Saturday, 18 December 2010

Canon Pixma MP6150 Printer/Scanner/Copier Review

At a recent event at Canon UK I was one of the winners of the Canon Pixma MP 6150 printers. The wireless capability is great meaning that it can be located away from my PC which makes far better use of space in my home office.

I have not had an inkjet printer for many years and am using laser printer currently for all my documents but am very impressed with the quality of the prints from the Canon 6150.

Friday, 1 October 2010

Canon 550D Birdwatching Video - Huge Zoom Ability

The 550D has an amazing feature for video - much the same as cropping for stills - but it allows you to be getting the equivalent to around a 4500mm (!!!) lens for SD (not HD) video but I guess it may appear on one of the next pro spec cameras too. Basically it crops the video to give 7x magnification but still deliver 640x480 resolution

On 550D, the 70-200 lens is equivalent to 112-320 due to the crop, then with 2x teleconverter it goes 224-640mm, with the 7x magnification that makes it 4480mm. I'll be putting some samples on YouTube once I've edited them but quite stunning zoom capability.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

New Canon Camera Rumours - Will there be a Canon 5D Mark III announced?

Apparently Canon are announcing details of new cameras on Thursday 26 August. Sony and Nikon have also revealed details of their new cameras over the last week so will Canon announce a Canon 5D Mark III to replace the Canon 5D Mark 2?

How could Canon improve the 5D Mark II? A tilting screen as suggested for the Canon 60D rumours could be one possibility. For video I think the ability to shoot 720p video as well as 1080p would be great as often the highest resolution isn't needed. The ability to crop image for video as per the Canon 550D would also be good.

The original Canon 5D was announced in August 2005, will Canon announce its successor 5 years on?

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Differences between Canon 5D Mark 2 and Canon 550D

Having now had the Canon 550D and Canon 5D Mark II for several months I thought it appropriate to be able to give a comparison between them.

Apart from the worse high ISO performance on the Canon 550D the main frustration is selecting the video mode. Considering the Canon 5D2 was the first Canon to feature video recording they have actually made a far better job of the feature than on the 550D. It is very frustrating to have to turn the selection dial all the way to video when switching between taking stills and video. At least on the Canon 5DII all you need to do is press the Live View button to move into recording mode which is far quicker and simpler.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Photobox iPhone App -Photobox2Go

Photobox say 'A very good app and one that if you're a keen photographer or just love photos I would highly recommend'

I've now loaded it on my iPhone and will give my verdict shortly

Monday, 5 July 2010

Canon Lens repairs

After an unfortunate incident a few weeks ago where some of my cameras dropped out of a bag and down some stairs  I needed to get one of my Canon lenses repaired. Luckily only one lens was seriously damaged - the Canon 5D and 5DII were both intact after the fall along with the 70-200 IS lens. The 17-40 L was less fortunate and needed a repair to the rear mount.

I can highly recommend Miles Whitehead camera repairs in Kent. Miles did a great job replacing the mount that had broken internal lugs. The lens is now good as new and safely stored in a new kit bag!!

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Lightroom Version 3 Improved Performance

I've recently purchased the upgrade to Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 and have been extremely impressed by the performance improvements. On Lightroom 2.7 my catalog with 85,000 photos was very slow to open and even slower to find/filter images even on a PC running Windows Vista 64 with quad core processor and 8Gb of Ram.

Lightroom 3 resolves this and is almost instant to filter photos to various slice and dice criteria.

Friday, 25 June 2010

Photos of Billy Elliot by Stage Theatre Society (STS) at Hazlitt Theatre Maidstone Kent

Photos of Billy Elliot performed by Stage Theatre Society (STS) at Hazlitt Theatre Maidstone Kent

The show received rave reviews - one here
A few quotes from Doug:
"On to Electricity, Fantastic singing and incredible dancing that I have only ever seen once before and that was in the West End, this earned Billy a well deserved Standing Ovation which you could see from his face he was loving every minute of it, and it did last that long.
The finale was Brilliant with all cast getting cheers and applause and more standing ovations for Billy and the whole Cast.
A big well done to the Director,Crew,choreographers and everyone else involved, Great Show, cant Wait for the next one."

