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 Wednesday, May 10, 2017
by Sean Setters
 
I often draw inspiration from the educational videos we post to the site, and one video in particular posted last week intrigued me. In the video, Mark Wallace used a small string of LED lights held in front of the camera lens to create an interesting bokeh effect for portraiture.
 
I love it when inexpensive tools can be used to create unique imagery, and the LED lights Mark used for his video cost less than most memory cards. Wanting a little variety, I purchased a set of 4 strings (2 warm white/2 purple) which are powered via AA batteries.
 
After the LED lights arrived, I enlisted my neighbor to sit for a short portrait session. Being a kindergartener, I knew I would only have a few short minutes of optimal attention span for creating the portrait I had in mind.
 
The Setup
 
Intending to emphasize the foreground blur, I used a Canon EF 85mm f/1.2L II USM affixed to a tripod mounted EOS 5D Mark III.
 
For the lighting on the subject, I used a radio-triggered Canon Speedlite 580EX with a LumiQuest SoftBox LTp (now discontinued, but available here) camera right. For the background, I used an Impact 5 x 7' Black/White Collapsible Background held up by a Lastolite Magnetic Background Support atop a Matthews Maxi Kit Steel Stand. After a couple of test shots, I decided to add a white reflector (foam core board) camera left to fill in some of the shadow area on the other side of the subject.
 
Camera settings for the shot were f/1.4, 1/160 second, ISO 100.
 
Things I Learned
 
  • In order to maximize the shooting time with the subject, I used a super clamp to attach the LED lights to an extension arm (affixed to another light stand) and draped the lights in front of the lens. The upside to this particular setup was that it allowed me to specifically and easily position the subject within an area of the frame that was unobstructed by the LED lights. The downside, of course, is that there was no variation in lighting between shots. If working with a subject with a longer attention span, simply holding the lights in front of the lens and embracing the significantly varied results would likely work well.
  • When photographing a child of this age, having a medium height wooden stool is a great posing aid. Being positioned higher-up than normal helps instill a sense of importance that helps keep young subjects in a good mood.
  • My initial thought was that the lights would need to be positioned very close to the front of the lens for an optimal effect. However, that didn't necessarily prove to be the case with the 85mm lens I was using. When positioned very close to the end of the lens, the LED lights tended to be too large and distracting for my taste. For the shot above, the lights were positioned about 12" from the end of the lens, and as you can see, the out-of-focus LED lights are still quite large in the frame with the f/1.4 aperture in use.
  • I thought I would have to use a longer shutter speed or a higher ISO to get a bright exposure from the LED lights, but their proximity to the camera and the wide aperture being used meant that I could use a typical studio shutter speed of 1/160 second at ISO 100 for the exposure.
Conclusion
 
For a relatively small investment, a small strand of LED lights will likely be worth picking up for anyone interested in augmenting their creative portraiture capabilities. The lights are small, relatively easy to pack (for nighttime on-location shoots?) and utilize a power source that many photographers have in abundance – [rechargeable] AA batteries.
 
Give this fun and easy technique a try!
Post Date: 5/10/2017 10:15:07 AM CT   Posted By: Sean
We have a winner!
 
Joe M. was randomly selected from our newsletter subscribers to receive a MindShift BackLight 26L Backpack. He sent us his address and will be receiving his new backpack in the very near future. (Congrats!)
 
Didn't win the drawing? You can still get your MindShift Gear BackLight 26L at the following retailers: MindShift Gear | B&H | Amazon | Adorama
Post Date: 5/10/2017 9:07:17 AM CT   Posted By: Sean
B&H is listing tomorrow as its expected availability date for the Sigma 100-400mm F/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Contemporary Lens.
 
The Sigma 100-400 C lens was announced in February alongside the 14mm f/1.8, 135mm f/1.8 and 24-70mm f/2.8 Art lenses. The 100-400 C is the second lens of the group to hit the streets, following a little more than a month after the 135mm Art's release.
Category: Sigma News
Post Date: 5/10/2017 7:20:59 AM CT   Posted By: Sean
Through midnight tonight Eastern Time, B&H has the Dell 15.6" XPS 15 9550 Multi-Touch Notebook available for $1,599.95 with free shipping. Regularly $2,299.95.
 
