Latest Lovelies

I rarely capture photographs of the gear I use to capture photographs, but this year has seen some changes to my camera and lens rig.

These are two of my latest ‘lovelies’: a Canon EF 14mm f/2.8L II USM, which I purchased on 12/01/2017 to replace my long-serving Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM; and my much newer Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, which I purchased on 23/06/2017.

Latest Lovelies

Latest Lovelies

The Canon EOS 5D Mark IV is a substantial upgrade to my Canon EOS 5D Mark II, a 2008-vintage camera which I have been using since 2010. I will keep my 5D2, but the new 5D4 will be my main camera.

I am looking forward to taking advantage of the increased dynamic range and reduced high-ISO noise of this latest generation of full-frame Canon sensors.

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV Coming Soon

After running my Canon EOS 5D Mark II for over seven years, I have finally taken the plunge and ordered a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV.

I am looking forward to experiencing the significant feature additions and improvements the latest model offers over the substantially old (2008 model) Canon EOS 5D Mark II.

I am very keen to experiment with more low-light photography and take advantage of the low-light performance it offers.

While I rarely shoot beyond ISO 400, I have needed to shoot some images at ISO 3,200, and frankly on the Canon EOS 5D Mark II, ISO 3,200 is noisy.  The starfield images I shot in the African wilderness look great at small-to-medium sizes; but at much larger sizes the noise is very evident.  I am interested to see how the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV performs at the same ISO rating.

The in-built GPS receiver is a very appealing feature, as for years I have been recording the GPS coordinates of my shooting locations by using a smartphone app.  Now, the camera will do that automatically and embed the GPS coordinates within the metadata, which makes it fuss-free.

Being able to control the camera via Canon‘s app is also very appealing.  I have not yet checked whether my remote release (Canon TC-80N3) is compatible with the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, but either way, I may not need it.

This is a big upgrade for me, as I am generally not inclined to change cameras very often (this will be my fifth EOS camera in 17 years); but it is now time for me to take advantage of the technology available in current-generation cameras.

Whether this new camera will change the way I shoot, or whether it will provide my images with an obvious improvement in image quality is yet to be seen, but bring it on.

Canon EF 200mm f/2L IS USM Coming Soon

In my last post, I related my thoughts about buying a Canon EF 200mm f/2L IS USM to replace my Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM.

Today, I officially set the wheels in motion to achieve this objective.

After recently being in contact with the manager of the store from which I prefer to buy, I visited the store today and paid a deposit on the lens.

The good news is that Canon Australia has two in the warehouse, that mine has already been ordered by the retailer, and that it should be available to pick up this week.

Fantastic!

I am looking forward to exploiting the capabilities of this lens to the fullest, and it will bring my lens lineup to the state I desire: all primes in the widest apertures currently available.

Naturally, this means that my long-serving (over ten years now) and excellent Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM will be departing, but being in near-mint condition, I am sure it will very quickly find a new home and serve a new owner for years to come.

The Canon EF 200mm f/2L IS USM will be a very welcome addition to my super-telephoto lens lineup, joining its big brothers, the Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS USM and the Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS USM.

In terms of gear acquisition and de-acqusition, 2017 has been a rather dramatic year, with two new lenses purchased, three long-serving lenses sold, an entire collection of filters sold, and a new set of filters acquired.

I think it is time for a rest.

Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS USM – Almost

Last week I had an opportunity to purchase a second-hand Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS USM at a very cheap price.

The big 500 is a lens I have long wanted, and it is an ideal lens and focal length for wildlife photography.

I decided to have a look at it, and I spent a fair bit of time with it.

It works fine, but it is not in the greatest condition.

A portion of the AF switch had been snapped off, which exposed the inside of the barrel — at least, the section below the switch panel.  That was concerning to me, as water could easily ingress the barrel.

Also, the front rim was in quite bad shape. It had copped a lot of bumps into hard objects.

I was told that it belonged to a paparazzo who used it on a motorbike.

Clearly it had collided with poles, walls, cars, the bike itself and heaven knows what else.

Despite a few paint scratches, the hood was in great shape.  I would expect that if it had been used much, it would have been well and truly trashed; I suspect it did not spend much time on the lens.

Even for the very cheap price I was offered, it was a risky and uncomfortable situation, and the lens would need to be serviced by Canon to address the damage, which could have been an expensive exercise.

The lens was in good condition relative to how it had been used; but a condition not good enough for my comfort level.

I decided not to proceed.

The following day, I began to think about the Canon EF 200mm f/2L IS USM.  I tried that lens at PMA Australia in 2008 when it was new.  It is a stunning lens, and having recently shot a few times with the long-discontinued and rare Canon EF 200mm f/1.8L USM, I would be very happy with a fast (faster than f/2.8) 200mm lens.

