Upgrade Time

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Whilst I enjoy the 11-24mm F4 immensely, at nearly 2 kilos it is a bit of a lump to lug around all day when you don’t need to shoot so wide. So it was time to upgrade a 17-40mm F4 L that I had knocking about to the latest 16-35mm F2.8L mkIII. And what an upgrade it is, just need to dial in all the AF Micro Adjustments and we are good to go. I use Reikan FoCal to calibrate, it is disappointing that Canon do not support the full automatic calibration process which would substantially reduce the amount of faffing about, but hey-ho.

A little Project

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Next week I am shooting some firework displays and I want to be able to have two cameras on a tripod one on a wide & another on a not so wide, however all of the remotes that I own don’t support keeping the shutter open in “Bulb” mode so I am going to make a work around, all in it will probably cost a ‘tenner’ but it will enable me to synch the two cameras. Some of the parts have arrived from RS Components, just waiting on a couple of 3.5mm sockets to finish it.

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[Update]  All finished and working as it should. I could have installed an LED and an On/Off switch but that would have added some additional bulk & weight.

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Finished Remote Trigger

 

Wider than Wide

Canon 8-15mmf4l

Canon EF 8mm-15mm F4L

Having invested relatively recently in a very wide piece of glass in the Canon 11-24mm, I decided that as I was enjoying it so much that I would add another wide to the kit bag, very nearly the widest that I have ever owned in fact. The last real fisheye lens that I had was a Canon FD 7.5mm F5.6 back in the 1980s, I don’t think I used it more than a couple of times before recycling it. So the latest addition is an 8-15mm F4L. which will probably be used a few times a year, but I have a few ideas for it, including a fireworks display that I am commissioned to shoot in the next 10 days or so.

Whoops

 

Canon 85mm F1.2 0019

I have always wanted another 85mm F1.2L, I had a FD 85mm F1.2L back in the old days when I was shooting with Canon F1n bodies. Had to buy it, it was too good a deal not to. Will get around to calibrating it, and getting used to it. It is a huge block of glass, AF seems pretty reasonable if not particularly fast. Looking forward to having a play with it.

 

One of the things that is really impressive is the size of the rear element, there is no wiggle room at the lens mount, in fact the electronic contacts are actually hanging out over the glass.

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All ready for next week

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I have decided that I shall run a remote, behind the goal at the last few games of the season, so with that in mind I ordered a Manfrotto Pixi Evo 2 mini tripod which looks the “mutts”. Time will tell if it  is man enough for the job,  I also have a very well used EOS 1Dx winging it way to me  & I shall stick my 15mm on it and see how we go. Coupled with a couple of PocketWizard Plus III remotes we are good to go.

I am not sure how I will shoot through the match yet, I think 2 CF Cards and remove one at half time, and then the second one post match, or if nothing interesting has happened then just leave it. The only thing that I must remember to do is synchronise all three camera bodies so that the images display in the correct time sequence._PB19768A_PB19764A

 

Think Tank

I have used Think Tank gear for a number of years and rate them very highly, not only are their products excellent, the Customer Service is beyond reproach.

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Think Tank Artificial Intelligence 13 v 3Laptop bag

Having been downsized my laptop a year or so back, I finally got around to replacing the Think Tank Laptop bag with one the correct size. Having a 13″ laptop in a 15″ case always felt wrong & seeing as the strap had definitely seen better days, it was time to upgrade.

Whilst I was there I thought I may as well get the accreditation pouches as well, seeing as I am constantly hunting through my pockets for them (especially at Brentford).

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Think Tank Credential Holder (Long & Short)

Wayward Lens Caps

Canon 15mm F2.8 0011A

If you have a Canon wide angle with the aluminium push fit caps, they can after a period of time become loose (to be honest they aren’t great when new), however they can be sorted with a couple of bits of self adhesive velcro.

I have done mine & you can now pick up the lens by the front cap.

 

Gitzo Pod

Gitzo Monopod 0002

18/03/2018. Gitzo Travel MonoPod GM2562T

 

Having had a Manfrotto CarbOne monopod for about 18 years & an aluminium Manfrotto monopod since 1980, it seemed about time to replace, especially as the Clip Locks on the CarbOne are difficult to use with gloves on. After some research (OK I looked on Amazon) I found one that will do the job, and as a bonus will also fit in the Pelicase with the 400mm, rather than being “bungy strapped” to the outside of the case.

As with most things that are overpriced, it came in  very luxurious packaging, including a plastic holder containing an Allen key & a set of instructions. Whilst it is not as tall as either of my other monopods, it will be used whilst sitting down 95% of the time.

