I need to do this more often.
Here's a sweet little photography tool you should check out if you work with studio lighting. Called the Online Lighting Diagram Creator, it is just that, letting you create and save set-ups for future reference.
Below is the lighting diagram of my recent headshots photo shoot - created using this dead-simple web app.
Notice that the light is a bit cooler in this set compared to that in the previous post since I was shooting a little earlier in the afternoon this time. As expected, the 50mm is able to add more context to the subject in frame while still generating a rather pleasant effect from a narrow depth of field and smooth bokeh. Down below is another image that shows a 100% crop of the first image (had dialed in a -2 micro focus adjustment on my 5D MkII body for this set). Notice how the 50mm 1.2L, while sharp at f/1.2, is not (almost) too sharp like the 135mm 2L. And that is a good thing.
The images blew me away. Crazy sharp wide open at f/2, the lens produced beautiful contrast and saturation. I am really liking the different feel that the bokeh from 135mm f/2L has (vs. that from the 50mm f/1.2L). Real nice background compression further helps with the subject separation.
Take a look at some sample images below. Shot wide open at f/2 and converted to jpeg straight from camera raw. The third image down below is a 100% crop of the second image - just to show how incredibly sharp the lens is even when shooting wide open.
Real nice piece of glass.
Just couple of days back I offloaded two of my lenses - a Canon 17-40mm f/4L zoom and a Canon 100mm f/2.8 macro lens. Both are nice lenses and each of them served me very well over the last 5 years that I had them for. Here’s some of my sample images from the 17-40L and the 100mm macro.
On the flip side, I bought myself a 135mm f/2L (B&H, Amazon). Its a beautiful piece of glass with just a giant front element. While I haven’t taken it for a ride yet, I fired some test shots wide open. The sharpness this lens produces at f/2 is insane. And the kind of compression you get especially on the background is crazy beautiful. Real nice piece of glass. The 135mm f/2L joins the only other lens I’ve got at the time of writing this post - my beloved 50mm 1.2L.
Will I miss wider focal lengths? Maybe. Will I enjoy shooting on the best L glass Canon has to offer at 50mm and 135mm focal lengths? Most definitely.
The conclusion is pretty obvious: If you want to shoot wide aperture prime lenses and you don’t want to use microfocus adjustment, you just refuse to cope with reality.
That’s a pretty strong statement. I read that article and walked away almost convincing myself that I need to do some type of micro focus adjustment (MFA) to my most often used lens-body combination: canon 50mm f/1.2L on a 5D Mk II.
I had not had any focus problems on my copy of the “focus challenged” 50mm 1.2L - at least, not any that I was aware of. To evaluate whether my setup truly needed any MFA, I set out to do some informal testing.
First, I followed the excellent tutorial from Keith Cooper and concluded that my 50mm 1.2L copy indeed did not need any MFA. There are several other techniques out there as well to determine the MFA required. However, those are either more time-consuming or expensive (or, in some cases, both).
Next, I put my lens copy along with a borrowed copy of 50mm 1.2L to some picture tests at close focusing distances. The borrowed copy was not known to require any MFA either (although it was tested on another Canon 5D body). The first image below was shot using my 5D Mk II and the borrowed lens while the second one was shot using my copy of 50mm 1.2L. I shot all the images wide-open to eliminate any inconsistencies due to potential changes in focal plane at smaller apertures.
Using borrowed lens copy of 50mm 1.2L
Using my copy of 50mm 1.2L
While both lenses seemed to be sharp wide-open, when the images were zoomed in, it appeared that the borrowed copy was forward-focusing a bit, at least, on my 5D Mk II.
Using borrowed copy (100% crop)
The way I could tell this was from the stronger bokeh gradient to the back of the focus point compared to the intensity of the bokeh gradient in the front. In other words, while the letters “U” and “f” are at similar distances from the focus point (tip of digit “2”), there appears to be a stronger bokeh gradient between the focus point (tip of digit “2”) and the letter “f” than that between the focus point and the letter “U”. This suggests that the lens was actually focusing just in front of the focus point and hence, was forward-focusing.
When I created the same set-up using my copy of 50mm 1.2L, the focus point seemed to be accurately locked in place creating a more even bokeh gradient both in front and back of the focus point.
Using my copy (100% crop)
I deliberately took the pictures at an angle to overemphasize the effect of bokeh gradient from the point of focus. I could not have achieved this effect had I shot straight down on the subject.
Conclusion - While Roger could be accurate in the statement he made at the beginning of this post, it needs to be qualified a bit - at least in my use case.
At Leica’s special event last night, after the new Leica M was announced, company owner Dr. Andreas Kaufmann revealed that they’ve got a very special limited edition version of the camera planned — one that’s designed by legendary Apple designer Sir Jonathan Ive.
