools are closed.

This shot of my granddaughter was taken with an iPhone.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Isaac: Wednesday

Isaac WednesdayMy tree is still standing.  The intensity of wind and rain is increasing and will increase further as the day goes on.  Based on the weather reports, Hurricane Isaac is moving very slowly so this will be a long day.

Standing under the porch to avoid the rain, as I snapped this shot of my tree I once again pondered “How best to get a picture of the rain?”.  In fact, what I actually did was to set the G1X on Av mode, ISO 400, f8, grab the shot and go back inside to wipe off the raindrops.  Per my usual practice, the G1X was set for RAW + JPEG.  As I began to edit the RAW file, I realized that the JPEG version actually was more illustrative of the scene.  In fact, using ACR, I could make a “better” image but choose to use the JPEG instead.

We still have power but my daughter’s house lost power this morning.  She will soon be at my house – that will significantly increase the energy level around here so get prepared to see storm related pictures of my granddaughter.


Tree is still standing in spite of wind and rain. I discovered two small leaks in my roof that will need some attention afterward. 

Shortly after my daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter came to our house, we lost power.  Fortunately, power returned after about a half hour and has been on ever since.  I took heed and turned down the air conditioner and refrigerator in anticipation of another power failure.

My granddaughter probably has the most difficult job:  entertaining five adults.  She seems up to the challenge. 

My son-in-law has made this over-the-top video of storm related problems at their new house: 

I promised to give him a big boost by promoting it.  Once you realize that they are actually OK his video is hilarious.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Isaac: Tuesday

Isaac - tree bracedTropical Storm Isaac was just upgraded to Hurricane Isaac but, fortunately, no effects noted in Baton Rouge – yet.  There is a nice breeze and sky is cloudy but no rainfall – yet.  Many businesses are closed today as people prepare for Isaac’s arrival.

As part of my own preparation, I braced a small oak tree that we planted eight years ago.  In the first four years, that tree was blown down four times.  I came to call it the “pitiful oak” and expected it to die every time we straightened it.  For some strange reason though, Hurricane Gustav apparently fixed my pitiful oak and now it is flourishing.  Even so, I tied it off in five places.  If it blows over in Isaac, I don’t think we could straighten it.

Otherwise, we’ve done the usual preparations:  gasoline for the cars and generator (lines already forming), batteries, water, extra food, etc.  Of course, part of my preparation is to recharge all camera and flash batteries.

Evening Update

Really nothing to report.  A light rain began in the late afternoon and the wind has picked up a bit.  Here’s hoping that this is a boring storm.

Monday, August 27, 2012


1-079 Camille furniture in front of houses (web)

Here I am in Baton Rouge, Louisiana preparing for another hurricane.  Baton Rouge is somewhat inland from the Gulf and that distance attenuates – but does not eliminate -- the ferocity of hurricanes.  When Hurricane Gustav struck in 2008, I did a bit of reporting and plan to do the same for Isaac.

The photo above is from 1969 and shows, first hand, the effects of Hurricane Camille on my family and neighbors.   The houses on our street were filled with water to a level of four to five feet.  As we returned to our flooded and muddied houses, the short term “fix” was to take everything out of the house and into the yard.  This scene was repeated over and over along our street and many others.  We took buckets of water from the ditch, added disinfectant, and washed out the house.  Everything with wet padding was thrown away.  Most books, electronics, etc. were thrown away.  Actually, much furniture (plywood and veneers) was eventually thrown away as well.  We couldn’t bear to throw away pictures and I’m glad because some of them were restored.  We were lucky because many people lost everything. 

When I tell my Camille story, someone always asks if we gutted the interiors, removed the insulation, rewired, restored the wallboards, etc. before moving back in.  Those simple frame houses did not have insulation.  We just washed them out.

The picture (after all, this is a photo blog) was taken with a Kodak Instamatic.  Not just your basic Instamatic but the latest thing – an X-35.  I preferred slide film because the total cost of slides was cheaper than prints.  Yet another reminder to use whatever photo equipment you have to record the moment.

Here’s hoping that my Hurricane Isaac reporting will be brief and boring.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Kodak to Sell Film Business

Wow, looks like “Kodak” will soon be out of the film business!  When you think of “Kodak” do you think of cameras and film or ink jet printers?

My first job as a degreed engineer was with Kodak although, in full disclosure, I really was an engineer in the Eastman Chemicals division.  Even so, this was my starting point in photography.

Who’d a thunk it?

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Live Writer 2012

The Light Description blog began as an experiment and educational process in learning to blog.  For several years, I used the Blogger editor.  In retrospect, it’s a wonder I didn’t give up because of frustration with that editor. 

In February 2011, I switched to Windows Live Writer as my editor for this blog and it has been great. 

With this post, I’m updating to Live Writer 2012 which is part of the Windows Essentials bundle of free software from Microsoft.  Although I installed the complete bundle, Live Writer 2012 is the only program used so far.

My first impression of Live Writer 2012 is … no change!  As far as I’m concerned, this is great because I don’t have to re-learn how to use it.  Live Writer 2012 probably has some additional features and flexibility that I’ve not discovered (and may never discover because I use it in a very basic way).

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Beach Walk with the 7D

OS Beach

Perhaps because its firmware had just be upgraded, I naturally picked up the 7D this morning for a walk around the beach.  Although some are saying that focusing is quicker with firmware 2.0.0, if so, I didn’t notice it.  This is not to say that focusing is slow with the 7D, I just did not notice a change.  In fact, this morning, I did not notice any changes at all from the firmware upgrade.

Perhaps I was really just walking although I did grab a few shots using the 70-200 mm zoom – my usual choice for walking the beach. 

OS Beach

For this shot, I was wishing for the 100-400mm zoom at max zoom; instead, this image is cropped to about 1/4 of the frame.  This just goes to show what you can get away with so long as the display is on screen over the ‘net.

OS Beach

While walking, I suddenly realized that a dolphin was surfacing and grabbed a few shots – again wishing for a longer lens but with considerable cropping turned out OK.

None of these are particularly outstanding shots but, with the walk, made for a pleasant morning.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Canon 7D Firmware 2.0.0

I’ve successfully downloaded and installed Canon’s latest firmware, Version 2.0.0, for the 7D. Fortunately, downloading and installation went exactly according to plans and instructions. For first timers or those a bit hesitant to upgrade, the detailed instructions are included in the download file (a .zip format which must be extracted). This is quite an upgrade with many additional features and one of my first thoughts was “How do I use it?”.

The instructions for Firmware 2.0.0 are included in an updated 7D instruction manual which can also be downloaded from the Canon site. The download includes a one page summary of the new features with references to the updated instruction manual. Canon has also prepared an online video about the new features.

Among the more interesting new features to me are:

  • · Increased burst speed during continuous shooting
  • · Setting maximum ISO auto
  • · Manual adjustment during sound recording
  • · Resizing JPEG in-camera.

But there are many more.

So far, so good. I’m looking forwarded to my “new” 7D.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Vacation Contemplations


I’ve nearly recovered from an extended vacation and all the forced changes in my daily routine: different beds, diet, scenery and people – not to mention limited Internet access. It was a great time and adventure that will get even better in reminiscing.

As expected, the Canon mirrorless camera was announced during my vacation. I was able to read about it online but not able (well, chose not) to write about it. The more I read, the more ho-hum the EOS M appears to become. It is certainly not what I expected. I would have guessed that Canon would first release an enthusiast’s camera and later a lower cost consumer camera. I’m not very good at predicting marketing strategy.

Traveling to vacation, my car was filled with cameras and accessories. In fact, far too much equipment but a significant part of my vacation was to be play time and play toys are necessary. Of course, I didn’t use half of what was packed. What was used?

My G12 was brought along as a backup and unused except for a time lapse sequence. No problems.

My G1X was used during some beach walks and grab shots in condos, restaurants and events. No problems but no spectacular shots either. The G12 would have been fine (as it was last year). I did use the G1X video quite a bit. The fully automatic (few options) mode comes in very handy for vacation videos.


Actually, I used my 7D more than expected and usually with the 15-85mm zoom; often with flash. The 7D in manual exposure mode with ETTL flash is a good setup for indoor shots or adding a bit of fill flash outdoors. I also used the 70-200mm zoom for beach walks. The 100-400mm zoom seemed a bit much.

