Saturday, September 15, 2007


(Top illustration is ISO 100, bottom is ISO 1600)

In these prose meanderings, I have only a few times gone “tech.” Well, here's another techie entry. From the moment it was announced, I heard the “new camera” song deep in my muddled brain. This new model offered a number of things I thought would be advantageous to my way a shooting. One, it has a much better focusing system than I'm use to; two, it will accept my 10-22mm EF-s Canon lens – a lens I could not do without; three, it's 10.2 mega-pixels which is big plenty for the size prints I make; four, it has a much better/bigger viewfinder than lessor Canon models; six, it has the new Digi-III processor; seven, has sensor cleaning; eight, damn it, I just wanted a new camera. So...
My new Canon 40D arrived just at the end of class Wednesday evening -- my former student, who is an assistant manager of a camera store in a town not too far from here and shall remain nameless -- brought it to me. However it did cost me dinner, but I had planned to eat out anyway since Ellen was attending a function/dinner at the AAS. Thursday I had to get my yearly eye exam, and of course, they screwed up my eyes for the next eight hours. When I could see again, I spent the rest of the day playing with the controls of the camera and locating what does what where and when.
Right away, the viewfinder is bigger and brighter than what I'm use to. The heft of the camera is more like an older film camera, too....or maybe I should say more like my first digital SLR, the Canon D60, and from the few times I've had one in my hands, much more like the 5D. Just to see what it was like, I turned on the "Live View" feature, and quickly turned it off. This is a feature I have no foreseeable use of. But I do like the size of the rear screen and the way it displays information. I always set my cameras to show me a histogram of each image while I'm shooting. I don't look to see the image I just shot, I look to see if the histogram is OK. I turn on the "show blown-out highlights" feature, also. Interesting that the 40D will show both a "tone" histogram and and "RGB" histogram simultaneously. That sorta' useful....I think. However you can make the big screen, as opposed to the little screen on top of the camera body, show all the other data -- shutter speed, f/stop, image number, shots left, time, white balance, etc., etc., in large easy to read large lettering that they old eyes really appreciate. That feature will surely be handy in the dark of night or a dim interior. It is rare that I would shoot other than the "AV" mode, AWB, RAW, single shot, and the exposure compensation if needed. Which brings me to the exposure compensation control. That's going to take some getting use to. You have to put the "on-off" switch which is inconveniently centered on the bottom back edge of the camera, to the "line" and use the back control wheel. That means you have to take it from your eye to see what you're doing. With the Rebel XT's and the XTi's this function was easily be accessed with the camera to your eye. And I've gotten us to seeing that little green light on the Xti reminding me the camera was still in the “on” position. More than a few times, I'll stop the truck, get out, shoot something, and getting back in the truck, put the Xti on the front seat. Then or a few moments later I'll notice the green “on” light. Be nice if they had put something like that on the 40D.
The comparison may be as telling as anything I can sharping on either. Other than a curve layer and a color correction layer, nothing else was done to either file. In fact, I was a bit surprised that I could merely drag the layers from the ISO 1600 image (I worked it first) to the ISO 100 image, and have it be so close. I wish I had a good RAW converter to work through these images, but currently all I have is Canon's "Digital Photo Professional" program that comes with the camera. I have little doubt that C1 LE or ARC 4.1 would do a better job. I will probably purchase C1 LE v4.1 (looks really good on Phase One's web site demo) when they add the 40D to their camera RAW list. Image was shot with my old EF 50mm f/1.8 Canon lens. Both were shot at f/11, for ISO 100 the speed was one full second, and the ISO 1600 was 1/15th. On a tripod, of course, using the self-timer to release the shutter. Images converted out at 12.96 x 8.64 inches at 300 ppi.
So far, so good. It'll get a good workout tomorrow during stART On the Street – an arts festival (stART = Street Art) and the weather while raining today is supposed to be sunny, dry, and in the low 60's. Should be a great day to outside having fun. I will probably shoot about 4-5 gigs of images. I plan on putting the 70-200 f/4 L on a battery gripped Xti and the 10-22mm on the 40D. Maybe trade lenses on the bodies to see what the 70-200 looks like on the 40D. Between those two lenses I can shoot most anything! I'll post a few in the coming week.

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