Fotoeins Fotografie

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Posts tagged ‘camera’

My progress with Canon, from 450D to 6D

I seemed to have skipped a step, as I’ve moved from a triple-digit camera model to a single-digit model.

For over five years, I owned an entry-level Canon DSLR (digital single lens reflex) camera. Carrying the EOS 450D (XSi) along for the ride, I traveled over one million miles in the air and I made over 75000 exposures.

Canon EOS450D (XSi), by Dr.K on Wikimedia

Canon EOS450D (XSi), by Dr.K on Wikimedia

The shutter failed to close properly in early-August 2013, as I stood in front of the television tower in Prague’s Zizkov. I made do with an aging iPod Touch for another five months. When the calendar flipped over to 2014, I’d been missing photography with a camera by a very large mile.

Judging by the Canon EOS 450D shutter-life histogram, my old 450D came through pretty well on above-average shutter-life performance.

( Click here for images and more )

450D: the 75000 most important clicks with my camera

The setup

For the seventh time, I’ve “flipped” or “rolled over” the four-digit image-counter on my camera. I’ve made over 70-thousand exposures, which is a great accomplishment for both camera and me. Unfortunately, exposure number 75000 will prove to be a bad omen.

I own a Canon EOS450D (Rebel XSi), an entry-level digital crop-sensor camera which was introduced to the consumer market in the first-quarter of 2008.

The camera has no weather-proofing, poor to average low-light capability, and a small burst-rate, but the camera is affordable, portable, and easy to use. The kit-lens doesn’t have great build-quality, but the lens is lightweight with a decent range in focal lengths for my kind of photography.

The camera is dead! Long live the camera!

It’s early August 2013, and I’m in the Czech capital city of Prague. I’m standing in front of the Television Tower in the Zizkov neighbourhood.

I’m wearing a confused frown, because the photos are coming out vignetted. I realize quickly the metal leaves which make up the shutter have gone loose, and aren’t opening and closing properly: something like this.

The dreaded error message “Err 99” pops up on the camera display. I turn the power off and on, and press the shutter button. “Err 99” persists, and there’s a new grinding “whirring” noise inside the camera.

Just a couple of days ago, I’ve reached the milestone of exposure number 75000. But apparently, I’ve now reached the end: after 5 years and 2 months, my camera has stopped working.

Why so many clicks? What’s the point?

Some have asked: “Why did you take so many exposures? If you took fewer photos, your camera could’ve lasted longer!”

These questions miss the point of owning a camera.

Making so many exposures is how I got used to the camera. I wouldn’t have to think about what to do, or to figure out what button was where. After frequent use and learning the “manual” functions of my camera, shooting became almost “automatic.” When the moment came, it took a few quick movements to fiddle with the camera settings with “finger-memory” to make the shot.

How does one become good with their camera?

Go out and make lots of photos. Learn, use, and memorize the camera functions. Work on small projects to photograph to get better: explore, screw up and fail spectacularly. Learn, improve, repeat.

Shoot, shoot, and shoot some more, so that getting the shot is first nature, and making the shot is second nature.

That’s also what David duChemin describes in “Towards Mastery. Again”, about becoming proficient with your own camera gear, whatever gear you might have.

Exit stage right

The broken shutter assembly needs replacing, and judging by what I’ve read online, the cost of parts and labour is equivalent to a significant fraction of the price for a new camera or a new piece of glass. The shutter isn’t worth replacing.

So, what’s next? I have no intention on going back to a crop-sensor, so future conversations will involve the phrases “full-frame” and “better low-light performance.”

Goodbye, 450D: you’ve been a trusty servant and guide on my photographic journey.

To celebrate and mourn its passing, here are the first and last photos I made with the 450D.

Waikoloa Beach, Big Island, Hawaii

One of the first photos: Waikoloa Beach, Big Island – Hawaii, 19 May 2008.

Zizkov TV Tower, Prague, Czech Republic

One of the last: Žižkov TV Tower with “Miminka” (“Babies”, by David Černý) – Prague, 4 Aug 2013.

PostScript: The autofocus ring on the “original” EF-S 18-55mm IS kit-lens failed while I was about to visit New Zealand’s Milford Sound. I purchased a replacement EF-S 18-55mm IS II lens weeks later in Sydney, Australia. This type of lens cannot be used on a full-frame camera. Fortunately, that latter lens now has a warm and loving home with fellow Canadian and traveler Kate Clarke.

This post appears on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins.com as http://wp.me/p1BIdT-3Hp.

Lose zoom-lens = gain new view with prime-lens

I wrote here about the camera gear I brought on my around-the-world (RTW) trip in 2012. I half expected for something to break down when sure enough, the unthinkable happened.

Subbing the busted with the 50mm prime

I spent three weeks on New Zealand’s South Island in July 2012. Just as my bus entered Milford Sound for the boat stage of my daytrip, my 18-55mm kit-lens died with the auto-focus (AF) mechanism failing to engage. Without a distance gauge at a given setting for focal length, the lens became almost impossible to use, except at the widest (18mm) or tightest (55-mm) focal lengths.

I kept at it while I was on the boat in the Sound, but my shot-completion percentage plummeted, and the time to set up or fiddle with the lens went way up. Unfortunately, my other lens I brought was the 70-300 mm zoom-lens, which was for the most part too long for what I wanted to photograph.

Perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised at all: both camera and kit-lens are 4 years and 4 months old (as of writing). The difference, however, is that the camera-body is still churning away …

Milford Sound, Westland, South Island, New Zealand

Out of focus with the kit-lens at Milford Sound – 25 July 2012

For two months, I’ve been using the 50mm prime or fixed focal length lens on the camera. With a 1.6-times crop factor, the field of view is effectively 80mm, which is a little too long and more appropriate for portraits. It’s been challenging, and I’ve had to do the following:

•   “memorize” the available field-of-view I have with the prime lens,
•   ask myself whether I can make the shot at all, and
•   move around with my feet to get the shot I want.

Recent article(s) speak to the advantages and challenges of using a prime lens.

Dunedin Railway Station, Dunedin, New Zealand

With the 50mm-prime the following day (26 July) at Dunedin Railway Station

Even if the lens is a little long, the result above with the 50mm prime is very decent.

18-55 IS, version II

While I’ve been very happy with what my 50mm has delivered, I’d given some thought to purchasing a wider prime (i.e., 24mm or 28mm), but these primes are outside of my present budget. For about $120 AUD in Sydney, Australia, I’ve purchased the upgraded version of the 18-55mm kit-lens, known as the Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II. This lens is supposed to deliver improved image-stabilization performance compared to its predecessor. Version 2 of the kit-lens is still light in weight and light on the wallet or budget. Above all, it’s great to “regain” access to wider-fields with a lens identical to the one I lost.

EF-S 18-55mm lens side-by-side: I vs II

Canon EF-S 18-55mm lens: version I (left), version II (right)

EF-S 18-55mm lens side-by-side: I vs II

Left: “old and busted”, right: “new hotness”

Volleyball at Bondi Beach, Sydney, Australia

A photo with the new EF-S 18-55 IS II: Bondi Beach, Sydney, Australia – 3 Oct 2012

Naturally, I made all of the photos above. This post is published on Fotoeins Fotopress at fotoeins.com.

Postscript: In January 2014, I sold the EF-S 18-55 IS II lens to a friend who was passing through Vancouver on their way to New Zealand. Oddly enough, they had lost use of their 18-55 kit-lens when the AF mechanism died. With my upgrade to the full-frame 6D, I didn’t know what I was going to do with the EF-S “version 2” lens, and I’m very happy circumstances converged for us, and they now have the “version 2” lens to use.

Camera gear for the RTW

Recently, I read an article written by Jim Richardson about what lenses one should bring with them on their holiday, vacation, or trip. His article brought into sharper focus about what I was going to do on my upcoming RTW (around the world) trip.

I’ve been using a Canon EOS 450D (Rebel XSi) digital-SLR camera body for the last three years, and it makes sense to continue “grinding away” with the reliable camera for the coming year. I thought about upgrading the camera body, but that got quashed when I realized I could wait (5D Mark 3, anyone?). Besides, the photos I’ve taken thus far have taught me that it comes down to lenses.

I’ve decided to bring all three lenses which I describe below.


Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS (II)

While light and a bit fragile with the “plastic” construction, this kit-lens (included with the camera body at purchase) provides a sufficiently wide field-of-view during photowalks to document what I’ve seen. The kit-lens has an effective focal-length range 29-88 mm with the 1.6-times crop-factor corresponding to the APS-C sensor on my camera. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that most of my photographs have been made with the kit-lens. The built-in image stabilization (IS) in the lens has allowed me to photograph a nighttime scene as long as 1/4-second, and sometimes 1/3-second without a tripod.

Here’s a review of the 18-55mm lens by DP Review.

ADDENDUM: On 2 Oct 2012, I replaced the four-year old kit-lens (whose auto-focus finally failed) with the latest version: namely, the Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II.

