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Monday, December 31, 2012

Canon EOS-M and EOS-7D Software From Magic Lantern

Canon EOS-M mirrorless camera

The software 'geeks' at Magic Lantern has released two software updates! The first one is an Alpha release of Magic Lantern's EOS-7 D software. Before downloading any third party software, one must be aware of the following :

Downloading the software may void your Canon warranty and there is no guarantee from anyone. The responsibility rests solely with the user using the Magic Lantern software. 

Now that the caution and formality is out of the way, if you still want to proceed, click here to download the EOS-7D software.

The following features have been enabled since Alpha One :

  • Advanced Bracketing (HDR)
  • Intervalometer
  • Audio tags
  • Bit Rate manipulation
  • Modify card flush rate for higher bit rates
  • Modify GOP size (down to ALL-I or up to 100 for better details)
  • A lot of minor fixes

These are the key features of this Alpha version of the EOS-7 D firmware extension:

  • Audio meters while recording
  • Zebras
  • Focus peaking
  • Magic Zooom (via half-shutter, or focus ring)
  • Cropmarks, Ghost image
  • Spotmeter
  • False color
  • Histogram, Waveform
  • Vectorscope
  • Movie logging
  • Movie auto stop
  • Trap focus
  • LiveView settings (brightness, contrast…)
  • Level indicator
  • Image review tweaks (quick zoom)
  • and some debug functions

The second software release from Magic Lantern is the Alpha version of the EOS-M software. This is experimental software and may damage your camera and void your Canon warranty. However, if you still want to proceed, make sure you read all the posts from other people who have tried it before proceeding. Click here to download the experimental version of the EOS-M software from Magic Lantern.

You can also read the other posts from my Blog concerning the upcoming EOS-M firmware from Canon. Now that Magic Lantern has cracked the Firmware code for the EOS-7D, EOS-M and EOS-5D MK III, they will continue to release additional features for these cameras, thereby forcing Canon to keep up with them by releasing their Firmware updates more often or risk looking silly when a third party software maker overtakes the manufacturer with better features and functions for their cameras.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Canon Sells The Most DSLRs in 2012

The sales numbers are out for 2012. According to BCN, a company that tracks camera sales in Japan, Canon ranks top in DSLR sales, with a 28.6% market share, followed by Nikon 25%, Olympus 14.3%, Sony 13.3% and Panasonic at 11.3%, rounding out the fifth spot.

Canon's market share of high end DSLR cameras actually increased, with the phenomenal success of the EOS-5D MK III and EOS-1D X. I have picked the 5D MK III as the best value in full frame DSLR and the 1D X as the best camera on the market today. You can read the article on the sales figure and another translated article from Japan discussing the phenomenon of mirrorless camera sales.

You can read my review of the EOS-1D X and EOS-5D MK III cameras and see photo taken with both on my website - 

Canon Megapixel Camera Coming?

Canon EOS-3D Megapixel Camera?

The Canon EOS-1Ds MK III has been discontinued for some time now and the EOS-5D MK III is currently the camera with the highest pixel count (22.3 MP) in Canon's lineup. The Nikon D800 has a pixel count of 36.3 MP. For those who revel in this pixel arms race, Canon seems to be running a distant second.

There is word Canon already has test cameras in the field with a 40 MP sensor, possibly powered by dual Digic 6 processors. However, they seem to be in no hurry to introduce their own megapixel camera. Canon Inc. is a large and diversified company with many plants and suppliers all over Asia, especially China. The recent natural disasters in Japan and the continuing tit-for-tat responses between Japan and China over the disputed islands in the region will continue to dog Canon's ability to fully recover from the damages and delays it received in their manufacturing and engineering operations during the past couple of years.

This may partly explain why the delay in some of the long awaited announcements, like the EOS-7D MK II camera and the EF 200-400mm f/4L IS 1.4X lens. Nevertheless, Canon is still expected to release some new and exciting products in the first quarter of 2013 but the megapixel camera to replace the fabled EOS-1Ds MK III may still be in the distant future. Take a look at my earlier post discussing possible Canon's introduction at the beginning of the new year.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Wildlife Photography - Polar Bears, Lord of the Arctic

The Polar Bear (Ursus maritimus) is the largest living land carnivore, with adult males growing over 8 feet in length and can stand over 10 feet tall. The most well known of all bears, the polar bear is immediately recognized by its distinctive white color thick fur. The only unfurred parts of the body are the foot pads and the tip of its nose, which are black, revealing the dark color of the skin underneath the pelt. The neck of the polar bear is longer than in other species of bears, and the elongated head has small ears. Polar Bears have large strong limbs and huge forepaws which they use as paddles for swimming. The toes are not webbed, but are excellent for walking on snow as they bear non-retractable claws which dig into the snow like ice-picks. Polar Bears are solitary mammals throughout most of the year, with the exception of breeding pairs and family groups. Their main food source is ringed seals and bearded seals. The polar bears capture seals when they surface to breathe, or hunt them in their lairs, where young seals are hidden and fed.

The breeding season for Polar Bears are from late March to late May. Females nurse and care for their cubs for around 2.5 years and are available for mating only after the cubs are independent, about every three years. This means only a third of females can breed each season so there is fierce competition by the males to mate with the females, which may explain why males bears are so large in size. The largest recorded male bear was about 2,200 pounds. Polar Bears are found throughout the circumpolar Arctic on ice-covered waters, from Canada, to Norway, the state of Alaska in the United States, East Siberian, Laptev, and Kara Seas of Russia and Greenland (Denmark). The furthest south the polar bears are found all year round is James Bay in Canada, which is about the same latitude as London, England.

Polar Bears are governed and protected by an international accord reached between the five nations with polar bears - Canada, Norway, US, Russia and Denmark. These nations signed the ‘International Agreement on the Conservation of Polar Bears’, and agreed to prohibit unregulated hunting and to outlaw hunting from aircraft and icebreakers. The agreement also obliged each nation to protect polar bear denning sites and migration routes, as well as undertake and share information on polar bear research. However, the threats caused by climate change and loose hunting regulations are now the main concern, especially as the rate at which environmental changes could occur may be faster than the ability of the Polar Bears to adapt.

Going on a Polar Bear photo shoot can be an expensive undertaking because of the locations of their habitat. Hudson Bay in Canada and the Svalbard archipelago in the high Arctic are two relatively accessible locations because they have a few commercial tour operators taking photographers there. Temperatures can drop down to below -20 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on time time of year and if the wind is blowing, it will feel much colder. Having the proper clothing and photographic gear is a must for the traveler. The battery in most DSLR cameras will have shortened life cycle due to the extreme cold so having plenty of batteries are highly recommended. Sometimes, blowing wind and snow will also make having a clean lens almost impossible so a lens hood is an essential piece of gear to bring. Exposure compensations will have to be made according to the light and reflection of the snow condition.

