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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year - 2014

Happy New Year to all my friends and readers. Best wishes for 2014. Have a number of photo shoots planned on a few continents in this coming new year and looking forward to sharing my travel adventures and photos with you.

Subscribe to my independent Blog, free of banner ads, to keep up with the latest Canon rumors and news, important development in photography plus tips and articles on wildlife and travel photography.

Japan Mid-Tier Camera Makers Face Shakeout as Smartphones Blunt Mirrorless Sales

The following article is an excerpt from Reuters wondering whether there is a shakeout coming among the middle tier camera manufacturers in Japan due to the smartphones challenge. My own view is a complete shake out is not likely but there will be inevitable mergers and some names will disappear over time.

I have lamented in my previous posts that, in the last few years, the photography industry seems to be introducing more fluff than genuinely exciting technology, under the disguise of 'innovation.' Most new technologies are evolutionary and genuine innovations do not come that often. The Canon D30 in 2000 (first consumer DSLR camera), the Canon EOS-1D in 2001 (first full frame DSLR camera), and the EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4x lens in 2013 (first consumer Super Telephoto zoom with built-in extender) are a few products that come to mind.

The mirrorless camera is a niche product but for those who care more about speed and connectivity in capturing and distributing images, over the composition and quality of photos, will always choose the latest smartphones and their associated apps. Spending a lot of time and money chasing that market seems to bring a diminishing return over time. The best way to survive any shake out is to go back to the core of a company's raison d'etre - sell products with performance, quality and value. The rest will take care of itself.

I have been a Travel and Wildlife photographer using Canon equipment for 25 years. You can read my observations on Canon and the photography industry and visit my website to see my works. 

Article from Reuters in Tokyo :

Panasonic Corp and Japan's other mid-tier camera makers have a battle on their hands to win over a smartphone "selfie" generation to mirrorless cameras that held such promise when they were launched around five years ago.

Panasonic, like peers Fujifilm Holdings and Olympus Corp, has been losing money on its cameras since mobile phones that take high-quality photos ate into the compact camera business. This year, compact camera sales are likely to fall more than 40 percent to fewer than 59 million, according to industry researcher IDC.

Meanwhile, sales of mirrorless cameras - seen as a promising format between low-end compacts and high-end single-lens reflex (SLR) cameras - are sputtering as buyers put connectivity above picture quality.

A 40 percent drop in Panasonic's overall camera sales in April-September left the imaging division vulnerable as the company's mid-term plan to March 2016 demands unprofitable businesses turn themselves around or face the axe.

"If you look mid-to-long term, digital camera makers are slipping and the market is becoming an oligopoly," said Credit Suisse imaging analyst Yu Yoshida.

Panasonic held 3.1 percent of the camera market in July-September, down from 3.8 percent a year earlier, according to IDC. Canon Inc, Nikon Corp and Sony Corp controlled over 60 percent between them.

"Only those who have a strong brand and are competitive on price will last - and only Canon, Nikon and Sony fulfil that criteria," added Yoshida.

Canon and Nikon dominate the SLR camera market, while Sony could survive any shakeout thanks to its strength in making sensors for a number of camera manufacturers as well as collaboration with its smartphone division.


Panasonic, Fujifilm and Olympus are trying to fend off the smartphone threat by cutting compacts, targeting niche markets such as deep-sea diving, and launching the higher-margin mirrorless models.

The mirrorless format promised mid-tier makers an area of growth as the dominance of Canon and Nikon all but shut them out of SLRs, where Sony is a distant third. Neither Panasonic nor Fujifilm makes SLRs, and Olympus stopped developing them this year.

Mirrorless cameras such as Panasonic's Lumix GM eliminate the internal mirrors that optical viewfinders depend on, so users compose images via electronic viewfinders or liquid crystal displays. This allows the camera to be smaller than an SLR, while offering better quality than compacts or smartphones due to larger sensors and interchangeable lenses.

"SLRs are heavy and noisy, whereas mirrorless are small and quiet. While some people say SLRs still have better image quality, mirrorless (cameras) have improved to the point where they're equivalent, if not superior," said Hiroshi Tanaka, director of Fujifilm's optical division.

Critics grumble that LCD screens can never compete with the clarity of an optical viewfinder, and that picture-taking speeds are too slow for fast-action subjects such as sports.

Nevertheless, the mirrorless format has been a hit in Japan since Panasonic launched the first domestically produced model in 2008, the G1. They made up 36 percent of Japan's interchangeable lens camera shipments in January-October, according to researcher CIPA.

But the format is yet to catch on in the United States and Europe, where shipments made up just 10.5 percent and 11.2 percent of all interchangeable camera shipments, respectively, and where consumers tend to equate image quality with size and heft.

Sales, which globally are less than a quarter of those of SLRs, fell by a fifth in the three weeks to December 14 in the United States, which included the busy 'Black Friday' shopping week, while SLR sales rose 1 percent, according to NPD, another industry researcher.

"I would focus on the detachable lens market proper, excluding mirrorless, and focus on connectivity," said Ben Arnold, director of imaging analysis at NPD. "How do you bridge that gap between high photo-capture quality and high-quality camera devices and the cloud where every amateur photographer's images live?"

Monday, December 30, 2013

Canon DSLR Sensor Improvements Over The Years

Chinese website ZOL compared 22 different Canon APS-C and full-frame cameras to find out how much sensor performances have improved over the years.

The lower end APS-C sensors improved the most, especially for higher ISO settings. Higher end models like the EOS-1D bodies appear to be less obvious, although visible improvement are clearly detected. The image comparisons below are taken with ISO 1600 with various cameras. The current high ISO performance champion is the Canon EOS-1D X camera. Visit my website to see photos taken with many Canon cameras over the years around the globe.