 

F*ck that’s wide

18/03/2018. Canon 14mm F2.8L mkII

18/03/2018. Canon 14mm F2.8L mkII

 

I haven’t had a 14mm for a little while,  the last one that I had was a Sigma 14mm F2.8 which I had on loan for a review which was Ok, prior to that I had a Canon 14mm F2.8L which was pretty poor, not sure whether I just had a poor example or whether they were all as bad. However, I decided that I should have one in my bag, so I went for the Canon 14mm F2.8 L mkII.

I will update when I have had a chance to use it in anger!

To Good To Refuse

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I  always fancied an Angle Finder going back to when I was shooting film with Canon A-1s, but they were always too expensive for the amount of use that I would get from one. One came up recently that was priced such that it was an offer I couldn’t refuse. It is in absolutely mint condition, and came with both eye-piece adaptors & original pouch. Whilst I probably will never use it it is a nice bit of kit & will live in the camera bag.

 

Eventually….

14/10/2017. Fulham v Preston North End. Action from the Sky Bet Championship.

It has taken a while, but I have found a second WFT-E6 at a sensible price, which now means that I can shoot with both bodies and wi-fi the images to my iPad. I cannot believe how expensive these things are new, and as I mainly use them at football, nearly £500 each was to expensive to justify.

In most situations they are overkill, the Eye-Fi mobi pro cards did the job, unless there was a lot of wi-fi interference, which on match days there frequently is. As you can probably imagine several thousand supporters, plus TV & the such like all using WiFi means that the airwaves are congested. Not a problem on most news stories, when there are just a few photographers & journalists about, however I do like the fact that I can send images direct from the camera to the picture desk, with as little or as much interaction as I wish.

It is also great when doing corporate shots, so that the client can see images as they are shot (subject to me checking them on the back of the camera first!)

Just when you think it’s all over

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Having upgraded & replaced just about everything in the kit bag over the last 12 months, the Quantum Turbo decides it’s time to stop working. I have ordered a replacement cell, which will be here tomorrow & with luck that will cure the problem, as I have no plans to replace the Quantum with the Quantum 3 (over £500) when I only use it occasionally.

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Anyway it is a quite simple process, but a right royal pain in the arse, undoing the three screws was simple enough, and getting the control panel & electrics a bit of the way out was easy enough, however Quantum use a bit of industrial double sided tape to secure the battery to the case, obviously not anywhere that it is easy to reach or indeed obvious to spot.

Anyway a lot of swearing and the whole assembly is out of the box.

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I can’t really complain, I have had the Quantum since some time in the early 2000s, and although it has been used 15 years between services can’t be too bad. I ordered the replacement battery from http://www.batterycompany.co.uk on Sunday night & it should be here tomorrow (Tuesday) pretty good service & cheap £22.00 including shipping.

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** Update** Well that went well,  all reassembled and working perfectly, with no left over bits, and no rattles either. Just a full recharge required.

Another Upgrade

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Probably my least used lens over the last 18 years is the 28-70mm F2.8L which for the most part sits in my kit bag as the 16-35mm & the 70-200mm are almost permanently bolted to my cameras. Looking back in my Archive, it seemed that it was used for less than 5,000 frames. So even though it was time to upgrade, I didn’t think that the extra weight & cost of the 24-70mm F2.8L was worth it, so I have replaced it with the smaller & lighter 24-70mm F4L IS.

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Time to Upgrade

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It has been a while, the Canon 16-35mm F2.8L I have since it’s original launch in the UK, even though it has been serviced it is time to retire the old girl, also the 17-40 F4 L that I purchased as a temporary replacement is to go on ebay also.

I can’t justify a brand new 16-35mm F2.8 mkIII so I have a brand new old stock 16-35mm F2.8 L mkII.

Also contemplating replacing the equally old 28-70mm F2.8 L as it is a similar age to the 16-35mm and the 70-200mm F2.8 L (all of which were purchased in 2001 along with a pair of EOS 1D bodies).

New Toy

 

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Don’t do much macro work, probably two jobs in the last year or so, that have actually come close to requiring a macro lens, but I was able to get away with a 24-70 & extension tubes. But I decided that it was time to invest. So a 100mm F2.8 Macro lens has been added to the arsenal. For the most part it will probably seldom leave the house, but it is handy to have.

Back in the 80s

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Back in 1980 I used a Tenba P211 bag for my kit, it comfortably held a Canon A1 with MA set & 50mm F1.4, a 24mm F2, a 100mm F2.8 and a 70-210mm, with a 199A Speedlight, plus half a dozen rolls of film.