Product Highlights
 
  • 2.6 GHz Intel Core i7-6700HQ Quad-Core
  • 32GB DDR4 RAM | 1TB PCIe SSD
  • 15.6" 3840 x 2160 Infinity Edge Display
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M (2GB GDDR5)
  • SD Media Card Reader
  • 802.11ac Dual-Band Wi-Fi | Bluetooth 4.1
  • USB 3.0 | HDMI | Thunderbolt 3
  • Windows 10 Home (64-Bit)
Post Date: 5/10/2017 7:09:01 AM CT   Posted By: Sean
Through midnight tonight Eastern Time, B&H has the Lensbaby 50mm f/2.5 Sweet Spot Spark Lens (Canon & Nikon) available for $99.95 with free shipping. Regularly $199.95.
 
Product Highlights
 
  • Aperture Range: f/2.5 to f/22
  • Tilting Lens Body for Selective Focus
  • Multi-Coated Glass
  • Doublet Optical Design
  • Minimum Focusing Distance: 9"
Post Date: 5/10/2017 5:34:42 AM CT   Posted By: Sean
B&H has the Tokina 12-28mm f/4.0 AT-X Pro APS-C Lens available for $299.00 with free expedited shipping. Regularly $449.00.
 
Product Highlights
 
  • Fits Canon APS-C Cameras
  • 19-45mm Equivalency in 35mm Format
  • Aperture Range: f/4-22
  • Silent Drive-Module AF Motor
  • AF/MF Clutch Mechanism
  • Molded Glass Aspherical Lens Elements
  • Ultra-Low Dispersion Glass
Posted to: Canon News
Post Date: 5/10/2017 5:23:23 AM CT   Posted By: Sean

 
From the Canon Imaging Plaza YouTube Channel:
 
Introducing the first half of a tutorial series on filmmaking with Canon EOS (seen above).
 
LESSON 1 : Why shoot video?
LESSON 2 : How to craft a story
LESSON 3 : The importance of frame rate and resolution
LESSON 4 : How to expose for video
LESSON 5 : Camera Movement and stabilization
 
The second half of the Movie Tutorial series can be found here and includes:
 
LESSON 6 : The use of sound and music
LESSON 7 : Choosing lenses
LESSON 8 : Staying in focus
LESSON 9 : Editing video
LESSON 10 : Conclusion
Posted to: Canon News
Post Date: 5/10/2017 5:19:17 AM CT   Posted By: Sean
 Tuesday, May 9, 2017

 
From the Canon Australia YouTube Channel:
 
If we’re always looking for inspiration in the same places, we’re likely to come up with similar results. But what happens when you start finding ideas outside of your own art form - even outside of visuals altogether? Can our other senses be just as powerful sources of inspiration when it comes to creating unique images?
Posted to: Canon News
Post Date: 5/9/2017 2:48:54 PM CT   Posted By: Sean
Manfrotto has introduced a new series of bags – the Manhattan Collection – intended for mirrorless photographers "...who commute and need their essentials to be close at hand to survive the everyday urban life." [Manfrotto]
 
At its introduction, the Manhattan Collection consists of the following:
 
Manfrotto Lifestyle Manhattan Mover-50 Camera Backpack
 
  • Holds Mirrorless, 70-200 f/2.8, 4 Lenses
  • Padded 15.6" Laptop & 9.7" iPad Pockets
  • Top and Rear Access to Camera Gear
  • Padded Insert with Movable Dividers
  • Front & Side Pockets for Accessories
  • Front Pocket with Straps for Tripod
  • Padded Shoulder Straps with Connector
  • Top Handle, Trolley Strap, & Waist Belt
  • Rain Cover Included
Manfrotto Lifestyle Manhattan Speedy-10 Camera Messenger Bag
 