I find the Canon EOS-1D X and EOS-1D MK IV bodies perfect for the job. A couple of high quality zoom and prime lens, like the EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II , EF 400mm f/4 DO IS II or EF 200-400mm f/4L Extender 1.4x lens will handle almost all the wildlife action. You can visit my equipment bag to see the gear I used and read the reviews of various equipment and see more polar bear photos on my website.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Canon Japan Publishes Windows 8 Compatibility Notice

Canon Japan has published a Windows 8 compatibility chart for their DSLR cameras and software. I am holding off upgrading my computers to Windows 8 but for those who already have this operating system, make sure you check the chart below. 

Windows 8 connection check result by Japanese version (32bit/64bit)

o : Connection possible
*When using the EOS Utility 2.12.0, you will need to download and install ". NET Framework 3.5". For more information, click here to read the translated version of the notice from Canon Japan.

x : This is non-compliant.

* 1 When using the EOS Utility 2.12.0, you will need to download and install ". NET Framework 3.5". In an environment where ". NET Framework 3.5" is not installed, EOS Utility We will not start.
* 2 To automatically start the EOS Utility 2.12.0, you must set up the Windows 8 "Auto-Play" feature. Set up information here.

Canon EOS-3D Megapixel Camera?

It's that time of the year again. 2013 is just around the corner and we are expecting Canon to introduce a few new lenses and cameras. Everyone knows Nikon has two cameras with much higher megapixels than Canon's current lineup and yet they have not responded.

So now the rumors have heated up again and the fabled EOS-3D story is upon us, again. This may be the new designation Canon will use when they are ready to introduced their megapixel camera, purported to have a sensor with 40 MP, in response to Nikon's D800. Take a look at my earlier post discussing possible Canon's new product introduction at the beginning of the new year.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS For $1,099

Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM lens

The Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM is one of my favorite lenses in the EF lineup. It is built to the highest quality in the "L" lens tradition. An excellent wildlife lens when used with either the EOS-1D full frame or EOS-7D cropped frame cameras. When I am shooting in good to decent light and want a light package, this is the lens I reach for.

The EF 70-300mm lens, with a list price of $1,599, can now be purchased through the Internet from a large camera store for $1,099 including free shipping in the United States. Take a look at my review of this excellent 'little" lens and hop on this great deal. 

Canon EOS-7D Camera For $1,199 Shipped

Canon EOS-7D DSLR camera with EF prime and zoom lenses

The Canon EOS-7D has been my pick as the best value in DSLR camera for 3 years running. Now large camera stores selling over the Internet are advertising the 7D (list price $1,599)  for $1,199 including shipping to the United States. This is an excellent value and another clear indication the EOS-7D MK II is on its way.

Take a look at my other post on the upcoming EOS-7D MK II. The new camera is expected to be announced the first quarter of 2013 and lists for about $2,000. Take a look at my review of the current model. I would not hesitate to buy the current 7D if one shoots primarily in good to moderate light. At the current price, it is an even better deal.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Canon Camera Story - 1933 To Present

The Canon Museum has put out a detailed history of the Canon Camera and the history behind the company and its products. It is rather interesting and there are many things about the company and their products that I do not know even though I have been a Canon user for almost 25 years. You can see the history of the Canon camera here.

The Versatile Canon EOS-M Camera Review

Canon EOS-M mirrorless cameras

The Canon EOS-M camera is a late entry to the world of mirrorless cameras and has been criticized for having a glacial AF speed and comes with no viewfinder. However, it makes up for its shortcomings by having the ability to utilize the entire line of EF prime, zoom and super telephoto lenses from Canon. This makes the compact camera's flexibility second to none.

Although Canon is late to introduce their mirrorless camera, they will not be bested in their next round of EOS-M introductions. Already there is talk of a new EOS-M with a superior viewfinder and firmware to address the shortcomings of the first editions. Take a look at my earlier posts of the EOS-M to get a better picture of how this camera is evolving. Also, TDP has put out a comprehensive review of the current camera. It's a bit long but worth a look.

Canon Integrated Lens For Compact APS-C Camera?

Canon Patent for 18-70mm f/2.8-6.0 lens

Egami, our Photography Blog friends in Japan has discovered another new Canon patent pending for an integrated 18-70mm f/2.8-6.0 lens corresponding to the image element in the APS-C equivalent of 1.6 times, and it seems to be an optical design that is suitable for an integrated digital camera lens, perhaps for a newer version of the PowerShot G1X in the future. You can read the translated article here on their Blog.

Self-interpretation and summary, Patent Documents

Patent Publication No. 2012-247758

  • Release Date 2012.12.13
  • Filing date 2011.5.31

Example 1

  • Zoom ratio 3.80
  • 35.12 - - 69.05mm f = 18.17 focal length
  • Fno 2.89 -. 4.58 - 5.94
  • Half angle of view ω = 33.37 - 20.87 - 11.14 °
  • 13.39 - - 13.60mm 11.97 image height
  • 89.56 - - 110.05mm 86.88 overall length of the lens
  • BF 0.36mm
  • 11 pictures in 9 groups lens configuration
  • 5 three aspherical surface
  • 4-group zoom positive negative positive
  • Rear Focus (Group 4)

Monday, December 24, 2012

Canon EOS-1D C Videos And Images

Canon EOS-1D C hybrid DSLR camera

The EOS-1D C is the first Canon hybrid DSLR to offer onboard 4K motion imaging and full HD motion imaging on CF cards. It comes with the compact EF mount lenses and facilitates 4K image origination in the tightest and most challenging environments. With onboard 4K recording at 24p or HD recording at a range of frame rates up to 60p, and Clean HD via HDMI, the EOS-1D C offers additional capabilities to filmmakers and TV production teams as well as specialty image acquisition applications.

Now Untitled Film Works have put out a video and images taken with the EOS-1D C hybrid camera. It is a very interesting article and you can read and see them on their website. The EOS-1D C can be preordered at a list price of $11,999. Delivery should start in early 2013.

Canon EOS-5D MK II Officially Discontinued

As expected, Canon Japan has announced the retirement of the EOS-5D MK II DSLR full frame camera. The recently introduced EOS-6D has basically replaced the MK II with so many new features and improvements. Click here for a review of the EOS-6D camera.

For those who still want a EOS-5D MK II, there are still some inventory left and can be bought for a very reasonable price. Also one can buy a refurbished MK II from the Canon USA Store. This is an excellent way to save some money and get equipment indistinguishable from new. I have bought refurbished equipment before and I am happy with them. Take a look at my post discussing refurbished equipment.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Canon Announcements in 2013

Canon EF line of primes, zooms and super telephoto lenses

With the New Year just around the corner, rumors are beginning to fly about the upcoming Canon's announcements for 2013. Although we are expecting a few cameras and lenses to be announced, like the long awaited, EOS-7D MK II and the EF 200-400mm f/4L IS 1.4X, word is the first lenses to be introduced may be the EF 35mm f/1.4L Series II and the EF 14-24mm f/2.8L.

The former is a replacement to the venerable EF 35mm Series I lens but the latter is Canon's chance to play catch up to Nikon's AF-S 14-24mm f/2.8G ED lens, which has received great review.  These are just heard-on-the-street chatter and the new year is not even here yet but suffice to say, 2013 will be another interesting year for new product announcements.

Canon EOS-60D To Be Replaced Soon?

Canon EOS-60D with EF 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS lens

Canon is expected to introduce at least one new consumer grade APS-C DSLR camera soon. Word is the EOS-60D's inventory level is getting interestingly low, perhaps by design. This is a good cropped frame camera and in the tradition of a long line of XXD camera through the last few years. Could the EOS-70D be the first new camera Canon is introducing after the New Year?

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Canon EOS-6D Tips And Tricks By Canon CPN

Canon EOS-6D with EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens

Canon Professional Network in Europe has put out a few useful and handy tips for the EOS-6D camera. The following topics are covered. Click on the Canon link to access the sections :

  • EOS 6D : ‘Control over HDMI’ for viewing images
  • EOS 6D : Live View & sharing with DLNA devices
  • EOS 6D : Using the camera's rechargeable backup battery
  • EOS 6D : Smartphone connection via WiFi
  • EOS 6D : Auto Update clock settings
  • EOS 6D : Maximising battery life using the built-in GPS
  • EOS 6D : Maintaining frame rates at high ISOs

Friday, December 21, 2012

Canon Inc. Wins Seven iF Product Design Awards

Canon Inc. announced today that a range of Canon products have been awarded prestigious product design awards from iF International Forum Design, GmbH, in Germany.

Established in 1953, iF Design Awards are recognized as one of the most prestigious awards within the field of design. Every year iF honors excellent design in three disciplines: product, communication and packaging design. For the 2013 iF Design Awards, seven Canon product designs received coveted iF Product Design Awards.

Within the Audio/Video category, awards went to the EOS-1D X digital SLR camera, the IXUS 500 HS/510 HS (PowerShot ELPH 520 HS/530 HS and IXY 3/1 in other regions) compact digital cameras, the Cinema EOS System of professional digital cinematography products, and the EOS M interchangeable-lens digital camera system. In the Computer category, the PIXMA PRO-1 (PIXUS PRO-1 in Japan) professional inkjet printer, the PIXMA MG6350/MG5450 (PIXMA MG6320/MG5420 and PIXUS MG6330/MG5430) inkjet all-in-one printers, and the i-SENSYS MF4890dw (imageCLASS MF4890dw and Satera MF4890dw) monochrome laser all-in-one printer were awarded.

I have been utilizing Canon cameras for almost 25 years and have picked three of their current DSLRs as the best value in their class. You can read about the products on my Blog and my reviews on them below :

EOS-1D X - Best high end, full frame DSLR camera.

EOS-5D MK III - Best pro-consumer, full frame DSLR camera.

EOS-7D - Best APS-C cropped frame DSLR camera.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Canon EF 35mm f/2 IS USM in stock

Canon EF 35mm f/2 IS USM

The Canon EF 35mm f/2 IS USM lens is available in small quantity at a large camera store selling over the Internet. The quantity is limited and you can take a look at the details of the lens on Canon USA's website.

Canon Super Telephotos With Macro Patents

Our friends at Egami, the Japanese Photography blog has discovered four new Canon patents, all with Diffractive Optics and Macros - EF 400mm f/4 DO Macro 1:1.4 ; EF 400mm f/4 DO Macro 2:1 ; EF 600mm f/4 DO Macro 1:1 ; EF 800mm f/4 DO Macro 1:1

It is important to point out a big optical and photographic company like Canon files tens of thousands of patents every year and they spend lots of money into research and development. However, most R&D do not result in a product that finally comes to market but it is interesting to see what some Canon researchers are up to.

You can visit my website to see what I am up to and what photo shoots I have planned for 2013.

Canon EF 400mm f/4 DO Macro 1:1.4

Canon EF 600mm f/4 DO Macro 1:1

Canon EF 800mm f/5.6 DO Macro 1:1

Canon EF 400mm f/4 Macro 2:1

Self-interpretation and summary, Patent Documents

Patent Publication No. 2012-242742
  • Release Date 2012.12.10
  • Filing date 2011.5.23

Example 1
  • Focal length f = 788.34mm
  • Fno. = 5.80
  • 2ω = 3.14 ° angle of view
  • Image height 21.64mm
  • 486.00mm length lens
  • BF 110.67mm
  • β = -1.02
  • (The second and third group is for the focus) consists of four groups of positive and negative polarity
  • (One side of the image, such as the most protective glass) x 17 lens elements in 12 groups composed
  • Maximum effective diameter 135.92mm
  • Two two-sided aspherical
  • DOE 1 surface
  • One fluorite
  • Three Super UD glass
  • One low-dispersion glass
Example 2
  • Focal length f = 400.00mm
  • Fno. = 4.12
  • 2ω = 6.20 ° angle of view
  • Image height 21.64mm
  • 300.00mm length lens
  • BF 55.00mm
  • β = -2
  • (For the second focus group 2,4) consists of four groups of positive and negative positive negative
  • (One side of the image, such as the most protective glass) x 19 lens elements in 12 groups composed
  • Maximum effective diameter 97.09mm
  • Five 5-sided aspherical
  • DOE 1 surface
  • Two fluorite
  • 1 UD glass sheet
  • One low-dispersion glass
Example 6
  • Focal length f = 585.00mm
  • Fno. = 4.12
  • 2ω = 4.24 ° angle of view
  • Image height 21.64mm
  • 350.00mm length lens
  • BF 55.00mm
  • β = -1
  • (For the second focus group 2,4,5) group configuration 6 positive negative positive positive negative
  • (One side of the image, such as the most protective glass) 22 sheets 13 groups lens configuration
  • Maximum effective diameter 142.00mm
  • Four four-sided aspherical
  • DOE 1 surface
  • Two fluorite
  • 1 UD glass sheet
Example 9
  • Focal length f = 390.99mm
  • Fno. = 4.12
  • 2ω = 6.34 ° angle of view
  • Image height 21.64mm
  • 256.40mm length lens
  • BF 62.35mm
  • β = -0.7
  • (For the second focus group 2,4) consists of four groups of positive and negative positive negative
  • (One side of the image, such as the most protective glass) x 16 elements in 12 groups lens configuration
  • Maximum effective diameter 94.90mm
  • Four four-sided aspherical
  • DOE 1 surface
  • 2 UD glass sheets
  • Two low-dispersion glass
  • Inner focusing formula
  • Easy to shorten the minimum focusing distance
  • AF is faster
  • Large variations in aberrations
  • Many aberrations occur at close range
Inner focusing high-performance formula
  • With a focus group of two or more
  • However, optimization of the parameter is mandatory
  • In the macro range of 0.5 times more difficult to correct aberrations
Diffractive optics
  • Shortening of the total length can be
  • Distance of the lens group becomes narrow, the range of movement of the focus group will be limited
Canon patent
  • Group before and after the group of positive and negative
  • Inner Focus (and the second group, one of the rear group)
  • By setting multiple focus groups, perform the division of sensitivity, the amount of movement
  • In short travel distance, is focused on the short-range

