Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Scaffolders with Olympus PEN E1 and Zuiko 40 - 150mm

The scaffolders arrived this morning at 8am to erect the scaffold that will be used by the roofers for the new roof we're having.

I was sitting having my morning coffee and noticed these great silhouettes of the scaffolders working against the blinds of the window.

I grabbed the nearest camera which happened to by the Olympus PEN E-1 with the Zuiko 40 - 150mm lens, the camera was set to the "Grainy Film" Art preset so I quickly snapped some images as they worked.

Cropped for consistency in Lr CC., otherwise as they come out of the camera with that particular preset.







Saturday, 29 April 2017

Olympus PEN E-1 with Zuiko 40 - 150mm

I've had an Olympus PEN E-1 since it came out. I quite liked the idea of a compact mirrorless camera with a large(ish) sensor, and I already had an Olympus E330 so could use the glass with a MFT adapter. Even though I eventually went to Full-Frame 35mm with a Canon 5D2 I kept the PEN and the 14 - 42mm and 40 - 150mm lenses. 
It went with my daughter to uni, then to the U.S. and eventually made its way home via a 10 month stay in China.

Since then is done a bit of Ebay photography duty but pretty much stayed in its camera bag. Until recently when I was sorting through stuff and came upon it, I started playing with it and remembered all the things I had liked about it.
OK, so things get a bit noisy above 400 ISO but I really liked the Art mode preset Grainy Film so it didn't really matter. I've been using it for portraits.

These are jpg sooc with just resizing in Lr CC

Olympus PEN E-1 Zuiko 40-150mm

Olympus PEN E-1 Zuiko 40-150mm

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Tascam DR-40 Linear PCM recorder

A slight departure from photography for this entry.
My main occupation is video production, I shoot with dedicated HD and 4K video cameras and have never embraced the DSLR video revolution. I have shot video with DSLR using my Canon 5D2 and the results were very good. However I found the workflow rather slow when compared to using dedicated video cameras. 
The main problem was with audio, I shoot a lot of interviews and having XLR inputs on the cameras able to take the wireless microphone transmitter and record top quality audio together with the video greatly simplifies the workflow during ingestion and editing.
When I shot with a DSLR I recorded the mics onto a borrowed Zoom H4n and synchronised the audio and video files in Final Cut Pro X. Additionally setting all this up, often lighting as well, and then monitoring two pieces of equipment while recording and directing is a lot to deal with when I'm usually a single shooter. Add to this time constraints often present with these shoots and it has meant I have opted for the simplest solution that gets the job done.

I really like the look of DSLR video though, and the shallow DoF available looks good, especially for interviews.

I was idly browsing the internet recently and up came an article about DSLR video where the audio had been recorded on a Tascam DR-40 recorder. It looked very much like a clone of the ever popular Zoom H4n much cheaper. I investigated further and the reviews were very positive. The DR-40 lacked some of the features of the H4n (mainly effects and the ability to be used as a USB audio interface) but these were features I'd not use, effects I'd add in post and I already have several USB audio interfaces.

Tascam is a name I trust and respect in audio, I used their open reel recorders extensively back in the 80's and 90's and they were superb. I was tempted; then I saw the deal clincher, Bax Music were offering the DR-40 for £136, a good price, then on their website there was an offer of an additional 20% off ending that day, free postage as well. I pushed the button. After VAT has been claimed back it came to a bargain price of £101!

The DR-40 arrived 3 days later from Holland. I unpacked it, installed the batteries and went to record a concert that evening. 
I set the DR-40 up in front of the small vocal ensemble, set the levels and pressed record. The result was a very accurate recording of the event.

The following day I updated the firmware and tried the DR-40 out in 4 channel mode with a couple of Oktava P48 mics, which worked well. I also tested the safety record option whereby a second recording is made at a level -6dB to -12dB lower than the main one, This is a really useful feature, especially in situations when you don't have 100% control over the levels.

Compared the the Zoom H4n the construction uses more plastic, it lacks effects section and the USB interface as I've already mentioned. Sound quality is pretty much identical, and I strongly suspect it shares a chipset with the Zoom and other similar devices. 
The Tascam does have a few features not on the Zoom, the mics can be switched from X-Y to A-B as opposed the the 90 or 120 degree option on the Zoom. There is also a nifty rubber foot in the Tascam battery compartment that isolates and raises the device when placed on a flat surface such as a table. 
Another feature, which brings me back to where I started this entry, is that when the audio output of the DR-40 is connected to the input of your DSLR the DR-40 can be set to generate a tone at the start of each recording for easy sync in the edit. I also find the menu system easier to navigate than the Zoom menu.

So, I'm now hoping to use a couple of DSLR, with lovely Canon L glass and the DR-40 on an upcoming project. I'll post here on how that goes. 






Thursday, 30 March 2017

North Wales with Canon 5D2 - revised images

In the comments on my last post Simon Hill suggested I correct the perspective on one of the images. 

I had applied the lens correction filter in Lightroom to the image which had taken with my Canon 20mm f2.8 USM lens. Obviously being a 20mm wide angle lens it was still going to render a distorted image, particularly as I shot from a low angle. I rather like this as it can add tension and I don't as a rule correct it.