I was hoping to find a nice condition period one, but have been unsuccessful, so purchased the new Tenba P211 Classic. as a bag that can be thrown in the car. Whilst it won’t take the same volume of kit as before, due to the much larger size of the equipment, so it will hold a EOS1dx, 40mm STM, 24mm, 100mm & a 580EXII along with an iPad.

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Very Impressed…

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Sent my ageing Canon 16-35mm F2.8L away to The Lens Doctor for repair as it was incapable of producing a sharp image. I was purchased some 16 years ago & Canon wouldn’t touch it. So anyway a mere £239 and the lens has been fixed & returned, and what a job they have done. It has been completely stripped down, cleaned, repaired, parts replaced and returned.

I have shot a few test images and it seems every bit as good as the day that it was purchased. Despite being a heavily used lens, the focus & zoom rings are as smooth as a baby’s bottom. The weather seal has been replaced, in fact it seems a shame to stick my battered old lens hood on it.

I have no connection with The Lens Doctor other than being a very satisfied customer.

The details of the work required is shown below.

Stated Fault: Lens producing soft results /service

Observations: The lens looks in used cosmetic condition, showing small external wear on paintwork and fixings (some small paint wear commensurate with age), there is also slight wear on the lens grips and rubbers. The internal glass has an amount of dust/ debris on all the elements, suggesting there is a slight covering of environmental oils and dust throughout the lens. The Electronics/mechanics of the lens after inspection and test have shown a loose central corrector group carrier, the lens will require to be fully disassembled to re new bushes and to secure loose barrel assembly.

Estimate: The lens requires a complete disassembly for internal repair, replacing the Central Corrector group’s bushes and securing drive assembly. The lens also requires a general service including Clean, Lubricated and adjusted, giving principal consideration to the focus movement, this involves stripping out the entire focusing mechanism system and movements from the lens. Assemble all parts and secure loose Guides and key ways (Corrector Group), and re-assemble internal focusing movement, and I.C. assembly’s new internal bearings/bushing kit, re-align focus, collimate re-centre element groups and calibrate, test back to standard.

PARTS: The lens performance will be seriously affected by the movement of the Corrector Group carrier, which hopefully will be secured by new bearings/bushes, but I cannot ascertain the full extent of wear on the carrier housing until I have entered the lens. Also the lens requires a securing of Guides and key set bearings kit. I have priced for the parts which I will have to order.

  1. Key Guides bearings and bushing kit assembly.
  2. May require Central Corrector group carrier assembly

COST:  Disassemble all function parts Including mechanics and glass, check and inspect internal functionality and Helicoids action. Remove all mechanical assemblies, clean glass and element groups. Inspect and investigate all mechanical lens movements, check tolerances and re-new housing bearings. Re-install Power Diaphragm, Iris motor and drive unit and assembly, check and re-new barrel Key Guides and bearings. Re align and fully re –centre, collimate helicoids and align, calibrate aperture system reassemble, seal and fully test.

TOTALS: For full repair, test and bring back to standard   £239.00

               : Postage and Packing at cost

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Not Unreasonable…

_PBA3144Just received a quotation from www.thelensdoctor.co.uk for the repair of my 16-35mm F2.8 L USM, which I think is quite reasonable, bearing in mind that I purchased it brand new when it was first released so, in reality, although originally expensive, it owes me nothing.  It has given faultless service since 2001 and for the sake of £300 to repair & service it will be fine for a back up lens, or used behind the goal on a remote.

The work required is

The lens requires a complete disassembly for internal repair, replacing the Central Corrector group’s bushes and securing drive assembly. The lens also requires a general service including Clean, Lubricated and adjusted, giving principal consideration to the focus movement, this involves stripping out the entire focusing mechanism system and movements from the lens. Assemble all parts and secure loose Guides and key ways (Corrector Group), and re-assemble internal focusing movement, and I.C. assembly’s new internal bearings/bushing kit, re-align focus, collimate re-centre element groups and calibrate, test back to standard.

Looking forward to getting it back, as much as I like the 17-40mm F4 L USM that has replaced it, I like the extra stop & the extra 1mm.

A brace…

img_0252aAfter shooting with a 1Dx & a mark IV and leaving the mark IV in the bag on most jobs I decided that it was time to upgrade the second body. Pleased with the acquisition, just need a second WFT-E6 now.

Chopped in a pair of EOS1D Mark IV bodies (heavily used with 170,000 & 260,000 frames) and a lightly used EOS1D Mark IIn which had been sitting around for ages doing nothing).

Was hoping to work them both today, but the diary was empty so it will have to wait until next week.

