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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Nikon D90 - The Perfect DSLR For Just About Anyone

Nikon D90 - The Perfect DSLR
I get people asking me all the time what DSLR they should buy. I used to tailor my recommendations based on a number of questions concerning what they're going to use it for. Nowadays, my answer is almost always, buy a Nikon D90.

It's the perfect DSLR for just about everyone!

The Nikon D90 is an amazing DSLR camera at an amazing price point.

Prior to the D90, I'm not sure I would've had a recommendation for the PERFECT DSLR for everyone. There were so many variables and so many pluses and minuses to most DSLR cameras.

And then along came the Nikon D90.

The D90 is advanced enough for all but the most demanding professionals to use, yet approachable enough for the beginning hobbyist. The D90 is so well built, so well designed, so well spec'ed, and such a great price, that it takes the cake for best value out there in the DSLR market.

I find myself picking up my D90 over any of my other cameras almost all the time now. My Nikon D300 sits lonely in my camera bag, upstaged by it's little brother. The lighter body of the D90 is so pleasant to work with, and I love the versatility of the 18-105 VR lens that I bought with it.

The image quality of the D90 is top notch. 12MP never looked so good! While other manufacturers are trying to jam more and more megapixels into a crop sensor DSLR, Nikon understands that 12 megapixels is more than almost anybody needs and that quality trumps quantity. We don't need more megapixels. Give us better IQ, dynamic range, and high ISO ability.

The D90 is rugged and well built. The body is solid and capable of taking a beating, yet light and compact enough to not pull your neck out of shape or your back out of joint.

The D90 auto focus is best in class. Only the flagship auto focus system in the Nikon D300s, D3s, D700, or D3x is better, and for most uses, you'll never notice the difference. Unlike a lot of Canon DSLR's that seem chronically plagued with back focus, front focus, and out of focus problems, the Nikon D90 auto focus system just works.

Unless you're a professional who requires the ABSOLUTE best DSLR on the market, the Nikon D90 is probably more camera than you'll ever need. Even professionals who require the top of the line DSLR's will find the Nikon D90 to be a great back-up camera.

If you're in the market for a DSLR, check out the Nikon D90. You won't be dissappointed!

Related articles...

Upgrading Your DSLR

Thursday, December 17, 2009

How to make a Crop Sensor DSLR Photo Indistinguishable from a Full Frame DSLR Photo.

1) Shoot at the lowest ISO possible. The lower the ISO the lower the noise, and the better quality image. The base ISO of your DSLR is its sweet spot. For most Nikon DSLR cameras, that’s going to be ISO 200. Leave it there if you can.

2) Shoot tight. Frame your shot to fill the frame. Maximize those pixels. When you fill the frame with your subject, you get more image to work with. When you don’t shoot tight and have to crop, you lose resolution. When you fill your frame with your subject, you get the maximum resolution which translates into the best image quality you can get out of your DSLR.

3) Use the best glass you own, and know where the sweet spot is. Where is your lens sharpest with the best contrast and color characteristics? You should be shooting at that f-stop, or as close to it as possible. Know your lens and use it to its maximum potential.

4) Perhaps the most important of all, light your shot properly. Whether you’re using speedlights off camera, or more powerful lights like Alien Bees, spend the time to make sure your lighting is perfect. Lighting is perhaps the single greatest variable that can make or break a shot. You can get an incredible image from a small point and shoot like the Canon G10 if you light it properly. Lighting is the single biggest factor in levelling the playing field between crop sensor DSLR cameras and full frame DSLR cameras. Lighting is everything!

5) Shoot RAW to maximize image quality. If you’re not already shooting RAW, start now! There’s just no comparison between RAW and JPG. When it comes to maximizing image quality, RAW is where its at, not to mention all the additional benefits of RAW like overexposure recovery, white balance correction, and on and on. There are times when shooting JPG is fine. This isn’t one of them. When you’re looking to maximize image quality, shoot RAW.

6) For that little edge… to get that little smidgeon of image quality… develop your RAW image using your camera’s own RAW processor. If you shoot Canon, use DPP. If you shoot Nikon, use NikonView or Capture.You’ll almost always get a little better image. Nothing earth shattering, but it’s usually enough to be noticeable, if ever so slightly.

Follow these tips and you’ll find your images from your crop sensor DSLR are indistinguishable from those of a full frame DSLR camera. Not only that, you’ll find your images are just better all around. You might just surprise yourself at how good they are.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Full Frame DSLR Camera or Crop Sensor DSLR Camera… What to do?

So, the new Nikon D300S is out. It's a great camera, and it's a crop sensor DSLR camera. Likewise, the new Canon 7D is out, and it has some great things going for it too. It's also a crop sensor DSLR camera.