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

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

Canon EF 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. You can read my Travel and Wildlife lens recommendation list here.

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 a perfect focal length and all around sharp lens for wildlife photography. 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  EF 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, small boats and jeeps to photography wildlife, then the EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS is a more versatile pick. However, Canon is expected to announce the EF 100-400mm f/4-5.6L IS II and the EF 400mm f/5.6L IS lenses some time in 2014.  These would be two ideal lenses for me and combined with the EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM 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. Subscribe to my Blog to keep up with the latest news and developments and follow my travels on Facebook and Twitter.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Canon Patents 16-120mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM Lens

Canon EF-M 18-55mm Lens

Egami, the Japanese photography blog has discovered three new Canon patents, the 16-120mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM, 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM and 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM. If they come into production in the future, they are most likely to be EF-M lenses destined for the EOS-M line of cameras. The original article in Japanese is here.

Patent Publication No. 2013-257507

  • Publication date 2013.12.26
  • Filing date 2012.6.14

Example 1

  • Zoom ratio 2.87
  • Focal length f = 18.58 – 27.82 – 53.36mm
  • Fno 3.60 -. 4.27 – 5.69
  • Half angle ? = 36.33 – 26.15 – 14.36 °
  • Image height Y = 13.66mm
  • 86.23 – - 104.79mm 78.22 overall length of the lens
  • BF 0.50mm
  • 13 pieces of 11-group lens configuration
  • Three four-sided aspherical

Example 3

  • Zoom ratio 10.39
  • Focal length f = 18.60 – 60.12 – 193.23mm
  • Fno 3.55 -. 5.59 – 6.60
  • Half angle ? = 36.29 – 12.80 – 4.04 °
  • Image height Y = 13.66mm
  • 151.48 – - 184.39mm 118.58 overall length of the lens
  • BF 0.50mm
  • 18 pieces of 14-group lens configuration
  • Three three-sided aspherical
  • One UD glass

Example 4

  • Zoom ratio 7.14
  • 51.87 – - 117.70mm 16.48 focal length
  • Fno 3.60 -. 5.30 – 5.88
  • Half angle ? = 39.65 – 14.75 – 6.62 °
  • Image height Y = 13.66mm
  • 138.55 – - 162.35mm 114.75 overall length of the lens
  • BF 0.50mm
  • 17 pieces of 13-group lens configuration
  • Two two-sided aspherical
  • One UD glass

Canon patents

  • Vibration control
  • Inner focus

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Canon EOS-70D and Dual Pixel CMOS AF Technology

The EOS-70D camera was announced by Canon in August, 2013 with great fanfare and to rave reviews. One of the most exciting new technology is the Dual Pixel CMOS AF. You can see more exciting short films taken with the new DSLR body on Canon's website. Take a look at this side by side comparison between the Nikon D7100 and the Canon EOS-70D cameras.

Canon has an unusual method of introducing their newest technology. They put them on their consumer line of cameras first, before releasing the features on their professional models. Cases in point are their latest DIGIC processors and the Dual Pixel CMOS AF, all debuted on PowerShot and EOS-XX models first. Now, this advanced technology is also available on the Cinema EOS C300 and EOS C100 cameras with a paid upgrade.

More advanced version of the Dual Pixel CMOS technology will make their way into higher end models, like the EOS-7D Mk II, EOS-5D Mk IV and EOS-1D X Mk II in the not too distant future. I believe Canon has come across a winning technology and photographers and videographers are benefiting from it.

New Canon Print Plugin App Supports Kindle HDX

Canon U.S.A. released a free, Print Plugin App for the new Amazon Kindle Fire HD and HDX to wirelessly print documents, photos, emails and calendar events from the devices. More information, list of supported printers and download link here.

MELVILLE, N.Y., December 26, 2013 – Canon U.S.A., Inc., a leader in digital imaging solutions, today announced availability of a print plugin app for Amazon’s all new Kindle Fire HD and Kindle Fire HDX, expanding Canon’s already extensive mobile printing capabilities. Customers can now easily integrate the new Kindle Fire HD and Kindle Fire HDX tablets into their daily printing activities with the ability to wirelessly print documents, photos, emails and calendar events from their device, allowing for convenient printing in the home or office.

The Canon Print Plugin app is compatible with select imageCLASS laser printers and multifunction printers, imageRUNNER and imageRUNNER ADVANCE devices and select PIXMA inkjet printers. The Canon Print Plugin app is available for download in the Amazon Appstore.

For more information on the support models and other details, please visit

Friday, December 27, 2013

Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L IS Coming In 2014?

Canon EF 400mm f/5.6L Lens

2014 is rapidly approaching and it should be an exciting year for new product announcements. Yesterday, I reported there is talk of Nikon announcing either the D4X or D400 in mid January.  In my earlier post in November, I commented that Canon will be busy in 2014. New lenses and cameras are expected and one of the replacement lenses being talked about may be the venerable EF 400mm f/5.6L IS, finally.

This is one of the best 'L' lens value and my favorite Canon wildlife lenses when the light is good. However, the design on the lens dates back to 1993 and an upgrade can take advantage of the latest improvements in optics, coatings and Image Stabilization technologies.

My readers know I have been a Travel and Wildlife photographer using Canon equipment for about 25 years now. Through the decades, I have used almost all of Canon's DSLR camera bodies and lenses. My preference is to travel light on photo shoots and generally carry zoom instead of prime lens. There is a never ending debate on the image quality of professional prime vs. zoom lens but for my purposes, the difference is without a distinction and I will let the situation dictates the lens instead of the other way round.