New Bag

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Got fed up with transporting the Elinchrom lights in the Elinchrom hard case which holds three heads but not much else, or using an Elinchrom tube case, which only holds two flash-heads & having the third rattling around so found an Elinchrom 3 head Soft Location Bag, which was a clearance item at The Flash Centre, which was £20 off retail. Pleased with it as it carries 2x D-Lite4  & a D-Lite2 (with standard reflectors), plus mains leads, Sync Leads, PocketWizards, Flash meter and a couple of 20cm reflectors as well.

I am sure that this will make transporting the lights to client sites a lot easier, also will look more professional. The light stands, background stands, additional reflectors & modifiers and associated gubbins will roll in a Peli 1650 Case. Nice!

 

Elinchrom

attachment-1aHaving sorted one D-lite last week, I decided that I should tackle one of my older ones, a EL250, which has started smoking (I know dirty habit) almost as soon as it is switched on. Figured that it was possible something causing a small short or possibly a build up of dust inside the casing, I thought that I should at least have a look. A bit more complicated to strip down than the D-Lite & there are no teardowns on the web for them (at least that I could find). Anyway out of the case came a shit load of dust & a loose screw (I assume that the previous owner may have had a play). I couldn’t see anything obviously wrong with it, reassembled it & now it works fine.

Well that worked…

14/12/2016.  Guildford City v Horley Town. Surrey Senior Cup

Canon WFT-E6

The first “real” test of the WFT-E6 was a success. At the last game that I covered that the TV was at caused problems for the Eye-Fi Mobi pro cards that I use, meaning that I was unable to wire images on the fly during the game, so I upgraded to the Canon WiFi. Well the Aldershot v Woking game on boxing day was televised, with some 3500 fans & the Wi-Fi worked flawlessly. It was a little slower than it would usually be, which I put down to the volume of wi-fi traffic. Each photo took between 4 & 10 seconds to arrive on the iPad, compared to the usual 1-2 seconds.

Well that was hard work…

14/12/2016.  Guildford City v Horley Town. Surrey Senior Cup

The Canon WFT-E6 arrived today, and I thought I’d better not delay in getting the thing up & running with the iPad, well it all works, but what a faff! It has been a week of new tech for me, I have trashed the old Android phone & “upgraded” to an iPhone 6 thingy, which is now happily equipped with my old phone number (yes I changed networks at the same time, don’t ask how it went F*&king Useless TeleCos).

Anyway preliminary testing has proved that everything plays nicely together, so onwards and upwards.

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Upgrade Time

08/11/2016. Camberley Town v Guildford City. Krooner Park

After visiting some non league grounds with the worse lighting ever in the last year or so, I have decided that the Canon EOS1d mkIV is probably past it, the noise is horrendous when you need to shoot at 6400ISO or above, so I have upgraded, I was fortunate to find a deal that I couldn’t refuse, so the mkIVs will be semi retired, probably to behind the goal duty.

Having moved to full frame is going to be a little strange after working with cropped camera bodies since the late 1990s. When I first transitioned across to digital with the DCS3 ( A horrible 1.3 megapixel DSLR with all the draw backs of shooting film & none of the big benefits of digital) the number of times I had to take a couple of steps backwards to fill the viewfinder was embarrassing. The trouble is I can see myself setting up group photos now lifting the camera to my eye, and having to take several steps forward. D’Oh!

Initial impressions are very positive, especially as I have now tweaked the settings to work “my way” all I need now is a CF-SD adaptor that will allow me to use my eye-fi mobi-pro card to work in one of  the slots, & I will be a very happy bunny.

 

I can’t complain

580exaOne of the Canon 580EX flashguns that I have owned since they first became available (circa 2005) has finally given up, that’s not strictly true, it still works as a flashgun, however the AF Assist light  has packed up, which when shooting in pitch black conditions as I was last night is a bit of a pain in the arse, so it will be semi-retired and remain in the bag as a back up or for use  when it is pissing down with rain or I am in a media scrum.

Replacement has been purchased, hopefully it will be here before the weekend when I have more Bonfire night events to cover.

Sigma 120-300 DG OS HSM Sport

_PBB3608Having acquired a Sigma 120-300 F2.8 Sport, it seemed prudent to get a USB dock to customise the lens & ensure that the firmware is up to date. Having been through the process once before with the non-sport version the software was instantly recogniseable & the firmware update was completed in about 30 seconds, then configuring the customisable switches to around another 30 seconds. Hopefully I will be able to see the results the next time I use it.

Screen Shot 2016-04-11 at 16.59.46

New Case

CfX9qO_WIAMV_QL.jpg-largeI got fed up with lugging a think-tank Airport Accelerator V2.0 & a 300mm in a separate case to football matches, specially to Brentford where the press-room is upstairs, so invested in a Peli-Case 1510, I already have it’s big brother, which is fine for storing ALL the kit in, but just for football all I need is two bodies, 16-35, 28-70, 70-200 & the 120-300, and a couple of extenders. Which now all fit in one drag-able case.

Lovin’ the new toy

Sig123I am enjoying the new Sigma 120-300 EX, HSM, OS, Sport, [add your own random letters here] which replaced an ageing 120-300 EX, DG, HSM, however I do need to get used to the very different handling characteristics. However shooting today with a Canon 1.4 extender it works really well 99% of the time, just looking forward to getting a USB dock to tweak some of the settings. Build quality is truly several orders of magnitude better than it’s three generation older lens, which to be honest I used to constantly have a chamois leather in my pocket, just in case of a light shower.

I am looking forward to pushing this lens in the same way that I did the last one.

sig123 002

The Quality of the switches is greatly improved, and there are more of them

The Quality of the switches is greatly improved, and there are more of them

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A pair of proper strap lugs  rather than a single one on the tripod mount

Much nicer finish to the lens body

Much nicer finish to the lens body

A big knurled wheel to lock the lenshood in place

A big knurled wheel to lock the lenshood in place

New Toys

12/03/2016 PocketWizard Plus III Camera Remotes

12/03/2016 PocketWizard Plus III Camera Remotes

All ready for the next Guildford City home game, a new set of transmitters for the behind the goal remote cameras. These will live in my camera bag, and the old ones will retire to the studio box/bags & travel when the studio kit goes mobile. With a long range mode that should enable me to trigger a remote from the opposite end of a football pitch, something that my old remotes could do, but not reliably. This should make the process a little easier & a lot more reliable. Now all I need to find is a cheap 20mm rather than risking the expensive 16-35mm.

12/03/2016 PocketWizard Plus III Camera Remotes

12/03/2016 PocketWizard Plus III Camera Remotes

Retirement Imminent

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Canon EOS 1D Mark IIn

After nearly 8 years of service the old girl is about to retire, with some 120,000 frames to her credit she has never stopped working, she has had to be resucitated several times, over her life, twice in the last couple of years after 6+ hours in monsoon conditions needing a warm bed in the airing cupboard however she has always bounced back into front line duty. Her destiny now is to be relegated to behind-the-goal remote duty at football  games, along with her twin sister & a couple of cheap wide angles.

Her first paid for job was a trip to Rome to photograph Keira Knightly.

Kiera Knightly Rome  PPUK0005-Edit

Keira Knightly leaves Taberna Gracci with movie company colleagues. Press-Photos.com No re-use, no resale.

Whoops

One wheel on my wagon

One wheel on my wagon

After some 12+ years of service my Peli Case 1650 has parted or at least started to part company with one of its wheels. A little disappointing, because despite its age it has never really been heavily used, it has spent most of its time padlocked in the boot of the car. So back to Peli Products it will go.

About Time

Huawei E5330

Huawei E5330

Having recently upgraded to a smart phone it only seemed sensible that I upgrade from a rather dodgy “3” Dongle, which works more less as and when it feels like it, frequently showing zero signal which connected & sending images, then minutes later showing full strength signal whilst dropping the connection, so a cheap mifi is the order of the day, meaning that I also am not tying up a valuable USB port whilst wiring images.

New Phone New Tricks

10590665_10152884832536528_7760098708300314309_nHaving been reluctant to upgrade mobile phones (as my old nokia did everything that a mobile phone should, battery lasted for days, & I could make & receive calls). It was time for it to go, the screen was badly scratched, so badly in fact that you couldn’t read it in any kind of light. So I upgraded to a smart phone, the Sony Xperian M2, and it has opened a whole new way of doing things. With a couple of Eye-Fi cards (which I have had knocking about for a couple of months, unused) & a couple of apps downloaded from google play, as well as shooting RAW, I now also save a small jpeg to the eye-fi card, which within moments of tagging is copied to my mobile phone ready for sharing.

I am not sure that I will use it very often, but it will be nice to tweet Guildford City FC photographs during the game. Some of my other clients will probably not wish to see their images shared, at least until after publication.

Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM

Togsblog Star Rating
Superb

Paul Burgman-0110Sigma120-300OS028

For the last couple of weeks I have been testing the brand new Sigma 120-300mm F2.8 DG OS HSM F2.8 lens. I have had a couple of the previous incarnations of this lens including the very first version which I rated very highly, despite having some reservations about a number of design faults. The tripod mount was pretty much unusable and the lens hood which was too short & didn’t have a protective surround at the end, which meant after a few uses that the paint had chipped & worn revealing shiny metal (and also no flocking).