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II IS

Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM lens

The Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II lens has been out for a little while now and although it is an excellent lens I find it just a marginal improvement over the already very good EF 24-70mm f/2.8L Series I lens.

The list price is considerably higher than the lens it replaced but now the Series II lens is already discounted from its list price of $2,299 to $2,049. With the EF 24-70mm f/4L IS coming in early 2013, this lens will not sell too well without IS and its slightly 'slower' cousin with IS at a much more reasonable list price of $1,499 will give it plenty of competition.  This explains the discounts coming from a few large camera stores so soon.

The word is Canon has prototypes of this lens with IS being tested but they have no immediate plans to release it until maybe early 2014. This is not surprising because Canon has so many new lenses it plans to release in 2013 and the EF 24-70mm f/2.8L IS II will have to take a back seat for now.

Canon EOS-M with 22mm f/2 STM for $739 shipped

Canon EOS-M with 22mm f/2  STM lens

If you are still trying to decide which camera to buy for the holidays, now there is another temptation from the Canon EOS-M. This new mirrorless camera introduced a couple of months ago can utilize the entire range of Canon's EF lenses, making it as flexible as a regular DSLR camera but is much more compact and fits nicely in the pocket.

You can take a look at my other post on the review of the camera. I have also found a good deal from a national camera store selling over the Internet. The price including shipping within the United States is $739 for the Canon EOS-M with the EF 22mm f/2 STM lens.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Canon Rebel T4i with 18-55mm kit for $649

Canon Rebel T4i with 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS lens

If you are tried of the limitations of point and shoot cameras and want to move up to a DSLR camera, the Canon Rebel T4i/D650 will fit your bill nicely. Now the T4i/D650 with the 18-55mm lens kit is even on sale at large camera stores via the Internet for about $649.

This is an excellent little camera for those who are starting to get into the world of DSLR photography. You can read the review of the camera here and see the sensor score comparison with the previous model Rebel camera it replaced.

Canon EOS-5D MK II for $1,529 shipped

Canon EOS-5D MK II with EF 24-105mm f/4L IS lens

Perhaps in an effort to clear out remaining inventory, many retailers are racing to beat each other on the price of the EOS-5D MK II camera.  The newly released EOS-6D is creating quite a buzz and stores with a big inventory of 5D MK IIs are trying to unload them as fast as possible. I found a big, international Internet giant selling the camera for $1,529 plus free shipping in the United States.

The EOS-5D Mk II is a good camera and if you are beginning to get into full frame photography, this is not a bad piece of equipment to start with and you can save yourself a few hundred bucks over the EOS-6D. Take a look at this Review of the camera and decide for yourself.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Canon EOS-6D body for $1,885 shipped

Canon EOS-6D with EF 24-105mm f/4L IS lens

The Canon ESO-6D is an entry level, full frame DSLR camera released just about a month ago with a list price of $2,099.  It is an ideal camera for those who want to join the world of full frame photography and the EOS-6D has received good marks so far. You can take a look at the camera's review here and the sensor score from DxOMark.

Now I found an excellent deal on the Internet (eBay) from a camera store. They are selling the EOS-6D for $1,885 including free shipping in the United States. Another Internet division of a large camera store is selling the EOS-6D for $1,899. Hurry, these deals will not last long.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Canon Is Working On A Full Frame Mirrorless Camera?

EF 50mm f/1.2 lens design for full frame mirrorless DSLR ?

Our friends at Egami (Japanese Photography Blog) has discovered a patent from Canon Japan that suggest they are working on two new lens design, the EF 50mm f/1.2 and the EF 50mm f/2 that may be eventually mated to a full frame mirrorless camera. You can read the Google translation of the article from Egami.

Patent description :
Patent Publication No. 2012-247451
Release Date 2012.12.13
Filing date 2011.5.25

Example One

  • Focal length f = 51.70mm
  • Fno. 1.25
  • Half angle of view ? = 22.71 °
  • Image height 21.64mm
  • 105.65mm length lens
  • BF 40.00mm
  • Nine 6 groups lens configuration
  • One one aspherical surface
  • Maximum effective diameter 45.16mm

Example Four

  • Focal length f = 50.00mm
  • Fno. 2.06
  • Half angle of 23.40mm
  • Image height 21.64mm
  • Length 72.62mm lens
  • BF 28.86mm
  • Eight four group lens configuration
  • No aspherical
  • Maximum effective diameter 33.34mm

General symmetric lens

  • Compensation of magnification chromatic aberration can be
  • Difficult to correct axial chromatic aberration and the large-diameter

Canon patent

  • Symmetric lens large aperture
  • Positive, aperture, arranged in the order of the positive
  • Using a high anomalous dispersion glass, the axial chromatic aberration is corrected

Canon EF 400mm lenses for 2013

Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS 1.4X lens

The Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS is Canon's best selling 400mm lens. Together with the EF 400mm f/5.6L, they represent some of the best values in 400mm photography but both of them are showing their age. The EF 100-400mm and EF 400mm were introduced in 1998 and 1993 respectively.

The EF 400mm f/4 DO is a unique, one-off lens with the diffractive optics technology and was introuced in 2001. The revolutionary and long overdue, EF 200-400mm f/4L IS 1.4X lens should be officially release in the first quarter of 2013.