My preferred focal length is the 400mm zoom because it offers the best combination of speed, weight and reach. I own the EF 400mm f/4 DO IS, the EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4x, the EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS and the EF 400mm f/5.6L.  The two lenses I am most eager to see replaced in 2014 are the last two. Visit my website to see wildlife photos taken with all the above lenses from photo shoots around the globe.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Nikon D4X or D400 Camera Coming In Mid January?

* * * Nikon D4S camera announced at CES 2014 * * *

Dubai Photo Club is claiming Nikon is ready to announce either the D4X or D400 camera on January 17, 2014. Below is an excerpt from their post :

"Nikon is launching a new DSLR camera in Dubai on 17 January 2014 and on Facebook page for Nikon Middle East & Africa, a photo contest has been launched and the main theme of this contest is speed, action, breathtaking moments.  Also in the description of this contest, Nikon is asking following questions:

What makes your heart race?
What makes your heart skip a beat?
What warms your heart?

Is it speed and adrenaline, the thrill of excitement, or the emotion of the moment?
This gives us a very strong clue that a replacement of either of Nikon’s flagship cameras D300 (DX Format) or D4(FX format) is on the table since both of these are Nikon’s leading product for Sports / Action photography.  It could be a D400 or D4X.  In May this year, Nasim Mansurov of posted an article regarding possible launch of Nikon D400. Just now when we are typing this blog, has reported that NPS Japan stopped selling Nikon D4 cameras trough their equipment exchange program. This is another good indication that a new flagship model is coming soon.   So it could be a D400 or D4X, we will know on 17 January 2014."

My readers know by now I have picked the Canon EOS-1D X as the best wildlife and sports, full frame DSLR camera on the market. Canon has released a major Firmware Version 2.0 upgrade in January 2014. This will make the camera even better and should Nikon announces the D4X in January, the EOS-1D X will be able to hold its own until its replacement comes out in 2015. Personally, I think the Nikon D4X will come out around the 2014 World Cup in June.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Canon Digital Photo Professional 3.13.51 and EOS Utility 2.13.40 Download

New versions of Digital Photo Professional (3.13.51) and EOS Utility (2.13.40) are available for download.

Changes to Digital Photo Professional 3.13.51 Updater for Mac OS X :

Addition of Digital Lens Optimizer applicable lenses.
A phenomenon in which font settings are sometimes not reflected on print contact sheets has been fixed.

Changes to EOS Utility 2.13.40 Updater for Mac OS X :

A function has been added to allow the loading of just protected images into the PC.

Click here to access Canon's website for download.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Shooting Videos With Canon EOS Rebel Cameras, Part III

In the 3rd and final video of this 3-part series, Canon will show you how easy it can be to perform basic editing using Canon ImageBrowser EX software. Once your videos and movies are finished, you can learn how to share them with family and friends.

The 3-part video series from Canon USA will walk you through major tips and tricks, as well as important settings, so that you can turn your Canon EOS Rebel camera into a powerful HD video recording device. In the first video, you will learn what you need to get started with some basic filming and gear tips, including an overview of Canon STM lenses that are optimized for smooth, quiet focus during video recording. In the second video, you will discover more advanced features and settings for video capture going beyond basic, automatic settings. You will also learn some tips about how to take advantage of these settings for even better video results.

Canon PowerShot SX50 Camera Safety Advisory

Canon PowerShot SX50 Camera

The rubber of the viewfinder of some units of the Canon PowerShot SX50 HS compact digital camera may change color (turn white) after a short period of time. Customer support for this phenomenon is described below.

We take great pride in the quality and performance of our products. We offer our sincerest apologies to any customers who may be inconvenienced.


The rubber section of the viewfinder of some PowerShot SX50 HS digital compact cameras produced in certain lots from September 1 through November 15, 2013 may turn white after a short period of time. We have determined after inquiry with the rubber manufacturer and internal analysis that the white substance is zinc bis (N,N’- dimethyldithiocarbamate).

Zinc bis is not used in the production of this product. The reason for the depositing of this material was the use of an improper rubber accelerator by the manufacturer of the rubber viewfinder. As a result the rubber section of the viewfinder may turn white due to a chemical reaction with the rubber accelerator and other substances. High temperature and high humidity may contribute to this condition. Zinc bis (N,N’- dimethyldithiocarbamate), which becomes deposited on the rubber surface, is created as a result of this chemical reaction.

Affected products

Only a small fraction of the PowerShot SX50 HS compact digital cameras – the ones containing the improper rubber accelerator – are affected by this phenomenon.

This phenomenon may occur in cameras of which the first and second digits from the left in the serial number are “69”, “70”, or “71” and the sixth digit of the serial number is “1”.
(Example serial numbers of cameras that may be affected: “69xxx1xxxxxx”, “70xxx1xxxxxx”, “71xxx1xxxxxx” (‘x’ can be any number))

Caution on use

The amount of zinc bis (N,N’-dimethyldithiocarbamate) deposited on the affected units is minimal. However, depending on one’s health and physical condition, in rare cases it is possible for zinc bis to cause allergic reactions, such as a rash, when it comes in contact with the skin of sensitive persons. In addition, if the eyes make contact with the substance, symptoms such as red eyes may develop.

As a precautionary measure, thoroughly wash your hands and rinse your eyes with water if they have come into contact with the rubber part of a viewfinder that has turned white. If any medical symptoms develop, please consult your physician immediately.


If the camera meets the serial number criteria listed above, the product will be inspected and repaired free of charge. If you own one of the affected cameras please contact our Customer Support Center. This information is for residents of the United States and Puerto Rico only. If you do not reside in the USA or Puerto Rico, please contact the Canon Customer Support Center in your region.

Contact Information for Inquiries
Canon Customer Support Center
Phone: 1-855-226-3277
TDD: 1-866-251-3752
For additional support options:

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Silly Season For Canon Rumors Is Upon Us

It seems this is the Silly Season for Canon 'deals and rumors.' In the last few weeks, many photography websites have been plastering their front pages with so-called 'crazy Pre and Post Black Friday / Christmas deals.' These are the same sites that will benefit from your purchases, if you click on the provided links and buy from these merchants. The Internet and the myriad search engines are such useful tools, anyone can search for good deals objectively without being influenced by others.

Then there are these wild rumors ranging from no replacement to the Canon EOS-7D to a new Canon EOS mega pixel A1 camera with a hybrid Electronic Viewfinder. My own view is Canon will replace the EOS-7D and announce a conventional mega pixel camera in 2014. While anything is possible with product development and announcements, I am quite comfortable with the above observation and will post the latest updates as soon as it is available.

As my readers know, I have been a Travel and Wildlife photographer using Canon equipment for about 25 years now. Through the decades, I have used almost all of Canon's cropped and full frame, film and digital cameras, plus the EF and EF-S lenses. You can view on work on

Canon Wildlife And Travel Lens/Camera Recommendation

Canon EF line of lenses

As my readers know, I have been a Travel and Wildlife photographer using Canon equipment for about 25 years. Through the decades, I have used almost all of Canon's cropped and full frame, film and digital cameras, plus the EF and EF-S lenses.

Some of you may know, my preference is to travel light on photo shoots and generally carry zoom instead of prime lens. There is a never ending debate on the image quality of professional prime vs. zoom lens but for my purposes, the difference is without a distinction and I will let the situation dictates the lens instead of the other way round.

The following Canon EF lenses are some of my recommendation, derived from years of experience out in the field on photo shoots. These are my personal opinion and will not accommodate every situation or photographer's needs. If price is a consideration, do not hesitate to consider buying Canon Refurbished Equipment. I have done it many times for my backup equipment and have been completely satisfied so far. If you are looking for the best camera, take a look at my Canon camera recommendation. You can see my equipment bag and visit my website to see images from my photo shoots worldwide.

NASA's Iconic EarthRise Photo From Space

One of the most iconic images, known worldwide as Earthrise, is turning 45 years old on Christmas Eve. And so NASA thought it appropriate to share the story of how luck and teamwork helped the astronauts of Apollo 8 capture this amazing photo.

Mosy of us have seen the classic Earthrise photo taken by Apollo 8 on Christmas Eve, 1968 using one of the Hasselblad cameras on board. Watch the video to see how astronauts Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and Bill Anders used teamwork and superior training to turn a spectacular event into one of NASA's most legendary images.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Canon Patent For 100X Zoom PowerShot Camera

                     * * *  Read the latest post on the PowerShot SX60 HS camera  * * *

Egami of Japan has reported Canon recently patented a 100x zoom lens for compact cameras. It has a focal range of 3.6mm to 340mm. Taking into account the cropping factor of the sensor, that is the rough equivalent of an 18mm -1768mm zoom lens. The original article in Japanese is here.

For the upcoming CES 2014 show in Las Vegas next month, Canon may announce a new SX PowerShot model. The current PowerShot SX50 has a 50X optical zoom capability.

Patent Publication No. 2013-242430,2013-242431

  • Publication date 2013.12.5
  • Filing date 2012.5.21

Example 2

  • Zoom ratio 48.37
  • Focal length f = 4.30-13.30-208.00mm
  • Fno. 2.87-5.00-7.07
  • Half angle ? = 37.77-16.25-1.07 °
  • 94.75-94.56-138.99mm overall length of the lens
  • BF 10.40-19.43-10.43mm
  • 13 pieces of 10-group lens configuration
  • Two four-sided aspherical

Example 5

  • Zoom ratio 94.44
  • Focal length f = 3.60-14.51-340.00mm
  • Fno. 3.50-5.00-9.00
  • Half angle ? = 42.12-14.95-0.65 °
  • 95.91-97.40-165.41mm overall length of the lens
  • BF 10.48-21.86-2.28mm
  • 13 pieces of 10-group lens configuration
  • Three 5-sided aspherical

Wildlife Photography - Killer Whale, Apex Predator Of The Oceans

Orca, also known as the Killer Whale, is the largest member of the dolphin family and is a favorite animal for whale watching groups all around the world. Both the male and female Killer Whales have a broad, rounded head and snout, an enlarged forehead, large, paddle-shaped pectoral fins and a large dorsal fin. However, males grow larger than females, and on reaching maturity become stockier and develop disproportionately larger fins, with adult males easily recognized by the tall, erect dorsal fin, which is the largest of any cetacean, growing to an impressive 6 feet in height. The female Orca, by contrast, has a more backward-curving dorsal fin , which grows to about 3 feet in height. An Orca’s dorsal fin and saddle patch are unique to each individual.

A number of different forms of Killer Whale have been identified, which specialize in different types of prey, differ in appearance, behavior and habitat use, do not associate with each other and are not known to interbreed. Studies have also revealed genetic differences between the different forms, and the Orca may therefore be split into a number of different subspecies or even distinct species in the near future. 

One of the best places to see Killer Whales is in Alaska. The cold, nutrient rich water supports a healthy ecosystem, which in turn supports a healthy fish population. The abundance of food attracts plenty of seals, sea otters, dolphins and whales. In turn, Orcas, the Apex Predator of the oceans are found quite frequently in large pods in Alaskan waters.  One of the best spots to photograph Killer Whales is Resurrection Bay.  A couple of years ago, I spent a few days on a small boat out in the Bay and took some great shots of these amazing animals after coming across a few large pods.

The photo at the top is one of my favorite Killer Whale shots. The weather was rather poor, with light rain and very cloudy skies.  The whales were scattered and it was hard to concentrate on any particular individual.  Suddenly, I saw these three females in the distance swimming in unison. I was using the Canon  EOS-1D Mk IV camera with the EF 400mm f/4 DO lens. It was just the right combo and I fired off a quick burst, just in the nick of time.  This "Fearsome Threesome" broke up right after I took this shot.  I consider myself very lucky to have photographed this image.

The best equipment for wildlife photography in my opinion are the Canon EOS-1D X camera and the EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4X  or EF 400mm f/4 DO IS II lens combination. I have taken them all over the world on photo shoots and they performed flawlessly. Read the article on my website on where to go whale watching and tips on whale photography. You can see what's in my equipment bag when I go on wildlife photography shoots.

For more posts on photographing other wildlife, you will find ElephantsPolar bearsBengal tigersHummingbirds and Blue whales adventures here. I have been a wildlife photographer for 25 years using Canon gear. You can read my FAQs and see my works on You can also follow my travels on this blog, Twitter , Facebook and Instagram.

Canon EOS-1D Camera Announcement Coming in 2014

Nikon already has the 36.3 mega pixel, D800 camera on the market for a while now. They plan to introduce the new mega pixel D4X, a successor the their top-of-the-line D4 camera next year, perhaps in time for the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Canon may be ready to react and finally release their own mega pixel camera. The Winter Olympics and World Cup are two big sporting events that will highlight Canon's technological prowess in state of the art photography and the EOS-1D Mega Pixel Camera will be the premier announcement event for them. This camera may be the replacement to the retired EOS-1Ds Mk III and could be released after the sporting events (expect to see prototypes at the games), perhaps around the Photokina Show in September 2014, with delivery commencing in late 2014 or early 2015. The new EOS-1 camera's announcement may be accompanied by one or two new 'L' lenses as well.

Canon is mindful of their misstep last time when they announced their EOS-1D X, only to be eclipsed by Nikon's D4 and D800 because they cannot get their shipments into stores until way after the Nikon cameras went on sale. Keep checking back for the latest information and updates.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Canon Cinema EOS C500/C500 PL Firmware Available

Canon EOS C500/C500 PL Firmware version is now availabale for download. There are also Firmware upgrades for the EOS C100, C300 and EOS-1D C cameras as well.

  • When using the Magnify focus assist function, the ability to move the magnified viewing area around the LCD has been added.
  • Maximum ISO setting has been increased to ISO 80,000.
  • Cinema Gamut mode and DCI-P3+ mode have been added to provide expanded color gamut options in RAW capture.
  • 4096×1080-pixel RAW format resolution has been added.
  • A Key Lock menu setting has been added which now makes it possible to lock all operations, including the START/STOP button.
  • Using the optional Canon WFT-E6 Wireless File Transmitter, the camera’s remote-control application allows up to two users to access the same unit via a Wi-Fi link providing simultaneous and independent control of camera operation and metadata input.
  • Canon Log LUT support has been made possible for HD/SD SDI terminal output.
  • ACESproxy output from monitor terminal has been added.
  • [ND]/[ND-] have been added as functions that can be allocated to any assignable button.

EOS C500 Digital Cinema Camera only

  • Ability to assign the two control dials (body and grip) to operate either Iris or ISO sensitivity independently has been added.
  • Peripheral Illumination Correction Data has been added for seven (7) Canon Cinema lenses (EF mount) and eleven (11) Canon EF Lenses.

Cinema lenses (EF-mount) and Canon EF Lenses affected by new firmware update :

The seven EF mount Canon Cinema Lenses are :

  • CN-E15.5-47mm T2.8 L S
  • CN-E30-105mm T2.8 L S
  • CN-E14mm T3.1 L F
  • CN-E24mm T1.5 L F
  • CN-E50mm T1.3 L F
  • CN-E85mm T1.3 L F
  • CN-E135mm T2.2 L F

New firmware version does not include the CN-E35mm T1.5 L F.

The eleven EF mount Canon EF Lenses are :

  • EF-S18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM
  • EF-500mm f/4L IS II USM
  • EF-600mm f/4L IS II USM
  • EF-28mm f/2.8 IS USM
  • EF-24mm f/2.8 IS USM
  • EF-40mm f/2.8 STM
  • EF-24-70mm f/4L IS USM
  • EF-35mm f/2 IS USM
  • EF-S18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM
  • EF-24-70mm f/2.8L II USM
  • EF-200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4x

Firmware Version is for Cinema EOS C500 and EOS C500 PL cameras with Firmware Version through Once the camera is updated to the latest firmware version, it cannot be restored to a previous version.

Download :

Download Firmware Version for EOS C500.
Download Firmware Version for EOS C500 PL.

The Instruction Manual contains all the new features and upgrades in this new firmware update.

Download the new version of the Instruction Manual for the EOS C500.
Download the new version of the Instruction Manual for the EOS C500 PL.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Lens Review

Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS Lens

DxO Labs has recently tested the new Sigma 24-105mm f/4 lens and found it to be one of the sharpest around. I like the 24-105mm lens because it offers an ideal focal lengths for travel photography. I have owned the Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS for years and am very happy with it. You can see Travel and Wildlife photos taken with the lens worldwide on my website

Below is an excerpt and charts from the DxOMark conclusion :

"As a more modestly priced alternative to the EF 24-70mm f2.8L II USM and with a longer reach than the newer stabilized EF 24-70mm f4L IS USM, the similarly stabilized EF 24-105mm f4L IS USM remains a popular model for Canon users.

As a new addition to the Art-series, the Sigma 24-105mm f4 DG OS HAS looks promising, but can the firm replicate the image quality of their recent 35mm f1.4 and 18-35mm f1.8 models?  Read on to find out. 

Introduced late 2005, the Canon EF24-105mm f4L IS USM was intended as the final lens in the maker’s range of smaller, lighter more accessible priced f4 zoom variants, and was a rightly popular model. More recently, Canon added a compact EF24-70mm f4L IS USM model to the series but the extra range together with the constant maximum aperture of the 24-105mm is very appealing, not only for stills but also for filmmakers.

Mindful of this potential market, independent lens maker Sigma has introduced a similarly specified constant aperture 24-105mm model complete with  four-stop stabilization (as opposed to the older three stop tech of the Canon) and a ultrasonic type AF motor.

The optical construction consists of a total of 19 elements in 14 groups, with three aspherical elements and a further four elements made from low dispersion glass to minimize chromatic aberrations, field curvature and distortion. Although the Sigma has the same 45cm (17.7-inch) minimum focus distance as the Canon it is slightly larger with a 82mm filter thread and weighs around 30 percent more at 885g (31.2 oz). Compatibility with the firm’s new optional USB dock offers user adjustments and firmware upgrades, adding further value to the already sensitively priced $899 ticket."

Sigma 135mm f/2 DG OS Art Lens Coming

Sigma 200-500mm f/2.8 EX DG APO Lens

Sigma Corporation of Japan has signaled it will have a robust product announcement in 2014, especially in high end glass. This is most welcomed because Canon needs to regroup and rethink its product strategy, so a challenge by another good lens manufacturer will force them to react sooner rather than later.

Sigma has been on a roll lately. Their recent product introductions have gained critical acclaim and they have also announced a revolutionary new, fee-based service that will enable the company’s Global Vision lens owners to change their lens mounts for use on different camera systems. Click here to read the earlier post.

In addition to the announcement of the industry’s first Mount Conversion Service, Sigma is also extending the warranty on all of its products – including cameras, lenses and flashes purchased on or after July 1, 2013 – to four years. Previously, warranties varied by product. This enhanced product protection provides Sigma’s customers with more consistency and improved service.

Now there are rumors Sigma may be contemplating more lens introductions before the big Photokina Show. The following lenses are being talked about but only time will tell whether they have the resources to make them happen. The Sigma 135mm f/2 DG OS Art has been mentioned as a possible release around the Show in September, 2014.

  • Sigma 24-70mm f/2 OS HSM (Perhaps f/ 2.8)
  • Sigma 300mm f/2.8 OS
  • Sigma 400mm f/2.8 OS
  • Sigma 500mm f/4 OS
  • Sigma 600mm f/4 OS
  • Sigma 24mm f/1.4 DG Art
  • Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art

Monday, December 16, 2013

Canon New Firmware Incompatible With 3rd Party Batteries

Canon LC-E4N charger and LP-E4N battery for the EOS-1D X camera

Last month, I have reported generally third party batteries do not last as long as Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) ones. See earlier post here.

Now some users have discovered both Canon and Nikon have built in incompatibility in their latest Firmwares, making third party batteries unusable. In the past, I have purchased high quality third party batteries and saved maybe 25% or so. Frankly, the cost savings is not worth the hassle and risk and I will never use third party batteries when I am on a photo shoot.

I have bought all Canon factory batteries because as a professional wildlife photographer going on frequent foreign trips, batteries and memory cards are so critical to a successful shoot. Extremely cold weather can affect the performance of batteries. When I was in the sub and high Arctic photographing wildlife in -20+ degrees Fahrenheit temperature, I discovered the LP-E4N battery in my Canon EOS-1D X came through with flying colors. My readers know I have been a Travel and Wildlife photographer using Canon equipment for 25 years. You can see my works on

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Canon EOS-7D Mk II Camera By Another Name?

Recently, there are rumors stating Canon will not come out with the EOS-7D Mk II next year. While that is always a possibility, I think it would be wise for them to do so. The current EOS-7D is an excellent camera and has been my pick as the best value in DSLR with the APS-C sensor four years in a row. However, the camera is showing its age and can take advantage of the latest sensor design, AF technology and high ISO algorithm built into some of the current higher end cameras.

The present EOS-7D is a highly successful camera and Canon will want to continue this top-of-the-line APS-C DSLR and come out with a replacement soon, perhaps by a slightly different name. With the success of the recently introduced Canon EOS-70D and its innovative Dual Pixel CMOS AF technology, Canon may include a more advanced version of this feature in the replacement camera and perhaps use the identical 20 MP sensor from the 70D.

Unsurpassed video performance will be a good start for the new camera. That is not enough to put the EOS-7D MK II at the top. It will need dual DIGIC processors to power the advanced AF system, a robust memory buffer for RAW and JPEG files to deliver a burst rate of 10 fps, dual memory slots to store the images and better weather sealing. With the retirement of the Canon EOS-1D Mk IV and the APS-H sensor, many wildlife and sports photographers (especially yours truly) are longing for a professional, cropped frame replacement. I avoid using extenders as much as I can and prefer to use the 7D to get closer shots. The Achilles heel of the EOS-7D is its mediocre high ISO performance and the new camera will address that once and for all.

I expect Canon to be introducing exciting cameras and lenses for 2014. The Canon EOS-7D body will be replaced next year. Read my earlier post on the possible specs. Keep checking back for the latest information and updates.

New Canon Lenses To Be Announced At CP+ Show

Canon EF line of 'L' lenses

The CP+ Camera and Imaging Show in Yokohama, Japan on February 13, 2014 may be the venue for Canon to announce two new EF lenses. Perhaps one 'L' and the other non 'L' version.

2014 will be a busy year for Canon to announce new products. The Consumer Electronic Show in January is usually the place for introducing new PowerShot cameras. The NAB Show in April allows Canon to bring out new Cinema EOS products as well. Keep checking back for the latest information.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Shooting Videos With Canon EOS Rebel Cameras, Part II

Canon EOS Rebel T4i and T5i cameras

The second of the 3-part video series from Canon USA will walk you through major tips and tricks, as well as important settings, so that you can turn your Canon EOS Rebel camera into a powerful HD video recording device. In this second part, we will cover more advanced features and settings for video capture going beyond basic, automatic settings. You will also learn some tips about how to take advantage of these settings for even better video results. The first video is here

Tamron Announces SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD Lens

Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di IF VC lens

Tamron Co., Ltd., a leading manufacturer of precision optics, has announced the release of an innovative ultra-telephoto zoom lens with a focal length range of 150mm to 600mm for full-frame and APS-C format DSLR cameras.

Tamron’s previously announced 200-500mm (Model A08), still currently available, is a popular, compact, easy-to-use ultra-telephoto zoom lens, but customers have shown great interest in having a lens that provide an even greater focal length range.

This all-new ultra-telephoto zoom lens features VC (Vibration Compensation) image stabilization, speedy, precise USD (Ultrasonic Silent Drive), state-of-the-art eBAND (Extended Bandwidth & Angular-Dependency) Coating, which significantly reduces the unwanted light reflections that cause flare and ghosting, and, in addition a sophisticated and stylish new external finish.

Its 4x ultra-telephoto zoom capabilities, with a focal length range from 150mm to 600mm, enhance the creative potential of telephoto photography, a captivating feature for all photographers, particularly nature, wildlife, and sports shooters.


4x ultra-telephoto zoom lens with a focal length range of 150mm to 600mm
The focal length range of this lens was extended by 50mm on the wide-angle side and 100mm on the telephoto side compared to the existing model (Model A08), making it possible to take even more striking photographs of birds, wildlife, sports, and other distant subjects. Mounted on APS-C DSLR cameras, it has a stunning equivalent focal length range of 233mm to 930mm, almost to 1000mm.

World class image quality

Employing 20 elements in 13 groups and boasting an advanced optical design, it delivers a superior balance of resolution and contrast for sharp, clear images. The front group contains three LD (Low Dispersion) glass elements (two in the first group, one in the third) for enhanced optical correction effectiveness, enabling the lens to thoroughly compensate for on-axis aberrations at the telephoto end. The lens also adopts eBAND Coating, developed from state-of-the-art coating technologies, and conventional BBAR(Broad-Band Anti-Reflection) Coating to greatly suppress ghosting and flare even when shooting under adverse lighting conditions.

Achieves a 600mm focal length in a compact easy-to handle package

Ingenious optical design features minimize the movement of lens groups within the lens when zooming. This reduces the amount of barrel extension needed to cover the complete focusing range, making the entire lens more compact.

Beautiful background blur effects

Adopting a 9 blade circular diaphragm enables users to create beautiful background blur effects (bokeh), which provide even greater potential for creative expression. This circular diaphragm retains a nearly circular shape even at two stops down from its maximum aperture.
VC (Vibration Compensation) mechanism creates greater opportunities for sharper handheld photography
Tamron’s proprietary VC (Vibration Compensation) image stabilization system uses a three-coil system, delivering significantly sharper images and creating greater opportunities for handheld ultra-telephoto photography.

Comfortable autofocus

Tamron’s new SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD features a USD (Ultrasonic Silent Drive) ultrasonic motor drive for swift and accurate AF response, it delivers high torque, very fast response times, and very low noise. The full-time manual focus mechanism allows users to make fine manual focus adjustments at any time even when AF is engaged.

New elegant, high-class external finish

Tamron has upgraded the cosmetic design and finish of this lens to create a more sophisticated, high-end look in keeping with the demands of discerning full-frame DSLR users. Employing a sophisticated linear pattern rubber grip on the zoom and focus rings and an attractive and stylish tungsten silver name-brand ring, this newly designed model accentuates its visceral presence with understated elegance and class.

Easy to use tripod mount

The tripod mount has been completely redesigned to provide superior stability, durability, ease of use, and portability.

Comes with "SILKYPIX Developer Studio for Tamron," RAW image development processing software for Tamron’s SP lenses. The SILKYPIX Developer Studio for Tamron provides a range of functions, in addition to the basic adjustment capabilities, such as correcting aberrations (chromatic aberrations of magnification, distortion, peripheral light fall-off), based on the optical data. Used in tandem with Tamron's SP series lenses - renowned for their high-depiction capability - this advanced technology efficiently produces images that meet photographers' most exacting demands.

The Canon mount model will be released first in Japan on December 19, 2013 and subsequently elsewhere. The launch dates of the Nikon and Sony compatible mount models will be announced at a later date. The SP 150-600mm Di VC USD lens will be available in the USA on January 17, 2014.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Canon EOS C100, EOS C300, EOS-1D C Firmware Upgrades

Canon EOS Cinema Cameras

* * * There is a Firmware upgrade for the EOS C500 camera as well * * * 

Canon has announced the immediate availability of recently announced feature upgrades for its EOS C100, EOS C300 and EOS-1D C Cinema EOS cameras.

