Can You Tell What it is?


Arrived home today to find a parcel had been delivered, I wonder if you can tell what it is?


Yep it is an adjustable stool. Quite expensive for what it is, but it does at least enable the seat height to be adjusted up to 18 inches, which should be high enough to photograph over the top of advertising hoardings that seem to be prevalent at football matches these days.

I hate Sensor Cleaning


The crud on that sensor

I mean I really hate cleaning the sensors in my cameras, I have aways done it myself going back to the days when I had to practically dismantle a Canon DCS 3 to get to the sensor. So over the last 20 years I have probably had to do it 20 or so times, but I still hate it.


All clean.



Seeing as on match days I am now using an iPad instead of a laptop to wire images to the picture desk, I decided that I needed something to transport it in and something to assist when editing photos.

So for transporting I purchased a Think Tank case, and to assist with editing a Snap Case with  a rotating handle.


So far everything works well, images from the camera go to the iPad via a WFT-E6 & Shuttersnitch. Images are selected on camera & sent to the iPad. Once the images have arrived they are automatically renamed and captioned (with a basic caption) and saved to a new directory. If they need editing, then that is done in Photogene and the pictures are then wired to the picture desk.

The great thing about this process is that the edit & download can be done during lulls in the action, no need to swap CF cards or mass-download, just the images that I want are sent to the iPad. This also means that photos can moved every few minutes, which is ideal for live blogging football matches.



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


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!



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.

2016 Killed my monopod


Actually that is a lie, it didn’t kill it and in all likelihood the foot wore out sometime before I noticed it, I have removed soil from about the last 7 inches of the last section of the monopod. New foot ordered (actually 3 as they only do them in threes). I can’t complain as I purchased the monopod in 2001, so based on the age of the last foot, I should now have enough feet to last until 2064.

So for the next couple of football matches I shall go back to my even older Manfrotto 479 Aluminium Monopod. Which is a shame as when the weather is cold, as it is likely to be over the next few weeks, the Carbone 3449 was much less cold on the hands.

UPDATE. New foot arrived this morning many thanks to


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.


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.

I never thought


IMG_0030If you’d have asked me at the turn of the millennium I would never have dreamt that I would be ordering 32GB CF cards. In the late 1990s I was shooting with a DCS3 (1.3megapixels) and 170mb Viper cards. By the time I moved to DCS520 bodies (2.0 megapixels)  I was using 340mb Microdrives and the when the EOS 1D arrived I think I was shooting with 1Gb cards, so then fast forward to 2016 and now 32GB card are order of the day.


Quite Impressed

_PBA3151The old 16-35mm F2.8L will be in the post to the lens doctor at some point during the week, when I can find a suitable box for it to be shipped in. I am really quite impressed with the 17-40mm F4L lens that have purchased to temporarily replace it. So much so that rather than sell it when the old lens comes back I may use it for behind the goal photos at football games.   A shall give an more extensive test over the next few days as I have a wedding to photograph at the beginning of next month, that will require it a lot.

I must admit that I am quite excited about the work that the Lens Doctor offer, and I shall report back on how the refurbishment goes, I am also interested by the remanufacturing process that they carry out on some old Canon lenses, also intrigued by the custom conversion of old MF lenses to fit EF mount bodies. Had I known about their services before I might have kept a few of my old FD mount lenses.

Old Age


The old 16-35mm F2.8L USM has probably worked it’s last day, something seems to have gone awry and it is apparently no longer serviceable by Canon, so it may have to ship off to a specialist elsewhere.

In the meantime as I can’t live without a wide in the bag I have purchased a 17-40mm F4L to stand in for the short term at least. it certainly makes my 16-35mm look tired, but then 15 years of hard work will do that to one.


I Love Brilliant Customer Service

19/03/2016.. Brentford v Blackburn

On the 23rd April  the catch on the laptop section of my Think Tank  Airport Accelerator V2.0 gave up the ghost…. a little plastic lug sheared off. Meaning that the section couldn’t be locked. A quick tweet to colleagues to see if they a knew of a solution, within a few hours both the UK importer & the manufacturer got in touch, the manfacturer messaged to say send us your address we will ship a replacement. Today (May the Fourth be with you)  a parcel from the US arrived complete with not one, but two replacement buckles.

The result 10 minutes later with the aid of a swiss army knife the broken part was replaced, in fact I think it took me longer to open the jiffy bag it was shipped in than to did to swap out the damaged component.

19/03/2016.. Brentford v Blackburn

19/03/2016.. Brentford v Blackburn

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


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


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. No re-use, no resale.