There have been many rumors about Canon replacing the three venerable 400mm lenses mentioned above over the years and they are heating up again. The following lenses will and may be introduced in 2013 :

  • EF 200-400mm f/4L IS 1.4 X  (so tired of waiting for it)
  • EF 400mm f/4-5.6L IS II  (slightly faster on the short end and with zoom ring)
  • EF 400mm f/5.6L IS  (can't wait to get this lens as well)
  • EF 400mm f/4L IS  (non Diffractive Optics technology)

Pricing may be an obstacle because the rumored list price may range from $2,000 for the EF 400mm f/5.6L IS to about $11,000 for the EF 200-400mm f/4L IS 1.4X. The Japanese Yen has come down in value against most major currencies and that will give Canon some flexibility in their pricing but I think their biggest challenge is to keep up with the demand when the replacement lenses finally hit the market.

Visit my website to see photos taken with all the above lenses.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Canon EOS-1D X vs. EOS-1D Mk IV analysis

Now that the long awaited, Canon EOS-1D X camera has arrived in camera stores for a few months, many photo enthusiasts often ask me which camera do I prefer and whether I will be selling my EOS-1D MK IV after I have upgraded to the new camera.

My following review will not have charts and graphs and this article will not cover all the cameras' features, just the major functions, and assumes the reader is already familiar with the functionality of the current 1D cameras. It is intended to help those trying to decide whether to upgrade their present 1D bodies by sharing my impression of the two cameras from the stand point of a wildlife and travel photographer out in the field. Let us refresh ourselves with their respective major specifications :

EOS-1D X body :

  • 18 MP sensor powered by dual Digic 5+ processors, 3.2 inch, 1040K dot LCD screen.
  • Dual CF card slots with 12 fps and 14 fps (with mirror lockup).
  • ISO range from 100 - 51200, up to 204800 with expansion.
  • 61-point High Density Reticular AF with dedicated metering powered by a Digic 4 processor.
  • The number of cross-points depends on the speed of the lens used.
  • 36 ms. shutter lag, 400,000 cycle shutter and .76x viewfinder.  
  • DxOMark overall sensor score - 82
  • Low light ISO - 2786 ISO

EOS-1D MK IV body :

  • 16 MP sensor powered by dual Digic 4 processors, 3.0 inch, 920K dot LCD screen.
  • One CF and one SD card slot with 10 fps.
  • ISO range from 100 - 12800, up to 102400 with expansion.
  • 45-point AF system with 39 cross-points.
  • 104 ms. shutter lag, 300,000 cycle shutter and .59x viewfinder.
  • DxOMark overall sensor score - 74
  • Low Light ISO - 1720 ISO

I have been using the EOS-1D MK IV as my main body for about 3 years and am very pleased with its performance and rugged reliability. In fact, my confidence rose to the level that I sold my EOS-1D MK III when the EOS 7D was introduced and used it as my backup camera. Now I am about to make another decision, should I keep the EOS-1D MK IV as my backup camera now that I have taken delivery of the EOS-1D X?

It is not an easy decision. Thankfully, both 1D cameras share the same new battery and charger. Their specs are similar but the burst speed, additional AF points and better high ISO performance of the EOS-1D X gives me an extra edge on photographing wildlife, especially moving ones. With the 1D MK IV, anything shot with ISO 3200 or above has unacceptable noise level to me and the 1D X's low light performance is nothing short of phenomenal. 

My preference is to handhold my camera and travel light on photo shoots so I usually bring two camera bodies and 3 lenses with me. Therefore, on most photo shoots, my upper limit on prime lens I can bring with me is the Canon 400mm f/4L DO. With extenders, the EOS-1D X offers me a focal length of 400 - 800mm while the EOS-1D MK IV gives me a reach of 520 - 1040mm.

Each camera offers key features I cannot get in the other but combined, they give me unparalleled level of performance.  In addition, Canon will be discontinuing the APS-H format so the EOS-1D MK IV will be the last camera with that sensor technology. I really like this sensor because it combines a professional camera's performance with an extra reach, unlike the EOS 7D. I will definitely keep the 1D MK IV as my main backup camera and use the 7D as the secondary backup body.

For those who have the EOS-1D Mk III body or older model and you shoot primarily bird photography, generally in good light, you may want to upgrade to the MK IV. Good clean bodies are selling for about $4,000. The photographer who shoots moving wildlife of varying sizes (like myself, Hummingbirds to Blue whales) and in challenging environment (rain forests, jungles, dark overcast skies, etc.), the 1D X is a definite must because of its unmatched AF capabilities, high ISO performance and 12-14 fps burst rate.

I have taken my EOS-1D X camera to Alaska, Canada and Europe for a variety of grueling wildlife and travel photo shoots. Take a look at my review here and visit my website to see many Travel and Wildlife photos taken with both cameras and you can follow me on Facebook and Twitter to keep up with my travels. 

Canon EOS-5D MK III body for $2,800

The Canon EOS-5D MK III is an incredibly versatile and great camera. The list price is $3,499 but I have seen it selling on eBay right now for about $2,800, including free shipping in the United States.  This is a very good deal. I bought the first EOS-5D when it came out in 2005 and paid full price. If I recall correctly, the price was also $3,499 (2005 Dollars).

I have picked the EOS-5D MK III as the best value in full frame cameras on the market today. Take a look at my review of this fine piece of equipment and visit my website to see Travel and Wildlife photos taken with it.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Canon publishes guide to Speedlite 600EX-RT and Transmitter ST-E3-RT

Canon Speedlite 600 EX-RT

Canon Professional Network in Europe has put out a technical paper on the Speedlite 600 EX-RT and Speedlite Transmitter ST-E3-RT to explain how they operate with EOS cameras. The guide goes into details on how the features and functions of the new equipment work with the newer Canon DSLR bodies.

This is an interesting paper, especially for those who use their Speelites a lot. Visit the CPN website and view the article here.

Canon Refurbished Equipment - Cameras and Lenses

In this season of buying and giving, I have noticed there are a few photography websites promoting good deals from specific camera merchants. One look around these sites reveal they are also taking paid advertisement from the same merchants. Fortunately, with comparison shopping and open auction sites all over the internet, one can determine good deals without much difficulties.

Hard to believe but the world of DSLR cameras is only about 12 years old. I still have my treasured Canon EOS-1 V film camera. Once in a while, I will take it out on a nice day and bring a few rolls of slide film to do some photography the old fashion way.  The photography industry is so technology driven now one can mistake it for the Computer or Smart Phone market these days. It seems every few months there is something 'faster and better' coming out to tempt consumers to trade up.

In general, Canon prices have kept up with inflation but their high end cameras and lenses retain their value well so there is a robust market for used equipment. For those who want to trade up but not spend too much to chase the latest technology, there is always the used equipment market. The danger here is buying from someone you don't know is a big risk on something that may not have an obvious flaw until you take the equipment out for a photo session.

Is the seller providing a warranty? The original Canon EF lens warranty indicates that it is non-transferable. However, Canon's practice has been to honor an EF lens warranty if they are provided with a valid receipt from a Canon authorized dealer. So, you just may get warranty coverage on a Canon EF lens you purchase used if you have a valid receipt. Some commercial retailers provide their own used equipment warranty.

Is there a return policy if you are not satisfied with your purchase? Most commercial retailers do not allow returns on used Canon lenses if you changed your mind, but transactions with an individual depends on whatever is negotiated. I am not affiliated with any camera retailers and do not take advertisement from them on my website. This gives me the independence and freedom to describe any company that I find reputable and trustworthy.

Over the years, I have purchased lightly used equipment from individuals and found the experience spotty. Camera stores rarely have the used equipment I was looking for at a good price but surprisingly I found the answer right under my nose.  As it turns out, Canon USA runs a thriving Refurbished Equipment Store. These are cameras and lenses that retailers return to them with minor 'problems' or open box items.  They are generally indistinguishable from new equipment, carries a one year warranty from Canon and ships in factory packaging to the consumers.

The only drawback is their refurbished inventory is mostly consumer items. Once in a while, they do have professional equipment for sale but they get snapped up quickly. I have bought a few pieces of equipment from them over the years, including an EOS-1 camera that I used as backup equipment. They look just like new gear and performed flawlessly for me.  If there is any problem, Canon USA stands behind it with either an exchange or repair, whichever the customer prefers.

There are stores that sell refurbished Canon equipment as well but their prices are generally higher and they do not carry the factory warranty. I am not recommending Canon USA or any other company, just sharing my experience with buying refurbished Canon equipment and saving some money while doing it. Visit my website to see Travel and Wildlife photos taken around the world, some with the refurbished equipment I bought.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Canon EF 14-24mm f/2.8L coming in 2013

2013 will really be an exciting year for new products. Canon should be announcing the official release of the EF 200-400mm f/4L IS 1.4X lens the first quarter of the year. Then the EF 50mm f/1.4 IS may be announced with the EOS-7D MK II camera. Also a few new EF-S lenses may be announced as well among other lens introductions.

Now word has come that Canon is working on the EF 14-24mm f/2.8L lens in response to the Nikon AF-S 14-24mm f/2.8G ED lens. The announcement of the development of this new lens may coincide with the long awaited megapixel camera that Canon is planning to introduce next year. This ultra wide zoom will make an ideal partner to the new full frame camera and will be most welcomed by landscape and nature photographers.

Canon is still working through their production and supply chain problems. We will know how well they have resolved these challenges by the release date of the EF 200-400mm lens because that project has been about two years in the making.

Canon EOS-6D vs. EOS-5D MK III vs. Nikon D600

Came across this video comparing the newly released Canon EOS-6D, the Nikon D600 and the EOS-5D MK III cameras.  The first two are entry level full frame DSLR and the last one is a semi-pro camera.

This video is from the standpoint of an everyday user and not a professional photographer. I have picked the EOS-5D MK III as the best value in full frame DSLR today and you can see my analysis of the camera here. Visit my website to see photos taken with the cameras.

Adobe Releases Lightroom 4.3 and Camera Raw 7.3

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4.3

The Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 4.3 update includes these enhancements :

  • HiDPI support within the Library and Develop Modules. HiDPI provides support for Retina-enabled Macs.
  • Additional raw file support for 20 cameras including the Canon EOS 6D, Nikon D600 and Olympus PEN E-PL5
  • Corrections and bug fixes for issues introduced in previous versions of Lightroom.

 Adobe DNG Converter 7.3

This new version of the DNG Converter supports over 20 new cameras including the including the Canon EOS 6D, Nikon D5200, and Sony DSC-RX1. Visit the Camera Raw page for a complete list of supported cameras.

Support for the following cameras has been added :
  • Canon EOS 6D
  • Canon PowerShot S110
  • Canon PowerShot G15
  • Canon PowerShot SX50 HS
  • Casio Exilim EX-ZR1000
  • Casio Exilim EX-FC300S
  • Leica M-E
  • Nikon 1 V2
  • Nikon D5200
  • Nikon D600
  • Olympus PEN E-PL5
  • Olympus PEN E-PM2
  • Olympus STYLUS XZ-2 iHS
  • Panasonic DMC-GH3
  • Pentax K-5 II
  • Pentax K-5 IIs
  • Pentax Q10
  • Sony DSC-RX1
  • Sony NEX-VG30
  • Sony NEX-VG900

Canon EOS-6D Firmware Version 1.1.2 Released


Canon EOS-6D Firmware Version 1.1.2 is now available for download.

Firmware Version 1.1.2 includes the countermeasures addressing a phenomenon which prevents movie files shot using Canon EOS-6D Digital SLR cameras from being played back on YouTube.

Movies shot when the camera was running Firmware Version 1.0.9 cannot be played back on YouTube, even after the Firmware has been updated to 1.1.2. In order to playback these movies on YouTube (movies captured when the camera was running Firmware Version 1.0.9),  please follow the instructions below.

  • Download the movie file(s) from the EOS 6D camera to your computer.
  • Start ImageBrowser EX, an application bundled with the EOS 6D.
  • After selecting the movie file(s) to be uploaded, select [Edit Movies] in the [Edit] tab from the menu bar of ImageBrowser EX.
  • “MovieEdit Task” will start. Save the movie using the [Save] menu on the screen.
  • Upload the saved movie to YouTube.
  • The movie can be played back on YouTube.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Canon DPP 3.12.52, EOS Utility 2.12.3, Picture Style Editor 1.12.2 Released

Canon Digital Photo Professional, version 3.12.52, EOS Utility version 2.12.3 and Picture Style Editor version 1.12.2 are now available for Download.

Changes for Digital Photo Professional 3.12.52 Updater for Windows :

  • Supports images taken with the EOS-6D camera.
  • Supports new lens (EF 24-70mm f/4L IS USM).
  • Supports read-in of Picture Style files (.pf3) created in Picture Style Editor 1.12.2 and later.
  • Corrects shooting date error in other manufacturer`s image files when sent to Easy-PhotoPrintEX from Digital Photo Professional via plug-in print.