When I conducted some critical analysis, the truth is that I do not need a 500mm lens, as I can already achieve the 560mm focal length at f/4 by attaching my Canon Extender EF 1.4x II to my Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS USM.

What the 500mm prime has in its favour is lighter weight (enormously beneficial when travelling: 3.87kg vs. 5.37kg), and a sharper, native focal length of 500mm.  Having said that, of the three longest focal lengths I had in Kenya, 400mm was used most, followed by 800mm and 560mm.

What I cannot currently achieve is  f/2) at 200mm.  It has been a dream of mine for a number of years to replace my Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM with a Canon EF 200mm f/2L IS USM, as not only would the latter give me a brighter aperture at the 200mm focal length and a stunningly sharp lens, but it would switch me to a 100% prime lens rig.  I am a fan of fast primes, and presently I only have one zoom — one of the finest zoom lenses Canon has produced, incidentally.

I have asked my regular supplier (who has always given me good deals) for a price on a Canon EF 200mm f/2L IS USM.  If I can land a good price, I might just finally do this, and turn another lens replacement dream into a reality.

Upward View of Barangaroo

On the day I bought my new Canon EF 14mm f/2.8L II lens, I had planned a shoot for that evening.

Just before Christmas, we were around the King Street and Barangaroo area, and it was the first time I had seen the new skyscrapers since development concluded.

Looking up, I spotted some interestiong compositions, looking towards the sky, with the sleek and sharp lines of the skyscrapers forming the contrasting subject.  I captured some quick reference shots with my phone’s camera.  It was a place to which I wanted to return at twilight, for a proper photoshoot.

On the evening of 12 January, 2017, I achieved what I set out to achieve.

This ultra-wide view of the new skyscrapers at Barangaroo is my first serious image captured with my new Canon EF 14mm f/2.8L II USM lens.

Barangaroo Towers at Twilight

Barangaroo Towers at Twilight

I had purchased the lens merely a few hours before I shot this scene, and after a nice dinner, we headed to Barangaroo, where I had planned to shoot some quirky architectural images during tblue hour.

I am pleased with both the lens, and the images I captured during this summer twilight at Sydney‘s newest entertainment precinct.

After shooting this image, I re-composed.

Here is a view along Mercantile Walk in Barangaroo, west of the Sydney CBD, showing the towering skycrapers which are now the tallest in Sydney.

Mercantile Walk

Mercantile Walk

This image was captured with the ultra-wide 14mm focal length, which depicts an expansive view from the ground to the sky.

As the night wore on, I captured my final view a little further north of my original location.

To the Sky

To the Sky

This series of images signals for me new photographic study, which I had wanted to commence quite some time ago, but never got around to doing due to life being, well, life.

A new lens purchase and a recent visit to an excellent photographic location was what it took to finally inspire me to embark upon a series of striking architectural images of Sydney‘s skyscrapers, using an ultra-wide lens and extremely quirky, distortion-laden angles.

I am looking forward to exploring this style of photography more, and my new lens has certainly provided some much-needed inspiration.

NiSi Filters: Initial Impressions

Today I picked up my new NiSi filters.

My filter kit now consists of:

  1. NiSi 150mm x 170mm Nano IR 1.2 (GND16/four-stop) soft graduated neutral-density filter;
  2. NiSi 150mm x 170mm Nano IR 0.9 (GND8/three-stop) reverse graduated neutral-density filter;
  3. NiSi 150mm x 150mm Nano IR 3.0 (ND1000/ten-stop) neutral-density filter; and
  4. NiSi filter holder for Canon EF 14mm f/2.8L II USM.

I just had a look at my new filters, and my initial observations are as follows:

  1. They are extremely high-quality glass filters.
  2. The filter holder for my Canon EF 14mm f/2.8L II USM is surprisingly large and heavy for its size.
  3. A 150mm filter is literally a handful; two hands are needed to safely mount and dismount filters this size.
  4. Extra care will be necessary when using them, as a drop could be disastrous.
  5. They take up considerable more room in the camera bag — particularly the filter holder.
  6. NiSi products are very nicely packaged.

The NiSi 150mm system is quite a change from my former Lee 100mm resin filters.

I am looking forward to using these.

Milson’s Point View

A view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge from Milson’s Point at twilight.

Milson's Point View

Milson’s Point View

This year I have decided to make more of an effort to get out and shoot regularly.

For this most recent weeknight shoot (my third of 2017), I decided to re-visit the Sydney Harbour Bridge, which I rarely photograph any more.

The last time I captured a serious image here was in 2005!

So, here it is: the iconic bridge for which Sydney is famous.