Both Nikon and Canon have many other great crop sensor DSLR cameras in their line-up like the Nikon D90, Nikon D5000, Nikon D3000, Canon EOS 50D, Canon Rebel T1i, Canon Rebel Xsi, and the Canon Rebel XS.

Then you’ve got the new Nikon D3s full frame DSLR camera, and it’s a fantastic piece of equipment. Likewise, the Canon 5D MkII is a full frame DSLR camera that many Canon shooters have fallen in love with. There’s also the Nikon D700, another great full frame DSLR camera, and the Nikon D3X, the full frame DSLR camera that is Nikon’s flagship offering. Canon has the 1DsMkIII full frame DSLR which is the current Canon flagship.

Which is better, crop sensor or full frame?

Why do the full frame DSLR cameras cost so much more?

So what do you need? Will a crop sensor DSLR camera do the job, or do you need to step up to a full frame DSLR camera?

As many people have found out, there aren’t any simple, cut and dry answers to these questions, but I’m going to try and help simplify things for you.

First off, let’s look at which is better… crop sensor or full frame. The short answer is neither. Many people will tell you that full frame is better. If you’re a professional photographer, you’ve probably been told that you should shoot full frame as it’s better, or more professional, or that you’re not doing right by your clients unless your using one of the latest and greatest full frame DSLR cameras.

There’s no question that full frame DSLR cameras are great. No question that they are capable of amazing image quality. No question that a full frame DSLR like the Nikon D3s is capable of delivering mind blowing image quality at insanely high ISO settings. You can practically shoot in the dark with that thing!

But does that suddenly mean that anything less than a full frame DSLR isn’t capable delivering a great photo?

There are some incredible photographers shooting with crop sensor DSLR cameras and creating amazing images. Loads of incredible images were captured on crop sensor DSLR cameras before full frame DSLR cameras were even available. Some top notch photographers have even gone back to crop sensor DSLR cameras from full frame. Case in point, the new 7D. More than a few photographers have decided it suits them better than the full frame 5D MkII. Are they suddenly going to have worse photos because they’ve gone from a full frame DSLR to a crop sensor DSLR? They don’t think so, their clients don’t think so, and I don’t think so.

I myself am still quite content shooting with my Nikon D300 and Nikon D90, both crop sensor DSLR cameras, and both capable of incredibly good image quality. For the bulk of what I do (portraits and weddings), the venerable little D90 is more than capable of getting the job done. Sometimes I prefer the D300’s slightly better auto focus, but the trade off is that the D300 is heavier.

There are times when I’m shooting in dim lighting that the D3s or D700 would be nice for their super high ISO abilities, but I can even the playing field by knowing how to light properly. A single, inexpensive flash unit can make a shot from a D3s and D90 indistinguishable for all intents and purposes. And a single, inexpensive flash unit is a hell of a lot cheaper than purchasing a D3s.

With proper lighting, I’m perfectly comfortable shooting with any DSLR, whether it’s a $400 or $10,000 camera. Even my little Canon G10 is capable of amazing quality with the right lighting. The point is, you don’t need a full frame DSLR to take good photos. You don’t even need a high end crop sensor DSLR to take good photos. A good photographer can take a great photo with ANY DSLR on the market today.

Now, that’s not to say there aren’t times when you might benefit from some of the advanced features of the higher end crop sensor or full frame cameras. My point is that you likely don’t NEED a full frame DSLR camera. You may want one, but you probably don’t NEED one.

If you’re an amateur hobbyist who takes nature photos, landscapes, and maybe some family photos, a crop sensor DSLR camera like the Nikon D90 or Canon T1i will do just fine. Even one of the lower end DSLR cameras may be all you need.

Advanced amateurs can still do just fine with a Nikon D90 or Canon T1i. Even professionals like myself find DSLR cameras at this level to be more than adequate for most jobs. It comes down to choosing the right tool for the job, and in a lot of cases, the top end DSLR cameras are OVERKILL.

So, the short answer is NO, full frame DSLR cameras are not necessarily better. They may have advanced features such as super high ISO or crazy accurate auto focus that are better or necessary on some jobs, but I don’t think its correct to say they’re better. They’re different. Some nature photographer actually prefer the crop sensor for it’s 1.5X extra reach, but does that make a crop sensor DSLR better than a full frame DSLR? No. They may be better for a specific job requirement like nature photography, but they’re not flat out better. Different horses for different courses.

Let’s look at it from a cost perspective. Full frame DSLR cameras are MUCH more expensive, especially when you’re talking the flagship bodies like the Nikon D3X and the Canon 1DsMkIII. The reason for this is quite simple.