120-300firmwareSome of the issues were addressed pretty quickly, including shipping the lens with the TS41 tripod mount (from the Sigma 50-500mm from memory) The lens hood, whilst still too short, had a protective rubber trim at the end, which meant that I could put the lens with body front element down when not in use).

Ray Fitchett promised me a look at the new version, which is one of the first lenses they have produced in their “global vision” concept. This is the first of the “sport” lenses, hopefully there will be many more.

27/09/2014. Woking FC v Kidderminster Harriers.Woking's John Goddard

27/09/2014. Woking FC v Kidderminster Harriers.Woking’s John Goddard

When the latest version arrived, I was impressed at the significant improvements in the design, it has a much more substantial tripod mount, secured by a large knurled locking wheel, and the ring is secured in much the same way as the Canon 70-200mm F2.8 IS L, & so much less likely to detach accidentally than the previous version. The lens hood is also substantially improved, it is quite considerable deeper and of a much better design, including some protection on the leading edge from damage.

The build quality is at last capable of rivalling that of Canon & Nikon, and the weather proofing seems to be substantially improved, alsong with the quality of the all of the switches.

The lens is also available with a USB dock, which mounts on the lens mount (so is specific to the brand of camera that you use) this enables you to access several options, including one of upgrading the firmware. I hope that this will enable (should Canon or Nikon change the functionality of their lens mounts) the lens to be updated to match, rather than as historically required, be sent away to be rechipped.

27/09/2014. Woking FC v Kidderminster Harriers.Woking's Joe McNerney

27/09/2014. Woking FC v Kidderminster Harriers.Woking’s Joe McNerney

So first thing was to have a play, well there was a firmware update, within a few minutes it was applied. I then a look through a few of the other options, but decided to leave it in the default settings. To be honest this should be built into the lens, it can’t be beyond the abilities of the technical department at Sigma to have this functionality on board, along with a weatherproofed micro USB port.

After that the lens remained in the boot of the car for a few days until I had a job that required it, which to be honest was going to either be Football or Rugby, as 90% of the provincial news I shoot these days tend to be done on a 16-35mm.
Woking FC v Kidderminster Harriers was the first job that it was used for, and I have to say that I was impressed, the AF is substantially improved over the previous version, even on my old Canon bodies, I think that the improvement would be even more noticeable on later generations of Canon cameras, especially something like the EOS 1Dx.

11/10/2014 Guildford City v Frimley Green at the Spectrum. City's Edward Boateng fouled

11/10/2014 Guildford City v Frimley Green at the Spectrum. City’s Edward Boateng fouled

There are some subtle differences in the image quality as well, the new Aperture assembly in the latest lens has 9 blades as opposed to the 7 in the version that I have, and the out of focus backgrounds have a much more pleasant look to them, I would hesitate to say “bokeh” as someone will “google” it and find the urban dictionary definition.

I can’t fault the quality of this lens, and when one introduces the question of price at £2800 it is expensive, but when you consider that the Canon 300mm F2.8L IS USM is £4800, & the Nikon 300mm f2.8 G ED VR II AF-S Nikkor Lens is £4100, then you get the added versatility of a zoom also, which from the point of few of shooting sport, helps as you can’t always chose your location or indeed where the action happens.

Anyway here are a couple of frames from the Woking match, & a couple from a Guildford City FC match. Whilst wordpress will have compressed the crap out of them, trust me they are sharp.

I have also used the lens with the Canon 1.4 & 2x extenders as well as the Sigma 1.4 extender & can report that they work well, which was an issue for the earlier version.

Previously I wrote This and This.

Way back in 2005ish, I wrote a review which you can read here.

Anyway more to follow in due course.

Woking FC v Kidderminster Harriers

27/09/2014. Woking FC v Kidderminster Harriers.Woking's John Goddard

27/09/2014. Woking FC v Kidderminster Harriers.Woking’s Josh Payne

No game for Guildford City this weekend, so I covered the Woking FC match, partially because I have been loaned the new Sigma 120-300mm F2.8, which is 2 generations on from my current 120-300mm. I have never been happy with the version of the lens that I have, it isn’t sharp, when I first received it it front focused like a bitch, and has been back to Sigma twice, each time with the camera to have it adjusted. It still is not right, although not as bad as it was…

Previously I wrote This and This.

Well at least the new one focuses as it should on first trials, it has also addressed several of the issues that I raised in the first review of the 120-300, way back in 2005ish, which you can read here.

There will be a review in a few days when I have done some more testing, however interestingly it seems to work better with the Canon Extenders than the previous version did, it also even works with the 1.4x & 2x stacked.

Check back in a few days.

Thieving Bastards

sigma120300f2.8Sent my Sigma 120-300 F2.8 for a service, as the AF Motor was a bit sticky, and on it’s way back, via Parcelforce, it has gone missing, it is now 14 days late, no proof of delivery and it is not in their network, so some thieving bastard has had it away.

If anyone is offered a Canon Fit Sigma 120-300 F2.8 EX DG HSM with a Sigma 105mm Skylight, TS41 tripod mount and no lens caps, for silly money please let me know, I will post the serial number when I can get hold of it.

Now I have to go through the process of getting ParcelForce to pay out for a replacement.

So it is here, at last

canon-eos-mark-iv-press-rm-eng1-300x313The Canon EOS1D mk iv has arrived, or at least the press release has. Whilst there seems to be some things worthy of praise, (assuming that it works as advertised) firstly the new high ISO settings, enabling native shooting up to 12,800 and expanded shooting all the way to an impressive 102,400ISO.

I like the AF revisions and the new preview screen technology, but why-oh-why are they persisting with one CF Card slot and one SD slot, please lets have a pair of either CF or SD cards.

I am not One

I have never been one… to speculate about what equipment may or may not be forthcoming from any manufacturers. However, I really think that Nikon have stolen a bit of a march on Canon with their latest Nikon D3.

There are several features that I really like, and wish that Canon had (or will) include in the next generation of the EOS1D. First and foremost the one thing that I have disliked since the EOS1D MkII was the addition of the SD card slot, as well as the CF card. The Nikon solution is far more elegant, using dual CF cards. Whilst I realise that the SD card standard will enable the SD card slot to be used for far more things than the current CF Card format will permit, it is a pain in the arse when it comes to it’s primary function, taking pictures.

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Canon EF 200mm F2.0L IS USM

The old Canon 200mm F1.8 L was discontinued years ago, and the only examples that are around tend to have worked very hard for their living. I had a 200mm F1.8 about 4 years ago, and loved the quality of the images, however, it’s handling was quirky to say the least. The new 200mm F2 looks as though it should handle better, as the tripod mount is better placed. I only hope that it is ask good as the original. One of the advantages with the 200mm is that with a 1.4x converter it gives (near as damn it) a 300mm F2.8 and with a 2x a 400mm F4. I can’t wait to see this in the flesh, I am also looking forward to the new 800mm F5.6

£3 Million that’s £2.9 Million too much

So Jessops are to spend £3,000,000 squid to boost their standing by using an advertising agency to boost it’s brand. Seeing as the Olympic Committee spend £400,000 on their branding, I am wondering what Jessops expect to achieve. My personal thoughts would be use the £3 million in a more effective way. Recruit and train staff appropriately, Improve customer service, stop printing catalogs that are out of date before they reach the printers, aggressively price products in the shop and on-line.

Their logo could certainly do with refreshing, it seems very dated, but to be honest, most customers don’t really buy because of a logo, they buy because they get Good Advice, Good Choice, Good Pricing, Good After Sales support, and a warm comfortable feeling from doing business. Generally I haven’t heard a bad word about their after-sales support, but then that may not be a good thing, I have heard many stories of customers returning perfectly good equipment and getting refunds or replacements when a reasonably knowledgeable member of staff could have solved the problem without the expense. And in doing so would probably have gained a very loyal customer.

Jessies Going Under?

Sadly what was once a great photographic retailer has gone (or is going) the way that many of it’s customers have forecast. I remember Jessops of Leicester from the late 1970s and early 1980s when it was probably one of the most successful photographic retailers in the UK. The staff were knowledgeable and helpful, their pricing was highly competitive and their mail order service almost unbeatable. Now, directionless, pot-less and driving customers away, they are in trouble.

Over the last 20 years they have gone from being specialist retailer to being one of the worst photographic outlets that I have ever had the displeasure in dealing with. The staff are woefully under trained and as discourteous, sullen and moody as any McDonalds employee I have ever met, in fact for many of the staff that I have met, a MacJob is too good for them. The Company really seemed to have lost its sense of direction, whilst I realise that in the digital imaging age, no-one wants to have huge numbers of point & shoot digital cameras with a limited shelf life on their shelves, but to have zero stocks of almost anything else is a fundamental failing. The number of times I have had to have them order stuff, and then never receive it defies belief (this was in the days of price matching Their prices are completely out of kilter with the market place and in many cases; on accessories they can be twice the Internet price of other suppliers.