Photos of the show will be available at the cast party.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

New Kia Sportage Spy Shots during testing

I've finally managed to track down the vehicle that I spotted last year being road tested in Kent. It turns out to be photos of the new Kia Sportage, these shots were taken in Aug 2009

More info here

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Why are Canon DSLRs (Canon 5D/550D/7D) Limited to Shooting 29 minutes Video?

Many people have asked why Canon DSLRs such as the Canon 5D/550D/7D are limited to only shooting up to 29 minutes of video (HD video is limited to approx 12 minutes or 4Gb)

I understand that this is due to the tax & duty rules within Europe. If a device can shoot more than 29 minutes of video then it is classed as a video recorder and attracts an additional rate of duty. Still camera are not subject to this duty so we are able to buy the DSLR camera that shoots video at a cheaper price due to this limitation.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Canon 550D HD 1080p Video Samples

This is a video I shot on the Canon 550D SLR camera. Converted to AVI using Cineform and then edited in Windows MovieMaker before uploading to YouTube

Tanglefoot Appalachian Dancers at Rochester Sweeps festival 2010

Friday, 7 May 2010

New Model photos

Fantastic shoot today with new model Lucy. Got some stunning shots that are in the gallery, definitely someone to watch for in the future as she has potential to go far!

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Digital Photo Professional (DPP) Version 3.80 (Canon 550D/Canon T2i)

I've been a long time user of Digital Photo Professional (DPP) as a very easy method to allow me to select and edit which photos I've wanted to use from shoots. The one thing missing that I've always needed to use another editor like Lightroom or Photoshop for has been for cropping images at angles.

Digital Photo Professional will allow you to crop images parallel to the existing image borders. Now with the new version 3.8 that supports the Canon 550D/T2i Digital Photo Professional will allow you to crop images and rotate for the crop - fantastic and just what I need for my workflow!

Digital Photo Professional (DPP)  is a very underrated and under utilised tool that Canon provide for FREE with all their DSLR cameras. I highly rate it and recommend anyone interested in a high throughput workflow to try it out.

Canon 550D/T2i High ISO Performance for Video

I've been testing my Canon 550D/T2i with video shot at high ISO and the news isn't great. The Auto ISO function on the camera works excellently to increase the ISO as light falls to maintain the exposure but the high ISO performance falls well below that from the full frame cameras.

I guess it was to be expected that as the Canon 5DII high ISO performance is so good that a crop sensor camera would have difficulty coming close but I was surprised how poor the image quality was at ISO 6400. The realistic maximum ISO that I would recommend using for HD video is 1600 to ensure that the image quality is good enough. If you need to shoot at high ISO than this I would suggest using the Canon 5D Mark2 as that provides good quality up to ISO 6400.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Canon 550D / T2i DSLR Video review - Video crop mode

I received my new Canon 550D from Warehouse Express three days ago and had a brief chance to test it over the weekend. The video is much more streamlined and integrated into the camera than on the Canon 5D2 but from an initial test I saw something that I've not seen in any of the Canon 5D movies - NOISE! Admittedly the camera is was on Auto ISO mode so the ISO had crept up to 3200.

The inclusion of different frame rates (now available on Canon 5DII with latest firmware) and the ability to shoot at 720p at 50/60fps (NOT available on Canon 5DII with latest firmware) is very useful and will allow slow motion effect video.

One feature that doesn't seem to have had much press but looks to me like it could be a very handy option for some uses of the camera is the VGA crop mode. This takes a centre portion of the image and crops it to 640x480 for producing the video rather than using the whole image and "binning" some pixels. The effect is to give an additional 7x zoom.

Click to view Canon 550D/T2i video example of VGA crop mode

Effectively this means that if you are shooting with the 70-200 f2.8 IS lens you are being given a massive boost to the zoom for shooting video. On the Canon 550D/T2i the lens has a crop factor of 1.6 so the effective focal length is 320mm already. With the crop mode in operation the effect will be to make the focal length the equivalent of 2240mm!!!

Imagine how useful this could be for wildlife or motorsports photographers/videographers or for paparazzi shooting from a long distance. I'll shortly add some clips showing how this works

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

"House" finale shot entirely on Canon 5D Mark2

It has been reported that the season finale of the popular TV show House, which will air on May 17th, was filmed entirely with the Canon 5D Mark II. cinema5D overheard the plan last month and Greg Yaitanes, the director of the show, has confirmed it through a tweet in which he made himself open to questions.