This camera will be the mother of all limited editions based on one simple fact: only a single unit of the camera will ever be produced.
Would Apple at some point enter the digital camera market? Having done the iPhone 5, they sure know a lot about cameras now.
Some fun comments from the linked article:
Because of this, we will see a resurgence of organ donors in the black market.
Wouldn't it be hilarious if it came bundled with iPhoto.
There is only one button.
It is the first full-frame, 35 mm format digital camera to be designed exclusively and without any compromises for black-and-white photography. It delivers ‘true' black-and-white images in unrivalled sharpness and dynamic range. This makes the M Monochrom the perfect camera for anyone with a passion for black-and-white photography.
With its list price around $8,000 (B&H), the “perfect monochrome camera” is a bit expensive. At that price point, I sure am not in the market.
Wonder what it would be like to shoot with it though.
This was put together using more than 8,000 photos. Shot on my Canon 5D Mk II, most of the footage was captured using the truly wonderful Canon 50mm f/1.2L lens.
Take a look. Please watch the video in HD on Vimeo and share it with your friends if you enjoyed watching it.
These come printed on a high quality vinyl material that maintains vivid colors and rich contrast from the photographs. I ordered a couple of sample wall peels using my photographs (this and this) and they came out with beautiful colors.
If you like something on my photo-roll, you should consider purchasing a wall peel. More info on wall peels in the Prints FAQ.
(In case you’re wondering: What is time-lapse photography)
Random tidbit about the video:
- Place: Hong Kong, SAR (mostly Kowloon area)
- Camera: Canon 5D Mark II
- Lenses: Canon 50mm f/1.2L, Canon 17-40mm f/4L, Canon 100mm f/2.8
- CF Card: SanDisk 16GB Extreme Pro CF Card (90 MB/s)
- Other equipment used: Manfrotto 190X Pro tripod + 408 RC2 ball head, Cowboy Studio remote control shutter, ND filters, etc.
- Images shot: ~6,000
- Images shot hand-held: ~4,000 (although, could not have done without the tripod for the remainder 2,000 shots)
- Software used: Aperture 3.x, QuickTime Pro 7, iMovie 11
- Music: Lo Delta by Afterlife
- Total time spent (shooting images + rendering): ~40 hours
While I am currently looking for a new home for my 5D body (
Below are a few sample images along with some non-scientific test results:
Canon 5DShot using a Canon 5D and Canon50 mm f/1.2L (center point focus, ISO 50, RAW image)
I chose this image for comparison since it shows bit of a light fall-off, which is rather typical of 5D bodies to produce - especially, since I was shooting wide open at f/1.2.
Canon 5D Mark IIBelow is the same frame as shot by the Canon 5D Mark II and Canon 50mm f/1.2L (center point focus, ISO 50, RAW image)
I still got bit of a light fall-off with Mark II but the effect of it is dramatically less pronounced. I had the peripheral illumination correction (PIC) enabled in this shot (more on the PIC later), which seemed to have compensated a bit of the light falloff. At this point, I am going to say that the slight vignetting that it creates is more of a function of the huge f/1.2 aperture and it actually creates a rather artsy effect than a nuisance.
BokehIts hard to discern the differences in picture quality at the size and resolution of the images posted above. However, that could not stop me from pixel peeping. One of the things I noticed was that the quality of bokeh from 5D Mark II “seemed” to be a bit less busy and more creamy than that from the 5D. Below are some magnified images of the shrub that is seen on the left hand bottom corner of the images above.
Bokeh from Canon 5D (100% image magnification of the RAW file)
Bokeh from Canon 5D Mark II (100% image magnification of the RAW file)
Note that the bokeh image from Canon 5D appears a bit darker since the location of that shrub in the picture frame falls in the light fall-off region.
Peripheral Illumination Correction (PIC)Speaking of the PIC, I shot multiple sets of the same frame with the PIC enabled and disabled on the 5D Mark II body. In almost all cases, the exposure came out to be near-identical when the RAW files were imported in Aperture 3.3. Given that Mark II comes pre-loaded with light fall-off data for the lens I was using (50mm f/.2L), I may not have accurately measured the impact of disabling PIC on my 5D Mark II body.
One of the rather odd things I noticed while firing through my test shots is regarding the impact of using a self-timer on image focus. I tested using a self-timer (10 sec.) with both PIC enabled and disabled. With the PIC disabled, the self-timer shots came out to be just a bit softer around the focus point than other images. Below are some test images at 100% magnification:
Canon 5D Mark II with PIC Disabled - Timer on
Canon 5D Mark II with PIC Disabled - Timer off
However, when the PIC was enabled, the impact of using a self-timer on the image focus degradation was more pronounced.
Canon 5D Mark II with PIC Enabled - Timer on
Canon 5D Mark II with PIC Enabled - Timer off
When I tested the same phenomenon with my 5D body, I actually thought that the image taken with self-timer came out to be just a bit sharper than the other picture.
