I get asked quite often what gear I recommend for shooting weddings. Almost always, recommend the same old tried and true things: high end bodies with good low light performance, f/2.8 zooms, and if you’re feeling frisky, fast aperture primes. But no one ever asks me about their second shooters. I gave up primary shooting weddings a while back, mostly because I don’t like the extra work and the extra responsibility. I do like shooting weddings, and I like having extra money, though. I’ve been fortunate enough to hook up with a great local wedding photographer, Josh Malahy with wellworn.co, and I’ve been second shooting for him for about three wedding seasons now. When I interviewed with him I asked if he had any gear requirements or expectations from me, and he said, “I have two rules. One, wear a suit. And two, don't shoot too much.” He likes my shooting style and gives me carte blanche to shoot with whatever I want, however I want, and I run with it.
My current go to setup is a Nikon D750 with 35mm and 85mm f/1.8 primes. For the most part, this covers me for just about everything. Often I’ll bring along a 58mm f/1.4 because I just love the way it renders, and the amazing 200mm f/2, because nothing else looks like a 200mm f/2.
I’ve said it hundreds of times now, I really love the Profoto B1. Years ago, I would use my Alien Bees strobes at a fraction of the price, and scoff at those who chose to go with the more expensive strobe solutions. I’d often laugh, and say light is light, and that if you need a 2 thousand dollar strobe to produce your work, there was something wrong. I've found however, the something wrong, was my mindset.
Now I’m not saying that you do need this expensive piece of gear to produce work. It’s easy to get wrapped into the mentality that your gear is somehow to be blamed for you not producing magazine quality work. However, the Profoto B1 is what I believe to be the best strobe on the market right now, and the reason isn’t the price, but all the features that it has that many other strobes do not. So let’s go over a quick overview of what sets the Profoto B1 apart from the rest. Continue reading →
Over the July 4th weekend, I had the chance to mess around with the new 4k capable Canon XC10. The feature heavy system packed into a smaller form factor had many videographers intrigued, Here are the first few shots along with some quick first impressions. (All shots were captured hand-held in c-log with a cloudy white balance. I tried to keep the color and contrast work to a minimum. Also, just to note, Canon’s XF-AVC codec is not yet supported by Final Cut X, which I originally tried. I tried converting the footage first using Handbrake but the results looked like crap. I ended up doing everything in Adobe Premier.)
Last week we posted optical bench MTF and copy-to-copy variation measurements for 50mm SLR lenses. We're going to continue that series this week with the same measurements for the 35mm lenses. This set should fill out the wide-to-standard range lenses and gives us a lot of interesting data as we continue to look at what factors affect copy-to-copy variation. These lenses range in price from $200 to $2300 USD, includes a couple of lenses first released in the 1990s and several released in the last couple of years, complexity ranging from 4 to 10 groups with and without aspheric elements.
Including macro shots in a portfolio or wedding album is a great way to add variation and make the work stand out. This is the time of year when we get a lot of questions not only about macro lenses but about which lenses are best for shooting weddings. These questions are often asked in the same conversation, as many photographers want to capture every detail of an event, especially the all important ring shot, but don’t want to switch lenses constantly. Recently I have been recommending a lens to customers that offers something new and fresh for their macro photography needs.
The Venus 60mm f/2.8 Macro made by an up and coming Chinese optics company is the first lens to offer 2:1 magnification with infinity focus. This basically means its possible to go from taking an ultra close detail shot to taking a portrait without switching lenses.
To show the real difference between this lens and the one already in your bag, here is a side by side comparison of the Venus 60mm f/2.8 (at 2:1) and the Canon 60mm f/2.8 (1:1). Each is at minimum focusing distance, mounted on a Canon 7D Mk II.
High Res Canon 60mm- f/2.8-1/2000-ISO 640---High Res Venus 60mm- f/5.6- 1/250-ISO 640
Last week we posted an introductory article on how we measure copy-to-copy variation in different lenses. I'll be continuing to publish these results over the next few weeks for prime lenses. We will eventually have a database put up, but I think it's important to look at the different lenses in smaller groups, illustrating some principles that contribute to variation. It's far too easy (and comfortable) to just believe quality control is the answer to variation. There's a lot more to it than just quality control and I think this series of posts will help illustrate that.
We got a lot of good suggestions about our methods after the first post, considered all of it, and tried out some of it (particularly formula and graphing adjustments). We didn't make any changes to our mathematical formula, but are going to change terminology just a bit. JulianH and several others pointed out that using the term 'variation number' was counter-intuitive; our numerical score gets higher when the lens has less copy-to-copy variation. It makes more sense to call it a 'consistency score', because a higher number means the lens is more consistent (it has less copy-to-copy variation). So from now on, the numerical score will be referred to as the Consistency Score.
Warning: This is a Geek Level 3 article. If you aren't into that kind of thing, go take some pictures.
I've been writing and discussing the copy-to-copy variation that inevitably occurs in lenses since 2008. (1,2,3,4) Many people don't want to hear about it. Manufacturers don't want to acknowledge some of their lenses aren't quite as good as others. Reviewers don't want to acknowledge that the copy they reviewed may be a little better or a little worse than most copies. Retailers don't want people exchanging one copy after another trying to find the Holy Grail copy of a given lens. And honestly, most photographers and videographers don't want to be bothered. They realize lens' sample variation can make a pretty big difference in the numbers a lens tester or reviewer generates without making much difference in a photograph.
It does matter occasionally, though. I answered an email the other day from someone who said, in frustration, that they had tried 3 copies of a given lens and all were slightly tilted. I responded that I'd lab-tested over 60 copies of that lens, and all were slightly tilted. It wasn't what he wanted to hear, but it probably saved him some and his retailer some frustration. There's another lens that comes in two flavors: very sharp in the center but weaker in the corners, or not quite as sharp in the center but stronger in the corners. We've adjusted dozens of them and can give you one or the other. Not to mention sample variation is one of the causes that make one review of a lens say it's poor, when other reviewers found it to be great.
At any rate, copy variation is something few people investigate. And by few, I mean basically nobody. It takes a lot of copies of a lens and some really good testing equipment to look into the issue. We have lots of copies of lenses and really good testing equipment, and I've wanted to quantify sample variation for several years. But it's really, really time-consuming.
Our summer intern, Brandon Dube, has tackled that problem and come up with a reasonably elegant solution. He's written some Matlab scripts that grab the results generated from our Trioptics Imagemaster Optical Bench, summarizes them, and performs sample variation comparisons automatically. We're going to eventually present that data to you just like we present MTF data: when a new lens is released we'll also give you an idea of the expected sample variation. Before we do that though, we need to get some idea of what kind of sample variations should be expected. Continue reading →
When Lensrentals.com first got the first Canon 5Ds and 5D sr cameras in stock, Aaron and I immediately started screaming that we wanted to take one apart. It turns out we received enough 5Ds cameras to let us have a day with one to do just that. Of course, we don't expect to find out anything amazing and revealing. We expect it will look pretty much like the Canon 5DIII and 7DII on the inside. But hey, you never know. Plus we'll be repairing these soon enough, so we might as well find our way around now.
If you want to do some comparisons yourself, you can compare this to our Canon 5D III teardown and Canon 7D II teardown. Or if you'd rather follow along from home with your own 5Ds go grab your screwdrivers and let's get started!
From the outside looking in, there's not a lot of difference in appearance from the 5D Mk III.
All photographs Roger Cicala, Lensrentals.com, 2015
Like everybody else, we're pretty excited to get our hands on Canon's new 5DS and 5DS R. There are already a lot of hands-on articles about the cameras that probably have told you more than you need to know to make your purchase decision. Of course, for most of the Canon shooters who read this blog, the purchase decision was just which place you want to buy it from.
For me, I want some lab data to see just how much of a difference those megapixels make. More particularly, I want to see how much of a difference they make when shot through a reasonably good lens, an excellent lens, and an adequate lens. Some people want to simplify things too much and claim certain lenses are 'good enough' for the new cameras and others aren't. It's not that simple.
So we begged and threw temper tantrums until Drew agreed to let us have a couple of the new cameras for a couple of days testing in our Imatest lab. That was enough time for us to get a quick overview using several different sample lenses, but it will be months before we have a good database of which lenses are most capable on the new cameras. Continue reading →