Monday, November 3, 2014

Canon 7D MKII review

It's been a while since Canon updated their top of the line Crop Sensor DSLR the 7D, Thursday October 30, 2014, I received the latest version the 7D MKII. 

My first impression, solidly built body with the magnesium alloy body gives a good weight to the camera, not too heavy, but it feels to be able to withstand the pro use but at a consumer price (1899.00 Canadian body only).  Sets up easy but there are a number of additional functions not previously available on the original 7D.  I do have to thank Scott Kelby for some tips on setting up the Canon7D MKII, it saved a lot of time.

But in the end it all comes down to the pictures.  So this weekend we had the chance to shoot football minor league, now please note the 7D MKII is not only for football, with 65 cross hair Dual Layer AF points, and a 20.2 mp sensor and dual digic 6 processors this camera is able to handle anything you can throw at it.  Wedding Photographers Note here: the camera scene detect is able to ascertain flourescent lighting and adjust for flickering......

These were all taken with the 7D MKII at 1/1000 f3.5 ISO 640, using the A function under ISO letting the camera determine lighting with evaluative metering.  I selected cross hair single point for focus and was in high speed shutter mode.  Faces are sharp and absolutely amazing color even with the sun moving in and out of the clouds.  WB was set to auto as I wanted to see if the scene detect worked as well as it said.  It did and then some.

Now for an amazing feat let me grab an SOOC 16000 ISO image.
This is one of my my test pictures, from the night I picked up the camera, and, I am a photographer with a new toy like any one, started to play with it. this is f2.8 1/250 wb is auto (under fluorescent lighting the flicker detect came on) and ISO 16000.  Although a little blown out I didn't change the settings from when I shot this test shot except for ISO now 5000.
Wedding photographers take note 16000 ISO not 1600.  Now I do have to do some tweaking as I get to know the camera for custom settings but remember this is straight out of the box, there are a lot of functions to this camera and I have barely even scratched the surface with it.

First off make sure that you familiarize yourself with the functions there are a few more buttons but every button is programmable, I used the switch to change ISO instead of the default setting on top of the camera because now my thumb can adjust ISO by holding down the button and turning the dial on top of the camera.  Each to his/her own based on how you shoot.

So what else is new on this amazing camera, Dual layer AF for video, (Video will be posted later) 10fps with a large buffer, so no more waiting for the buffer to empty.  Time lapsed photography for you the landscape crew especially night shooting, the 7D MKII has an intervolometer for time lapsed photography.  Geotagging with the new GPS system built in, this is turned off by default.

But if that wasn't enough at all, the 7D MKII is native to 16000 ISO which expands to 52000 iso, This camera will be able to handle everything from sports to nature and everything in between.

Now just a caviat, for lightroom and Photoshop users, you will have to use the Canon Software located here to convert the Raw images until Adobe Camera updates to include the 7D MKII CR2 codec

I am also glad to see the new Digital Photo Professional from Canon is now 64 bit and works much faster.

I would suggest installing the disc first then downloading the October 27th version of EOS Utility 3 and DPP 4.1

Now let me get this out there before i get accused of anything, I do not nor have I ever worked for Canon or its distributors.  I am a photographer and enthusiast, have been shooting for over 30 years.

Over the next few days I will be providing some low light images (concerts) to compare against the 7D the predecessor to the 7D MKII.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Comparison - Raw Processors Pt 3

So far we have seen Adobe Lightroom 4, and Capture One Express 6. Both look very similar but there are some differences the separate them but one that puts them in the same category and that is price.  Well now we have the third contender, After Corel's Purchase of the Bibble 5 property, renaming it it now appears on the market as Aftershot Pro.  This is the lowest priced of the group.  So let's see if you get what you pay for or does it compare to the market share holder from Adobe.  I am going to say this many from the industry say Bibble 5 was the best raw processor around.

Well AfterShot Pro looks very similar to Lightroom and Capture One, although some differences in the design show up right away.  First the controls are on the right hand side, which feels more natural, secondly all of the features are available through tabs down the right side.  the left side has your catogues and different versions of the catalogue.  You will also notice that you can flag and rate your picture right on the main screen at the top.

In the tab to the left (3-2) you will see all the familiar tools that you need to get you to processing the image.  In a lot of cases you may not even have to leave the program to finsih your image.  You can flag in this section as well.  This is the color tab, but you can adjust curves, something those with PSE have been missing. do your color Correction, color balance and white balance.

You can also set yoour ICC profile for printing as well especially if your using a professional lab fro processing.

