Lifehacker: Take Impressive Macro Photographs with Your Point-and-Shoot and CHDK

This sounds awesome. I’m gonna have to pull out my SD450 and give this a shot…pun intended. 😉

Remember the Canon Hacker’s Development Kit, aka CHDK—the open-source firmware that turns your point-and-shoot into a super-camera? Here’s how bug enthusiast Tim used CHDK and DIY ingenuity for better macro results from his point-and-shoot.

Spending more money was off the table for Tim’s spending budget, so rather than pony up for some new, expensive equipment, he turned to the wonder of open source. His setup is a little heady if you’re not familiar with the subject, but Tim used a reverse mounted lens technique along with the focus bracketing feature of CHDK. The results—one of which you can see in the screenshot—speak for themselves.

via Digital Photography: Take Impressive Macro Photographs with Your Point-and-Shoot and CHDK.

Canon EF 1200mm f/5.6L USM

Wow.

Features:

  • Lens construction: 13 elements in 10 groups
  • (protective glass and drop-in filter included)
  • Diagonal angle of view: 2°-5°
  • Focus adjustment: Inner focusing system with USM
  • Closest focusing distance: 14m / 46ft
  • Filter size: 48mm rear drop in

Canon’s most powerful supertelephoto lens

The world’s largest interchangeable SLR AF lens, in terms of both focal length and maximum aperture. Two large fluorite elements eliminate secondary spectrum, resulting in extremely sharp, high-quality images. With Extender EF 1.4x or 2x. a whopping focal length of 1700mm f/8 or 2400mm f/11 can be obtained respectively.

Sources:

Almost as impressive as this bad boy:

JSTN – Please, Canon

He’s got an excellent point – I’d love if I could set up my camera the way he’s described…

Please, Canon

Let me set my own lower limit for shutter speed with auto ISO.

I want to shoot wide open, but 1-divided-by-focal-length is just too slow for me most the time. At 24mm it frustratingly picks 1/20th even with several usable ISO stops that could go towards a faster shutter speed.

Shutter priority mode does me no good; I can’t rely on it to choose the maximum aperture (in fact, it rarely does).

Manual mode doesn’t support auto ISO. If you have it selected and you switch to manual it forces the ISO to 400. Instead, I wish it let me lock a shutter speed and aperture and then float the ISO as needed. Hitting the floor would cause the shutter speed to drop, but not before.

Actually, what I really want is a modeless UI that lets me set any two of the three (shutter, aperture, ISO) and institute my own graceful degradation.

Camera interface designs up until now have relied on the assumption that you’re only making two exposure decisions per shot (shutter speed and aperture, ISO being decided beforehand when you load the film). Digital suddenly adds a third thing to think about and the interfaces haven’t caught up yet.

via JSTN – Please, Canon.

Nifty Fifty! (Canon 50mm f/1.8 II Review)

Box
Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II: Box

I just picked up the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II lens, and so far, I’m quite impressed – much more than I thought I’d be!

Until yesterday, when I purchased the 50mm f/1.8, I had been shooting almost exclusively with the Canon EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM zoom lens that came with my Canon EOS 30D. I’m still quite fond of the 28-135mm, and for most occasions it’s the perfect walking-around lens (until I can get my hands on one of the L-series zooms). However, everyone I’ve talked to so far in the photography world has highly recommended getting a prime lens, and I wanted to find something inexpensive to tide me over until I could get my hands on the 100mm f/2.8 macro that I’ve heard such wonderful things about.

I’d also heard good things specifically about 50mm lenses (though on my 1.6x crop APS-C sensor, the 50mm is more like an 80mm), and set out to find myself a relatively cheap 50mm as my first prime lens. Of course, I found the 50mm f/1.8 Mark II lens first, because of it’s ridiculously cheap price compared to the rest of the EF/EF-S lineup of lenses, and the reviews said that the optics were surprisingly good for such a cheap lens.

Canon 50mm f/1.8 Mark II
Canon 50mm f/1.8 Mark II

I must say that I agree on both points above: this is a ridiculously cheap lens (both in construction and price), and it’s optics are surprisingly good. I first saw this lens on Amazon.com, so I knew what it looked like, but had no idea of the actual physical quality. If you haven’t seen this lens before in person, and you’re coming from a relatively higher quality kit lens like the 28-135mm, you’ll probably scoff at the 50mm f/1.8 lens. No ultrasonic motor, completely plastic housing and mount, and it’s light as a feather. I almost thought that I was going to break the damn thing when I was holding it, but I decided to try it out anyway, and I loved the clarity of the images that I saw coming from it. It is remarkably crisp, and quite fast for the price – much faster than my zoom at the wide end (f/3.5) and way faster at the narrow end (f/5.6). I’ve found that I’ve been able to take handheld shots in much lower light, and I love the bokeh it makes when it’s wide open at f/1.8.

