Well that was fun

I decided that my Canon EF400mm needed recalibrating, seeing as I don’t think that I recalibrated it after replacing the lens mount last year, at least it was dry outside, can’t say that it was particularly warm though, but I can’t believe the amount of pollen that settled on the camera and the laptop in the hour or so that I was doing it.

The recalibration would appear to not really have been necessary, as the Micro AF adjustment just changed from +6 to +5, which in the real world is not particularly significant. I also ran few a few other test options and can report that all seems to be well.

Mini Pod

Ordered a new mini-tripod for shooting behind the goal, I have a Manfrotto Pixi Evo 2 section pod but whilst it is great, it just doesn’t have the height that I want. So a cheap & cheerful Neewer Mini Tripod has been added to the kit bag. For what I have intended for it, it doesn’t need to be incredibly rigid as it is only to hold the camera and a 24mm or a 16-35mm in one place, it will be shooting at at least 1/1000 of a second so camera shake is not going to be an issue. The only thing wrong that I can find is that the head has a QR plate and thread for the ball & socket head is 3/8th rather than the usual 1/4 so I can’t swap it for the ball & socket head that I already have.

New @thinkTANKphoto Straps

The manufacturer straps on my 1Dx bodies are starting to show their age, they don’t seem to like getting wet and in recent months they have got very wet & they are starting to separate. So ordered a couple of Think Tank straps, they seem OK, only time will tell, but everything else that I have from Think Tank have been superb. The only negative thing I can say is, they could have been more adventurous with the colours, only blue or grey available.

Who Knew?

I have a number of PocketWizards, three Plus III and a Plus X, so I thought I should upgrade the Plus X to a Plus III, so after a bit of hunting around for the best price I ordered a Plus III from https://www.photospecialist.co.uk, who I have used on a few occasions. Within 48 hours I have my grubby hands on a Yellow Plus III. Until I went looking, I never realised that they did them in different colours. I am thinking that I may have to invest in another Yellow one for use as a remote release for behind the goal work.

The only downside is that I have to downgrade the firmware on the new remote to enable it to work with my older remotes. It is either that or pay $10 per remote to upgrade the old ones. Whilst there are quite a few changes to the “E” Release firmware, there is nothing that would appear to change the way that I use them. If in the future I decide differently I will upgrade the firmware.

My First Camera…nearly

Actually my first camera was a Christmas present from my dad and was a Zenit EM in 1979, and whilst it taught me the basics & I learned to develop & print with it, it was, basically crap. So in 1980 I upgraded (a little) to the Cosina CT-1, I also added 70-150mm zoom lens and continued to learn more & more, After upgrading the darkroom equipment from an old Johnson Wray Enlarger to an LPL C7700 & an EL Nikkor 50mm F2.8 I started to see the weakest link was the cheap glass, the standard lens was OK but the zoom was atrocious so in 1981, with money from Christmas & Birthdays and a loan from my mum & all of the Saturday Job money I had I replaced the CT-1 with a Canon A1, adding in due course a FDn 24mm F2, and an FDn 100mm F2.8, two of the sharpest lenses that Canon made at the time.

Anyway I had been looking for a Cosina CT-1 to add to the collection for quite a long time and most of the ones that I had seen were either totally borked or in such poor condition that I couldn’t be bothered to bid on them. Anyway last week a really tidy one came up and had the original standard lens, it was a little more expensive than I wanted to pay, but I’ve done it now. Just need to give a thorough clean, whack a new battery in it and some XP2 and away we go. One thing that I had forgotten is just how small these cameras are in comparison to my current gear.

New Rubber

Having received a replacement rubber weather seal in the post this morning, I thought seeing as I had no football today get straight on with replacing the very worn one on my Canon 2x Extender. I have no idea how it became so worn as it is seldom used, probably less than a dozen times in the last 5 years.

Anyway a simple enough job, undo screws on the lens mount, lift the mount & slide the seal over, re-seat the mount and do up the screws, all in about 5 minutes, then a couple of test pictures to ensure that everything is in alignment and job done.

The Part Number for the seal is YA2-3463-00 and I believe the item is the same for most if not all Canon EF lenses that are weather sealed. I have a couple of other lenses that could do with the seal being replaced so I will confirm in due course.

After Repairing…..