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

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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

Technology Is great

CF cards are incredibly robust, they seldom fail, in the last few years I have never had to replace a CF card because of failure. I usually replace them because they are too small for the next generation of digital cameras. However, a couple of days ago a CF card failed, and catastrophically. Even Rescue Pro couldn’t help recover the lost images. So before everyone gets too comfortable and goes out buying 16Gb cards, remember they can and do fail, better not to have all your eggs in one basket.’

£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.


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?

Canon 10×30 IS Binos

Canon 10×30 IS Binoculars

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Canon 10 x30 IS Binoculars

When Canon launched the IS range of binoculars they were ground breaking, there was (as far as I can recall) no others with image stabilisation. They were expensive, although the prices seem to have plateau ‘d to a sensible level. Mine are several years old, but still perform perfectly. And a set of batteries seems to last for ever.

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Sigma 500mm f/4.5 EX DG APO HSM Lens

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Sigma 500mm F4.5 EX DG APO HSM , strap, filter, instructions, case and lens cap

The new Sigma 500mm F4.5 EX DG APO HSM lens arrived on my doorstep sometime today, and over the next few weeks I shall be evaluating this latest digitally enhanced lens. Firstly a description of the 500mm F4.5, straight out of the box, untouched by human hands (presumably assembled my monkeys in Japan) the first thing that struck me was the drop in circular polarising filter that was already in the box, something that Canon (and Nikon) charge huge amounts of money for.

The lens is supplied complete with a black padded case, with a strap, which is a snug fit for the lens, so little chance of fitting a body and lens together in the case, unfortunately. The box also includes a strap for the tripod lug of the lens. It also rather un-necessarily comes with a set of instructions.

The 500mm F4.5 is shipped with fixed tripod mount (unlike the 120-300mm which is interchangeable) and a rigid lens hood that reverses back over the lens for storage with a nosebag to protect the front element.
The lens hood seems remarkably short for a 500mm lens, I wonder how effective it might be and hopefully some testing shall reveal all.

The lens is appears to built to the same standards as the Sigma 120-300 although it is rather lighter in weight, which is one of the big advantages of a prime lens.
Starting at the lens mount there is the usual Sigma white blob to enable you to line the lens up with the camera mount (whether Canon, Nikon or whatever, you mean there is anything else?) and slightly ahead of that is the Manual/Autofocus switch, which is straight forward enough to use.

Focus scale, Name
Plate Filter rotation ring and holder

In front of the AF switch is a drop-in filter holder, about which I still have the same reservations as the one on the Sigma 300-800mm, to release the holder you simply squeeze the two clips together and out she pops. The drop in filter size is a standard (but relatively small) 46mm, so off-the-shelf filters should be easy enough to use, although you may have to be aware that the filter ring should be no deeper than 5mm as it will not fit. My main concern with the filter holder is how it will stand up to knocks and abrasions when the lens is on a strap over your shoulder. As it protrudes a little way from the body of the lens

In front of the drop in filter holder is a ring with a white mark, which I think is a bloody good idea, (and so will you when you find out what it does…… Ok I will tell you). Rotating the ring also rotates whatever filter you have in the filter mount, not important with many filters, however when using a polarising filter it makes life an awful lot easier. The slightly bizarre thing though (although you’d never notice it normally) is that the filter turns the opposite way to the ring itself.
Just in front of that is a strap lug and ahead of that is a focus limiter, with ranges of 4-8 metres 8 metres to infinity and beyond and a full range setting.

Ahead of that is a focus scale and the focusing ring, which is nice. Another thing that is nice is the Sigma lens focuses in the same direction as the Canon lenses (something that has often been a problem for independents, however I guess that it is now a problem for Nikon users).

Sigma 500mm hood left and 120-300 right

In front of the focusing ring are the previously mentioned tripod mount and then the lens hood. A quick word on the lens hood, (honest I am not anally retentive about lens hoods) the hood is significantly better designed than the 120-300mm F2.8 hood in that, whilst it is still of metal construction, it has the inside of the hood lined with a matt black flocking material and a plastic front trim that will reduce the risk of exposing bare metal at the front of the lens hood itself.
The image on the left is a composite of the lens hood from the 500mm F4.5 and the hood for the 120-300 F2.8. I think that it is safe to say that you can all see the difference between them, and that the 500mm hood will almost certainly out perform the 120-300 especially as they get older.

You can already see the 120-300mm hood has paint missing from the leading edge, where the camera and lens have been placed on the ground. In time, this will wear to reveal shiny metal that will cause more flare (or the risk of flare) than it will cure.