Sensors are basically get cut from a larger sheet of sensor material if you will. You can cut more crop sensors out of a single sheet of a given size than you can full frame sensors. This also makes it more efficient to make crop sensors as there is less waste as well, hence an added cost savings for crop sensors and cost increase for full frame sensors. Factor in the cost of bad sensors (i.e. how many sensors are bad and go to waste out of a given number), and the cost of full frame is even higher in relation to crop sensors. It costs less to throw out a bad crop sensor off the production line than it does a full frame sensor.

Of course, you’re also paying a premium for the full frame sensor simply because they’re still newer and perceived to more desirable. Pure and simple. Like a high brand product that is no better than a relatively unknown brand product, the one costs more than the other.

Now, with that said, and understanding a little more of why full frame DSLR cameras are more expensive, let’s consider the value vs. cost of full frame vs. crop sensor DSLR cameras. For the sake of argument, let’s use the Nikon D700 and the Nikon D90. The Nikon D700 lists for $2899.99 here in Canada at Henrys. The Nikon D90 lists for $1019.99. (If you’re in the USA, UK, or someplace else, feel free to substitute local pricing. It’ll still make the point nicely.)

You can buy almost three Nikon D90 DSLR bodies for the price of one Nikon D700 body, or you could buy one D90 and some nice lenses and a couple of flashes. Proper lighting will almost always do more for you than a full frame DSLR will.

So the question is, do you really need the full frame D700 bad enough to spend 3X the price of a D90?

Some will still say yes, and that’s fine. Just be aware of why you’re saying so. Most don’t need the D700... they just want it, often REALLY bad. Some do actually need the D700 over the D90. Some need an even more expensive camera like the Nikon D3s or the Nikon D3X. The point is, be aware of what you need and what you want. I want a D700 REALLY badly, but I don’t NEED one. I’ll likely get one at some point, and I know the main reason is the POWER file it generates (as my good friend Peter Gregg likes to call them) and the SUPER clean high ISO. I often shoot in dim lighting, so the amazing high ISO will be welcome. That said, I’m creating great images with my D300 and my D90. The D700 is mostly a WANT.

If you don’t have a real need for a full frame DSLR, then you get better value for your money by buying a crop sensor camera like the D90.

Factor in too that DSLR cameras do not hold their value well. Within a relatively short period of time, your DSLR will be worth less than half of what you paid for it, no matter which one you buy. So, the more expensive DSLR you buy, the more money you lose when its time to upgrade. If you make your living with your camera, its not so bad as you can write it off and use it to make more money. If you’re a hobbyist, the fast depreciation of your DSLR probably hurts a little more. Spend more, hurt more.

I’d be remiss not to note the WANT factor as being valid in and of itself. If you’re like me, you love to have a new high tech toy. If you can afford it, and are aware of the real reasons why you’re buying a more expensive DSLR than you may actually need, go for it! Get a full frame DSLR and enjoy it! Hell, buy the best if money isn’t an issue.

If you’re a struggling photography business owner, maybe you should think twice. Would the extra money be better spent on marketing or improving your photography skills to set you apart in your market? Likely.

Full frame DSLR cameras are great, but there are some great crop sensor cameras too. A good photographer can take an amazing photo with any DSLR on the market today. Good lighting will improve your photography far more than a fancier camera will. Unless you’re on an unrestricted budget, take the time to consider if you really need the more expensive full frame DSLR, or if a less expensive crop sensor DSLR will meet your needs just fine.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Speedlight Softbox... A Great Christmas Gift For Photographers!

Some people have a hard time figuring out what to buy for the photographer(s) on their Christmas list. I know, I know... seems hard to believe! There's so much gear out there that we all lust after.

Perhaps that the problem though... our non-photographer friends and family don't know where to start. Or maybe everything just looks to expensive.

Well, here's a great Christmas gift idea for under $100 for the photographer (s) on your Christmas list... a Speedlight Softbox!

Every photographer wants to take their photos up a notch, and better lighting is one of the best, most often over-looked ways to do it. The photographer on your Christmas list will love this 20x20 Collapsible Portable Speedlight Softbox. Even if they have one, a photographer can never get enough softboxes, so they'll love another!

Light up your photographer's face on Christmas with a lighting accessory that'll make their day! Order your Speedlight Softbox today!

Monday, September 28, 2009


Chloe using a Canon G10 and Speedlight Softbox

Lighting is EVERYTHING! Whether you're using natural light or making your own with a softbox, lighting makes the difference between a GREAT photo, and an ok photo.