After repairing the 400mm lens recently I have finally dropped my 1Dx that was on it to CPS Elstree, to have the mount replaced & a realignment carried out, hopefully won’t be too expensive. I have also arranged to have a second body that has “issues” looked at. I was informed that (as a platinum member) it should be a two day turnaround plus shipping time. Due to only having one camera that I am able to rely on, I have cancelled my trip to Jersey as the second body that I have is a very high mileage body with 600,000 activations which whilst good for it’s age is in dire need of a new shutter & mirror box as well as a complete service.

Update on Lens Hood.

Locking Tab for 400mm Lens Hood

So… having found the locking tab for the lens hood, which in it’s bid for freedom only made it as far as the boot of my car, and not the gravel car park that I was in when it went AWOL, I thought I had better fix it. Before that I should just say that the reason I didn’t look in the boot initially is just that I am never that lucky, if something goes missing, it is never where you’d expect it. Today was a case in point, I dropped a 2mm E-clip, seeing as it was dropped on carpet, weighs F*** All, you’d expect it to be fairly close by, but no, searching with a magnet (always handy for these sorts of things) it had managed to travel 6 feet from where it fell.

Anyhoo, I wasn’t sure what size E-Clip was going to be required so I ordered a selection box from Amazon, with sizes from 1.5mm through to 10mm, as it turns out I was the 2mm one that I needed. I have never really given it much thought about how small a 2mm E-clip was actually going to be, well you don’t, do you?

That’s how small.

So have assembled the bits required and tried a test run with a spare locking assembly, all went to plan, albeit bloody fiddly. So on to the actual assembly, as the Wedge & the Lock have be joined through the lens hood, it was a bloody nightmare. Holding together the Wedge, the Lock & the actual Hood whilst attempting to fit the E-Clip through a hole, onto a post, with a pair of tweezers. (This because of the last failure of the assembly, stripping of the screw threads required the application of some adhesive to screw threads)

Test Fitting

So with the help of a magnet, and plastic bag (to catch the E-Clip if it tried to escape) a pair of iFixit tweezers a pair needle nose pliers and a small flat bladed screw driver, it is now Fixxored! The next job is to see if I can get someone to either machine or cast another wedge (maybe a few as I am sure there are others out there that could use a replacement) so that I have a full replacement for the part should the need arise. If you are needing a replacement, the official Canon part number is CY1-4292 which I also believe to be the same part for the EF300mm F2.8L IS, the EF400mm F2.8L IS, 500mm F4.0l IS & the EF600mm F4L IS, then get in touch as I maybe able to help.

Lock assembly, wedge & E-clip all installed

Bugger It….

Lens Hood Lock

Last weekend the Lens Hood lock on the 400mm decided to part company with the hood itself. Not a major problem, usually, except that it threw the circlip that holds the wedge (the black bit) in place & the wedge went walkabouts, So I get online to find a replacement, except that Canon don’t supply them anymore, despite the fact it is a common part across a number of lenses. So the search begins, after finding a number of ludicrous prices for the part, the most was some £600, although that did also include one of the screws, individually priced at £450.00!!!!!!!!!. A replacement complete lens hood is £700! Anyway frustrated by the prices I went and hunted in the boot of the car, on the off-chance that when it went ping it fell in there, rather than in the gravel carpark I believed it to gone.

So having found the wedge all I need now is a 2mm Circlip, so I have ordered a box of various sized clips (also known as E-Clips) which should be here tomorrow. I will also order a third party replacement hood from the USA, that will also work with the later version that I will be upgrading to later in the year.

F*cked Canon 400mm

Lens mount really shouldn’t look like that.

After an accident with my Canon 400mm F2.8 L IS USM a couple of weeks ago, the lens mount needed replacing. Seeing as Canon won’t touch it, nor most of the repairers I have contacted, I decided that if I could find a lens mount I would do it myself. Now Canon haven’t supplied service parts for this lens for a while, and if they did they wouldn’t supply them to an unauthorised repairer like me.

Fortunately for me Google turned up a saviour in https://www.eurohitech.com. I ordered the part with not a little nervousness, a) because it was £180 and b) I had never dealt with them before. Anyway two weeks later I am holding the replacement part in my grubby little hands, Thanks Sushil.

New lens mount is here!