Drop-In Filter Holder

Overall construction of the 500mm F4.5 is very nice, it has a substantial enough feel to it, without feeling over engineered, it is a comfortable weight to hand hold albeit for relatively short periods of time, weighing in a 6 1/2 pounds it is about the same as the Canon 500mm f4.5 and about 75% of the weight of the latest 500mm F4 IS. The tripod mount is of a good enough size even if it does face the wrong way. When using mono-pod the easiest way to move a Camera/Lens/Pod combination quickly is to tilt the camera/lens forward and hold by the tripod mount, with this mount it places all the weight on the little finger which is uncomfortable after a short period of time.

Having used the Sigma 500mm a couple of times on jobs, this lens is a good as I expected. The Autofocus is good, but not a patch on the Canon 400mm F2.8 (which is to be expected given that it is a stop and a half slower) but more than acceptable. Unfortuntately I no longer have my old Canon EF500mm F4.5 to do side by side tests, as the Canon lens was renowned for it’s quality.
Focus Limiter Switch and Strap Lug (drop-in filter removed)

The lens is reasonably well balanced hand held, although as seems to be typical of the Sigma lenses the tripod foot is the wrong way around. If you are looking at the Sigma as an alternative to the Canon 500mm F4 L IS USM I would have to say go for the Canon, especially if you are going to be using it with the 2x converter. The reason being that with the F4.5 Sigma, when you add a 2x converter, it becomes a 1000mmm F9, and even on the Canon 1 series digital bodies you will lose the AF (although with the Canon 500mm F4 and a 2x converter you will have only the centre spot, which is better than nothing, especially as none of the modern AF bodies have any focussing aids as standard.

There are no problems with the images that the lens is capable of producing, although with any lens of this size a little care and forethought will help.

My conclusion is; if you want a good value for money 500mm and will not often require a 2x extender or image stabilisation, then save yourself a couple of thousand pounds. If however it is going to be used right on the limit of available light, go for the Canon. Whilst I shall not be adding this lens to my equipment box, I can definately recommend it. Now if Canon only did the EF 500mm F4 IS USM L in black……

I have included a couple of pictures at the bottom of the page that were shot with the 500mm straight and with the Sigma 2x converter. Therein lies another quandary, the Sigma lenses really do not like the Canon Extenders (or maybe it’s the other way around) so if you have a mixture of long Canon and Sigma glass (I assume that it will be the same with Nikon) then you will probably need to double up on extenders.

Sigma 300-800mm EX

Sigma 300-800mm F/5.6 EX IF APO HSM AF LENS

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This lens has more random letters in its name than a Korean car model.  So from now on it will be know as the Sigma 300-800 seeing as they only make the one, there shouldn’t be too much confusion (damned that’s put me in mind of Highlander “There can be only one!!”, so how come there was a sequel?)

First impressions of the 300-800 when it was delivered this morning, well something along the lines of “No I didn’t order any portable anti-aircraft missile launchers”. The lens arrived in a black padded coffin, basically, with a couple of grab handles.  Weighing in at some 5.5 kilos, it is a little lighter than my Canon EF400mm F2.8 USM Mk II.  The case will take the 300-800 with a camera mounted, I would like to see a little more space or padding on the top lid, to protect the camera whilst mounted on the lens. Other than that the case is pretty much ideal.  The only other additions  I would like to see  with the case would be pouches/pockets to take 1.4x and 2x extenders and a method of attaching a monopod to the exterior of the case.

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Canon WFT-E1

A little while back I ordered a WiFi transmitter pack for the EOS1 D bodies, nobody in the UK had them in stock, and Canon couldn’t or wouldn’t commit to a delivery date. I was looking forward to the challenge of setting it up with both the PDA and Powerbook.

I have spoken to a few other togs that have tried them (both the Nikon and the Canon variants) and they have mentioned that there are a few difficulties with setting them up reliably. One of the users suggested that every time there is an Security Update with OSX is throws all the settings out. However I remain cautiously optimistic that the transmitter will work with the PDA.

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Canon NP-E3 Batteries

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NP-E3 Chinese Sourced Batteries For EOS1d Copies of the Canon NP-E3 Batteries made in China without licence

First Impressions: Fed up with the EOS1D OEM batteries lasting about 30seconds once charged and installed in your EOS1d? I know I bloody was, anyway a while back someone suggested that there was an alternative to the NP-E3 1650mAh batteries that Canon charge an arm and a leg for.

A quick trawl of  Ebay revealed a couple of suppliers that import in to the UK a 2200mAh battery for the EOS1D (and EOS 1Ds, 1D mk II) and the such like.

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