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Monday, August 31, 2009

Uncle Bob Talks To Canon Deepthroat About The Canon 1D MkIV And The New Canon Auto Focus System

Alright folks, I just had a long conversation with my source inside the deep dark bowels of the Canon Empire, and I'm pumped.

I think Canon has got their ducks lined up, and their shotgun primed and loaded. That shotgun is a brand new one that'll be coming to a store near you very soon... the totally re-worked Canon 1D MkIV!

Now, as most of you know, your good ol' Uncle Bob has been kinda bummed out with Canon lately. Their auto focus issues have been nothing short of redonkulous, and they're letting Nikon clobber them. It's depressing to see a company like Canon, the company that brought us so many great cameras in the past, letting themselves go. It's like seeing a supermodel you had the hots for as a kid, and barely recognizing her because she now weighs over four hundred pounds.

Uncle Bob knows Canon has it in them to rise again, and Uncle Bob REALLY knows that, now that I've spoken to my Canon insider, Uncle Bob's own Deepthroat.

Now obviously I'm not supposed to tell you any of this, and Deepthroat wasn't supposed to tell your good ol' Uncle Bob any of this, but hey... that's how people find stuff out, right?

It's no secret that Canon's DSLR lineup has had some pretty bad auto focus problems. The Canon 1D Mk3 is probably the most famous for its auto focus boondoggle, but the problem has been prevalent on a lot of the Canon DSLR cameras. The 5D MkII is the latest to be causing a stir about its auto focus issues, but pretty much every Canon DSLR Uncle Bob has shot with has had soft focus and out of focus problems. According to Deepthroat, the new Canon 1D MkIV will put an end to all that.

The Canon 1D MkIV will feature Canon's ALL NEW, rebuilt from the ground up, revolutionary new DSLR auto focus system. Imagine 77 finely tuned auto focus points, working in synchronicity to achieve a focus lock that the Nikon D700X can only dream about! As Vanilla Ice said, the 1D MkIV auto focus will "slice like a ninja, cut like a razorblade."

Low light focus is going to blow your mind! Turn off all the lights, strip down your wife, and watch the Canon 1D MkIV lock in all the good stuff boys! We're talking nipples that are sharp as a tack, and not because you're such a good lookin' fella!

Apparently Canon made some major break throughs in the designing of their new auto focus system that the 1D MkIV sports, and they had a little help doing it. Believe it or not, a few years back the Russians developed some crazy weird new ballistic missile targeting system that never made it out of the prototype stages, and Canon was able to get its hands on one of the prototypes to study.

Turns out Canon was able to use the underlying technology in the Russian missile targeting system to build upon for their revolutionary new DSLR auto focus system. They reverse engineered one specific part of the Russian targeting system, and with a few tweaks and modifications by Canon, the foundation of the 1D MkIV's auto focus system was born.

Who'd a thunk, eh folks! Russian technology ending up in a Japanese DSLR that'll be the joy of American photographers everywhere. Your good ol' Uncle Bob sure wouldn't guessed this one!

But who gives a peanut in a paper cup how Canon came up with the fix to their auto focus problem? Uncle Bob sure doesn't! As long as the new 1D MkIV can nail the shot, Uncle Bob will be a happy camper, as will thousands of other soft focus plagued Canon shooters!

Bring it on Canon! Bring it out! Give us the 1D MkIV! Let us push that golden trigger button and see how sharp our pictures can be. It's ok Canon. We'll forgive you for all the thousands of out of focus shots we've had to live with. That's all in the past. We want to believe! We want to wave the Canon flag with pride again!

On a somewhat lower note, Deepthroat wasn't able to confirm if the coming Canon 7D
will have the new auto focus system. Apparently there's an internal debate on this one within the Canon Empire.

One side wants the 7D to have the new auto focus system. They argue that the faster they can put Canon's auto focus problems in the past, the better it will be for the company, not to mention that loyal Canon shooters deserve a DSLR that can focus.

The other side wants to save the new auto focus system for the release of the new 1D MkIV. They argue that it'll make the hype and ensuing sales of the 1D MkIV that much better. While they probably have a point here, is it fair to put out yet another DSLR with the same smeared poop in a baby diaper auto focus that the 5D MkII has?

In any case, whether it's on the Canon 7D or the 1D Mark IV, we're going to see an end to Canon autofocus problems soon! Let's hope it's on the 7D!

See you next Monday,
Uncle Bob.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Speedlight Softbox - 20"x20" Collapsible Portable Speedlight Softbox for Nikon or Canon Flash Speedlights

Speedlight Softbox

I'm always looking for a better Speedlight Softbox, and I just found the best one I've seen yet.

It's a 20"x20" speedlight softbox that collapses down so easy it's amazing. It comes with all the mounting hardware, including an adjustable L bracket and mini ball head mount that attaches to your light stand. The L bracket adjust on both the horizontal and vertical axis so you can raise and lower your speedlight as well as move it forward or backward.

As far as portable softboxes for speedlights go, this is the best out there that I've seen, and I've seen, bought, and shot with most of them. The construction is excellent. It's made of excellent quality materials, and the sewing and craftsmanship is first rate. It's tough, resilient, and professional looking.

It has an interior diffuser baffle as well as the 18"x18" translucent diffusing front cover to make for a beautifully soft and diffused light. The softbox is about 10" deep from the front cover to the rear ring. The front cover has velcro along the four outer edges and attaches easily.

Fits Nikon or Canon Speedlights, as well as most other Speedlights (i.e. Vivitar, Sunpak, Metz, Lumopro, etc.)


- 1 Collapsible 20" x20" softbox
- 1 Translucent 18"x18" diffusive front cover
- 1 Removable interior white diffuser baffle
- 1 Metal mounting ring
- 1 L Bracket with hotshoe for mounting your speedlight
- 1 Mini ball head fits standard 5/8" or 1/4" lightstand or tripod
- 1 Travel bag.

Collapsible Speedlight Softbox

The complete softbox setup, folded down and inside the included travel bag. Measures approx 10" x 10" x 5".

All the components before assembly when you first open the travel bag.

Folded Speedlight Softbox for Nikon or Canon

The Speedlight Softbox folded and collapsed.

The Speedlight Softbox uncollapsed, folded.

The included hardware... 2 way adjustable L bracket, flash shoe, mini ball head.

tInterior of Speedlight Softbox

Interior of softbox with diffuser baffle installed.

Rear view of softbox fully assembled, on a light stand with a Nikon SB-800 Speedlight flash attached.

Closeup rear view of the softbox with SB-800 attached.

Rear view from the left on an angle.

Rear view from the right on an angle.

Closeup rear view of SB-800 on L bracket.

Front view of Speedlight Softbox fully assembled on lightstand.

Another front view shot.

The softbox folded with the L bracket and mounting ring.

Side view of ring, L bracket, and mini ball head.

Downwards view of L bracket, ring, and mini ball head.

The Speedlight Softbox collapsed before folding.

Want one? (or two, or three, or four...)

Why The Canon 7D Will Be A Full Frame DSLR

Canon 7D Full Frame Sensor

There's been talk online that the coming Canon 7D will have a 1.6X sensor.

Here's the 7D specs I've seen quoted for such a camera.

Canon EOS 7D
1.6x crop format
- dual digic 4
- 8 fps
- 19 af points (all cross type)
- ISO 100-6400 (L & H1 & H2)
- 63 metering zones
- 100% viewfinder
- Horizon Help Viewfinder
- 3″ VGA LCD
- FullHD Video
- Built in Flash Master

There's a few reasons this just isn't going to happen.

First of all, this sounds an awful lot like what the 60D will be, doesn't it? So unless Canon is just starting a new naming system for their XXD line of DSLRs, this certainly won't be what the Canon 7D is going to look like.

Granted, the above specs sound like a great Canon DSLR, and I do think you'll see one released pretty much as per these specs, but it'll be the Canon 60D, not the 7D.

The Canon 7D needs to be a full frame DSLR. Nikon has positioned itself nicely in the full frame DSLR market with its two sets of full frame siblings, the D3 and the D700, and the D3X and the coming D700X. Canon needs a full frame DSLR that sits below the 5D MkII in their lineup.

When the Canon 1D MkIV and the Canon 1Ds MkIV come out, Canon will then have four full frame DSLRs in their lineup, with the 7D and the 5D MkII rounding out the team. At the moment, strangely enough, Canon is lagging behind Nikon in their full frame DSLR offerings. I don't expect them to leave that alone for long, and the Canon 7D is going to fill in that hole nicely for them.

These are exciting times folks! Never have we had so many great options to choose from! With Sony fighting hard with the introduction of their Sony Alpha A850, full frame, 25 MP DSLR at around $2000 (check out Michael Reichmann's great Alpha 850 review over at Luminous Landscape), the full frame DSLR market is heating up.

**Update: Well, I was wrong and Canon is stupid. The Canon 7D has been announced, and there's no full frame, just an updated 50D. :-( **

More on the Canon 7D...

Re-Evaluating the Canon 7D

Will the Canon 7D Be Able To Take On The Nikon D700X?

Canon EOS 7D - One Flickr Users Canon 7D PipeDream

Canon EOS 7D - Why Most Of The Canon 7D Specs Are Wrong

Canon EOS 7D - Will We Be Seeing a Canon 7D in September?

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Nikon D5000 - First Impressions After Shooting The D5000 For A Few Days

After much contemplation, I picked up a Nikon D5000 a few days ago. I also bought a Nikon 35mm f1.8 G AF-S to go along with it.

The D5000 with the new Nikon 35mm on it make a killer combo. It's light, small, fast to focus, tack sharp, and capable of incredible image quality. I wasn't sure I was going to like the D5000 as I normally shoot with the larger, more professional size bodies like my Nikon D300 DSLRs, but I've been pleasantly surprised.

The D5000 is a joy to shoot with. It has an intuitive design and well thought out controls that make working with it a real pleasure. Paired up with the new Nikon 35mm f1.8 G, the Nikon D5000 makes for a great little DSLR setup.

So far, the D5000 seems to have about a stop better high ISO than my Nikon D300 DSLRs, and the D5000 seems to resolve more detail at high ISO as well. I shot a series of photos of my daughter at 3200 ISO that looked great (I'll post them soon). Normally I don't go over 1600 ISO on my D300, so I'll be interested to see the results of further comparisons I'll be doing.

Auto focus on the D5000 is quick and responsive, especially with the fast 35mm f1.8G on it. It doesn't seem quite as fast as the D300, particularly in dim lighting, but then I didn't expect the D5000's 11 point AF system to be the equal of the 51 point industry leading AF that's in the D300, D3, D3X, D700, and the coming D700X.

At first I thought I was going to miss the aperture command dial under the trigger button like my Nikon D300 has. Turns out, I don't really miss it. The D5000 ergonomics and controls are well laid out and quite intuitive. Although the D5000 is significantly different than my D300, I still found it really easy to use and work with.

I'll be doing plenty more shooting with the D5000 in the coming weeks, and I'll be comparing the Nikon D5000 to the Nikon D300 to see how it measures up. Initially, I didn't think I'd want to use the D5000 professionally, but I'm already starting to re-think that.

The best price on a D5000 is usually at Amazon.

If you don't have a mid-range zoom, get this D5000 Kit with the 18-55mm lens at Amazon.

If you have a zoom, or just want to add the 35mm anyways because it's so awesome :-) get it below at Amazon.

More on the Nikon D5000...

Shooting The D5000 At ISO 3200

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

Friday, August 28, 2009

Canon G10 - Mixed Indoor Lighting At The Library

We took Lilly to the Cambridge Queens Square Library last night to get some books and a Barney DVD.

I took along my new Canon G10 thinking it would be a perfect spot to see how the G10 handles mixed indoor lighting, you know the kind that usually wreaks havoc with your white balance and makes skins tones look yellow and green. :-(

Here's some of the photos I got from G10 in Program Mode, all shot in RAW and processed in Lightroom.

Click on a photo to see a larger image. You can view the full resolution files at my Shooting The Canon G10 in Mixed Indoor Lighting at the Library Flickr page.

By the way, aside from the third photo of Lilly at the table, the white balance on all of these is how it came straight out of the Canon G10.

Canon G10 ISO 400 6.1mm f/3.5 1/60 sec

Canon G10 ISO 400 12.1mm f/3.5 1/50 sec

Canon G10 ISO 400 6.79mm f/2.8 1/60 sec

Canon G10 ISO 400 6.79mm f/3.2 1/60 sec

Canon G10 ISO 400 6.1mm f/3.5 1/60 sec

Canon G10 ISO 400 6.1mm f/3.5 1/60 sec

Canon G10 ISO 400 6.1mm f/3.2 1/60 sec

Canon G10 ISO 400 6.1mm f/3.5 1/60 sec

Canon G10 ISO 400 6.1mm f/2.8 1/60 sec

Canon G10 ISO 400 6.1mm f/2.8 1/50 sec

So far I'm very impressed with my little Canon G10, especially shooting in P mode. The exposures are great, and the image quality is really surprising me (i.e. did I shoot that with a compact digital camera?).

I'm really liking the different perspectives and angles I can get composing my photos with the G10's LCD. It's so much easier to just hold it down low and compose via the LCD than to get on my knees or lie on the floor and compose with the viewfinder like I do with my DSLRs.

More on the Canon G10...

Developing Canon G10 RAW - Lightroom vs Canon DPP

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

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Nikon D700X - Misconceptions On D700X Pricing

I've had a lot of comments and correspondence from readers who think the Nikon D700X needs to be priced to compete with the Canon 5D MkII.

The 5D MkII with its 21 megapixel sensor is close to the same size as the D3X's 24 megapixel sensor that the D700X will have, but that's where the comparisons end folks.

The Nikon D700X will be the same body as the D700, in other words, a full featured, nearly indestructable, beauty of a DSLR with an autofocus system rivaled by none. The 5D MkII just doesn't come close, other than having almost as many megapixels.

The 5D MkII doesn't have the same PRO level build quality. The 5D MkII doesn't have the fully rounded feature set. Most importantly, the 5D MkII has a dated focus system that is passable at best. Fact is, many 5D MkII users are having problems with the 5D MkII's autofocus.

The Nikon D700X isn't going to be priced at the 5D MkII level. It doesn't have to be. There is nothing else on the market to compete with it. When you build a better product, you set your own pricing. Do you think BMW cares how much Chrysler sells its vehicles for?

The perfect illustration of this is the Nikon D700. It's flying off the shelves everywhere. Loads of Canon shooters have switched to Nikon because of the D700's incredible autofocus, build quality, and high ISO abilities. The D700, like it's big brother the Nikon D3, is a class leading DSLR. They don't really have any true competition in the sense that no one is making a DSLR that equals what the D700 and D3 offer. The D700 is selling strong against the 5D MkII, and the D700 is priced higher. Why would anyone think the D700X will be priced at 5D MkII levels when the D700 isn't?

The Nikon D700 is currently $2995.95 at B&H. The 5D MkII is currently $2699.95. The D700 is $300.00 more, and it's not having any problems competing with the 5D MkII. Why one earth would Nikon bring out the D700X at a 5D MkII price point?

Uncle Bob Leaks TOP SECRET Info On The Nikon D700X

Nikon D700X Replacement For The D700?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

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

Canon G10 Jpeg - Daddy and Lilly

So last night when Renee and I took Lilly to the park after dinner, I set my new Canon G10 to program mode, ISO 200, and handed it to Renee to take some photos of Lilly and I.

I had a couple of reasons for wanting Mrs. Ballard to shoot with the G10.

First of all, there always seems to be lots of photos of Mum and Lilly, and not many of Daddy and Lilly. The curse of being the photographer in the family. :-) Last night, I wanted Renee to get some shots of Lilly and I with my new Canon G10.

Secondly, I wanted to see how Renee liked the G10. She's not a technical person when it comes to cameras and computers and likes to take photos in full automatic or program mode. I wanted to get her feedback on how she liked shooting with the Canon G10.

Third, I wanted to see how the G10 did with a non-professional shooter at the helm, set to program mode and used strictly as a point and shoot. Renee has a great eye for composition, but she wants nothing to do with learning "all that f stop stuff." This was a great chance to see how the Canon G10 performs with a regular, everyday snapshot shooter at the controls.

Here's some samples I picked out from the photos Renee took with the G10. These are all straight out of camera jpegs, resized to 400 pixels on the long edge in Lightroom, with no other alterations other than the resizing.

I usually shoot the G10 in RAW mode or RAW + Jpeg, and then edit the photos in Lightroom, so Mrs. Ballard shooting was also a great opportunity to look at the quality of the Canon G10 jpegs straight out of the camera.

Click on the any of the G10 photos to see a larger image.

You can view the full resolution jpegs on my Flickr page at Mrs. Ballard Shoots The Canon G10 - Straight Out Of Camera Jpegs

Canon G10 Jpeg - Lilly in her wagon

Canon G10 Jpeg - Lilly running the corner store

Overall, I was impressed with the jpegs out of the G10. They are crisp, have good detail, and look good straight out of the camera. Of course, I always like to tinker in Lightroom, so I probably would have tweaked them a bit here and there, but the point is, they look good as is.

The Canon G10 does well in program mode. Renee was impressed with the way the G10 handles, and she enjoyed shooting with it. She found the autofocus to be quick, and she loved the large, clear LCD on the back of the Canon G10.

Renee didn't mind the size of the G10, or the weight. She liked the overall feel of the Canon G10, and she had fun shooting with it. I may have to buy her a G10 of her own. :-)

More on the Canon G10...

Closeup Pics Using Macro Mode On the Canon G10

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

Canon G10 Unboxing & Why I Bought A Canon G10

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

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

As I mentioned yesterday, I bought a Canon G10.

One of the great things about the G10 is the ability to use it with an external flash or Speedlight via the G10's hotshoe. You can either mount a Speedlight right on the hotshoe atop the G10, or you can use it as an off camera flash via a radio trigger and receiver.

So, one of the first things I did after the G10 Unboxing, was pop my radio trigger into the hotshoe and plug a receiver into one of my Nikon SB-26 Speedlights. I set the ISO to the Canon G10's base ISO of 80, put the shooting mode on manual, and started taking pictures.

Right from the start, I was amazed at how good the image quality is out of the Canon G10. At 80 ISO, the sensor is putting out just incredible quality images for a compact digital camera. Even at ISO 400 and ISO 800, the little G10 performs admirably. I found ISO 1600 to be a little too noisy, but I'd still use it if it meant either getting a photo or not getting it.

After my daughter had decided she'd had enough of Daddy taking pictures of her, I headed to the computer to see how things looked. I knew the G10 was capable of great quality images because I've seen a lot from friends and online, but I still have to say, I'm impressed.

I didn't think I'd be liking what I'm seeing out of my new Canon G10 as much as I am. Kicking it up a notch and using off camera lighting just makes things even sweeter! The G10 works great with a radio trigger, and the off camera lighting of the SB-26 just made the G10's images look even better.

Here's some examples. Click on the images for a larger photo.

If you're interested in seeing the full resolution jpgs, you can see them on my Flickr page at
Canon G10 With Off Camera Flash.

All the above images from my Canon G10, as well as the ones posted on Flickr, were shot in RAW and processed in Lightroom. The RAW files from the G10 are excellent, and Lightroom handles them very well.

I did a quick comparison of results from Canon DPP and Lightroom, and I found that I preferred Lightroom both for image quality and workflow. There's also no question that Lightroom is much faster than Canon DPP.

If you don't have Lightroom, Canon DPP is still an excellent option. DPP will get you the best image quality possible from your Canon G10 RAW files, or any Canon Digital Camera file for that matter. Lightroom is faster for workflow and has a lot more power when it comes to producing a finished image (i.e. grad filters, spot removal, color tweaking, sharpening, etc.), but DPP still gets the job done.

For more on Canon DPP, check out my article on Canon DPP Workflow, Lightroom vs Canon DPP, and Canon DPP - Digital Photo Professional for RAW and JPG.


More on the Canon G10...

Developing Canon G10 RAW - Lightroom vs Canon DPP

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

5 Reasons To Sell Your Canon G10 And Buy A G11