Changes for EOS Utility 2.12.3 Updater for Windows :

  • Supports EOS-6D camera
  • Supports read-in of Picture Style files (.pf3) created in Picture Style Editor 1.12.2 and later

Changes for Picture Style Editor 1.12.2 Updater for Windows :

  • Supports the newly released EOS-6D and EOS-M cameras.
  • Applied Noise Reduction processing to when displaying images.
  • Added support for the new Picture Style file (.pf3).
  • Changed the user interface of the Tool Palette.
  • Added the Tone curve (RGB) function.
  • Added the Six Color-Axes adjustment function.

Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 IS II lens

A 50mm prime lens is an essential tool in almost any photographer's bag and various Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 lenses have been in my bag for almost twenty years. It is small, fast and moderately priced yet it gives an excellent performance, especially compared to the much more expensive EF 50mm f/1.2L lens.

However, the recent introduction of Canon's newer generation of non "L" lenses, like the EF 24mm f/2.8 IS, the EF 28mm f/2.8 IS and the EF 35mm f/2 IS lenses have upped the ante for the aged EF 50mm f/1.4 lens.

These newer lenses all come with IS, improved optics and coatings. The next generation EF 50mm f/1.4 lens will share these same technologies and come with the much sought after IS capability. The only fly-in-the-ointment will be the price. Currently, the EF 50mm f/1.4 can be bought for less than $350. The new model will probably cost about $800 and should be announced sometime in the first half of 2013.  

Canon EOS-6D Sensor Rating by DxOMark

Canon EOS-6D full frame DSLR camera

DxOMark has released their sensor score for the Canon EOS-6D camera and a comparison chart between Canon's three full framed cameras. It is on par with the latest Canon's lineup with a little surprise.

The following comments are from DxOMark :

Canon now offers three full-frame CMOS sensor cameras within the EOS range. This could potentially confuse the buying decision; however the prices are very well stratified. So, how does the lowest priced model, the EOS 6D, fair against its more illustrious stable mates?

Interestingly, the overall DxOMark scores for the three models are very similar, with the EOS 6D actually matching the flagship EOS-1D X on a score of 82. Each of the three models has one area in the three testing metrics where it performs slightly better than the others. For the EOS 6D, this is in the Dynamic Range area, where it manages 12.1Evs to the EOS-1D X’s 11.8EVs and the EOS 5D Mark III’s 11.7Evs.

In terms of Color Depth, the EOS 5D Mark III comes out on top, scoring 24bits to the 23.8bits of both the EOS 6D and EOS-1D X. In the sports or low-light ISO area though, the EOS-1D X justifies its flagship status by scoring 2786 ISO to the EOS 6D’s 2340 and the EOS 5D Mark III’s 2293 ISO. It is actually this slightly lower ISO score for the EOS 5D Mark III that has caused it to drop 1 DxOMark point compared to the other cameras.

I am rather busy planning my 2013 photo shoots and still way behind on my photo processing from my previous trips but when things settle down, I will get a hold of the EOS-6D camera and give it a good workout but my initial impression is the EOS-5D MK III may suit my purpose better but I am willing to give the new camera a good look.

There is a sale on the EOS-6D right now. Click here for my newer post to see if you can save some money.

Canon EOS-7D MK II camera coming soon

Canon EOS-7D MK II DSLR camera ?

                       * * *  Read the latest post on the EOS-7D Mk II camera  * * *

The EOS-7D is Canon's top of the line APS-C cropped frame camera and is over three years old. Although there was a Firmware update a few months ago, nothing was done to its AF capabilities and mediocre high ISO performance (its Achilles's heel). The camera is an excellent performer and in good light, it is hard to beat especially in light of its modest price. This is my pick for the best value in cropped frame DSLR camera today. Read my previous post on the EOS-7D MK II here.

With the imminent launch of the Series II version of the 7D in the new year, rumor has it Canon will introduced the Series II version of the EF 50mm f/1.4 lens at the same time, replete with IS and improved optics and coatings.  Canon has their eyes on their arch-rival Nikon, which is also preparing to launch their cropped frame D400 model with a rumored sensor of 24 MP and 8 fps. Visit my website to see photos taken with the EOS-7D camera.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Canon Patented 100% Coverage Small Optical Viewfinder

Egami, the Japanese photography blog has identified a patent filed by Canon Japan. It describes an optical viewfinder with a 100% field of view. The interesting fact about this patent is the viewfinder is quite a bit smaller than current viewfinders found on all other cameras. The possibilities are abound and only Canon engineers and researchers know what they are up to.

Here is the direct Google translation of the Japanese article. Take a look and start wondering.

Monday, December 10, 2012

How To Determine The Age of Your Canon Lens

Canon EF prime, zoom and Super Telephoto lenses lineup 

My readers know I am The Wildlife Ho-tographer using Canon equipment since the 1980s. You can see my equipment bag and works on Prior to July 2010, Canon was using a coding system on their lenses to indicate the age and place of manufacture. However, starting in July of 2010, Canon switched to a 10 digit serial number but the folks at TDP think they have cracked the code. Below are their explanation of Canon's serial numbering system, both post July 2010 and pre July 2010.

Starting in July 2010, Canon began using a 10-digital serial number and ended the inclusion of a separate manufacturing date code. For information on determining the age of a pre-July 2010-manufactured lens, see the section on interpreting the old date code below. For determining the age of a lens bearing the newer 10-digit serial number, please read the following section.

To determine the age Canon lens based on a 10-digit serial number :

To age a Canon lens using the 10-digital serial number, we dissect the serial number as :


The DD is the key to the date of manufacture of the lens - the date code. The long, narrow Canon lens date code chart is shown on the right side of this page.

Future dates are predictions/expectations. Of particular interest is how the numbering system will behave in 2013/03 when the 99 is incremented. Will the DD value roll over to 00? Increment to 100 - becoming DDD?

The third digit in the serial number, C, may be a charge/batch type of number. Canon has been using this number to indicate lenses needing specific service-related updates such as firmware.

The remaining digits in the serial number, SSSSSSS, are the uniquely-identifying serial number of the lens.

Please take note that, while the overall chart is holding out nicely with the lenses we've checked, it is a work-in-process. In part, the numbers might be shifted by a month or so. Please send us any discrepancies you find.

Special thanks go out to Norbert for his role in the development of this chart.

To determine the age of a pre-July 2012 Canon lens bearing a date code : 

Beside the rear lens element of many (but not all) pre-July 2012-manufactured Canon lenses is a date code (as seen below) in the form of "UR0902". This code is also present on many other Canon products including camera bodies.

The first letter, "U", indicates that the lens was made in Canon's Utsunomiya, Japan factory. Prior to 1986, this letter is moved to the last position of the date code.

U = Utsunomiya, Japan
F = Fukushima, Japan
O = Oita, Japan

The second letter, "R", is a year code that indicates the year of manufacture. Canon increments this letter each year starting with A in 1986 and prior to that, A in 1960 without the leading factory code. Here is a table to make things simple:

A = 1986, 1960
B = 1987, 1961
C = 1988, 1962
D = 1989, 1963
E = 1990, 1964
F = 1991, 1965
G = 1992, 1966
H = 1993, 1967
I = 1994, 1968
J = 1995, 1969
K = 1996, 1970
L = 1997, 1971
M = 1998, 1972
N = 1999, 1973
O = 2000, 1974
P = 2001, 1975
Q = 2002, 1976
R = 2003, 1977
S = 2004, 1978
T = 2005, 1979
U = 2006, 1980
V = 2007, 1981
W = 2008, 1982
X = 2009, 1983
Y = 2010, 1984
Z = 1985

The first two numbers, "09", is the month number the lens was manufactured in. Month 02 is February, month 11 = November. The leading zero of the month code is sometimes omitted.

The next two numbers, "02", are meaningless in determining how old a Canon lens is. This is a Canon internal code (that is occasionally omitted).

You now know the manufacture date for your lens - But - You cannot know how long the lens was in inventory, in shipping transit and on a shelf until it was originally purchased (without having the original receipt or a reputable person accurately informing you).

The Canon lens date code in the sample picture indicates that this Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8 L Lens (I know the lens model because I took the picture - not from the date code) was made in Utsunomiya, Japan in September 2003.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Wildlife Photography - Whale Photography and Watching

Fearsome Threesome - Triple Orcas cruising Resurrection Bay, Alaska

As a wildlife photographer, I have taken a few images of some of  Nature's smallest creatures, like the incredible Hummingbirds, and her biggest, the Blue Whale - the largest animal living on our planet, ever. Cetaceans, the term used to describe porpoises, dolphins and whales, are mammals, just like ourselves. They are warm-blooded, have mammary glands to feed their young, possess a four chambered heart and have hairs on their bodies.  Like all mammals, whales breathe oxygen. They surface to exhale and take in a quick breath before submerging. During the past few centuries of rentless commercial whaling, this behavior was the Archilles' Heel of the great whales, because the whalers can spot the animal even from a distance and thus gave rise to the old, familiar cry, "Thar she blows!"

There are two types of whales - toothed and baleen. Toothed whales, like the Killer whales and Beluga whales, have one blow hole on top of their heads and use their teeth to seize its food. Baleen is a strong and flexible material made out of keratin, a protein that is made from the same material as our hair and fingernails. Baleen whales, like the Humpback, Gray and Blue whales, have two blow holes and feed by swallowing huge amount of water, filled with small fish, krill and plankton. They then close their mouths and the baleen on the side will trap and filter the food and release the water.

Paradise Found - Humpback whale diving in Frederick Sound, Alaska

Fortunately, apart from some small scale whaling operations in various parts of the world today, most shots coming from humans these days are from digital SLR cameras. There are approximately 78 distinct species of whales. Some are rather uncommon and difficult to locate, while others are whale watchers and photographers' favorite, like the Humpback whale and Orca (the largest member of the Dolphin family, also known as Killer Whale) because of their acrobatic displays and beautiful songs. Spotting whales is not a sure thing even when going out with a seasoned whale watching company. Knowing the time and place will greatly improve one's odds. Sperm and Humpback whales are most active during the winter months in Dominica, Hawaii and Mexico, respectively. Humpbacks are also found during the spring and summer months around the waters of New England, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Alaska. Spring is also a great time to witness the Gray Whale migration off the west coast of North America. Killer whales can be seen during mid Spring to late Autumn in the Pacific Northwest during the salmon runs. Beluga whales are plentiful during the summer months near Churchill, Manitoba. Sperm and Southern right whales are often seen in the waters off Argentina and New Zealand during the winter months. There are of course many other spots around the globe where cetaceans can be observed and photographed.

Mother and Calf Blue whales cruising the Santa Barbara channel, California

Generally, most whale watching companies utilize boats ranging in size from small to large, carrying anywhere from less than 10 to 100 people or more. Whenever possible, I always go on a zodiac because it is faster and less crowded. On my cetacean photo shoots, I usually bring 2 camera bodies and 2 lenses. My camera equipment is from Canon, and the bodies are the 1D X, 1D MK4 and 7D, and the lenses are the 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS and 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II zooms. Visit the Equipment page on my website to see these gear.  I use zoom lenses because a zodiac can approach whales and vice versa in a short time and a prime lens will be of little use. Quite a number of times, Humpbacks, Gray and Killer whales came right up to my zodiac and I wished I had a wide angled lens on my camera. The generally accepted global standard distance for viewing whales is 100 yards but sometimes it is hard to enforce and other times, over enforced.

Double the Pleasure, Double the Fun - Double breaching Humpbacks in Frederick Sound, Alaska

In a small zodiac, bouncing in the ocean, tripod/monopod and even Image Stabilizers are of little use. I photograph in the Aperture (AV) mode and set my lens to 1 stop above the maximum and an ISO speed of at least 400 to obtain shutter speeds fast enough to freeze the action, especially on breaching whales.  The Drive Mode is set to maximum continuous burst, the faster the better. If the light is poor or fading, I will go all the way up to ISO 1600 or open the lens up to its maximum aperture, in that order, if necessary. My AF points are set to the center with surrounding assist points turned on and Focusing Priority takes precedent over shutter release or frame rates.  No point in getting blurry shots unless the subject is clearly in focus.
Depending on where the majority of light is coming from, in relation to the whales, I would also adjust my Exposure Compensation to account for the difference. With the combination of bodies and lenses I bring, it affords me a good range of focal lengths, ranging from approximately 90mm to 640mm. Whales are fairly large animals, even though most of the time, only a small portion of their bodies protrude above the water but I almost never use an extender. If the whale is too far, I will wait for a closer encounter next time.  Photographing a breaching whale is one of the most exhilarating experiences for me. It takes a lot of practice, patience and lightning fast reflexes because it can occur anytime, so one must have the proper camera settings ready.

Orca mother teaching calf to swim in Frederick Sound, Alaska

California is one of the prime locations for whale watching and photography in the world. Gray, Blue, Humpback, and Killer whales plus others are found, at various times of the year, along the west coast of North America, from Alaska in the north, down to Costa Rica in the south. These areas can be reached by car or a few hours by air. However, my favorite spot for whale watching and photography is Maui, Hawaii.

You can subscribe to me on Facebook and my photography blog to follow my travels and join me on my upcoming photo trips.