Developed in response to market feedback, the feature upgrades will offer greater creative flexibility and enhanced operability, and clearly demonstrate Canon’s continued commitment to supporting the ever-evolving needs of the professional video community. For a complete detailed overview of the upgrades, please click here.

The feature upgrades for the EOS C100 and EOS C300 digital cinema cameras are available now for download, while the update for the EOS-1D C DSLR must be carried out at Canon Regional Competence Centres or Authorised Service Facilities across Europe and the Middle-East (EMEA) territories. There is no cost for the update but shipping costs will apply.

The upgrades for the cameras are as follows :


Firmware Version for the EOS C100 incorporates the following additional functions and modifications :

  • The ability to move the magnification viewing area around the LCD using the MAGN Function.
  • ISO up to 80,000 has been added.
  • A Key Lock menu setting has been added which now makes it possible to lock all operations, including the START/STOP button.
  • Peripheral Illumination Correction Data has been added for seven Canon Cinema lenses (EF mount) and 11 Canon EF Lenses.
  • Internal camera menus are now controllable from buttons on the camera body. Previously, they were only controllable from the joystick grip unit.
  • In addition to the (EF-S18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM), the function to enable continuous focusing and correct aperture on a subject in the middle of the screen when one of the two EF STM lenses is attached, has been extended to include the (EF-S18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM) lens.

* Firmware Version is for Cinema EOS C100 cameras with Firmware Version If your camera's firmware is already version, it is not necessary to update the firmware. Once the camera is updated to the latest firmware version, it cannot be restored to a previous version.


Firmware Version incorporates the following additional functions and modifications :

EOS C300 & EOS C300 PL

  • The ability to move the magnification viewing area around the LCD using the MAGN Function.
  • Support for a 1440x1080/35Mbps recording mode.
  • ISO up to 80,000 has been added.
  • Added functionality to support the optional Canon GPS Receiver GP-E1.
  • A Key Lock menu setting has been added which now makes it possible to lock all operations, including the START/STOP button.
  • Using the optional Canon WFT-E6 Wireless File Transmitter, the camera's remote-control application allows two users to access the same unit via a Wi-Fi® link providing simultaneous camera operation and control and metadata input simultaneously.
  • (Lens Exchange) and (ND+/ND-) have been added as functions that can be allocated to any assignable button.
  • A new Wide DR gamma setting provides an expanded dynamic range of 800%.
  • Flicker Reduction has been improved.


  • Provides Push Auto Iris and One-Shot AF operation.
  • A new AE Shift function and the selection of various light-metering modes are now available when used with some Canon Cinema lenses (EF mount) and Canon EF Lenses.
  • The ability to assign the two control dials to operate either Iris or ISO sensitivity independently.
  • Peripheral Illumination Correction Data has been added for seven Canon Cinema lenses (EF mount) and 15 Canon EF Lenses.
  • A function has been added to enable continuous focus and iris setting on a subject in the middle of the screen when either the EF-S18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM or EF-S18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM are attached.


Gamma information will not be shown correctly in the metadata of clips filmed on the Wide DR gamma setting included in Firmware Version and above when using the bundled software application Canon XF Utility Ver.1.3.1 or earlier. Therefore Canon recommends customers install Canon XF Utility Ver.1.3.2. The installer for this application has already been released and can be found here.

* If your camera's firmware is already Version, it is not necessary to update the firmware. Once the camera is updated to the latest firmware version, it cannot be restored to a previous version. For further details, please refer to the latest version of the instruction manual for this product, which will be released at the same time as this firmware update.


The Canon EOS-1D C will also benefit from a new service update that further enhances the performance of this unique imaging device. The new upgrades must be carried out at Canon Regional Competence Centres or Authorised Service Centres across Europe and the Middle-East (EMEA) territories.

EF Lens Communication 

The new service update for the EOS-1D C Digital SLR Cinema camera will enable Canon EF-mount Cinema lenses to store lens metadata in the video recorded by the camera. Furthermore, Canon EF-mount Cinema lenses will be supported by Peripheral Illumination and Chromatic Aberration Correction functions, thus helping to improve overall image quality.

Audio Recording 

In response to user requests, audio on the EOS-1D C camera has also been enhanced. Currently audio recording is limited to a MIC input, but the forthcoming service update will permit selection of LINE or MIC input, allowing use of a wider variety of external audio sources.
Please read all instructions carefully for the EOS C100 and EOS C300/C300 PL before downloading the updates. To find out more and download the firmware, please click here and enter your country, product (choose the ‘Camcorders’ option) and model details.

Canon Releases DPP, EOS Utility, Picture Style Editor Updates

Canon has released the latest version of the Digital Photo Professional, EOS Utility and Picture Style Editor software.

Canon Digital Photo Professional 3.13.51
  • Addition of Digital Lens Optimizer applicable lenses.

EOS Utility 2.13.40

  • A function has been added to allow the loading of just protected images into the PC.

Picture Style Editor 1.13.30

  • Supports EOS 70D, EOS Kiss X7 / EOS Rebel SL1 / EOS 100D, EOS Kiss X7i / EOS Rebel T5i / EOS 700D, EOS-1D C.

Download the software updates on Canon's website.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Canon EOS-M2 Camera Shipping On December 20, 2013

The recently announced Canon EOS-M2 camera will not be available outside Asia. For those who want to get a hold of one, you can pre-order the camera from Amazon Japan. Camera with different lens kit will be available and delivery is scheduled to start on December 20, 2013. 

For those who are enamored of the EOS-M camera, there will be another model with a built-in electronic viewfinder coming next year. I am not a fan of mirrorless cameras but am anxious to see the other Canon announcements coming in 2014