I’ll admit, the plastic body of the f/1.8 made me strongly consider stepping up to the f/1.4 (the f/1.2 is waaaay too rich for my blood), but the price of the f/1.8 was just too good to ignore. I picked up the f/1.8 locally for $119, while the f/1.4 at the same shop was going for $300, and the f/1.2 was over $1600!

I haven’t been able to process any of the photos I’ve taken with it yet, since I’ve taken so damn many of them, but I’m sure you’ll be seeing my Flickr stream flooded with shots from my “nifty-fifty” as soon as I can get them posted. I’m really getting a kick out of this lens, and I’d highly recommend it to anyone looking to get their first prime lens for their Canon SLR or DSLR!

Additional Links:

Canon Dial 35 – Camerapedia.org

Fascinating camera from the 1960’s…

The Canon Dial 35 was an unconventional half-frame 35mm camera with clockwork automatic film advance. It was made in Japan by Canon from November 1963. The Dial 35 was also sold as the Bell & Howell Dial 35.

The body had an unusual “portrait” format rectangular shape, with a short, wide-diameter lens barrel containing the CdS meter photocells window around the 28mm lens. Rotating the lens barrel set the speed of the Seikosha shutter; the aperture was set automatically. A button below the viewfinder could be pulled out to give manual aperture control, for manual exposure settings or flash. Film speed was set on a scale around the meter window.

Focus was set on a lever around the top of the lens barrel, with a display inside the viewfinder.

There was a cylindrical handle at the bottom, which also wound the clockwork mechanism. On the (users) left is an accessory shoe. The film ran vertically, from the cassette at the top to the take-up spool at the bottom, giving a landscape-format 24x18mm frame when the camera is upright.

Dial 35-2

The 35-2 has a black nameplate at the top in place of the engraved name and a longer-lasting clockwork motor. Speed range is increased to 1000ASA, the meter uses a different battery and a hot shoe is added.

via Canon Dial 35 – Camerapedia.org.

More info here: http://web.comhem.se/~u87754955/canon-dial-35.html

(If you’re in search of the original manual, you can find it here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/2570932/Canon-Dial-352-manual)

E18 Error Fixed! (Canon PowerShot SD450)

Huzzah! I finally fixed the E18 error I’ve been experiencing on my Canon PowerShot SD450, which prevented my lens from extending when the power was turned on, and the fix wasn’t nearly as difficult as I had expected. I’ve even snapped some shots of the process so that you can follow along at home, and fix your own camera if you are experiencing the same problem that I was.

Canon_Ixus_II_with_E18_errorIf you’re not yet familiar with the E18 error, check out this information on the topic from Wikipedia:

The E18 error is an error message on Canon digital cameras. The E18 error occurs when anything prevents the zoom lens from properly extending or retracting.[1] The error has become notorious in the Canon user community as it can completely disable the camera, requiring expensive repairs.

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E18_error)

This is a fairly prevalent problem with the PowerShot cameras, and a class action lawsuit was filed (but dismissed) against Canon:

A Chicago law firm, Horwitz, Horwitz & Associates, has already filed a class action,[4] while the law firm of Girard Gibbs & De Bartolomeo LLP are investigating this camera flaw and may issue a class-action lawsuit against Canon.[5] There is at least one other.[6] Although the suit was dismissed in a court of law, the plaintiffs are appealing.

Fortunately, at least in my case, the fix did not require returning the camera to a Canon repair facility or having to take unreasonably complex steps.

My solution for the PowerShot SD450/IXUS 55 follows:
(You’ll need a very small Philips head screwdriver, #00, to remove the screws)

  1. There are six screws holding the metal frame of the camera body together, two on each side, and two on the bottom. Remove all screws, pop the strap-hook plate (sorry, probably not the most technical term there), then gently lift the front plate off by pulling up from the bottom, and remove the back plate in the same fashion. These should come off relatively easily. This is what the camera should look like as you remove the plates:
    IMG_5340
    IMG_5342
    IMG_5344
  2. Now, looking from the top of the camera, you should see a small motor on the left side, as shown below (it’s beneath the cable with a “22” written on it):
    IMG_5346
  3. Take your screwdriver (or another small instrument) and gently try to rotate the plastic piece attached to the motor on the left side, as shown below:
    IMG_5359
  4. At this point, try placing the battery back in the camera (if you have removed it), turn the camera to one of the capture modes, and press the power button. If all went well, your lens should now be able to extend and retract properly.