I shot the above image of my niece Chloe with my Canon G10. Several people have done a double take when I tell them that. They swear it looks like a DSLR image.

It's the lighting folks! Yes, I shot it with my Canon G10, which is capable of amazing image quality, especially at its base ISO of 80, but what makes this image is the way I lit it.

I used a collapsible Speedlight Softbox on a small lightstand with one of my Nikon SB-800's fired into it. I had the Speedlight Softbox up close and personal, about 3 to 4 feet away from Chloe.

Yes, I've worked the image a bit in Photoshop, but the lighting is what makes it, and you can't get this kind of light from on-camera flash.

Too many people get caught up in the "need" for the latest and greatest DSLR and newest, most expensive lens to put in front of it. Sure, great gear helps make a great photo, but a good photographer can make a great photo with ANY DSLR out there. I shot this with a point and shoot!

Before you go spending more money upgrading to that new Canon 7D or that Nikon D300s, or a Nikon D700 or Canon 5D MkII, consider if you'd be better off expanding your lighting gear and skills. You can get a 20"x20" Collapsible Speedlight Softbox for under $100, and a used speedlight for the same. Add some radio triggers and a lightstand, and you've got a great portable lighting set-up for less than a few hundred dollars... a WHOLE LOT LESS than that new DSLR you were looking at.

Just a thought, but I bet improving your lighting does WAY more for the quality of your images than buying a new DSLR. :-)

P.S. You can view the full resolution image over at my Flickr Page.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Developing Canon G10 RAW - Lightroom vs Canon DPP

I was fooling around with some photos I took with my Canon G10 at the Cambridge Fair, and I thought I'd run them through Canon DPP in addition to Lightroom, which I usually use for all my RAW developing.

As regular readers know, I'm a Lightroom lover, but I was just curious to see how the two sets of photos looked in comparison to each other. I didn't do any editing or adjustments. These are as shot.

Click on any of the photos to see a larger image.


Canon DPP

Pretty hard to see any difference here. Both look good, which is also a testament to the venerable little Canon G10 and P mode. Yes, I've been shooting the G10 in P mode a lot lately. It just works!


Canon DPP

This one I actually prefer the color rendering a little better on the Lightroom image, but again, it's so close, it's almost hard to tell them apart.


Canon DPP

Going to give the nod to the Canon DPP image on this one, mostly for shadow and mid tones. Again though, I'm splitting hairs. Both the Lightroom and the DPP images are very good and virtually identical.


Canon DPP


Canon DPP


Canon DPP
Canon DPP

I think I like the Lightroom version of this one a little better for it's slightly warmer colors.


Canon DPP

I think this one goes to Canon DPP by a slight margin as I like the blue rendering a little better than Lightroom's, but again, splitting hairs here.


Canon DPP

Hard to call on this one. You decide. :-)


Canon DPP


Canon DPP

Slight edge to DPP on this one for color, but again, it's so close.

Overall, most of these are really virtually identical. There are subtle differences, but not enough to be identifiable by most people. All the images from both Canon DPP and Lightroom are excellent. I would have no problem using either to develop my Canon G10 RAW files from an image quality standpoint.

That said, the big difference again is that Lightroom is a much faster, much more powerful tool. I wouldn't think twice about it. I'd just use Lightroom and be done with it.

Of course, if you don't own Lightroom and aren't interested in purchasing it, well then this also proves that you won't be losing anything by way of image quality using Canon DPP, even if your workflow takes you a wee bit longer.

I should also mention that at this point, Lightroom has become so much more than just a RAW developer for me. I rarely take my images into Photoshop anymore. Lightroom has so many great tools that I use regularly (i.e. the clone tool, grad filters, vignetting), that I don't need Photoshop for the bulk of my images.

This is a major difference between Canon DPP and Lightroom. You don't get these kind of tools in DPP, so I'd be doing additional work in Photoshop if I was using DPP to develop my RAW files. With Lightroom, it's a one step solution! Not only is Lightroom faster, you can do so much more to finish your images than you can in DPP.

More on the Canon G10...

Shooting the G10 at ISO 800 and ISO 1600

Closeup Pics Using Macro Mode On the Canon G10

Mrs. Ballard Shoots The Canon G10 - Straight Out Of Camera Jpegs

Shooting the Canon G10 With An SB-26 Off Camera Flash

Canon G10 Unboxing & Why I Bought A Canon G10

5 Reasons To Sell Your Canon G10 And Buy A G11

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Nikon D5000 - Observations, Likes and Dislikes After A Couple Weeks Of Shooting With My D5000

Nikon D5000 with kit lens
So I've been shooting with the Nikon D5000 for a few weeks now, and I thought I'd comment on some of the things I've noticed shooting with it as well as some of my likes and dislikes.

First of all, the D5000 is a great little DSLR. It's small, compact, and lightweight, which are more appealing features than I initially thought they would be. The size and weight is a welcome change from my Nikon D300. After a long period of shooting, my neck isn't sore and neither are my hands (something I often find after a long day of shooting a wedding).

I initially thought I'd miss the weight and size of the D300 when shooting with the D5000, but that hasn't been the case. I think a lot of us are pre-conditioned to think that heavier and beefier equals better build quality, more rugged construction, and more of a PRO camera. Frankly, I haven't found that to be true with the D5000. It's a well built, solid DSLR.

In a surprise turn of events, one of the biggest features I thought I'd like on the Nikon D5000, in fact, the D5000's most unique feature, the vari-angle LCD, isn't something I'm that crazy about. The vari-angle feature is really only useful when you're using Liveview, and I hardly ever use Live View because it's just too slow for 95% of what I shoot (i.e. people and events... stuff that moves).

The D5000's LCD is actually one of the things I like least about the camera. I find it to be too small and too low resolution, especially compared to the bigger, higher resolution LCD on the D300. Given the choice between a smaller, low resolution, vari-angle LCD like the D5000's, and a larger, higher resolution LCD like the D300's, I'll take the larger, higher resolution LCD any day. Now give me a larger, higher resolution, vari-angle LCD, and I'll keep the vari-angle feature. :-)

I still miss the front command dial that's missing on the Nikon D5000, although I've gotten used to the toggle button and using the single dial. It's not a big deal, but it's enough of a point that I thought I'd mention it. Given the choice, I'd have one on the D5000.

The batteries are a minor annoyance for me on the D5000. I like to have cameras that use the same batteries, but the D5000 takes the EN-EL9 / EN-EL9a instead of the EN-EL3e that my D300 takes. I suspect this won't be an issue for most D5000 users, as the target market for this camera is likely to own the D5000 as their only DSLR. For PRO shooters like myself, having to carry another set of different batteries and another different battery charger is a negative. That said, battery life has not been an issue with the D5000. I'm getting very good usage out of a single EN-EL9a and don't have any complaints in that department.

(On a side note, I've also picked up a Nikon D90 which does use the same EN-EL3e batteries as my Nikon D300, and it's so much nicer to be able to carry a few extra batteries that fit BOTH cameras. More on my Nikon D90 experience later!)

Another feature that I find myself missing more than I thought I would on the D5000, is the ability to use auto focus with AF and AF D lenses. As you know, the Nikon 50mm f1.8D is one of my favourite Nikon lenses. It's fast, super sharp, weighs practically nothing, BUT you can't auto focus with it on the Nikon D5000 (or the Nikon D40 or D3000 for that matter). I've played with it on the D5000 using manual focus, and I'm not really all that into it. I guess I'm just an auto focus kinda' guy.

If you like manual focusing, Thom Hogan makes an interesting point in his D5000 review. He suggests that the D5000 is the new Digital FM for those who miss that much loved Nikon classic. Thom says "[i]t's remarkable how small and convenient the combination is (D5000, 20mm, 30mm, 58mm). FM users will find it the equivalent to, say, carrying an FM2n, a 28mm, 50mm, and 85mm lens. All these lenses are optically quite good." So if you loved your Nikon FM2, perhaps the D5000 and a few primes is the DSLR for you!

I'll be posting some more photos from my D5000 as I continue to evaluate if it will be staying in my camera bag. Having recently added the Nikon D90 as well, I have to say I'm leaning towards it over the D5000, but both DSLR's are great cameras and will appeal to different users for different reasons.

The D5000's big feature, the vari-angle LCD, doesn't do much for me, and I miss having the larger, higher resolution LCD and ability to auto focus with AF and AF D lenses (i.e. non AF-S).

Image quality is virtually identical between the Nikon D300, Nikon D90, and Nikon D5000, so that's not a deciding factor.

What remains to be seen is if the small size and weight of the Nikon D5000 outweigh the missing better LCD and crippled auto focus. Time will tell, and I'll let you know what I end up deciding.

More on the Nikon D5000...

First Impressions After Shooting The D5000 For A Few Days

Shooting The D5000 At ISO 3200

Monday, September 21, 2009

Re-Evaluating The Canon 7D

I, like many others, was sure the Canon 7D was going to be a Full Frame DSLR, and consequently, was very disappointed when Canon made the 7D announcement, and we found it wasn't.

