Photography

Grain of sand: 0, Canon SD800 IS: 1

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Our trusty Canon PowerShot SD800 IS locked up the other day in the lens open position and whenever it powered up a “Lens error, restart camera” error message appeared on the LCD screen and the camera would then shut off.

Ends up that there was a single grain of sand that was stuck in between the gears that open/retract the lens. The cover is secured by a few tiny screws so it’s actually pretty easy to open up. Once I got the little bugger out from in between the gears (simply by manually turning the gears by hand), I fired up the camera again and the lens started working again!

Here are some disassembly pics, with the gears that control the opening/retracting of the lens circled in yellow.

Canon 24-70 f/2.8 vs Canon 24-105 f/4 IS

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An oft asked question I hear is: if one is deciding on between the Canon 24-70 f/2.8 and the Canon 24-105 f/4 IS, which one is better?

Well, the answer is: it depends. For me personally ( I own both), I like to use the 24-105 when I travel on vacation and/or am shooting outdoors. I want to pack as light as reasonably possible when traveling, which means limiting the number of lenses I bring with me. I’ll always bring an ultra-wide (my 17-40 f/4) and then the remaining lens choice is between the 24-70 f/2.8, 24-105 f/4 IS, or 70-200 f/2.8 IS. The 24-105 is my choice since it’s in between the 24-70 & the 70-200 as well as being the lightest of the 3.

I’ve learned not to lug the 70-200 along with me unless I know I will specifically be shooting in a situtaion where I will need a long zoom. Years back I brought it with me on a trip to Paris as well as to Thailand — I didn’t use it once in either. I brought it with me to Playa del Carmen (near Cancun, Mexico) and Costa Rica, though, since I was planning on shooting wildlife.

When I shoot indoor events, I use the 24-70 f/2.8 since it is faster glass. Coupling Canon’s f/2.8 and faster lenses to a 1-series body (eg. my 1D MK II) activates more cross-type AF sensors which, if you’ve ever shot in low light, means that you’ll get faster focusing and less hunting. Nothing like waiting for your camera to lock focus in low light, especially when shooting fleeting moments of people.

24-105 Pros:

  • Image Stabilization
  • longer zoom end (105mm vs 70mm) — there are so many tims when I’ve used the 24-70 and said to myself, “if i only had just a little bit more reach”
  • lighter weight vs. the 24-70

24-105 Cons:

  • slower focusing in low light situations due to f/4 (at least on 1-series bodies – not sure if the non-”pro” bodies are the same way)
  • vignettes & barrel distorts at the wider focal lengths more than the 24-70, but you might not notice unless comparing side-by-side, though it can be automatically corrected in post-processing using something like the superb PTLens application
  • darker viewfinder image vs. the 24-70

24-70 Pros:

  • faster glass, which means better/faster focusing in low light
  • brighter viewfinder image

24-70 Cons:

  • on a 20d/30d/5d feels a bit lopsided due to it’s extra weight unless you have the optional battery grip.
  • heavy
  • no Image Stabilization

good camera bag resource

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I’ve got a fetish with camera bags (having previously owned a LowePro Nova 5 & Tamrac Adventure 9, and currently own a LowePro Rover AW II, LowePro CompuTrekker, Pelican 1514, and a ThinkTank Pro Modulus belt system) and came across a great resource: http://www.cambags.com. You can find photos of all kinds of bags/cases with various set-ups. It’s interesting to see how others have set up their bags & cases.

My favorite photo accessory

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is this little cleaning instrument called the Lens Pen. Keeps all my lenses nice and clean. I thought I had lost mine and was ready to pull the trigger on a new one, but just found it while rummaging through one of my many camera backpacks — a Lowepro CompuTrekker AW in this case.

The other two backpacks I have are a Lowepro Rover AW II & a Tamrac Adventure 9. Why do I own 3 different photo backpacks? Unfortunately because they all serve a different purpose.

The Rover AW is the one I use the most as the “walk around” backpack. It’s got a lot of space in the upper compartment to hold miscellaneous items like food, a flash, a small book, other nick naks, and even the 70-200 f/2.8 IS. It also looks the least like a camera bag which is a plus.

The CompuTrekker is all business as it is designed to only carry camera gear + a laptop. I normally l use this on trips where I won’t need the versatility of a multi-use backpack like the Rover AW II. I like to carry-on all my camera gear + laptop so this bag works perfectly as it allows me to carry on another personal item if needed (like a carry-on roller luggage with my clothes :) ).

Lastly, I also have a Tamrac Adventure 9. I bought it specifically for my trip to China/Hong Kong earlier this year. I didn’t want to bring a ton of camera gear with me, but I still wanted a multi-use pack that also held a laptop. The Adventure 9 fit my 20D, 17-40 f/4, and 24-105 f/4 IS, my Dell Inspiron 600m, and all the other related camera & laptop accessories and had a tiny bit of room left over.

Incidentally, I also bought the 20D & 24-105 f/4 IS specifically for this trip as well, as my other setup is a brick and a half: 1D MK II & 24-70 f/2.8. It came down to compromises in the end, but my main priority was to pack as light as possible while not crimping my photo-fu too much. In retrospect, it didn’t hamper me at all, except for all the situations that I really needed to shoot 8.5 frames per second while on vacation (not).

But anyways — this series of events (finding the Lens Pen & writing this post) was prompted by me wanting to take photos of the Adventure 9 as I’m finally getting around to posting it up for sale. My 24-70 f/2.8 will likely follow soon after.

San Jose Grand Prix

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Trying to capture a sense of speed, excitement, and power of motorsports in a photo is one of my photographic passions. Sadly in 2006, I’ve only covered one motorsports event: the US Sports Car Invitational (Rolex/USTCC) race at Laguna Seca back in early May (coverage here), so I was well overdue. The SJGP is doubly exciting because my work is situated along the front straight of the street course. As much of a pain in the rear it was getting in and out of the parking garage due to all the street closures prior to the race, it was well worth the pain to have race cars barrelling down near 200 mph down the streets you drive on day to day.

I ended up shooting roughly 1200 photos on Sunday, the majority of which with the following body+lens combinations:

  • 1D MK II with the 70-200 f/2.8 IS L and 24-105 f/4 IS L (mainly for panning shots)
  • 20d with the 300 f/4 IS L plus the 1.4x teleconverter on occasion. (mainly for the super telephoto shots and the close ups)
  • I also used the 17-40 f/4.0 L a few times on both bodies but the 24-105 was wide enough for most situations (other than the shots inside the McEnery Convention Center).

After a shoot, I’ll usually go through and take a couple passes through them to progressively weed out the worst photos. I do this in BreezeBrowser since it’s quick loading and doesn’t need to spend cycles needing to generate previews like Capture One does. First pass is typically spent deleting the obviously blurry ones. This time it amounted to a tad over 500 photos. Yikes. I don’t recall my sharp to unsharp ratio being that bad before, though it was only my 2nd time shooting with the slower focusing 20d in addition to the 1D MK II. I didn’t pay attention to which camera was used for each blurry photo I deleted, but perhaps that had something to do with it.

I was left with about 600 photos which I still needed to sift through and then do another pass and sort into categories: drifting, Atlantic, Champ Car, paddock, etc. All said and done, i ended up with 307 photos that I ended up processing all the way through, and just under 300 were published here.

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