Further information (and other repair tutorials) are available at the following locations:

Unforunately, the site that had the most comprehensive information about this issue, e18error.com, seems to be down for the time being. Here’s a quote from their site that I saved in another blog post before the site was taken down:

HOW IT ALL WORKS:
Canon E18 error happens when the lens gets stuck while trying to extend. The camera will beep a few times and the LCD will display a little E18 in the lower-left corner. The lens gets stuck in the extended position, and refuses to move either to focus the lens or to retract when powered off.

Apparently, people who posted about this incident on forums say they had to send the camera for repair and that Canon has horrible customer support and response time.

Here is how the E18 error looks like. You just get a black screen with small “E18″ sign in the lower-left corner:

The problem usually happens because dirt or sand get into the lens mechanism. But it seems that more and more people are showing, who took great care of their camera, and still started receiving E18 errors.

(http://www.e18error.com/)

Please share your experiences with this fix, or the E18 error in general, in the comments below. Thanks for reading!

BobAtkins.com: Manual focus lenses on Canon EOS bodies

Manual Focus Lens on Canon EOS DSLR
Photojojo: Manual Focus Lens on Canon EOS DSLR

I found this excellent post below from BobAtkins.com about using manual focus lenses on Canon EOS bodies via this great article at Photojojo: Better Lenses for Less Money: How To Use Vintage Lenses with Your DSLR

Using Manual Focus Lenses on Canon EOS bodies

A common question is whether older manual focus lenses from other manufacturers can be used with a Canon EOS body. The answer is a qualified “yes” in many cases. Of course you don’t get autofocus, nor do you get any sort of focus confirmation. Also, you don’t get any sort of automatic iris operation. In most SLRs, focusing is done at full aperture, and if you stop the lens down to, say, f11, it remains fully open until just before exposure, then it stops down for the exposure and opens up again. This gives a brighter viewfinder image and makes focusing easier and more accurate. When these lenses are mounted on an EOS body, stop down metering must be used. That means that the lens is first focused at full aperture (for maximum accuracy), then manually stopped down to the shooting aperture before the shot is taken. Some people have trouble accurately focusing using the standard EOS viewfinder screen, since it has no focus aids (like a split image center). While some of the higher end models (like the EOS-1 series, the EOS 3 and the EOS A2), so have additional accessory screens with focus aids (e.g. screen Ec-B has a split image center), the consumer level cameras (Rebel, Elan, digital Rebel, 10D, 20D) do not.

Clearly using a manual focus lens is inconvenient, but sometimes it can be worth it if the equivalent EOS lens is expensive, if the manual focus lens is better than any Canon EF or EF-S series lens (rare, but it happens), if you shoot mostly static subjects or if you don’t use the lens very often.

via Canon EOS lens Adapters – Manual focus lenses on Canon EOS bodies

Focal DT-5000 + Canon EOS 30D?

Focal DT-5000 Zoom

Over the weekend, I found a great deal on a flash for my Canon EOS 30D at a thrift store, but I can’t find any information on this particular flash unit to determine whether or not it’s safe to use on my DSLR.

I know that it technically works, because I’ve successfully mounted it on my 30D and was able to get the flash to fire when I pressed the shutter button, but I’ve heard some rumors floating about that Canon and Nikon DSLRs are very particular about their flash units, because of their TTL flash metering and circuitry that communicates through the mount.

If anyone has any information about this particular flash, or the specifications on the EOS series DSLR flash mounts, please leave a comment on this post.

Thanks! 😀

Update: I’ve started a discussion in the PDX Strobist group on Flickr to accompany this post:
Flickr: Discussing Is This Flash Compatible With My DSLR? (Focal DT-5000)

Canon 5200mm f/14 lens

…really looks like a cannon. 😉

702f_12

This is the most mammoth camera lens I’ve ever seen, and has almost unbelievable specifications:

tv5200cat

From CanonFD.com:

  • Focal Length: 5150mm
  • Exposure Control: Light quantity is controlled with the use of built-in ND filters, corresponding to f/14, f/16, f/22, f/32
  • Minimum Object Distance: 120 meters (Approx 393 feet!)
  • Size: 500mm(wide) x 600mm(high) x 1890mm(deep) [20”x24”x75.6”]
  • Weight: 100kg (220 lbs) without stand.