  • Holds Mirrorless, 3 Lenses, Accessories
  • Padded Compartment for 12" Laptop/iPad
  • Front Flap with Buckles and Top Zipper
  • Padded, Touch-Fastening Dividers
  • Front, Back, and Side Pockets
  • External Tripod Connection
  • Top Strap Handle
  • Adjustable, Padded Shoulder Strap
  • Durable, Water-Repellent Ballistic Nylon
  • Rain Cover Included
Manfrotto Lifestyle Manhattan Changer-20 3-Way Camera Bag
 
  • Holds Mirrorless, 70-200 f/2.8, 2 Lenses
  • Padded 15" Laptop & 9.7" iPad Pocket
  • Carry as Backpack, Shoulder Bag, or Tote
  • Zip Closure Top & Interior Dividers
  • Front, Back, & Side Pockets
  • External Tripod Connection
  • Dual Strap Handles, Shoulder Harness
  • Adjustable Shoulder Strap with Pad
  • Trolley Strap
  • Rain Cover Included
B&H has the Manfrotto Manhattan bags available for preorder.
Posted to: Sony News
Category: Manfrotto News
Post Date: 5/9/2017 11:18:49 AM CT   Posted By: Sean
Post Date: 5/9/2017 7:56:55 AM CT   Posted By: Bryan
From Nikon:
 
Changes from “C” Firmware Version 1.01 to 1.02:
 
Fixed the following issues:
 
  • The camera would stop responding if the multi selector was pressed right with Add items > CUSTOM SETTING MENU > c Timers/AE lock selected in MY MENU.
  • The shutter would sometimes not be released in response to live view touch shutter controls if autofocus was used with an SB-800 flash unit attached.
  • Optimal exposure would sometimes not be achieved in photographs taken during live view with lenses that support both autofocus and electronic aperture control (type E lenses).
  • If image review was enabled during viewfinder photography, the camera would sometimes display shooting information in place of the most recent picture when the user removed their eye from the viewfinder after shooting.
  • The camera would sometimes fail to store the option selected for a Autofocus > a3 Built-in AF-assist illuminator in the CUSTOM SETTING MENU after the mode dial was rotated to another setting.
Note: Once this firmware is installed, the Windows edition of Camera Control Pro 2 versions 2.22.0 and earlier will no longer be able to detect the camera. Upgrade to version 2.23.0 or later.
 
Download: Nikon D5500 Firmware v.1.02
Posted to: Nikon News
Post Date: 5/9/2017 7:19:08 AM CT   Posted By: Sean
Through midnight tonight Eastern Time, B&H has the Apple 9.7" iPad Pro (32GB, Wi-Fi + 4G LTE, Gold) available for $529.95 with free shipping. Regularly $729.95.
 
Product Highlights
 
  • 9.7" Multi-Touch Retina Display
  • 2048 x 1536 Screen Resolution (264 ppi)
  • Apple A9X 64-bit SoC with M9 Coprocessor
  • 4G LTE, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2
  • Front 5MP FaceTime HD Camera
  • Rear 12MP iSight Camera
  • Four-Speaker Audio Design
  • Night Shift, True Tone Display
  • Lightning Connector, Smart Connector
  • iOS 9.3
Post Date: 5/9/2017 7:16:53 AM CT   Posted By: Sean
From Canon UK:
 
Firmware Version 1.0.1 incorporates the following fixes:
 
  • Corrects a phenomenon in which, when the playback grid is set to "6x4", and a vertical image is displayed, or a horizontal image is rotated to be displayed vertically, the grid does not display correctly.
  • In languages other than Japanese, the phrase "no. of shots" has been corrected to "value" in the "Time-lapse movie settings > Interval/Shots" setting screen.
Firmware Version 1.0.1 is for cameras with firmware up to Version 1.0.0. If the camera's firmware is already Version 1.0.1, it is not necessary to update the firmware.
 
Download: Canon EOS M5 Firmware v1.0.1
Posted to: Canon News
Post Date: 5/9/2017 7:10:29 AM CT   Posted By: Sean
 Monday, May 8, 2017
With a feature set tailor-made for general purpose use, it's no wonder that there are several Canon-mount 24-105mm lenses available for your consideration. But with so many options available, it can be confusing when trying to determine which 24-105mm zoom lens is the best choice for your particular needs. And considering that most of these lenses share a majority of significant specifications, including focal length range (FLR), max aperture (except for one), and built-in stabilization, it's easy to see why singling out the right lens could be a challenging endeavor.
 
With that in mind, let's dig into the differences between these very popular lenses to see which one might make the best addition to your kit.
 
Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM Lens
 
Announced in August 2016, the Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM is the newest lens in this comparison. As such, you may expect this lens to outperform the rest of the pack in just about every measureable way, having benefitted from the latest and greatest technological advancements. However, this lens' superiority is not so clear-cut.
 
From a sharpness perspective, the 24-105L IS II is very similar to its predecessor, a lens that was released 11 years prior to version II's introduction.
 
While that may sound a bit disappointing, keep in mind that the 24-104L IS USM was no slouch when it came to sharpness and version II brought forth other advancements – leading to reduced vignetting, distortion and flare – which adds up to an overall better image quality. IQ aside, version II also benefitted from build quality and design refinements as well as an upgraded Image Stabilization system capable of 4-stops of compensation (compared to version I's 3-stops). The 24-105L IS II is weather sealed, making it a great option for those who intend on photographing in inclement weather.
 
In other words, the Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM may not be significantly better than its predecessor, but with all things considered, it is indeed better. And considering that it debuted sporting an only slightly higher price than its predecessor, this lens provides an excellent standard (from performance and value standpoints) by which all other lenses in this category can be compared.
 
Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Lens
 
Released in 2005, the Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM was the default full frame kit lens for more than a decade. As such, there are likely more 24-105Ls in the marketplace than any other L-series lens. Its versatility, reasonable price (especially if purchased via a white box sale) and solid performance made this an ideal general purpose lens for many photographers.
 
As mentioned above, the original 24-105L competes quite well from a sharpness perspective in regards to its predecessor. However, it does show more vignetting, distortion and flare compared to the same lens. Of course the 24-105L features a more classic design, but a more significant difference between it and its predecessor, as noted, is its 3-stop IS system compared to version II's upgraded 4-stop IS system. Like its successor, the 24-105L is also weather sealed (though a front filter is required for optimal sealing).
 
With version II becoming more widely available, though, you can expect the original version of the lens to be phased out in the not-so-distant future. This lens represents an excellent deal – especially when white box and grey market versions are considered – while it remains available.
 
Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens
 
Announced in 2013, the 24-105 Art lens became Sigma's first stabilized full-format general purpose zoom lens. With a sleek design, high build quality, good image quality and a reasonable price, the 24-105 Art epitomizes the hallmarks of Sigma's Global Vision series of lenses.
 
With major features like focal length range, maximum aperture and built-in stabilization similar to the Canon L-series lenses, the Sigma represents an excellent value relative to its peers.
 
Compared to the 24-105 L II, the Sigma is slightly heavier, similar in size and lower priced. The Sigma has a higher MM (0.30x vs 0.24) to its advantage.
 
In the image quality comparison between the Art-series lens and the 24-105L II, we see the Sigma turning in slightly sharper results at the wide end, the two being very similar over most of the focal length range and the Canon taking the advantage at the long end. At 24mm, the Sigma has less CA and slightly more barrel distortion. The Sigma has slightly more vignetting at 24mm and modestly more at the long end. The Sigma is slightly more prone to flare.
 
We were pleased to find the Sigma 24-105 Art's AF performance to be quite good (often an issue with third-party lenses). It's not as fast as the Canon L-series lenses, but AF accuracy proved to be – for the most part – reliable in One Shot and AI Servo mode.
 
One drawback of the Sigma 24-105 Art – a lack of weather sealing – means that those photographers intending on photographing in adverse weather conditions may be better served by one of the Canon L-series options.
 
Canon EF 24-105mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM Lens
 
The Canon EF 24-105mm IS STM lens was announced in 2014 and, being a full-frame compatible lens with STM, foreshadowed the introduction Dual Pixel AF in Canon's future full-frame camera lineup (although it would be another 16 months before the EOS-1D X Mark II was announced).
 
Without the Luxury branding of a red ring around the end of the lens, it would be reasonable to expect the 24-105 IS STM to feature a lower build quality, inferior image quality and a lower price. In this case, however, only two out of three expectations would come to turn out to be definitively accurate.
 
The 24-105 IS STM indeed features a lower build quality and a lower price tag compared to its red-ringed counterparts, but... it performs competitively in regards to sharpness, vignetting, distortion and flare. Depending on which focal length and aperture you choose in the comparison between the 24-105 IS STM and 24-105L IS II, either could be slightly better than the other. As such, image quality alone should not be considered a primary differentiating factor.
 
Comparing the lenses further, the STM has less CA at 24mm and has slightly less pincushion distortion at mid and long focal lengths compared to the 24-105L IS II. The L lens has a wider aperture over the 42-105mm range, but the STM has a 1/3 stop advantage for a few mms (24-27mm) and has a higher MM (0.30x vs 0.24). The 24-105 IS STM is not a weather sealed lens and does not have a focus distance window.
 
Now would be a good time to address the elephant in the room – the 24-105 IS STM's variable max aperture with a 1-stop narrower max aperture (from 67-105mm) compared to the rest of the lenses mentioned above. This means that you'll need twice as much light using the same ISO and shutter speed with the 24-105 IS STM compared to using one of the f/4 max aperture lenses above (or to put it another way, you'll need a shutter speed twice as long or a 1-stop higher ISO to achieve the same exposure). The 1-stop narrower aperture can be especially detrimental if photographing in dimly-lit conditions.
 
On the plus side, the 24-105 IS STM includes Canon's stepping motor-driven AF system which allows for smooth and nearly silent autofocusing in video mode, a valuable feature for DSLR filmmakers.
 
Size and Weight
 
As is evident by the image atop this post, the Canon 24-105L IS II is the longest lens in this comparison, the Sigma 24-105 Art is the widest and the 24-105 IS STM is the shortest. Indiscernible by the picture, the Sigma Art lens is also the heaviest.
 
ModelWeightDimensions w/o HoodFilterYear 
Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM Lens28.1 oz(795g)3.3 x 4.6"(83.5 x 118mm)77mm2016
Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM Lens23.7 oz(670g)3.3 x 4.2"(83.5 x 107mm)77mm2005
Canon EF 24-105mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM Lens18.5 oz(525g)3.3 x 4.1"(83.4 x 104mm)77mm2014
Sigma 24-105mm f/4.0 DG OS HSM Art Lens31.2 oz(885g)3.5 x 4.3"(88.6 x 109.4mm)82mm2013

Summary
 
While there are minor differences, as reiterated throughout this comparison, image quality is not likely a determining factor when deciding among these lenses. As such, other factors – such as max aperture, image stabilization performance, weather sealing and price – become more prominent factors.
 
With all things considered, most will find the Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM to be the best fit for their needs as long as the budget stretches to its (very reasonable) price tag. If the budget is limited, the Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM and Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG HSM Art remain very solid options, with the Canon lens being our preference thanks to its weather sealed design. On the other hand, if DSLR filmmaking is a high priority, the Canon EF 24-105mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM will likely be the best choice, forgoing the f/4 constant maximum aperture in favor of a smooth and quiet AF system.
Posted to: Canon News
Post Date: 5/8/2017 8:51:00 AM CT   Posted By: Sean
Just posted: Venus Optics Laowa 12mm f/2.8 Zero-D Lens Review.
 
This is a great little option to keep in the bag.
 
Get the Venus Optics Laowa 12mm f/2.8 Zero-D Lens at B&H | Amazon | Adorama. Note that this lens has been difficult to keep in stock. Simply place your order to reserve your place in line.
Post Date: 5/8/2017 8:00:02 AM CT   Posted By: Bryan
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