Since then, I've had some discussions about the 7D with some of my fellow photographer friends, and despite the 7D not being full frame, I can see how Canon was smart to come out with a DSLR with the features, specs, and price point of the 7D.

Still not sure I agree with it being called a 7D, but my friend Peter Gregg, the inventor of A Better Bounce Card, told me where he felt the Canon DSLR line was going, and where the Canon 7D fit in, and Peter's reasoning made a lot of sense.

As regular readers know, I initially felt the Canon 7D was little more than a 50D update, and while the case for that argument could still be made, I think Peter's logic rings a truer chord.

Peter feels the 7D is aimed squarely at the Nikon D300s, and as such, with the 7D's new focusing system, dual digic processors, and other new features, needed to be differentiated as a DSLR that sits above the XXD line of Canon DSLRs.

Myself, I used to shoot a pair of the Canon XXD line (20D's, 30D's, and 40D's) before switching back over to Nikon when the Nikon D300 came out, so I was still looking at it as Canon 50D versus Nikon D300 in the respective lineups.

The point is that the Nikon D300 was never really a fair comparison against the Canon 50D. The D300 has a tougher, more rugged, PRO body, the top of the line, industry leading Nikon 51 point auto focus system (same one its big brothers, the Nikon D3, Nikon D3X, and Nikon D700 have), and is a much more fully featured camera than the Canon 50D. Not really apples to apples .

Enter the Canon 7D.

The 7D is a much more equal competitor to the Nikon D300, now the Nikon D300s. The 7D more closely matches the specs and build of the D300s, and while it remains to be seen if the 7D's new auto focus system is an improvement over the flawed auto focus system of the 5D MkII, 50D, and the rest of the Canon sub 1D lineup, it is definitely a step in the right direction. I really hope it resolves all the Canon auto focus issues and is a truly first class auto focus system.

As far as the 7D's sensor is concerned, I still have my doubts that the megapixel increase was a smart way to go, but Peter tells me that high ISO images he's seen from the Canon 7D look good in print, if not at 100% pixel peeping magnification. If he's right, then Canon has really worked some magic with the 7D's dual digic IV processors, as the Canon 50D's 15 megapixel sensor didn't hold up to the rest of the competition in terms of image quality. Canon has a long history of making sensors with excellent high ISO, so let's hope that they have hit a home run with this new 18 megapixel crop sensor.

So basically, we have the 7D against the D300s in the two camera makers lineups. The XXD lineup, if Canon chooses to continue with it, will be the competition for Nikon's D90 level DSLR. Looking at it this way, I see how Canon's introduction of the Canon 7D as a crop sensor DSLR makes more sense. The XXD lineup goes head to head with the D90, and the Canon Rebel lineup competes with the Nikon DSLR's below the D90 like the D5000 and D3000.

I look forward to seeing more real life images from the Canon 7D, as well as getting my hands on one to do some shooting with it myself. If you've already had a chance to shoot the 7D or are lucky enough to own one already, leave us a comment and tell us what you think!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Canon G10 - Closeup Pics Using Macro Mode On The G10

Canon G10 Closeup Photo - Ok To Ship
Canon G10 @ ISO 80 12.1mm f5.0 1/2000s

We were up at my Mum's place near Goderich, Ontario to visit, and it was a beautiful day to play around outdoors taking pictures. My Mum has 5 or 6 acres of property, and most of it is forested, so it was a perfect opportunity to set the Canon G10 to macro mode and take some closeup pics.

The G10, like it's predecessor the Canon G9, does a great job with closeup photos. The built-in image stabilization (IS) is really handy when it comes to shooting in macro mode as you want a higher f-stop to make sure all of your subject is in focus.

Closeup pics with macro lenses lose depth of field quickly due to their extreme magnification, so you need to stop down to make sure your whole photo is in focus. When you stop down, the IS is handy as the G10 can lower your shutter speed to compensate for the higher f-stop without getting motion blur from camera shake.

Overall, I found the Canon G10 to be great at taking closeup pics. It's quick and easy to turn on the macro mode on the G10, and the G10's high resolution 14.7 megapixel sensor does an amazing job of resolving fine detail.

Sometimes the G10's autofocus was a little frustrating, but that can be the case with a DSLR and a macro lens too due to the shallower depth of field. Most of the time I had no problems with the G10 locking focus and getting the shot.

Before I bought my Canon G10, I was considering the Nikon 105mm f2.8 VR macro for doing some macro work, but I have to say that the G10 is performing so well for closeups, that I really don't feel the need to buy a Nikon macro lens now. In good light, it's pretty much impossible to tell that a closeup photo from the G10 wasn't shot with a DSLR. In dim light, it's easy to add an off camera flash with a sync cord or radio trigger, again making it hard to believe the resulting G10 closeup photo wasn't shot with a DSLR.