So time to crack on, it is a really simple job, just a little fiddly. PH000 & PH00 & PH0 screw drivers, and a plastic tray with a magnetic screw holder and a small plastic pry-bar (spudger) is all that you need. Firstly it may be a good idea it mark the correct orientation of the mount, I used a black marker pen and marked the position of the lens lock receiver, on the body of the lens, next thing is to remove the baffle, which on this lens is held with 3 small screws (a lot of the budget lenses they just lever out), then three more screws to disconnect the electrical contacts. Undo the 4 main screws and away the mount comes, complete with rubber weatherseal.

Lens mount removed.

The reinstallation is simply the reverse procedure.

New lens mount in place & ready for testing

 

***UPDATE: All tested and working perfectly, so will be used for shooting football tomorrow & Sunday, Yay!***

Upgrade Time

It is time to upgrade my 1Dx bodies (well two of them, one of them has some 500,000 actuations, so next to worthless, so will be kept as a remote) One has 119k actuations and the other just under 140k. Looking for about £1k each, with battery & charger. They both have some wear & tear commensurate with their age and usage. I do look after my kit, so they are nowhere near as worn as many of the ex-press photographers gear you will find on ebay. Feel free to email paul@press-photos.com for further details.

New Battery Cover

Needed a replacement battery cover for a Pocketwizard Plus X, so ordered a replacement from the UK importers Colour Confidence arrived within 48 hours, unfortunately I ordered the wrong part, it was only £9.95 so thought I’d keep it as a spare & order a replacement, however Colour Confidence sent me the correct part gratis. Brilliant customer service.

The replacement couldn’t be simpler, undo two screws & crack the case open, swap the back & reassemble.

Recalibrating…..

After some issues in the week with a 2x Extender that hadn’t been calibrated with the 400mm I fired up the Reikan FoCal software. Which has been updated since I last used it, so downloaded the latest release and printed a fresh target. Some 3 hours later with the laptop battery nearly dead, after 6 reboots, numerous software re-starts I was no closer to actually calibrating anything. If anything I was in a worse position than when I started as I was unable to calibrate the 400mm with the 2x or the 1.4x I decided to attempt to do just the lens on its own. BIG MISTAKE. It had then threw out my original calibration & unfortunately I hadn’t noted the original calibration details.

So fast forward to Sunday and another attempt, this time just the 400mm on its own. Now the lens & three different camera bodies are properly calibrated, hopefully I will get time tomorrow to do the 1.4x & the 2x extenders as well.

The software is quite intuitive when it works certainly a damned sight easier than doing it manually. I looked at the Canon instructions for calibration and it isn’t for the faint hearted.

Now it is properly pin, not bad for an old EF 400mm F2.8 L IS mkI.

Too Many Bags?

SO lock down is coming to an end, hopefully will get back to shooting more football in the coming weeks, if my shoulder ever heals up. I love Pelicases and have several, however for most of the jobs that I do, all they really add is extra weight, in the case of the 1650 an awful lot of it. OK I know it carries a lot of gear, but since tearing the Rotator Cuff I really wanted to reduce the amount of weight I physically lug around with me.

For football, depending upon the level/client that can mean anything from two bodies, 3 lenses and an iPad to 3 bodies, remotes, 6 lenses including a 400mm F2.8, monopod, clamps & minipod, laptop & associated bits a mini max stool. Which when split between a Think Tank Airport Accelerator and a Pelicase 1510, weighs a lot.

So I have decided to try a different route, a Think Tank Glass Limo for the 400mm and one body with monopod & odds & sods and the 1510 with 2 bodies, 8-15mm, 11-24mm, 24-70mm & 70-200mm, two 600RT flashes, meaning that I will have much less weight on my shoulders/back hopefully my chiropractor will thank me.

The trouble is that I probably have too many bags, with a Think Tank Retrospective 5, Lowepro Stealth, Lowpro backpack, Tenba P211, plus the Airport & Glass Limo. However whilst many of them are great bags, they are not ideal for every situation. The Stealth & Retrospective are great for shooting on the move, the Tenba is great for a single body, three lenses, and the backpacks are great load carriers but harder to work with. It’s the same with the Pelicases, the 1510 is great as a footy box, plus you can sit on it at a push, but not great on wet grass or mud, the 1650 is huge and will take most of my kit, which is then impossible to lift.