In a way I am not sorry to see them struggle, closing 81 branches means that quite a few of the spotting oiks will lose their jobs, which is a shame, but hopefully the directors will realise that streamlining the company isn’t a way to secure a future, only a way of holding off the Administrators. The company needs to realise that it needs to connect with it’s customers, the hardest part of retailing is getting the customers in the door, once there you need knowledgeable, intelligent staff who are prepared to assist and in many cases educate the customer, you need sensible prices and more than anything else you need to have stock.

D’Oh

big-tom
Sigma UK headquarters were burgled at the end of February and some 45 lenses were stolen. Shame that the new 200-500 F2.8 wasn’t amongst the lenses taken, otherwise the police would just have to wait outside local hospitals for the burglars to turn up requiring hernia operations.

A list of serial numbers of the lenses that were nicked are shown Here.

Good to see that Sigma are getting the PR people to do the Police statements

The lenses are different sizes and specifications and would have been marked Sigma:

105mm f/2.8 EX DG Macro, a high performance medium telephoto macro lens optimized for digital cameras
17-35mm f/2.8-4 EX DG, a super wide-angle zoom lens with a large aperture. Designed to suit the special characteristics of digital cameras.
18-50mm f/2.8 EX DC Macro, a large aperture zoom lens designed specially for use with digital SLR cameras and includes a minimum focusing distance of 20cm.
70-300mm f/4-5.6 APO DG Macro, a telephoto zoom lenses with telemacro function and optimised for digital SLR cameras.

The company concerned has issued a photo of the missing lenses and police would like to know if you have seen them being offered for sale in any unorthodox manner.

If you can help, please call 0845 33 00 222 and quote reference B1/07/925. Alternatively, you can call Crimestoppers anonymously with the same reference on 0800 555 111.
What the Police did not do was issue the serial numbers of the missing lenses.

If any of you come across these lenses, please let the police know as above or give us a nudge please.

D’Oh it’s happened again Here)

Canon EOS 1D mkIII

Managed to have a play with the New EOS1D mkIII camera body recently. Initial reactions are pretty good.

Build quality seems everything that it should be, and I prefer the new layout, however I didn’t get a chance to stick a CF card in it and take some photographs. The AF (bearing in mind we were in the dimly lit basement, and I had an 85mm F1.2 mkII on board) was pretty impressive.

The live preview function was also pretty good, although you obviously have no AF, as the mirror is in the up position, and with the fairly wide viewing angle of the preview screen may be useful in crowded situations when you have shoot with the camera away from the eye. The only reservation would be in reasonably bright weather it might be tricky to see the screen.

The Screen is pretty impressive, being 3″ instead of 2.5″ on the mkII. Ask any women; they will tell you that size really does matter.

At full chat the 10 frames per second, doesn’t really sound that different from the 8.5 of the 1D mkII or the 9fps of the EOS1VHS.

The new battery pack is alleged to make a significant difference to the battery life, with it being a smaller Lithium Battery, it means that it should not need the periodic conditioning that the current batteries need. I also like the fact that the charger comes with twin charging slots, rather like the old DCS520 battery charger, rather than just two plug in leads.

One of the biggest problems with the old battery charger was trying to charge batteries in the car, you go around a corner and the batteries weight pulls them further than the charger. Meaning that whilst you think the batteries are charging in the boot, they are actually shorting themselves out on any piece of metal they come into contact with.

I will be interested to try out the mkIII when it becomes available, and shall let it be known amongst the suppliers of my kit that I want a play at the earliest possible, even if I don’t initially add one or two to the kit bag. Having only upgraded to the mkII bodies 10 or 12 months ago, I am reluctant to spend another £6k on bodies if I can’t see a very real reason for doing so.

The Body now has USB rather than a Firewire connection, which is a little disapointing as it means that even if you wanted to, you cannot now use the WFTE-1 WiFi pack, and at £700 a pop. That said the new WiFi pack does look better thought out and better designed. There have been some people who have seen the pre-production version and are whinging that it doesn’t have it’s own power supply, but uses the camera battery. Rather than pre-judge, I would like to see how long the new batteries are going to last, both with and without using the WiFi transmitter.

I must confess that I don’t see this camera as a huge leap forward, but a continuation of the evolution process of the 1D camera.

I have to say that the megapixel count increase isn’t enough on it’s own, neither is the huge buffer, however if the noise at high ISOs is significantly better then that may be enough to swing it. Unless Canon wish to donate a couple of them for free? You listening Canon?