I have to admit that the more I shoot with the venerable little G10, the more I like it. It's a beautiful little compact digital camera, and I can't wait to see how the Canon G11 will compare.

Here's some of the closeup pics I shot with the G10 while I was at my Mum's. All were shot in RAW on the G10 and processed in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2.

I should also mention that most of these were shot in program mode. In hindsight, I probably should've shot them all in manual mode so or aperture priority so I could've controlled the f-stop and ensured a deeper depth of field, but hey... I was having fun just taking pictures and not thinking a whole lot about it. :-)

Canon G10 Corn Tassle Closeup Photo
Canon G10 @ ISO 80 21.5mm f4.0 1/2000s

Canon G10 @ ISO 80 15.7mm f4.0 1/320s

Closeup Pic of Ladybug with Canon G10
Canon G10 @ ISO 80 13.8mm f4.0 1/500s

Canon G10 @ ISO 80 12.1mm f4.0 1/800s

Canon G10 @ ISO 80 30.5mm f4.5 1/1000s

Canon G10 @ ISO 80 30.5mm f4.5 1/640s

Canon G10 @ ISO 80 30.5mm f4.5 1/500s

Canon G10 @ ISO 80 30.5mm f4.5 1/400s

Canon G10 @ ISO 80 21.5mm f4.0 1/400s

Honey Bee Closeup Pic - Canon G10
Canon G10 @ ISO 80 21.5mm f4.0 1/400s

Canon G10 @ ISO 80 30.5mm f4.5 1/320s

Canon G10 @ ISO 80 18.1mm f4.0 1/400s

Canon G10 @ ISO 80 18.1mm f4.0 1/400s

Canon G10 @ ISO 80 21.5mm f4.0 1/250s

Canon G10 @ ISO 80 12.1mm f4.0 1/250s

Canon G10 @ ISO 400 30.5mm f4.5 1/100s

Canon G10 @ ISO 80 30.5mm f4.5 1/200s

I should also mention that I'm totally impressed with the way Lightroom handles the G10 RAW files. I'll talk more on that later when I get into a more detailed comparison of Canon DPP vs Lightroom for G10 RAW files, but suffice to say that Lightroom yields the best quality and fastest workflow you're going to find for processing your Canon G10 RAW files.

More on the Canon G10...

Shooting the G10 at ISO 800 and ISO 1600

Mrs. Ballard Shoots The Canon G10 - Straight Out Of Camera Jpegs

Shooting the Canon G10 With An Off Camera SB-26 Flash

5 Reasons To Sell Your Canon G10 And Buy A G11

Monday, September 7, 2009

Uncle Bob's Top 5 Reasons Your iPhone Is More Camera Than You Can Handle


Happy Monday Folks!

Uncle Bob here, back to deliver your Monday dose of photography insight, straight from my brain to yours.

Your good ol' Uncle Bob was fooling around with his iPhone today, and it dawned on me that the iPhone is likely more camera than most folks can handle.

Here's why...

Reason #5 Your iPhone is more camera than you can handle...
You still don't have a clue how to use half those photo apps you downloaded off iTunes.

Reason #4 Your iPhone is more camera than you can handle...
You keep accidentally hitting the video switch on your iPhone and making movies when you meant to take a picture.

Reason #3 Your iPhone is more camera than you can handle...
You haven't figured out that you can turn your iPhone horizontal and take a horizontal photo. Duh!

Reason #2 Your iPhone is more camera than you can handle...
You may be the King of popping blowfish or shooting tanks on your iPhone, but you just can't seem to tap that shutter button at exactly the right moment that you wanted to take the photo. At least that's what you tell people when they ask why all your photos are of people's bums.

Reason #1 Your iPhone is more camera than you can handle...
Half your iPhone photos look like your finger, and you can't figure out why. Here's a hint... take your finger off the lens stupid!

Take your finger off the lens stupid!

See you next Monday,
Uncle Bob.

Uncle Bob's Photography

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Canon G10 - Shooting the G10 at ISO 800 and ISO 1600

Canon G10 at ISO 800 - Kitchener Water Tower
Canon G10 @ ISO 800 - Exposure pushed +0.75 in Lightroom

Since I unboxed my new Canon G10, I've been shooting a lot at ISO 800 and ISO 1600 to see how the G10 performs at these high ISO settings.

The above image of the Region of Waterloo Kitchener water tower, shows a typical ISO 800 photo with the G10, shot on the go in program mode with the exposure pushed +0.75 when I processed it in Lightroom. Sure, you can see some high ISO noise, but it's not bad, especially when we consider this came from a compact digital camera, AND I pushed the exposure almost a full stop in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2.

