Wednesday, January 7, 2015

2014 Year End Photography Equipment Purchases - Canon EF40mm f2.8 STM / Sirui Ballhead / Kirk L Bracket

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I guess this would be my first photography related post on my blog. I got into photography about 3 years ago by getting a Canon 60D, then quickly moved to a Canon 5D Mark III 2 years from now. At this stage, I would say I’m pretty comfortable about getting correct exposures with natural lighting using manual mode. Composition wise, I still need much more practices. But for flashes, I’m still struggling understanding the mechanisms. I mean I have some understandings about the flash triangle for exposure and inverse square law, etc, but I just can’t seem to make good use of them. I need more time studying in this area, that’s my 2015 photography resolution. Anyways, here are some of the stuff I bought at year end:
1. Canon EF40mm f2.8 STM
2. Sirui Ballhead K-30X
3. Kirk L Bracket for 5D Mark III
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It’s my first time buying a refurbished Canon lens. I only had three lenses before getting this one anyway… It’s a pancake lens with STM - stepping motor. I’ve always wanted to get this one instead of the nifty fifty. This looks like the perfect combo for the SL1 - my backup camera. I was able to get it for $100 after missing it a few times.
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It’s a very compact lens, plastic construction made it weightless. This is my first prime lens BTW.
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The macro focusing distance is 0.3m, slightly shorter distance to the 24-105mm that I’m using originally. I can get pretty close to the subject if I have the need.
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The 2.8 aperture, being 1 stop faster than the 24-105mm f/4, is good for the low light situation, more bekoh as well. Although might not as faster than the nifty fifty, still good enough for me. I might get a sigma ART prime lens some time down the road, since that’s receiving all raging reviews these days. I’ll play on this one first to practice composition skills.
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The size and the weight on the SL1+40mm could compete with SONY a7+28-70mm kit. I generally like the Canon for simple operation and familiar interface. The SONY a7 was just an impulse buy for a good deal at the time. Although SONY a7 has way more functions and has a full frame censor. I’m still not feeling comfortable to spend more money for the SONY ecosystem, FE 55mm f/1.8 seems the only (prime) lens that I’m interested in, but I could get a sigma ART 50mm f/1.4 for less than that, why bother… Also SONY is way too fast in refreshing their cameras every year, a7II is already out with in camera stabilization… The most disappointing thing about a7 is the battery though, it eats battery like no others, three batteries could barely keep it alive for a full day of shooting…
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Now moving on to the ball head. I’ve got a Vanguard 263AT tripod, which came with this SBH-100 ball head. The tripod pretty much was ruined during the 14 day trip I had in 2014. The first thing I’m doing here is to replace the head. After reading around, I’m vouching for Chinese manufacturers again here, got the Sirui K-30X, which is the middle size of the line. I’m still looking for the carbon fiber legs. But haven’t decided which one to get yet. I can’t even decide if I want a more portable one (5 sections) or a more sturdy one (4 sections). There are just way too many choices out there… And I don’t want to spend $600 for just the legs…
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Now the Sirui ball head seems like pretty good quality compared to the SBH-100.
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The ball head seems a lot more fluid. I hope it could last me long enough.
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The ball head is Arca-Swiss compatible, which is the essential function when I chose it. Intentionally or unintentionally, almost all the mounting plates I got so far are Arca-Swiss compatible. I can finally use these plates. All three of my cameras, and a 70-200 f2.8L get an Arca-Swiss compatible plate attached now.
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I also like the screw has a D ring for easier attach and removal. You get the options to further tighten down with a coin or a allen key.
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Now to complete this whole Arca-Swiss setup, I finally shell out some money on the L bracket. After comparing with RRS, Kirk, and ProMediaGear, I settled on the Kirk.
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It’s a very niche item that cost $150 for just one piece of metal. I could probably make one if I still had the access to the machine workshop, provided if I can get the measurements right.
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My old setup was attaching a Nikon hand strap to 5D Mark III, which the included plate has a 1/4in screw hole that I can attach yet another mounting plate. The setup was very prone to get twisted in the opposite direction and became loose. Worst of all, they all have the slot where you need a coin or the included tool to get attach again. So the L bracket fits the 5D Mark III only should solve this problem. Also by moving everything to Arca-Swiss, I can get rid of the second plate.
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So this is what it looks like after moving the Nikon hand strap to the L bracket. Everything worked out great. The strap is not in the way of the battery door. I really liked the hand strap BTW as I absolutely hates neck straps. The genuine one sells for $90 and is hard to find. But ebay sells a Korean made on for around $22, which I wholeheartedly recommends. The mounting plate included is also a Arca-Swiss compatible one, which I moved to the a7.
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The L bracket fits like a glove to the camera body so no more came loose. Again by buying such an expensive L bracket that only fits specific model, it is definitely a big commitment to the camera. I don’t expect to upgrade the 5D Mark III in the near future.
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The only drawback I can immediately see is that the side (when camera is in vertical position), is completely hollow to allow access to the ports. There doesn’t seem to be anything to latch against the stop pin on the ball head. It could be an issue when mounting in vertical, you gotta be extra careful, otherwise you are risk dropping the camera…
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Well, I said I hate neck strap, I do use it from time to time. I got in on the kickstarter project for Peak Design’s slide. That was my first and last kickstarter backing though. The product turns out had a design flaw. Although the company was being transparent enough about the flaw and provide ways to verify and solve the problem, it was still too much trouble to save 10% for being a beta tester. Mine turned out to be safe after I did their testing so I don’t have to do anything, but still I would rather buy products which just works out the door at a higher price.
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Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Canon PIXMA PRO-100 - How to Disable ICM in printer driver

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The Canon PIXMA PRO-100 is probably the cheapest wide format inkjet you can get if you own Canon system. Or I’ve seen a few times that you can get it for $50 after rebate by buying the printer with Canon 13x19 luster paper.
So following the same concept in the Epson guide:
In order to print anything from Photoshop or lightroom with reasonable color accuracy without any calibration, you would need to turn off ICM in the printer driver. The Canon driver has the ICM off option buried pretty deep unlike Epson, took me a while to figure it out…
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So pick the right printer profile in PS.
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Disable ICM in printer driver.