Manfrotto Upgrade

I had to order a couple of QR plates for a Manfrotto head, and when I saw the price for a piece of plastic, I looked at an alternative. Not only was it 2 plates for just over the price of 1 Manfrotto plate, they are made of metal and are actually easier to attach to a camera/lens as the Manfrotto plate has a very fiddly screw.

Time will tell how they will work out.

Don’t Use Filters

I don’t often use filters, with the exception of a polarising filter occasionally, but as it was Christmas I decided to treat myself. Years ago when I first seriously got into photography (about 1980) I had some Cokin Filters, but most of them were to gimmicky to use more than once. In fact now that I think about it, I may have to have a look for them.

[UPDATE] Found them, can’t find the holders (either the A or the P) or the adaptor rings, may have to have a look on Ebay!

Damned….

Damned I’d forgotten just how big this case is. I haven’t used my Peli Case 1650 for a while, it was used mainly for storage and security in the boot of the Jeep with a couple of steel cables & padlocks. But seeing as the new inserts from A-MoDe in Hong Kong had arrived I figured that I should install it and configure it ready for use in the new year. Only downside is once it is fully loaded it is bloody heavy. I may reconfigure it to be my football box with just the 400mm, 70-200mm and the 24-70mm & three bodies, flashguns, remotes mini tripod, monopod and laptop.

They’ve arrived

New inserts from Hong Kong for the Pelicases have arrived. They are substantially cheaper than the Pelicase originals, and are not quite as well made but they do seem good value for money. I have got them for the 1510 which houses my 400mm and some odds and sods, and for the 1650 which, whilst I don’t use it at the moment is capable of holding most of the camera kit, including 3 bodies, 8 lenses & three flashgun plus still plenty of room.

Don Zeck, No idea

Nope I have no idea who Don Zeck is, but he does a fine line in lens caps for big glass. The Canon supplied lens cap for the 400mm F2.8 is basically a Nose Bag, a right pain in the arse to use and only properly fits when the Lenshood is reversed. OK most of the time not a problem, but when it is not fitted it takes up an unnecessary amount of space. It won’t fit in your pocket!

Anyhoo only available to order from the US, and not exactly cheap (although cheaper than the Canon replacement) it arrived in about 15 days, which compared to the waiting time from stuff from China is not too bad. Just have to make sure that I don’t misplace this one.

New Wheels

The wheels on my 1650 Pelicase are crap, they are the original wheels fitted by Pelican, really hard plastic right upto the point that they start falling apart. I replaced the wheels on my 1510 Case a while back with some in-line skate wheels, however the 1650 uses much wider wheels. So I ordered some skateboard wheels 50mm diameter and 30mm wide, along with some bearings. Not perfect, I need to install some spacers but already much better than the original wheels.

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

box

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.

box2

box3

[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.

Box4

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.

New Toy Time

MH804-3W

Having had a Manfrotto 055 since about 1981 with the standard 115 Junior 3D head, I felt that it was time to upgrade, I don’t use tripods very often, primarily because the 058 TriAut  that I purchased in 2001, is fooking heavy and because the 055 had the horrible 115 head. Anyway doing an interior shoot recently reminded me just how bad the 115 Junior head was, so I have replaced it with a MH804.

The Manfrotto 058 will likely as not remain mostly at home during shoots, but the new head means that the 055 will live in the boot of the car.

Initial thoughts on the MH804 is wow, that is so much better, but then it didn’t have to do much to be an improvement, not as solid as the MH229 that my other ‘pod has, but very definitely an upgrade.

Damned that’s wide

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Decided that it was time to go, super-wide, had a 14mm F2.8L & a 15mm F2.8, but after reading the reviews available decided that I really should have a Canon EF11-24mm F4L in the bag. Got an acceptable price for the 14mm from MPB and a 16-35mm F2.8L and went for it. Damned it is a heavy piece of glass, but feels nicely balanced on a 1Dx, would probably feel a little strange on a 5D or similar without a vertical grip.

I have to say that I am really very impressed with the quality on the test shots that I have done so far.

_BPB6147

New Toy Time

Canon Ef11-24mm

It’s arrived, Yay…Hopefully that will be the last acquisition for a while. I decided to bite the bullet & buy the lens that I have been hankering for since the announcement of its release.