Yes, this behemoth is 220 pounds! That fact alone is impressive enough, then add the fact that it is capable of taking photographs of objects 18 to 32 miles away!

And now, this bad boy is for sale on eBay, for the low, low price of $55,000.00.

I think the best part is the quote from the seller:

This is a very rare Canon 5200mm photographic lens – possibly one of only three ever built. THE largest & most powerful prime lens ever created for dedicated SLR use. Built in Japan it was purchased by a Chinese company & shipped to China where it has since had little use & is now for sale. The optics appear in perfect condition. It is my understanding that a customized SLR/DSLR/EF mount can be created/included by the team of optical engineers who presently look after the lens. Due to its large size, it may be better suited to astronomy applications. It takes two people to lift the lens. It could also be mounted on a customized truck or SUV. A large geared or motorized support head would be needed to get the most out it. The magnification of this lens is truly staggering. If mounted to a Canon XL series video camera for example, a reach of 1000x optical (at least) would be possible (approx 37,500mm). The lens could also be mounted to HD & cine cameras. Tracking the space shuttle would not be a problem. Perhaps it’s already been used for that purpose? – (Did I just say that??!) Manual focus of course. Yes rear drop-in filters can be used. With so few ever built Canon spent “squillions” on the R&D, not to mention the manufacturer of this lens. Original cost price?? – don’t even ask!! 😉 In all seriousness I can’t be accurate. The Canon factory picture shows the lens mounted to an SLR camera (circled in red) – this will further give you an idea of it’s size.

For a better idea of how powerful this lens is, take a look at the following example:

5200jr3

Thanks to the following sites for information on this magnificent lens!

PC Fastlane: Most Expensive Camera Lenses Ever

This list is awesome, but it leaves out the most expensive and largest camera lens I’ve seen, the Canon 5200mm f/14 lens, which is currently for sale on eBay

From PC Fastlane:

canon-ef-800mm-super-telephoto-lens

Expect to sell a few organs to afford this thing. Price at almost $12,000, the Canon EF 800mm is designed for the pros among us. It will be released in May 2008, it is meant for long-range photography like sports, wildlife, and nature. Don’t expect to use this thing without a tripod by the way. At over 10 pounds, it probably weighs more than your camera. Thankfully, Amazon has graceously included free shipping with the item.

(more here: http://www.pcfastlane.com/rants-raves/most-expensive-camera-lenses-ever/)

Canon 5D Mark II Released!

Wow! These specs are even better than I’d hoped for!

InspirationUnlimited

According to digital Photography School:

Here’s what Canon DSLR fans have been waiting for – the new Canon EOS 5D Mark II DSLR.

This 21 megapixel DSLR (CMOS full frame sensor) has an ISO range of 50 to 25600, HD movie recording (seems to be the way we’re going), Live View framing of images on it’s 3.0 inch LCD (920,000 pixels), burst mode of up to 3.9 frames per second, DIGIC IV processor and sensor dust reduction.

This beauty will set you back $2699 USD when it hits stores in November this year.

I’ve included the news release from Canon announcing the Canon EOS 5D Mark II DSLR below.

PS: also announced today by Canon is a new Canon 24mm f/1.4 II USM lens. Fast, wide angle which has gone through an update from its previous version.

(dPS: Canon EOS 5D Mark II)

And, from the Canon site itself:

(http://web.canon.jp/imaging/eosd/eos5dm2/index.html)

The newly designed sensor is ultra-sensitive, too, empowering you to explore creative opportunities in challenging environments thanks to a wide ISO range of 100 to 6400 at the standard setting. ISO expansion extends coverage from ISO 50 to an astounding ISO 25600. Shooting with auto ISO is also nicely responsive with a comfortable ISO range of 100 to 3200. Whether shooting outdoor scenes at night or charmingly lit interiors, you can now capture all the subtle nuances of natural lighting through the unencumbered joy of hand-held, flash-free shooting.

