I recently had the good fortune to come across an offering for some used Canon digital gear through my membership in the Photographic Society of the Triangle (Raleigh-Durham). Based on the pricing, I knew the equipment would go fast. So I acted quickly to get the first e-mail in stating that I wanted to purchase the gear. Here is what I have ended up with after it was all said and done.
1. Canon EOS 5D Mark III 22.3 MP Full Frame CMOS with 1080p Full-HD Video Mode Digital SLR Camera (Body)
2. Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM Lens
3. Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM Lens
4. Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Standard Zoom Lens
5. Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro Lens
6. Canon 1.4 Extender
7. Heliopan 77mm UV SH-PMC Filter (707711) with specialty Schott glass in floating brass ring
8. B+W 82mm XS-Pro HTC Kaesemann Circular Polarizer with Multi-Resistant Nano Coating
9. B+W 67mm XS-Pro HTC Kaesemann Circular Polarizer with Multi-Resistant Nano Coating
10. B+W 77mm Circular Polarizer with Multi-Resistant Coating
11. Canon Cameras US 2598A001 67mm Protect Filter
12. B+W 82mm XS-Pro Clear UV Haze with Multi-Resistant Nano Coating (010M)
13. Lowepro Fastpack 350 DSLR Camera Backpack
14. David Busch’s Compact Field Guide for the Canon EOS 5D Mark III
15. David Busch’s Canon EOS 5D Mark III Guide to Digital SLR Photography
16. Canon Speedlight 600EX II-RT
17. Canon 430 EX Speedlight
18. Canon 420 EX Speedlight
19. Yongnuo YN-622C-TX E-TTL Flash Controller with Canon connector
20. Yongnuo YN-622C-TX E-TTL Flash Transceiver (4)
21. Off Camera E-TTL Flash Cord (Coiled)
22. Lensbaby Spark for Canon EF Mount
23. Vello Auto Extension Tube Set for Canon EOS
As you can see, the gear offered a complete Canon outfit and my rating on the condition of every piece is Mint+ . Now, those that know me are scratching their heads going, “But wait, aren’t you a die-hard Nikon guy?”. I guess the answer to that is; yes, I was. My history with camera brands goes back to a hand me down Kodak Bakelite Brownie and Kodak 126 Instamatic, before I got my first SLR, an Olympus OM-1. I shot Olympus from 1978 – 1992 when I sold several bodies, many lenses and my Sunpak 422(?) flash gun to go toward the purchase of my Nikon gear, which was a Nikon N90 with 28-70 and 80-200 zoom lenses and one SB-25 flash. Since moving to Nikon, I have been okay with the reliability of the cameras. I did have a N75 I bought for my wife go completely dead after a year. My first digital body, the D-70, got the flashing screen of death and had to go back for warranty repair. Since going digital, I have bought a D-200 and sold it. And currently have the D-70, D-300 and D-600. I would have to say the D-600 has been biggest disappointment of any camera I have owned short of the N75. The sensor blows highlights on skin if the exposure is only ever so lightly over exposed. And the final nail in the coffin is the shutter lubricant getting on the sensor. There is nothing like going on a three-day photography excursion and getting the first day’s images in Lightroom to find grease spots everywhere. Other than charity events, I pretty much quit shooting for fun, and dropped small commercial projects after the disappointment of the D-600 on that trip.
Now in hindsight, I guess I could have sold or traded my D-300 and D-600 to upgrade to another Nikon body; but the opportunity to start a new with Canon L series lenses, which are better quality than any I have built up in Nikkor and third-party lenses; and the other included accessories at 50% off of discounted retail pricing (B & H), it was an opportunity I could not pass up. The seller wasn’t willing to sell individual items and I could probably sell the equipment individually and make a profit. So this may be more of Canon experiment than a total switch. The wife expects me sell the Nikon gear and I will start doing that once I confirm there are no show stoppers with a Canon workflow.
My first real shoot with the Canon gear was Saturday photographing several purses with custom emblems containing initials that can be swapped between purses. The project was fraught with challenges. The need to keep the purse and strap in it’s exact same position between shots, a need to have the white background blowout for seamless presentation on the web site, potential exponential number of shots when there were about 30 sample emblems that could be shot in combination with all of the purses. I ended up with about 220 images to post process including individual shots of some of the new emblems which were not on the web site. I really need to re-shoot the emblems from straight overhead and will do that when I can get them back. As far as the new Canon gear goes, I used the camera with the 24-70 lens and two soft boxed 600WS strobes from the sides and a 300WS strobe trying to bounce off the ceiling to help keep the background go white. I was shooting at ISO 100 from F14 – F18 and all of the shots were clear and correctly exposed for the item. There were a couple of occasions where I had to go manual focus as the purse texture without an emblem attached and my inability to change the static position of the camera resulted in focus failure. For anyone that has done this type of product shoot, I think they would agree that getting a blown out or achieving high-key white background without blowing the highlights in the product is a challenge. If I have the opportunity to do another shoot of these items, I would shoot the emblems straight on, make a single photograph of each purse without an emblem and put the emblems on the purses using Photoshop. Your question is isn’t that a lot of post processing work? Yes and no. Yes it is potentially a lot of work, but it avoids two issues I faced on this shoot which were blowing out the background to white and keeping the purses and straps from shifting position between shots when the emblems are swapped. I think I would be better off getting a single shot and fixing the background and doing some selecting, masking and layer work to place the emblems virtually than having to use a custom +4.0 exposure brush in Lightroom on almost every background to achieve pure white. While I was able to copy some develop settings from one image to another, the slightest movement in the purse strap or handle meant doing the manual exposure brush all over again. I guess that is a lesson learned for the next time. The ultimate solution would be for the website to have base purse images without the emblem and a back-end web application to build the emblem image from the initials and colors the customer wants with the selected font and overlay it on the purse. Then the only images that would be needed are the base purses and product use shots.
So back to the Canon gear. I am pleased my purchase and will confirm my choice over the next few months. Between the two books that came with the outfit, I was able to get up to speed pretty quick and never felt like I had to hunt down some setting during the shoot.
Now to forge on with my second challenge of moving away from Adobe products to something else. Right now that something else is from ON1 and their newest version 10 and 2017 Camera Raw. I plan to experiment accomplishing similar edits using the ON1 tool set and see how I like it. Who knows, that might be the next blog entry. I have abandoned the project to move away from Adobe products. After one of the leading pros that On1 has used as guest instructor over the past year came out with a book on Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom, it pretty much clarified that On1 is going to remain a supplemental player in the digital photo editing market and not a complete solution.
My most recent use of the new gear has come in the form of suburban wildlife photography. While working in the yard the last few weekends, a Red Tail Hawk has been regular visitor to the tall oak trees in my front yard. The first time, I went in grabbed my Panasonic point and shoot, a DMC-ZS50, and was treated to the hawk’s garter snake snack. On the next opportunity, I went for the Canon with the 100-400 lens. The effort was worth it as I came away with this shot.
|Camera Model:||Canon EOS 5D Mark III|
|Exposure Compensation:||0.33 EV|
|Exposure time:||1/1250 sec|
|Flash Fired:||No Flash|
|Focal Length:||400 mm|
|Shutter Speed:||1/1250 sec|
|Lens:||EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM|
Stay tuned to see if the Canon stays or goes. Right now, it’s staying.