Anticipating our traditional extended family group photo, I packed a couple of portable light stands and extra flashes. A handful of flash modifiers and wireless triggers were tossed in the trunk in hopes of a few location studio shots. The light stands and remotes were needed but the only flash modifier used was the simple Sto-Fen diffuser. (I know the Sto-Fen catches a lot of grief but it sure seems to work well in small rooms.)

Speaking of flash, my YN565EX has died the death and could not be used. Fortunately, the older YN430- II worked fine. I’ve contacted ThePhotoGadget for a warranty repair or replacement. They tell me that I have an older version and that the latest version of the YN565EX is more reliable. My YN565EX will be returned (to China!) for repair or replacement and I’ll report on the process.

Destin G1X

Yes, I over packed and have resolved to cut back severely next year. This annual vacation includes extended family and friends. What photo gear did the others bring?


Basically, an iPhone. That is, almost everyone brought an iPhone and few were packing a camera. This was definitely a change from previous years – even from last year. In fact, it may be a little bit of a problem because I usually collect the best pictures and assemble a family vacation slideshow and video that is distributed to everyone. I’m concerned that the iPhone images might not be to the usual quality and versatility of a real camera. On the other hand, everyone had a great time snapping iPhone pics of each other and sharing them. It was interesting to see that the long shutter delay, weak flash and often poor white balance of the iPhone has come to be accepted by users in exchange for the convenience of recording the moment.

I took a few iPhone shots myself and made a little video using the Splice app on the iPhone.


So next year, I plan to pack less gear except, of course, for any new toys obtained during the year long wait. At this point, I doubt that the EOS M will be one of those new toys but I’m very curious about the supposed enthusiast’s version that might be coming along next year.

Now to sort through all those pictures and assemble that family vacation video…

Thursday, August 2, 2012

G12: Time Lapse

While vacationing last week, I made another time lapse video of the sunrise on Destin, Florida beach.  As last year, the G12 was used in the process.  Shot from the same balcony at roughly the same time, this year’s video eerily resembles last year’s video.  So much for creativity!

Why use the G12 instead of the G1X?  Well, as noted previously, the G1X yields only about 1500 shots in a two hour period before running out of battery.  The G12 yields about 2500 shots over a longer period of time.  If I’d planned a little more carefully, the G1X would have been more than adequate.  Instead, I fired up the G12 and took a walk with the G1X.

Canon’s EOS M was officially announced during my vacation.  I’ve been reading about its specs as well as its pros and cons – not to mention opinions from enthusiasts.  I’ll have more to say about the EOS M in another post.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Canon Mirrorless Leaked

Everyone else is “announcing” it so I might as well join the crowd.  Although Canon Rumors was not the first to post it, apparently they are convinced that this leak is real and therefore have essentially announced the Canon EOS M mirrorless camera. 

By measuring the pictures of the camera and scaling to standard hot shoe dimensions, most people seem to think the EOS M uses an APS-C sensor and not a variant of the sensor used in the G1X.  Not what I thought would happen.

In fact, the EOS M is (apparently, as it has not been announced) significantly different from the mirrorless camera that I thought Canon would design.  It is being said that the M is a consumer camera and not an enthusiasts camera.  Supposedly, the enthusiasts camera will come later.  I thought the sequence would be the opposite.

I’m not quite sure how I feel about the EOS M but am anxiously awaiting the details with fingers crossed.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

G1X: Video

I still have ambitions of becoming a better videographer and editor.  Here’s my latest attempt; this time using the G1X and its fully automated video features.

Pressure washing my driveway

Realistically, I’ve not used G1X (or G12 or 7D) video nearly as much as I thought I would.  In fact, I’ve only posted seven videos on this blog and just one using the G1X (not counting time lapse as a video). 

I’m still using, or better said, trying to learn Adobe Premier Elements and have upgraded to Version 10.  Premier Elements 10 is probably more than adequate for my needs but I definitely need more time and practice.

The various formats, file name extensions, etc. are still somewhat a mystery to me.  I’m attempting to upload a high quality video to YouTube from Premier Elements but the downloaded playback never looks as good as the version I see during editing.  Sometimes I save the video to my hard drive in several formats just to see the results.  Wow; what huge differences in file size and quality!

So I still don’t have a comfortable work flow for video. 

Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Mirrorless G Series

G12 CameraThis post is almost a joke but it’s time to make my annual prediction for the next PowerShot G camera even though the G1X was launched only a few months ago. This time last year, I predicted the “G14” – Wrong!

Canon has previously said that the G1X does not replace the G12. The G12 is still listed on the Canon website. The Canon statement leaves room for a “G14” to replace the G12; however, my G14 prediction is that there will be no successor to the G12 as such. The G1X will turn out to be the successor to the G12 after all – as most people believed anyway. Canon was simply hedging their bets by not taking the G12 off the market at the time of the G1X launch.

The G2X, as it almost certainly will be named, is still many months away – probably late summer next year. Like recent G series cameras, the G2X will continue as an evolutionary step from the G1X. The real news – and apparently coming soon – is the mirrorless PowerShot.

Of course, none of the G series Canon Powershots have a mirror but that is beside the point. The current craze is for “mirrorless” cameras and Canon will soon join that club.

“Mirrorless” is usually understood to mean not only a camera without the mirror of the single lens reflex (SLR) and its digital descendant but also to be a compact camera with interchangeable lenses. Sometimes this type of camera is abbreviated as “MILC” for mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. Some of these mirrorless cameras more or less resemble rangefinder cameras of old (which did not have a mirror either) while others take on the look and feel of a DSLR.

Everyone expects that Canon will launch a mirrorless camera soon and “soon” is July 24 according to Canon Rumors. What will this new camera be named? It certainly could continue as a PowerShot although some seem to think it will be an entirely new series. I think the Canon mirrorless is likely to be a PowerShot Pro2.

The PowerShot Pro1 was a revolutionary product launched in 2004 and never updated. It had a different shape and a relatively large (for the time) sensor for a compact camera. Although the Pro1 had – and still has -- its devotees, reviews were somewhat subdued. I recall giving it a serious consideration but deciding to pass on the Pro1.

I don’t really think that the new Canon mirrorless will be named the PowerShot Pro2. “Pro2” makes me think of second best. I think the new Canon mirrorless will be named the PowerShot Pro1X (with future versions being named “Mark II”, etc.).

The Pro1X may not look like the older Pro1 (I hope it looks like a “rangefinder”) but will borrow and evolve enough Pro1 features to be recognized as a legitimate descendant. Evolved features will include:

  • High resolution EVF + articulated LCD
  • Hybrid autofocus
  • Intervalometer
  • Pop up flash + hotshoe

The Pro1X will be a true PowerShot with many features borrowed from the G1X including:

  • A tweaked G1X sensor
  • DIGIC 5 processor
  • Movie modes with added features
  • SCN and filter modes
  • Built-in neutral density filter
  • Variable aspect ratio image files
  • Video button (but protected from accidental activation)
  • Image Stabilization

The Pro1X will include “new” features such as

  • Interchangeable lenses
  • Initially 3 lenses: wide and telephoto zoom, fixed 40mm pancake
  • New lens mount, plus adapter for DSLR lenses
  • Wifi
  • Flash controls like 7D (oh please, please!)
  • Larger battery
  • 4 to 8 frames per second burst in RAW mode
  • eliminate 1 second shutter speed limit in Av mode
  • Touchscreen controls (in addition to G1X type physical controls)

Apparently we will know in a few weeks.

I predict that the Pro1X will be criticized for not being “pocketable”. Also, many will criticize the EVF and point out that the EVF makes the camera larger than necessary.

(Why do I do this? Just for grins! I have no affiliation with Canon and no real source of information to use as the basis of these guesses.)

Monday, June 25, 2012

Beach Walk

Front Beach Walk- GB-20120624-125 (web)

Some of my better snapshots (‘cause that’s about all they really are) while walking the beach early in the morning.  All these were taken with my Canon 7D and 70-200 mm zoom.  The 70-200mm is my usual choice for outdoors even though sometimes I was wishing that the G1X was in my pocket for a wider angle photo during these walks.

Front Beach Walk- GB-20120623-021 (web)

Front Beach Walk- GB-20120623-029 (web)

Front Beach Walk- GB-20120623-101 (web)

Front Beach Walk- GB-20120623-075 (web)

Front Beach Walk- GB-20120623-070 (web)

Front Beach Walk- GB-20120624-249 (web)