Canon 5D - Timer on
Canon 5D - Timer off
I am really not sure what impact, if any, the PIC feature could have on the self-timer and center point focus in the 5D Mark II. Even if we keep the PIC feature out of the mix, why would the self-timer function mess up the center point focus? While the use case for me to use a self-timer function is very rare, a really painless workaround could be to switch out to manual focus before using the self-timer once the center point focus (or any other focus points) has been set.
Meanwhile, I am going to dig in a bit deeper.
Some of the Web's best sites consist of variations on one simple idea. In the case of Dear Photograph, that idea is taking a snapshot — usually one featuring one or more people and dating from the film-photography era — and holding it up against the original setting so that past and present blend into a new work of art. The images contributed by the site's readers are wonderfully evocative. Looking at the family photos of strangers was never so transfixing.
Dear Photograph The Book.
When stopped down to f/1.4, the glass becomes crazy sharp while still maintaining its beautiful, buttery bokeh (another image posted straight from my 5D here).
Since you'll capture the color, intensity, and direction of all the light, you can experience the first major light field capability - focusing after the fact. Focus and re-focus, anywhere in the picture. You can refocus your pictures at anytime. And focusing after the fact, means no auto-focus motor. No auto-focus motor means no shutter delay. So, capture the moment you meant to capture not the one a shutter-delayed camera captured for you.
Novel idea. However, I wonder if this is new technology looking for a pragmatic application. In other words, a solution looking for a problem. Would love to be proved wrong.
Image #1: Shot wide open, noticeably sharp at f/1.2, beautiful bokeh @ less than 5 feet b/w subject and background
Image #2: Also shot wide open, rich colors and saturation, razor-thin DOF
I like what I’ve seen so far...
That apart, among primes, I specifically like shooting at 50mm range. The perspective just feels more natural to me at 50mm than at any other focal point. This is especially true on a full frame body like my Canon 5D. As a side, 50mm on a cropped body will be more like 50 x 1.6 = 80mm. Ever since I started using an SLR in Dec 2006, the very first lens that I bought (apart from the crappy 17-55 kit lens) was a Canon 50mm f/1.8 (Amazon, B&H). It was cheap and hence, my barrier to entry was low. I figured that anything should be better than the kit lens and indeed, I was right. The “nifty-fifty” gave some reasonable control over DOF and was fun to play with. But the images would often come out soft, the lens barrel was made out of plastic, the mounts weren’t high quality, and there was no way to override the AF without changing the focus mode.
I quickly outgrew the f/1.8 and moved on to the next higher grade model - Canon 50mm f/1.4 (Amazon, B&H). This is one lens I really came to like. While the construction was solid, the metal mounts gave it a more professional look. It was about one-half stop faster than the f/1.8 and by f/2.0, it got really sharp. I loved it. It stayed on my 5D for the most amount of time and I always took it with me in my camera bag. For some of my sample images shot using the f/1.4, take a look here. But all along, I had my eyes set on Canon’s L series lens for the 50mm focal length - Canon50mm f/1.2L. As of Jan 2012, the L version cost about 4 times the f/1.4 version and a whopping 18 times its f/1.8 brother.
I am happy to say that I finally bought the Canon 50mm f/1.2L (Amazon, B&H) lens just a few days back from B&H. It is slightly larger in size than the f/1.4 copy and feels a lot heavier. It has a nice feel to it and balances out nicely when mounted on my 5D. Like Canon’s any other L series lens, the construction looks rock solid. While I have not had a chance to take it for a full-blown test drive yet, the initial test shots look extremely promising. When compared with the f/1.4, the f/1.2 fares better on saturation, contrast and color. At wide open, the bokeh that the f/1.2 gives is so “melty”. DOF at f/1.2 is razor-thin and everything in front and beyond the DOF just fades away in the frame.
I’m loving it so far. Hoping to taking it out for a spin soon.
While I wait to do that, my excitement saw me cobble together this rather amateurish HTML5 animation to reflect the change in my gear.
I was amazed to find that virtually every camera lens in use today can trace its heritage back to one of five lenses, four of which were developed by 1900. Given the literally thousands of lenses that have been created, I found this really surprising: no matter what lens we use today it was probably available in basic form near 1900.
Read more about lens genealogy.
Roger Cicala is just a great guy and if you ever want to try out a lens before buying it, I would recommend considering lensrental.com as an option.
PS: I have rented a couple of lenses from them in the past but I am in no way affiliated with them.
Brandon decided that he wanted to create another set similar to Shakey Face that would hold the viewers attention longer than the average portrait. With this in mind, he came up with the idea to hang and shoot his subjects upside down but print the images right side up, then make large scale prints to show all the nitty-gritty, upside-downy details.