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Friday, June 29, 2012

Canon EF 24mm f/2.8 IS and Canon EF 28mm f/2.8 IS lens review

The Canon EF 24mm f/2.8 IS and the Canon EF 28mm f/2.8 IS lenses are beginning to arrive at camera stores now.  The two lenses are not L lens and are aiming for a wider market where Image Stabilization is almost like an expected feature. Although IS is very helpful in longer focal length lenses, making these two lenses with IS is perhaps purely a marketing decision, as evidenced by most of Canon's lower priced EF-S lenses, which all have the label IS stamped on them. 

I expect the two lenses to have slightly better image quality than most EF-S lenses but some even claim their sharpness surpass the Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 L lens and might even challenge the newly introduced Canon 24-70mm f/2.8 L II lens.  I doubt that unless Canon is trying to make another blunder like they did with the Canon EOS-5D MK III.  Packing the EOS-5D MK III with so many features and performance and putting such a 'low' price on the camera drives the final death nail into the coffin of the EOS-1Ds MK III.  Are they trying to kill the Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L II before it even hits the camera stores?  This is a bread-and-butter lens for many wedding and portrait photographers. Who would buy the 24-70mm f/2.8L II if they can get equivalent performance from the EF 24mm f/2.8 IS and the EF 28mm f/2.8 IS lenses for a fraction of the price?  I will get a hold of these lenses and give it a test soon. 

Visit my website  to see Travel and Wildlife photos taken with the 24-70mm f/2.8L and the 24mm f/1.4L II lenses and follow my travels on Facebook.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Canon EOS-7D camera successor(s)?

Now that Canon has announced the release of Firmware Version 2 to give the EOS-7D additional features and functionality, rumor has again surfaced on the successor(s) to the highly acclaimed 7D camera.

The Canon EOS-1Ds MK III and EOS-1D MK IV cameras have been taken off the Canon website. A rather premature move, I think, in light of the fact the EOS-1D X is only beginning to ship in VERY small quantity. There is speculation Canon may bring back the APS-H sensor found in the EOS-1D MK IV and put it in the next generation 7D body.  I find this less than plausible and my guess is the 7D line may split up. The EOS-70D will take over the current 7D model in the next round of announcement, with a bump up in the megapixels and AF points. The other 7D 'successor' may be a prosumer camera, situated somewhere between the EOS-70D and the EOS-5D MK III and EOS-1D X models. It may come with a more advanced, cropped sensor than the 70D, dual Digic 5 processors and memory slots and better weather protection than the current EOS-7D camera and priced in the $2,500-3,000 range.

In my opinion, the EOS 7D is the best DSLR value in the market today. It is reasonably priced and comes with semi-professional functions and features, especially after the release of Firmware Version 2 in early August.  It has a great reach for wildlife photographer like myself and is reasonably rugged on photo shoots.  Visit my website  to see Travel and Wildlife photos taken with the EOS-7D camera and get your Firmware download link when available.

Canon EOS-7D Firmware V2 upgrade

As I reported earlier in my Blog post, Canon has finally made the announcement on the Firmware upgrade to the EOS-7D camera. Below is the official release from Canon USA.

LAKE SUCCESS, N.Y., June 28, 2012 – Canon U.S.A., Inc., a leader in digital imaging solutions, announced a firmware update for the EOS 7D Digital SLR camera that adds new functionality to improve its performance for serious photographers and semi-professional users. The update, free to all EOS 7D owners, gives the camera more advanced shooting options, including an increase in the maximum number of burst images taken in the RAW file format (from 15[i] frames to 25[ii] frames) as well as the ability to process RAW image files directly in the camera and the option to set a maximum ISO setting in ISO Auto mode. The firmware also adds the ability to adjust up to 64 audio levels manually prior to recording video, supports custom file naming, and allows for compatibility with Canon’s newly introduced, optional GPS Receiver GP-E2.

“By introducing this firmware we want our customers to know that we are always looking to enhance the user experience for all of our current products in the marketplace,” said Yuichi Ishizuka, executive vice president and general manager, Imaging Technologies & Communications Group, Canon U.S.A. “The latest firmware for the EOS 7D Digital SLR enhances the capabilities of the camera and brings new possibilities to its users, making it a more valuable tool for their craft.”

Enhancing the Imaging and Audio Capabilities

For budding action photographers who use the EOS 7D as their camera of choice, being able to capture the perfect shot comes down to a matter of milliseconds. The EOS 7D is capable of taking photos at a high-speed burst rate of up to 8 frames per second (fps). With the firmware installed the camera captures up to 25 consecutive frames when shooting in RAW and up to 17[iii] consecutive frames when taking RAW+JPEG images.

Once the firmware is installed the EOS 7D will also be able to process RAW images directly in the camera, allowing dynamic adjustment of exposure compensation, white balance, picture style, noise reduction at high ISO speeds, distortion correction, and other processing parameters. For mobile photographers, this ability to adjust RAW images quickly and re-save them as JPEG files can be a huge time-saver as opposed to downloading files to a computer and making adjustments later. The camera will also be able to re-size JPEG image files in-camera. These features will be accessible through the Quick Control functions which will be accessible while the camera is in playback mode. When viewing images on the camera, image files can also be given a star ranking for easy sorting during post processing. The firmware will also enable faster scrolling of images when displayed in a magnified view on the camera’s LCD screen.

