Saturday, 21 February 2009

Canon EF 85mm F1.8 USM

I was holding out for the 85 F1.2L but I can't see the price of that coming down to around £1k for some time. Certainly not this year, if at all.

So, I took the plunge and went for the next best thing. And I can't say that I am disappointed. The build quality is excellent, looks and feels sturdy. It's quite heavy for its size but balances well on camera. The focus ring is a good size with little to no wobble, unlike the 50mm F1.4.

One slight iteration is aesthetic; I don't like the screw head that is visible at the top front of the barrel.

The MTF charts are impressive for this type of lens and the performance shows. Some slight CA fringing with bright subjects but that is expected. Distortion is acceptable. On a crop body it's certainly not a walkabout lens. more specialist because of its length.

The shallow depth of field is impressive at close distances. Keep yourself and your subject still to maintain the critical focal plane. Bokeh, well it's smooth!

Here are some images from my first test run all shot @ F1.8

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Greenwich Park

A walk around Greenwich Park in January when the trees are bare and people are keeping warm at home. The air isn't that clean either, what with all the London smog.

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Elinchrom Skyports - Faulty Lead supplied!

These remote radio triggers arrived on Friday along with the hotshoes from to connect to my 580EX and 430EX II speedlights.

I purchased the Universal Trigger set as well as an additional receiver.

After help from Lon @ FlashZebra (great help and support) I found out that the leads supplied by Elinchrom were faulty! I am using the 3.5mm to 3.5mm lead to connect the Skyport to the hotshoe.

I have sent an email to Elinchrom and also registered the products on their website. I'll let you know if they have been of any help.

Here is the result from a very simple test. The faulty lead was swapped over for each shot, receivers, hotshoes and flashes stayed in the same position.

I would have expected better QC from a Swiss company.

EDIT - After contacting (UK support for Elinchrom) I was able to get a replacement lead.

Subject Isolation

Do I need a better portrait lens than my EF 50 F1.4 or EF 100mm F2.8? Bokeh, is it pleasing enough and can I separate the subject enough from the background (subject isolation)? Do penguins' feet freeze? Does anything eat wasps and are polar bears lonely? Will we survive the credit crunch?

These and even more pressing questions keep us awake at night. Don't they?

Well, get the books based on a column in The Scientist and I can help you sleep better by answering the lens questions :-)

First of all, what are we talking about with regards to "Bokeh" and "Subject Isolation"? I don't know, I just sound like I know what I am talking about! :-)

Bokeh - Simply put is a term to describe the out of focus or blurred out background of an image, where the main subject is in sharp focus.

Subject Isolation - Is the result of "good bokeh" from a narrow depth of field.

The "EF 70-200 F2.8L IS" will work very well as a telephoto lens for portraits. I wanted to test these two primes that I own to see if I needed to get the EF 85 F1.8 (can't justify the £1,700 price tag on the EF 85 F1.2L).

You've probably deduced that I'm shooting on a Canon ;-)

So here they are. My conclusion is at the end of these images.

The camera is left at the same place at the end of the hallway. First I put the 50mm on the camera and take a series of shots with the deodorant can, I mean subject, at receding distances. I then put on the 100mm and take the same series of shots.

The 50mm F1.4 lens @F1.4

The 100mm F2.8 Macro lens @ F2.8

The 50mm would be great in a close environment, within 2 metres of the shooter as it would allow more of the subject into the frame. The 100mm would be better suited for medium length, over 2 metres distance.

Bokeh wise they both provide similar results in quality. The further away the subject the greater the DOF and so Subject Isolation, a function of Aperture, Subject Distance and Background Distance to the Subject, reduces.

Are they good enough then? They are but I don't want to be as close to the subject as the 50mm requires. I want the same Bokeh and Subject Isolation as the 50mm gives at close distance (the first image) but with a greater reach without being in the subjects face. The 100mm would not work in a close environment, say a small room but would be great outside.

So something in-between might work? ;-)

The Big Freeze - Literally!

The week starting the 2nd of February brought London to a "freezestill". I think "they" said that 1 in 5 people stayed at home. I suspect it may have been slightly more.

No buses, very limited overground and underground trains, closed schools and many other public and private companies and organisations closing early left everyone chilled out with nothing to do but build snowmen, ski and sledge and snow fight! Yippee!

I was thinking of having a BBQ in the snow to spite it all but, hmmm, over a foot of snow froze that idea! :-)

Wednesday, 11 February 2009


Welcome to my Photography Blog.

I have been into photography since the autumn of 2004 when I got my first digital SLR - the Canon EOS 300D.

Since 2004 I have self-taught myself by reading books and practising. I have experimented as much as I can so I can then take my understanding and apply it in the real world.

I have put this blog together as I have had a number of people ask for advice, techniques and tutorials etc so I thought why not put it on the internet :-)

I will also intersperse the blog with my "real world" photos so if you are looking specifically for "learning stuff" then search for "tutorial".

I'll sign off for now by saying that the most important thing about photography is to HAVE FUN!

My Website: