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Fri, Sep. 5th, 2014, 12:20 am
Putting pistol caliber wars into perspective.

Originally published at VolkStudio Blog. You can comment here or there.

Today, more people take photos with cell phone cameras than with any other kind. Convenience, ubiquity and the ability to post results at once all combine to make the tiny cameras with miniscule sensors more popular than all other types combined. Larger, more professional equipment is far more bulky and more expensive. It also produces immeasurably better results. And yet, for most purposes, cell phone cameras are good enough.

Now imagine that all other cameras are restricted by law to use only in professional studios, certain wilderness areas or private homes. When carried elsewhere, they must be in hard cases with batteries and memory cards removed. Ridiculous? That’s generally the legal status of long guns in the US — far superior to handguns in performance but bulky and very much restricted from daily use.

Under the current circumstances, professional photographers waste little time discussing performance of cell phone cameras. They discuss real professional equipment, lighting, logistics and the generation of visual ideas. The difference between cameras in competing cell phone models are so irrelevant to them as to escape notice. Should better equipment suddenly be restricted or entirely unavailable, the minor differences in the performance of inferior but legal equipment would suddenly come to the fore.

That is why so many people obsess over the kinetic energy, magazine capacity and other features of handguns. Handguns are the wrong weapon for almost every defensive fight — machine guns, grenade launchers and other serious arms are much preferred by military and police who are not under the same legal and logistical restrictions. But absent the right weapons — mainly for legal and logistical reasons — we try to make the best of the poor options. Absent sufficient training as well, we try to substitute improved equipment for insufficient aptitude. It’s a reasonable, if regrettable, approach. A person whose life consists of a job, a family and other interests besides photography or self-defense will still get slightly better results with better gear.

Fri, Aug. 29th, 2014, 09:48 pm
First impression of Sony A7R and 55/1.8 lens

Originally published at VolkStudio Blog. You can comment here or there.

Auto focus is much, much faster with a native lens compared to Canon lenses on Metabones adapter. Numeric distance readout in the viewfinder is a great help when focusing manually. I am not sure how accurate the focusing is yet, have to look at the images on a big screen. The lens should have been made with a physical AF/MF switch.

Focus peaking is a major win when working with tilt lenses. Canon 90TS becomes a very viable tool even in low light. With all lenses, manual focusing with zoomed in view is excellent. The implementation is much better than with Canon.

User interface is far better than the older Alpha and NEX series, and configurable buttons are useful. Input dials could use more texture, they are hard to tell from the rest of the camera body by feel.

Sun, Aug. 24th, 2014, 03:09 pm
Unedited samples from Sony A7R

Originally published at VolkStudio Blog. You can comment here or there.

I obtained Sony A7R to supplement my Canon 5D2 bodies in studio. The Canons are far more useful for fast action, Sony AF being useless. It’s as slow or worse than the first serious AF body, Maxxum 7000 from 1985! Manual focus is also quirky, with focus peaking being inaccurate in unmagnified view but very precise once zoomed in.  The main reason for adding this body is for the 36MP sensor. The extra resolution will be a big help when preparing huge SHOT show display prints.

Two quick examples below done with Canon lens on a Metabones IV adapter. These are JPEGs straight from the camera, reduced to 1200px (click on the preview to see larger). The insets are 1:1 once magnified. This is the first camera I’ve owned that produces useable JPEGs in addition to RAW files.

A7R_detail_DSC0050

Base ISO50, 100mm Canon macro lens at f8

ISO200, 100mm Canon macro lens at f4.

Sat, Aug. 23rd, 2014, 02:24 pm
Please recommend a workflow for Sony A7R files (Windows 7)

Originally published at VolkStudio Blog. You can comment here or there.

With Canon 5D2, I can open RAW straight out of Adobe Bridge (CS 5.5). Can’t do that with A7R. My options seems to be the following:

  • Use DNG Converter (free but slow)
  • Update to the current Creative Studio subscription (more streamlined, expensive, though perhaps discounts exist)
  • Some other path?

I welcome suggestions.

Wed, Aug. 13th, 2014, 12:16 pm
4/3 adapter for a Nikon spotting scope

Originally published at VolkStudio Blog. You can comment here or there.

Yesterday, we got to enjoy the view of the nearly full moon through a spotting scope. At 60x, the moon filled half of the field of view! Now, I’d like to adapt that scope to my Panasonic G3. Does anyone know who makes such an adapter?

Sat, Jul. 12th, 2014, 10:05 pm
Another awesome work day

Originally published at VolkStudio Blog. You can comment here or there.

Taking photos from a ladder of a fire truck.

Taking photos from a ladder of a fire truck. (Photo by Paul Reavis)

Took pictures all day. Got to record the chief of fire-fighters rappel down into a window with a suppressed Tavor in hand, and a bunch of other polite gentlemen play around an MRAP. Fun day.

Sat, Jul. 12th, 2014, 10:05 pm
Another awesome work day

Originally published at VolkStudio Blog. You can comment here or there.

Taking photos from a ladder of a fire truck.

Taking photos from a ladder of a fire truck. (Photo by Paul Reavis)

Took pictures all day. Got to record the chief of fire-fighers rappel down into a window with a suppressed Tavor in hand, and a bunch of other polite gentlemen exit an MRAP in a hurry. Fun day.

Sat, Jul. 12th, 2014, 10:05 pm
Another awesome work day

Originally published at VolkStudio Blog. You can comment here or there.

Taking photos from a ladder of a fire truck.

Taking photos from a ladder of a fire truck. (Photo by Paul Reavis)

Took pictures all day. Got to record the chief of fire-fighers rappel down into a window with a suppressed Tavor in hand, and a bunch of other polite gentlemen exit an MRAP in a hurry. Fun day.

Wed, Jul. 9th, 2014, 10:47 pm
Expanding the reach.

Originally published at VolkStudio Blog. You can comment here or there.

My photo accompanies Eugene Volokh’s article in Washington Post.

Wed, Jul. 9th, 2014, 06:46 pm
The price of diffuse light

Originally published at VolkStudio Blog. You can comment here or there.

Until recently, I used a 10ft x 20ft popup tent for getting softer light on sunny days. Bought for $1200, the tent lasted five years and was well worth the expense and the effort required to set it up. A couple of weeks ago, the tent was damaged by a storm and repairing it would take a while. That prompted me to try a more portable solution than the 90-pound pop-up.

In movie-making, the standard solution is silk stretched on a frame and raised on two stands. Due to the heavy-duty stands and sandbags required to keep it in place, the entire set of equipment is actually heavier than the tent, but individual components are much lighter and easier to move.

I just priced the 12ft x 12ft kit at B&H: $1520 with shipping. All that for one light modifier. If you ever wondered why professional photography is expensive, this is one of the reasons.

Sat, May. 24th, 2014, 06:02 am
Producing a 2015 photo calendar?

Originally published at VolkStudio Blog. You can comment here or there.

Would any of my blog readers know how to produce and distribute a picture calendar? I’d like to use my RKBA images for that but don’t have the spare time to see the project to completion.

Thu, May. 22nd, 2014, 12:00 pm
Behind the scenes

Originally published at VolkStudio Blog. You can comment here or there.

The result looks a lot like this.

(Photo by Heather Cernik)

Sun, Mar. 23rd, 2014, 12:34 pm
A professional illustration of how cameras and lenses aren’t perfect

Originally published at VolkStudio Blog. You can comment here or there.

http://www.lensrentals.com/blog/2014/02/why-you-cant-optically-test-your-lens-with-autofocus I noticed the same about my own equipment, which is why I use live view focusing with 300/2.8 when practical.

Thu, Jan. 30th, 2014, 09:12 pm
Why I pay attention to lens and sensor quality

Originally published at VolkStudio Blog. You can comment here or there.

These snapshot show a small fraction of the SHOT show displays using my photos:

Unlike billboards, these are seen up close. And these were not even the largest images — the biggest was a three-part Keltec display 8 feet high by about 12 feet wide. That is why I am looking at upgrading my equipment…but there’s nothing in Canon line-up that would make a noticeable upgrade in resolution. Pity.

Fri, Jan. 24th, 2014, 08:26 pm
How to turn off viewfinder auto-adjustment on Alpha 77?

Originally published at VolkStudio Blog. You can comment here or there.

A friend lend me Sony Alpha 77 to try out. I noticed that the viewfinder brightness is proportional to the exposure. If the ambient exposure is insufficient, the viewfinder turns black. The camera doesn’t know that I have studio flash set up. Since the hot shoe is the Minolta type, I will have to plug in the radio controller into the PC socket on the side. I read the manual, but still not sure how to make the viewfinder look bright regardless of the exposure that I select? Does anyone know?

Mon, Jan. 13th, 2014, 02:07 am
Canon flash needed in Las Vegas

Originally published at VolkStudio Blog. You can comment here or there.

I am in Las Vegas for SHOT show. I brought two studio flashes with me but managed to leave out my hot shoe mount flash. I can try to have it shipped but I am not certain that the package would arrive in time and not be lost — the level of competency of the hotel isn’t very inspiring. Buying another one locally is an option but I don’t really need a second hot shoe flash, and the cost isn’t trivial. My current flash was purchased used for $200, buying a new one would set me back a minimum of $400, a bit steep for the one day use I have in mind.

Does anyone have an ETTL swivel flash for Canon (550EX/580EX or similar) that I could borrow by Wednesday evening and return before my departure from Las Vegas?

Mon, Dec. 30th, 2013, 11:45 pm
Studio or another indoor space for photos in Minneapolis

Originally published at VolkStudio Blog. You can comment here or there.

I am looking for a space that I could use for portrait, gun poster and figure work this coming Saturday, January 3, near Hopkins, Edina or Minneapolis. Does anyone have suggestions or leads? Outdoors is just too cold this time of year.

Sun, Dec. 29th, 2013, 04:49 pm
Any Canon 70D users in Nashville?

Originally published at VolkStudio Blog. You can comment here or there.

I am considering adding a 70D to my 5Dmk2 as a more video and action oriented body. However, I’d like to try it for a day before buying.

I just tried a friend’s Nikon D700 and the user interface improvement (and apparent build quality) over Canon bodies is considerable. But I can’t justify the massive expense of switching brands — too many specialized lenses to replace.

Sat, Nov. 23rd, 2013, 09:43 pm
Verifying lens calibration

Originally published at VolkStudio Blog. You can comment here or there.

I’d like to verify AF calibration of my lenses with my primary camera body? What’s the nearest place to Nashville where I could get that done? I tried doing it myself but the results were inconclusive.

Sat, Nov. 23rd, 2013, 09:23 pm
Connections at camera companies wanted.

Originally published at VolkStudio Blog. You can comment here or there.

In particular, Fuji and Panasonic, though others would be of interest also. I’d like to T&E some of their gear and write it up, but lack the connections to the right people.

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