Canon G10 at ISO 800
Canon G10 @ ISO 800

Here's my daughter in her car seat, shot with the G10 at ISO 800. There's no exposure correction here. Looks pretty good for ISO 800.

**NOTE: Blogger's compression of the photos making some of them, especially the ISO 1600 photos, look pixelated and noisy. Click on any photo to see a larger image without the compression effects.**

G10 ISO 800
Canon G10 @ ISO 800

G10 ISO 1600
Canon G10 @ ISO 1600

In the above photos of Lilly watching tv, you can see there is a substantial difference in the noise from G10 at ISO 800 and ISO 1600. Still, the photo at ISO 1600 isn't bad. I'm continually impressed that the high ISO noise is actually this low from the Canon G10.

You can see that the ISO 1600 image is a little sharper than the ISO 800, as the image stabilization couldn't quite compensate for the low shutter speed needed at ISO 800.

Closeup photo of toy with Canon G10 at ISO 1600
Canon G10 @ ISO 1600

Here's a close-up of one of Lilly's toys shot at ISO 1600. Not bad!

Canon G10 at ISO 400
Canon G10 @ ISO 400

G10 photo at ISO 800
Canon G10 @ ISO 800

G10 photo at ISO 1600
Canon G10 @ ISO 1600

In the above photos of the mints in the bag, you can see the stepped increase in high ISO noise from ISO 400 to ISO 800 to ISO 1600. Comparing the 3 photos, I'm really impressed with the ISO 800 and ISO 1600 shots for how little noise there is.

Canon G10 @ ISO 400

Canon G10 @ ISO 800

Canon G10 @ ISO 1600

Again, the above closeup photos of the clock continue to impress. The G10 is holding up really well at ISO 800 and ISO 1600.

Canon G10 @ ISO 400

Canon G10 @ ISO 1600

These wicker plant pot photos show the added noise in the ISO 1600 photo, compared to the ISO 400 photo, especially in the shadow areas where you'd expect, but overall, the ISO 1600 photo is still very usable.

Canon G10 @ ISO 400

Canon G10 @ ISO 800

Canon G10 @ ISO 1600

The elephant photos above again demonstrate the increased levels of noise as you increase the G10's ISO from ISO 400 to ISO 800 to ISO 1600, but they also demonstrate another important point. Look at the detail in the ISO 1600 photo. It's excellent for ISO 1600 out of a compact digital camera!

Canon G10 @ ISO 800

Canon G10 @ ISO 1600

Both of the above shots of Lilly show some noise, certainly much more than you'd get at the G10's base ISO of 80, but they're still usable. If I had to choose between getting the photo at ISO 1600 with the noise you see above, or not getting the photo at all because the G10 wasn't able to shoot it at ISO 80, I'd take the shot at ISO 1600.

Canon G10 @ ISO 800

Canon G10 @ ISO 1600

Canon G10 @ ISO 800

Canon G10 @ ISO 1600

Canon G10 @ ISO 800

Canon G10 @ ISO 1600

Canon G10 @ ISO 800

Canon G10 @ ISO 1600

Canon G10 @ ISO 800

Canon G10 @ ISO 1600

As you can see, the little Canon G10 does quite well at high ISO settings, especially when you consider the size of the sensor and the amount of megapixels packed into it.

Overall, I'm impressed with the G10 at these ISO levels. I wouldn't hesistate to shoot with ISO 800 on the G10, and I'd go to ISO 1600 if need be. Obviously, the lower ISO you can shoot at with any digital camera, the lower noise you're going to get, but when it comes down to getting the shot, or not getting the shot, the G10 delivers a very usable high ISO image.

Sure, the G10 is no Nikon D3 for high ISO, but just look at these ISO 800 and ISO 1600 images. We're talking about a $500 pocket camera here folks! The fact that the G10, with it's tiny sensor and massive 14.7 megapixel resolution, can deliver images this good at these ISO settings is simply amazing.

All the above images were shot on the G10 in RAW and processed in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 2. You can view the full resolution files on my Flickr page at Shooting the G10 at ISO 800 and ISO 1600

More on the Canon G10...

Developing Canon G10 RAW - Lightroom vs Canon DPP

Closeup Pics Using Macro Mode On the Canon G10

Mrs. Ballard Shoots The Canon G10 - Straight Out Of Camera Jpegs

Shooting the Canon G10 With An Off Camera SB-26 Flash

5 Reasons To Sell Your Canon G10 And Buy A G11