Tag Archives: photography

Homecoming

One thousand three hundred and thirty days.

That’s how long I’d been away from New Zealand, and how long since I’d seen my family in person.  But really, it didn’t feel that long.  Regular Skype contact and Facebook updates mean that keeping in touch with friends and family on the opposite side of the world is easier than it used to be.

Still, it’s a long time between drinks, and it’s surprising what’s changed.

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5 tips on travelling with a wide-angle lens

Three years ago, on a bit of a whim, I bought a Canon EF-S 10-22mm lens. The action was probably symptomatic of Gear Acquisition Syndrome, but I’ve fortunately managed to keep it under control since – I’m still using the same set of lenses I bought around that time!
Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-5.6 USM

It was a pricey item, and to this day I don’t really know what possessed me to spend such a sum on a piece of glass that I didn’t really know how to use. What’s more, I wasn’t sure I’d use it regularly. But all the pictures in this article were taken with it, and these days it hardly leaves the camera.

Others have asked me about wide angle photography, and I’ve even loaned my 10-22 out a couple of times, so I thought it was about time I put down some words about traveling with a wide angle lens.

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Third Party Lens Hoods

What’s the difference between Canon lens hoods and the third party hoods that sell for much less on auction sites such as trademe and ebay? I couldn’t find the answer to this question anywhere else, so when shopping for a hood for my Canon 10-22mm lens I decided to go for a third party hood and find out.

The genuine example I have is a Canon EW-73B lens hood. It sells for $66 NZD on photo.co.nz, whose prices are generally in line with the current retail market while not being the absolute lowest. This is an exorbitant price for what amounts to little more than a piece of plastic. The third party equivalent sells on trademe for around $25 NZD, much cheaper but hardly a bargain. So what’s the difference? Well effectively you’re paying $39 for the brand and felt on the inside of the hood. And perhaps slightly better quality plastic as well.

The third party example is an EW-83E. Ideally I’d purchase a third party EW-73B to compare, but the images online tell me enough that I don’t need to – they’re exactly the same as the EW-83E I have aside from the size and shape. Below is a picture that illustrates what I see as the major difference between third party and branded hoods:

Third Party Lens Hoods

As you can see there is a notable difference in the reflectiveness of the inside surface. Admittedly my hand in this photo is partly shielding the Canon hood, so I took another shot for the skeptics: here. But it’s not difficult to imagine how a smooth surface would reflect more light than black felt.

The question is whether this actually makes any difference to your photos. We know that light refracted in the lens can reduce colour saturation and cause flare (see the digital picture’s write-up on the use of lens hoods for more info), however answering the question of whether light reflected from the inside of the hood and then onto the lens can do the same is more difficult to answer (if anyone wants to shout me a third party EW-73B I’ll do my best to find out!).

At minimum the effect of using a third party hood should still be reduced flare and better colour saturation (vs not using any hood at all), so a photographic scenario that demonstrated a perceivable difference would probably have to be carefully designed. Maybe a flash just off the frame but pointing straight at the lens would do it.

Conclusion

Both third and first party lens hoods are a ripoff.

Camera News

I doubt you’re reading this blog for the news, but there have been some recent announcements that will be of interest if you have more than a passing interest in photography.

  • The Canon EOS 7D looks like a nice step up from the 50D. It packs 18MP, so it will be interesting to see what the high-iso shots are like. Since Canon is apparently expanding its range of cameras with APS-C sized sensors, we should see more EF-S lenses, indeed two new ones were announced at the same time.
  • Also the Panasonic GF1, that equivalent to the Olympus E-P1 I was waiting for, has hit the announcements board. This really looks like a camera worth buying, and instantly rules out the E-P1 for me, assuming the price isn’t any higher. I still can’t decide whether to go for a micro four thirds (MFT) camera over an advanced fixed-lens camera (LX3 / S90 / G11) though.

Raw photo processing on Linux

Being a Linux user, one of my concerns with shooting raw was what to do with the files once I’d captured them. On Windows I’d probably just use Canon’s software that was supplied with my 40D – Zoombrowser and Digital Photo Professional.

However the default photo mangement application in Ubuntu, F-Spot, pleasantly surprised me in the way it handles raw files. Not only does it understand and preview them, it can manage raw .cr2 files, developed jpegs and camera jpegs as one image, meaning that you can preserve all versions of a picture without cluttering up your library with multiple versions. For me this is almost an essential feature now, as I frequently have three, sometimes four versions of the same image – raw, camera jpeg, developed jpeg, cropped, etc.

So here’s my brief outline of the components I use for managing photos:

  1. F-Spot, installed by default in Ubuntu and also many other distros such as OpenSUSE
  2. UFRaw standalone
  3. F-Spot DevelopInUFRaw plugin
  4. F-Spot RawPlusJpeg plugin
  5. Canon Digital Photo Professional

UFRaw is an excellent raw processing tool, based on dcraw, and supports many other raw formats (not just Canons). Ubuntu provides a standalone version and a GIMP integrated version, but the one we want is just called ufraw. To install it, open a terminal and type:

sudo aptitude install ufraw

You will need to have the universe repository enabled to install this package, to enable it go to software sources and tick the appropriate box.

The F-Spot plugins are simple to install and can be added from within F-Spot itself – just go to Edit > Manage Extensions, enable them if present and install them first if not:

F-Spot Extension Manager

Once you’ve installed everything, the first thing I recommend doing is merging your raw files:

Merging Raw Files

With the UFRaw plugin installed you should also be able to right-click on any image and select “Develop in UFRaw”, but obviously it will only work if the picture you’ve selected actually has a raw file. Any developed files appear as a version rather than a new image like so:

FSpot Versions

The main down side to using UFRaw as opposed to Canon’s Digital Photo Professional, is the lack of lens aberration correction. This may not be a problem for you if you only shoot L glass, but for the rest of us with consumer zooms the lens correction is a nice feature to have. I also find that it’s easier to achieve better results with DPP, it’s not that UFRaw can’t make the adjustments, but DPP does seem to make more intelligent guesses and I find I can achieve a good result faster than with UFRaw.

Fortunately, Digital Photo Professional works fairly well in Wine. To install it on Ubuntu 8.10 simply pop in the CD, and open the setup.exe file with wine (right click, Open with “Wine Windows Program Loader”). I’d suggest deselecting all drivers and anything unnecessary, I installed DPP only).

F-Spot and UFRaw make a pretty powerful photographic toolset, and with DPP running in Wine there’s little need for Windows. If you don’t like F-Spot there’s Google’s Picasa (which is actually a Wine app on Linux…), and DigiKam which is the KDE equivalent.

North Head Sunset


Last night I decided to head over to North Head in Devonport (see map below), with the intention of photographing the sunset. I got a few sunset pics, but they weren’t spectacular and I think the shots of the city came out better.

Pity I forgot to take a tripod!

Full set is here.