Monday, 12 April 2010

Canon 5DII Mark2 firmware 2.0.4 - Sound syncing problem with Neoscene Cineform 1.3

I upgraded to Canon 5D2 firmware 2.0.4 yesterday and shot some promo video for the musical Billy Elliot being performed by Stage Theatre Society. The new settings on the Canon 5D Mark2 now only allow a maximum frame rate of 25fps with PAL video - previously this was fixed at 30fps.

When I came to edit the video having converted the MOV files to AVI using Neoscene I found that the sound and video were no longer in sync with the sound continuing after the video had stopped. Having checked the Neoscene log it appears that the sound and video are converted to 30fps.

To resolve the problem I checked the Neoscene website and downloaded the latest version 1.6.0 build 140. Having installed this the problem appears to be resolved and the video and sound are now in sync for converted movies.

So if you are having problems with the sound syncronisation on the Canon 5D2, Canon 7D or Canon 550D when using Cineform Neo Scene then check the version and upgrade to the latest one

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Canon 5D Mark2 Firmware 2.0.4 update

Canon have now released an updated firmware 2.0.4 for the Canon 5D mark2 DSLR that includes new video features like 24 fps and adjustable audio levels.

Canon 550D Cashback deals - Spring 2010 offers

Canon are offering a cash back promotion on the Canon 550D camera to get a cash back of £50 along with the Canon 500D and 50D.

This brings the best UK prices down to under £600 now which is barely above the price from Hong Kong on Ebay and without the additional customs duty. I've taken the plunge and my Canon 550D is due for delivery this week so watch this space for a review of the video functions.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Canon 550D compared to Canon 500D for video

The recently released Canon 550D has a number of very important differences to the previous Canon 500D SLR for use for video work.

The main differences are the frame rates that it supports and that the Canon 550D now allows the use of an external microphone. The Canon 550D can shoot video at full HD 1080p at the same frame rates as the rest of the Canon lineup - whereas the Canon 500D could only shoot 1080p video at 20 frames per second. This was quite a limiting factor for the camera.

Overall despite the quite large price difference between the Canon 550D and 500D I would recommend the 550D as the preferred option for video work as it overcomes the crippled feature set of the Canon 500D.

Friday, 2 April 2010

Differences comparison between DSLR Video and Camcorders

Which magazine have this month reviewed digital SLR cameras. One comment made in the article states "we've yet to see a DSLR that can match the video quality of a dedicated digital camcorder"

Are Which really expecting us to believe the quality of the Canon 5D2 camera is worse than a camcorder?
To do a comparions/review of DSLRs and HD/camcorders I've listed some of the advantages of each and hopefully will give a good understanding of why I believe DSLR video is the best quality option.

If however you are looking for ease of use and extended recording rather than absolute quality, low light use and creative options then a normal or HD camcorder could be your best option. For most other uses a DSLR would be a superior choice in my view.

Plus points for camcorders

  • DSLR shooting is time limited to around 12 or 18 mins per clip. Camcorder limited to tape length, normally 90 mins. [very few videos require shots much longer than 18 mins]
  • DSLR autofocus is limited and slow
  • DSLR controls are more fiddly to use than camcorder although more recent DSLR are better
Plus for DSLR
  • Huge range & quality of interchangeable lenses available - camcorder has fixed lens
  • DSLR is far better at low light shots due to the size of the sensor
  • Manual control on DSLR allows complete creative control over shooting settings
  • Image quality is comparable with top end film making gear costing 20x as much
  • Easy manual control over zoom and focus
  • Variety of quality/size options eg 24, 25,30,50,60 frames per second, 640, 720p/1080p
  • Can shoot high quality stills on the same device - only one camera needed not camera & camcorder
  • Less likely to miss a video moment when out with camera

Canon say "The EOS 550D combines exceptional still shooting with the ability to shoot Full HD (1080p) video. To satisfy your creativity the EOS 550D features full manual control and selectable frame rates. You can also shoot high speed 50/60fps movies at 720P for when the action is really fast. An HDMI connection allows High Definition playback of footage and images on any HDTV. Also with compatible TVs playback can be controlled using the TV’s remote control."