However, Simon is an excellent photographer whose experience and skill I greatly admire, so as an experiment I used the Perspective Correction tool in Ps CC to correct the verticals on that image.

On this occasion I think he was correct, it does look better. Let me know what you think in the comments.

I've given this image a different treatment and added a film effect in Silver EFX Pro.

Canon 5D2 Canon 20mm f2.8 USM
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Sunday, 26 March 2017

North Wales with a couple of Canon 5D2

We went for a long weekend in North Wales recently, mainly to catch up with some old friends, but with a decent weather forecast it was an opportunity to do some shooting for pleasure.

Camera-wise I only have the two 5D2 now, the Fuji having been sold end of 2016.

When I lived in North Wales in the late 70s/early 80s I was aware of many of the the locations now so popular on the internet, but lacked the wherewithal to buy a decent camera to photograph them, so I decided that this trip I would get around to capturing an image of them, even if it is 35 years too late.

The good weather obviously gave other like-minded photographers the same idea as the first two locations I visited we were queuing to get the our tripods in the right position!

While waiting I took the opportunity to see what others were shooting with. Every other shooter had a DSLR, no mirrorless in sight, and those DSLRs were either Canon or Nikon with Canon being the most prevalent by far. Almost all were APS-C. And everyone had a 10 stop ND of some description, except me. I'm not a huge fan of the "milky water" landscape; probably because like HDR its been done so much I'm sick of seeing it. However for the tree in the lake image softening the water is probably a good thing. I had to improvise so stacked three ND filters to try to blur the lake. It sort of worked.

I also took the opportunity to try out the raw editing on Lightroom Mobile connection the 5D2 to my iPhone and iPad with the Apple USB camera kit and posting images to Facebook almost immediately after taking them. This worked really well.

All images processed in Lr CC as usual.

Canon 5D2 Canon 20mm f2.8 USM

Canon 5D2 Canon 70-200mm f2.8 L USM IS

Canon 5D2 Canon 70-200mm f2.8 L USM IS

Canon 5D2 Canon 20mm f2.8 USM

Canon 5D2 Canon 70-200mm f2.8 L USM IS

Canon 5D2 Canon 20mm f2.8 USM

Canon 5D2 Canon 20mm f2.8 USM



Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Lr Mobile with Canon 5D2 raw files and Lr Camera HDR

Now that Lr Mobile is able to handle raw files I thought I'd see if I was able to use the Apple Camera Kit with my iPhone7 to import and edit raw files from my Canon 5D2 and Canon G10 Powershot.

This was so easy. I simply connected the camera to the iPhone with the Apple Camera Kit, opened Photos and touched Import, all the files in the camera were there to see, with options to import selected images or the whole lot.

Then in Lr Mobile I opened Camera Roll selected the image I wanted to edit and it was added to Lr and synced to my desktop as well. In Lr Mobile I edited the image and posted to social media. There are the usual options for email and Messaging as expected. 

This provides a very flexible solution for adding images when you are out and about. You could use it update you Facebook status or send images to a client. If they were OK with smallish jpgs then it enables a very fast turnaround, or they could be simply for approval with hi-res images delivered later. 

Canon 5D2 raw images accessed on iPhone7 with Apple Camera kit


However you could just use the iPhone camera via the Lr Mobile App and the recently added HDR function.
This works very well. Lr takes three images, one at correct exposure, one over and one under then blends them into a 16bit dng which is synced to your desktop for further big screen action if required, or you can edit on your iPhone.

Lr Mobile HDR with further processing in Lr Mobile on iPhone7



Thursday, 2 March 2017

Leicester Comedy Festival 2017 - Canon 5DII + Canon 70-200mm f2.8 IS USM L

Last weekend we took a trip to Leicester.

It was the final weekend of the Leicester Comedy Festival and my old school friend Chris was performing his stand up routine in the Leicester Brewdog venue.

I've known Chris since for over 40 yrs and it was only recently that he took up stand up comedy performing and this was his longest set to date.

Chris was performing with his writing partner Kevin, they were performing their show Punchlining above their weight.


I volunteered to take some photos at the gig. I took along one of my trusty Canon 5DII's and the more recently acquired Canon 70-200mm f2.8 IS USM L lens. 

This was the first time I'd used the 70-200 f2.8 on an actual shoot and it didn't let me down, I shot wide open at ISO3200. I'm really pleased with the resulting images. 

Chris and Kevin were both very funny as well.

Processed in Lr CC as usual.

Kevin Hudson Leicester Comedy Festival
Canon 5DII, Canon 70-200 f2.8 IS USM L

Kevin Hudson Leicester Comedy Festival
Canon 5DII, Canon 70-200 f2.8 IS USM L

Kevin Hudson Leicester Comedy Festival
Canon 5DII, Canon 70-200 f2.8 IS USM L

Chris Philips Leicester Comedy Festival
Canon 5DII, Canon 70-200 f2.8 IS USM L

Chris Philips Leicester Comedy Festival
Canon 5DII, Canon 70-200 f2.8 IS USM L

Chris Philips Leicester Comedy Festival
Canon 5DII, Canon 70-200 f2.8 IS USM L

Chris Philips Leicester Comedy Festival
Canon 5DII, Canon 70-200 f2.8 IS USM L