The one thing you will notice that each tab gives you the opporunity to turn features on and off on the spot.

At the bottom of the viewing screen (3-1), there you can toggle from full screen to normal view, there is also a slider to increase  the viewable picture size.


This is the Standard tab that opens as soon as you load pictures, you will notice that the Histogram is here as well and all of your basic adjustments, including sharpening.

One thing, you will notice  is the presets that come with the program are also right here as well you can download some from Corel free of charge with registration of the program.



The Detail tab (3-4) it has sharpening, and 2 different noise sections, raw noise adjustment, But there is also an added bonus here NOISE NINJA standard comes included with AfterShot as well as no need to download specific camera profiles for Noise Ninja, After Shot already has custom camera profiles built in.

Going down a little and you will notice that there is a section for lens correction when you open this section you can set your camera and specific lens.

You can ask the program to read the EXIF information to pull the information.

Chromatic Abheration is adjusted in to separate secitons and vignette adjustments can also be found here.

There is also mirror and invert in the last section.

Not a bad array of tools all on one tab.

The one thing to remember is that each tool has to be enabled to use it.


The Metadata Tab is exactly that and more. You can set your metadata, and also all of your key words can be set. Now as you go along the Keyword sets can be built as well to save time. All the Keyword sets are able to be modified and added to.

Again intuitive for use and all of the tabs are lined up for workflow to make work simple and straight forward.

The learning curve to start using this program is very small although the features are extensive and learning will continue, in order to learn all of the features.


3-6 is the output tab

This can be found on the left hand side the last tab under the library.

AfterShot Supports Batch output to various file types in 16bit and 8 bit formats as well as gallery setup and also printing formats for professional packakages as well .

Aftershot is like the others an asset management tool but is also a workflow tool and batch editor.

One other thing is Linux owners will be glad to hear this Corel kept support for linux and in this area Aftershot is the only raw processor of the 3 supporting linux in both 32 and 64 bit.

So after all is said and done and you figure all of what you have seen there are reasons to purchase any one of them.  In our last and final part of the comparison we will put them all together and the features and we will declare the winner (s).  When you are looking into a new software purchase you should always have a look and see what is out there, as you can see in this area there are very good products out there in all price ranges.

"I also paint, draw and I'm into film and photography as well, and the same thing applies to all of them. You're presenting this material to the general public and hoping that they're going to 'get' what you're doing. Some don't, some do. "
Paul Kane

PT1            PT2         PT3
Until Next time........

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Comparison -Raw Processors Pt. 2

In part 1, we looked at the price of all 3 pieces of software, and looked a little deeper into Adobe Lightroom4 beta and looked at the features that will help out photographer's.  It was also noted that there was not a lot of changes from Lightroom 3.  So now let's have a look at Phase One's Capture One Express 6.

Capture One Express 6

A little background on this one, as it is probably the least known but from one of the best known digital Photography in Pro Medium Format camera's. The Phase One 645DF with Digital Back  (up to an 80 mp sensor).  Wow pretty impressive, unfortunately it also comes with an impressive price ($22,995.00 cdn with a 39 mp digital Back at Vistek ).  So we know they make great camera's and equipment that supports some of the most famous names Hasselblad and Mamiya, but can they make good software.
One other thing the pro version of Capture One 6 is the same software used by it's cameras.

Now let's have a look.

Physically it looks similar to the others so what differences are there?

SO if we look at the right hand side above we see the library system used pretty straight forward, based on the system you used when saving them because it is the same system.  But there are a few things that jump up at you Capture One uses symbols for all of their tabs. This is not a bad thing, but it takes a little getting used to, but you will also notice there are symbols right above the Image window these are static so are there all the time, makes it easier to do quick adjustments like red eye, spots and cropping. And by right clicking on them you get your options.

The Image on the right is the second tab starts with your histogram but you only see sliders. This is something that takes a little getting used to and if you are hard of seeing the magnifying glass may be required. But the settings adjustment copy and reset and as well as other settings are located in teh bar at teh top of each section.  The histogram follows the cursor through out the iamge and you get exact RGB colour listed at the top of the image.  There is one constant symbol in all ofthe categories here and that is the A it stands for Auto and is pretty accruate when we tried it.  You will see process button at the bottom but this isn't the only tab so we won't yet.

You will notice the histogram stays with you in each tab, this tab on the right 1-4  is the color tab allows you to adjust your image colour exactly. Set your white balance then adjust the colour by moving the dot in the color balance circle.
The Tab above 1 - 3 is the crop tool and again the histogram stays with us but it also allows for rotation here as well.

This is the exposure tab 1 - 5 is pretty much how you would expect it to be but everythign is not as it would seem, Like LightRoom you see the histogram, and the sliders, tehy are all there. then next we have the levels with a histogram which for PS/PSE users is not exactly as it would seem there are adjustments at the 255 level and 0 levels and the mid level but you will notice there is another adjustment diamond at the top of the levels histogram, this can be adjusted as well causing the midtone top to adjust as well. and the same at Zero there are adjustments at the top and teh bottom and actually do more than the curves adjustment which is next. we have all seen this and is no surprise here.

Now there are 2 more sections here Clarity and Vignetting, Vignetting has 2 purposes to remove or to add and 3 types of Vignette, circular, eliptical on crop or circular on crop.
For Clarity use the slider to adjust micro-contrast. A positive value on the slider - plus contrast and a negative value - negative contrast

So far some pretty good tools nothing astronimical but so far not bad

In Image 1-6, is the Meta Data tab could be the most important tab in each of these program. The one thing I like about this one is that everything is right there, don't ahve to open andy new windows. All changes can be made and save and then copied to the clipboard and then readded to all of your images.

But this tab is also more in depth and includes GPS settngs, Getty image settings, IPTC settings and status. You can also star rate your image here as well as colour coding. So definitely moving towards pro use.

Sharpening and noise reduction are done in the Navigator tab which looks like the magnifying glass. you can also do spot removal and check focus.
this is something I like being right in the tab with out having to control + to bring in the iamge to 100% , another good feature.  Nothing major but you start adding up the little things.

Now believe me when I say, we are only scraping the surface on any of these progams.  But I wanted to give you an idea of the differnces.

Now to let you know Capture One Express 6 does import HD video and process it as well.
The Express version does not watermark, the pro version does.  Also teh exposure tab does only RGB on the levels and curves it does not allow for separate colour adjustments. So a couple of downfalls here.

But the price is still keeping it in the running but those missing adjustments may put it behind but we will look at the comparison of all products side by side in Part IV, Next we will look at Corel AfterShot Pro so check back for Part III

PT1  PT2  PT3

Until Next Time.....

“There is only you and your camera. The limitations in your photography are in yourself, for what we see is what we are.”- ERNST HAAS

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Raw Processors - Comparison

Over the Last 6 months, major players in Camera Raw file processing have all upped the game for processing raw files in one system.  Adobe Light Room 4 Beta (price N/a), Phase One - Capture One 6 Express ($129 US) and Pro ($399 US), and Corel AfterShot 4 (formerly Bibble5) ( 99.95 US or 79.95 US Upgrade) have all been released. I have been working with all 3 and over the next few posts will show you each and compare them side by side in tests that are real life.

I am for the record going to state that I am not associated with any of the above companies and am not being paid to endorse one company over another. I will also state that all of the product tested are the current versions and all products and copyrights are owned by their respective companies.

So where to start:

Lets start with price because of course that is always a determining factor

Light Room 4 from Adobe has no pricing but the current version of Lightroom, Lightroom 3 is $299  US.  This is one of the most expensive of the bunch, but from one of the most repsected companies in Photography

Capture One Express 6 - $129.99 US - Little known product from one of leaders in Professional Photography Phase One. I Expect this to be right up there in the race.

Capture One Pro 6 - $399 US - This is the big brother of Express 6 and is much more robust than the express version but is not being reviewed at this time.


Corel AfterShot 4 Pro - Regular Price 99.99 US /upgrade 79.99 US - Corel makes it's move with the Purchase of Bibble5 and rebranding it into it's After Shot product.

So if we base it strictly on Price Aftershot 4 Pro has a slight advantage in regular Pricing, but with the link at the top of the page it is far ahead of the others.  But that is not all that we use when going out to but a piece of software.  We will get into some of the nitty gritty and do side by sides or have a look at the features and looks that they all have and then set out to find out what sets them apart.
Lets see what they look like when you first open up.
Corel's After Shot Pro

Adobe LightRoom 4 Beta

Capture One Express 6

So If we look at them, they really look very similar.  So it's not obvious what the differences in the products really are.  So how big are the differences, you might be surprised.

Let's look at Adobe Lightroom  4 Beta - First Thing I found is the ability to personalize your version and now it no longer says Lightroom 4 it Says Ron Palmer Photography.  Different but nothing to pick a program over.  Lightroom 4 follows pretty much the same format as Light room 3 in the developing mode you get all the presets on the left and adjustments on the right.

I found the lens corrections to be very good and the program has most lenses available, although I did find that the third non-oem manufacturer was not included Tokina, not sure why but I am sure that the profiles are available, but again nice but not the big seller. It would be nice to have Tokina included. Remember the price is almost 200 more than any of the others.  Time to look at the features.

 This is the bar on the left hand side under the develop section.  This is nice all of your tools are located in one place.

Histogram, basic, Tone Curves, Split Toning, detail (sharpening) lens corrections, effects and Camera Calibration.

We will look at each of these tabs and see what all the hype is about.

But if your already using Lightroom 3 is it worth the upgrade?  We are still out with the jury at this point in the review.  But that may change or maybe give you something to think about, before you shell out money on something you have.

Now one thing when I set lightroom 4 beta up was that it automatically found my PSE9 and assumed this was the program that I wanted to use for detailed adjustments and work on my images.

You can select many different settings in the preferences, including presets as per camera serial number so if you have 2 of the same brand and model you can make presets for each camera, now we are talking a good feature.  I have learned over the years that even over the same brand and model of camera, each one has it's own image personality. Most of the default settings when youare first starting out are good and you may not even need to change any of them.

The Basic Tab in LR4 is slightly differnet all of the adjustments start at 0, and can be adjusted + or - 50.  One thing you will notice if you have catalogues built in LR3 or below, is that there will be an icon that will advise you that the picture is not to the new format and ask if you would like to update the image only or the hwhole Catalogue (this is Recommended).  You can also just import the images and the new version will be aplied automatically.

The new processing does improve the Shadow and highlight recovery, so much so you can adjust a dark area without blowing out another area.  With the sliders the adjustment is much more natural than using an adjustment brush but don't take my word for it try it. Some will miss the Recovery and fill light sliders which is what Shadow and Highlights replaces.  One change some will find confusing although it makes more sense is that blacks now slides to the the left to darken and to the right to lighten, which makes sense as the histogram has always been set up in those directions.

One of the big improvements is the ability of the Adjustments brush to make adjustments to specific areas of the image to adjust WB, NR and Moire removal.
PSE9 or 10 users will like the ability to have curves to adjust specific areas of the image something they didn't have with out LR. You can adjust RGB or each Red, Green, or Blue separately.

LR4 Beta has built in Effects for Vignetting and adding grain right in Raw Processing.  Another thing you will notice is the Camera Calibration section is very explicit and allows you to set for each camera.

Now there are a number of other features in LR4 Beta that will be of interest to many of you.  Book making with various templates and designs hooking up with Blurb for direct printing from LR4 Beta.  Not only for Blurb but also for printing to Adobe PDF as well.  Allowing you to publish your own e-books.

Something alot of professionals will like is soft proofing, which allows you to see only the colours that your printer can see, which then allows you see how the image will appear. It is also great for web publishers who can see exactly how their images will appear.

LR4 also has Saving to DNG which will allow for faster previews, but also those images you are not too worried about can be saved compressed saving much needed space when you are talking thousands of images.

You can also enable Black and white conversion with the click of a check box.  Making work flow much faster and you can see instantly.

Also in LR4 beta is the ability to do video as well and slide shows, some features as it is beta were a little sluggish or had issues with crashing. Unfortunately one of the downfalls of running beta software.  Adobe is continuously updating the LR4 release with all the feedback and when it is available I expect some of these issues will not be present.

One other area I did try and looks to be a lot smoother is the web section of the program, the web section allows you to create flash galleries and html pages for your websites.

I will provide a more complete review once the full Release is out sometimes in March or April this year.

So although it doesn't appear to be a big step up for some it may be just enough to make the jump from LR3, but enough to bypass the Phase One's Capture One Express 6 or Corel's AfterShot 4 Pro.  Check in our next post for Capture One Express 6 and in part 3 of 4 Corel's AfterShot 4 Pro and then our Final post for this comparison, will provide a comparison of features and help you decide which is best for you

PT1 PT2 PT3 PT4 (coming soon)

Until Next time.....

"I think a photography class should be a requirement in all educational programs because it makes you see the world rather than just look at it."  ~Author Unknown

Adobe and LightRoom are registered trademarks of Adobe Systems Incorporated, Corel and Aftershot are Registered Trademarks of Corel Corporation, Phase One and Capture One are Registered Trademarks of Phase One A/S.