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

More video shot on the Canon 5d Mark2 DSLR camera

This was shot with my nephew showing off his Christmas present of a Mentos rocket! The video was edited using Windows Movie Maker having converted the MOV to AVI using Neoscene

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Lightroom 3 Beta - Now supports video file management

Adobe Delivers Lightroom 3 Public Beta Update

Adobe today released an update to its Photoshop Lightroom 3 beta software, available immediately through Adobe Labs. Building on the success of the first Lightroom 3 beta, which was downloaded by more than 350,000 photographers, Lightroom 3 beta 2 incorporates feedback from the first iteration of the beta while offering users several new features and greatly improved performance throughout the application.

New features in this release include tethered shooting support for select Nikon and Canon cameras, the ability to import and manage video files from DSLR cameras for a streamlined workflow and additional behind-the-scenes architecture enhancements for faster importing and loading of images. The addition of luminance noise reduction to the color noise reduction options already available in the beta helps photographers achieve overall exceptional image quality from high ISO images. The import experience and watermarking functionality have also been modified to reflect feedback received from the Lightroom community during the first beta period.

The input from the photography community has been extremely valuable and Adobe would like to thank everyone who has participated in the beta program. Adobe encourages photographers to test this new selection of features and provide the product team with feedback so they can produce the highest quality final product.

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom
Adobe Lightroom is the essential digital photography workflow solution, helping serious amateur and professional photographers quickly import, manage, perfect and showcase all their images in one intuitive application.

Pricing and Availability
Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 beta 2 is available as a free download to anyone on a Macintosh or Windows platform and is available in 12 languages. Visit to learn more and download the second beta. Feedback can be submitted on the Lightroom forums:

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Video of Seussical by STS at Hazlitt Theatre Maidstone

The musical Seussical was performed by Stage Theatre Society. This video was shot on the Canon 5D2 DSLR camera using firmware 1.1.0

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Canon 5D Mark 2 Firmware 2.0.3 Update - 24/25fps Video

Canon announce new firmware 2.0.3 for Canon 5DII Camera which brings 24 and 25fps to the camera in addition to the original 30fps.

Unfortunately the one thing that the new firmware doesn't add is the ability to shoot at 720p at 50/60 fps as the Canon 7D can do. This would help to enable longer clips on a CF card and to shoot slow motion video and looks like it will only be possible using a Canon 7D, 1D4 or 550D now.
To celebrate the launch of the new firmware Canon commissioned Richard Walch to shoot an extreme sports movie using it.

Sunday, 28 February 2010

Latest Video shot on Canon 5D Mark2 - Over The Rainbow by Bekki Lowings

This is the classic song Somewhere Over The Rainbow from Wizard of Oz, performed by Bekki Lowings. This is one of the best versions of the song I have heard and in my view is better than the Eva Cassidy song.

Video shot on Canon 5D Mark2 with Canon 70-200 f2.8 L IS lens and external microphone connected. Video converted to AVI using Neoscene and then edited in Windows Movie Maker.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

DSLR Video Review - Is Which magazine correct?

Which magazine have this month reviewed digital SLR cameras. One comment made in the article states "we've yet to see a DSLR that can match the video quality of a dedicated digital camcorder"

Really? Are Which really expecting us to believe the quality of the Canon 5D2 is worse than a camcorder?  Try telling that to the film producers such as 24 that are using the Canon 5D Mark2 or the huge number of other film makers using the camera day in and day out. None of them would consider using a digital camcorder for these types of film project.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Using the Canon 5D2 for "24" - Shooting Driving Plates for 24

Shooting Driving Plates for 24

The Canon 5D2 is now being used for shooting the TV series 24. You can see more about their 
Shooting Driving Plates for 24 at the link below

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Interfit Strobies XS Review and Sample Images using Elemental beauty dish

Interfit Strobies Review and Sample Images from elemental beauty dish

The Interfit Strobies XS are adapters that work with flash guns such as the Canon 580EX and allow you to fit Bowens S-Type light modifiers such as softboxes, beauty dishes and snoots to your normal flash gun.

These are some sample photos taken with the Interfit Strobies and the Canon 580EX flashgun and the Elemental Beauty dish for Bowens studio lights
Photo taken with flash gun directly

Photo taken with Interfit Strobie and Beauty dish alone

Photo showing beauty dish attached to Strobie

Photo taken with Interfit Strobie and Beauty dish with grid

Close up shot taken with Interfit Strobie/Canon 580EX/Bowens fit Beauty dish

Canon 5D Mark 2 (mk II) Video Editing HDMI cables

Using the Canon 5D mark2 for video means you can produce movies at 1080p resolution. Normal DVD does not support this level of quality so unless you have a Blu-Ray player you will be unable to view your Canon 5D2 movies in their optimum resolution.

However there is a solution that doesn't involve the expense of getting a dedicated bluray player. You can use a Western Digital Media player (WD Player) connected to an external hard drive to play your movies on an HD TV at 1080p resolution. This does require an HDMI cable to get the best possible picture quality.

I have tested a cable purchased for £4.99 from Sainsburys and was amazed by the quality from such a cheap component when similar cables are available for up to £100 and more. Which magazine have today published a survey that shows exactly the same results for HDMI cables and recommend the cheaper cables as being the best option.

The quality from the Canon 5D2 video played at 1080p on a Sony HD TV is stunning and really shows the benefits of the large format sensor on the camera. Once Canon release the same control features as available on the Canon 7D then the camera will be an awesome piece of kit.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Wedding Photography Disasters

A story last year reminded me how important it is to choose your wedding photographer carefully and check their work. A couple sued their wedding photographer Gareth Bowers from Fresh Images over the poor quality of the photos of their wedding.

My comments appear on the Daily Mail website below the article but I've copied them here for reference

I was incredibly surprised that the main Professional organisations (SWPP, MPA, BIPP) have completely missed this huge opportunity for publicity - putting their chairman or spokesperson up for interview would have been a great PR excerise - yet there was NO mention anywhere about the benefits of qualifications. I think it shows how inwardly focussed they are rather than actually looking outside at what is going on.
The problem is he is (still) listed on the SWPP site although his web is down so virtually impossible for couples to know who is and who isn't qualified when it appears the SWPP are recommending him.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

New Canon DSLR Camera with full HD video - Canon 550D

Canon have released another DSLR camera with HD video. The Canon 550D builds on the features of the previous Canon cameras with video but at a much lower price point.

The Canon 550D uses an 18 megapixel APS-C size sensor and includes many of the video features from the Canon 7D which will make it a very interesting camera to use. Being able to shoot 24/25fps and 50/60fps as well will be a great creative boost especially as these variations are yet to come to the Canon 5D mark2.

Some of the key advantages of the Canon 550D over the 500D for shooting video are:
  • External microphone can be added (not on 500D)
  • Full HD at all frame rates (Canon 500D was limited to 20fps)
  • Full manual control of exposure
  • 1080p at up to 30fps
  • 720p at 50/60fps
  • Digic 4 processor 
Canon say "The EOS 550D combines exceptional still shooting with the ability to shoot Full HD (1080p) video. To satisfy your creativity the EOS 550D features full manual control and selectable frame rates. You can also shoot high speed 50/60fps movies at 720P for when the action is really fast. An HDMI connection allows High Definition playback of footage and images on any HDTV. Also with compatible TVs playback can be controlled using the TV’s remote control."

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Gear Query - What's in your bag?

I'm often asked which items of kit I use and thought it would be useful to list them along with why each piece of equipment is useful.

My main camera is the Canon 5D (Mark 1) which has 12 Megapixel resolution and a full frame sensor (same size as 35mm film unlike most digital sensors which are much smaller) I also use the Canon 5D Mark II camera but to a less extent as I don't need the 21Mp file size for most work. I do use the video capability on the Canon 5D Mark II which is excellent.

Canon 5D Mark I
Canon 5D Mark II
Canon 24-105mm f4 lens
Canon 70-200 f2.8 IS lens
Canon 580EX flash
Canon ST-E2 remote flash trigger

I generally use the Canon 24-105 lens on the 5D Mark I and the 70-200 on the Canon 5D Mark II. I normally also take the Canon 50 f1.4, Canon 85 f1.8 and Canon 100 f2.8 macro lenses with me for specific shots. The Canon 430EX flashgun is normally kept for backup purposes.

The Canon 35 f1.4 and Canon 17-40 f4 are probably my least used lenses.