Examples with the 18-55mm kit-lens:

Waikoloa Beach, Big Island, Hawaii

One of the first photos made with my 450D : Waikoloa Beach, Hawaii – 2008 May 19

Moonset, Andacollo, Gemini South, Cerro Pachon, Chile

Setting of full-moon and Earth’s shadow: Gemini Observatory, Cerro Pachón, Chile – 2008 Sept 15

La Serena, Playa del Mar, Coquimbo, Chile

Sunset, southern summer solstice : La Serena, Chile – 2008 Dec 21

Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM

With the 1.6-times crop-factor, this prime-lens is effectively at 80mm focal length on my camera, which makes the lens more ideal as a portrait lens. However, I have also experimented using this lens as the “sole” walk-around lens. The field of view is smaller, and that forced me to do two things: (1) think carefully about what I wanted to photograph and how I wanted to get the shot, and (2) move my feet around to get the shot I wanted. What I love about this lens is the solid construction, low-light capability (to maximum f/1.4 aperture), and quality photographs I’ve been able to make. I’ve also used my “nifty-fifty” at times as the go-to night-time lens.

Here’s a review of the 50mm lens by DP Review.

Examples with the 50mm prime:

Starbucks, Sendlinger Strasse, Muenchen, Munich

‘Hot coffee inside’ : outside Starbucks on Sendlinger Strasse, München – 1 Dec 2010

Brandenburger Tor, Berlin

Snowflurries at Brandenburg Gate, Berlin – 24 Dec 2010

Vysehrad, Vltava river, Prazsky hrad, Prague

Prague from Vyšehrad – 1111, 1.1.11 (1111am, 2011 Jan 1). Air temp -1C, but felt like -11C

Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM

After I purchased the camera and kit-lens, it became very apparent a zoom-lens was required. I chose the 70-300mm, which on my camera’s sensor is effectively 112-480mm. This lens is obviously larger and heavier than the first two, because of all the glass required to get the zoom-range. For a tight zoomed-in shot, the lens performs very well and the subsequent picture quality is very good. Some have written that the optics may be L-like, and if true, the price for this non-L lens is worth every penny.

Here is a review of the 70-300mm zoom by Digital Picture.

Examples with the 70-300mm zoom:

Kohala Mountain Road, HI-250, Big Island, Hawaii

Kohala Mountain Road (HI-250) towards Kawaihae, Big Island, Hawaii – 2009 Dec 7

BC Ferries, Tsawwassen, Vancouver

BC Ferries (“Queen of Alberni”) to Tsawwassen (just outside of Vancouver), Canada – 2010 May 3

Sydney Harbour Bridge, Sydney

“THIS … is Sydney …” : Harbour Bridge from The Rocks – 2010 Sept 26

I’ve enjoyed these three lenses, which have produced a variety of photographs I want to make. After 23,000-plus exposures in almost four years (2011), I believe the camera still has a lot of life left and plenty of exposures remaining, and that my three lenses provide enough capabilities to continue uncovering a wealth of photographic surprises to come.

I’ve just added the 4th-generation iPod Touch to the arsenal. Making photos and video is convenient, stands out much less, and stays out of the way. I’m looking forward to learning about and doing more with iPhoneography.

The real point is that it doesn’t matter if you use an iPhone, a point-and-shoot camera, a digital SLR camera, a Canon, a Nikon, name-your-favourite-brand. Go out and discover for yourself the kinds of things or people or settings you like to photograph – go out and make those pictures!

I made all of the photos shown above. This post is published on Fotoeins Fotopress (fotoeins.com).

iPhone apps and camera kit : travelling in Germany (early-2011)

In this past couple of years, I’ve discovered my ability to overcome a number of self-imposed boundaries and to visit some places which I once found challenging.  It’s been healthier to write about what I’ve come to enjoy and love, even if the daily challenge has been a struggle against the confusing, the illogical, or the idiotic.

Germany is a country with diverse topography, great scenery, and varied urban settings. The country is also where I would like to photograph some more, from the beaches of the North Sea coast to the twist and turns of the Rhein river to the gentle hills in the Harz, from the arty hustle and bustle in the capital city of Berlin to the party hardy in Köln to the majestic castles at the foot of the Bavarian Alps.

Typically, I have to cover a decent amount of distance across Germany on any given “tour” to visit and catch up with friends and/or to take in photographic opportunities.  Instead of taking intranational flights, I’m a big fan of the train, and I use RailEurope’s German rail-pass, if I have multiple cities to visit on multiple dates.  I often go with the 4- or 5-day pass, and if you do your own pricing on the bahn.de website, you’ll see that “biting the bullet” with a pass is much cheaper than buying point-to-point fares within the country. I wrote a series of posts about German Rail, with the most recent post here.

Here, I provide a few details about my favourite travel apps and my photography travel-kit.

Brandenburger Tor Brandenburg Gate Berlin

TRAVEL APPS

On my third-generation iPod Touch (iPT), these were some of the applications most useful for my travel; some are subject to modest charges upon purchase from the iTunes Store.

* Tripit – an excellent trip organizer.  You can enter all of your trip information with as much detail as you like, and retrieving the details is a real breeze to examine on a mobile device.

* Currency Converter – USD to EUR, for example, but you can also input an arbitrary amount (e.g., 50 US dollars) to determine the corresponding amount in another currency (e.g., Euros).  Recently I’ve been tracking simultaneously the US dollar, Chilean peso, Euro, Swiss franc, UK pound, Czech koruna (crown), Canadian dollar, Australian dollar, and the New Zealand dollar.

berlin.de – native city-guide application based on the Berlin city’s tourism webpage. I also used the following city-guide apps for Hamburg, Köln, and München.

* DB Navigator (German) – Deutsche Bahn’s application in English provides train schedules and point-to-point planning for routes within Germany. Using the words “Hauptbahnhof” (“Hbf”, central train station) and “Flughafen” (airport) helps.

* Evernote – available on my Mac and my iPT, I can edit notes on any of the two, and sync changes automatically (with wireless access).

* Fahrinfo Berlin – transit information in Berlin (English, too) for details about bus, tram, U-Bahn, and S-Bahn throughout the metropolitan capital region.  Please keep in mind that native applications also exist for Frankfurt am Main’s RMV transit authority and Munich’s MVV transit authority.  As always, your kilometrage may vary with usage.

Foursquare – this helps me to keep track of some of the places I’ve visited, even though its use is more limited to finding free wireless access; see also below.

* FRA Airport (FRAport) – app by the Frankfurt Airport Authority to provide flight information and about what’s at the airport.

* GoodReader – PDF reader. I copied all of my travel documents in pdf to native storage on the iPT, and I often use GoodReader to check up on a couple of numbers, dates, or times within those documents.

* HRS – a hotel-search website.  You can order your search by “number of stars”, average nightly rate, or proximity to city centre, airport, or nearest train stations.  In the last few years, I’ve noticed that the parent company has been more aggressive in their marketing campaigns throughout Europe.

* LEO – native German-to-English, English-to-German dictionary, when I’m constantly confused by “separable verbs” … which are reflexive … come with prepositions … and you have to know the correct case to go along with the (in)direct object (e.g., sich anpassen an, accusative).

* Living Earth HD – world-clock with live updates to local time, local weather, and sunrise/sunset for any number of specified cities in a compact format

* VelaClock – world-clock application for sunrise and sunset times, moonrise and moonset times, as well as daily times for astronomical-, civil-, nautical-twilight, dusk and dawn.  If the places you require are not included, you can add your own by latitude and longitude. I will freely admit VelaClock satisfies the inner astronomy-geek. Combining this app with Apple’s Weather app for up-to-the-minute updates and forecasts helps with planning photography shoots at potential sites.

I’d like an Apple portable-internet device with both wireless *and* mobile-access capabilities, with pay-as-you-go domestic mobile-access packages without the need for a long-term contract and international roaming charges. But it’s obvious there’s a limited market for this capability, and Apple certainly does not want to cannibalize its popular and successful iPhone product-line.

CAMERA

Since 2008, I’ve been using a Canon EOS450D (“Rebel XSi” in North America) which at the time of purchase was packaged with their EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS lens.  Despite the cheap plastic construction, the “kit lens” is light, versatile, and a great walk-around all-purpose lens for travel. I’ve also added the Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM lens and the Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM. Photos I’ve taken with all three lens can be found here.

For my 2010 Weihnachtstour (Christmas tour) series on my blog, I mostly used the 50mm prime.  Although the 50mm is “effectively” 80mm on Canon’s 1.6-times cropped-sensor, the wide-aperture in low-light settings has been a lot of fun to use, as you can see from many of the photos in the Christmas & winter in Europe set.

All three lenses have the same 58mm filter-thread size, which means I need only one set of filters.  I now have a 2-stop (4x) polarizing filter, a 3-stop (8x) neutral-density filter, and an 8-point star-filter. I’ve been using the latter quite liberally in many of my recent night-time shots.  I’m still on the lookout for a 2- or 3-stop graduated neutral-density filter.

To carry camera, three lenses, filters, and a growing collection of SD-cards, I use a Tamrac 5768 Velocity 8x sling-pak pouch, which is easy to open, as the top-cover opens from the body out.  As well, I can bring out or take away elements (e.g., lens, filter) without removing the pouch or putting the pouch on the ground.  Other members of the Velocity series are described here.

CLOSING

With this post, I’ve provided a sample of the electronic and photographic tools which I use on travel, specifically for trips to Germany.

Disclosure: I have not received any compensation for writing this content and I have no material connection to the brands, topics and/or products that are mentioned above. Posted initially on Posterous on 3 Jan 2011. Now on Fotoeins Fotopress (fotoeins.com) and last updated on 22 Oct 2011.

Koeln Cologne Rhein river
On the river Rhine, south of Kölner Südbrücke, Köln, Germany – 27 Sept 2009

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