The Canon 11-24mm F4L is certainly Canons widest linear corrected zoom lens. It is quite a weighty piece of glass. It is nice to use however the lens cap is a bit of a pain, because of the size of it, it will not fit in a pocket easily so I picked up a Lee Filters fabric cap.

Whoops, A gentle reminder

A_PB1723

I was shooting at football yesterday and noticed that the lens mount felt loose, with the 70-200mm on the camera, carried on shooting as I had no alternative with me, and in a couple of frames there was a definite alignment issue. As you can see in the image below, muzzy top right and bottom left.

GCFC v RPV 0022

Got home later that day & checked, and all four of the lens mount screws were loose, not just a little bit loose either. I usually remove and reinstall them with some thread-lock when I buy the lens, but I appear to have missed this lens. So tightened them all back up & then thread-locked each one in turn.  Whilst was at it I checked all of my other glass, without finding a problem, which is good news, as they are all transported and used in the same manner.

SO if you haven’t recently checked any screws that you can access are done up correctly, now is the time to do it.

Important job coming up

C_PB1302

SO time for sensor & lens cleaning session, sensor cleaning is relatively painless, a quick wipe with Fairy Liquid & a pan scourer, obvs not the steel type, but the nylon ones. Lenses will be polished with windolene, the only downside is that it turns crusty & when wiping off and needs a lot of canned air or the close proximity of a powerful vacuum cleaner, the kind that the EU have now banned, so fire up the 10 year old “enry”.

On the other hand, seeing as I have some of this stuff knocking about …

1

Should only take about an hour to do three sensor cleans & 8 lenses (although only 4 will probably be used), including test photos & re-cleans. Then charge & condition the camera batteries (best do all of them) and charge the Eneloops and the Turbo also. Pack all the gear into the motor & actually do some work!

 

If you have a Manfrotto Magic Arm

B_PB2362

If you have a Manfrotto Magic Arm and it makes a horrible clunk & or grinding noise when you lock it in place then you have a problem, not an insolvable one, but a bit fiddly.

The problem seems to be a bearing that jumps out of its runner so it needs to be put back in its place.

You will need an allen key, you may need some grease as well,  if it has been doing it a while there may be bits of ball bearing floating around, so you may also need a replacement bearing set. Which are available from our friends  Manfrotto Spares in Dunsfold .

B_PB2370

Firstly loosen off the silver allen bolt a couple of turns, this will free up the locking handle end so that the handle can be removed by unscrewing it. Make sure that you keep the assembly together in your hands as you will otherwise be hunting for the 9 ball bearings on the floor. Once the handle has been removed you will see the three seats for the bearings.

B_PB2368

Simply place one bearing in each seat, and re-assemble, takes all of 5 minutes. Job done, no more grinding.

Good luck , as with most things, Don’t try it if you are not confident that you can manage it, as I shall not be answering individual requests for help (probably), and don’t try it if you are in the warranty period, also accept no responsibility for you getting bearings stuck up your nose or any other orifice.

 

 

iCap Review

icap4

iCap Min Pro, nicely packed into it’s pouch

Having had the iCap for just over week, I thought I’d share my thoughts. Firstly it is a great idea and works really rather well, especially at football when it is peeing with rain, I have it sitting on top of my ThinkTank Airport Accelerator V2.0 which in turn is lying on top of my PeliCase 1510. This means that the laptop is at a nice working height for me whilst sitting on the MinMax stool.

icap2

Macbook Pro all snug in the iCap

It provides great protection (in this case to a 13.3 Macbook Pro) from the rain, and it would work equally as well as a sun shade.

icap1

iCap folded flat, in readiness for either erecting or packing away

 

The only issue that I have, and it becomes less of a problem the more I have practiced it, is folding it away to fit back in it’s little pouch. I have managed it a couple of times, but probably need to practice a few more times before being entirely comfortable with it.

icap3

iCap folded back into it’s little pouch, honest I did manage it

U

_PB30621

“U is for Umbrella, we use it in the rain, we hope that we shan’t want one, till we’re home again”

Photographing football almost certainly means at some point in the season you are going to get very wet, and as everyone knows computers & water don’t mix, so to protect the laptop whilst wiring from pitchside I have acquired a cover.

I have managed to put it up and fold it back into it’s case, I think that a couple of practice sessions with it are required before it goes used in anger (unless it pees with rain on Saturday).

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.

PPB30048

 

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)