The new firmware enables photographers to have more control over the maximum ISO speed when the camera is in ISO Auto mode by setting a maximum ISO range. In certain low-light scenarios, such as during a sunset, where light changes each minute, photographers can lose the brilliance and color if the ISO setting is too high. Now, photographers can ensure their ISO setting will remain within specific parameters allowing them to concentrate on the moment, knowing that they will achieve the desired photographic results. The firmware also adjusts the available ISO Auto range, previously 100-3200 and now ISO 100-6400.

In addition to these enhancements, the new EOS 7D firmware enables manual adjustment of audio levels prior to recording video, similar to the functionality found on the EOS 5D Mark II. Videographers can now manually adjust up to 64 audio levels on the EOS 7D so that they can refine the captured audio to match their particular needs.

Similar to the new EOS 5D Mark III, a new submenu provided with the EOS 7D firmware update enables photographers to modify the first four characters of file names, in the camera. This valuable feature makes it easier to use the EOS 7D camera in multi-camera shooting situations by providing a way to identify the files coming from a particular camera without opening each image individually.

Canon GPS Compatibility

The new firmware adds full compatibility for the EOS 7D with Canon’s GPS Receiver GP-E2. This GPS Receiver can be mounted to the camera’s accessory shoe or clipped to a belt and tethered via a USB cable. The GP-E2 was created to serve outdoor photographers; it records shooting locations including latitude, longitude and altitude, as well as camera direction. The camera’s internal clock can now synced through the GPS unit using UTC (Coordinated Universal Time), the primary standard by which time is regulated, for accurate time recording or syncing clocks on multiple cameras. A GPS Logging function can display the photographer’s route on a map, using supplied software.


The new firmware upgrade for the EOS 7D Digital SLR camera will be available in early August at no charge. Visit and bookmark my website and click on the tab Equipment to get the link to download the new Firmware in early August. You can also see many Travel and Wildlife photos taken around thew world with the Canon EOS-7D camera. In my opinion, this is the best DSLR camera value in the market today.

The EOS-7D Firmware 2.0 is now available for download. Click here to get the latest software.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Canon EOS-1D X camera review

Click on this Link to see my review of the EOS-1D X camera and visit my website to see many Wildlife and Travel photos taken with the camera and follow my travels on Facebook.

Martin Bailey, a British photographer based in Tokyo, Japan, wrote an article about a preliminary review of the Canon EOS-1D X camera.  He is not a wildlife or sports photographer and did not put the camera through a vigorous wildlife photo shoot but based on his initial impression, he is very impressed by the camera's high ISO performance. Martin stated he did not use the camera's AI Servo focusing on a full time basis when he photographed the moving birds. On the contrary, I use the Canon EOS-1D MK IV's AI Servo focusing full time and it serves me well.  I expect the EOS-1D X to surpass the MK IV's focusing performance easily.

The 61-point AF system with the high burst rate and ISO performance are the features that appeal most to me when the EOS-1D X was announced. I have a professional Sports Photographer friend in England and he is putting the camera through some tests in preparation for the 2012 Summer Olympics.  There will be a short learning curve before he can be proficient with the new camera and let me know his findings. My own EOS-1D X camera has arrived and I took it on a real world, wildlife photo shoot to Alaska and Canada recently.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Canon EF 100-400mm f/4-5.6L IS II lens

Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS lens

A quick followup to my previous post regarding the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS vs. the Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L lens comparison.  Canon is beginning to catch up on their engineering and production delays after the earthquake and tsunami disasters of last year. Now that the EF 300mm, 400mm, 500mm and 600mm Series II lenses are out and shipping in small numbers, they are devoting all their attention and energy to finishing the 200-400mm f/4L IS lens with the 1.4X extender.  They are also trying to finish the final design on the replacement to the EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS lens.

This is currently my favorite wildlife zoom lens. With its expected replacement, and combined with the EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II and the soon to be released EF 200-400mm f/4L IS lens, they will be an awesome combination of the highest quality zoom lenses available for wildlife photography anywhere.

I expect the new EF 100-400mm lens to be faster on the wide end, perhaps to f/4 and will do away with the push/pull mechanism in favor of a zoom ring. It will have the latest version of IS with at least a 4 stop advantage and completely weather sealed.  The weight will increase with the addition of IS but one will still be able to handhold the lens and of course the price will also increase as well, perhaps to just below $3,000.

Canon should not wait to see what Nikon is up to with their Nikkor 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6D ED lens. They should leap frog them and make the announcement after the 200-400mm f/4L IS lens is officially released, perhaps before the big Photokina Show in Cologne, Germany in September 2012.

Visit my website to see many Wildlife and Travel photos taken with the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS lens and follow my travels on Facebook.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

How to purchase 'used' Canon equipment at a great price

Hard to believe but the world of DSLR is less than 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 Camera industry is so high tech and 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 90 day 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.

Just go to the regular Canon Direct Store website and under the Cameras and Lens & Flashes tab, you will see a pull down menu and the refurbished equipment will show up. 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. Bookmark my Photography Blog to stay current with the latest news and development and visit my website to see Travel and Wildlife photos taken around the world, some with the refurbished equipment I bought and follow my travels on Facebook.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Canon to introduce Mirrorless Camera the last week of July, 2012

Canon's mysterious Mirrorless Camera

Apparently Canon is set to announce a Mirrorless Camera the last week of July.  They are trying to play 'catch up' with the other camera manufacturers like Panasonic, Sony, Olympus and Nikon.

The new Mirrorless Cameras have gained the most traction in Japan, where they have accounted for almost half of the sales of cameras with interchangeable lens, according to the Camera and Imaging Products Association trade group. In North America and Europe, Mirrorless Cameras accounted for 16.4% and 18.7% of the shipment respectively.

Panasonic introduced the first Mirrorless Camera four years ago. Their research indicated a lot of female consumers like to take better photos without having to carry bulky cameras and equipment around.  Nikon joined the mirrorless segment with their introduction of the Nikon 1 series camera late last year.

While Mirrorless Cameras can approach the image quality of the low end DSLRs, premium DSLRs still offer the best images because of their larger, more sophisticated sensors and professional features not found in other cameras.  Canon's mirrorless introduction is rumored to be quite robust and aims to outdo the competition. It should be accompanied by the announcement of of a few new lenses.

Bookmark my Photography Blog to stay current with the latest news and development and visit my website to see Travel and Wildlife photos taken around the world and follow my travels on Facebook .

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Canon EOS-1D X has arrived !

The production models are finally out ! A friend of mine called me from Hong Kong and told me the Canon EOS-1D X camera has finally hit the camera stores in VERY small number.  They were immediately sold to their best customers.

I expect the shipment to arrive in North America soon and Europe will not be far behind.  In fact, I was told by a friend in England, who is a professional sports photographer, that he has the EOS-1D X camera in his hands now and will give it a thorough test before the 2012 Summer Olympics starts in London in August. When my camera store started taking pre-orders for the EOS-1D X, I was on the top of the list so there should be a better than 50/50 chance I will get my hands on the camera before I leave for my big Alaskan photo shoot in a few weeks.  Really can't wait for that to happen. I will give my EOS-1D X camera a vigorous real world test in the Last Frontier state as well.

My EOS-1D X camera has arrived and I have put it through a rigorous, real world, wildlife photo shoot in Alaska and Canada. You can read my review of the camera here. Visit my website to see the photos taken with the camera and follow my travels on Facebook.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS vs. EF 400mm f/5.6L comparison

Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS
Canon 400mm f/5.6L 

Canon makes two of my favorite wildlife lenses that are suited for hand holding as well as tripod mounted photography. As a general rule, I prefer to handhold my camera and lens so I can follow the wildlife action wherever it leads me without the hassle of lugging a tripod. These two lenses are great for handhold, wildlife photography and their built is solid and first class.

First, let us review the main specifications of these two lenses.

Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS

  • Dimension without hood - 3.6 x 7.4 inch, weighs 48 oz. and uses a 77mm filter.
  • Variable aperture and focal length with a push / pull mechanism, 8-blade aperture.
  • 2 modes of Image Stabilization giving a 2 stop advantage.
  • Minimum focusing distance - 5.9 feet.  
  • Compatible with Canon EF 1.4x and 2.0x extenders.
  • Lens first introduced in 1998. List price is $1,699

Canon 400mm f/5.6L

  • Dimension without hood - 3.5 x 10.1 inch, weighs 44.1 oz. and uses a 77mm filter.
  • Fixed aperture and focal length with built-in lens hood, no IS compensation, 8 blade aperture.
  • Minimum focusing distance - 11.5 feet.
  • Compatible with Canon EF 1.4x and 2.0x extenders.
  • Lens first introduced in 1993. List price is $1,339

When I go on photo shoots, the question I have been asked many times is, which is a better wildlife lens and how do they stack up against each other.  Being a zoom lens, the 100-400mm lens is a tiny bit soft in the middle when used with the aperture wide open and in the shorter focal length. The sharpness improves with the lens extended and aperture stepped down.  The 400mm is an all around sharp lens. Both lenses focus reasonably fast for their aperture and offer decent bokeh. They actually have very similar performance and image quality it is really a toss up. But there are important differences as well.

The 100-400mm is a zoom lens with a MFD of less than 6 feet. This versatility cannot be minimized if one is out in the field chasing wildlife. The 2 stop IS system also comes in handy when photographing in less than ideal lighting conditions.  However, the push / pull mechanism of the 100-400mm zoom lens is cumbersome and the 400mm prime lens excels in focusing and that is not a small thing when photographing birds in flight. Both lenses' design are aging and the 400mm prime lens has no IS but personally, I think Image Stabilization is sometimes over rated. How can the camera really stabilize a moving image, like a BIF or breaching whale?   

Both lenses are an integral part of my equipment lineup but if your budget forces you to pick one and you usually photograph wildlife and birds out in the open, pick the EF 400mm f/5.6L. If you travel into forest and jungle, zip around in zodiacs and small boats to photography wildlife, then the EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS is a more versatile pick. However, the rumor is Canon may announce the EF 100-400mm f/4-5.6L IS II lens with a zoom ring, instead of the push / pull mechanism some time in 2013.   This would be an ideal lens for me and combined with the upcoming EF 200-400mm f/4L IS extender 1.4x zoom lens, my Equipment Bag will get a fantastic upgrade.

Visit my website to see my equipment lineup and many exciting wildlife photos taken around the world with both lenses and subscribe to my Photography Blog to keep up with the latest news and developments and follow my travels on Facebook .

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Canon to introduce Mirrorless Camera soon

The mysterious Mirrorless Camera from Canon

Remember on my previous Blog post I have mentioned Canon will be introducing 3 or 4 more DSLR cameras for the remainder of 2012.  It seems the Mirrorless Camera may be the first one to hit the market soon and way before the big Photokina Show in September.  Rumored to have a 4:3 ratio and a sensor similar to the highly acclaimed Canon Powershot G1 X camera and perhaps a new mount, with backward compatibility to EF and EF-S lenses.

The new mount would be puzzling and it does not make much sense to me to add another type of lens at this time. Initially, the camera is aimed at the consumer market and if the launch is successful, it may move upmarket to the middle and upper end of the spectrum.  Subscribe to my Blog to get the latest news and developments and visit my website to see Travel and Wildlife photos taken with multiple Canon equipment and gear and follow my travels on Facebook .

Canon EOS 5D MK III Firmware 1.1.3

Canon USA has introduced a new firmware to the EOS 5D MK III camera. Apparently, there are no new features in this latest software, just a few minor corrections. The next release should contain some new functions. Firmware release 1.1.3 contains the following changes :

  • Supports the EF 40mm f/2.8 STM lens going to be released by the end of June, 2012.
  • Supports the EF 300mm f/2.8L IS II and EF 400mm f/2.8L IS II lenses.
  • Fixes a phenomenon  in which the backlight of the LCS monitor may not turn off depending on the camera settings and timing.
  • Fixes a phenomenon in which the camera's power may not turn on when a super telephoto lens is mounted to the camera with an extender.
  • Fixes a phenomenon in which an image may become underexposed when using the Auto Light Optimizer for continuous Auto Exposure Bracketing shooting.
  • Corrects mistakes in the Italian, Dutch, Norwegian, Polish, Swedish and Korean menu screens.   

Click Here to download the software from Canon USA. Just click on the Drivers and Software button, provide your computer's operating system and follow instructions.

Canon has also introduced a Firmware update to the EOS 60D camera. The new version 1.1.1 has very minor fixes. Click here if you want to download that particular Firmware. 

Subscribe to my Blog to keep up with the latest news and development and visit my website to see exciting Travel and Wildlife photos taken with many Canon equipment on my photo shoots. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Canon EOS Rebel T4i/650D camera with 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM kit

The newly introduced Canon EOS Rebel T4i/650D camera is slowly coming to photography stores now. It seems the most popular kit people are ordering is the one with the 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM lens. The camera body and lens kit lists for $1,199 and I expect no discount on this hot new camera.

Canon has also release a new version of Digital Photo Professional 3.11.31 updater for both Windows and Mac operating systems. The latest version of the software supports the EOS Kiss X6i, EOS Rebel T4i, EOS 650D and EOS 60Da cameras and the latest EF-S lens - the 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS.

You can download the software from the Canon USA site by clicking here. Just click on the Drivers and Software button and select your computer's operating system. I will borrow the EOS Rebel T4i camera from a friend at Canon USA and put it through a thorough photo shoot and write an article about it soon. Please subscribe to my Blog to stay with with the latest news and developments.   You can also visit my website to see many Travel and Wildlife photos taken with many Canon bodies and lenses and follow my travels on Facebook.  

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II and 600mm f/4L IS II lenses

Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II
Canon EF 600mm f/4L IS II

The Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS and EF 600mm f/4L IS Series II lenses are slowly trickling into camera stores now and many photo enthusiasts are very excited.  The new lenses are apparently a big improvement on their older cousins, which I own and love. It has been about 13 years since the Series I models were first introduced.  The new models look very similar to the previous ones, their dimensions are almost identical, except the new lenses have a third IS mode added and their weight are quite a bit 'lighter'.  The new 500mm and 600mm lenses are 1.5 and 3.18 pounds lighter than their predecessors.

I have no plans to upgrade to the new lenses right now but will borrow them from Canon CPS for evaluation and write a report on it on my Blog. The equipment I am most interested in getting my hands on now are the Canon-1D X camera, the EF 200-400mm f/4L IS lens with built-in 1.4X extender and the new EF 100-400mm f/4-5.6L IS II lens with the zoom ring.

Visit my website to see many Travel and Wildlife photos taken with many Canon bodies and lenses and you can follow my travels on Facebook.  

Friday, June 15, 2012

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II vs. EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS comparison

Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS

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

As a wildlife photographer, I use the Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II and Canon 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS lenses extensively on my travel and wildlife photo shoots and camera enthusiasts often ask me which lens do I prefer and what are their pros and cons of each. First, let us look at their respective specifications :

Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II

  • Lens construction : 23 elements in 19 group (1 Fluorite and 5 UD elements)
  • Diagonal angle of view = 34 degrees to 12 degrees, 77mm filter
  • Inner focusing system with USM
  • Closest Focusing distance = 1.2 m / 3.94 ft  Maximum closeup magnification .21X 
  • Diameter x Length, Weight = 3.5 inch x 7.8 inch, 52.6 oz        

Canon 70-300mm f/4-5/6L IS

  • Closest Focusing distance = 3.9 ft  Maximum closeup magnification .21X 
  • Diameter x Length, Weight = 3.5 inch x 5.6 inch, 37.0 oz   
  • Diagonal angle of view = 34 degrees to 8 degrees, 67mm filter
  • Lens extension via inner focusing and focus cam plus floating mechanism    

For the record, I have used the Canon 70-200mm L lens since its introduction quite a few years ago. Now the latest version, Series II offers a 4 stop IS compensation and has a fixed f/2.8 aperture. By comparison, the Canon 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS lens is much newer and also offers a 4 stop IS compensation.

Both lenses come with a rounded 8-blade aperture and produce excellent bokeh. Their IS system perform well and both lenses deliver sharp images. Stepping the lens down 1/2 to 1 stop produces even better image quality. The main difference is the additional 100mm focal length offered by the 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS but this lens is not compatible with extenders. Add the 1.4X or 2.0X Series III extender to the 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens and you get an additional 80-200mm in focal length. With the 1.4X extender, the image quality is still very good, but I would only add the 2.0X extender in an emergency because the image quality is fine only with good lighting and tripod support. My philosophy on extenders is I always use my feet to try and close the distance first.

There is another big difference in the two lenses. The Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II weighs 52.6 ounces and lists for $2,499 while the Canon 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS comes in at 37 ounces and lists for $1,599. I consider both lenses to be a critical part of my Equipment Bag but if one has to choose just one lens, my recommendation is buy the 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS lens if most of your photography is done handheld and under good lighting conditions.  The 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II lens is hard to beat under any circumstance but one must put up with the weight and price.

Visit my website to see many Travel and Wildlife photos taken with both lenses and you can follow my travels on Facebook.  


Canon EOS-1D X vs. EOS-1D MK IV camera comparison

Now that the long awaited, Canon EOS-1D X camera has arrived in camera stores across the world, many photo enthusiasts often ask me whether I will be selling my EOS-1D MK IV and upgrading to the new camera.  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.  

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.

I have been using the EOS-1D MK IV as my main body for about 3 years now 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 EOS1-D MK IV as my backup camera once I take 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 should give 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 I expect the 1D X will perform a little better but perhaps ISO 6400 may be its acceptable upper limit. One major difference is the 1D X cannot auto focus on apertures beyond f/5.6 while the 1D MK IV can go up to f/8.

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/4 DO. With the 1.4X extender, the EOS-1D X offers me a focal length of 560mm with AF while the EOS-1D MK IV gives me a reach of over 1000mm with AF using the 2.0X extender.

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 provides 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.

I have now received my EOS-1D X camera and have taken it to Alaska and Canada for a grueling wildlife photo shoot. 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 my travels on Facebook.   


Thursday, June 14, 2012

Canon EOS 70D and 7D MK II rumors

This is a follow up on my previous posts on the upcoming Canon DSLR announcements, expected before or close to the big Photokina Show in Cologne, Germany in September 2012 and the rumors of the EOS 70D and the 7D MK II cameras. The new EOS 7D camera may become the entry level, full framed DSLR I mentioned earlier as one of the new, upcoming DSLRs while the rumored EOS 70D may become the new flagship APS-C, cropped framed body with a more advanced AF system powered by the Digic V processor, and comes with more sophisticated HD video functions and increased weather proofing.

More information as I get them so subscribe to my Photography Blog to keep up with the latest developments and visit my website  to see many exciting Travel and Wildlife photos taken with many Canon cameras I have discussed in my posts and follow my travels on Facebook .

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Canon Inc. will have new domain name

ICANN reveals new Internet top level domain name claims. Many major corporations are registering their own names as the top level name in their websites.
Canon Inc. has announced that it will begin the acquisition process for the top-level domain name ".canon," based on the new generic Top Level Domain (gTLD) registration system.
Along with its expanding global business activities, Canon will continue to provide online information and services to its users, consumers, and other stakeholders, across the world's countries and regions. With the adoption of the new generic TLD (gTLD) system, which enables the direct utilization of the Canon brand, Canon hopes to globally integrate open communication policies that are intuitive and easier to remember compared with existing domain names such as "" Canon has made the official decision to begin necessary procedures to acquire ".canon" upon the introduction of the new system. Following approval for the new gTLD system, which is expected to take place after the latter half of 2011, Canon will make full use of the new domain name to increase the convenience and effectiveness of its online communications.
Canon appears to be one of the first and largest companies to publicly state their intent on securing their own top-level domain. Whereas other candidates for names are striving to create more generic names related to geographic regions such as .berlin or environmental concepts like .eco, Canon's TLD will be reserved for company use. Other companies considering campaigns to introduce their company names as potential top-level domain names will likely look to Canon as a model for how a campaign should be conducted. While company name top-level domain names will not be open to the general public, it will allow businesses to further incorporate their name into marketing campaigns. It is foreseeable that Canon would eventually create sites such as or to tie the company's business operations to its web presence.

Visit my website to see exciting travel and wildlife photos taken with many Canon equipment over the decades.  Please subscribe to my Blog to keep informed and follow my travels on Facebook .  

Canon EOS-1D X camera release date - June 20, 2012

The wait is almost over. Canon Japan has announced the long awaited EOS-1D X camera will be officially released on June 20, 2012.  The accessories, like the new LP-E4N battery and LC-E4N charger, etc. will be available some time in July. I would love to bring the camera with me on my big annual Alaskan photo shoot in July but there is only a 50% chance the camera will arrive before I leave.  However, there is an online posting of the Owner's Manual in PDF format.  Read the posting here and salivate.

Canon has also posted the EOS-1D X camera autofocusing guide to get the optimum use out of the advanced 61-point High Density Reticular AF system.

Visit my website to see many exciting wildlife photos taken with my current favorite camera, the Canon 1D MK IV. Once I take delivery of the EOS-1D X, I will put it through rigorous, real world photo shoots to see how it compares to the EOS 1D MK IV.  Please subscribe to my Blog to keep informed and follow my travels on Facebook   

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Wildlife Photography - Blue Whales

The magnificent Blue whale is the largest animal on our planet, ever. The longest recorded length for a Blue whale is over 100 feet and they are sought after by whale watching groups around the world. It has a long, somewhat tapered and streamlined body, with the head making up less than one-fourth of its total body length. The rostrum (upper part of the head) is very broad and flat and almost U-shaped, with a single ridge that extends just forward of the blowhole to the tip of the snout. The body is smooth and relatively free of parasites, although a few barnacles may attach to the edge of the tail fluke, the tips of the flippers and to the small, triangular dorsal fin. There is a row of 300 to 400 black baleen plates on each side of the mouth, and approximately 90 throat grooves extend to the navel, which allows the throat to expand enormously during feeding.

Despite its common name, the Blue whale is actually grayish-blue, with a mottled effect that is visible in some lights and can allow individuals to be identified. The underside often has a yellowish tinge, especially on whales living in polar waters, which is caused by microscopic algae called ‘diatoms’ and led to early whalers giving this species the nickname ‘sulphur bottom whale.’ The blow or spout of the Blue whale is the biggest among all cetaceans, the slender column of air when the animal exhales can reach 30 feet .  The Northern Hemisphere's Blue whales are generally smaller than their cousins in the Southern Ocean and the females are much bigger than the males, perhaps by up to 30 feet.

Despite their awe-inspiring size, we know little about this amazing animal. No footage has ever been recorded of the Blue whale mating or giving birth. Scientists know very little about where these cetaceans go to breed or raise their young. Photographing Blue whales is one of the most exciting thing any photographer can do. The immense size of these animals are simply stunning. Yet they are so gentle and calm even among ships and boats in a busy traffic sea lane like the Santa Barbara Channel in California. Visit my website to see many more Blue whale photos from around the world and follow my travels on Facebook.

More Canon DSLR cameras coming in 2012

As I have mentioned in my previous Blog post, Canon is embarking on a 'one or two new product a month' announcement cycle, leading up to the big Photokina Show in Cologne, Germany in September, 2012.  Since Canon is already 'behind' the other camera manufacturers in introducing mirrorless models, the speculation is there will be three to four new camera introductions coming before the end of the year.  

One of the new camera introduction will certainly be a mirrorless DSLR with possibly an APS sensor. The second new camera may be a full frame,  'entry level' 3D/5D type of DSLR body, with say 18 - 20 MP sensor, 30 - 40 point AF system and advance HD video functions, selling for about $2,000 to $2,500 to round out the low end of the full frame bodies.   The third camera may be the replacement to the highly successful EOS 7D and the fourth new camera could be the long awaited 'successor' to the full framed, EOS-1Ds MK III, with the so-called mega megapixel sensor or a sensor larger than the current full frame camera. It will not be called the EOS-1Ds camera anymore and maybe the game changer to leap frog Nikon.  I think Canon has 'killed' the 1Ds line by pricing the EOS 5D MK III camera so aggressively low and packed it with so many advanced features.

These are my speculations on what Canon may be doing but I would not be surprised if something similar like the above will happen in the next few months.  Of course, I still need to take delivery of the much delayed EOS-1D X camera body and the 200-400mm f/4 L IS extender 1.4x zoom lens. The one camera I am really looking forward to getting, in addition to the EOS-1D X, is the EOS 7D MK II, now that Canon has stopped manufacturing the Canon  EOS-1D MK IV, equipped with the APS-H sensor.  As a wildlife photographer, I like the additional reach of the cropped framed camera and try to avoid using extenders if possible.

In the meantime, visit my website to see exciting Travel and Wildlife photos taken from around the world with many Canon cameras throughout the decades. You can follow my travels on Facebook and subscribe to my Photography Blog and stay abreast of the latest news and developments.   

Canon EOS-1D X Owner's Manual

"Anticipation, Anticipation is making me late, it's keeping me waiting "

The wait goes on for me for the elusive Canon EOS-1D X camera.  It is something I like to get a hold of before I go on my big annual Alaskan photo shoot in July but there is only a 50% chance the camera will arrive before I leave.  However, there is an online posting of the Owner's Manual in PDF format.  Read the posting here and salivate.

Canon has also posted the EOS-1D X camera autofocusing guide to get the optimum use out of the advanced 61-point High Density Reticular AF system.

Visit my website to see many exciting wildlife photos taken with my current favorite camera, the Canon 1D MK IV. Once I take delivery of the EOS-1D X, I will put it through rigorous, real world photo shoots to see how it compares to the EOS 1D MK IV.  Please subscribe to my Blog to keep informed and follow my travels on Facebook .  

Monday, June 11, 2012

Wildlife Photography - Hummingbirds

Hummingbirds belong to the family of birds known as Trochilidae. They are among the smallest avians, most species measure about 3 to 5 inches in length and generally weigh between one to two tenth of an ounce. The smallest Hummer is the Bee Hummingbird and the largest is the South American Giant Hummingbird, which can weigh about an ounce. All Hummers can hover in mid-air by rapidly flapping their wings approximately 10 to 80 times per second, depending on the species, and they can fly between 20 to 30 mph, reaching over 60 mph in a dive. Hummingbirds have one of the fastest heart beats in the animal kingdom, with one species (Blue-throated) clocked at well over 1,000 beats per minute. They are also the only group of birds able to fly backwards. No one really knows how long Hummingbirds live in the wild but most experts agree the average life span is between 3 to 4 years. However, in captivity they can live well over 10 years.

There are over 300 different species of Hummingbirds. They are found only in The Americas, from southern Alaska to Tierra del Fuego, including the Caribbean. Their habitat range from the lowlands all the way up to the snow line at 16,000 feet in Ecuador. The area containing the most species is the subtropical zone of Central America, down to Columbia and Ecuador. 133 species can be found in Columbia alone and the United States has about 18 species. Like most birds, Hummers have virtually no sense of smell, they are attracted to their food source mostly by sight. Shrubs, vines and flowers like Coral Honeysuckle, Fuchsia, Texas Sage and Columbine are good sources of food for these voracious feeders. In addition to their intake of nectar, Hummers also feed on small insects to supplement their diet with protein.

Hummingbirds are known for their rainbow colors and the brilliant, iridescent plumage of the males make photographing them especially enjoyable and challenging. Many hotels, resorts and restaurants in Central America put out feeders to attract these birds and one can photograph them with little difficulty. Generally, I do not like to photograph Hummers on a feeder, except during migration season, when feeders are put out to give them extra food and replenishment. Staging elaborate props and multiple flashes to photograph Hummers never appeal to me. I like the challenge of finding and photographing them naturally.  Locating Hummers in the wild can be quite a challenge. They can easily camouflage themselves in trees and foliage. I follow my two 'Hummer rules' - Listen and Freeze. Most Hummers make sharp, chirping sounds. Train your ears to focus on these sounds and you can locate the general area. Then remain perfectly still. When you are motionless, small movements of the Hummingbird bobbing in and out of flowers and foliage will reveal its exact position. I am rather punctilious when it comes to Hummer photography. Only certain shots appeal to me, like freezing their wings in a fully swept back or forward position.

The Canon EOS-1D X,  EOS-1D Mk IV and EOS-7D bodies plus the EF 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS II, EF 200-400mm f/4L and EF 400mm f/4 IS DO lenses are the equipment for my work. Visit my Equipment Bag  to see the cameras and gear. I photograph in the Aperture (AV) mode and set my camera to 1 stop above the maximum and an ISO speed of between 400 to 800, if the light is good. Generally, a shutter speed of at least 1,250 fps is required to obtain sharp, stop action shots. The Drive Mode is set to maximum continuous burst, the faster the better. If the light is poor or fading, I will open the lens up to its maximum aperture and go all the way up to ISO 3200, in that order, if necessary. My AF points are set to the center if the bird is feeding in thick foliage and surrounding assist points turned on as well when the foliage is sparse. 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 bird, I would also adjust my Exposure Compensation to account for the reflection from the bright colorful gorgets. With the combination of bodies and lenses I bring, it affords me a good range of focal lengths, ranging from approximately 90mm to 900mm. Occasionally, I will use the 2.0X extender and extension tubes. Usually I do not use a tripod because most Hummers in the wild tend not to stay in one place too long. When I do use one, the light weight, carbon fiber Slik Pro 634 CF works well for me.

Freezing a Hummingbird in midair with its wings stretched, in all its resplendent colors, is one of the most exhilarating photographic experiences. It takes plenty of practice, patience and luck. There are many birding tours offering to take photographers on a journey of their life time. Stick to one or two areas and do plenty of research before you go. National parks and official tourism sites of the countries you plan to visit offer many valuable information and tips for free.

Click here to view some Hummingbirds photographs I have taken over the years. You can also follow my travels on Facebook and Twitter and see many more exciting wildlife photos on my website

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Canon EOS Rebel T3i/600D camera combo sale

Now that the Canon EOS Rebel T4i/650D has been officially announced and available for sale by the end of June, 2012, there is a great sale going on for the Canon EOS Rebel T3i camera and combo kit.  The Rebel T3i/600D is a good amateur DSLR and is a terrific buy right now since Canon is try to move the remaining merchandise. One can save hundreds of dollars by buying the combo kit as I have predicted in my previous posts before the introduction of the EOS Rebel T4i/650D.

Take a look at my post comparing the Canon EOS Rebel T3i vs. the Nikon D5100. I do not endorse any company selling photographic equipment but you can take at look at Adorama or B&H Photo for bargains.

Visit my website to see my Equipment Bag and Wildlife and Travel photos from around the world and subscribe to my Facebook page to follow my travels and keep up with the latest development in Photography.

Canon EOS-1D X camera availability

It seems photographers like myself, who are eager to get a hold of the post production model of the Canon EOS 1D-X camera will have to wait a bit longer.  The camera should be shipping to retailers in large numbers in late July or early August.  The demand for this professional camera is phenomenal and I hope it lives up to most of the claims.  I am a wildlife photographer and am primarily interested in the 12 fps burst rate and the high ISO capabilities claimed by Canon. Subscribe to my Blog because I will put the camera through some real world photo shoots to test its capabilities and marketing claims. 

Visit my website to see wildlife photos taken with my current favorite Canon cameras - the 1D MK IV and the 7D. 

Friday, June 8, 2012

Canon EOS 7D firmware update, Version 2 coming soon

Canon has announced an upcoming 'major' firmware update to their flagship APS-C camera, the 18 MP, dual Digic IV equipped, EOS 7D. The firmware Version 2, will include a raft of new features to further enhance the capabilities of this great camera, the best DSLR value in today's camera lineup, in my opinion.
The new Firmware Version 2 update will enhance the camera with the following additional features :
IMPROVED RAW MAXIMUM BURST - In the EOS 7D, the maximum burst of RAW file frames was 15 – with the firmware update this will be significantly increased so that the camera’s buffer will handle up to 26 RAW frames in a continuous burst.
IN-CAMERA RAW CONVERSION - The EOS 7D will allow for in-camera post-processing of images. RAW images can be edited in-camera and options can be changed before saving the finished file as a ready-to-print JPEG or for sending wirelessly. This function can be used with full resolution RAW files, but not with M-RAW or S-RAW files.
The settings for in-camera RAW processing include White balance, Picture Style, High ISO speed noise reduction, Colour Space, and lens data corrections (Peripheral Illumination Correction, distortion correction and Chromatic Aberration Correction).
IMAGE RATING CAPABILITIES - Like other Canon EOS DSLRs, such as the EOS 60D, EOS-1D X and EOS 5D Mark III, the EOS 7D will be able to rate images from 1 to 5 stars in-camera for quicker and easier sorting of images within your workflow. The ratings can be used to sort images in applications such as Adobe Elements, Adobe Bridge and Apple Aperture. The ratings are XMP compliant and Canon’s Digital Photo Professional software has been updated to reflect this.
AUTO ISO MAXIMUM SETTING - Within the EOS 7D’s shooting menu photographers will have the ability to set a maximum ISO speed for ISO Auto, within the ISO range of 400-6400, so that you can minimise the amount of noise in your images.
MANUAL ADJUSTMENT FOR AUDIO RECORDING LEVELS - During EOS Movie shooting you will be able to manually adjust the audio recording levels to one of 64 levels, whilst the sound volume during playback can be set to one of 11 levels. During movie recording noise from the aperture is reduced and the camera also has an automatic wind cut filter.
JPEG RESIZING - Within the camera’s image-recording menu with all JPEG images you will be able to resize the image (for image downsizing) and save it as a new image. Note that the aspect ratio cannot be changed.
SUPPORT FOR THE GP-E2 GPS UNIT - The GP-E2 unit arrived with the EOS 5D Mark III and this firmware update will enable the GPS unit to be used with the EOS 7D, via a cable connection, so that photographers can geo-tag images with latitude and longitude data in the EXIF fields.
QUICK CONTROL DURING PLAYBACK - With the Quick Control (Q) button pressed during image playback photographers will be able to select options for protect images, rotate images, rate images, resize images, highlight alert, AF point display and image jump.
FILE NAME SETTING - In the EOS 7D’s camera settings menu in user setting 1 the first four characters of the file name can be adjusted, whilst in user setting 2 the first three characters of the file name can be adjusted and the fourth will be set automatically according to the recording quality.
TIME ZONE SETTING - Within the EOS 7D’s camera settings menu you will be able to set the time zone, plus daylight saving time can also be set.
FASTER SCROLLING OF MAGNIFIED IMAGES - The screen scrolling speed will be faster for scrolling through images when they are enlarged. The ease of use is improved when using the camera to zoom in and check focus.
The existing impressive specifications of the EOS 7D include up to 8fps shooting speed, high ISO sensitivity up to 12,800 for low light shooting, an iFCL metering system with a 63-zone Dual-layer Metering Sensor for superbly accurate exposures, plus outstanding in-camera Speedlite Transmitter flash technology. 

Take a look at my post analyzing the Canon EOS 7D and why I think it is an excellent camera for the money. Visit my website to see my Equipment bag and see exciting Travel and Wildlife photos from around the world, taken with the 7D and other equipment. Subscribe to my Blog and follow me on Facebook to get the latest Photography news.