(http://web.canon.jp/imaging/eosd/eos5dm2/01.html#01)

Awesome. Just awesome. I was aware of most of the specs from the pre-release buzz, but the HD movie mode is new to me. What do you think?

canon-eos-5d-mark-ii

My previous posts:

Canon EOS 50D SLR

It’s a bit surprising to me how quickly Canon is skipping over the 40D; I purchased a 30D at the end of its sales life (and was able to get the nicer 28-135mm lens shown below as part of the kit), right before the 40D came out, just about a year ago..

canon_eos50d-thumb-450x505

Canon today strengthens its EOS range with the addition of a powerful new digital SLR: the EOS 50D. A newly designed 15.1 Megapixel CMOS sensor delivers ultra-detailed, low-noise images – ideal for large-scale reproduction or creative cropping. Canon’s new DIGIC 4 processor is fast enough to allow up to 6.3fps continuous shooting, in bursts of up to 90 JPEGs with a UDMA card. Used with Canon’s wide area AF system, which locks onto subjects with 9 individual cross type sensors, stunning action sequences can be captured – even in low-light conditions. A new 3.0” Clear View VGA LCD provides extra-large and wide angle-of-view image review, with plenty of clarity for accurate focus checks in playback. By switching to Live View mode – which displays a real-time image on the LCD – photographers can enjoy simplified shooting from awkward angles, or connect to a PC for remote shooting.

(continued via fareastgizmos.com)

Canon E18 Error (Lens Problem)

Update!
I’ve fixed the E18 Error on my PowerShot SD450 and posted the steps here:
E18 Error Fixed! (Canon PowerShot SD450)


Found this site when I began to research the error which mysteriously began appearing on my Canon PowerShot SD450 (and luckily *not* on my Canon 30D), which explains what seems to be a pretty prevalent error within the PowerShot series:

This web site’s mission is to provide a source of information and help for the Canon E18 Error.

The E18 seems to be a significant flaw in an otherwise great camera.
It is a flaw well know by users of Canon Powershot and Ixus cameras and is currently not acknowledged by Canon as a flaw in camera design.

HOW IT ALL WORKS:
Canon E18 error happens when the lens gets stuck while trying to extend. The camera will beep a few times and the LCD will display a little E18 in the lower-left corner. The lens gets stuck in the extended position, and refuses to move either to focus the lens or to retract when powered off.

Apparently, people who posted about this incident on forums say they had to send the camera for repair and that Canon has horrible customer support and response time.

Here is how the E18 error looks like. You just get a black screen with small “E18” sign in the lower-left corner:

The problem usually happens because dirt or sand get into the lens mechanism. But it seems that more and more people are showing, who took great care of their camera, and still started receiving E18 errors.

(via www.e18error.com)

dPS: Prime vs. Zoom Lenses

Yet another excellent article from dPS, this time about lenses:

Canon-EF-50mm-lens-1-tmCanon-EF-24-105mm-lens-1-tm

What is a Prime Lens?

A prime lens is a lens that has one focal length only. They come in all focal lengths ranging from wide angle ones through to the longer telephoto ones.

What is a Zoom Lens?

A zoom lens is a lens that has a range of focal lengths available to the photographer in the one lens. These have become increasingly popular over the past few years as they are obviously a very convenient lens to have on your camera as they mean you can shoot at both wide and longer focal lengths without having to switch lenses mid shoot.

As you surf around different camera forums you’ll find people who argue strongly for both prime and zoom lenses. Each have their own fans and each will pull different arguments out about them. Let’s look at some of the pros and cons Zoom and Prime lenses:

(continued via: Prime vs Zoom Lenses – Which are Best?)

Canon EOS 5D Mark II…my next camera.

Update: New post, new information available here:
New Teaser Ad for Canon 5D Mark II, 50D compared.

From Gizmodo:

The calendar tells us that the 5D, Canon’s second best DSLR range, is due for a refresh. It comes from a message board, so take this with a grain of salt, but someone on DP Review forums has posted specs for a second generation 5D with the following changes: A modest 15.3MP up from 12.8MP, and a massive 2 stop bump in light sensitivity to 25600 ISO.

The cam will supposedly shoot at 6fps instead of 3, and will have dual Digic III processors instead of a single Digic II cpu. The AF system will use 29 points instead of 9, and it’ll have the same weather sealing as the topline 1Ds Mark III, as well as live view. The announcement is supposed to come on April 22nd, at $3500. That’s a lot of stat smather, but the bottom line is that Nikon’s D300 better watch its ass.

This is definitely going to be my next camera. I had been thinking about getting a 5D as an upgrade for my 30D for some time, but I’m willing to wait to see what happens with this one. Unfortunately, it probably won’t be priced as reasonably as the current 5D is now. =P

http://gizmodo.com/367086/canon-5d-mark-ii-rumored-specs-and-details

Also: